“Talking to Luke” raises $ for Tazewell 501(c)3 nonprofit Animal Rescue

When you buy “Talking to Luke” all proceeds from all sales benefit Tazewell ARC1edc3cfa-7362-4be8-b4df-aaabff379129_profileSee  March 13 “UPDATE” on Facebook:

. . .once again, I’m left asking the question: WHY do we have to reach the point of desperation — of screaming and yelling and kicking and screaming — to get any help with the needs of these animals? This sponsorship came, once again, from OUT OF THE AREA. What does that say about us, Tazewell County? That we really, truly can’t take care of our own?


41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_ Diane Ryan is a pseudonym for a very real person living and writing in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. She is married with two grown children and more pets than good sense dictates. Her heartfelt passion is saving animals. In the past, she has rescued horses and wildlife, but currently focuses on dogs imperiled by cultural indifference toward animals in Appalachian communities. She is the Executive Director of a 501c3 rescue that regularly transports unwanted dogs from areas of shelter overcrowding to regions of high demand, where No Kill methods are firmly established. Her organization is a member of the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies and a Best Friends Network Partner. For at least the entirety of 2016 (this novel’s year of publication,) 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to animal rescue in Southwest Virginia. The need is very great. If you purchase this book in print or electronic form, you will play a vital role in the very real lifesaving efforts underway in Appalachian communities to save animal lives. Your contribution is deeply appreciated.

And why does it ALWAYS take drama to rouse any interest in the cause ARC stands for? We’ve tried all the fundraising methods suggested by the experts to no avail. We’ve tried the positive, upbeat, cutesy posts. NOTHING WORKS.

And here’s the kicker: we’re doing the work for the animals. We aren’t a “for show” organization, or some cute little politically correct ornament to hang on someone’s accomplishment wall. We house, feed, vet, and transport. We do the work ourselves, 24/7. Rain, shine, snow, freezing cold. We don’t just sit around talking about what “ought” to be done for the animals. People avoid us because we’re controversial? Yet these same people are tickled to death over Target Zero’s interest in Tazewell County and collaboration with the shelter. Well. . .who the heck do you think brought that to bear? Someone’s Fairy Godmother? You can’t love the fruit and hate the tree, folks. It doesn’t work that way.

Those of us who work closely with ARC are tired. We’ve worked for three years to bring positive changes to this county where its animals are concerned. And looks like we finally may have gotten what we wanted. But it came at a price. We are exhausted. We’re broke. And we’re darn near burned out. We’re not quitting — not by a long shot — but we’ve crawled out on the last limb we’ll be crawling out on for a good long while to come. Rescue will continue. But how available we are at the beck and call of a community who only remembers us when it needs something. . .well, that remains to be seen.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the people who have hung in here with us, who didn’t get caught up in petty drama or believe the lies. Tazewell ARC will never, EVER play politics, not if it means animals suffer one day longer than they have to because of it.

“Because it’s a helpless animal!!!!” What about THIS “helpless animal,” then?

This cat was found homeless at age two, and re-homed:



41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_    Phenomenal. Fantastic!! I’m smitten with Luke and his story. So swept up in it, so captivated, I dropped everything else in my Kindle queue, failed to write a second review of the month for Perihelion Science Fiction and barely made the deadline for the first review. Luke is so compelling, I’d put my life on hold to hear just a few sentences from him every once in a while, which is sort of what Tania does in this ground-breaking novel, “Talking to Luke.”54552744_1392321215

I have a long list of fantastic lines excerpted from the prose, but so many of them would be spoilers. I must sift through them all and post whatever is “safe” to post. That could be tricky. Luke and Tania are so sizzling and electric, I’m afraid my Kindle will explode if I try the Kindle Highlight feature.

I’ve posted a much longer, more detailed review…

View original post 1,343 more words

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“Let’s Go Back to Africa”- but Marcus Garvey went to jail instead


Having just read Jason Overstreet’s debut novel “The Strivers’ Row Spy,” I’m inspired to do a lot more research on real-life characters who come to life in historical fiction. My review of the novel appears at Amazon, Goodreads and NetGalley .

