Aug 202014


Good grief, I’m a day late on this, but that’s ok!

Well, the hubs and I went back to the flea market Monday to get a bottle of the PK4, and the man wasn’t there. He told us last week that he would be there, but maybe he had a family emergency or something. His booth is permanently set up, so hopefully he’ll be back next week.

I’m a member of SparkPeople (are you?) and decided to leave one of the book clubs I’m in because they haven’t posted a monthly reads for a few months. While I was checking out the site I ran across a Weekly Challenge team and decided to join it. This week’s goal is to “eat the rainbow”. They also have a monthly fitness minuets goal challenge and I joined for 400 min. for the rest of the month. I’ll be posting my progress every Tuesday.

The Good:
I met my weekly workout goals
I did deep breathing every day
I got enough sleep, more than I have for a long time

The Bad:
I didn’t drink as much water as I should have
I didn’t track my workouts or food (why is this so hard for me?)

I’m linking to Readers’ Workout

Aug 202014


Title: In the Mirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Real You Publishing Group
Pages: 214
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Go here to check out my post “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kaira Rouda”

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda’s characters “sparkle with humor and heart,” and the stories are “told with honest insight and humor” (Booklist). “Inspirational and engaging” (ForeWord), these are the novels you’ll turn to for strong female characters and an “engaging read” (Kirkus).

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life – head on.

But while she’s busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?


This book was an emotional read for me because I lost my mother and oldest sister to cancer. Even if I hadn’t had that conection, the book would still be very emotional. Especially since Jennifer is so young and a mother. That being said, it was also full of happiness and love.

The characters go through a wide range of emotions. They are happy, sad, emotional, scared, loving and there is the usual family fueds and even a betrayal that ultimately turned into something good.

This was the first book I’ve tried by this author, but I now want to read her other books. She wrote about a very tough subject with compassion and lots of care. It shows the different emotions that everyone has when someone you love has cancer and shows how the person diagnosed wants to be seen.

The characters and situations were believable and made me want to keep reading to see how things would end. But, the ending was left to the readers imagination, which I know some people will like more than others. I usually like things neatly wrapped up, but in this case I liked deciding how I wanted the book to end. It let me have control over what happened to Jennifer, and I don’t have to read that it ended different than I’d like.


About The Author
58aa823cd7530ad8976f34.L._V168615618_SX200_Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women EntrepreneursHere, Home, HopeAll the Difference;In the Mirror; and the short story,A Mother’s Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

Her latest novel is the women’s fiction, In the Mirror.

Book Tour Highlights at PUYB Virtual Book Club

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Aug 192014


Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; In the Mirror; and the short story, A Mother’s Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

 Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to check out my review of her latest novel, a women’s fiction titled In the Mirror.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Kaira Rouda

· I moved around a lot when I was young. My parents are both from Northern California, but I never lived there. I was born in Evanston, Illinois, where my dad got his PhD at Northwestern; my sister came along next, when my dad was a professor at University of Southern California. When my dad became a professor at University of Texas, Austin, my brother was born. We moved on from there to Boston when my dad became a professor at Harvard. The final stop was Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. That’s where I went to middle school and high school. I raised my kids in the same suburb until the first one went off to college at Chapman University in Southern California. We all followed him.

· My first book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs was one of the first business books for women. It was based on my experience working with my husband to build the first national residential real estate brand acknowledging that women are the key decision makers in all real estate purchases – influencing of making 91 percent of all home purchases. Until Real Living Real Estate was launched, all advertising was directed toward men. Not kidding. I’m proud of that accomplishment – and the fact we stayed married after working together closely for seven years!

· My husband and I went to the same high school in Upper Arlington, Ohio, but didn’t meet until I was a reporter for Business First , a business newspaper, and he was an attorney at a law firm in town. I have three boys and one girl, and she is number 2. Coffee: black. I love lavender and I make a killer Kale salad! I’m vegetarian and gluten free.

· I was the society columnist for Columbus, Ohio, for more than 10 years.

· When I laugh, I honk. Yes, like a goose at times. I laugh a lot with friends. Friends mean the world to me.

· I’m almost always smiling. I feel very blessed to be living the life of my dreams.

· I don’t like math, or budgets. Ick. I love painting, and photography.

· I’m only as happy as my saddest kid. I’m a great catch – but I cannot throw a ball to save my life. I am 1/8 Cherokee, a member of Daughter’s of the America Revolution. My ancestor, John Sturdivant landed in Jamestown in 1623. I love doing ancestry research.

· My dream, since as long as I could remember, was to be a novelist. It took awhile, so I tell people to never give up! My first novel, Here, Home, Hope was published in my 40s! Things happen for a reason, when they’re supposed to, as long as you keep believing in yourself.

· I almost always wear the “e” key off of my computers. I am confident I can win a hula hoop contest. I love to paddleboard as long as the waves are tiny and the sun is shining. I am finally living at the beach – a place I’ve dreamed of living since I was little.


