Tuesday, December 26, 2017

FAVORITE BOOKS FOR 2017


I am borrowing an idea from a friend and RRBC author who listed her ten top favorite books for this year. I have read some incredibly good (great) books this year and all of my reading material has been by authors from Rave Reviews Book Club. I have read 80 books so narrowing them down to the top ten has not been an easy task.

These independent authors might not have a large publishing house behind them, but their talent is quite remarkable. I invite you to look them up on Amazon and purchase their books. You will not be disappointed...but be quite amazed.

The top ten books are given in alphabetical order only and my reviews:

                                      Circumstances of Childhood by John Howell

      When a former pro football star and broadcaster, now a Wall Street maven is accused of insider trading, will he be able to prove his innocence and expose those who are guilty?  https://www.amazon.com/Circumstances-Childhood-John-W-Howell-ebook/dp/B075SKWHCR/ref=sr

       I loved this book and had difficulty putting it down. Family, marriage, career, sports, success, legal/political intrigue, and spirituality. This book has it all. The author had me wondering at the beginning if this was a true story, but I soon realized that it was not. Each character is wonderfully portrayed and quite believable. I was disappointed in Greg's wife who changed so much from a young college student to an older, rich woman. I liked the part about the international plot in stealing money from Greg. I did not understand all the computer and technical part, but it did not take away from the storyline at all.
Wonderful, John. You are amazing.

                                            Dance of the Lights by Stephen Geez

   Frank relishes fast success and early retirement, but struggling to preserve his life’s work thrusts him into a desperate battle to protect the people he cares about most.

Beverly seeks a new beginning in Tarpon Springs—until those she trusts steal control of her destiny, forcing a fight for her very survival. https://www.amazon.com/Dance-Lights-Stephen-Geez-ebook/dp/B00540C8OM/ref=sr

     An interesting, thought-provoking, and spiritual story that surrounds the lives of a young boy growing 
up in a dysfunctional and poor home without a father, a neighbor who becomes the boy's adopted father, 
a young woman's tragic death whose life touched many deeply, and her mother who finds solace and 
purpose in her daughter's death. There are several subplots and yet they all blend together and the author 
does an excellent job in keeping the reader on track as to what is going on. The symbolism of the butterflies 
and the lights that danced were quite special and moving.
Strong characters that I came to know and appreciate. This is my first time to read a book by Mr. Geez, 
but it will not be the last.

                                      Next Therapist Please by Laurie Finkelstein

      Blessed with anxiety, depression, and OCD, Janie Weiss has seen her fair share of therapists throughout her life. So many, she doesn’t even refer to them by name, only by number. Some have helped her, some have not. But she has learned from all of them.https://www.amazon.com/Next-Therapist-Please-Laurie-Finkelstein-ebook/dp/B01NCJQU80/ref=sr

        I was very impressed with how well the author tackled some very emotional and challenging subjects so beautifully. Ms. Finkelstein used humor and seriousness in a well balanced way. Her movement from therapy sessions of the past, then to present life events was accomplished smoothly and efficiently. I never got 
confused as to what time period I was reading.
I look forward to reading more from this first time author.


                                     Pregnant Future by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko

If people know what the future holds in store for them, they will chose from one of two options: 
To go headlong in pursuit of their future, or to end it before it starts. That is where life stunts us. 
Because of this hidden future, we spend our lives as if we are swimming in troubled waters, not 
knowing which way to go, and choosing our directions by chance. 
https://www.amazon.com/Pregnant-Future-Knows-Tomorrow-Bring-ebook/dp/B01N1MEGRS/ref=sr

     A wonderfully heartwarming story about one young Nigerian woman finding her way to womanhood
through education. It was interesting to learn about the Nigerian culture, the role of Catholicism, and the educational opportunities. The main character is quite intelligent and musically talented. She struggles 
in her relationships with men, the loss of a child, and a brutal drug-induced rape.


                                            Stranger Abduction by Billy Chitwood

It is a sunny Sunday in May, 1993. After church, a mother and her lovely fourteen-year old daughter 
walk three miles to a country store for cigarettes and ice cream. It is a walk members of the family 
often take in this rural Sulphur Springs Valley area of southeastern Arizona near the Mexican border. https://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Abduction-Billy-Chitwood-ebook/dp/B01K5ZRFS4/ref=sr

     A chilling and frightening account of a mother and daughter abduction. I appreciated that the author 
spared the reader of any details as to how they were treated sexually and physically. They are kept in a 
drugged state which affects their memory, ability to try to escape, and communicate with one another. I 
never lost interest in the book which was a page turner.
The role of the sheriff and his own personal struggles and successes are nicely woven in without distracting 
from the abduction. Well edited.

