What I Believe

I believe:

That we are spiritual creatures on a human journey

That most animals are more intelligent than humans

In peace, acceptance and respect of everyone, regardless of the skin color, nationality, who you love, what gender you identify with, religion, or political party affiliation. I may not agree with your opinions, but I will defend your right to have them.

That we all are in need of love, home, comfort, food and medical care.

That when Jesus said “Love one another…” He didn’t finish the sentence with “except”.

We are all in this life together to help our brothers and sisters.

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things

This is such a wonderful book that I’m reposting my review.

I was thinking today of some of my greatest influences, even as a child. Dr. King, Selma, Maya, Mahalia and Dinah Washington.  For some reason, maybe reincarnation? I have always felt a pull.  The first time I heard Dinah sing, “This Bitter Earth”, I cried. When I heard Mahalia sing, “It is No Secret”, I cried.  Maya’s “Still I Rise”, Dr King’s “I Have A Dream”, and when I learned of the events in Selma, I cried.  And recently, after reading Small Great Things.  I don’t cry easily, I really don’t.  And I can’t stand racism, bigotry and xenophobia.

Back to Small Great Things. This book moved me to tears. It is sad, poignant, though-provoking, touching, gripping and compelling.  Without a doubt, this book will be on my favorites shelf.

I have often said that I am “colorblind and a humanist”. I very much believe that everyone should be regarded equally with respect. To me, we are all God’s children. Black, white, gay, straight, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim or Mormon none of it matters to me as neither does creed or religion. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, I believe you should be able to live your life, in peace.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?  The infant ends up dying and Ruth is charged with murder and committing a hate crime.

Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

A couple of poignant statements:

“I am not a racist, Ruth. And I understand that you’re upset, but it’s a little unfair of you to take it out on me, when I’m just trying to do my best—my professional best—to help you. For God’s sake, if I’m walking down a street and a Black man is coming toward me and I realize I’m going the wrong way, I keep going the wrong direction instead of turning around so he won’t automatically think I’m afraid of him.” “That’s overcompensating, and that’s just as bad,” I say. “You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.”

“Active racism is telling a nurse supervisor that an African American nurse can’t touch your baby. It’s snickering at a black joke. But passive racism? It’s noticing there’s only one person of color in your office and not asking your boss why. It’s reading your kid’s fourth-grade curriculum and seeing that the only black history covered is slavery, and not questioning why. It’s defending a woman in court whose indictment directly resulted from her race…and glossing over that fact, like it hardly matters.”

Oh my God. I am guilty of that and I am sorry.  I would never intentionally dismiss what anyone has lived through, especially the black community.  A tweet today from the Women’s March:  “Throughout history, violence has been committed and justified in the name of white womanhood.  Terence Crutcher is no exception.”

I remember Dr. King saying “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”  And I am left with the question, what can I do to make a difference?

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The Warrior Heart Practice by Heather Ash Amara

You know how sometimes, things plop in your lap when the universe decides, hey, YOU need this. Now. ? This was one of those. Through NetGalley, I was able to receive an ARC of The Warrior Heart Practice. If you know me at all, you know I have been through all kinds of hell as a kid and have paid for it in my adult life. I work hard at the idea of “Rise above Your Raising” and believe wholeheartedly in the connection of body, mind and soul. As an adult I have worked on my PTSD trauma using a fantastic therapist who specializes in PTSD using EMDR methods. I have graduated from a top notch massage school, learned Trauma Touch Therapy and have my own massage business. What I’m trying to say is that I am doing well.

Now, the universe plopped this book down in my lap and wow, what an amazing life-changing book! If you want to get through your emotions, this is the one to read. Four chambers in the heart: Feeling (What am I feeling?), Story (What is the story I am telling myself?), Truth (What is true?), and Intent (What is my intent for this situation?). Based on Totec Wisdom, referring The Four Agreements, adding with the teaching of Big Soul and Little Soul and how to learn what is true and what to create and how, by moving through each chamber. Mind-blowing book and I encourage reading it. Fantastic author, fantastic writing. Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this opportunity.

The Calling by Rha Goddess

Rha Goddess is an amazing, inspiring and fantastic motivational author. In The Calling, she offers a six step approach on finding your place in the world. As Walt Kelly said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” and for many of us, that is true. Goddess describes on self discovery, self awareness, acceptance and forgiveness, how to get to that point of finding our calling.

This is not a speedy self-help book, as she suggests spending 2 weeks on an exercises before moving on to the next chapter and really, aren’t you worth that time? Her points and suggestions are simple to understand and definitely worth doing. This book is inspiring and I am grateful to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for the opportunity to review it in exchange for an honest review.

Tennessee Whiskey by Donna K. Ford

Latest novel by Donna Ford is a welcome distraction. Dane Foster, a strong, compassionate woman travels to a very small town in East Tennessee, after losing her best friend in a horrible accident. Dane is seeking information about her family, particularly her mother and any other relatives she can find. The town of Jellico, however, doesn’t like to share their secrets with outsiders. She befriends Curtis, sweet, misguided brother to the lovely Emma Reynolds who owns and runs the local tavern. Dane rents a room from them while researching her roots.

