Review of Confessions of a Paris Party Girl by Vicki Lesage

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About Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

When newly-single party girl Vicki moved to Paris, she was hoping to indulge in wine, stuff her face with croissants, and fall in love. It proved to be much more “difficile” than she’d imagined. In this laugh-out-loud memoir, this cheeky storyteller recounts the highs and lows of her life in the City of Light. Sassy and shamefully honest, Vicki makes you feel as if you’re right there in Paris stumbling along the cobblestones with her.

My Review

Lesage shares her experiences adjusting to life as an expat in France. Despite the adjustment and challenges Lesage maintains her sense of humor and positive attitude as she initially starts off contending with the key to her apartment which leads to a hilarious first adventure. Dealing with the famous French bureaucracy, learning the ropes of French office decorum, baptismal shopping experience, Lesage is quickly adapting to life as a resident of France without batting an eye. However, mastering the bar and culinary scene comes with ease, Lesage even dips her toe into the dating pool while acquiring friends along the way.

An entertainingly humorous story of an all American girl acclimating to call France home along with the intricacies associated. I admire Lesage’s patience, courage and determination, I truly lived vicariously through her, quite a fun reading adventure.

About Vicki Lesage7760779

Amazon best-selling author Vicki Lesage proves daily that raising two French kids isn’t as easy as the hype lets on. In her three minutes of spare time per week, she writes, sips bubbly, and prepares for the impending zombie apocalypse. She lives in Paris with her French husband, rambunctious son, and charming daughter, all of whom mercifully don’t laugh when she says “au revoir.” She penned two books, “Confessions of a Paris Party Girl” and “Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer,” in between diaper changes and wine refills. She writes about the ups and downs of life in the City of Light at VickiLesage.com.

Published January 12th 2014 by Createspace Independent Publishing

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Review of Street of Eternal Happiness: Big City Dreams Along a Shanghai Road by Rob Schmitz

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About Street of Eternal Happiness

Modern Shanghai: a global city in the midst of a renaissance, where dreamers arrive each day to partake in a mad torrent of capital, ideas, and opportunity. Marketplace’s Rob Schmitz is one of them. He immerses himself in his neighborhood, forging deep relationships with ordinary people who see in the city’s sleek skyline a brighter future, and a chance to rewrite their destinies. There’s Zhao, whose path from factory floor to shopkeeper is sidetracked by her desperate measures to ensure a better future for her sons. Down the street lives Auntie Fu, a fervent capitalist forever trying to improve herself with religion and get-rich-quick schemes while keeping her skeptical husband at bay. Up a flight of stairs, musician and café owner CK sets up shop to attract young dreamers like himself, but learns he’s searching for something more. As Schmitz becomes more involved in their lives, he makes surprising discoveries which untangle the complexities of modern China: A mysterious box of letters that serve as a portal to a family’s – and country’s – dark past, and an abandoned neighborhood where fates have been violently altered by unchecked power and greed.

A tale of 21st century China, Street of Eternal Happiness profiles China’s distinct generations through multifaceted characters who illuminate an enlightening, humorous, and at times heartrending journey along the winding road to the Chinese Dream. Each story adds another layer of humanity and texture to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz’s insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world’s most captivating cities.

My Review

I loved the eclectic mix of people Schmitz introduced. We discover Shanghai and China’s history past and present with the future ambiguous.

Schmitz possess a casual yet sharp writing style sucking the reader into the lives of the people depicted. The various stories run from heartbreaking to inspiring. The colorful cast each has a very different view of their country and its history based on generation and political views. CK an entrepreneur determined to succeed, Zhao a smart businesswoman attempting to marry off her son, Auntie Fu caught up in a Ponzi scheme – all scratching and clawing in modern China. Nice comparison between US and China both in similarities and differences. Each person pursuing their dream and each dream is as different as each person. Shanghai offers much yet carving your path is quite a challenge. Fascinating and absorbing read.

