Tag Archives: history

The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir by Gregory L Fischer (Book Review)

New Orleans Mardi Gras parades date back to 1857. Many people attend Mardi Gras. Fewer people participate as members of a krewe, and still fewer work year-round as artists and float builders. My cousin McKinley “Mackie” J. Cantrell, III was one of the artists and builders who worked full-time to bring Mardi Gras to life. A third-generation float builder, Mackie’s grandfather began building floats during the Great Depression. By the mid-70s, “Big Mac” Cantrell had his own company, called McKinley J. Cantrell and Son and was captain of his own parade, the Krewe of Mardi Gras. Cantrell Floats lives on today, but Mackie died suddenly two days after Christmas in 2021. He was forty-seven. He was more of a brother to me, a mentor, who took me on to work with him for an entire year of Carnival preparation in 2011-12. This book is a telling of all my great memories of Mackie. It is a rare glimpse into New Orleans life from an artist’s perspective. As Mackie would say, “It’s a true story, stab-ah.”

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy DiscoveryI voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

 

The Cantrell family has a long history with Madris Gras, dating back to the Great Depression. Their legacy is quite impressive. In The Mayor of Mardi Gras: A Memoir, Gregory Fischer shares fond memories and photos of Mackie Cantrell, his cousin – best friend – and honorary brother.

Every page is a tribute to the man Gregory lost just two short days after Christmas 2021. If you ever have lost someone, you know the pain Mackie’s friends and family have experienced and probably are still experiencing. I didn’t know Mackie, but I felt like I did through Gregory’s storytelling. 

Mackie was a Renaissance man, a person with many talents or areas of knowledge. He was an athlete in high school (football and wrestling), an artist, a musician, a singer, a songwriter, and loved books. His favorite was The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. He could snowboard, rode a wakeboard like a pro, and welds. His artistic ability amazed me. I was blown away by the Flintstone vehicle. I could not fathom how in the world he created it. Just WOW! 

I’ve been to New Orleans, but I have not enjoyed the thrill of the Carnival Ball. I have seen photographs and news reports on the celebration but never really thought about the time it takes to bring a design to life or the toll it takes on a person’s body to create these elaborate floats and props. At Mackie’s passing, he made hundreds of floats and props. From the photos, he loved every moment he spent sweating over constructing and final touch-ups. 

Unfortunately, all parades were canceled in 2021 due to covid. Gregory stated Mackie worried about what 2022 would look like. Would they come back? Mackie’s work will be cherished and admired for years to come. His presence will be felt every year during Mardi Gras. And Mackie will be close to those in spirit—never far from Gregory’s thoughts. 

Besides learning much about Mackie, I learned a few things about Mardi Gras floats. One, the first float rolled out in 1857. And two, the floats have a port-a-potty on them. Fascinating! 

This book is a joy for anyone to read!

I want to end my review with parting words…

“I’m here for you. Come around anytime. You know where to find me.”

 

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Meet the Author

Author Gregory L Fischer is a former Editor-In-Chief of the Weekly Citizen, The Chief, and the Post-South newspapers in Louisiana. He is currently the owner of Make It Write, a publishing services company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he lives with his wife and stepchildren.

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The Mirabal Sisters: From Caterpillars to Butterflies by Raynelda A. Calderon (Book Spotlight)

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​Born in a small town in the Dominican Republic, the Mirabal sisters lived at a time when the country was under the merciless rule of a dictatorship. Their deaths on November 25, 1960 (at ages 36, 34, and 25), have received international coverage. In their honor, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is observed annually on November 25.
 
