Tag Archives: multicultural

More Womanish by Angelia V. Menchan

What we’re reading this week! 

419XbJoDkDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgMore Womanish: She Survives is more stories of women, real women with real ish that they are always in the struggle to survive. Review for Womanish: WomanIsh. Yes…it’s all that the title enamored and more. Angelia Vernon Menchan once again has stepped outside of the usual and fully embraces real life stigmas many won’t address. Menchan takes the reader on a situation-based ride varying from love, self-esteem, lack of respect, pitfalls and even further questions the security of one’s stability while married. Not only does she utilize the muse smartly, she shows counsel and guidance, post story. For an author of Menchan’s realistic writing style and candor, she has touched me on more than one occasion in her past works. One thing is for certain, “WomanIsh” is a must read for 2016! Highly recommended for women of all walks of life, book clubs and the like. Loretta R. Walls CEO, Nu Cherte Publishing

Buy the book: http://amzn.to/2brUHW7

 

 

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🚬 There are things known, things unknown and in between is the truth. ⚖

📚 Rose Gold by Walter Mosley 📚

TITLE: Rose Gold
AUTHOR: Walter Mosley
PUBLISHER: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
SERIES: Yes
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️ Incredible Storytelling 

Rose Gold is two colors, one woman, and a big headache.

51d2OeHAh0LIn this new mystery set in the Patty Hearst era of radical black nationalism and political abductions, a black ex-boxer self-named Uhuru Nolica, the leader of a revolutionary cell called Scorched Earth, has kidnapped Rosemary Goldsmith, the daughter of a weapons manufacturer, from her dorm at UC Santa Barbara. If they don’t receive the money, weapons, and apology they demand, “Rose Gold” will die—horribly and publicly. So the FBI, the State Department, and the LAPD turn to Easy Rawlins, the one man who can cross the necessary borders to resolve this dangerous standoff. With twelve previous adventures since 1990, Easy Rawlins is one of the small handful of private eyes in contemporary crime fiction who can be called immortal. Rose Gold continues his ongoing and unique achievement in combining the mystery/PI genre form with a rich social history of postwar Los Angeles—and not just the black parts of that sprawling city.

 


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Easy’s back!  After a near death experience, Easy Rawlins returns to the P.I. scene.Set in the 1960’s with hippies and drugs and radical life, Rosemary Goldsmith has been kidnapped.  Roger Fisk contacts Easy to help with the search, with some reluctance Rawlins takes on the job of finding Rose Gold.

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As with most Mosley novels, the plot moves forward with several intense subplots that move the prose along smoothly.  A black boxer is accused of various crimes, a child is stolen and romantic obsessions occur.  However, none of that deters Mosely to get to the bottom of what happened to Rose Gold.

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Walter Mosley is one of my favorite authors, his descriptive language, and vivid prose brings to life an era long since past.  The Easy Rawlins series is one that will live on for eternity.  I highly recommend.

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🎭 A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one! 🛳

📚 Lazaretto 📚

TITLE:  Lazaretto
AUTHOR: Diane McKinney-Whetstone
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Publishers
SERIES:  No
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️ 4.5  Captivating Historical Fiction 
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51Pi4UgC+-LThis stunning new novel from Diane McKinney-Whetstone, nationally bestselling author of Tumbling, begins in the chaotic backstreets of post–Civil War Philadelphia as a young black woman gives birth to a child fathered by her wealthy white employer.

In a city riven by racial tension, the father’s transgression is unforgivable. He has already arranged to take the baby, so it falls to Sylvia, the midwife’s teenage apprentice, to tell Meda that her child is dead—a lie that will define the course of both women’s lives. A devastated Meda dedicates herself to working in an orphanage and becomes a surrogate mother to two white boys; while Sylvia, fueled by her guilt, throws herself into her nursing studies and finds a post at the Lazaretto, the country’s first quarantine hospital, situated near the Delaware River, just south of Philadelphia.

The Lazaretto is a crucible of life and death; sick passengers and corpses are quarantined here, but this is also the place where immigrants take their first steps toward the American dream. The live-in staff are mostly black Philadelphians, and when two of them arrange to marry, the city’s black community prepares for a party on its grounds. But the celebration is plunged into chaos when gunshots ring out across the river.

As Sylvia races to save the victim, the fates of Meda’s beloved orphans also converge on the Lazaretto. Long ago, one “brother” committed an unthinkable act to protect the other, sparking a chain of events that now puts the Lazaretto on lockdown. Here conflicts escalate, lies collapse and secrets begin to surface; like dead men rising, past sins cannot be contained.


REVIEW:

 

This book starts off with the introduction of young Meda’s first encounter with Sylvia.  Set in the post-civil war era, 40’s-50’s.  Meda like many during that time loved the President Abraham Lincoln.  On the night of his assassination, Meda is taken to a midwife Dr. Miss, to terminate a pregnancy which she has hidden.  However the arrival is far too late, and instead of a termination, there will be a delivery.  Sylvia is the apprentice nurse to Dr. Miss.  This night would be her first time assisting in childbirth.  She’s as excited as she is scared.  The event and secrets changed the life of both women, forever.

After the assassination of Lincoln, and the unfortunate event of her childbirth, Meda is sent to the orphanage to help overcome her grief.  There she encounters the two male infants that have been sent there to live.  Having just given birth, Meda is still lactating and becomes attached to the two boys.  She subsequently named them after the President.  Linc and Bram are brothers, though not biological but in every other sense of the word.

