Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Closing Out Black History Month - Featuring Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing - and Celebrating the Many Contributions from Black Writers and Artists


I had planned on spotlighting a number of authors during this month; however, a family medical issue intervened and as I thought about it, I routinely read and talk about books written by Black authors, so I will continue to do that instead and share the last day of Black History Month talking about a recent song I was introduced to which has come to be known as the Black National Anthem--Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing. (I hope you like listening to various arrangements of the same song...I Did!


James Weldon Johnson and his brother wrote the words of this extraordinary and beautiful song, but it was brought to life by Elizabeth Catlett with her artistic contributions to merge with each stanza. This book needs to be added to every library across our nation...


O black and unknown bards of long ago, 
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire? 
How, in your darkness, did you come to know 
The power and beauty of the minstrel's lyre? 
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes? 
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long, 
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise 
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song? 
Heart of what slave poured out such melody 
As "Steal away to Jesus"? On its strains 
His spirit must have nightly floated free, 
Though still about his hands he felt his chains. 
Who heard great "Jordan roll"? Whose starward eye 
Saw chariot "swing low"? And who was he 
That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh, 
"Nobody knows de trouble I see"? 
What merely living clod, what captive thing, 
Could up toward God through all its darkness grope, 
And find within its deadened heart to sing 
These songs of sorrow, love and faith, and hope? 
How did it catch that subtle undertone, 
That note in music heard not with the ears? 
How sound the elusive reed so seldom blown, 
Which stirs the soul or melts the heart to tears. Not that great German master in his dream 
Of harmonies that thundered amongst the stars 
At the creation, ever heard a theme 
Nobler than "Go down, Moses." Mark its bars 
How like a mighty trumpet-call they stir 
The blood. Such are the notes that men have sung 
Going to valorous deeds; such tones there were 
That helped make history when Time was young. There is a wide, wide wonder in it all, 
That from degraded rest and servile toil 
The fiery spirit of the seer should call 
These simple children of the sun and soil. 
O black slave singers, gone, forgot, unfamed, 
You—you alone, of all the long, long line 
Of those who've sung untaught, unknown, unnamed, 
Have stretched out upward, seeking the divine. You sang not deeds of heroes or of kings; 
No chant of bloody war, no exulting pean 
Of arms-won triumphs; but your humble strings 
You touched in chord with music empyrean. 
You sang far better than you knew; the songs 
That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed 
Still live,—but more than this to you belongs: 
You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ.

My Very Favorite Spiritual And Others!


Seems lak to me de stars don't shine so bright, 
Seems lak to me de sun done loss his light, 
Seems lak to me der's nothin' goin' right, 
Sence you went away. 
Seems lak to me de sky ain't half so blue, 
Seems lak to me dat ev'ything wants you, 
Seems lak to me I don't know what to do, 
Sence you went away. 
Seems lak to me dat ev'ything is wrong, 
Seems lak to me de day's jes twice es long, 
Seems lak to me de bird's forgot his song, 
Sence you went away. 
Seems lak to me I jes can't he'p but sigh, 
Seems lak to me ma th'oat keeps gittin' dry, 
Seems lak to me a tear stays in ma eye, 
Sence you went away. 

THE CREATION ( A Negro Sermon) 

And God stepped out on space, 
And He looked around and said, 
"I'm lonely— 
I'll make me a world." 
And far as the eye of God could see 
Darkness covered everything, 
Blacker than a hundred midnights 
Down in a cypress swamp. Then God smiled, 
And the light broke, 
And the darkness rolled up on one side, 
And the light stood shining on the other, 
And God said, "That's good!" 
Then God reached out and took the light in His
And God rolled the light around in His hands 
Until He made the sun; 
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens. 
And the light that was left from making the sun 
God gathered it up in a shining ball 
And flung it against the darkness, 
Spangling the night with the moon and stars. 
Then down between 
The darkness and the light 
He hurled the world; 
And God said, "That's good!" 
Then God himself stepped down— 
And the sun was on His right hand, 
And the moon was on His left; 
The stars were clustered about His head, 
And the earth was under His feet. 
And God walked, and where He trod 
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out 
And bulged the mountains up. 
Then He stopped and looked and saw 
That the earth was hot and barren. 
So God stepped over to the edge of the world 
And He spat out the seven seas; 
He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed; 
He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled; 
And the waters above the earth came down, 
The cooling waters came down. 
Then the green grass sprouted, 
And the little red flowers blossomed, 
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky, 
And the oak spread out his arms, 
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground, 
And the rivers ran down to the sea; 
And God smiled again, 
And the rainbow appeared, 
And curled itself around His shoulder. 
Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand 
Over the sea and over the land, 
And He said, "Bring forth! Bring forth!" 
And quicker than God could drop His hand, 
Fishes and fowls 
And beasts and birds 
Swam the rivers and the seas, 
Roamed the forests and the woods, 
And split the air with their wings. 
And God said, "That's good!" 
Then God walked around, 
And God looked around 
On all that He had made. 
He looked at His sun, 
And He looked at His moon, 
'And He looked at His little stars; 
He looked on His world 
With all its living things, 
And God said, "I'm lonely still." 
Then God sat down 
On the side of a hill where He could think; 
By a deep, wide river He sat down; 
With His head in His hands, 
God thought and thought, 
Till He thought, "I'll make me a man!" 
Up from the bed of the river 
God scooped the clay; 
And by the bank of the river 
He kneeled Him down; 
And there the great God Almighty 
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky, 
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night, 
Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand; 
This Great God, 
Like a mammy bending over her baby, 
Kneeled down in the dust 
Toiling over a lump of clay 
Till He shaped it in His own image; 
Then into it He blew the breath of life, 
And man became a living soul. 
Amen. Amen. 


