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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

My good friend and colleague from Avalon Books has recently published a new book, An Uncertain Path.

Here are a few word about the book from Sandra Carey Cody’s own writer’s blog, Birth of a Novel, also on WordPress.

A tragic accident links the lives of two young women, unrelated, unknown to one Cody Uncertain Path Coveranother, causing each to question things she thought were certain, and setting each on a path neither could have imagined.

Peace Morrow, abandoned as an infant, is about to meet the birth family she’s always longed to know. Raised as a Pennsylvania Quaker, she wonders what her Virginia aristocrat family will think of her. What happens when a careless action by one of them takes the family to the brink of disaster?

Rachel Woodard, longing to break out of the safe world she’s always known, takes a drastic step that results in the death of a young man and sets off a chain of events that swirls outward like a pebble dropped in a pool. Can she live a lie to preserve her own life and save everyone she loves from heartbreak?

An Uncertain Path is available on Amazon.

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Cover Image of BookOn April 24, 1915 the Ottoman Turk Caliphate began one of the most heinous, inhuman exterminations of their fellow citizens when they systematically annihilated Armenian men, drove women and children on death marches into the Syrian desert, and committed the first genocide of the 20th Century. This terrible act led to a coverup on an international scale and paved the way for Hitler’s extermination of Jews, gypsies, disabled Europeans by the millions, Stalin’s Bolshevik henchmen’s slaughter of eleven million Ukrainians as well as the Siberian Gulags, home to many dissident Russian writers.

This butchery is only possible when political expediency takes precedence over morality. The Ottoman Turks were allies of the Germans during World War I. Remembering the Armenian Genocide 1915 chronicles the efforts Germany made to hide the murder of 1.5 million Armenian Christians at the behest of the Islamic Caliphate of the Ottoman Turkish empire.

“Among the Turks and Armenians both it seems pretty well known that this thing is from the Germans. Even Mr. Ehman* himself is coming to the conviction that it is the work of his own government. We all know such clear-cut, well planned, all well carried out work is not the method of the Turk. The German, the Turk and the devil make a triple alliance not to be equalled in the world for cold blooded hellishness.” 

Tacy Atkinson, American Missionary, July 10, 1915, in her diary on the day when Armenians were deported from the town of Kharpert, quoted in Remembering the Armenian Genocide 1915

*Pastor Johannes Ehmann, the local German missionary

This book, by Patrick Thomas (author of From Carmarthen to Karabagh: a Welsh Discovery of Armenia) offers insights and perspectives on this vast tragic conspiracy to annihilate an entire population that is still swept under the carpet, despite incontrovertible evidence.

I became aware of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 when I was 13 years old. Many of my classmates in the 8th and 9th grades were of Armenian descent. Their parents and grandparents were victims and survivors of this hideous crime. While I was living in Wales, I was proud that this small country was one among only a very few nations courageous enough to embrace and proclaim the truth.

Patrick Thomas’s book gives graphic details of how vicious the Islamic Turks, with the help of their German allies, were to their fellow citizens. Unfortunately, we have seen this barbarity in our own time committed by men and women of the same ilk.

“A ‘Special Organization’ of criminals (including many murderers) had been recruited …[and] sent to the provinces to enforce the deportation of Armenians, with the assistance of Kurdish irregulars. … The remaining men would be rounded up, taken away and massacred. The women and children were sent on death marches towards the Syrian desert. Many were gang-raped, some were abducted or trafficked, while others were left to die of exhaustion or starvation at the side of the road. Pregnant women had the babies ripped from their wombs. Those suspected of swallowing gold coins were sometimes set on fire. Their ashes were later sifted by those looking for loot. In Trebizond boatloads of Armenians were taken out and drowned in the Black Sea.”

Remembering the Armenian Genocide 1915, page 18

During World Wars I and II, many Germans refused to believe what was being done in their name. Even now, too many Europeans and Americans close their eyes to history as well as current events. We choose not to believe when the truth is too painful or hideous:

“In the eastern provinces, that is excluding Constantinople and Smyrna and other places in Western Turkey, 80-90% of the entire [Armenian] population and 98% of the male [Armenian] population is no longer alive. These figures are probably correct. They can be checked town by town and correspond to my personal impressions and observations.”

Count von Lüttichau, German official, quoted in Remembering the Armenian Genocide 1915

We have been silenced and intimidated in the face of great inhumanity, over and over again. Time has come to look the past straight in the clear, though ugly, eye of truth and see the cure that history offers. Can we do less than our colleagues, Patrick Thomas and Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn? What is a writer’s job but to write the truth as she sees it?

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CJ Verburg’s Another Number for the Road  has all you could ever want from a murder mystery set in two iconic periods of American history: the 1960s: Free Speech, Free Love, Stop the War, Civil Rights and sex, drugs, rock and roll; and 1980s: Reaganomics, Cold War Collapse, Punk Rock, big hair and bigger shoulders.

