Saturday, December 31, 2016

Guest Blogger Harold Michael Harvey Shares Essay and Prayer for New Year...

No, I have never met my guest blogger, Harold Michael Harvey, but since I first got to know him on line, I've come to trust, admire and respect him. Especially after reading both of his books. I was so pleased therefore, when he agreed to visit Book Readers Heaven... I chose today, as we look both backward and forward, because many of us  are concerned about what may be happening in the new year... First, let me share a recent published essay by our guest...

Skeptical 70,000 black voters abstained from presidential vote

Should 70,000 uncounted black votes cast in Detroit during last month’s general election matter? Are black voters like black lives in that they matter in American politics? Should black votes have the same chance of being counted as other American votes?
Detroit is not a 100 percent black city, but an overwhelming majority of her residents are black Americans.
Former presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein’s challenge to election results in Michigan and Pennsylvania ended in a crushing defeat. Federal court decisions halted recount efforts in both states. Although her recount challenge in Wisconsin played out to conclusion. She did not get a win there either. It resulted in President-Elect Trump increasing his victory total over Secretary Hillary Clinton by more than 1,000 votes.
Thanks to Stein’s call for a recount in Michigan, it was revealed that over 70,000 ballots cast in Detroit, Michigan were not counted in the presidential contest.
According to Michigan election officials, the 70,000 ballots were counted in down-ballot voting, but it could not be determined whom those 70,000 voters had selected for president. So the votes were tossed out. Had Clinton received those 70,000 votes, she would have won the state of Michigan hands down.
When the recount was ordered shut-down, those (probably largely black) votes were, metaphorically speaking, flushed down the toilet and there is no longer a legal means to have them reviewed by human eyes and counted by hand. Without recounts in other states, we have no way of knowing if other large urban areas, where black people tend to reside, had a big pool of votes discarded because the voting machine allegedly could not determine who the voter intended to select.
This blatant disenfranchisement of Black voters in Detroit follows a recent erosion of protections under the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court. In Shelby County, Alabama v. Eric Holder (2013), the Supreme Court destroyed section 5 of the Voters Rights Act by disallowing key provisions of the Act as being unconstitutional. Before Shelby, certain states and local governments had to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices. While section 4(b) established a formula that determined which jurisdictions are subjected to pre-clearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.
Two Michigan political sub-divisions came within the ambit of section 5 and 4(b), historically, Detroit did not fall within the purview of the act. Yet it is clear, given the callous response from Michigan election official.s, that “70,000 Detroit voters were so distraught with both major party candidates that they declined to vote for any candidate,” that the Supreme Court was wrong in its 5-4 decision in 2013, which weakened federal protections for black voters in state and federal elections.
Considering the fact that many black Americans believed the 2016 presidential election was their most important vote in the last 140 years, it is ludicrous to think that 70,000 of them in Detroit alone would elect not to vote for president. Many black Americans feared a Trump win would bring back the days of segregation and a resurgence of Klu Klux Klan activity. They were motivated to vote against his candidacy on this belief.
Personally, based upon 2016 campaign rhetoric, I find it hard to believe that nationwide, 70,000 black Americans voted for Stein, Trump and Gary Johnson combined.
Michigan election officials know that in 2013, the Supreme Court in the Shelby County case did essentially what President Hayes did in 1877, when Hayes removed the federal troops from the South in order to be selected president by the U. S. House of Representatives.
State officials no longer fear federal oversight over election laws. It is now possible for large demographics to be disenfranchised without recourse in the courts. And given the make-up of the Supreme Court, the fact that Trump will have at least four years to fill vacancies on the federal bench and Supreme Court – not to mention the prospect that Alabama Senator Jeff Session will be the next Attorney General - it is likely that other states will resort to the Michigan model for disenfranchising Black voters in federal, state and local political contests.
Suddenly, America feels a lot like it felt growing up black in the south in the 1950s. During that period, it was painfully clear that black lives did not matter and black voters were not welcomed at the polls.
Unquestionably, black lives should matter as much as all others in America. Black voters should have their votes counted too, along with the votes of other Americans. As a future best practice, when the electronic voting machines cannot determine how to apply a citizen’s vote, laws must require each such ballot to be processed by human eyes and counted by hand. If after human inspection, it cannot be deciphered, the voters should be given a chance to come back to the polls and cast that vote over again.

To me, Harvey's essay is symptomatic...It is not totally in the details presented that we must be concerned--it is about what this, plus so many other questionable actions, represents to us, our nation, the world... That's why I asked our guest to lead us in prayer for the new year... Will it be a happy one?

Gracious Creator of all that is and all that will ever be. Look kindly upon the earth in 2017. After all we are mere humans. We love, we hate, we make mistakes. We forgive and we are unforgivable. Some of us know you and some of us do not care to know you. Your life force is in all, yet a mystery to us. We see you move on the earth, but we can not decipher what you are doing or where you are going. We are at your mercy. Protect us from ourselves and from world leaders, some of whom we elected and others who have imposed their will upon us. Direct our path through the time-space continuum humankind call 2017. And when we pause in 365 days hence to reflect on the meaning of 2,017, we will pay homage to you for bringing us safely to that day. Amen. 