For More Information:

Aug 152014

Friday 56
Hosted by Freda @ Freda’s Voice



Spare Change by Bette L. Crosby

“You don’t have an account with us.”
Susanna laughed a nervous little twitter that sounded somewhat like a gasp. “Of course I do,” she said, “a joint account , with my husband Benjamin.”
“Oh, Benjamin Doyle’s account!”
Susanna breathed a sigh of relief.
“He closed that out, a week ago last Tuesday.”

Aug 122014


I found a pain relieving spray at the flea market when we went to buy fruits and veggies. The guy selling it sprayed some on my knee, told me to  sit for 3 minutes, and when I got up and started walking my leg that had been hurting for 4 days didn’t hurt anymore. I was amazed! I didn’t buy any because were leaving when we found his booth, and I wanted to make sure it was going to work for a while before I got some. It was late that night before I felt just a little discomfort in my leg, so I plan on going back and getting a bottle.

Since I’ve had some inquiries about the spray I thought I’d add an update:
It’s made from 100% pure organic essential oils. The bottle says it offers relief from temporary or chronic pain from arthritis, rheumatism, shingles, stiff joints, and lower back pain, tendonitis, fibromyalgia and more! I think that the problem in my knee is arthritis, and it definitely worked on that.

It has no additives, is double distilled, and formatted for maximum strength & purity
It’s antiseptic, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, immune stimulating, decongestant, neurotonic.

All I know is that it worked for me. It’s called PK4 Pain Reliever Spary.

I did see another brand that a different seller had. It’s called CPR (Continuous Pain Relief). I haven’t tried it, but it is a little cheaper.

Below is a chart showing what I plan on doing each week.

Plan Overview Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Upper Body
Lower Body

Endurance: treadmill, elliptical, recumbent bike, walking trails, riding my bike
Balance: bosu ball, tai-chi, & chi-gong
Flexibility: yoga, stretching
Upper Body Strength: kettlebells, dumbbells, resistance bands
Lower Body Strength: resistance bands, lunges, squats, step

I’ve always been terrible of keeping track of what I do/eat, but I’m going to try to at least start tracking my workouts. I’ve heard a lot of people say it helped them, so I’ll give it a try.

I’m linking to Readers’ Workout

Aug 092014


Every stage actress wants fans, but what happens when one goes too far?

Emmy has the perfect life— a house on the beach, a successful career headlining the local theater, and love. But when a brutal murder brings unimaginable grief, Emmy’s world comes crashing down. As she tries to pick up the pieces, she can’t seem to avoid Josh, the new fireman in town.

Emmy does her best to fight the sizzle in her chest when Josh is near. But with the stalker still out there, terrorizing her and those she cares about, she can’t fall for anyone—especially Josh, a suspect in the murder investigation.

If Emmy allows a man to get close, it’s not just her heart she puts at risk, it’s her life.

“Cami Checketts can spin a tale like no other. Love, suspense, thrills, she has it all, and Shadows in the Curtain is no exception. What a thrill ride! I highly recommend this book. 10 stars!!”

Sherry Gammon, author of the Port Fare Series

“I’m a sucker for the exciting parts, and this book has scenes that had my eyes racing my heart to the end of each page!”

Amanda Tru, author of the Yesterday Series

Shadows in the Curtain – Only $2.99 at the following retailers:

Buy it in print here for only $8.63

Cami Checketts’ books Poison Me and The Colony are only $.99 for the length of the Shadows in the Curtain blog tour -August 4th – 9th.g8gh   Poison Me 

   Jake Merrill was raised by his grandmother, Ruby, and her hilarious friends.           After a suspicious death at the retirement home where Ruby lives, she enlists Jake and    Chanel, the beautiful activities director, to help her find the killer.

But secrets Ruby has kept for decades threaten her family and the man she’s always          loved but could never have. Chanel’s unstable ex-boyfriend, a presumably dead                  relative, and vicious criminals add to the confusion. Time is running out as Jake,                Chanel, and Ruby desperately search for clues to solve the murders and fight to save          those they love.

The Colony

To protect her sons from the mistakes of her past, Brinlee Trapper escapes to a secluded mountain home. But there are dangers lurking in the mountains she has never encountered. The little family is saved from injury by Jed, a mysterious hunter. Brinlee is drawn to him, but she worries about his involvement with a peaceful commune hidden deep in the mountains behind her property.

Lance, Brinlee’s attentive neighbor, has his own troubled history. Between his obvious attraction to Brinlee and his developing love for her children, Brinlee finds it more than difficult to guard her heart against this tender intrusion.

While Jed offers a life of excitement and freedom, Lance holds the key to the family Brinlee always wanted. When it comes time to choose, she learns that both men have secrets that could shatter her fledgling trust in men and the wrong decision could leave more than her heart exposed to danger.

