D.G.KAYE: FIFTEEN FIRST TIMES

Our experiences are stepping stones for much of what feeds our character. We live, we experience, we learn, we become, and we overcome.

I always look forward to reading D.G. Kaye’s books because I know they will be authentic, witty, and compelling.

Throughout D.G. Kaye’s latest memoir, she draws her readers in by sharing her past experiences. A reader can easily relate to fifteen real talk stories that cover topics such as her obsession with shoes, her hilarious experience with her first Christmas tree, her disastrous experiment with changing from blonde to redhead, her first kiss, and many more firsts, at times bittersweet, including the death of a close friend.

 In particular, I found her tribute to her beloved husband to be so very touching. She writes how no man could make her laugh. In the past laughter for her “could mask so many scars, aches, and insecurities….It was always me making someone else laugh…That was until I met my husband. Here was a man who made me laugh.”

During this Christmas season, if you’re feeling stressed like many of us are, I highly recommend this book. Relax and give yourself this gift for the holiday season. Your heart will likely smile as you reflect on some of your firsts and take a journey down your own memory lane.

ABOUT PERSEVERANCE

While I was scanning through my TBR list on my Kindle for something that would inspire me in my writing I came across Lady By The River – Stories of Perseverance, coedited by Yvette Prior. 

I am a believer in chance and fate so it brought a smile to my heart when one of the essays was about writing and perseverance. Just what I needed to read.

Mabel Kwong’s: How I Found the Confidence to Chase My Passion and Made It A Reality is filled with heart warming advice about the struggles of being a writer.

An Australian Chinese-Malaysian writer Mabel Kwong is fascinated by issues such as multiculturalism, racism, stereotypes and identity issues. Her difficulties with her writing range from rejections and lack of support from a family where

artsy jobs are deemed riskier career choices and so are often frowned upon.

Mabel Kwong fought these obstacles.

When we push on and keep trying, we feel the flame of inspiration within us amidst growing confidence.

When we muster the courage and try our hand at what we are passionate about, we ignite the spark within us to put ourselves and our voice out there.

Following this story I was delighted to discover that it was written by Ana Linden, a fellow blogger whose writing and photography I greatly admire. I have read and enjoyed every one of her books. Her style of writing is raw and she is fearless in exposing her heart. This is especially true in her essay titled Present in the Past.

Ana Linden’s story is why for years she avoided going back to her childhood home and finally having the courage to confront the power of her past.  

 I had felt the effects of her (grandmother’s) manipulative, selfish and cruel nature at a time when I desperately wanted to believe nothing of that was real, because I loved her…You never get over certain things, but you learn to live with them, to control what they do to you.

When at 19 she finally left her home town, (F)uelled not by hopes and dreams of idealistic youth, I left it driven by anger and hatred.

Ana Linden’s writing is honest and bold at its core as she minutely describes her pain and mistreatment. She pushes on to simply survive my family and not become like them.

To quote Yvette Prior in her introduction to Ana Linden:

Ana processed her past with us, showing us how she turned pain and mistreatment into motivation, to then later dispense grace from a place of strength. 

The collection includes ten other moving stories where patience and friendship, determination, learning to embrace challenges, coping strategies and sharing all are part of the fabric of perseverance. In her conclusion of this collection and study on perseverance, Yvette Prior writes:

It takes an effort to endure, but it can pay off with an enriched you, and with an inspiring story to tell later.

Stevie Turner: Falling

Falling has a unique premise: James Hynde, at the end of his rope, decides to commit suicide by jumping off a building. He lands on Olivia who is coming from an interview with the Royal Ballet Company and her dreams of becoming a ballerina are literally crushed while James has failed his suicide attempt.

Wheelchair bound, Olivia is intent on getting her revenge to the man who ruined her life.

Falling is a novel with two very well rounded characters filled with greed, money, revenge and yes, even romance as a relationship between Olivia and James ensues. Not an ordinary love story though, where, James’ motivation is guilt for having ruined Olivia’s dream while Olivia’s is one of bitter revenge. Two people marrying each other for the wrong reason.   

About a quarter of the way through the novel Olivia’s revenge is blocked by several obstacles involving a mother-in-law, tainted money and the appearance of an ex-wife.

Life keeps knocking Olivia down, yet each time she manages to get up with courage and determination. James, on the other hand, is out to prove that he is not a deadbeat loser.