Our Father, 
I pray for those men and women, who like Harold Michael Harvey, speak out and against those things that negatively affect America...We are, indeed, a nation under God, we pray You will hear thoughts of fear from those of us seeing, possibly, a different world of tomorrow... Guide the path of each American, hearing your words of Wisdom and Love. For in that way, we can work to strengthen and hold on to what is right and good and just... We pray for those across the world that senses a different America and are also afraid... God Bless us one and all...

Harold Michael Harvey is an American award winning journalist, former lawyer, political pundit, novelist, essayist and publisher. He earned a degree in Political Science from Tuskegee Institute and a Juris Doctorate degree from Atlanta Law School. Harvey was honored for “Outstanding Work in Newspaper Journalism,” in 1976 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The Gate City Bar Association bestowed upon him their prestigious R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award in 1996 after Harvey represented over 180 college students arrested in the City of Atlanta during a black college spring break ritual known as “Freaknic.”
Harvey is the author of the critically acclaimed legal thriller, Paper Puzzle. It was originally published in 2009 and republished in 2011 after Harvey formed the Cascade Publishing House to publish his works and the works of other authors who feel more comfortable in a small publishing house.
Cascade Publishing House released their second book on April 4, 2015. The book is a collection of essays by Harold Michael Harvey and is titled, Justice in the Round: Essays on the American Jury System.
In 2016, Cascade Publishing House obtained the rights to publish Charles Steele, Jr.'s book titled, Easier to Obtain Than to Maintain: the Globalization of the Civil Rights Movement. Charles Steele, Jr. is President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership conference.
Allvoices.Com assigned Harvey to cover the 2012 Democratic National Convention which was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also, they honored him with two semi-monthly American Pundit Awards, once in February 2012 and again in April 2013.
Harvey lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Cynthia, who has doubled as Senior Editor for the past 35 years. Their son Coley is a Sports Reporter for a national broadcast company. When Harvey can convince Cynthia he needs some quiet writing time, he writes in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Heart to Dorothy M. Place...Say What?!?

"Hey Clayton, what are you doing in the office on Saturday?"
"Just trying to get away from my wife's honey-do list." He reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a cigar and lit it. "You got here just in time for my afternoon break."
"I think you like me to come down here just so you can smoke," Sarah teased. She eased herself into one of the Queen Anne's chairs. "Al and I went to the lake today to look around."
"Heard you were at his place Friday night."
Sarah flushed. How did he know? She searched for some sassy reply but none came."
"Discover anything at the lake? About the murder I mean." Clayton looked at her over his cigar and gave her a sly wink. He was teasing but he touched a soft nerve. Her hand swept over her arm where Al's fingers had tightened when he wiped away the blood from the mosquito bite.
"Al took notes, I supplied the ride. It was sad being at the place where it happened. I thought JoBeth loved those kids."
"People kill for love, don't they?"
Clayton inhaled and blew smoke at the ceiling. He was playing Socrates, and she liked it. She wanted to examine all the possible reasons, tear them apart, and piece them together into something that, if not exonerating JoBeth, at least made sense so that everyone would understand why it happened. It was a game Al had refused to play.
"I don't know," she replied. "JoBeth killed those she loved, but killing for love? I'm not so sure. Perhaps it is the pain of love that drove her into irrational behavior."
"Is there a difference?" Clayton asked.
"Intuitively, I'd have to say it doesn't seem to be the same thing. I guess if you kill someone you love, the act could be an accident."
"yes, I suppose so."
"But if you kill for love or for the pain of loving, it might involve vengeance, even premeditation. The first could be unintentional. Not the second."
"You might have something there," Clayton rolled the cigar in the ash tray. "Maybe we'll find out by the end of the trial."
"I'd like to think so...

The Heart to Kill

By Dorothy M. Place

And then it ended...right in the midst of a trial...right in the midst of family drama...of small-town drama...and...reading error after error of uncorrected mistakes. After reading a thank you page at the end where the author thanked everybody and his brother...all of whom having the opportunity and apparently not the skill to ensure a flawless, error-free book... Even the bio on the back cover said, "The author lives and writes in Davis, California. A research director and statistician by training, she began a creative writing??? ah, career??? or should the "a"  have been deleted, as I suspect? It seems even the Stephen F. Austin State University Press does not provide a properly edited/proofread final printed book...

I'm beginning to want to give extra points to those who diligently ensure their books are perfect...rather than just make a statement for those who do not take final responsibility for their own product. Believe me, the majority of the books I get do not have a significant number of errors, such as this one had...

The thing is...I was thoroughly enjoying the story, even up to the point where the surprise everybody knew about was revealed in court to the main character...

Why oh why would the author choose not to finish the trial... On her site, she writes:

In the end, Sarah discovers the underlying issues that precipitated her friend’s murderous act. Through interviews with JoBeth, her mother, her former lover, and her work associates, her ex-husband’s mistress as well as the testimony given during the trial, the horrifying events that shaped JoBeth’s life are revealed, helping Sarah understand how a person can be driven to extremes that defy ordinary reasoning. Sarah and her friend, it is the betrayal by those they love and believe in that changes their lives forever. Ultimately, it means disgrace and imprisonment for JoBeth. But for Sarah, who decides against returning to law school, it is the beginning of a life in which she, not her father, manages her future.

