Book Review: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

Book: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way Author: Robert Maurer Format: eBook Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟(5 Stars) O...

Monday, September 28, 2020

Book Review: Hunting of Men by Lance J. Lorusso

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Hunting of Men is Book 1 in a series. The narrative follows the transition of Johnny Till, the main character, to his new role as a homicide detective and a missing young woman, named Hannah.
As the plot unfolds, the chapters alternate between Johnny Till and Hannah. Lorusso keeps you engaged until the very end. I was immediately curious about how the stories of Johnny and Hannah would collide, especially since Hannah was missing and Johnny was working on a cold case, involving a school resource officer. My favorite part probably was the bank robbery. I was completely caught off guard by it, and I couldn't figure out how it would relate to the plot.

Lorusso does an excellent job of captivating the reader. Since he is a former police officer, Lorusso adequately describes events within the book that makes it completely fascinating. Because of the realistic nature of the book, I found myself seeing each scene unfold. I grew to really like Johnny Till and his dedication to being an excellent homicide detective. I devoured the book within a day or two. The most significant aspect of the book is how it brings attention to a real issue that is plaguing the United States and the World: sex trafficking. I don't think people talk about this issue. As a professor of public policy, I believe that this issue should get more attention than it does. I think Lorusso adequately entertains his readers while ensuring that attention to sex trafficking is addressed. Thus, the end of the book includes an author's note about sex trafficking with specific statistics, as well as a section to educate the readers about how they can stop human trafficking.
Here is some of the useful information included in the book:
  • Call 911.
  • Text HELP or INFO to BeFREE (233733) for the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888)
  • Download the See Something, Send Something app.

About the Book: 

In Hunting of Men, LoRusso draws upon his diverse law enforcement background that saw him work the street, serve as a trainer, hostage negotiator, and an investigator.  The book launches the career of central character, Johnny Till who will be the key character in all the Blue Mystery books. The book’s title, Hunting of Men, is drawn from Ernest Hemingway’s quote, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.”  The mystery in Hunting of Men focuses upon a cold case murder.  

Johnny Till is a force to be reckoned with as a new homicide detective for the Lawler County Police Department. As tradition demands, on his first day on the job, Till pulls a cold case file to investigate. The file in question is one that has haunted the department and community for years: the cold-blooded murder of Officer Michael Dunlap, gunned down in the black of night some twenty years earlier.

Now, in order to solve the murder and heal the victims left behind, Till must reopen old wounds and retrace the final days of Dunlap’s life. The journey will lead him down a rabbit hole to a darker, more sinister conspiracy, one that threatens to steal the lives of children around the world. In order to close this cold case, Till must not only come into his new role as a homicide detective,  but face his own fears to truly become a hunter of men.






 

Friday, September 25, 2020

Book Highlight - A Mother's Grace by Michelle Moore

Order the book!

About the Book:

As women everywhere are dealing with unprecedented trials and stress in their lives, A Mother’s Grace: Healing the World One Woman at a Time shares remarkable true (and inspiring) stories from female change-makers with advice about turning adversity into action.  

Author Michelle Moore shares how her adversity became a global movement when she survived an aggressive form of breast cancer at the same time her son faced near-fatal complications from juvenile diabetes. Grateful to be alive, she was compelled to make changes in her life and in the lives of others. Along with her own personal story, Moore shares the stories of 10 women and how their lives serendipitously came together in the most unique ways so she could continue to grow this movement and partner with these women in quite miraculous ways. 

 

About the Author:

By day, author Michelle Moore oversees the COVID-19 testing response as a senior vice president for Laboratory Corporation of America; by night, she is the founder of Mother’s Grace, a nonprofit organization that has raised more than $5 million for families in acute crisis, assisting more than 6,000 mothers in the state of Arizona and throughout the world. Mother’s Grace addresses the critical needs of mothers and their children in the midst of tragic life events by helping them with housing costs, medication, meals, housekeeping, childcare, transportation, and a host of other immediate needs. Through mentorship and seed grants, Mother’s Grace also assists women in starting their own nonprofits, with the goal of producing a new generation of women leaders. 

Michelle Moore

 

Michelle is the recipient of MASK Unity’s Moms Making a Difference Award, the highly coveted Hon-Kachina Award and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Philanthropy in Action Award. In 2019, Moore was awarded the Phoenix Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business award and was granted a State of Arizona Commendation by First Lady Angela Ducey for her extraordinary service to the people of Arizona. 