O brothers mine, take care! Take care! 
The great white witch rides out to-night. 
Trust not your prowess nor your strength, 
Your only safety lies in flight; 
For in her glance there is a snare, 
And in her smile there is a blight. The great white witch you have not seen? 
Then, younger brothers mine, forsooth, 
Like nursery children you have looked 
For ancient hag and snaggle-tooth; 
But no, not so; the witch appears 
In all the glowing charms of youth. 
Her lips are like carnations, red, 
Her face like new-born lilies, fair, 
Her eyes like ocean waters, blue, 
She moves with subtle grace and air, 
And all about her head there floats 
The golden glory of her hair. But though she always thus appears 
In form of youth and mood of mirth, 
Unnumbered centuries are hers, 
The infant planets saw her birth; 
The child of throbbing Life is she, 
Twin sister to the greedy earth. 
And back behind those smiling lips, 
And down within those laughing eyes, 
And underneath the soft caress 
Of hand and voice and purring sighs, 
The shadow of the panther lurks, 
The spirit of the vampire lies. For I have seen the great white witch, 
And she has led me to her lair, 
And I have kissed her red, red lips 
And cruel face so white and fair; 
Around me she has twined her arms, 
And bound me with her yellow hair. 
I felt those red lips burn and sear 
My body like a living coal; 
Obeyed the power of those eyes 
As the needle trembles to the pole; 
And did not care although I felt 
The strength go ebbing from my soul. 
Oh! she has seen your strong young limbs, 
And heard your laughter loud and gay, 
And in your voices she has caught 
The echo of a far-off day, 
When man was closer to the earth; 
And she has marked you for her prey. She feels the old Antaean strength 
In you, the great dynamic beat 
Of primal passions, and she sees 
In you the last besieged retreat 
Of love relentless, lusty, fierce, 
Love pain-ecstatic, cruel-sweet. 
O, brothers mine, take care! Take care! 
The great white witch rides out to-night. 
O, younger brothers mine, beware! 
Look not upon her beauty bright; 
For in her glance there is a snare, 
And in her smile there is a blight. 


Eternities before the first-born day, 
Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame, 
Calm Night, the everlasting and the same, 
A brooding mother over chaos lay. 
And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay, 
Shall run their fiery courses and then claim 
The haven of the darkness whence they came; 
Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way. So when my feeble sun of life burns out, 
And sounded is the hour for my long sleep, 
I shall, full weary of the feverish light, 
Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt, 
And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep 
Into the quiet bosom of the Night. 


O Southland! O Southland! 
Have you not heard the call, 
The trumpet blown, the word made known 
To the nations, one and all? 
The watchword, the hope-word, 
Salvation's present plan? 
A gospel new, for all—for you: 
Man shall be saved by man. 
O Southland! O Southland! 
Do you not hear to-day 
The mighty beat of onward feet, 
And know you not their way? 
'Tis forward, 'tis upward, 
On to the fair white arch 
Of Freedom's dome, and there is room 
For each man who would march. 
O Southland, fair Southland! 
Then why do you still cling 
To an idle age and a musty page, 
To a dead and useless thing? 
'Tis springtime! 'Tis work-time! 
The world is young again! 
And God's above, and God is love, 
And men are only men. 

O Southland! my Southland! 
O birthland! do not shirk 
The toilsome task, nor respite ask, 
But gird you for the work. 
Remember, remember 
That weakness stalks in pride; 
That he is strong who helps along 
The faint one at his side. 


