Friday, November 16, 2018

A Little light Music to Enjoy the Afternoon - Featuring Ezio Pinza - Narrative from Bravo! by Guy Graybill

South Pacific - Tony Award!

Enzio Pinza (1892-1957, bass)

Ezio Pinza, a native of Rome, was born into a poor family. He considered two other professions--civil engineering or cycle racing--before setting on a singing career. Pinza's singing debut came when he was in his early 20's; but he is remembered, today, for the work he did while in his fifties.

His debut occurred in 1914 in Bellini's Norma in the Lombardy town of Soncino. Later, after military service in the First World War, he returned to singing. Ezio Pinza sang at La Scala
from 1922 and at the Met from 1926 until 1948. As the best-known bass singer of his day, Pinza sang all of opera's major Italian bass roles.

The total singing roles that he mastered were said to be near the hundred mark. His professional and personal reputations were both built on his role as the title libertine of Mozart's Don Giovanni...

During his frequent tours, from city to city and country to country, Pinza was reported to be steadily rehearsing Don Giovanni's behavior while away from the theatre.

Among Ezio Pinza's favorite roles was that of the title character in Modest Musorgsly's Boris Godunov, a role he insisted on singing in Italian, even when the rest of the cast was singing the English version!

When he was 56 years old, ancient by some standards, he moved out of the Metropolitan Opera House and onto Broadway, to star in a lead in South Pacific, for which he won a Tony award. 

He also appeared in another play, Fanny, as well as in operettas and motion pictures. 

One is left to wonder how successful he might have been if he had every learned to read music...


Many thanks to Guy Graybill, for allowing me to feature individual artists who appear in his book, Bravo!

His latest novel is... 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

R. D. Murray Debuts With Page-Turner - My Dead Blue Caterpillar!

Karen had met her one true love in high school and they'd been married ever since. Karen did everything for him--when he came home, she had dinner ready and waiting, got up early to iron his clothes so that by the time he would leave for work, he looked great. And his smile and loving goodbye held her throughout the day...

Until it didn't. Harold had isolated Karen--she hadn't seen her family for three years. That wouldn't have been so bad, except Harold worked constantly and Karen was often alone...and lonely.
Meet Karen
 Good Karen and Bad Karen

It’s funny, just looking at him reminds me of how great a night we had and how horrible I feel this morning. Harold is like alcohol. He goes down so nice and easy, you can have the time of your life, but when it wears off, you’re reminded of your pain. Shit, you might even vomit on yourself, 
but I love alcohol and I love Harold.

...I remember sneaking off with him and fooling around on the roof of the school that night. We were so scandalous as teenagers. I think to myself now, what the hell were we doing? But then there is a part of me that says, I wish we could hold onto those days now. I miss those days. 
I don’t know what happened last night, but Harold made me feel like that young girl again. That girl he so eagerly wanted. He brought those feelings back at least for one night. The way we made love last night was so amazing, but this is not who we are. We are not the same people anymore. 
In our early thirties, we have become something else. We have become animals in our own right. I guess I can’t think of the good without the bad creeping in. You see, I’ve been fighting with two personalities in my brain for some time now. One wants me to die while the other wants me to live. They always interfere with each other. One thinks with evil intent while the other has a lot of good in her, even though I think she’s bad as well at times. Let’s say she’s the least of the two evils. Just don’t let her hear you say that. 
I call the two parts of me Good Karen, and Bad Karen. I wake up every day wondering which personality will win. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s who I am. I love my husband so much, but I feel like he is slowly fueling the fire. He is feeding the badness in me. I love him dearly, but he is the one ruining my life.

As I gaze at this cover, I realize how much it represents this very unique debut by R. D. Murray. Karen, the main character, is hidden from life by her husband, who she loves dearly. But when left alone so much, she begins to dwell mostly on internal conversations, trying to understand how she got this life, when she loves her husband so much...

We all have both good and bad tendencies in our human nature. But once Karen realizes that her isolation is not what her life should be, she begins to look toward some answer, some way to change how her life has evolved... You see, Harold trusts Karen. She has followed whatever he has said and done whatever he said...until...until she is no longer willing to be the silent member of the marriage. She starts by going into his home office, where she has never been before...

What she finds there is immediately understandable... Harold has a book of women's names and addresses--with notes about some of them, perhaps saying she is his favorite, or other thoughts...


Kill Bill was mentioned in the book, and it was easy to see the correlation for what happens as Karen discovers that not only does her husband have one mistress...he has many! Bad Karen was quick to tell her to kill him, or kill herself to get away from him (which she often tried to get her to do)... but Good Karen would talk about her life, telling her to find that independent, special woman that she had been before being not only subordinated by her husband but also his not being faithful!

Karen wanted revenge--the question was how was she going to get it?

