Fantastic Florida Fun: Timothy Louis Baker
Teens find dealing with parents often difficult. Following rules, dealing with strict guidelines many often rebel. Mark Mitchell lives life on the edge. Escaping reality by drinking, taking drugs and overusing marijuana to help him as he relates get that high or buzz in order to deal with life’s obstacles and his stepfather. One simple act of violence you might say and one final fight would cause him to leave Indiana, his mother alone with this violent man and head for the sunshine state, Florida. But, Mark’s journey is related to the reader by him every step of the way. From the minute he releases the brake until he turns the bend and drives away he describes his path to what most would say freedom. What better way then to fill up his tank, make sure he has a large supply of pot to smoke and find his way to the perfect place for pancakes. But, Mark finds something else along the way that would not only change the complexion of his journey but would change his life too. Reinventing your own life, deciding on a new direction would take Mark smack dab in the center of the drug community selling it on the streets. While traveling to Florida he picks up a young girl named Melissa Monroe and immediately develops a close relationship. Meeting her father, understanding the terms of their arrangement, and becoming more than friends with Melissa, Mark’s choice to sell hard drugs, live in her house and work for her father might be the one choice that would do more than increase his depleted bankroll. Wanting to work in the orange groves he detours to the streets selling drugs. Becoming a first rate criminal and working under the guise of a legal grove enterprise or business, Mark’s world would be filled with criminals, going around or over the law. Learning more about the author I uncovered that he too lived his life in some ways the same as his main character. Depicting himself as Mark you might say that both Timothy and Mark are telling their stories together. Selling drugs, dealing with the drug world Timothy Louis Baker is recounting Mark’s story from his own personal experiences bringing to light what happens when life deals you a difficult hand and you decide to play it the wrong way.
Mark and Melissa formed their own bond and Allan seemed to encourage their relationship. Taking Mark under his wing he learned more about his illegal businesses, buying and selling drugs, arms, the dealers and the orange groves. But, something did not add up every time he went out with Allan as one man warned him about Melissa’s past as Mark wondered about their present. Repeating the words and who said them to Allan yielded a result that would end the problem once and for all. Very protective of his daughter yet having more of a business or friend like relationship Mark began to wonder just what Allan’s hold was over Melissa.
All three would bond over smoking joints, snorting coke and shooting to get high, watching television, relating their day and the end result of their business transactions. Mark becomes immersed in Allan’s business hoping to take over some of the territory, some of his business and become rich.
Looking in the mirror Mark did not see just what he had become, how Melissa really was or Allan’s true colors. Lessons in life can be learned when trust goes too far and the end result would come crashing down on him and many others. Learning the harsh reality about Melissa and her past would help him understand more about her present. Just why did her mother leave and why did she say such harsh words to her before leaving? Why did her father create a perception of Melissa that would come back and haunt her in more ways than one? Why didn’t see realize what he was doing to her and how can he be stopped? Loyalty is a big part of what Mark learns throughout the short novel. When and if someone goes against Allan’s wishes they deeply regret it and what about against Mark? Mark learns the hidden truth about Melissa and some of her actions. Memory problems are attributed to her lack of knowledge and just who is behind it and why you will have to learn for yourself. Some relationships are wrong while others bond people together but in this novel someone goes too far and the end result will shatter one and leave another to decide on that person’s final fate. Revenge: would you call it sweet when you learn the ending?
Author Timothy Louis Baker takes the reader along with Mark on many different journeys as he leaves Indiana, does not look back, bares his soul and thoughts to both Melissa and Allan and becomes a first class drug dealer, businessman and something else too. Florida orange groves, coke dealers, marijuana, LSD and much more are just part of what all three characters relish, live on and thrive on monetarily. But, is this what Mark really wants for the rest of his life? Just what negative effects will all this bring? What would have happened if he managed to rid himself of his stepfather and remained with his mother? A story that brings many issues to light not only for Mark, the reader but for our author who along with Mark was exiled as he stated in an interview that I read, from his parent’s home and did spend time in Florida. Hitchhiking, traveling, fun in the sun, Fantastic Florida Fun: What’s Your Definition? What do you think?
When the past and the truth comes out and Mark learns what Melissa has hidden away in the recess of her mind for so long, author Timothy Louis Baker hits the reader with an ending that has one huge twist, one very large curve and definitely a major surprise. What is next for Mark and Melissa? Will they continue down the same road or will life take them in a better direction?