Read an Excerpt of a Mother's Grace

HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN PHILANTHROPIC MISSION: 

THE SIX BRANCHES TO GRACE 

Adapted excerpt from A Mother’s Grace: Healing the World One Woman at a Time

By Michelle Moore

All it takes to begin is taking one step forward, inspired by a dream or a yearning to do something. You may want to start your own 501(c)(3) or volunteer at a local hospital, holding drug-addicted babies. You may want to write a book or start a social media campaign. Whatever it may be, all that’s holding you back is fear. 

But fear does not need to render you motionless. Here’s what you can do, one step at a time, according to what I call the Six Branches to Grace. I firmly believe you need to be in touch with God and the world, and most of all your true self, before you can fully realize your own divine journey. Take a stab at the following suggestions that got me started. 

1. Grab a notebook. 

I believe our phones may be our demise, distracting us from the beauty of the world. God does not come to us on our phones. God’s grace comes in the connections we make with our family, friends, pets, communities, and co-workers, and to those desperately in need of a hand to hold during difficult times. So put your device down, look up and around you, and start to tune in to God’s signs and guidance. 

Take a notebook with you and keep articles and assorted things inside it that move you and feel important. Write like a banshee every time something pops into your head. I carried around a red leather notebook for eighteen years. I filled it with articles, advice, photos of inspiring scenes, ideas, quotes, and small pieces of what became content in this book. Make that notebook your own personal project, like a vision board coming to life. 

2. Pray. 

Pray to your God, the universe, or a higher power. To me, prayer is meditation, a release. It’s a total letting go to what will be, and when I have no distractions, I can feel a buzz throughout my body, like every cell is alive but calm. Just find a routine that works for you. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to pray, but closing your eyes and finding stillness can change the trajectory of your day. Here is an amazing episode on the Science of Success podcast that has assisted me in this process, called, “ The Shocking Secret You Must Know to Create Lasting Behavior Change with John Assaraf.”

3. Listen to inspirational music. 

I have my own “innercise” and exercise playlists and after listening my blood is pumping, primarily from great music that gets my ass in gear and makes me appreciate how precious life is. It’s amazing how music can get you going. My friend makes me the most amazing playlists and whenever I am mad or down I listen to them. This reminds me of how he feels about me, and any petty stuff I may be feeling just melts away. 

4. Read! 

I’ve always been a reader. When I was five years old, I joined a book club in the summer and if I read ten books, I got a free book from the library. I was thrilled to get that new book—the smell, its feel, and the sense of a new adventure. When you’re seeking a quieter, more internal form of inspiration and comfort, read! Keep three or four books by your bedside with a highlighter and read for an hour before you go to sleep. I struggle with this one because at night I like to “check out” mindlessly on Netflix. That means I must force myself to slow down and read, and I’m never sorry when I make that choice. 

5. Enlist your posse. 

This is of utmost importance. If you don’t have one, create one now. Put together a group of girlfriends who have your back, who you can talk to in the utmost confidence, and who will tell you like it is—lovingly at first, but they should also be willing to hit you over the head, if and when you are being ridiculous. (Confession: I have bruises all over my head.) As you develop your ideas, ask for their opinions and steady feedback. They should also hold you accountable and keep you moving. I called on my posse throughout the entire process of writing this book and developing the charity. 

Over the last ten years, I’ve formed a writing group, a travel group, a birthday group, a lunch group, and a prayer group. These special women have carried me through more than any one person in my life, and they are way cheaper than the $150 to $200 bucks you pay for 47.5 minutes with a therapist. (Yes, I like therapists, too, but the older I get the more I appreciate the strong women in my life—my posse.) You can start with one “bestie” and grow it. No games, no agenda, no drama—just pure friendship. 

6. Secure a project partner. 

This may be key for you. I could not get all of my ideas on paper, which made my situation seem insurmountable. Had I not found my project partner, it would have taken me another eighteen years and I would be in an old folks’ home, still trying to write this book. Tell people your goals. Be honest; lay your fears aside and tell the people you have recruited that they will become like vehicles to help you find the right people. You may have to pay your project partner, but that is why they are experts in their field and worth your investment. Aren’t you and your goals worth it, too? 

Project partners can be writers, life coaches, therapists, trainers, spiritual advisors, and/or editors, but whomever you choose, it should be someone who can hold you accountable. Paying for these services holds me way more accountable to the process and keeps me motivated and on track. If you can’t find the right fit for your philanthropic mission and you genu- inely feel like your idea fills a gap in the world, then you can start your own 501(c)(3). 

Question and Answer with Michelle

 

1) What advice would you give to women in a crisis?