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The lives of Linc and Bram consume the first half of this book.  Their bond is forever solidified with Meda and although it’s never really said, they love her like their own Mother.  Linc and Bram continue to live in the orphanage with weekend visits to see Meda, until the leadership at the orphanage changes hands.  One night a tragic event changes the lives of Linc and Bram forever.

The second half of the book finally gets to the quarantine station The Lazaretto.  The Lazaretto sits outside of Philadelphia and houses many who live and work the hospital that clears the entry of ships and passengers before entering the country.  On the Lazaretto, the tone changes, there’s a racial attack, murder, drugs, hate, love and of course drama.  The characters become more lively and the anticipation of actions are increased.

This was the first book I read by the author.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story, however, the ending was a bit disappointing for me, hence the 4.5 stars.  I look forward to reading more and I also think that Sylvia could have a book of her own.

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🎭 Reading give us someplace to go when you have to stay where you are 🌟

🎧 A book is a gift you can open again and again 📚

Generally, I don’t review the books I listen to nightly on audio, but this has been a slow reading week for me.  So I thought I’d share some of my listens/reads from the week.  I’m not writing reviews for them, however, I have rated them all on Goodreads.  Below includes the synopsis and link to purchase, maybe you’ll find something you like as well.  ~L

 

TI16139598TLE:  Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer
AUTHOR:  Katie Alender
PUBLISHER: Point
SERIES: No 
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️  Suspenseful 

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Heads will roll!

Paris, France: a city of fashion, chocolate croissants, and cute boys. Colette Iselin is thrilled be there for the first time, on her spring break class trip.

But a series of gruesome murders are taking place around the city, putting everyone on edge. And as she tours the sights, Colette keeps seeing a strange vision: a pale woman in a ball gown and powdered wig, who looks like Marie Antoinette.

Colette knows her status-obsessed friends won’t believe her, so she seeks out the help of a charming French boy. Together, they discover that the murder victims are all descendants of people who ultimately brought about Marie Antoinette’s beheading. The queen’s ghost has been awakened, and now she’s wreaking her bloodthirsty revenge.

And Colette may just be one of those descendants . . . which means she might not make it out of this trip alive.

Acclaimed author Katie Alender brings heart-stopping suspense to this story of betrayal, glamour, mystery, history–and one killer queen.


 

51oWcFXgZuL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_TITLE: Moth to a Flame
AUTHOR:  Ashley Antoinette
PUBLISHER:  Urban Books
SERIES: No
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️ Hard-Knocks living

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In the little city of Flint, MI, the good die young and the people left standing are the grimiest of characters. With reign over the city’s drug trade, Benjamin Atkins made sure that his precious daughter, Raven, was secluded from the grit that the city had to offer. But when Raven’s young heart gets claimed by Mizan, a stick-up kid in search of a come-up, there’s nothing Benjamin can do about losing her to the streets. She chooses love over loyalty and runs off with Mizan, but her new role as wifey soon proves to be more than she can handle.
Puppy love always feels right, but things turn stale, and she soon finds that everyone she loves has disappeared. All she has is Mizan, but when hugs and kisses turn to bloody lips and black eyes, she realizes that Mizan is not who she thought he was.

Raven becomes desperate for a way out, but this time, Daddy can’t save her. Every time she finds the courage to leave, fear convinces her to stay. Like a moth to a flame, Raven is drawn to Mizan, even though she knows he’ll be the death of her.

When the hood life she chose becomes unbearable and the only way out is in a coffin, what will she do?


 

12813630TITLE: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
AUTHOR: Holly Black
PUBLISHER: Little Brown
SERIES: No
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️  Vampire/Dystopian 

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Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

TITLE: I am the New Black
AUTHOR: Tracy Morgan and Anthony Bozza
PUBLISHER: Speigel & Grau
SERIES: No
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️ Enlightening

BUY THE BOOK

The outrageously funny, heartbreaking, and surprising story of Tracy Morgan’s rise from ghetto wiseass to superstar comedian.

Who is Tracy Morgan? The wildly unpredictable funnyman who rocketed to fame on Saturday Night Live? The Emmy-nominated actor behind the sly and ingenious character Tracy Jordan on the award-winning hit sitcom 30 Rock, whose turbulent personal life often mirrors that of his fictional alter ego? Is he Chico Divine, the life of the party–any party, anytime, anywhere–getting ladies pregnant everywhere he goes? Or is he a soulful, tender family man who emerged from a hardscrabble ghetto upbringing and, against all odds, achieved superstardom, raised a solid family, prevailed over a collection of lethal bad habits, and is still ascending new heights and coming into his own? The answer is: Tracy Morgan is all that. And a bag of potato chips with a 50¢ soda.

When he was just a boy living in the Tompkins Projects in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, being funny was about survival. With the right snap, Tracy could shut down the playground bullies who picked on him and his physically disabled older brother. And with a wild enough prank, he could exact revenge on whoever stole his Pumas at the community pool. Later, being funny was about escape–from the untouchable sadness of his father’s death, from the desperation of the drug dealer’s trade, from the life-and-death battles waged on the streets of the South Bronx in the age of crack. But these days being funny is about living his dream–a dream born in the comedy clubs of Harlem and realized on shows like Martinand Saturday Night Live, where he was a cast member for seven years, and in movies like The Longest Yard and Half-Baked.