There he stands; not brave, but with an air 
Of sullen stupor. Mark him well! Is he 
Not more like brute than man? Look in his eye! 
No light is there; none, save the glint that shines 
In the now glaring, and now shifting orbs 
Of some wild animal caught in the hunter's trap. How came this beast in human shape and form? 
Speak, man!—We call you man because you wear 
His shape—How are you thus? Are you not from 
That docile, child-like, tender-hearted race 
Which we have known three centuries? Not from 
That more than faithful race which through three wars 
Fed our dear wives and nursed our helpless babes 
Without a single breach of trust? 
Speak out! I am, and am not. Then who, why are you? 
I am a thing not new, I am as old 
As human nature. I am that which lurks, 
Ready to spring whenever a bar is loosed; 
The ancient trait which fights incessantly 
Against restraint, balks at the upward climb; 
The weight forever seeking to obey 
The law of downward pull;—and I am more: 
The bitter fruit am I of planted seed; 
The resultant, the inevitable end 
Of evil forces and the powers of wrong. 
Lessons in degradation, taught and learned, 
The memories of cruel sights and deeds, 
The pent-up bitterness, the unspent hate 
Filtered through fifteen generations have 
Sprung up and found in me sporadic life. 
In me the muttered curse of dying men, 
On me the stain of conquered women, and 
Consuming me the fearful fires of lust, 
Lit long ago, by other hands than mine. 
In me the down-crushed spirit, the hurled-back prayers 
Of wretches now long dead,—their dire bequests,— 
In me the echo of the stifled cry 
Of children for their bartered mothers' breasts. 
I claim no race, no race claims me; I am 
No more than human dregs; degenerate; 
The monstrous offspring of the monster, Sin; 
I am—just what I am. . . . The race that fed 
Your wives and nursed your babes would do the same 
To-day, but I— 
Enough, the brute must die! 
Quick! Chain him to that oak! It will resist 
The fire much longer than this slender pine. 
Now bring the fuel! Pile it'round him! 
Pile not so fast or high! or we shall lose 
The agony and terror in his face. 
And now the torch! Good fuel that! the flames 
Already leap head-high. Ha! hear that shriek! 
And there's another! Wilder than the first. 
Fetch water! Water! Pour a little on 
The fire, lest it should burn too fast. Hold so! 
Now let it slowly blaze again. See there! 
He squirms! He groans! His eyes bulge wildly out, 
Searching around in vain appeal for help! 
Another shriek, the last! Watch how the flesh 
Grows crisp and hangs till, turned to ash, it sifts 
Down through the coils of chain that hold erect 
The ghastly frame against the bark-scorched tree. Stop! to each man no more than one man's share. 
You take that bone, and you this tooth; the chain— 
Let us divide its links; this skull, of course, 
In fair division, to the leader comes. 
And now his fiendish crime has been avenged; 
Let us back to our wives and children.
What did he mean by those last muttered words, 
"Brothers in spirit, brothers in deed are we"? 

FIFTY YEARS (1863-1913) 

On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. 
O brothers mine, to-day we stand 
Where half a century sweeps our ken, 
Since God, through Lincoln's ready hand, 
Struck off our bonds and made us men. Just fifty years—a winter's day— 
As runs the history of a race; 
Yet, as we look back o'er the way, 
How distant seems our starting place! Look farther back! Three centuries! 
To where a naked, shivering score, 
Snatched from their haunts across the seas, 
Stood, wild-eyed, on Virginia's shore. This land is ours by right of birth, 
This land is ours by right of toil; 
We helped to turn its virgin earth, 
Our sweat is in its fruitful soil. 
Where once the tangled forest stood,— 
Where flourished once rank weed and thorn,— 
Behold the path-traced, peaceful wood, 
The cotton white, the yellow corn. To gain these fruits that have been earned, 
To hold these fields that have been won, 
Our arms have strained, our backs have burned, 
Bent bare beneath a ruthless sun. 
That Banner which is now the type 
Of victory on field and flood— 
Remember, its first crimson stripe 
Was dyed by Attucks' willing blood. 
And never yet has come the cry— 
When that fair flag has been assailed— 
For men to do, for men to die, 
That we have faltered or have failed. 
We've helped to bear it, rent and torn, 
Through many a hot-breath'd battle breeze 
Held in our hands, it has been borne 
And planted far across the seas. And never yet,

—O haughty Land, 
Let us, at least, for this be praised— 
Has one black, treason-guided hand 
Ever against that flag been raised. Then should we speak but servile words, 
Or shall we hang our heads in shame? 
Stand back of new-come foreign hordes, 
And fear our heritage to claim? 
No! stand erect and without fear, 
And for our foes let this suffice— 
We've bought a rightful sonship here, 
And we have more than paid the price. And yet, my brothers, well I know 
The tethered feet, the pinioned wings, 
The spirit bowed beneath the blow, 
The heart grown faint from wounds and stings; 
The staggering force of brutish might, 
That strikes and leaves us stunned and dazed; 
The long, vain waiting through the night 
To hear some voice for justice raised. 
Full well I know the hour when hope 
Sinks dead, and 'round us everywhere 
Hangs stifling darkness, and we grope 
With hands uplifted in despair. 


