Someone to Care

Someone to Care
Someone to Care by Mary Balogh

Mistress of Legend

Mistress of Legend
Mistress of Legend by Nicole Evelina

Monday, October 22, 2018

Someone to Care by Mary Balogh- Feature and Review


Once the Countess of Riverdale, Viola Kingsley throws all caution to the wind when adventure calls in the form of a handsome aristocrat... Two years after the death of the Earl of Riverdale, his family has overcome the shame of being stripped of their titles and fortune—except for his onetime countess, Viola. With her children grown and herself no longer part of the social whirl of the ton, she is uncertain where to look for happiness—until quite by accident her path crosses once again with that of the Marquess of Dorchester, Marcel Lamarr. 

Marcel Lamarr has been a notorious womanizer since the death of his wife nearly twenty years earlier. Viola caught his eye when she herself was a young mother, but she evaded his seduction at the time. A prize that eluded him before, she is all the more irresistible to him now although he is surprised to discover that she is as eager now for the excitement he offers as he is himself.

When the two defy convention and run away together, they discover that the ties of respectability are not so easily severed, and pleasure can ensnare you when you least expect it.



Someone to Care (Westcott #4)Someone to Care by Mary Balogh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Someone to Care by Mary Balogh is a 2018 Berkley publication.

A lovely tale of second chances- proving it’s never too late to find your happily ever after!

For those following the Wescott series, you will be familiar with Viola and the shocking discoveries that changed her life drastically at an age when starting over is especially difficult. So, when I realized she was the central character in this book was absolutely thrilled!

Viola might be suffering from something akin to panic anxiety disorder and depression. I wouldn’t go so far as to label it PTSD, but she’s been holding her emotions at bay for the sake of her children. However, she’s been showing signs of strain, exhibiting strange behavior, as everything finally caught up with her.

Years ago, Viola skirted the seductive temptations offered her by the notorious womanizer, Marcel Lamarr. But, when the pair meet again, Marcel finds Viola even more desirable and once again attempts to woo her. This time Viola is not ‘married’, and her children have proven to be remarkably resilient, so when Marcel, who has some difficult decisions weighing on his mind, suggests they run away together, Viola makes the impulsive decision to take him up on his offer. Why not? After all, there is no one to care for or about her- or so she thinks.

“You told me to go away,” he said. “But that was fifteen years or so ago. Was there a time limit?”

I loved the romance between Viola and Marcel. Although they are more ‘mature’ characters, they still acted like angsty teenagers at times. Love often feels overwhelming and with all baggage the couple carried, on top of their intrusive family members making the situation even more complicated, it was no surprise the couple wavered and rallied a time or two. I wasn’t especially fond of Marcel in the beginning, I must say. He was not all that impressive, and his attitude was all wrong for Viola. Although his coaxing her into a little risqué behavior was probably cathartic for her, he didn’t have much to lose, while the repercussions for Viola would be enormous if they were ever discovered.

However, as the story progressed, I warmed up to him and even felt sorry for him. He was flummoxed and flustered around Viola which was fun to watch, but he also made the most emotional progress, realizing the consequences of having neglected his two children who became collateral damage after his wife’s untimely death. Turns out there was more substance to him than I had given him credit for.

My only complaint was with the pacing, which was at times excruciatingly slow. Things also got a little too busy with the arrival of concerned and well -meaning family members, which resulted in constant conversation, and really put a damper on Viola and Marcel’s dalliance.

Although some patience was required, the conclusion was beautiful, sweet, and very romantic!

PS: I rarely comment on covers- but this one is just beautiful!



Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling 'Slightly' sextet and 'Simply' quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Mistress of Legend - Guinevere's Tale Book Three- by Nicole Eveline- Feature and Review


Legend says Guinevere spent her final days in penance in a convent, but that is far from the truth.

Having escaped death at the stake, Guinevere longs to live a peaceful life in Brittany with Lancelot, but the threat of Arthur’s wrath quickly separates the lovers. Guinevere finds herself back in Camelot, but it is not the peaceful capital she once knew; the loyalty of the people is divided over Arthur’s role in her death sentence. When war draws Arthur away from Britain, Mordred is named acting king. With Morgan at his side and a Saxon in his bed, Mordred’s thirst for power becomes his undoing and the cause of Guinevere’s greatest heartache.

