Book Review 2018 “The Neon Houses” BY LINDA C. MIMS @boom_lyn. #RRBC #RRBC_RWISA #IARTG

BOOK REVIEW COVER THE NEON HOUSES BY LINDA MIMS

WELCOME TO MY BOOK REVIEW of “THE NEON HOUSES” BY LINDA MIMS @boom_lyn.

MEET LINDA MIMS

LINDA MIMS BIO PIC

 

The Author’s Story – @boom_lyn #RRBC #RWISA

A former classroom teacher, Linda Mims has enjoyed careers as a high school administrator, a radio show co-host and announcer, and a public speaker. Finally free to roam, Linda enjoys traveling and storytelling. The only thing she loves more than telling stories is reading them.

Her novel, “THE NEON HOUSES,” available on Amazon for kindle books, was born when she overheard a speaker claim that people had lost interest in reading. He joked that decades from now America would be holding “reading nights” in neighborhood parks for citizens who couldn’t read.

The statement took shape in her mind until it evolved into two contrasting societies—one for people who had nothing and the other for people who had everything. Now, Linda is busy writing the second book in the Kennedy Circle Mystery series and shaping the message she wants to send.

A resident of the small village of Matteson just outside of Chicago, IL, Linda spends her days writing, cooking, gardening, and blogging—sometimes simultaneously. She is married, has two adult daughters, and one bossy bichon-pom, Ms. Alexis.

***

BOOK REVIEW COVER THE NEON HOUSES BY LINDA MIMS

BLURB

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.

***

CONTACT DETAILS:

Contact via:

Twitter

Facebook

Blog/Website:

Linda Mims

Title:

“THE NEON HOUSES”

***

 

 

 

 

Book Review Jan 2018 “Red Ground: The Forgotten Conflict” by Ken Fry @KenFry10 @EevaLancaster #IARTG #Thriller

BOOK REVIEW COVER RED GROUND BY KEN FRY

ABOUT THE AUTHOR.

BOOK REVIEW BIO PIC KEN FRY

Bestselling, and multi-award-winning British author, Ken Fry, holds a university Master’s Degree in Literature and has extensively traveled around the world. The places and events are reflected in his stories and most of his tales are based on his own experiences.

He was a former publisher before deciding to retire and devote his full time to writing. He lives in the UK and shares his home with ‘Dickens’ his Shetland Sheepdog.

Fry has published 9 mystery suspense thrillers to date: The Chronicles of Aveline, Disjointed Tales: A Collection of Eccentric Short Stories, The Patmos Enigma, Red Ground, The Lazarus Succession, Suicide Seeds, The Brodsky Affair, and 2 short stories, Check Mate, and Is That You, Jim? (Free)

The Patmos Enigma and The Lazarus Succession are #1 Bestsellers in Christian Fantasy, Religious Mystery, Religious Fiction and Biblical Fiction on Amazon UK.

Awards:

#1 Best Indie Book 2017 by Read Free.ly (The Lazarus Succession)
Official Selection in Historical Fiction, 2017 New Apple Summer eBook Awards (The Lazarus Succession)
2017 IAN Book of the Year Awards WINNER in Christian/Religious Fiction (The Lazarus Succession)
2017 UK International Novel Writing Competition, Runner-Up (The Brodsky Affair)

Join Ken Fry’s Circle of Readers and get free books and discounts:
http://www.booksbykenfry.com

BOOK REVIEW COVER RED GROUND BY KEN FRYRed Ground: The Forgotten Conflict: A Blood Diamonds Thriller

BLURB

Vast deposits of diamonds and oil are found in land overlapping both Sierra Leone and Liberia. A scramble ensues to secure the mining and drilling rights of both commodities. Leading the race is the Mining Earth & Ocean Corp.

To amass and control this wealth, the creation of an illegal state called Salonga is proposed. The nominated ruler, backed and supported by the MEO, is a former RUF commander – General Icechi Walker, known as ‘Body Chop’ – a suspected mass murderer involved in countless atrocities.

To secure power, Body Chop, with the help of the MEO, engages the protection of a private mercenary army.

Disgraced, virtually bankrupt, ex-Sgt. Alex Dalloway is hired to join the mercenary brigade tasked to protect the newly elected President of Salonga. He has a personal quest to locate the Army officer who tortured him and killed his men years ago in the jungles of Sierra Leone. He begins to suspect the former RUF commander’s involvement.

