Friday, June 23, 2017

What's Happening - Fun Friday with Crime and Catnip by T. C. LoTempio

June, 2017 - I will no longer be accepting new requests for reviews, effective this month. Among those I already have, many submitted as ebooks before I've accepted them, I will review as I am able and select those I wish to read. Book Readers Heaven will continue at my own pace, decreasing reading time to meet my personal needs... I hope you enjoy the changes in the future, starting today with Fun Friday...

Crime and Catnip:
A Nick and Nora Mystery

By T. C. LoTempio

As soon as I started reading this book and met the two main characters, Nick and Nora, I knew I had met them before and already loved the series...Went looking and found that I had the debut, Meow If It's Murder, already read and to be reviewed...So you'll be again meeting Nick and his loving companion Nora sometime soon... Crime and Catnip is the third book in the series and I picked up the second...this is a series I want to follow and retain for my personal cat mystery library... and I was very disappointed to find that the second book was only available at a ridiculous price in paperback...

Violet's office was large and comfortable and (not surprisingly) about three times the size of my den at home. A beautiful polished cherry-wood desk sat right in from of a large picture window, which afforded an excellent view of the town square. The two high-backed chairs that flanked the front of the desk were pale blue and lavender, and made of leather so buttery soft you felt like you were sitting on a cloud. I eased myself into the pale blue one, leaned back, and waited expectantly. After all, this was Violet's show. The woman herself perched on the edge of the desk, right in front of me, crossed her arms over her chest, and regarded me with a stare of blue-edged steel.
"So you found out about my niece, eh? I must say, I'm impressed.".
"I found out from Nick Atkins' partner that one of the cases Nick was working on at the time he disappeared was a society da... ah, woman's missing niece. I just thought, from the remark I heard you make about Nick, that it might be you." I was thankful I'd caught myself. I was pretty certain Violet would not appreciate hearing herself referred to as a dame.
"I knew you were a clever girl, Nora. Not many people could put two and two together and come up with six." She regarded me for a few moments, then walked around the desk and eased herself into the captain's leather chair. "I expect you're curious to learn why I'd engaged someone life him in the first place. Well's it's like this...
...I see in the past few months you've become quite the detective." She pinned me with her gaze. "That's why I need you, Nora. You're the only one I can think of capable of picking up where Atkins left off. I need you to find out once and for all if my niece is alive...or dead."

Nora was quite pleased to be able to fill in for the annual fundraiser for the local Cruz Museum run by Violet Crenshaw, when the man previously scheduled became ill. Nora, the owner of Hot Bread restaurant was the only one who was willing to take the job due to the short time to prepare...and I must admit, I was surprised that a caterer...any caterer...could prepare what she did in just three days... In fact, since there was no indication she had help, and there was no narrative on her cooking and preparation, it seemed questionable to me... but then I got so involved with various mysteries presented, that I immediately moved forward...

At the same time that Nora had agreed to cater the event, Violet Crenshaw also sought her assistance in trying to find her niece. She would be picking up the reins for her former PI, Nick Atkins who had disappeared (mystery 1)...

Nora knew both Nick Atkins and his partner... In fact, she had named her new cat after Nick, when he showed up at Nora's door one day... It had been immediately clear to both of them that there was indeed a bond between them. Nora declared that if Nick every returned, she'd be fighting him for his namesake...

What she did find was that PI Nick had taught her new partner quite a bit about fighting crime and readers are delightfully entertained at the various ways Nick helps in investigations, as well as, quite often, making sure Nora stays out of danger...or worse...

Nora is quite the action woman...and in both working on the catering, she also immediately begins to have one of her connections start to make inquiries about the lost niece. She also visits Nick Atkins partner to hopefully learn the status of what his investigation had turned up. And that's when she is brought into the mystery of his disappearance when a postcard and then another...arrives which make no sense, obviously coded in some way...

Working in the Museum naturally raises her curiosity and she starts roaming around as displays are set up, the main one to be an ancient book... We are introduced to that book in a dramatic prologue where two different thieves try to steal the book at exactly the same time! Only one thing left that night as both thieves escape and it is the first clue to the murder that occurred the night of the fundraiser, which included a costume party celebrating Halloween which was coming up...

The costumes worn that night of course give the security team a difficult task...Two individuals of that team are both interested in Nora--one an older connection and her present partner who is an FBI agent... And it is quite clear that Nora is trying to deny her continued attraction to her old friend.  Plan to enjoy the tension as these three deal with one another while trying to solve what turns out to be much more than a murder mystery. 

