#BlackLivesMatter

Sometimes you really want to say something, to make a post that causes people to stop and think. Maybe to even change someone’s mind along the way, although for some people you do have to wonder what kind of a mind they have in their heads in the first place.

We all know the pain the world is in at the moment. We all know that a virus is stealing lives at a frightening rate. We all know of the horror of George Floyd’s life being taken from him for no reason other than the colour of his skin. When this terrible event happened I wondered what awful crime this man must have been stopped for to deserve such violent treatment. Was he holding up a bank? Was he threatening someone else’s life? It must have been something truly serious yes? Oh… actually not so much.  He was suspected of using a fake $20 bill… if he had been a white man would he have received the same level of treatment (or rather mistreatment), sadly I think we all know the answer to that one.

I can’t pretend to know how it must feel to be on the receiving end of racial abuse, to know that some people will judge you based on nothing more than the colour of your skin. I can’t even start to imagine how a person learns to live with that treatment.

I guess that means I’m lucky. Lucky to have been born with the “right” coloured skin. I didn’t choose it, I didn’t do anything to deserve my good fortune, I didn’t work hard to be accepted by the world with my pale coloured complexion. I did nothing. So why does my skin tone make me safe when another persons does not?

I am glad to say I have never understood racism. I find it hard to get my head around the fact that people can judge a whole group of people with no real reason. Yes, there are bad black people, just like there are bad white people, and bad people of ever race, creed, religion and race. People are people. Good, bad, happy, sad… we are all made from the same building blocks of life and in a time of such global crisis we need to support each other more than ever.

I only meant this to be a very brief post, I wanted to share a couple of pictures I snaffled off social media because one of the most irritating things I’ve been seeing lately is the whole All Lives Matter thing… it just makes me want to shake people, to make them see that they just don’t “get it.” Are these people genuinely thinking that this makes it an all inclusive statement and are just not realising how dismissive it actually comes across? I hope so. I hope when I see it that it comes from a good place, but I’m sure that on occasion it doesn’t … so these pictures seemed to explain it far better than I ever could.

 

blm2blm1

Thank you for reading 🙂

Exclusive Pedigree: My life in and out of the Brethren by John L Fear – Review

If I didn’t know better I would think that summer has arrived and all is well with the world. A weekend spent out in the garden, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, the fragrance of newly bloomed flowers, and the soft buzzing of fluffy bumblebees, can make you forget the nightmares that many people are currently living through.

I always enjoy reading while sitting out in the sun, and this brought me to the end of another book… this one:

Blurb:  John Fear was born into a religious sect known as the Exclusive Brethren. This exclusivesheltered him from the outside world as he grew up, but could not hide him from its influences. A struggle began in his mind that led him to leave the Brethren, along with his young family.

Rather than reacting as many do and totally abandoning any belief system, John remained true to his convictions and continued a strongly religious way of life. Still serving God he worked in many places throughout the world, rubbing shoulders with famous people such as Billy Graham, Mother Teresa and Cliff Richard.

The writing style of this book is dynamic and engaging. John’s personality shines through and he paints an insightful account of his personal life and surrounding historical events. This account is not a sensationalised expose of the Exclusive Brethren. Instead, it follows one man’s life journey and is brought to life through his diary entries and family letters.

This beautifully edited book is more than a memoir. It is a delightful mix of history, social customs, travel and belief. An honest, personal and emotive account of how religion can touch and shape a person’s life – forever.

Rating:  3/5
My thoughts: I took my time over this book and reading it in small chunks was reminiscent of visiting an elderly relative and hearing about moments from their lives. It’s a well written tale of one man’s life, his family, and his beliefs.
While I could see the quality of the book I think it would appeal more to people with their own religious convictions, I think I was expecting more about John’s struggle in and out of the Brethren.
An interesting memoir which I am sure will touch many people.

“SO, YOU’RE RAISING YOUR GRANDKIDS!” by #RWISA Author, Harriet Hodgson.

Introducing author Harriet Hodgson – GRAND PRIZE Winner of the #RRBC 2019 KCT INT’L LITERARY AWARDS Contest with her book “So, You’re Raising Your Grandkids!”

Rochester, Minnesota resident Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance writer for 38 years, is the author of thousands of articles, and 36 books. She has a BS from Wheelock College in Boston, an MA from the University of Minnesota, and additional graduate training.
Hodgson is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). She is a contributing writer for the Open to Hope Foundation, The Grief Toolbox, and The Caregiver Space websites. Visit http://www.thecaregiverspace.org/authors/hhodgson to read her articles.
Harriet Hodgson shirtHodgson has appeared on more than 185 talk radio shows, including CBS Radio, dozens of television stations, including CNN, and dozens of blog talk radio programs. A popular guest, she has given presentations at public health, Alzheimer’s, bereavement, and caregiving conferences.
Her recent work is based on Hodgson’s 21 years as a family caregiver. She was her mother’s family caregiver for nine years, her twin grandchildren’s guardian and caregiver for seven years, and is in her fifth year as her disabled husband’s caregiver. Visit Harriet’s RRBC Author Page to find out more about this busy wife, grandmother, caregiver, and author, as well as more information on her many other books listed in the RRBC catalog.
***

BOOK BLURB
So, You're Raising Your Grandkids by Harriet HodgsonIf you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren, help has arrived.

