The Assumption of Death by Anthony David Vernon

The Assumption of Death by Anthony David Vernon
Publisher: Alien Buddha Press
Genre: Non-Fiction, Poetry
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

“By turns charming and deeply disturbing, this collection of poems and meditations enthralls and mystifies. This is an engaging and mesmerizing kaleidoscope of ideas about mortality, infinity, and the very essence of being, and it is one of the most captivating hybrid collections I have ever read. I expect that Anthony David Vernon, this exciting new voice in literature, will be thrilling his readers for many years to come.”
– José Sotolongo

Don’t look away from death. Ask it questions instead.

My favorite passages were the ones that used metaphors from nature to explain concepts that could be a little slippery on their own. For example, one poem reminded the audience that “a spider must work with the web that they weave,” and another one made me smile when it said “time to time I come to paths that result in dead ends. But I found that dead ends can lead to clearings.” It was easy for me to imagine those scenes and then play around with them to understand why it’s important to work with the tools you’ve been given or what the advantages are to following a thought to some of its natural conclusions even if it wanders off of the beaten path at first.

The speakers in this collection kept circling around to the idea that death might not happen to everyone. They gave examples from stories about people who either never died or ended their lives in mystical ways. I kept wishing the speakers would go into greater detail about what they meant and how those statements should be woven into some of the other sections that only seemed tangentially related to immortality at first glance.

Some of the most intriguing sections were the ones that teased out the difference between dying and death. There are numerous records of people’s experiences with dying, but death itself cannot be charted in quite the same way. Most books that explore this concept do so from a particular religious perspective, but Mr. Vernon did not do that. His thoughts on the topic could be applied to people from any religion just as easily as they could be applied to people who aren’t interested in that subject at all. Death is a mystery, and the author embraced every aspect of it.

The Assumption of Death had a unique perspective on the topics of death and immortality.

The Unseen Body by Jonathan Reisman, M.D.

The Unseen Body by Jonathan Reisman, M.D.
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

In this fascinating journey through the human body and across the globe, Dr. Reisman weaves together stories about our insides with a unique perspective on life, culture, and the natural world.

Jonathan Reisman, M.D.―a physician, adventure traveler and naturalist―brings readers on an odyssey navigating our insides like an explorer discovering a new world with The Unseen Body. With unique insight, Reisman shows us how understanding mountain watersheds helps to diagnose heart attacks, how the body is made mostly of mucus, not water, and how urine carries within it a tale of humanity’s origins.

Through his offbeat adventures in healthcare and travel, Reisman discovers new perspectives on the body: a trip to the Alaskan Arctic reveals that fat is not the enemy, but the hero; a stint in the Himalayas uncovers the boundary where the brain ends and the mind begins; and eating a sheep’s head in Iceland offers a lesson in empathy. By relating rich experiences in far-flung lands and among unique cultures back to the body’s inner workings, he shows how our organs live inextricably intertwined lives―an internal ecosystem reflecting the natural world around us.

Reisman offers a new and deeply moving perspective, and helps us make sense of our bodies and how they work in a way readers have never before imagined.

Books written by doctors about their jobs are interesting, but Dr. Reisman has a different take on things. He is a world traveler and has seen some wild things. When he relates these episodes to medicine, and specifically the human body, readers are treated to entertaining educational tidbits.

This book is written like an adventure and is quite creative. The doctor meets many people and gives the human touch to his experiences. People teach him, long after he graduates from medical school. His outside interests also come into play.

Dr. Reisman adds humor to his observations at times and some profound insights. He relates bodily fluids to other things in a way that makes sense. This is a great book that is easy to get through.

Pooch Problems by Christopher Poston

Pooch Problems by Christopher Poston
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Non-Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Are you sick and tired of your dog… walking you instead of the other way around barking incessantly at random things peeing and pooping on your nice rugs Or a myriad of other troubling issues?

Perhaps you’ve wondered… Why is my furry friend so annoying at times?

