My #Christmas on The Streets: 1966. A sweet memory.#Memoir #RRBC @pursoot

CHRISTMAS BLOG BANNER

Thanks so much for stopping by. I like to share this post every Christmas. It remains one of my sweetest memories.

CHRISTMAS MORNING 1966: 2:00 AM.

The Christmas season is the harshest of all when you live on the streets.

On ANY streets. In ANY town. In any Climate.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago. I’d not yet turned twelve years old. Yet I felt older than time.

It was not a ‘miracle’ of biblical proportions. Yet for the fifteen of us that lived in the damaged shipping container, it was a miracle that we would hold in our memories forever, to be taken out and looked at whenever life grew harsher.

I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding. I hope that it reminds you of what joy your smile and a simple hello can mean to the lost and the lonely.

I am smiling through my tears as I remember…..

***

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood in ‘the palace’ wasn’t good. That’s what we’d named our rusty old shipping container. ‘The Palace’ was exactly that to us. We constructed our own safety barriers, dodging between smart-mouthed bravado and silent despair.

Christmas out here meant different things to each of us I guess.

My memories of Christmas’s past were all bad. Even last year when I’d been on the streets alone for barely a month had bad stuff attached to it, yet it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the ones I had lived with back in the home I called ‘hell central’.

I asked ‘Baby Jenny’ our youngest member to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. The guy was built like a mountain and I never did learn his last name. He was the go-to man for everything here on the Sydney docks. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some left over decorations to put up in the palace to lighten the mood a little.

He gave me a thoughtful nod, and said he’d “see what he could do.”

He bent down and spoke to Jenny, “I swear you get prettier every day, Jenny. Don’t let Sassy here teach you any bad habits.”

Jenny grinned at him too afraid to respond.

I kept my mouth shut for a change, except for a “Gee thanks, Big Mike.”

He smiled and wandered off, and we headed back up to the palace. We spent a lot of time outdoors during the heat of the summer. The cooler breezes drifting in from the water gave us a little welcome respite. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful. It was difficult to breathe in the late afternoons. We complained to each other long and loud. But I had to shrug and smile at our bitching. Winter was far worse.

We figured Big Mike had forgotten when a week passed with no contact. It was disappointing, but the man didn’t owe us anything. He’d already rushed one of us to the hospital and probably saved her life and the life of the baby that she’d been giving birth to. So we didn’t really expect the decorations, we just hoped for them.

Jenny was extra quiet. I wondered if she would ever be able to talk about why she was here. I didn’t ask her. I hadn’t discussed my background with any of them, even Jamie. So I understood that it was not open for general discussion. These streets were harsh and difficult regardless of why you found yourself here.

Christmas Eve dawned fiery red. It was going to be a very, very, hot day according to the radio forecasts, with a cool southerly change expected later in the evening.

We all headed up to Hyde Park very early and took a Christmas bath in our favorite fountain. At least the palace wouldn’t stink quite so badly for Christmas day.

It was tempting to just jump into the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.  We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a dip in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around at that time because it was Christmas Eve and they’d be home with their families. It was a sad thought until we reminded each other that we too were a family.

The sky began to darken and the thunder rolled in early in the afternoon. The southerly buster was heading up the coast rapidly. We were all unusually quiet and sitting around outside in the shade of the container when we heard the sound of vehicles heading toward the palace.

We headed around the front to see who had arrived and watched in stunned amazement as Big Mike and two of the other guys whose names I can’t recall, began unloading boxes of stuff from their cars and placing it in the shaded opening of our tin home.

Big Mike looked uncomfortable, if possible, he was even gruffer than usual. “You lot need feeding up, so we brought you some stuff.”

We were all too stunned to say much at all, these hard men were all smiling and a little red-faced. I swear if they could have, that they would have scuffed their shoes in the dirt like little kids with embarrassment.

Big Mike shook Jamie’s hand and accepted the ‘thank you’ from him.

I was speechless which wasn’t a common occurrence. I just grinned at them all. and gave the guys a hurried “Thanks.”

They were the unlikeliest Angels you would ever see, sweaty and dirty after a long hot day’s work, but the sight of them unloading the Christmas goodies and punching one another in the arm in a gesture common amongst males remains etched starkly in my memory.

