Book Report

It’s no secret I am a huge fan of Roxane Gay. Her books Bad Feminist, Difficult Women and Hunger are are true literary treasures to me.

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So I was thrilled to get my  hands on Gay’s first collection of short stories Ayiti, which chronicles the complex lives of American’s of Haitian descent, Haitian immigrants and those still living in Haiti. Ayiti examines topics like love and sex, family relationships, education, politics, racism, sexual identity, fitting in (or not) and so much more. And Ayiti is written in Gay’s notable and remarkable voice. Now I’ve got to read Gay’s novel Untamed State.

Book Marks: Special Readin’, Writin’ and Rantin’ Edition

Several days ago an econ professor from LIU (Long Island University) by the name of Panos Mourdoukoutas wrote a ridiculous op-ed for Forbes.coms complaining about his taxes shouldn’t go to libraries because we have Amazon.com. Not surprisingly, this op-ed piece didn’t go over for those of us who love libraries and all they do to make our communities vibrant places to live and thrive.

Not surprisingly the nutty professor’s ridiculous op-ed didn’t go over well and countless library folks ripped him a new one via his Twitter and other outlets.
Forbes.com deleted the op-ed piece and issued an apology.

I read Mourdoukoutas’s original op-ed and nearly lost my cookies. It was not the way I wanted to start my weak. I wanted to chuck my smart phone across the room. Libraries are sacred places to me, and they offer so much more than books, DVDs, CDs, etc. They are community centers for young and old alike. They offer help for job seekers or people looking to upgrade various skills. People can use the Internet for free and printing, faxing and copying for a small fee. Children can go to story hours, people can hold meetings for, and teens can pick up that latest YA novel. Librarians are angels on earth and I’m always welcomed with a smile and a helping hand whenever I go to my local librarians. Libraries and my library card are essential as breathing so I have absolutely no problem with taxes going to libraries.

As for you Mourdoukoutas? You are about essential as a stroke.

Book Review: Synod by Dan Gunderman


In Dan Gunderman’s historical fiction novel Synod it is 1829 and Goldfinch with his traveling companion, a freed slave named Solomon are on journey through the northern part of New Jersey.

Goldfinch is the leader of Synod, a community of abolitionists and a refuge for escaped slaves during the early years of the Underground Railroad, which takes precedence as this novel unfolds.

Goldfinch is both reserved and not exactly the warmest man. He is also subject to odd visions and distracting dreams. These visions and dreams are hugely violent and predict a violent end to Synod and its mission. The message is Synod will meet its fate when attacked by bounty hunters from the South who want to take the escaped slaves back to their owners.

Goldfinch, Solomon and most of the people who make up Synod agree they must take up arms to fight this potential attack. But is this the truly best option?

Woven throughout this novel are real people like Governor Peter Dumont Vroom and Lyman and Catherine Beecher. So are issues of rivalry, jealousy, betrayal, sex, envy and love. Along for this novel’s journey includes violence, suspense, drama and unsavory political doings.  All these elements give Synod a multidimensional depth and meaning. Clearly,  Gunderman did his homework.

However, I wasn’t keen on the supernatural aspects of this novel. Synod doesn’t need it. It stands alone as a singular work of historical fiction.

Furthermore, Synod is best to be read the darker and colder days of autumn and winter. It’s a bit too heavy during the dog days of summer when many of us want to read lighter fair.

Nevertheless, in a time of deeply imbedded racism, Synod is an important work of fiction.

 

 

 

 

Writers Block

Sorry about the lack of updated material on this blog but in the past week real life has intervened.

However, I am about to start work on a book review and maybe a couple of publicity pieces. I also want to do a Q and A session with a publicist who has sent me quite a few books to read and review.

Your patience is appreciated.

We Interrupt This Blog for this Special and Important Announcement

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Born in Wisconsin and raised in Illinois, Patrick Canning now calls California home where he lives with his dog Hank. Canning has written several books, a collection of short stories called Five Fantastic and a novel named Cryptofauna. Canning’s latest offering is novel The Colonel and the Bee.

The Colonel and The Bee is about an explorer and an acrobat who travel the globe on a huge hot air balloon. On their spectacular journey, the duo search for a treasured artifact and a deadly treasure hunter who also desires it.

Canning sums up The Colonel and The Bee with the following:

“Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world of the halcyon 19th century, a time when the last dark corners of the map were being sketched out and travel still possessed a kind of magic.

