Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore (2020) 5 Star *****

This is one of those books that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A police procedural and depressing family saga rolled into a compelling story of love, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, drug addiction, hopelessness, personal weakness, suspicions, and lack of trust, leads us to our main character, Philadelphia Police Officer Michaela (Mickey) Fitzpatrick, emotionally bereft, overwhelmed by responsibility and fears, grappling to find a safe place to call home for herself and her young son. Having virtually never felt reciprocal love while growing up, Mickey finds it difficult to maintain relationships. Mickey and her drug addicted sister were raised by their cold, aloof, hyper-critical, neglectful grandmother after the drug death of their mother and abandonment by their father. Always hungry and cold, inappropriately dressed and most often left to fend for themselves, these sisters struggle through life in what becomes a tug-of-war between adherence to rules and laws and the mean streets of drug ravaged Northeast Philadelphia. Unfortunately, both girls become victims to the predators of the community and streets. Often trusting the wrong people and dismissing the right ones, it’s hard to identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Mickey becomes obsessed by the search for her missing sister. Is she the latest, but maybe yet not found, victim of a serial killer targeting drug-addicted young girls of the street?  Her attempts to solve these crimes and capture the perp, lead Mickey down a path of police cover-up, suspicious behavior, and mistrust of commanding officers, as well as those she once considered friends. This lack of trust irreparably damages Mickey’s relationships. The community does not know what to believe. As these things go, the top brass turns the tables on Mickey so that she is now under investigation by Internal Affairs.

The book is well-written with simple sentences and language, with chapters alternating between past and present. Instead of using quotation marks ( ” ” ) around dialogue, the author uses a dash ( – ) before each line where the character speaks, but does not use punctuation to separate ideas within these lines. It’s a simple technique for the author, but perhaps confusing for the reader.

The author makes a point to show how there is often honor among the down-and-out population of the streets. They can be believed. They know the truth, but can be reluctant to express it for fear of personal safety. Many desperately want to stop their downward spiral, but the pull of the drugs and the pain of withdrawal require great strength with a strong and constant support system. Many of the victims of the street lost the love and encouragement of their family and friends years ago.

Significance of title: The long bright river is where the spirits of these victims of the street congregate en masse with bright shining faces begging not to be forgotten.

Happy ending? Many misconceptions, hidden agendas, lies, and manipulations come to light. Relationships are examined, but not trusted. Truth is revealed, but not accepted. Explanations are given, but not believed. The truth is when kids are emotionally abused, they grow up hating themselves, not their abusers. We cannot shed the negative messages of our childhood. They rear their ugly heads when we least expect it—always the reminder of what we fear is the real us that we try to keep hidden from the world.

Things are resolved, but no happy ending here.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Book Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore (2020) 5 Star *****

This is one of those books that will stay with you for the rest of your life. A police procedural and depressing family saga rolled into a compelling story of love, neglect, abandonment, betrayal, drug addiction, hopelessness, personal weakness, suspicions, and lack of trust, leads us to our main character, Philadelphia Police Officer Michaela (Mickey) Fitzpatrick, emotionally bereft, overwhelmed by responsibility and fears, grappling to find a safe place to call home for herself and her young son. Having virtually never felt reciprocal love while growing up, Mickey finds it difficult to maintain relationships. Mickey and her drug addicted sister were raised by their cold, aloof, hyper-critical, neglectful grandmother after the drug death of their mother and abandonment by their father. Always hungry and cold, inappropriately dressed and most often left to fend for themselves, these sisters struggle through life in what becomes a tug-of-war between adherence to rules and laws and the mean streets of drug ravaged Northeast Philadelphia. Unfortunately, both girls become victims to the predators of the community and streets. Often trusting the wrong people and dismissing the right ones, it’s hard to identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Mickey becomes obsessed by the search for her missing sister. Is she the latest, but maybe yet not found, victim of a serial killer targeting drug-addicted young girls of the street?  Her attempts to solve these crimes and capture the perp, lead Mickey down a path of police cover-up, suspicious behavior, and mistrust of commanding officers, as well as those she once considered friends. This lack of trust irreparably damages Mickey’s relationships. The community does not know what to believe. As these things go, the top brass turns the tables on Mickey so that she is now under investigation by Internal Affairs.

