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Volume 2 of Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – You Do NOT Want to Miss This
Book Review by Amy Lignor
What began in an unforgettable Volume 1—living Jerry Hall’s story and dealing with the heart-wrenching issues of the Viet Nam* War—continues here. The action of battle, fraught with the unending horrors that the “unwanted veterans” dealt with, grows even more painful. And as war comes closer to an end, what should have been peaceful thoughts of returning home alive are painfully absent.
Jerry Hall experiences moral dilemmas. Although wanting to avenge death, he still feels the weight of the world on his shoulders. Killing sometimes seems too easy; yet for the enemy, warfare has nothing to do with morality. Learning lessons the hard way, the reader is taken out in the rain-soaked landscape every day, at times screaming at Jerry and telling him not to question what’s right, because if he thinks too long the only one zipped in a body bag will be him.
Personal heartbreak unravels at home, as Jerry attempts airstrikes on suspected V.C. camps while thinking of his beloved son going blind. His brain becomes muddled with anger and alcohol as he says farewell to his annoying captain while a new squadron commander comes aboard. Father William offers up humor and friendship, and a new man arrives (referred to as Walrus), and the loyalty that grows between these men keeps the reader engrossed.
Individual war stories are told, as well as visits with the family who are waiting for the day “Daddy” can come back home. Readers learn that the cockpit was Jerry’s sanctuary—a place where he could think while flying above the madness. In fact, he wanted nothing more than to ride out the rest of the war peacefully. He came to understand that certain people down below were a lot like him. Their families, too, had been ripped apart. Destroyed by the foreign occupation, they now stare at craters where rice paddies used to be.
An assignment back to the States arrives, and the slow trickling of his final days add to Jerry’s nightmares. The ending of this memoir is not something you would guess as you begin Volume 1. Changes certainly occurred for Jerry Hall upon returning home. Perhaps the best lesson to take away from this memoir is the fact that we can change for the better. Perhaps it’s the fact that Jerry Hall crossed many lines, yet somehow found the power within himself to cross back over. But whatever the case may be, the downside remains that war has not become obsolete.
*Americans typically write Vietnam as one word. The Vietnamese use two, Viet Nam, when referring to their country. Out of respect, Jerry Hall chose this version.
Nate Parker’s movie has revived the question: What caused Nat Turner’s 1831 uprising? Turner, first of all, was not a deranged misfit who acted outside of a historical context of previous African freedom fighters. Throughout slavery’s duration, resistance was not only constant and fatal, but twofold . . . Africans equally resisted both slavery and Americanization.
Contrary to popular “feel good” versions of history, the “fight against slavery” should not be presumed as a “fight to become American.” For enslaved Africans like Turner, Americanization was the obstacle — not the vehicle — to the freedom they sought.
A largely overlooked factor that forged Africans into Americans was their inability to muster enough weapons to militarily free themselves from Americanization. Along with the 2nd Amendment which allowed Whites to bear arms, slavery was also backed by America’s military, which is why 800 soldiers deployed against Turner. Within this context of warfare (which fomented at least 313 recorded armed uprisings), there is provable evidence that Africans became Americans — not by virtue of winning the Civil War — but by virtue of prior military defeats.
CNN Town Halls won’t discuss this, but numerous captives were already soldiers in Africa beforehand, who like Turner, held deep monotheistic beliefs. Once in America these battle-tested troops launched guerilla forms of warfare whenever possible, using whatever weapons possible, with clear theological convictions that fused spirituality with revolution. Naturally, after being forcibly uprooted 5,000 miles from long-lived kingdoms and cultures, they deemed Euro-Americans as new adversaries, and Americanization was certainly not their goal.
This explains why tens of thousands of Africans militarily fought with the British against America during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Plus, another 100,000 fled or died fleeing to join British forces. Conclusive stats are unknown, but from a sheer combat perspective, the Revolutionary War could be framed as the largest uprising of Africans who ever unified to militarily free themselves from Americanization . . . including Africans reportedly owned by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Despite being defeated, it is still necessary to credit legitimacy to such Africans, beyond distorted narratives that label Turner an “African American” even though men like him sought America’s military downfall. Olaudah Equiano (an Ibo, captured at age 11, who published the first surviving “slave account” in 1789: The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano) wrote, “When you make men slaves, you compel them to live with you in a State of War.” Once freed in 1792, he bolted like lightning to England.