Karen had decided what to do, but she could not ever have expected what secrets started to be revealed. I began, like eating a potato chip, for which it is always said that you can't eat just one...I read the book in one setting, but the taste of the book is not easily swallowed and enjoyed. Karen had decided on revenge, but discovering just what her husband was involved with, related to violence, criminal activities, and the betrayals she discovered were overwhelming... Actually downright disgusting. Her drive for revenge grew...

I wondered about the potential connection between a serial cheating husband and whether there is an evolutionary movement into criminal activities. And then, at the end, with still another surprise, Harold begins talking about Good Karen and Bad Karen... I admit that I felt deprived as the book ended...I wanted to proceed on with the story, refusing that it was possibly ending as it was in the last few pages...

The book will not be for everybody, so make sure you read sufficient information/reviews to decide you want to read the book. In many ways, I felt the book was aimed more at women than men, although the next book may prove me wrong. Many women are purposely left in a vacuum of loneliness by a husband who supposedly works many hours. Karen, instead of thinking through the situation that had been created by her marriage, had allowed it to fester, internally believing that love was enough to keep herself happy... But love without a responsive feedback soon festers and breeds unhappiness and...possibly...contempt...

Murray presents a dark drama that is, at first, unbelievable, and even mind-boggling. No, it's not a realistic tale, nor is it totally fantasy. Some may think that the activities of Harold are overkill. In fact, each of the activities with which Harold was involved are now happening all over the world, in one way or another. Sexual exploits and Human trafficking are just examples, horrible to consider, but worse in the reality. The author creates a world in which Harold, along with like-minded individuals, live to respond to their own desires and their thirst for money and power, caring not about anybody who is hurt by their actions. Even the bright spot of the introduction of a police officer became a dark scene... as he too faces one of the common crises happening today.

Yet, Karen's responses seemed to be right--Good and Bad Karen was rarely considered. Had Karen gained sufficient courage and strength to ensure what needed to be done, was done? You may want to wait until the next book is out before reading the debut, but I do highly recommend you read this first book. It is an important book, but does need the second one to be a satisfactory read. Still, this is a story like no other, amazing, gut-wrenching, and is almost compulsively to be consumed...  I've followed the author on Amazon so I will know when the next book is ready! I was that impressed with it... 


R.D. Murray was born and raised in Harlem, New York. He has written for Alfred Hitchcock magazine and has a Bachelor's Degree in cultural arts from Empire State College. His love of writing thrillers, mysteries and suspense novels has translated into an explosive debut novel.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Eerie Walk Through a Fantastic Fantasy World Created by Mark D. Giglio - The Patron's Wife

We mounted the last rise. El Paradiso, protected by a high, white washed adobe wall, dominated the view. A vast prado, or meadowland spread out to the north and the south and in front of me. The jungle crept up the rugged foothills in an extreme incline to the eastern edge of the plateau and was stopped by the rear wall of the compound. 
El Paradiso was a relic of colonial days with its white stucco colonnade, roofed in red tiles that defined the court yard and side yards. The large two story house sat back maybe twenty meters from the colonnade. The tall windows were framed with heavily decorated stone casings, undoubtedly imported from Spain or Italy. Much of the stucco was chalky and crumbling, and long dark stains bled from the corners of the windows and roof scuppers. All of the trees, plants and vines around the house were cut back. I saw an octagon-shaped reflecting pool done in yellow and blue tiles reminiscent of something one might see at the Alhambra.

I was tired and the wine was having the effect I wanted it to. I undressed, blew out the kerosene lamp and crawled under the netting. The cool sheets felt wonderful against my skin. I listened to the insects and frogs and other night noises that rose up from the selva in a shrill, cyclical chorus. The milky glow faded and then brightened as the clouds passed between my window and the moon. 

I closed my eyes, and was just about to slip into sleep when I heard a loud thump outside the door that lead to the balcony. I opened my eyes and sat up. I heard a deep, hollow ratcheting sound followed by labored, guttural exhalations. Something big was out on the balcony.
My heart raced. A dark shadow flashed across the window, landed on the railing and was gone. I got out of bed and went out onto the balcony. Under the bright moonlight, in the mist-shrouded yard below, I saw a jaguar and I also saw a naked woman standing very close to the animal. Both looked up, gave me long curious stares and headed off, stopped, turned back and looked at me again before they entered into the jungle thicket that met the edge of the plateau. 
I strained to see them, but they had disappeared. The French doors to Hector's and Alma's bedroom also lead out onto the balcony. I looked in and saw them both in bed, asleep. I wondered if I should disturb them with what I saw, or thought I saw. I went back inside my room and locked the door. I thought better of telling Hèctor and Alma and went back to bed. I did not sleep that well. 
I was already up, dressed and tying my boot laces when Leòn entered the room. “Señor, I see you are almost ready. There is coffee and toast and mango for you in the kitchen.” I grabbed my topographical charts and followed Leòn down the stairs.
“Leòn, do you sleep in the house?”
“Did you hear anything last night, around eleven o'clock?” “Maybe señor, I heard noise from the stables. But that was much later, much closer to the sunrise.”

