Ignoring the obvious

A curious event

I shared a video clip about racism some time ago. The reactions were numerous and went from approval to the opposite, although most of those who bothered to comment were in favour of the share. What made me think — and think again, was one sanctimonious comment. The content was that those who speak about racism are the only racists.

In a way, that states one thing only. If we bury our heads in the sand nothing bad will happen. That is something I must write about, I think. In my opinion, the clip was touching and couldn’t offend anybody. There I was mistaken. Did this person want a mud-slinging contest? If so, I managed to stop it. I wrote an exceedingly polite answer, saying that people are entitled to their opinions, but that I found the piece relevant and touching. Then I wished this person a pleasant afternoon and evening. That answer received a couple of likes. It seems that there are more people, who find it important to speak about problems, than those who want to give trouble of any kind the silent treatment. I had more than my share of that in my childhood. Maybe that’s why I find it so inappropriate now.

How are we supposed to make changes for the better, if we always swallow our opinions? Without debate, solutions to problems and misunderstandings won’t materialize. Silence kills: sometimes it kills millions. Is that acceptable? I think not. Was this an attempt at trolling? Perhaps, but even trolls can express their thoughts on important questions. They have a right to say what they think about anything: from fashion to genocide. That is the basic principle for maintaining a democratic society. Even if democracy is complex and hard to manoeuvre, it is by far the preferable concept until we are ready for Utopia.

It isn’t easy for humans to live together. If family quarrels abound, how can we expect that countries among countries can find a common denominator? The sad part is: if we don’t, we must suffer the consequences, which could be anything from revolutions, military or plutocratic dictators, world — or local — wars, to murder and mayhem, suicide or any other forms of killing. Who wants to live in such a world? I don’t. I admit to being part of a privileged minority: I’m well-educated, I have a place to live, I can buy food and drink fresh water. Many people don’t have such advantages, but it won’t help them or change the world to ignore that there are inequalities that must be addressed. In every civilized nation, it goes without saying that every man, woman, and child has a right to a humane life. So far, most of this world’s people live in appalling circumstances. As far as I can see, this is the source of hatred and racism. We fear those who can take away our privileges. Those who we fear, we fight. Wouldn’t it be better to work towards a benevolent change?

I’m getting carried away. But it is important to open one’s eyes to these problems. There may not be an immediate solution to any of this, but real change must come from within. If we bury our heads in the sand and deny the problems that inevitably riddle an unjust society, we mustn’t wonder, if all hell breaks loose. Look around and accept that we humans have created a flawed community. Are there any solutions to these issues? The paradox may be that we aren’t able to live in peace. Should that stop us from doing what we can to create a better world? Personally, I think that this isn’t an option. We must do whatever it takes to improve — first ourselves — and then the world. This is a challenge that we must meet with open eyes.

© HMH, 2019

Post-Valentine’s


There’s a day: it’s filled with roses.

There’s a day of hopeful bliss.

There’s a day for pure romances, there’s a day for broken hearts.

Will the broken hearts be mended?

Will the flowers wither soon?

Will a romance grow and prosper?

Will that bliss be crushed through life?

Are the hopeful days soon ended?

Or can tenderness endure?

Who can fault a secret longing that may never find relief?

Who can mend a weakened heartbeat?

Who will live to find succour?

Is it time to call the fools out?

Let them celebrate the dream.

This I know, each hope rekindles, when the year has turned again.

© HMH, 2019

Still Catching up. New Reviews

With another eight reviews to go, there isn’t much to say, except that I hope my thoughts on these books will whet your appetites in reading them yourself.

MJ Rocissono, Beyond the Wicked Willow

A rewarding read

MJ Rocissono knows his myths and uses them deftly in his poignant coming-of-age story. It is a delight to read a well-written saga that weaves in and out of various historical periods in an effortless way. The young adult characters come across believable as well as amiable — their mythical mentors and adversaries are powerful symbols for learning to understand the everyday world they live in. Highly Recommended.

Nina Romano, A risky Christmas Affair.

A well written (crime) caper.

Serena must think on her feet and take uncalculated risks in this literary romp that takes the reader from Rome to London and to Spain in less time that it takes to say fiddlesticks. The gallery of characters includes Serena’s unfaithful husband, a luckless robber, and an English MP. Naturally there are diamonds galore as well as big wads of money. Nina Romano pulls all stops and hits bullseye with this Christmas romp. The book is light and tempting: a perfect meringue. Recommended for escapist reading on a dreary day. 

Serena lives in Rome. Married. Unfaithful husband. Attempted robbery. Shooting the robber in the hand. Transporting diamonds to London. Selling them for her husband. Scampering off to Spain.

Roger Bray, Blood Ribbon

Serial Killer on the loose

A thriller with a feisty heroine. That being said, part of the thrill lies in experiencing fragments of the plot through the serial killer’s eyes. Add to that, his foible for red ribbons and dunes as well as his long-enduring success. His prospective victim survives and dedicates her recovery period to find her would-be killer. Only a PI, a former criminal investigator, goes all out to help her. He suspects that several unexplained murders may be connected. Bray shows his psychological insight in the way he handles his main characters. Highly recommended

Kathryn Gauci, The Carpet Weaver of Usak

Poignant and well-researched

Anatolia at the beginning of the Great War. The Greek and the Turks live in peace in a double village. They work together but there is a clear divide. Then the assassination in Sarajevo pivots their world into the war that would kill a generation of young men and destroy the Ottoman Empire. This is the backdrop for the Carpet Weaver of Usak, a heart-wrenching saga, of loss and war, but also of great love. To be precise, it’s more than that. Gauci shows a deep knowledge, both of the historical events and the carpet weaving procedure and trade. Her narrative illustrates how the trust between two peoples that lived in harmony was destroyed. This is a poignant narrative that touches on humanity in its many forms. Love and hate, the horrors of war, friendship and neighbourly help is part of the warp and weft of this highly recommended novel.