Look out, beyond, and see 
The far horizon's beckoning span! 
Faith in your God-known destiny! 
We are a part of some great plan. 
Because the tongues of Garrison 
And Phillips now are cold in death, 
Think you their work can be undone? 
Or quenched the fires lit by their breath? 
Think you that John Brown's spirit stops? 
That Lovejoy was but idly slain? 
Or do you think those precious drops 
From Lincoln's heart were shed in vain? 
That for which millions prayed and sighed, 
That for which tens of thousands fought, 
For which so many freely died, 
God cannot let it come to naught. 

--James Weldon Johnson. The Book of American Negro Poetry includes poetry from many other American poets!

Lord, let us all realize that You have given us

our Brothers of All Nations...

Let Us Love Them As You Do...

Take Away the Hate, the Fear, The Violence

It is NOT of Thee...

We Pray...In Your Name...



Saturday, February 18, 2023

DOUBLE DOG DARE: The Owl's Nest Mysteries by C. S. McDonald - Takes a Look at One of Every Author's Worries!


She paused to listen, ‘One Fine Day’, by the Chiffons was playing on whatever sound system the Hound provided. The Owl’s Nest usually featured light classical music or Celtic melodies. The differences were on far ends of the spectrum. Indeed, this grand, old building served very different purposes in its time, both shops serving a community in their own, special way...


“There’s Louie’s Little Mardi Gras,” Winnie pointed out. “And someone’s pulling out of a spot right in front, lass.” “I’m on it,” Alexa said, whipping into the spot a red, Ford F-150 had just abandoned....Alexa made her way toward the bar, Slater followed, Winnie waited near the door. The bartender was an older man, most likely in his mid-seventies, yet he appeared healthy and vital. He was on the short side, thin, except for a small paunch around his black, half-bistro apron. His gray hair was full and thick, and a jester mask tattoo peeked out from the rolled, short sleeves of his white shirt. He was all-in with the Mardi Gras theme. Slater leaned in close to Alexa. “I think that’s Louie Santorini. If it is, man, he looks old. He was considerably younger than me. Makes me wonder if I’m dead by now.” Alexa felt it was best to leave that comment alone. “What can I get ya?” Louie hollered over the racket. Quickly, Alexa pulled her cellphone from her purse. Earlier, she’d downloaded a photo of Logan Reeves when she went to her room to change clothes. She didn’t want to take the time to explain to Slater what she was doing or how she was doing it. Bringing the photo up, she held the phone out to Louie. “Has this man ever been in here?” Alexa yelled. Louie pointed to the cellphone. “That’s the guy whose been on the news. The one who kidnapped that cop from the jewelry shop.” Alexa nodded her confirmation. “Are you a cop?”  Louie returned his attention to the photo on the cellphone. “It’s like this, I try to pay attention to who comes in here, but this guy, could be any guy. He looks pretty average to me. Nothin’ special about him.” He glanced at his watch. “Hoboy, it’s almost time for karaoke. Look, I’ll tell you the same as I tell the others, I’ll keep an eye out.” He shrugged. “That’s all I can do, right?” Several men sat down at the bar. Louie held up a hand. “Excuse me.” He hurried over to take their orders. 

Alexa shooed Slater toward the door, then waved at Winnie to step out of the bar. When they were on the sidewalk, she said, “He’s got a cellar, and I want to get a look at it.” “Why?” Winnie asked. “I can’t believe Louie would have anything to do with Cliff’s disappearance.” “People aren’t always who you think they are, Winnie. You heard what the man said, Slater, he doesn’t allow anyone in the basement. Why not? Furthermore, that bar is jam-packed with Mardi Gras beads. It’s a lead and I want to see it through.” Her eyes met Slater’s. “Isn’t that what you’d do, Detective Slater?” “I would. What do you have in mind?” Slater asked. The conversation came to a stop when a small group of young women approached. Alexa, Winnie, and Slater waited until they entered the bar and closed the door. 

Then Alexa said, “I want to get a look at that basement. I know it sounds crazy, but if we don’t look, and he’s down there—” She took in a deep breath. Slater cupped her shoulder. “You’re right. It’s worth checking out. If nothing else, it will eliminate this lead.” “Good. At least, I know I’m thinking along the right lines. I’m going to need a distraction,” Alexa said. She raised an eyebrow at her dear, Irish, sidekick. Winnie chuckled. “You leave that to me, lass. Now c’mon, let’s get this goin’. It’s past me bedtime, if ya don’t mind me sayin’.” Winnie marched across the sidewalk and opened the door to hear Louie announce, “Good evening, folks! It’s time for a Little Mardi Gras magic, karaoke style!” The crowd exploded with hoots and applause. Some swung their Mardi Gras beads over their heads like lassos. A devilish, wide, smile stretched across her face, Winne said, “Karaoke. This is gonna be like takin’ candy from a baby. But be warned, I might be a little late comin’ in tomorrow.” With a wink and nod, she went inside the bar. Slater turned to Alexa. “Should we be worried about this?” Alexa opened the door. “Absolutely. Now, follow me.” With Slater on her heels, Alexa slowly made her way along the wall, searching for a doorway or a hallway, or an inlet with a door that may have a sign posted with a warning, NO ENTRY. If she came upon such a sign, that’s the exact door she intended to enter. The masks on the walls seemingly followed her every move. The jesters’ roguish smirks sending a rebuking caveat…we’re gonna tell! They were hauntingly hard to ignore.