And the third mystery and most just about that old book...LOL! Enjoy! I loved it!  Which, as with all amateur detective mysteries, finds Nora gaining much of the information, sharing some with security, but also keeping much hidden from them...until she solves the case herself, of course... I must say, though, that the complexity and the breadth of the story line will keep mystery readers working hard to try to solve the case along with Nora. In fact, if Nora hadn't had Nick working with her, even when she fed him and then left him home, she was quite happy to have him show up in the "nick of time!"

Which leads me to the final comment...there is something special about Nick. He is either psychic, understands human language, or was born to be a PI Cat...I'm looking forward to getting to know him better, aren't you?!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Ring, The Bomb, and the Word - A Magnificent Thriller by Assad R. Wright

Finishing the last line of “Amazing Grace,” he was about to close the hymnbook when he felt something tugging at the edge of his consciousness, trying to get through. He had felt it earlier as he walked down the aisle but ignored it as he focused on avoiding the unfriendly stares of his fellow wedding attendants. The warning was now a silent scream inside his skull. Without drawing attention to himself, he finally closed the book and leaned back, his eyes closed. To someone looking on, he appeared as someone taking a nap. Contrary to that, however, he now put his mind into a fast rewind and backed up to where he entered the gate. He then started forward in super slow motion, trying to pin down the unusual or the out of place. Nothing in the driveway! Nothing in the parking lot … Wait, in the first row of cars, a Ford Corvette with heavily tinted glass. Even the back glass and the windshield were extremely dark, so heavily tinted, indeed, that he was sure they had to be way outside of allowable range. Something else was bothering him about the Ford. All the cars in the lot were parked with headlights toward the building, including his. The Corvette, however, was parked with the front facing the direction from which it had come. It was the only one in the entire lot. He needed a closer look. He started to get up, intending to give the Corvette a closer look, when the door to the sanctuary was swung wide, and a voice like that of a ring announcer intoned, 

“Ladies and gentlemen, the wedding party.” Still unsure whether to sit down or finish what he had intended to do, the first couple walking briskly down the aisle made up his mind for him, and he sat down, berating himself for an obvious slip up. He knew this was supposed to be a gay wedding but was still unprepared for what was to follow. Rip was expecting a maid of honor and her male escort to come dancing down the aisle to the tune of a popular wedding song. A few feet from the altar, they would bow and courtesy to each other and move to opposite ends. The rest of the wedding party would follow suit until a semicircle was formed around the altar, leaving a small opening for two people. The organ would then ring out the well-known tune of “Here Comes the Bride,” and the bride would come slowly up the aisle, borne on the arm of the giving-away father. No such thing was happening here, and Rip was a bit confused, not knowing what or even how to think about what he was seeing. He liked to think inside the box, and changes that he couldn’t account for made him uncomfortable. He consoled himself with the thought that he was here to carry out a specific task, and until what was happening impacted on him doing that job, he was unconcerned. Try as he might, though, he couldn’t quite put it out of his mind as the first couple walked in. Two ladies walked in without the aid of music. They walked in arm in arm, and instead of separating to opposite sides, they remained together, arm in arm. These were followed by two men arm in arm, duplicating the exact positioning of the first couple. This continued until there were four couples on each side of the semicircle. Next came four children in single file, bearing flowers, boy-girl and boy-girl order. This group was followed by a single girl with a small cushion with two rings on top. The rings looked as if they would equal the lifetime earnings of an average family of ten. 
A door to the right of what he assumed to be the choir dais, empty now, opened, and the officiating minister walked through followed by his attendants. As he settled back in his seat, Rip scolded himself for not being more thorough. As Chuck had noted, they just couldn’t afford any slip ups, no matter how trivial they may appear. He began combing the room for anything that didn’t look right to him. 
At that thought, he felt a chill running down his spine and a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. The heavily tinted Ford parked facing the direction from which it had come definitely fit the description description of a Doesn’t Look Right (DLR) scenario. How many times had he told himself and others that one of the most fundamental practices in self preservation was detecting DLR situations and acting accordingly? He was about to do just that when the minister gave a loud cough, and as if by cue, the hesitant voice of a female came over the loudspeaker singing, “Born free, as free as the grass grows …”