Punishing and scolding hasn’t worked.

Is there a better way to change their bad behaviors?

What is a “good dog” by definition anyway?

You probably know of dogs who…

Don’t destroy objects in the home
Don’t counter surf or eat food off the table
Don’t howl at all hours of the night
This can be your dog!
Do you sometimes feel lost or clueless about what you should do to bring to life the adorable version of your furry friend?

Do you wish to turn a new page where you have amazing experiences with your pooch?

Are you looking for a guide that simplifies the whole process?

If you answered YES,

This book will show you how to identify and solve common dog issues so that you and your newly trained pooch can live your best lives.

Where there are Pooch Problems there are solutions (125 of them).

If you are struggling with Pooch Problems, know that you’re not alone. This author has spent years dealing with their own Pooch Problems. This book is a culmination of decades of research. Within its pages is a collection of the most powerful techniques used by the world’s top dog behaviorists. Don’t worry, the tips are effective and easy to use. They work on any breed – small or large.

This author advocates for positive reinforcement and is strongly against cruelty to animals. All the techniques embody this style so you can be sure everything taught is cruelty free.

In this book, you will find:
Entertaining and relatable stories highlighting dog failures and successes that will motivate you along the way.
Essential dog topics: breeding, puppy proofing, dog gifts and dog communication
BONUS CHAPTER (downloadable with ebook or included in print version) on how you can be the hero of the story by volunteering at an animal shelter
Pooch Problems presents 25 stories, each of which focuses on a particular dog issue.

You will meet…
Axl the Basset Hound who howls when his baby sister cries
Goliath the Neapolitan Mastiff who is afraid of thunder
Marshmallow the French Bulldog who chews up her owners shoes
Among others!

But that’s just the beginning. Pooch Problems will give you the tools so your dog can do something great.

Competing in agility competitions
Bringing people happiness as a therapy dog
Perform amazing tricks
Pooch Problems REALLY is the complete toolkit for canine training.

Even if you’ve tried teaching your pooch “good” behavior before and failed, let this book show you that no dog is beyond redemption! Let’s just remember that no pooch is perfect and we need to lead with forgiveness, and teach with compassion.

Happy Dog, Happy Life

Good advice is easy to find when you listen to an expert on the topic.

The section on how to formally train a dog to protect his or her family was fascinating. I hadn’t realized such a thing existed, but it made a great deal of sense. The commands Mr. Poston described in it were practical and simple enough for anyone to try. I also enjoyed his comments about how much pleasure many dogs find in being trained for this purpose. Of course they’d want to protect their humans in a crisis!

Dogs don’t necessarily think about the world the same way that humans do. Some of my favorite sections were the ones that went into detail about canine psychology and why they do things like chew on people’s shoes, bark incessantly, or run away when someone is trying to catch them. What doesn’t make sense to an exasperated owner looks quite differently when seen from the perspective of a pet who might be bored, anxious, or think everyone is playing a game. I was glad to see this information included so often as it was pretty important for understanding much of the training advice that was given.

One of the other things I appreciated the most about this book was how adamant the author was that his readers set their dogs up for success in as many different ways as they could. That is to say, he strongly recommended removing temptations from the environment when possible. He also believed in giving dogs positive reinforcement for desirable behavior and offering enticing distractions from negative habits when certain triggers can’t be avoided. His reasoning for this made a great deal of sense.The easier it is to do the right thing, the higher the chances are of a dog following through with it even when they’re smelling a delicious roasted turkey cooling in the kitchen on Thanksgiving or seeing a squirrel darting past them while on a walk.

Pooch Problems
was a breezy, educational read that I’d enthusiastically recommend to dog owners and dog lovers alike.

Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire by Alice Cooper (Author, Narrator)

Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire by Alice Cooper (Author, Narrator)
Audible’s Words + Music series
Publisher: Audible Originals
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Biography, Historical
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Rock and roll in the BC (Before Cooper) era was a tamer, milder world. In Who I Really Am, Cooper’s latest addition to Audible’s Words + Music series, we learn how the boa-wearing (not the feathered kind) maestro arrived at a show and sound – let’s call it AC for After Cooper – that has entertained millions of kids while terrifying parents in equal measure. Cooper drew inspiration from Saturday matinee horror movies, applied a “no such thing as too much” attitude, and hitched it to a kick-ass rock and roll band. The shows were incredible, but the offstage antics might have been even more entertaining. Cooper generously shares you-had-to-be-there tales of the band’s early days in Hollywood and mythic all-nighters with rock’s premier luminaries. Also included are new recordings of the hits “I’m Eighteen”, “School’s Out”, and “Poison”. Not many artists can claim credit for creating an entire style or genre. Don’t miss the chance to hear a consummate showman reveal that storytelling might be his greatest talent of all.

There’s nothing more fascinating than learning about someone you’ve heard about all your life but really never knew anything about the person until they took the time to introduce you to them. Imagine my shock to realize that Alice Cooper wasn’t the name of the man, but the actual BAND.

I started listening to this as a lark. I didn’t think I’d get much out of it. Wow, was I wrong! I was completely fascinated along with being stunned, shocked, impressed, astonished, saddened, amazed, amused and delighted. He even sang a few songs during the course of his story about himself, the band and the people he met along the way. And yes, he really called himself a vampire – but not in the way you expect. Certainly, in no way related to all the paranormal romances I enjoy so much. It’s a moniker more than anything, gifted by happenstance.

Alice Cooper, and I’m talking about the man, the artist, singer and all-around stunner of a talent, has a history that I never anticipated. His family background is not what I expected. When he shared the story about his grandfather and a 6-yr. old boy he tried to help, I got the shivers. I’m not going to share why or what it was all about because I in no way want to minimize or subvert the impact of that scene. It sure made me stop and stare for a bit. No way! But yes, I guess it really did happen and that fact floored me.

Alice, and I’ll stick to that name recognition, and his family moved around a lot. It seems like many artists that make it big have that kind of element in their backstory. Each move brought challenges that he had to overcome. His parents had unconventional lifestyles in the beginning, and that’s an understatement. Later on, they tried being ‘normal’. Somehow, I don’t think they pulled it off. Like their son, I think they were unique and had some interesting skills of their own to bring to the jobs they eventually did get.

I was expecting some name dropping and I wasn’t disappointed. What amazed me was that Alice Cooper was in the thick of things, when the music scene was in flux and a lot of amazing changes were taking place, many for the good and some for the bad. Drugs, alcohol abuse, hard living and crazy antics certainly played their roles but even through all of that, I found that Alice Cooper had his own HEA going on.

It wasn’t always happy, or easy or smooth, but I think how he described his wife and his relationship with her was quite telling. Even when he hit bottom with alcohol abuse, his wife, Sheryl, stuck with him every step of the way. He credits her influence in getting him back on his feet. How she did it, why and every other question a listener might have, I’ll leave the listener to discover for themselves. I found it to be enlightening, uplifting and in its own way, beautiful. Theirs is a marriage that survived because they both respected the other and worked to make it continue, to help it thrive; to help each other through those tough spots because they loved each other that much and wanted to do it. That’s why I thought that part of his story as incredibly romantic. It wasn’t a fantasy romance. It was gritty at times and rocky, but that’s what made it real – through all his struggles, she was there, and he didn’t take her for granted. She believed in him enough to stand by him. When you hear about so many other relationships in the rock n’ roll world falling apart, they stayed together, 40+ years, 3 kids and a few grandkids later and they’re still going strong. Alice Cooper may have been zany crazy on stage, but in real life, he matured throughout his career, enough to look back on things with a critical eye, and share with fans his take on his career, from the inside.