When Olivia discovers that her dream of opening up a ballet school is squashed by James’ dark secret, their marriage turns for the worse. Olivia wants a divorce which James refuses to give her and they end up being business partners.

In lockdown, will their business partnership survive?  

I enjoyed this novel. It is a fun, light read with twists and turns that make it unpredictable.

The moral of the story, in my opinion, is spoken by Olivia’s mother:

“Don’t let what’s happened to you make you bitter. It’ll destroy the rest of your life.”

D. Wallace Peace: The Necromancer’s Daughter

In her acknowledgment page D. Wallace Peach writes how Cathleen Townsend, a beta reader and editor challenged her to write a book “with one beautiful character, not someone physically stunning, but someone with a beautiful heart, a truly good person.”

Taking up the challenge, D. Wallace Peach created the royal daughter Aster, a sweet, innocent and fearless girl who was born dead but brought to life by Barus, an old, slight, crippled man who practices the art of bringing the dead back to life through necromancy.

Necromancy: The Summoning, Manipulation, and Resurrection of the Dead.

Barus, learned the art of necromancy through Olma, the woman who’d rescued his abandoned body in the woods and her book of herbal craft.

When Barus is summoned by the King of Verdant to save his dying wife, the Queen and the child she bares, the Queen begs the King to allow her to die but to save the baby. Upon discovering that the baby is a girl King Aldring abandons her and Barus steals her and brings her up as his child.

The loving bond between Aster and Barus is one of the most touching and beautiful father/daughter relationships in literature. This is expressed in letters which Barus wrote while separated from Aster:

You were my first attempt at necromancy that mattered. I knew then that you would become my snow fairy and transform my lonely days with your bright spirit.

Aster learns this skill of using herbs, poisonous distillates, incantations and human blood to resuscitate the dead.

In a later letter, Barus explains to Aster how her mother, the princess of Blackrock’s marriage to King Aldring was a political exchange and how she entered this world through an act of sacrifice.

When King Aldring is close to death, he must find an heir and so he seeks out Aster and brings her to his palace.

From there, the novel turns into an adventure where Aster escapes, crossing borders into Catticut where she encounters dragons and much hardship. The forest of silver cats lay between her and the mountains of Blackrock – her mother’s homeland – where Aster hopes to find Barus still alive.  

This is a story of a young woman’s courage, hope, and loyalty.

Besides the plot, the novel shines with its exquisite, poetic descriptions.  

Much has been written about this novel both through her 10 day book tour.

 and her many 5 star reviews of the book on Amazon.

D. Wallace Peach has succeeded in creating a beautiful character, not someone physically stunning, but someone with a beautiful heart, a truly good person.  One of literature’s heroines.

Finally, I was most impressed by D. Wallace Peach’s talent and vivid imagination.  

Toni Pike: Linda’s Midlife Crisis

I am used to associating Toni Pike’s writing with crime and thrillers, not this delightful modern feel-good women’s fiction and so it was a surprise for me to see it on her post.  

The first part of the novel is about Linda’s marriage to Ron, a horrible man.

He was the sort of person who brought joy whenever he departed, a feeling of peace and freedom that lasted until the moment of his return.

Ron is constantly criticizing Linda, especially her weight, treats her like his servant and is often going out at night coming home smelling of alcohol. Linda stays in the marriage because she doesn’t know what else to do and likes her home when her husband is at work or playing golf. As much as Linda is the glass half full type of person Ron is eternally pessimistic.

Aside from her marriage, Linda also hates teaching although there was a time when it was her passion but things have changed.

She had once been a great teacher, popular with students and respected by other staff members. Every year, a little gloss had been wiped away and now only a dull, rusted undercoat was left. It was so hard to look forward to a day at school when a riot could break out at any moment and every lesson was like trying to tame a herd of wild beasts.

Linda has a breakdown (or perhaps a breakthrough). She spends a great deal of her time in bed eating chocolates and gaining weight something which Ron doesn’t let her forget.  

If you’re not better tomorrow, then I’m leaving. I’m not taking care of an invalid for the rest of my life. There’s nothing wrong with you, apart from being too fat and too lazy to go to work.

When Linda doesn’t change Ron asks for a divorce and off Linda goes gaining enthusiasm, energy and the will to take care of herself.

The remainder of the novel is sweet and reminiscent of the Television show I used to watch as a kid: Leave it to Beaver. It has that kind, family feel to it. Beneath her submission towards Ron, Linda is a very astute woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her character adds a fun, easy relaxing and pleasant read.