With brutal honesty and his trademark take-no-prisoners humor, Tracy tells the story of his rise to fame, with all its highs and its many lows–from the very public battles with alcohol and diabetes that threatened both his career and his life to the private and poignant end of his twenty-year marriage. In his singularly warped and brilliant way he muses on family, love, sex, race, politics, ambition, and what it takes to bring the funny.

Hilarious, inspiring, searing, and touching, I Am the New Black is a fascinating peek inside the minds of one of the most compelling and defining comedians of our time.


 

 

30371TITLE: Temperatures Rising
AUTHOR: Sandra Brown
PUBLISHER: Bantam Books
SERIES: NO
RATING: ☕️☕️☕️☕️ Seductive 

 BUY THE BOOK

Darkly handsome with an arrogant edge, architectural engineer Scout Ritland is the kind of American man who spells trouble. Chantal duPont should know, for she has experienced the best and worst of the country and its people—including one who broke her heart. Yet here she is, home on sultry Parrish Island, putting herself in the way of another bold Yankee. This time, however, it’s for a good cause: Scout is the one man who can help her village, and she’s not about to let him get the better of her—no matter how much she may want to.

Fresh from completing his work on the island’s new luxury resort, Scout’s ready for a little recreation—though being kidnapped and shot isn’t on his agenda. But when he catches sight of an exotic beauty with electric blue eyes, events quickly spin out of control. Scout should be outraged to find himself held captive, but an abductor as alluring as Chantal makes it hard to stay angry.

Soon Scout is swept up by Chantal’s need to help her people—and the role he is to play in her ambitious plan. With each passing day, the work and the woman present him with challenges he could never find at home. But as the project progresses, intrigue and adventure burn hotter than the island’s volcano—and two people who have met their match in each other face a future that could tear them apart….

📚 A dead body, a quirky librarian & a jaded detective.📚

☕️ Murder in the Aisles by Olivia Hill ☕️

TITLE:   Murder in the Aisles
AUTHOR:     Olivia Hill
PUBLISHER: Samhain Publishing
SERIES: YES

RATING:  ☕☕☕☕☕ Suspense/Mystery  🔪


Murderous intent is no match for killer intellect accessorized with stiletto heels.

51KYxU8CpDL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A Felicia Swift Mystery, Book 1

If there’s one thing Felicia Swift likes more than sex, it’s books. But her dream job at the Library of Congress takes a macabre turn when she finds a linguistics specialist lying dead between his least favorite subjects: Anthropology and Astrophysics.

Worse, the utterly sexy detective seems to have his eyes on Felicia’s curves more than the evidence, which she is convinced points at the wrong man. And she plans to convince him of just that—right after he buys her an apple martini.

Mark Rizzo plans to wrap up this investigation as quickly as possible. Until he realizes the witness isn’t some dumpy, wizened librarian, but a researcher with endless legs, bottomless intellect, and a bulldog determination to complicate this open-and-shut case all to hell.

As Felicia and Rizzo dig closer to the truth, the real culprit gets jittery enough to try something desperate. Leaving Felicia to wonder if their investigation will lead them down the aisle of no return.


 

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Review: 🔪

A dead body, a quirky librarian and a jaded detective.

Felecia Swift is not your ordinary librarian, her dream job at the Library of Congress suddenly turns into a dark nightmare one morning after discovering a fellow co-worker dead in the aisles.  Felecia believes Dr. Dresden’s death is no accident, being a language specialist he wouldn’t be caught in the aisles of stars.  Mark Rizzo, the detective assigned to the case sees it as an open and shut case until his conversations with the sexy researcher convince him otherwise.

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Felecia, the tortured genius suffers from OCD, anxiety and several quirks.  She’s meticulous in her work and keeps relationships at bay.  Her dark past remains a mystery throughout the book and her sexual appetite is evident.  Rizzo is instantly attracted to her and finds himself digging deeper just to be close to her.

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The sexual tensions in this book were captivating.  As the suspense builds and unravels the mystery of who killed Dr. Dresden, the plot thickens. While the detective and librarian fight their obvious attraction, the flames burn hotter.  This was a very good suspense mystery book.  I’m looking forward to Felecia revealing her darkness and growing closer to Rizzo.

 

 

⇜Love, Life and the Journey⇝❣

 📚 On the Right Side of a Dream by Sheila Williams 📚

51s8OAl9p2L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_What are you supposed to do with a restored spirit? Eventually, I got some answers. I just didn’t expect to get so many.

When Juanita Lewis arrived in Paper Moon, Montana, courtesy of a Greyhound bus, she was just looking for a brief respite. Instead, she found a home, friends, and a man to love. But this leave-your-attitude-by-the-door woman made a promise to herself–one that she intends to keep. Now that she’s got a place to come back to, Juanita wants to see the world.

A trip out West with her eccentric trucker friend, Peaches, leads to a cooking stint at a new age spa for skinny celebrities. Crazy, but its here that Juanita decides to take her talent for cooking to a new level . . . and make it her dream. She also learns something about life: It does turn out the way you planned it–just be ready to change the plan a few times along the way.

Just as Juanita’s journey begins, she’s called back to Paper Moon, having inherited an old, slightly haunted B&B, as well as a mountain of decisions. There’s her self-centered, irresponsible daughter, insisting that she get some sense and come back home to Columbus, and a son who’s doing things Juanita can’t bear to think about. So how does a middle-aged black woman from the projects follow her heart when it’s heading in so many different directions? By asking the right questions, then listening with her soul.

