Dropped Names: Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them

From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Frank Langella
Dropped Names:  Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them

Dropped Names:  Famous Men and Women as I Knew Them.  Frank Langella chronicles his encounters – some fleeting and some long-term – with various celebrities, in a series of vignettes. The format seems a bit choppy at times as it moves from celebrity to celebrity. Add a star if you’re a fan of show-biz gossip.

No time to lose : a life in pursuit of deadly viruses

From Andrea  Kalinowski
Author:  Peter Piot
No time to lose : a life in pursuit of deadly viruses
No time to lose : a life in pursuit of deadly viruses by Peter Piot is an autobiography of his life. Peter was a medical student who wanted to specialize in Infectious Diseases. A professor of his told him, “There is no future in infectious diseases. They’ve all been solved.”
I, the reader, found the idea that all Infectious Disease has been eradicated highly suspect. I believe that there are still new, undiscovered organisms out there. Peter was a tireless advocate for AIDS research, education and treatment. Many countries denied the existence of AIDS in their populace and if they did acknowledge the existence of this killer, they underestimated the numbers affected. Then, as now, it is a struggle to get people to agree on a specific course of action. He remains concerned about the sustainability of the response for the AIDS epidemic and for people living with this disease.  “(Peter) learned that our human capacity to survive and find meaning in life is beyond imagination …”  This book was a highly informative medical biography of both Peter Piot and the AIDS epidemic.

Klonopin Lunch: a Memoir

From  Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Jessica Dorfman Jones
Klonopin Lunch: a Memoir
What happens when a married lawyer with a hum-drum life gets a taste of Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll? Read this well-crafted memoir to find out. Jessica, a product of New York’s Upper East Side, always played by the rules, which included excelling at the finest schools and marrying her college boyfriend. Enter a handsome guitar teacher, and at the age of thirty, she forgets the life she knew. Their flirtation becomes a full-blown affair, and she starts to take illegal drugs, gets tattooed, and fancies herself a rock star. She writes songs with the guitar teacher’s pal, becomes the lead singer of a fledgling rock band, and stays out ‘til all hours of the night, thus testing the limits of her husband’s understanding and support. This tale of sexual obsession and codependency is painfully honest. She often doesn’t come across as very likeable or sympathetic. Yes, she’s selfish, and yes, she ought to know better. There are very funny sections, including the lunch with her gay pal, where the book gets its title. It could be said that New York City is another character in the book; the evocative descriptions of Manhattan are such that you can almost smell the spilled beer and cigarette smoke in the clubs. There are graphic depictions of sexual activity and drug use, so this book is not for the squeamish or the prudish.

And I Shall Have Some Peace There

From Margaret Mezzacapo
And I Shall Have Some Peace There
Author: Margaret Roach

I finished And I Shall Have Some Peace There by Margaret Roach. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be, “My, Margaret, how you do go on.”

Ms. Roach waxes metaphysical to the extent that I just wanted to ask her to get to the point. I read this one first because, as a gardener, I had read her columns in Newsday. Glad I read it, but it really could have been condensed.

The other side of suffering : the father of JonBenet Ramsey tells the story of his journey from grief to grace

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  John Ramsey 
The other side of suffering : the father of JonBenet Ramsey tells the story of his journey from grief to grace
John Ramsey has suffered more loss in his life than most could bear.  You may know him as the father of the murdered child, JonBenet Ramsey. You may not know that he also lost his oldest daughter from his first marriage, Beth, in a car accident.  He also lost JonBenet’s mother, Patsy, to cancer in 2006. He shares the real story of the aftermath of JonBenet’s murder and why he “lawyered up” quickly. He tells of the nightmare of living under suspicion by the Boulder, CO police and of the paparazzi chasing him, his son Burke, and his wife. He also found kindness in unlikely places, when strangers would approach him with comforting words. He also had a supporter in the detective Lou Smit, who posited the intruder theory, and later became friends with John.