Rock journo cum detective, Cory Goodwin (who has as many names as identities) goes on a “Magical Mystery Tour,” and then some, to recover her true inner self which has been consumed and subsumed by the demands of her multimillionaire son-of-the-founder-of-a-cosmetics-conglomerate husband’s boardroom betrayal of all they meant to each other as writing romantics who eloped in creative Paris and crashed in corporate necessity in Boston.

Cordelia Goodwin Thorne had many years of protest activism and rock star groupie antics to keep her from sinking into the paradox of her journo daydreams and her cosmetic charity dinner reality.

She joins the “Magical Mystery Tour” when she learns that The Rind is the mystery band—a group she interviewed for a magazine as a teenager. She aims to rekindle her past admiration for the much-maligned strongman of the band, the appropriately named, Dan Quasi, who, after the brutal murder of his friend and co-band member, Mickey Ascher, takes a runner and hides out for the twenty year hiatus, having lost his wife and his French bit to aforementioned co-band member.

Did this Quasi musician kill his best friend? Or was it the French bit? Or possibly her jilted lover and third band member, also appropriately named, Roach? Or has the mild-mannered Terry, fourth band member, been hiding a violent temper all these years?

The process of discovery is further energized by the author’s experience as a playwright and director. CJ Verburg makes use of the theatrical technique of juxtaposing two scenes on stage at once: flashbacks, backstory, supposition and real time, one upon the other, while skillfully  juggling a cast of characters that would daunt Cecil B. DeMille and D.W. Griffiths.

Another Number for the Road  will satisfy all fans of complex, convoluted whodunits who remember the Sixties with longing and survived the Eighties, Nineties and are in deep with the Twentieth Century.

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One of the first books that sparked my interest in history, and particularly the Middle Ages, A Distant Mirror, purported to compare the 14th Century to the 20th. At the time the book was published, I was deep in studies of Comparative Literature, World Literature, Women’s Fiction et cetera, et cetera.

Cover image of A Distant MirrorWhat enthralled me about A Distant Mirror was the inevitable connection to tales of chivalry and classic romance—a literary convention that is neither tragedy nor comedy; a heroic or mysterious prose narrative set in a distant time or place; a medieval tale of knightly adventure.

Barbara W. Tuchman turned the study of history into a great adventure and a lifelong love of all things Medieval.

I loaned my copy to a fellow Mediophile (I think I’ve made that word up) and she never returned it, so it was with great pleasure that I found Tuchman’s book is available on the iBookstore.

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We know the counterpart to the title of this blog, starting with sugar but enough is said about the Spice and Nice. About twenty years ago, I learned the counterpoint regarding boys from a book titled, Bringing Up Boys. I have three.

ytrinaVariously known as “the mother of those three” and “so you’re the one responsible for those three,” I had a requirement for some backup to my theory that boys are different and the school system, though designed by men was made for girls.

“They always have to be first” was the constant cry from beleaguered schoolmarms. “They get into everything.” “They cannot sit quietly.” “They have to win.” My response to all of which was then and still is “Your point being?”

Lately, I have met an increasing number of women who are in the same position I was twenty years ago. I tell them to enjoy every wild moment. Boys are wonderful. Teenage boys are nut-cases but still wonderful. Young men are fragile and wonderful. Grown men, raised from the start as uniquely boys, are the best there can ever be of the male. They make good husbands and fathers, prepared to take on the hard work of raising their own sons and daughters.

Besides my own good husband and the good father who showed me everything I ever needed to know about men, I had help from a colleague, Liz Brady – a child psychologist with whom I worked while serving on the Community Health Council for Carmarthenshire. Herself a mother of two sons and a daughter, her special interest was in the development and mental health of adolescents. One aspect of her field of study was the extreme suicide rate of boys and men between the ages of 14 and 35.

I took notice.

Brady’s research revealed that young men engage in dangerous behavior and activities that result in death far more frequently than do any other sex or age group. They are four times as likely to commit suicide—intentional or unintentional. During my eldest son’s teenage years, he attended the funerals of four of his schoolmates, all of whom were under the age of twenty.

One hung himself in the garage of his parents’ home, driven to desperation by his drug addiction. One slammed his head into a cast iron drain pipe while speeding on his motorcycle—without a helmet—through the shopping district early one morning. The third was hurled through the roof of a car because he did not wear a seatbelt—the driver fell asleep and ran up the tail end of a cattle truck. And the fourth jumped in front of a train in a neighboring town, overcome by depression.

All were young men with aspirations and talent, families that loved them.

Keeping my sons alive became my raison d’etre.

BringingUpBoysHow do you do that in a society that vilifies masculinity, and yet, will not allow men to embrace their fragility either? When social media hacks rant about a tacky shirt to the detriment of a great scientific achievement?

Yes, little boys are naughty and rough, they torment little girls and test the fire extinguishers in the swank hotels. Give them any encouragement, they demand even more. They try our patience and go out of their way to annoy and challenge any restriction.