Coincidentally, one of the historical figures is in today’s news. (NOTE: The novel brings Marcus Garvey to life better than any nonfiction source can.) I’ve summarized, excerpted, and reworded this from http://nbcnews.to/2b241AR via @nbcnews.

AUG 17 2016 – On His Father’s 129th Birthday Marcus Garvey’s Son Seeks Presidential Pardon

Julius Garvey, 82-year-old, semi-retired doctor, wants President Barack Obama to posthumously pardon his father.

“The Civil Rights movement started with Marcus Garvey, as acknowledged by Brother Malcolm, as acknowledged by Martin Luther King, and acknowledged by anyone who knows history. The president stands on that foundation,” Julius Garvey said during a press conference on at the National Press Club.

However, not all members of the civil rights movement at the time were fans of Garvey.

W.E.B Du Bois, who established the NAACP, called Garvey “the most dangerous enemy of the Negro race in America” for championing against the idea of black integration as a movement to create an equal United States.

Instead of integration, “Garveyism” called for  political, social, and economic separation from whites. Africans who remained in America, he feared, would continue to suffer as a minority under repressive Jim Crow laws and race based segregation in the post-World War I 1900s. Garvey encouraged a diaspora of people of African ancestry to reclaim their homeland – and for European colonial powers to get out of Africa.


“Where is the Black man’s government?” Garvey asked. “Where is his King and his kingdom? Where is his President, his ambassador, his country, his men of big affairs? I could not find them. And then I declared, ‘I will help to make them.’” Further, Garvey adopted the term “Black is beautiful” decades before it became widely acceptable, understanding that in order to succeed, a people had to feel good about themselves and have positive self-identification.  @Atlanta Black Star

DISCLAIMER: please do not assume I agree with Garvey on his plan to bail out of the USA and creating a new nation in Africa. I’m merely calling attention to a  novel that shows the dark side of Garvey’s proposals. 51wliwxhqsl-_ac_us261_fmwebp_ql65_  81a4m5rvxil-_ux250_ M. Jason Overstreet was born in Denver, Colorado. He lives in Los Angeles where he works as a screenwriter and author. He has appeared on NPR and C-SPAN’s Book TV. He holds a B.A. in mass communication and an M.S. in education.

Born in Jamaica, Garvey studied in London, traveled through Central America, Europe and then the U.S., and saw that those of African descent were almost always the poorest members of society. Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), urging African descendants to find their own economic independence by leaving their home countries and reclaiming European territories in Africa as their own.

Garvey established the Black Star Line shipping company as a push toward African economic independence. By 1920, he claimed to have 4 million committed members. His first convention in New York City’s Madison Square Garden attracted 25,000 people who cheered and applauded his call for African Americans to move to Liberia and reclaim it as a de facto homeland.

The prospect of a new, independent Liberia run by the African diaspora, right next door to British-controlled Sierra Leone, made certain Europeans nervous. Under a young  J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI investigated Garvey for mail fraud when he solicited donation for a “back to Africa” movement. He was convicted in 1922 and sentenced to five years in prison. He served roughly two and a half years, was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge, then  immediately deported back to his native country of Jamaica — a move which effectively ended his civil rights work in the U.S. Garvey eventually moved to London in 1935 where he died five years later.

The Garvey family and several members of the Congressional Black Caucus have pressed the president for a pardon. Neither the Department of Justice nor the White House have responded, Justin Hansford the Garvey family attorney told NBC News.

Those behind the push to pardon Garvey are trying to connect the dots between his movement and those that have followed, particularly the Black Lives Matter movement today.

“I think what the black lives matter movement is showing us is that our young black children are tired,” Julius Garvey said. “They’re tired of living in a society that marginalizes them and restricts their opportunities to be full human beings. That’s the way it was when Marcus Garvey came to America.”

damgarvey1  red-black-and-green-flag

Why Marcus Garvey’s Teachings Are as Important Today as they were over one hundred years ago via @Atlanta Black Star

Historian Lawrence Levine calls the UNIA “the broadest mass movement” in African-American history. Inspired by Booker T. Washington, Garvey originally established the UNIA in order to provide economic and educational uplift for Black people.

