Sunday, July 30, 2017

Beautiful Mess by John Herrick - Honoring Marilyn Monroe - Out August 1st!

 August 5th is the anniversary of Marilyn's passing... John Herrick published his book, Beautiful Mess, to honor her memory...

"It was sunny, much like today," Del murmured. "Warmer that day, though."
"What day?"
"August 5," he replied. "Back in 1962. That was the day they found her in her home. Unconscious."
As he allowed himself to relax, the commotion of Nora's circumstances settled in, and the residual stress caused his vision to blur. He closed his eyes, and visions of the past flickered on the screen of his mind like a classic film, the film he had seen too many times to number.
"I heard about it on the news, like everyone else." Del clasped his hands in his lap and hunched forward. "It was a Sunday morning. I'd attended a party until the wee hours in the morning but, miracles of miracles, I'd avoided drinking too much, and didn't have a hangover like I often did...He closed his eyes again. The pain felt as fresh as it had in 1962, as though someone had stabbed him in the soul.

London, 1956

PACK YOUR SUITCASE, they had told him. You'll depart for Britain in the morning. He'd received fifteen hours' notice.
"And don't f*** it up," the studio staffer had threatened the young man, spewing cigarette smoke in his face.
Eighteen-year-old Del Corwyn had gotten himself hired as an errand boy at Warner Bros., where he had fetched coffee and water, delivered telegrams, endured verbal abuse, and completed whatever other menial tasks arose along the way. Del had gotten the job just a few months ago. He'd shown up and they had hired him. Simple as that. He was young and hungry.
And now, as luck would have it, they had shipped him to London.
The studio folks had assigned him to the set of The Prince and the Showgirl. 

They had instructed Del to serve Marilyn Monroe's every whim for the duration of the production. He should consider this an around-the-clock gig, they'd told him. Marilyn calls at midnight? Put your pants on and deliver her a toothbrush.
The current scene took place in what was supposed to be the embassy of Carpathia, a fictional Balkan country. Marilyn Monroe portrayed Elsie, a showgirl who had captured the delight of the Prince Regent.
Marilyn--Elsie--lifted a glass of champagne and toasted President Taft.
"Cut!" yelled a man with a baritone, English accent. Laurence Olivier, the film's director. "Take five!"
At that, Marilyn wiggled as if to shed the showgirl aura from her body. She strode pass the camera to a folding chair, the one with her name affixed to it in block letters, and settled into it. A sheen of perspiration had broken through her powdered brow. The hair stylists had given her platinum-blond hair, a classic, sexy appeal. Her snug light-colored dress accentuated her ample bosom and in Del's opinion, her ample rear end.
"I'm parched from those hot lights," she said to Del as she picked up a script and fanned herself. "Please bring me a glass of ice water, young man. A tall one."
Without a word, Del fetched a glass from a table of refreshments. The handsome teenager returned to find the actress eyeing him with curiosity. With a word of thanks, she took a few sips with her perfect, red lips and sighed with relief. The ice cubes tinkled against the surface of the glass. Del could smell the actress's perspiration beneath her perfume.
Setting the glass aside she furrowed her brow, pursing her lips as she sized him up.
"How old are you, young man?"
"Eighteen, ma'am."
"Eighteen! Why, you're but a child!" she replies with a voice that bubbled. Closing her eyes, she went limp, as though she had escaped into her own private wonderland. "Oh, to be so young." Her eyes shot open. "Not that I'm an old maid. Thirty isn't exactly ancient!"
"Of course not," Del ventured, measuring his words, cautious not to overstep his bounds and incur wrath from an actress who could get him fired if he inched out of line. Still new to his job, he'd made it his policy to keep his ears open and his mouth shut as much as possible...

Meeting Marilyn Monroe would have been an exciting opportunity for any individual just starting out, trying to make it... But for Del Corwyn he met not only an icon of Hollywood, he met a woman who would remain his friend throughout their lives...and beyond...

Herrick's book feels like an autobiographical story of the young man, Del...Right from the beginning, when he was 18, starting out, we find him a personal, friendly guy, almost still a boy, who took the chance and left home to fulfill his dream...