In the wake of the deadly battle that leaves the country in civil war, Guinevere’s power as the former queen is sought by everyone who seeks to ascend the throne. Heartbroken and refusing to take sides in the conflict, she flees north to her mother’s Votadini homeland, where she is at long last reunited with Lancelot. The quiet life she desires is just beginning when warring tribal factions once again thrust her into an unexpected position of power. Now charged with ending an invasion that could bring an end to the Votadini tribe and put the whole island in the hands of the Saxons, Guinevere must draw upon decades of experience to try to save the people she loves and is sworn to protect.



Mistress of Legend (Guinevere's Tale, #3)Mistress of Legend by Nicole Evelina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mistress of Legend by Nicole Evelina is a 2018 by Lawson Gartner Publishing publication.

A beautiful conclusion to this lush and vivid trilogy!

Arthur’s kingdom is fiercely divided by Guinevere’s fate, but when he’s called into battle, Mordred takes over. The country is soon drawn into a civil war, which prompts Guinevere to return to her beloved Votadini homeland But, her dreams of living a gentle quiet life with Lancelot are quickly dispelled. She soon finds herself in a leadership role once again, as she tries to prevent the Saxons from taking power.

I hate to see the trilogy come to an end, but at least it went out on a high note!!

Naturally, I wanted Guinevere to finally catch a break. But, it wasn’t in the cards- at least not right away. But, she really comes into her own here. After the fall of Camelot, she must once more face adversity, but will do so as a mature warrior and queen. There are rousing battles, losses and heartbreak, but at the end of the day, this re-imagined ideal of Guinevere breaths new life into what was once a storied tragedy. Here, Guinevere exhibits bravery, strength and grace, and although she faced so many disappointments, experienced so much violence, and had her happiness and peace snatched out from under her time and time again, she still prevails.

This conclusion is more than fitting and I absolutely loved it. It was a bit sad and poignant, but very satisfying. This author as an incredible imagination!! She has written an Arthurian fantasy that is bold, detailed, and vibrant, giving Guinevere a new and fresh voice, and I for one, am happy to see this alternative version of her life. I’m very impressed by this trilogy and have enjoyed it immensely. I will be keeping my eye on this author!!

If you enjoy fantasy, mysticism, Arthurian legends, or sweeping sagas, you really should give this trilogy a try!!




Daughter of Destiny (Guinevere's Tale #1)Daughter of Destiny by Nicole Evelina
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Daughter of Destiny by Nicole Evelina is a 2016 Lawson Gartner Publishing publication.

This is the first book in an Arthurian trilogy, which tells the story from Guinevere’s perspective. This first book gives the reader insight into Guinevere’s early life, her visions, and pagan religion. She is sent to Avalon in hopes of controlling her haunting and disturbing visions, which is where she meets her ultimate rival, Morgan.

As she grows up, she falls deeply in love and becomes a priestess. But, her promising future is thrown into complete disarray when tragedy strikes, and she must return home. She is stunned to see Northgallis is not the place she once knew, where her own beliefs are dangerous. From this time forward, Guinevere and her destiny will become legendary.

It has been a long time since I read anything Arthurian or in the fantasy genre. At one time I was heavy into ‘Camelot’ and loved all the romance, magic and tragedy of these epic tales. But, that was many, many, many years ago. There are a few Arthurian series I’ve been meaning to read, but somehow, I never seem to manage to make time for them. So, it was fortuitous that this trilogy popped up on my radar.

My mood was just right for this type of story, as I feel an ever -increasing desire to lose myself in something as far from reality as I can muster.

It should be noted that this series is something akin to a re-telling, but also puts a fresh spin on the story of Arthur, Lancelot, and our queen- Guinevere. So, don’t expect the story to follow any strict rules or guidelines from previous works on this subject. The classic tale is simply the foundation upon which the author chose to build her own unique version of events.

I must say I like what I’m seeing, so far. The author certainly knows her subject and has given us a fascinating look at Guinevere’s early life, before she married Arthur. The emotions, dialogue, history, locations, pacing- basically everything is quite impressive!

Now, with some classic stories, tinkering around with a version that is set in stone, one that conjures up a specific image in one’s mind, is akin to blasphemy. However, Camelot and Arthurian legends have been told so many ways, so many times, with countless liberties taken, and is a story that begs for an alternate outcome. I can’t see why anyone would blow steam if this story is re-imagined yet again, as it is here, especially as it is done with such incredible skill.