The Patron's Wife

Mark D. Giglio

He had wanted to get away, so had taken a project that would take him to a place he'd never been. All that was important was that he get away from where everything reminded him of Sylvia--the woman with whom he'd had an affair, and who now was pregnant, staying with her husband. All he could think about was whether the child...was...his... It would haunt him for the rest of his life, wondering if he had a son or daughter, being raised by another man... But now, he was content to explore and try to settle into his new home away from home...  And that's when he heard a woman's voice, quoting poetry aloud...

“All the glory of my golden tresses gleams upon the air, How it falls about my snowy shoulders, round and bare and white; My lips are full of love as rounded grapes are full of wine, And my eyes are large and languid, and full of dewy light; Oh, I lure the idle landsmen many a league for love of me, For I am the Siren, the Siren of the sea.”

Loving poetry as he did, he recognized the poetry of Marietta Holly and without thought, automatically, followed on with the next verse...

“Sometimes they press so near that my breath is on their cheek, And their eager hands can almost touch the glowing bowl I bear, They can see the beaded froth, the ruby glitter of the wine, Then I slip from their embraces like a breath of summer air; Oh, I lightly, lightly glide away, they come no nigher me,
For I am the Siren, the Siren of the sea.”

Aguila had now met Senora Alvarez, the wife of his new boss. She was beautiful and much younger than Senor Alvarez... He knew he had frightened her, for there was nobody else who could quote poetry within the house, when he responded back to her.  He knew he had frightened her, for there was nobody else who could quote poetry within the house, when he responded back to her. He quickly introduced himself as the individual who had been hired to design a solar system to generate electricity; she quickly initiated further conversation and let him know how pleased she was that he had quoted the remainder of her poetry... Poetry proved to be an instant bond between the two, but Aguila knew he would have to play it straight in such close quarters--and because he still loved Sylvia...
He had no idea what he would be called on to do during the time he spent there...

Senors Alvarez and Aguila spent much time talking about the plantation, El Paradiso, and about their surroundings. Travel into the plantation for supplies would be a challenge and they decided to ride out to tour the next morning... In the meantime Alvarez kept talking about the animals and warned Aguila not to go into the selva and to be careful of la cienga because of the anaconda... Aguila quickly remembered how his fingers might have been bitten off as they hung into the water and a anaconda swam up to check them out!

But now he was learning of a legendary giant anaconda that lived somewhere nearby and learned that it was said: “The Great One guards the path to the mountains. Only the honest and selfless and worthy may pass.”

Readers will get a chance to meet the Great Anaconda and will be quite satisfied with that adventure!

In the meantime, Aguila was left at the plantation quite often as Senor Alvarez attended to his crops and he seemed quite willing to have him alone with his wife. Soon, Alma and Emilio were reading poetry, getting to know each other and soon took a fateful walk through the mist...

Alma explained they were heading to the selva, while Emilio quickly commented that Senor Alvarez had explicitly told him not to visit there...

Still they kept on walking... It was there in a hidden lake that they swam naked and then sunned themselves. And when a jaguar came to drink, as they lay on a high large rock, Alma assured him that she knew this jaguar... and while they stayed there, she read from her poetry book, The Jaguar's Dream, commenting that the author must have known the selva...

“Beneath the dark mahoganies, creepers in flower Hang in the heavy, motionless, fly-filled air, Twining among the tree-stumps, falling where, They cradle the brilliant parrot, the quarreler, The wild monkeys, spiders with yellow hair. There the wearied, ominous horse-killer, The ox-slayer, returns with a steady tread, Over the dead mossy trunks of old timber...”

Emilio soon came to realize the great tension within this house, where the owner claimed everything, including his wife, as his possession, and where he openly caressed the servant serving at dinner, only to take her into his library thereafter... Leon and Maria Teresa, the two house servants, were willing to respond to Emilio's questions but Leon was quick to point out: “You white people do not understand. We pass through many worlds every day, the world we can see and the world of spirits. We are always in both worlds. For you Señor, I suggest you stay in the world you understand, and do not venture into the bigger one..." Both of them told Emilio to take Alma away before it was too late...

But it was already too late. Emilio had been pulled in to a world where strong desires were in control, where a spirit could leave the body and commune with animals, for safety, for comfort, or for destruction... It was a different world, where a secret place, the selva, brought them into that spirit world where anything was possible...and where Emilio would meet his first challenge...

