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ONCE UPON A LIE: A Novel ~Michael French

Monday, May 16th, 2016

“Michael French is the author of 25 books, which include adult fiction and young adult fiction, art criticism, biographies, adaptions, and gender studies.” (Cover)

There is tremendous skill in the writing of ONCE UPON A LIE and the hooks captivate the imagination within the first few pages.  The characters are extremely well developed and the reader is able to empathize quickly; they pull at a feeling level as well as moving the story forward. Word usage is intelligent. The suspense is just right and definitely not to thriller level, keeping the reader figuring out what is next.  I liked the mix of voices; first and third person perspectives were finely synced.

The reader is meshed into a huge family drama, well two families with lots of drama and some huge lies to contend with and that makes for a lifetime of attempting to find the truth and a whole realm of situations that do not create relief from the tensions of the stories.

“…the two youths see the trajectories of their lives entwine, unravel, and come together again.  Justice, Alex learns, can be a betrayal.  Justice, Jaleel finds, can be a powerful –but dangerous- rock on which to build a life of honor and courage.” (Cover)

Alexandra is the daughter of a Los Angeles lawyer and a socialite mother and Jaleel is the only child of a black couple living on the financial edge in Texas.  The police are prepping Jaleel, who is 12, to be the murderer of his father – he is on the run.  The two children meet over a cup of lemonade and the author builds a good coming of age story around these two individuals and their survival.  The secondary characters are strong and agile in assisting the unraveling of the lies.

“Michael French is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English and of Northwestern University with a master’s in journalism.  A native of Los Angeles, he also is a successful businessman, activist, and, with his wife, Patricia, a philanthropist raising money for programs aiding teachers in Santa Fe, N.M., public schools which are some of the most challenged in the country. They divide their time between Santa Fe and Santa Barbara, CA.”

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for sending me an advanced copy for review.

Connect with characters on Online:
Alex
Jaleel
Author

Related Reading:
Whistling Women
The Moon Sisters
Water On the Moon

FIXED IN BLOOD: A Justice Novel ~T.E.Woods

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

I could hardly wait to get a copy FIXED IN BLOOD and read it from cover to cover.  The fourth book in the justice series by Woods, I have reviewed each of the others and enjoyed each one.   Each book left me wanting to read more of Woods’ stories.

Alibi sent me an uncorrected advanced copy of the book for review on my blog and it arrived with perfect timing.   I was excited to open the copy and dive into this exciting read.

Dr. Lydia Corriger is a psychologist who works on the west coast of the USA and helps the homicide detective Mort Grant, of Seattle PD, profile the killers he is tracking down.  She is very pro-female needs and agendas; working to make the world a safer place for children, particularly those in foster care.  Her positive energy and understanding do create a positive energy for females and indicates someone is looking out for women and other victims.

Mort Grant is a fine detective, who has lost his wife to cancer and his daughter to dangerous adventure.  His son writes books about his father’s work and interesting cases.  The characters make for an interesting study of humans and their working efforts; they are very real and believable.

That the books take place in my neck of the woods is also very motivating.  They include details which actually happened in my part of the country and that have motivated some very big changes in our local justice system.   I like the details that are included from our area.  I am sure I know which building in town is Dr. Corriger’s office and where her favorite coffee shop is located.

The books are well written and a fast read for me and although the subject matter is not so easy to handle, the story lines are good and the hope of good resolution is satisfying.   We are on the I-5 drug smuggling corridor and that is very apparent in these stories, though I am not so sure about the Russian Mafia being so heavily involved.  This idea is very possible.

At the end of the book it says: “T. E.  Woods is a clinical psychologist and author living in Madison, Wisconsin.  For random insight into how her strange mind works, follow her: tewoodswrites.com, Facebook.com/TEWoodsWrites;  @tewooodswrites“

Related Reading:
The Fixer
The Red Hot Fix 
The Unforgivable Fix 

Satisfying Conversation

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Basic Communications Model

Conversation, good solid conversation, real conversation, deep thinking conversation, historic conversation, and fresh and invigorating interpretation was just what I needed this past weekend. I set out to achieve just that at the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ (PNW-UCC) annual meeting in Pasco, Washington.  I was content and satisfied by the conversations I experienced.

Clergy in the UCC church are highly trained to listen, interpret, read, research and are able to communicate well in a variety of arenas.  These individuals are keenly aware of the culture, news, politics, and how people interact and need to understand situations and events in order to live their lives fully and participate in the world as good stewards, leaders and parents.  There is a great deal of attention paid to teaching the youth how to be in conversation, interpret and keep thinking and learning.    There is a curiosity and a freedom to question.  I watched an 8 year process towards change in governance being discussed and challenged right up to the call for the vote.  People truly felt heard and respected.  There was no yelling or shouting.  There were no age restrictions or gender bias.  There was a respectful honoring – lots of contemplation and debate.  I was planning on voting one direction and after the discussion and good night of sleep, I changed my mind.  It was satisfying.