They also explore fearlessly. Boys are the reason our species crawled from the mud and went to the moon—most probably because a girl said she wanted a chunk of rock. Boys are hard-wired to achieve, largely at the behest of sugar & spice dishes they want to impress. Why? Instinct. Survival of the species.

The smartest girls choose the male most likely to provide a safe environment for offspring and that means he already owns a house or has “prospects” or “status” likely to enable him to achieve some or all of these.

Except when they want or have to impress, men don’t care how they dress—one pair of shoes is enough for some. Rightly, they figure their achievements count for a lot more than a Hawaiian shirt. We can understand their thinking when creepy 70 year old men are snapping up the prettiest girls in the twenty-something age group.

My father & my eldest brother c1940

My sons are not out of the dark days yet. What gives me hope for their survival is their choice of wives and girl friends. Or more likely, the women who have liked what they’ve seen when these three young men are on their best behavior (and occasionally, their worst).

After all, has your heart ever not melted when you see a big guy holding a child for whom he has accepted responsibility?

To all the parents who are raising boys, I strongly recommend Dobson’s work in Bringing Up Boys. You’ll enjoy your male children more, accept they are a challenge and understand the important service you are providing to the women of the future. And, by all means, teach them to iron shirts and soft-boil eggs.

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A few days ago, Kate Steinle was murdered at a popular tourist location less than six miles from my home. Her killer was a five-times deported, recently released felon awaiting another deportation hearing. (http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Pier-shooting-suspect-had-been-released-from-S-F-6365228.php).

A young woman, living just 20 miles from my home, was brutally raped and beaten by a gang of young men and so horribly injured that she will never fully recover (https://www.baycitizen.org/news/crime/hearing-reveals-horrific-details-crime/). Prior to this, not far away, another girl was sexually abused and her humiliation made public, causing her to commit suicide (http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/calif-teen-commits-suicide-after-alleged-rape/).

Women and girls who are trafficked into my state are raped as they cross the border, their underwear hung on ‘rape trees’ in a neighboring state(http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/news-politics/rape-trees-found-along-southern-us-border) as trophies by the ‘coyotes’ who tattoo them with bar codes to facilitate their sale into sex slavery and subsequent rental for sexual services (http://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/branded-by-a-pimp-sex-trafficking-victim-speaks-out/).

There are several unifying details in all of these stories (the very tip of the gory pile of crimes committed within the past few months).

  • The Main Stream Media ignore all this evidence of the threat to the citizens of the United States. Why? If latina.com is horrified by what is being done to women, why aren’t the MSM equally outraged?
  • Although so many of the victims of these crimes are women and girls, there is no collective outcry from other women. Why aren’t women’s rights advocates outraged?
  • The vast majority of the these savage acts were perpetrated by a particular ethnic group, the MSM rarely mention either the ethnic group or their legal/illegal status as residents. Even some of the more conservative news outlets will not say “Illegal Aliens” – most stick with the innocuous “immigrants”.

Immigrants are people who chose to leave their homeland to make a new life in another country, embrace the traditions and laws of their chosen country, enrich their new country with their energy and talents, and make an effort to assimilate into the civic life of their new home.

Many of my family emigrated to the US before it became a country. More recently, members of my family emigrated legally, standing in line, paying their fees, submitting to medical examinations, providing stacks of legal documents, waiting for appointments, waiting for letters, waiting for interviews, waiting for approval, giving their word that they will never become a burden on the public purse.

Illegal Aliens have already broken the laws of the country they have invaded, are already a burden on the public purse, too many of them are here to steal, sell their drugs, provide the dregs of society with gross services at the expense of their trafficked victims.

Their presence drives down the wages of American workers, displaces Americans from low-skilled jobs, and the MSM repeats the absolute lie that they do the work Americans won’t do.

I have cleaned houses. My mother cooked school meals. My father picked potatoes. My husband has waited on tables. My sons have scrubbed hospital floors, flipped hamburgers and stocked shelves.

AdiosAmerica

I consider Ann Coulter a hero.  She tells the truths that sycophantic politicians, so-called civil rights advocates and lily-livered news outlets refuse to tell.

We have to ask, “Why?”

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The House of MirthThe House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The House of Mirth
is an exquisite, classic tragedy. Wharton’s creation, Lily Bart, is among the truly honest, tragic heroines – driven by her best instincts and her highest ideals to make choices that lead to sink further into the mire of her society.

As Wharton explains, Lily Bart was raised to be decorative. When that fails because of her own, inner standards of behavior and expectation, her life takes on the inevitable nightmare of rejection and exclusion.

The two people who love her throughout her descent are blind to her plight in some instances. Gerty Farish is the most faithful friend but her own experience gives her a bias against Lily’s peculiar situation.

Lawrence Selden loves Lily for the very reasons that her position in society is in peril, but when she needs him most, he deserts her.

I read every word of this novel, studied the human frailties and heroism. For many reasons, I believe Lily Bart is one of the greatest heroines of modern literature. I recommend this book to anyone who is a student of humanity.

I doubt there is a finer chronicler of American society of the Edwardian era, pre-World War I, than Edith Wharton.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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