Immediately my mind shifted to the end of the book...For there I saw the man that he had become through all those years and, in seeing, how it ended, I am once again simply amazed at the depth of issues and wisdom that this author pours out for his readers again and again...

Del went on to become an actor, a film leading man. Actually, Del's story begins 60 years later from that time when Marilyn had encouraged him by calling him her "shining star." How had the time gone by so fast? How had he reached this point in life, at 78, when he was alone...and lonely...

He had done like most other leading men--enjoyed sharing his bed with young starlets with big dreams... Still, he was now 78, but he didn't accept that as an age where he should not still be doing what he loved. He walked through his large home, looking over his library of books he had loved and devoured--of course, he always would play the leading role in suspense, thriller, or romance...he had done it...

Even my favorite of those early days, Kim Novak had sipped a smooth, Bordeaux merlot as a Miles Davis record played on the phonograph... And, of course, Marilyn Monroe had visited on many occasions, though a romantic encounter had never occurred between them...there...

Readers will find that, Del at 78, takes us back through the years as time passes in Hollywood, especially during the golden era...

And by the way, my pick for playing Del?
Say something!
"I'd love to see you
again, Felicia."
Del felt like a
teenager as he looked
at her handwriting...
Still classy as he aged...Dana Andrews!

She stopped. Gazed
into his eyes. Time
slowed. She responded
with a delightful smile
"That sounds nice."

And, then, at 78, he met a beautiful 68-year-old lady...
and for the first time in his life, Del fell in love... but that was after his brief affair with a much younger woman, who spoke almost a different language due to the age difference, so they decided to remain friends...LOL

This is a remarkable story that combines a look backward at the life of Marilyn Monroe and her effect on the general public but it shows a different type of story that could very well have been true for some young man that was there, during her life, to become a true and trusted friend...for both of them... As Marilyn demonstrated when she placed her only manuscript in the hands of her dear friend. it's a unique story, and heartwarming in the reality of friendship. A Beautiful Mess hits you with a moral question, "What would you do if...?" and makes you stop to think what is really important to living your own life. Highly recommended!


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Chandler: Circle City Frame by Bill Craig

