Sunday, May 24, 2015

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter's Quest to Know Him

Texas-born and Harvard-educated, Dr. Perry Baird was a rising medical star in the late 1920s and 1930s. Early in his career, ahead of his time, he grew fascinated with identifying the biochemical root of manic depression, just as he began to suffer from it himself. By the time the results of his groundbreaking experiments were published, Dr. Baird had been institutionalized multiple times, his medical license revoked, and his wife and daughters estranged. He later received a lobotomy and died from a consequent seizure, his research incomplete, his achievements unrecognized.
            Mimi Baird grew up never fully knowing this story, as her family went silent about the father who had been absent for most of her childhood. Decades later, a string of extraordinary coincidences led to the recovery of a manuscript which Dr. Baird had worked on throughout his brutal institutionalization, confinement, and escape. This remarkable document, reflecting periods of both manic exhilaration and clear-headed health, presents a startling portrait of a man who was a uniquely astute observer of his own condition, struggling with a disease for which there was no cure, racing against time to unlock the key to treatment before his illness became impossible to manage. 
     Fifty years after being told her father would forever be “ill” and “away,” Mimi Baird set off on a quest to piece together the memoir and the man. In time her fingers became stained with the lead of the pencil he had used to write his manuscript, as she devoted herself to understanding who he was, why he disappeared, and what legacy she had inherited. The result of his extraordinary record and her journey to bring his name to light is He Wanted the Moon, an unforgettable testament to the reaches of the mind and the redeeming power of a determined heart.

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (February 17, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804137471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804137478

  • My take:
    The first part of the book and when it jumped into the writings of Mr. Baird I loved. It gripped me. Reading about the institution(s) and how he was treated, treatments they used on him, and his overall experience in the mental ward I loved.  the last half of the book seemed weak to me. I think this could have been written a lot better.  I wanted to know the author's take on his writings throughout the book.  There is very little of herself, her opinion of it all, until the end.  Parts just kind of left me hanging.  Overall, I give it 3 stars.

    "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

    Tharon Ann: From orphan, to actress, to mother, to seeker

    "Tharon Ann" is a memoir of one woman's life, from orphan, to actress, to mother, to seeker, as the book's byline summarizes. It is written in several voices as her life progresses; the first, her childhood, a voice reminiscent of Faulkner, Williams, and other southern writers; the second, that of an actress who takes us with her into the world of movies, theatre, and television; the third, of a wife and mother who as a single parent, along with her small boys, puts us into the "Old Chevy with a suitcase tied to the top" trekking cross-country to a new life; and finally, the fourth about the richest part of her life, which allows us access into a fantastic journey of the spirit, with openness, humor, and charm. The book is more than a memoir in the traditional sense. It is a road map, a guide on determination, on achievement against all odds on that thing called hope.

    About the Author
    Jennifer lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with her husband, musician Doug Brookins. They frequently travel to India, and based upon those experiences, she is writing the sequel to "Tharon Ann," about their travels in the Punjab, India, and the fascination with a country considered to be the cradle of humanity.

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Willow Grove Press (April 22, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0692239960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0692239964

  • click to purchase

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    Sandpiper Dreams: Sequel to "The Inheritance"

    In the sequel to The Inheritance, we meet the beautiful Carlita Mendoza of Belize and share her journey of love and painful loss; we travel the tunnels of abandonment and depression as Carlita longs for the return of her first love, Devin Andersen. Sandpiper Dreams is the story of a frightened young girl who eventually evolves into a confident and intelligent woman and manages to break through the veil of sadness. All the while, Eduardo Calderon, a private investigator, relentlessly searches for Devin Andersen, and Carlita dares to love again after a chance encounter with a childhood friend. When the lives of Carlita Mendoza and the Andersen family intersect, Devin Andersen's exploits are finally exposed. Sandpiper Dreams is a beautifully rendered novel set against the exotic backdrop of the Belizean shoreline, where the little sandpiper birds flutter along in life much like their human counterparts.