Big Mike reached into the front seat of his car and pulled out a parcel that was wrapped in Christmas paper, with bright ribbons attached. He walked over and handed it to Baby Jenny.

She looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with it.

“The women picked this out for ya, little one.” Big Mike said in a voice strictured by emotion.

Jenny still wasn’t sure what to do.

“Go ahead and open it, Jenny,” Jamie said.

“Um, later. Later. Okay?” she replied looking very unsure of herself.

She looked at the men, and gave them one of her sweet smiles, “Don’t matter what it is. I never had a present before, so, um, yeah. Thanks, thanks a lot.”

The men seemed to understand that she needed to be alone when she opened it.

As for the rest of us, we tore into those presents and boxes like there was no tomorrow, squealing in delighted surprise with everything we found.

There was more food than any of us had ever seen.

There were tinned hams, fresh pineapples, cherries, and plums. Cooked Turkey and Cranberry sauce, with all the trimmings. Fifteen red t-shirts all large sizes. Paper plates, and plastic knives and forks, a can-opener. A Cooler packed with ice, and a new radio with spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of cold Coke rounded out the feast.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio. It was much bigger and put out a better sound than the small transistor we had been using. We sat drinking the beer and singing our version of Christmas carols, none of them repeatable. Trust me.

Jenny sat on her sleeping space of folded layers of newspaper. She was a little tipsy having been allowed one-half of a small bottle of beer. We glanced at her as she picked up her present and watched the look on her face as she unwrapped it.

It was a baby doll, all soft and dressed in bonnet and booties with a pretty pink knitted dress. “Just what we needed, another fuckin’ mouth to feed,” she said. But the smile on her face could have lit up the entire city.

We were fed, content, and a little overwhelmed and unsure at the kindness of these people.

We all wanted to believe that maybe, just maybe, they had done it for no motive other than the wish to make this Christmas a better place for us to be. It was an alien experience to all of us,but a welcome one.

We had only sampled a little of the huge amount of food, deciding to save the rest for Christmas Day

That night we were all tipsy, yet strangely quiet as we bedded down for the night. I think we were all a little overwhelmed by the generosity of these men.

It was around 2.00 am Christmas morning I guess when I felt something was wrong. Whatever the something was, it wouldn’t let me sleep. I couldn’t place it immediately. It was a strange sense of something missing, and it troubled me.

Jamie was on watch. I climbed over the others and hunkered down next to him. Jamie smiled at me and said, “You too hey, Sassy?”

“Yeah, I guess. What is it? Something’s different.”

We sat a while just listening. Then Jamie said, “Oh shit! It’s Jenny, she’s not crying!”

My heart was in my mouth. Jamie grabbed the torch and we played it across the others, several of them were already awake, and wondering what the hell was happening. Jenny had cried herself to sleep every night since she’d come to this place. It was a sound we all tried not to hear. She couldn’t be comforted, we weren’t permitted that close. She’d been here for two years now. Jenny was only around eight-years-old and the sounds of her despair echoed through the palace every night.

We stood looking down at her. Jenny lay on her side, sound asleep, with both arms wrapped around that doll so tight there was no space between them.

That was the first time I had cried in a very, very, long time. I glanced at the others, without exception we were all affected the same way. No one wanted to look at anyone else, shit we were supposed to be the toughest kids on the block! Hell, we were the only kids on the block. That Christmas was the first real day of Jenny’s childhood. From then on, Christmas became Jenny’s birthday.

I’d like to tell you that a miraculous change came over her. That she was instantly transformed. In a make-believe world she’d be outside singing all the hits from ‘The Sound of Music’ and wearing a pretty new dress and shoes.  But this is the real world, and the changes took place over time.

Jenny named her doll, Francine.

The greatest change of all, was that, from that night, for all the years that Baby Jenny remained in our world, she never cried herself to sleep again.

 ***

Many years have passed since that long ago Christmas Eve. My darling Jenny has gone.

So many of my Christmas Eves over time have been special ones. But the one I recall with tears of happiness on my face, and a smile in my heart, is this one.

Jenny lost her battle with life in September of 2008.

The doll Francine was buried with her.

#

Thanks so much for stopping by and helping share my memory.

Have a joyous and memorable Christmas Season.