                                                  Tabula Rasa by Gordon Bickerstaff

 A hundred years ago, a wealthy family of visionaries prophesied the devastation that global warming would bring to world food supplies in the 21st century. They decided to prepare for the worst, and 
embark on an ambitious plan of revolution. https://www.amazon.com/Tabula-Rasa-Lambeth-Group-Thriller-ebook/dp/B0725NFW17/ref=sr

      A fast paced, action-packed story of intrigue, murder, and a new order for the planet Earth. Zoe, her 
brother Michael, and friend Gavin all work together to save most of the earth's population from annihilation 
by a group of scientists.
Well written and highly recommend this book.


                                         The Cottage on the Border by Hannah Warren

Jenna's earliest memory is of her mother's feet dangling in dust motes, as a three
year old left orphaned while her mother's corpse hungfrom a beam. Her mother
committed suicide, that's how she escaped and freed herself. When her own life
falls apart Jenna's earliest memory becomes her anchor, she too wants to be free.

      I enjoyed this book and found it to be a page turner. Well described characters and scenery. 
The author did a good job of moving us back and forth in time. An interesting plot as the main 
character seeks to understand her mother's suicide, her adoptive family, and who was her 
biological father.

                                               The Merchant's Pearl by Amie O'Brien

  As a missionary's daughter, Sarai was taught that love and faith conquer all. But when her parents 
are murdered, she quickly learns that the world doesn't stop for love.
https://www.amazon.com/Merchants-Pearl-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B01J2LCANW/ref=sr

    A very well-written love story between a Prince and his concubine. Their genuine and unconditional 
love is beautifully described. I could not put the book down and was "disappointed" that it is part of a saga. Anxious to read the next book in this series.
There is history, culture, and intimacy.  

                                               There Is A Reaper by Michael Lynes

    FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHRISTOPHER AARON has always been a whirlwind of heroic action, leading 
his brothers into all sorts of youthful mischief. A mysterious illness suddenly plunges him and his family
into a frightening nightmare of hospitals and doctors and extreme therapies far from his small-town 
home. Can his doctors diagnose his strange disease? How will he and his family adapt to a bizarre 
new world they have been thrust into? https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4/ref=sr

     One of the best books I have read. It is very spiritual, moving, informative, and uplifting. I cannot imagine 
what it must be like to lose a child, but this book made me feel like I was part of their family going through 
all the emotions together. It is a must read for everyone.

                              Tokyo Hearts: Japanese Love Story by Renae Lucas-Hall

          A fascinating exploration of life in modern-day Japan, Tokyo Hearts is a poignant love story 
that will catapult you directly onto the fashionable streets of this nation’s capital and into the hearts 
of Takashi and Haruka. https://www.amazon.com/Tokyo-Hearts-Japanese-Love-Story-ebook/dp/B008HT2LQC/ref=sr

    A very well written story about two Japanese people who are friends, Yuriko and Haruka. Their relationship 
is unique and special; they come from different areas of Japan; they each have their strengths and 
weaknesses. The descriptions of the areas of Japan, the earthquakes, the attractions, restaurants, food, and dress were wonderful. The plot always left me guessing how it would end...it ended the way I hope it would.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by the author.



Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I invite you to leave your comments or questions. These authors and I would love to hear from you.
And, I invite you to become a follower of this blog which is designed for authors and avid readers.


Saturday, December 23, 2017

BLOGGERS: INTERESTED IN WRITING GUEST POSTS?




Author, M. K. Waller is inviting bloggers to write a guest post. Here are the details reblogged from her site: https://kathywaller1.com/blog/

BLOGGERS: INTERESTED IN WRITING GUEST POSTS? JOINING A GROUP BLOG?



Used with permission. © David Davis

*****
A group blog I write for is seeking bloggers to write one or two guest posts next month.
We’re also looking for bloggers interested in posting once or twice a month on a regular basis.
If you’ve published books or stories, or if you aspire to publish, blogging with us is a good way to publicize your work and to show readers what you do.  Other members of the group will share your posts on their social media, so there’s the potential for hundreds, maybe thousands, of readers to see your work.
We’re family friendly, but aside from that, topics are up to you.
If you’re interested, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

STRANGER ABDUCTION, REVIEW




Billy Ray Chitwood is an accomplished author, actor, teacher, and formerly served in the Navy. He is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rising Writers International Society of Authors. He state writing is therapy for my soul. 