One night in Switzerland, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix’s show. This larger-than-life English gentleman, reputed to have a voracious appetite for female conquests, is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon called The Ox.

Beatrix flees that night to join the Colonel, and the two of them make a narrow escape—Beatrix from her abusive ringleader, the Colonel from a freshly-made cuckold. Beatrix, feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, pledges to help him catch the criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his magnificent balloon.

The criminal seeks a precious figurine, The Blue Star Sphinx, but he’s not alone. The Sphinx’s immense value has also drawn the attention of the world’s most deadly treasure hunters. A murder in Antwerp begins a path of mystery that leads all the way to the most isolated island on Earth.”

Here is more information about The Colonel and the Bee:

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Author’s Website

Author’s Instagram

Amazon Link

Good Reads

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Herding Tigers-Be the Leader That Creative People Need by Todd Henry

“Much of the dysfunction and tension that exists in the workplace is the result of highly creative people’s needs not being met. If you step back and examine the patterns, you’ll find that a lot of bad behavior occurs when there is poor or inattentive leadership”-Todd Henry

And that, my fellow citizens of the Island of the Misfit Creatives is the gist of Toddy Henry’s practical, timely and eye-opening book Herding Tigers: Be the Leader That Creative People Want.

There is an idea that dealing and managing creative types is like managing cats, but Todd thinks that idea is insulting to creative types. No, it’s more like herding tigers-creative types are often brilliant, driven and need the proper environment to bring all their talents that provide results that satisfy management, clients and yes, creative types.

After a brief introduction, the book leads off with a chapter on what creative people need. It also dispels myths about creative types. These myths include concepts like creative types wanting full control to create and we’re obsessed with working on ideas that are considered “cool.” Creative types are totally insecure (when we aren’t being total egomaniacs). Creative types are flaky and flighty and lack analytical ability and business acumen.

Okay, we got the myths out of the way. But what do we need in the workplace? Creative people need both stability (clarity and protection) and challenge (permission and faith) to thrive in the workplace.

Now, this is easier said than done and Henry builds on this theory throughout Herding Tigers. After providing us a clear mantra on what creatives need. Herding Tigers divides itself into two distinct parts. The first part implores management to focus on its current mindset. In the second part Henry shares the mechanics when it comes to leading creative types for both established management and for those who go from being peers to management.

While reading Herding Tigers I kept nodding my head, thinking to myself, “Yes, someone who gets it!” I also felt a wee bit bereft because as a creative it is Henry’s idea of managing creatives, which has been missing the most in my life as a working creative. I’ve often felt misunderstood, caught up in feelings of lost, angry and stuck in places where I should have flourished. If I was queen of the world, every manager and every organization that relies on work by creative types, would be required by law to read this book and implement Henry’s wise, compassion and practical advice, concepts and checkpoints when handling me and my fellow tigers. And don’t worry managers of Tigers, Henry is also in your corner. He truly cares about all of us. (And to be honest, I think Herding Tigers is just a good management book even if you’re not leading creative types).

Herding Tigers is a book that I can imagine reading again and again. In fact, my copy is littered with little post-its, highlighting passages and ideas that I agree with or I find interesting and valuable. I’ve also written down Henry’s advice in a notebook to refer to again and again.

I highly recommend Toddy Henry’s Herding Tigers to both management and creatives. Creatives will recognize themselves and management will be enlightened by Henry’s timeless and timely book. Herding Tigers isn’t just one of the best books on leadership I have read this year; it just might be one of the best books leadership I’ve ever read.

We Interrupt This Blog for This Special and Important Announcement!

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According to Sheryl Dee, her book Rhythm and the Body Electric is contemporary romantic fiction that is as turns dark, funny and quite erotic. It follows a woman’s journey to life that fulfills her both emotionally and creatively even though she has to deal with several personal obstacles along the way. Interspersed throughout Rhythm and the Body Electric is Dee’s provocative and sensual poetry.

Speak in Short Words

Speak in short words, each breath stolen from the divine.

Slip the grip of time. 

Slay beastly doubts with dazzling strokes.

Open your throat. Eat your foe. 

Burn, build or braid a way.

Heal with hands, hymns and heat. 

Give more than you get.

Sing a unified theory in ten lines or less. 

Each day, chase genius. Find grace.

The following is a brief synopsis of Rhythm and the Body Electric provided by the author:

“Virginia’s got her sexy, silly groove back and is ready to rock the world, but will love, lust and dangerous desire kill the music?