 

My Top 10 Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018: Part 2: My Top 5. @StephenGeez @FreshInkGroup @MaeClair1 @VashtiQV @HowellWave @gmplano @dlfinnauthor

TRUMPET

Hello and thanks for stopping by to take a look at my TOP TEN Fiction Reads of 2018:

Part 2: My TOP Five.

The following five books ticked all my boxes. They all possessed that marvelous  X-factor for me.

So, what is my version of the X Factor? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.

It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.

It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.

It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end, and you feel richer for having read it, yet bereaved by its absence.

That’s MY X-Factor.

Counting down from Number 5:

 

 THIS SECOND CHANCE BY D.L FINN

BOOK REVIEW COVER THIS SECOND CHANCE BY D.L FINN

 

 BLURB

Newly married Rachael Battaglia finally had it all. The only detail that stained Rachael’s perfect wedding was a gift she received. It was the exact present that her late ex-husband had given her on their wedding day — a snow globe. That marriage was not what she had envisioned, and she endured years of his abuse and charm until one night she escaped with two kids and one on the way. Now Rachael was headed to Hawaii with an amazing man and her chance at happiness. Unbeknownst to Rachael, she had an Angel on her side, although this Angel might not be able to save Rachael and her family from the evil that surrounded them. This is a tale of love, past relationships, things unseen, and redemption. Will Rachael find her happy ending, or will this evil thing get its way?

MY REVIEW: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Great read for all those who enjoy romance with a supernatural element.

Life doesn’t always offer us second chances to get it right. When it does we treasure and hold on to it with both hands. That is the premise on which this well-written book is built.

Author D.L. Finn takes us on an intricately woven journey. The characterizations of both Rachel and new husband Tony are beautifully depicted, so much so that we as readers care about them and want their future to grant them the happiness they have thus far been denied.

This author has that marvelous gift of bringing our emotions to the forefront of the reading experience.

Rachel’s first marriage was a tormented and violent nightmare which ended as her then-husband died in an alcohol-fueled car crash.

She has finally learned to trust again with the love and support of her new husband, but the package she receives on her wedding day threatens the very fabric of their new found love as she is catapulted back in the nightmarish memories of the violence that characterized her first marriage.

Forces unseen are waging a battle, the eternal joust between good and evil plays out its hand as Rachel’s eldest child Eddie, fathered by her first husband, heads down the same violent destructive path that his father once walked.

The author caught and held me captive as the paranormal elements of this book were woven so cleverly into the story. The plot twists were both unexpected, continuously engaging and introduced with an assured hand.

If you enjoy a love story with depth, the chance of redemption and hope for the future happiness of the characters you have come to care about this book is for you.

I recommend it for all those who enjoy a great read with a supernatural element.

CONTACT DETAILS.

Contact via:

Twitter:  @dlfinnauthor

Blog/Website:

Embrace Your Inner Child

Titles:

“NO FAIRY TALE”

“ELIZABETH’S WAR” 

This Second Chance on Amazon.com

Number 4:

“The Contract:between heaven and earth” By Authors Gwendolyn M Plano and John W. Howell.

BOOK REVIEW THE CONTRACT COVER

Blurb

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Fast paced and action packed. This book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.

I was both excited and curious to read a book co-authored by two authors who have earned my admiration for each of their books. Authors John W. Howell and Gwen Plano both have resoundingly earned five-star reviews from me for their individual works.

Their total diversity of writing styles and genres would have presented them with a challenge when undertaking to co-author this work.

I’m delighted with the outcome. They’ve met and exceeded my expectations.

This book goes beyond man’s earthly desires to dominate and control his environment. It takes you to the dark places fueled by man’s thirst for absolute power.

It shows you the joy of the heavenly plane, and the release from pain that it offers.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien a nurse are chosen by the divine council of heavenly elders to become their representations on earth.

The reader is taken on a thrill ride as the story develops, each of the characters are beautifully crafted and intensely visual, with wonderful dialogue moving the book along at a great pace. The character development is outstanding.

The relationship between Brad and Sarah develops over a relatively brief span of time, as they are thrown together by circumstance, and make the decision to stay together by choice. Their tender and developing love for one another is deftly handled, adding the depth of warmth that the story demands.

This work has been meticulously researched, and all references within it add to the utterly convincing terrorist threat, and the dark forces at work in the corridors of power, bringing into question the motives of players that may have been seen initially to have no hidden agenda whatsoever.