Haiti’s independence (1804) ignited further military motivations. On July 4th, 1804, instead of recognizing US independence, hundreds of Blacks in Philadelphia stormed Independence Hall to live Haitian independence vicariously. Flanked in military formations, they carried swords and attacked Whites for two days, chanting “we will show them [Whites] St. Domingo [bloodshed like Haiti].”
So, by the dawn of his 1831 uprising, Turner was just one cog in a long continuum of such idealists. Other notable military operations involved: Fort Mose in Florida (1738-1763); the Stono Uprising in South Carolina (1739); the German Coast Uprising in Louisiana (1811); Negro Fort in Florida (1815); and David Walker’s Appeal (1828) advocated revolution and religion (even though Walker was more an assimilationist than sovereignist).
Men like Turner also equated themselves to other hemispheric freedom fighters (in nations like Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Columbia) who gained independence . . . including Euro-Americans. For example, before being hanged for their 1800 planned uprising, one of Gabriel Prosser’s soldiers retorted, “I have nothing more to offer than what General [George] Washington would have had to offer, had he been taken by the British and put to trial. I have adventured my life in endeavouring to obtain the liberty of my countrymen, and am a willing sacrifice in their cause.” Translation, he meant, “Bring It: I stand upon universal principles of freedom that — just like you — I will never compromise.”
Interestingly, in a 60 Minutes interview, Nate Parker paralleled Nat Turner to George
Washington in terms of their shared idealisms to “Birth a Nation.” From this perspective, whether you agree or disagree with Turner’s guerilla tactics, his comparative cause to end tyranny was no less honorable than America’s founders.
Tyranny however can be a very peculiar and subjective creature, since “one man’s tyranny can be another man’s liberty.” Hence, George Washington, who enslaved and tyrannized over 300 Africans is deified on Mt. Rushmore as a hero, while conversely, Nat Turner who fought against slavery’s tyranny is demonized as a savage. To this contradiction, James Baldwin once quipped, “In the US, violence and heroism have been made synonymous . . . except when it comes to Blacks.”
PEEP AND EGG: I’M NOT TRICK-OR-TREATING…TWO SIBLING CHICKS, ONE GREAT HALLOWEEN DEBATE
Peep can’t wait for Halloween to start, but the younger Egg has a long list of reasons to wish it would not. In a scene familiar to many families, the prospect of trick-or-treating conjures costumes and candy for some, while others are haunted by thoughts of vampires, mummies, witches and ghosts, real or imagined. Peep and Egg, two delightful sibling characters introduced this spring in Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching, return in Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating, a hilarious, endearing new read-aloud book for young children that may help take the fright right out of Halloween. With a first book that was called, “delightful and right on target,” by Kirkus, and “spot-on” by Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, Author Laura Gehl and Illustrator Joyce Wan have created books that gently offer a way to help children discuss fears. Laura Gehl, who has been doing a lot of school talks to preschool and early elementary students, explained the appeal this way: “Kids can relate to Peep and Egg, and they open up and talk to me about their fears. These range from the fantastical for younger children–like monsters, dinosaurs, and exploding jellyfish; to more realistic fears for older kids, such as fear of strangers, injury or fire. There’s a lot of overlap, including many fears that I hear again and again, such as fear of thunder, spiders, sharks, or moving to a new home. “We then talk about what helps us have the courage to move past our fears. Sometimes kids offer something imaginary, like unicorns, but they also talk about how friends and family can help – or even a beloved stuffed animal. “The fears that come up at school visits are often ones I recognize from raising my own four children, who had all kinds of fears, some of which surprised me at the time with their intensity. It helped when I came to the realization that early childhood can be a very scary time because so much is new and unfamiliar. That’s why, when I talk with adults, I ask them to think about experiences that are new to them – like skydiving or swimming with sharks. Once put that way, it’s easier to understand how the world can look to a young child for whom almost everything is new. “Our next book will be Peep and Egg: I’m Not Taking a Bath,” which addresses one of the most common childhood fears. We hope that giggling through Egg’s list of excuses…too splashy, too fishy, too slobbery…and watching the way clever Peep changes stubborn Egg’s mind, will help take some of the stress out of bath time for little ones.” ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Laura Gehl is the author of several picture books, including One Big Pair of Underwear, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Laura has four children, who all love trick or treating. She and her family live in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Visit her online at www.lauragehl.com. ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Joyce Wan is the author and illustrator of many popular board books, including You Are My Cupcake and We Belong Together. Joyce lives in New Jersey. Visit her online at www.wanart.com. Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating • Written by: Laura Gehl • Illustrated by: Joyce Wan • Ages 2-6 • Macmillan/Farrar, Straus and Giroux • ISBN: 978-0374301224 • $16.99 Hardcover
“Bright and nimble…a solid balance of entertainment and education.” ~ Kirkus Reviews
This new book with CD offers young listeners a musical journey through the different colors of Grammy winner Jennifer Gasoi’s jazzy and world beat music. The colorful picture book, featuring original illustrations by Steve Adams, highlights the history, instruments and unique characteristics of each musical genre along with listening suggestions accompanying each song. Along the way, Gasoi offers readers a chance to create their own sounds, and discover more about the songwriting process itself. Full lyrics are also included in this delightful music-forward title. View the trailer here.