Excerpt from Shadows in the Curtain

Timothy stuck to her side while people surged passed with compliments, hand squeezes, and the occasional hug. Emmy searched every eye, but only saw excitement from a fun performance or weariness from sitting too long. If anyone had murder in mind, he was as good at putting on a fake face as she was.
No one piqued her curiosity. Until he came. She had no clue what his name was, but the past few weeks she’d seen him almost every morning at the gym. He was much too good-looking, with his rippling muscles and deep blue eyes. She always avoided looking directly at him, though she knew that was as obvious an indicator of her attraction as staring would be. She couldn’t avoid him now.
The wide entryway, which featured plush, faded carpet and wood-planked walls, shrank as he drew nearer. The babble of the crowd faded. He reached for her hand, staring deep into her eyes. Her hand fitted itself into his like he was a magnet. Her entire body leaned toward him.
“You were amazing. So passionate.” He smiled and the room swayed.
Emmy was quite sure the passion she experienced right now had nothing to do with singing or acting. She should draw away but couldn’t force herself to. “Thank you,” she managed, embarrassed by the huskiness of her voice as she tried to catch a breath.
The crowd pressed forward, and he was forced to release her hand and move to the side. His blonde date gushed over Emmy for a second, and then they were gone.
Emmy continued greeting other patrons but couldn’t forget the allure of his blue eyes. He didn’t seem like the creepy stalker type, but she had to wonder. Could he be the one sending the notes?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Aug 082014

I was recently contacted by Fulcrum Gallery and asked if I’d like to do a review of one of their Cultural Art pieces, and of course I said yes.

I was surprised when I went to their site because they have so many prints to chose from. There are many different prints in many different categories, and it took me a while to look the site over. Finally I decided on the one I wanted. I ended up choosing Cast Away Island with a finished size of 28 x 22.

Once you’ve decided on a print, you can either crop to image or leave the white border around the print. The next step is to either order it with or without a frame. Fulcrum Gallery has many colors and styles of frames to choose from and when you click on one you can see what the frame looks like on your print. I chose the Silver Box Frame.

Next you can choose from 0-3 different mats. I choose not to add one.

Finally, you can choose either Acrylic Plexiglass with Standard Acrylic or Non-Glare Acrylic, or Glass with either Standard Glass, Non-Glare Glass, or Museum Glass. I chose Non-Glare Acrylic.

The total process is very easy and each step lets you see what your choices look like on the print.

Now all that’s left to do is check out.

Depending on your specific choices, the print may take up to 5 business days to ship out, and then shipping time varies depending on where you are located.

My print arrived in about two weeks. The packaging protected the print very well, and the print arrived in perfect condition.

I love my new print. It’s beautiful, and very calming to look at. I’ve received a lot of compliments on this print and have had many people ask me for the name of the website so they can go check it out.

If you are looking for artwork, I highly recommend Fulcrum Gallery. They have a huge selection of prints in many categories,  and one that I loved the most was the Caribbean Island Art section. They have so many great beach and other island prints.

I’d like to thank Fulcrum Gallery for contacting me. I’m so happy with the look and quality of my new print.


This photo doesn’t do the print justice.
In person this is absolutely beautiful.
I just couldn’t get the lighting right.

I received one free of charge framed print for review purposes.
I was not monetarily compensated for this review.

Aug 072014


Woman of Courage by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press; GLD edition (April 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616260831
ISBN-13: 978-1616260835

Take a three-thousand mile journey with Amanda Pearson as she leaves the disgrace of a broken engagement and enters the work of a Quaker mission in the western wilds. The trip is fraught with danger, and Amanda is near death before reaching her destination. Among those she meets are an Indian woman who becomes her first convert and a half-Indian trapper who seems to be her biggest critic. But love follows her into the wilderness and will determine the course of her future. You are sure to enjoy this historical romance adventure from New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter.

Amanda Pearson’s fiance decided he likes someone else more than he likes her, so she decides to go on a mission in the western wilderness. The journey is tough, and she barely makes it.

There are many different characters in this book. Some I liked, some I didn’t, but all were interesting. I enjoyed reading about Amanda and Buck the most, but also loved following Jim and Mary’s story.

The book is a mix of subjects. There’s history, romance, tragedies, faith, courage and perserverance.

This is a very good book! I would recommend it to anyone. The Christian aspect is not overly done so even non Christians should enjoy this book.

Aug 072014


A week or so ago I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline when I saw a status Sandy Newort had posted about doing a “Pay It Forward”.  I was one of the first 5 so now I need to Pay It Forward.

Here’s how it works:

The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from me at some point during this calendar year-anything from a book, a ticket, something home-grown, homemade, a postcard, the surprise—whether big or small, will surely lighten your day, and let you know you are valued. There will be no forewarning, it will happen when the mood comes over me as I come across something chosen just for you. These five people must make the same offer on their Facebook status (I opted to post on my blog instead). Once my first five have commented “I’m in”, I will send you this message to put as your status. (Don’t share it) so we can form a web connection of kindness. Let this allow focus on the happiness of those around us, and less upon ourselves.


Make sure to leave your email with your comment

Aug 062014


True Blend by Joanne DeMaio

Paperback: 394 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 4, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1494762099
ISBN-13: 978-1494762094

Vintage bridal shop owner Amy Trewist thinks she’ll never recover her quiet life at her beloved farmhouse on an old country road. Not after her two-year-old daughter Grace is kidnapped in an elaborate crime. On one clear morning, in mere minutes, Grace is gone and Amy’s world spins into a heartbreaking new place.