He was again taken off balance. Were they supposed to sing that type of songs in church? He couldn’t be sure and decided to leave it alone. As the last line of the verse “born free to follow your heart” came to a close, two women walked arm in arm down the aisle and filled in the space left in the semicircle. Rip couldn’t help noticing the lack of practiced grace associated with the entrance of the bridal party and the bride. Instead, what he was seeing here today was more like intentional defiance. The minister coughed again, this time rather self-consciously preening himself, not unlike a peacock, and when he was sure all eyes were on him, he began speaking, “Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, we are gathered here in the sight of God to unite this couple.” 
Before he could proceed any further, a soft murmur began at the back of the church and rippled its way to the front. Turning around, he found himself looking at one of the most beautiful ten-year-olds he’d ever seen. With a face that would make a cherub pine away in envy, she came up the aisle, dressed in flawless white. She was carrying a bouquet of some of the most beautiful flowers he had ever seen. With a smile that said the world was at her feet, she glided up to the couple and handed the woman on her right the flowers, bowed gracefully, turned around smartly, and glided back the way she had come. The admiration around the sanctuary was unmistakable. 
After what seemed like an eternity, the minister coughed again, pulling back the congregation from their reverie. He began speaking again, but Rip wasn’t paying him much attention now. There were a couple things that didn’t add up. For one thing, whoever heard of flowers coming in after the bride had made her entrance? True, this wedding was as unconventional as one could get, but it still did not explain things. And secondly, why didn’t the little flowers-bearing angel remain with the party? He looked around behind him, but she was nowhere to be seen. 

This stunk of a DLR. Without wasting another second, he rose and began striding toward the back door, ignoring the repeated coughing of the reverend. Moving quickly through the vestibule, he was just in time to see the rear entrance door swinging shut, but not before seeing the white-dressed angel hurrying through. He wheeled around and started sprinting for the sanctuary. He was pounding up the aisle now, drawing gasps and shrieks of confusion and indignation from the audience and multiple coughs from the minister, who seemed unable to stop or control his throat actions. 

A few feet away from the couple, he began unbuttoning the top of his jacket without once slowing down. As he reached the couple, his hand was snaking out of his jacket, filled with the retooled USP 45 pistol. Flipping the gun to his left hand, he reached out and snatched the suspicious bouquet of flowers with his with his right and headed back the way he had come. A quarter of the way down the aisle, he moved between two rows of seats placed farther apart to allow passage. 

Directly ahead of him, an imposing stained glass window loomed. Without breaking stride, he began shouting, “Down, get down!” Still some distance from the window, he brought the USP 45 up, placing shot after shot in it, all the time shouting, “For God’s sake, get down.” Noticing many still standing, he fairly screamed, “A bomb, a bomb, get down!” The word bomb did the trick. People were diving to the floor all over the sanctuary. The stain glass had now shattered, leaving a very large hole.

Slipping the gun into his jacket pocket, while ignoring the heat from its barrel, Rip drew his flower-laden right hand back, and with the best Dan Marino imitation he could muster, hurled the bouquet through the now open space in the window, at the same time hitting the floor himself. The high school coach, who persuaded him to shift from budding quarterback to linebacker because, according to him, his build suited that position better, should have seen that throw. The bouquet flew through the window, spiraling across the parking lot, making a tight arc as it began to come down. 

Rip’s thought that he might have overreacted a tad and that there was no bomb after all was cut short by a horrendous blast. At first, it seemed the air was sucked out of his lungs, followed by tremendous heat that scorched everything in sight. Simultaneously, he heard the thudding against the building and realized what was happening when a late-model Benz was jammed into the stained glass window through which he had hurled the bouquet. Hearing a sickening creak, he looked up and realized that the entire wall and roof on that side of the building were about to collapse. It seemed like all hell was breaking loose now. The wedding goers were in a mad rush for the front door or any opening they could find to get as far away as possible from the doomed building. The ugly scene was made worse by the angry yells, panicked screaming, and choice profanities, which seemed out of place in a church. 

