June J. McInerney
 

A Literary Blog about Books
(and the occasional film)
How they affect us.
How they shape our lives.

Note
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Postings are once a week or so,
 as the muses strike.
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June also reviews books for
authorexposure.com

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Copyright 2011-2013

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"Meditations for New Members is a beautifully written little book...a gem.
The thoughts are striking and orginal--a few are quite profound."
--Fiona  Hodgkin, author of The Tennis Player from Bermuda

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mirror, Mirror
There have only been a few rare occasions in the past few years, when I have read a book that I did not like and found it necessary to pan it. Especially if the author has been acclaimed by The New York Sunday Times. I have come to realized that just because "they" are the NYTimes, they are not necessarily the end-all/be-all of literary criticism and analysis. As a matter of fact, in more than a few instances, they have been wrong. This is one of them.

I heard Helen Oyeyemi being interviewed on NPR three weeks ago about her latest novel, Boy, Snow, Bird,  and I thought, "Wow. It's a fairy-tail conceit based upon the two stories about Snow White written by the Brothers Grimm. Two of my favorite stories. I gotta read that." So, a quick email to my editors at www.authorexposure.com and, voila, quick as a dwarf's wink, the publishers sent me a link to the ebook. Which didn't work.

That should have been my first clue that this was going to be a doomed reading experience. My second was that – still dying to read the novel – I had to spend nearly half of a credit I have with Barnes and Noble to download it to my Nook HD tablet. Despite what "they" or anyone says, spending nearly $12 for an ephemeral read – and a not so good one at that – is highway (or should I say "internet way"?) robbery. So, was this a great read as touted by the media? Unfortunately, it was not.

Anyway, if you are a fan of Oyeyemi, as I am – was – then you just might like her faintly weird attempt at modernizing the Snow White sagas. Don't get me wrong. It's not just that it's a bad read; it's just not a really good one.  Regardless of what the upper echelons of editors at "the" Times might say.

Way your own magic wand and wend your way to www.authorexposure.com to read my review. And then decide for yourself.
1:15 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

To Boldly Go...
Although I am pretty much of a hermit these days, hardly ever seeing my neighbors for days at a time, I am fairly secure in my now blissful solitude. Yet, I can't imagine what it would be like to be totally separated from any human contact for years at a time. Especially if you have to struggle daily for your very existence. Like Tom Hanks' character marooned for years on a deserted island in "The Castaway". Like Mark Watney in Andy Weir's first sci-fi action/adventure novel, The Martian.

One of the first space explorers to walk on the red planet Mars, Watney is almost certain he will be the first to die there. Left behind when his fellow crew members flee a massive dust storm, he is inadvertently stranded totally alone with a heap of problems to solve to ensure his survival. It will take nearly two and a half earth years for NASA to send a rescue mission and with only enough food, water, and oxygen to last only one Martian year, our hero Mark has to figure out how to to survive until help finally arrives. A dire predicament, indeed. As I say, I just can't imagine...

Most of you know I am not a great fan of the action/adventure genre, although my closest friends know I like science fiction and am a closet Trekker and an affirmed Trekkie (there is a difference). Hence, I was both a bit reluctant and intrigued when my editors at www.authorexposure.com sent me an advanced reviewer's copy of Weir's work, suggesting that I "boldly venture into unknown reading territory..." And so, I did. And, yes, after a few reservations while reading the first few pages, I was hooked, perched on the edge of my seat wondering if Astronaut Watney will make it back home to earth.

When you get a chance, please beam yourself over to www.authorexposure.com and read my review. You just might want to cheer heroic Mark on.
1:55 pm edt          Comments

Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm Peculiar
A number of years ago, while writing the libretto for Peter, the Wolf, and Red Riding Hood (...'cause she's not so little anymore), I penned a poem for a quirky (like me!) friend of mine entitled "I'm Peculiar" (the poem's name, not my friend's). I had so much fun with it that I decided to include it in the musical as a duet sung by the characters (Peter's) Grandpa and (Red's) Mother. My talented collaborator composed the most intriguing music for it, which we published along with the play’s other songs and its full script on amazon.com. The lyrics of “I’m Peculiar”
go something like this:

I'm peculiar
Definitely peculiar
But what is most peculiar
Is that I do
Find you
Definitely peculiar
Too!

We're compatible
Amazingly compatible
But what is most compatible
Is that friends who
Are new
Are amazingly compatible, too!

It could not have been by chance
It had to be planned, this crazy romance
I don't think I will ever forget
How through circumstance we’ve met.
Or how peculiarly compatible
We'd quickly get
And that I would write
This vignette.
Yet...

I'm peculiar
Definitely peculiar
But what is most peculiar
Is that I do find you
Definitely peculiar
Too! ©2000-2014 L.F. Uzelac and J.J. McInerney
 

So, coincidentally enough, years later, here I am wrapped up in reading the really weird Peculiar Children series of novels by a quirky but all so very talented author named Ransom Riggs. And I thought, "Hey! this should be his theme song!" Because his characters are children with odd, strange, and intriguing talents that make them different than other humans. He calls them "peculiars" and, along with their ymbrymes, they have the most amazing – and frightening –adventures and tales to tell.

I just finished Hollow City , the second in the series and was just as enthralled with it as I was with the first, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children , which I reviewed here and for www.authorexposure.com last June. My latest Riggs review is posted there now.