Fast paced and action packed. This book will satisfy even the most devout thriller readers.

The conclusion was intense and utterly believable. These authors have amalgamated their individual skills into a first-rate work of fiction.

This work stands tall in celebration of good people willing to lay down their lives to protect and defend their country and the principles on which it was founded.

I found this to be a riveting reading experience, and one I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Contact information: John W. Howell

Contact via:

Twitter:  @HowellWave

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241

LinkedIn –http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-w-howell/48/b59/462/

Blog/Website:

Fiction Favorites

Contact Author Gwen Plano;

Email:  gwenplano@gmail.com

Twitter: @gmplano

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/GMPlano

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/gwendolyn-plano-7046b114

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/O/+GwenPlano

Blog/Website:

From the Desk of Gwendolyn M. Plano

Purchase The Contract on Amazon.

 

Number 3: The Fall of Lilith by Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

BOOK REVIEW The Fall of Lilith by Vashti

BLURB.

In The Fall of Lilith, Vashti Quiroz-Vega crafts an irresistible new take on heaven and hell that boldly lays bare the passionate, conflicted natures of God’s first creations: the resplendent celestial beings known as angels.

If you think you know their story, think again.

Endowed with every gift of mind, body, and spirit, the angels reside in a paradise bounded by divine laws, chief of which are obedience to God, and celibacy. In all other things, the angels possess free will, that they may add in their own unique ways to God’s unfolding plan.

Lilith, most exquisite of angels, finds the rules arbitrary and stifling. She yearns to follow no plan but her own: a plan that leads to the throne now occupied by God himself. With clever words and forbidden caresses, Lilith sows discontent among the angels. Soon the virus of rebellion has spread to the greatest of them all: Lucifer.

Now, as angel is pitted against angel, old loyalties are betrayed and friendships broken. Lust, envy, pride, and ambition arise to shake the foundations of heaven . . . and beyond. For what begins as a war in paradise invades God’s newest creation, a planet known as Earth. It is there, in the garden called Eden, that Lilith, Lucifer, and the other rebel angels will seek a final desperate victory—or a venomous revenge.

“[A] compelling narrative that . . . strays far from traditional biblical text . . . A well-written, descriptive, and dark creation story.”—Kirkus Reviews

MY REVIEW 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Dark Supernatural Fantasy at its Best!

When I had finished reading this book, I sat back and thought about what exactly it was about it that had totally captured my attention and kept me riveted until the early hours of the morning, long after I should have flipped off the light.

Author Vashti Quiroz- Vega has undertaken a mammoth task in “The Fall of Lilith”  and she could have quite easily opted for the easy road in depicting the eternal battle of Good .V. Evil. The fact is that she has not done that. Make no mistake, that is indeed the premise on which this well-written book is based, but this author has none of the stereotypical tried and true characterizations that frequent many books attempting to cover that dark premise.

Instead, we are given a deeper insight into the urges that drive these characters, with Lilith’s character being only one of many that frequent this epic. Lilith, of course, is pivotal and as such her driving characteristics are what influence the narrative. She is multi-faceted with her initial desire to do as her ‘God’ had instructed being overridden by her passionate nature, her guile, and her inability to accept that she was all she could ever hope to be in the ‘heavenly’ sphere.

It is that dissatisfaction, that boredom, and her driving and at times overwhelming desire for something more that drives her. Her clever manipulation of the other supernatural beings (Angels) is a joy to read. There are no boundaries that she does not attempt to tear down by the sheer force of her will. She uses her beauty as a weapon, and the forbidden acts only lead her forward with her need to experience more than this life in ‘heaven’ permits.

I have long been fascinated by the supernatural. This author has delved deeply into the religious aspects that permeate any story that focuses on the ‘angels’ being cast out from heaven, she has acknowledged that, and then taken those understandings and beautifully crafted a vision of the alternative  possibilities.

Much has been written by other reviewers that cover the plot very adequately, I prefer to focus instead on the driving force behind the individual characterizations.  None of the characters in this book fail to engage me as a reader, they are each capable of arousing my understanding of the ‘demons’ that drive them. I by turns laughed at the dialogue, then caught myself tearing up when hurt was dealt out in the coldest of ways.

This book is not for the faint-hearted reader. The author has clearly stated that it is written with an adult audience in mind.