 

I would always say to find your faith. It looks different to everyone. Grace will lead you to do the right thing versus trying to place your controlled M.O. on everything that feels forced, difficult, and pain-filled. Find people that can support you unconditionally, a “posse” that just shows up without being asked. You must have two to three “go-to” women that you can call and they will drop what they are doing and come to your aid. 

 

2) This is a fearful time. What is your advice for women who are letting fear hold them back?

Fear is a manifestation in your mind based on your history and experiences and your need to control the feelings that come from sadness and anxiety. The very best advice I have ever received on fear is to surrender and feel every bit of it. Dr. Claire Weekes, an Australian physician says: "Face your fear, accept it; don’t run from it.” 

 

3) In your book, A Mother’s Grace, you pose the question, What is your Grace?  What is grace, and how can women call upon grace to inspire them and get them through difficult times?

Grace is that magic that comes from surrendering to God’s/the Universe’s plan for you. So, for example, if I am in crisis and I am riddled with anxiety and trying to figure out what I am going to do and just ruminating over and over to the point of paralysis, grace comes when you pray/pause and reflect, let go, and surrender to God’s plan/the forces of life’s grand plan, Grace is what happens next…things happen out of the complete blue that you had no hand in and beautiful favor in your life, the way God/destiny has planned for you.

 

4) How can women be change agents in their own communities?

Women do not have to start a 501c3 to be change agents. You can bake cookies for an assisted living facility, take homemade food to a family that is dealing with a crisis, be a sponsor, or write a lovely email to someone who is experiencing grief. Do something. If we all did one small thing for someone once a month, the world would be a different place. 

 

5) Why did you write this book?

I felt a calling and it came in a dream. I put it down 100+ times (over an 18-year span, plus being a wife, mom to 3 kids, and senior VP at a big company - there was not a lot of spare time!) and had no belief in myself, but it was God’s plan for me. When I released, grace came next in the form of some unexpected support or help to get it to the next place. It is all about God and his plan for me and nothing else.

 

6) Why did you start Mother’s Grace organization?

Moms are truly the backbones of their families and they need a community to lean on. I was in a crisis dealing with my own cancer and child with a life-threatening illness. I was diagnosed with cancer at the same time as two other friends (moms my age) and they both died within a year. I could not for the life of me figure out why I was spared. They were both such wonderful women and way more wonderful than I. In some ways, I felt like I needed to earn my spot on this Earth and do something good with my time.

 

7) What lessons do you have for women philanthropists who want to start their own entities?

Surround yourself with women who are givers, doers, and who have no personal agenda but to help others. Capitalize on each woman’s individual gifts and you will have the puzzle pieces to make something beautiful. It is truly who you surround yourself with. One lesson I learned is that you cannot do it all yourself. You need a cohort of strong and assertive women to support and take a piece. If you trust them and they know their “stuff,” let them run with it. No micromanaging needed at all. 

 

8) What lessons have you learned from your hardships?

 

I am a glass-half-full person so during a hardship I always always look for the “lemonade” or what I am grateful for.  As we get older, there is a wisdom that comes from the understanding that things work out the way they are supposed to if you let them. I look back on my deepest hurts and hardships and wish sometimes I knew what I know now--that they all work out in the right timing, not always the way we wanted at the time but the way it is supposed to be.

 

Also, more importantly than anything, I have learned how to be there for others. I have been through traumatic loss, horrific illness, crippling anxiety, paralyzing worry, and monumental change and disappointment. Some days I feel like there is nothing I can't relate to when talking with another--and more important--“listening to another”. My presence, my consideration, and, many times, action without being asked is the most important thing you can do for another. It is definitely not “all about me.” I get that now, and that is the most important lesson I think we can all learn.

 

9) How can we teach our children to be empathetic and giving?

 

Expose your children as young as possible. I take my kids everywhere and always have. I took them to NOLA to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina and to Africa to work in an orphanage. However, even more, important than anything on a large scale is doing small things consistently in your own community. Model, model, model. Adopt families during the holidays, have the kids work at soup kitchens, have them give up part of their allowance to donate to their favorite charity. Have your kids write thank-you notes. This manifests gratefulness and accountability.  Keep them involved in a spiritual community. Take them out into nature and teach them to respect it. I think having kids be responsible for a pet teaches such compassion and responsibility. I ask my kids this question all of the time, and they answer that watching what I did influence them, and they all practice empathy and giving in their own ways (I could not be more proud). Let your children give in the way that resonates most with them and it will take on a life of its own. 