Garvey’s UNIA developed the Pan-African flag. As Azizi Powell noted in The History & Meaning Of The Red, Black, And Green Flag, the flag was created in 1920 in response to the popular 1900 coon song, “Every Race Has a Flag but the Coon,” which helped popularize the word “coon” in the American vocabulary.

–Africans, trafficked to the Americas from as early as the fifteenth century,  their scattered descendants (“diaspora”) longing for a return to the homeland

— the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia for the resettlement of free blacks

–Garvey, a product of Pan-Africanism … [established] the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and African Communities League (ACL) in 1914 to liberate Africa from alien rule and establish a united and powerful African State

The Garvey-Liberia Connection

by KesiaWeise


Liberia in West Africa was selected as the base for the establishment of the great African nation envisioned by Garvey…Founded for the purpose of helping the refugee slaves and exiled Africans to re-establish a foothold in their native land, Liberia was seen by Garvey as the rightful home of those wanting to return to Africa. He felt it expedient also to establish a foothold before white nations of Europe robbed Liberia of its autonomy, under the guise of friendship. The UNIA, in exchange for the permission to settle and establish new enterprises, would work assiduously to improve conditions that existed in Liberia and thus position the country as a great commercial and industrial commonwealth. The Liberian government accepted Garvey’s proposal because at the time he represented the only source of assistance and the government recognised the need for infrastructural development. However on the matter of administrative involvement there was conflict. To address this, the Liberian government outlined that ‘every emigrant before leaving America shall subscribe to an oath that they will respect the established authority of the Liberian government’. Such an oath ran contrary to Garvey’s mission. The regeneration of Africa for Garvey meant the imposition of European values and customs which were upheld as the epitome of civilization.

Those African nations that exhibited no knowledge of these western norms and values were thus regarded as ‘backward tribes’ and in need of Africans from the West who had benefited from western education and cultural habits. Thus Garvey, and all those who espoused ‘back to Africa’ views were intent on a ‘civilizing’ mission. They envisioned West Indian and American blacks, as the most likely administrators of affairs in Africa and in particular, Liberia. The growing popularity of Western bred blacks who settled in Liberia did not sit well with the Liberian Government, and indicated that it would be difficult to keep these ‘outsiders’ in check. Therefore, when the Firestone Plantation Company of Akon, Ohio proposed to develop the natural rubber resources of the country, Liberian President Charles King without hesitation signed an agreement with the Company in 1926 and retracted the offer previously made to the UNIA. Firestone promised to be a very lucrative venture and President King became personally involved in the project. The failed acquisition of lands in Liberia began the downward spiral of Garvey’s ‘back to Africa’ scheme. A power struggle between UNIA members Cyril Crichlow, secretary of the Liberian legation, and Gabriel Johnson, UNIA potentate in Liberia, further exasperated the situation. Crichlow “took the extraordinary asinine step in turning to the U.S. Minister in Monrovia for support. In the process, he turned over confidential UNIA documents to this representative of the U.S. government and thereby contributed more than his share to the downfall of Garvey’s Liberian plans”.
Read more: http://jamaicans.com/garveyliberiaconnection/#ixzz4IAjtyTPX

My own summary based on Wikipedia entries:

Garvey thought communists were white men who wanted to manipulate blacks. Communism “is a dangerous theory of economic and political reformation,” Garvey said, “because it seeks to put government in the hands of an ignorant white mass who have not been able to destroy their natural prejudices towards Negroes and other non-white people. While it may be a good thing for them, it will be a bad thing for the Negroes who will fall under the government of the most ignorant, prejudiced class of the white race” (Nolan, 1951).