About Rob SchmitzA1-GGWtjoEL._UX250_

Rob Schmitz is the China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace, the largest business news program in the U.S. with more than 12 million listeners a week. He has reported on a range of topics illustrating China’s role in the global economy, including trade, politics, the environment, education, and labor. In 2012, Schmitz exposed fabrications in Mike Daisey’s account of Apple’s Chinese supply chain on This American Life, and his report headlined that show’s much-discussed “Retraction” episode. The work was a finalist for the 2012 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award. He has won two national Edward R. Murrow Awards and an award from the Education Writers Association for his reporting on China. Schmitz first arrived to the country in 1996 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Sichuan province. His Marketplace stories can be heard at http://www.marketplace.org/people/rob-schmitz. This is his first book.

Expected publication: May 17th 2016 by Crown

Review: The Removers by Andrew Meredith

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About The Removers

A dark, poignant, and emotionally brave coming-of-age memoir: the story of a young man who, by handling the dead, makes peace with the living.

My Review

Interesting read, taking me by surprise, certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. This was a coming of age story, exploring the bruises left behind of a dysfunctional family. The funeral industry was part of the narrative but not a large portion, enough to provide a glimpse into body removal, cremation.

Meredith has a way with words, his writing is poetically mesmerizing. He’s very open and candid into the turmoil existing within his family as well as bearing his own emotions and stumbles as a result of his family mess during his formative years to adulthood.

As much as I enjoy Meredith’s writing, his veering from one topic to the next jamming the mismatched topics together randomly was frustrating. One moment you would be reading of the cremation oven and immediately read of his father’s indiscretion, this zig zag pattern continuing throughout the narrative. Distracting and disruptive.

Candid memoir from a very gifted writer. I look forward to reading more from this talented writer. His lyrical writing alone makes this worth perusing.

About Andrew Meredithandrew-meredith-431977058

Andrew Meredith has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo and from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He received an MFA in Fiction from UNC-Greensboro. The Removers is his first book.

Published July 15th 2014 by Scribner

Review: I Am a Bacha Posh: My Life as a Woman Living as a Man in Afghanistan by Ukmina Manoori, Peter E Chianchiano Jr. (Translator)

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About I Am a Bacha Posh

“You will be a son, my daughter.” With these stunning words Ukmina learned that she was to spend her childhood as a boy.

In Afghanistan there is a widespread practice of girls dressing as boys to play the role of a son. These children are called bacha posh: literally “girls dressed as boys.” This practice offers families the freedom to allow their child to shop and work—and in some cases, it saves them from the disgrace of not having a male heir. But in adolescence, religion restores the natural law. The girls must marry, give birth, and give up their freedom.

Ukmina decided to confront social and family pressure and keep her menswear. This brave choice paved the way for an extraordinary destiny: she wages war against the Soviets, assists the mujaheddin and ultimately commands the respect of all whom she encounters. She eventually becomes one of the elected council members of her province.

But freedom always has a price. For “Ukmina warrior” that price was her life as a woman. This is a stunning and brave memoir about a little known practice that will challenge your perceptions about gender and the courage it takes to live your life to the fullest.

My Review

Ukima’s brief story is fascinating. I agree with her peers in their estimation of Ukima among the bravest of women in Afghanistan, you will agree as she shares her life from childhood to adulthood living as a bacha posh.

The practice of bacha posh is discussed focusing on the challenges girls face from carrying themselves as boys to returning to life as a female, the transition often troublesome.

The book covers a generous slice of Afghanistan history, culture and traditions.

Excellent memoir demonstrating the length for women to taste freedom against the long arm of Afghanistan history.

Published October 14th 2014 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published October 7th 2014)

Interview: Laura Pedersen, author of Life in New York

LifeinNewYork_Cover_Final_Darker_Telugu copyMy Book Self extends a warm welcome to Laura Pedersen. Thank you for joining My Book Self Laura.

What inspired you to write LIFE IN NEW YORK?