Connect with Michelle Moore on Social Media 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Book Review: The Journalist by Jerry A. Rose & Lucy Rose Fischer

The Journalist: Life Lost in America's Secret War is a memoir about the life of Jerry A. Rose. With the help of his sister, Lucy, Jerry's story is shared with the world decades after his death. I found this book most intriguing because it allows readers to take a glimpse of what occurred in the 1960s during Vietnam. Through Jerry's lenses, readers are introduced to what few Americans knew was occurring across the world. Jerry's passion to write took him from North America to Asia. 

I enjoyed the reading The Journalist: Life Lost in America's Secret War for so many reasons. His writing is almost poetic as he explains his travels around Asia while pursuing his dream and passion to be a writer. Jerry's passion for writing and for exposing what was happening in Vietnam is felt through every word and every page. At times, I felt like I was reading the diary of a good friend, who wanted to keep me abreast of what was happening in his life. 

As I read the book, I always felt sorry for his wife, Kay. I can only imagine how heavy her heart was each and every time that he left to "chase a new story." However, I loved how she supported his dream to write and "get in the trenches." When Jerry wrote, " For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a helpmate, which is amazing and liberating." I felt this quote. Also, I knew that their love was true.

Excerpt from The Journalist

When I read that he was going to accept a teaching position in Vietnam, I knew that this story would keep me engaged. I was not disappointed. This memoir provided an intriguing view of Vietnam and the Vietnam War. I've heard stories from my parents, but reading about it from a journalist's perspective left me desiring to know more. 

The month of November is perfect for reading this book. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War (November 1, 1955). Also, Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11, 2020. 

I am so glad that Lucy shared her brother's memoir with the world. The Journalist: Life Lost in America's Secret War is truly a great read, and I highly recommend it. Below, I share more information about the book, and I include a question and answer session with Lucy, Jerry's sister. 

Jerry Rose, as a young journalist in Vietnam in the early 1960s, was an intimate witness to the beginnings of the tragedy that became America’s Vietnam War. This riveting memoir is a chronicle of ambition, war, love, and loss.” - Judy Bernstein, author of They Poured Fire on Usand Disturbed in Their Nests
This memoir is a must-read for those who want to see, hear, and feel Vietnam in the turbulent and secretive 1960s.” - Professor James B. Wells, Eastern Kentucky University

About the Book:

Purchase The Journalist

In the early 1960s, Jerry Rose, a writer and artist, travels to Vietnam to teach English and gather material for his 
writing. Almost accidentally, he becomes one of America’s most important war correspondents. He interviews Vietnamese villagers in a countryside riddled by a war of terror and embeds himself with soldiers on the ground—the start of a dramatic and dangerous career. Through his stories and photographs, he exposes the secret beginnings of America’s Vietnam War at a time when most Americans have not yet heard of Vietnam. His writing is described as “war reporting that ranks with the best of Ernest Hemingway and Ernie Pyle.” In spring 1965, Jerry agrees to serve as an advisor to the Vietnamese government at the invitation of his friend and former doctor, who is the new Prime Minister. He hopes to use his deep knowledge of the country to help Vietnam. In September 1965, while on a trip to investigate corruption in the provinces of Vietnam, Jerry dies in a plane crash in Vietnam. Now, more than half a century later, his sister, Lucy Rose Fischer, has drawn on her
 late brother’s journals, letters, and other writings to craft his story. She has written this memoir in “collaboration” with her late brother—giving the term “ghostwritten” a whole new meaning. 

Jerry Rose

About the Authors:

Jerry A. Rose published feature articles and photographs in TIME, The New York Times, The Saturday Evening Post, New Republic, The Reporter, and other news venues. He authored two books: Reported to be Alive and Face of Anguish, a book of his photographs. He was one of the most accomplished journalists of his time. Lucy Rose Fischer, Jerry’s younger sister, an award-winning Minnesota author, artist, and social scientist is the author of five previous books: Linked Lives: Adult Daughters and Their Mothers; Older Minnesotans; Older Volunteers; I’m New at Being Old; and Grow Old With Me, as well as more than 100 professional research articles. She has a Ph.D. in sociology and an MA in Asian Studies.

Lucy Rose Fischer

Connect with Lucy Rose Fischer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyRoseDesigns 

Question and Answer: Lucy Rose Fischer

What inspired your story?

I had the first spark of an idea for a book on my brother sometime in the mid- to late 1980s. I was at a life history conference in St Antonio, TX where I heard an author (it might have been Tim O’Brien) sharing his experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. I thought my brother’s story would be different. 

