Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Over Sixty-Shades of Gray: A Journey Through Life's Later Years

Here is one of the latest titles I've recently had the pleasure to review, I enjoyed this read and highly recommend it to anyone 50+

Over-Sixty: Shades of Gray: A Journey Through Life's Later YearsOver-Sixty: Shades of Gray: A Journey Through Life's Later Years by Barbara Paskoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is a contemporary, uplifting look into the years of living sixty and beyond. Delivered with much-needed humor to lighten the load, the reader is successfully transported through the realities of getting older and how to best approach, and cope with, these changes when they arise.
This comprehensive overview will open your mind to matters you may not have already encountered or thought of and where health is placed at the forefront, providing a snapshot into some of life’s more serious challenges we might unluckily be faced with at some time or another. But don’t feel completely disheartened, for it’s not all doom and gloom as you might expect. Yes, health plays a major role in ageing, we all know that, but what about the positive up-side to getting older? And, yes, there seems there is an up-side. Retirement frees oneself up. So what about all that spare time on your hands; what will you do with that now? And how about the finances? Are they all in check? These are the type of questions that will get you thinking and where basic know-how is offered to provide some invaluable forethought. And then there’s the fun part of pre-planning one’s funeral that you might not have already thought about, where author Barbara Paskoff has it all worked out: “I’m making a guest list. If your name isn’t on it, it means I wouldn’t be caught dead with you.”
While each topic lends itself almost as a personal essay through the author’s own experiences, the messages conveyed remain effective, providing enough of an overview for the reader to make their own informed decisions and draw on their own conclusions, supported with both summaries and professional resources neatly tying up each chapter end.
I read through this book with the greatest of interest, particularly because I’m not yet sixty and, with saying that, I believe this book is not just precise for readers of that age group, nor is it gender specific; however, I did find that the book tends to lean a little more towards female interest than male. In fact, readers in their fifties (like myself) would find this book with true appreciation, providing a much-needed and important early insight, where time is the essence and pre-knowledge could hold the key before things sneak-up announced, which might, in fact, give a greater opportunity to overcome or avoid some obstacles otherwise left too late.
This a straight-forward, positive, go-to-guide that offers pre-planning and foresight on entering and living through our later years of life that will become a great resource for reference.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Bryce Courtenay on Writing and other stuff

Recently I picked up a copy of Bryce Courtenay's
The Silver Moon - Reflections on Life, Death and Writing.
I have to be honest, out of eight titles I own of Bryce Courtenay's, I have only managed to read two of them from start to finish.  April Fools Day, published in 1993 was one of those titles, the other was The Power Of One, published in 1989. 

The Silver Moon is a portrait of Bryce's work where he as the title suggests reflects upon his life before, during and after becoming a popular fiction writer.  You get to see Bryce not only as a writer / storyteller but as a husband, father and friend.  

I loved reading through and absorbing the abundance of advice he provides for anyone who wants to be a good writer, to improve their writing and grasp the basic necessity's in understanding what is most important in being successful in storytelling.  

I wish I had been fortunate enough to attend one of Bryce Courtenay's masterclasses. I think the personal gratification in meeting him and learning from his valuable lessons would've been second to none.  His courses stretched out over five days within several countries including Australia - with the National Library of Canberra home to these classes.  I think it would've been nice to look back, especially now Bryce Courtenay has passed away and say, I was fortunate enough to meet and learn from this guy.  

Here's a quote that stood out for me.  It's not just a play on words, a thought or process, but it resonates and has meaning, it's the truth and everyone can place themselves somewhere within this tier of life.
"You live three lives.  
One growing up; one being responsible, paying the mortgage and having kids, and one being yourself.  I'm in my third stage." he tells.

One of Bryce's teachings of writing, not just popular fiction, but any writing, is considering your reader as paramount ( treat them as a fourth protagonist) after all your telling them the story and their listening attentively, so keep their attention alive.

"Writing is about practice and practice takes time."

"Writing requires thinking at a deeper level than most things, and most writers find that they grow intellectually in the process of writing."

If you're a writer, like myself, then perhaps like me you understand the last passage.  I often have people say to me I'm a deep thinker, but I've never associated that thought with me as a writer; now I do.  And yes, as writers we must become more intellectual because we learn so much through writing.

The Silver Moon, should be every writers ambition to read at least once; for me, I believe it should be an essential addition among my books on writing, taking pride of place among the rest of them. I'm so glad I picked this book up at the library and got to read it, learn from it and gain a respect for Bryce Courtenay I wouldn't have otherwise known.   
"I'm a storyteller.
Some people are plumbers, some people are doctors, some are lawyers.
I'm a storyteller."