One thing I cherished in the weekend, that there were no “sound bites” except in the humor of the speeches and lectures, which were extremely fun, funny and informative.  It was wonderful to hear folks clarifying what they heard so they could respond to the idea shared and move the conversation in many directions.  It was savory to witness true heart/head and head/heart connections being made.

Now the group was not perfect, no way! Lots of the young folks did not even speak to the elders.  Several groups came together and did not connect with others.  Several people boldly stated that they did not receive an answer to their question even when it was restated.  That conversation went on past my bedtime, and I was heartened to see it had created new friend bonds in the morning, when they had reached a point of understanding that enabled them to disagree and to agree upon their disagreement.

I was hungry for the conversation and the depth.

In so many of my daily interactions, I am being told, “Oh I never discuss religion or politics,”  “I always keep the conversation positive”; “I don’t know”.   These statements assume that discussion or discussing change is negative, religious or political.  How does one improve their society without knowing that there is something different that could be accomplished? Without learning the new?

We know that the brain does not make a decision or a change without new research and having conversations about it.   I have written about how we make decisions and change several times.  If you are just following orders or directions of suggestions and ideas of others – you are just memorizing another path and not choosing; there is no dialogue or integrating of concepts.

I was hungry to have a meaningful, heartfelt conversation.

I have returned home satisfied and fulfilled.

When was the last time you had a heart to heart, mind to mind satisfying conversation?  Do you hunger for these?  Some people are happy on a restricted diet, I know I am weary of conversation these days, I need to establish trust, how about you?

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Related Reading:
Food as Spiritual Practice
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Shadows Play Upon a Death

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Dove of Peace

I understand the jubilation of the soldiers in the death of Osama Bin Laden, yes, I do understand.  The warriors were given a task and a mission and now another assignment has been accomplished, I understand that sense of victory and the want to experience it out loud with clanging gongs.  And just as certainly as a suicide bomber detonates, I knew this “leader” would not be taken alive. I can reconcile my feelings, but I cannot dance and rejoice in the wild passions of glory.

I am extremely happy that the people who took care of this tragic person and did not bomb the whole neighborhood around the area and use such bullying aggressive tactics.

I do not condone the behaviors and actions taken by this person or of others throughout history. The evil residue of their horrific treatment of their “others” permeates my cells and interferes with my loving spirit.

I am called to love my enemies and to live my life with kindness, I am called to work for justice and so I take a deep breath and work to find forgiveness and be forgiving.

I am begging the question again and again of what was the message that motivated this assault?  Why is it so important for these despotic individuals to hang on to the past as the answer to the future?  What part did I willingly play to promote these perceptions?  How am I not sharing my values and actions in a way that the “others” might understand?  How does one communicate with those who are unable to listen and hear?

I believe that there are canonized holy books in every corner of the earth that have value and wisdom.  I do not believe that because they were bound together and offered up for centuries as rules, that there is not a huge body of wisdom and spiritual understanding that is continuously being added to these tomes of ideology.

Jesus said to me, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Pema Chödrön, a Western Buddhist Nun said, “It is fairly common for crisis and pain to connect people with their capacity to love and care about one another.  It is also common that this openness and compassion fades rather quickly, and that people then become afraid and far more guarded and closed than they ever were before.  The question, then, is not only how to uncover our fundamental tenderness and warmth but also how to abide there with the fragile, often bittersweet vulnerability.  How can we relax and open to the uncertainty of it?”  (From Taking the Leap)

When I close my eyes in contemplation, I breathe deeply into the pain of what has happened and acknowledge all the suffering that has proceeded this moment; I can hear the screams of pain and agony of each victim.  I am stilling myself into this pain.  I am not masking it or covering it up or eating it down, down back inside.   I know this pain and I feel this pain, and I read this pain in the others I encounter.

I release and let go.  It is an exercise in patience and constant endeavor.   I will acknowledge that it is a part of me, and I have known pain and suffering, I have not known surrender.  Bin Laden resisted he did not learn surrender either.  We are the same.  We are one.

A list of my new “others”  wander into my attention, you know the Wall Street Angry Folks who are making up their own rules, the Rupert Murdock style folks who want to control the media, the elected officials who think they have the “right” and often “controlling” answers for other’s lives…and the list builds on and on until we arrive at our own doorstep covered in the moments when we failed to communicate with loving kindness, when we failed to be most mindful and were thoughtless and cruel.  I need to forgive myself and surrender.

I am in process and working at not forgetting.  I am not at a point of closure; I will again use Pema Chödrön’s words:

When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do, this is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced.  This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone.  This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us.  Our own suffering, if we turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.

We all need to share our stories and thoughts of this event and I hope that people will feel free to share here in the comments section and to share links that were important to your thinking about our actions to come.  Thank you, I appreciate all your good wisdom and sharing.

You might think that other’s should encounter what I have put into words here, I would appreciate a Stumble or a Tweet or meeting on Facebook – Please feel free to share, it would be appreciated.

Related Reading:
I do not rejoice at the death of a man
Out of Osama’s death comes a fake quote
Lessons from the Dead
Healing Change; Healing Action