My big brother, Jerry Rose, was a journalist in Vietnam in the early 1960s. He also served for a while as an advisor to the Vietnamese Prime Minister. 

When my brother died there in 1965 in a plane crash, he left behind a treasure trove of journals, letters, and other writings—all of which my sister-in-law had carefully saved. He was only 31.

So, when did you start writing this book?

I’ve been working on this book for a very long time. I think I wrote the first draft around 1990. I had a job directing research studies and took half-time off for seven months to work on the book. I wrote the first draft as a biography. 

I was a PhD sociologist, so I approached this book as I had my other books that were research studies. But the manuscript needed a lot of work and I ran out of time. I had to get back to my paid career.

My sister-in-law had helped copy hundreds of pages of my brother’s writing. But she was uncomfortable with my telling so much about her life. She was a shy person. 

I ended up putting the book project aside for 25 years. Everything sat in two big file drawers.

When did you come back to the project?

It was after my sister-in-law died and their daughter and son were planning to send all his papers to the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. I started pulling out my old manuscript and copies of other documents and got excited all over again about my brother’s story. 

My brother was a fascinating person. He was a painter and a writer. Going to Vietnam was a way to gather material for his art and his fiction.  Initially, he was hired to teach English at the University of Hue. Vietnam had been a French colony, and Jerry spoke French because he had studied at the Sorbonne. He quickly became immersed in Vietnam and the Vietnamese people. He had a Vietnamese blood brother and was adopted into their family.

He became a journalist almost by accident when a friend asked him to take over his position as a stringer—a freelance journalist. 

He did his own photography—because he was also an artist. 

Where were his stories published?

For much of the time, he was a stringer—so he wrote for different publications—Time, The New York Times, The Reporter, New Republic, and The Saturday Evening Post. He even did some broadcasts for ABC News – though my family never caught any of his live broadcasts. For a while, he had a staff position at Time-Life, but he found Time too conservative and constricting. 

He published the first major story about US troops fighting in Vietnam – it was a cover story for The Saturday Evening Post, with his color photos. He liked to follow stories on his own—embed himself with troops and interview villagers. That was pretty unusual for his time. 

He also published fiction in literary magazines. Just before he died, he had two books published —one was a book of photographs, Face of Anguish, and the other, Reported to Be Alive, was a book about an NBC cameraman who had been held captive by communist guerrillas in Laos. He was the ghost writer for that book.  

Are you a ghost-writer for your brother’s book?

I think this book gives a whole new meaning to the term “ghost-written.” I’ve written this book in my brother’s voice and listed him as first author.

My brother was a wonderful writer, so chunks of the book are drawn from his journals and letters. But a lot of the writing is mine. 

It was an unusual choice to write this in his voice. It was his story and I wanted him to tell his own story, in the form of a memoir. I wrote it in present tense, as if the reader would be experiencing events along with him. That also felt right to me—because I had written my last two books in present tense.

My brother had been my mentor. He encouraged me to write. 

The odd thing was—it was as if he trained me to do this—to write this book for him. While I was working on this, I felt that he was sitting on my shoulder and whispering in my ear. I could hear his voice.

What was your relationship like with your brother?

We had a very special relationship. He was eleven years older and almost a quasi-father—but a distant quasi-father because he left for college when I was only seven.

When I was a little girl and he’d come home, he would read poetry to me. When I was a teenager, he gave me long reading lists and he critiqued my writing. 

I visited him and his family in Asia while he was there.

A couple weeks before he died, he sent me a very long letter with all sorts of advice. I was turning 21 and just about to get married and he wrote how important it was for a woman to have a career independent of her husband. This was in 1965—a feminist and unusual perspective for that time.

Did you follow his advice?

I really did. In fact, I decided to get a Masters in Asian Studies at UC Berkeley. And later, a PhD in Sociology. My brother has had a huge influence on me, all my life.

My career has been different from my brother’s. And I’ve lived much, much longer than he did. 

Where did you grow up and where are you living now? 

 Both my brother and I grew up in Gloversville—a small town in Upper New York State, north of Albany. It’s a pretty conservative small town, and not doing well economically.  But it’s a lovely area, in the foothills of the Adirondacks.

I’ve been living in Minneapolis for the last 40 years. I had a long career as a sociologist, specializing in the study of aging. A little more than 15 years ago, I decided to launch a career as an artist. I started painting upside down, inside out and backwards on hand blown glass. 