There didn’t seem to be a book about the transformation New York underwent between the decline which started in the 1950s and the rebirth that began in the 1980s, although it has always been a good place for innovation in the arts and playing a pickup game of Three-card Monte on the sidewalk. Because I arrived in 1983, just as things were bottoming out, I felt like I had a ringside seat at the metropolitan circus. Also, the fact that my grandfather arrived in New York in 1923 and my father grew up here helped me go back a few more generations by including several of their stories and observations.

Who or what motivates or inspires you to write in general?

I’ve always enjoyed making people laugh. I was voted class clown in school, but my aim was to make the teachers and administration laugh in addition to the other students. Sometimes that ended badly.

Tell us about your writing background.

I wrote for my school newspapers. I penned my own notes to explain my school absences, usually in sonnet form. After my first book PLAY MONEY came out The New York Times asked me to be a columnist.

Since then I’ve written about 16 books including fiction, nonfiction and 3 for children.

How long does it typically take you to write a first draft?

I tend to work on several projects at once so a draft takes a few months depending on what else is happening in my life. My parents forgot to have more children and then moved 2,000 miles apart so that situation is always good for some unexpected excitement.

Do you employ an editor to assist you in your writing process, or do you work with editors once the book is turned in to your publisher?

After I’ve finished the book I have friends and usually two editors go through it and look for what your ninth grade English teacher liked to call Glaring Errors. I hate turning in manuscripts that contain mistakes.

What topics in LIFE IN NEW YORK, or your life in general, do you think book clubs would find interesting?

I think people who plan to visit NYC will find plenty of good ideas for eating, shopping and entertainment, or else education if they’re interested in museums, architecture and social history. New Yorkers tell me they enjoy the book because it provides a framework for the last three decades and they’re reminded of all their own crazy stories about living here. Former residents say it’s interesting to read about what’s dramatically changed (the murder rate) and what’s stayed exactly the same (the guy trying to charge people $5 to ride the Staten Island Ferry, which is free).

Do you have future projects we can look forward to?

A children’s book called WANDA’S BETTER WAY about girls becoming more involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) subjects.

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow writers?

If you write one page a day by the end of the year you’ll have a book with plenty of time left for a monster winter flu.

Which authors have inspired you?

I love Erma Bombeck. She started with nothing, worked hard, and after succeeding was gracious and generous. She raised tons of money for good causes with her speaking and writing. She endured breast cancer and a mastectomy. Bombeck could’ve used her celebrity to jump the line to get a kidney transplant but she didn’t. We lost her too soon. When I was growing up every home in America had Bombeck’s musings about family life taped to the refrigerator door. You want articles “about nothing” — Bombeck chronicled the performance of mundane tasks like shopping, doing laundry, and carpooling kids and magically made it all sound hilarious and occasionally heartrending. “Never have more children than you have car windows” and “Housework, if you do it right, will kill you.” If you’re a writer, the message here is that anything from the smallest cookie crumb to the biggest dust ball can become your best source of material so pay attention to ordinary routines and don’t avoid cleaning the oven.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your potential readers?

When you’re in NYC a “smidgeon” means a small pigeon. And don’t pay to ride the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free.

About Laura PedersenLaura Pedersen Photo

Laura Pedersen is an author, humorist, and playwright. She was also the youngest person at age twenty to have a seat on the American Stock Exchange, while earning a finance degree at New York University’s Stern School of Business. She wrote for The New York Times and is the author of Play Money, Beginner’s Luck (chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection), Planes Trains, and Auto-Rickshaws, Buffalo Gal and Buffalo Unbound. Her play For Heaven’s Sake! recently completed a run in Buffalo, having been performed Off-Broadway in 2014 under the title The Brightness of Heaven. Her website is LauraPedersenBooks.com.