Rip knew he had to get outside and to his car as quickly as possible. He also knew he had to stay away from the melee. In there, he knew he could be dragged down and trampled, as he knew must be happening to others in that stampede. Against the right side of the building and about eight rows from where he was now crouching, he noticed the front end of a Lexus truck protruding slightly through a hole that was made when the blast flung it against the wall. Not wasting another second, he powered upward and headed for the truck. He had to knock some people aside, but that couldn’t be helped. Reaching the vehicle, he put his back against the grill and began straining as he tried to push it backward. He could feel every muscle in his aching body strained to the limit, but still, the truck wouldn’t move an inch. He closed his eyes, lowered himself, and bunched his muscles for one last do-or-die push when he heard grunts to his right and left. Opening his eyes, he noticed others had joined him in his quest for outside air and separation from the bombed-out church. He nodded briefly to no one in particular, and together, they began pushing in synchrony. Ever so slowly, the truck began moving backward in response to the pumping legs and straining biceps; it picked up speed until it was clear of the gaping hole. 

Rip was the first one through, and without looking back, he started sprinting for his car, fearing the worst. The parking lot nearest the blast had become an instant instant junkyard of mangled metal and chrome. Gone were the rows of neatly parked cars. Cars were thrown every which way, even on top of each other. For him, hurrying as he now was, the lot had become an obstacle course. He bobbed and weaved his way around the damaged cars as best he could without slowing down too much. The farther away from ground zero he got, the more he began noticing less damage. He was now truly glad that the imperative of a quick getaway had accustomed him to parking as near to exit as he could. Slowing down beside his car, he saw that the front driver’s side window was shattered. He quickly took off his jacket and used it to brush most of the broken glass away and sat behind the wheel. The engine started with the first crank of the key, and he backed out not too slowly into the driving lane. He began moving down the driveway much too slowly for him, but he had to take care not to hit the frightened people streaming out of the church. Luckily, only a few of them were out already. 
Reaching the gate, he quickly decided and turned to the left, back toward the town from which he had come. The bombers, whoever they were, would hardly go to the right, which led farther into the farm areas. More than likely, they would be headed through the town and to I-95. Once there, he couldn’t guess whether they would head north or south toward Miami. He had to reach them before then. He reached for his cellular phone to call 911 but put it back when he heard the wail of the sirens coming his way. The blast must have been heard for miles away. Less than a minute later, he was flashing by them, his car climbing steadily up to eighty miles per hour...

I was asked to review the second book by new thriller author, Assad Wright, Hijacking of the American Presidency, (do check out my review if you haven't already) and found it so amazing and intriguing, that I knew immediately I wanted to read the Debut of this fantastic new series...

What I discovered was that this book was a much more exciting thriller that captured me from the first page through to the last! But, oh, the closing--it was magnificent! How I wish I could share it with you... I did include an extraordinary scene to whet your appetite, because the entire book is moving from one crisis situation to another...And the creative organization of the novel which provides clues through various ways is, in my opinion, extraordinarily well done. This new author gained an ongoing fan after his first two books.

The title sets the scene perfectly...readers will be attending weddings...we watch as a nuclear bomb is transported into the United States and placed as planned...and we are involved in both organized and cult religious organizations. God's word, molded into the pace of the story, is totally relevant for both the situation and the story, and yet, provides an opportunity for a young man to face his own beliefs as he deals with the most significant catastrophe that the U.S. would face, if completed...

The main characters are an elite group comprised of Chuck Chisolm and his partners, Prim Stone and Rip Ganders, with the ample resources of the Religious Unit of the Antiterrorism Task Force of the Department of Homeland Security. A perfect trio who work together in the second book, but for a large part of this book, they are separated and sent to various places within America where possible terrorist action at same-sex marriages will be taken...

The terrorists are part of a large religious sect opposed to the idea of same-sex marriages. Their plan--the largest mass murder in American history. And to ensure it occurs, they have also planned smaller terrorists acts in various locations where homosexual couples are being married. It should be noted that the mass murder is planned in a state that, at that time, did not legally allow this type of marriage. But the Future Trend Nondenominational church decides to perform ten thousand marriages in one ceremony. It is supposed to be a secret--and is to the general population, but the religious group, known as RAGJ, discovered the plan and immediately worked to ensure it never occurred...

One of the most important issues for me was how the author effectively portrayed each of the various characters in each of what were essentially three different types of groups that would be included under the Universal category of Christianity. Even then, his individual characters within each group were so clearly differentiated that there was no question of the type of person each individual actually was...

To me, this was a personal concern since there are so many different types of religious conflicts in today's world, that it is no longer possible to define the true character of an individual by a specific category used for classification rather than for spiritual beliefs. If this concerns any of you, this book does an exceptional presentation in helping others to know that not all who call themselves Christians, may indeed, be followers of Jesus' guidance to love one another... 