The scenes in this book that capture the essence of lust and desire are written with a clever hand, I found them totally necessary in the plot development and as such, they were never a grab for the ‘sex sells’ probability we so often find in fiction.

We witness the struggle to overcome the initial hardships on a dangerous ‘Earth’. The need to belong to another being, and the ultimate desire to survive at all costs, regardless of who may get caught in the trap of our own making along the way. The thirst for revenge is hovering darkly as the book reaches it final pages.  This is the first book in a series. I will most certainly be back to read the remainder.

Author Vashti Quiroz-Vega has captured the essence of Dark Supernatural Fantasy. She should be proud of her accomplishment.

Contact Vashti

TWITTER

Purchase The Fall Of Lilith on Amazon

WEBSITE

The Writer Next Door

 

Number 2. Cusp of Night by Mae Clair.

BOOK REVIEW COVER CUSP OF NIGHT

BLURB

The truth hides in dark places . . .

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟A Book that held me spellbound from page 1.

I love the Paranormal genre, and when it is written with deep insight into the darkness of human behavior it becomes a welcome crafting of thriller and suspense to add to the mix.

Author Mae Clair is unafraid to take her readers to those dark recesses, she challenges her creations to give us a reading experience we simply must finish and can never forget.

For the images she creates here linger in memory long after the final page has been read.

The combination of times past that are inextricably connected to the present is delivered with skill, as we are taken on a journey from Pennsylvania today back to the late 1890’s.

I enjoyed meeting Maya, and her understandable need to discover the truth behind the deaths of seemingly disparate people. Her discoveries will place both she and those she holds close in peril, but the fear that threatens to overwhelm them, drives them onward.

If you love a read that challenges you, a read that leaves you gasping and hungry to keep reading, then Cusp of Night is for you.

You will discover that the hour of 2.22 am will take on new meaning. Turn on all the lights, lock all the doors, and keep your cell-phone handy.

This book will take you on one hell of a ride.

Mae Clair can be found on the following links.

Website and Blog
MaeClair.net

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/MaeClair1
@maeclair1

Facebook Author Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mae-Clair/219356774828949?ref=tn_tnmn

Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/Mae-Clair/e/B009I61ND0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1394989885&sr=1-1

Kensington Publishing: 
http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/author.aspx/29541

NUMBER 1: What Sara Saw by Stephen Geez.

BOOK REVIEW COVER WHAT SARA SAW by STEPHEN GEEZ

BOOK BLURB

The boy looked back.

A simple pencil drawing, this depiction of a child watching from the reeds of a country pond frustrates and angers Geoffrey, unexpected reactions that stir Phrekka’s lifelong passion for understanding the elusive power artists infuse in their creations.

Their only clue a “Sara” signature, the unemployed graphic designer persuades the enchanting Korean-American curator to help him discover more images by this enigmatic artist. From her world of privilege and mystical spiritualism to his of heartland farms and fundamentalist values, they will cross the country in search of the meaning in Sara’s sketches, an odyssey to divine one extraordinary person’s singular secret for touching people’s souls.

Staggering revelations entangle them with issues of mortality and faith, sexuality and family violence, obligation and responsibility, deception and truth. Only by looking close at the dark and profane will they have any chance of coming together to create a legacy more beautiful than either ever imagined.

What Sara Saw paints exquisitely vivid portraits of two young people who must follow their hearts to recapture that innocent grace long lost to the whims of circumstance and fate.

MY BOOK REVIEW: “WHAT SARA SAW” BY STEPHEN GEEZ

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.

Every once in a while an author comes along that taps into my vulnerability and causes me to willingly expose my jugular vein in doing so.

Stephen Geez has done this with What Sara Saw.

This book is a journey to be undertaken with no pre-conceived notions of comfort. For Stephen Geez dares us to go beyond the familiar. He invites us, via the characters of Geoffrey and Phrekka to take a chance, and in doing so he gifts us with characters rich in contradictions and as afraid of their own reactions to one another as any of us are when undertaking a journey into unknown or previously unexplored emotions.

I was re-introduced to the complexity, joy, and fear we mortals undertake when we first venture into the world of each other’s experiences. There is a depth of feeling and keen sense of awareness within these pages that touched me

What Sara Saw is both a joyous and relentlessly honest work of memorable fiction.

I recommend it to all that want their reading experiences to linger with them, and cause them to explore their own vulnerability.

