BOOK REVIEW ~ Poetic License

Poetic License:  A Memoir


Synopsis:
At age forty, with two growing children and a new consulting company she’d recently founded, Gretchen Cherington, daughter of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Eberhart, faced a dilemma: Should she protect her parents’ well-crafted family myths while continuing to silence her own voice? Or was it time to challenge those myths and speak her truth—even the unbearable truth that her generous and kind father had sexually violated her ?

In this powerful memoir, aided by her father’s extensive archives at Dartmouth College and interviews with some of her father’s best friends, Cherington candidly and courageously retraces her past to make sense of her father and herself. From the women’s movement of the ’60s and the back-to-the-land movement of the ’70s to Cherington’s consulting work through three decades with powerful executives to her eventual decision to speak publicly in the formative months of #MeToo, Poetic License is one woman’s story of speaking truth in a world where, too often, men still call the shots.


My thoughts: This was an interesting read. I try not to read much of the descriptions, before I read the book as I prefer to go in cold if I can, or close to it. I enjoyed following Gretchen as she shared what it was like growing up with her poet father as he wrote, slogging along and trying to improve himself as a poet and studying the old poets. She saw how he eventually made some headway in his career, writing poems that were recognized and gaining some visibility.

His career took off, book sales improved. He began winning different awards and attaining more prestigious posts as a result. It was her father with all of his fascinating friends that she wanted to know about and understand more. He was often gone on trips, going to visit his poet and writer friends and have a good time. She thought if she could figure out her father, she would understand herself. This became more important when they began having problems between them, her and her Dad.

It’s a complicated story of a family, and how their early years affected the rest of their lives. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, the author Gretchen Cherington, and publisher She Writes Press, for my unbiased review.


PoeticLicense


Pubisher:  She Writes Press – 261 pages
Publication:  Aug 4th, 2020
My rating:  4/5 Stars


 

The Author– At age forty, with two growing children and a new consulting company she’d recently founded, Gretchen Cherington, daughter of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Richard Eberhart, faced a dilemma: Should she protect her parents’ well-crafted family myths while continuing to silence her own voice? Or was it time to challenge those myths and speak her truth―even the unbearable truth that her generous and kind father had sexually violated her?

In this powerful memoir, aided by her father’s extensive archives at Dartmouth College and interviews with some of her father’s best friends, Cherington candidly and courageously retraces her past to make sense of her father and herself. From the women’s movement of the ’60s and the back-to-the-land movement of the ’70s to Cherington’s consulting work through three decades with powerful executives to her eventual decision to speak publicly in the formative months of #MeToo, Poetic License is one woman’s story of speaking truth in a world where, too often, men still call the shots.


BOOK REVIEW ~ The Book of Atlantis Black

The Book of Atlantis Black: The Search for a Sister Gone Missing


This tale took just a bit of getting into, and then I was hooked and couldn’t quit. Here is the description:

Reminiscent of Alex Marzano-Lesnevich’s The Fact of a Body and Robert Kolker’s Lost Girls, with equal parts memoir and true crime, The Book of Atlantis Black will have you questioning facts, rooting for secrets, and asking what it means to know the truth.

A young woman is found dead on the floor of a Tijuana hotel room. An ID in a nearby purse reads “Atlantis Black.” The police report states that the body does not seem to match the identification, yet the body is quickly cremated and the case is considered closed.

So begins Betsy Bonner’s search for her sister, and the unraveling of the mysterious final months before her disappearance, alleged overdose, and death. With access to Atlantis’ email and social media accounts, Bonner attempts to decipher and construct a narrative: frantic and unintelligible Facebook posts, alarming images of Atlantis with a handgun, Craigslist companionship ads, DEA agent testimony, video surveillance, police reports, and various phone calls and moments conjured from memory. Through a history only she and Atlantis shared―a childhood fraught with abuse and mental illness, Atlantis’s precocious yet short rise in the music world, and through it all an unshakeable bond of sisterhood―Bonner finds questions that lead to only more questions and possible clues that seem to point in no particular direction. In this haunting memoir and piercing true crime account, Bonner must decide how far she will go to understand a sister who, like the mythical island she renamed herself for, might prove impossible to find.