And, coming in November…
Under the Moon: Jazz Standards and Lullabies
The second title in The Secret Mountain’s new collection of jazz-infused music features 13 timeless songs evoking the seasons as recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone and Fats Walker, among others. The music was selected by Misja Fitzgerald Michel, a Paris-based jazz musician, and noted children’s illustrator Ilya Green created the colorful images in the 36-page hardcover book. View the trailer here.
The Secret Mountain offers a varied collection of lavishly illustrated educational storybooks and with music:www.thesecretmountain.com. These two titles for children are newly available this fall:
Blue and Red Make Purple, with text and music by Grammy winning artist Jennifer Gasoi. This book-CD just won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award.
Under the Moon: Jazz Standards and Lullabies by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone… by Paris based musician Misja Fitzgerald Michel, illustrated by Ilya Green. This one is available in US stores on November 1.
The Secret Mountain, celebrating 15 years of publishing music-forward children’s storybooks, also offers a series of thematic popular titles focusing on classical music, including Amazing Water (released in June), Listen to the Birds, Simply Fantastic (both edited and selected by noted music educator Ana Gerhard) and Sleep Softly. The Montreal based publisher’s extensive catalog of award-winning storybooks with music also includes other award-winning titles:Songs from the Baobob (African Lullabies), Dreams Are Made for Children ( jazz standards and lullabies), A Duck in New York City by singer-songwriter Connie Kaldor and Tomorrow Is a Chance To Start Over (Hilary Grist).
Yes Sir, Yes Sir, 3 Bags Full! – A Book That Will Leave You Gasping
Book Review by Amy Lignor
How long does it take for compassion to die? In the case of the Viet Nam* War, little was shown for the “unwanted veterans” from the very beginning. Unlike WWII, and the cheers given to the “beloved” veterans who returned home victorious; the Viet Nam soldiers were not so enamored. And although there are many books written about this particular subject—from the political to the personal—this particular memoir addresses all points. It is a baring of the soul, to be exact, laying the nightmare out for readers to understand.
Not for the faint of heart, Jerry Hall speaks about his personal battles during the Viet Nam War and beyond. In this, Volume 1, readers are introduced to a young man who’d chosen the Air Force when he had to take ROTC upon entering college. We then dive head first into the summer of 1968, when he and his three friends (the “fantastic four” was their title) graduated, ready to fly. The probability for survival, said their instructor, was one in three over in Viet Nam. But their youth and excitement at their accomplishments led them to believe that they were a particular quartet that would end up all still breathing when victory was achieved.
That was the beauty of it all; the initial belief that saving the country would be a good thing and that he and his friends had earned those gold bars that were now pinned to their lapels. Then, however, that shiny gold begins to rust. The young man who began by seeing “the Nam” as a place with “golden beaches leading to a lush jungle,” soon rides down a road with vegetation that’s been completely burned on both sides, so that the “villains” no longer had the ability to sit in ambush. We meet a man he must bunk with who speaks more like the enemy than the American friend. The inner fear is felt when Jerry takes his first solo flight, and everything from the word-for-word account of battles fought to the introduction of Agent Orange that went on to collect numerous victims, is experienced.
