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Marlan Warren is a journalist, novelist, editor, playwright, screenwriter, blogger, website designer, and publicist. She is the author of the fictionalized memoir, Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s Not Fair in Love or War and the AIDS memoir, Rowing on a Corner. She reviews for Midwest Book Review. Marlan is also a filmmaker.

You can check out but you can never leave...


My life, your life, our lives inside and outside of Los Angeles and its angels.


All of these book reviews appeared in The Midwest Book Review. Want to read more? Please check out my Book News blog:  Roadmap Girl's Book Buzz

Title: The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People [Making the Best of Mental Illness]
Authors: Shelly Glaser with Sherry Glaser
Genre: Self-Help/Recovery/Mental Illness
Publisher: Mother's Milk Publications
Paperback: Pub. Sept. 6, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-692-76460-2   (90 pages)
Kindle E-Book: Pub. Aug. 4, 2016
ASIN: B01JTMPELO   (File Size: 308 KB)
Website: http://www.sherryglaser.net
Author Contact: sherryamore67@outlook.com

By Marlan Warren:

The Mother-Daughter Continuum
Continuum: noun (kƒn-tin'yoo- ƒm): A continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct, e.g., at the fast end of the fast-slow continuum.
--The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People [Making the Best of Mental Illness]

In the self-help tradition of Louise Hay’s New Thought books (“Heal Your Life”), comes The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People [Making the Best of Mental Illness]. It not only features tips from mental patient, Shelly Glaser, but the twist is that this handbook was not only posthumously published, but co-written with her daughter—award-winning performance artist and author, Sherry Glaser—after Shelly died.

Years after her mother’s death (hastened by the side effects of anti-psychotic medications), Sherry Glaser came across the manuscript in rough draft (with this title) and felt inspired to finish it, adding her own story—which included deep fear of inheriting mental illness— and delineating the tools she uses to transcend that dread and keep herself sane.T

True to its title, this book offers practical step-by-step tools made so simple that anyone could try them and not feel overwhelmed by the prospect. They include meditation, the mind-body connection and the “exotic” (for the more adventurous).

Each Glaser has walked through her own mental hell. Each tells her hair-raising story (in the elder Glaser’s case, literally, as she endured numerous electroshock treatments) with eloquence and wry humor.

The book opens with Mama Glaser’s life story. Along the way, she stops to explain what worked for her, what didn’t work for her, and encourages all seekers to make their own decisions as they explore options for recovery. How do you choose a therapist? Should you get electroshock treatments? Shelly lays out the choices without pushing. She does not try to sell herself as an expert on anything but her own experiences. Her direct honesty and plain talk give an insider look into how mental illness can be bravely borne with a strong will to heal whatever can be healed. Shelly Glaser could be your mother, your sister, your daughter…your peer. And her resilience inspires.

Then “The Mother-Daughter Continuum” swings into focus as Sherry tells her side, creating a link between their “herstories” that resonates beyond the grave.

It’s no surprise that Sherry Glaser puts “Creativity” at the top of her list of mental health lifesavers. She came to New York fame with her one-woman show, Family Secrets, which still holds the title of the Longest-Running One-Woman Show in Off-Broadway History. In 2015, her Oh My Goddess!: A Comedy of Biblical Proportions won the Best Avant-Garde award at New York's United Solo Festival.

In the section entitled Sherry: The Sequel, she recounts her rollercoaster life without a trace of self-pity or morbid self-reflection. Sherry reveals herself to be a dedicated activist against war and for cannabis legalization, who was devastated by the sudden disappearance of her husband, which remains an unsolved mystery to this day. Add to that lesbian marriage/divorce and arrest by a SWAT team, and it seems a wonder she is not in a straitjacket.
And speaking of straitjackets…

The cover features a black man smiling beatifically…in a straitjacket. How did this cover come to grace the Mother-Daughter Continuum’s first handbook? Sherry explains before she even gets to page 1. Hint: Her mother was behind it.

