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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Featured post

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?

Featured post

Beautiful Dreamer by Melissa Brayden

Bold Strokes Books has a winner in Melissa Brayden. Beautiful Dreamer, (to be) published July 16, 2019, is fabulous! I love the characters and the story lines. Elizabeth is a sweet, gullible and extremely intelligent, positive and fun small town girl. She runs her own small business and looks at everyday life with a smile and gusto. Devyn grew up in different circles in the same small town but ran off to make her fortune in the big city as soon as she was able. Devyn’s sister Jill is in a terrible car accident which brings Dev back home to the small town where she and Elizabeth form a friendship.  Dev is so wrapped up in her career that she has zero personal life and well, has forgotten the things in life that truly matter.

Brayden has won me over with her writing and I am looking forward to the next story by her. Actually she has quite a few of them already that I need to read! Highly recommend this sweet and fun lesbian romance!

Thanks to NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

Conscious Bias by Alexi Venice

This was the first of Alexi Venice novels I have read, but it shan’t be the last. Interspersed within this relevant and gripping legal thriller is a lovely and subtle lesbian romance between a teacher and an attorney. The writing was exceptionally captivating and yet comfortable. Characters were likable and the events were believable.

Very enjoyable and thank you to NetGalley for the opportunity to review it.

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

This was a very uniquely written story about a woman named Masha who lost her only child twelve years ago in a drowning accident.  Masha also lost herself in her despair and grief.  The story takes place somewhere in the UK and the supporting characters are a hoot and bring a nice balance.  Masha takes her wolfhound for walks everyday in old Victorian cemeteries and creates in her mind, stories about the people, both living and dead. One of them, (the living) is a delightfully funny and wise older lady that Masha nicknames “Sally Red Shoes”.

A second storyline is about Alice, a single mom who is dying from cancer and is living a secret laden reclusive life with her teenaged son.

The story is beautifully and thought provoking and I enjoyed the writing immensely.

My review for booklist magazine: Sally Red Shoes

 

A Light in the Desert by Anne Montgomery

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A Light in the Desert at Amazon   

I enjoyed this gritty, compelling and clever story based in Arizona on a true event of a sabotaged train causing a deadly derailment.

We have a teenager, Kelly, who has been kicked out of her home by her jealous mother for carrying her stepfather’s child; Jason, a former veteran Special Forces sniper; Billy, a young man who has a ton of anger with nowhere to go with it,  and a commune of Pentecostal zealots living in the desert, waiting for God and/or Armageddon.

The story line definitely piqued my interest and I was quickly enthralled by the veteran Jason.  He’s battling PTSD and there’s something about him that just tugged at my heart.  Kelly has a genetic disorder called Moebius syndrome that has played in a huge part in her loneliness.  Billy has been abused by his father and wants to derail the Amtrak in his cry for attention. 

The story is told from the characters points of view and quite cleverly, Montgomery weaves all their lives in a tapestry of similar pain. She is vivid with her descriptions and quite believable with the characters and dialogues.  As someone who once belonged to a Pentecostal church, for me, it was very accurate with her religious references.

This is a dark story at times with the references to PTSD, rape and violence.  And it’s very well written and … human.

I liked Montgomery’s style and will be reading more of her stories.

 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author
Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her novel, The Scent of Rain, was released in March 2017. Two soon-to-be released novels are A Light in the Desert and Nothing But Echoes, and The Castle is currently being optioned. Montgomery teaches journalism at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, and is a foster mom to three sons. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, football officiating, scuba diving, musical theater, and playing her guitar.

 

 

Telling Stories by Cheri Paris Edwards

Telling Stories on Amazon

45 year old Genelle is an intelligent, warm and loving woman whose life has been turned on its ear.  In a short period she lost her mom and was dropped by her boyfriend.  She decided to get a fresh start and move out to the southwest – namely, Texas.  As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” Genelle is now in a new town living in her car and working temp jobs.  She’s a tough and savvy go-getter though and is determined to find her own way.  Enter a few new friends who break though her wall of pride and give her a hand up. And, of course, a new nickname “Gigi”.