I enjoyed this first installment and have already queued up the next book in the series. I even feel a rare tingle of anticipation…


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Camelot’s Queen by Nicole Evelina is a 2016 Lawson Gartner Publishing publication.

This second installment in the Guinevere Tales trilogy centers around the most familiar part of the Arthurian mythology. This story tells how Guinevere is forced to marry Arthur, despite being in love with someone else, and is named his queen.

Both she and Arthur had other plans in life, but they are determined to do their duty, and decide to make the best of their marriage. However, tragedies, crimes, and intrigue steal away any love they may have forged when Guinevere must fight for her life, deepening the bond with her protector- Sir Lancelot.

Now, as we all know, in the traditional tale, Guinevere is the adulteress, the one who must pay the ultimate price for her sins. However, in this retelling, a shocking twist reveals Arthur’s scandalous past. Tsk, tsk. So, once more, let me caution you to toss out all your previous notions concerning this legendary tale. This story is a very different version of the classic, and is also much darker, with graphic violence and more explicit sexuality. This one is not for the faint of heart, with potential triggers. There is, as one might expect, a great deal of medieval intrigue and treachery, mysticism, and adventure, but there are also some shocking twists and big surprises in this one. I rooted for some, jeered others, but mostly, I don't think I'll ever look at Guinevere in quite the same way again.

For someone to tackle this legendary tale, and take some large liberties with it, recreating it or maybe you could even say rebooting it, is a very brave and ambitious undertaking. Not only did the author manage to mold the story into one that gives our heroine a fierceness and strength our modern sensibilities can relate to, also adding religious persecution into the mix, which could parallel modern times as well, she also manages to respect the myths and traditions of the classic tale.

I am super excited about the third installment and can not wait to see how the author will conclude this vivid and utterly engrossing trilogy.

5 stars


Nicole Evelina is a historical fiction, romantic comedy and non-fiction author whose four novels - Daughter of Destiny, Camelot's Queen, Been Searching for You and Madame Presidentess - have won more than 20 awards, including two Book of the Year designations. 

Her most recent release and first non-fiction book, The Once and Future Queen, examines popular works of Arthurian fiction by more than 20 authors over the last 1,000 years to show how the character of Guinevere changes to reflect attitudes toward women. She’s currently finishing Mistress of Legend (September 15, 2018), the final novel in her Guinevere's Tale historical fantasy trilogy and researching two future non-fiction books: a history of feminism in the United States and a biography of early 20th century mystic Marie Rose Ferron.

Nicole’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. She is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon. She also teaches online writing and business for authors classes at Professional Author Academy.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for Historical Novel Society, and member of the Historical Fiction Writers of America, Novelists, Inc., BIO (Biographers International Organization); Romance Writers of America (PAN), Romantic Novelists Association, Missouri Writers Guild, St. Louis Writer's Guild, Alliance of Independent Authors, Independent Book Publishers Association, Midwest Independent Publishers Association, and the International Arthurian Society - North American Branch.

Her website is

October's Frightening Friday- The Bad Seed by William March - Feature and Review


William March's 1954 classic thriller that's as chilling, intelligent and timely as ever before. This paperback reissue includes a new P.S. section with author interviews, insights, features, suggested reading and more.

What happens to ordinary families into whose midst a child serial killer is born? This is the question at the center of William march's classic thriller. After its initial publication in 1954, the book went on to become a million–copy bestseller, a wildly successful Broadway show, and a Warner Brothers film. The spine–tingling tale of little Rhoda Penmark had a tremendous impact on the thriller genre and generated a whole perdurable crop of creepy kids. Today, The Bad Seed remains a masterpiece of suspense that's as chilling, intelligent, and timely as ever before.




The Bad Seed

The Bad Seed by William March
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bad Seed by William March is a 1972 Dell publication. This book was originally published in 1954.

Evil children can be found in literature, going back centuries. Matilda from ‘The Monk’ by Matthew Lewis ,written back in 1796, for example. However, evil children became a popular horror novel trope beginning in the fifties and reaching an epic peak in the seventies.

Evil children still make an appearance in movies and novels, never completely going out of style, and of course, are not solely confined to the horror or thriller categories.