Billy Ray Chitwood writes of himself: ​I'm a young man in an old man's body, trying to catch up to myself, trying to find pieces of me I left back in a disconnected youth and the early years of manhood. I'm a stereotype of many in my generation who can play the 'blame game', yell 'foul', and 'let's start over'. But, we are what we are, the sum of all the scary kid-emotions we experienced, the gin mills and piano bars that became our sandboxes of pleasure - lotus eaters of the best (or, worst) kind, the love affairs that did not quite settle us down, the sad poetry and songs written in bars and motels along the way... A Dreamer! A Wanderlust! The world needs such fools as we to write our books, our poetry, our songs, to offset the madness that plagues the soul.


Stranger Abduction is just one of several books Mr. Chitwood has written. It is very well written and based on a true event. Here are just two reviews taken from Amazon.

                                                               REVIEWS:

Gwendolyn Plano writes: The story is a frightening one - the abduction of a mother and her daughter, but it becomes a haunting masterpiece through the writing skill of the author. I was entranced by Billy Ray Chitwood's ability to create a scene through description and dialogue...This is a gripping story based on actual events, but it is also a beautifully structured novel.


My review: A chilling and frightening account of a mother and daughter's abduction. 
I appreciated that the author spared the reader of any details as to how they were treated 
sexually and physically...I never lost interest in the book, which was a page turner.
The role of the sheriff and his own personal struggles and successes are nicely woven in 
without distracting from the abduction. Well edited.

                                                        LINKS:
Twitter: @brchitwood

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

HOLIDAY TRAIN BOOK TRAILER BLOCK PARTY


Y'ALL COME TO MY PARTY!

LOVE TO HAVE YOU SEE MY BOOK TRAILER 
FOR
DAVIDA: MODEL & MISTRESS OF AUGUSTUS SAINT-GAUDENS

JUST GO TO 

LEAVE A COMMENT 
AND
HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN A PRIZE

HERE IS AN EXCERPT:

We agreed to visit Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s studio the following week.
The Sherwood Studio Building was located at Sixth Avenue and
Fifty-Seventh Street. Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s studio space inside the
building was small but filled with various pieces of plaster, mounds of
scattered sheets of paper with drawings, and a few men who were
working on smaller pieces. I gasped in awe and squeezed Mother’s hand
as I tried to take in all that was before me.

In the center of the room was a massive piece of white marble with
ladders and scaffolding around it. Two men hammered against chisels,
breaking off various sizes and shapes of the marble. Their work appeared
haphazard to my uneducated eyes, but the man directing them appeared
to have confidence in what they were doing. This man had the same
stature of Mr. Saint-Gaudens, except his hair was a dark brown and he
had no beard. There was a similar look and a nervous energy to his
movements.

Suddenly, we heard Mr. Saint-Gaudens’s voice saying, “You are
watching my brother Louis, who is my right-hand man and an artist in
his own right. Come—let me introduce you.” He extended his left arm,
inviting us to follow him.

As we neared, I could hear the brother’s baritone voice shouting
instructions: “Take a little more there” and “No, Samuel—strike the
chisel firmly but gently” and “That is good, very good.” He waved his
arms over and around as if he were conducting an orchestra. I found it
magical.

“Louis, my dear brother, stop your work for just a moment, please.”
Mr. Saint-Gaudens said these words with such love in his voice.
After introductions and some small talk, Mr. Saint-Gaudens went
on, “This is the young lady I was telling you about, the one I would like
to sketch. Do you agree she is perfect for the Vanderbilt project?”
The two brothers walked around me while never taking their eyes
off me. They exchanged their impressions and thoughts sometimes in
English, but mainly in French. I heard phrases such as “angular head,”
“high cheekbones,” and “vibrant eyes.”

I felt a mix of embarrassment and pride. My cheeks were warm, my
heart beat fast, and my knees began to shake. I had never experienced
such attention. Once again, I asked myself the same question: “Am I
really pretty?”

I glanced over at Mother, who was watching and listening to the
brothers, trying to understand their words and gestures.
Then I was suddenly brought out of my dreamlike state when I
heard Mother say, “Come Albertina. It is time to go to work.” She
turned to the two artists and said, “Perhaps you will come to our home
on Sunday at four o’clock in the afternoon to discuss your ideas for
Albertina. I want my sister, Ingrid, and her husband to be a part of
whatever decision we make. They have lived in this country long enough
to have a good command of the English language. Besides, they are my
only family, and I trust their judgment in all things.”