 


Excerpt

☕ Chapter One

A wise woman said that there are years that ask questions and there are years that answer. For a long time, I was a sorry soul caught between the two—never going forward and afraid to look back. Wedged in between a rock and a boulder and going nowhere. That’s a waste of a life and you don’t get it back. But, I’m a slow learner so none of this wisdom penetrated my hard head until I was past forty. By then, the years of questions had added up. And I didn’t have any answers. All I had was a beat-up suitcase, a tired-looking shoulder bag, and a few pennies. And the courage it took to listen to my own heart when it told me to take the first step, even though I was scared to death.

I ran away from home. Did not stroll, skip, or saunter. I ran as fast as I could. In my journal, I wrote that I was running away from my old life. But I was really running away from no life.

Now, my family was not having any of this running away stuff. You see, they’d been so used to me being a part of their dramas that it never occurred to them that I might want a drama of my own. And not the bad kind, either.

“What’s wrong with you, Juanita?” my sister asked me. “Have you lost your mind?”

My son, Randy, asked me, “Are you ever coming back?”

My kids acted as if I was leaving them to starve to death even though they were grown and living life their way on my dollar and my emotions. I had to fight them to get out the front door. The second-shift supervisor at the hospital where I worked could hardly keep her no-lips from curling up into a Snidely Whiplash smirk.

“Don’t think you can get this position back when you run out of money,” she’d told me. “In this economy, I can fill your job with the snap of a finger.” When she said that, it was my turn to smirk. Exactly when did a nurse’s aide job become a “position”?

The man in the bus station looked at me funny when I told him I was going to Montana to see what was there. He probably thought that I was an early release from a mental hospital. But the little man at the pawn shop hit the nail on the head.

“New life?” he’d asked, handing me the receipt for the suitcases I had just bought. “Where’s that?”

I left to find out.

Some months later, I left Paper Moon, Montana. It was a rainy fall morning and I sat in the cab of Peaches Bradshaw’s truck, crying my eyes out because I was leaving a man who loved me and folks who thought I walked on water and didn’t cook too bad, either. But I wasn’t running away this time. Oh, I still carried a suitcase, a tote bag, and a purse without much money in it. But for this trip, I had something else along that I hadn’t had before. I had a life. And I wore it proudly like a woman wears a big pink hat to church on Easter Sunday.

“I’ll keep your side of the bed warm,” Jess had told me when we’d said our good-byes in the early morning. Those were the only words I needed to hear. What can you say to a man who’ll do that for you? All I could do was bury myself in his arms. If you are loved, it’s enough by itself.

Millie Tilson, Paper Moon’s resident eccentric, glamour girl, and innkeeper, had given me the benefit of her advice and many years of life. However many that was.

“Ohhh, I wish that I could go with you, but the Doc and I are headed to Vegas in a few weeks and we’re taking tango lessons. Did I tell you that?”

“The Doc” was Millie’s “boy toy,” Dr. Angus Hessenauer, a seventy-something retired internist who’d grown up in Lake County, made good in Boulder, and was now back to renovate and live on the old family homestead. Their relationship (Millie said it was an “affair,” not a relationship. “Relationships are what people have with their bankers nowadays.”) was the talk of the town. No one knew exactly how old Millie was but everyone was in agreement that she was at least ten years older than Doc Hessenauer. Maybe more.

“Yes, you told me that,” I said, watching as she unpacked a UPS box. It was her latest order from Victoria’s Secret, a lacy little number in red and a few other very small pieces that could loosely be called “clothing.” That’s all I’m going to say about that.

“Oh, well,” Millie sighed as she checked over the invoice with the focus of a C.P.A. “Be sure to go places that you’ve never been before. That’s when you have the best adventures.”

I laughed. That would be easy.

“Millie, I haven’t been anywhere before!”

Her dark blue eyes twinkled with mischief and wisdom.

“Then you’re going to have a marvelous time, aren’t you?”

I was. Everything would be new to me, every sight, every smell. But would it be “marvelous” as she said? Or, would “marvelous” have to share a space with “boring” or “sad” or “awful”?

“Sometimes, it all comes together, Juanita,” Millie reminded me. “It’s what you do with it. That’s what matters.”

She was right.

A long time ago, it seems a hundred years ago now, on the bus trip from Ohio, I’d made a list of the places that I wanted to go in my life. A wish list. Looked them up on a map, circled them with a highlighter: Los Angeles, the Yucatán, Jupiter, Tahiti, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Ursa Major, Beijing, and Auckland. I had bright orange lines crisscrossing the atlas. When I showed the list to Peaches, she laughed.

“Juanita, I don’t think the Purple Passion will make it across the Pacific. Flotation is not a strong suit of the Kenworth,” she’d told me, referring to her bright purple truck cab. “Beijing! Tahiti! I can see you now in a hula skirt!”

I could see me, too. It was a comical sight.

“Can’t help you with Jupiter. You’ll need an engine bigger than mine for that.”

“Oh, that’s OK,” I said. Jupiter was just a silly thought that popped into my head. If you’re going to make a wish list, make it good. You never know.

“Would you settle for Los Angeles? Or the Grand Canyon? And I think I might be able to manage Denver, although I don’t usually pull the eastern jaunts. Stacy does those.”