If you do a Google search for a list of ‘Evil Children’ in literature, you’ll get an eclectic, and interesting group of lists. However, there is always one child that makes the list every single time: little Rhoda Penmark.

I read this book decades ago, and later watched the 1956 film version. While I remembered the basics of the story, I’d forgotten most of the finer details that made this book such a fantastic thriller. I’m glad I picked this one as part of my October/Halloween reading this year. It’s not a supernatural thriller, but is spine tingling, and hair raising, all the same- even after all these years.

“It seemed to her than violence was an inescapable factor of the heart, perhaps the most important factor of all- an ineradicable thing that lay, like a bad seed, behind kindness, behind compassion, behind the embrace of love itself. Sometimes it lay deeply hidden, sometimes it lay close to the surface; but always it was there, ready to appear, under the right conditions, in all its irrational dreadfulness.”

With her husband away on business for an entire summer, Christine is alone with her smart, clever, and precocious, eight -year old daughter, Rhoda. The summer gets off to a tragic beginning, when a little boy in Rhoda’s class dies. Christina begins to have dark thoughts about her daughter’s peculiar behavior, which sparks a sudden keen interest in crimes and those who commit serial murder. As Christine becomes more aware of her daughter’s lack of conscience, the coldness in her, she becomes increasingly anxious. This does not go unnoticed by Christine’s neighbor, who thinks the world of her and Rhoda.

The deeper Christine researches the mind of murderers, especially female serial killers, she begins to trace her own family tree, which reveals a horrible, shocking truth. Can evil be inherited?
It’s the classic debate of ‘nature versus nurture’.

I am so glad I put everything down and gave this sinister little book another look. I was struck by many things this second time around that my younger self wouldn’t have pondered on for too long, or noticed at all, taking everything at face value – ironically.

The book seems a little ahead of its time and tackled some feminist topics we still face today. Except for Leroy, the female characters outnumber the males and are far more dominant. The psychology, especially in the 50s, is very interesting, and the killers Christine researched were real life murderers, several of whom I’d never heard of. This, of course, required some internet investigations, and informed me of some rather shocking true crime cases!

Now that we’ve all become so jaded, a book like this one wouldn’t raise eyebrows today, as it is all too obvious. But, in the fifties, the female criminal is still considered rare, and forget about suspecting such an adorable, innocent looking little girl of being a cold -blooded killer. But, what makes this book so effective, and still quite chilling, even by today’s desensitized viewpoint, is the calculation and mannerisms Rhoda exhibits, and the cluelessness of everyone around her.

Not only that, it raised pertinent questions about inherited proclivities, and a examines the shrewd, diabolical mind a sociopath, who plans and carries out premeditated crimes without the slightest bit of remorse. I’m still impressed with this book, despite its predictable nature. This is a novel that set a president, a trend-setter, and helped spawn an entire trope, both in books and movies, featuring sinister, evil children.

But, more importantly, we are reminded that looks can be deceiving, that evil has many faces, and despite their cherubic little faces and adorable giggles, even children can not be presumed innocent.



William March (born William Edward Campbell) was an American author and a highly decorated US Marine. The author of six novels and four short-story collections, March was a critical success and heralded as "the unrecognized genius of our time", without attaining popular appeal until after his death. His novels intertwine his own personal torment with the conflicts spawned by unresolved class, family, sexual, and racial matters. March often presents characters who, through no fault of their own, are victims of chance, and writes that freedom can only be obtained by being true to one's nature and humanity.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Who Cares If They Die


Did she jump or was she pushed? 

It starts with the hanging woman in the Maple Valley woods; the woman with no shoes, no car, and no name. On paper, it’s an obvious case of suicide – but to Officer Dean Matheson, something doesn’t add up. 

Then there are the other deaths, deaths that also look like suicides – but are they? The victims are all women living on the fringes of society, addicts, and criminals. Who will miss them? Does anyone really care if they die? 

Dean Matheson is making it his business to care, even if it means he becomes a target...



Who Cares If They DieWho Cares If They Die by Wendy Dranfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who Cares if they Die by Wendy Dranfield is a 2018 Ruby Fiction publication.