Readers will go back and forth—even head to the beautiful Washington State for prison camp survival training. Fights with higher ranking officers; brawls in pubs; a man named Father William who readers will come to love; cease fires that were most definitely not ceased; and the flow of liquor running faster as friends are taken out are faced.
There are no apologies given in this memoir. Readers will not wonder, after watching the pain and darkness that was constantly stored away in Jerry Hall’s mind, why a person would have to fight to keep their morals in this situation. It is almost hard to believe that someone would even fight for their own mortality while stuck in this hell, and not just decide to end it once and for all.
What Mr. Hall must do when he returns home to a country that barely, if ever, accepted the people they trained to kill, is find a way to climb out of the bitterness, liquor bottles, and the overall horror he refers to as a vortex, in order to fight for the only one who deserves his attention: himself.
Volume 1 is filled with pages that slap you upside the head as Mr. Hall delivers his story without editing out one second of humor, trauma, or absolute reality that he had to deal with.
*Americans typically write Vietnam as one word. The Vietnamese use two, Viet Nam, when referring to their country. Out of respect, Jerry Hall chose this version.
The American-born daughter of Jamaican immigrant parents, Sandra L. Richards is the author of “Rice & Rocks.” She hopes that her debut picture book will serve as an educational resource for families seeking to teach their children the value of their heritage and the importance of cultural diversity.
Sandra completed both her undergraduate and graduate studies at Seton Hall University, and is the Executive Director, Head of Diverse and Multicultural Marketing, Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. Learn more about Sandra at www.sandralrichards.com.
Kam Williams: Hi Sandra. Congratulations on “Rice & Rocks.”
Sandra L. Richards: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.
KW: What inspired you to write the book?
SLR: The inspiration for “Rice & Rocks” came from my family in two parts. One, my parents are from Jamaica and immigrated to the USA with the hopes to give their children a chance of growing up with greater opportunities. However, it was important to them that we were raised with a sense of pride of our culture and traditions, and food was certainly at the center of that, especially Sunday dinners!The second source of inspiration stemmed from a heartbreak. In 2007, I lost my 8-year old nephew Giovanni to meningitis. That loss left a hole in the heart of our entire family. Over the years, I thought long and hard about a way to help keep his memory alive. Of course, we had pictures of the time we spent together, but that just didn’t seem to be enough. As I would replay moments of our time together in my mind, I kept finding myself thinking back to conversations we had over the years, and I fondly remembered one conversation in particular which had to do with food and culture. Giovanni was a very imaginative child and decided he wouldn’t eat his grandma’s rice and beans because the beans looked like rocks to him. That casual conversation ultimately led to the me writing “Rice & Rocks,” a children’s picture book in my nephew’s memory.
KW: What message do you want kids to take away from the tale?
SLR: While memorializing Giovanni was the original intent of “Rice & Rocks,” it was designed to do much more. “Rice & Rocks” is also a story that teaches kids about cultural diversity and the importance of learning about their own heritages. I think it is important for children to have knowledge about their culture and heritage as it will give them a sense of self, pride and ownership of their own story. How powerful would that be for a child to have that gift, a foundation for them to stand on, being able to identify who they are for themselves and not letting someone define it for them?
KW: Where did you come up with the idea of Jasper, a talking parrot from the Congo?
SLR: Giovanni actually owned a bird. He loved birds! In this story, I created Jasper, a parrot from the Congo, as a way to acknowledge Africa in the story. Jasper is quite a character and kids that read the story love him! I hope that will pique their curiosity to learn more about him and, ultimately, more about Africa.
KW: How did you settle on the dialogue, given that it it’s a mix of child, adult and animal chatter?
SLR: Here is the funny truth. We grew up with animals in our family as pets: dogs, cats, birds and fish. We would all talk to them, and engage them in our conversations. So, for me and perhaps every other pet lover out there, it is normal to talk to your pets. They understand and respond in their own way. It was pretty easy to weave Jasper into the dialogue, because, after all, he is a parrot which is known to have a vocabulary of up to 600 words. My two dogs, Skye and Honey, appear in “Rice & Rocks” too and, while they don’t have a speaking part, they are very expressive in the book!
KW: What’s your target audience?