With the promise of diamonds upon the completion of their contract, Dalloway and the rest of the mercenaries must decide if they will close their eyes to the atrocities, or fight to stop Body Chop’s rule of terror.

MY REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Uncompromisingly brutal and utterly riveting.

This is the first book by author Ken Fry that I have read.

It won’t be the last.

Make no mistake, this work is uncompromisingly brutal, because it needs to be. The devastating pages of the dark history of Sierra Leone don’t allow for compromise.

The characterizations are brilliant and shattering, this author has a deep empathy and an understanding of the dark motives that drive the most inhuman of our species.

This is not pristine matter prettied up for mass consumption, these people are at times horrendously real, and horrifically brutal. Author Fry explores the deepest of emotions and he does it in a way that will alternatively shatter you, and have you moved to tears with its poignancy.

This book is a journey into the darkest of man’s motives and is unforgiving in its depiction of greed, the lust for power, and the driving thirst for vengeance.

It is bloody and brutal and brilliant. Take the journey. You won’t forget it anytime soon.

I’m off to grab another of Ken Fry’s works.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR

Ken Fry on TWITTER

Purchase Red Ground on AMAZON.com

Amazon Author Page for Ken Fry

Join Ken Fry’s Circle of Readers and get free books and discounts:

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review “The Convict and the Rose” By author Jan Sikes. #RRBC @rijanjks #RWISA #Inspirational Biographical Fiction.

Welcome to my second Book Review of 2018.

The Convict and the Rose by Jan Sikes.

Please meet Jan Sikes!

BIO PIC JAN SIKES

From the Author

Writing this book was a challenge since I wasn’t personally present in prison. However, I researched endlessly to come with accurate information and details to write each scene.

Since this is a true story, it is super important to me that the facts be correct. I enjoyed doing the research, because that meant digging through boxes of letters, volumes of writings and remembering stories I was told.

During this research, I ran across some song lyrics that I’d never seen before. I’d never heard Rick Sikes sing them or mention them, but they were so powerful, I knew I had to get someone to put music to them. That person turned out to be Jamie Richards and the day we went into the studio was pure magic. He completely captured the emotion in the song, Forty Foot High.

This book is the sequel to my first book, Flowers and Stone.

The 3rd Book “Home at Last” is now available.

 

BOOK COVER THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE JAN SIKES

BLURB

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

My First BOOK REVIEW of 2018. “Into Autumn: A Story of Survival” (Four Seasons Book 1.) By Larry Landgraf #RRBC #IAN1 #IARTG @riverrmann

 

BOOK REVIEW BANNER LARRY LANDGRAF BEST

Hello and welcome all to my FIRST Book Review for 2018. “INTO AUTUMN” A Story of Survival (Four Seasons) BOOK 1.

Firstly, let’s meet author Larry Landgraf.

BOOK REVIEW BIO LARRY LANDGRAF

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Larry Landgraf was born and raised on the Guadalupe River Delta on the Texas Gulf Coast.
After four years of college, Larry spent 20+ years as a commercial fisherman. When that ended he became a general contractor for another 20+ years. He wrote his first book in 1986 in an attempt to save his commercial fishing career. The book and the career failed. After retiring from the contracting business due to a death defying accident, he wrote his second book in 2012 “How to be a Smart SOB Like Me”.

Still he didn’t consider himself an author. He awoke one morning in January 2015 with a story in his head. He sat down at the computer and began to write this story. Next thing he knew, he had written 300 pages. After an extensive re-write and editing, “Into Autumn – A Story of Survival” was published in September 2015. This is his third book, but debut novel. “Into Autumn” was re-published in January of 2017.

As he left some things hanging in “Into Autumn” he had to write a sequel. “Into Spring – The Next Generation” came out in January 2017. It made “finalist” in the Independent Author’s Network (IAN1) 2017 Book of the Year contest. Larry then came up with the idea of a Four Seasons series. “Into Winter” hit the shelves in September of 2017. “Into Summer” is next and is planned for 2018, but before that, another screenplay is in the works as well as turning his “Tales From the Riverside” blog into a book. Larry finally considers himself an author, but you decide for yourself.