There was one thing he shared early on that stunned me. There was one moment in time when it was possible Alice Cooper and my favorite songs of the band’s would never have existed. Not to get preachy or anything, but I thank God that His plans included Alice Cooper finding success in this life, even with all the side roads and missteps and bad decisions, there was a reason he stayed on this earth. Yes, that statement is pretty deep, but nonetheless true.

Truly, there is a lot more to say about what I heard in Who I Really Am: Diary of a Vampire, and every bit of it is well worth listening to. I tried to tell my husband about all the things I learned about Alice Cooper and his eyes kind of glazed over. I guess it’s not the same as listening to the actual person tell the story. Alice Cooper has a great talent for narration and storytelling, even if it’s about his own life. I also believe it’s why I liked it so much. A true story, enhanced by a little music and some serious giggles and smiles along the way coupled with awesome name dropping and famous shenanigans, makes this memoir one worth spending time with.

The Boys by Ron Howard & Clint Howard

The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Ron Howard & Clint Howard
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Happy Days, The Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben—these shows captivated millions of TV viewers in the ’60s and ’70s. Join award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and audience-favorite actor Clint Howard as they frankly and fondly share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life as sibling child actors.

“What was it like to grow up on TV?” Ron Howard has been asked this question throughout his adult life. in The Boys, he and his younger brother, Clint, examine their childhoods in detail for the first time. For Ron, playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days offered fame, joy, and opportunity—but also invited stress and bullying. For Clint, a fast start on such programs as Gentle Ben and Star Trek petered out in adolescence, with some tough consequences and lessons.

With the perspective of time and success—Ron as a filmmaker, producer, and Hollywood A-lister, Clint as a busy character actor—the Howard brothers delve deep into an upbringing that seemed normal to them yet was anything but. Their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean, moved to California to pursue their own showbiz dreams. But it was their young sons who found steady employment as actors. Rance put aside his ego and ambition to become Ron and Clint’s teacher, sage, and moral compass. Jean became their loving protector—sometimes over-protector—from the snares and traps of Hollywood.

By turns confessional, nostalgic, heartwarming, and harrowing, THE BOYS is a dual narrative that lifts the lid on the Howard brothers’ closely held lives. It’s the journey of a tight four-person family unit that held fast in an unforgiving business and of two brothers who survived “child-actor syndrome” to become fulfilled adults.

Two brothers, one journey few can understand and a lifetime of memories.

I love to read biographies and autobiographies. When I saw this one about little Ronny Howard, I had to read it. I’m glad I did. There’s a whole lot more to Ron Howard than you might think. First, he’s not only a gifted filmmaker, but also a gifted writer. This was like reading a conversation between friends. Truly. His brother, Clint, writes half of this book and he’s more complicated than I ever thought.

Ron Howard is more than just Opie from the Andy Griffith show. I had no idea how hard worked to get ready for that part and how he had to work to BE Opie. I had no idea he had no concept of how to sign autographs while playing the role of Opie. He didn’t have the easiest life and it’s interesting to read about his transition from Opie to Ritchie Cunningham on Happy Days, then his move to directing. I liked how he’s so honest in his retelling of this era and his tendency to wish his father had his success, rather than having it for himself. It shows his humbleness.

Then there’s Clint. I knew this was his brother, but I didn’t know much about him. This book obviously changed that. He didn’t have quite the same experiences as Ron, even though he grew up in the same household. That’s not to say he wasn’t treated well. He was, but he had different experiences. There’s the unfortunate incidence with the buzzard during the filming of The Red Pony. If you’re upset by indignities to animals, then this might be the portion to skip. I never realized he had such drug problems or had become such a character actor. I have a new respect for Clint Howard.

All in all, this is a wonderful Hollywood autobiography and one that shouldn’t be missed. Recommended.

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

Forever Young by Hayley Mills
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Iconic actress Hayley Mills shares personal memories from her storied childhood, growing up in a famous acting family and becoming a Disney child star, trying to grow up in a world that wanted her to stay forever young.