Giglio presents readers with a fantasy that may not be new--there are other novels where humans and animals merge. It's exciting to read impossible fantasies that are still so intriguing to consider! But it is the human drama that happens there at the plantation, much like that of southern plantations where an owner believes everything belongs to him and he is free to manipulate and ensure that what he wants to have happen does indeed happen. Only thing is that love was not to be part of the plan. And when love enters, it almost always wins out over evil... And the climatic ending...actually, two different climaxes so different and yet so much the same, brings readers into the wonderment of that world where spirits are a natural part of existence... It is eerie, strange, and yet captivating. We are caught in the spell of The Great Anaconda, deciding

Wow! This is a personal favorite for me and highly recommended for your consideration!


Mark Giglio has always been fascinated by the connections people have with each other and the world around them. What we do or what we say is a result of our most recent and our forgotten ancestors. Like our ancestors, we will have that same effect on countless people yet to be born. He has always loved history, the humanities, art, philosophy, anthropology, world religions and the natural world. All of these things have been a fountainhead of inspiration.
He spent the first nine years in upstate New York and the next ten in southern California. He started his adult life when he joined the USAF and got his discharge after four years. He then went to SDSU and earned a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. At that point, he didn’t quite know what to do with himself. Somehow that Great American novel didn’t materialize, not for want of trying.
Life gifted him with a wife and in no time a little boy then another and another. Not able to wait around for those huge royalty checks to roll in, he fell back on his family heritage and became a craftsman. He needed something he could do to make a living, cabinet and furniture making to be specific. He worked for an outfit called California Design Group for a couple of years; then decided to go it alone.
This exacting work satisfied his need to create something by designing and making furniture. He has been doing that as a lifetime career. He did have a lapse of reality and worked for the USPS and delivered mail for four years … not his cup of tea. He even earned a teaching credential and tried his hand getting a teaching position. Historically and economically speaking, it wasn’t the right time.
Over the years he kept up his writing with little vignettes or the occasional short story for his own amusement. It wasn’t until he made a specific piece of furniture, The Alchemist Cabinet, that he felt inspired to write seriously. He had entered his art furniture in contests and came away with first and second prize ribbons.
A few years back he had a rush of creativity and produced a dozen short stories and a 450-page historical novel, “Alchemist Gift.” He learned patience and the value of editing from that experience.
His latest novel is “The Patron’s Wife,” The novel involves a love triangle. The setting is on a sprawling plantation in the Ecuadorian highlands and the Amazon jungle below. We meet Hector Alvarez the controlling patròn who is nearly thirty years older than his unhappy wife, Alma. Alma was invited by her dying cousin to help Hector deal with his grief and put the estate, El Paradiso in order. Emilio enters the story. He is trying to escape his past and his latest failed relationship by taking on a project in the remote reaches of Ecuador. He makes a promise to himself never to get involved with a married woman. Fate takes a hand in this romantic thriller that includes Alma’s and Emilio’s love of Romantic period poetry, the ayahuasca ceremony that enables Alma to enter her spirit animal, the jaguar, and the unpredictable wonders of nature. 
He has also been working on the next installment to the Alchemist trilogy, “Curious Journey”, and has a toehold on the last novel. 
Mark has three grown sons. He lives in Escondido, California with his partner, Mary Ellen Cavanaugh-Wilson. His other interests include painting, piano improvisation, and interior design.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Epic Drama Finale for Darlene Quinn's Web Series - Webs of Perception! Out 11-13! Spotlighting the Author!

As is often the case as a book reviewer, I was able to start this wonderful series (see my reviews of the first three books), but got too busy with others to continue--a major disadvantage to opening myself to receiving requests for reviews! LOL
Webs of Power
Twisted Webs
Prequel to Webs of Power (suggested first read)

I must say that I was surprised when I had the chance to read Webs of Perception. Sure, Darlene Quinn became an award-winning author from her first book, but here I was ten years later reading the close-out novel for her series! And I was thrilled with the fantastic book she presented! It is once again well written, epic--impressively great--with a long satisfying story at 510 pages. The story in this last book hones in much more on family drama, with very little on the business end of department store management, the theme which has run throughout the series. Instead, we enter into a extraordinary suspenseful tale where the characters have been caught in a Web like no other! And we readers get to watch as, first, the web is spread wider and wider, and then torn away slowly and tortuously for those involved...

This novel clearly refers back to a tragedy from an earlier book. However, let me assure you that this last book stands free and readers can easily understand what has happened in the past...

