Saturday 12 May 2018

The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo #BlogTour @bg_writes_stuff #MyLifeInBooks #TheGathering

The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved.

In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.

The Gathering by Bernadette Giacomazzo is book one of The Uprising series and was published in March 2018. As part of the Blog Tour, I am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Bernadette Giacomazzo

I’m someone who’s been reading books, in their entirety, since I was about 2 years old. I devour books in the same way people devour their favorite foods – I can’t imagine my life without them. When I go on a train, a plane, or a car ride, I’m reading a book – when I get five minutes to myself, I’m reading a book – and before I go to bed, I’m reading a book.

Currently, there are well over one thousand books in my physical library, and I’ve recently started collecting digital books as well. Even though digital books are convenient, I always appreciate the feel of a good paperback – or hardcover – in my hands.

So, when I was asked to give a list of ten books that meant the most to me, it was nothing short of a Herculean task. So, what I decided to do was to take ten books that influenced both The Gathering as an individual book and The Uprising as a series. I hope my book series is just as true to its purpose as these books are to theirs.

The Stand by Stephen King This is one of those books that eternally stands the test of time – even though it was first released in 1978, it’s just as fresh, and relevant, today as it was 40 years ago. The Stand was the first book that signaled, to me, that post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction was a viable avenue, and King’s commitment to realism made this book positively terrifying. I read somewhere that The Stand was King’s Lord of the Rings set in the United States – maybe that’s why it’s so epic. I always said that if I were ever going to write The Great American Novel, I would model it after The Stand. I didn’t quite do that, in terms of the subject matter, but I certainly tried in terms of length. This is a book that, I think, will never be “dated” – despite the pop culture references – and one that future generations will be reading in comparative literature classes.

A Plague of Pythons by Frederick Pohl  This is not a science fiction book that’s as well known as some other classics, and many critics don’t think it’s Pohl’s best work (that honor goes to Gateway), but I personally love this book. If you got a copy after 1984, you probably knew it as Demon in the Skull. I reference the book in The Gathering, because I love it that much – it’s about a society of people being ruled by a class of people called “execs,” and the only reason they follow the rules is because they’re afraid of the punishment that comes as a result. But there’s more to it than that: society is devastated because of the military industrial complex turning on its rulers, people are committing violent crimes and claiming they’ve been “possessed” to escape punishment, and people in power are seducing their charges by promising them the same power they have. I love books that require more than one reading to really understand, and this is one of them.

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein  Exodus 2:22 reads, “Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become a stranger in a strange land,” and that’s where Heinlein got the title of this now-classic book. I really have no idea why it was so controversial when it was first released, because it speaks to a very simple concept: being human but feeling out of place with the rest of humanity because you’re “different.” Let’s just say I relate to that feeling more than any other. Valentine Michael Smith is such a pure soul, and I literally cried when he was killed. But I loved how the people who were in tune with Valentine Michael Smith’s humanity gained psychokinetic powers – that’s a super-power I’d love to have.

You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson  When I read a book, I want to learn something different – I want it to challenge my view of the world and help me see it through someone else’s eyes. I think that, right there, is the main reason why I love Phoebe Robinson’s book, You Can’t Touch My Hair (and Other Things I Still Have to Explain). Aside from the fact that Phoebe is very funny, and I absolutely love her 2 Dope Queens podcast, her book really helps me see things through her mind’s eye, and it helps me shift perspective and gain empathy. Plus, I’m an aunt to five bi-racial children that I love more than life itself, and Phoebe’s chapter about that very subject made it easy for me to relate to her. I appreciated it, really, more than anything.

Straight from the Source by Kim Osorio  Kim Osorio was the first female editor of The Source Magazine, which was long considered the “hip-hop Bible” amongst fans. But because she was such a ground-breaker, and a woman at that, she had to go through a lot – and I do mean a lot – of nonsense. In Straight from the Source, she details her ups and downs in the music industry as the editor of such a venerated publication, and I loved this book because, more than anything, it made me feel less alone. It made me realize that women in the entertainment industry – and especially women in high-ranking editorial positions – really go through a lot of nonsense, name-calling, accusations against their character, and overall career assassination, but if they can make it through that, they can make through anything. In the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, this book will serve as a cautionary tale for the next generation – this is what we had to go through. This is what we endured. Don’t ever take progress for granted.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman  Gaiman is, perhaps, the only writer on the face of the Earth that can combine ancient mythology with a modern vision quest to create a unique, detailed, rich story. What I really love about all his work – not just American Gods – is the authenticity. Gaiman spent an extended period traversing the United States, and American Gods is the product of those cross-country travels. As a result, you really feel like you’re on the road with Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon. Now, while I like the Starz show – and Ian McShane is amazing as Mr. Wednesday – there’s truly something special about the book that the show fails to capture. It’s a shame, really, that the show wasted an opportunity to really bring Gaiman’s vision to life. I hope the rumors about Gaiman’s participation in the next season of the show are true – I’d love to see American Gods as he intended us to see it.

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks  This book made my list because it was assigned to me in high school – I went to an all-girls Catholic high school (Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, NY, Class of 1995 – Go Mustangs!), and since this was in the days before the Internet, they were able to impress anything they wanted upon our young minds. So, they led us to believe that this book was a “memoir” of a girl that fell into the clutches of drug addiction, thus effectively leading us not into temptation and delivering us from drug evil. Years later – I mean, literally years later – I found out that the book was a work of fiction. What’s more, I learned – especially as I got into the music business – that the true stories of drug addiction were infinitely more interesting, nuanced, and complex than what was presented in this book. If nothing else, this book taught me not to just accept what was on the written page, but to read it, absorb it, think about it, experience it if I could, and then make an informed decision about what was presented.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene  I think one of the main reasons why I love this book is because it’s popular amongst prison inmates. One of the worst things we, as human beings, can do is judge why people are in prison, and for what. This isn’t to say we should befriend masked murderers, but as someone whose father had a rather, erm, colorful history in the Federal prison system, I’ve learned that sometimes, people are in prison for all the wrong reasons. In any event, this book really outlines – piece by piece – the steps you need to take to be successful. The tips that Greene suggests are very “cold,” in that they don’t take other people’s feelings into account – so while I don’t recommend people follow these steps in their personal life, I highly recommend they do so in their professional life if they want to be successful. It’s certainly better than The Art of the Deal.

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan  If anyone who reads The Gathering – or any other book of The Uprising series – identifies with Evanora Cunningham, they can thank The Feminine Mystique. It’s hard for third-wave feminists to believe, but there was a time in this country where women were granted very little agency over any of their decisions, from how to give birth to their children to what to study in school. Friedan really spoke to that ennui that many women felt in the 1950s and early 1960s, and as such, she was able to trigger the second wave of feminism. But Friedan’s brand of feminism, most of all, is a journey to the self – women evolve from being pawns to participants, and that’s what happens to Evanora over the course of several books.

Fish Out of Agua: My Life on Neither Side of The (Subway) Tracks by Michelle Carlo  I got the chance to read, and review, this book when I was the editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine, and let me tell you, I absolutely loved it. Being a New Yorker, I’m used to being around people of different cultures and backgrounds – in fact, I find it strange to be in a homogeneous culture – but in the same breath, “being around a culture” and “being a part of a culture” are completely different things. This book really gave me insight into what it meant to be a Puerto-Rican-from-the-Bronx – and a blanquita, at that – and how Michelle Carlo experienced the “old New York” as a Puerto-Rican-from-the-Bronx served to fuel the creation of Ramira “Rosie” Diaz.

Bernadette Giacomazzo - May 2018 

With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.

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