Ahhhh, Excuse me, I did enjoy the character Sarah and the issues that affected her. In fact, it reminded me of the book I had just read where individuals, Sarah, had stopped listening to her own voice, but totally allowed her father to dominate her life, even to the point that she was afraid and lied to prevent having to tell him that she didn't get an internship which he had arranged...

But... putting the result of a trial within a blurb is, in my opinion, totally unacceptable... Here's JoBeth, on trial for killing her two children... But she clearly stated earlier in the book that she wanted to live in order to allow people to know why she killed them...Not only did the trial not continue, we never get the chance to have JoBeth tell the court, the jury and the world how years of sexual abuse, betrayal by her parents and lovers, and her boss (an important man in her early life as Sarah's best friend) had affected her mentally and resulted in what happened to the children. A fact that we never fully have explained...

I don't know about you, but having women in jail for killing their children, is a "today" issue that many have seen on television and become totally involved with as they learned what happened. Excuse me for thinking that readers will become more involved with the trial than with whether "poor" Sarah finally grew up and took over her own life... Come on, there is no comparison between the lives of the two women and the resulting conclusion for "both" of them as the only way to end this book...

Or am I totally misreading this? The Heart to Kill has been done many times, especially by spouses who help their partners die without pain... Surely, readers need to know that the town, the jury...and readers...were able to move through the trial and hopefully see that what had happened to JoBeth resulted in the elimination of 1st degree murder as the final option... If not? Well, if all the men who used and abused her are never brought to trial for what they did to her...I'm thinking we need a vigilante out there in Eight Mile Junction, starting the justice with JoBeth's stepfather who started raping her when she was 7... then her mother who refused to acknowledge it because she didn't want to lose her rich husband... all the way down to those busybodies in town who were supposedly friends to JoBeth...until they had juicy gossip to chew on and regurgitate.

So, if none of what bothered me, doesn't bother you...hey, go for's a nice little story about a girl two years through college, who finally breaks away to stand on her own two feet... Just for the record, I started working right out of high school and used my salary toward eating and keeping our family together... So if I sound a little cynical, it's my personal opinion showing😒. I was totally involved with JoBeth, the character, as many readers would be because of what she'd been accused of doing...We had a right to know exactly what happened to her in order to have this book satisfactorily concluded.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Little Voice by Joss Sheldon - A Rare...Real Look at Humanity

Yeah, I really liked Becky. I really liked all those activists. They all had hearts of gold.
So I still went on those protests. I went on those protests in order to spend time with those great people.
I went on those protests until one gnarly autumn day, when the trees were all full of rusty leaves and the sky was filled with a hazy rainbow. Ominous shades of blue, indigo and violet provided a grisly backdrop for our angst-filled chants. And lines of orange, yellow and green, brought forth little flickers of hope; hope that we'd actually be able to make a difference, and improve our broken society. I ignored that rainbow. I was indifferent to it. For me, it was just a prosaic part of the background. I was totally focused on our protest.
Our group of activists walked down the high street and then tried to enter a job centre, to stage a sit-in. But a line of burly policemen, blocked the front door. They     stopped us from exercising our legal right to stage a peaceful protest.
Political rap boomed out of a ghetto blaster:
"Forget what they told you in school. Get educated!"
"It's Akala. Swampy told me. "It's good, eh?"
"Yeah," I replied. "Conscious lyrics man!"
Swampy tapped his sandal-clad foot in time with the music.
"That guy is a Pied Piper for revolutionary rats." I smiled.
"His songs are rebel anthems for the disenfranchised youth."
I winked. Baffled locals pretended not to stare.
And a protestor threw a handful of confetti over the policemen...

"The most rebellious thing you can do is get educated.
Forget what they told you in school. Get educated!
I ain't saying play by the rules. Get educated!
Get educated! Get educated!
Break the chains of their enslavement. Get educated!
Even if you're on the pavement. Get educated!
What a weapon that your brain is. Get educated!
Get educated! Get educated!"
--AKALA, Knowledge is Power

"Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?"  --Danielle LaPorte
The little red guy hanging from Yew's leg is Egot!