No alternative tool is left unturned. Mother and daughter offer two different viewpoints on the topic of electroshock therapy vs. medical cannabis. Actually, one left something out of her story in this regard, and the other one put it back in. Hint: Sherry Glaser is a founding member of the Love In It Co-op, a medical marijuana dispensary in Mendocino, California.

With its Companion Questionnaire that is designed to be used in a Clinical Psychology classroom as a workbook, but is user-friendly enough for a more casual setting, The First Practical Handbook for Crazy People serves as a useful, calming addition to anyone’s mental health library.

And for those of us whose parents struggled with the horrors of mental illness, this book does its best to empower us by removing the stigma of “crazy,” and replacing it with the hope that we can move through healing and serenity, no matter whose genes we inherited.

                                                        I wondered how anyone ever felt at home here, 
                                                       where there was nothing you could trust to hold on to, 
                                                      not even the ground beneath your feet.Dazzled 

Title: Dazzled 
Author: Maxine Nunes
Series: A Nikki Easton Mystery (Book 1)
Publisher: Five Star (October 23, 2013) 
ISBN-13: 978-1432827304 
Available on Amazon (Paperback, Kindle and Hard Cover)
Website:  http://www.maxinenunes.com/
Synopsis: Feisty one-liner actress Nikki Easton finds herself embroiled in a quest to either find out who murdered her best friend—the "dazzling" aspiring actress Darla—or verify that the unrecognizable corpse buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is really someone else. Along the way, Nikki finds herself smitten with a sexy cop, looks for clues at a Playboy-type mansion, and tangles with unsavory Underworld characters whose antics and shocking connections are nearly indistinguishable from the rest of Hollywood's movers who slither through this book. Sex, drugs and lost souls who are torn between the need to be "somebody" and the desire to flee L.A. keep this mystery ticking like the proverbial time bomb.

Maxine Nunes' Dazzled is a tale told with such precision for atmospheric details, lifestyle annoyances and pitch perfect dialogue, it should come with a cautionary disclaimer for Los Angelenos:

"Warning: May induce the sensation that you are still inside the plot every time you look up from the book."

True to its genre, the story takes readers where others have gone before, but Nunes puts a fresh spin on the familiar elements through inspired turns of phrases ("...a man who evidently thought a strip of chest hair would do for a necktie") and quirky 21st Century updates (gifted with a bouquet, the only "vase" Nikki can find is an empty Slurpee cup).

Nunes also has a gift for depicting layered characters. To this end, she makes excellent use of an acting class that demands "honest emotions" of its students. In the hands of a lesser writer, these scenes could come off as satire or excessively dramatic; but here they skillfully alternate between humor and pathos while giving readers the necessary insights.

The stronger the personality the more it hid.Dazzled

Dazzled lovingly and painstakingly explores the paradoxical contradictions of Los Angeles and its hapless inhabitants. The smell of night jasmine juxtaposes with the stench of the morgue...an actress with a "show biz" sensuality hides her true self in plain sight...and all the sleights of hand resonate in the book's first line:

What's real?

At its core, the mystery explores love in its various forms and disguises. Twists, turns and double-crosses abound. Enough to keep the pages turning, but not so complicated or overloaded with characters that it ever feels unwieldy.

All in all, a fun read—unless you are living in L.A., in which case you might have fun while also thinking about leaving town; or if you are the optimistic type, you might find yourself looking forward to a sequel!

Maxine Nunes
Maxine Nunes is a New Yorker who has spent most of her life Los Angeles. She has written and produced for television, and currently writes for several publications including the Los Angeles Times. Her satiric parody of a White House scandal won the Pen USA West International Imitation Hemingway Competition.

Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Paperback: 148 pages
Publisher: HowToDoItFrugally Publishing (August 25, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1515232490

Genres: Poetry Anthology/Social Justice
Available at: Amazon 



Narcissus knows her reflection
well. She forgets to peer
under burkas, in our jails,
in the beds of the abused,
deeper, deeper into the pond...
                                             —Howard-Johnson, Carolyn. Narcissus Revisited. Imperfect Echoes.