A lot of my work is very colorful and whimsical, and a lot is about growing older. My last two books are whimsical picture books for adults—I’M NEW AT BEING OLD and GROW OLD WITH ME. Both books have won awards.

What do you think your brother would say about your new book—THE JOURNALIST?

This book is coming out almost exactly 55 years after Jerry died. I think my brother would wonder – “What took you so long?”
Purchase The Journalist

Purchase The Journalist at the links below:

Amazon: https://twitter.com/LucyRoseDesigns
B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-journalist-jerry-a-rose/1135820610?ean=9781684630653
 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Book with a Movie Highlight: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures, also a book was written by Margot Lee Shetterly, tells the history of African-American mathematicians at NASA. Film writers Melfi and Allison Schroeder tells the story of Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine G. Johnson, and Mary Jackson.  The movie stars, Taraji P. Henson, as Katherine, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughn, and Janelle Monae, as Mary Jackson.



The film shares the stories of these women as they settle into careers during segregation.  Each woman's accomplishments defeat the "status quo" during the Civil Rights Era. Having to deal not only with barriers based on race, Jackson, Vaughn, and Johnson dealt with gender barriers, as well.  The movie was inspiring and made you appreciate their commitment to being African American and women fighters within the workplace.

I will not explain the life lessons because I do not what to share spoilers. However, if you have seen the movie, you know where these life lessons come from in the film. Here are the ten life lessons that I learned from watching Hidden figures:

Purchase the book.
*When you do not know, go to the library.
*When you learn something, help others learn. 
*Remain humble and determined. Always remain humble. Figure out what you want and do not stop until you get it.
*Do good work.
*Stick up for yourself. No one is obligated to fight your fight. 
*Spousal support is important to a person's success, if someone is in a relationship. 
*You can always be "the first." 
*Friendship and social events help with the balance of work and life. 
*Teaching your children what's right, what's just,and what's important is your responsibility. 
*You know what you know.  No one can take that away from you. 

I plan to read the book by Margot Lee Shetterly soon.  I hate seeing a movie before I read the book.  Anyway, I am hoping that the accuracy of the book is directly reflected in the film.  I have my fingers crossed.   Have you seen the movie? What did you think?  Let's talk.


Monday, July 06, 2020

Book Highlight - Deserted: Retelling Bible Stories without an Angry God by Nathan Roberts

Purchase the Book!
Recently, I was introduced to a new book, Deserted: Retelling Bible Stories without an Angry God. I must say as the child of preachers, I was completely intrigued by the title. The author is Nathan Roberts. The illustrator for the book was alxndr jones.

The book covers a total of seven biblical stories:
  1. Cain and the Snake
  2. Naameh and the Ark
  3. The Unplanned City of Babel
  4. Issac and the Sanctuary Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah
  5. Doctor Leviticus
  6. Aaron and the Burning Bush
  7. Moses and the Terrorist Attacks
I appreciated the introduction, which gives important background information, including why Roberts finds the necessity to write such a unique text.  For biblical scholars, the book focuses specifically on Genesis and Exodus. Interestingly enough, Roberts removes the Hebrew God, Yahweh, from each of the stories. Roberts explains that he "wanted to see what would happen next." 

Each of the stories is unique and Roberts creates stories designed to inspire readers of the Bible "to play with the Biblical details." I won't give away any spoilers, but I know you that you won't be disappointed when you read this book. I was immensely intrigued. 

Here is an excerpt from story #5 of Doctor Leviticus:

Dinah clicked her tongue and pulled on the reigns. Dinah’s sword sheath clanged against her dusty thigh armor as her camel came to a stop. Before her stood a wooden fence surrounding a complex web of gardens with a sign that read Welcome to Doctor Leviticus’ Office.

“Levi!” Dinah shouted from atop her camel. “Come say hi to your sister Dinah!” A bald head popped up from behind the fence. Dinah gasped in surprise and instinctively reached for the handle of her sword.Then she noticed the bald head belonged to a woman with kind eyes, ruddy wrinkled cheeks, and no eyebrows. Dinah relaxed and moved her hand away from the sword.

“Doctor Leviticus?” the woman asked, correcting Dinah.

“Possibly. The person I’m looking for just goes by Levi,” Dinah said cautiously. She couldn’t help staring at the older woman’s sunbaked forehead where her eyebrows should have been. Then Dinah saw two more bald, eyebrowless women rise from behind a berry bush. Both held watering cans and looked at her suspiciously.

“I didn’t know Doctor Leviticus had a sister,” the older woman smiled, pointing at a two-story brick building with stairs that wound along the outer walls.