In fact, Assad Wright's basic underlying theme of a Religious Unit within Homeland Security clearly illustrates the need for more information and the potential of individuals within a category actually acting for their own reasons to perform terrorist and criminal actions. I applaud the author for striking deeply into this major issue within a potentially realistic thriller. We become involved in watching Homeland Security and others work to stop terrorists, not depending upon a religious category to establish who are the guilty parties...

Wright has a brilliant ability to establish each setting as unique, with appropriate good and bad characters in each. We are amazed and then unnerved as we see how weapons have changed, become smaller, but more powerful, and how easily they are moved...using murder to ensure that most individuals involved will never be allowed to reveal the secret transactions...

This is one where I want to go ahead and share more with you,  but I just want to say that this little known author has initiated a series--an important series--as well as some of the most thrilling stories that I've read. The storylines are fantastic, the characters uniquely developed and the descriptive power of each setting is simply extraordinary. 

Because of the storyline, I'm strongly suggesting you consider this a must-read...


Born and raised in Jamaica, Assad R. Wright attended Mico Teachers College and the university of the West Indies in Jamaica, followed by graduate work at Long Island University and CUNY Graduate Center in New York. A retired teacher, the author is now the pastor of a local assembly in Miami. This is the sequel to his first book, The Ring the Bomb and the Word: The Face of the American Homegrown Terrorist. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Adolfo's Testarossa - By Adolph Caso - A Fun Testimony to the Testarossa!

Adolfo’s Testarossa

By Adolph Caso

Surviving World War II was brutal in every way. Things changed when I migrated to Boston in 1947: I neither knew standard Italian (schools were closed during the War and my first book was the Telephone Directory at my sister’s house). Of course, I spoke no English.

In my American schools, however, I always wanted to know about my Italian heritage; however, there was little or no information available. Finally, in a history class, Mr. Murphy mentioned the name of Russo, as being a great author—an Italian name at last, I thought. In doing further reading, I discovered his name was Rousseau--neither Italian nor French, and one of my least favorite future authors. Around the same time, Mr. McCurdy introduced me to Darwin’s Evolution.

As sports were the dream of every young person, perchance I
stumbled on a newspaper reporting that Ferrari had won such and such a race. Before I knew it, I discovered a mythology that was alive and well—which was of Italian origin, with its cars competing and winning on a regular basis on the world stage. A race-car enthusiast, I saw every race; I even went to Monte Carlo two times to see the
Formula One race in my white Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider--then, I was a 2nd LT in the US Army Signal Corps, stationed in Italy, doing mountain reconnaissance in an H-34 Helicopter. On one such mission, it crashed on a high mountain peak. Luck would have us survive that crash.
Back in the States, one thing led to another. While dreaming of owning a Ferrari, I was driving a Ford Pinto, then a Buick, then a Ford Focus—so much for un-prestigious dream cars. But, I got great transportation and was not aware I was saving money for a future Ferrari.

Unexpectedly, I saw this red Ferrari parked on the street in front of my office. I quickly placed a note on its window: “I want to buy this car; call me…” It was among the first edition of the model--Testarossa, distinguishable by the fact it had one rather than the usual two mirrors. Subsequent models had two.

“How much do you want?” I asked.

“Don’t you want to look at it first?”

“I already saw it; it has one mirror…”

In no time, I became the owner of a thoroughbred, prancing horse Testarossa with less than 20,000 miles, in mint condition, pure red in color with beige leather all around. So, now, I had something that concretely represented the best of Italian products. I also knew I would keep it till death.

I drove it with pride; and, everyone stopped to look at me (I thought)—driving that car. I would park it in the front of the Post Office. That’s as far as I drove it, and only in good weather. Before I knew it, people gathered in admiration. To my disappointment, however, young women, especially, paid no attention to me, but asked for rides in the car (which I denied). Older women made no bones about liking the car, while old men—octogenarians, like me, just asked: “What’s an old geezer, like you, driving a Ferrari?”

“Yes,” I answered. “But, how many Octos (octogenarians), like you, went on their honeymoons in a Testarossa, like me?” The retaliation filled my face with glee.

Receiving no personal recognition, I got in the car, and humbly drove off, except for one time: the battery was dead and the car wouldn’t start. This rather good-looking young woman in high heels, with a minivan, connected her battery to mine. With one turn of the ignition, the Testarossa responded with a roar. In a few minutes, I was parking my Classic Ferrari in the garage—looking better than ever, and, always beautiful.