The book is well-written with simple sentences and language, with chapters alternating between past and present. Instead of using quotation marks ( ” ” ) around dialogue, the author uses a dash ( – ) before each line where the character speaks, but does not use punctuation to separate ideas within these lines. It’s a simple technique for the author, but perhaps confusing for the reader.

The author makes a point to show how there is often honor among the down-and-out population of the streets. They can be believed. They know the truth, but can be reluctant to express it for fear of personal safety. Many desperately want to stop their downward spiral, but the pull of the drugs and the pain of withdrawal require great strength with a strong and constant support system. Many of the victims of the street lost the love and encouragement of their family and friends years ago.

Significance of title: The long bright river is where the spirits of these victims of the street congregate en masse with bright shining faces begging not to be forgotten.

Happy ending? Many misconceptions, hidden agendas, lies, and manipulations come to light. Relationships are examined, but not trusted. Truth is revealed, but not accepted. Explanations are given, but not believed. The truth is when kids are emotionally abused, they grow up hating themselves, not their abusers. We cannot shed the negative messages of our childhood. They rear their ugly heads when we least expect it—always the reminder of what we fear is the real us that we try to keep hidden from the world.

Things are resolved, but no happy ending here.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Book Review: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Book Review: The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie 4 Stars **** (1993, 2005, Prologue 2013) (Adult and mature Young Adult)

It’s impossible not to hear the underlying plaintive cries of this book that presents itself as a work of fiction when it captures the very essence of people who have lost their once proud cultural identity and are hardpressed to find something to replace it. This book is a collection of inter-connected short stories that won the PEN/Hemingway Award. The award winning movie Smoke Signals, released in 1998, is based on the short story “What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” from this book.

Set in the late 20th century on an Indian reservation in Spokane, Washington, we meet a group of people beset by poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, racism, and isolationism from the society outside their reservation. Further complicated by limited education, unstable and absent parenting and home life, a lack of positive role models, and a fear of the unknown outside world, the characters go in circles with the nothingness of their lives. Ambition and challenge are short-lived with characters reverting to their comfort zone of doing nothing and going nowhere. The reader has a sense of time standing still. Nothing changes—it only has the appearance of change.

Victor is one of the main characters of the stories. The significance of the title may revolve around him and his message. The Lone Ranger represents the white man and Tonto represents the Indians. Victor, who is a Spokane Indian, and his girlfriend, who is white, attempt to coexist and love each other but fight constantly in a doomed relationship. As with The Lone Ranger and Tonto, there is respect and appreciation for each other but the two worlds rarely overlap with their different cultures, expectations, and coping mechanisms. Neither side wants to be like the other. Add this to personal weaknesses, and in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

The beginning chapters of this book contain some of the most beautiful, imagistic, evocative writing I’ve ever encountered with a command of language that is exceptional. As the reader approaches the end, the writing becomes inconsistent as if the author stopped trying or caring and just put anything down on paper to fill space. Is this a metaphor for the lives and human condition about which the author writes?

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at elainewrites@earthlink.net

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2020

 

Book Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Book Review: The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanem (2019) 4 Stars ****

We’ve got a supernova book here! Hot commodity! Steven Spielberg bought the film rights in 2017—two years before the book was finished! Shades of the movie Gaslight, and the book The Woman In the Window by AJ Finn, this psychological thriller will have you asking, in the words of Aretha Franklin’s song, Who’s Zoomin’ Who? Four stars because I often had to re-read to keep the plot points and characters straight in my mind. A lot of alternating between points of view and past and present time, made this a labor of love. A lot of work, but well worth it!

After their wedding, the couple move from Manhattan to Westchester County, a suburb of New York City. Living the life of luxury, Nellie gives up her job as a pre-school teacher/ waitress, and devotes herself to the seemingly impossible task of becoming pregnant. As time goes on, Nellie becomes fat, bored and boring, and her beloved husband finds himself a prettier, younger, less complicated and needy (he thinks) replacement. Nellie is not taking this sitting down and obsesses over interfering in the new couple’s marriage plans. Nellie’s actions are overt and covert, but she is not the only behind the scenes, in your face,  manipulator. The line forms on the right! Only Nellie’s best fried and aunt are as they appear. The rest of the cast have agendas and manage to keep their motivations and shenanigans hidden.