Loyalty, friendships, love, understand and two teens caught in the crossfire created by their parents hoping they will find their way to a different kind of freedom. This is one book that teens might learn some hard lessons from before thinking that drugs, drinking and LSD will provide the good life. One interesting very book and two characters that could definitely appear again in another short novel.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Anger: Who gives a shite?
You are sitting at a meeting with your boss and you feel your blood pressure rising, your heart beating fast and you are about to explode. Keeping your hands hidden beneath the top of the table he cannot see the balled into two huge fists ready to strike. Before coming to this meeting you went into a local café for coffee and when you started to drink it you burned your palette. Standing and waiting for the light to change a car splashed your new suit with dirty water. Your anger is welling up inside of you and it is trying to tell you something and definitely extend a special message to you. What exactly does anger say and what is it trying to tell you? The author states on page 3 and I quote: If we ignore anger and shove it aside, we’ll miss the true opportunity to go deeper into ourselves.
Everyone in the world has disagreements with someone at some time. No one has ever had what I would say an anger free month or even at times an anger free week. Anger is something that you cannot avoid but dealing with it and taking control is why author Derek O’Neill wrote a series of outstanding guides to help all of us deal with Anger and many other emotions.
You are still stewing from getting covered with water and your boss is criticizing your last presentation and the fact that your sales figures have dropped. Sitting there you are about to let your emotions run free. So, why not take a deep breath, sit in a comfortable chair and listen while I explain how to deal with your anger, what causes the chain of events that might ruin your day or life and much more. Anger has its own chain of events you might say which happen to be attached to our five senses. Our five senses the author states tend “to be the root cause of all of our emotions.” Everyone needs to understand this powerful emotion and what’s more how to control it. Next, understand that desires breed anger when not fulfilled. Like that fur coat you wanted but your husband had the audacity to use the money to pay the rent. What about the new car, the vacation to Europe or even being ignored on your birthday by your family? When we are growing up we learn how to act when we want to get what we want. We also and others learn too that they better not dare stand in our way when we want something and our object whatever it is will be fulfilled: OR ELSE!
Living with delusion breeds anger as well as when delusion rules as well as the loss of self-awareness. All three can take us on a path that is destructive. So, what do we do? After all we are human and sometimes we need guidance to help us understand what we don’t about ourselves? First, you must, we must accept anger. I am serious. If you accept and own your anger you will be able to let it go. Just how you have to read on pages 10-11 in order to understand it on your own. Next, from Anger to Enlightenment: Remember: You are sitting with your boss at the present time and you are about to really explode. Rather than do that own up to what you did, learn from your mistakes, ask how you can grow or where you can go from here and hopefully things will turn around. Pages 11- 17 explain when someone decides to go to a retreat and what they learn from the experience. It also explains how to bring your anger back into alignment- “letting it flow- and release.”
The next chapter deals with the Flip Side of Anger and incorporates an important definition: Duality, which refers to how you handle a specific event and which road you, takes to find your answers. Duality is at everyone’s disposal or fingertips and you are in control of it. How many times have you gone out to lunch with friends and listened to their stories about how many cars are in their garage, how many vacations they are going on or even what private schools they are considering for their children in the fall? Does that mean their lives are better than yours? Does that mean that you are worth less? No! You need to stop thinking or buying into the idea that other people’s lives are better or more prosperous than yours. You need to set yourself free, undo those handcuffs and break away from the anger that is welling inside. First, the author states: Embrace the” one,” that is YOU! Then read pages 19- 20 to learn more. Forgiveness: Powerful! How can you forgive those that have made you angry, feeling hurt or weak? Find out when you read on about not becoming or remaining a victim and attaching yourself to anger.
The next area the author brilliantly explains is physical and chemical aspects of anger followed by examples of how anger draws anger and the comparisons and definitions will bring it into perfect focus for the reader. Added in anger does as we all know have an impact and affect on relationships. What about handling a situation where a parent has betrayed you many times and you have decided to permanently disconnect yourself from that parent. The hurt is more than just painful and the anger that is welled up inside of you is about to overflow. How do you handle it when someone else is the cause or as the author states is the catalyst of your anger? Instead of staying angry realize that this parent or person has enlightened you and the next time you might thank them for their actions or words and handle it by allowing the anger to be released. The remainder of the section explains how anger can ruin a romantic relationship, anger that leads to violence, depression and grief and addiction.