Indianapolis, Indiana. Arnie Grossman groaned as he opened his eyes. His head was killing him. It felt like somebody was using it to split firewood with a dull ax. He rolled out of his bed and barely made it to the bathroom before throwing up. He emptied his stomach into the toilet. After three minutes, he wiped his mouth with toilet paper and tossed it into the bowl before finding the flush handle and depressing it. The water swirled and took the mess down the drain before refilling. 
Arnie felt like he had been sucker-punched by Mike Tyson. He could barely remain upright as he made his way out of the bedroom. He turned on the lights in the living room. He froze as the lights came up. A woman lay on the floor in a pool of blood.
She looked familiar. She was young, barely out of her teens from the look of her. She had shoulder-length brown hair, pale brown skin, wide brown eyes stared lifelessly from her face. She had been well put together and he remembered she exuded a sensual aura of compact sexuality. 
Her name was Tiffany; at least that was the name she had given him down in the bar earlier in the evening. His stomach heaved, even though there was nothing left inside it. 
Arnie stumbled back into the bedroom and dug his cell phone out of his pocket. What was that private eye’s name? Oh yeah, Chandler. Arnie scrolled through his contacts until he found the number. He pressed call. It rang twice before a male voice answered.
“Mr. Chandler? This is Arnie Grossman. We met at that thing for the Indianapolis Stallions? I need your help and I need it right now,” Arnie said. 
“Where are you, Mr. Grossman?” Chandler asked. Grossman gave him his address. It was up in Fishers.
“Give me about forty-five minutes, Mr. Grossman. Maybe less depending on traffic.” Chandler hung up and Grossman laid his phone back on the nightstand next to the bed. 
Arnie slipped his feet into his loafers. Forty-five minutes with the dead girl in his living room was going to seem like an eternity. He headed for the kitchen to make coffee. 
~ ~ ~ 
“What was that all about?” Mary Norman, his lover and secretary asked, sitting up in the bed they shared. The covers slipped off to reveal two perfect breasts. Chandler had already pulled on pants and shoes and was pulling a black T-shirt over his head. “It sounds like a new case,” Phillip Chandler replied. He was around six feet tall and slender with short dark hair and blue eyes. There was a scar next to his left eye, a souvenir from his days as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. He walked over to the dresser and slipped on his shoulder holster that held his Colt Commander .45 with finger-grooved Hogue grips and tritium three dot night sights. There were two spare magazines under the off side of the holster. 
“Does this new case have a name?” Mary asked as she threw off the covers and found her fluffy blue terrycloth housecoat. She pulled it around her tiny frame and tied the belt. Barefoot, she opened the bedroom door and Simba, the yellow tabby that had adopted Chandler, padded inside and rubbed against her legs purring loudly. Mary knelt and stroked his head, making him purr louder. 
“Men,” she smiled as she stood and headed for the kitchen to start coffee. Chandler had snagged his brown leather bomber jacket from the closet on the way out of the bedroom. “You weren’t complaining earlier as I recall,” he grinned at her. “That was before I got woke up by a ringing telephone,” Mary told him. 
“Touché,” he replied.
“So, does this new client have a name?” 
“He does. His name is Arnie, nee Arnold Grossman. He’s a businessman and philanthropist whose name had been in the Indianapolis Star a lot lately. While I go meet with him, why don’t you see what you can dig up on him on-line?” Chandler suggested. He grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and headed for the door to the garage. 
“Will do,” Mary called after him before the door into the garage closed. Mary started the coffee and then headed for the living room and the laptop that she carried back and forth from the office. She had come a long way from her days as a dancer at the Red Garter where she had worked under the name of Mary Blue. 
That was how she and Chandler had met. She had hired him to find a friend, another dancer that had disappeared after going to work a private party.

Starting a new book begins the adventure. Will it be totally new or will it provoke memories of a similar book? I was very pleasantly surprised when I started putting together the characters and the dialogue...and thought of my favorite author, Robert B. Parker, now deceased... I have no idea whether the author intended it, but, if he did, he certainly picked a writer/role model worthy of emulation... The main difference I saw was that the story and the dialogue was more street and contemporary. But there was the snappy crisp dialogue among the three main characters that brought a smile as we see the characters interact...

Chandler is the main character in the series. This is the third book, just out. I would have preferred to read the first two books, but the author provided sufficient flashback material to make the book easily free standing...

Chandler's client is Arnie Grossman, a local businessman and philanthropist, who has begun a building project to provide community centers for young people to get involved with sports and other activities rather than joining gangs... The key issue that each has been built in high crime areas--of course this is where they should be to do what they are meant to do. However, some would prefer to keep the kids in gangs and working for them in drug sales and more...

The criminal's plan--kill a young woman and put her in Arnie's room... It might have even worked if Arnie had not been sharp enough, when he woke up from a drugged sleep, to call for help from Chandler! And, wow, does he take over! Soon he has a lawyer for Arnie, gathers sufficient information to start his own investigation...and, of course, calls the police in.  Actually there is mutual respect if not total cooperation between Chandler and the assigned officer, but their interaction does add considerable support to what it happening and keeping readers current...

For me, this book was character driven and there are a number of interesting one to follow--even one of the villains proved to have a role with managing the gangs in his area. Of course, Chandler's methods of gaining his attention was unorthodox enough to cause offense initially, but was willing to later negotiate when it was important to both of them. 

Chandler is gutsy, confident and experienced to deal with just about any job he now takes as a PI...His background has prepared him, and while he takes swift action when needed, his moral fiber comes through to make him an exciting series main character.

Mary, Chandler's lover and now secretary also is a confident woman who readers will easily see has that full confidence from feeling safe with Chandler. Her past has been rough and she's willing to participate in any way needed but when it gets too dangerous Chandler and even his sometimes partner, Johnny Quick, will work to ensure she's kept from harm in a safe place...

