Book Review of The Temple of my Familiar by Alice Walker

 

This novel is hard to describe properly, but you should not miss it. You need to experience it, feel it, and taste it. The author, Alice Walker of The Color Purple fame, leads you on a journey. The journey takes you to exotic places from ancient times through the present. Walker presents part of the trip as solely in your shared imagination. You do not dare disbelieve for even then it offers truths.

Alice Walker’s theme is love and marriage, the man – woman, husband- wife relationship. It examines up close the dynamics of the male-female in marriage and without it. It speaks of the struggle that is being a woman. It talks about our needs and wants especially in relationship to the men in our lives. You will follow an interesting study of two marriages, their failures and their successes throughout the book. The black experience is also a recurring theme in this novel

Alice Walker creates fabulous characters, explores their uniqueness, and shows us however, off the wall they are we are like them. Humanity shares many things even with those we could never identify with or feel like we have anything in common.

I recommend this book highly. It is worth your time to read it and it may even enrich your life.

Book Review of Mrs. Jeffries & The Feast of St. Stephen by Emily Brightwell

 Mrs Jeffries

 

 

This is a Victorian mystery reminiscent of the Miss Marple tales of the Agatha Christie fame. However, instead of just one amateur detective, there is a whole house full of them. All the servants of the small household want to help their master Detective Gerald Witherspoon on his more difficult cases.

Their plan as always is to snoop around on their own and meet daily to compile their information and attempt to solve the mystery before he does. They do this unbeknownst to their employer. They need to do it on the sly and between their usual tasks as those who keep the household running. They love their employer who looks upon his household staff as family and treats them very well indeed.

Their methods are sometimes not as above board as they should be, since stretching the truth and downright lying are acceptable and they fully believe the end justifies the means.

It is surprising that their network comes through for them usually. The underground of the servants in the best houses know more than they should about their masters and their upper-crust guests. Much knowledge is available at the cost of a cup of tea or maybe a couple of those renowned tarts of the cook, Mrs. Goodge.

If you enjoy a mystery filled with the cleverest ways of obtaining information and a group that pieces together information like a jigsaw puzzle, you will love this band of conspirators. I highly recommend this book and it is a happy day to discover that she has produced many more Mrs. Jeffries Mysteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review of Waterlilies Over My Grave by Patricia A. Guthrie

waterliliesWaterlilies Over My Grave by Patricia A. Guthrie is another book you must add to your TBR list. I highly recommend it and you won’t be sorry your read it.

Annie O’Brien had a very bad marriage, in fact a violent one. She obtained a divorce but her ex did not recognize it. The scary phone calls and the stalking would not stop, so Annie accepted another position in a different state and finally thought she could breathe easy again.

She first met Mark when he was her patient. He was a detective, who was on leave. Mark Driscoll had recently been involved in an incident where he killed a kid. He was not doing well and he was required to see Annie. Their first meeting did not go, as it should since he hated and did not believe in psychologists.

Annie worked with his mother, Julia Driscoll and soon found their relationship to be warm and friendly. They began to feel very comfortable with each other in spite of her son’s combative relationship with Annie.

When the calls and the symptoms of being harassed returned, Annie grew very frightened. Only she knew what her ex – husband was capable of doing and how evil he truly was, when it came to getting what he wanted at any cost.

Mark Driscoll’s assignment was to protect Annie. Due to his job of protection and their constantly being thrown together, started to change their relationship.

No matter their best efforts, it took forever to track her husband Duncan’s movements. Duncan had been an actor on the stage and a master of disguise, which made the whole investigation much harder.

If you like mysteries with lot of twists and turns than you will love the book, Waterlilies Over My Grave

 

Book Review of Angels of September by Andrew M. Greeley

angels of september

This book is an older one, written in 1986, that I recently read and thought a review was in order since many readers love to haunt old bookstores. Greeley is an author you should check out since he writes about the church authentically and honestly.

What started as a childhood rivalry, really a love-hate relationship, stopped when they shared a heart-felt moment back when they were just children. Anne Reilly and Michael Casey shared the moment. It was the first time they discovered they might like each other and maybe something more. They grew up in the same neighborhood and church. As adults, their paths cross again and awaken some old feelings. Those emotions might develop into full -bodied passion. The only problem is will they admit feelings exist and they will allow it.

