Tag Archives: autobiography

Playing with a Lion’s Testicles? Really?

22 Mar

Another actual book that I had to look up on Amazon out of curiosity. Playing with a lion’s testicles is an African saying that means to take foolhardy chances.

 

Description from Amazon (sounds like a good read): 

Melissa, an exhausted executive from the city seeks meaning and purpose from her work, and volunteers for a Big Five conservation project in South Africa. Her boss, an over-zealous ranger, nicknamed the Drill Sergeant, has no patience for city folk, especially if they’re women, and tries to send her packing on day one. But Melissa stands her ground with grit and determination, however shaky it may be.

Conflict soon sets the pace with a cast filled with predatory cats, violent elephants, and an on-going battle of wits with the Drill Sergeant. Even Mother Nature pounds the reserve with the worst storm in a century. But the most enduring and profound conflict is the internal battle going on within Melissa, as she tries to come to terms with the guilt surrounding her mother’s death. When death grips the game reserve, it is the very animals Melissa has come to save that end up saving her.

For the reader who has ever dreamed of going to Africa or knows the pain of loss and guilt, LEARNING TO PLAY WITH A LION’S TESTICLES will fill your soul.

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Book Review: Lovely Chaos by Joe Montaperto

15 Mar

1980s New York City. A paradox onto itself. Gritty and violent – yeah – but also crackling with excitement, intrigue and – especially – possibility. For a young guy open to that kind of energy, this was a city that could be absolutely intoxicating. 
Nineteen-year-old Joey Montaperto journeys over from his nearby downtrodden New Jersey town, seeking to escape the dreary negativity of his surroundings. Enrolling in a prestigious Russian drama school, he is determined to become the next great actor in the Stanislavski/Moscow Art Theater tradition. It doesn’t pan out exactly the way he plans, though, and after a time there, he hits the streets even more conflicted and alienated, seeking answers. 
He finds a gig as a nut vendor in a grimy Hell’s Kitchen location and dreams of a better life. Subsequently introduced to the ancient texts of Eastern spirituality (The Upanishads) by Vassant, an elderly, brilliant, but drunken Indian scholar who also works as a nut vendor, he becomes fascinated. When Vassant dies unexpectedly, Joey vows to continue his quest for a Master, joining an ashram in the city, while working at the connected health food store. Devoting himself entirely to the rigors of spiritual practice for the next year, he sits in daily meditation – until one day he is rocked by a major epiphany. 
Oh my God! I could sit here in my white yoga pants and meditate for the next 40 years, and still not reach enlightenment! Then what?! What about travel? Adventure? Life?! Upon that realization, he dives headlong into what he believes to be his true calling – stand-up comedy, embracing the comedy circuit and the whole lifestyle that ensues. While performing, he also hits the seedy Hell’s Kitchen bars – dancing, drinking heavily and mixing with the denizens – the pimps, prostitutes, dealers and other comics who populate the bar. He learns quite a lot from these characters, but still maintains his spiritual practice. 
Quickly rising up the ranks of the comedy scene, he is consumed by the lure of fame, by the rush of performing. Now, he has to get onstage. He is jonesing. This is his life. Out on the streets at all hours of the night, he has to defend himself against the hordes of crackheads roaming the streets, soon even relishing the violence, the rush of revenge. He gets involved in a romantic affair with the sultry Vanessa, a Puerto Rican former streetwalker – who is also transgender – and revels in that scene. It fuels the rush, but it’s still not enough. Nothing ever is. He can’t come down. Finally, disgusted with the comedy club scene, the comedy bookers, the rough streets, and his annoyance with no matter what club he goes to, it seems Jon Stewart and Dave Attell are already regulars there, blocking his way. 
A chance viewing of the movie ‘My Dinner With Andre’, makes a life-changing impression on him, and he becomes spellbound by the film, the book, and it’s conversations about exotic travels, and mystical experiences at the spiritual community, Findhorn. He excitedly applies, but finds it is way too expensive, and is sadly resigned to staying in the city. He is unexpectedly reprieved when he hears about Omega Institute, a holistic community in rural upstate New York. Abandoning everything, he then jumps on an Amtrak to begin the adventure of his life.