You are now all wound up, your body feels like it’s about to take off in several directions. You kids are really getting you upset. Your boss just called to tell you that you day off has been cancelled. Your husband forgot your anniversary and your best friend betrayed your trust. What do you do in order to release the anger? When anger fills your mind, heart and soul: lie down, drink water slowly, put something cold on your temples, breathe deeply, leave the environment and try laughing at your actions. Working on letting go will help you to overcome your anger and find happiness. The author suggests classes to help you deal with the root of your anger. To learn his final thoughts on the subject read pages 42-43 and I promise you, you will feel so much better. I do! This is the first in the “Get A Grip,” series that I was asked to read and review. Get ready for my next review on what else: Happiness coming soon!
Great resource with extensive research and easy to understand examples and a resource section at the end which includes sites for children too. I want the Water Drop Coloring Book. I love to color. It is so relaxing. So, do you still Give a Shite? You won’t after reading this!
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Honeymoons are reserved for newly married couples to spend time in a special place getting to know each other. But, when Senlin and Marya embark on their special trip little do they know that certain events would transpire changing the dynamics and complexion of their life together forever. Senlin is a headmaster and teacher at a school and whose life is very rule oriented, regimented and organized. His new wife is more daring, likes adventure and would love to put some spark into their new marriage. Senlin decides to take his bride to the Tower of Babel for their special honeymoon vacation in order to learn more about the Tower and its history. Throughout their train ride to the tower we learn more about the structure, the landscape and both characters. But, circumstances change and they are forced to alight the train and have to walk to their destination. Arriving at the market place they encounter numerous vendors and Senlin reminds his wife to keep her money safe, not talk to beggars and make sure he can see her at all times. Wearing this strange red hat on her head makes it easy for him to spot her in case they separate. But, when Marya requests to go and purchase a special dress from a vendor, preferably something “Scandalous,” to hang out on her laundry line when they return home, something happen that would change everything. What would you do if you looked away from someone and in that split second they were gone? Two pieces of luggage and the next time he looks down hers is gone and so is she. Wandering for two days and asking the many vendors is they saw his wife while making purchases from each one to insure they would answer his questions, he learns nothing until he meets a young man named Adam and then things just might change. But, they don’t instead this young man who befriended him robs him of his money and some other personal belongings. Meeting yet another man while purchasing a new suit, he learns more about the people within this place, their lack of honesty, the fact that he cannot trust anyone and Senlin is truly on his own. Yet, finds himself in unique situations that most would never encounter when looking for a missing wife.
Entering the Tower he seeks the Parlor not realizing that this particular area was what most would call a theater but in reality was not. Groups of people paid a certain amount of money to become actors and spectators in a play with a plot that was contrived by some and acted out by many. Strict rules must be adhered to, possessions relinquished and stored and the events would certainly make you wonder how if at all he was going to find his wife without proper motivation and help. Constantly sidetracked, distracted and disoriented Senlin’s actions were definitely unique to him and his memories of Marya, their courtship shared with readers helps you learn more about his placid and regimented life and personality making you wonder why she married him. Just how she wandered out of sight with that red hat makes you wonder if she disappeared on her own or if something really did happen to her. No one made contact with him. Senlin seems to be wandering through life, making simple decisions and has not realized that he just might need to reinvent himself and man up before all is said and done.
As a headmaster he is in charge of his students and is a leader. As a husband he approached his role in the same way. But, when things appear to deviate and not go according to his prescribed plan, Senlin seems to falter.
The Tower of Babel as described so vividly by the author, the bazaars, the vendors and the people come alive taking the reader along with Senlin through the many tents, streets and restaurants. Greed, betrayal, corruption and fear run through the plot as one man goes in search of his wife with many obstacles in his way. Visiting the basement of the Tower would emit odors, smells and tastes that would turn anyone’s stomach sour. Some of the scenes described will make you wonder just how he did not get truly sick just from the musty air and dirt. The Parlor presents these faux plays and the bath societies are perfectly described.
As the play begins within the Parlor the cast of characters play their made up roles but something happens, one man snaps as he takes on the role so seriously that he becomes one and more than the same with the fictitious character he is playing. The jealous husband whose wife has taken up with his accountant learns more than just a hard lesson as Senlin and the woman playing Mrs. Mayfair, Edith work together to get away from a madman. The end result is startling. The play takes on a dangerous feel and an alliance forms between Edith and Senlin winding up detained in the Tower hoping to finally get released. The fast pacing of the play, the death of two characters, the coldness of the attendants in charge and the stark contrast of the receptionist whose role was more of customer service than taking down the information for the investigation, you begin to wonder what is real and what is pure fantasy.