The daughter of acclaimed British actor Sir John Mills was still a preteen when she began her acting career and was quickly thrust into the spotlight. Under the wing of Walt Disney himself, Hayley Mills was transformed into one of the biggest child starlets of the 1960s through her iconic roles in Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and many more. She became one of only twelve actors in history to be bestowed with the Academy Juvenile Award, presented at the Oscars by its first recipient, Shirley Temple, and went on to win a number of awards including a Golden Globe, multiple BAFTAs, and a Disney Legacy Award.

Now, in her charming and forthright memoir, she provides a unique window into when Hollywood was still ‘Tinseltown’ and the great Walt Disney was at his zenith, ruling over what was (at least in his own head) still a family business. This behind-the-scenes look at the drama of having a sky-rocketing career as a young teen in an esteemed acting family will offer both her childhood impressions of the wild and glamorous world she was swept into, and the wisdom and broader knowledge that time has given her. Hayley will delve intimately into her relationship with Walt Disney, as well as the emotional challenges of being bound to a wholesome, youthful public image as she grew into her later teen years, and how that impacted her and her choices–including marrying a producer over 30 years her senior when she was 20! With her regrets, her joys, her difficulties, and her triumphs, this is a compelling read for any fan of classic Disney films and an inside look at a piece of real Hollywood history.

You may not have heard the name Hayley Mills in a while, but you certainly will know her name after reading this.

I grew up with the films of Hayley Mills. I’d seen The Parent Trap what seems like a few hundred times and knew the songs by heart. I’d seen That Darn Cat a zillion times, too. But I never knew the person who played those iconic roles. Now I do.

Hayley Mills is somewhat stereotypical in that she got roles, got guidance from an older man and had an eating disorder. I can’t imagine being in Hollywood and being told at size 2 you’re still too fat. She also managed to balance the dating/marrying a much older man thing for quite a while, too. I had no idea she was even married, so this was news to me. I had no idea her mother wrote a movie or that her father was an actor. Honestly, I just knew her as the girl in That Darn Cat!

Yes, this book provides a peek behind the curtain. It also lets the reader see what Hayley Mills was thinking when she took on those roles. I liked her stories and bit of name dropping, too. She worked in the film industry and met famous people! Crazy.

If you want to know more about this actress and want an easy read–the writing flows quite well and is like reading a conversation between friends–then this might be the book for you. It was for me.

The Lyrics by Paul McCartney

The Lyrics by Paul McCartney
Publisher: Liveright
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Non-Fiction, Music
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A work of unparalleled candor and splendorous beauty, The Lyrics celebrates the creative life and the musical genius of Paul McCartney through 154 of his most meaningful songs.
From his early Liverpool days, through the historic decade of The Beatles, to Wings and his long solo career, The Lyrics pairs the definitive texts of 154 Paul McCartney songs with first-person commentaries on his life and music. Spanning two alphabetically arranged volumes, these commentaries reveal how the songs came to be and the people who inspired them: his devoted parents, Mary and Jim; his songwriting partner, John Lennon; his “Golden Earth Girl,” Linda Eastman; his wife, Nancy McCartney; and even Queen Elizabeth, among many others. Here are the origins of “Let It Be,” “Lovely Rita,” “Yesterday,” and “Mull of Kintyre,” as well as McCartney’s literary influences, including Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and Alan Durband, his high-school English teacher.

With images from McCartney’s personal archives—handwritten texts, paintings, and photographs, hundreds previously unseen—The Lyrics, spanning sixty-four years, becomes the definitive literary and visual record of one of the greatest songwriters of all time.

The lyrics and then some…this book is truly packed.