George Carbone often spends easy time with his brother. Whether at a ballgame or taking a day trip, it’s how they connect. Until one sunny day when the trip is to a bank parking lot and George is drawn into a crime he never sees coming. And into a stricken mother’s life he cannot ignore.

In a summer that simmers with the unsolved crime, George is haunted by a bankroll hidden behind kitchen tiles, by a brother who dragged him into this, and by a father who instilled in him a conscience. A conscience challenged when a young child and beautiful woman crossed paths with him and unexpectedly took hold of his heart.

Set among the red barns, lush cornfields and sparkling wishing fountain of Addison, Connecticut, True Blend is a captivating novel that steals your heart and does not let go. Because like the lace wedding gowns hanging on Amy’s clothesline, waltzing in the summer breeze, love and secrets twist and spin together in their own mesmerizing dance.

This is the authors fourth book, and I have enjoyed them all. The story was so interesting that I didn’t mind that it was longer than what I prefer. The author did a great job of keeping my attention.

True Blend is a mix of loss, a mother’s love, a brother’s betrayal, a kidnapping, suspense, fear, betrayal and romance. The book is a lot like her other stories, but it’s a lot different too. The characters are similar, but the plot is totally different.

The only fault I could find with the book was that there was some pretty bad language, especially GD, which makes me cringe. Other than that, the book was fine.

As I said before, I’ve read all of DeMaio’s books, and can’t wait to read the next one.

Aug 052014


 The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062136593
ISBN-13: 978-0062136596

In The Supreme Macaroni Company, Adriana Trigiani transports readers from the cobblestone streets of Greenwich Village to lush New Orleans to Italy and back again while exploring the tricky dynamics between Old World craftsmanship and New World ambition, all amid a passionate love affair that fuels one woman’s determination to have it all.

For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Confronted with painful choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: “A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything.” Now the proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves—the bitter and the sweet of life itself.

Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate.

This is the third in the Valentine Trilogy, which includes Very Valentine (2009) and Brava, Valentine (2010). Even though this is the third in the series, there is enough info in the book so that it can be read as a stand-a-lone. I haven’t read the first two, but do have a copy of the second one and am eager to get the first so that I can read them too.

I didn’t connect with Valentine right away, but she grew on me and I did enjoy her for the rest of the book. The descriptions of the places and events brought the words to life, and the characters were very well written. The family relationships were like every family I know. Sometimes they didn’t agree or get along, but love was always present.

I loved every aspect of this book, even the shoe making. My late brother in law was in the shoe business, and I remember being fascinated with him and his job. He took me with him a few times and I loved going with him. This book brought back lots of memories of him and the shoes, which also endeared the book to me.

The book made me laugh, which is the best I can hope for in any book, but it also made me sad which I also love. To me, feeling emotional while reading a book makes it a winner!

About the author:
AdrianaTrigianiAdriana Trigiani is an award-winning playwright, television writer, and documentary filmmaker. Her books include the New York Times bestseller The Shoemaker’s Wife; the Big Stone Gap series; Very Valentine; Brava, Valentine; Lucia, Lucia; and the bestselling memoir Don’t Sing at the Table, as well as the young adult novels Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight. She wrote the screenplay for Big Stone Gap, which she also directed. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Connect with Adriana here:
Twitter: @adrianatrigiani



Aug 042014



The Jones Men by Vern Smith

Genre: Crime
Published by: Rosarium Publishing
Date: May 2014
Number of Pages: 264
ISBN: 978-0989141185

Purchase Links:

To become the King, you have to take the crown. It won’t be given up lightly. Heroin kingpin, Willis McDaniel, has been wearing that particular piece of jewelry for far too long, and youngblood, Lennie Jack, thinks it would look really good on his head. When a junkie tells Jack about a big delivery, the young Vietnam vet makes his move. Feeling his empire crumble, McDaniel puts the word out to find whoever’s responsible. The hunt is on, the battle is engaged, and the streets of Detroit run red with blood.

In 1974 Vern E. Smith took the crime fiction world by storm with his debut novel, The Jones Men. Heralded as “a large accomplishment in the art of fiction” by the New York Times, The Jones Men went on to be nominated for an Edgar Award and became a New York Times Notable Book. The art of crime fiction has never been the same since.

Read an excerpt:

For Bennie Lee Sims’ wake, Lennie Jack chose the sky-blue Fleetwood with the chromed-up bumpers and the bar-line running from the trunk to the dash, dispensing six different liquors with chaser.

Joe Red brought the car to a halt in front of Fraser’s Funeral Parlor on Madison Boulevard. He backed it in between a red El Dorado with a diamond-shaped rear window and a pink Lincoln with a leopard-skin roof.

Lennie Jack wore a medium-length Afro and had thick wide sideburns that grew neatly into the ends of a bushy moustache drooping over his top lip. He got out of the passenger seat in a manner that favored his left shoulder. He had on a cream-colored suede coat that stopped just below the knee, and a .38 in his waistband.