By the way, what is the significance of the title? Is there more than one wife? Which wife is between Character A and Character B? Is there a Character C and Character D with the same problem? Character E and Character F? Is this a theme that circulates from beginning, middle to end? Hmmm. Maybe, maybe not.

Sabotage, interference, surveillance, tapped phones, and confrontation go undetected or are sloughed off as the work of perceived enemies. Those who appear guilty are probaby not. But yet, we have Nellie and Richard competing for the role of injured party. Can you guess who the real victim is? Can you guess what motivates the perps? Can you guess how many times Richard has played out this scene? Do you know whose aborted pregnancy comes back to haunt her? Probably not. The plot is so complicated with red herrings and wild goose chases that the reader is taken off track, and must manually be put back. I’d still like to know how Steven Spielberg knew ahead of time that this would be a great book for a movie adaptation. Are the authors that good, or does Spielberg have the instincts of a bloodhound when it comes to these things?

I look forward to the movie. Any ideas for actors to play the roles? If you have anything to share, please get in touch.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Book Review: Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell

Book Review: Is There Still Sex in the City? by Candace Bushnell (2019) 5 Stars *****

In case the name Candace Bushnell sounds familiar, Candace is the originator of the Sex in the City series starring Sarah Jessica Parker who played Carrie Bradshaw— sweet, lovable, conscientious, reasonable, head on straight kind of young woman who sometimes is confused what the right thing is, but acts anyway and accepts the consequences. Always analyzing, studying, wondering, Candace and Carrie Bradshaw both share these qualities. In Candace’s newest book, the dating situation of today’s middle-aged New York City/Hamptons woman is explored and explained. Not a pretty sight. Society and life have changed since the 1980s when the sexes were not at war, men dominated situations, and most women still needed men for financial security, impregnation, and social acceptance.

Voila! Times have sure changed! I laughed out loud quite a few times as this book analyzes and presents today’s dating situation in a very true light. No lofty philosophies going on here. Often ridiculous and shallow, modern dating in our society has gone down the tubes. Dependent on social media for interaction, women and men are swiping left, right, and any which way to hook a date for Saturday night.

Today’s middle-aged woman often finds herself with an ace up her sleeve. Educated and financially solvent, she can improve the appearance of lines and wrinkles, get that tummy tucked, and all body fat sucked out while having her female parts lifted, made bigger, and rejuvenated. The Mona Lisa Technique makes the vag supple and slippery, like in the old days! Three treatments for $3,000 in the doctor’s office. This technique does for women what viagara does for men. A lot more costly, but it works!

So, many of these women, after being dumped by their back-stabbing husbands for a younger, money-loving replacement, now have the means to attract their very own boy toy. This physical perfection combined with a beautiful home in a tony neighborhood, especially a Hamptons house with a pool, a fancy car or driver, open-minded family and friends, an upwardly mobile string of invitations, enough spending money to flash around, now allows this once defunct woman to play very nicely with friends. So the boy toys are not permanent? Who cares? There are more where that one came from. A lonely life? Not as lonely as the one before!

Now, there is a whole new set of things to consider. Beware of the hot man who needs a temporary place to live. You might have to forcibly kick him out. Beware of the Tinder online dating hookup. Men openly expect to have one way sex, whereby a woman’s lipstick would get very smeared. (I’m trying to be delicate here.) Beware of the guys who look young and innocent. They could be underage jailbait looking for a blackmail opportunity. Check out those drivers’ licenses! Beware of the rich much, much older man who sees his face and body from forty years ago when he looks in the mirror. Eyesight problems? No, perception problems. Arrogance such as this never goes away.

Funny and sad at the same time.

Despite all the rejects, bad experiences, users and losers, there are nice men out there—not enough to go around, but if you’re lucky and allow the quiet, open, honest, hard-working, thoughtful men into your life, who knows?

I had the pleasure of meeting the author, Candace Bushnell, at the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night in August of this year. Friendly. So pretty. Sweet. Kind. Gentle. And with the new man in her life right next to her, his handsome face proudly beaming whenever he looked at Candace! Congratulations to Candace for finding happiness with someone deserving of her love.

 

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at author@elainedonadio.com.