SLR: “Rice & Rocks” is geared towards children ages 5-9. But, to be honest, I have had adults tell me they love reading picture books. I am in that category, too! I would say for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents, there is something for you in this story to share with a child in your life, whether it be talking about your family roots and traditions, to opening your child’s mind to exploring new foods, to embracing the saying ‘It takes a village’ when needing help in raising future culturally-aware citizens of the world. For teachers, “Rice & Rocks” would be a great addition to their curriculum, as there is growing interest in talking about diversity and inclusion in the schools.
KW: Tell me a little about the book’s illustrator, Megan Kayleigh Sullivan.
SLR: In short, Megan is brilliant! She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design in 2012 with a degree in illustration. I enjoyed working with Megan, alongside our wonderful art director. I had a front row seat, watching the story come to life sketch by sketch, page by page. What I loved most about working with Megan was her attention to detail and asking questions about my family early on, outside of the story, that would help capture the essence of not only Giovanni, but also Auntie, Grandma and other family members.
KW: Any plans to write a series of books about Giovanni?
SLR: Yes, there are plans to write more stories about Giovanni and Jasper while also introducing a few more characters along the way.
KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?
KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
SLR: I can still remember it now like it was yesterday, the first time I went to Jamaica. I was 8-years old. I loved it! It was beautiful! I met my maternal and paternal grandmothers for the first time, and they taught me how to cook. There is a road not too far from my grandmother’s house, Holland Bamboo. It looked so regal, as though you are driving to a majestic palace. As a child, when we got close to the road, I would get excited because I knew it was only a matter of minutes until the fun begins. But I would also be sad when it was time to leave, looking out of back window as Holland Bamboo would appear further and further away. Today, I will gladly admit that those same feelings creep in when I see Holland Bamboo.
KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
SLR:This immediately plays in my head, when you ask me this question: “We have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in His holy word. He never failed me yet.” I was blessed to have a godfather who was a Bishop of a church in Hempstead, New York. My brothers and sister, along with my cousins, were in his church every Sunday as kids. We were in Sunday school, the church choir, and we were there for every church revival. My mother and father had such a deep faith in God, and that set a huge example for me.
KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you’ve learned so far?
SLR: Discernment. There is something that my mother would say when things happen; good, bad or indifferent: “Everything happens for a wise purpose.” This goes back to the spiritual component of my life that has developed and evolved over time. It is human nature to question things that occur, certainly if you feel like it puts you at a disadvantage or hurts your feelings. When I begin to question those things, I replay my mother’s words, sit in silence and ask myself the honest and sometimes tough questions. What is the purpose? What lesson am I supposed to learn? What role did I play in this? If it is necessary for me to act, this exercise allows me to address things with courage, humility and grace.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
SLR: I love to cook curry shrimp with vegetables and fried plantains with Basmati rice. Kam, I have been told that my dish is delicious and nutritious. Do you remember that line from Brown Sugar?
KW: Yep! When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
SLR: I see a harmonious blend of my mother and father, and I am a reflection of their love.
KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
SLR: My heart would be so full if I could have one more Sunday dinner with my mom, dad and Giovanni.
KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
SLR: Scratch offs!
KW: Thanks for the time, Sandra, and best of luck with the book.
SLR: Thank you so much, Kam! I am honored to have spent this time with you.
Scholastic Announces Sales of More Than 3.3 Million Copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two
New York, NY (August 10, 2016) — Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two script book, the eighth Harry Potter story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, published in the U.S. and Canada by Scholastic has sold more than 3.3 million copies in North America to date.
Scholastic announced a first printing of 4.5 million copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two script book, and retailers reported fast-paced, record-breaking pre-sales leading up to the release date with over 2 million copies sold in the first two days alone. The script book went straight to #1 on USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.
“We are delighted to see the sustained enthusiasm for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two which has also sparked more interest in the seven previously published Harry Potter books,” said Ellie Berger, President, Scholastic Trade.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, a play by Jack Thorne based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, premiered at The Palace Theatre in London’s West End on July 30, 2016 and received rave 5 star reviews. At 12:01 a.m. ET on July 31, Scholastic released the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two script book (ISBN 978-1-338-09913-3; All Ages), in print in the U.S. and Canada. This Special Rehearsal Edition contains the complete script, including stage directions, used by the original West End production during the play’s preview period.