Meanwhile, Anne is suffering a torturous inner-life. Her past has been full of failed relationships, a grief she cannot bear and a guilt she cannot assuage. Her religion is both her salvation and her punishment. Her present is riddled with what she believes is preparation and a preview of her punishment for what she has done. A crazy series of events make her doubt reality and think the supernatural has overcome her.

This is a love story and a mystery. It will keep you guessing as to what is going on. As you are unraveling the mystery, you will find yourself doubting the truth.

If you never read an Andrew M Greeley novel, you are in for a treat. As a priest, he writes about the Catholic Church with humor and a little irreverence. You get a peek at a priest who is a human being first and a Catholic second.

His characters are full – fleshed people you would love to have the honor of meeting. They are complex human beings with a special something that sets them apart. They are real with their foibles and extraordinary gifts, But they are people make no doubt about it. The characters who come with secrets and pasts but still are sinners reaching for heaven.

Book Review for My GRL by John Howell

Those of you that really enjoy spy, espionage, terrorist type mysteries should read My GRL by John Howell. The book starts with a murder and ends with a clever plan for the main character to escape. He is drawn into a scary situation, unknowingly and unwillingly. He eventually learns the bad guys expect him to participate in a terrorist mission.

The book has a creative plot with many twists and turns. There are a good many times when you say to yourself “what’s happening now, why and what does that really mean?” In short order, the author reveals those secrets, but the mystery elements are constant.

We loved the plot and felt it is very well thought out. The adventure constantly kept you on the edge of your seat. I found the instincts and cleverness of the characters were real life possibilities for their solutions to problems.

This was an earlier version of this book and I understand a relaunch of this title included many edits so I am sure though this version was great, the newer version may be even better. The version I read started slow, but worked up to a very fast paced, exciting novel toward the end.

My husband and I both read My GRL and would highly recommend this to those who crave adventure and nail biting reads.

John also writes poetry and short stories as well as suspense/thriller novels.

 

 

Interview with Suzanne Burke

sooozI have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this author and the warmth she has for people in spite of her personal past. She should be a cold, unfeeling woman with nothing to share with the world. Instead she has the most giving spirit and it comes across in all she does. There is a graciousness about her and trustworthiness you feel at first contact.We have never met in person, but she herself would be a compelling reason to visit Australia. If I ever have the opportunity to do so, I know we will be friends. This is my take on the person and I cannot say enough about her as an author. Her talent is extraordinary.She writes with truth and her characters are so complex yet perfectly right for the book she has written. I am referring in this case to Acts Beyond Redemption.

My review-https://joannwentzel.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/book-review-of-acts-beyond-redemption-by-suzanne-burke/

“Please say hello, to my Aussie Friend-Suzanne Burke. Thanks Soooz for allowing me to do this interview and the honesty with which you answered my questions.”

 

 

Question #1- Suzanne tell us about yourself. Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood and past? How has it affected your writing?

Firstly, I would like to offer my personal thanks for your kind interest in my work, and by extension the things that sparked my need to write.

We are all such complex creatures, Jo. We all have layers of protection that are utilized whenever the need arises. It took me almost five decades before I decided to remove that shield, before I was brave or bold enough to write the words that my heart ached to set free.

As for my childhood? I didn’t have one. The innocence of that time, that precious time, was stripped away by those that should have given their own lives to protect me. Child abuse, physical abuse, and the emotional abuse that happened day-in and day-out every day, took away that childhood. I spent fifty years of my life seeking to find it again, but we can’t go back. Once I learned that precious lesson, it freed me to pursue a future. That future of course would always be colored by the textures of darkness that my past brought forward. That is an inevitable factor in all our lives, the joys, the heartaches and the memories cling to us like perfume, some rich and fragrant, some sour and bitter.

I discovered that that bitterness was an odor that prevented me from moving forward. I made the decision to rid myself of it, and I believe absolutely that the decision to do that saved me from the continuous hell I was allowing myself to be enslaved by.

I’ve lived with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for my entire life, but I refuse to allow it to dominate. I fall prey to it more often than I’d like, especially when writing my memoirs. The nightmares and flashbacks can be horrendous, and I have resorted to alcohol as a memory salve more often than I ever should have. I am currently a recovering alcoholic and well aware of just how fragile I can be.

The decision to write my memoirs was a difficult one, I had no way of assessing just how tremendously difficult it would become, but I will never regret writing Empty Chairs or Faint Echoes of Laughter. The people I loved most in the world were dying one after the other, all of them deserved to be remembered. They took their own lives for the most part. That would never have happened if they had not endured the nightmares that no child anywhere should be subjected to.