Johnny Quick's character most aligns with Hawk from the Spenser series. I loved Avery Brooks in the series (and later in Star Trek) and could quickly see Johnny Quick being also played by Brooks. He can be so scary when he faces the villains but then we also see the soft side of him as he relates to his friends... Johnny Quick makes an excellent backup for Chandler when he needs help! 

Especially when the whole climatic action begins as the book comes toward the ending. These two men walk into danger, but even Johnny Quick questioned some of Chandler's decisions... even while being willing to walk alongside where Chandler led... Two Cool Dudes!

I thought the genre was more police procedure, so you know what is happening as the book moves forward. The action also moves it as a thriller when villains start going after villains and Chandler decides which group he's going to help... I thoroughly enjoyed the book and certainly recommend you check it out!


Bill Craig taught himself to read at age four and began writing his own stories at age six. He published his first novel at age 40 and says it only took him 34 years to become an overnight success! He has been publishing steadily ever since that first book Valley of Death and now has 80 books in print or ebook. Bill is the proud father of four children ranging in age from 38 to almost 8. He has 7 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Mr. Craig has worked a wide variety of jobs over the years from private security and corrections work to being a grill cook and dishwasher. He has been a news reporter, done factory work and even a stint as a railroad clerk. He currently does customer service work to support his writing addiction. His ultimate goal in life is to break the record held by pulp author and creator of The Shadow, Walter B. Gibson, for writing the most works in a single year!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Traveling into the Past to Visit the Mayan Empire - with Carole P. Roman, Travel Guide...

The Mayans were the only ancient American society with a written account of their history. They recorded their accomplishments on stone billboards called stelas, pottery, papers, skins, and anywhere they could report their culture.
The Mayans were indigenous people who lived up and down the Yucatan Peninsula.
The whole area was dotted with wealthy city-states that were great areas of activity. The many cities were not unified under one leader. Each town had a king that ruled the land from his palace, located in the center of the metropolis.
Cities grew along the network of trade routes or a highway. This road was called sacbeob, making travel between towns convenient and easy.
People grew rich from the products that made their way up and down the land. Each city had a temple for worship that attracted people to settle, creating centers of exchange and learning.

You might have made your home in the outskirts of the bustling city state of Tikal. Sixty to seventy thousand people lived in the busy area. It was famous for its six large pyramids. You lived there during the Classic Age, and it is remembered as being the Golden Age of Mayan life.

Tikal is an impressive city that rose out of the rainforest like a giant mountain range. The ceremonial and government buildings were placed in the center. There were plazas, ball courts, and markets. The city sprawled to where the residential areas spread on the outskirts.

The city was filled with carved monuments celebrating the deeds of the ruling kings, and your found your home in the shadow of a great wall separating it from a sacred pyramid.

This historical story of a once thriving nation, which can be traced back to 1800 BC... Just imagine if you had lived then, you might have been born around 572 BC! The amazing thing was that they wrote their own history from the very beginning and produced magnificent architectural buildings well before they were seen in the Americas...

Carole Roman, with the illustrated help by Paula Tabor, has provided us with over 50 pages of intensive historical data and paintings that beautifully present children, and adults, with a comprehensive study of the Mayan Empire. Life was hard and women worked constantly to provide food and clothing for the family. Men and boys would hunt for food, including turkey, deer, iguanas,, but they had no knives so used stones and flint as their sharp-edge tools. Every part of the animals were used, not only for food, but for clothing, etc.

Each home had a shrine to their god and then the day began to do the daily a share to the king first and then using the rest of your goods in support of your family.

It was interesting to see how much of their daily living is still similar to today's life...including, for women, to wear jewelry and make their own makeup to color their cheeks, although I admit to being shocked when I learned that they purposefully changed physical characteristics of their children in order to enhance what they considered beautiful... Even more bizarre were what they did to teeth...Whew!

All in all, I was happy to learn about it all, but glad I'm living during the time we are...

There is a special section of contributions of the Mayan which adds greatly to the value of this early society... Learning about this Empire certainly spotlights how much we have learned from the past...and how much of our daily activities lead forward to the future... This was one of the more important books in this historical series and is highly recommended...