 

My thoughts:  I found this to be a rather gripping read that kept me coming back for more. I was always wanting to know what was going on, and what was coming next. Then it was the curiosity of how it was going to turn out. It really pulled me in, for sure. It certainly got my mind off of the stress of the things that have been going on around the US lately, what virus?! Takes you out of your own situation and that can be a good thing for the hours you are reading. A nice escape. This was a book that wasn’t available to request, I could only “Wish” for an advance electronic copy on NetGalley, and I got lucky and was chosen. Just thrilled. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Betsy Bonner, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: Tin House Books – 280 pages
Publication: Aug 4th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars


 

The Author– Betsy Bonner is the author of Round Lake, a poetry collection published by Four Way Books. She is a faculty member of the Writer’s Foundry M.F.A. program at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, New York and the former Director of the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center, where she teaches an annual poetry seminar. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, The Paris Review, Parnassus, Poetry Daily, The Brooklyn Quarterly and The Southampton Review. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, Eliot House and the VCCA, and a mentor in PEN’s Prison Writing Program.


 

MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ The Heart and Other Monsters

The Heart and Other Monsters: A Memoir


 

I enjoyed this memoir by Rose Andersen, reading it in one sitting. I’m not quite sure how to tell you about it beyond that, it’s still swirling around in my mind. It’s about her dysfunctional family, the opioid crisis, the rehabilitation business, and the loss of her sister to an overdose under strange circumstances at her sister’s boyfriend’s house. The true crime is pretty subtle in this book. It’s mostly memoir. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Rose Anderson, and the publisher.


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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing – 208 pages
Publication: July 7th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars


 

The Author-  Rose Andersen received her MFA in writing at California Institute of the Arts, where she was awarded the Emi Kuriyama Thesis Prize. Her essays have appeared in The Cut, Glamour, and elsewhere. She lives in LA with her spouse, Josh, and their dog, Charlotte.


 

MINI BOOK REVIEW ~ Busted

Busted: A Memoir of Teenage Years


 

The author writes of her experiences immigrating to America from the Caribbean with her family. They end up settling into a small space in a building in Brooklyn, where Phianna tries to fit in. Being a teenager is hard enough without adding all the challenges of a new country too. Not your typical memoir, I enjoyed reading it. A 3.5 of 5 stars read.


 

BUSTED


Written by Phianna Rekab
Publisher: Rekab – 168 pages
Publication:  Nov 11, 2018
My rating:  3.5 /5 Stars

 


 

The Author- Phianna Rekab is an American author trying her hand at as many genres as she can. She writes for fun, pushing herself outside her comfort zone for a little imaginative intrigue and “badness”.

Along with her husband, Barry Dennis; her children, Jackson and Stephanie; and Buddy, their yellow Lab, she is a proud fan of the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors. To learn more about Jackie, visit http://www.speier.house.gov/about.



 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Wacky on the Junk

Wacky on the Junk 

This was a quirky book that’s a first effort and a memoir. Kathy Varner recounts her somewhat rebellious life after becoming a teen and older and trying out some things for herself.  It’s a quick read but not always straightforward.  It came across as just odd and sad much of the time, although there are often reasons for it. Even her work is depressing, although necessary and at times rewarding.  An easy, yet offbeat book some will blow off while others will enjoy it. I think it may grow on us with a bit of time and afterthought.  Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley,  author Kathy Varner, and the publisher.

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Publisher:  Belle Isle Books – 136 pages
Publication:  Apr 1st, 2020
My rating:  3/5 Stars

The Author-  Kathy Varner lives in Richmond, Virginia. She’s a paralegal by trade, but a writer by passion. When she’s not working or writing, you may find her gardening, cooking, hiking with her Shelties, dancing to her husband’s bands, reading, and laughing. One day, she hopes that you will find her riding her bike through the Outer Hebrides in Scotland.