“Okay, who will be first for our karaoke entertainment tonight?” Louie bade the rowdy crowd. Alexa’s attention jolted toward the stage when she heard Winnie’s Irish lilt. “I think you and I could get this party started quite nicely, Louis Santorini.” She boldly stepped onto the stage holding a bottle of beer in the air. She was wearing layers and layers of Mardi Gras beads. The mound around her neck was so thick, Alexa feared the tiny woman would face plant. Louie smiled at the wild Irish rose. “Shame on you, Wynona Mulaney. You broke my heart years ago. I would’ve married you in a heartbeat.” Winnie waved a flippant hand. “Ah, Que Sera, Sera, Santorini. I wasn’t one to be tied down, but I still like me fun. So, let’s show this crowd a good time, then.” The room burst with applause and hoots of encouragement. Slater leaned in close to Alexa. “What is Winnie doing?” Alexa chuckled. “Exactly what I asked her to do. She’s causing a distraction, not that it’s a hard thing to do for Winnie. Now, let’s find that basement and hope it’s not somewhere behind the bar.” That was the moment the karaoke machine started playing, ‘I Got You, Babe’. Alexa came to a complete halt. Bobby. Slater bumped into her, almost knocking her forward to the floor. Swiftly, he grabbed Alexa by the arm to steady her. “What’s wrong?” She shook away the thought. “Um…nothing…let’s go.” In the short distance, beyond the throng of patrons, she could see a lit hallway. Alexa figured it was the restroom area, and with any luck, at the end of that hallway would be the door that led to the basement. She picked up her pace, carefully wriggling her way through the tables and bargoers standing to watch Louie and Winnie swaying to and fro while belting out a sad rendition of, ‘I Got You, Babe’! Finally, Alexa stepped into the hallway, and it was as she thought, restrooms. As Alexa hoped, there was a door at the very end of the corridor marked, NO ENTRY. The hall was empty. Alexa rushed to the door and tried the knob. It was locked. Quickly, she rummaged through her purse until she came up with a bobby pin. Holding the pin up, she said, “Good thing I’m always armed.” Slater grinned. “Somehow, I’m not surprised.” Alexa slipped the pin into the tiny hole and jiggled it around until she felt a click. Her lips curled, she twisted the knob, and the door opened. Handing him the bobby pin, Alexa turned to Slater. “You’re the lookout. I’m going down there.” Slater grabbed her arm. “No way. It may not be safe. I should go.” “I can’t let you do that—” “You can, and you will.” Alexa wriggled from his grip. “Listen. This is time travel. I don’t know all the rules, but I do know this: we cannot change history. It’s a firm, non-negotiable rule, as per Saint Peter, himself.


When you're working an investigation with an angel, it just might get confusing, especially, as to what year it is! Or where you might be at any given time... But, Alexa is in the best place to help--with Alexa Owl’s lucrative divorce settlement, a former pub was purchased, and then transformed into the Owl’s Nest Couturier Shoppe.

Alexa had chosen to agree to help an angel who was working hard to get into Saint Peter’s prestigious Guardian Angel Squad. So sometimes Alexa is in the present in her home or back in time when her home was a bar... Yeah, it gets confusing... And there are a couple of rules to follow: Don't meet anybody you know in that time, if you are there from another time... Duh! And don't do anything that will change history! St. Peter declares that a no-no! LOL

Most authors both highly desire or highly hate book reviews... So when a new book reviewer turns out to provide only bad reviews, she is a thorn for two NY Best-selling Authors. So, as these two meet, one writer declares he's going to do something about it... And as he's talking to another writer friend, he brings up the idea of getting rid of her...and dares his friend to do what needs to be done... Only to get a Double Dog Dare Back!

But no matter how you cut it or whodunit...there is soon a murder to be solved... And Alexa is working with Detective Slater, an angel working to solve enough cases to be permanently placed on St. Peter's Squad! And this one just might make it happen...

Prepare for fun. Prepare for tracking clues that will take Alexa and Slater back and forth across time to determine exactly what has happened! 

