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 Right Side by Spencer Quinn

The Right Side

I have a favorite client, who is also a bookworm and we have a lot of the same genre tastes.  She had told me about Quinn’s novels before but with the ever toppling TBR pile, I added the author’s name.  The most recent time with her though, she told me in particular about “The Right Side”.  See, she knows I love, well, for lack of a better term, “Strong badass chicks”.  She was so enamored with The Right Side that I decided to look it up as soon as I got home from work.  I was lucky enough to find an available e-book from my local library (the best invention ever, with a tip of the cap to Kim the world’s best and scariest librarian ;).

The story is about LeAnne Hogan, an army veteran who lost sight in her right eye and was facially disfigured during her fourth tour in Afghanistan.  We meet her as she is recovering from her injuries at Walter Reed Hospital.  As someone who comes from a very long line of military vets and has a great niece currently serving our country in the Middle East, LeAnne’s story broke my heart.  She is suffering from PTSD, and the writing about that is very accurate.

LeAnne leaves the hospital to head to Washington State, a place where a friend and fellow combat vet is from.  A dog befriends her and having never been a dog person, has no idea of the treasure she has found.  I don’t want to spoil the story but I finished this book in 3 days.  It made me cry and root for both dog and human, and I found it to be a gripping and powerful story.

I can’t express enough, that this book is touching, powerful and intriguing.  A must read!




Deplorable nation, screw you

Ends and Beginnings

Over the course of the last six years I have known five people who have died from the disease, Glioblastoma, Senator John McCain is battling with number six having been diagnosed just seven months ago. All five of these people, three of them close friends died within 18 months of being diagnosed. All of them had surgery to remove the tumor but within a matter of months the tumor returned bigger and meaner than before. Now I know a sixth person dealing with this horrible disease and the prognosis for him is not if he is going to die but when.

Yesterday morning, a White House aide named Kelly Sadler joked about Senator McCain’s opposition to CIA nominee Gina Haspel in a staff meeting by saying “he’s dying anyway.” This is tone of the White House, a tone set by Trump, the same guy who said of McCain; “He’s not…

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Father Figure by James J. Cudney

James J. Cudney

There are writers, there are authors and there are storytellers.  A man I’m proud to call friend wrote “Father Figure” and I asked him if I could read and review his second novel.  This can be an uneasy task for both him and me, I imagine, because I don’t know if I will like it and neither does he.  There can be no friendship without honesty, though.  I’m too old for “white lies” and believe that would actually be a disservice to both of us and a disrespect to our friendship.

Father Figure is a based on the lives of two women, in different times and in different cities.  James very capably takes us back to Amalia in Mississippi in 1984 and fast forwards to Brainna in New York in 2004.

One is abused by her mother and although her father loves her deeply, he turns a blind eye to it which is very abusive in itself.  The other woman is pretty happy though obsessed with finding out her is her father.  The two tales come together in an explosive intersection, riveting me to my chair, silencing my own world.

This is written so beautifully and the story is compelling and descriptive.  Wonderful riveting book and wow, James, you ARE a fantastic storyteller.

Five stars!



Burying Leo by Helga Gruendler-Schierloh

Burying Leo at Amazon

TRIGGER WARNING: Story is based on a woman’s life after being raped. 

Helga contacted me through my blog to read her novel.  I like reading new authors, granted sometimes, you find a lot of coal.  In Helga’s book, I have hit the mother lode of diamonds.

Ingrid, sweet, kind, gentle, broken and beautiful.  She’s married to a man who has no desire to have more children, as he already has 2 from a previous marriage.  I will let the press release speak more about the novel:

Helga Gruendler-Schierloh’s “Burying Leo” explores one woman’s life after a haunting sexual assault. A young Ingrid desired to sing, but being a rape victim left her shattered. Years later, Ingrid finally found her voice and released the ghosts that plagued her.

Gruendler-Schierloh says that “sexual assault is one of the worst things to happen to a female. Besides causing great physical pain, the crime cuts deeply into the very essence of a woman’s being, messes with her psyche, tarnishes her self-image, and mutilates her soul. Any punishment meted out to perpetrators cannot remedy the viciousness of their deed. “In ‘Burying Leo,’ I tried to show how being raped kept influencing the heroine’s mind and actions—until confronting her worst fears allowed her to pursue her life’s dream.”

For the record, I was kidnapped by my alcoholic mother and I was abused by her husband, sexually, emotionally and physically between the ages of 5 and 8.  When we escaped during the night, he would find us everytime.  My mother never went back and began her journey of sobriety after that.  My journey of healing, like all of us who were victims, will never end.  But I can say, that I am stronger than ever.

“I abhor any kind of violence. To me, there are very few legitimate reasons for hurting—physically, mentally, emotionally—any living creature,” says Gruendler-Schierloh when discussing her novel. “Those convictions, particularly as they relate to women and children – are the undercurrent in ‘Burying Leo’ and in some of my other work.”

When I read this book,  I cried a little and rejoiced a lot.  I love when women find their strength to preserve over horrible tragic events.  They either break us or make us stronger.  It’s an empowering story and the writing is woven so beautifully.  I have to compare it to a tapestry.  It’s rich, colorful and artistic.  I can’t recommend this story enough.  As we know, books are personal.  They sometimes sing a flat note or every now and then a lovely operetta.  God, I’m not trying to be over the top about this book, but it spoke to my heart and grabbed it tight.  I’m putting this in my top 10 favorites of all time.  It just hit me, Ingrid reminds me a bit of Celie in The Color Purple (Another which is in my top 10).  5 stars, my friends.  5 stars.

About Helga Gruendler-Schierloh:

Helga Gruendler-Schierloh is a bilingual writer with a degree in journalism and graduate credits in linguistics. During her childhood years in southern Germany, a much loved family friend introduced her to the magical allure of literature. Mesmerized with language in general, Helga spent time in London to enhance her English language skills. Now living in the United States, she makes her home in Detroit, Michigan. Helga’s short stories, essays, articles, and poetry have been published in the USA, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

About Laurel Highlands Publishing:

Laurel Highlands Publishing is a Greater Pittsburgh based small press dedicated to great writing. They publish novels and short story collections in a variety of genres worldwide.



Highland Dew by Barrett Magill

Purchase or Read More About Highland Dew

This is the first novel I’ve read by this author.  Bryce Andrews is a Sales Director for an international liquor distribution company.  She has been sent to Scotland to find a small-batch distillery that has a blend that will turn the world upon its axis and save her company from financial ruin.

Bryce is suffering from a broken heart and work overload; she hasn’t had a vacation in a few years.  Scotland is her past generational home-land and it is there she finds some peace of mind and a familiar calming to her soul.  Bryce works with a fellow employee, Reggie, who is the company’s southern belle and uses her looks and so-called charm to her advantage.

Enter Fiona McDougal, called back home to take care of her aging father.  Fiona’s father had a distillery that had been in the family for many generations, but due to his failing health has fallen into disrepair.

The story was enjoyable and I found myself looking forward to the next chapter.  It’s a light-hearted romance with a few twists and turns.  The author paints a lovely picture of Scotland and the makings of Scotch Whisky.  For the record, I’m 75% Irish and love Jameson’s but Magill’s writing has me interested in trying both the country and whisky.

The writing is descriptive, thoughtful and easy to read. I had a good time reading the budding and sweet romance between the two women as well as the romance of Scotland itself.

Thank you to Sapphire Publishing for the opportunity to review this lovely novel.

Received ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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