 This is a heartbreaking memoir as well as a spiritual biography.  John regrets that he had practically no relationship with God when his life was going well. He went to India recently as part of his spiritual quest, which was life-changing. He shares the mistakes he has made: “Our ability to make good decisions is damaged after tragedy, because we are not thinking clearly. The best thing I could have done was to put my life in park for a while. I was eager to start climbing again and didn’t realize I hadn’t stopped the fall yet. Here are some suggestions for stopping the fall, the first being, and if you get no other point of advice from this book, please hear this one: After you have suffered a tragic circumstance in your life, press the pause button and put your life on hold. Do not make any big decisions or moves. Focus on stopping the fall first. Realize also that this ‘life hold’ will be necessary for longer than you think.”

 A friend of John’s told him that “Hope is the belief that your best days lie ahead of you”. After grieving for 15 years, John finally has hope.

To Selena, With Love

From Jackie Cantwell
Author:  Chris Perez
To Selena, With Love
Chris wants you to know that he is more than “the widower of the Queen of Tejano music ,Selena Quintanilla Perez.” Chris was the guitarist for Selena’s band. This is a loving tribute to the Latin music superstar who was gunned down by her fan club president in 1995. Selena won Grammy awards and was poised to be a crossover artist in the same way as Gloria Estefan when she died. But her fans loved her not just because of her music. She gave so much of herself in each concert. She spent lots of time signing autographs after her concerts and made a special effort to reach out to her young fans and those who were sick or disadvantaged. She also adopted animals, including several dogs. Chris tells of her adventurous and daredevil side, where she learned how to ride a motorcycle, went bungee jumping, and loved to drive her cars fast.  She also loved celebrating Christmas and the simpler things like cooking and cleaning the house.  As a child of divorce, Chris never thought much of marriage. But Selena broke down his defenses and taught him how to love.  She had the most exuberant spirit and loved to try new things. He says her laughter was contagious. Chris’s first love was rock and roll and heavy metal music, which he has returned to since Selena’s death. This book is a rare glimpse into the life of a multi-faceted performer.

The Diary of a Young Girl

From Catherine Costanzo
author: Frank, Anne
 The Diary of a Young Girl
A true story as you know — but a classic tale of a young girl and her family as they are “hidden” during world war II.  Anne keeps a diary about their day to day trials and events, and one can see the young girl that she is, as well as sometimes an adult insight into what is happening to the family.

Just Kids

From Ellen Druda
author: Smith, Patti
 Just Kids
Patti Smith’s evocative memoir recounts her early days in New York City and her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. This National Book Award winning work is an accessible, easy read, yet full of imagery that stirs the imagination.  From her childhood in New Jersey, we follow her across the river to a bohemian city life in the psychedelic 60’s, mingling with soon- to- be famous painters, writers, and musicians.  This book will especially appeal to baby-boomers and music fans.

Growing Up

From Helen
author: Baker, Russell
Growing Up
This is an autobiography of the two time Pulitzer Prize winning author, Russel Baker.  Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down.  It is a warm, likable and funny account of growing up in America during the Depression years and World War II.  Very well written, the book immediately pulls you in and takes you through his life experiences, both tragic and comic; a very enjoyable, informative, quick read.

Night

From Nicole Marsh
author: Wiesel, Elie
Night
Night, written by Elie Wiesel is an autobiographical account of his life during the Holocaust. The novel is a short read with easy to understand wording.  Wiesel gives a very vivid account of the heinous and unimaginable acts of cruelty committed by the Nazi’s.  It shows the dehumanization of a population and how easy it is to lose faith and to question God.  It made me feel physically sick when I read about the beatings, crematorium, Dr. Mengele’s medical practices, hangings, Death March and hunger.

Every person should read this novel as it is an important lesson to be learned….”we shall never forget.”  It is a lesson to future generations that we must be respectful and tolerant of all mankind and these events shall never occur again.