I am now in my Sixties, my health is bad. I have so much more I need to accomplish. I am happy now. I am safe. I am loved. No one can ask for more than that. I have lived long enough to see my own child grow and blossom into a marvelous, strong, and loving woman, and I have the utter joy of living with her and my delightful young grandson. I am content with that. Yet I know that I have still one more memoir left to write. That is currently in progress.

 

Question #2 – Suzanne, when you choose what to write what influences your decision? Does it reflect those things most important to you? Does your choice come from another place or result from an altogether other reason?

I have covered what inspires me to write non-fiction. My fictional books are written to entertain. Reading has always offered me a means to escape. I find it the most relaxing of all the places in the world to escape to. I love the thriller/suspense/mystery genre above all that I have read thus far. I guess primarily because so much of it could be easily grounded in fact, yet it’s fact that makes complete sense in a world that is crazy. I have written in several different genres, with paranormal being a close second of my chosen genres. People (Characters) that take a strong stance for what they believe in inspire me. Even the wickedest amongst them are usually inspired by what they utterly believe to be truths.

I escape happily into my characters’ lives and they take control of the words that I write. I find myself to be uncompromising in writing of their actions, for they are the actions rightly or wrongly, of men and women who do not bow down.

I have to laugh as I read this. It really does expose my underbelly. I’m okay with that.

 

Question #3 – We know you wrote at least two books under another pen name? Was the reason for that the personal nature of those books?

Absolutely. I write my non-fiction under the pen name of Stacey Danson. Why? Simple really, those that I write about have private lives. Many of them discussed this undertaking with me. They were to a person all happy that I was doing so, but by choice, many of them had chosen to never reveal the hell that they had come from to the loved ones that now peopled their lives. I promised them anonymity. I will never break that promise. Despite the fact that one of the Big Five publishers approached me when Empty Chairs was first published. They required confirmation. I refused to give it. I will continue to protect the very few that remain, and the blessed memories of all that have passed. End of story.

 

Questions #4 – Briefly describe each of your books. What was your message or what was the purpose for writing each selection.

Great questions, I’ll try to be brief, but brevity is never going to be my strong point when I’m so passionate about what I do.

Empty Chairs … Was written because despite the passage of time (Four decades) I found that the naivety that existed about the evils of child abuse to be unbelievable. I just couldn’t understand how ordinary folks could remain so unaware, or be so unwilling to open their eyes to what could be happening right under their noses. In their own neighborhoods, their own streets. The general consensus appeared to be that this horror simply couldn’t exist in well to do families from upper crust areas. They needed to understand just how very wrong they were. I came from a wealthy home, I lived in a wealthy neighborhood, my abusers were well to do, and a few of those highly respected members of that community were the most abusive and sickest human beings of all I encountered. I wanted to help people understand that Child sexual abuse in all its perverted forms, knows NO social, political or religious boundaries.

Faint Echoes of Laughter… I ended Empty Chairs too abruptly. I should have continued with it. I allowed myself to be under contractual obligation to a publisher, and to be fair I also had reached a point in the writing when I fell too ill to continue at that point. I felt I had cheated those who deserved their stories to be told. I wrote Faint Echoes of Laughter to continue my promise both to them … and to my readers and myself.

Acts Beyond Redemption … Was written initially as a means to escape the nightmares evoked in my life by my non-fiction work. That’s how it began. Then I discovered to my absolute delight that I LOVED writing fiction. I immersed myself wholeheartedly into that adventure, the research, the characterizations, the whole nine yards. I found it to be a rewarding emotional experience. That book unleashed the writer in my soul.

Acts of Betrayal. The first book wouldn’t let me go. It deserved a sequel. I enjoyed the creating of it more than I can ever express.

 

Question #5-We know you recently released your sequel to Acts Beyond Redemption. The title is Acts of Betrayal. Therefore, will you take a breather between books or jump right back in? Do you break from writing at all?

No time left for breathers, Jo. I have too much left to do. Why take a break from the thing that fires my passions and nourishes my soul. I’m already well into my third book in both Non-fiction and fictional works.

 

Question # 6 – What are your next projects? Do you know what you wish to write next? Can you give us a teaser to increase our anticipation?

Next projects in rough order.