Throughout the novel the author flashes back to Senlin’s life before this happens. We learn more about his life as a Headmaster, his love of the Tower of Babel, the lessons imparted to his students and his courtship and marriage to Marya. Before Senlin can assert his efforts to find his wife he has to rise above himself and begin to change who he is in more ways than one. From a mild mannered and rule conscious headmaster he needs to transform himself into more like a modern day assertive man with stronger beliefs and goals. But, there is much more as Senlin befriends two painters and one just might have the answer to what happened to his wife but first he requires a favor one that would be dangerous and yet when you read how he hopes to execute his plan along with the second painter it is quite clever. But, will he succeed or will the guards arrest them both? As the plan unfolds and Senlin hopes that the guard present while he pretends to be a journalist writing an article on this valuable painting literally lets his guard down, we learn more about the painter who created the work, how he hoped to create enough of a diversion to switch the real painting with a forgery and hopefully learn more about his wife’s disappearance. Would the painter come clean and tell him the truth about his wife? Was this just another deceitful plan to get Senlin to help someone and wind up with nothing?
Senlin learns the fate of his wife and what he decides to do next would change the course of his life. Meeting several people along the way and realizing one who misrepresented himself and was responsible for his wife’s disappearance he sets off for New Babel with the aide of the painter, Ogier. Meeting once again with Finn Goll he is employed in order to earn wages, which he hopes will provide the funds to find his wife. At the start of each chapter the author shares quotes from Senlin’s own book: Everyman’s Guide which are quite insightful and sets the tone for what is to come within that chapter. Added in we learn what Marya was really doing throughout her short visits to the Tower, how she became entwined with Ogier and was in a sense duped into believing this other man would help her find Senlin. Going to New Babel was his next destination and working for Finn Goll part of the solution. Keeping a log or a journal that is dated is the author’s way of allowing readers to hear Senlin’s thoughts and understand his every move as he reunites with Adam Boreas and learns what really happened to his luggage and much more. Trust no one: Good point!
Learning more about Adam, his dealings and then coming back to Senlin you see changes in both men and wonder just where this journey will finally take all of the characters. The exchanges are quite interesting as the author leads Senlin on a new course as more of a leader than a follower. Working together with Adam proves fruitful to a point. Each one trying to save another person but what will the end result be and just how far will they go to attain their goals? Remember: the Commissioner for stealing something wants Senlin and Adam has an entirely different quest.
The tower of Babel was designed to satisfy the spirit of man. Looking at a picture of the magnificent tower you see so many interesting images of this structure that was intended as a religious building hoping to expose the mystery of the heavens as well as the greatness of God. The distinct and vivid colors, the amazing architecture and the height of these towers in this illustrations helps bring this entire story to life. Debts, conscriptions, deceits, lies, thieves, loyalties, friendships and one man whose life changed and might never be the same. Just whom can he trust? What is the ultimate price or prize he needs to pay to find or get back his wife? Will he ever find her or is someone leading him around hoping he will either go home, give up or worse?
When all of the players intertwine and the bounty is set who will win and who will wind up at the hand of the Commissioner and his men? What happens when Edith reenters the picture? Can she be trusted? An ending that has so many curves, twists and deceits you won’t believe the end result. Just what lies beneath the floors of the Tower of Babel? The Parlor where you become someone else and a structure that holds more secrets than most liars, cheaters and thieves. Who is behind this entire plot won’t be revealed until the second book: The Books of Babel BookII: Arm of the Sphinx comes out. What happens next is in the hands of our author and of course the captain if the Stone Cloud. One interesting novel filled with extensive research and definitely a plot that will keep you glued to the printed page until you learn the explosive and dramatic ending. The Parlor: What role would you like to play?
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Prophesy of the Kings
Freedom often comes at a high price. One man wants to escape his life and his home. Another is shipwrecked, savagely beaten and cannot return home to his family. A third is a sorcerer whose past stays hidden for a long time. Vastra is a man of mystery and while Kaplyn our prince and Lars our shipwrecked man team up and start to bond we learn more about their goals, their pasts and passions. As Lars competes in wrestling matches and literally destroys his opponents, Kaplyn enters a different contest and both come out winners. But, this story does not just center around these three and the quest will lead them into the world of demons, wizards and dragons. As we learn more about a demon whose body might have gone to another world but who will definitely return. Trying to save their world. Can they? Demons are attempting to open a passage to the demon world. Will they succeed? The premise of the story is to find the mysterious Eldric and learn why they disappeared. Finding what they left behind might be the only way to safe the world.