According to the US Census Bureau, more than 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids, and the number is going up. You may be one of the millions of these grandparents and it’s a role you never expected. Willing as you are to assume this role, you have some questions. How will I find the energy for this? Is my grandchild normal? What if I “blow it?” Each day, you look for ways to make life easier.

This book will:

•Help ease your worries and guilt;
•Offer tips for creating a grandfamily;
•Give methods for improving grandparent-grandchild communication;
•Suggest ideas for how you can connect with your grandchild’s school;
•Provide child development information;
•Recommend approaches to help your grandchild set goals;
•Stress the importance of having fun together;
•Offer ideas of how to foster your grandchild’s hopes and dreams.

So, You’re Raising Your Grandkids blends Harriet Hodgson’s wise and moving grandparenting story with recent research and findings. It shares her 21 years of caregiving experience, including seven years of raising her twin grandkids. Each chapter ends with What Works, proven tips for grandparents raising grandkids.

At the end, you’ll cheer for all the loving grandparents—including you—who are putting grandchildren first.

Harriet Hodgson Revolution Banner

Captain Tom Moore

I’m sure you’ve heard of Captain Tom Moore by now… but if not just read on because wow – how he has captivated the UK – and the world – is truly astounding.

At 99 years old this gentleman should be sitting, with his feet up, deserving a life of comfort that he has deserved. But instead, when the world became gripped in the cold clutches of a terrible virus, Captain Tom decided, rather than sit by he would try, in his own small way, to actually DO something.

So Captain Tom, frail and unsteady on his feet, decided to walk. Aiming to walk 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday, and he had the hope that a few people would donate and help him raise ÂŁ1,000 for the NHS.

As I write this Captain Tom has raised over ÂŁ27 million!!

On Thursday 16th April, Captain Tom completed his final 10 laps out of his 100. But people kept donating… and so Tom has continued walking – raising money and, as importantly, raising our spirits in a time when we need something to make us smile.

Well done Captain Tom – keep walking!

And if you want to donate:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tomswalkforthenhs

Love this version of a familiar song in his honour 🙂

 

Book Review – Jonah by Jan Sikes

Do you have a few minutes to spare and fancy a quick read? Well that’s what I did last night and this time it was Jonah by Jan Sikes

JonahBlurb:  Fantasy meets reality when a young man is forced to choose his punishment for crimes committed. Jonah must decide between imprisonment in a concrete box beneath the earth or be exiled to a deserted, barren island. He chooses the island, but nothing can prepare him for the deadly creatures, and poisonous plants at every turn. Then there’s the maddening isolation that drives him to the brink of insanity. There is only one way off this island and it’s more difficult than anything he’s ever imagined. It’s much easier to face mortal danger than the demons within. Will he find redemption, or another unexpected offer?

Rating:  3/5

My thoughts: I loved the idea of this story, a convict exiled to a deserted island, well deserted apart from the vicious creatures which constantly threaten his life.  A strange delivery of books lead Jonah on a journey of self discovery which will ultimately lead him to more discoveries than he could ever have imagined.

While I enjoyed this story, and it was very well written, it also felt a little lacking to me. I think it is such a good concept of a story line that it would have worked much better as a full novel. I would loved to have heard more about the life that lead Jonah to be on that island, and I would have enjoyed seeing his friendship grow more slowly to really convince me of his choices at the end. I would also love to know “what happens next”.

To me this felt more like an early working which would benefit from a lot of fleshing out to fully round it into an amazing tale.

Book Review – The Road to Zoe

The sun is high and bright in the sky, a glorious golden globe shining down from an unspoiled perfect blue sky. Small birds are singing and swooping, almost dancing in the sunshine. And some of the largest bumblebees I have seen are buzzing around, showing off their fluffy striped jumpers as they skip from flower to flower.

If you didn’t know better you would think that all is well with the world. I look forward to a time when that is true 🙂

In the meantime, I find the best use of this beautiful day was to finish reading a wonderful book. This book was The Road to Zoe by Nick Alexander

Blurb: She ran away from the truth, but she can’t run forever.

zoeSeven years after his sister vanished without a trace, Jude is on the road, determined not to return home until he has found her. He wants to reunite his broken family, but more than this he wants to know why Zoe left—what happened when they were kids, on that terrible day when everything fell apart.