Recent studies on the African diaspora bring to light the roles Blacks have played in bringing about modern culture–roles that have been buried by the eurocentric perspective that dominated history books, showing Africans and its diasporans as primitive victims of slavery,  without historical agency.

According to historian Patrick Manning, Blacks toiled at the center of forces that created the modern world.

The African diaspora refers to the communities throughout the world that have resulted by descent from the movement in historic times of peoples from Africa, predominantly to the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and among other areas around the globe.

In 1928, Garvey travelled to Geneva to present the Petition of the Negro Race. This petition outlined the worldwide abuse of Africans to the League of Nations.

In September 1929, he founded the People’s Political Party (PPP), Jamaica’s first modern political party, which focused on workers’ rights, education, and aid to the poor.

In 1935, Garvey left Jamaica for London. He lived and worked in London until his death in 1940. During these last five years, Garvey remained active and in touch with events in war-torn Ethiopia (then known as Abyssinia) and in the West Indies.

In 1938,  he set up the School of African Philosophy in Toronto to train UNIA leaders. He continued to work on the magazine The Black Man.

While imprisoned Garvey had corresponded with segregationist Earnest Sevier Cox who was lobbying for legislation to “repatriate” African Americans to Africa. Garvey’s philosophy of Black racial self-reliance could be combined with Cox’s White Nationalism — at least in sharing the common goal of an African Homeland. Cox dedicated his short pamphlet “Let My People Go” to Garvey, and Garvey in return advertised Cox’ book “White America” in UNIA publications.

In 1937, the Peace Movement of Ethiopia openly collaborated with the United States Senator from Mississippi, Theodore Bilbo, and Earnest Sevier Cox in the promotion of a repatriation scheme introduced in the US Congress as the Greater Liberia Act. Bilbo, an outspoken supporter of segregation and white supremacy and, attracted by the ideas of black separatists like Garvey, proposed an amendment to the federal work-relief bill on 6 June 1938, proposing to deport 12 million black Americans to Liberia at federal expense to relieve unemployment. He wrote a book, “Take Your Choice, Separation or Mongrelization,” advocating the idea. Garvey praised him in return, saying that Bilbo had “done wonderfully well for the Negro”.

Garvey died in London on 10 June 1940, at the age of 52, having suffered two strokes.

NEXT UP*: more on the Harlem Renaissance, W.E.B. Du Bois, and other fascinating aspects of America in the early 1920s.

*It may be a while. I have four more NetGalley ARCs in my Kindle – and dozens of requests from authors for reviews. Perihelion Science Fiction, a monthly ezine, gets top priority.

*Futhermore, I’m still trying to learn the history of Liberia up to the present.

“Charles Taylor Testifies: Prince Johnson Killed Doe” 

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor … testified that Liberian senator Prince Johnson killed the country’s former president, Samuel K Doe, in 1990. Johnson, a former warlord turned politician, has publicly denied killing Doe, despite a well-publicised video of him drinking Budweiser beer as he ordered his men to cut off the former president’s ears. Taylor, another former warlord who led a revolution to oust Doe in 1989-90 and was elected president in 1997, is defending himself against 11 charges of supporting a campaign of terror by rebels in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.

He said Johnson caught Doe in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, around September 1990.

“Prince Johnson captures Doe alive and subsequently kills him,” Taylor told judges at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.


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“Talking to Luke” by Diane Ryan is #phenomenal

41b3tjfjczl-_uy250_    Phenomenal. Fantastic!! I’m smitten with Luke and his story. So swept up in it, so captivated, I dropped everything else in my Kindle queue, failed to write a second review of the month for Perihelion Science Fiction and barely made the deadline for the first review. Luke is so compelling, I’d put my life on hold to hear just a few sentences from him every once in a while, which is sort of what Tania does in this ground-breaking novel, “Talking to Luke.”54552744_1392321215

I have a long list of fantastic lines excerpted from the prose, but so many of them would be spoilers. I must sift through them all and post whatever is “safe” to post. That could be tricky. Luke and Tania are so sizzling and electric, I’m afraid my Kindle will explode if I try the Kindle Highlight feature.