Book Review ~ Out of the Fire and Into the Pan

This is the sequel to ‘Blood on My Hands’ and I found it to be just as good. It picks up where the first book leaves off, sharing how Shannon and her family do after leaving her toxic father. This book covers the period of her adulthood and how she copes with what happened in her childhood. Despite the trauma they all went through, and his continued stalking of the family, despite their repeated moves, they keep striving to better their lives. Shannon’s mother encourages education as the way out and many of them attend further schooling, especially Shannon. She becomes active in teaching, acting and directing on the stage and Australian National TV. She found that writing and music helped when she was stressed at night, and spent times indulging in it. There always seemed to be the threat of her father around outside at times, scratching at the window, the smell of his cigarette smoke seeping in, or his creepy phone calls when they later had a phone.

Read how she starts to learn how to move beyond those awful years, to try and heal herself and learn who she is in this world. How she looks for answers to some of the awful things that happened back in her early years, but finds that no one really wants to help, including the police still. My thanks for a copy from the author and publisher for review.

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Paperback
Thinking Cat Productions – 368 pages
Publication: March 12th, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars

Author- Shannon O’Leary (a pseudonym) is a prolific writer and performer. Her first book, The Blood on My Hands, told the story of her traumatic and violent childhood in the 1960s and ’70s Australia. This sequel, Out of the Fire and into the Pan, explains to the reader how she progressed into the adult world while coming to terms with her terrifying past. It is a story of personal growth and of how O’Leary navigates her transition into adulthood, while seeking out the social norms and finding her place in the world. O’Leary has acted and directed on the stage and on Australian national TV, and she runs her own production company and music schools. She has numerous graduate and post-graduate degrees in education, music, and science. Shannon is a teacher and academic, had five children with her deceased former husband, and lives with her longtime partner in the Central Western Plains in Australia.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/out-of-the-fire-and-into-the-pan-shannon-oleary/1130958174?ean=9780648445609

The Girl in the Treehouse

The Girl in the Treehouse: A Memoir

 

Having seen author Jennifer Asbenson a couple of times telling her amazing story on television on true crime or 48 Hours-type shows, I really wanted to read her book when I heard that she had written a memoir. Just watching the show stayed with me a long time afterward, enough that I’ve re-watched it when I’ve seen it on, which I rarely do. I wanted to hear the rest of her story, and that’s what her book gives you. The rest of it is nearly as shocking as what was in the tv show, to my surprise. So it made for one of those books you just inhale from the time you start.

I was “just going to read a bit, then go to bed” Sure. I stayed up until dawn reading every last page of it. So if you like true crime memoirs or stories of overcoming adversity, you might want to check this book out, especially if you are at all familiar with Jennifer’s story. She was the only surviving victim of Andrew Urdiales, the Chicago area serial killer. You will really be gobsmacked at all that this woman lived through, especially by the time she is finished sharing all of it.

 

HORRIFIC: Jennifer Asbenson was kidnapped and tortured by Andrew Urdiales (pictured)

 

I read the kindle version published Jan 29th, 2019 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 169 pages.

RATING: 5/5 Stars

The Author- Jennifer Asbenson, author of The Girl in the Treehouse, is a survivor in more ways than most people ever encounter in their entire lives. Despite the challenges that Jennifer has faced early on, she has learned to rely on her belief in God, her sense of humor, and her imagination to overcome all challenges.

 

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Secrets on Saulter Road

Secrets on Saulter Road: Discovering Hope and Forgiveness in the Wake of My Toxic Upbringing

 

This was enjoyable and well written as Joan Kendall shares some of her angst of growing up with a mother who drinks too much. It causes much friction it the afternoon when her father comes home from work and sees his wife in that condition again. There is no closeness between Joan and her mother like her two older sisters have. Joan gets her mothering from their downstairs maid, Jadie Bell.  Jadie was a whiz at being a buffer in the family, especially when there was tension between father and mother. She also kept the household running and meals ready when the lady of the house was blitzed on the sofa.

As Joan grew older, she saw her sisters Linda and Susan get out of the house as early as possible, one marrying at 17 and the other escaping when she could too. Later they all started families and they eventually noticed issues that had followed them from back in that childhood. The author manages to work through her own and find a way to forgive. Easily read in an evening, I got really into it and then had to finish it. Glad I read this one. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Joan Kendall, and the publisher.