Contact Author:

Watch for his essays, stories, books, and blog posts at www.StephenGeez.com Find him and his author friends at www.FreshInkGroup.com. Send him a note from his member page or the Contact Form.

The author on TWITTER

What an awesome reading year it has been. I thank all of these authors for granting me many pleasurable hours of marvelous escape into each of the journeys they have taken me on.

And a huge thank you to the many folks that have taken the time to stop by to help me celebrate their works.

 

 

My Top 10 Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018: Part 1: Numbers 10 thru 6: @BeemWeeks @Lizzie_Chantree @riverrmann @boom_lyn @rijanjks #RRBC #IARTG #ASMSG #REVIEWS

TOP TEN READS ANNOUNCEMENT

Hello and thanks for stopping by to take a look at my TOP TEN Fiction Reads of 2018.

AS this will be a little too lengthy for one post, I’ll be sharing it in two parts. Today I’m delighted to share with you Numbers 10 thru 6. Tomorrow I’ll share the Top Five.

It was such a difficult task selecting My Ten Favorite Fiction Reads of 2018. I have read and reviewed many books in this rapidly disappearing year. I select my reads from diverse places. Yet it doesn’t surprise me at all that many of those I ranked in my top ten Indie-books of the year are to be found at Rave Reviews Book Club. Why? Because the standard of excellence of each book is outstanding.  That is what I’ve come to expect with each book I purchase. The reviews are always honest and constructive.

What is the X Factor for me? Ah! For me it’s that shining place outside of myself, a wonderous reality that some authors take you to as willing captives. A place where the story has me so utterly committed to it that putting it down would be followed by a rebellion against my need for sleep.

It’s when an authors words linger in your memory in a voice you could clearly hear as their characters voices.

It’s those pristine moments when you find yourself invested in the outcome of the journey.

It’s when ALL of your senses become heightened, it’s when the pleasure of reading it comes to an end, and you feel richer for having read it, yet bereaved by its absence.

That’s MY X-Factor.

Counting down from

Number 10: Slivers of Life by Beem Weeks.

Slivers

 

Book Blurb:

These twenty short stories are a peek into individual lives caught up in spectacular moments in time. Children, teens, mothers, and the elderly each have stories to share. Readers witness tragedy and fulfillment, love and hate, loss and renewal. Historical events become backdrops in the lives of ordinary people, those souls forgotten with the passage of time. Beem Weeks tackles diverse issues running the gamut from Alzheimer’s disease to civil rights, abandonment to abuse, from young love to the death of a child. Long-hidden secrets and notions of revenge unfold at the promptings of rich and realistic characters; plot lines often lead readers into strange and dark corners. Within Slivers of Life, Weeks proves that everybody has a story to tell—and no two are ever exactly alike.

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟Beautifully captured moments in time. A must read.

Moods of darkness and light within these pages take the reader on an emotional roller coaster. Author Beem Weeks first captured my attention with “Jazz Baby” a full-length novel which introduced me to his marvelous and gritty writing style.

“Slivers Of Life” grabbed my attention from paragraph one and held it throughout. This collection is at times devastatingly honest in its portrayal of man’s ability to disown some emotions and replace them with a more acceptable truth.

Author Beem Weeks has crafted tales reflective at times on the outcome of human disinterest and a thirst for vengeance, or the craving for a connection to each other that humankind needs … and he has done it beautifully.

His innate ability to hear every nuance of spoken dialogue and reproduce it so well is his gift to us as readers.

These stories touched me, they evoked thoughts and remembered feelings so strongly that I was saddened when the collection reached its end. That for me is the X Factor! That intangible something that will have me reading and re-reading Slivers of Life for the pleasure it brings and the questions I ask myself when it’s done.

Contact Beem Weeks:

Purchase Slivers of Life on Amazon.

Beem Weeks Amazon Author Page

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NUMBER 9: The Convict and The Rose by Jan Sikes.

RRBC HOP The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes (2)

 

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Award winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.
Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.
Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

MY REVIEW:🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. This book is one of them.

I have read and reviewed Flowers and Stone and was delighted to do both. The book lingered in my memory long after I completed reading.

Some books reach in and take your soul into their keeping. Flowers and Stone was one … and The Convict and The Rose has captured me again.