Stacy was Peaches’s partner both professionally and personally: a tall, skinny thing with the vocabulary of a truck driver (which she was) and the heart of a poet. She got weepy over Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Peaches grinned. “ ’Course, in a few months, I’ll be heading to San Diego. How about going south into Mexico? Stacy could fly down and meet us if she doesn’t have a run. I have a taste for some real tequila and a few days on the beach,” Peaches commented with a sigh. I knew that thoughts of limes and frosted margarita glasses danced around inside her head.

“It’s a deal,” I’d agreed.

The plan was to head west through Idaho and Oregon, then south into California on I-5. Peaches had a delivery in Redding, then planned to take a detour so that I could see the ocean.

But it rained a lot that fall. And plans are meant to be changed.

“Any other time, I’d say we were lucky to have rain,” Peaches yelled over the roar of the huge engine, Bonnie Raitt’s deep, bluesy voice, and the swooshing sound of the windshield wipers that reminded me of the eyelashes of a giant giraffe. “It could be snow. Shoot, this is October, it should be snow!” she commented, squinting as she tried to see through the sheets of water that poured over the window. “This rain is not a good thing.”

She was right. It got so bad that she pulled off the road a couple of times because she couldn’t see. The storms rolled in from Idaho as they liked to do but instead of moving on and moving out, they brought relatives with them. The sky went dark in the late morning and stayed that way for the rest of the day so that you couldn’t tell when day turned to night. Got so I expected to see Noah and his boat floating by at any minute.

We got used to seeing orange cones and the flashing lights of emergency cruisers. State troopers stood in the middle of the highway directing traffic around fender benders, mud, and rock slides. It was slow going and hard on Peaches. She looked exhausted. And the three mammoth-sized cups of coffee that she’d had weren’t any help.

“I hope you don’t have any business appointments tomorrow morning,” Peaches said, a weary smile lighting up her face.

I shrugged my shoulders.

“I’ll just have my secretary reschedule,” I told her. “I wish I could help you drive, though. Make this trip easier.” I’d asked her once to teach me to drive the Purple Pas- sion and she let me work through the gears. That was a chore. There’s a lot to it. You can’t get it in a one-hour lesson. Making turns, parking, backing up, just putting on the brakes (at seventy miles per hour) with thousands of pounds behind you took some doing.

She snorted and shook her head. She’d taken off her baseball cap and her long, sun-streaked blonde hair fell down her shoulders.

“Don’t worry ’bout it. Hell, I’ve been driving this route by my lonesome for years. It’s a treat just to have a real person to talk to. Half the time, I’m talking to myself. You know how strange that looks?”

The gears complained as Peaches moved through them. A trail of red brake lights wound down the highway, breaking through the soupy view of the window, flickering like Christmas-tree bulbs. The rain was getting worse. It was beyond raining cats and dogs; this was like raining cows and horses. I couldn’t see a thing and didn’t know how Peaches managed. The truck came to a groaning stop. Through the drippiness, a man ran down the center of the highway between the lines of stopped cars and trucks. He waved at the pickup in front of us then headed toward the Purple Passion, motioning for Peaches to roll down the window. His jacket was soaked and the rain dripped off the bill of what used to be a green John Deere baseball cap.

“What’s going on?” Peaches yelled. “Accident?” Words were used with a lot of economy.

“Mud slide, road’s closed,” he yelled back, his eyes blinking to beat back the raindrops that were blowing in sideways. “They’re going to detour to a county highway running southwest. It winds a bit but y’oughta get to the redwoods before your kid goes to college. Have to sit on it awhile, though. They’re just gettin’ started.” He ran off to the FedEx truck in the next lane.

“I guess that’s it. You will be late for that business meeting, Mrs. Louis,” Peaches said, yawning, as she rolled up the window. She leaned into her seat and closed her eyes for a moment to take a catnap.

Later, when the truck began to move again, I studied the rain, the direction that the wind was blowing, and the huge rock-and-mud concoction that had spilled across the highway. I thought about the change of seasons in Montana, where summers are short and winter seems to last forever, or so they tell me. The land is so wide, so open that, even with the mountain ranges, you can see the weather coming from way off. I remember standing on the back porch of the diner with my hand to my forehead like a sentinel, watching a thunderstorm roll in across the Bitterroot and thinking to myself how beautiful it was. The skies turned from blue to milky gray, then to a silvery slate shade. A giant hand had plated the bowl of the horizon with pewter. I used to keep Jess’s dog, Dracula, inside if it got too hot in August, listened to the weather on the radio just to keep up with the temperature. Sometimes, I planned out what I would cook at the diner where I worked based on the weather. If it rained and got a little cool, I put together a soup; if it was as hot as the Sahara, I whipped up cool salads and fruit. In between, I did whatever made me feel good.

I hadn’t done that before I came out west, hadn’t paid attention to the weather. Never even noticed it. If it rained or if it didn’t, none of that ever mattered before I came to Paper Moon. When I worked at the hospital back in Columbus, I carried around a cheap fold-up umbrella (that I’d fixed with masking tape every time it blew inside out) in my tote bag, along with my lunch every day, whether it was hot or not, whether it snowed, whether it didn’t.

I wasn’t rooted to anything but asphalt and concrete. And buildings don’t reflect the season’s changes. Or a life’s changes, for that matter. No way a paved parking lot tells you spring is around the corner or that it’s going to rain. I am now a woman of the earth, a weather vane.