Yew, the main character, provides readers the synopsis
Dear reader,
My character has been shaped by two opposing forces; the pressure to conform to social norms, and the pressure to be true to myself. To be honest with you, these forces have really torn me apart. They’ve pulled me one way and then the other. At times, they’ve left me questioning my whole entire existence.
But please don’t think that I’m angry or morose. I’m not. Because through adversity comes knowledge. I’ve suffered, it’s true. But I’ve learnt from my pain. I’ve become a better person.
Now, for the first time, I’m ready to tell my story. Perhaps it will inspire you. Perhaps it will encourage you to think in a whole new way. Perhaps it won’t. There’s only one way to find out…
Enjoy the book,
Yew Shodkin

It was my sixth birthday when the little voice first spoke to me. 
Please do understand, dear reader, that it wasn’t an abstract little voice. Oh no! It belonged to a little creature who lived inside my brain. But that creature had not, up until that point, ever said a word.
That creature wasn’t human. Far from it! Although its eyes were identical to my own.
If I’m to be totally honest, I must admit that I’m not exactly sure what it was. I’ve always just called it ‘The Egot’.
The egot’s skin was as red as hellfire, its hair was as bright as the midday sun, and its belly was as round as a pearl. It had webbed feet, elfish ears and lithe claws. I assumed it was male, but it could’ve been female; it was impossible to tell.
Yet, despite its peculiar appearance, I felt comfortable whenever I saw the egot. It possessed a powerful sort charisma which always put me at ease. It’d lift its flat cap, bend one of its spiky knees, and wink in a way which made its eye sparkle. Just seeing the egot made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
The egot was familiar. It was a part of the scenery of my mind. My companion. My friend.
But it had never spoken. Not until the day I turned six.
 was at school when it happened, sitting at the set of desks which I shared with five other pupils. The waxy floor was illuminated by white light. The smell of pencil shavings wafted through the air.
Our teacher, Ms Brown, was standing at the front of that prefabricated space. She was scratching a tiny nub of chalk along an indifferent blackboard.
“As soon as those brave explorers stepped foot on that distant land, they were attacked by a group of wild savages,” she told the class through a cloud of chalk dust.
“Ooh! Ooh!” screamed Snotty McGill.
I liked Snotty McGill. I liked all the children in my class. Back then, I think we all just tacitly assumed that we were equal. That we were all in the same boat. We didn’t really think about our different genders, races or classes. We just co-existed, like one big family.
I think Snotty McGill was actually called Sarah, but we called her ‘Snotty’ because she always had a cold. An hour seldom passed in which she didn’t either sneeze, pick her nose, or wipe a bogie onto her snot-encrusted sleeve. But she had such a lovely colour. That pink glow which comes with the flu used to engulf her like an aura. It suited her. She always looked so damn effervescent.
Anyway, as I was saying, Snotty McGill was waving her hand above her head.
“Ms! Ms!” she called. “What’s a ‘savage’?”
Ms Brown turned to face us. She looked chalky. Everything around her looked chalky. The floor was covered in chalk-dust and the skirting-boards were covered in chalky-ashes. Chalk residue glistened in Ms Brown’s bushy hair. It coated the points of her fingers.
“Well,” she said. “A savage has the body of a man, but not his civility. A savage is like an animal. He doesn’t wear clothes, live in a house, study or work. He follows his base urges; to eat, drink and reproduce. But he doesn’t have an intellect. He doesn’t have any ambition. He’s smelly, hairy and uncouth. He does the least he can to survive. And he spends most of his time sleeping or playing.”
Snotty McGill looked horrified. As did Stacey Fairclough, Sleepy Sampson and Gavin Gillis. Chubby Smith looked like he was about to start a fight. Most of the class looked dumbfounded. But I felt inspired.
‘They don’t have to go to school!’ I thought with envy and intrigue. ‘They spend all their time playing! They sleep for as long as they like!’
It was as if I’d stumbled across a species of super-humans. To me, the savages sounded like gods. I knew at once that I wanted to be one. I’d never been so sure of anything in my life.
The egot smiled mischievously. It rolled a whisker between its skeletal claws and tapped one of its webbed feet.
Ms Brown continued:
“Well, when the explorers stepped ashore, a pack of savages came hurtling towards them; swinging through the trees like monkeys, beating their breasts like apes, and howling like donkeys. They flocked like birds and stampeded through the dust like a herd of untamed wildebeests.”
That was when the egot spoke for the first time.
It leaned up against the inside of my skull, just behind my nose, and crossed its spindly legs. Then it began to talk:
“If you want to be a savage, you should probably act like a savage. You know, you should probably stampede like a wildebeest. Maybe beat your breast like an ape. Perhaps you’d like to howl like a donkey? Yes, yes.”
The egot’s voice was so… so… so… So far beyond description. So subtle. So calm. So quirky. So eccentric. And so, so quiet!
The egot accentuated random letters, as if it was shocked to discover their existence. It swilled its words, like a Frenchman mulling over a glass of confused wine. And it stretched random syllables, as if it was saddened to see them go.
There was a certain melody to the egot’s voice. It didn’t so much speak as rhyme, like a Shakespearean actor on a crisp autumn night.
But the egot was quiet. Its voice was such a little voice. A little voice inside my head.
That little voice struck me dumb.
The egot strummed its lip, like a pensive philosopher, and waited for me to reply. But I was in a state of paralytic shock. I couldn’t have replied if I’d wanted to. So the egot folded its arms, in a gesture of mock offence, and then continued on:
“I’m only telling you what you want to hear,” it purred. It swirled the word ‘telling’ so much that the ‘ell’ sound reverberated five times; ‘Tell-ell-ell-ell-ell-ell-ing’.
“You don’t really want to succumb to civility. No, no. You want to be a savage. I think you want to jump between tables, like a monkey swinging between trees. If you thought you could get away with it, and no-one was judging you, you wouldn’t think twice.”
It was a moment of clarity. Bright white, unadulterated clarity. Silent. Outside of time and space.
Please do allow me to explain…
I’m a big fan of the founder of Taoism, the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. He was a wizened old gent. His hair was as white as virgin snow and his eyes were deeper than any ocean on earth.
Well, Lao Tzu once said that ‘Knowing others is wisdom. Knowing yourself is enlightenment’.
Dear reader, that’s exactly how I felt! In that moment, I felt that I ‘knew’ myself. In that moment, I felt ‘enlightened’.
Everything was clear. It was clear that I’d been living in a cage. It was clear that freedom was mine to take. It was clear what I had to do. The egot was my clarity. Everything was clear.
I remember a sense of otherworldliness, as if I’d stepped outside of the physical realm. My legs lifted my torso, my frame stood tall, and my spirit stood still. My body melted away from my control.