As the story opens in Book One we learn about the Eldric and their disappearance. We also learn about the Krell Wars and a demon named Drachar whose shade was banished from the world. As we hear his pleas, we listen to those present as they hope his spirit or shade will never return. But, although the threat might seem to be gone he took with him when departing the only way to defeat the demons. The world of wizards, dragons and humans as depicted by author David Burrows is really not any different than our world is today. There is always someone vying to rule others. There is someone or a group hoping to take over the world run it their way. Legend of Eldric if Book I in this Trilogy where we meet Prince Kaplyn who is not really into being a prince and decides to spice up his life and leave the sanctity of his kingdom. Kaplyn is a figure you come to admire from the start as he rescues Lars in a creative way from the hands of several who want to beat him to death. Enter Vestra, a wizard looking to retrieve or find the Eldric Talisman setting off a chain of events that would bring both Kaplyn and Lars closer to learning more about the Eldric and dangers they never imagined. As their journey begins they learn more about the demons that can possess animals such as wolves as they assist some farmers they are staying with for a night. The pendant is Vastra’s quarry but when Kaplyn risks it all and finds it why does he decide to have it remain with him and not Vestra? What does he learn about Vastra that would endanger, his father, the King? What would happen if he knew who Kaplyn really was?
Hearing the Prophecy one thing is definitely for sure is that we have not heard or seen the last of Drachar. We have yet to meet one more colorful character named Lomar who is an Alvalah, albino living in the center of a forest in a place called Gilfillan.
Will they find the Eldric who disappeared and left certain valuable items in their wake? How will they neutralize the demons? This coveted pendant is their only hope to ridding the world of the demons who want to overtake their souls. Three separate worlds, many events and one final outcome: Destruction or will they succeed? Friendships are formed but deceit lies in the forefront as the reader realizes when Vastra’s true character shines through and his lust for gold, greed and power overtakes more than just him.
As Kaplyn relates his journey, the rooms that were quite distinctive but were they really there, learning about the Krell Wars in detail and the prophecy we wonder just how far he will go to find the Eldric and why risk his life for Vastra? Enter the Baron his close friend who he relates more about his tale, his hope to find Talin and just whether the prophecy will come to pass.
Dinner with the Baron would prove enlightening as several guests relate their goal to establish a new god and hope that the Baron would fund them. Told no and leaving on the spot Vastra spots the Eldric Sword that Kaplyn had hidden. Summoning his librarian to decipher what is inscribed on it sets forth a dangerous and deadly chain of events as demons rise up and several, including the librarian are killed. We also learn about Trosgarth and the monarchs that are being killed to deny the prophecy from coming true. These religious leaders believe in a Priest of Ryoch are feel they can communicate with this god through their guardian spirits called Shaols. Add in is their belief in the Kalanth or the demigods who they claim guard the world.
Hoping to get a message to his father Kaplyn learns of the discontent of his people. His father seems to favor certain classes of people and not others creating this feeling that some are not being protected possibly explaining why the demons attacked the farm and the farmers. The journey continues as they meet the Alvalah and Prince Lomar.
Lomar proves to be more than just a friend and wants to join Lars and Kaplyn on their journey to search for the Eldric. Along the way we learn more about Vastra, the hidden demon that he controls or imp as he is referred as, the betrayals, lies, deceits as four men search for a way to save the world, their individual people and survive. Lamar feels that he owes it to his people to go on this quest before the Tallin Crown as the prophecy states has risen. Being a constellation of stars it is set to be seen the night sky within 60 years which seems like a lot of time to us but to these men not so.
Author David Burrows takes readers inside the minds of each character hearing their motives, innermost thoughts and along the way his descriptions of the many places visited, passed and seen so vividly depicted you feel like you are there. The greenery, the hills, mountains and the place where the albinos live so amazing and beautiful it mystifies readers. Glaciers, snow filled skies, Krells on patrol, one day to enter the cave to find the answers to what is written on the map on the pendant and 60 years when the Tallin Crown will be whole again.
An ending so startling, so violent and unique you won’t see it coming nor will those present. One man set out to gain what he felt was his. One pendant that has the power plus a kara stone what would store magic and hopefully will protect the holder. Who winds up with the pendant? What about the Kara Stones? Will their power save them? What happens to Kaplyn, Lars and Lomar. What about the threat of the Trosgarth and Aldrace? If Vastra opens the pathway to the other world who will survive? What you learn at the end will caution readers to remember that Vastra is a sorcerer and not to be trusted? The Legacy of the Eldric: Whose lives are risked because they could and would not heed the warnings and turn back? Who stands tall at the end? Who rises up? The answers will come to those who are brave enough to read Book 2: Dragon Rider and learn more. Dragons, wizards, humans, demons, shoals and Krells: Who lives? Who dies? Will they ever find the Eldric?