Dean Matheson’s dream is to make detective. When a perplexing case gives him his chance to make an impression, Dean goes all in. However, his personal life is a real mess. He’s grieving the loss of his brother, and his marriage is on the skids after Dean confesses to an affair. To make matters more complicated, Dean is attracted to Beth, the new British psychiatrist, who will be working at the local women’s correctional facility, which is a temptation he doesn’t need.

This is a police procedural, but not one that follows the standard old school format. Dean is not the most likeable character, really. His thoughts are all over the place when it comes to the women in his life, which didn’t exactly endear me to him, especially in the beginning.

Readers will be able to see early on which direction the story is moving, but this is most certainly by design. This is one of those cases where the reader is gradually clued in, but our protagonist is still working out all the facts. We are then left to watch helplessly, as he slowly processes the situation, and can only hope he connects the dots before it’s too late.

This ploy has been known to backfire horribly, but in this case, it is quite effective. This isn’t the only time the author gets away with things that shouldn't work, but does. Dean is a character who absorbs a great deal of emotional trauma and just can’t seem to catch a break. Ordinarily, I'd whine about overkill, but in this case, it sets the stage for an ultimate showdown and is the perfect segue into future installments. The book lands firmly in the police procedural category, but also has many elements of the now dreaded psychological thriller. It’s an odd hybrid, with the slow pace of a procedural, but also has the sinister undertones of a psycho thriller, which then quickens the pace, creating a very nice balance. You may be skeptical, with good reason, but somehow the author pulls it off with aplomb. There is a cliché or two, a minor plot hole, and some areas where one must suspend belief, but overall, this is a very solid effort by Wendy Dranfield.

I may not have been a member of Dean’s fan club, originally, but now that we’ve taken this tense and eventful journey together, I’m looking forward to meeting up with him again someday.

4 stars



Wendy is a crime thriller writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 rescue cats.

She is both an indie author and a traditionally published author, with two novels released plus several short stories published in UK and US anthologies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Pictures in the Sky by Amanda Paull- Feature and Spotlight


She gave up on romance years ago. He’s going through the motions. Their lives change forever when he makes contact out of the blue. 

With her daughter leaving the nest, Michelle Cameron would rather spend her time with good friends, a glass of fizzy and a box set, than with another idiot bloke chipping away at her self-esteem. But when childhood friend Daniel Helmsley gets back in touch, the years roll away on a tide of laughter and friendship, which soon gives way to another roller coaster of love, excitement and panic. Can Michelle let herself trust again? What if Dan is just another idiot bloke, disillusioned with the present and nostalgic for the past?

If you like cosy romance that makes you laugh as well as cry, then you’ll love this feel-good tale of past disappointment, renewed friendship and finding true love. 
Download Amanda Paull’s Pictures in the Sky today to discover if Michelle dares to love again.

‘Your lively style and humour are exactly right for this genre.’ Susan Davis.

Purchase Links

Author Bio –
Amanda Paull is a writer of humorous romantic fiction. She lives in the North East of England with her husband and works in the public sector. The inspiration for her stories comes from real life, which she tries to show the funnier side of by embellishing to the hilt.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dopesick by Beth Macy- Feature and Review


Beth Macy takes us into the epicenter of America's twenty-plus year struggle with opioid addiction. From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns; it's a heartbreaking trajectory that illustrates how this national crisis has persisted for so long and become so firmly entrenched. 

Beginning with a single dealer who lands in a small Virginia town and sets about turning high school football stars into heroin overdose statistics, Macy endeavors to answer a grieving mother's question-why her only son died-and comes away with a harrowing story of greed and need. From the introduction of OxyContin in 1996, Macy parses how America embraced a medical culture where overtreatment with painkillers became the norm. In some of the same distressed communities featured in her bestselling book Factory Man, the unemployed use painkillers both to numb the pain of joblessness and pay their bills, while privileged teens trade pills in cul-de-sacs, and even high school standouts fall prey to prostitution, jail, and death.

Through unsparing, yet deeply human portraits of the families and first responders struggling to ameliorate this epidemic, each facet of the crisis comes into focus. In these politically fragmented times, Beth Macy shows, astonishingly, that the only thing that unites Americans across geographic and class lines is opioid drug abuse. But in a country unable to provide basic healthcare for all, Macy still finds reason to hope-and signs of the spirit and tenacity necessary in those facing addiction to build a better future for themselves and their families.



Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted AmericaDopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company Who Addicted America by Beth Macy is a 2018 Little, Brown and Company publication.