One character I really enjoyed is Winnie who in present time works with Alexa in her shop, but who was also a teen with Bobby Slater when he was young and restless, often visiting the pub. Her Irish accent is done perfectly and provides an interesting focal point as relocations occur between decades! And is able to carry on a relationship with Bobby that is both fun and informative to his present goal...

Detective Bobby Starr. The ornery angel always showed up at an inconvenient time. He was always sporting the same look: a double-breasted, grey suit, cuffed trousers, pristine white shirt, red and black striped tie, and that finishing touch, a grey fedora. Oh yeah, he was also wearing that bad boy grin of his. More often than not, he came off as a wayward angel, and perhaps that’s exactly what he was. Regardless, he was determined to do whatever was necessary to get into Saint Peter’s prestigious Guardian Angel Squad. To date, he was but one requirement away from that objective.

So here's the issue, I had with this book...if Bobbie gains his desired goal to be on the Squad, does that mean that Alexa Owl would no longer be an amateur detective who is out there helping to solve crimes (and thus continuing this wonderful series)? I sure hope not, and yet, I would feel bad if Bobbie didn't make the Squad just because I've an avid fan of the Owl's Nest Mysteries... Sigh... Hope the author can figure out how to keep this fun series around for a while longer! Don't you?


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Welcome to Guest Blogger, Manny Monolin Moreno -


ketchem allea
The cold wind has moved on. This coffee comforts me.
I think later on a long drive listening to music is in order. Not sure if to the hills or where. When I hop into my pony I just drift away.I'll park somewhere where no people are. And do a lot of thinking. Sometimes I think too much. But it is in my nature to.
I wish you all well and be safe. I know I can be an irritant, but I don't mean to be.
Have a blessed day with much healing.

lioj emomak tawa 

When I was growing up, the males held in their feelings and emotions, and the only things they revealed, behind masks, was bravado and machismo, tough guys, who acted hard core. But I saw in them, behind their masks, pain and sorrow, misery and confusion, fear. "Sharing your emotions is a sign of weakness." I got to see their lives play out, in drunkenness' and anger, and unforgiveness. Then they died. Never having healed. And suffered greatly along their journey's, with relationships, and the world and their well being and health. The cop-out, was always in these terms, "Don't ever tell people your problems, because 80 per cent of them don't give a flying'f, and the other 20 per cent, are glad you got them."

Then, I met some righteous men, elders. They got me to finally let go of all the anger and bottled up emotions, held in for many years. I cried rivers.

A lot of people aren't honest about themselves. They wear masks to cover up their insecurities and character defects. Everything is so groovy according to them.

I think if we helped each other with our burdens, a lot of healing can take form. But that takes courage, and commitment, and willing to take the criticism and ridicule of looking weak to the cop-outs. And the world. Even your own. 

I share in honesty my life, in this place, really hoping and believing that through my highs and lows, somebody will relate, and maybe, find their own healing. If I am going to be ridiculed, or seen as weak, for sharing in my sufferings, then, laugh away. No one here see's what I do out here, helping where I can, because those times and people I keep to myself. But I can say this, there is much sadness out there. Not everybody in this world is doing ok. And it's okay to cry with them. I do so a lot. It's good to cry for yourself too. Why are we created with tears? 

Thank you Itom Achai, for all the good, and the bad. I am weak and small, of no status or fame, nor do I want that. I am just a common man, tired of seeing good decent people suffer so much. We need to pray for each other. Always. Together, we grow strong. 

Just my opinion and perspective.

Including six chapbooks I have done over time, with these, makes ten books so far. I have been working on a new one slowly but surely. Short stories with poems.
I never imagined I would have done so many/ so far. I'm not boasting, but I am showing this to the people who have helped me along the way. It wasn't and isn't a waste of your time and efforts. These all are at the museum.
I kept my commitment to do this, like I did with not drinking, and other things too. I learned that is what it takes. Self-discipline. Growth through the healing process. Not overnight. Not just with words. But through hard work, struggle, pain, suffering and faith. Perseverance.
So can you.
So when the critics flap their gums about me in a bad light, just look at them, and ask them to show you the fruits of their labors.
The rain has been pounding on my trailer. I hear the leaks falling in the pots. But it smells so gooood outside.

I am constantly in awe of my adopted brother, Manny, He is a warrior in his own way, fighting to share all that being alive as a Native American is... His words have captured my heart many times, and his art work is uniquely his beautiful world... I'm so happy to have the opportunity to know him and have him share here at Book Readers Heaven. You'll find him most at Facebook, but he uses PayPal to sell his books and art... Manny is just one of the elderly in America who needs your help and prayers as well...

God Bless

Friday, February 3, 2023

Sharon Sala's Missing Will Keep You Reading All Night!


Ally was already up and setting out the sausages and bacon she’d cooked for breakfast when her father and both brothers came into the kitchen. 