I sniff the air for rain, listen to the birds, and check the western skies for clouds. I grab a handful of dirt to feel how dry it is. I can fix the time of the sunset just by its color. And when the wind blows, I play a game with myself: Where is it coming from? How does it smell? Dust from Texas, magnolia from Alabama, corn from Indiana, pine from British Columbia.

It’s hard to believe now that I lived my life in such a way that I never noticed the rain. And I didn’t notice the sunshine much either. Barely noticed the seasons at all, as if I was immune to rain or shine. Now, that is pitiful. I shook off the memory of that poor woman, closed my eyes, and listened to the swish-swish of the windshield wipers.

Rain has two effects on me; it either makes me sleepy or makes me want to go to the bathroom. Since there weren’t any rest stops in sight and running into a flash flood to pee didn’t appeal to me, I took a nap. I have learned to sleep sitting up with the roar of the Purple Passion’s engines as background music for my dreams. It is a funny combination. In my dreams, I might be running through a meadow filled with wildflowers. But, instead of the smoky molasses smoothness of Roberta Flack’s voice or the gentle sliding sounds of violins, I hear the drone of a truck’s engine or the scraping sound of the shifting gears to go along with the blue skies, gold, red, and purple flowers, and gentle breezes. Oh, well. You have to make do with what you have.

I have a few ideas in my head about what I want to do next, where I want to go. A few ideas, not just one, so when folks ask me, “What you doing next, Juanita?” I sound like an idiot when I answer, “Oh, I don’t know, a lot of things.” Anything I haven’t done, which is just about everything.

Jess and I liked to talk early in the morning, way before the birds got up. In the cool darkness, we would wrap around each other like two hands clasped in prayer and talk and argue and laugh at bad jokes until one of us would fall asleep again, usually me. And Jess would ask, “What you gonna do for an encore, Juanita? Is there a sequel to this great adventure?”

He does not ask me to give up my dreams, whatever they turn out to be. And he doesn’t make me feel guilty for wanting to wander like a gypsy, either. Just lets me know that I am always in his heart.

“You want to get married, old woman?” he’d asked once, nuzzling my neck with the tip of his nose.

Lord, no. I’d be in the running with Zsa Zsa Gabor or Elizabeth Taylor as the most married woman in America.

“I love you, old man,” I told him, “but I’d rather live in sin if you don’t mind.”

My mother is rolling around in her grave. “Better to marry them and be miserable than live in sin and be happy” would have been her motto. I haven’t figured that one out yet. But I am way too old now for bridal white and orange blossoms and all of the magic tricks and illusions that go with them, not that I ever went that way. No time for that. Just need a warm body next to mine. And an open heart.

Jess had laughed. The sound of his laughter, the warmth of his breath on the back of my neck had made me smile. I felt sleepy.

“Thought that I’d better ask,” he’d told me, his voice softening, his words coming out slower. He yawned. “I knew you’d say no, but you’d raise hell with me if I didn’t at least ask.”

“You got that right,” I had told him, closing my eyes again.

At least, I’ve been asked.

“Just make this your home, Juanita,” he says, softly now. He takes my hand and places it on his heart, a warm place on his bare chest. “Make this your home . . .”

I see Jess’s face off and on in my dreams as I fight bulls in Chihuahua, make crepes in a Toronto bistro, or climb Mount McKinley . . . no, take that dream out, I am afraid of heights! Everywhere I go, no matter how far away it is, I see Jess’s face.

“Make this your home . . .” Juanita’s place.

I open my eyes. The rain has stopped but it’s still drippy outside, the dampness slinking off the leaves of the trees like green gravy that hasn’t thickened right. The eastern sky is a strange shade of yellow and orange, the western sky is the color of slate, a dark, angry gray with clouds of silver and black. Zigzags of lightning flicker in the distance. Peaches is playing Nina Simone now, Sinnerman. The clicks of the music are offbeat from the plops of rain that have started to hit the windshield. Peaches turns on the wipers again. I close my eyes.

Sometimes, during my dream, Nina’s voice fades and the background music that comes from the truck’s engine is replaced by a loud, heavy roar. Not a groan or screech like an old car that gets stuck in first gear. And it gets loud, then it gets soft, and then it gets loud again. Over and over and over. But when the roar softens, I hear birds calling to each other and the clanging of a bell in the distance. And splashing. I am running in my bare feet through a meadow of water instead of wildflowers . . . splashing?

I woke up so fast that I jumped and almost hit my head on the visor. The truck has stopped; its engine idling. The cab was quiet and empty. No Peaches. I looked around the parklike setting and then I stared. I rubbed my eyes. I didn’t believe what I saw. Peaches waved her arms to get my attention.

“Hey, Miss America!” she screamed. “I hope you got a thong bikini with you!”

I stared.

She looked like hell with her pants legs rolled above her knees. Peaches has legs like tree trunks. There was a fairly strong wind and her hair was flying every which way. She looked like a kid in a Disney World commercial.

But that’s not what I was staring at.

I didn’t even bother to open the door; I leaned out of the window, just looking at this thing in front of me. It roared and it crashed against the rocks. It’s gray, no. It’s kind of bluish-gray, no, it’s green. I didn’t know what color it was but it was big and loud and it went on forever.

And I have only seen it in movies.

I ran to the water’s edge, kicked off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants, and stuck my foot in. And shrieked!