Larry still lives on the Guadalupe River Delta…in the swamp. He writes, tends his fruit orchard and his large garden. He enjoys fishing with Ellen, his significant other, traveling and living in the country where he resides.

Update >>> Hurricane Harvey hit Larry dead center. You won’t believe what happened. His home is okay, but the story is unbelievable. Read it on his blog: http://intoautumn.com/?p=562 <<<

You can find much more about Larry at his website, Pinterest or one of the many author websites his books and story are listed. “How to be a Smart SOB Like Me” is his autobiography which will paint you an extensive picture of him. This book was re-published in 2017.

Many people have said “Into Autumn” would make a good movie, so he took it upon himself to write the screenplay. “A Tempest in Texas” is his rendition of that script. It came out in April 2017 and is available on Amazon as well. The gist of “Into Autumn” in an afternoon read. In May of 2017, “A Tempest in Texas” has made the semi-finals in the Los Angeles Cine-Fest screenwriting festival. Shortly thereafter, it made “finalist” in the Influx Magazine Festival. In October it made “finalist” in the New York Screenwriting Festival and as of the end of the month, it is in the hands of two producers in California.

If you would like to take a closer look at Larry and his works, you should visit his website   WEBSITE

BOOK REVIEW JANUARY 2018 INTO AUTUMN COVER

BOOK BLURB

What would you do to survive?

Lars lives alone in the Texas countryside as the economy collapses and his world becomes a dystopian nightmare. Joined by ‘city gal’ outsider, Eileen, he and his neighbors band together in their “Peaceful Valley.”

Utilities are cut off, grocery stores close, gas stations close, and there is shooting in the neighborhood.

Could you survive?

Lars, Eileen, and the neighbors struggle with tough decisions while fending off predatory invasions in an increasingly violent and lethal world.

Could you protect yourself from deadly force?

Richard Tucker and his two grown sons have been thorns in Lars’s side for years. The boys raid his garden, root cellar, and smokehouse regularly. As times descend further into chaos, Lars fears the boys may harm Eileen should she get caught off-guard. Lars’s best friend, Reggie, has an easy solution. Will Lars go along with Reggie’s plan?
My REVIEW  5 Star … A highly enjoyable and informative reading experience! Larry Landgraf has a new fan!FIVE STARS

We all bring our own history along for the ride when we read. Because of that history, I was eager to begin INTO AUTUMN. The premise caught my attention, the book held that attention throughout.  Other reviewers have remarked that they found the details of survival techniques a little overwhelming. I loved them. A books purpose is to entertain or inform depending on genre … This book does both and does it very well.

Author Larry Landgraf has created highly visual characters, they are very human and as such multi-faceted. The book begs the question ‘Just how far would we go in this same situation.’ Would we be prepared to do whatever it takes to survive?

The author had a clear empathy for nature and an understanding of what drives a person on to survive against overwhelming odds. I found it touched a nerve with me. I found myself nodding in understanding and not a little sadness as these believable characters journeyed on.

I look forward to reading the other books in this series. Author Larry Landgraf has a new fan!

Larry Landgraf on TWITTER

PURCHASE INTO AUTUMN on AMAZON.COM

Author website.

Book Review: “Finding Billy Battles” by Ron Yates. #RRBC #IARTG @jhawker69 The final review for 2017.

Please join me as I share my final review of 2017. “Finding Billy Battles” by Ron Yates.

RON YATES AUTHOR PIC

About the Author

Ronald E. Yates is an author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. His extraordinarily accurate books have captivated fans from around the world who applaud his ability to blend fact and fiction.

Ron is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the University of Illinois where he was also the Dean of theCollege of Media.
His book, “The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles,” is the second in his Finding Billy Battles trilogy of novels and was published in June 2016. The first book in the trilogy, “Finding Billy Battles,” was published in 2014. He is currently working on Book #3 of the trilogy with an intended publication date in spring or early summer 2017.

Ron has been a presenting author at the Kansas Book Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, among other venues. He is also the author of The Kikkoman Chronicles: AGlobal Company with A Japanese Soul, published by McGraw-Hill.

Before leaving the world of professional journalism where he toiled 25 years, Ron lived and worked in Japan, Southeast Asia, and bothCentral and South America where he covered several history-making events including the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia; the Tiananmen Square massacre inBeijing; and wars and revolutions in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Nicaragua,El Salvador and Guatemala, among other places.