If you're looking for a different, um, peculiarly interesting read, then this is this novel and its prequel are for you!
3:51 pm edt          Comments

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Here Come da Judge
I am not a movie producer or director, but if I were and could cast anybody I choose in the role of Judge Joseph Force Crater and his wife, I would select Leonardo deCaprio and Laura Linney. He was so good in J. Edgar ... and she was wonderful as the lead in The Big C, they'd be perfect together in the movie version of Ariel Lawhon's first novel, The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress.

Heck, for a chance to work with Leo and Laura as we bring this talented author's words to the silver screen (do they still call it that anymore?), I'd even help Lawhon write the script and offer my services as director. Of course, we'd need two actresses to play the maid and the judge's mistress, but I think open auditions to find fresh, new faces would do the trick. Although I do have Meryl Streep in mind for the older Mrs. Crater...

You can tell that I really, really, really want The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress made into a movie. Why? Because this book, which is really not a mystery but a literary historical tour-de-force, is the best mystery that I've read in a long time. Let me explain. It's about the disappearance of Judge Crater on the evening of August 6, 1930. After dining with a friend in a second-rate New York restaurant, he got into a taxi cab and was never seen nor heard from again. What happened to him was/is the biggest conundrum of the 20th Century, even topping the demise of Jimmy Hoffa. Yet, Lawhon deftly, coolly, and cleanly knits together pieces of truth with chunks of imaginative fiction and – et viola! – we have a wonderfully written, intriguing, Jazz-pizzazz-filled edge-of-your-seat satisfying solution. 
 

When you get the chance, hightail it over to www.authorexposure.com to read my five-star review while I see if I can't convince Leo and Meryl that these are their next Oscar-winning roles.  
4:16 pm edt          Comments

Friday, March 14, 2014

Elegy for a Tree
A dear, dear companion of mine was brutally and needlessly cut down this morning by ruthless assassins. I was rudely awakened in the wee hours by the insistent whining of their weapons just outside my bedroom window. When I opened the blinds to find the source of the loud noises, I watched with horror and profound sadness as limbs were cruelly hacked off and scattered to the ground. Thick, graceful branches that once provided shade, offered protection, and harbored many song birds and chirping squirrels – as well as their nests – were carelessly buzzed-sawed into chunks and then sliced and diced up for pulp.

For the past twelve years, the broad, green leaves of this tall, stately twin maple which grew between my house and that of a neighbor's shaded my home from brutal summer suns and guarded it from the piercing icy fingers of cold winter winds. Each autumn, I watched its leaves wane into brilliant beautiful oranges and reds; each winter, I admired the crystalline beauty of gossamer snow draped over its branches; each spring, as its first tentative buds began to appear, I cheered the beginning of spring. In the summer, I laughed at the antics of small animals harbored by and playing in its boughs. And, for these many years, it stately stood silent and proud outside my window – a symbol of strength, gracefulness, and divine creativity upon which I drew inspiration as I wrote.

Now, sadly, s/he is no longer here. Needless to say, I greatly miss my long-time companion. I grieve as I look out my window upon the now barren grassy knoll where the tree once grew. The early afternoon sun, no longer muted, now mercilessly shines in my eyes. Once safe and secure in their treetop homes, birds and squirrels, now homeless, are chattering and scurrying aimlessly on the ground, wondering what happened to their nests – the so-called woodsmen did not care enough – so intent they were on "getting the job done" – to even remove and/or relocate them. The animals, like me, are probably also wondering why?

I've lived with this tree literally – and companionably – by my side and there was nothing as far I could see really wrong with it. This morning, as the truck bearing its corpse slowly drove away, I made it a point to stand out on my balcony to inspect the trunk chunks. There were no signs of disease. Yes, moss grew on the north side of a few of its branches, but that’s what moss does, folks. But...this friendly maple just shy of 60 years did not warrant being so cruelly decimated. If left alone and properly tended to, it would have – should have stood proud and tall, braving the seasonal elements and providing shelter, oxygen, and privacy for perhaps yet another half a century.

Now there is nothing left of this once beautiful creature of Mother Nature except two raw, sap-seeping stumps – the tree was obviously still vibrantly alive when it was felled – and an unsightly massive pile of twigs and branches that probably won't be cleared away for another month or so. There is a huge vacancy in my side yard and a gaping hole in my own heart. And, to top it off, where once the tree provided privacy between homes, I can now clearly see into both my neighbors’ bathroom and bedroom windows – as I am sure they can now see into mine. And, knowing the “caretakers” of this development, I sincerely doubt they will ever have the heart or mindset to replace what took 60+ years for God to create and men (so called "paid professionals" who are really hired hit men) 60 minutes to destroy.

I don't understand the rhyme and reasons why people carry out such senseless acts and travesties again nature, against people. Why do people have to be so cruel and heartless? Why can't we just leave well enough alone and let people, animals, and, yes, even trees grow and be what they are/were intended to be? And, for goodness sakes, why don't people ask and/or think of the consequences before they act? Had I been consulted, I would have protested and figured our a way not to allow the tree to be cut down. But, then, again, who am I? And why should anyone care about what I have to say?

Which is precisely one of the questions posed in the multi-themed, many-genre, multi-plot layered historical mystery novel, The Hidden , by Jo Chumas. And while this narrative, set in Egypt in both 1919 and 1940, really doesn't have a tie-in with nature or with trees, it does bespeak of (wo)man's insensitivity and cruelty to (wo)man. I went out on a limb on this one, folks. My review is posted on www.authorexposure.com for your perusal.

1:23 pm edt          Comments

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June J. McInerney is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currenty published works include a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:

Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast

Bethlehem

Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood

 

 

Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her first novel.

June's books be purchased at amazon.com or through Barnes and Noble.

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,