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Loving a Lioness: Poetry in Life, Love & Eros by Heather Parker

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I first discovered Heather Parker's poetry on Facebook and felt an expected connection to what she wrote. Her poems spoke to me in ways that sometimes felt like she was looking into my heart and mind. When she published a book of poetry, Loving a Lioness: Poetry in Life, Love & Eros, I looked forward to reading it. It took me a while to get to it, but I finally did. Parker doesn't disappoint. The poems are often raw and always real while never losing their lyrical nature. Anyone who has struggled to love one's self, to fully love another, and/or to accept love will relate to Parker's poems. Loving a Lioness delves into love from myriad angles and lays bare the truths we try to hide from ourselves.


The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by Bell Hooks

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The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by Bell Hooks challenged me time and again. Hooks writing is always engaging and The Will to Change is no exception. The Will to Change looks at the way society molds the ideas of masculinity in connection with femininity. Hooks focuses on the influence of patriarchy on the roles men and women play in society starting with childhood. As I read, I struggled at times to let go of preconceptions I didn't even know I held. The Will to Change explores how men can live more whole lives and how that will benefit both men and women as well as society.



Wallflower by Jennifer B. Fields

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Wallflower by Jennifer B. Fields is an engaging, intense story that turns the traditional ghost story on its head. Fields creates characters who find their way into the heart and mind of the reader. Wallflower shines a light on the abuses human being inflict on one another without flinching. Fields explores the emotions and the humanity of her characters with deftness and insight. While there are a few areas that are a bit predictable and moments where the characters choices are questionable, Fields never loses the reader's attention or sacrifices her characters' selves. Fields doesn't shy away from making the reader squirm in discomfort as she shows the reality of her characters lives for better or worse. Wallflower offers a look into how resiliency is often masked by victimization and how human connection holds the potential to liberate people from painful circumstances.

The Influential Author: How and Why to Write, Publish, and Sell Nonfiction Books that Matter by Gregory V. Diehl

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The Influential Author: How and Why to Write, Publish, and Sell Nonfiction Books that Matter by Gregory V. Diehl holds the potential to change a writer's career path. Diehl walks the writer through getting started as a writer beginning with a history of the use of writing to influence the world or just one's community. I'll admit there were sections of information I already knew, but for someone with less experience/knowledge those sections could be quite useful. I, however, felt tempted to skip them and did find my attention drifting several times. Diehl's use of the books his company publishes as examples of myriad points, while fitting examples for his content, began to feel a bit like ads and induced the occasion eye roll. Diehl covers the entire process of conceiving of an idea to writing a book to editing to publishing to marketing a book. Even though this book is clearly written for less experienced writers, I found a few resources that I might be able to use fo…

Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandria Horowitz

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Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandria Horowitz weaves research with personal observations of her dog. Horowitz writes with both passion and detachment in a way that explains how and why we interact with dogs the way we do. Inside of a Dog weaves together research that can be a bit academic at times with the story of the relationship between humans and dogs to create a compelling and interesting story. There were several times where I'll admit I didn't like needing to rethink my perceptions of why the dogs in my life behaved in certain ways, but Horowitz often showed examples from her relationship with her dog that further illuminated how natural it is for us to assign things to the dogs in our lives using the language we understand. It's important for us to see the world from the animals who share our homes. It's easy to view the animals who share our lives through the lens with which we live our lives. Inside of a Dog offers those who love dogs…

The New Testament by Jericho Brown

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The New Testament by Jericho Brown surprised me with its vivid starkness and unrelenting honesty. As I read Brown's poems, I felt visceral reactions from my head to my toes. I wanted to reach out and comfort the inhabitants of his poems at times and at others I felt tempted to give them a good shake. Brown's lyrical prose jumped off the page and created images that felt at once irreverent and holy. The New Testament certainly gives its own testimony to the life and culture that Brown knows and understands while offering readers a tiny glimpse into that world.


The Ninth Clan by Paul S. Ross

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I received The Ninth Clan by Paul S. Ross as a gift from an acquaintance. I'll admit I took my sweet time starting it but once I did I was thoroughly intrigued. Ross had me wondering what was going to happen next and that's rare for me. The Ninth Clan never hesitated to challenge the characters populating it or to give them difficult decisions to make. There were moments when I was surprised at how deeply I felt the characters' pain. While there were parts that challenged me to suspend my disbelief, the characters kept me engaged. Ross explores belief systems and their effects on the world in an interesting and thought-provoking manner. The Ninth Clan takes a journey that encompasses history, religion, psychology, politics, power, greed, and humanity from multiples angles.