essays

Review of ‘Chickens, Hawks and Grumpy Goats: Five Years on a Farm’

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Chickens, Hawks and Grumpy Goats by S.A. Molteni is a short book of short stories and essays based upon real life experiences on a hobby farm in Florida that the author shares with her spouse.

A delightful collection of tales, some from the point of view of the animals, that highlight the ups and downs of living on a hobby farm, this book could be three times longer and I’d still enjoy reading it. In fact, I think I’d like it even more if it was longer, because the stories are so well written and entertaining. The story of the aftermath of Chicken Little’s ‘sky is falling,’ episode, “Chicken Little in Therapy,” was my favorite. The opening story, ‘Surviving the Winter,’ had me fooled until the mid-point, when I realized that it was being told from the point of view of a Chicken Hawk, and even though it had a sad ending, I found myself chuckling wryly at parts. Others are nonfiction accounts of events that significantly affected the author, and she gets that impact across in her prose with great effect.

Molteni is a master story teller who conveys a sense of reality in her stories, even when the main character is an animal. After reading this book, you’ll find yourself wondering if maybe it wouldn’t be nice to have a little piece of the countryside to call your own – until you read the bonus story at the end, and realize that life in the country is not all bucolic scenery and laughs.

Kudos to the author for a fun read and four stars.

Review of ‘Mother of all Meltdowns’

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If your image of ‘mother’ is Beaver Cleaver’s mom, June, you’re probably not going to like Mother of all Meltdowns. A collection of 30 essays, by women who also happen to be mothers and bloggers, Meltdown talks about those times in every parent’s life when the poop encounters the oscillating blades – adult tantrums, more accurately, Mommy Tantrums. Unless you’re a parent from another universe, you will find an incident in this beautifully collection that you can identify with, or have lived through. I read this book on the first warm day of the year, when I was in a good mood, and found it an interesting and entertaining read.

These stories are too strange to be made up, and each writer’s voice comes through clearly. If you’re not a parent yet, this might give you pause. If you’re a parent already, you’ll be happy to know you’re not alone.

On top of everything else, it’s funny. I promise you, once you read it, you’ll never view motherhood the same way again.

Review of ‘The Audacity of You’

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The Audacity of You is a disconnected series of essays by Dominique Wilkins that share only one common thread – the audacity of human interactions. With Bible verses interspersed, one assumes to illustrate the religious grounding of the stories, they introduce us briefly to such diverse characters as Juan Deau (aka John Doe) Conners, who prefers to be called J.D. or Baby Boy, Nesha’ Chanel, who started out in life as Ernesha Owen, and a host of other characters that are all ‘smaller than life.’ We’re treated to their views on the audaciousness of others – while at the same time, they show their own bald-faced boldness without apparently even being aware of it.

I received a free copy of Audacity for review, and from the opening lines I thought I would follow the life of the three-year-old narrator as he came to grips with the unusual moniker his unthinking parents had bestowed upon him. Alas, other than his griping, I was to be disappointed, and left wondering how he finally coped. The same could be said of the other characters who parade briefly across the pages of the book. Their situations pique your interest, but somehow, there doesn’t seem to be adequate closure – if I may be excused the audacity of using a current buzz word.

Despite the somewhat tortured grammar, and the lack of closure, it wasn’t an uninteresting book. I only wish Wilkins had taken what to me seems a necessary step of going just a bit deeper into each character and closing the loop.

Instead, I’m left wondering if what the author really intended to do was set the reader up for the sequel – or sequels – to some interest-provoking situations. This has the potential to be a really good book, but just misses for me, so I give it two and a half stars, rounded up to three.