 
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​Raynelda A. Calderón, a Dominican native who lives in Queens, NY, is a children’s book author who has worked in public libraries for more than 15 years. She holds a doctorate in leadership in higher education, and she has taught Information Literacy at various colleges, most recently at Bronx Community College. As a librarian, working with children inspires Raynelda to write about the accomplishments of Hispanic women in history. She hopes to inspire young readers to follow their passions and never take no for an answer. Raynelda is the creator of the first Hispanic Heritage wall calendar that honors the accomplishments of Hispanic Americans in the United States. She lives with an untamed Shih Tzu, Toby, and a much attached Chihuahua, Maya. She spends her free time thinking (and drafting) about books to write, or painting, crocheting, or crying over abused dogs.
 
 
connect with the author:
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L’Origine: The secret life of the world’s most erotic masterpiece by Lilianne Milgrom (Book Spotlight)

L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom

Winner of 5 major book awards, including the Publishers Weekly U.S. 2021 Selfies Award for Best Adult Fiction and winner of the IndieReader 2021 Discovery Award.
 
 
 
The riveting odyssey of one of the world’s most scandalous works of art.
In 1866, maverick French artist Gustave Courbet painted one of the most iconic images in the history of art: a sexually explicit portrait of a woman’s exposed genitals. Audaciously titled L’Origine du monde (The Origin of the World), the scandalous painting was kept hidden for a century and a half. Today, it hangs in the world-renowned Orsay Museum in Paris, viewed by millions of visitors a year.
​As the first artist authorized by the Orsay Museum to re-create Courbet’s The Origin of the World, author Lilianne Milgrom was thrust into the painting’s intimate orbit, spending six weeks replicating every fold, crevice, and pubic hair. The experience inspired her to share her story and the painting’s titillating, clandestine history. L’Origine is a tale of survival, replete with French revolutionaries, Turkish pashas and nefarious Nazi captains. Hold onto your berets for a riveting ride through history.  
 
 
 
 
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Meet the Author:
 
Author Lilianne Milgrom

 
Paris-born Lilianne Milgrom is an internationally acclaimed artist and award-winning author residing in Washington DC. In 2011, she became the first authorized copyist of Gustave Courbet’s controversial painting L’Origine du Monde, which hangs in the Orsay Museum in Paris. Milgrom spent a decade researching and writing L’Origine: The Secret Life of the World’s Most Erotic Masterpiece. Her debut novel has been awarded six literary honors including the Publisher’s Weekly 2021 US Selfies Book Award for Best Adult Fiction.
 
connect the author:  website ~ twitter ~ instagram

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Rebel Correspondent by Steve Procko (Book Spotlight / Guest Post)

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Content Rating:  PG

 
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Rebel Correspondent is the true story of a young man who joined the Confederate Army days after his eighteenth birthday and served bravely until the war ended. Wounded twice, he emerged a changed person. But he wasn’t just a returning veteran; he was also a writer.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Arba F. Shaw was a fifty-seven-year-old farmer. On a chilly December day in 1901, he put pen to paper to write his memories of being a Rebel Private in the 4th Georgia Cavalry (Avery), C.S.A. He completed writing his account in February 1902. His local newspaper, the Walker County Messenger, in Lafayette, Georgia, published his account in more than fifty articles from 1901 to 1903. Then it was all but forgotten. Until Now. Rebel Correspondent presents Arba F. Shaw’s account word-for-word, as first published in the Walker County Messenger almost 120 years ago. Procko annotates Shaw’s account with in-depth research, verifying it and uncovering the back story of his life and the lives of his Rebel comrades. Procko’s research offers a historical perspective on the many places and events Shaw so richly described.

 
 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
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Steve Procko never thought of himself as a Civil War history buff, let alone a biographer. He does love history, however, particularly learning about the small, everyday events in the lives of little-known people and the small towns they lived in.

A documentarian and cinematographer, Steve was sleuthing stories for a documentary series he has developed, “There’s History Around Every Bend,” currently available on YouTube, when he came across the writings of Private Arba F. Shaw.

The down-to-earth accounts of the everyday life of a lowly private just struggling to survive one of the greatest events in American history fascinated Steve. As he read the series of articles, mostly unread since they were published in a small, north Georgia newspaper in 1901-1903, he began to realize that this was a remarkable cache of history.