They’d been enjoying the funfair—grasping a rare moment of happiness following their parents’ divorce—when after a ride together, Zoe had stopped speaking to her mother’s new partner. Though Mandy believed he was the man she’d waited all her life for, her love for her daughter trumped even that, and soon suspicions of an unthinkable betrayal shattered the family.

So finding Zoe would be just the start. If Jude can find her, then what happens next will depend on the story she’s been carrying with her all these years. Because when families are destroyed by dark secrets, can the wounds ever truly heal?

Rating:  5/5

My thoughts:  Another beautifully crafted story, perfectly illustrating the feelings, fears, and hopes of a family torn apart when 16 year old Zoe disappears.

Nick introduces us to a family in turmoil as young Zoe’s behaviour begins to spiral, seemingly for no reason. But of course there is a reason… if only they can find out what it is.

Told in parallel timelines we also join a grown up Jude and his girlfriend as they travel from town to town determined to track Zoe down and finally find out what drove her from the family home so many years earlier.

The characters are, as always with Nick’s writing, real and relatable and I found myself emotionally invested in Jude’s quest – hoping that he would be successful, and that we would all find the answers he needs. I may have even shed a tear or two as we got to the end.

Another triumph 🙂

 

… and breathe

The world has gone a little crazy hasn’t it. Who knew, as we ushered in a new year just a few short months ago, that this is what we had to look forward to.

Who knew that there would come a time when we are actively told to stay home, to not work, to not even leave our own houses unless we really need to. Who knew that something as small as a virus would bring the world to a halt and fill us all with a level of fear we never expected.

Grandparents can no longer have visits from their grandchildren, children cannot visit their parents, friends remember fondly meeting up with friends.

But at the same time, we are lucky in ways that we have never been before.

At no other time in history could we still see each other, still talk and be together, as if we were in the same room. Technology is allowing those isolated from the world to still reach out and make contact with those they love.

In this terrible time it is easy to let fear take hold of us, to worry for ourselves and for those we love, to imagine the worst and not be able to hope for the best.

We can get so consumed with surviving that we forget to live.

breathe

So just stop. Take a breath. Look up at the bright blue sky and notice how much bluer it is without the streaks of white from countless planes. Breathe deeply and notice the scent of spring flowers on the warm breeze. Listen to the song of the birds and the buzzing of the bees.

Life is hard right now. It is frightening. It is worrying. But it is not going to be like this forever. Hold on to whatever faith you may have. Hold on to the love you share with family and friends. Hold on to the knowledge that this too will pass.

And breathe. Just breathe.

Book Review – A Candle in the Darkness

In these troubled times sometimes it’s nice to escape – and a good read is the perfect way to help you forget your worries for a while.

Last night I read “A Candle in the Darkness” by Karen Black

CandleBlurb: Is there life after death? Not according to Valerie. Following the accidental death of her husband, Randy, she Valerie was distraught. With her mother-in-law saying repeatedly that Randy was still with her, Valerie’s grief was amplified. Randy, had been the center of her life, and now he was gone. He was not with her. He died and was buried in a casket in the ground.
In spite of severe storm warnings, and against her in-laws’ advice, Valerie set out for Maryland, where she and Randy had been planning to live. It took a tornado, and the words of a stranger to show Valerie exactly how to move on without Randy; or was it with him?

Rating:  3/5

My thoughts: Valerie doesn’t believe in a life after death. When you’re gone you’re gone, and that is what her husband is. Gone. Taking shelter from a tornado in the cellar of a motel Valerie will learn things she never expected.

A well written short, that is easy to read. Unfortunately I felt a little dissatisfied by the time I got to the end. I found the climax of the story predictable, I had assumed this was where it was going very early into the story. I think I could have forgiven that in a longer read, if I had been given time to really grow to know the characters and their lives. A nice story but missing any wow factor.

Strange Days Indeed

I don’t often post here on non-writing related matters but sometimes you do just have things in your head that need getting out.

What a time we are living in right now – sadly that phrase is often said in relation to wonderful situations, that is certainly not what we are living through.

I always figured that shows like The Walking Dead (which I love BTW) showed a rather negative view of human nature. Here comes a crisis and the human race turns to an “every man for himself” situation, fighting each other than the disaster (or zombies) that are threatening them.

Now, while people aren’t actually killing each other on the streets, there is definitely an unwelcome shift to selfishness.  I don’t recall ever seeing such empty supermarket shelves as people stock up their own supplies, with no thought for those who are unable to do the same and, as a result, will end up going without. No one should be left without access to something as simple as toilet paper!! (Or food of course).

I would like to think that, when the panic fades, all those random tins of soup that people bought, even if they don’t like the variety, will find their way to charities, food banks, or soup kitchens… but my faith in human nature is lacking a little right now.

This time of uncertainty is leaving us all feeling a little lost and unsure of what to do, we can only hope that “this too will pass”… and in time the world can get back on track.

In the meantime stay safe, but stay kind.