In the mean time, I drive a Ford Fusion. At the Post Office, no one looks at the car or asks questions about how I am, despite the fact that, an obvious Octo, I can hardly stand on my two feet. 

As I think about it, now I know: Darwin’s ill-conceived Evolution favors my un-derivative Testarossa—it always looks great and stays the same, while real Evolvement is assuring that my day, in the court of our final destinies, will be coming soon, that when mine does come, I will have had my Testarossa fulfill my dreams of laughter and joy, knowing all too well that, as reflected in my own book on, God and Evolution or Evolvement, there is no humor in that book, whatsoever.

Yes! I will stop driving my Testarossa half an hour after I will have died.

Good Thing that Testarossa is kept in the Garage...I'd hate to see it by the long, long time before you'll be driving it in the sky...

Until Then...
God With God, my Friend...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Do You Know About the Ancient Mali Empire? Let's Check It Out with Carole P. Roman

This book from the If You Were Me series by Carole P. Roman was a learning experience for me, as well, I am sure, as would it be for your children. With illustrations by Mateya Arkova, we go back to the year 1332...

1332...This was an important time in Mali. It was when it was considered a vital trade center and a world power. From the year 1230 to around the early 1600s, the Mali Empire was also known as the Mandingo Empire. The word Mali means hippopotamus in the Mandinka language...

This is a town Mali today...

With the help of the illustrator we see ... ...what a city in Mali may have looked like seven hundred years ago. Mali started as a small part of the kingdom of Ghana then rebelled against the government and became a kingdom in their own right.

The Kingdom of Mali emerged as the most powerful in the Western Sudan. The Mali empire grew to extend over a large portion of Western Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the southern part of the Sahara Desert.

With strong leadership, Mali was able to take control of trade routes, making the economy and people rich.

The first fun thing we have the opportunity to do is to meet some of the children...

If you were a girl, your parents might have chosen the name Wassa or Mariam.

They might have given the names Dango or Ibraham to your brothers...

The author then asks an interesting question as to why the names for Mali children could be quite different... You see, many of the people living in the Empire embrace the Islam faith, while many of the original occupants were part of the Mande people and spoke a language called Mandinka. The inhabitants merged because of the major roadways, especially as one road led to Mecca. Some of the people already living there changed to Islam but many remained with their beliefs and they live together side by side... Many of the earlier buildings were changed to mosques to meet the needs of those in the Islam faith. People loved to go to pray in the new beautiful mosques. Some even had sixty-foot towers that were topped with ostrich eggs! You'll have to find out what they did that...

Because of the time period, the book provides historical stories of that time and is quite long, 76 pages. Trading activities, information on how the empire was governed and the type of buildings and how they were built are interesting issues of this long-ago empire.

The King of the land was Mansa Musa who came to be known as the richest man in the world... But do you know what he would often do? He'd take gold nuggets with him when he traveled and passed them out randomly, sharing his wealth with those in his kingdom... He would also bring entertainers with him as he visited parts of his empire.

One cool man we learn about happened to be the grandfather of the family we are visiting...He was the griot, a storyteller who would share, by memory, of the history of the empire, often telling about the story of the Mandinka people....

Here's an example... entertainers and griot working...

I don't know about you, but I'm learning a lot from these books--they are soooo much more interesting that reading a textbook, aren't they... With the pictures alongside the historical text, we can imagine what was happening as we see the characters from that time or country. If you haven't read any of this award-winning series, you are missing an exciting way to travel around the world, and even visit ancient places... What better way to get children interested in learning about geography, history, and the people across the world?! Highly recommended.


Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children's books. Whether it's pirates, princesses, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children. She hosts two blog radio programs and is one of the founders of a new magazine, Indie Author's Monthly. She's been interviewed twice by Forbes Magazine. Carole has co-authored a self-help book, Navigating Indieworld: A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing. Oh Susannah is her first Early Reader Chapter book series. She lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children and grandchildren.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Mix - Poetry by Gilbert Wesley Purdy, Photograph by Adolfo Caso...with Complementary Music

"Mockingbird" Photograph by Adolfo Caso

Harvesting the Light 

(for J.B. and Barbara Jackson) 

"Let us consider the light-harvesting."  --Diane Ackerman 

By Gilbert Wesley Purdy

The workers are in the garden today, 
collectors open expectantly: 

roses to gather damasks, 
roses, hibiscus still brighter reds and pinks, 
daylilies, their white baskets fresh each day,
 the snapdragon and the marigold. 
In the fields the poincianas winnow
 mandarins in their great fans, 
bright hosts of jasmine grabble yellows, 
beside desultory golden rod. 
Soon even the prodigal butterfly will groan
 under harvests of sulfur and apricot, 
sunset-orange and crimson-lake, 
carelessly trailing them behind.