Joe Red was shorter and thinner and younger than Lennie Jack. He got his nickname for an extremely light complexion and a thick curly bush of reddish brown hair; it spilled from under the wide-brimmed black hat cocked low over his right ear. He had on the black leather midi with the red-stitched cape; he had a .45 automatic in his waistband.

They came briskly down the sidewalk and went up the six concrete steps to the entrance of Fraser’s.

An attendant in a somber gray suit and dark tie greeted them at the door.

“We’re here for Bennie Sims,” Joe Red said.

“Come this way,” the attendant said.

He guided them down a narrow hallway past a knot of elderly black women waiting to file into one of the viewing rooms flanking the hall on either side. The hallway reeked of death; the women wept.

They passed three more doors before the attendant led them left at the end of the hall and down a short flight of stairs. A single 60-watt bulb illuminated the lower level. The attendant went past the row of ebony- and silver-colored caskets stacked near the staircase and stopped at a door in the back of the room.

“They’re in there,” he said. He turned and headed back up the stairs. Lennie Jack rapped softly at the door. They stood a few feet back from the doorway to be recognizable in the dim light.

The door cracked.

“This Bennie Lee?” Lennie Jack said.

“Yeah, this it,” said a voice behind the crack.

A man with wavy black hair in a white mink jacket and red knicker boots let them in. He relocked the door.

The room smelled of cigarette smoke. A row of silver metal chairs had been stacked in a neat line on one side, but most of the people come to pay their respects were scattered in the back in tight little clusters, talking and laughing.

At the front of the long room, near a small table of champagne bottles, Bennie Lee Sims’ tuxedo-dad body lay in a silver-colored coffin with a bright satin lining.

His face was dusty with a fine white powder.

Lennie Jack walked over to the coffin. He dipped his fingers in the silver tray of cocaine on top and sprinkled it over Bennie Lee.

Joe Red stepped up behind him and tried to find a spot that wasn’t covered. He finally decided on the lips and scattered a handful of the fine white crystalline powder around Bennie Lee’s mouth and chin.

They moved through the crowd, shaking hands and greeting people. Almost everybody had come to see Bennie Lee off.

The Ware brothers were there: Willie, the oldest at twenty-four; Simmy, who was twenty; and June, who often swaggered as if he were the elder of the clan but still had the baby-smooth face and look of wide- eyed adolescence. He was seventeen.

Pretty Boy Sam was standing in one corner with his right foot resting on one of the metal chairs. He had smooth brown skin and almost girlish features, topped off by a pointed Van Dyke beard. His good looks masked a violent temper.

Pretty Boy Sam had worn his full-length brown mink and brought his woman to pay his respects to Bennie Lee Sims, who had two neat bullet holes right between the eyes and underneath all the cocaine on his face.

Slim Williams was there with his woman. He was a tall, thin dark-skinned man whose left eye had been destroyed by an errant shotgun blast. He now wore a variety of gaily colored eye patches the way he had heard Sammy Davis did when he lost his eye. He had on a patch of bright green and red plaid and stood conversing on one side of the room with Hooker, Woody Woods, and Mack Lee.

Willis McDaniel was not there, but then, he never came. He had probably never considered it, but it was a source of irritation to the others.

Joe Red said, “Hey Jack, he the man. He don’t hafta come see nobody off if he don’t wanta come. Ain’t none of these people thinkin’ bout makin’ him come. Who gon make him come?”

“Why he can’t come like the rest of the people?” Lennie Jack said. “Has anybody ever thought of that, you reckon? He too big now to bring his ass out here to see a dude off? He probably had him ripped anyway. I don’t understand how these chumps let an old man like that just get in there and rule.”

“Now we both know how he got it,” Joe Red said. “He took it. He say, ‘Look, I’m gon be the man on this side of town cause I got my thing together and I got plenty big shit behind me. Now what you motherfuckers say?’ Everybody say, ‘You the man, Mister McDaniel.’ That’s the way he did it.”

“That is the way to take it from him, too.” Lennie Jack said. “We gon get lucky pretty soon. I think he can be had and I know just the way to do it. I got some people working on it. The first thing they teach you in the war is to fight fire with fire, you know?”

He took the tiny gold spoon on the chain around his neck and scooped a pinch of cocaine off the tray Joe Red handed him. He brought the spoon up to his right nostril and sniffed deeply.

The crowd was beginning to drift to the corner of the room where Slim Williams was holding court. Slim was thirty-seven, and much older than most of his audience. Lennie Jack was twenty-six, and Joe Red had just turned twenty-one three days ago.

Slim Williams had diamond rings on three fingers of his left hand, and he was waving them around in a dazzling display and talking about Joe the Grind.

“Joe used to walk into a bar with his dudes with him–he always carried these two dudes with him everywhere he went. He’d walk into a place fulla people and say, ‘I’m Joe the Grind, set up the bar! All pimps and players step up to the bar and bring your whores with you.’”