 

 

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy from the author. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

Joe Montaperto has had an interesting life. He’s from New Jersey and in the 1980s he studied acting in New York, among other things, before taking a class on improv and finally found his place in the world of stand up comedy. 

In Lovely Chaos, Joe shares the craziness of the life of a young man in New York in the 1980s. He’s a good storyteller and I enjoyed his stories. His writing is a little rough around the edges and tends to jump from one story to the other often, but he has great descriptions. He made me laugh a lot!

 

 

Joe reading from his first book

 

 

About the Author

Joe Montaperto was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved with his family at the age of 11 to Roselle, New Jersey – where the subject of his first memoir – The Edge of Whiteness – takes place.
After studying acting at the Sonia Moore Studio of the Theater, he grew tired of the depressing Russian plays, and moved on to a job as a nut vendor in the Hell’s Kitchen streets, before studying to be a monk at a NYC ashram; eventually leaving to pursue both stage and film work in New York. Afterwards, embarking on what he believed to be his true passion – stand-up – on the city’s comedy circuit, where he worked with Jon Stewart, Dave Attell and John Leguizammo, among others, in the edgy, crack-riddled 1980’s. Drinking, dancing, and getting beat up by crackheads on the late night city streets, eventually led him to create a one-man show, Four Degrees of Disconnection, based on his experiences and some of the characters he encountered along the way, which ran at several theaters in Manhattan in the late 1990’s.
Burnt out from the intensity of the New York art scene, he set out on a long-awaited spiritual sabbatical, living at a couple of Buddhist monasteries before escaping to South America. There, he spent quite a bit of time exploring the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon jungle, teaching English and becoming involved in several eco-projects.
He has been an avid freeloader for many years at The Omega Institute for Holistic Studies in upstate Rhinebeck, New York, among other establishments, and is currently featuring his second memoir, Lovely Chaos, in a planned trilogy, which explores his spiritual and stand-up comic adventures in the gritty streets of 1980’s New York.

Book Review: The Book of Myself by David & Carl Marshall

9 Jun

A keepsake fill-in book contains more than two hundred prompts divided into three life phases–Early, Middle, and Later Years–and separates each phase into five subject categories–Family, Friends, Education, Work/Responsibilities, and The World.

Available on Amazon

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My Review

I have always felt it was important to leave one’s life story for family to read. I was interested in my family history starting at an early age and listened to the stories my dad and my grandpa told me as far back as I can remember. I cherish those stories and want to pass those on. When I came across a book a few years ago titled Mom…Share Your Life with Me, I gave it to my mom and asked her to answer the questions when she had time. I asked her a couple of years ago if she still had the book and she said she did, and every once in a while she’d answer a few more questions. She passed away suddenly a year ago and I have found that I have learned a lot about her through that book, and it also makes me feel closer to her. 

I found The Book About Myself a few years ago also.  I set it aside thinking I’d answer the questions in it “sometime.” Now I feel the significance of answering those questions even more, so I’ve started writing my own autobiography by answering the questions in this book. 201 questions are a lot of questions! I scan through them each day and pick out at least one I want to answer. There are a wide variety of questions about every stage in a person’s life. I’ll never answer them all because some don’t pertain to me, but I feel there are enough questions that my family will learn a lot more about me and maybe feel closer to me like I do to my mom.

I definitely recommend this book or one like it to leave behind for your family, whether it’s your spouse, siblings, children, or parents (hopefully not your parents). This particular book is a little difficult to read because the questions are printed in green and are small so anyone with a visual impairment might want to consider a different book.

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About David Marshall

I am a PK (preacher’s kid) from Texas, grew up in Chicago, and lived in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, Mexico City, Munich, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia before settling back in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have two lives. During the day, I’m a nonfiction publisher, working for Berrett-Koehler in Oakland. We publish books to help our readers create positive change. Our mission is connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all.

My other life is as an author. I write prompted journals to foster family communication and self-discovery. The Book of Myself: A Do-It-Yourself Autobiography, which I wrote with my grandfather Carl Marshall, was the first of our journal series, and remains a bestseller to this day.