Katie Mettner, Meatloaf & Mistletoe + Hotcakes & Holly

Mettner has a gentle voice

Two Christmas books. Two love affairs (that end in happy marriages) between scarred and insecure humans. One small town, a diner with a difference, inspired by the legendary Florence Nightingale.

Likeable and insecure, our first protagonist must take over from her employer in the Nightingale Diner. She doesn’t believe she can win love from her childhood friend and knight in shining armour. He has similar doubts (not for the same reason) but takes up the challenge. Her past, especially her mother, prevents her from thinking clearly.

In Hotcakes & Holly two employees in the same diner, a waitress and the cook, experience their personal brand of heartache. She because of her horrendous childhood etc. Moreover, she’s ill and depressed because of an untreated thyroid defect. It takes trials and tribulations for the two to find their balance.

Both books are touching and heart-warming. Ms Mettner writes easy-going, lilting prose that fits her theme. Two enjoyable reads.

Charles Peterson Sheppard, Flint of Dreams

Dreams and Reality Intertwined in a Dizzying Plot.

A reluctant hero.  A young man who must find his feet between the easy choices that his background offers him (a criminal career) and the harder, spiritual path that he’s predestined for. His counterpart is Breezy, a voluntary fiend who works with chemically induced second sight and enjoying gratuitous violence. Pare it down to these elements and you have the traditional good versus evil epic. In Charles Peterson Sheppard’s hands, it becomes much more than that. There’s nothing generic about the plot, and the Native American scenes and dreams give a rare insight into a magnificent people. Flint’s abilities propel him into unchartered territory, but his self-doubt hampers him until it’s almost too late. On the other hand, his counterpart has all the cards in his hands — and he plays them.

There is a gallery of minor characters surrounding the hero and the villain. They’re fleshed out and believable, especially the Chinese girl whose encounter with Breezy almost sends her over the edge. Add a cast of agents, parents, scientists, insects, students, drunkards, siblings, and you have a fast-paced, from time to time terrifying and violent sit-on-the-edge-of-your-chair, modern tour de force.

SS Bazinet, Michael’s Blood

A Vampire with a Difference

A reformed vampire, guardian angels, friendly humans, philosophy, questions about humanity, ethical awareness, and blood. Not human blood but the essence of an angel. These are some of the elements that make Michael’s Blood unusual. Arel, the protagonist vampire, lives on rats when we first meet him. This is the only allusion to Anne Rice and a certain interview. From the rat encounter, Bazinet takes the reader into a new experience. Here, killing rats may well be a symbol of Arel’s fall from grace. His guardian angel follows him through every humiliation and offers a way to redemption. For a vampire, it’s hard to go through such a transformation, especially as it is a gift bestowed by an angel. Why? An angels’ blood forces the vampire to confront his past. Through this experience, painful as it is, Arel gets to know a brave new world for vampires, one where it is possible to grow and maybe regain an element of lost humanity. It takes struggle, an alternative struggle between angels and this strange derivation from humankind. Clearly, the angels never lost their love for other beings. Is this the kind of love they once displayed for the daughters of men but refined so that it will transmute angels as well as men?

Bazinet writes with assurance and panache in this rare treat.

RH Hale, Church Mouse

Horror, Horror, Harrowing, and Compelling

Is this a horror story, a vampire novel, or something else? It is a modern myth, steeped in cynicism. The Church Mouse of the title is a young and gifted girl, who’s given up on life. Homeless, she leaps to the chance of becoming verger in the church of her childhood. It doesn’t matter to her that she has seen and heard horrors there already. It may seem to be an easy job and a hideout from a too complex world. When she crosses the threshold, she enters a nightmare: things go from bad to worse in quick succession. The reader gets drawn in, and it isn’t easy to disengage. Step by step and increment by increment, the true owners of the church’s underbelly creep up on the protagonist and RH Hale’s readers. Cleaning a church after weddings and church coffee sounds like an easy job, but this is just a cover for the nightly workload. Are her new employers what they seem? Are they cultured and knowledgeable, sometimes charming bohemians, or is there more to them than meets the eye? The question will find an answer as the reader moves through several rings of a Dantesque hell in the maze under the church. Rona is an outsider, but her flirtation with vampires transforms her from an isolated youth (every man or woman is an island) to a mighty power and, finally, she may become part of a deadly covenant. Did RH Hale choose the protagonist’s name with this in mind? Highly recommended.

Everybody agrees that it is important to support indie authors. Everybody agrees that buying a book and writing a review for it, makes all the difference for the author. Why does it then seem next to impossible to get reviews, unless one begs?

If begging is required, here is my plea. I believe that Snares and Delusions is well worth a read. I know that some people must’ve read it but very few have taken a few minutes to write about it. It is true that I’ve received some interest lately, and that has made an impact on sales. What could, would, and or wouldn’t happen if people left a review? If you hated the book, write about it. If you loved it, write about it. If indifferent, well, maybe you can’t be bothered, but write about it anyway.

Authors don’t want to live in a vacuum. They love words. They would adore your words about their book. Maybe the market is swamped with books by unknown authors, but it is possible to see that as something positive. A cornucopia of books, what’s not to love about that? Rescue an author today. Write a review. Short critiques will be accepted with gratefulness, long and in-depth ones, with greed: vociferous and drooling. Make an author happy. Make my day?

© HMH 2019