I’ve posted a much longer, more detailed review at The Leighgendarium.

The voice of Luke is like no other. Not since Daniel Day Lewis brought Honest Abe to life in the 2012 movie Lincoln have I heard so much thoughtfulness and eloquence. Lewis says he found the voice of Lincoln, “almost as if being drawn into the orbit of another life; almost a physical sensation.”

Wherever the voice of Luke came from, Diane Ryan has channeled it, and I’m hooked.

“My fate has been fortuitous,” Luke tells us. “I survived this mockery of war, this blight on a nation where I saw the ground saturated with Rebel blood.”

Lest anyone suggest that a real life 22-year-old soldier wouldn’t sound so formal and eloquent, try what Diane Ryan did: reading letters written by Civil War soldiers. 10warletters6-master675

She’s captured a time, a place, a voice we rarely hear.

234cf50700000578-2812304-private_joshua_s_mason_wearing_a_covering_apparatus_on_his_arm-38_1416416042269Private Joshua S. Mason, who had four inches of his humerus, or upper arm bone, removed  http://www.dailymail.co.uk

I’d never come across Civil War photos of shirtless men with battle-weary eyes and tousled hair, but Diane Ryan did. And boy, does she know how to deploy these images in her prose. Not just Luke’s voice, but his face and eyes and whole person haunt us. countway5 Having devoured sepia photos from the Old West, I know what it’s like to stare into the eyes of a long-ago face and dream of meeting that person in the flesh. Talking to Luke pulls us right into that dream-come-true.

The story is better than a synopsis could convey. Tania, like Luke, is 22. She’s smart, friendly, attractive–an overtly (not overly; overtly) normal college senior–but when it comes to boyfriends, she has better luck in dusty mausoleums, listening for voices from the crypt. One of her electives is research in Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). Sometimes the equipment registers a crazy amount of electromagnetic disturbances which coincide with other signs of a ghostly presence.

Tania discovers she is a natural for attracting the attention of those who haven’t moved on yet to the other side. All her life she’s had a peculiar sensitivity to electrical activity, but ghost hunting ratchets it up to something unbelievable.

“By degrees, the air developed a charge. Her body tingled, and the fine hair at the nape of her neck stood on end. A lot like–no, exactly like–she’d come in contact with a mild electric current.”

When a Civil War soldier speaks to her without the techno-gadgets, Tania knows she’s achieved the Holy Grail of researchers everywhere. Even her professor and mentor, Evelyn, is eclipsed by a novice, which is one reason Tania keeps Luke a secret.

Seriously, the chemistry between these two is all that, and hotter, and more explosive, than anything else I’ve ever read. Not that I was ever into Edward and Bella, but this blows “Twilight” out of the ether. –Okay, I’m Team Wolf, not Team Vampire, but please know that I did not read all of “50 Shades of Grey” because the “chemistry” of the sadomasochist and his virgin just didn’t do it for me, but Luke and Tania – well, you’d better go to your basement and flip the circuit breaker to “OFF.”

Every character, however major or minor, comes to life as if you’d walked into their hometown. Lily and Chris – she’d tackle a grizzly bear to defend a friend, and she puts up with Chris’s ADHD and assorted annoying habits. Phillip. Ohhh, Phillip. I’ve met you before. Tania’s parents are so likable, who can blame her for moving back home after college? And Evelyn – just when you expect her to flip out because her student upstages her in paranormal research, the author pulls back – ha! – and doesn’t deliver some contrived conflict with a jealous boss. No need to. The conflicts with Luke are so intense, neither Tania nor the reader could handle much else.

There’s a maddening subplot with Tania realizing she has no future with a ghost, so she allows herself to fall for the advances of the local bad boy. Luke has ways to show his disapproval, forcing Tania, ultimately, to find a scientific way to banish Luke from her life.

Just try not to laugh about the “Pest Control” scene. I dare you.

Diane Ryan can find humor in the darkest hours of human existence. She also flips a trope like nobody’s business. We can laugh when a dead woman mutters “spider webs” yet cry over a single, simple word, “braids.”