Read and move on or stay awhile...In the Garden...
Enjoy your Day...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sue Owens Wright Presents a Personal Favorite for 2017, The Secret of Bramble Hill!

Tessa felt relieved when the door opened to reveal the cheerful countenance of a plump, ruddy-faced woman. “May I help you, miss?” the woman inquired, smiling. 
“I’m Tessa Field, Aunt Emily’s niece, just arrived from America.” 
“Oh, of course. Please come in. We’ve been expecting you. I’m Maggie, the housekeeper. Come this way, and I’ll show you to the parlor.” 
Tessa was about to tell her she already knew the way, but Maggie turned smartly on her heels and waddled down the hallway. Tessa followed the housekeeper along the familiar oak-paneled walls. The ticking of the massive grandfather clock echoed solemnly in the hall as it had for generations. They passed the gallery of Bramble Hill’s ancestors, including Lord Walthingham and his beautiful Lady Rose, rumored by local folk to haunt the cliffs at Seaborn Point where they fell to their deaths a century ago. She noticed that the portrait of her aunt had been moved from its usual place. Aunt Emily now smiled benevolently from the end of the hall. 
“You’re just in time for tea,” Maggie said. “Please make yourself comfortable here whilst I finish preparing it.” 
Tessa sat in the brown leather chair beside the massive stone fireplace where a toasty fire crackled. She thought of the many evenings she had cuddled in her aunt’s lap while she read Cornish folk tales of fairies, witches, and elves. Tessa was glad to see the old pianoforte in the corner where it had always been. She should have felt safe and comfortable here beside the fire’s warmth, but a strange chill pervaded the room. Always a cheerfully decorated room, awash in sunlight from the expansive lead-paned windows, the parlor now was dark and gloomy. Everything else in the room was unfamiliar to her. The chintz-covered settee had been reupholstered in somber, scratchy tweed. Gone was the gay pink and gold striped wallpaper she remembered. The walls were now papered in a gaudy red and green tartan plaid. It reminded her of a horse blanket. Tessa noticed the painting that now hung above the piano in place of the peaceful seascape of Covington Harbor she recalled from years past. It depicted a pack of deerhounds felling a doe. The dogs’ teeth sank deep in the bloodied flank of their prey, and their feral eyes appeared to glitter wildly in the fire’s reflection. Aunt Emily would have thought the artwork to be in poor taste for this genteel parlor where she had often entertained her guests. Tessa thought one of her own amateur paintings would have even been an improvement over this one. Aunt Emily always encouraged her young niece’s love for art by allowing her to explore the countryside for hours with the watercolor paint box and brushes she gave her one summer while visiting. It was on one of those afternoons while painting a seascape from high atop the cliffs overlooking the harbor that she had first met Peter. She smiled, remembering their meeting and how he was writing poetry in a journal but was too embarrassed to admit it to her. Boys didn’t write poems! Tessa arose from the chair and sat down at the piano, trying her best to ignore the ugly painting above it. She gently lifted the fall and rested her fingers on the keys, testing the tone by playing several chords. The piano seemed slightly out of tune, like everything else in the room, but the sound was not unpleasant to her ear. She tried to remember some songs she used to play and thought of one that Aunt Emily had taught her. “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover.” Singing that song brought a flood of happy memories of balmy summer evenings, parties, and music. Sounds of laughter and clinking glasses could be heard throughout the house in those days. Bramble Hill and its inhabitants seemed untouched by the war, at least to a child. After Aunt Emily had tucked her in for the night, the little girl tiptoed downstairs and hid behind the open parlor doors where she could peek at the guests unnoticed. How she admired the lovely ladies with their elegant gowns and sparkling diamonds. She thought they looked like flowers blooming in the garden. The soft rustle of their petticoats was the whisper of spring rain on the heath. Even now, she fancied she could hear the echo of laughter and idle chatter of guests as they smoked their Player’s cigarettes in jeweled holders. In her mind’s eye, she saw them gathered in a sing-along around the piano while Aunt Emily played and Uncle Georgie sang in his rich baritone voice. After her uncle died during the war, the summer parties did, too. Suddenly, Tessa stopped playing. The piano’s resonant tones trailed off, and the room was once more as silent as a grave.
While this book is multi-genre, I couldn't help aligning it with my personal favorite genre, Gothic suspense. While the era may be off and the narrative more contemporary, the book has that wonderful edgy storyline that keeps readers guessing and sometimes holding their breath... 