I watched on as it broke free. As it leapt up onto our shared desk. As it pounded its breast like a valiant ape. And as it puffed its chest like a swashbuckling superhero.
The faint sound of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony started to fill my ears. Delicate violin strings provided a melodic backdrop for the ballet which was unravelling onstage.
My body performed a pirouette.
White paper rose up beneath my feet and span around my shins like froth on a choppy ocean.
I felt an all-encompassing surge of bliss.
One leg rose up in front of my body, forming a sharp arrow which pointed out towards an adjacent desk. I held that position perfectly still, whilst lifting my chin with a pompous sort of grace. Then I leapt like a spring deer, in slow motion, with one leg pointing forward and the other one darting back.
Beethoven’s Ninth sounded glorious as it purred through the gears. Violas joined violins and cellos joined those violas. Double basses began to hum and flutes began to whistle.
I landed with my feet together; an angel of the air, a demon of the sea.
My mind floated atop an infinite ocean.
My legs leapt on through the infinite air. They bounded from table to table with ever-increasing speed; gaining momentum, gaining height. I could see my monkey soul. I could hear the monkey calls which were emanating from my open mouth.
I could hear Beethoven’s Ninth reach its first crescendo, as the brass section began its battle cry. Flutes became one with clarinets. Bassoons boomed. Trumpets and horns squealed with uncontrollable delight.
I howled like a donkey at the moment of sexual climax.
My lungs filled with pure spirit.
I landed on all fours, looking like a bison. My shoulders were bulging out of my back and my temples were as erect as horns.
I leapt like a giant frog. And I stampeded between desks like a herd of untamed wildebeests; leaving a trail of overturned chairs, twisted students and miscellaneous debris in my wake.
Beethoven’s Ninth called out for redemption, glory and release. It was an impassioned cry. It was a fury-filled yell.
“Yew! Yew! Yew!” Ms Brown yelled. “Yew! Yew! Yew!”
Ms Brown had been yelling since the moment I stood up. But I’d been on a different plane. I hadn’t heard a thing.
My teacher’s voice pierced my ether, burst my euphoria, and threw me down amongst the shards of my shattered pride. To my left; a small calculator bled black ink, a wonky table rocked back and forth like a sober addict, and a potted plant spewed crumbs of soil all across the vinyl flooring. To my right; Aisha Ali was crying into her collar, Tina Thompson was rubbing her shin, and Chubby Smith was holding his belly.
“Yew! Yew! Yew!” Ms Brown yelled.
(I’m called Yew by the way. I think I forgot to mention that).
“Yew! What on earth do you think you’re doing? What’s come over you? I, I, I…”
Ms Brown choked on her words, lifted a hand to her throat, coughed up some chalk-dust, and then gulped down a stodgy chunk of passive air.
She shook her head.
“You’re usually such a good boy!...”

The Little Voice
By Joss Sheldon

On my birthday, I wrote the first article in my blog, Just My Personal Opinion, Of course, which started... Today is my Birthday... I was wondering if I was now old enough to be myself...Me, I, Moi... You know? I was 70 at the time. Are you like me? Are you also like Yew, the main character in a new book out by Joss Sheldon, The Little Voice. Do you remember starting out your life as a child, happy and content and loving? But then things began to change, a parent or an older sibling might have started bossing you around; i.e., discipline started...big-time... The first time you went to church, you realized that was the beginning of being involved with lots of different people, all supporting and teaching about one religion that you were to follow.  Then, in school, it became even more stifling as you were set into a schedule of activities that was totally controlled by someone outside of your home...

Then, if you're like me, you immediately moved into a job (or went on to college) where you were not only on a set schedule, but each and every day, you had a supervisor who controlled your life from morning to night, minus two 10-minute breaks and a lunch time...

It had happened long before I reached 70; I was tired of being controlled by other people. I was tired of being somebody that was in response to what other people wanted and expected...

Yew began to rebel a lot earlier than I did, however...The first time was when he was six... But, let's stop there a minute, because this book grabbed my attention right away... Then I began to think about the main character, Yew...You...Yew... Then I started to think about what was inside of him, Egot...Ego...Egot... Hey, Joss Sheldon is writing about each of us! He's writing about me...and you and you and you... And he's sharing about how his ego was first, alive, and then died...

