Here’s how you can help the people of Ukraine : NPR

Feeling useless at this significant world event? Here’s how you can make a difference.

NPR’s list of organizations you can use to help:

This Forbes post also names some organizations:

We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker

This was the library book club read at my local library, and there was an audio book available so I thought I’d try it.

Stats: Published March 2021, 384 pages (hc), audio book – 9 discs narrated by George Newbern.

Blurb: Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released.

Duchess is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess―her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.

A fortysomething-year-old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.

What I liked: It is a great story. The characters – primary and secondary too – are all very real and Whitaker does a great job with the setting, even though he’s never been in Montana or California (he’s from England), though from other reviews I’ve seen, he doesn’t get some English usage correct (which I missed listening to the book). And we really care for this teenager – Dutchess (I wonder why that name). It’s kind of a complex story – lots of pieces and characters in play – which helps make it difficult to figure out who done it. The twist at the end is perfect and resolved perfectly too, since he’s dealing with a teenager. Newberg does a good job with the narration.

What I didn’t like: The writing style can be a bit too choppy and poetic for my taste – feels like he’s trying a bit too hard. When he does it a lot, (and the whole piece isn’t written this way but much of it is) it is a distraction for me rather than adding to the story. Duchess may hang onto her “outlaw” mask a bit long for a teen. But maybe because of her gruff personality, she’s been sheltered from other teens so hasn’t grown out of her persona, maybe. There is also no mention of social media. I find that odd. It isn’t needed for the story, of course, and I’m not exactly sure when this story is supposed to have taken place but if it’s present time, it just seems odd when dealing with a teen. I also don’t understand Duchess running far away, then suddenly she is back home. It made me wonder if I missed a disc (that I was listening to) but I don’t think I did. And maybe I’m dense but I don’t understand the title. Whitaker has Duchess’s grandfather say this to her and even in context I don’t get it.

Rating: 4/5

MLK / Alberta Christine Williams King Day

Here is a great piece on CBS by author Anna Malaika Tubbs – [Link below image] (Anna’s book “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation”)

On MLK Day, We Should Also Remember His Mother Alberta King | Time

Honor Our Vets Every Day

I’m honored to be able to live with, meet, or talk to these wonderful vets or their family. The interactions with the 95th nurses (or their children) was in researching the book (A Burnished Rose) and the TV pilot screenplay for a series about the 95ht nurses – think Band of Brothers but about 95th Evacuation Hospital nurses. You’d be amazed by what they went through. Their story needs to be told!

Author and Illustrator Visit: Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and Pamela Christiansen

Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie has recently published this story for young readers is lovingly illustrated by Pamela Christiansen that will entertain both child and adult alike.

Esseboe and Pam answered a few questions for us.



  1. What is your motivation in creating this book? 

    Night Critters Play is a poem I really love. It is from my earlier book of poems, Ready for your love and other poems.  As a book project, it began eight years ago when I discovered the work of Pamela B. Christiansen. She is a printmaker and art teacher on Bainbridge Island here in the Pacific Northwest. It took Pam several months to illustrate the poem. Then I left it. I revived the project when my partner Michele Plumb Stowell was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In addition to the chock of the news come a sense of powerlessness and death staring you in the face. I decided to revive this one of my book projects in her honor and claim a measure of agency in the situation.
  2. Death has been a major motivation in your writings.

    Yes, it has. I began to write poems seriously in my sophomore year in high school. A brilliant student called Anthony Dzodzoe died during the Christmas holidays. I thought that if he could die as a teenager, then the potential for me to die is always there. Poetry became a tool for me to immortalize myself and my subjects. 
  3. Ready for your love came out in 2004. When are you coming up with a new book of poems?

    I have been engaged in other creative activities since then.  Thirst No More A Fable of Hope and Forgiveness came out in 2017. I have several fiction and nonfiction projects going on. I am also working on a collection of poems that continue to address the problem of death and our human condition. This will be coming out in the next few years.
  4. What will children like about Night Critters Play?

    The book is layered with different meanings and the illustrations have hidden images. Different readers will take different things from it. The hope is that parents and educators will use this as a springboard to introduce children to another way of looking at the natural world. More than anything, Night Critters Play is a meditation on the environment. I also hope that parents and educators will understand the extraordinary skill and energy poured into creating the illustrations and appreciate their depth, beauty, and uniqueness.
  5. Who are the poets that influence your poetry? 

    It’s difficult for me to list all the poets that influence me. I discovered Emily Dickerson in high school. From her, I learned that poetry needs not be complicated to be deep. I studied the John Donne and the metaphysical poets. Charles Baudelaire, considered the consultant poet, has echoes in my writings. I read all the poetry books in the African Writers Series when I was younger so I have all of these influences in my poems in varying degrees.


  1. Tell use about the beautiful illustrations. How did you make them?

    The illustrations are monotypes. Monotyping is a technique that generally yields only one good impression from preparing a plate and running it through a printmaking press one or many times. Monotypes are prized because of their unique textural qualities. They are made by drawing on glass or a smooth plate with printer’s ink.
  2. How long did it take you to do the illustrations?

    Several months
  3. Where else can people find you?

    I illustrated Seasoned with Gratitude, a cookbook, by Kathryn Lafond.  These plates are pen and ink drawings and gouache paintings.

You can pick up this lovely book at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

You can find out more about Esseboe at his website:

CKBooks Publishing
Where Publishing Dreams Become Reality

If I Were You by Lynn Austin


Got this from my mother-in-law, who is a BIG reader. It’s historical fiction, so I thought I’d give it a go.

Stats: Published in 2020, 464 pages for the paperback.

Blurb: 1950. In the wake of the war, Audrey Clarkson leaves her manor house in England for a fresh start in America with her young son. As a widowed war bride, Audrey needs the support of her American in-laws, whom she has never met. But she arrives to find that her longtime friend Eve Dawson has been impersonating her for the past four years. Unraveling this deception will force Audrey and Eve’s secrets–and the complicated history of their friendship–to the surface.

1940. Eve and Audrey have been as different as two friends can be since the day they met at Wellingford Hall, where Eve’s mother served as a lady’s maid for Audrey’s mother. As young women, those differences become a polarizing force . . . until a greater threat–Nazi invasion–reunites them. With London facing relentless bombardment, Audrey and Eve join the fight as ambulance drivers, battling constant danger together. An American stationed in England brings dreams of a brighter future for Audrey, and the collapse of the class system gives Eve hope for a future with Audrey’s brother. But in the wake of devastating loss, both women must make life-altering decisions that will set in motion a web of lies and push them both to the breaking point long after the last bomb has fallen.

What I liked: It is an interesting premise and seems plausible. And do I give too much away when I say it has a happy ending?

What I didn’t like: I have never read anything by Lynn Austin before so I don’t know her writing style, but in general I don’t like stories where the writer tells you the obvious and this book is written in this style. I am also guessing her other books are Christian books, as this one is. I have not read Christian books before and it seems it’s not for me, even though I am a Christian. Not exactly sure why. Maybe because it seems a bit preachy. Not a lot but more then I liked.

Rating: 3/5