The water was cold!

“It is late fall, Juanita,” Peaches yelled. “Even if it is California!”

I have always wanted to see the ocean. I’d heard about it and read about it and I’d seen it on TV but nothing gets you ready for the real thing. It comes in and goes out and comes in again and the white-tipped waves and the foam look the same every time. But they aren’t the same.

I put my hand up to my forehead and looked out to the end of the world, looking farther than I did when I looked east across the Montana plains toward Illinois. And I wondered now if those ancient sailors weren’t right. The world is flat. The pelicans dove after fish and bobbed along the water like the apples we used to grab with our teeth from my grandmother’s tin tub. The gulls screeched. I stood there with my mouth open in amazement.

“And I thought I was country!” Peaches teased me. “You haven’t seen the ocean before?”

Why? Does it show?

“No, I haven’t.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and the salty air filled my lungs. The air smelled deep, rich, and old and I would not forget the smell as long as I live.

I wonder how the first woman felt, seeing this water for the first time. Did she stand here, with her mouth open and her eyes closed and smile as the heavy ocean breezes whipped around her face? Or did she just stare, eyes unblinking, wondering how far it went, what moved beneath the water, and if this rock that she stood on was the end of the world?

She was probably a lot more practical than I was. She probably thought about food, fishing, or building a boat.

I was just too awestruck for those kinds of thoughts.

I stood there until my toes went numb from the cold water. Just stood there in one place. I looked down at my feet and watched the water come in over my toes and then go back again. And each time I thought it might be the same water. But, of course, it wasn’t.

As we drove away, it occurred to me that’s what I want—for something, just one thing, to stay the same. But only good things. Could they please stay good, ’cause I’ve had enough ugliness in my life. I have moved away from that mess, and I want someone to tell me that the joy I’ve found will stay with me awhile. That I’ll be able to pull it over my head and wear it like an old soft sweatshirt whenever I need it, for as long as I need it.

You know all those cities I have wanted to visit? Buenos Aires, Beijing, New York, Hong Kong? I have learned something new about myself: I don’t like cities much anymore.

Peaches drove into Los Angeles from the north. Some miles out I saw an orange-brown cloud that floated over the skyscrapers like a shawl thrown over a woman’s shoulders. But this was not a delicate, soft length of cashmere that was made to keep the evening chill away. It was a rough wool blanket, scratchy and thick. In some places, the haze was murky and more brown than orange. And it wasn’t lightly perfumed. It was stinky.

We were traveling through the city on I-5 and, in both directions, the traffic was bumper-to-bumper, moving slower than a constipated snail. Car horns honked, middle fin- gers went up every place you looked, and I saw more fists raised in the air on that highway than I had in 1969 at a Black Panther rally.

“Must be some accident,” I commented. “They’d better get it cleared out soon. This is a mess.”

Peaches chuckled.

“There’s no accident; it’s like this all the time. In LA, everybody drives. Everybody. The freeway looks like this all day. You might get a clear highway at 3:00 am, which is when I usually come through here.”

“Oh,” was all I could think of to say. I was used to cities but not ones this spread out. Even Cleveland was not this big or this busy. I had seen traffic, but not like this. You couldn’t pull over, you couldn’t pull off. You were stuck.

But when we finally got off, somewhere in the central part of the city, I think, I saw things that I was familiar with. It didn’t take me long to realize that I didn’t want to be familiar with them anymore: the hustle and bustle and noise of buses, diesel fuel blowing from their exhausts and music that I didn’t want to hear blasting from cars as they bounced down the avenue. The souped-up Firebirds had speakers bigger than their engines. All you heard—and felt—was the bass thumping. The yelling, the cursing, the boarded-up buildings and piece-a-cars sitting at stoplights. We drove down one street and I thought that I’d passed into the Twilight Zone of lives lived. I saw myself walking down the avenue, carrying a bag of groceries or standing back from the curb, waiting for a bus. It was as if someone had said “Welcome back, Juanita.” Young boys stood around and didn’t seem to be doing anything except trying to look as if they were the alpha and the omega, while they tried to keep their pants from falling down around their ankles. Do they know that they walk funny? And there was always someone looking out for the uniformed men and their flashing lights. I had to blink to keep from seeing Rashawn on those corners, digging a huge roll of Fort Knox–backed paper out of his pocket, explaining his position in a low, soft but menacing tenor. Hundreds of miles away and in cities in between, there were street corners and alleys and vacant lots just like the ones I left behind. That didn’t make me feel good.

There were people everywhere, walking fast and wearing sunglasses. Lots of sun, lots of noise. And not much grass and no pine trees and no lakes or rivers, and we were too far into the city to see the ocean anymore. Later, I remembered seeing the mountains at dusk as they struggled to show me their beauty through the murky haze. I saw the “HOLLYWOOD” sign, too, from a distance. I hadn’t been there but a few hours and I’d already decided that I had seen enough.

But I was wrong.

Excerpt courtesy of Amazon via the author.