This story has a lot going for it: well-written, well-described and a refreshingly diverse set of characters. The author creates a small town feeling within the story and within the people that surround the main character. Edwards is a great writer and one of my favorite paragraphs is “Funny how you plod through childhood wishing for the clock to move faster, so you can enter the coveted world of adulthood where you can make your own decisions and plot your own course.  Next thing you know you’re wading through the uncertainty of your twenties and then trying to fix the mistakes you made in your thirties.  Then without warning the pace quickens, the forties come and go and by fifty—- everything takes off at warp speed.”  That scream you heard was me.  Another thing I like about the dialogue in the story is that it is so, well, right-on. It’s believable conversations and situations had me hooked.

Gigi gets a job and in her embarrassment about her living situation, lies begin to snowball and affect her friendships and a new suitor, Desmond, who has his own issues between loving his Mama and dealing with a spoiled daughter.

Something else – the author speaks of this poem by Kelly Norman Ellis called “I Was Raised by Women”. I hadn’t heard of the poem or the poetess before and wow… I was reminded of work by Maya Angelou.

I very much enjoyed Telling Stories and am anxious to read more by Cheri Paris Edwards.  She has a rare talent in creating characters that resemble actual people – people that you wish you had as friends.

 

A Killing Truth: A Leine Basso Thriller

This past year, discouraged by the misogyny of the current administration, I have wanted to read more, spend time with and learn from, strong females.  I have never understood why so many women don’t like other women.  Some of us do not support our sisters and I don’t get it.  The older I have gotten, the more I want the love, the strength and the understanding from my sisters and the less tolerance I have for things such as misogyny, racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and all the other things that just mean hatred and fear in an ugly package.

That being said, someone recommended I try D.V. Berkom’s Leine Basso series.  A Killing Truth is the first one I’ve read and really enjoyed it. Leine is an assassin whose job it is to eliminate the terrorists.  She’s a total badass, like Xena in the 21st century.  Strong, smart, savvy and a crack shot, she goes after the bad guys without killing the innocent bystanders.  I had a very hard time putting the book down, I really did.  Plot twists, suspense and a great crime novel.  

The writing is very well done and articulate. The characters and dialogue are believable. The story was engrossing, like walking around the house with the book in your hand as you half heartedly prepare dinner kind of engrossing. I had fun reading the story and will definitely be reading more of Berkom’s books. Recommended!

If You Could See What I See by Cathy Lamb

This was my first novel by Cathy Lamb and I guarantee it won’t be my last.  It’s listed as “Women’s Fiction” a label which drives me up the wall, across the ceiling and out the freakin’ window.  After my eyes stopped rolling, I started to read.  We have a lovely ensemble of characters working in a lingerie business, created and owned by a family for decades.  Grandmother Regan O’Rourke, now in her 80’s started Lace, Satin and Baubles when she was 16.  “She said she arrived from Ireland after sliding off the curve of a rainbow with a dancing leprechaun and flew to America on the back of an owl.”  That line is so descriptive and had me forgetting about making dinner.  Also in the main characters are Regan’s daughter Brianna (A sex therapist in the public eye, but in private prefers baking and knitting), Meggie who has returned to the family after spending years world traveling, Lacey – harried and hysterically funny mom of 3, and Tory a hellion angry spitfire.  Lacey’s children are all teenagers learning who they are and where they belong.  That said, you could say that about each one of the characters.  Regan has an adventurous soul and is fearless.  She’s strong, opinionated and forward thinking.  One of Lacey’s children is identifying as a transgender and the way that Lamb wrote Hayden, is beautiful and powerful.

I completely enjoyed If You Could See What I See and definitely recommend it as I found it to be fabulous, funny, poignant and touching.

 

Reclaiming Raven by Mary Holt

See this at Amazon

I was contacted by Mary to review her debut novel.

