Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Book Review: A Delightful Little Book on Aging by Stephanie Raffelock ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour

Stephanie Raffelock
Genre: Inspirational / Spiritual / Essays / Self-Help 
  Publisher: She Writes Press 
  Publication Date: April 28, 2020 
  Number of Pages: 119 pages 
  Scroll down for the giveaway!

All around us, older women flourish in industry, entertainment, and politics. Do they know something that we don’t, or are we all just trying to figure it out? For so many of us, our hearts and minds still feel that we are twenty-something young women who can take on the world. But in our bodies, the flexibility and strength that were once taken for granted are far from how we remember them. Every day we have to rise above the creaky joints and achy knees to earn the opportunity of moving through the world with a modicum of grace.  Yet we do rise, because it’s a privilege to grow old, and every single day is a gift. Peter Pan’s mantra was, “Never grow up”; our collective mantra should be, “Never stop growing.” This collection of user-friendly stories, essays, and philosophies invites readers to celebrate whatever age they are with a sense of joy and purpose and with a spirit of gratitude.

PRAISE for A Delightful Little Book on Aging:
“Where are the elders? The wise women, the crones, the guardians of truth here to gently, lovingly, and playfully guide us towards the fulfillment of our collective destiny? It turns out that they are right here, in our midst, and Stephanie Raffelock is showcasing the reclamation of aging as a moment of becoming, no longer a dreaded withering into insignificance. A Delightful Little Book on Aging lays down new and beautiful tracks for the journey into our richest, deepest, and wildest years.” – Kelly Brogan, MD, author of the New York Times bestseller A Mind of Your Own
“A helpful, uplifting work for readers handling the challenges of growing older.” – Kirkus Reviews

CLICK TO PURCHASE:   Amazon ┃ IndieBound  

I am the right demographic for this slim, "delightful" book, so I was pleased to have an opportunity to read and review it for a book blog tour. At 56, I am headed downhill rather than uphill in life, but it doesn't mean that my life is any less significant or that I have less to offer the world. As a matter of fact, the wisdom that comes with aging is a positive in my life; as Stephanie Raffelock writes, "you gain things even as you lose youth."

Filled with pithy sayings, thought-provoking prose, and short autobiographical essays, A Delightful Little Book on Aging is quintessentially quotable and contains numerous ideas about "peering over the precipice of older age" and deciding to live life as fully engaged as one can.

The author contemplates aging through the lens of 4 areas: Grief, Reclamation, Vision, and Laughter, and the structure of the book follows these four sections in examining the aging process. It's hard not to quote the whole book, but here are a few thoughts that really resonated with me.

Grief: "...the threshold of loss is only the beginning of a remarkable journey. It is a journey that must be claimed for oneself, lest we get stuck in mourning what once was."

Reclamation: "Saying no doesn't mean I don't care about others; it means I'm a human being with limitations, and I'm willing to take care of myself in order to live a life of balance."

Vision: "The vision of the older years belongs to a wiser, deepened soul, steeped in wonder and delight for life."

Laughter: "Aging is a strange new journey, a time of humbling and a time to laugh, a time to be wise and a time to remember childlike wonder."

Reading this book caused me to frequently pause and ponder, relating the words to my own life of love and loss and longing. I'm left with a feeling of encouragement, and even anticipation, for what the future holds. I want to view the next part of my life the way the author does. She says, "I hold this season of life as a time when I am becoming everything that I was ever intended to be - more loving, lovable, creative, engaged, and joyful" and wanting to "live it to the very end, with feeling and gusto."

This book will be on a gift list for some of my friends and family. It will be a blessing to them.

Five Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Stephanie Raffelock is the author of A Delightful Little Book on Aging  (She Writes Press, April 2020). A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, she has penned articles for numerous publications, including the Aspen Times, the Rogue Valley Messenger, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles,, and Stephanie is part of the positive-aging movement, which encourages viewing age as a beautiful and noble passage, the fruition of years that birth wisdom and deep gratitude for all of life.  She’s a recent transplant to Austin, Texas, where she enjoys life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Jeter (yes, named after the great Yankee shortstop). 
  Website ║ Facebook Instagram ║ Amazon ---------------------------------
TWO WINNERS: Signed hardcover copy of A Delightful Little Book on Aging + a set of 50 pocket inspirations ONE WINNER: A set of 50 pocket inspirations JULY 7-19, 2020
or visit the blogs directly:
Notable Quotable
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Friday, July 3, 2020

TV Show Suggestions

What's Worth Watching?