    About the Author

    During her 27 years of teaching, Carol Bradley enjoyed encouraging her students to develop their creative abilities through writing. She has spent the past 15 years in administration, involved in curriculum development. She also mentors new teachers and enjoys helping them with organizational skills. Carol and her husband Ron have been married for fifty years and have four adult children plus nine grandchildren. Sandpiper Dreams is the sequel to Carol's first novel, The Inheritance.
  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press (February 24, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1478751266
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478751267


    Step Forward America! A Case for a National Service Program by Ted Hollander

    Everyone agrees that America is in crisis, and that urgent action is needed if we are to maintain our status as the world's greatest superpower. However, it seems that nobody can agree on how to save our failing nation. Step Forward America! makes a compelling case for a National Service program, which would benefit America as a country by motivating and educating our youth to become engaged citizens of our nation and of the world. With clear reasoning, supported by nationally recognized political journalists and government and military officials, this book outlines the logistics, potential protocols, and vast benefits of a National Service program that includes both military and civilian options. Step Forward America! is an invaluable tool for supporters of National Service...and if you're a skeptic, this book may very well change your opinion. Step forward with an open mind, and learn how each citizen of America can contribute to the healthy future of our country.

    About the Author

    Mr. Hollander graduated from Harvard University in 1957, and after a tour of duty in the Marine Corps, joined the Presray Corporation, which currently manufactures watertight and airtight doors and barriers for flood protection and hazard containment. He currently serves as Presray's board chairman, and he is past chairman of the New Milford Hospital in Connecticut.
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press (December 23, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1478743751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478743750


    The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering by Jeffrey Rotter

    A darkly comic, wildly original novel of a family in flight from the law, set in a near-future America -- a Clockwork Orange with a Huck Finn heart
    In a not-so-distant future, astronomy has become a fairy tale, Copernicus is forgotten, and the Earth has resumed its lonely spot in the center of the universe. But when an ancient bunker containing a preserved space vehicle is discovered beneath the ruins of Cape Canaveral, it has the power to turn this retrograde world inside out.
    Enter the Van Zandt clan, whose run-ins with the law leave them with a no-win choice: test-pilot the rocket together as a family or be sent separately to prison for life. Their decision sets off an antic and heartbreaking search for human solace in a world bent on isolation, as the Van Zandts embark on an unforgettable road trip across the ass-end of an America only slightly more dissolute than our own.
    Uniquely tying an absurdist future to gut-bucket wit, The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering hauls our dark humanity into the light and shows us the precious places where it gleams.

    About the Author

    Jeffrey Rotter is the author of The Unknown Knowns, which was a New York Times Editor's Choice. His writing has appeared in The Oxford American, The New York Observer, McSweeney's, and elsewhere. He has assembled modular furnishings at NORAD, dressed up as Clifford the Big Red Dog for Texas school children, and written romance copy for flower-seed packets. He now resides in Brooklyn, New York, where he's edging ever closer to Green-Wood Cemetery and the eternal verdict of the earthworm.

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; First Edition edition (April 7, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1627791523
  • ISBN-13: 978-1627791526

    Well worth the read!  Funny at times.  But a very serious book as well. Great job on this one Mr. Rotter.

    A Flag for the Flying Dragon by Carole P. Roman

    A Flag For The Flying Dragon

    It's business as usual on the Flying Dragon. Their mission is to find a flag for the ship. Captain No Beard sighs, "Being a captain is hard work," as he watches the busy crew preparing the vessel for their next adventure. Polly is giving out pretzels; Linus is polishing a lamp. Matie is cracking coconuts, Cayla is stuffing holes, and Hallie is swabbing the deck. High overhead, trouble is brewing, and it is not the weather. Mongo does not want any help from the newest crew member, and it is creating a hurricane of a mess on board. The team must come together and find a task that will fit Zachary without interfering with their own fun. On the way, they acquire a flag that will unite them as both friends and crew. Join the problem-solving crew of the Flying Dragon as they find a flag for their ship and a job for Zach.

    A sweet children's book with great illustrations.
  • Paperback: 46 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1507826923
  • ISBN-13: 978-1507826928

    The Adventures of Yia Yia and Lucey by Patricia M. Linaris

    Click to purchase

    Omnipotent. That’s Yia Yia, as she’s able to traipse through life oblivious to the mayhem that she leaves behind. Sharing the adventures is her mocking know it all Cock-a-Poo, Lucey who has her own delusions of grandeur. Together they managed to write their fantasy exploits to Yia’s grandkids over the years. One letter being a little more outrageous than the last, but always showing Yia Yia’s naiveté and Lucey’s jaded outlook. Sort of like good cop, bad cop, but with tongue in cheek absurdity. Yia Yia and Lucey meet and interact with all sorts of interesting types during their adventures. From family members to street people, doctors, police, nuns, bikers and even some shady undercover government men, all don’t escape the mad cap escapades rooted in Yia Yia’s imagination. You’ll meet the many characters that come to life with the illustrations sprinkled throughout the text. In lieu of chapters, the book is divided into years that the letters were written and sent. Oh yes, did I mention that Yia Yia actually mailed these letters to the grandkids at sleep away camp? Extras were written when they returned home and curiosity demanded more stories about Yia Yia and Lucey. Although composed for older kids, the book transcends the generations and reaches out to all ages with good-natured stories of a grandmother’s ability to live life to the fullest. What senior citizen wouldn’t love to be that invincible? What youngster wouldn’t love to have a Yia Yia like her? What grown child of Yia Yia wouldn’t be embarrassed? And of course, who wouldn’t want a dog like Lucey? (Actually, if you know someone, please send Yia their number.)