We see Linda thrive through the obligations of life: getting a house ready to sell. Finding an apartment. Moving to a different city, closer to her sister. Quitting her job. Finding work in fashion. Taking care of herself. Embarking on a new and loving relationship and writing.

Linda was an English teacher who once loved to write, but life with Ron had dulled her inspiration and melted the muse.

The book also contains some heartwarming sentences:

… your heart matches your lovely face. Said by new boyfriend, Dennis.

Linda uses her struggles with weight to write inspiring articles for The Canberra News Magazine which motivates her in setting goals for her own weight loss program.

She loved trying to write with clarity, transposing the thoughts in her brain to paper and then polishing them carefully.

As the stain of verbal and psychological abuse fades, Linda becomes more confident and someone you’d love to hang out with.

It’s an upbeat novel and Pike shows that there are happy endings even for those in mid-life.

An enjoyable read that is bound to take you out of any morose mood you might be in.

How’s your New Years Resolution coming along?

Many new years resolutions have to do with getting in shape – exercising more and eating properly. But studies show that 64% abandon their new year’s resolution within a month.

Ellie Marrandette’s book will help you get back on track and re-energize you to maintain good eating habits.

Combining her career as a nutritional counsellor and her New Creation Ministries series, this book addresses the “intricate mind, body and spiritual aspects to optimum and sensible health.”

Whether your goal is to lose weight the end point is to be healthy and Ellie Marrandette offers expert advice and tips on doing so. It’s not about dieting but about introducing into your life healthy eating habits.

Being healthy improves one’s looks, energy level, longevity and self-esteem.

Critiquing every fad diet out there she explains why they don’t work and suggests that the only diet that works is feeding your body with the proteins, minerals and vitamins it needs to function at maximum health and to ward of illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and joint problems.

Be mindful of harmful habits when reaching for food when you are not even hungry.

She explains the role enzymes play in regulating different parts of our body, including regulating our appetite. Much of the book is on quality nutrients necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies (liver, intestines, skin, brain, bones et) and which foods contain them.

The book includes chapters on the benefits of detoxification and emotional eating and the importance of fiber and foods to incorporate in your daily intake for a good night’s sleep or for battling dark circles under the eyes as well as foods that protect sun damage. The benefits of eating nutritious mini-meals throughout the day to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Add to this our personalities, our attitudes and the importance of gratitude in maintaining a stable health plan.

Although this book targets Christian groups, her knowledge on health and nutrition is universal. This is not a book to read in one reading. There is too much information and it is more of a reference book.

If you find that you are having difficulty sticking to your new year’s goals of becoming healthier this book might just be the boost you need to motivate you to get over that slump.

 We are the only ones who live in our bodies. Choose wisely.

Two Books to Warm Your Heart

It’s been freezing cold here and so it was the perfect weather to bundle up with a warm sweater, a pair of woolen socks, a blanket and a couple of books from some blogger friends. One a mystery, the other a contemporary romance.  

Lauren is tired of living with her in laws, especially her dominating mother-in-law and can hardly wait to be able to move out with her husband, Ben, and have the privacy and liberty she craves.

Her desires to escape her current situation make her the perfect target for falling for a get rich quick scam. By doing so, she practically loses all her and her husband’s life savings and in the process is destroying her marriage.

There is more to this novel besides the scam which places it above the white color crime genre and into the mystery crime novel.

This was an easy read and one that anybody who is thinking of embarking in a get rich scheme ought to read this book. It’s bound to make you think twice about giving your well earned money away.

SCAM is a fast paced novel with well developed characters. It is a story about forgiveness, mistakes and the power of love.

It’s short enough to be read in one sitting which I did not because of its length but because I couldn’t put it down. All in all a fun read.

SEARCHING FOR HOME takes place in a small village in Whispering Slopes in the Shenandoah Valley. Meg is both a physical therapist and runs a B&B which her sister left her along with a set of five-year-old triplets. Life is running along smoothly enough for Meg until Luke, an old boyfriend who dumped her, walks back into her life.

Cowboy Luke, as the triplets call him, is a famous bull rider who not only wants to win back Meg’s heart but sees the triplets as an opportunity to have the family he always craved for. He is especially drawn to little Tucker who has a chip on his shoulder for having been abandoned by his parents – something Luke can well understand and identify with. He himself has had a difficult past  – an unwanted child and always seeking but never getting his father’s approval. So he understand the little boy’s anger at his father abandoning him.