Thursday, 5 July 2018

NEW BOOK TITLE - Our Own Little Fictions

Hi bloggers, well as you all should know by now I have an unrelenting addiction for memoir, so I have ceased the opportunity to showcase Ron Rhody's latest piece of work titled Our Own Little Fictions (ironically).

Ron's book received a 4 star rating review from San Francisco Book Review, which is available to read below, and available for purchase at the following link Amazon, happy reading.
Our Own Little Fictions by Ron Rhody
 San Francisco Book Review – 4 Stars

Book Summary
This is a story about a slice of time, and a place, and cluster of people worth remembering. It begins in a small river town in the Bluegrass of Kentucky and concerns itself with beginnings and becomings, with home places and who you can count on, and where untaken roads lead. A few early readers comments “A beautifully written remembrance of a young man lifted and loved through the sheer ordinariness of family and coming of age. Well worth the read.” - Cynthia Kasabian, CKB Consultants, San Francisco. "An unconventional book but strangely engaging. Not a 'must read.' But definitely a 'glad I did read.'" - Annette Bowen, Inside/Outside, Atlanta. “Fascinating! This book is like a conversation on paper.” - Charlie Baglan, Kentucky Afield radio, Frankfort, Ky. “Deeply personal, often moving.” - Bob Irelan, author, Rancho Murrieta. Ca. "Thought provoking. It causes readers, especially in today's all-consuming digital world, to reflect on how memories have shaped their lives." - Joseph Piedmont, Gallatin Public Affairs (Ret.) Portland, Or. Each life is a story. Each story is unique. If we don’t tell each other our stories, how will we know what life is all about? Pretend you’re listening.

According to Ron Rhody’s wife, he is not eligible for authoring a memoir. He hasn’t won an Oscar or an MVP or a Nobel prize. And yet Rhody has a story he wants, needs, to tell. His story. And so that’s how he will tell it to us: as one of Our Own Little Fictions.

Reminiscent of Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell, Rhody meanders through his memory and down the real roads he’s traveled all over the U.S., from his beloved Frankfort, Kentucky, to California and back (via Florida and Alabama) and then back out to California. Along this circuitous route through his youth, manhood, and ancestry, we encounter all sorts of colorful characters, historical events, family triumphs, and tragedies, which in large part amount to the man whose story we’re being told.

The place closest to Rhody’s heart is clearly Frankfort, Kentucky. It is there his father, a newspaperman, fought for civil rights and to put down roots for his forward-thinking family. Though a wanderlust would uproot the Rhodys and send them all over the U.S., Kentucky kept calling them back to the heart of the heart of their country. In Our Little Fictions, Frankfort is origin and refuge, and it serves as the Ithaca of the author’s Odyssey.

These chronicles of Rhody contain all the joy and pain of an American life that spans the Cold War to the present. We meet his parents, grandparents, wife and children, friends and mentors. From animated anecdotes of a hard-nosed football coach doling out life lessons to the memorial for a dear friend and author of “sixteen erudite books,” we witness a life pass in time-lapse frames of laconic, Hemingwayesque prose.

Hemingway and his suicide haunt the narrative beginning to end. On a road trip from California to Kentucky, Rhody and his son make a scheduled detour to Hemingway’s home in Idaho (where he’d put the shotgun in his mouth).

“It seemed wrong that Hemingway had killed himself.
Nature should have gotten him.
Or chance.”
Later in the narrative and earlier in time, news of Hemingway’s suicide reaches Rhody, and he reflects on the premature tragedy, as well as his own (missed?) calling. These two time periods intermingle, and Rhody leaves Idaho with “an answer to a question I hadn’t known I’d asked.” Authorship was an alternative path he’d bypassed only to embark upon late in life.

Late in life, indeed. The long road approaches its end and the loss of loved ones is an inevitability. Each story has the same conclusion, alas, and many of the characters we encounter in this Appalachian saga pass on in heartrending deathbed scenes and austere funerals. The depiction of these tragedies is sentimental, even cliched, but anything less/more would not be true to life. It is the commonality of these cliches that arise in endless variations, like updates of Shakespeare.

No, Ron Rhody is no Prince Hamlet, nor was he meant to be, but his story of “becoming,” with its conduplicatio, terse punch-lines, and homespun wisdom, is one that will always be in need of telling and retelling.

Reviewed By: Steven Felicelli

Ron RhodyAuthor Bio:
Ron Rhody has been a reporter, a sportswriter, and a broadcast journalist before morphing into a career as a corporate public relations executive. He's done four novels. This is his first stab at a "sort-of-memoir." Find more info at     http://www.outerbankspublishing.com

Over Sixty-Shades of Gray: A Journey Through Life's Later Years

Here is one of the latest titles I've recently had the pleasure to review, I enjoyed this read and highly recommend it to anyone 50+ ...