Slim Williams chuckled. “Then Joe would talk about ‘em. He used to say, ‘You ain’t no pimp, nigger. What you doin’ up here? I ain’t buying no drinks for you. Sit down!’”

Slim Williams laughed; so did everybody else.

“Joe used to rayfield a chump bag dude too,” Slim Williams said. “He used to tell ‘em ‘Just cause you got eight or nine hundred dollars worth of business don’t mean you somebody.’ Then Joe would throw a roll down that’d choke a Goddamn mule and tell the chump: ‘Looka here boy, I just had my man sell forty-two thousand dollars worth of heh-rawn, and I got twenty more joints to hear from fore midnight. Gon sit down somewhere, you don’t belong up here with no big dope men.”

They laughed again and somebody passed the coke tray.

June Ware took his pinch and squared his toes in the eighty-dollar calfskin boots from Australia, via Perrin’s Men’s Shoppe on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

“What happened to Joe, Slim?” June Ware said.

“Oh, somebody shot ‘im in the head in an after-hours joint,” Slim Williams said. “And lemme tell you, youall shoulda been there to see Joe’s wake. It put this thing to shame. Compared to Joe’s, this thing ain’t nothing. This light-weight. They say there was coke in the block wrapped in foil and pure heh-rawn set out on silver trays with diamonds in the sides.

“So they partied all night till twelve the next day, then they all went to Joe’s funeral. After the funeral was over, everybody got on the plane with his woman and went to Jamaica for two days.”

“Say what?” June Ware said.

“Yeah, that’s the truth,” Slim Williams said. “And you shoulda seen that funeral too. They say a broad came over from Chicago in a white-on-white El Dorado, and she was dressed in all white with a bad-ass mink round her shoulders. Then when she came out of the hotel the next day for Joe’s funeral, they say she was in all black. She went to the graveyard and threw one hundred roses on Joe. Then she got in her ride and split. Don’t nobody know who she was. When they had Joe’s funeral march, there was one hundred fifty big pieces lined up for blocks down Madison Boulevard. They pulled a brand new Brough-ham behind the hearse, and when the march was over they took the car out to the trash yard and crushed it.”

“Goddamn Slim!” June Ware said.

Mack Lee, who was twenty-two years old and decked out from the top of his big apple hat to the tip of his leather platforms in bright lavender, came their way with his woman on his arm.

The woman looked about nineteen; she wore diamond-studded earrings and a matching bracelet. She carried a tray of glasses and an unopened bottle of champagne.

“We oughta drink a toast to Bennie Lee,” Mack Lee said, “and ask the Lord how come he made him so stupid.”

The laughter rippled through the room; Mack Lee popped the cork in the champagne bottle and poured the rounds.




About The Author
Jones-Men-40th-Anniversary-Edition-Vern-Smith-authA native of Natchez, Miss., Smith is a graduate of San Francisco State University, and the Summer Program for Minority Journalists at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He began his journalism career as a reporter for the Long Beach, Calif. Independent Press-Telegram.

From 1979 until 2002, Smith served as the Atlanta Bureau Chief and as a national correspondent for Newsweek.

Vern Smith’s work as a journalist, author and screenwriter spans four decades.

Catch Up With the Author:




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Aug 032014



Today has been a sad day. The dog my son rescued from an abusive owner and gave to me as a present 13 years ago died today. I ended up having to give him to my daughter because he didn’t get along with the dog I already had, but I loved visiting him and listening to his hilarious bark.

My daughter and her family live on a one way street and her husband’s parents, a cousin and an aunt live a few houses down and/or across the street, so there 4 different households to visit with. He was such a good dog who loved having his head and back scratched and his belly rubbed. He was also a great balloon popper!

You’ll be missed for sure, lots of people loved you. RIP Fart !

(his name was Bart, but I always called him Fart)


Aug 032014


The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Narrator: Gary Farmer
Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 12 hours and 39 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: HarperAudio Release Date: October 2, 2012
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English

In the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe sets out to get some answers of his own. The quest takes him first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning. Louise Erdrich’s novel embraces tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of her all-too human characters, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.

This story highlights how a terrible attack on someone not only highly effects that person, but also their family and friends. This is such a sad story, but one that also has some humor thrown in, and is very thought provoking.

The idea of your mom having such a horrible thing happen to her, and then she locks herself in her room, and you may never see the person who did this punished for it…what a heavy weight on Joe’s shoulders. He felt a mix of emotions, loss as his mother shut herself away from him, anger that his father, who was a judge on the reservation, couldn’t seem to bring the guilty to justice.  And so, he wanted to get revenge himself. I loved the relationships between Joe, Cappy, Angus and Jake. I’m glad he had someone to help him through this tough time.

The author did such a great job with the story line and characters that I had to keep reminding myself that this was a work of fiction. What happens in this book can and does happen, and you get a glimpse of Native American traditions and laws which added to the non fiction feel.

Excellent book, although the ending wasn’t what I wanted.

I listened to this on my iPod and thought the narrator did a great job.