Evelyn warns Tania not to interact with ghosts, and Luke himself tells her how dangerous it can be. The more she sees or hears of him, the more things blow up or catch fire. X-Ray machines malfunction (nope, not telling you who ends up in the hospital or why). Photos are ruined by inexplicable glare or flukes of lighting when Tania’s ghosts are in the picture.

Luke’s knife-edge of satire, his sense of timing, and his capacity for mischief leave readers begging for more. This guy has been around for parts of two centuries and a new millennium. Ghosts tend to blink in and out, with long gaps in between, and lots of questions that haven’t been answered or they’d have moved on by now. Luke has been eavesdropping in a classroom and picking up contemporary slang while staying close to the site of his death.

Excerpting my favorite lines is a daunting task, when every line is pithy and meaty, so spot-on, with poetic simplicity (the hardest thing to pull off in writing). I need to head on over to goodreads and post a list of Diane Ryan quotes.

Escapism is what I want from fiction, and this novel is a great trip away from every-day life. Talking to Luke is unconfined by genre. There’s snappy dialogue, ghost hunters as intrepid as tornado chasers, smart women, foolish choices, and men who can be selfish bastards even though they’re really not evil. Call it romance-ish, paranormal-ish, historical, contemporary, funny, fantastic, science-ish, but above all, call it great.

One of the perks to buying “Talking to Luke” is that proceeds benefit an animal rescue in Virginia. On her Facebook page, Diane Ryan tells us The Kobi in “Talking To Luke” is “based on a very real dog named Kobi, who was found in the middlle of winter (2013) dragging a logging chain through the snow. My husband and I followed him for miles, until finally my husband drove our Blazer’s front tire over the chain and Kobi couldn’t run any more.” bdljrn1i_400x400 Kobi, in real life as in the novel, “was skin and bones, terrified of everything that moved, and in the company of another, much more aggressive dog who bullied him relentlessly. There was some reason to believe, based on the way the chain was bolted around his neck, that the two dogs had actually been chained together for some length of time. In Virginia, this constitutes cruelty, and had an owner ever been discovered, they quite possibly would have been charged with a crime. Kobi was adopted to a wonderful woman who loves him dearly. Today, Kobi lives in New Hampshire, the first state in the U.S. to achieve state-wide no kill status.”

I can attest that the author of this novel spends her last dime on dog food and risked her marriage to shelter 20 to 40 dogs at a time to spare them from the kill shelter. In the past three years she has put her writing on hold and dedicated all her energy and resources to saving the lives of creatures other people irresponsibly cast aside. Am I mad enough about this to blow up like Tania’s lamps and light fixtures? Yes. But at last, we have “Talking to Luke,” and more novels to come from Diane Ryan, who is one of the most polished writers I have read in recent times, and the most high-impact.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. For only $3, and for the sake of lost, orphaned, abused, but lovable furry animal companions, this is a must-have book.


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Invasion of alien species vs woodland wildflowers

The understory of our native woodlands looked like this: 13082659_10209355265388533_7435100408612435351_n

Until a single garlic mustard plant took root (foreground, white blosoom): 13055033_10209342197101834_8464807196358745222_o

One plant, 10,000 seeds, all viable: 13091982_10209355265508536_4913173151574408693_n

The invasion is swift: 13094376_10209355265548537_2131042128397066828_n

Sadly, one lonely little blossom holds its ground (bottom of photo), but not for long:


Hundreds of species, not just spring wildflowers, are affected.

Foreground (lower left): wild ginger with garlic mustard encroaching:


1914715_10209005152955941_7763879137578594132_nTrillium (white) next to Jacob’s Ladder

I’ve yet to identify the flower (one of a thousand varieties of rue or anemone) below the March bluebell. Its leaves elongate, and a cluster of blossoms tilt down like a chandelier from a slender stem.


But at the rate the garlic mustard is spreading, no trace of this flower may be left in the all-too-near future.