 

Publisher: Rush Ave Press, LLC – pages186
Publication: April 23rd, 2019
RATING: 5/5 Stars

 

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The Author-   Joan Kendall was born and bred in Birmingham, Alabama. She was a member of the Board of Contributors with “The Birmingham News.” Her work has appeared in The Citizen Magazine and the anthology The Short and Sweet of It, and she has appeared several times on PBS’s For the Record.

Joan twice served on the Alabama State Textbook Committee at the request of the governor, and at the request of the state superintendent, she served on the steering committee of the Alabama Reading Initiative. She has spoken at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Conference, Alabama Veterans of Foreign Wars (keynote), Leadership Alabama, Policy Exchange Foundation, and Kiwanis Clubs.

She received a national award for involving the community in education. In 2003, Joan helped launch an after-school program for inner-city children, which is now in over thirty schools serving 2,000 children.

Joan and her husband, Henry, still reside in Birmingham, Alabama, and have three daughters and eight grandchildren.

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir

This was a quite gritty, but real memoir written about a young girl growing up in Florida with a mother who was involved with someone else’s husband at first. They eventually got together and married, but it was not an auspicious beginning. The girl seems to grow up under a bit of a cloud, with a mannequin for a housemate and eventually dealing with both parents having sobriety issues. She has two step-brothers but they don’t really become close, mostly visiting at odd school breaks and maybe Christmas break. There’s plenty of money for a good school, but she doesn’t seem to fit in well since she spends so much time alone talking to her store mannequin. She’s not real good at making friends and gets teased a lot. Being bi-racial and beginning to become aware that she likes girls more than guys isn’t helping her popularity either. The book jumps around some, but I found it pretty readable. Perhaps because I grew up in a chaotic household myself where there was alcohol and things got out of control many times. When that’s your normal you can relate. It doesn’t seem strange when the mother keeps wanting to go check to see if the father is at the bar on their way home from school, stopping at the grocery store in the same plaza.

The book follows as they get older and situations happen that get more intense. I won’t give away any more. It’s worth reading, rather different in some ways. I didn’t find it all that humorous, as touted; perhaps sharing the pain of a similar way of growing up with secrets, I feel more the painful side of things, the times that were embarrassing and painful and such. For memoir readers. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author T. Kira Madden, and the publisher for my fair review.

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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing – 320 pages
Publication: Mar 5th, 2019

RATING: 3.5/5 Stars

The Author- T Kira Madden is an APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician. She is the founding editor-in-chief of No Tokens, and facilitates writing workshops for homeless and formerly incarcerated individuals. A 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature, she has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, Tin House, DISQUIET, Summer Literary Seminars, and Yaddo, where she was selected for the 2017 Linda Collins Endowed Residency Award. She lives in New York City and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Holiday SOS: The Life-Saving Adventures of a Travelling Doctor

Holiday SOS: The Life-Saving Adventures of a Travelling Doctor

I really found this book an exciting and quick paced read as I followed British doctor Ben MacFarlane on his fascinating work doing repatriations as he travels to bring different patients back home after they have had accidents or fallen ill while on vacation. I’d never heard of a job like this and loved reading about it. The cases were interesting to read about and well detailed. He shared how he flew to the patient, checked them out with their current physician, nurse, etc. and examines them himself, then gets them ready to fly back to the UK to another hospital. There they will be looked after until they are well enough to be discharged to their home. Many of the locations were fun and exotic to travel destinations, making this job a real perk in lots of ways, along with all of the flyer miles, for those who love travel and meeting new people. But it did have a crushing effect on his original relationship, as his girlfriend complained that he was gone all of the time.

Dr. Ben did share his more heart-pounding cases for the book, where things got scary on the return trip and he had to show his expertise enroute. But he’s a veritable Macgyver of the skies, it turns out. This book is a no-brainer for anyone who thinks they’d be interested in checking it out. Go ahead and give it a try. I suspect you may like it. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Ben MacFarlane, and the publisher for my fair review.

Thistle Publishing – 230 pages
Pub: Nov 8th, 2018

RATED: 3.5/5 Stars

The Author—  Ben MacFarlane graduated in medicine from Imperial College, London in 1998 and started carrying out medical repatriations in the spring of 2001. He then spent a year working on the cruise ship circuit and now works full time in a west London teaching hospital. HOLIDAY SOS is his first book.