Aug 012014

To Hold the Sun

To Hold The Sun by Chas Watkins

Category: Adult fiction. 172 pages
Genre: self-help / inspirational fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Published: April 22, 2013
Available in: Print and e-book formats
Will send books to: US and Canada
Tour dates: July 21 to August 1, 2014
Content Rating: G

This delightful and engaging story outlines the experiences of a young, poor, and disillusioned reporter who is enticed to do a series of articles about Paul, an unconventional philosopher and motivational speaker. In lieu of payment, he gets to travel to and dive on Roatan, arguably one of the most beautiful, pristine islands in the Caribbean. Through a series of meetings, the reporter gets to know Paul’s innermost philosophies. He learns an alternate way of living from a man who strives to perfect handstands on a dock and practices the art of happiness.

The author developed the book as a guide to help his children live their lives in a way that would allow them to enjoy the journey. Drawing on wildly diverse disciplines including stoicism, neuroscience, skepticism, behavioral economics, and spirituality; the reader is taken on a journey that exposes the author’s philosophy of life. He demonstrates that happiness is indeed a choice.

All places detailed on Roatan exist and are more beautiful than described. Color Photos (if supported) are by kind permission of Shawn Jackson.


The idea that the author’s main focus while writing this book was to guide his children through a happy life was very intriguing to me. The fact that it is centered in Roatan was another selling point. I’ve always wanted to vacation there, and would move there in a second if I could, even though I’ve never been. It’s got beautiful beaches and water, and nothing makes me happier than being at the beach.

The book is a lesson for living your life to the fullest. It’s main purpose is to teach you that everyone can be happy, you just have to find what makes you happy. The book was written as a fiction, but also reads like a lighter version of a self-help book. There are some lessons that can help you on your path to live the best life you can live.

I loved how Roatan came alive on the pages, I felt like I was there. I’d love to take the book with me on a trip to Roatan and visit all the places mentioned.

Some of my favorite saying from the book are “Condition the mind, daily practice leads to proper action”, “Empower yourself, direct and control your thoughts” and “Simplify your life, wants are not needs”.

There were a few photos in the book, and while I’d have liked them to be in color, they still were very nice.

This is a wonderful book that I definitely would recommend.


Meet the Author:
Chas WatkinsChas Watkins was born and raised in England and is a naturalized Australian. His children are all American, which he finds very confusing. He moved to Roatan nine years ago. He has an unused degree in electronics from Hull University in England and has somehow managed to work for many fine and good companies without being fired.

After the raging madness of the dotcom world in California, he moved to Roatan to settle with his family. Chas currently pretends to work as a Realtor and Radio DJ. He reads an awful lot, watches the sunrise and sunset every day and consumes way too much coffee. He runs on the beach in the mornings, practices handstands, and lives happily on Roatan with his cat Gary and the children who have not yet deserted him. Even on his best day he is nothing like his character Paul, but strives to be so.

Occasionally he “likes to dance as if no one is watching” which is ironic as his dancing makes people stare. If you are really unlucky, you may meet him, and whatever you do, don’t offer him a drink as he is a very rude and uninteresting person.

Connect with Chas


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Jul 312014


The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman

Pages: 288
Publisher: Ecco (July 29, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062228919
ISBN-13: 978-0062228918


The Tiger’s Wife meets A History of Love in this inventive, lushly imagined debut novel that explores the intersections of family secrets, Jewish myths, the legacy of war and history, and the bonds between sisters

When Eli Burke dies, he leaves behind a mysterious notebook full of stories about a magical figure named The White Rebbe, a miracle worker in league with the enigmatic Angel of Losses, protector of things gone astray, and guardian of the lost letter of the alphabet, which completes the secret name of God.

When his granddaughter, Marjorie, discovers Eli’s notebook, everything she thought she knew about her grandfather–and her family–comes undone. To find the truth about Eli’s origins and unlock the secrets he kept, she embarks on an odyssey that takes her deep into the past, from 18th century Europe to Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and back to the present, to New York City and her estranged sister Holly, whom she must save from the consequences of Eli’s past.

Interweaving history, theology, and both real and imagined Jewish folktales, The Angel of Losses is a family story of what lasts, and of what we can-and cannot-escape.

This book is a mix of history, Jewish folklore and theology. Eli Burke’s granddaughter Marjorie finds his notebook and in it she discovers a man nothing like the grandfather she has known all her life. She decides to search the past to find out the truth about him.

I loved the reading about Jewish folklore, but parts of the book were hard to keep straight in my mind. The twist between Marjorie and her sister was interesting, and kept me eagerly turning the pages to see how that turned out.

All in all this was an interesting book, but I felt it had too much going on at times.

This is Feldman’s first book and I’d be interested in reading more from her.



Jul 302014


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Series: AWARDS: ALA: Youth Media Award Winners 2011
Hardcover: 292 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385501129
ISBN-13: 978-0385501125

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for
the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

This was our July read for the book club @  The Kitchen Reader and I was so excited to read this, in fact it was my suggestion, so I can’t wait to see what everyone else thought of it.