Webs of Perception

By Darlene Quinn

...Manhattan, New York

Ashleigh Taylor gasped as an inexplicable pain sliced through her restricting her chest. Slowly taking a deep breath, she straightened her posture and glanced at Conrad, seated to her left in their box seats, hoping she hadn't disturbed him. She needn't have worried. Having spoken of nothing but Hamilton in recent weeks, he was leaning forward, totally absorbed by the riveting performance.
Ashleigh had not shared the strange sense of foreboding that had overcome her shortly before they'd entered the Richard Rodgers Theater. What is there to tell? How can I put such a hollow feeling into words? But here it was again--that nearly imperceptible knowledge that something wasn't right. Ashleigh closed her eyes, and gradually her breathing returned to normal. She did her best to brush apprehension aside, but even so, she willed the final curtain call to come soon.
In the lobby, as Conrad explained why "History Has Its Eyes on You" was his favorite song, Ashleigh nodded and powered on her iPhone. "That's strange," she said, staring down at the screen.
Conrad fell silent and raised a questioning brow.
"four calls from April since intermission," Ashleigh went on. They continued to weave seamlessly through the throng of theatergoers toward the exit.
Times Square, as always, was buzzing with activity. Conrad spotted their limo to the left of the theater's entrance, and he motioned for David to remain behind the wheel while he helped Ashleigh inside. Once they were both settled, he pulled out his BlackBerry. "Whoa, I've had a couple calls from April, too." Conrad shook his head. "What could be so urgent at this hour?"
Ashleigh looked at her iPhone display. April's first call had come in at eight-forty-two. Before calling back, she checked for voice messages. There was only one. She hit play.
"Where are you, Aunt Ashleigh?" There was a moment's pause before April continued. "Sorry, I'm a bit rattled. Please call as soon as you get this message."
A lump formed in Ashleigh's throat. She heard the anxiety in April's voice. Gripping the phone, she punched in the number.
It rang only once before april picked up. Not bothering with a greeting, she asked, "Have you heard from the girls?"
"Not since they left Southampton." Why would we? Ashleigh thought, They're somewhere in the mid-Atlantic. "What's wrong?"
As she heard her own words, a sinking sensation settled in the pit of Ashleigh's stomach. They had known Paige and Mark Toddman's daughter since she was four years old. April was a mature young woman who seldom came across as rattled.
"You haven't heard? The rogue wave." Following a quick intake of breath, April
continued. "It's all over the news..."As April began to rush through the details. Ashleigh pressed the speaker button her iPhone."Hold on," Conrad broke in. His tone was calm, his words measured. "You say a rogue wave hit the Rising Star?" Ashleigh frowned. Placing her hand on Conrad's arm, she whispered, "Rogue Wave?"

"At about six thirty o'clock our time, CNN reported a seven-story wave hit the Rising Star. There are broken windows, an inch or two of water in many cabins..."
Ashleigh's throat constricted as April detailed the damage. All she cared about was the safety of their daughters. "How about the passengers?" Ashleigh blurted out.
"Thank God, there have been no deaths reported. Some passengers have minor injuries. Mostly from falls, or being hit by flying furniture and glass. The ship wasn't disabled. They think it will arrive a day late, but at least it's sailing under its own power...
Conrad smiled and kissed Ashleigh on the forehead. "Be strong, love. You know our girls. They're survivors, like their mother. They're sure to make the best of the situation and come away with a boatload of stories to tell--no pun intended. Marnie is most likely taking notes for her next short story as we speak."
Ashleigh leaned over the kissed his smiling lips. Tension eased from her shoulders. If anything had happened to any of my girls, I would know. But the newscaster's next words sent her reeling...

The Taylor twins had signed up for onsite classes on the Rising Star. Marnie was studying to become a writer, while Callie was improving her skills for a dance career. When Ashleigh and Conrad got calls about what had happened, they had been at the Richard Rogers Theater for "Hamilton." It was then that Ashleigh realized why she'd had that strange sense of foreboding.

They soon learned that a large rogue wave had overcome the ship on which their daughters had been traveling. The Rising Star had maintained control, but there had been much damage. One of their daughters had been flown by medevac to a hospital due to a head injury sustained...

She had lost her memory and the doctor's could not give any guidance on how long it would last--or whether it would be permanent...

Only one daughter, Marnie, had been in their cabin. It had been reported on the news that it appeared two individuals were missing, possibly washed overboard. But Ashleigh refused to consider the possibility that she had lost a daughter--she knew she would know it! 

It is quite easy for readers to learn what happened in the first few chapters, feel sympathy for the family, and especially the twin who had lost her memory. Not only because of the devastation of not being able to remember her life. But, also, because she was totally unable to help in telling the story of where her sister was. Ashleigh decided that she had never come back from their last stop, but there was nobody able to assure her. She asked that their friend and investigator begin a search to...find her...

I imagine that it must seem like life has stopped. One daughter didn't know her parents--did not know how to relate to them. Even her name had no meaning for her and learning she was heading for further education for her writing career felt alien. She had no idea how to even consider writing a story... 

Conrad was in the midst of a major change to their company--100 stores were to unfortunately close and he had planned to work with each as final arrangements were made. A short overview of what he planned was included in the story; however, Quinn included a final Author's Note about her research on the continued viability of department stores. I especially found this interesting since my own memory holds the delightful visits to those large elegant stores in which I felt like I was visiting another world--a world of beautiful surroundings as well as beautiful clothes and more... Quinn discusses the growth of online sales and its effect; however, I had to agree that most of us want to actually see the clothes, shoes, etc., that we consider buying and because of that both will be important for the future!