Ford describes the Smoky Mountains, the mists, the area and people so well, I half expected to see the dirt under my feet. Really well written and enjoyable romance/thriller. Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Introducing, Erika Simms

A while back I wrote a review on Flies in the Punch Bowl and wanted to introduce my fellow bookworms to the fab author. She has such a fun and creative writing style, I think you’d all enjoy reading her first novel. I definitely am looking forward to more books by this talented writer!

In her debut novel, Flies in the Punch Bowl (Wynkoop Press, 2019), Erika Simms presents a humorous tale of three art loves from Seattle, who tap into their inner sleuths to solve a series of high-profile art thefts in the Pacific Northwest. Below, the author speaks of her inspiration for the novel and lifetime passion for the arts.

How did Flies in the Punch Bowl come about?

The idea of writing a novel inspired by my experiences exploring the Seattle art scene had been bumping around in my head for a while. I had envisioned three sleuths with an affection for the arts stumbling into a series of art crimes, and then embarking on a martini-soaked adventure to nab the culprit. I imagined these curious sleuths mixing with a zany cast of suspects from the mad world of the upper crust while navigating a series of interesting settings ranging from an exclusive art gallery to a prohibition speakeasy. Then one day, I decided to write down these ideas, and two years later, Flies in the Punch Bowl was published.

When did you become interested in the arts?

My interest in the arts began in my childhood, when my parents made exposure to literature and the arts a priority. On the wall of my childhood bedroom hung a poster of Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans next to a crayon owl I drew in art class. On my bookshelf sat a copy of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl beside Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Mozart played on the stereo when the Muppets took a break. These were gifts my parents gave me that shaped my lifelong passion for the arts.

Did you want to be a writer when you were young?

When I was twelve, I started writing short stories about a young girl who runs away from home to live in an art museum. My family had become members of the Seattle Art Museum months earlier, and we spent hours wandering its halls. I became enamored with the images, the colors, and the textures, and wondered what it would be like to live in a museum. My short stories captured those childhood musings.

Which writers inspire you?

Martin Walker, author of the Bruno, Chief of Police mystery series, inspires me with his clever plots, charming characters, and colorful descriptions of French culture. When I read his novels, I can practically taste the truffles and hear the corks twisting from the wine bottles, but I can never figure out the culprit until the very end. Peter Mayle, a travel writer, also inspires me with his humorous, sometimes quirky style of writing.

What do you enjoy reading?

Both fiction and nonfiction have a place on my nightstand. Currently I’m reading The Body in the Castle Well, which is the latest mystery from Martin Walker, as well as Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan, which is a biographical account of the life of photographer Edward Curtis.

Erika’s Website


Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Absolutely gripping and wonderfully captivating story by Diane Chamberlain! Chamberlain’s latest story is mind-blowing! Her description of life in a small town is spot-on. The story begins in 1940, in said small town in North Carolina when Anna Dale is awarded the mural painting of a post office. She is not welcomed though and the mural is put into storage. Fast forward to 2018, and Morgan Christopher is early released from prison in exchange for restoring the mural. This is a fabulous story and thank you NetGalley and St. Martins Press for an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review.

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

This is bound to be another best-seller from Heather Morris, after her highly successful The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Profound, heart breaking, gut wrenching. Cilka broke my heart but also made me proud of her incredible strength.

16 year old Cilka Klein was taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, close to death for 3 years. Commander Schwarzhuber decides to take her as his mistress, and this is a way for her to survive. Call it what you will, rape is rape. After she is released by the Russians, she is charged with colluding with the enemy.. Despite everything she has already been through, she is sent to the Gulag for 15 years! But she finds love and friendship there in the hospital ward.

Fantastic historical fiction story, Heather Morris explains In a note at the end, what is fact and what is fiction. Powerful read! I had a friend visit Germany with her family recently.  They had stopped at the Auschwitz camp and were moved beyond words.  I can’t imagine the strength, courage and bravery of all those in the concentration camps.  God forgive us for letting it happen.

Flies in the Punch Bowl by Erika Simms

Flies in the Punch Bowl by new author Erika Simms is a delight!  Taking place in Seattle, valuable art has been taken by unknown thieves in a string of robberies from the uber rich.  Annabelle Riley, a fearless and savvy art lover, convinces two friends, Evan and Lyla to help her solve the mystery.  Cleverly written, colorful characters, entertaining whodunit, and laugh out loud wittiness abound in this amusing and wonderful cozy mystery tale.

Simm’s writing clearly shows her wit and talent.  It’s hard to believe this is her first novel as it is extremely well written.  Great flow, amusing characters and vivid details capture the reader and it’s easy to get lost in the story.  Did I mention there’s a historic prohibition speakeasy linked in to the thefts as well?

Lots of twists and clever banter throughout the story and I hope Ms. Simms is already writing a sequel.  Fans of James J. Cudney and Janet Evanovich will definitely enjoy.

Thanks to Erika Simms for sending me an ARC and for your never ending patience. You are a true storyteller.

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