The Book of Help: A Memoir in Remedies by Megan Griswold

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It’s said when doing anything, a nearly alchemical  event happens right around the ten- thousand- hour mark- you become an expert of sorts. So I suppose, in an unintentional way, I will declare myself an expert searcher.

There is no doubt in my mind that Megan Griswold is an expert in searching for remedies of body, mind, soul and heart. This isn’t your usual run of the mill self-help book eater, nor a woman suddenly entering some spiritual awakening. Megan was born to it, with parents who were Christian Scientists who called their practitioners for ‘treatments’, not doctors over their ailments. Her father David was born to the religion, her mother Joyce a ‘newbie’ and believer, attributing curing her ulcerative colitis to Christian Science. Little did they know their daughter would spend her life doing her own searching, spiritual and mental work. Not all things are transcendental, want to be holier than thou, the universe will test you! Test her it does, especially when it comes to her husband. Let’s not jump ahead, but then again she did attend the About Sex seminar at the age of 14, before she had even kissed a boy. Is it so surprising when she falls in love with Tim, her ‘well-meaning, well–mannered puzzle’? Someone she can probe, explore, dissect?

Is Megan stripped physically and emotionally digging through all the muck of her being sometimes? Sure. Does she ingest weird or toxic substances for spiritual practice? Well, do you consider gulping Hoasca risky? It’s tea, okay? Sure, she may purge her insides and as she says ‘imagine what it would be like to completely fall apart’ and there is your glimpse into the tea’s spiritual enlightening.  She may be eager to try any religious/spiritual experience on for size but certainly Megan doesn’t ‘dabble’ in therapies, not like so many other people. She doesn’t half-ass anything!

This memoir isn’t all hilarity, in fact there are some very serious family and relationship issues here within. These are not the usual ‘wow my spouse leaves the toilet dispenser empty’ issues either, these are spiritual dilemmas. Her own father can sometimes downright infuriate the reader with his arrogant spiritual blindness. “If I don’t see it, it’s not real.” Oh, if only life were like that… There is a tenderness towards the end of the novel, everything that happens with her mother’s health. I felt myself getting weepy. Yes, Megan therapist shops, and is game for any spiritual practice, training, self-help geared towards evolvement but truly it’s not just about getting to know herself. Somehow she comes away with a better understanding of those she loves. Maybe her search slows, but let’s face it, there will always be room for improvement.

It gets messy, and admittedly embarrassingly ugly but whether methods are tried and true or a complete fraud, she gives it her all and we get to ride her karmic bus as tourists. Add this to your memoir list, out 2019!

Publication Date: January 22, 2019

Crown Publishing

 

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Little Me: My life from A-Z by Matt Lucas

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I was born a berk. I probably even stubbed my toe on the way out.

Many Americans recognize Matt Lucas as Rebel Wilson’s brother in the movie Bridesmaids (wildly funny), I personally loved him in Little Britain and Little Britain USA when I still lived in the UK myself. This book isn’t all laughs, it’s an intimate autobiography about Matt’s struggles through his awkward childhood, memories of his family, revelations about his love life (including his coming out gay) and his rise to fame. People like to think comedians are all laughs, but they’re not. They suffer and struggle just like so many of us, and guess what, fame isn’t the key to eternal happiness and perfection.

Though in A to Z order, don’t expect too much structure, which may bother some people. For me, memories are devious and don’t play by the rules in our own heads, one minute you’re 12 then the next minute a stray thought intrudes and off you go, 25 now. Matt goes back and forth between youth and the present, from his humbling incidents such as with wigs, to his deep sorrows over his father’s imprisonment, and death. There had been love too, and the devastation of watching his beloved self-destruct. This book is both humorous and sad.

He is confident and self-deprecating, insecure and courageous. In fact, some of his less than stellar confessions just make him all the more relatable, human. Who knows why we do the crappy things we do to hide our own shame? Not everyone admits to that side though, do they? While his homosexuality shouldn’t be a ‘theme’ of course he touches on it, what it meant to be gay when he was coming up, the shame of it. I am old enough at 42 to know that when I was growing up being called gay was the ‘worst thing’ you could call someone. Imagine how that felt for people who actually were (are) gay, it’s not like it is today, there weren’t a ton of stars ‘out’, not yet. Sure, there were rumours but most adamantly denied it. Add that to his wild allergies, alopecia and you know his childhood had to come with a lot of insecurities and harassment without facing his burgeoning sexuality and yearnings. With a child that suffered through hellish skin struggles (trust me it’s not just about appearance, it is painful) my heart sinks with his. Autoimmune diseases are horrid!