The story splits as life continues at home, while the investigation into, hopefully, finding Callie begins... I think it is important that nothing else is shared; the enjoyment of reading the book is that readers know more about what is going on than the family. We sink into what is happening and hope things turn out, but, gradually, we also begin to question--Why? What? How?

There is a tense, waiting, atmosphere running throughout the book. Even when we know part of the story, the complexity, the emotional impact of each situation is sometimes disturbing, yet exciting to watch as the plot blossoms into the reality of what has happened. 

Quinn writes with a steady fluidity that slowly reveals and pulls each item together; nothing is left hanging, although I would have liked to know a little more about life after the book closes... In fact, I realized that, though this series may be closing, I now believe that Quinn has a suspense thriller within her ability and hope that one series ending is not the end of her fantastic writing! Drama to Thriller - the challenge is given! LOL

Webs of Perception is Intriguing. It plays with our opinions of what perception is and how it plays out in our lives. The book is also fascinating, extraordinary in its simplicity. The concept may be simple, but the devastation, as well as family joy, runs the full gamut of what emotions erupt as day by day passes in this thing called Life...  

Again, this last novel is free-standing but makes a wonderful finale for the series if you've been following Darlene Quinn. Kudos to her for sharing a unique part of all of our lives, Department Stores of the past, now and the future... Highly recommended.


Many toss the title “renaissance man or woman” around haphazardly today. However, when it comes to Darlene Quinn, it is an appropriate title. Her experiences, when interwoven, form a tapestry that emits nuggets of wisdom, caring and accomplishment that is the message that has helped others reinvent themselves for a greater lifestyle.

The Social Conscience Mentor and Coach 
A former public school teacher who also volunteered to work with at risk children in the minority community, modeling and charm coach, and Coordinator of the Long Beach Miss Universe Pageant would seem like quite an eclectic mix to begin with. This foundation helped Darlene learn to read people well, inspire them to do greater things and guide them with the love and patience necessary to build self-esteem and confidence. Darlene excelled at this and it was what caught the attention of the ivory tower at Bullock’s Department Stores, which would become her next career and a defining period of her life. Never one to settle for mediocrity, Darlene was bold! As she teaches others by saying, “When you’re looking for a job, start at the top!” she took her own advice. 
Searching for the CEO of Bullock’s and Bullocks Wilshire (their prestigious specialty store operation), Darlene sent her résumé straight to the top. Before long, she was being interviewed because of her personal development coaching, but was hired because of her teaching and management skills as the Corporate Training Director.

Bullocks Wilshire Executive Personnel Director 
Molding the management of the enterprise created a remarkable reputation for Darlene, and it wasn’t long before the competition took notice and came knocking on her door. Broadways offered her a higher position, more money and a larger operation! Being the results-oriented leader and coach she was, Bullock’s was not ready to lose their star; hence a series of events were put in motion that shuffled management in order to ensure that Darlene would stay whatever choice position she wanted. She chose Executive Director of Personnel/Organization Development for their most prestigious operation, Bullocks Wilshire! 
Setting out to fine tune the operations of Bullocks Wilshire, by starting at the top and letting it trickle down to entry level, Darlene’s astute negotiating, communications and people skills earned her the affectionate title of The Psychiatrist, for the many fires that were extinguished with positive results that improved the operation — from the President on down. Her ability to diffuse an issue with the carefulness and precision of a heart surgeon, the communication and listening skills of a wise philosopher, and the bedside manner of a pediatric oncologist made her the go to person to get anything done. As Darlene would say, “Other’s see obstacles; I see opportunities.”

The Reinvention of Darlene 
After many years, making her mark on an industry famous for high life and cut throat, leaving it better than when she arrived, it was time to move on. Deciding to help her deaf daughter through her senior year at high school and traveling with her late husband, it was time to do something else. Darlene reinvented herself into an award-winning author, writing coach, speaker and board member of several organizations in the literary arena. A consummate storyteller, she decided to write articles for Savvy Magazine about what she had learned at Bullocks Wilshire: that there are three kinds of shoppers, and in this economy, if you understand them you will prosper and not falter. This would launch a writing career that started with a poem (which Darlene thought was not very good, but which a proud father submitted to a contest that she would win) and culminated with the award-winning Webs Series: Webs of Power, Twisted Webs, Webs of Fate, and Unpredictable Webs. Conflicting Webs, the newest novel in the series was released in early 2015. Others followed. Darlene is now presenting the finale of the Webs series with Webs of Perception.
In 2011, this led The Braille Institute to not only invite Darlene as their keynote speaker, but to choose to turn Webs of Power into an audio and Braille book. They are considering converting the entire series for the vision impaired! Giving Back to the Community Again 
Today, Darlene speaks on the power of reinventing yourself, how to do it and the skills necessary to accomplish it. Also, she speaks on the three kinds of shoppers, how they affect your business and how to cater to each for maximum sales. Her ability to meet your audience where they are and help them arrive at where they want to go, makes her a sought after speaker, coach, columnist and guest blogger.
When it’s all said and done, we believe Darlene will have left her mark on society as a friend, author and mentor to many writers, professionals and those looking to enhance their lifestyle with a warm smile and gentle advice, while sharing her experience and wisdom. Her legacy will be the people she has and continues to touch, the organizations she helped improve that serve many and through her books, as well as those of many authors she mentors.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A. J. Tata Rips From the News What Could Happen Soon! Dark Winter Now Out!