A native of Florida, Steve, with his Lauren and their dog Rigby, splits his time between a mountain log cabin nestled next to Stanley Creek near the town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, and a home in Ocala, Florida.

He opened a commercial film production company with a partner in 1984. In 2003 the company became Steve Procko Productions (SPP). His Emmy-award-winning financial literacy program Talkin’ Money Minutes is available on over 100 Public Television stations nationwide. SPP has also won three additional Emmys over fifty Addy Awards, Telly Awards, and two Promax awards.

When he’s not behind a video camera or researching the archives for his next documentary or book, Steve explores remote areas throughout the United States and Canada as a fine art photographer. He has had work displayed at The Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, The Museum of Art in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, as well as solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. 

Steve’s second book, Captured Liberty, another Civil War story about nine POW Union officers and their amazing escape will be published in 2022. He also plans to develop documentaries about The Rebel Correspondent and Captured Liberty.

 

Connect with the Author:  Author Website ~  Twitter Facebook Instagram

 
 
 
 
By: Steve Procko; Author, Rebel Correspondent – RebelCorrespondent.com
 
 
I love detective work. Tracing history’s mysteries and sleuthing anecdotal stories to separate the wheat from the chaff has become an obsession, and for me, Rebel Correspondent is one of those stories.

So why write a book based on the 120-year-old writings of a Confederate private in a time when this country often feels more divided than ever? Because factual history, regardless of the point of view, is important.

When Arba F. Shaw sat down and began writing his account of his experiences in the Civil War, he must have known that if he didn’t do so, those memories would be forever lost.

In the first place I will say that it was a hard task for me to leave a pleasant home where peace and abundant comfort were takin in exchange a miserable out door life where I was liable to be killed any day, but it was a task that for the sake of honor I could not shirk from and now l am glad I performed it”, said Shaw.


He was writing of things that had occurred more than thirty-five years earlier, but they were clearly events deeply burned into his mind. Shaw memories were sharp. They had not faded in over thirty-five years–his account of events were proven to be incredibly accurate.

In the 150-plus years since Arba became a lowly private, tens of thousands have followed as young adults who enlisted into the conflict their country found itself engaged in at that particular moment—all of them driven by honor and duty. This is not a book arguing the reasons why Civil War came to be or why today we still haven’t quite finished the argument.

This book is a story of survival. It was the underlying theme then, and it has resonated through every war and conflict this country has found itself in ever since.

 

 
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The Shade Under the Mango Tree by Evy Journey (Book Spotlight)

Gold Medal, Contemporary Fiction
2021 Global Book Awards (formerly New York City Book Awards)

Finalist, Multicultural Fiction
2021 International Book Awards

 

Content Rating:  PG13 & M: There’s a suicide, reference to a past genocide, and reference to sex about to happen but no description of the sexual act.

 
After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home in California and Hawaii where she grew up. An adventure in which she can also make some difference.

Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. Though he has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it, they don’t stop him. His decision changes his life forever.

Months later, they meet at a bookstore. Fascinated by his stories and adventurous spirit, Luna goes on a Peace Corps stint to a rural rice-growing village in Cambodia. There, she finds a world steeped in ancient culture and the lasting ravages of a deadly history. Will she leave this world unscathed?

An epistolary tale of courage, resilience, and the bonds that bring diverse people together.

 
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Buy the Book:
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Kobo ~ Apple 
 
 
 
Meet the Author:
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Evy Journey writes. Stories and blog posts. Novels that tend to cross genres. She’s also a wannabe artist and a flâneuse. Evy studied psychology (Ph.D. University of Illinois) so she spins tales about nuanced characters dealing with the problems and issues of contemporary life. She believes in love and its many faces. Though she has traveled to many places, she has one ungranted wish: To live in Paris where art is everywhere and people have honed aimless roaming to an art form. She visits and stays a few months.

Connect with the Author: website ~ facebook ~ pinterest ~ twitter

 

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