Environmental engineer Virginia “V.” Will, the youngest in a protective, Southern family, has played it safe for years. The death of her adventurous mother is a wake-up call. At age 39, V. leaves her job and joins the D.C. band Love Bunny as a drummer, but she wants more than just a drum throne and a voyeur’s view of the wild parties of her twenty-something bandmates. Just when she thinks her family was wrong about the dangers of the nightlife, she starts feeling very out of sorts at a band party. And did she just hallucinate her favorite actor Jack Leeds? Not good.

Jack Leeds knows how to blend into the background to enjoy a beautiful talent. He sees V. at a Love Bunny show. He must have her. He plans to approach V. at a listening party, where her odd behavior interrupts his kinky preoccupations. Can he keep her safe and protect his TV career and his heart?

Hot sex, soulful art, empowerment, obsession and violent secrets give the lust and love story of Jack and V. its own seductive rhythm, now accentuated with layered, provocative and lyrical pieces from the author (me), an award-winning poet.

Fans of BWWM romance, leading ladies with a sense of humor, power exchange, poetry, erotica and nerds getting love will have a blast dancing to the beat of Jack and V.”

Ms. Dee was also kind enough to provide a glimpse of Rhythm and the Body Electric through the first chapter:

Chapter 1 Bold Bunny Beat

Rumble and caress cohere. As the beat fades, sorrow and hope wash over me in waves.

Gavin tips his pork pie hat and says, “And that, my friends, is yet another reason we’re so lucky to have our V. Show some love for her.”

Scattered across the crowd, my friends clap and hoot. The love on their faces lifts me.

Gavin introduces the fans’ favorite Love Bunny song. The energy elevates. I scan the den for my college pal until Zander the DJ blocks my view.

“Yo, great remix, V.,” Zander says. “Let’s toast to drummers getting some love tonight.”

This drummer already has. And she doesn’t plan to share it with a disconcerting DJ.

No, no. Let me be gracious. This night’s been amazing. I can at least be civil.

I smile at Zander. His goatee’s darker and his blonde hair’s lighter than I recall. He hands me an open bottle of ale from my favorite local brewer. I take in a big mouthful and am surprised at its sweetness. I check the label. Summer blend at a fall soiree, no biggee. I swallow.

“Hey girl, about that song,” Zander says in his incongruously deep voice.

I talk with Zander for minutes. He drones on about his approach to production.

“I wish this rapper I heard would get that.”

“He probably does,” he says.

“She has cool flow. Her empowerment message is amazing. Her tracks are just too thin.” 

“Maybe I should holler at her, professionally,” he says.

“You should try. She’s D.C. born and raised.”

“Local. Cool. We could get that chedda,” he says.

“OK, but she’s about something. She won a grant for social entrepreneurship.”  

“Does she keep it real?” he says. “I can’t stand fake shit.”

“She’s as real as gentrification.”

Gavin announces the last two songs before I can tell Zander the rapper’s name. Maybe that’s a good break for her.

The choice of the manager plays. The crowd claps. The new song unfurls. It ends to loud applause. My heartbeat thumps like a scared rabbit. I wonder if the excitement’s gotten to me.

I see my friends out, trying not to let on at my dizziness. I wait in line for the bathroom. I wash my face with cool water to little lasting effect.

I spot Pei. I doubt I can cross the dining room without stumbling.

“Pei, I better head out.”

“Girl, ya had a few too many. Ya better sit down before ya fall down,” Pei says.

“I didn’t finish a drink, not one.”

“I gotta schmooze,” Pei says as she tucks a lock of blue hair behind her ear. “I’ll get Zander to set ya up with some chips and a quiet spot upstairs ‘til we drive ya home.”

I fight to control my bottom lip. It feels stretchy.

I hate being drunk. I’d only had half the ale. Is low tolerance another vagary of aging?

The dining room’s tilting. I may’ve been drugged. I should be incensed. Am I floating?

Zander guides me up tricky stairs. I wobble by a guy who looks like my favorite fantasy lover, Jackson Leeds. Same strong jaw and soul-stirring eyes.

I must be hallucinating. I’m definitely unwinding. Here’s hoping all my trips are as lovely as Jackson.

Book Info
Author: Sheryl Dee
Page Count: 200 (more with the poems)
Word Count: 50,000
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Author Bio: 
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Sheryl Dee is a writer, drummer, researcher, voice over artist and more. She studied creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill and took Poetry for the People at UC Berkeley. She won the first Pearl Street Publishing author fellowship and a Gemini Magazine poetry contest. 513 206 0278