About the Play
On August 4, 2016 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child producers Sonia Friedman, Colin Callender and Harry Potter Theatrical Productions released 250,000 new tickets for sale taking bookings at the Palace Theatre through to December 10, 2017. These tickets sold out on the day however, returned tickets and other late release tickets will become available daily. A new booking period will be announced later this year for performances beginning December 13, 2017. www.harrypottertheplay.com/ticket-information
The first seven Harry Potter books, published by Scholastic in the U.S. between 1998 and 2007, have sold more than 160 million copies in the U.S., over 450 million copies worldwide, and are distributed in more than 200 territories, translated into 79 languages, and have been turned into eight blockbuster films.
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, a leading provider of print and digital instructional materials for pre-K to grade 12, and a producer of educational and entertaining children’s media. The Company creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning programs, classroom magazines and other products that, in combination, offer schools customized solutions to support children’s learning both at school and at home. The Company also makes quality, affordable books available to all children through school-based book clubs and book fairs. With a 96 year history of service to schools and families, Scholastic continues to carry out its commitment to “Open a World of Possible” for all children. Learn more at www.scholastic.com.
“By way of introduction, I’m a Baptist Methodist Pentecostal Evangelical non-denominational retired pastor, retired newspaper editor, former minister of music, former fingerprint technician, wife of 47 years, mother of four, grandmother of five, great-grandmother of one.
I began reading the Bible at four and soon after preached my first sermon… I believe, if we can think of prayer as relationship transaction rather than requests submitted, answers received, yes or no; if we can embrace that prayer begins with the Lord and pulls us in, then we can relax and let Him do His thing…
In this book, we’ll embrace the reality of our relationship, acknowledging that God always hears us when we pray… There’s not much more precious than the feeling of being heard. I could never have made it without knowing God has my back and I have God’s ear.
And I want everyone who wants it to have a similar expectation. I’m in a sweet spot on the journey and understand the journey is the prize rather than episodic outcomes that match my will. That’s all.”
— Excerpted from the Introduction (pages x-xii)
Do you believe in the power of prayer? If you are a person of faith, you might appreciate the case eloquently made for precisely that proposition in this enlightening opus by Reverend Dorothy Scott Boulware. The author has been preaching practically her entire life, having started at the age of four when she surprised her family with her first sermon.
“How can you say you love God who you haven’t seen and hate your brother who you see every day?” she asked back then. “You’re a liar and the truth ain’t in you.”And the precocious youngster matured into a sage sister who’s been selflessly ministering to anybody who would who listen ever since.
And in her new opus, “Keep Walking in Prayer… Until You Can’t Come Back,” Reverend Boulware
shares plenty of insightful pearls of wisdom she’s accumulated over the years. The title was ostensibly inspired by Genesis 5:23-24, a Biblical passage about how Enoch (Methusaleh’s father) maintained a constant companionship with the Lord.
The book basically consists of a mix of the author’s personal anecdotes and testimonies from folks she has interacted with in the course of living a life well lived. Perhaps its most poignant entry involves a heartfelt remembrance of “The Day God Showed Up” to help Reverend Boulware’s homeless son who was on trial despite having been the victim of stabbing. Against seemingly-insurmountable odds, he prevailed in court with the help of a very well-prepared public defender.
Overall, this passionate how-to memoir has a moving message which might be best communicated by this quote: “While we don’t have the power to control outcomes… we do get to rest in the assurance that we are always and forever heard whenever we communicate with the Father.” Can I get an Amen?
A Stunning Trilogy Comes to an End in Envoy of Jerusalem
Book Review by Amy Lignor
A historical trilogy needs a great deal of substance. When it comes to this writer, Author Helena P. Schrader, and her work, this particular reviewer once stated that for a trilogy comprised of very large books, a writer needs to pick a subject that will entrance, excite, and lure readers so deeply, so emotionally, that they never want to stop reading. Helena P. Schrader has done just that throughout this entire ride. And now…the grand finale. Beginning in “Knight of Jerusalem” and continuing in “Defender of Jerusalem,” this is one of the best historical series ever written.
Readers have walked through the confusing, romantic and amazing time of the Crusades, meeting both valiant characters and others whose souls were as dark as night. Everybody had a plan back then, and would do anything to achieve it. In the last book, readers watched Jerusalem under siege by the Kurdish leader, the sultan of Egypt and Damascus, Salah ad-Din Yusuf. He wormed his way through life and combined two forces, Shiite Egypt and Sunnite Syria, into one major force that went against the Christians. King Baldwin IV was fighting leprosy all his life, yet had to find his strength and prepare for battle. And main character, Balian d’Ibelin, was still the lone source of loyalty to the king.