This is one trilogy that will keep readers glued to the printed page but make you think twice before entering a cave, whether about without the proper light, tools, and definitely beware of demons and sorcerers and dark caverns.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Let’s give Part one: FIVE GOLDEN KARA STONES
Pulling Taffy: TInky Weisblat
Memories are more than just precious. Memories bring smiles, tears, a warm glow and inspirational thoughts when remembering someone you cared for and loved. Mothers are the most amazing people in the world. They are mentors, teachers, often doctors, nurses and the best cooks in the entire world. Tinky Weisblat’s memories of her mom, Taffy, generated more than must the memories of my mom who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003 and passed in 2011. The events she shares, the humorous incidents and the heartfelt words, thoughts and times she cared for her mom and shares with readers will help other caregivers understand how precious you are to those who need you. A caregiver learns from the start that his/her life is about to take on many new challenges, different directions and often your time is no longer your own. The responsibilities are huge and the hope of enlisting the help of others is not always easy.
Tinky shares not only her time with her mom but her childhood memories growing up with her father, Abe a really colorful man, his job with the Agricultural Development Council,, her short-term memory skills and how all of this was incorporated in taking care of Taffy. Her mother’s memory at times did fail. Keeping her mind active through cooking was one way that Taffy felt important and it also helped our author and her mom create some mouthwatering recipes that she shares with readers at the end of each chapter. Fortunately for Tinky her mother taught her a lot about cooking, which she passed on to her brother. Added in we learn more about her relationship with her brother, her time in Jamestown and her research into learning more about Mark Twain.
The essay she shares at the end of one chapter related to Caregivers enlighten those of us that are caring or have cared with parents that have dementia/Alzheimer’s with tips that are needed and the understanding that you as a caregiver deserve time for yourself and you are special. You might consider borrowing some of the great fragrances she uses in her bath water to start your day off with a smile.
Taffy had spunk and definitely had her own flair for life. Loving her two pets unconditionally. They on the other hand adored her as she cuddled with them, talked to them and of course providing them with numerous treats. But, what shines through his Tinky’s sense of humor and her love for her mother. The incident with the piano brought a smile to my face. Not wanting to buy a new one and wanting to repair her older model really hit home. Even though the life of the piano might soon end and her mother’s too the hope that both would somehow be restored lets you know that our author would never give up on either the piano or her mom.
Caring for her mother was not her only task as Tinky had to care for Truffle and Lorelei Lee too. So, how did Taffy come down with the same infection her pets did? What happens when Tinky hears her having a conversation with someone else but no one is there? The dialogue is priceless and the incidents strike more than just a familiar chord. Remembering names becomes difficult and the moments of recognition heartfelt as the author relates that her relationship with her mother changes daily if not moment-by-moment as we continue with this upbeat and uplifting journal. Sharing her mother’s childhood helps readers get to know the real Taffy. Hearing her mother’s voice, sharing her poems, thoughts and comical moments allows the reader to take the journey from start to finish with the author. The picture of Taffy kneading soda bread on page 60 says it all. Her smile, spunky attitude as a kid and even when older comes through in every event described and each picture, recipe and story that told. But, the best news she shares is that her old Stieff piano was saved. If you want to know how the piano guy does it you have to read it for yourself.
Urinary infections seem to plague poor Taffy. That is not uncommon. Dealing with them becomes the norm. But, the funniest incident was why Tinky received a discount on the doughnuts. Will not tell anyone why? That would ruin their fun of finding out for themselves. It is truly a HA HA moment. As you learn more about her life, her college years you can see her graduation picture on page 74 and realize just how beautiful she was. The poem her friend Katharine Irons Brett wrote to her is more than just about graduation was reprinted with the permission of the Brett family. Read May: Waiting and Watching and see the picture that tells a whole story. Added in we learn about their interesting and comical courtship, the reservations both families expressed because it would be an inter-faith marriage and their willingness to work hard and stay together. She was an amazing person filled with ideas, smart, good cook, expected excellence from her and her brother, (sounds like mine), loyal and always found the good in every situation. Read the chapter titled Taffy’s Marriage and learn more. You won’t be disappointed.
Loving and listening to music helped by Tinky and Taffy thrive. As you read the chapter titled July: A Golden Month you can hear the music being played, see her at the Independence Day picnic, the smile on her face is breathtaking and the ups and downs the day described. Watching her mom gaze at the clouds on a hot day she composed this amazing poem: Title Heat Wave shared on page 119.
As Taffy’s condition changed many times our author enlisted the help of several caregivers and eventually hospice. I admire her determination to make sure that her mother received the best care and she never gave up on her and requested that everything be done to keep her alive and healthy.