It was December, 2008, when I announced a new book and author, A. J. Tata with the Threat Series...  It was April, 2015, when Jake Mahegan was introduced in Foreign and Domestic! Now ten years later, he is one of the top thriller writers in America... There's a reason! And all you have to do is read one of his books to understand why...

Jake Mahegan is a formidable character that is exciting, comfortable in command and brilliant in strategy... But, in this latest novel, we see another side of him. He has fallen in love... And love can make a difference during combat and urgent action... No problem for the world, but definitely a problem for our hero! And I loved every incident where he was forced to deal with both love demands as well as military urgent action... So, I thought, if you are interested, I would include this video about how Jack Mahegan was born...

Dark Winter:
A Jake Mahegan Thriller

By Anthony J. Tata

...Gorham didn’t want to focus solely on dominance of the social and commercial world; he wanted political power. He had read Von Clausewitz’ On War and knew that military action was simply politics by another means. 
Given the state of the world today, Gorham knew that the deep political divisions in the United States and around the globe made the world ripe for a hostile takeover. 
“Boss I’m talking to you,” Shayne said. 
“You’re sure you want to launch the nuke? It’s your one freebie,” Shayne said. 
“Yes. North Korea strikes Japan with a nuke. World’s third largest economy. An extension of the United States for all practical purposes. 
The digital trails we’ve left for Assange and his lackeys to sniff around show Russia and Iran in full support of the North Korean weapons program and the launch. And you’ve got the follow up congrats e-mails ready for AUTO SEND from Iran and Russia to the acting North Korean president, correct?” 
“Yes,” Shayne muttered. 
“Okay, then. For the third time, execute,” Gorham said in an even tone. 
Shayne eyed him a second and then said, “You’re the boss.” His fingers rattled across the keyboard sounding like a thousand beetles on concrete and he hit ENTER. He panned the ManaSat camera over the Sangnam-Ri underground missile base, the location of many ICBM test flights. Two silos opened. They were maybe one-half mile apart. The openings looked like black dots on the satellite feed...
“THAAD defenses?” 
“Should be mitigated. 
ManaWorm showing activated and effective against American THAAD.” Shayne had developed the remote access Trojan, ManaWorm, so that they could plant the virus on unsuspecting defense contractor weapons and equipment a year or two earlier, when Gorham had hatched his plan. “Shadow missile effective?”
“So far. Looks like one launch. If we’re lucky, the Americans will think it’s just another ICBM tested and not even try to deploy THAAD.”
...“And,” Gorham said with dramatic flair, “we have the third nuclear weapon ever dropped in wartime and it is once again on Japanese soil. How ironic.”

The book description and additional publicity on Dark Winter left me with feelings of trepidation... Knowing the experience and expertise of A. J. Tata, I knew that this book was going to be as realistic as it could be, essentially responding to the question, "What If?"

Considering the state of the world today, with the division within the United States, one man could conduct a world-wide hostile takeover...and Gorham had been preparing for it for years... The first attack had been the assassination of the ruler of North Korea...

Of course, the hostility had been sparked quickly when the United States had withdrawn from the Iran Deal. It was also placing pressure on North Korea to completely eliminate their nuclear arsenal...and, with up-and-down pressure on Russia, who was already using cyberwar to work against the United States,  the time to act was now! Gorham and his staff had been working deep in the Dark Web to contact countries with whom he was negotiating... Responding to each of their known hatred and desires, the three countries with whom the U.S. had played with, had formed together into RINK... The target was to totally destroy America...

Each of the countries would be targeting nearby areas and moving into offensive position to overcome and destroy... Russia was also aiming for the total destruction of the United States, with their large arsenal of nuclear armaments.

It was to be a war of cyber action in the beginning. Through various contracts with the government across the world, weapons had been "changed" slightly from specifications, so that when put into action they would not make contact with proposed targets! It had begun with the bomb strike on Japan by the North Koreans and then ground military action by all three countries all at once. The ComWar had control of all types of equipment that was computer controlled and had weighted the three countries, Russia, Iran, and North Korea so that their military equipment were all efficiently working!