Now, in “Envoy of Jerusalem,” the Christian city of Jerusalem is solidly in the hands of Salah ad-Din. With his takeover, the people who are poor and cannot pay a ransom for their freedom are being sold into slavery. In Tyre, in October of 1187, Balian and his wife, Maria, are among the sufferers. It does seem as if the Holy Land is gone, but Balian’s heroic belief and strength has him taking it upon himself to try and negotiate the freedom of the Christians still left in the city.
There is hope. Of course, with hope comes more battles. Beloved man and warrior of many, Richard the Lionheart, now graces the scene with his army and takes his leap into “legendary” status. He takes center stage, leading the fight to reclaim the Holy Land. All through the battles Balian becomes the ultimate mediator, seeing the hope yet also dealing with the horrors that come as the French and English people, as well as the Christian and Muslim ideas clash.
A very detailed drama full of historical truths intertwined with a fantastically written tale, Balian solidifies himself as a marvelous character; one that was able to challenge all the supposed heroes and villains of his time as he married a dowager queen and brought about an astounding dynasty.
Begin at the beginning, however. Not because this is ‘too’ confusing to be a standalone, but because every page of this series will inspire a reader to move through the battles, lay eyes on these crusader kingdoms, and cheer for a man whose name could not compete with those in high places, yet one who owned the strongest will you can possibly imagine.
In the end, the zest this author has for her subject is dramatic, intense and something that will never be forgotten!
New Mystery, Double Talk by Sherban Young, Makes You Laugh Out Loud!
Book Review by Amy Lignor
For those who have not yet had the good fortune to pick up a Sherban Young mystery, now is the time to do so! Let’s just say that once you begin reading this title, you will immediately run to the library and/or Amazon and get all the rest.
A character with his own series, Warren Kingsley, is back. Warren, a man who has the face and physique of a god (and the ego to match), also owns the abilities to brood, ignore others, and know deep in his heart that he really is the “best of the best” in most areas. An ex-bodyguard, he is now the speechwriter for the Mayor of Kilobyte.
In Kilobyte the residents are truly multifaceted; they can never have just “one” career. Even Mayor Frederick Abbott is not content with just being a public servant. He also owns a baseball team, he’s a restaurateur, and has his hands (and money) in half of the other companies in town.
Frederick Abbott was bedazzled by Warren Kingsley when they first met. He saw a very handsome man who could easily nab the female vote right away. Warren stole the mayor’s speech off a table and basically edited out most of it. Without looking up his background, the mayor hired this man…not realizing at the time that he’d just employed a speechwriter who believed everyone spoke way too much.
Mayor Abbott is also married to a much younger, prettier wife who has the acting ability of Streep or Loren. She can turn on the frightened waterworks when need be, flutter her eyelashes and show adoration to her ‘old’ husband, and then turn on a dime and be caught in a pool house with a young dog groomer and a completely believable excuse for the whole thing.
An old acquaintance of Kingsley’s, John Hathaway, walks into Kilobyte one day with his own agenda. Apparently, Hathaway is the only ex-client of Kingsley’s who’s still alive. Trying to get information about the town and its people from his old bodyguard is basically impossible, but Hathaway is there to do a little “detecting” and won’t go away until his own job is complete.
Very soon, strange packages show up for various workers at the Municipal Building and a paid assassin takes a shot at the mayor in his office. The mayor, thinking on his feet, throws both a dog toy and a much heavier bust at the killer, saving his own life. But the assassin escapes and vows to do the job they were hired for. A press secretary ends up murdered, the cops go on the hunt (led by very cool Sheriff Jenny Blake), and suspects come out of the proverbial woodwork.
Yes, it might be even more thrilling and funny if you began the Warren Kingsley series with book one: “Five Star Detour,” but this is definitely a standalone that readers will enjoy without knowing any of the Kingsley backstory. This author, with his intelligent words, will make you wish that he would actually become the speechwriter for someone in this very real election year. That way, at least something would be funny.
Author Sherban Young continues to gift fans with fantastic mysteries that make you laugh out loud.