Romance novels, at least for me, make me relax and forget about any problems or duties awaiting me. Jill’s novels are comfort food for the soul. As all of Jill Weatherholt’s novels, this is a feel-good book. It’s also sweet proving that not all sweets are bad for you.

Two Books for The New Year

Ana Linden is a blogger I’ve been following for some time and an insightful writer. If you haven’t read any of her books I highly recommend her. In her latest post she was kind enough to review my book along with Charlie Robinson’s book – an author I was unfamiliar with until I read Ana’s review and which I now want to read. Stop by Ana’s blog. You’re in for a treat. Besides her insightful writing she is also a fabulous photographer. Thank you, Ana, for your review of my book. I am very grateful. ❤

Ana Linden

The Siege of Mr Kahn’s Curry Shop– by Charlie Robinson

“How do you live a life when you don’t have a past? I need to know – for me.”

I was already familiar with Charlie Robinson’s storytelling, thoroughly enjoying his sense of humour and witty writing style on his blog. I already knew he was working on his first novel – two decades in the making, as he put it. Then, once I saw the cover, the title and the synopsis, I instantly wanted to read The Siege of Mr Kahn’s Curry Shop as I had a feeling it wouldn’t disappoint.

“This is life – sometimes we make a success of things and sometimes we don’t. More often than not, we don’t, but we carry on and we need to carry on without bearing a grudge.”

Well, I was right. I may have mentioned this before, I don’t…

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Yaa Gyasi: Transcendent Kingdom

Gifty (and what an appropriate name for this gentle soul) appears in different stages of her life: as a young child with memories of her wonderful Ghanaian family living in Alabama; as an eleven-year-old living with her depressed and anhedonia mother and her older brother whom she adores. Then, if having her father return to Ghana wasn’t enough another type of tragedy strikes and we see Gifty doing research in a university lab in Southern California on the addictive behavior of rats while she is confronted with her brother fighting his own addiction as she documents what it is like to live with an addict and a depressed mother.

There is no mystery regarding the plot. One has simply to read the jacket cover to know the entire plot. Rather, this is a character driven novel and a mixture of fiction versus non-fiction – a cross between storytelling and neurological research on addiction. 

Gifty offers the readers the rawness of her truth that we find sometimes difficult to accept about ourselves.

For example, her thoughts about her brother’s addiction to heroin:


“Forget for a moment what he looked like on paper, and instead see him as he was in all of his glory, in all of his beauty. It’s true that for years before he died, I would look at his face and think, What a pity, what a waste. But the waste was my own, the waste was what I missed out on whenever I looked at him and saw just his addiction.”

The book is full of such insights be they about race, immigration, mother/daughter relationship, religion versus science, and grief.

It also contains some beautifully written sentences:

I, too, have spent years creating my little moat of good deeds in an attempt to protect the castle of myself.

A beautifully literary novel that made me understand a bit more what it is like to be Black in America and a sneak look into Ghanaian culture. A book that, I think, is bound to transcend you.

Sara Nisha Adams: The Reading List

Reading this stunning debut novel made me think of friends in my past whom I hadn’t thought of in years. It made me think of places I had visited; trips I had taken and experiences I’d had that I’d forgotten about. The novel brought me back to many of the books on the list that I had read giving me a glimpse into my past and a dream of my future.

A mysterious person has left Just in case you need it a list of eight books to read in: library books, at the bus stop, at the yoga studio, in the supermarket, the community garden and other places. The novel centers around two main characters. Seventeen-year-old, Aleisha who has a summer job working in a library and who lives with her older brother and her mother who suffers from severe depression. The other main character is Mukesh, a man in his seventies who is grieving the death of his loving wife and trying to cope with his loss. A friendship evolves between these two characters as Aleisha recommends books (from a list left in a novel) to Mukesh. As they discuss these novels their reflections comfort them on their grief.  

This is a novel about how books have the power to heal. It is a novel about the injustices in the world, about terror, guilt and regret. It is about the magic of books to enhance lives and bring a community together.

The Reading List is a vivid and beautifully written story with unforgettable characters that will crush your heart.

 As an added bonus to this book, I would recommend it to anyone who must write a synopsis of their own novel for it succinctly illustrates how the author captures the essence of each of the novels on the list.