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2019

Color Yourself Calm – Yep, With Crayons!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

If you haven’t colored anything other than your hair or the scratches on your wood furniture recently, it’s time to get with the times. Relaxation by coloring – the newest stress reliever for adults – is sweeping the country. No need to pay a therapist to listen to what’s on your mind. Less trouble than golf. Less exhausting than tennis. Less strenuous than weights, presses and punching bags at the gym. Less mobility than walking. Less solitary than meditation. All you need is a coloring book of your choice and a stash of crayons. Colored pencils, markers, watercolor paints are optional. Yes, I’m serious. Read on.

According to the article by Avery Mack, “Color Me Calm,” in the March, 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings, March was color therapy month. Sorry, you missed the celebration because of me. I was busy writing about saving our kids and our planet from our polluted environment, and totally dropped the ball on this topic. But, it’s not too late. This is a lifetime activity you can start at any time despite the weather or a lack of appropriated funds. Keep reading for a summary of research, findings, and helpful websites from the Natural Awakenings article.

According to Nikki Martinez, PhD in Chicago, “30 minutes of coloring can constitute a focused meditation that relieves stress. It uses both sides of the brain and improves organizational and fine motor skills.”

Avery Mack tells us, “Publishers Weekly reported combined 2015 sales at 1.75 million copies of the 10 best-selling adult coloring books through November of that year.”

“Barnes and Noble, craft stores, community centers and home parties all encourage the coloring activity.”

‘Dieter Marlovics tells us, “… at the request of my daughter who wanted to color her life rather than generic drawings, I established ReallyColor.com which converts photos into coloring book pages to make individually tailored pages.’ ”

More eco-friendly tips from Avery Mack: “… sprout pencils, made of sustainable wood and fruit-and-vegetable dyed clay instead of lead, are topped by non-GMO seeds that can be planted when the pencil becomes short. Inktense’s water-soluble brightly colored pencils mimic pen and ink. Add water for translucency. Also, select recyclable paper books, soy crayons, watercolor paints and non-toxic markers.”

Maybe you’ll consider sitting down with the kids, or just doing this by yourself. Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post –  Kids: Let The Pros Sweat The Small Stuff

© 2016 All rights reserved

Teaching Kids To Save Our Planet And Ourselves

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

The sins of the parent are visited upon the child. This is a sobering thought. Not only does this adage reach across psychological, emotional, mental and  social boundaries, but it extends to the world situation in which our children and grandchildren will find themselves. A world filled with strife, war and famine. Often, the absence of a peaceful, supportive family life. A world depleted of natural resources. Food shortages. Clean water shortages. As individuals, we do not have the power to save the world, but we each can take a positive step and instill good habits in our children, so we may all work together for a more powerful impact on the world in which we live. Each generation must continue good practices, since no action has everlasting results.

Saving the planet goes beyond reuse, recycle and reduce. It also involves how we treat each other. It’s one thing to be kind and generous to people who enter our lives on a daily basis, but more powerful if we seek out situations where our help is needed and create a game plan for positive results.

I came across an interesting article in the December, 2015 issue of the Long Island edition of Awakenings by Jennifer Jacobsen, “Generous Pint-Sized Givers.” What’s interesting and unique here, is the concept of giving that involves not only donations of money and useful things, but how our thoughts, words and actions impact those around us.

Jennifer  Jacobson offers the following suggestions:

 *Ask Kids How They’d Like To Help– make a list of things in which there is interest
*Make A Game Plan– map out activities like visiting, donating or fundraising
*Quick Tasks Can Make A Big Difference– periodically, fill a “donate box” with items from closets, toy chests, drawers and the garage

*Find Ways to Raise Money For Donations– yard and bake sales

*Associate Getting With Giving– encourage birthday and holiday gifts to include a monetary amount allocated for donations

*Volunteer To Do Community Service– public gardens, historic buildings, food banks all need volunteers                                                                                                                                 *Grow The Mindset– teach kids to ask,”How would you want people to help you in this situation?”

The important thing to remember is giving is not something we should do upon occasion, it should be a way of life. One person, one experience at a time can change the world.

Next week’s blog post: Color Yourself Calm – Yep, With Crayons!

© 2016 All rights reserved

 

Saturday, March 14, 2020- Barnes & Noble, Massapequa, NY 12:00-4:00pm

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