His work as a war correspondent resulted in several awards, including the Inter-American Press Association’s Tom Wallace Award for coverage ofCentral and South America; the Peter Lisagor Award from the Society ofProfessional Journalists; three Edward Scott Beck Awards for InternationalReporting, and three Pulitzer nominations.

Ron is a proud graduate of the William Allen White School ofJournalism at the University of Kansas and a veteran of the U.S. Army where he served in the Army Security Agency.

BOOK COVER

Cover Billy Battles by Ron Yates

 

BLURB

When a great-grandson inherits two aging trunks and a stack of meticulously detailed journals penned by his great-grandfather, he sets out to fulfill his great-grandfather’s last request: to tell the story of an incredible life replete with adventure, violence, and tragedy. The great-grandfather’s name is Billy Battles–a man often trapped and overwhelmed by circumstances beyond his control.
For much of his 100-year-long life Billy is a man missing and largely unknown to his descendants. His great-grandson is about to change that. As he works his way through the aging journals and the other possessions he finds in the battered trunks he uncovers the truth about his mysterious great-grandfather–a man whose deeds and misdeeds propelled him on an extraordinary and perilous journey from the untamed American West to the inscrutable Far East, Latin America and Europe.
As he flips through the pages of the handwritten journals he learns of Billy’s surprising connections to the Spanish-American War, French Indochina, and revolutions in Mexico and other Latin American countries. But most of all he learns that in finding Billy Battles he has also found a long lost and astonishing link to the past.

My REVIEW of “Finding Billy Battles.”

on December 5, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A book to be treasured and read over-and-over again.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This book has earned some outstanding reviews and is deserving of every one of them. Finding Billy Battles is an engaging and believable journey through time as told by an aged Billy Battles in the pages of journals that span his existence from 1860 to 1960.

This talented author has crafted characters that engage the reader immediately, we are willingly taken into each scene, we see the characters there, all breathing, moving … and sounding a particular way, the visualizations in this book are superb.

Character depth connects us immediately to the roguish and beautifully layered persona of Billy Battles. The man is revealed with great skill throughout the book. Peel back those layers and recognize the man that dwelt beneath that skin.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey into the old west and those well-known characters that greeted me there.

This marvelous blend of fact and fiction is a book to be treasured and read, over-and-over again.

What a stunning read to end 2017 with. Top notch.

I will be reading the other books in this trilogy.

 

Find Books by Ron Yates here.

Finding Billy Battles on AMAZON.COM

Ron Yates on TWITTER

Christmas on the streets. The truest meaning of Christmas. Christmas morning 1966: 2:00 A.M. #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1

BEAUTIFUL BABY DOLL FOR BLOG CHRISTMAS 2017

Thank you for joining me. Whenever the darkness of our crazy old world threatens to overwhelm me I remember the times when the wonderful spirits of good people who saught only to give joy with no expectation of return enriched my life. I share this precious miracle with you each year that I am able. My Christmas gift to all those that may despair or have lost faith in the belief that most human beings are intrinsically good.

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.

A miracle happened in our small dark world that hot and steamy Christmas morning all those long years ago.

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

I have taken the chapter from my memoir, and I am sharing it with you here.

I hope that it makes you nod in understanding.

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

 “Faint Echoes of Laughter” Book 2 of the “Standing Tall & Fighting Back.” Series. Non-Fiction. Memoir.

Chapter 7

Christmas was barely a week or so away, and the mood wasn’t good.

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 to come for a walk with me down to see Big Mike. I wanted to ask him if he could scrounge up some leftover decorations to put up in the ‘palace’ to lighten the mood up a little.

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

He 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 shy to respond.

I kept my mouth shut 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 from the water were good. The heat inside our metal home was dreadful.

When a week had passed and we hadn’t seen Big Mike we figured that he had forgotten. It was disappointing, but he didn’t owe us anything; and after all, he had helped us out with Momma and other stuff like wood for the fire in winter, 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.

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 in the ocean so close to the Palace, but Big Mike had warned us all about the sharks, so we didn’t dare.

Sydney Harbor wasn’t the safest place to swim. We planned on heading down to the Botanical Gardens for a swim in the lake that evening. We figured there wouldn’t be many people around because it was Christmas Eve.