This journey towards growth and a deeper understanding is one very special reading experience.

The anguished struggle of two-fallible, and all too human people as life hands out its own deranged sense of justice is at times painful to read.

This book provoked anger, sadness and a deep sense of empathy in me. It in turn delighted me, and made me cry, and then continued to invade my senses long after the ending.

There is a depth of love between these two damaged souls that defies the limitations of time.

The drug abuse is a road many of us have taken in times of the darkest despair, the struggle to overcome it and move clearly distant is an epic one, as is the final understanding of the violent reactions of Luke to his imprisonment.

Life knocked these valiant people to the ground again and again.  BUT they didn’t stay down for the count.

It takes guts to do that, and to keep right on doing it.

We are permitted to glimpse inside their darkness and anguish …and grow with them as the love and faith that they share takes them from that darkness and into the warmth and the light.

A wonderful, moving and intensely memorable story of love!

The Convict and The Rose on Amazon.com

Book 1. Flowers and Stone on Amazon.com

Book 3. Home at Last on Amazon.com

Contact via:

Email:  rijan21@gmail.com

Twitter:  @rijanjks

Facebook:  Author Jan Sikes Books

Blog/Websites:

Award Winning Author Jan Sikes

Writing & Music

NUMBER 8: Into Spring by Larry Langraff.

“Into Spring: The Next Generation (Four Seasons Book 2) by Larry Landgraf @riverrmann

 

BOOK REVIEW COVER INTO SPRING BY LARRY LANDGRAF

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Twenty years after Into Autumn, Sean and Robbie leave Peaceful Valley for Corpus Christi, hoping to find women who will join their fiercely protective group back home. What they find is a fight to survive the violent dictatorship of ruthless Sandra Hawkins. Meanwhile, a new family joins the group in the Valley, except that what seems like a safe addition might bring the worst kinds of change. Into Spring continues the Four Seasons saga about building a new life in Texas after the collapse of civilization.

MY REVIEW of “INTO SPRING”

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Larry Landgraf delivers again with a story both complex and fascinating.

I was eager to begin reading “Into Spring” having read and enjoyed the first book in this series so much. There are times when the next book in a series can let me down. This is NOT one of those times.

Larry Landgraf delivers again with a story both complex and fascinating.

‘Into Spring” picks up the story twenty years after the ending of book 1.

Society had already broken down irreparably. Long-held belief systems suffer at the hands of a cruel fate, in a place that has no room left for dreams. Survival is the paramount purpose of the character’s existence.

The male children introduced in book 1 learn fast that the survival of not only themselves but their species is dependent on the availability of females to carry the next generation.

Robbie and Sean are both afraid and excited when they leave the familiarity of Peaceful Valley behind them. They have hope, good instincts and the vague imaginings of what life may turn out to be with a female to share it with.

Corpus Christe beckoned. Nothing in Robbie and Sean’s experiences of life could have prepared them for the nightmare that followed.

Author Larry Landgraf enriches his writing with well-developed characters that the reader may empathize with …  and still other characters that I learned to loathe as they displayed their loss of humanity.

This series has me hooked. I recommend it to anyone that enjoys a well-written journey into a darker vision of our future.

Larry Landgraf on TWITTER

Purchase “Into Spring” on AMAZON.COM

PURCHASE INTO AUTUMN on AMAZON.COM

Author website.

NUMBER 7: The Neon Houses by Linda Mims @Boom_Lyn

BOOK REVIEW COVER THE NEON HOUSES BY LINDA MIMS

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Murder, mayhem and suspense abound in this action packed page-turner set in 2087 Chicago. Our heroine, Dr. Noel Kennedy hears screams inside her head. They are the screams of her young friend, 20-year-old Zarah Fisher. She’s miles away and screaming for her life!

Noel knows the exact moment Zarah takes her last breath because Noel has a secret that not even her husband, handsome mayoral aide, Richard Kennedy, shares.

As the youngest Deputy Chief of Schools of Gang Territory, Noel has perfected her life. She is a solid, middle-class citizen from New Chicago, Incorporated. New Chicago and Gang Territory have become vastly different societies since the early Urban Wars. Now, year 2087 finds New Chicago’s military-trained police determined to enforce laws that keep “gang people” out.