If you see a garlic mustard plant, pull it. The whole root. Destroy it.

This land is adjacent to mine, 80 acres of Department of Natural Resources hunting grounds. Maybe Trees Forever could recruit some volunteers (how about letting some felons out of jail for a spring outing and a garlic mustard pull?). I simply cannot, by myself, keep up with all the invasive species on my own land, much less the whole county’s.







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Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford

At long last, I finished reading this long, long novel. I bought it for the cover and the subject. The historical details are interesting but the title and the prologue are misleading. Real-life people from history show up in the story, which is told from the POV of fictional Plain Jane who morphs, over the years, into a confident journalist, a modern woman in a world where men still oppose giving women the right to vote. The jubilation of women in 1930 gaining suffrage is something women today should be reminded of before they decide “why bother” exercising their right to cast a ballot. I could excerpt passages from the book (as I usually do in reviews) but I’m exhausted from the long read. It took forever to get Maise through her job interview, and I lost count of how many times we hear that she was born in Canada and lived in New York City for a while with her negligent mother, an actress. Shoes and wool dresses. Food. The landlady who won’t allow her tenants a radio. It’s hard to believe this novel was professionally edited by a Brick House publisher, it’s so bloated with extraneous or repeated details, yet not one radio is described – my husband has a passion for old wooden radios. Three knobs, not one, had to be turned to tune the first radios. The black horns, the glow of the dial, the static, the sound – none of the magic of the wireless is brought to life here – just the people working at the BBC and their staff meetings and such. This novel could be cut in half and it’d still be too long for me. A pity, given the fantastic subject.

 cover79411-medium  favorited_reviews  pro_reader

Next on my To-Read-and-Review List via NetGalley

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford   coming 14 Jun 2016 from Berkley Publishing Group  Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)


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Christmas tree eating goats to debut at River Bend

Goats for hire! Don’t buy weed killer! “Goat Dispatch, a rural Faribault business that rents out goats for land management/brush removal grazing, states online that goats have narrow strong mouths. I would expect that given Goat Dispatch goats have attacked invasive buckthorn at River Bend. I’m quite familiar with the sharp thorns of buckthorn.

Minnesota Prairie Roots

WHEN I FIRST READ about goats eating Christmas trees, I was skeptical. But then I watched a video on Goat Dispatch and saw for myself goats devouring these sharp-needled evergreens.

This Sunday afternoon, January 24, River Bend Nature Center in Faribault will feature the Christmas tree eating goats at Winterfest. The event runs from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Randy unloads our Christmas tree. Randy unloads our Christmas tree.

Last Sunday afternoon, on one of Minnesota’s coldest winter days thus far this season, my husband and I headed across town to River Bend. The parking lot was empty as we unlatched our Charlie Brown tree from the roof of the van and Randy pulled it onto a pile of discarded holiday trees.

I photographed these goats grazing in a pasture near Northfield in August 2015. They are not a part of Goat Dispatch. I photographed these goats grazing in a pasture near Northfield in August 2015. They are not a part of Goat Dispatch.

I remember as a child reading that goats will eat tin cans…

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3 Brilliant Women Who Should Write More Fiction

Three of the most intelligent authors I’ve read have published only one novel: A.R. Taylor (Sex, Rain, and Cold Fusion) , Gina DeMarco (“The Neanderthal’s Aunt“) and Janet Eve Josselyn (“Thin Rich Bitches”). DeMarco (a pen name) has a Ph.D. in medicine. Josselyn is an attorney and an architect. Taylor has a Ph.D. Please write more fiction, ladies!🙂

I’m not counting E.E. Giorgi because she’s prolific (thank you, Elena!). @eegiorgi

51yg6wvaovl-_uy250_   Product Details Product Details

It occurs to me that all three of these fabulous novels and authors came to my attention via the Kindle daily newsletter, and all were “Free Today,” and all so good, I have since bought copies for friends. Indie Authors, if you think these Free and On Sale Today deals are costing you money, consider how many new readers you gain this way.

