Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Repurcussions (Ben Coverdale trilogy #2)

(Apologies to our author for not posting this earlier)
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't try to outfox the fox July 19, 2013
By: Glyn Smith-Wild
In Bk. Two of the Ben Coverdale series, the B&B, in the Loire Valley, France has been a success for Ben. He has had help from the resident nympho, Katie, who has attracted most of the men in Sainte-Justine. Ben rescued her from kidnappers in Germany, brought her to 'La Sanctuaire' to recover and she has been a great help to him. They get a visit from Georgina 'Grunge' who brings along a surprise, it is Mary. But the surprise is Alex, her infant son, whom she has brought to introduce to his father. Mary also brings danger in the form of Donald, the man she left Ben for. His sinister ways, that bloomed after she moved in, are scaring her more each day and he has no interest in Alex at all. Why does he want her to change her hairstyle and her way of dress, styles she would never be seen in? Who are these strange men associated with him? When Ben takes Mary to pick up her belongings, he is met with threats and a sword to his neck. They just get away but are followed through Paris, where Ben loses his tail.
So begins a cat and mouse game as Donald escapes to South Africa, where he takes on his true identity and we learn of his business dealings. But Donald will do anything to get Mary to complete his "plan". Ben questions who this Donald is and learns he has long arms, determination and connections. The pieces come together but not before an attempt is made on Mary's life and Ben is put in jail trying to question the assailant. But their new French friendships and old English are ready to support Ben, Mary and their precious son, Alex.
The story is not just of intrigue. There is a sweet story of friendships, romance and the fine living in France that is so pleasantly described.

Friday, October 11, 2013

After Rafaela w/guest reviewer T.Atashkar

Review of: After Rafaela
by Jo Chumas
Again, submitted by my friend and fellow reviewing enthusiast, Theresa Atashkar

This is a novel about four girls that were teens in the 90’s and the best of friends. They went to school
together, studied together, shared their most secret thoughts with each other, or so they thought. Lenox, or Leni; Sara, who changed her name to India; and Becca all came from unhappy homes where they were either unwanted or discarded; and then there was Rafaela, or Rafi who’s parents truly loved her and gave love and at times a home to the other girls. Leni and Rafi were the closest and were more like sisters than just friends.

Rafaela’s mother had also inherited a Villa in Italy from her family called the Villa San Antonio where the family went every summer to get away from the dreary weather of London. The summer that Rafaela was to turn 18 all the girls were allowed to go with the family for the summer and spend their summer breaks at the Villa to celebrate Rafaela’s birthday. They were tended to by Valentina, an older Italian woman that lived at the Villa and loved the girls as much as Rafi’s parents. The summer was wonderful for the girls! They shopped, partied, swam and became closer. Everything was great until the day of Rafaela’s 18th

Twenty-two years later Leni returns to Villa San Antonio to find her just as dead as Rafi and the rest of the girls had become. “Villa San Antonio looked sad, unloved, grief stricken, as though it were stuck in some sort of ‘after Rafaela’ paralysis. Leni could smell the sadness, musty, closed up, repressed aching.” I could relate to how she felt
having recently lost my mother to Alzheimer’s and found it very hard returning home again with only memories of my mother there.

This novel, written by Jo Chumas is so poignant and heartfelt. Her ability to draw me into the story of what was left of life after Rafaela and keep me up all night to finish grieving with everyone touched by Rafi’s death was amazing. I felt lighter when I was finished, but unable to sleep and lay there thinking about my own grief for the rest of the night. Everything was so wonderfully described; every crack, every garden, every piece of furniture so
deeply described, I felt like I had been there and lived through it all, even the weather! “A storm was brewing, and an occasional, ominous rumble of thunder sounded far away in the mountains of Switzerland. Over the horizon, the sky was turning crimson orange with violent twirls of mocha, like some exotic pudding.” I knew what each young girl looked like as they grew into womanhood and could see them and tell them apart as if they were part of my childhood! “A storm was brewing, and an occasional, ominous rumble of thunder sounded far away in the mountains of Switzerland. Over the horizon, the sky was turning crimson orange with violent twirls of mocha, like some exotic pudding.”  I knew what each young girl looked like as they grew into womanhood and could see them and tell them apart as if they were part of my childhood!

Nothing I say can do justice to this novel and the story that the author has told. It is a story that I will read again and enjoy as much or more than the first time I read it. I loved it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What I Do For Love

The Writer's Journey  Roadmap
Laura Davis
“Use what talents you have; the woods would have little music if no birds sang their song except those who sang best.”
— Reverend Oliver G. Wilson

Tell me about something you love to do, but aren’t necessarily good at. Tell me about this activity in detail so I can love it as much as you do.

I always strived to be the very best wife and homemaker possible. I made superior efforts by ironing everything, giving my husband a choice of meals each night, I cooked all weekend to prepare for the week. But I feel kids are not educated on how to be a wife or husband, when it comes to the technical aspects of marriage like finances, childrearing, distribution of duties and learning how to compromise. I didn’t know how to be a good girlfriend in that I was a victim of that time between the white picket fence era and women burning their bras and breaking through the glass ceiling. I expected the boyfriend to (want to) be with me all the time. From high school I was on the marriage gravy train. I have actually sent my high school sweetheart an apology for putting such pressure on him and guilt if he was not when he was not with me.
I loved my profession in medicine. I prided myself on treating my patient’s with as much knowledge as I could hold, and I was proud of how I treated them as people. That is my badge of honor. So how did I fail? Simply, with each moment someone suffered and every life lost, I failed. Certainly, there are the maladies we cannot control but, nonetheless, I always wanted to be better.

Laura Davis

Hi Nancy, I love the juxtaposition of your love of homemaking with the pressures and intensity of medical practice. Do most doctors feel they fail when someone dies? Isn’t death the natural end of life for all of us?

Nancy Qualls

Hi Laura,
No, most doctors/medical professionals do not feel they have failed when someone dies. There is so much education we have to take, and the technology available is amazing. We don’t actually fail our patients, I over-dramatized our feelings of disappointment…but it is not disappointment…and it isn’t really failure…it is a feeling so hard to describe. We walk away from death with sadness for the family and that we could not save the patient, although in many cases the death can be a God-send for something we mortals cannot save.
One thing I wanted to describe was the difficulty women of my era, 1960′s/70′s, have. Our mother’s bring us up to believe we will have the house and family, and our husband’s will take care of us (so we really don’t need to get a degree) versus society expecting us to get a degree, have a career AND successfully run our home and children. We were sitting right on top of the white picket fence

Lee Xanthippe

Wow, very interesting–the way this piece went through the different eras in a way–the different roles for women and how the roles impact men in that first section–enjoyed the openness of the detail of wanting the man or boyfriend to be there all the time.
I felt the trying in this piece, the succeeding–the badge of honor, and also the pain of not being able to do more while trying to do more or do better.
Thank you for posting this piece!


Nancy- I love how you hold up your medical career and your career as a homemaker next to each other. It’s hard to do that without judging one or the other but you managed it. It was sweet how you ironed everything and gave your husband a choice. Very romantic. Ilana


Thank you for sharing this beautiful comparison of time and career. You did an amazing job of it. I believe that as true humans we always want to do and be better.
Mary Carlson
Ah, my heart pings a little reading this. I hear a striving for perfection in both paragraphs: perfection in homemaking, and perfection in medicine. That common thread comes through clearly…
And the tragic aspect of this is that your striving to be the best feels very marred by inevitable “failures.” Being a good wife meant you weren’t the “good girlfriend.” A patient’s suffering or death becomes a sign of failure.
I would love to see you expand this, and really examine the cost of perfection. Ok, I feel a lot of projection on my part happening here….and I apologize. But, wow, can I identify!
Nancy Qualls

Thank you, I am humbled by all the responses I am receiving here.
I will write a more detailed piece. I have always wanted to write more about the era I grew up. Our grandmother’s and mother’s were homemaker’s. They lived within the ‘white picket fence’. Then we had Women’s Lib and suddenly we were expected to have a degree, a career and a home. The first half of my life was within the ‘white picket fence’ and then I was caught sitting on it.
Adrienne Drake
As a physician myself I could identify with much of what you say here in terms of being caught between two worlds as women emerged from homebodies to professionals very quickly. I too was caught on that cusp and did not mange to balance things nearly as successfully as you seem to have. However, I can not relate to your feeling that you failed with each moment someone suffered or lost their life. You are taking on way too much responsibility for that. You clearly did your best and I hope you don’t let those feelings tarnish in any way how you look back on your career, which was otherwise you badge of honor. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story.
  • Dr. Drake,
    Happily, I was not tarnished by, what I described as, an obsessive tendency to worry about everyone’s pain. When I was at work, I definitely was focused on all my patients, all of the time. And, like you I am sure, I wanted to take care of all the pains and maladies. But I did feel bad when I was not successful.
    When I retired, I left knowing that I did the best I knew how…that I educated myself ad-nauseum. When I left work…I left work. Well…okay…there were the times I would call the ICU in the middle of the night to check someone’s blood gas results…I couldn’t help it, I had to know so I could go back to sleep.
    Now days I am happily retired, beta-reading and working on my first book.

Nancy, this felt like this could be a book. There was so much information and feeling in these paragraphs. I wanted to know more. Thank you.

  • Judy
    Nancy, interesting piece that show the difficulty of ‘walking between the worlds’ of homemaker, devoted wife/mother and demanding career of medicine. Thank you for sharing.