Twitter: dpmars
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Book Review: Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor-Code Red Diamond by Isaac Alexis MD

8 Dec
 
 

Book Title: Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red Diamond
Author: Isaac Alexis, MD
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 100 pages
Genre: Education and Reference
Publisher: Independent
Release date: October 17, 2017
Tour dates: Dec 4 to 15, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 for mature themes

 

Description

A prison doctor offers insights into the system’s “Correctional Medicine.”

Dr. Isaac Alexis’ newly-released book Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red Diamond tells of his varied experiences as a physician in correctional medical facilities while at the same time urges teenagers to make better decisions to avoid the perils of incarceration.

Dr. Isaac Alexis brings the fast-paced, high-pressure reality of correctional medicine to readers in his new book. He discusses health problems that inmates face during incarceration and offers detailed descriptions of medical complications that plague many people inside and outside of prison. He also speaks directly to young people about avoiding gangs and drug addiction, as well as respecting their bodies in order to preserve their physical and mental health and their freedom. Dr. Alexis’s personal experiences growing up in a tough New York neighborhood act as examples of how young people can overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

The desire to help people who do not have access to quality health care drove Dr. Isaac Alexis to focus on correctional medicine. The author also shares how his faith empowers him to advocate for the best medical treatment for the population he works with.

A fascinating and important book, Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red Diamond is a book that should be read by anyone dealing with teenagers and young adults whether in the home, public or educational facilities.

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My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I’m not sure what I expected when I agreed to read this book but I wasn’t expecting what I got. Life and Death Behind the Brick and Razor: Code Red Diamond is different but I like different. It’s not only an autobiography but a look at many of the issues of today as well as a guide to living a healthier and more productive life.

Dr. Alexis’s stories are entertaining but more importantly, many of them are educational. It also gives the reader a view of some of the sad and crazy things that go on in prisons.

This would be a good book for anyone to read but a great book for young people who could be at risk. 

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To read more reviews, please visit Dr. Isaac Alexis’s page on iRead Book Tours.
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Buy the Book:

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Meet the Author 

 
Isaac Alexis, MD, completed an internship in trauma surgery at Cornell University at New York Hospital of Queens, and he cross-trained in family medicine and anesthesiology. Dr. Alexis served as medical director at the Department of Justice as well as director of infection control and chair of the quality improvement medical committee. He has several years of correctional medicine under his belt.Dr. Alexis’s book Life and Death behind the Brick and Razor-Code Red Diamond relays his experiences as a physician in correctional medical facilities while also challenging teenagers to make better decisions to avoid the perils of incarceration.

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Connect with the author:  Website

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 Giveaway

Ends Dec 23
 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway 

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Audiobook Review & Giveaway: Onions in the Stew by Betty Macdonald

20 Mar

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Author: Betty MacDonald

Narrator: Heather Henderson

Length: 9 hours 40 minutes

Publisher: Post Hypnotic Press⎮2016

Genre: Humor, Memoir

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The bestselling author of the American humor classic The Egg and I continues the adventure with this collection of tales about life on the fringe of the Western wilderness. Writing in the 1950s, Betty MacDonald, sophisticated and urbane, captivated readers with her observations about raising a family on an island in Puget Sound. As usual, humorist MacDonald is her own favorite target. She manages to get herself into scrapes with washing machines set adrift in rowboats, used cars, and a $25 Turkey Squasher. And then there’s the scariest aspect of island life — teenaged children.

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Buy on Audible or Amazon

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Betty Bard MacDonald (1907–1958), the best-selling author of The Egg and I and the classic Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, burst onto the literary scene shortly after the end of World War II. Readers embraced her memoir of her years as a young bride operating a chicken ranch on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, andThe Egg and I sold its first million copies in less than a year. The public was drawn to MacDonald’s vivacity, her offbeat humor, and her irreverent take on life. In 1947, the book was made into a movie starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and spawned a series of films featuring MacDonald’s Ma and Pa Kettle characters.