“Something smells good,” Porter said, and stole a piece of bacon. “Are we having biscuits?” Danny asked. “Isn’t this Sunday?” Ally teased. Danny grinned. “Yes, it’s Sunday, and yes, I know, we always have biscuits on Sunday. Just thought I’d ask.” 

“Scrambled or fried?” Ally asked, referring to the eggs she had yet to cook. “Scrambled works for me,” her father said. Ally gave him a cool glance, then nodded. They had yet to smooth over the rough patch they’d had when she’d gone to Granny Devon’s, and she wasn’t going to be the first one to say “I’m sorry,” because she’d done nothing for which she needed to apologize. She began breaking eggs in the bowl as the men poured coffee, got butter and jelly from the refrigerator, as well as the salt and pepper shakers out of the cabinet, and set them on the table. Within minutes, they were seated with plates of fluffy yellow eggs, scrambled to perfection, at each place. 

Gideon looked at each of his children until he had their complete attention; then he bowed his head and blessed the food. He was on the verge of saying amen when he paused and added the words, “Bless the cook that prepared it, amen.” 

Ally looked up to find her father’s gaze upon her. She sighed. It was all the apology she was going to get. “Porter, pass Daddy the meat,” she said, then took a biscuit and passed them on. 

Gideon worried all through the meal, hoping he hadn’t left his little bit of news too late. It would be horribly embarrassing to have company over after church and not have a meal to offer. He poured himself a second cup of coffee from the pot on the table, then took a third biscuit and buttered it up. “Good bread, daughter,” he said quietly. 

“Thank you, Daddy,” Ally said, then glanced at the clock and got up from the table. “I’m going to get a roast out of the freezer and put it on low heat in the oven so it can cook while we’re at church.”

Gideon nodded approvingly, then slapped his knee as if he just remembered something. “Did I tell you we’re having company at noon?” Ally turned. “No, and please tell me it’s not the preacher because I don’t have anything special baked for dessert.” “No, no, nothing like that,” he said. “It’s just Freddie Joe.” She frowned. “Detweiller?” “Yes.” “Is he bringing his children?” “No, I think they’re at their granny’s for the weekend. He mentioned wanting one of my bull calves to raise for a new breeding bull. I told him he’d better come pick it out before I cut ’em all.” 

“I’ll put extra vegetables in the roast. It will be fine.” Gideon breathed a quick sigh of relief. It was a lie, but it had served its purpose. The only stock on the Monroe property that Freddie Joe was interested in was his daughter. 

Gideon had almost gotten over his guilt at deceiving his daughter when they pulled into the church parking lot. As soon as they got out of the truck, they joined other members of the congregation who were moving toward the doorway. The preacher was standing on the steps, greeting his parishioners, as well as paying special attention to the children who were accompanying their parents. Ally’s focus was on one of her old classmates, who was coming to church with a new baby. While she was happy for her friend’s little family, it only enforced the lack of her own. 

She was halfway up the steps when someone suddenly grabbed her by the forearm. “Ally Monroe, is this you?” “Good morning, Granny Devon,” she said. There was a smile on the old woman’s face as she started to answer, then her sightless eyes suddenly rolled back in her head. She moaned, then she spoke. 

“There’s a man who’s done evil. There’s a man who’s done bad. There’s a man who comes walkin’. There’s a man who’s so sad.”
The prediction gave Ally the chills. She remembered the previous warning that had come to her the night she’d had supper with Granny Devon. Now it seemed that evil still threatened her family. Before she could move, Gideon wrenched the old woman’s hand from his daughter’s arm and pushed Ally up the steps. When he got even with the preacher, he turned and pointed. “You tell that old woman’s family if she won’t stop witchin’, to keep her at home.” The preacher was taken aback by Gideon’s anger, which embarrassed Ally to no end. 

As they moved into the church, Ally pulled away and whispered angrily, “You had no right to talk to Preacher John like that. Granny Devon doesn’t mean any harm, and you know it. Besides, nobody else is bothered by her predictions. I don’t know why you’re always so hateful about her. She’s a sweet old lady.” 

“She’s not right,” Gideon muttered. “And I’m not discussing this with you again. Take your seat by your brothers.” Ally sat, but only because to do otherwise would have caused a bigger scene than what her father had done. She was in the house of God and knew how to behave, but she stayed angry with her father, just the same. 

When the services were over, she got up and walked out on her own, and was already seated in the truck with the motor running and the air conditioner on high when her father and brothers got in. Gideon took one look at her face and resisted the urge to issue his normal set of orders about wasting fuel just to make cold air. He had bigger fish to fry than saving a few pennies and wisely drove them all home in silence...

 Freddie Joe Detweiller was sitting on the front porch when they pulled up the driveway. Ally’s mind was already on the things that needed to be done before dinner would be served, but to her surprise, Freddie Joe jumped up, took off his hat and opened the front door for her as she came up the steps. 