At first I thought this was a biography and perhaps, in part, it is. Then I thought it was a self-help story and, perhaps, in part, it is... What I do know is that Joss Sheldon is writing about those of us in today's world...he's dramatically writing about how we are slowly changed from children, secure in being loved, secure in being happy...playing...enjoying the freedom of dreams, fantasies, and living in the world of sunshine and nature, seeing the flowers growing, blooming...only to be followed by a fall...

Yew (You) would have gone to school when you're around six. Thrown into a group of people you didn't know, with one who proclaimed quickly that he/she was in charge of your day and what she would be required to teach you... You may have begun to like some of the children, but others might have been mean, with you wondering why...
Yew was the child who had just started school, but he had a little friend who lived inside of him, named Egot. He was real to him and when he started to talk to him when he was alone, there in the midst of other children and teacher, Egot started to guide him...But he did it through persuasion. What did Yew want to do, really?  Of course, Yew didn't know that everybody didn't have a friend inside, rather that we have an inner life and our own small voice, so when he got in trouble and people started to ask him  personal questions, Yew willingly
shared about Egot...immediately he was questioned, do you mean like having an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other? Interestingly, Yew didn't even understand the question...there was only Egot, that kept Yew company... Yew was sent to see Dr. Saeed every week and put through tests, questioned, and more...Soon he realized that the only thing he could do was lie and say that he had made Egot up...That he didn't really exist... 

Perhaps that was the true beginning. Because Yew didn't understand the difference between right and wrong. What he learned quickly though was that if he did something that somebody didn't like,  then he soon began to be disciplined. Yew wanted to be liked so he started doing anything and everything he was asked to do. Yew figured out that he was doing the right thing because everybody started calling him a good boy again... He liked being liked; but he was not happy...

Tell me, do you see a little of yourself in Yew's story? If so, I highly recommend this book! Readers are going to learn about Yew's life from first grade on through college, into the work environment...and then into loss and a resulting choice to use drugs...

And then he met a beautiful nurse while he was in the hospital...beautiful in a spirit that comforted him, made him feel comfortable with her...made him begin to care again. He asked her how she got to be such a beautiful person and she gave him a book. It happened to be a philosophy book by Lao Tzu. He began to read and apply what he was reading to what had been happening in his life!

You know, this particular book is what made Yew start thinking... Well, what you might want to consider is that The Little Voice could be exactly the book you should read... Or at least the first. I'd read many comparable books throughout my life and knew that what I was reading related to my own life. Like I said, it was 70 when I started to not only accept myself... but to ACT and SAY what I wanted and needed to say.

We are so wound up in social norms that are being established by people who we do not even know. We all need to find our inner self once again... Find that inner voice inside us that will guide us. Much of what guides me is from God; but, to do that, I had to find my way through much religious dogma that I had never been able to accept... and find my own Helper to guide me through today's world... I'm glad to have read The Little Voice. If for no other reason than receiving a confirmation of decisions I've made myself... Make reading this book a priority so you don't get to my age before you act to once again find your inner little voice! 😇


Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unshaven layabout, and good for nothing hobo. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. And then he escaped!

With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.

Then, in 2013, he went to McLeod Ganj in India; a village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his first novel, 'Involution & Evolution'.

With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. So he travelled around Palestine and Kurdistan before writing his second novel, 'Occupied'; a dystopian 'masterpiece' unlike any other story you've ever read!

Now Joss has returned with his third, and most radical novel yet. 'The Little Voice' takes a swipe at the external forces which come to shape our personalities. It's psychological. And it will make you think about the world in a whole new way. As the Huffington Post put it, The Little Voice is probably "The most thought-provoking novel of 2016"...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Delightful Coloring and Activity Book Complements BEEMORE BREAKTHRU

I was delighted to learn that Oneeka Williams had created a complementary coloring and activity book to go with her outstanding Children's Book, BEEMORE BREAKTHRU!

You would never guess what I was most excited about... Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo and two of her friends, Marky Medicine Bad and Kyle, have been made into paper dolls! Such a gift of flashback memories when paper dolls were a very important part of play life for little girls... Inside are additional outfits to be worn. And I was pleased to see that all of Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's medical friends were included as well...

But let's go on to the pages concerning Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo's BEEMORE BREAKTHRU...

Hopefully you already have the main you can match the coloring pages with individual may even want to color the pages just like they are in the main book, or experiment with different colors...

But first, readers get to meet all of the family first...

Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo, Girl Super Surgeon, was born with super powers from electrical energy. She fixes any problem with her gifted hands and has a team that goes with her on her missions. Her home is the Island of Positivity, where she lives with her parents and extended.

You'll meet Grandma B, Granddad Willy, Aunty Vandra, Uncle Huebs, Mommy and Daddy Dynamo, Lukas, and Jakey
(and get to color them too!)

The life cycle of the bees has been repeated and as you color, you will be able to study the steps of the life of each bee...We all know, now, how the phrase "busy as bees" was started! 