Her life in India plus the poem she shares that her mother wrote about her time there, teaching seventh graders and her way of controlling difficult situations you can see this five foot one woman standing tall and taking control of every situation. With the support of her brother David and his family plus so many others Tinky was able to forge ahead, whether the difficult times and laugh at the outrageous things her mother did that would make her smile even today. On Pages 187-188 she shares some valuable caregiver thoughts or tips and her final days, where she is now and what she hopes to accomplish rounds out this outstanding memoir in journal form. Dementia/Alzheimer’s knows no limits and there are no boundaries or ways to stop its progression. Every song she sang with her mother, every poem she wrote and every painting she created helped her to thrive. Never treating her as if she did not understand, keeping her mind and body active is the best way to help stimulate her mind and you truly kept her alert for so long. Infections are not uncommon and will change the person’s behavior as I know from my mom who contracted UTI’s and had to be placed permanently on medication to avoid any more infections. What better way to remember your mother and create a special tribute or legacy to her than to write her story, share her life and remember her smiles and her songs.
Taffy, Jan Weisblat, lived to be 93 years young you might say. She never gave up on herself and she loved and lived life to the fullest. The pictures of her family that are shared and those of Taffy bring her to life for readers. Pages 195-198 read as a short bio of her life and bring it all together.
Taffy Weisblat was feisty, strong willed, strong minded and spoke of going home many times. The word Home has many different meanings. Taffy is in a different home right now with God watching over her and she is watching over her family and friends.
To those caregivers that took such great care of this amazing woman, to Tinky for sharing her story and allowing us to get to know her mother and to everyone who supported her work and her during her time caring for Taffy, I dedicate this review to her memory and to all of you.
A must read so well written, uplifting and filled with great recipes, essays, poems and much more. This is one book that I am going to cherish and keep on my bookshelf. Memories are precious: These truly are!
Fran Lewis: reviewer
A Dream of Daring
Author: GEN LAGRECA
Visionaries are often shunned and people that see the future unfold in ways that are not traditional often encounter resistance. Established ways are often the norm and anyone that dares to want to change things instills fear, anger and sometimes treachery within the minds of those that are against what is being presented. One young inventor named Tom Edmunton would encounter more than just hidden obstacles. Coming home for the funeral of someone close to him, to support the family of a young woman whose family hoped to make his wife, Tom finds his life about to change. Geared toward science, running a cotton plantation and a bank his goals and endeavors would change if what he created and hoped to market would succeed. The son of a Louisiana planter, creating a motorized tractor, using gasoline for the first time would revolutionize the way the land would be plowed and ease up the amount of time men would have to sow the soil. Imagine what this could do for the plantation owners? But, slavery was in place and many did not want to lose control over the people who provided the labor for their farms. Nor did they want to have to pay anyone to run the machinery, work the land or reap any of the profits. But, this was just the beginning of what would prove to be more than just an invention. As Tom explains his thoughts, shows his invention to Wiley Barnwell, the Senator who was like a father to him. A man named Cooper and another named Nash who are vehemently against what he wants to do as he explains the need for more funds to operate it and the reasons why it was housed in the barn and where he hoped to bring it the following day. The excitement was electrifying and his explanation quite compelling but the end result tragic.
Change is a dangerous word and creates fear in those that do not understand what it means or think it endangers what they already have. What would happen if slaves did not pick the cotton and help cultivate the land? What would happen if they were given too much freedom? As the author shares with us the thoughts of this man named Cooper and we hear his fears and concerns it alerts us to the fact that something might happen to change everything. But, someone close to him is killed and Tom feels responsible for the Senator’s wife and daughter as he travels to find his stolen invention but instead comes upon an injured horse a young mulatto slave and the end result was not exactly what he expected. Freeing her horse and helping to bring him to safety what this girl does is definitely not what any slave should dare to do and if caught she would face a harsh punishment. The new age is coming to the South and things are about to change. Some insist that slaves are the only ones that can complete the tasks on the plantations do the heavy work and are definitely needed and not to be freed where others are more concerned with the new technology, allowing everyone to benefit and not keeping people in bondage. Imagine why these slave owners would dislike his motorized tractor the age of mechanized farming which would possibly prove that slaves and the entire slave system was no longer needed.