I picked up this pair of books because I wanted to know more about the stories behind the songs of Paul McCartney. Now, I have to add the caveat that there are Lennon-McCartney songs as well, which is a nice bonus. Anything anyone wants to know about those songs, at least from Paul McCartney’s point of view is there. Stories, tales and even some tidbits. It’s quite nice because there’s no glazing over. He tells the stories. There are wonderful photographs as well and many illustrate the song through what he was doing at the time. I rather liked it. He has many of his own solo songs there as well. A few of the ones I would’ve liked to have known about were missing, but that’s okay. Can’t please everyone and there is enough here to please a lot!

This is a big set of books and will take some time to go through, but if you’re a Beatles fan, a McCartney fan or just want to know the stories behind some great songs, then this is the set of books for you.

Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis

Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis
Publisher: Virago Modern Classics
Genre: Self-Help, Non-Fiction, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

In this witty, engaging guide, a renowned Vogue editor takes readers through the fundamentals of living alone by showing them how to create a welcoming environment and cultivate home-friendly hobbies, “for no woman can accept an invitation every night without coming to grief.”

“Whether you view your one-woman ménage as Doom or Adventure, you need a plan, if you are going to make the best of it.”

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With engaging chapter titles like “A Lady and Her Liquor” and “The Pleasures of a Single Bed,” along with a new preface by author Laurie Graff (You Have to Kiss A Lot of Frogs), Live Alone and Like It is sure to appeal to live-aloners—and those considering taking the plunge.

Tips for living even in a modern world.

I have to preface this review by noting this book is a reprint of the version that was a bestseller in 1936. It is dated. Yes, I know that. But that’s a lot of the charm of this book.

The tips are geared toward the 1936 woman and some if it won’t fly in modern times. That’s where going into this book by looking at is as a slice of the past helps. Take it for the time it was written. Not many people are running around in mink coats any longer, but the stories are cute. There are practical tips about knowing you are enough and can achieve what you want if you put the work in.

Go into this book with an open mind and expect a dated read that has funny moments and those to make you think. You’ll be glad you did.

Get Back by John Harris

Get Back by John Harris
Publisher: Callaway Arts & Entertainment
Genre: Historical, Recent Historical, Music, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The most anticipated book in more than a decade by the legendary band, The Beatles: Get Back is the official account of the creation of their final album, Let It Be, told in The Beatles’ own words, illustrated with hundreds of previously unpublished images, including photos by Ethan A. Russell and Linda McCartney. Half a century after the 1970 Let It Be album and film, this milestone book coincides with the global release of Peter Jackson’s documentary feature film, The Beatles: Get Back.

The book opens in January 1969, the beginning of The Beatles’ last year as a band. The BEATLES (The White Album) is at number one in the charts and the foursome gather in London for a new project. Over 21 days, first at Twickenham Film Studios and then at their own brand-new Apple Studios, with cameras and tape recorders documenting every day’s work and conversations, the band rehearse a huge number of songs, culminating in their final concert, which famously takes place on the rooftop of their own office building, bringing central London to a halt.

The Beatles: Get Back tells the story of those sessions through transcripts of the band’s candid conversations. Drawing on over 120 hours of sound recordings, leading music writer John Harris edits the richly captivating text to give us a fly-on-the-wall experience of being there in the studios. These sessions come vividly to life through hundreds of unpublished, extraordinary images by two photographers who had special access to their sessions—Ethan A. Russell and Linda Eastman (who married Paul McCartney two months later). Also included are many unseen high-resolution film-frames, selected from the 55 hours of restored footage from which Peter Jackson’s documentary is also drawn.

Legend has it that these sessions were a grim time for a band falling apart. However, as acclaimed novelist Hanif Kureishi writes in his introduction, “In fact this was a productive time for them, when they created some of their best work. And it is here that we have the privilege of witnessing their early drafts, the mistakes, the drift and digressions, the boredom, the excitement, joyous jamming and sudden breakthroughs that led to the work we now know and admire.” Half a century after their final performance, this book completes the story of the creative genius, timeless music, and inspiring legacy of The Beatles.