Monday, July 24, 2017

Lawrence W. Gold Presents One of His Finest in Latest Brier Hospital Novel!

When Joyce and Norman returned home with David and Luke, it was clear in an instant that life would never be the same. Suddenly, they needed to confront the reality of needy twin baby boys. Norman, a modern, enlightened father, had taken time off to help, but due to male physiology, his contributions were limited to occasional bottle feeding at night. In the first two weeks, they’d averaged three hours sleep each per night as the boys refused to sync their needs. 
“Can we send them back?” Joyce said in exasperation. 
Norman smiled. “I don’t think so. We’re beyond the return date.” “Maybe we can trade them for a couple of teenagers.” 
“Yes, and a whole new set of problems.” 
Two professionals, compulsive and determined to get everything right, had the CDC Developmental Milestone chart on the wall in the babies’ room. They drew two columns, one for David, the other for Luke. “You’re not going to check-mark them, are you?” Norman asked. “As a scientist, you know how much variation exists between two individuals. Do it, and you’re going to drive us both crazy.” 
Despite his protestations, as the weeks passed, check marks appeared on the chart. Both boys had demonstrated smiling, grasping, and reaching for swinging objects, but they were inconsistent with tracking objects. They took a photo of the chart and brought it to their pediatrician. After he examined the twins, he said, “You guys are doing a great job. The boys look wonderful. Do me a favor and eighty-six the chart. If there are problems, you’ll know and we’ll deal with it.” 
In spite of the recommendation, the chart remained in place, each child fulfilling his milestones, Luke lagging a bit behind David. After a month, Norman returned to work. 
At four months, after an exhaustive search, background check, review of recommendations, and enhanced interrogation, they hired a nanny. By the time they were two, it was obvious that both boys were physically and intellectually gifted. Moreover, they were beautiful—many suggesting they might be child models. 
Norman shook his head. “I’ll be damned if I let my boys stand before a camera in their Fruit of the Looms.”
“Not to worry, sweetheart.” More important to Joyce and Norman were the earliest indications of their goodness and easy-going natures. “What did we do to deserve such great boys?” asked Joyce. 
“You picked the right father.”
Like many parents looking back on their children’s past, time flew by. The boys thrived in high school playing football, basketball, and running track. Luke ranked number one in their class with David a close second. Luke studied Russian, while David learned Mandarin. They were top players in the school’s chess club, often competing against each other. Both boys were tall, blue-eyed, and ruggedly handsome. In their senior year, the student body crowned both as kings of the prom.

When Joyce and Norman had twin boys, they knew their family was just about perfect...Both boys were gifted and went on to into Medical School...

Until the Accident...

But both boys survived thankfully. It was Luke, however, that had been seriously hurt and, afterward, they realized that he had acquired Asperger's Syndrome, which is normally discovered at birth. Additionally it was discovered that he was a Savant now...and with most of the symptoms of Asperger's, Luke became a stranger in a strange world he hadn't a clue to live in... Perhaps a part of my love for this book is because of my personal relationship with a relative of mine as I was reminded of the various issues that we saw as our little boy grew up... I'm not going to tell much about Part I which is about the twins and the family adjustments and decisions that needed to be made. It is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, the latter because of the closeness of the family and, in particular, Luke's twin brother, David...

In fact. I was so involved with the family drama, that I was shocked when suddenly the whole story switched into an entirely different story!

But that's when the medical thriller for which Dr. Gold is becoming well know with his Brier Hospital Series, really takes off...and, as always, the main character for the series. Dr. Jacob Weizman, who represents the spirit of the series, takes on his important role at the Hospital...

Once again, we are looking at the actions of government operations and find that there is much being done that could lead to  catastrophes, by accident, but also on purpose! And, when there is somebody watching, the type of criminal acts can be stopped through the sometimes dangerous action of a whistleblower...I am thankful he took the chance...