Mr. Saint-Gaudens bowed and replied, “Of course, madam, I will
be there. But before you leave, I would like you both to meet my wife
and have some tea. Our home is just a short carriage ride from here.”
Mother responded, “We met Mrs. Saint-Gaudens at the Christmas
party, but the meeting was brief. We will be honored to meet her again.
However, we will not be able to stay long. We have been away long
enough, and we need to return to the inn. Time has by gone so rapidly.”
Mrs. Saint-Gaudens was an austere woman whose features showed
a permanent crease between her eyebrows even when she smiled. She
was tall and large boned, with penetrating brown eyes and a deep
dimple in her chin.

The year before, Mrs. Saint-Gaudens had given birth to a son. She
proudly held him in her arms upon greeting us.

“This is my son, Homer.”

She then quickly turned and handed the handsome little boy over
to his nanny.

From her thin lips, she expressed her pleasure in meeting us, albeit
stiffly. Perhaps that was her natural demeanor. But then again, perhaps
she was not pleased at all. Her rather plain dark-gray dress was unadorned
with any lace or jewelry, as would be expected of a woman of her
economic status. I wondered if she were in mourning, though Ingrid
had not shared about any death in the family.

Mrs. Saint-Gaudens and Mother exchanged pleasantries for a few
minutes. During this time, I was well aware of how often Mrs. Saint-Gaudens looked at me. My impression was that she did not like me. Her eyes were cold and her words were harsh when she spoke.

http://www.amazon.com/Davida-Model-Mistress-Augustus-Saint-Gaudens

Monday, December 11, 2017

JAN SIKES, RWISA RISING WRITER


It is with my great pleasure that I introduce Jan Sikes to my blog this week. She is a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writers International Society of Writers. For the month of December she is RWISA's Rising Writer,  a title she richly deserves. 

She is not only a talented writer, but also a poet, songwriter, and songstress. As a young girl she wrote her first gospel song. Her husband was a talented musician and after his death she took some writing classes and went on to publish several books about him, their marriage, and his music. Her books are about true love, wisdom, and life's lessons. 



       

I invite you to watch this video and see why Ms. Sikes is December's Rising Writer.


“FOOLISH OLD WOMAN”
“Come sit with me.” He patted the leather bench beside him.
In silence, I sat while others at the table shifted to make room. Why was I so nervous? It wasn’t like I didn’t know these people. Although I have to admit, I didn’t know them well.
I tried hard to remember names that went with the faces.
But, in all honesty, it wasn’t the people who made me nervous. It was him.
Twenty years my junior, tall, slender and handsome with brown eyes that sparkled, I saw no reason for him to have any interest in me.
Oh, I was a looker in my day. I had a slender figure, pert breasts, and round ass, but time has taken its toll. At sixty-five, gravity has sagged my breasts, and my once flat stomach has a slight pooch.
He draped a casual arm around my shoulders.
I tried to engage in conversation, but the tingles his touch left on my shoulders, distracted me to the point of madness.
When he dropped his arm behind me and circled my waist, I panicked. I wriggled and sucked in my stomach.
“Let’s go out on the veranda,” he suggested.
Clumsy and flushed, I managed a reply. “Okay.”
I slid off the seat then waited for him. I followed with my heart pounding in my ears. I scolded myself. You’re carrying on like a schoolgirl with her first crush. For God’s sake get a grip.
We strolled out into the cool night air. The moon and stars hung carefree in the black velvet sky, and a slight breeze blew the hair back from my face.
Silence wrapped around us like a velvet cloak.
I faced him. “What are you doing?”
“I like you.” He touched my cheek. “You’re not like the others.” He pulled me into the circle of his arms and kissed me.
It wasn’t a tongue-tangling kiss, but a warm and sincere kiss.
“I don’t even know what that means.” I took a step back and drew in a deep breath.
After a long eight years of solitude, I found it hard to believe this handsome forty-something man found me attractive.
“It means that you’re honest. You’re not trying to get anything from me.”
I grinned. “Don’t be too sure about that.”
He pulled me against him and kissed me again.
“Come with me to my place,” I said as I pulled away.
“No.” He caressed my shoulders. “I’ve done that way too many times. I want it to be different with you.”
I spun and walked to the edge of the veranda.
He followed, slipped his arms around me from behind and nibbled on my neck. “You turn me on,” he whispered in my ear as he tightened his hold on me.
I turned around for another kiss only this time; he slipped in his tongue.
My eyes flew open, and I lay still barely breathing soaking up the glorious feeling of being wanted, of being desirable.
Then ever so slowly, a tear escaped and dripped onto my pillow. Then another and another followed.
“Foolish old woman,” I muttered to myself.