First of all, can you imagine what it would be like to “taste” the emotions of the person who made the food you’re eating? That would be a bit too much for me to handle mentally. Sure, it would be fun at first, but I think it would get old rather quickly. And here is Rose, only 9 years old having to deal with it. She was definitely my favorite character.

I liked this book, but not as much as I thought I would. Still, I’d give it a 3 star.

The book was fun to read, the theme was very different, but the family relationships were strained and I was left without closure concerning them.

The food aspect of the book was the best part for me. So much good food throughout the book. There was a lot of mention of the recipes, and I wish there had been some included in the book.

I had been wanting to read this since it was published, and I guess I had it so built up in my head that it could never have matched my expectations. Still, I thought it was a good book, and it was the first I’ve read by this author.

Jul 302014


What’s So Funny by Tim Conway
Jane Scovell (Author, Narrator), Carol Burnett (Author, Narrator), Dick Hill (Narrator)

Audible Audio Edition
Listening Length: 8 hours and 39 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brilliance Audio Release Date: October 30, 2013
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Language: English

Six-time Emmy Award–winning funnyman Tim Conway, best known for his characters on The Carol Burnett Show, offers a straight-shooting and hilarious memoir about his life on stage and off as an actor and comedian.

In television history, few entertainers have captured as many hearts and made as many people laugh as Tim Conway. There’s nothing in the world that Tim Conway would rather do than entertain—and in his first-ever memoir, What’s So Funny?, that’s exactly what he does. From his pranks in small Ohio classrooms to his perfor­mances on national television and movies, Tim has been cracking people up for more than seventy years. Long regarded as one of the funniest come­dians around, Tim also boasts an inspiring rags-to-riches story.

What’s So Funny? captures Tim’s journey from life as an only child raised by loving but outra­geous parents in small-town Ohio during the Great Depression, to his tour of duty in the Army—which would become training for his later role in McHale’s Navy—to his ascent as a national star and household name. By tracing his early path, this book reveals the origins of many of Tim’s unforgettable characters—from Mr. Tudball and the Oldest Man to Mickey Hart to everyone’s favorite, Dorf.

What’s So Funny? shares the hilarious accounts of the glory days of The Carol Burnett Show and his famous partnerships with entertainment greats like Harvey Korman, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Vicki Lawrence, Bob Newhart, and of course, Carol Burnett. As a bonus, readers will enjoy never-before-shared stories of hilarious behind-the-scenes antics on McHale’s Navy and The Carol Burnett Show.

I’ve loved Tim Conway since the first time I saw him, and watching him on the Carol Burnett show made me laugh until my jaw and sides hurt. If you saw the show where he walked down the wall instead of the stairs, or where he was talking about an elephant, you know what I mean. When I was in middle school, one of my teachers told us she went to school with him in Willoughby , Ohio (not far from where I lived) and that he was just as funny even as child.

This book lets us into the life and thoughts of this man, who in my opinion is one of the funniest people, and best comedic actors, ever! I know about his childhood and his unusual parents who he calls by their first names, Sophie and Dan. They were very different from my parents, and did quirky, even strange things. There was a part in the audio where he talked about his mom not likeing a certain family in the neighborhood, so whenever they saw the family coming up the driveway, they’d shut the curtains and hide under the kitcen table! Another thing that stuck out in my mind was when he was going to New York, and his dad told him to go see his sister who he hadn’t seen for years (after they came to the U.S. from Ireland, they lost contact) and when Tim got to her apartment she wouldn’t open the door, so he talked to her very shortly through the door and then he left. This was after he was famous even. But she said she didn’t watch tv so didn’t really know who he was. All I can figure is that she was older and lived alone in New York so was leery that he was even who he said he was, and too afraid to open the door to a strange man.

I could go on and on, but think you should either read the book or listen to the audio version for yourself. It is a LOL audio that I plan on listening to from time to time, whenever I need a feel good listen or a laugh.

Highly recommended!

Jul 292014

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The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (September 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 157912626X
ISBN-13: 978-1579126261

Bleached blonde girl clad in not-new spangled evening gown is found strangled in the library of old Colonel Arthur and Dolly Bantry, best friends to Miss Jane Marple. The village spinster, expert in human nature and motivations for murder, notes closely clipped nails, commonly bitten at that age, unlike talons usual to Josie’s job of professional Hotel dancer.

I haven’t read a Christie book in a long time, so I decided to pick one up. This book has all the things I used to love about her books.

The characters are all interesting. Some are a little (or a lot) quirky and they each have their own personality traits that make the book a great read. Some are loyal, intuitive, adventurous, discreet, observant, imaginative, and of course Miss Marple has a keen eye that picks up things others disregard. Not all the characters have good qualities though, some are dishonest, rude, quarrelsome, self centered and/or sneaky.Add all those up and you have a very interesting book that will keep you wanting to read to the end.

As for the murderer, I never did figure out who it was and was a little surprised when they were found out. I loved this book and now I want to read more from Agatha Christie!

The book is short at only 192 pages, but is such a good story that it left a big impression on me. It’s one of those books that will be in my mind for a long time. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone whether they are a mystery lover or not.