 

Review: Life in New York: How I Learned to Love Squeegee Men, Token Suckers, Trash Twisters, and Subway Sharks by Laura Pedersen

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Originally from Buffalo, NY, friends thought the seventeen-year-old was suffering from blizzard delirium when she left for Manhattan. Pedersen experiences her adopted city in the best and worst of times while becoming the youngest person to have a seat on the stock exchange, performing stand-up comedy, and writing a column in the New York Times. Neighborhoods that feature chai bars, Pilates studios, and Gymboree were once drug dens, ganglands, and shantytowns. A trip to Central Park often ended in Central Booking, identifying a perp in a lineup.

New Yorkers are as diverse as the city they so colorfully inhabit, cautious but generous, brash but welcoming. Both are captured through the comedic eye of Pedersen. Enjoy an uproarious romp down memory lane as the city emerges as the modern metropolis we know today.

Pedersen takes the reader on a interesting historical and humorous tour of New York City with its distinctive idiosyncrasies and uniqueness making this accepting patchwork city the pulse of America.

Pedersen shares her observations and evolvement with special interest focused on the 80’s not excluding stepping back in time to colonial days while dipping into current times.

I found myself laughing out loud often as I read Pedersen’s descriptions and comments on varying identifiers one associates to New York. If you’re familiar with New York or if you’ve ever wanted to visit – Pedersen’s ‘travelogue’ will entertain you as well as inspire a trip to this maniacal, quirky, vibrant city to see for yourself or reexperience the energy. Her no holds barred style is spot on describing all the calm and chaos of this one of a kind city.

“The one constant throughout New York City’s history has been its ability to change,adapt, and reinvent itself. Restless energy is a defining characteristic.”

A wonderfully written history of New York covering all the bases from the subway system, fashion, graffiti to Wall Street, the many offbeat illuminating facts are eye openers. Pedersen’s comedic gift really made this read a memorable journey on the authentic New York only a ‘local’ could provide. Thanks to Pedersen I feel like an almost honorary New Yorker.

About Laura PedersenLaura Pedersen Photo

Laura Pedersen is an author, humorist, and playwright. She was also the youngest person at age twenty to have a seat on the American Stock Exchange, while earning a finance degree at New York University’s Stern School of Business. She wrote for The New York Times and is the author of Play Money, Beginner’s Luck (chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection), Planes Trains, and Auto-Rickshaws, Buffalo Gal and Buffalo Unbound. Her play For Heaven’s Sake! recently completed a run in Buffalo, having been performed Off-Broadway in 2014 under the title The Brightness of Heaven. Her website is LauraPedersenBooks.com.

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Paperback, 200 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Fulcrum Publishing (first published April 28th 2015)
ISBN13: 9781936218158

Review: Jailhouse Doc: A Doctor in the County Jail by William Wright

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William Wright gave up a suburban practice as an ear surgeon to become the doctor at Colorado’s maximum-security prison.

Jailhouse Doc follows Dr. Wright and his struggles with scamming inmates, corporate bureaucrats, and a sheriff who wants to be a doctor.

Peek behind the bars at the operations of a city jail and the daily battles to deliver medical care to a population on the edge.

Dr Wright is as candid as candid can be. Enlightening to read his perspective on the prison system along with his correctional medicine experience. He explains what lured him to correctional medicine as well as the main cause of exiting. Describing his interactions with inmates is raw yet rather compelling in a few cases. The reader will find the jailed receive thorough medical care, however, upon their release few can afford to continue with care, also many deal with addiction, lack of a proper diet, in other words resources are limited indirectly and/or directly. Dr Wright’s concerns are valid and his personal views, opinions and suggestions give you plenty to mull over.

Dr Wright’s tone is rather harsh, snarky, sarcastic, as you turn the pages and read until the end you find his directness and no-nonsense manner provide the tools required to deal with the more creative and manipulative inmates. I enjoyed his brusqueness and complete honesty. Admittedly his wit left me chuckling out loud, not taking away from the more serious instances.

A solid glimpse into the life of a doctor tending to those in a correctional facility as beauracracy, a power-hungry sheriff poses more of a challenge than the inmates.
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Paperback, 166 pages
Published September 17th 2014 by Wise Media Group (first published September 10th 2014)
ISBN13: 9781629670317