Non-Fiction: Book 3 in my Standing Tall & Fighting back series. Titled “Still Sassy at Sixty.” This is about an third completed. I discovered I had so much more to say. This will in all probability be the final book in the memoir. But then of course, I could always write again, when I hit seventy. Life has a way of adding to the book count. “Still Sassy at Sixty” is due for release early July 2017.

Fictional Works. Book 3 in my Unintended Consequences thriller series. Working title “Acts of Reckoning.” Newly started, and I have no idea just where it will lead me. I love the fact that it has such a plethora of possibilities for my imagination to run with. I hope to have ‘Acts Of Reckoning” out by January 2018.

Other Fictional works: Genre Romance. Yes, I did say romance. Eeek! Working Title: “Priceless” a Romance that will take the reader from Outback Australia to the glittering and shallow world of Hollywood.

Basic Synopsis:

Maddison Howard lost both her husband and their unborn child in a horrific car accident. Maddison a country girl from a small Australian country town is grief stricken and takes herself off to the farthest reaches of the Australian outback. Working on a large cattle station as a ‘Jillaroo’ she rides the enormous open spaces with the Jackaroo’s herding cattle to market, spending long hot months in the saddle and sleeping under the stars. Located finally by Lawyers acting for a Los Angeles based law firm she is stunned to discover that her dear childhood friend Carol Landers who has become a huge star of screen and stage has tragically died from Cancer. Maddison, together with the rest of the world is stunned to discover that Carol had a child out of wedlock. A three-year-old daughter named Danielle who has been hidden away on the late stars’ multi-million-dollar estate in Malibu under the care of the household staff sworn to secrecy by their late employer. Dannielle (Danni) has no idea that the pretty-lady that visited her from time-to-time was her mother. Maddison is further shocked to find that she has been named as the child’s sole guardian and beneficiary of the multi-million dollar estate, and an even larger trust fund.

The story covers Maddison’s journey to Los Angeles where she is met by the lawyers and hurried away to meet her new charge. She must decide within three-days whether to accept the guardianship and all it entails; or leave the little one to be cared for by the law-firm and a succession of Nannies and strangers.

The story covers Maddison’s initial arrival, her meeting with a sad and frightened little girl, plus the feeding frenzy of the crowds of press hungry for photographs of both she and the child. She is under the protection of three superbly trained bodyguards, headed by an ex-Navy seal in the shape of the disenchanted Tyler Bradford.

A kidnap attempt ensues. To ensure Danni’s safety Maddison decides to bring her to Australia where she and the bodyguards must secrete the child and themselves from detection. Can Maddison learn to open her heart again? Or will she continue to distance herself from a pain-filled-world? I anticipate “Priceless” to be out by Mid-2018.

As for a teaser? Sorry, Jo. It’s too soon yet to reveal more from any of the new works.

Thanks so much for having me here. I have rarely enjoyed an interview more.

 

 

Book Review of With Angel’s Wings by Stephanie A. Collins

 with angel's wings

 

With Angel’s Wings is a book about having children that are not as healthy as we expect them to be when they are born. Though children come with no guarantee that they will be healthy, or geniuses, beautiful or outstanding in any way, they are our children. We trust that they will be perfect in our eyes. They are born of our bodies and are gifts from God. Most of us greet pregnancy with excitement and pleasure, as did this mom. Her dreams of a smooth pregnancy and labor followed by the birth of a happy, healthy baby are immediately crushed just a short time after delivery. This story is about that never-ending ordeal. She meticulously relays the medical problems and details. Even more important though is the fact it is a testament to courage and unconditional love. This mother displays both and eventually a future husband joins her and displays these same qualities.

Besides medical procedures and operations, everyday struggles to care for two children, she is trying to save a failed marriage and keep up enough strength to just survive.

This couple is both steadfast in their putting the children first and very creative in ways to keep up an impossible schedule. The logistics necessary for such a feat are overwhelming. The saintly patience felt throughout the book makes this couple, heroes in my eyes.

In an act of faith, she ordered the doctors to do go through with an operation to do some difficult heart surgery. Her entire family was against it. Those folks would have chosen another path, an easier path, which would certainly mean the ultimate death of a sweet, innocent baby

There comes a time when the story takes a darker turn and the unthinkable is discussed with such honesty that this author must again be commended for sharing her personal memoir.

This is a highly recommended book about amazing people who struggle against all odds. You will not be disappointed.