First things first, proceeds from sales of Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small are donated to the non-profit human rights watchdog, Amnesty International USA.

Reading Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Imperfect Echoes made me want to write poetry. This Los Angeles award-winning poet lays out the landscape of her contemplative thoughts, feelings and reactions with such honesty and deceptive simplicity that they have the effect of offering a peek into her private journals. Yes, it would be wonderful to succinctly express my impressions in a well-crafted poem; however, what puts this poetry on par with leaping tall buildings (and thus out of my novice's reach) is the fact that each poem herein manages the feat of conveying personal and universal relevance at once.

If you are someone who gets scared off by the prospect of political rhetoric masquerading as literature, be advised that this is not one of those books. Although the book's subtitle, may strike some as rather lofty, it is a quote from Czeslaw Milosz's poem, Incantation, in his anthology, The Captive Mind, which reflects Howard-Johnson's poetic themes. She has divided her prolific poems into a Prologue plus four sections:

1. Remembering What We Must
2. Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction
3. Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift
4. Future Stones of Distrust

Howard-Johnson deftly blends the "Truth and Justice" observations with the "Small" moments of "lie(s)" and "oppression" as they intersperse through her poet's journey. The poems in Remembering What We Must address the stark realities of war and global misery, which Howard-Johnson treats with her practiced light touch that floats like the proverbial butterfly and stings like an outraged bee. In Belgium's War Fields, she compares the reasons for bygone wars to our present day confusion:

And now a war that takes from the mouths
and hearts of the stranded, the homeless.
How different from those who
marched with snares or flew flags
in a war when we knew
why we were there.

In the Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction section, The Story of My Missed Connection in Minneola brings to life a brief rest stop during a road trip, which seems rather amusing at first as the wife relieves her bladder and the husband declines the coffee with Let's skip it. Coffee's / probably been stewing for days... but hits an unexpected bump of overt bigotry when the roadside store owner confides in them (in between the screeches of his pet parrot) that he left Los Angeles to get away from the ragheads. [Howard-Johnson explains in a note that the form is a "stoerem," invented by poet Harry Gilleland.]

In the Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift section, Relatives really gets down with the ways in which "Small" minds can make a family dinner feel like a stint in Purgatory:

Perhaps you won't invite me back
if I mention that infamous
uncle. You know, the one who killed
three of his wives
but is candid
about who he is,
how many he's killed,
the methods he used
and never gets invited to dinner.

In the Future Stones of Distrust section, Rosa Parks Memorialized opens with On the day our September losses / reached 2,000, a tribute / to Rosa...and asks If she were alive now.../ would her solo / be enough or do we need now a choir singing, / thousands screaming...? In keeping with the contemplative style of all her poems, Howard-Johnson answers her own question with a truth that gave me chills:

Come to think of it,
that was required then, too. Elegant.
Gentle. Firm. But not
enough without the rest of us.

Imperfect Echoes allows readers to witness a poet's lifetime revisited in memory and with fresh wisdom. If the topics of oppression, prejudice and war seem to some "overdone," Howard-Johnson responds in her Prologue poem, Apologies from a Magpie:

Magpies are born to sing others' songs
stained notes, imperfect echoes—
until the world begins to know
them by heart. 

Imperfect Echoes has received the following awards:
Dany Poynter's Global Ebook Awards: Bronze
USA Book News Award: Finalist
Book Excellence Award: Finalist

About the Author

Accepted for inclusion in Poets & Writers prestigious list of published poets, multi award-winning novelist and poet Carolyn Howard-Johnson is widely published in journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community's Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly's list "Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen" and was given her community's Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. One of her poems won the Franklin Christoph poetry prize. She was an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program for nearly a decade. Learn more about all her books at http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com.