Then we get to work a crossword puzzle...but it's all based upon what has been taught in the book...another test, fun, but still a test...😡 But, not to worry because the answers are provided and you'll be able to still keep on learning about those busy bees...

A bit of science coloring is provided when the various parts of a bee are provided...the antenna, wing, stinger...and, did you remember that bees have two stomachs? No matter what page, there is always something more to be learned...For instance, do you know how many Queen Bees there are in each hive?

There are word search puzzles, searching through a maze to find nectar, and all other sorts of games to help readers learn about the world of bees. Why, you even get to color the Bee Cake that appeared in the main book...together with all the people who attended the neighborhood party!

Governor Andy Charles, Governor of the Island of Positivity, even presented Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo and the Team with the Highest Medal of Service and a big Thank You... The Beemore Breakthru had been a success on the Island...All of the Bees had become BEEROES! Do you know what that could mean?

You'd better be practicing up your coloring while you wait to get this book, because the pages are very detailed and you'll want to be sure to color within the lines, right? But, most of all, have fun and enjoy this additional book, provided by Oneeka Williams, M.D. just so you'll have an opportunity to make learning about bees something that you'll spend time working on day after day... 

Highly recommended as a complementary book to the BEEMORE BREAKTHRU book , or even as a standalone... Best, in my opinion, having for your long-term library and one to play and learn the material...


Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo is truly the embodiment of everything I hold dear. She is caring, dynamic, energetic, positive powerful, spunky and believes that she can do anything. She heals with her hands and brings surgery and science together...and she loves her family.

--Dr. Oneeka Williams, Top Harvard Educated 
Urologic Surgeon and Author

Out January 3rd!
See my review of Hardback Copy

Monday, December 26, 2016

Lauren Carr Gives Us One of Her Best Mysteries, Killer in the Band!

Cameron slipped her cell phone out of her pocket and brought up her police app so that she could search for the case. “When and where was this Dylan Matthews killed, and who do you think killed him?” 
“I don’t know who killed him.” Tears came to her eyes. “But I do know that he was murdered, and I didn’t say anything.” She sobbed. “Now I feel so ashamed. I’m afraid to tell J.J. what I did— or didn’t do. How could he respect me if he knew I didn’t do anything and let my friend, someone I cared about—” 
“That’s something you need to talk to him about,” Cameron said. “In the meantime, tell me who this Dylan Matthews was and what happened to him.” 

Eleven Years Ago— Dixmont State Hospital, Outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania “Hard to believe this was once a state-of-the-art psychiatric hospital,” the young Pennsylvania state trooper said to his partner, an older officer who seemed unimpressed with the long history of the century-old hospital that rested on top of a hill overlooking a major freeway and railroad tracks. Heavily damaged by fire and decades of neglect, the complex’s main building had once been a historic landmark, a toast to what had been considered cutting-edge psychiatric treatment back in the 1800s. More than a century later, the many buildings that made up the facility lay in ruins, decaying, and the grounds were overgrown and covered in trash left by kids, psychics, and filmmakers.
“Detective Gates,” Fred said with a stiff smile before introducing her to his partner. “Detective Gates is with Pennsylvania’s homicide division.” Struck not only by how attractive she was but also by how young she appeared to be, the young officer shot her a grin. She couldn’t have been much over thirty, if that. With a polite nod to the young police officer, she asked, “What have we got?” “A dead body,” the young officer answered. “A creepy dead body.” “They’re going to tear the place down,” Fred said while leading her down the battered concrete walkway, around the long main building, and to the abandoned building behind it. “I heard all about that,” Cameron said, watching to make sure that she didn’t trip over rocks or the broken cement on the uneven path. “The owners tried to have the place renovated so that they could build a shopping center a couple of years ago. Ended up causing big landslides down onto Highway Sixty-Five and the railroad tracks at the bottom of the hill. It took the state weeks to clean up the mess.” “So now they’re just mowing the whole place down.” Fred led her around the corner of the main building. A second abandoned building came into view. “This is the dietary building,” the young officer said. “They found the body in the walk-in freezer.”
Shaking her head, Suellen sucked in a deep, shuddering breath. “Like I said, it was thirty—” She paused and then corrected herself. “No, I was twenty, so it was twenty-eight years ago. Fourth of July. Our band was one of four selected to do a concert at the college in Moon. We were the third band to perform and went right before the main attraction.”
“Moon?” Cameron cocked an eyebrow. “Out by where Dixmont State Hospital used to be?”
“Exactly.” Suellen’s eyes glazed over as she recalled what had happened. “We were on top of the world— on top of our little world. We had been together a little more than a year, but we were successful enough to get bookings practically every weekend. We had a following, and we were making money.”
 “That’s big,” Cameron said.
“I liked to think it was because of my original songs,” Suellen said. “But I was enough of a realist to know that it was more than that. Dylan Matthews was our lead singer. He was tall with wavy blond hair and one sexy body. He had a good-enough voice and could play only six chords on that fancy guitar of his. But, man— he knew how to work a crowd.”