Of course, the ghosts and the seance, as well as the main character's psychic gifts, does lend the delightful paranormal into the mix of murder, romance, and historically seeing the world in the mid-'90s.  I read it in one sitting...and loved it...The author has a wonderful talent in her writing so that the story moves somewhat slowly, while we capture her delightful background settings,  while still maintaining a solid suspense in our minds as we consider and reconsider who did what to solve the mystery... 

Sometimes I pick up the murderer intuitively through the writing, which I did this time, always delights me, but the writer wasn't satisfied that you might solve the crime before she wants you to...and adds a defining twist that heightens the suspense... Did I say I loved it? Of course I don't "love" every book, because a book has to be a certain blend of personal likes to respond to your own choices for entertainment, doesn't it...

Sadly, it was the death of her beloved Aunt Emily that brought Tessa back to Bramble Hill. Not only had she lost her last family member, but also a close friend. She had been disturbed that she was apparently lost on a boating accident, since Emily had been an award-winning swimmer. What was worse though, was the strange atmosphere she immediately picked up with her psychic senses as she entered her once part-time home. That became even more troublesome when she met Aunt Emily's second husband and immediately felt an aversion to him... Oh, he was handsome and charming, alright, but when he began almost immediately to make moves on Tessa, she began to question his relationship to his dead wife...

The romance between Tessa and a boyhood friend within the novel could easily be a separate story since it is such a delightful tale of close childhood friends, having parted, now meet again. It is clear that Peter came back to Bramble Hill to meeting again, but Tessa has already committed to another man in her life. Still, her feelings for Peter have never gone away... The tension and caring between these two add greatly to the overall story, especially since Tessa has few people she can trust... At least that was the case until she found Peter with another woman when she had thought the time together was to be a date...

The villain will surprise many perhaps, but even then, the "why" is not clear until closing chapters that brings the whole story out...

The Secret of Bramble Hill is a tantalizing bit of history that claims there is treasure somewhere there...I love the ingenious method that the author used to tease and then reveal what that secret is all about... On the other hand, the overall intrigue of what each character brings into the story taunts as we strive to figure out whether the murder is really the main attraction, especially when more murders happened or were attempted! A thrilling mystery in a setting that adds much to the atmosphere, as well as ghostly appearances that are scary when at least one different ghost seemed to be the original murderer who had built Bramble Hill for his love...and then killed her!

Surely, potential readers know who you are by the time you're finished learning about the book... For those of you for whom it sounds interesting, I'd even call it a must-read... Check it out!


Sue Owens Wright is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is an eleven-time finalist for the Maxwell, awarded annually by the Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA) to the best writer on the subject of dogs. She has twice won the Maxwell Award and earned special recognition from the Humane Society of the United States for her writing. She writes the acclaimed Beanie and Cruiser Mystery Series, including Howling Bloody Murder, Sirius About Murder, Embarking On Murder and Braced For Murder, which is recommended on the American Kennel Club’s list of Best Dog Books. 

Her newest novel is "The Secret of Bramble Hill" (Black Opal Books, 2016). Her nonfiction books include What’s Your Dog’s IQ?, 150 Activities for Bored Dogs, and People’s Guide to Pets. She has been published in numerous magazines, including Dog Fancy, Mystery Scene, AKC GAZETTE, Fido Friendly, The Bark, and Animal Fair. Her work also appears in several anthologies, including PEN Oakland’s “Fightin’ Words,” along with Norman Mailer and other literary notables.

Sue graduated from California State University Sacramento and taught elementary school, college English and adult writing courses. She did MFA studies in fiction writing at the Universities of Dublin and Galway in Ireland and University College London in England. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, DWAA, Sisters in Crime, PEO International, Sierra Pastel Society, SSPCA, and Daughters of the American Revolution. For more information about the author, visit