  • Print Length: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Outskirts Press, Inc. (February 8, 2015)


    Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    The Jottery by Andy Selsberg

    The Jottery: Thought Experiments for Everyday Philosophers and Part-Time Geniuses                                

    In The Jottery, you'll find a series of prompts, suggestions, commands, and questions that are intended to cause neurons to fire and a spectrum of ideas to surface--possibly good, potentially useful, conceivably profitable, maybe illuminating, and hopefully amusing. There's also a chance you'll come up with nothing, and experience a beautiful "idea-lessness" that would be the envy of Zen monks everywhere. Also a win.

    Think of this as The Book of Questions for creative types, from writers and artists, to idea gurus and daydreamers, perfect for writing classes, train rides, parties, meditation retreats, game nights, insomnia bouts, lulls in dates or low points in relationships, company brainstorming meetings, waiting rooms, therapy sessions, and more. The dozens of ingenious prompts include:
    • You create something called Soul Lotion. What are the best places to rub it? (Don’t limit your answer to human body parts.)
    • You're commissioned to design a bridge to nowhere. Briefly describe possible nowheres you might build it to.
    • Where did the fun go? Suggest four hyper-specific places. If you do manage to track the fun down and tie it to a chair, what do you do or do with it?
    • You're commissioned to write a pilot script for a post-apocalyptic sitcom. It’s based not on the next post-apocalyptic period, but the one after that, after a new civilization arises and collapses. What are seven things you do to celebrate this cool new job?
    • You design vending machines that sell things that are not physical objects. Like what? And for how much?
    • List twelve things you can have instead of “it all.”
    • List a handful of elevator tension-breakers, and a handful of elevator tension-makers.

    My all-time fav type of book!  Whether you are hanging around with a loved one, chillin with the kids, or having a fun party at your home, this book is so much fun!  Get the conversations going!  Why just sit there and talk about boring 'ol politics and the like...really discuss some "what-if's" in your life?  Have you ever thought about things beyond the norm? 
    Take for example this one:

    *List 6 tips for the postmodern dater.

    or how about this one:

    *What are the 5 least worthy charities?

    A fun book, for sure. comes paperback. Easy to handle. Easy to read through all the fun pages. Have some fun with the family now!  Pick this great little book up. You won't be displeased.

    click to purchase

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Books (May 5, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399171460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399171468


    Sunday, May 3, 2015


    “I’m trying to meditate one day but urgent thoughts keep intruding. Don’t forget to take cupcakes to school! I have to prepare for my presentation for the wellness conference! Is that lunch with the other moms tomorrow or next week? My to-do list is stampeding through my mind, trampling any chance of tranquility. I feel overwhelmed, yes, but there’s more: I feel…guilty. Guilty that I’m taking on too much, guilty that I’m not doing anything well, guilty that I’m giving short shrift to my kids, my husband, my job. And what about you, Mallika? a quiet voice asks. How are you shortchanging yourself?

    Living with Intent is a chronicle of Mallika Chopra’s search to find more meaning, joy, and balance in life. She hopes that by telling her story, she can inspire others with her own successes (and failures) as well as share some of the wisdom she has gathered from friends, experts, and family along the way— people like her dad, Deepak, as well as Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, Arianna Huffington, Andrew Weil, and Dan Siegel. She also provides a practical road map for how we can all move from thought to action to outcome. Each chapter is devoted to one step on her journey and another piece of her INTENT action plan: Incubate, Notice, Trust, Express, Nurture, and Take Action. Chopra’s insights and advice will help us all come closer to fully living the lives we truly intend.

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (April 7, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804139857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804139854

  • This book is amazing.  This is not the first time I've heard of living with intent, mindfulness, or staying present; however, Ms. Chopra does a fabulous job of explaining what this all means.  She is great at presenting her ideas and how to make them useful in our everyday lives.  At the back of the book there are many blank pages, almost like a journal, to document your own thoughts and intentions each and every day.  There is a 'mind map' section blank as well to fill out.  Overall I enjoyed this book. Easy, quick read. 

    "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."