Killer in the Band:
A Lovers in Crime Mystery

By Lauren Carr

Whew! What a Mystery--undoubtedly one of Lauren Carr's best! Cold cases take us back in years, while more recent murders get up close and personal with the main characters, the Thornton Clan... 

The easiest way to explain the merge  of cases from a family standpoint is that Josh Thornton's son has come home after finishing law school, to prepare for the State Bar Exam. While there, he gets a call that a former lover has asked that he come to her--she is dying. Not an easy way to learn that your son has been involved with a much older, former teacher and is now moving in to her home. She is a neighbor!

At the same time Cameron Thornton, Josh's wife, has been called in on a cold case--a body had been found in an old refrigerator at Dixmont State Hospital and she's anxious to take on a new case since her present murder case is going nowhere. That murder was of a local woman, found murdered by her husband, who had provided a composite sketch of the killer, but nothing had been discovered.

The cases turn out to be all related by one person, but I won't try to elaborate. It's easy to follow during actual reading, however, and you'll enjoy how the story weaves around one character and then another, molding them into a delicious entanglement of cases that are to be solved, one by one... I was fairly certain on whodunit for two of the cold cases...but the last one is a psychological suspense tale all in itself that was amazing to see unwound...

Suellen had been living her dreams all her life. She had started a rock and roll band as her first creative endeavor and was writing all the songs for them. They were just getting known as a group when the lead singer announced one night, at the end of the performance, that he was moving on... Nobody had known about his leaving and the band members were completely surprised that he, in essence, had told the world that the group was through... He told everybody he was leaving that night, but not until many of the band members had physically let him know their feelings! It had only been discovered recently, when the Dixmont State Hospital was being torn down, that he had apparently been killed that night...

Suellen had learned that the body was found and had been contacted by a band member to keep everything low key, not to dig up that story again. She had at that time, but now, she was dying of cancer, and could not take her knowledge to the grave.

Cameron who took the homicide investigation was soon learning about what had happened that night.  She considered everybody in the band a suspect, including Suellen. But, as she learned more about Dylan who'd been the band's lead singer, she began to look for his sister, who had played drums for the group. It was understood that Dylan would be taking her with him, but that he was trying to split up she and her boyfriend. Did her boyfriend kill Dylan to keep his girlfriend? But the investigation brought out an interesting and provocative event.
Dylan's sister, Wendy Matthews, had walked off the stage and never was seen again, exactly 10 years after Dylan had disappeared...on July 4th...
Back on Suellen's farm, her former lover and Joshua Thornton's son, had moved in at her request. Although they had been separated for years, they both still loved each other. Suellen was beginning to look at the farm with new eyes and knew it needed much work.  There were many who were working the farm and other activities, but she had neglected the horses that her mother had loved... Soooo, we get to meet a new character, a beautiful horse whisperer, plus a young boy who had been living in the barn and was cleaning up in the morning. Then we meet and get to know an adopted daughter of Joshua and Cameron, who also loved horses...But they all had a background story that, in itself, adds greatly to the overall book, bringing a wonderful touch of heartwarming relationships between the animals and their caregivers...

I thought I'd be always placing the Mac Faraday series Carr started with, as my top personal favorite, but this book's storyline and the brilliant merge of cold cases together with new certainly shows that Carr arrived at the top of her game and is moving ever forward and upward. Of the books I've read in this series, this is the best of the best and certainly gives competition to the Mac Faraday series...and to other writers across the world writing in this genre! Bravo! 

I loved that she closed out the book with a big 4th of July celebration, which would have been the last that Suellen would host... if she hadn't been murdered... Wow! Whodunits from the beginning to the end! Don't miss it!


An Amazon All-Star Author, Lauren Carr writes mysteries that have made Amazon's best-selling ranks internationally. 
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries. Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, son, and four dogs (including the real Gnarly) on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 
Order! Order!
Numerous readers have asked the order of Lauren Carr's titles. All of Lauren Carr's books are stand alone. However for those readers who want to start at the beginning, here is the list of Lauren Carr's mysteries in order. The number next to the book title is the actual order in which the book was released.
Joshua Thornton Mysteries:
Fans of the Lovers in Crime Mysteries may wish to read these two books which feature Joshua Thornton years before meeting Detective Cameron Gates. Also in these mysteries, readers will meet Joshua Thornton's five children before they have flown the nest.
1) A Small Case of Murder
2) A Reunion to Die For

Mac Faraday Mysteries:
3) It's Murder, My Son
4) Old Loves Die Hard
5) Shades of Murder (introduces the Lovers in Crime: Joshua Thornton & Cameron Gates)
7) Blast from the Past
8) The Murders at Astaire Castle
9) The Lady Who Cried Murder (The Lovers in Crime make a guest appearance in this Mac Faraday Mystery)
10) Twelve to Murder
12) A Wedding and a Killing 
13) Three Days to Forever 
15) Open Season for Murder 
16) Cancelled Vows
17) Candidate for Murder

Lovers in Crime Mysteries
6) Dead on Ice
11) Real Murder
18) Killer in the Band 

The Thorny Rose Mysteries
14) Kill and Run 
19) A Fine Year for Murder (January 30, 2017)