Harlem Pierce, a New Chicago police detective, has been warned to stay away from Zarah Fisher’s murder investigation and he urges Noel to let it go, too. But a new killing involves Noel’s cousin and her boyfriend and links Noel to it in a startling way.

Who can Noel trust? Should she turn to Warren Simpson—the menacing, treacherous boss of Gang Territory? Or … could he be the killer?

If you like flying cars, robots, androids, dystopia and utopia mixed in with your thriller then this is the story for you!

MY REVIEW:🌟🌟 🌟🌟🌟 A delightful read that any lover of Dystopian & Paranormal fiction is certain to enjoy.

Finding a book that blends the genre’s of Dystopian/Paranormal and Thriller together is rare enough, finding one as well written as this one most assuredly is pure delight for an avid reader such as myself.

Author Linda Mims has woven intricate threads throughout this book, luring the reader down one path and suddenly throwing a curveball that was not anticipated, keeping me relentlessly turning pages right from the first chapter.

Although set in a Chicago of the future time of 2087 this book is highly relevant right now, if we are honest about the monstrous differences our world already permits to exist between those that ‘Have’ and those that ‘Have Not”.

I rate the believability factor into my enjoyment of reading any book. Everything this author has created within these pages it utterly plausible and as such believable.

From protagonist Dr. Noel Kennedy’s strong, resilient, and determined persona, to the convincingly portrayed streets of the ‘Gang Territory’ this talented author weaves a tantalizing scenario.

All the characters portrayed here are multi-dimensional, they are each flawed by the lives they have had no choice but to live.

There are many characters to meet along this journey, but the author has done a remarkable job with each of them, one of my personal favorites is the treacherous Warren Simpson, head of ‘Gang Territory’ his presence is menacing, threatening, and decidedly dangerous.

The many plot threads are handled well and the book is not difficult to follow. I loved being constantly surprised by a character’s actions.

A delightful read that any lover of Dystopian & Paranormal fiction is certain to enjoy.

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CONTACT DETAILS:

Contact via:

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Blog/Website:

Linda Mims

Title:

“THE NEON HOUSES”

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NUMBER 6: Ninja School Mum by Lizzie Chantree @Lizzie_Chantree

BOOK REVIEW COVER NINJA SCHOOL MUM

 BOOK REVIEW: “Ninja School Mum” by Lizzie Chantree

Blurb

Obsessive-compulsive school mum, Skye, is a lonely elite spy, who is running from her past whilst trying to protect the future of her child. She tries hard to fit in with the other parents at her son’s new school, but the only person who accepts her unconventional way of life is new mother, Thea.

Thea is feeling harassed by her sister and bored with her life, but she suspects that there is something strange about the new school mum, Skye. Thea has secrets of her own and, although the two become unlikely friends, she hesitates to tell Skye about the father of her own child.

Zack’s new business is growing faster than he could have dreamed but, suddenly, he finds himself the owner of a crumbling estate on the edge of a pretty village, and a single parent to a very demanding child. Could he make a go of things and give his daughter the life she deserved?

When three lives collide, it appears that only one of them is who they seem to be, and you never know who the person next to you in the school playground really is.

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Utterly captivating and intensely readable!

I believe we are all a little wary of stepping outside our usual reading comfort zone. I wasn’t certain what to expect when I sat down to read this book.

What I found within its pages was pure entertainment. Author Lizzie Chantree has gifted the reader with some marvelous characterizations.

The stand out for me was Skye. I love strong female characters, especially those who stand tall and fight back. Skye is a wonderfully blended character. The author has woven her with a fine hand and a keen observation of human behavior. Skye has a delicious sense of humor and times of intense tenderness. I fell for the character totally.

This author has introduced us to the others such a Thea and Zack, and allowed us to both visualize and hear them. A perfect example of, show … don’t tell.

I  laughed often during this read, only to find myself suddenly thrust into a world where survival comes at a cost.

The twist caught me unprepared! That in itself made the book worth reading.

Author Lizzie Chantree has a winning combination in this her latest book.

I found it utterly captivating and intensely readable.

LINKS TO THE BOOK AND THE AUTHOR.

PURCHASE NINJA SCHOOL MUM on AMAZON.Com

LIZZIE CHANTREE AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Connect on TWITTER

LIZZIE CHANTREE on FACEBOOK

Thank you for stopping by and don’t forget I’ll be sharing MY TOP 5 Tomorrow.