LEARNING TO PLAY WITH A LION’S TESTICLES is excellent reaching for the beach/vacation/avoiding work/general malaise. We’ve rated this as a 3 on the Boxes of Kleenex Scale, and a 5 on the Laugh ‘Til Your Abs Hurt Scale, as author Melissa Haynes travels to South Africa to volunteer on a game reserve, blithely believing she’s helping save the animals when, in fact, they end up saving her.
Last time I said that, I finished the damn book. At 2 a.m…
And speaking of addiction, I highly recommend picking up a copy of LEARNING TO PLAY WITH A LION’S TESTICLES by Melissa Haynes. I couldn’t put this down, either. I laughed my fool head off and cried through a box of Kleenex.
Wazzit about? Well, let me tell youse…
Melissa didn’t fit the typical picture of one who volunteers at an animal reserve. Even though she arrived in South Africa, excited to give of her time and energy, she also brought a heavy heart of unresolved grief over her mother’s death three years prior.
The animals taught Melissa far more than she could have ever learned on her own. The lions nearly made a meal of her, but they also challenged her to face life without fear. Her daily battles with a very cranky, dung-and-tree-branch- flinging ellie taught Melissa humility and respect, and she ended up growing very fond of her at the end of her stay. Even Harrison, the ever-faithful bucket of bolts, spit, and glue, managed to teach Melissa a thing or two about faith and struggle by keeping her out of danger from charging rhinos and hungry lions.
The hartebeest couple was the hardest because they were utterly devoted to each other, and Melissa checked up on them every afternoon. When the female got sick, it brought it all full circle for Melissa: hoping and praying she would survive, watching her mate protect and comfort her for days, and then her final passing followed by butchering her carcass to feed the lions. Even the gorgeous, burly ranger at her side didn’t hurt too much either – even if he was about the crabbiest man she’d ever met. It was as though this experience was written for Melissa to make her come to terms with the guilt and pain over her mother’s passing.
LEARNING TO PLAY WITH A LION’S TESTICLES is an unforgettable story in which Melissa faces the animals of South Africa and returns with a happy, healthy, and blessed life.
I have this little ritual that I take extra special cherry-on-top pleasure in: Moving Day.
No, I’m not moving to a new batcave; this is far less dramatic, but no less important. I have a folder in my email program called Submissions. General queries go there. When I ask for a partial or full, they get their own folder within my Submissions folder. If I pass on the submission, I move the folder to the Delete folder. If I offer a “folder” a publishing contract and the agent agrees, I do this little happy dance by moving that folder into my Authors folder.
They are no longer a submission, but one of the fam.
I love this little ritual of welcoming the new folder to my gang of Authors because I’m excited for that folder’s future. What fun will we have together? How will this little folder explode with its possibilities and have readers falling over themselves to read it?
The editing process is where I get to really know the author, and he/she to know me. It’s where the lovely little folder blossoms into a living, breathing thing of gorgeosity.
I have to say that this one really got to me. It had a rough start, but I was sufficiently interested in it to suggest a rewrite. A month turned into seven, and I forgot about the little folder until early last week when I was cleaning out my email program. “Seven months,” I growlz, “meh, move it to the Delete folder.” And I did.
Funnily enough, the very next day the agent popped in to say hello and to present me with the fully re-written prize. So worth waiting for. LEARNING TO PLAY WITH A LION’S TESTICLES by Melissa Haynes made me scream with laughter and weep like a baby. I began reading it Friday night and finished it Saturday afternoon. I. Could. Not. Put. It. Down.
Melissa’s book sits at the same banquet table as EAT, PRAY, LOVE, but, without a doubt, should sit at the head of the table because Melissa writes with so much more depth, and soul, and grit. Anyone who has ever had serious regrets, fear, and guilt MUST be prepared to read this book. If you’ve ever loved your mother, you REALLY must have this book. If you’ve ever volunteered, or are thinking about it, I ORDER you to buy this book.
Set in South Africa, Melissa volunteers at a game preserve her mother’s death. She brought a lot of heartache and mental baggage with her. Yet, her experiences of dealing with pain in the ass game warden who would love to send her packing, a saucy elephant who flings branches and ellie dung at her every day, some lions who believe she’d make a tasty meal, a gator who has the same idea, a very mismatched couple who had to be separated from their respective herds because they kept killing their members, storms, washouts, near-death, and bouts of euphoria over an African sunrise, represent both harsh and gentle lessons Melissa needs to confront in order to fully live her life.
It’s a beautiful unfolding that exposes deep pain, fear, and guilt (which made me weep through a box of Kleenex) and comes full circle to a life lived wholly. Guess it’s no small wonder I have “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King rummaging through my head.
Hakuna Matata, Melissa. Well-freaking-done, and welcome to the Authors Folder.