COMMENT:  From Carolyn Howard-Johnson 
Just exquisite. Because you a writer, you know how special it is to have someone else appreciate your work! Thank you so much. You write such great, professional reviews. No wonder Midwest Book Reviews uses your work, too!

Several fathers questioned if they had any wisdom to give.
—Jennifer K. Jordan, Fathers' Wisdom

Title: Fathers’ Wisdom –
A Powerful Collection of Stories from Fathers Around the World.
Author: Jennifer Karin Jordan
Genre: Family Relationships
Publisher: Square Tree
Release Date: June 15, 2015
ISBN-13: 978-0990319054
Available at Fathers' Wisdom Amazon Page
Author Website: Jennifer Karin Jordan Website
Facebook Page: Facebook: Fathers' Wisdom
Twitter: @marlanwarren

I view all my children as angels of God
whom He has entrusted to my care.
 —Darwin Bicknell ("Wisdom from a Stepdad") Fathers' Wisdom

I could not read Jennifer K. Jordan's Fathers' Wisdom without thinking of my own father. He took his parenting role very seriously, and would have appreciated a book like Fathers' Wisdom, which sets out to honor all fathers everywhere, and was inspired by Jordan's love for her father. Both her parents were no longer alive when she interviewed her first dad. Now, fourteen years later, Fathers' Wisdom has emerged with over 50 fathers' stories. The California author spoke not only with American-born dads, but sought out men whose roots ranged from Germany to Afghanistan to Japan.

What I expected were sugar-sweet tales told by fathers who would want to put themselves in the best light possible. What I got was impressive honesty, and a nearly anthropological study of what makes good fathers tick.

It's incredible to see my heart in someone else's body.
—Gabriel Hall ("Yoga Dad") Fathers' Wisdom

Fathers include a yoga teacher; golf entrepreneur; magazine editor; artist; actor; Holocaust survivor; pastors; as well as Japanese Americans who experienced World War II "internment" and battle. On board are also fathers outside of the nuclear family paradigm: foster dad, divorced dad and stepdad.

One of the most moving moments is when Holocaust survivor Bernard Sayone must explain to his son what happened to his own father at the hands of the Nazis. In a world that often values machismo in all its various forms, it's refreshing to hear tales of male sensitivity, longing and heartbreak.

I teach my kids to be honest, whether they are alone or someone is watching.

—Bob Gilder ("Integrity") Fathers' Wisdom

All the fathers speak with admirable candor about their relationship to their children, and their view of fatherhood itself. As different as they are, they all seem to agree on one thing: lead your children by example. Each chapter concludes with an uplifting author suggestion of how to honor the wisdom shared by each dad, such as "Today let's be people that others can count on."

There isn’t just one way to be a father.
—Pastor Bayless Conley, Cottonwood Church ("God in ALl") Fathers' Wisdom

If I were packing a Time Capsule, Fathers' Wisdom would be one of the first items I'd put into it. For if the world should almost end in fire or ice, it would be nice to show future generations the good that men were capable of doing.

Christopher Stambouli (Joseph Stanbouli’s son/ Joseph is in Lebanon), Jeff Napper, Joe Chavez, Greg Atkins, Darwin Bicknell, Jennifer K. Jordan, Bernard Sayone (sitting), Abdullah Akbar, Joe Riddick, Tomas Kovar, David Howard, James Tanaka and Dr. Rodric Rhodes

Bernard Sayone at Fathers' Wisdom Book Launch

Fathers at their book signing event for Fathers' Wisdom
Fathers’ Wisdom is available on Amazon and at the following bookstores:

MADE in Long Beach
236 Pine Avenue
Long Beach, California 90802
(877) 752-1550
Website: MADE in Long Beach

Apostrophe Books
5229 E. 2nd Street
Long Beach, California 90803

Cottonwood Church Bookstore
4505 Katella Avenue
Los Alamitos, California 90720

#JenniferK.Jordan #JenniferJordan #FathersWisdom #MADEinLB #LongBeachEvents #PopsNight #FamilyRelationshipBooks #Fatherhoodispowerful

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