Twitter is a great place to find new authors, new books – e.g. 8 Jul 2015   and laugh-out-loud funny! THIN RICH BITCHES is “irreverent & hilarious!”

Oh, good news!! This tweet just in from A.R. Taylor: “Agent is shopping my 2nd book The Good Girl’s Revenge and finished a new one Jenna in Flames” – I can’t wait to read these! Agent, eh? Good for the author (and the big publishing houses should be fighting over Ann  R.Taylor), but good for the reader if an author goes “indie” and publishes without going through all those hoops. Feed us now, not later, right? #IndieLovers back me up here. Buy and review books to motivate authors to keep delivering the goods!

819cu99dm2l-_ux250_ A. R. Taylor is an award-wining playwright, essayist, and fiction writer. She was head writer on two Emmy award-winning series for public television.

Gold Medal Winner Best Regional Fiction IPPY Awards (2015)
Award-Winning Finalist in the “Fiction: Literary” category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards (2015)

Twitter: A.R. Taylor  @lonecamel I write books and make funny videos   To learn more visit lonecamel.com

Prepare to meet physicist David Oster, a big thinker, a charming cad who flees Caltech and his three girlfriends for the Pacific Northwest, pastoral fantasy firmly in hand. Whatever will he do with all that rain, yet another beautiful woman, and several crazy physicists intent on his ruin? Obviously he needs to discover some entirely new physics principle, as yet unnamed, but can he deliver?

“An unpredictable, winningly bizarre academic satire.” — Kirkus Reviews


51y52uwGHKL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_[1]Gina DeMarco (no photo!) is the pen name of a real-life scientist working in the field of DNA sequencing. She has a doctorate degree in biology and enjoys writing in her spare time. She keeps her identity secret.

Twitter:  Gina DeMarco  @DrGinaDeMarco  Author of The Neanderthal’s Aunt, Genomics, Women In Science, Humor, Science Fiction


Sara Nicoletta, a level-headed biologist, is about to become the aunt of a Neanderthal baby. Or so her sister Liz says. A mad scientist at Barlas Labs plans to recreate the long-extinct species from its DNA sequence. Liz, recently widowed, wants to be their first customer. Her socialite friends (with all their trendy political and moral convictions) applaud her decision. Sara, however, thinks it’s a baaad idea for many reasons.

Soon the project (and the paprazzi) take over her  life, compromising her privacy and threatening her reputation as a serious researcher. Worse, Sarah finds herself coming head to head with Theo Barlas himself, the enigmatic founder of Barlas labs.

Written by a scientist, THE NEANDERTHAL’S AUNT combines cutting edge biology with an incorrigible dog, intermittent veganism, and a little light bondage to ultimately tell the story of two sisters who become fundamentally divided on the question of what it means to be human.


THIN RICH BITCHES pokes fun at  women who spend fortunes trying to stay beautiful, manage the lives of their children, animals, lovers and husbands, and outdo each other while fighting to be “top dog” (ahem) of the social scene. Recently divorced, middle-aged mom Pippin inherits a country home but is at the bottom of the social heap in her new community. Seeing how other women spend their money inspires Pippin to create a service that makes her  the most sought after person in Dover.

616po9y1mvl-_ux250_ Janet Eve Josselyn graduated from Colby College, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Boston College Law School. She is an attorney and an architect. She has published one novel, Thin Rich Bitches, set in the town where she lives (which explains why she has no friends). She blogs for The Huffington Post.

You can find my reviews at goodreads or elsewhere in this blog. These are funny novels with fun characters with memorable lines (see my Kindle Highlights page).

Twitter: janet josselyn  @janetjosselyn1  architect, attorney, Huffington Post blogger:

  • Janet Eve Josselyn Architect, attorney, badass mother writer and the author of an irreverent novel, Thin Rich Bitches.


Readers, add more to this list – tag me on Twitter @tea_in_carolina with your recommendations please and thanks! NOTE: Being a gorgeous brunette with a PhD is not a requirement. :-) 



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