On the second floor was a door flanked by large lattice windows and closed curtains. A few chickens ran up and down the paths that cut across the maze of lush green gardens. Dinah had been on the road for a month and was impressed to see a garden this green in the middle of the drought.

Dinah dismounted her camel and her sword clanged against her armor. She made a move to push open the short wooden front gate. The older woman pulled a linen face mask over her nose and mouth and blocked the gate with her body.

“You can’t come in like that!” the woman shouted, scandalized.

“Why not?” Dinah asked, her eyebrows narrowing on the woman on the other side of the wooden gate.

“Because you’re unclean!” the woman exclaimed through her linen face mask. She pointed at the small one-room mud hut on Dinah’s side of the fence. A sign above the door read Washroom.

“I’ve been on the road for a month,” Dinah said getting irritated. “Levi’s not going to care.”

“He most certainly will care,” the woman scolded Dinah.

“You are unclean and you could contaminate everything in here.” The woman’s hands made a circular motion that encompassed the building and its gardens.“So you want me to wash before I come in,” Dinah said, pointing at the washroom. The washroom was empty save for three wooden buckets full of clear water and a series of strangely labeled bottles.

The bald woman smiled and nodded, “Please.”

About the Book:

Purchase the Book!
What would the earliest stories of the Bible be like without an angry God smiting humans with floods, fire, frogs, and brimstone? They might become the story of a mother surviving a snake bite and a dangerous pregnancy. Architects and dreamers building towers and boats to save themselves from the harsh desert. A doctor who obsessively cleans. Young gay lovers seeking refuge in the sanctuary cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Estranged brothers planning ten terrorist attacks to free their people from slavery. Without an angry God, the Bible might become a fictional collection of stories about deeply human men, women, and children from a small nomadic tribe deserted in an ancient Hebrew desert.

About the Author:

Nathan Roberts is a pastor in Minneapolis, a founding editor of The Salt Collective progressive Christian magazine, and the author of Poor Millionaires: The Village Boy Who Walked to the Western World and the American Boy Who Followed Him Home (2014).

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Review: The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan


 I rated The Sweeney Sisters with five stars: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟.  
Keep reading to discover exactly why I think that you need to read The Sweeney Sisters. 


Lately, I find myself using reading to escape these trying times. Luckily, I was introduced to the novel, The Sweeney Sisters, which provided a very necessary escape. I must say that this book did not disappoint me. I was first captivated by how beautiful the book jacket was. I have been reading a lot of audiobooks and reading books on my iPad, but when I received The Sweeney Sisters,  I was really excited because the cover was just so "happy." I know. I know. You are thinking that I shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I mean this time, I chose a book because of its cover, and I am glad that I did. 



Sitting on my porch, reading The Sweeney Sisters, and eating cherries
Sitting on the porch, eating cherries, and reading The Sweeney Sisters
The Sweeney Sisters is a unique tale that highlights how important a family bond can be for the survival of its members. As someone, who is very family-oriented and believes that family comes first, this book further reinforced my belief about the importance of family. The beginning of the text caught me off guard because it starts off with tragedy. Ironically, this tragedy is just the beginning of creating a bond like none other. It's almost as if the tragedy is a necessity for The Sweeney Sisters to experience. 

Three sisters, Maggie, Liza, and Tricia, have a unique sisterly bond that many people envy. Yet, when their father dies, they discover that they have a "half-sister," who happens to be older than the trio. The half-sister, Serena Tucker, is quickly swept into a life-changing cycle, as she discovers through a gifted DNA test, that her father is a famous writer, who happens to have been her neighbor during her childhood. 

The Sweeney Sisters provided such an entertaining escape that I was so excited to share with my readers. I especially liked how the book was unpredictable. So many fictional novels tend to be predictable, but The Sweeney Sisters forced me to speed up reading, so that I could get to the next plot twist. 


I won't give away the ending, but I will say that I was truly surprised. The Sweeney Sisters supported each other, maintained their bond despite disagreements and arguments, and kept going despite all the pain that they endured before and especially after their father's death. 

I think that my favorite character in this book is Tricia. She remains so focused and doesn't let emotion cloud her judgment. She resonated with me the most because I found similarities between me and Tricia. I always love it when I can relate to the characters in the book. I have two sisters, and I know the three of us will always look out for each other, just like The Sweeney Sisters.  