“Because the most important thing for the morphine-hijacked brain is, always, not to experience the crushing physical and psychological pain of withdrawal: but to avoid dope sickness at any cost.”

While some may remain untouched, most Americans are painfully aware of the grip opiate addiction has on our country. Like the synopsis states: “From distressed small communities in Central Appalachia to wealthy suburbs; from disparate cities to once-idyllic farm towns’, no one is immune. We see and read news reports, we see parents OD’d, passed out in their cars, with needles sticking out of their arms while their toddler sits in the back seat. Those images and the sheer volume of deaths is staggering.

Beth Macy takes us on a journey that exposes Purdue Pharma, and the Sackler Brothers, to the doctors who make big money on ‘pain management’, to the street dealers who took up the demand when patients ran of legal options, and destroyed entire towns in the process, as well all the red tape, lack of funding, political rhetoric, and the struggle to keep those addicted alive long enough to have the slim hope they’ll someday manage to kick their addiction, which tends to follow the pattern of : Oxy, Roxy, then Heroin.

“Lets’ be clear”, a Purdue Pharma spokesman said in August 2001, in a meeting with Virginia’s attorney general. “The issue is drug abuse, not the drug.” The product shouldn’t be blamed for the deaths, because in many cases the victims were also drinking alcohol and taking other drugs. Van Zee scoffed, telling a Roanoke Times reporter: “To me, that’s like somebody who was shot with a howitzer and a BB gun, and you walk up and say it’s a little hard to tell what killed him. Was it the howitzer that took off half his chest, or was it the BB gun?”

But, more importantly, the author gives the reader intimate portraits of the victims, the families, and the absolute, literal hell they have gone through. Macy pulls no punches. This book is raw, terrifying, frustrating, and made my blood boil. The government- for the past twenty years, at least, through Republican and Democratic administrations have dropped the ball. The approach is outdated, doesn’t work, and keeps people from ever having a chance at a productive life, and does very little to stymie the epidemic when they are lining their own pockets with money from Big Pharma and ‘for profit’ prisons.

“They don’t rehabilitate you in prison, and they don’t make it easy for you to get a job. I truly believe they don’t make it easy because they want you back, and they want you back because that’s the new factory work in so many places now- the prison. “You have to be very strong mentally when you get out to not make the same mistakes.”

By the end of this book, I felt weak with grief. I’d cried so hard and felt a loss so keen, for the families who lost children, or siblings, sometimes more than one, with whole families involved with opiates, either by selling or using. My heart ached for those who live with addiction, and the loved ones who must live life in a state of chronic limbo and constant worry. One parent was so desperate she even removed all the doors in her home, so her son couldn’t hide his drug use- but to no avail.

‘One woman was in the habit of kissing her husband goodbye in the morning, putting her kids on the school bus, then driving to Baltimore to buy enough to last the day before returning to Woodstock just as school bus brought her kids home.'

Those are just a couple of examples, with many even more heart wrenching. Good, ordinary people, with bright futures, who had been prescribed pain medications ended up committing felony crimes to support a drug habit, sinking to lows that are hard to imagine.

Dope sickness is so horribly agonizing some people would consider suicide to avoid it. That’s hard to fathom, and it’s hard to read about people living in such circumstances and even harder to digest that more lives are going to be destroyed if the mindset of the country doesn’t change.

This book is very well organized, presented not only by the statistics, and the history, and the various ways the opiate addiction is dealt with from law enforcement to drug companies, to doctors, to prisons, and to the government, all which bear some blame, but from the viewpoint of the families who are living with the addiction, either battling it themselves, or watching loved ones succumb, or live in agony. Their representation, their voice, is what makes the book so very powerful.

The author obviously did a lot research, but she also spent a lot of time with those who have experienced the devastation up close and personal. She’s tough in places, as balanced in presenting the facts as could be hoped for, but she’s also invested herself emotionally. I’m about as ‘bleeding heart’ as they come, and I must say this book left me feeling completely drained.

But, it is a book I highly recommend. Although this is not a book that offers pat answers or solutions, there is some proof we can staunch some of the bleeding, and maybe the more informed we are, the more we realize how easily this could be you, or one of your children, you will be more diligent, be aware of your doctor’s motives, ask for different methods of pain management, because Oxy, is so addictive one round of pain meds may be all it takes.

