Official Review: Read My Mind by Stephen McLeod

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EvaDar
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Official Review: Read My Mind by Stephen McLeod

Post by EvaDar » 22 Jun 2019, 14:08

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Read My Mind" by Stephen McLeod.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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“David glared over the edge at the ground far below. The only question now was, “Stay and die, or jump and die?”

When life presents impossible choices, the way we navigate that unknown territory defines who we are. Author Stephen McLeod’s 2019 offering, Read My Mind: True Tales for Cathartic Consumption, follows David from young adulthood into middle-age as he maneuvers through the mysteries of life, love and loss. In 10 chapters of poetry and prose, David’s story unfolds with vulnerability and humor.

Well-read David is prone to consulting the sage advice of the Dali Lama, Nietzsche, and Einstein, not to mention Jim Morrison, whose epigraphs introduce each chapter. The way David meets the world, with nearly simultaneous confusion and clarity, innocence and wisdom, evokes the reader’s feelings about their own search for significance and fulfillment. Trungpa Rinpoche, a preeminent teacher of Tibetan Buddhism who makes an appearance in the book, teaches that releasing suffering doesn't mean neurosis and pain leave us but rather that we learn to manage them better. My impression is that David follows this path as his challenges don't dissolve along the way, but he learns to meet them differently. The poetic imagery subtly shifts with David's transformation. While each reader will undoubtedly interpret the poetry differently, I think most will appreciate, and even learn from, his evolution.

This cross-category book spans multiple genres: biographies; memoirs; literature and poetry; and spirituality. I would call it a poetic memoir. The cycles and elements of nature, sexuality, and spirituality are the perfect imagery to allow this extended metaphor to unfold, as in this stanza from “Speed of Light”:
Shade elongating away from its source
Fingers of night time
Crossing the dream line
Moonlight emerging with spiritual urging
Into the starry abyss
Each chapter begins with a prose piece, followed by three poems. The author employs a range of formats, rhyming schemes, and meter. This stanza from “Wheel” illustrates a particularly melodic style, containing four stressed syllables per line and a rhyming scheme where the first two and the second two lines rhyme:
Look and see the billion faces
Smiling babes to basket cases
Disarray of dreams and drama
Spinning wheel of prayers and karma
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the author’s clever use of poetic tools. These surprises are at first undetectable but materialize as the reader progresses. For instance, the chapter titles are all adjectives with a rhyming pattern and alliteration that would only be detected by examining the Contents page. The first four chapters are named Surrounded, Suspicious, Confounded, Capricious. To help the reader identify these delightful puzzles, the author provides some subtle visual clues. I found several of them and suspect there may be more. You will have to read the book to discover them!

The entirety of Read My Mind is presented elegantly in terms of formatting, structure and editing. The book’s cover aptly pictures four photos of the same gnarled, mature tree, each photo representing one of the four seasons. While poetry is exempt from many grammar and punctuation rules, this book is spotless and is clearly professionally edited. The subject matter is relatable and, while readers will feel the ambiguity and unanswered questions, the writing is accessible to any adult. I gladly award Read My Mind: True Tales for Cathartic Consumption 4 out of 4 stars. It is very well executed on all levels, and I recommend it to readers interested in poetry and prose, as well as anyone who appreciates serious subject matter handled with rawness, depth, and humor.

******
Read My Mind
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When I am afraid to speak is when I speak.
That is when it is most important.
-Nayyirah Waheed

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Post by Charlie19 » 23 Jun 2019, 23:43

Love and loss that two are essential to life, it touches our emotions and this book definitely touched mine.

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Post by Brendan Donaghy » 24 Jun 2019, 01:52

I wasn't sure what to expect when I read the title of this book. Having read your very thorough review, I now have a much better idea. I'm usually wary about books that mix prose and poetry, as often they end up a bit of a mish-mash of styles and themes. This one sounds like the author has managed to do it successfully. Great job on the review!

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Post by Meg98 » 24 Jun 2019, 10:01

I love poetry. I think it is so beautiful when well-written! I like how this collection covers many different genres... I will definitely check this out! Thanks for this great review:)
Oh love, never be afraid to fly :wink2:

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Post by kdstrack » 24 Jun 2019, 10:37

I like your classification of a poetic memoir. The subtle visual clues would be intriguing to watch for as you read and exciting to find! I also like the cover. Great review!

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Post by kandscreeley » 24 Jun 2019, 10:44

If I'm going to read poetry, I enjoy when the author uses all kinds of devices in it. Still, I don't really enjoy it. I'm glad this one was so well-done, though, and that you enjoyed it. Thanks for the information on this one.
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Post by Nivi Gideon » 24 Jun 2019, 11:52

I love that this is a personal story narrated through prose and verse! That isn't comman and I would love to check it out.

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Post by Miriam Molina » 24 Jun 2019, 22:02

Wow! You really did immerse yourself in this book, Eva! I am sure the author is thrilled that you discovered all his hidden clues. I wish to read this one pronto!

P.S. Are you taking away my "techie" crown? I feel like Ms. Colombia in the 2015 Miss Universe pageant (which Ms. Philippines won, by the way).

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Post by CyndiA1 » 24 Jun 2019, 22:15

I like the cover concept with the tree during different seasons.

Thanks for a thorough and helpful review. I enjoyed reading it.

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Post by Kaylawallace523 » 25 Jun 2019, 01:09

I think this was an incredibly well written review and I am going to put this on my want to read shelf. Thank you!

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Post by Kaylawallace523 » 25 Jun 2019, 01:17

Meg98 wrote:
24 Jun 2019, 10:01
I love poetry. I think it is so beautiful when well-written! I like how this collection covers many different genres... I will definitely check this out! Thanks for this great review:)
:D I love to hear people say they love poetry. I do too, reading and writing it.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 25 Jun 2019, 10:46

Based on your interesting review, this sounds like an enjoyable collection. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Post by Nivi Gideon » 25 Jun 2019, 15:57

You have done justice to the book through your wonderful review! Great job

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Post by LeeleeByoma » 25 Jun 2019, 17:22

It sounds absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately for me, I can't find my way around poetry. I would have read it otherwise.

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Post by EvaDar » 26 Jun 2019, 16:56

Charlie19 wrote:
23 Jun 2019, 23:43
Love and loss that two are essential to life, it touches our emotions and this book definitely touched mine.
Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!
When I am afraid to speak is when I speak.
That is when it is most important.
-Nayyirah Waheed

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