But even the exciting action you'll be reading did not deter me from watching and mostly enjoying the work of the twin doctors who soon were in the spotlight whenever some puzzling case needed to be solved. Dr. Gold has done an outstanding job in creating medical settings in which our new Savant could not only help, but add his skills to solve many cases that were not able to be addressed by others. Kudos, Dr. Gold, for tackling and sharing about this important problem, autism, as it increases for many more people than in the past...

“You’re intelligent and perceptive people, and you, Joyce, as a psychologist, have more than average insight into human behavior. What conclusion would you come to if I described a person with extreme social discomfort, high intelligence, the ability to focus intensely and concentrate, almost to the exclusion of all else, and a penchant for memorization of minutia? Talk with Luke for a few minutes and you’ll be listening to detail on the most arcane subjects.” “Autism or Asperger’s syndrome,” Joyce said. Michael tapped his nose with his index finger. “I tested Luke on the Asperger’s Quotient test, and he scored forty. Anything over thirty-two is, by definition, Asperger’s Syndrome.” “But Autism Spectrum Disorders are developmental,” David said, “they don’t come out of nowhere.” “Oh,” Michael said, “but they do. Most often it happens as the result of brain injury, infection, or brain surgery itself. It’s rare, but many have ascended, if that’s the right word, to the genius level.” David’s eyes widened. “The savant syndrome—Luke is a savant!”
I believe this one is a must-read so that readers will become more informed about Asperger Syndrome... But, adding this drama into an exciting, suspense medical thriller made this book a personal favorite for 2017.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fantastic YA-Adult Story by Staci Stallings - Whisper If You Have To: A Contemporary Christian Romance

“You ready for this?” Kyle asked when Chad slid into the front seat of the little four-door car. It wasn’t great, but it ran. And it was better than walking. 
“I was born ready.”  Chad shifted his attention to the back. 
“Hey, Brooke.” 
“Hey,” she said, but never really lifted her head. Kyle’s younger sister, Brooke, was never without a book in hand. So close in age, they were more like twins, the two of them were never far out of sight of one another even though they ran in completely different circles. Kyle, the school’s jock premier, was only eleven months and three weeks older than his little sister, and although Brooke’s taste ran more toward choir and books than basketball and baseball games, she never missed a one. 
Chad angled his gaze over his shoulder again as they pulled away from his house. “Are you studying already? School hasn’t even started yet.” 
“Finishing up her summer college credit thing,” Kyle supplied. “She may beat us to graduation.” Lifting his chin, Chad nodded in understanding. 
Kyle glanced across the seat to his friend. “So, senior year…” “Yeah.” Chad took a breath to steady the thought. “Who would’ve thought?”
...It was about five minutes after her mother dropped her off that Alison first had the thought, but it would be a million times after that one that the thought would attack her. Jefferson High was nothing like St. Ann’s. Nothing. 
Jostled in the hallways until she thought her brains would rattle free, Alison diligently worked through her schedule.  Trig, History, Computer something, French. She was in the courtyard at lunchtime, sitting up next to a pillar eating her chicken salad sandwich before she really realized there was no religion on her schedule. Perusing it again, she confirmed the fact with a munch into her sandwich. That would be strange. She’d had religion every single day for four years, and now suddenly it wasn’t anywhere on the list. Her gaze took in her final three classes—Physics, English, and Choir. Besides the Physics part, she was kind of looking forward to the rest of the day. Okay, so she would spend it alone as part of the wall like she had the first part, but at least she liked those classes. 
She let her head fall back onto the hard, scratchy pillar behind her and let the warm sun soak into her. Happy noises that she would never be a part of drifted around her, and she let those soak into her as well. Nobody had to tell her the loneliness this year would hold. She knew it when her dad announced the move back in July, and for all intents and purposes, she had already lived with the loneliness for the better part of five years. 
At that thought she yanked her head up. Dwelling on things that would never change no matter how much she wanted them to did no good. That much she had learned. Move on. Move on, and don’t look back. Pushing to her feet, she crumpled the bag and tossed it into a nearby trashcan. One swipe on her light blue straight skirt, and she yanked her backpack up from its resting place. Onward and upward. At least that’s what she hoped. 
“You headed to English?” Kyle asked, clapping Chad on the back as he leaned over to get a drink in the fountain. He stood to straight, wiping the water that had jumped onto his face. “Yeah. You?” 
“You know it.” Together they started down the hall.  “So, you going to the gym after school?” Chad asked. 
“Na, I figured we’d go to my place. The gym’s going to be a mob scene with all the wanna be’s.” 
“Cool.” Chad followed Kyle into the English classroom and right to the back where he slid into the desk right in front of his friend. “You got much homework?” 
“As little as possible.” The bell rang just as Mrs. Whitman entered. Chad sat up a little straighter. He’d waited three long years to get this teacher. She was the coolest of the cool, not because she goofed off but because she didn’t. However, that didn’t mean Mrs. Whitman’s class was boring. No, instead she was quite famous for her unorthodox teaching style...
“Let’s start over here in the corner. Oh.” She stopped with a jerk when she looked at Alison. Tilting her head, the confusion was evident. 
“And you are?” Alison cleared her throat but it didn’t do much good. “Al… Alison Prescott.” 
The teacher turned her roll around, located the name, and smiled. “Well, Miss Prescott, it’s great to have you aboard. Come on up, and get us started.” 
...Alison ducked her head to keep from staring at the two guys presently standing at the teacher’s desk. The white guy had longish blond-streaked hair that brushed the tops of his dark eyebrows in the front and the top half of his collar in the back. His smile was nice, but what she noticed most was the faded jeans ripped just so and the light blue knit jersey that set off his eyes. Something about them screamed, look how cool I am.
Just in front of him, talking to the teacher, was the black guy, leaning in to sign the roll—obviously a regular in the gym. His arm muscles rippled in perfect proportion down to his long fingers. He seemed as if nothing in the world ever had been or would ever be a problem. In a dark gray “Rock On” T-shirt, he looked the embodiment of cool confidence. The conversation came to an end, and the two made their way back to the back corner...