“Good day, Ally. Something is sure smellin’ fine inside this house,” he said. “Just roast,” Ally said. “I thank you highly for allowing me to your table.” Ally shrugged. “Thank Daddy. He invited you.” Freddie Joe had an odd expression on his face as he looked at Gideon. Gideon nodded formally, then quickly looked away. 

Freddie Joe came to himself in time to jump in front of Ally. He opened the door, then stepped aside, bowing slightly as she passed. As she stepped over the threshold and into the living room, she couldn’t help but notice that his hair was thinning at the crown. Then he smiled at her, and it was all she could do not to recoil from his yellow, tobacco-stained teeth. Still oblivious to the true reason for his presence, she paused to speak to Gideon...

Sala has presented us with a country setting in which  activities are mostly about the community, family and the church... I enjoyed reminiscing about my earlier years in this same environment, especially when she used one of my earlier colloquials of "crick" for creek. Yes, I, too, lived near a crick and had to work hard to change to the correct pronunciation... LOL

Ally's was a woman of 28 and had a birth defect of a crooked leg. She could walk, but it was normally with a drag for one foot.  She lived with her father and two brothers and had essentially taken over housekeeping duties when her mother died. But her father was a kind man and even though he wasn't quite sure how to do it, he wanted to keep his promise to his beloved wife and mother that he would help ensure Ally had a fulfilling life. Problem was, that most men were put off by her disability, fearing that her children would also be lame and they didn't want to risk that...

But when a neighbor proposed that he be allowed to call on Ally, her father, Gideon, thought this might be the answer, since he'd lost his wife and had three children already to take care of. Needless to say, Ally was not happy, especially when she learned her father had acted on her behalf and without talking, first, with her.

Ally, of course, wanted a different life, plus she had a dream early in her life that, one day, a tall dark man would come walking out from the woods surrounding their place and come to her and ask for a drink...

Still, even when it happened just as she had dreamed, she couldn't quite believe it... But, even Grannie Devon had given her hints over the years through her "sight" but lately, it was more about danger as well.

“Look to the family. Look to the heart. Danger around you. Trouble will start.” 

Ally frowned. It was the last thing she’d expected to hear, and yet it wasn’t enough to tell her how to prevent it, or save herself and her family from ruin. “How, Granny? How will the trouble start?”

Wes Holden was the man who walked out of the woods... And, indeed, he asked for a drink of water!

But Wes may have been a dream for Ally--maybe even a God Incident. However, he was totally confused and had earlier been in a hospital when he went through a trauma nightmare from which he couldn't wake up. Wes had been doing fairly well upon his return from Afghanistan, but he was still having constant flashbacks that placed him right back into the middle of battle. It was his wife and son who were slowly bringing him back...

Until they were both killed in a domestic terrorist attack at the commissary at which they were shopping. Sometimes, when evil wins a battle, God intervenes and takes what is left of His chosen and helps them to find the way to where someone is now needed... It's not easy to understand, yet, it does show that God cares and loves His people and will provide strength to continue on in a new life.

For surely, there was a new battle to fight for Wes Holden. In the West Virginia Hills where he had wandered into one day. He had been in shock and had no memory of what had happened to his family...

Until he did... 

Colonel Wes Holden had been through a lot, but what he now needed was to get out of the hospital--without anybody knowing that he had regained some of his memory. They had found a step-brother who was willing to take him (and his government check!) Wes knew only one thing, this was the way to get him out of the hospital, under medical discharge. He would deal later to get away from the one individual with whom he would never be safe, and planned his escape!

Even from the beginning, Ally could not escape how Wes, in essence, had fulfilled the dream that she'd had all her life. With her mobility problem, she was shy and hesitant to deal with a stranger, but when Wes came knocking, she not only gave him water, a meal...but also a place to stay! She had inherited a small cabin nearby and had Wes moving in that very day. Without ever mentioning it to her family!

While the relationship began between Ally and Wes, there was evil underway by a man who was out to make big money selling drugs... And Ally's two brothers were caught up in what would become a major disaster. 

The story builds up from a drama to a point when what is happening is so tense that I, for one, wound up reading through the night to see how the story ended. With more than a touch of horror, Sala shares still another way just how one evil man can turn against anything or anybody that does not fulfill his needs. The villain, a science professional, who is also a sociopath, caring not what he was doing to harm others, was soon confronted by Wes, Ally, and, finally, her brothers, although it came too late for the two men who had hired on to make some quick money, only to begin to understand what was happening.

Of course, the ending was exactly what we wanted to have happen. But just how close disaster had come had included having to call in the DEA, the FBI and even the CDC... 

Sala's stories are realistic, yet allow for the goodness of humanity to come through as winning that seemingly constant fight. Thriller Suspense fans will love this one! Highly recommended...