Many of the stories are a chronicle of his journey on the road to comedy. It is  a reminder that nothing is easy, that behind every star who seems to suddenly get famous overnight, there are years of climbing up the ladder, all behind the scenes. Whether one is lucky enough to have support and mentors or not, it requires perfecting your craft, many failures as much as successes. Matt was acting and living for comedy in his youth, he worked hard for every success he attained. Don’t expect any rotten gossip about other celebrities, he isn’t trying to sell the book that way. This is like sitting with your friend over drinks in a cozy setting and talking about life, confessing your best moments and your worst. On a side note, I really enjoyed learning how some of the characters were created, like Bitty! My husband, kids and I quote Little Britain all the time! You either get it, or you don’t.

USA Publication Date: Out tomorrow  October 12, 2018

Canongate Books US

Single and Looking Daisy: A Funny Laugh Out Loud Feel Good Summer Read (Secret Lives of Sisters Book 1) by Belinda Austin

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The cat swayed slightly on his paws. “I had a pint me dear. I imbibe now and then because you cut off me love buds.” 

Daisy is approaching her 40th birthday, and of course there is nothing her sisters (the Estrogen Squad as Shakespeare the kitty calls them) want more for her than to be married off. Daisy’s adopted cat Shakespeare is another story, when he isn’t imbibing or making money with his business he is helping her land a man. Sober Shakespeare is less easy to manage, telling her how to dress (certainly not ho-ishly), quoting William Shakespear when the situation takes his fancy. It’s time, he tells her, to let her sisters take the reins and help her find a man!

Daisy keeps a list, one not too demanding. Is it asking too much of the universe to send her man who isn’t, say, a peeping tom? It’s not like she is asking for outrageous qualities! Just a solid, sane man! Her sisters all take a shot at it, beginning with the youngest, 21-year-old Doll. Joey… Joey Cuervo is the first. Will he be as deliciously smooth as Tequilla? What about Dove’s man, chosen for her big sister, one Harvey Wallbanger?

Men aside, the fun is all with Shakespeare’s antics. With his ‘catty’ comments and spot on advice “You look like a witch with a wart on your chin!”, it’s a novel spent in feline head space. Trust a talking cat to tell it like it is when no other will! This whip-smart cat even helps her remove her dreaded first gray hair with his sharp little claws, earning any and all kitty treats. Who wouldn’t love this sassy fuzzball, be he a drunkard or not? You gotta be cruel to be kind!

I needed this book right now in my life, it’s been a tough year full of illness and the loss of a beloved aunt, whom might I add was a cat lover.  Books find us, I promise you that. I was a giggling nuisance in bed while reading Austin’s story. Sometimes we just need something fun and wacky to escape from the drudgery of life.  “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”  I’m sure kitty Shakespeare would growl that in my ear right now. This really is a fun, silly book. Maybe some of the men she’d have been better off just downing their namesake and skipping a date altogether!

Will Daisy find love, will she survive her sisters’ disastrous choices? Will Shakespeare ever get over losing his love buds (no, no he will not)? A fun, light summer read!

Publication Date: August 24, 2018

BooksGoSocial

Cliché and Wind Go Hitchhiking by: Marcel St. Pierre

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“Look again…” I told them.

“Mind your business,” my eyes replied. “It could be something you cannot unsee.”

This short collection was a lot of fun, ridiculously silly and just what I needed right now with all the difficulty that has been coming at those I love and myself. It seems people are generally under a lot of stress these days, and escape is always welcome. Two Hikers is my favorite, because fart humor never gets old, in my household it’s a mysterious invisible duck, or bull-frog depending on one’s mood, that never makes an appearance but is always to blame. A lot less dangerous than a bear! You have to read the story to make sense of that.

A bumblebee innocently interferes with criminals, a woman loses her job, her boyfriend and finds nothing in her life is working which is both a curse and maybe a blessing. A man struggles with his relationship in a haze of white while snowshoeing, his girlfriend disappearing while he was following behind. Clever little stories you could take on a train or while waiting wherever you are forced to waste precious minutes. Just little tales to tickle you and avoid the seriousness of each dragging day.

Marcel St. Pierre is a Toronto-based author hailing from Grand Falls, New Brunswick. Award-Winning Comedian Producer and Second City Alumnus, actor, improviser, writer, author and producer. Founding member and former Artistic Director of The Bad Dog Theater Company. Cliché And Wind Go Hitchhiking is his second collection. His first, Vengeful Hank & Other Short Weird Stories  was a first-day number one bestseller on Amazon.

Available Now

MKZ Press