Dr. Nadjwa E. L. Norton Not My Last Breath: Collected Spirit in Print


Dr. Nadjwa E. L. Norton Not My Last Breath: Collected Spirit in Print


Take a deep breath: Inhale then exhale: listen carefully to your heart, thoughts and feelings as you envelop yourself and engulf your inner most thoughts, prayers and feelings into reading Not My Last Breath; Collected Spirit in Print and embrace the prayer/poems that you connect with after reading them several times and thinking about their meanings. The author writes that the poems were written as a “result of a spiritual act designed to further the notion and worldview of poetry as prayer.” Presented to readers in four sections each with a specific purpose. Breathe Life Into Me: Part One: She states, “ compiles a set of poems that serve as prayers for the asking of breath to be inspired, motivated, energized and pushed on.” Trying to Catch my Breath: Part Two: Contains poems that speak to the times in your life that we might be overwhelmed, stressed, dealing with adversity or actively seeking to strengthen our spiritual identities. The poems/prayers in Part Two will help the reader develop more discipline in their individual spiritual life. Monitoring, Regulating, Altering and Exhaling My Breath: Section 3 has poems of prayers that are conversations centered on reflecting self-worth, service, purpose, transformation and critique. Finally, Breathe Freely, the final section contains poems/prayers that lay claim to honor the ways we rejoice in our spiritual identities. Now: Deep Breath: Inhale: Exhale: The poems I will showcase are in each section follow. Be Myself is the first prayer/poem that I read several times. Its meaning is strong as we hear the author’s words as she sits in her room, prays for strength to just handle and make it through the day knowing that she will receive God’s mercy and hoping to be closer to him. “I Would Cry,” is really powerful a prayer/poem that expresses her hope of being even closer to God. Silent tears, noisy tears hoping that each tear would give her some relief-answers-power to change. Deep Breath: Inhale: Exhale: Let’s continue. “There is Pain,” is the next poem in this section that I read numerous times to understand the author’s feelings and messages. I realized that she shares her anguish, hurt, feelings and pain that she has experienced while dealing with the true meaning and hoping to find the solution to understanding this complex word: Pain. As she enlightens the reader to understand that she, like most have no true understanding of pain and she waits, listens, prays, meditates and listens hoping for the answer. Followed by Pain Prayer and Trying to Pray. Finally in Part One: Scared to Be Me encompass how many feel when they are not sure of who they are or where they are supposed to be.


Part Two: Trying to Catch My Breathing has a cadre of poems that focus on prayers that help us to develop more discipline in our spiritual lives. Beginning with “Speak to My Heart Lord, Desiring Silence and Gather Myself Back to Whole. The prayer/poems that I read several times were “Scattered Pieces,” “Win Your Battle,” and “Desiring Silence.” Desiring Silence is quite powerful although only three lines. It is not the length of the poem it is the words and the meanings. Migraines, headaches plague everyone at one time and the only relief often comes from praying to God to alleviate the pain and silence being alone. Did you ever feel like your body and mind seem to be going in different directions? Did you ever feel like you were being torn apart and need to feel whole again? Scattered Pieces expresses these feelings in this short poem that I read five times before deciding how to spotlight it. There are so many times when we all feel like we are going in so many different directions and feel that we are pieces of a puzzle coming part needing and hoping God will guide us into reattaching ourselves and creating a puzzle and person that becomes whole again. Finally Win Your Battle is a poem of hope. Many who have endured defeat, pain, and strife or feel that life is too hard can identify with the words in this poem. You cannot accept defeat; you can Win Your Battle! Never Give Up! Take a Breath: Inhale/Exhale: Continue!

The third section focuses on the times in your life when you reflect on your self-worth, service, purpose, transformation and critique. “Prayer Is, Questions, and Silence is Prayer,” are the three poems that I will spotlight. Prayer Is: short but states in words how not speaking sometimes helps as we reflect in silence what bothers us and how we can find relief without words. Questions asks God to let you know where life is going to take you and when will you arrive promising to use the map that he has given you as your guide. Silence Is My Prayer is my favorite as sometimes no words are needed to communicate the “jumble of thoughts,” within you and silence might bring the clarity you need. Finally, Part Four: Breathing Freely: Rejoicing in your spiritual identities; “ Everyone Needs to Laugh, Faith and Prized Possessions and Sing a Song of Faith are the final three poems that I will spotlight. Laughter is great for the Soul I’ve always thought. This poem is strong, motivating and definitely will help the reader gain a true perspective of how to deal with stress, problems, when you don’t want to cry and need to make the right choices. Appreciating another person’s wonderful personality and laugh is inspiring. Laughter is joyous, powerful, and contagious. Take a deep breath: Laugh out loud: God laughs as they laugh! Sing a Song of Faith allows the author to sing even off key the melody of life and how she wants to deal with tragedy. Prized Possessions: unspoken words, silent prayers, unuttered words: so true: Prized possessions so valuable: her strong belief in God allowing him to communicate within each of us.