With all the turmoil happening in America right now, I found I needed to withdraw and pull away from the chaos coming out about our government at this time...

I scrolled through my options and pulled up a book by Staci Stallings, a Christian writer who I've accepted as a favorite for sharing God's love through her wonderful stories. This time, though, I got much more than solace, a time to watch as God could work in each of our lives...

Whisper If You Have To is

Powerfully Spirit Filled!
Timely For Today's World!

This book, for me, felt as if God had outlined the major issues we need to be reminded of today: racism, depression, pressure to succeed above everything, suicide, money, prayer-communication with God, and teen peer pressure...All that in one unforgettable story that is suitable for young adults and above. The two main characters are teenagers, but the adults and their roles play important parts as well. It is a book I immediately wanted to share with my's a beautiful love story of two teenagers from different cultures but who, readers begin to realize, are soulmates in the truest sense of the word... I loved this book and add it as a personal favorite for all time...

Alison and Chad met the first day in their English class, where they were immediately swept into a partnership on their first assignment. 

Alison had come from a religious girls-only school; her clothes were so different that, though she tried to be invisible, it didn't work? Who still wore straight skirts and blouses, with the same white sweater over her blouse every day. From the very first moment, Alison had noticed the two friends, one white, one black. After all, just looking at them and seeing the reactions of the others around them, Alison knew they were elite guys, probably even athletes, sure to never look her way... Still, they were soooo cool!

It was clear to Chad that Alice was new to school and was painfully shy in meeting others. Even after being matched for their assignment, Alison kept her head down, with her hair covering her face, until she was forced to deal with him...On the other hand, Alison wasn't about to allow him to know she was practically swooning and couldn't dare look into his eyes without totally embarrassing herself...

And so it began... While this is placed in the romantic genre, I would say that it fits more in family drama because it certainly is not just a "love story." First, neither Alison nor Chad shared anything about their personal lives, afraid to reveal just how different they probably were. It was Chad's friends, Kyle and Brooke, brother and sister, who little by little pulled them into their family life. 