REVIEW:

It’s amazing how much you can get accomplished if you don’t give a damn about what other people think. ~Millie

Juanita Louis and her new friends from Paper Moon, Montana have returned in On the Right Side of a Dream.  The story picks right back up from the previous book as Juanita sets off on her new journey, departing Paper Moon in Peaches’ big purple rig headed to the west coast.  When Juanita first arrived in Paper Moon, she was running from her old life, and more so running from herself.  She’d lived a humdrum life in Ohio and desperate for an escape.  She found that and more in Paper Moon.  Leaving Paper Moon was a bittersweet moment, Juanita still needed to experience life and explore the vestiges of life she’d never seen.  Although Jess had fallen for Juanita, he didn’t stand in the way of her goal, he let her know that he would be waiting for her to return.  With his  downright demand, he encouraged her to visit an old buddy’s restaurant out in California.  It was there that Juanita discovered a new journey she wanted to partake.  This time Juanita isn’t traveling alone, she and Peaches are like Thelma and Louise discovering new things, until Juanita lands in a day spa in Sedona.  The book progresses slowly with vivid imagery and breath-taking scenery.

The turning point is when Juanita hears about Millie’s death and returns home Paper Moon to find she’s inherited Millie’s B&B.  The overwhelming sense of panic sets in as the opportunities and decisions mount up.  Millie’s estranged son, Broderick sets his sites on the B&B giving Juanita yet another obstacle to climb.  And if those decisions weren’t enough, her old life decides to sneak back in as well through her daughter Bertie.

Sheila Williams’ characters remind the reader that there are so many lessons in life to learn if you get to living and not merely existing.  Her characters are vivid and some full of spunk.  Juanita bares her soul allowing her fears, doubts to leak through the pages.  Her sarcasm, wit and inner thoughts take you on a journey through her eyes.  There are many quotes and hilarious moments that will stay with you long after you’ve finished.  Like the first book, I enjoyed this one thoroughly.  5 Stars  ☕☕☕☕☕

 

Withstanding the test…

For the Love of… Love’s Culture 4 by Angelia V Menchan

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SYNOPSIS:

Two months in Italy had been a boon to Dona’s career and her relationship with Fernando but she wasn’t sold on marriage. He proposed in Italy but she told him she needed more time. Marriage scared her. She had never seen or experienced a good one up close and personal. Deep Denton, her producer seemed to have a great marriage but he came from that and no marriage she ever saw seemed as good as the one with Mahad Basari and his wife Sadia but they were for all intents, newlyweds. She wanted and needed more than the past six months, she felt compelled to know Fernando beyond the goodness. Being alone in Italy with music playing and room service could fool a sister.

Fernando understood Dona’s hesitancy and wasn’t sure about his own urgency. It was as if he needed to marry her as quickly as possible to insure she was his. He also wondered if his past as gigolo, for lack of a better word was part of the problem; the week before they left Italy there had been an occurrence.

“Fernando.” The soft cultured voice called out.  Turning to face the beautiful and older Italian woman, Fernando tried to keep his face neutral. Dona stood by his side, with his arm draped around her waist.

“Hello, Maria, it has been years.”

“It has. I tried getting in touch with you for a long time but your numbers changed. I hear you are now quite the successful entertainer but you were always good at entertaining.” She simpered. Fernando felt Dona tense slightly.

“Yes, music is now my sole career. This is my woman, Dona. Dona this is Maria Fortelli, an old friend.”Maria’s face froze at the word old but she quickly recovered. Finally, she acknowledged Dona.

“You are a very fortunate woman. He comes with great references.” She said as she strode away, elegantly.

Dona turned back to the festivities and never addressed the meeting but Fernando felt her energy. He needed her to understand that was who he once was.

¥¥¥¥

Mahad couldn’t get enough of Sadia’s belly. She was huge and he loved on her all the time, focusing on their baby. She was allowing Abia and Nelson and a couple others to run the Bookshop and she was home most days, taking it easy in the last weeks of her pregnancy. He could work from anywhere and was home with her as much as she allowed.

Moans escaped Sadia as Mahad rubbed pure, organic coconut oil on her naked belly. They were on the veranda and she was only wearing panties. Her breasts and belly were fully bloomed. Mahad’s eyes feasted on her beauty.

“Stop that or you are going to make me…” He said.

“You should. I know I am big but we can work this out.” She murmured. She didn’t have to say another word. He maneuvered her so he could have full access.

REVIEW:

I never I would love just one woman, I never knew but I am glad I took the chance because all I now am and do is for Her Love…

The thing about reading a series is most times it becomes repetitive.  There’s only so much you can say about the two main characters.  However that’s not the case with this author and series.  In this installment, we follow Dona and the sexy sensation Fernando explore their new relationship.  Still inside the multicultural theme, Dona an African American woman and Fernando a Puerto Rican man explore love with a past.  Can they not only survive the cultural difference but also their past indiscretions?    This author pulls you in with strong Alpha Males and strong, yet feminine women.  Most of the men of this series all seem to know what they want and  will stop at nothing to get the women they want.  Maggie Mae and Reggie struggle with their relationship and finding a good medium where they both exist in love and life.  Maggie Mae’s new found wealth and freedom are somewhat of a hinderance to her now as she continues to live in the past and present.  Will Reggie stick around while she finds herself?  And will their love stand the test of time?

This series explores the depths of love and the trials that follow.  Each set explores the main characters and also dives deeper into the secondary characters giving them life and their own stories to tell.  I’ve not been much of a fan of BWWM interracial romance, as they don’t connect with me as a reader.  I don’t know any Billionaires and the women are usually too passive for my taste.  However this series has given me a new perspective on interracial romance because there are many types of interracial love to explore.

5 Stars

Grab your copy on Kindle.  For the Love of… :Love’s Culture 4

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