MacDonald followed up the success of The Egg and I with the creation of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, a magical woman who cures children of their bad habits, and with three additional memoirs: The Plague and I (chronicling her time in a tuberculosis sanitarium just outside Seattle), Anybody Can Do Anything (recounting her madcap attempts to find work during the Great Depression), and Onions in the Stew (about her life raising two teenage daughters on Vashon Island).

Author Paula Becker was granted full access to Betty MacDonald’s archives, including materials never before seen by any researcher. Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first official biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

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Heather Henderson is a voice actress and audiobook narrator with a 20-year career in literary and performing arts. Her narrations include the NYT bestseller (now also a feature film) Brain on Fire; and Sharon Creech’s The Boy on the Porch, which won her an Earphones award and was named one of the Best Children’s Audiobooks for 2013 by Audiofile Magazine. She earned her Doctor of Fine Arts degree at the Yale School of Drama, and is co-curator of AudioEloquence.com, a pronunciation research site for the audiobook industry. In 2015, Heather was a finalist for a Voice Arts Award (Outstanding Narration, Audiobook Classics), for her narration of Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I.

 

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I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy of the audiobook. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I had listened to The Egg and I, The Plague and I,  and Anybody Can do Anything and enjoyed all of them so I was looking forward to listening to this one. Betty MacDonald’s storytelling is delightful as is the narration.

This isn’t my favorite book by Betty MacDonald, but it’s still good. It’s about her family life on Vashon Island in Puget Sound with her husband Don and her girls during their trying teen years.

Betty had such a great view of everything and everyone. From neighbors and unexpected guests to blundering repairmen and unreasonable teen daughters, she made me giggle.  

The narrator, Heather Henderson, has a pleasant voice and I enjoy listening to her. She did a great job of using different voices for different characters. She has narrated all of the books by Betty MacDonald that I’ve listened to and it was nice to associate her voice with Betty’s stories.

I definitely recommend all of these audiobooks by Betty Macdonald. They’re bound to bring a smile to your face. Continue reading

Book Review: Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

11 Jan

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When Shonda Rhimes was attending Dartmouth, she dreamed of being Toni Morrison. But when she realized that wasn’t going to happen, she went to film school and became the mega-talented writer, creator, and producer of groundbreaking television shows like Grey’s AnatomyScandal, and How to Get Away with Murder.
 
Her success, and the fact that it was built by creating some of the most outspoken and audacious characters on television today, makes it hard to believe that Shonda is also a decided introvert. A person who hired a publicist so she didn’t have to attend events or appear in the media. A person who always said no to invitations because she’d rather be at home, snuggling her kids and comforting herself with food, than mixing with the VIPs who wanted her company.  
 
Year of Yes chronicles the year Shonda decided to say YES to everything that scared her—and it also tells the story of the formation of Shonda Rhimes, from her nerdy childhood creating imaginary worlds in the kitchen pantry and hiding books down the back of her pants, to her determination to write television characters who reflected the world around her, to her decision to be a mother, and beyond. It’s bold, it’s hilarious, it’s intimate, and it’s inspiring. You don’t have to be a fan of the Shondaland shows to absolutely love this book—it’s a joy and a call to arms, both. My hope is that you’ll find yourself nodding and laughing throughout Year of Yes, and by book’s end you’ll be practicing your power poses and consciously saying YES even when you’re a little bit afraid—and of course that you’ll want to press this book into the hands of all your customers.  
 
And, true story: Shonda finally met her idol Toni Morrison, all Toni wanted to discuss was  Grey’s Anatomy
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My Review

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
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I don’t read a lot of autobiographies but once I got used to Shonda Rhimes’ writing style, I enjoyed reading Year of Yes. It was more like being inside her head than just reading her story.
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We could all learn something from Shonda. She seemed to have it all but realized (thanks to her sister) that, in reality, she was miserable. She decided to step out of her comfort zone and as a result, she changed every aspect of her life. It wasn’t an instant transformation and she shares her thoughts as she went through these amazing changes.
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Year of Yes isn’t your typical biography or self help book but it is a fun read that could inspire you to be a better you.
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 Purchase on Amazon.
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