World War III was in its early stages...

If only Jake Mahegan was Real! But, of course, he is, in many ways. Tata writes based upon having seen the bravery, the expertise, and the patriotism of many American soldiers and he has forged their skills in our hero Jake...

But, something has changed in Jake's life...Cassie, a member of his team, who has the credentials, experience and expertise to have earned the Captain rank and who works at the side of Jake, had found her way into Jake's heart and, after never being in love before, has fallen deeply. It is somewhat of a burden, because he can no longer see her as a teammate...rather Jake needs to protect her...

Cassie is perfect for Jake! She's not willing to have Jake move her out of her team position, does not want to be protected, rather to allow her to act as normal in doing what she needs to do. But, the link between the two adds an extra dimension to the thriller that represents the love each soldier has for their loved ones and for their country. They love both, but will do anything to protect and serve those loved ones.

The lack of attention to cyber security for the last few years, as elections and social networks have been hacked with false information or used to hack election machines, while little has been done to lead and prepare for the use of computer manipulation, has been, illustratively, shown just how vulnerable the United States has become related to of the infrastructure, not just on bigger and better ground and air equipment. Having worked with computer systems throughout my professional career, I am constantly alert to just how bad things can get if computer systems are affected in even small ways. The technological aspects of this book are beyond my expertise to actually do, but certainly the book is brilliantly done to show exactly how bad it can get! And a bit of coordinated criminal intent cannot easily be thwarted.

Tata presents us with an awesome, and, yes, terrifying, option of what can occur when criminal intent is allowed to take control. This is well beyond twists and is upfront action-packed, minute-by-minute intense waiting and moving. Picking up detail after detail to determine what may occur next. The characters are unbelievably able to get under our skin. I envisioned the villain as a evil genius whose ego has surmounted his ability to apply any level of common sense... While Jake Mahegan, our hero, seems to magically know who to trust, and not trust, and still make things happen to slow down and/or stop what is happening. It's a deadly time frame, and readers feel the tension, the sweat, the fear, as characters make things happen "just in time." Edgy, nail-biting, and hope and prayers are part of the move toward the climatic ending...

When I read this latest book of General Tata, and knowing he is already involved to some extent in government issues, I can't help but hope that he will enter the political realm and use his expertise to actually stop that potential WWIII that he has written about in Dark Winter. We have to deal with the violent terrorism that is rampant, as another mass shooting took place this very morning... Readers, if you don't understand about computer usage in relation to military safety and security, you must read this book! Learn what you need to know about cyber acts that can take us into a war like no other.

Sure it's exciting and those who like military thrillers are bound to enjoy the book. I loved it for putting the newspaper headlines directly into a book like no other could to describe the turmoil and world-wide concerns we already know exists today... Has RINK already been formed???



General Anthony J. Tata has more than three decades of public service as a military officer and in leadership roles at the county and state level. His last combat tour was as the Deputy Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division and the Joint Task Force in Afghanistan, commanding nearly 25,000 troops. He is also an acclaimed novelist with nine fiction novels, including national bestsellers Foreign and Domestic, Three Minutes to Midnight, and Besieged. Kensington Books will release Direct Fire December 2017.

General Tata is president of defense, transportation and energy services company, KaylaTek, LLC. He also frequently speaks on matters of foreign policy to companies such as Google, Hewlett Packard, General Electric, MetLife, Bank of America, Glaxo Smith Kline and other major corporations. Previously, General Tata served as the North Carolina Secretary of Transportation, leading the state’s 12,000 NCDOT employees and serving as a member of the Governor’s cabinet. Immediately prior to that, he served as the Superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, leading the state’s largest school district of 18,000 employees and 150,000 students to record academic heights. 

General Tata served two tours of duty in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. He also served as a brigade commander in the 101st Airborne Division and as the Deputy Commanding General of the 10th Mountain Division. Among his military decorations, he has been awarded the Combat Action Badge and Bronze Star, served as a Master Parachutist and graduated from the U.S. Army’s Ranger School. He is listed as a distinguished member of the 502nd, 504th and 505th Parachute Infantry Regiments.

Tony received a Bachelor of Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, a Master of Arts in International Relations at the Catholic University of America, a Master of Military Art and Science in Strategic Planning at the U.S. Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies, and was a National Security Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Tony is the National Security Expert for One America News Network and reliably comments on foreign policy matters on dozens of programs and networks, including Fox News (Hannity, Bill O’Reilly Show, Megyn Kelly, Fox and Friends Weekday and Weekend, Geraldo Rivera Show, Fox Weekend News, America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer, and others), CNN New Day and with Brooke Baldwin, CBS News with Harry Smith, The Glenn Beck Show on The Blaze, and The Daily Buzz.

General Tata has two children, Brooke and Zachary....and more