Due to the complexity and interrelationship of the various plots, I've decided not to share much of the actual storyline. I do, want to highlight, however, the very awesome and amazing spiritual warfare scenes this book provides! I was gratified to see them included in a teen book especially to help our young people learn to pray and act on behalf of both their own needs as well as their peers. Kudos to the author for a truly inspiring novel that speaks, well, to the contemporary world in which we live... 

This is a personal favorite selection for me and, in my opinion, I have to call it a Must-Read novel! Buy it for your teenager children and read it yourself...then talk about it! There is soooo much in this book that responds to questions we all have. It's great to have such an excellent model against which a needed discussion could very well begin...


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Direct from Martha's Vineyard, Adolfo Caso Presents Weston Bucolic 2

Weston Bucolic 2

Adolph Caso

More than the other seasons,
Is a season of birth and re-births
Of one generation to another.
    Leaves of green enfold the branches;
Colors of flowers embellish their leaves,
Seeds transform into sprouts--
As they did
From beyond
The time Virgil.

No comparison
Between my plush Weston backyard
And of Nonno Gabriele’s
Nineteen century patch
Next to the stone wall of his well,
Covered with effusive branches
Of odorous leaves,
Which he rubbed
Over my forehead and hands—
   Now, an octo,
Getting near to his 92nd,
I automatically bring my hands to my nose.
Though the scent has gone,
Those sweet memories keep persisting.
   I am a boy again!

A single coyote silently strolls
Across my plush green lawn—
I wish
I had
A gun:
   Three little boys live next door to me!

Comfortably, and almost invisibly,             
I sit in my swivel chair.
   From one corner,
I survey the whole horizon
And the activities encompassed within:
The red oak in its majestic silhouette,
Scrub oaks offering shade,
My sister’s dogwoods laden with flowers
Reflecting a canopy of pulsing stars,
The Delicata tree
With its unique apples created
By my late friend, Ned:
Their images wander in my eyes.
   I sit there, silently.
How does it all happen!

Noiselessly, two Robins scamper onto the lawn;
They turn, leap, dive, and jump into the soft grass.
Neither makes one sound or noise.
   In a new phase:
First the mother, then the father,
With beaks full of dry grass,
Begin to fly into the cornered Japanese maple.
In a few days, the flights stop:
Well ensconced within the tree,
They complete their nest.
   Having delivered three grayish eggs,
The mother reduces her flight;
Her concentration is to gather food.
At the same time,
The father flies around
As if he was in charge of military vigilance.
   Their efforts paying off,
Three featherless baby Robins appear,
As prescribed by destiny.
With their egg shells,
Dropped to the fertile soil below,
Mother and Father resume their flights--
Their beaks filled with food.

The nest,
Overflowing with feathers,
The adult Robins fly from every direction.
   Their wings, creating concurrent whirls,
Reflect anxieties on a feeding pace,
As they await their chicks’ first flight.
   Suddenly, and, expectedly,
A consternating raucous blare
Causes me to rush out the kitchen door:
Mother and father are repeatedly diving
Into the tree,
Their deafening screeches
Of the otherwise silent birds
Sound an ominous doom.
   My head peering into the tree line,
It startles the raiding squirrel into fright.
It fearfully runs toward the oak tree,
By the raucous Robins in deathly pursuit;
Their screeches piercing my ears,
They dive
With their beaks aimed at the feared squirrel.
   Having driven the quadruped out of sight,
They return to continue scampering on the lawn
Intent on bring nutrients to their brood.
A baby chick peers out the nest.
Seeing no rhythm to its wings,
The father quickly approaches from behind
And cautiously leads the baby to a nearby oak.
Before long, a second appears.
This time,
The mother repeats the flight.
With the five of them secure in the new tree,
They finally disappear beyond the backyard--
Never to be seen again!
   The loss is impacting my heart.

The un-aware squirrel reappears,
Jumping flawlessly and gracefully
Among the branches—
Its shimmering tail guiding with confidence--
As if,
Neither the Robins,
Nor I, were ever living testaments,
Let alone be the co-inhabitants of its own world.
   I am glad
  Not to have had
                                           The need
To own
 A gun!