The sky began to look dark and threatening 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 like mad 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, 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 up 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.

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.

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, a radio, and spare batteries. A big crate of beer and bottles of Coke.

That night, we all huddled around the new radio; it was 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 place; she was a little tipsy as well 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.

Typically, we questioned the motive behind it. 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 good place for us to be. It was an alien experience 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. 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 around eight-years-old.

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.

Thank you for being here. I wish each and every one of you a peaceful, serene and joyous Christmas, no matter where on this planet you’re from.

Faint Echoes of Laughter here on Amazon.com

KOALA CHRISTMAS

 

Welcome #RRBC ‘Spotlight’ author: Michael Lynes. “There Is A Reaper.” Losing a Child to Cancer.

RRBC SPOTLIGHT FEATURE MICHAEL Lynes

Hello, everyone and thanks for joining in this #RRBC ‘Spotlight Author Tour for November’.

Today I’m delighted to present author Michael Lynes.

RRBC SPOTLIGHT GUEST MICHAEL LYNES BIO PIC

Author Bio:

Mr. Lynes is a serial entrepreneur who enjoys dry red wine and single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline wood stove, working on his various cars, bird watching and taking amateur photographs. His current menagerie includes one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

His last book, There Is A Reaper: Losing a Child to Cancer, was an Indie B.R.A.G. Gold Medallion Honoree in January 2017, a silver-medal winner of the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards for Memoir, a medalist in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards for Memoir, a winner of the 2015 TISBA (The Indie Spiritual Bookk Awards), and a finalist in both the Independent Author Network 2015 Book of the Year award and the Beverly Hills Book Awards for 2015.

Mr. Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses.

Mr. Lynes has four sons, has been married for over thirty years and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, NJ.

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RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR HOSTING MICHAEL LYNES

There is a Reaper…Creation

 

Almost four years ago now I first sat down in front of my computer in my office, driven to somehow find a way to honor the memory and life of my son Christopher Aaron.

I thought I would write a few words, something to try and capture some of the memories, some of his spirit, before they became too far removed from memory and distorted by time.

I sat there, really just lost, and unable to find a way to begin. Touching back into those memories was like opening a long shut door, reentering a place of fear and failure and pain that I was not sure I would be able to handle.

I typed a few words and discarded them. And then I typed a few more, with the same result.

I realized that, in order to tell this story I would have to face my fear, and my failure. My fear rooted in the pain that this re-exploration would dredge up; my failure in my inability to prevent or find some way to cure him of this deadly affliction.

These two overarching forces combined to hold me impotent.

In all likelihood, left to my own preferences, this project would have been abandoned, stillborn…but…there was a third force.

Chris.

As I sat there, blank page before me, paralyzed by my own doubt, my own fear, my selfish craven indulgence….it was Chris, clear and sharp and bright and powerful, who appeared in my mind’s eye. I realized that he wanted his story told, that it needed to be out there.

The feeling had grown, imperceptibly…first a wish, then a whisper…then a calling and now an unfulfilled duty.

When Chris had become sick, we were consumed in combating his disease. When he lost his battle we were shattered by his death.

He knew that we needed time, to heal, for the wounds to knit and scar, for his memory to become a story rather than a source of heart-bursting agony.

He had given us that time.

Now he was calling me, back to myself and to my task. I owed him this – and my debt was due.

I nodded my head, silently signing my unspoken contract.

There were many false starts, and many, many days when I laid aside my task, exhausted by the anguish and emptied of tears. Despite all, the promise I made to Chris and to myself that day drove me onward.

The story, Chris’s testimony and epitaph, the memorial of his life here and the start of his life-eternal is now complete, and I fervently pray that it satisfies my debt and honors his memory.

Thank you Chris, for pushing me to complete this work…

I hope you like it.

 

Follow Michael online:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/woodheat

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MLynesAuthor/

Website – https://mikelynes.wixsite.com/mlynesauthor

 

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Michael’s Books:

THE FAT MAN GETS OUT OF BED:  https://www.amazon.com/Fat-Man-Gets-Out-Bed/dp/1938812905

 

THERE IS A REAPER – https://www.amazon.com/There-Reaper-Losing-Child-Cancer-ebook/dp/B00XNZW6C4

RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR HOSTING MICHAEL LYNES

 

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