Don’t think the marginalized poor in the Appalachian regions are the only ones at risk. The more you know, the more power you have, and with the information provided in this book, if this country has an ounce of compassion left in its black soul, will find its hardened heart pricked with something resembling sympathy, will feel righteous indignation and refuse to look the other way, and will for once avoid passing judgements on the victims. The only people working for change seem to be the victims and their families and the stark, frank, and shocking truth is that no one seems to care- which is yet another American epidemic.


Beth Macy is a journalist who writes about outsiders and underdogs. Her writing has won more than a dozen national journalism awards, including a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard and the 2013 J. Anthony Lukas Word-in-Progress award for "Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local -- and Helped Save an American Town," published by Little, Brown and Company in July 2014. She lives in Roanoke, Virginia, with her husband Tom, her sons, and rescue mutts Mavis and Charley.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Manga Classics- Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare- Stacy King


A classic Shakespearean tragedy, Romeo and Juliet is the tale of two star-crossed young lovers who dare to defy their feuding families, put aside all obstacles, and find happiness together - but at a tremendous cost. This grimly beautiful tale, set in the Renaissance Italy, follows Romeo and Juliet from their hateful first meeting to their last.

Manga Classics ™ brings you this incredible new manga version of William Shakespeare's most popular play, featuring the unaltered original text in its entirety!

                                            MY REVIEW:

Manga Classics: Romeo and JulietManga Classics: Romeo and Juliet by Stacy King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Romeo and Juliet- Manga Classics – by William Shakespeare, by Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan (Adaptation), Julien Choy (Art), Akanovas (Lettering), Jeannie Lee (Lettering)

There is no need to go into the synopsis or plot of one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays. We all know the basics of this story by now. Many have read the play in school or have seen a stage or movie adaptation at one point. So, I think it is safe to skip the analysis.

For me, Manga is something I flat out ignored for years because I presumed without ever giving it a fair chance that it would not be something I’d enjoy. Then I discovered it was often geared towards teens or young adults, which was yet another strike against it. But, by sheer accident, I discovered Manga covered a lot of areas, and was much more complex than I’d given it credit for.

Having gotten to an age where I’ve dipped my toes in many different genres, and sub-genres, I find that the ‘I’ve outgrown this’ or ‘aged out of’ attitude closes off many unexplored avenues and because I like to think I’m open minded, I’ve begun to reconsider areas I’ve previously closed off. As a result, I’m having a lot of fun learning about Manga, Graphic Novels, and Comics.

Much to my surprise, I’ve found a nice selection of classic stories, in Manga/Graphic Novel format. After recently reading a memoir by Olivia Hussey, the actress who portrayed Juliet in the famous Zeffirelli 1968 film, this play was on my mind quite a lot. So, when I noticed this Manga version on Netgalley, it grabbed my attention immediately.

For anyone who may be thinking the dialogue is 'updated' with more modern dialect, you’d be wrong. This is the same script you’d find in the original play- except there are no stage directions. Instead, those are replaced by images, which works out much better than I’d have imagined. The artwork is spectacular, as is the adaptation. Obviously, a great deal of thought went into how to present this classic in Manga form, and I’d say it came off beautifully. Granted, I’m still a novice at this, but I was pleased with the presentation.

I did have a few technical issues, since this one is not in Kindle/ MOBI format. I had to use Adobe Edition, which is a pain, and the scrolling was terrible, especially since, of course it’s back to front. Several times my screen jumped to the end of the book and caused a great deal of frustration.

Shakespeare is still difficult to read and adjusting to this format made it an even bigger challenge. It took me a good long while to get through it. (If anyone has a suggestion on how to make this less daunting- please feel free to offer me some suggestions.)

However, despite the heaviness of the drama, and the extra effort it required to read the book, I was impressed, and enjoyed reading this classic with the well-drawn illustrations and art work which certainly enriched and enhanced my experience.

Despite the disdain of melodrama- I liked all the angst between Romeo and Juliet- but not that sad ending! It still makes a great cautionary tale- even after all these years. 4 stars



Writer, Manga Classics from UDON Entertainment. 

My obsessions include historical costuming, comics, manga, young adult fiction, magic realism, chocolate, and the oxford comma. I enjoy decaf tea, art house cinema, dressing up & getting down.