Trigger warning: abuse, stalking, extreme violence. No animals were harmed at all.

Raven is a disabled woman who is being stalked by her abusive husband.  She has been battered brutally by him and has suffered greatly at his hands.  He is powerful and mentally deranged.  She is able to finally get away from him and keeps running away until money runs out.  She has to rely on well meaning strangers for her freedom and safety.

Mary is able to bring to life a complex, intelligent, strong and fiercely independent character in Raven.  She is human with her flaws, after all though, and learns that when she is at her weakest, is when she is at her strongest.

The supporting characters are described well enough to either enjoy, root for or really dislike, like Kelsey.  Mary also paints the situations and towns with a well lived brush stroke. She should though, you see, Mary was a foster mom to two disabled girls for 20 years.

I sputtered at the ending, because it’s a bit of a powerful cliffhanger, but then realized that Mary is already working on the next novel follow up with the continuing storyline.

I do happily recommend Reclaiming Raven.  It’s gripping at times and hard to put down.  Add another one to the to be read pile!

A Personal Note from Me: Sister FOUND!

Many families keep secrets.  I hate secrets.  I was born in 1967 in Miami, as the result of an affair.  My parents later married, I THINK.  What I was told, was that my bio dad left when I was a year old.  That he moved to a different state, and remarried.

When I was roughly 17, I asked stepdad number 3 and my mom if I could look for bio dad.  That was 1984, back before computers were in everyone’s home.  I didn’t get anywhere at that time.  Jump ahead to 2001, my mom had passed and even though I bugged her all the time for information about him, she claimed ignorance.  Same with my maternal siblings, somehow, no one remembered anything about him.  Were they married?  Yes. No. Maybe.  Don’t know.  Don’t recall.

I began hiring places like 1-800-US-Search who guaranteed they could find anyone or money returned.  Well, money was returned.  I tried another outfit, who at least found many possibilities of relations, as well as possible addresses.  Some were in Miami, some in NC and some in CO.  Doing more research on my own, I saw a name of a lady who was a few years younger than me.  Same last name, at least.  Perhaps I had a sister?

I kept doing searches on the Internet.  I asked mom’s husband number 1 and 3 (same guy) what he knew.  He gave me information that possiblly bio dad was an Army Ranger.

More research…. discovered bio dad had passed away in 1992. This broke my heart, obviously.  I had so many questions and things I wanted to say.  I would never see his eyes, his smile or feel his arms around me.  After a while, I continued searching for more answers.  I began doing genealogy research on MyHeritage website in addition to Ancestry, Family Search, Family Tree, etc…  I found out he had had 2 brothers and that my grandmother buried all 3 of her sons in addition to her own husband.

I had enough information to go back to the 1500’s on my mom’s side, a direct line to me from Queen Victoria and all kinds of fun and odd history.  A city in NC named after one ancestor and yet I couldn’t find anything else on bio dad family.

July 20th I was on Find A Grave website, doing back traces and I saw that someone else kept leaving virtual flowers on my bio dad’s family graves.  Who was this person?  I sent them a message.  The next day she messaged me back.  I read it and fell back hard in my chair.  This person was related to me and wanted to know if I wanted to get in touch with a couple of cousins.  Oh. My. God. YES!  and then the most beautiful words…. would you like to contact your sister?

My sister.  MY SISTER.  I still can’t believe this is real and that I’m really in touch with her.  She’s smart and beautiful and funny and is so positive and happy.  Forty damn years apart and finally, we have connected.   SO many similarities.  She’s also a massage therapist (like me), she was born in Colorado and I was born in Miami.  She lives in Florida now and I live in Colorado.  Her first job was working in a library, and so was mine.  She loves reading, cooking, animals and the outdoors.  For fun, she races boats… ok, that I don’t do, lol.

So if I’m not on here and I’m late with book reviews, I will get to them, I’m still reading, I’m just, wow, mind freakin’ boggled. And happy, thank God, I have found my sister!

 

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