I think all my readers will enjoy this book. The versatility that it provides, while sharing a truly inspiring story makes it perfect for book clubs. If your book club needs a quick and inspiring read, The Sweeney Sisters, is the perfect book. You should definitely check out this book. You will not be disappointed. I truly wasn't. I am looking forward to reading more Lian Dolan books. 

Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Let's connect on Goodreads or Twitter and discuss The Sweeney Sisters. 


Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Virtual Book Tour - Dharma: A Rekha Rao Mystery by Vee Kumari


I am happy to share with you a book, unlike any other book that you have read. Lately, I find myself reading more fiction, and I wanted to share a unique book, Dharma: A Rekha Rao. I was very fascinated with the synopsis of the book and felt that my readers would enjoy it. Below I have included information about Dharma and share the Question and Answer discussion with Vee Kumari. Let me know your thoughts when you finish this book.
“A polished, confident whodunit brimming with personality and the right amount of intrigue and mayhem.” – Kirkus Reviews
         Paperback: 302 pages
         Publisher: Great Life Press (March 2020)       

About the Book:

Rekha Rao, a thirty-something Indian American professor of art history, is disillusioned by academia and haunted by the murder of her father. She believes police convicted the wrong person and moves away from her match-making family. 

She’s focused on managing her PTSD and healing her heart, broken by an abusive boyfriend. She gets entangled in a second murder, that of her mentor and father figure. The murder weapon, an idol of the Hindu goddess Durga, is left behind on the body. Detective Al Newton asks her to look into the relationship, if any, between the meaning of the statue and the motive for the murder.

Rekha is attracted to Al but steers clear of him because of her distaste for cops and fear of a new relationship. The two constantly clash, starting a love-hate relationship. Meanwhile, her family sets her up to meet a suitor, an Indian attorney. When police arrest one of her students and accuse her mentor of idol theft, Rekha is left with no other choice but to look for the killer on her own. 

Despite admonitions from Al and bodily harm caused by an intruder, Rekha finds the killer, and in the process, emerges from the cocoon of a protected upbringing to taste the prospect of romance and discover her true identity.


"A murder mystery set against an intriguing backdrop of Indian mysticism and archaeology makes this a very good pick. Dharma, A Rekha Rao Mystery may also provide some readers with a glimpse into the rich religious history of India's gods, rich mythology at least as rich to American readers as the more familiar Greco-Roman gods and goddesses. It's one of the hidden treats that makes this novel an enjoyable read for mystery lovers everywhere." 
- Chanticleer Reviews Rating: 5/5 star

About the Author:

Vee Kumari grew up in India. She loved to read, and often used it to avoid her mother, who might want her to do a chore or two. It was her mother who directed her to use the dictionary to learn the meanings of new words and construct sentences with them. Vee wanted to become an English professor but went to medical school instead.

Upon coming to the US, Vee obtained a doctorate in anatomy. She became a faculty member at the UC Davis Medical Center, where she worked for over 35 years, and later worked for the Keck School of Medicine for five years. Teaching neuroanatomy to medical students became her passion. She published many scientific papers and won several teaching awards. 

Vee Kumari
When she retired in 2012, she took classes from The Gotham Writers' Workshop and UCLA Writers Program. Dharma, A Rekha Rao Mystery is her debut fiction that incorporates her observations on the lives of Indian immigrants and Indian Americans in the US.

Vee lives in Burbank and is also an actor who has appeared in TV shows, including Criminal Minds and Glow, and produced and was the lead in a short film, Halwa, which garnered the first prize in HBO's 2019 Asian Pacific American Visionaries (APAV) contest.

She is at work on her next novel about an Indian immigrant family whose American dream shatters when one of their twin daughters goes missing.




Connect with the Author:

Facebook: @veekumari
Instagram:  @vee6873hollywood
Twitter: @veekumari1
Author website: https://www.veekumari.com



Question and Answer with Vee Kumari

Where did you grow up /live now?
I grew up in the south of India in a coastal town called Trivandrum. I now live in Burbank, CA
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I loved words, and I wanted to be an English professor.  
 When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?
As a scientist, my fall back was reading fiction. When I retired, it gave me the time to try it.  
What inspired your story?
I watched an OPRAH/Dr. PHIL an episode about a family who came to get help after the father came to the realization that he was always gay. Their genuine grief and need to find their way back as a family touched me. It’s best to keep this under cover since this is one of the threads that’s revealed only towards the end!
How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?
All of those. I may hear something on the news or watch an episode of a TV show, or watch a movie, and my head gets filled with “What Ifs”. Some of these take life, others don’t. Right now, I have my second novel almost finished, and several premises written, based on these “What Ifs”.