A Compelling Look at Firefighting and Inner-City Culture #Thursday Book Feature

Beneath the Flames

by Gregory Lee Renz

Copyright 2019

 

Mitch is a farmer and a volunteer firefighter in a rural Wisconsin town. After a devastating fire, he falls into a deep depression, harboring guilt that he didn’t do more to save a child who died in the flames. Then 9/11 happens. After seeing news reports about heroics of firefighters at Ground Zero in New York City, he decides to leave his family’s farm and become a firefighter in Milwaukee.

After a grueling training process and being assigned to an inner-city district, he becomes embroiled in the culture of poverty, drugs, and gang violence. When he’s not fighting fires and socializing with new friends, he tutors inner-city children who come to the fire station every day and helps out at a nearby school. After his father suffers a debilitating stroke, Mitch must decide between continuing to work in Milwaukee or returning to the farm.

As a retired fire captain, Gregory Lee Renz uses his experiences to craft a compelling, yet satisfying story of loss and renewal that shuttles readers from a rural farm to an inner-city firehouse and places in between. From the first page, I was riveted. I usually don’t like violence in books, but throughout this story, I had a feeling things would work out. I like the way the author starts and ends with a fire. Reading this book not only gave me more of a perspective on firefighting, but it also made me grateful that the problems I face on a day-to-day basis are nothing compared to living in an inner-city or on a farm that’s about to be foreclosed.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Memoir Offers Escape to Childhood Innocence #Thursday Book Feature

I Love You, Miss Huddleston: And Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood

by Philip Gulley

 

With a lot of humor, this author’s memoir talks about his life growing up in the 1960-s and 70’s. Born the son of a bug spray salesman, he starts by talking about his childhood, sharing memories of how he delivered newspapers, did extra trick-or-treating around Halloween, created home-made bombs from his father’s bug spray collection, and engaged in other antics with his friends. He also explains how he fell in love with his sixth grade teacher, hence the title.

After that, he describes his adolescent years: how he worked for the Youth Conservation Corps, then as a stock boy in a grocery store, and other jobs. Having been raised a Catholic, he discusses his experiences with and ideas about religion. He describes how he met and married his future wife and touches on how he became a Quaker minister.

I was born a couple of years after Mr. Gulley. So, some of his stories brought back memories of my own. I remember story math problems involving trains that I could never solve and how much I hated showering naked in front of others after gym class. Of course, I never engaged in any of Mr. Gulley’s antics, but I wouldn’t have put it past my brother to have done so. In a world of violence, corruption, and hatred, this book offers an escape back to a time when the only thing you had to worry about was what would happen when you told your teacher your dog ate your homework.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Essays Offer Glimpse of Life as Blind Parent #Thursday Book Feature

Daddy Won’t Let Mom Drive the Car: True Tales of Parenting in the Dark

By Jo Elizabeth Pinto

Copyright 2019.

 

In this collection of short pieces, the author describes what it’s like to be a blind parent to a sighted child. The title was inspired by her daughter’s response when a teacher asked her what it’s like to have a blind mother.

She talks about little cooking mistakes she made like using apple sauce instead of spaghetti sauce. She explains how she educated her daughter’s classmates and others about her blindness. She discusses cooking, gardening, and doing art projects with her daughter and provides recipes and craft ideas. She reflects on school violence after her daughter endured lock-down drills in elementary school and actually became involved in “the real thing.”

Even though I’m not a parent, I enjoyed reading this book because it brought back memories from when I was a visually impaired child and when I was a visually impaired adult married to my totally blind husband Bill. The author’s cooking disasters reminded me of the time Bill, before his strokes, put what he thought were muffins in the oven, and they turned out to be fully cooked sausages. The scene where the author fell and her daughter chastised a  passer-by for laughing instead of stopping to help reminded me of how my younger brother, when we were kids, said to other children, “Stop staring at my sister.”

As a caregiver to my late husband, I could relate to her feelings of inadequacy and fear of being turned in for neglect or abuse. I loved the last piece in which she explains how she accidentally put garlic instead of sprinkles on her daughter’s ice cream sundae. It was a great way to end the collection with humor.

Some people, especially those in the social work industry, are under the misconception that blind people cannot be parents. As a result, blind parents have been forced to fight for their children after giving birth. This book should be required reading for anyone training in social work and other professions that require working with disabled people on a regular basis.

In fact, everybody should read this book. You never know when you will encounter a blind parent. Before you shove them aside in a grocery store, laugh at them because they’ve fallen on the ice, or call the Department of Family Services because you think they can’t cope, read this book and realize that blind parents are no different from sighted ones.

 

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

***

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Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered #Thursday Book Feature

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Harris and Me: A Summer Remembered

by Gary Paulsen

Copyright 1993.

 

In the 1950’s, a boy, living in the city, is sent by his alcoholic parents to spend a summer with his uncle, aunt, and cousins on their farm. While there, he survives many misadventures such as being kicked by a cow and attacked by a rooster. He also learns about milking cows, feeding chickens, and other tasks associated with farming. He feels at home for the first time in who knows how long.

This book is written for grades 6-9, but it can be enjoyed by older readers. I wouldn’t have read it, though, except that it was selected by my regional talking book library’s book discussion group.

I’m glad I picked it up. In a way, it’s a modernized version of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series. I enjoyed escaping to the farm and laughing at all the humorous situations into which the young characters got themselves.

 

Coming Soon: The Red Dress, a Novel

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

Synopsis of The Red Dress

A novel by Abbie Johnson Taylor

 

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

 

My Other Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to purchase My Ideal Partner from Smashwords absolutely free!

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

Thursday Book Feature–The Star-Spangled Banner: Cornerstones of Freedom

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.I can’t think of a better way to commemorate Independence Day than to re-blog a book review I posted here last year. Not only do I discuss a  book about the creation of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but I also sing the song. Enjoy, and have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

via Thursday Book Feature–The Star-Spangled Banner: Cornerstones of Freedom

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

Piss Call

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Yesterday, I returned home from Florida, where I had a great time with my brother and his family. I traveled mostly in airplanes equipped with restrooms, but here’s a post about having to stop and use the facilities while traveling. Enjoy!

via Piss Call

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

My Battery-Operated Phone

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.I was reading through some inspirational quotes when one of them struck my fancy. “You can’t see it now, but the thing you didn’t get will someday be the best thing you never had. Let it go. Better is coming.” — Mandy Hale

When I was about eight or nine, one of my friends had a battery-operated toy phone system. A phone was in her room, and a phone was in her brother’s room, so they could communicate that way. I wanted the same gadget for Christmas that year, so I could communicate with my younger brother in similar fashion. Never mind that he was only three. As you can imagine, Santa didn’t bring me what I wanted.

Now, as an adult, like many others, I own a battery-operated cell phone. Unlike my friend with the toy phone long ago, I can talk to anyone, not just my younger brother. This is just as well, since most of my calls to him go to voicemail, and he rarely calls me. So, that battery-operated phone system I wanted was the best thing I never had, and I have something better.

How about you? Can you think of something you wanted when you were a child that you never got? Do you think now that it’s the best thing you never had?

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

Visit my website.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

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