Thursday, May 24, 2012

"50 Shades of Grey" ~Guest Post: "If I Write It, They Will Read It" by Jessica Magill

Traditionally, I don’t read romance novels. I certainly don’t read erotic romance, and when 50 Shades of Grey was mentioned to me, I immediately brushed it off as a cheap and tacky Twilight rip off. I read a lot, every day in fact, and am interested in many subjects. I am not the squeamish type, and the more daring and unconventional, the more interested I am. I am an unabashed reader.

This novel piqued my interest when my mother mentioned it and warned me against it!

I found out that it was about a college-aged girl who falls in love..with a Dominant, or so it was explained to me. I am not your run of the mill "reader," I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and read fiction like an English teacher. I always try and look beyond the "cover," read between the lines, understand all the layers of meaning.

However, the cover of "50 Shades of Grey" immediately drew me in. It is beautiful, haunting, dark, and mysterious. I like the shimmer in the tie. The simplicity of the cover, the single subject, the tie against the opaque background; chic and sophisticated. The cover shows sharp contrasts of color dark and light, grey and black, the focus, simple and strong. Really hadn't jumped out at me from the shelves, though. But, of course I had to find it after being told about its general subject matter. Can’t be that bad if Target is carrying it, right?

I picked up the book, and read the back, feeling rebellious, cutting edge, and a bit naughty. Expectant and anxious, I was drawn in, and within 10 minutes purchased the book. Now, you readers, if you are here in my review, you too have decided to read on. Are you curious too? Curiosity is the bait. I am hooked.

E.L. James is brilliant. She hooked me, just as Christian hooks the main character Anastasia Steele. Once you are hooked, you are compelled to keep reading. "Ana" the protagonist, is curious and astute, educated and independent, and at a crossroads in her life, when she unwittingly interviews Christian Grey for her roommate, who needs the article for the school newspaper.
Begrudgingly, Ana goes in place of her roommate to interview Mr. Grey. 
This simple act of kindness, to "save" her friend from not meeting a deadline, changes Ana’s life. It’s funny how one seemingly mundane event which doesn’t have to be a milestone or a celebration, can change your perspective and take you to a place you never thought you would be, ever .

James slowly wraps the reader in, just as Ana is slowly wrapped in to a relationship with Christian. She lulls you into a sense of false security, leads you to read more, want more, creates a strong justification to you the reader, that you are just "finding out what happens." Just as soon as I was reaching a point of disdain, in that I was predicting the future of this couple, James shocks me with an unexpected twist. Again, I am intrigued, and don’t want to be wrong, I need to keep guessing. What happens to Ana? I am in it now. Just like Ana.

James writes the novel from Ana’s perspective. The commentary is in the first person, and although you may not relate to Ana’s situation, there is something about her that is relatable to all women. She's curious, she's strong, she is willing, and a loyal friend. Aren’t these the very characteristics that we cherish as women? These are the very characteristics that work both in Ana’s favor, and against her. Ana is shrewd, or so she thinks. Ana likes the volley back and forth with Christian. She pushes and pulls, teases and flirts, is confident and insecure. She is both intrigued and wary of Christian; he is an enigma. Much about the thoughts Ana has is relatable to all women. I understand why Ana finds Christian alluring. I find him alluring, too.. he is the ultimate modern bad boy. It seems that both the people and things that scare us a little often intrigues us, and keep us wanting more. 

E.L. James keeps Ana's and Christian’s relationship tense and sweet. I found myself asking the same questions Ana does, feeling the same way she does. Ana is an innocent; naive, but not ignorant. She, like so many of us, is swept away in love and lust. As hard as she tries to rationalize the relationship she has with Christian, her emotions get the best of her, and
she maintains her emotional connection and even deepens it with him.

Ana is a realistic. To me, her actions and emotions are genuine. James’s gives her life, makes her a sympathetic character. Similarly, Christian is not someone that I have ever known in real life, but his caricature is. I have wondered many times if what people look like on the exterior matches who they are on the interior. Christian is a modern Heathcliff~brooding, dark and dangerous. He has secrets that keep him locked in his own world. The question is, can Ana unlock them? Or not?
Thus, the quest Ms James entices us to keep on.

"50 Shades Grey" has been touted as "Mommy Porn." Yes, the sex scenes are raw and descriptive, but if you are an adult woman, you can handle it. To me, they are not the focus of this intense novel. It is the relationship between Christian and Ana. Their relationship parallels the dominant submissive sex scenes throughout the novel.

I often asked myself through the novel, who is the dominant?

Is it really Christian? Or is it Ana? 

Sting says it so beautifully in the lyrics to his song, Wrapped Around Your Finger, "when you find your servant is your master." It is always a paradox, isn’t it? In a split second the position of power can shift, leaving the master the servant and vice versa. I don’t find these scenes offensive. They are intended to be graphic, intense, and peircing. If James had written these scenes in a less intensive way, I as the reader would be less likely to believe them. I read through the scenes, and moved on. To me, in this day and age, like it or not, these scenes are shocking but not outrageous. If the reader makes this the focus of the novel they will lose the beauty of the story as a whole.

In conclusion, I loved the book" 50 Shades of Grey." Shocked?

I have since bought the next two books in the series. I understand why women and men all over the world love this series. It is fresh, exciting, dark, and engaging. Ana and Christian are just as real to the audience as Bella and Edward are to "Twi hard" fans. Move over twi-hards! There’s a new couple in town, and they are here to stay. If you haven’t gone to get your copy of" 50 Shades...," you better go now! These books are flying off the shelves faster than the stores can keep them ordered.

I believe this series will be discussed for years to come. It's a literary phenomena.

You may just want to take a chance to peek at it. You may want to open Pandora's box. You won’t be disappointed, I promise. Aren’t you curious?

Written by Jessica Magill
Guest Writer for A Bookish Libraria

May 24, 2012

"I Couldn't Love You More" by Jillian Medoff~Family Saga for Book Groups!

Being a step-mother has its pitfalls on a normal day, but being one when the chips are down is even more difficult. In "I Couldn't Love You More," Eliot Gordon, referred to as the motherly "good one" by her sisters, loves her "steps" like her own children, but she's often stonewalled as so many caring step-mothers are. In this close monologue of a book, we find out a good deal about mothering, how "Sophie" may have made her choice and why we take the roads in life we do. This is a passionate book that calls to the mother and the fallible in all of us. Read it and weep. I did. A book to share with your friends, mom, sisters and book group. This one will have you talking to yourself, so you'll need a friend to share it with. You may have to buy two copies at one time!!

The book is published by: Grand Central Publishing/Hachette and is written by Jillian Medoff. You may find it at Barnes & Noble and at Amazon
There are more than 400 pages to this book.
You may also want to visit the author's website here:

Summary :

Which child would you save? A decision no parent can even fathom.
Eliot Gordon would do anything for her family. A 38-year-old working mother, she lives an ordinary but fulfilling life in suburban Atlanta with her partner, Grant Delaney, and their three daughters. The two older girls are actually Eliot's stepdaughters, a distinction she is reluctant to make as she valiantly attempts to maintain a safe, happy household . . .
Then Finn Montgomery, Eliot's long-lost first love, appears, triggering a shocking chain of events that culminates in a split-second decision that will haunt her beloved family forever. How Eliot survives-and what she loses in the process-is a story that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved a child. With hilarious honesty, wrenching depth, and a knockout twist, I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE illuminates the unbreakable bonds of family and reveals the lengths we'll go to save each other, even as we can't save ourselves.

Please take a moment to view this book trailer ~

Who Is Jillian Medoff ?
Jillian Medoff's bitterly funny, shocking third novel, I Couldn't Love You More, will be available from Grand Central Publishing in 2012. She is the acclaimed author of Hunger Point and Good Girls Gone Bad, both of which received surprisingly great reviews (surprising to her). A huge seller in the US, Hunger Point was the basis for the original Lifetime movie starring Barbara Hershey and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men). Although Jillian is proud of Hunger Point, had anyone asked, she would not have selected such a bright pink (any pink, frankly) for the trade paperback edition. Her books have been translated into many different languages, including French, Spanish, Hebrew, Turkish, Hungarian, Japanese (abridged), Polish, and German (forthcoming).
The eldest daughter of a traveling salesman, Jillian moved 17 times by age 17, ultimately ending up in Atlanta, where her new novel is set. She has a BA from Barnard and an MFA from NYU, and is grateful for having studied with such luminary writers as Mona Simpson, Jonathan Dee, Robert Coover, and Alice Walker. She also attended Master Classes with Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, and Grace Paley. Although these authors continue to influence her work in powerful and diverse ways, she suspects few of them, if any, remember her. A former fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA and Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain, Jillian taught at NYU and the University of Georgia, but for only, like, five minutes. She currently lives in New York with her family, and has no plans to move anytime soon.

The Dame's Review :
I have been reading " I Couldn't Love You More" for over a week. This is very unusual for me. I just had to savor every word of it. I had to take time to take it all in. Like a delicious Godiva truffle, I wanted to take my time to chew over what Jillian Medoff was "saying." This is an extraordinary piece of literature. It's one that warrants such time-taking. It's a book I wanted to cherish and reread, personally. It may be one of those "nightstand" books because I'd like to keep opening it to passages to think on again and again. This may give you some idea of the quality of Ms Medoff's writing.
I'm not surprised she worked under and studied with some of the finest authors of our times...
it shows up in her work.
I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't do some influencing herself.

The book also meant a great deal to me as a mother and step-mother. Her ability to translate this very delicate balance of love and responsibility,
of wanting to be loved and wanting to do what's right is just masterful.
Her telling of that risk of giving it all in mothering for what may be receiving little or no return in the long run is what each of us mothers understands...but it's more so for step-moms.
The risks in this book are just staggering. And they kept me nailed to the novel mind and spirit.
At last, I thought, someone gets it down on paper.

I write notes about books as I read them, and I read without reading any reviews or summaries of my books if I can help it. In this case, I kept things to a minimum. So one of my notes to myself was about Sophie's choice. Yes, there is that happenstance in this book and it's as horrifying here and as smashing of lives as you can imagine. The dysfunction of families, and the particular dynamics of three significantly different sisters (all playing their Shakespearean roles) is hilarious enough to break the underlying tensions. But, these are not the only things that captured me about this novel.

Primarily, and in addition to what I've already said about the mothering, I was captivated by its quality of voice. That's a rare thing to me. To so clearly hear the author's voice was stunning. It was hypnotic. It felt as if I were sitting on the sofa of my very best friend and she was telling me her life story. I felt I was hearing her secrets; her intimate thoughts and feelings that she kept inside but was now sharing with me.

This book begins in a sort of monologue. At least, to me there was little dialog.
This sort of thing is ordinarily not appealing to me. But, as I said, it was simply golden in Jillian Medoff's hands. To this day I'm in awe of that.
As I write this, I wonder if my readers will even comprehend how something can be told without an emphasis on dialog and be so powerful and absorbing to the reader!
It would be redundant to tell you what "I Couldn't Love You More" is "about," so I won't do that. Only, I will say it is such a beautifully created story of love and sacrifice and redemption. I thought Jillian Medoff's quote of a Willa Cather saying was significant in the beginning of her book:
" There are only one or two human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."

This is one of those tellings of one of those lives and times. It may be we've all experienced much of what Ms Medoff describes in her story. It may be this that makes it so relavant and so poinant. And, it's a profound and wonderful telling.
I hope you get your own copy to read and share. You can never have mine...
5 stars


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"Darkroom" by Joshua Graham~Thriller! Giveaway!!

Dark, deceptive, political intrigue and ghostly images...all this and more await the eager reader who loves a thriller and a mystery in "Darkroom." I lived through the Viet Nam War era, but don't recall having read a single suspense novel that has its focus around the Vietnam cross-culture that made its way to the US. This book is unique in many ways. It has a bit of everything to recommend it: love, mystery, conspiracy, family connections to ancient times and places, politics, terrorism and murder; not to mention the Viet Nam War and the vets that brought home not only images, but other baggage, and loved ones. A must read, this book is fast moving, intriguing and beautifully written to tantalize! Joshua Graham is a fantastic writer who knows when to dangle the carrot and when to pull it back. I loved the whole reading process! His characters are rich in detail, lovable, sad, frightening and strangely familiar. I was literally up all night reading "Darkroom" having such a good time in the process. I couldn't put it down... If you've ever been placed in the moral dilemma of wondering whether you should tell the truth and risk it all, you'll love this book. If you've ever wondered if there are conspiracies and cover ups in political arenas we aren't privy to, you'll love this book... I have to give it a solid...
5 stars!!

Published by: Howard Books/Simon and Schuster
Visit Mr. Graham's website here:
Also see his blog at:

Quick Overview of "Darkroom":

After scattering her mother’s ashes in Vietnam, photojournalist Xandra Carrick comes home to New York to rebuild her life and career. When she experiences supernatural visions that reveal atrocities perpetrated by American soldiers during the Vietnam War, she finds herself entangled in a forty-year-old conspiracy that could bring the nation into political turmoil.
Launching headlong into a quest to learn the truth from her father, Peter Carrick, a Pulitzer Prize Laureate who served as an embedded photographer during the war, Xandra confronts him about a dark secret he has kept–one that has devastated their family.
Her investigations lead her to her departed mother’s journal, which tell of love, spiritual awakening, and surviving the fall of Saigon.
Pursued across the continent, Xandra comes face-to-face with powerful forces that will stop at nothing to prevent her from revealing the truth. But not before government agencies arrest her for murder, domestic terrorism and an assassination attempt on the newly elected president of the United States.
Darkroom is a riveting tale of suspense that tears the covers off the human struggle for truth in a world imprisoned by lies.

About Joshua Graham :

WINNER OF 2011 INTERNATIONAL BOOK AWARDS, and Barnes & Noble #1 bestselling author Joshua Graham’s novel BEYOND JUSTICE is taking the world by storm, one reader at a time. Many of his readers blame him for sleepless nights, arriving to work late, neglected dishes and family members, and not allowing them to put the book down.
Suspense Magazine listed BEYOND JUSTICE in its BEST OF 2010, alongside titles by Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Steven James and Brad Thor.
His short story THE DOOR’S OPEN won the HarperCollins Authonomy Competition (Christmas 2010.)
Publishers Weekly described BEYOND JUSTICE as: “A riveting legal thriller…breaking new ground with a vengeance…demonically entertaining and surprisingly inspiring.”
Joshua Graham grew up in Brooklyn, NY where he lived for the better part of 30 years. He holds a Bachelor and Master’s Degree and went on to earn his doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. During his time in Maryland, he taught as a professor at Shepherd College (WV), Western Maryland College, and Columbia Union College (MD).
Today he lives with his beautiful wife and children in Southern California. Several of Graham’s short fiction works have been published by Pocket Books and Dawn Treader Press.
Writing under the pen name Ian Alexander, Graham debuted with his first Epic Fantasy novel ONCE WE WERE KINGS, an Amazon #1 Bestseller in multiple categories and Award-Winning Finalist in the SciFi/Fantasy category of The USA “Best Books 2011″ Awards, as well as an Award-Winning Finalist in the Young Adult Fiction category of The USA “Best Books 2011″ Awards, and an Award Winner in the 2011 Forward National Literature Awards in the Teen/Young Adult category. ONCE WE WERE KINGS is available in ebook and hardcover editions.
Look for his next Suspense/Thriller DARKROOM (Simon & Schuster/Howard Books) to be released May 1, 2012!
For Film Rights Josh is represented by UNITED TALENT AGENCY. Please use the CONTACT button on this website for all inquiries.
You can visit his website at

A Bookish Libraria is pleased to be on the virtual book publicity tour for Mr. Graham sponsored by Pump Up Your Books. To find out more about the GIVEAWAY, please go to this site:
and search for "Darkroom"

Thanks for stopping by! Deborah/TheBookishDame

Monday, May 14, 2012

"The Last Romanov" by Dora Levy Mossanen~A Fabulous Historical Fiction!

So very gorgeously written, so descriptive and rich in history, this book is unbelievably special. I was sunk from the beginning...and I had so much to do this Mother's Day weekend! Sumptuous writing, so gaudy with lush descriptions of Romanovs, their homes and sycophants that my head was swimming
as if I'd drunk too much Massandra wine from one of the Tsar's seaside estates.
I was spun back in time to the Palaces with the little witch Darya Spiridova, nanny/aunt to the precious Tsarevich before he and his family were killed.
Or, was he killed with his family? That's the mystery of "The Last Romanov," that and what true place did Darya play in the unfolding horror and redemption of the past.
Floating back and forth in time over a span of 80-some years, we are tossed through a magnificent
time of war and peace. Dora Levy Mossanen is a tour guide like none other as she finely details all manner of things,
lending an authenticity to her story that brings chills of delight to a reader of historical fiction.
She is quite painterly in her art of writing.
Historical details are impeccable and gave the reading another pleasurable dimension.
I was unaware, for instance, but loved finding out, that Empress Alexandra's favorite fragrance was
Rose Blanche.
This book ended for me with a sigh. I had such reluctance to let it go.
I know all of you who love historical fiction will just die for it.
5 luscious stars on a diamond encrusted tray, and a pinch of Ambergris for fragrance!

Particulars of the Book:
Published by ~ Sourcebooks
Pages ~ About 354
Genre ~ Historical Fiction


She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on
the prayers of her majesty. Yet, decades later, her time
spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she
responsible for those murderous events that changed everything?
If only she can find the heir, maybe she can put together the
broken pieces of her own past—maybe she can hold on to
the love she found. Bursting to life with the rich and glorious
marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale
of second chances and royal blood.

A Little Something About This Amazing Author :

Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel as the country was gaining its independence and moved to Iran with her family when she was nine years old. After living in Israel, where female soldiers wore shorts and carried Uzis, she had a difficult time adjusting to Iranian culture, which required women to conceal themselves under chadors. The first days of her arrival coincided with the 1953 coup of Dr. Mossadegh when the Shah fled to Italy. Streets brimmed with demonstrators, supporting Dr. Mossadegh and dragging down statues of Mohammad Reza Shah. And the very next day, portraits of the Shah were displayed again and blaring microphones announced his return. These were her first experiences in a country of contradictions, a culture rich in legend, mythology, folklore, and superstition.

Her family’s roots go back 2,500 years in Persia, where her first inspiration and invaluable source of history was her grandfather, Doctor Habib Levy, a renowned historian. Dr. Levy introduced Dora to life in Mahaleh, the Jewish ghetto, to the horrors of anti-Semitism, and to the challenges of being Jewish in a Moslem country. The Islamic Revolution of 1979, the fall of the Shah, and arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini forced Mossanen and her family to leave Iran. They settled in Los Angeles, California and became part of what is now the largest Iranian community in the United States.

Despite being married, raising two daughters, and facing great opposition, Ms. Mossanen went back to school, causing another mini revolution—this one in her own home. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California Los Angeles and a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Southern California.

Dora is the bestselling author of the widely acclaimed novels Harem and Courtesan, which have been translated into numerous languages, and is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editor’s Choice Award. She blogs for Huffington Post, reviews fiction for the Jewish Journal, and has been featured in various publications.

I hope you'll take time to visit Ms Mossanen's website and blog. Fascinating! You'll love her book...promise.

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Plethora of Mother's Day Gifts! Deborah Batterman & Matt Hammitt

Summary: In the same manner as touching picture books like bestsellers Let Me Hold You Longer and Love You Forever, I Couldn't Love You More tells a sweet, loving, yet powerful message: I couldn’t love you more, but there is someone who does. Through the unique relationship of adorable animals, the book shares that Christ is always with you and he loves you more than you can imagine. This engaging picture book combines lovable and irresistible images with the lyrics from the song (co-written by Jason Ingram and Matt Hammitt). Matt is lead vocalist for Sanctus Real, a Grammy-nominated Christian rock band. The song is on Hammitt’s latest album, Every Fallen Tear. When Matt and his wife, Sarah, were halfway through her pregnancy, they discovered their son would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a rare congenital defect. Matt and Sarah’s son, Bowen, was born on 9/9/10 and received a huge following through the Hammitt’s blog (, K-LOVE, and ABC News. A portion of the proceeds from the book goes to the foundation the Hammitts’ have started to help parents with children who have this heart condition.

Particlars of the book:
Publisher~Tyndale House Publishers
Genre~ Children's Fiction/Christian/Inspirational

About the Author :

Matt Hammitt is the lead singer and a founding member of the band Sanctus Real. Over the past decade, the Grammy nominated, Dove Award–winning group has released five albums and has topped the Christian radio charts with fourteen No. 1 and Top 5 radio hits.
In 2010, Matt and his wife, Sarah, found out they were expecting their third child. Already the parents of two young daughters, Emmerson and Claire, they were looking forward to an ultrasound that would reveal whether they were having a boy or a girl. "We found out it was a boy, and we were all celebrating," Matt recalls. "But only a few minutes later the doctor came in and told us that things weren't right, that half of the baby's heart wasn't developed. At that time, they didn't think he would survive."
Diagnosed with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, little Bowen, whose name means "small, victorious one," defied the odds and survived. But it hasn't been an easy road for Matt and his family. Following Bowen's birth, Matt and Sarah watched their newborn son endure two open-heart surgeries, and they spent more than three months by his bedside at Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Matt and Sarah have shared the pain, as well as the joy, of their journey with others through their blog,, which has received more than one million hits to date. Sarah says, "God clearly has His hand in all of this. Our family has been called to walk through this, and we will do our best, even though it's going to be really rough at times."
"Everything I've watched happen in the hospital—all the pain I've felt—is deepening my faith, strengthening my marriage, and molding my character," Matt says. "Out of what appeared to be a well of emptiness has flowed a fountain of purpose." Matt's album Every Falling Tear, released in 2011, was born out of the heart of a father wrestling with his pain but buoyed by his faith and his love for his family. I Couldn't Love You More is one of the songs on the album. It expresses a parent's desire to share Christ's unconditional love with his child. A portion of the proceeds from both Matt's album and this book will be given to support the Whole Hearts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by the Hammitts that is dedicated to helping families with children suffering from congenital heart defects. Matt says, "We've met so many families like us whose children are suffering, and they are looking for hope. It has become our mission to help them find it."
Find out more about Sanctus Real at: and their blog at:

The Dame's Nutshell Review:
This is a darling book with the most beautiful of illustrations. I wish I had a copy for every single one of my 7 little grands to keep on their bedside tables. The message of Jesus's love and His never leaving them whether day or night is such a comfort. I know my grands would all be happy to be reminded that someone else loves them much more even than their devoted parents and grandparents!
Matt Hammitt, and illstrator Polona Lovsin have worked together to bring a stunning little book to life with the collaboration of songwriter, producer and artist, Jason Ingram's input.
I have always loved the simple and profound messages of their books, but this one is a stand-out!
I highly recommend it, not just for children with disabilities and those who suffer with hospitalizations, but for all children in all situations.
It's a perfect book for anytime and anywhere.

5 sparkling stars...


Short Stories Choice of the Month

With poignancy and humor, Deborah Batterman reminds us in these brief, linked essays that every mother is a daughter, too. The insights she brings to simple acts – looking at old photographs, recalling the smells and tastes of her mother’s cooking, making her daughter’s bed or shopping with her – are as beautifully rendered as they are profound.

About the Author:
A native New Yorker, Deborah Batterman has worked over the years as a writer, editor, and teaching artist. A story from her debut collection, SHOES HAIR NAILS (Uccelli Press, 2006; digital edition, 2010), was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her stories have appeared in anthologies as well as various print and online journals, and she recently completed a novel.

Find Deborah on her blog at:

Let The Dame Have Her Say :

Deborah Batterman is a woman who knows the intricacies of writing well. She is a writer who can take apart a piece of story like boning a fish, bit by tiny bit, and come out with a delicacy. I love her body of work. It's a delight to read, and I wonder when some major publisher is going to discover her and put her all over the book shelves in every major city across the country. For now, any of us can read her work by finding her on Barnes & Noble for a song. Lucky for us!

In "Because My Name Is Mother," Deborah has highlighted the dark and the light sides of motherhood. It's a retrospective story making of the push-pull we all probably feel about our own mothers; i.e., that sense of loving them, and at the same time feeling a sort of jealousy or resentment toward them. And, if not a resentment, an awe of the mystique of them on some level. The power of motherhood is addressed in Deborah's short stories, as is the personal weaknesses of women who are mothers. And all this is done with such brilliance and poignancy, we can't help being touched with memory and the madness, and the awareness of our own roles as mothers.

I'm a huge fan of Batterman's work. I have to stop by her blog fairly often just to get my dosage of her writing and wisdom. She's an amazing artist. She's also one of those who actually sees and interprets the world around her on a regular basis. That's a gift, which makes her a gifted writer.

I loved the second story in this collection, for instance, of her showing her grown daughter by example that it's good to enjoy the moment, to take time to distance oneself from busy-ness when having a moment's pleasure and "relaxation" in a manicure and pedicure salon...putting away cell phones, magazines, etc., to enjoy the moment. She writes of not telling her daughter, but showing by her own choices, and realizing that her daughter might at some time find the way by her example...or not. That's motherhood at it's most mature.

Let me encourage you to purchase this volume of short stories today or anytime. "Because My Name Is Mother" is a book you'll be reading and passing on to your mother and friends...

5 stars


Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Slide" by Jill Hathaway~ A Great New YA Thriller For the Summer!

Narcolepsy is the perfect cover for being a "slider," but is it the most socially acceptable when you're in high school and no longer a cheerleader? I don't think so... Vee has a hard time with her life in general; her mother recently died, her little sister has hit puberty with a vengeance and her father's a famously, oft-needed doctor. She has no friends except a
strangely different sort of guy who seems to understand her; but with whom she can't share her "sliding."

And, then there's a murder that she just happens to know about when everyone else thinks it's a suicide, because she accidently slid into the murder's body when it happened!
This suspenseful novel by Jill Hathaway is a young adult winner by any standards.

It has the quintessentially beautiful, pink haired misfit girl, the hunky jock, cheerleaders, goth-edged gorgeous guy, the dark stranger guy and the slightly attractive male teacher...along with the tragic teen aged angst of suicide and parents missing by death and choice.
  It's all a winning soup.
The plot is thick and good.

I loved this book for many reasons. It's well written, it's absorbing, and
it's a cliff hanger of the old school sort.
Jill Hathaway has my attention, and I'll be looking forward to more of her books.
4 stars from me!
This is a great YA fiction/thriller which I think adult readers would also enjoy.

Particulars of the Book:
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins
Pages: 187something
Genre: YA Fiction/Thriller
Author: Jill Hathaway
Author's website:

Summary :
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister's friend Sophie didn't kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn't actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else's mind and experiences the world through that person's eyes. She's slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed "friend" when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie's slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can't bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting distant lately, especially now that she's been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

All About the Very Stylish Ms Hathaway!

Jill was born and raised in Iowa. As a child, she loved paper dolls, Archie comics, and writing. In her adolescent years, she wrote emo poetry and produced paper zines that she sold for $1 in local comic book and record stores.

Having earned her BA in English from the University of Northern Iowa and her MA in Literature from Iowa State University, she now teaches high school and community college courses in the Des Moines area. She lives with her husband and young daughter.

Jill spends her free time collecting cool gear for her blood elf paladin, watching Veronica Mars, and listening to angry grrl music.

SLIDE, her debut novel, will be released from Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins in 2012.

Here's a picture of Jill on tour!

You can buy Slide at: Barnes & Noble

or Amazon
or at your favorite local independent book seller!

March 23, 2012 reviews SLIDE, suggesting it to fans of Pretty Little Liars. They say their "jaws literally dropped" at one of the twists.

The Future of Mother's~ Hadley, My Granddaughter, Honored on Mother's Day

This is my sweet granddaughter, Hadley. She's the hope of the future Mother's Days.
Hadley is my only granddaughter.

Her dad, here, is my eldest son, Jason, and they live in Massachusetts near Cape Cod. Here, they are taking the ferry to Martha's Vineyard for a visit with friends for the week last year.

Hadley is an All American Girl. She loves pink and purple...she won't wear anything that doesn't have a predominance of one of those two colors. She loves dresses. fancy shoes and girly jewelry (compliments of her Grammie Debi).
She's very interested in "Fancy Nancy" and has all of her books from the earliest to the newest!
She actually loves the word, "actually."

Hadley has her mom and dad read to her quite often; that is, every night and day.
Grammie also sends her fancy books about little girls with cute shoes and dress up things, and such.
This June it's her birthday, just like her gram's, and she will graduate to Fancy Nancy's new chapter book series.

Hadley loves her new American Doll which she waited a long time to get. Her mom and dad wanted her to be old enough to appreciate the significance of an American Doll. I think they were right. They've taught Hadley
that sometimes you have to wait for good things, but the waiting is worth it.

And, Hadley is an out-doorsey girl who took her first steps in Florida holding Grammie's hands, wanting to go outside
to touch flowers!
She's in love with flowers and the outside. She has a veggie garden. She takes wilderness walks with her dad and mom. Her mom runs marathons and her daddy recently told her,
"See that, Hadley. Watch your mother. She's just run a 20 mile race. She can do anything, and so can you!"
Which just goes to show Hadley has awesome parents to model her parenting!
Her daddy runs marathons for charity, too.
And, Hadley collects her toys and gives lots to children who need them every year.

She also has a baby brother, Gardner, whom she has never shown a moments jealousy about. She's been loving, patient and nurturing toward him, even though he's a happy-go-lucky and rambunctious little guy!
Hadley isn't. She's quiet and artistic. She'd rather Gardner would leave her dolls and art supplies alone, but she never
is unkind to him about it.

Hadley knows how to play kindly and nicely with her friends. She's also a sweet-hearted and thoughtful child to a grammie who lives very far away.

When she gets sad or upset she runs to her daddy, who knows just how to comfort her. She tells him she needs a moment to download, and she's off and running again!

I know someday she's going to be a wonderful, loving mother.

So, this day I dedicate to Hadley Davenport Duncan...the best future mother I think I'll know...

Happy Pre-Mother's Day, Hadley!
Love, Grammie Debi

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Week~Honoring My Only Daughter, Jessica, The Best Mother Ever

The very best mother I've ever known is my only daughter, Jessica Layne Duncan Magill. She is the mom we all wish we had. Devoted to her son, Kellan, she spends endless hours making sure he has all the best in everything. Jessica wasn't supposed to have children. Through prayer and a tremendous effort on her part, she was able to complete an IVF and have a little boy.

When she was 34 years old, Jessica was told she couldn't have children. Her physical problems had overwhelmed her body, rendering it impossible to carry a child to term,
 let alone allow her to get pregnant in the first place.
Since being a mother was her life's and heart's desire, Jessica refused to accept that diagnosis.

She asked for a miracle from God, and asked all of us to pray for one.

She insisted her doctor perform surgery on her to prep her for the possibility of a pregnancy even if it wasn't going to happen. The kindly old doctor from South Florida relented, though he kept counselling her that it didn't mean things would change since she had multiple issues. He did encourage and support her, though, and told her anything was possible, and that
 he would do his best to insure she had a wonderful ground to "grow on."
Once that was prepped, she began a series of hormone treatments to stabilize her system which was completely out of balance and malfunctioning. It had been for years, which was unbeknownst to us.

Then, after several months, she and her Coastie (Coast Guard) husband got permission for funding from the Guard, rallied support from her family, and sought a fertility clinic.
Jess and Kev named themselves: The Magill In It To Win It Team!

At the clinic, the doctor and nurse assistant looked over her chart and were skeptical. They considered all she'd been through and all she'd done to set the stage for her conception. However, the doctor said he had a 95% success rate and he would do all he could to make a baby happen for Jessica and Kevin. They were fully committed to the Magill Team "In It To Win It" goal.

The nurse practitioner, Lynn, was Jessica's biggest supporter at the fertility clinic. Encouraging her when the shots and medications hurt Jessica tremendously, leaving her body battered, black and blue...welted and sore. Lynn would call, taking a personal interest in her, telling her she would make it and not to worry.

Jessica never lost hope or faith. She endured all with a warrior woman's strength.
She would have her baby at all costs, and she wouldn't be denied.

Even after the loss of her first IVF fetuses, she kept up the battle.

The second try worked! And, though Kellan was a preemie, he came through with flying colors. A C-section baby...he had surgery on his lungs and was in the NICU for 3 weeks, but he was the strongest child there and came home perfectly well and happy.

While still on the table, directly after the C-section, the doctors operated removing a benign tumor they had though was cancer all during her pregnancy. One which she had refused to let them take when her Kellan was 4 months in utero because it would jeopardize his life. She said she would take her
chances that it wasn't cancer for the sake of having her baby. Her courage got her Kellan home safely, and her own good report.
She insisted they save her uterus in the surgery, as well, so she could have more children, if possible.

Amazing girl, amazing mother.
Now, Kellan is nearly 4 years old. His intelligence has been tested at a 7-9 year old level. He's a kind and thoughtful child who loves to read and play with his iPad daily. Read with his mother, I mean. She reads him about 10 books per night! He insists...and this doesn't mean baby picture books. He wants to hear chapter books, and has since he was about 2 1/2. He's a brilliant child in every subject. And he's very strong willed just like his mother! :]
 Those plethora of vitamins and supplements she took to insure a strong and brainy child must have worked their own miracles!
Jessica believes in her heart that Kellan will not be an only child. And though her body fights against her on every avenue, she will not be beaten. And, of course, there are other ways to have a child.

She's a brave heart. She's the one who will not take "no" for an answer.
I think she's gotten this from the Scottish side of her heritage.
She's a mother of real strength and compassion.

Jessica is also a trained professional in the work of teaching developmentally delayed children, and those with autism and asbergers. From the time she was 12 years old she's volunteered and worked with disadvantaged and institutionalized children.

She has a heart for children, and I believe she has been a mother to many.

Jessica Duncan Magill is the finest of any mother I know.
I'm very proud to call her my only daughter on this Mother's Day. 


"Brave" New Disney/Pixar Movie~ Feminist or Not??

Gorgeous artwork, as always! I'm so excited to see this latest in the Disney/Pixar family of pictures for children (and their adult children).
Telling the story of a daring and beautiful Scottish princess, this one reminds me of the old legend of Atalanta whose
father wanted her to marry the strongest fighter
in the land, but who bested them at archery and refused to marry!
The question has been brought up about whether this time
Disney has missed or made its mark...
Has it done the wonderful by creating a film, finally, about strong, independent young girls; or, has it only made them
partial heroines who want to be "just like Dad," and
eventually come home to a handsome prince,
home and hearth in the end?
Well, let me pose the question...what's wrong with having it all?
Early feminists wanted it all. I still want it all. And, I suspect most of my friends do, too. What's not to love about being able to best a boy/man at a sport or a game of business? What's not to be proud of when you rank at the top of the class...or pass the bar #1 ?
What's not to be proud of when you're able to give birth
to the most beautiful babies on earth, run a household, and be a famous writer like Nina Benneton?
I see no big problem with "Brave" if that's how the story is going to be told.
I also see no problem if it's told from the perspective of a young girl-woman who is brave and strong and who meets a young boy-man who is also brave and strong. And who both tackle a villain or foe together. (I'm not sure this is what happens at all...)
Don't we, most of us, ban together in some way to fight significant battles?
Even in Disney/Pixar movies with male central figures, often female counterparts help win the day.
As a modern-day feminist who isn't a hard-shell one, I have to say that I'm delighted that Disney/Pixar has chosen to give us this little heroine. Feisty, fiery, independent and strong...she just might show little girls it's okay in every way to be themselves if "themselves" is to step out of the
traditional princess role. We don't all have to faint at the feet of
the handsome prince to win his love. We can also fight beside him.
And, if this little Scottish firebrand was cursed by a witch for her streak of independence and defiance, she certainly met the challenge! Young women for ages have been similarly "cursed" and look how far we've come.
"Can't touch this..." LOL
I'm looking forward to seeing and cheering for "Brave."
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day Week Tribute #2: The Scratchy Mother in Our Lives

This is my grandmother, Charlotte Flowers Triplett Riggs. She was a scratchy lady. You'd think a Southern lady from Lenoir, NC, would be warm and welcoming, sweet, soft, huggie and loving to children, grandchildren, friends and all family close and far. She wasn't. My darling grandmother was a reclusive, distant, very standoffish woman. She didn't emote. :]

She didn't like to hug, and she didn't say, "I love you." She was a Victorian.

What she did do is serve. She gave of herself. She baked delicious meals, cakes, pies, cookies and canned goods which she made sure found their way into the hearths and hands of everyone she did love, and whom she found with a need both physical and emotional. What she did was pray. She was a prayer warrior...those who understand what that means will be in awe of that. And what she also did was take in a child like me who had lost a daddy and mother at the age of 5. Even though she had already raised 9 children of her own, and I'm sure she was desperately tired of having young children around, she took me in as a full time "child of her own" for nearly 3 years.

When she was dying at a relatively early age of 70 years old, she called for me and told me she loved me. Told me she loved me and hugged me, tightly.

Here's what she taught me, too:

*The Bible~scriptures by the day in our daily walk. She would quote scripture as she did housework...

*Songs. She sang all the time. She loved to sing. I love to sing, too.

*She taught me to pray and how God would always hear our prayers.

*She taught me The Lord's Prayer.

*She taught me The 23rd Psalm...."The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..." When I was afraid or couldn't sleep at night, she told me this would always help me.

*She took me (along with my Uncle Dude) to church every single Sunday, placed me in my Sunday School class--took me to Wednesday night prayer meetings and made sure I knew that

Jesus loved me.

*She taught me to be kind to others no matter what, and to always "turn the other cheek."

*She taught me to "Judge not, that you be not judged."

*She taught me about plants, and about crocheting and books.

*and she kept a journal!

I loved my Grandmother Riggs above anyone on earth when I was a little girl, and I still hold her in a very special place in my heart today. I look forward to the day I'll be rejoined with her in Heaven.

\So, on this day of Mother's Day week,

I want to honor my very scratchy

Grandmother Riggs~ Charlotte Flowers Triplett Riggs

one of the great loves of my life.

"Unbreak My Heart" by Melissa Walker~The Perfect Summer Reading


Sophomore year broke Clementine Williams’ heart. She fell for her best friend’s boyfriend and long story short: he’s excused, but Clem is vilified and she heads into summer with zero social life. Enter her parents’ plan to spend the summer on their sailboat. Normally the idea of being stuck on a tiny boat with her parents and little sister would make Clem break out in hives, but floating away sounds pretty good right now. Then she meets James at one of their first stops along the river. He and his dad are sailing for the summer and he’s just the distraction Clem needs. Can he break down Clem’s walls and heal her broken heart? Told in alternating chapters that chronicle the year that broke Clem’s heart and the summer that healed it, Unbreak My Heart is a wonderful dual love story that fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, and Susane Colasanti will flock to.

Particulars of the Book:

Published by: Bloomsbury

Pages: 231

Genre: YA Fiction

Author: Melissa Walker's website:

About Melissa!

First of all, isn't she darling?! She's so awesome!

Secondly, look at this resume!

Melissa Walker is a writer who has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. All in the name of journalism, she has spent 24 hours with male models and attended an elite finishing school for girls in New Zealand, among other hardships.
She co-founded I Heart Daily with fellow ex-ELLEgirl Anne Ichikawa in 2009. It’s a daily newsletter about likable stuff.
Melissa lives in Brooklyn and has a BA in English from Vassar College. She would tell you her SAT scores too, but, you know, the math part was hard.

 She loves meeting teenagers, and is game to speak at your library or school about writing, books, fashion, magazines or pop culture (but, you know, in a smart way). Get in touch to discuss.
Violet on the Runway, Violet by Design and Violet in Private (Penguin), are the books in a trilogy about a small-town girl who is scouted to become a model and finds herself in the middle of the crazy fashion world. Lovestruck Summer (HarperTeen) is a beach read full of indie rock and cowboys. Small Town Sinners (Bloomsbury) is the story of a girl who wants to star in her Evangelical community’s Hell House production.

The Dame's Take :
This is a book about friendship, first love, real love and a summer that brought all those relationships into perspective. It's a " summer love" book with a twist. We see, from the perspective of the main character, Clem, her story of a troubled infatuation with her best friend's boyfriend; and, at the same time, we get to spy on her as she comes to know and develop a healing and loving relationship with a new boy throughout the summer.

The success in this novel comes from the fact that it's not a sappy rendering of the sort it could have been given the somewhat well-travelled story of summer love. The reason for that lies in the very capable hands of Melissa Walker, who gives the book a resonance, and a solid bank of truth to anchor it. I found this little book well worth the read, and a great book to recommend to YAs for the summer.

Without giving away all the particulars, I want to talk about the name of Clem's parent's sail boat, The Possibility, and how this really is the primary focus or key to Walker's story. It is this "possibility" of change; of being taken away from her town and the source of her heartbreak, the possibility of meeting someone new, the possibility of helping others and the possibility of growing in understanding of herself and others, that is the heart of this wonderful novel. This is a girl's coming of age novel, full of wisdom and full of winds of change. It's because of the experiences; the "possibilities" afforded her during the summer that Clem comes to understand what really matters in life and love.

Melissa Walker is a fine writer who has a good deal to say to young adults experiencing complicated relationships. If my daughter were still a teen ager, I would absolutely purchase this book for her for summer reading. It's a treasure of wisdom in a story that's contemporary and hip. While I wouldn't recommend it for older YAs, particularly, I do think children 12-17 would really enjoy and benefit from the story. It's great to read a book that is meant for ordinary, normal teens, too!

Ms Walker writes beautifully, however, this is not particularly a cross over novel. I couldn't recommend it for that. I'm giving the book a

3.5 rating with a strong nod for YA fiction



The Author is giving away a copy of

"Unbreak My Heart !!!"

To win, please:

Follow me on Twitter and Connect with me on the side bar on Google Friends Connect....

Then, leave your email so I can contact you if you win.

US entrants only, please.

Giveaway ends May 31st !!! :]