Each poem speaks to the reader as the author takes us all of a spiritual journey to understand how poems are prayers and sharing her insight, thoughts, wisdom and innermost thoughts with the reader. Take A Deep Breath: Inhale: Exhale: read the poems. Decide which ones you want to embrace and make them your own. Read them again; Make them yours!


Fran Lewis: reviewer







Sweet Laurel Falls: RaeAnne Thayne



Surprises come when you least expect them and some you might want to live without. About to enjoy her Christmas Party with her book club Maura McKnight never expects two unexpected visitors that would bring her past back into her present. Leaving 20 years ago, Jackson Lange never turned back, never it appears gave her a second thought and lived his own life becoming a successful architect. So, what would draw him back to Hope’s Crossing and what would cause him to stay? Maura McKnight- Parker lost her youngest daughter in an accident. Several teens went out drinking and never thought about the consequences about what would happen when you get behind the wheel of a car. Dealing with her loss and trying to cope with life she is excited to set up this Christmas Book club in her bookstore. Imagine what happens when Jackson walks in along with her daughter Sage.


Jackson Lange never knew that Sage was his daughter or that he even had a daughter in college. Maura kept it a secret. But one look at her, asking her who her parents were, revealed more than words could express. Jackson disliked Hope’s Crossing in this small town of Sweet Laurel Falls. Not wanting to remain there he left only to return to learn about Safe. But, things start to heat up, old feelings arise, tempers flare and two people have to come to some kind of truce. Sage, accepting his presence, still missing her sister Layla that was killed in the accident, is anxious and thrilled to have Jack in her life. But, what about her mother? What about the people in the town and their reaction to Jack? Added in we meet his cantankerous, difficult and impossible to get along with father, Harry Lange one of the wealthiest men in town and who seems to have his hand on the pulse of the economy. So, when Sage invites her father to dinner, prepares a great meal for both of her parents imagine Maura’s reaction when she states that she is not going back to college for the next semester. Taking time off she feels will help her to cope with her sister’s death, decide what she wants to do and be around her mother to help in her bookstore and take online classes too. Maura none too thrilled and definitely set on Sage following her destiny back to school could not believe what happened next.


Not wanting to lose any more time with his daughter he considers moving to Hope Crossing, opening an office and hiring his daughter to work for him giving her a coveted internship in architecture. As the night progressed you can see that the feelings between Maura and Jackson are still there but will their fire ignite along with the flames in her fireplace? Coming out of a relationship with an man named Chris will she reconnect with her first love? As truths come out and the past might reflect on the future Maura learns that Jackson never received the messages that she called tried to stay in touch with her and never returned her calls. Twenty years is a long time and now what will they do as the reason for his return is revealed. Coming back to speak in one of Sage’s college classes, speaking with her and then realizing who she is makes for an interesting story.   Will they decide that the second time around just might make it right? But sometimes connections are made even when you least expect them to be. One father who has just entered his daughter’s life is more perceptive than Maura thinks. Concerned about what might be causing Sage to become so tired and pale both Jack and Maura have different thoughts. When expressing his concerns to Maura and what he thinks might be the cause of Sage’s tiredness and lethargic behavior, Maura defends her daughter but agrees to seek medical help for her. But, when the truth comes out and Sage tells them the problem they ban together to help her. 


Renter the book club that for some reason never read this month’s book but instead is about to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Evie to Brodie. Reminding readers of how they met after the tragic accident that took Layla’s life and critically injured Brodie’s daughter, Taryn, things start to come together for one young woman but what about Maura and what will she and Jack do about the secret that Sage has finally revealed? As Harry attempts to put out an olive branch to his son, Jackson, Sage learns something that might change it all. Secrets, betrayals, lies and hidden feelings are primary in the final chapters of this outstanding novel. Learning what Sage will do with her problem, dealing with telling the truth and facing the world, learning something about the Angel of Hope things take an interesting turn for everyone.


The recreation project given to Jack, remaining in Hope’s Cross a viable option but will all of his effort reunite him with Maura and what will the final outcome be? Then a formal memorial for Layla that means so much to Sage and equally to Maura just might cement their love even more. But, Maura just might not be the only one caught by the love bug and opinions and feelings might just change for someone else. Can everyone put the past behind them and realize that people can change? Can they learn the true meaning of forgiveness and embrace a new life? An ending that only author RaeAnne Thayne could create and a family’s whose lives will never be the same. One young girl would change it all for both Maura and Jack. What about Harry and Mary Ella? The answers can only be found in her soon to be released new novel in April: Current Valley Creek.


Hope’s Crossing, just the name alone brings you warmth, love and makes you smile. The special butterflies at the memorial for Layla reminded me of how much my late sister loved them too. So, to all of the special characters in this book and to our Five Star author let’s give this book: FIVE GOLDEN BUTTERFLIES TO BRING JOY TO EVERYONE WHO READS THIS NOVEL. Can the past really become your present? Only one way to find out: Read Sweet Laurel Falls and find out.


Fran Lewis: reviewer