When Tom relates to the Senator’s wife and daughter about his death their reaction seems cold, unfeeling and definitely does not fit how most would react to the death of a husband of father. Each one seems consumed with their own private needs, the running of their plantation, funeral expenses and the inconveniences his death has caused. Rachel appears to really care about Tom and her mother becomes dependent on him but both seem absorbed in their own private worlds and it comes across as kind of callus as this wonderful young man takes on responsibilities that most would not because the Senator backed him and believed in his invention. But, when he discusses it with Rachel she is adamant about her feelings about change, the new age and his invention as being something he should table or put on the back burner in order to run his father’s bank and plantation. Rachel seems locked into the old ways and although she has been presented with the freedom to soar, run her own dance studio with Tom’s backing she prefers to honor her mother’s wishes and live by her father’s creed.
Added in is Ted Cooper in jail and arrested for the murder but even though he was seen standing over the Senator’s body does it mean he is guilty? Another man seems to have his heart set on marrying Rachel but what are his real motives and intentions? Why would the Senator give his daughter’s hand in marriage to a man who cannot manage his own finances, run his own plantation and seems to want to use her as a bargaining chip in a business deal.
Although Rachel was free her manner seemed constrained. Then along comes a free spirit, but slave named Solo and things change for both Tom and his stable hand and slave Jerome or as he was referred to as Tom’s chief factotum. The friction between these two slaves runs high but the end result will definitely make you wonder just who is running the show. Solo, literate, smart and cunning in her own way manages to convince Tom to allow her to stay out of the kitchen, not sew and definitely not work in the fields and trade places with Jerome. Just what would a man do in the kitchen? Well! How about becoming a head chef? When push comes to shove and her voice is heard what happens might make some slave owners cringe but not Tom. Added in we learn more about Nash and his desire to undermine Tom, take Rachel for his own and convince her to negate his friendship for his. Although Tom wants to help her mother and her family the mayor paints an entirely different picture of the late Senator that makes Tom wonder whether he really knew him at all.
A new age with new ideas and new implements and tools to make planting easier, help with picking the cotton and cultivating the land and yet so many against change. Solo, a mulatto slave, hates Tom at first, runs her mouth at every turn and yet manages to act as a free spirit where Rachel although living a lavish life seems tied to the old ways and afraid of change. A literate slave that paves the way for others to follow and a story so powerful you will wonder how the North managed to stay out of the way of the South for so long and how so many enslaved lived in fear. Claiming that they care for their slaves, protected their young and provided for their every need, the mayor and others justified keeping these people in bondage. But, why would Tom who owned slaves offer to pay for their passage to freedom? What would happen if they escaped and what would happen to him if someone found out?
The story runs deeper and is more intricate than most think as we get to know Solo, realize that she is a lot more than just a slave. She is literate and can really help Tom in many more ways than just threatening Jerome. As we hear the banter between Jerome and Solo you get to know their strengths, weaknesses and realize that she is relentless, smart, sharp and eventually will get both Tom and Jerome to see things her way. As Jerome loves to cook and always wanted to become a chef, and Solo loves horses they decide to trade jobs and then things really soar for them both. Jerome invents a special chocolate treat, Tom helps him to create his own business and the many of the business owners are thrilled and order his special treat. Just why would Tom want to help a slave to earn money? How would this affect his standing in the community? The trial and the witnesses were also questioned and Ted Cooper is found guilty will he be hanged for the Senator’s murder? Who else could have killed him and what part does Tom’s invention really play in all of this? Was it stolen to destroy his dream or was it stolen for someone else to profit?
When the truth about Solo is revealed and the connection to the Barnwell family told you won’t believe what happens and how Tom comes to her aid. Revenge, lies, deceit, power plays, narrow minded people set in their own ways and a simple birthmark that would change many lives. Who killed Barnwell and why? You have to learn that for yourself to understand the circumstances and decide who is really guilty. As Solo’s birthright is revealed and Tom’s role is brought to light Rachel and Charlotte choose sides and whose you won’t believe. Loyalties change, words are harsh and one woman’s life will be destroyed. When the end finally comes and the world is free from slavery just who avails themselves of the freedoms and becomes their own master and who will forever be chained? The new age is there but the old values somehow prevail just how you will have to learn for yourself. A Dream of Daring: so many wanted to soar like Icarus but not too close to the sun or their wings will burn. Who succeeds and who gets caught in the crossfire? Author GEN LAGRECA takes readers back to a time when masters whipped slaves, berated other humans, were only concerned about keeping them down and never allowed them to think, feel, work or choose their own destiny. Tom Edmunton: Dared to dream and dared to allow himself to teach others to understand the meaning of freedom. One great book for students in college and high school to read and learn more about the South and slavery. One great book that deserved the Forward Review’s finalist award.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer