Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Book Spotlight: Dodging Satan by Kathleen McCormick


In this humorous coming-of-age story, Bridget Flagherty, a student at St. Michael’s Catholic school outside Boston in the 60s and 70s, takes refuge in her wacky misunderstandings of Bible Stories and Catholic beliefs to avoid the problems of her Irish/Italian family life. Her musings on sadistic nuns, domestic violence, emerging sexuality, and God the Father’s romantic life will delight readers. 

Bridget creates glorious supernatural worlds—with exorcisms, bird relics, Virgin Martyrs, time travel, Biblical plagues, even the ‘holy’ in holy water—to cope with a family where leather handbags and even garlic can cause explosions. 

An avid Bible reader who innocently believes everything the nuns tell her, Bridget’s saints, martyrs, and boney Christs become alive and audible within her. While the nuns chide her sinful ‘mathematical pride’ and slow eating habits, God answers her prayers instantly by day, but the devil visits nightly in the dark. Scenes run the gamut from laugh-out-loud Catholic brainwashing of children, to heart-wrenching abuse, to riveting teenage excursions toward sex. 

Young Bridget tries to make sense of a world of raging men and domestically subjugated women and carve a future for herself, wrestling with how God and men treat women. Her Italian female relatives—glamorous Santa Anna, black-and-blue Aunt Maria, sophisticated Eleanor with a New York ‘Fellini pageboy’—offer sensual alternatives to the repression of her immediate family. She prays fervently that “despite God’s bizarre treatment of married women... some [girls] might still discover ways to have a great time without being a nun.” 

Dodging Satan is the flip-side of l'Histoire d'une Âme by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux authored by a twentieth century American girl chomping on a blue-gum cigar while she talks to a confidant about God and sex.


Kathleen Zamboni McCormick is a writer who lives in Purchase, New York with her husband and their demanding cat. She is the mother of one boy, step-mother of two, and loves all her guys whose roles in the arts deeply inspire her. She grew up in Cambridge, MA, in a tense Irish/Italian Catholic family whose contradictions were both hilarious (in retrospect) and frightening and were raw material for Dodging Satan.

Dodging Satan has most recently won an award as an International Book Awards Finalist (2018).

It's also won Gold in Humor from Foreword Reviews, and a bronze medal in the 2017 Illumination Book Awards in the category of Catholic books. Kathy is quite thrilled since Pope Francis won the gold medal! The book won two 2016 EVVY Awards from the International Colorado Independent Publishers Association: a gold medal in Religion & Spirituality and a silver medal in Humor. Most recently, Dodging Satan won a Bronze Medal in Humor from ELit Awards, and has just been selected as a Foreword Review finalist in the categories of Humor and Religion. It was long listed for the 2016 Book Viral Millennium Book Awards and a Runner up for Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book.

The book has been in the top 10 of its Kindle category in July and December of 2016.

Reviewers are finding Dodging Satan to be both humorous and poignant. Josephine Hendin (Heart Breakers: Women and Violence in Contemporary Culture and Literature) says that Dodging Satan "outdoes Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood in its wit, intelligence and irresistible mixture of realism and charm. It is simply a joy to read." Edvige Giunta (Writing with an Accent and co-editor of Personal Effects) writes: "There's magic in this world--and while we are charmed by its glow, we are also repeatedly unsettled by the darkness behind that glow. We follow Bridget with trepidation, captivated by her vulnerability and her fierceness." Michael P. Carroll (Catholic Cults and Devotions and many other studies of popular Catholicism) comments that "this playful but gripping coming of age tale draws upon a mishmash of Catholic popular culture to create outrageous narratives that helps the narrator to make sense of it all (God the Father pissed off at married women because Eve chose Adam over Him? Priceless!) Women who didn't have access to the Catholic Imagination while growing up will be jealous."

Kathy's a professor of Literature at SUNY Purchase, and says that "writing and teaching writing are deep rhythms in my life. I am in awe at how writing enables my students, and me, to grow, to make sense of the paths we have chosen, will choose, or those we just find ourselves on." Kathy loves the revision process--whether she's revising her own work or helping her students embrace the process themselves. "I have always loved to write, but had expected my work to be confined to the academic," despite the fact that for years, friends and family had admired her story-telling abilities. 

But her move to Purchase College in 2000 took her in a new direction. "Purchase College's unique arts-saturated atmosphere changed my life," she states, "and encouraged me to creatively explore my Irish-Italian Catholic childhood" which rapidly became the subject of over twenty personal essays and stories. "Part of the real thrill of writing," she smiles, "whether it's creative or academic--is that you can never predict exactly where your characters, or your argument, will end up. Of course you plan, but in the process of writing, everything gets a lot more interesting than you imagined....Writing is what Lou Reed calls the 'beginning of a great adventure.'" 

In addition to her writing and teaching, she loves going to the theater, frequently spends time England and the other Cambridge and is interested in all things British from Shakespeare to the Guardian to the Cambridge Evening News to her favorite contemporary writer, Ali Smith, who also lives in Cambridge. She finds pleasure in arts & crafts, sewing, knitting, crewel work, and embroidery. She claims that "if I weren't a writer and an academic, I'd have become a weaver. The pleasure I take in fabrics is something that certainly comes through in Dodging Satan. The weaver in me I hope is also evident in the ways in which I write digressively and then work every detail back into the main fabric of the story."

Please contact Kathy on her webpage KathleenZMcCormick.com if you are interested in having her do a reading at your school or be part of a bookclub discussion.


Dodging Satan by Kathleen McCormick
Starts out with praise for the book, table of contents and then the story begins.
Story of a girl growing up Catholic and she's got roots from Italy and Ireland. I remember the cards she spoke of as I also collected them when given to me from the nuns that were teaching us from K through grade 7.
The girl grows up thinking Satan is under her bed and she gets her mom to sprinkle things around to scare them off.
She really has a philosophic opinions about the virgin Mother of Jesus and the nuns don't like how she portrays her. I myself thought she's really obsessed about her, her clothing, her paintings done elsewhere and how she'd never be able to spank Jesus.
Some of the scenes I found funny and some remind me of things that either we did as kids or the cousins did.
Acknowledgments and why the author wrote the book.
I received this review copy from the author via the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Movies watched Jan to Jul 2019

 movies watched:
Jan - Jun 2019
What Still Remains
Gun City
uncle drew
geo storm
Viking Destiny
Fascinating beasts
I Am Vengence
The Highway Men
Triple Frontier
Frontier season 2
The last kingdom
the buffalo boys
at first light
Last Laugh
The Protector
Robin Hood
marvel runaways
tag you're it
tyler perry boo 2
Daddy's home 2
Robin Hood
Paddington Bear
101 Dalmations
aces and eights
Madea's family funeral
Game of Thones
Robin Hood
The Sisters Brothers

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Book Spotlight: The Ultimate Religion by Gillian Dance


The Ultimate Religion is an exploration of a fundamentalist church, its members and their interpretation of the bible, via the story of one woman. This book will resonate in particular with those who have experience of such 'churches' or who wish to understand the mentality of people who lead and join such organisations. This is a fairly lengthy novel, inspired by real-life events, recounting true sentiments and experiences. The story follows the child, Megan, through a tumultuous upbringing and early religious experiences, into adulthood and the point when she falls into the company of a fundamentalist Christian group and becomes embroiled in their contradictory world of genuine miracles, fun and love; coupled with religious fanaticism, gross sexism and social control. With an open approach to some difficult topics, such as abuse, terminal illness and gender roles, some content may be contentious or painful to read. Eye-opening biblical scriptures are quoted to illustrate the basis for some of the characters' beliefs. This is a story of the making and breaking of precious friendships, of one woman's desire to find and understand her place in the world, healing for her past and a sense of self and purpose; and the price of that quest. Megan finds faith, loses it and rediscovers it, while experiencing the duality of others and eventually discovering the true source of miracles.


Gillian Dance is the author of The Ultimate Religion, as well as various short stories, and is currently working on her second novel. Gillian studied English Literature and Linguistics and works from home as a copy editor and ghostwriter.

Gillian's hobbit-hole is in Devon, England, which she shares with her husband and various pets. As well as writing, she reads voraciously, loves philosophy, and frequently takes long country walks to watch wildlife.

You can find The Ultimate Religion at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4...


The Ultimate Religion by Gillian Dance
Starts out with the girls and their mother has just walked out the door and their lives. Their father does not even seem to realize they are there still.
They are put into foster homes and Megan ends up at the grandparents. After they die she's moved back to her father's care til she is old enough to move, get a job and her own place.
She has come into contact with others who discuss religion. Her older sister used to take her to church and also to parties but she's now married with children of her own-too busy for her any longer.
She finds companionship with the new church, they don't have sermons but a meeting at others houses.
Like the quotes from the bible, scriptures and passages as they relate to things going on, really helps explain things that they are thinking and acting on. My problem is there are way too many quotes from the Bible, just wanted the story.
Love all the travel locations and how they are welcomed.
Amazing just one event leads others to leave the revival and Megan thinks twice about marriage into the religion...
I received this review copy from the author via the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

Blog Spotlight: Africa's Child by Maria Nhambu


From the Foreword by Marian Wright Edelman 

Africa’s Child is an unforgettable and searingly personal book….In the face of repeated obstacles and injustices, Nhambu continued to analyze the world around her with wit and a sharp sense of humor. Above all, as a very young child she decided one day that even if there was no other person in the world who loved and wanted her, she was going to love and care for herself—and that decision changed the course of her life. 

Africa’s Child is the story of a mixed-race girl growing up in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania, East Africa. Raised in an orphanage with no knowledge of her origins or family, she endured abandonment, hardships, severe illnesses, and bullying. Her experiences as a child and teenager included physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, social stigma, and racial discrimination. 
Yet Nhambu tells her inspiring story with warmth and humor. Her questioning mind probes the African tribal realities and multi-cultural complexities that impacted her life both at the orphanage and schools run by German nuns as well as at an African high school with American nuns. 
Nhambu not only survived her childhood but triumphed. Her faith and resilience, along with a belief in learning and her tenacious pursuit of an education, sustained her through many challenges. Dance, especially African tribal dance, became the way she healed and nourished her spirit. 
Through the love and commitment of an American teacher she met in Africa, Nhambu was able to pursue her dream of education and a new life for herself. The first book in her three-part memoir ends as she is leaving Africa for university studies in America on a full scholarship. 
Maria Nhambu is the creator of Aerobics With Soul®, a fitness workout based on African dance. 


Maria Nhambu was raised by German catholic nuns at an orphanage for mixed race children in Tanzania, East Africa. Dancing Soul Trilogy, her Memoirs, begins with Africa's Child, which tells her dramatic story from birth to her departure from her homeland. America's Daughter continues her story when she arrived in America with her adoptive mother. In Drum Beats, Heart Beats the final volume of the trilogy, we join her as she traverses diverse cultures and continents and negotiates a complex and shifting web of mixed identities--African immigrant and African American.

She's the creator of Aerobics With Soul®, a popular fitness program based on African dance. Maria has made sharing her love of Africa and its culture and rhythms the focus of her life.


Africa's Child by Maria Nhambu
Starts with praise for the book and a bit about the book and how a child comes of age in Africa.
Frightening and terrifying moments as the child grows up guided by the German nuns. She is able to form some relationships with other girls and she has a special friend.
She learns many things about becoming a woman and she fears she will never have a child because she thinks nuns sewed her up. Moments of learning other intimate details are described.
Hate the bullying and all the diseases she gets in her childhood. Some things I can relate to but growing up in the US is so different. She goes through things I will never have to endure. She is so strong and brave.
Love how she thinks she was born along with other orphans. She hopes one day to meet up with her mother...
She really wants to continue her schooling so she can become a teacher herself.
Love choices she is given and the understanding of the ones not chosen. Like hearing of her other works after this book took place and about the author is also included at the end.
Very touching emotional story. Love how music and dance plays a huge part to her success.
I received this review copy from the author via the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

Book Spotlight: Heart of a Warrior Angel: From Darkness to Light by Lali A. Love


Award winning Author Lali A. Love provides a supernatural thriller of metaphysical and visionary fantasy with her own revolutionary philosophy and unique narrative skills to produce this emotionally invoking, heart-wrenching and gripping tale of a family's rise from poverty, oppression and abuse. 
Lilac Noble must face the traumatic experiences of her childhood before she can conquer the dark entities that have wreaked havoc on her family. On this epic journey, Lilac undergoes the destructive process of spiritual enlightenment in order to lift the veil of darkness and shame that has obscured her youth. As Lilac unlocks painful memories of abuse, suppressed in her subconscious from years of fear-based conditioning, she uncovers menacing secrets feeding the evil within her generational bloodline. In an attempt to vanquish the sinister energies, Lilac finds the courage to discover her inner truth, vulnerability, and authenticity, as she awakens her divine light and overcomes her debilitating fears of the past. Lilac's unconditional love for her family guides her through her process of healing and transformation, fuelling her instinct for survival and her burning desire to illuminate the world. 
Spanning two continents and three generations, this inspirational novel portrays the best and worst of humanity and shows how the "tiniest spark of light can overcome the darkness of any magnitude," through forgiveness, compassion, and the most powerful force in the universe – Love.


Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vibrationsl...

Award winning Author Lali A. Love is launching her debut novel "Heart of a Warrior Angel" on July 31, 2019. She provides a supernatural thriller of metaphysical and visionary fantasy with her own revolutionary philosophy and unique narrative skills to produce this heart-wrenching and gripping tale.

Lali A. Love lives in the capital city of Canada with her husband and two beautiful children who are her greatest source of pride, joy, and inspiration. As a debut author, Lali loves to write stimulating, character-based novels that invoke an emotional response in her readers. She has done extensive research into epistemology and metaphysics to further her understanding of the Universal Laws of Energy. 

In her spare time, Lali is committed to writing her visionary fiction trilogy about spiritual transformation. These mystical novels are based on the journeys of three incarnated Angels that have been brought together in the third dimensional existence, to realize their Divine Feminine soul purpose. Each of them must experience unique self-realizations to overcome the dark demonic entities that are determined to destroy their inner light to derail their Soul mission. 

As a light worker, Lali has been called to fulfill her soul purpose to embody the light and share positive posts through social media to help uplift humanity. She is assisting this awakening process by projecting her messages of love, compassion and unity consciousness, to connect beautiful like-minded souls around the world. Through the study of quantum energy field of transmutation, Lali has refined her energy clearing techniques based on powerful visual imagery to activate a healing response in others. 

With humility, compassion and grace, Lali intends to elevate levels of consciousness for the highest good, empowering individuals to speak their authentic truth. She is an advocate for self-healing journeys, self-realization, and self-love. Lali is passionate about this universal call to action and continues to vibrate at high frequencies of loving awareness.


Heart of a Warrior Angel: From Darkness to Light by Lali A. Love
Starts with reviews from others. Acknowledgments and table of contents then the story.
Story a traumatized family where girls are brutalized by their father. Horrific details of how the torture is done and why.
Like how females are able to drudge forward every day.
Do like that a few of them actually have a few good childhood memories.
Like Mafia and financial funds in the book, quite the combination.
Energy, spiritual emotions and other realms all have a part in this book. A bit above my level of understanding but a good story.
Love the glossary at the end, so resourceful and helps you really understand it all.
Others works are also cited at the end.  Not really my favorite genre, felt a bit in outer space or another dimension at times.
I received this review copy from the author via the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

Book Spotlight: Finding Hope in the Darkness by Diamante Lavendar


Written to honor Diamante's children in Heaven, Finding Hope In The Darkness Of Grief is a recipient of five awards to date for Poetry, Religion/Spirituality, Inspiration and Gift Book.
This earthly plane offers much for us to learn: happiness, wisdom, loss, heartbreak, and enlightenment. It is a Pandoras box of emotions, situations, opportunities, and failures, all wrapped into a package we call life. Nobody is immune, but everyone has the opportunity to grow tall or wither like a flower in harsh light. Its completely up to us how we choose to respond. Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief is a gleaning of insights from artist Diamante Lavender. For her, life has been a long, difficult road, but it has taught many poignant lessons. Her poetry collection is an exploration of the human soul, a traversing of situations that life throws at us. Diamante has always been intrigued by the ability to overcome and move on to bigger and better things. She writes to encourage hope and possibility in those who read her stories. If she can help others heal, as she has, then Diamantes work as an author and artist will have been well spent. She believes that everyone should try to leave a positive mark on the world, to make it a better place for all. Writing is the way that she is attempting to leave her markone story at a time.


I am the author of three books with a fourth coming out soon. My first book, The Secrets Of Yashire is no longer in print. My second book, Breaking The Silence, has won six awards in the category of Inspirational Fiction! Following is a link to my book Breaking The Silence:

Breaking The Silence:

I also have an award winning poetry book entitled Poetry and Ponderings. You can find it at this address:


I'm excited to announce the publication of my new book entitled Finding Hope In The Darkness Of Grief: Spiritual Insights Expressed Through Art, Poetry and Prose! A recent winner of a silver Mom's Choice Awards medal and a Pinnacle Book Award for Inspirational reading! Also a Gold Medal Winner for Gift Book/Coffee Table Book and received Honorable Mention for Poetry as well as Religion/Inspirational Books from Dragonfly Book Awards!

Finding Hope In The Darkness Of Grief can be purchased at the following address:


Soon I will also be publishing a book dedicated to my daughter who recently passed entitled We Love. It is due out later this year.


Finding Hope in the Darkness by Diamante Lavendar
Starts with a dedication and forward pages.
Devotional, spiritual help with grieving. Hard to read this book at times dismal and can understand it all then the poems that lift you up.
Parts of this book touched my heart and soul. You're never alone.
A book to be treasured and given to others who are going through the process of grieving. At times I don't think I finished the grieving for my parents.  Beautiful high quality photographs throughout the book.
Ends with afterthoughts from the author and other works.
I received this review copy from the author via the publisher and this is my honest opinion.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

July 9 Book Review: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Bethlehem by Karen Kelly
Always been fascinated by the steel industry in our travels.
Enjoyed this read from a new author to me for many reasons.
I learned new words, love hearing of the location that we've by many times, the mine stories and the history.
Drama of the women and who they marry, their lives before and after as they grow older.
Secrets kept and pain they do cause over time.
Very detailed descriptions I can picture the scenes in my mind. Would like to read more from this author.
Received this review copy via the publicist from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.