Have you ever wanted to know how the recording of Get Back really went? Want to be an insider at the sessions? Then this book takes you there.

I’m a huge Beatles fan. Have been my whole life. I live for the next tome about their work and love the unreleased weird sidetracks, plus the tracks that show how far the song ends up going during the creation process. This book is a lot like that. There are pieces of undiscovered treasure in the conversations and interesting things to learn about the band.

It’s also a bit sad. I thought I knew a lot about the band, but I didn’t realize how much the band was breaking apart during the recording of this album. This book touches on that tension. There are entire pieces of conversation written as dialogue and the exact words from each member are there. It’s sad because there were definite cracks in the foundation of the band and like many groups, no one wanted to deal with said cracks.

If you don’t have time to sit through the entire Get Back tv special, then this might be a good alternative. There are a lot of photos. Since this was a documentary, there is a lot of insider info and little held back. It’s worth a read.

If you’re looking for a Beatles fix, then this might be the book for you. Check it out.

Naturalized: A Memoir and An Exposé by Racheal Selma

Naturalized: A Memoir and An Exposé by Racheal Selma
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Non-Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Naturalized: An Immigrant’s Story takes readers along Racheal Selma’s path from arriving in Mesa, Arizona in 2008 to authoring a book. From marriage to Mugshot of the Day Recipient to homeless to All-State Academic Scholar, Naturalized: An Immigrant’s Story is a bizarre, yet fascinating read.

Racheal Selma migrated to Mesa, Arizona on February 3, 2008, from Trinidad, an island in the Caribbean. On July 4, 2018, Racheal received the right of citizenship through the naturalization process.

Naturalized: An Immigrant’s Story includes Racheal Selma’s views on religion, government, racism, bearing arms, voting, and much more. The book includes an account of Racheal Selma’s 2012 arrest and the night spent naked in a Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix.

Racheal adds intrigue to drama, claiming a former president of these United States is one of the two witnesses written of in the Book of Revelation.
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Racheal Selma wrote Naturalized: An Immigrant’s Story to open eyes, hearts, and minds, increase awareness, understanding, and enlightenment, and reduce fear, depression, and sickness.

Knowing the truth makes you free…

It takes courage to move to another part of the world and start a new life.

My favorite passages were the ones that explained the cultural and geographic differences between Trinidad and the United States. For example, the author had a bit of a shock when she first flew into Atlanta due to the cold weather. She was so used to the tropical climate of her home country that it never occurred to her to pack warm clothing and a coat for when she arrived in the United States. I smiled at her descriptions of trying to stay warm in the Hartsford-Jackson Atlanta International Airport until a kind stewardess noticed and gave her a blanket. It’s easy to assume that one’s experiences are universal, especially for people who have spent so much of their lives in one place. There’s something special about gently peeling back these assumptions and discovering the truth. This is something the author did well!

Ms. Selma spent a lot of time jumping around from one idea to the next without explaining how they were connected. She’d share vivid memories of her emigration from Trinidad to the United States in one paragraph only to switch topics and discuss her thoughts on the Apollo 11 mission, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the true identity of Barack Obama, or how she thinks one should avoid becoming infected with Covid-19 in the next paragraph. It was confusing for me as a reader to follow her train of thought, especially since many of these topics were so far removed from each other as well as from her experiences as an immigrant.

I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of how she became an American citizen after being a permanent resident of that country for several years. Many countries have lengthy processes that applicants must go through and reams of paperwork they must fill out in order to become a citizen. Her descriptions of how this process worked were as interesting as they were a confirmation that government bureaucracy knows no bounds. Anyplace that has a government is almost certain to have countless forms to fill out and hoops to jump through as well. It was lovely, and sometimes also a little amusing, to see just how similar we all are in this respect no matter who we are or where we live in the world.

Naturalized: A Memoir and An Exposé was a thought-provoking read I’d recommend to anyone who is curious about the immigration and naturalization process in the United States.