Last week on Twitter I asked for some suggestions for older TV shows I may have missed. I tend to enjoy British and Australian shows, American crime, comedy, mystery, etc.  I received some great responses, so I decided to put them in a blog post. Maybe you will find a new show, too! There are certainly a lot of good ones to choose from, based on titles others suggested. I tried to categorize them by the streaming service which offers them, but I may not have gotten it all correct! So, here goes.


The Listener
New Amsterdam
Carnival Row
Mad Men
Upload (TV-MA)
Doc Martin
Scott & Bailey
Loch Ness
The Durells in Corfu
The Capture
The Tunnel
The Missing
Silent Witness
The Marvels Miss Maisel
The Man in the High Castle
Lie to Me
The Americans
Modern Love
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Good Omens
Our Girl
Sneaky Pete
Spirited (Australian)
Love My Way (Australian)
The Secret Life of Us (Australian)
The Expanse
Jack Ryan


The Tudors (TV-MA)
Hollywood (TV-MA)
Dead to Me (lots of votes for this one)
The Woods
Mr. Selfridge (movie)
Self-Made (based on the life of C.J. Walker)
The English Game
Last Tango in Halifax
Offspring (Australian)
The Five, Safe, The Stranger (based on books by Harlen Coben)
Kim's Convenience
Loch Ness
Call the Midwife
Designated Survivor
Anne with and E
Never Have I Ever
Virgin River (based on the book series by Robyn Carr)
American Horror Story
Schitt$ Creek
Black Spot
Sweet Magnolias
Space Force
Madame Secretary
Shtisel (Israeli)
When Heroes Fly (Israeli) 
Fauda (Israeli)
Heart of Dixie
Manhunt: Unabomber
Grand Designs
The World's Most Extraordinary Homes

11.22.63 (Stephen King)
His Dark Materials
Taboo (TV-MA - naked Tom Hardy, so I'm told lol)!
The Great (TV-MA)


Rake (legal drama)
Brokenwood Mysteries
Slings and Arrows 
Murdock Mysteries




Rosemary & Thyme

NBC (Free to Stream with commercials)

Baptiste (7 day trial on Amazon)
World On Fire


Paramount Network 
68 Whiskey

Sue Jackson included a couple blog posts with more shows she has reviewed here: as well as a Summer 2020 Preview here:

Hope you can find something new to watch, when you aren't reading a good book.

Happy Viewing!

Book Review: August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

Jones, Stephen Mack. 2017. August Snow. New York, NY: Soho Press.
 ISBN 9781616958688. $15.95 U.S.D.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2 stars*

I have a new book boyfriend: his name is August Snow. I met him in June, 2020, when he charmed me with his witty dialogue, snarky attitude, strong moral centeredness, and empathetic actions on behalf of underdogs, or anyone, really, he felt strongly needed help. Luckily he appears in two more books, Lives Laid Away, available now, and Dead of Winter, coming in May, 2021.

August Octavio Snow, half Black, half Mexican, grew up in the Mexicantown area of Detroit. He is a retired veteran and a former police officer with the Detroit Police Department. When he exposes high level corruption within the department and city council, he is fired from his job. A wrongful dissmissal settlement nets him $12 million dollars, and after spending some time traveling, drinking, and escaping his troubles, he settles back into his childhood home, working on updating not only his house, but the neighborhood itself.

When he is asked by a blue-blooded society woman to investigate some shennanigans at the bank she owns, he declines since he is no longer an officer of the law. But when the woman is killed the next day, August's moral center won't allow him to let it go. And as he investigates the killing we are introduced to a wide variety of unique characters and conversations that just make this book sing. In addition, the descriptions and history of Detroit make the setting a character itself in the novel.

Not often do I read a crime novel that surprises me so much with unique characters, captivating prose, and an unexpected resolution to the story.  The last time was probably Matthew Goldman's debut, Gone to Dust. I am also a fan of an Indie author, Jesse Miles, who created a wonderful main character in his Jack Salvo series, which begins with Dead Drop.  Because I am always all about the characters in books I read (along with excellent writing), I tend to appreciate those like August Snow and others who are street-smart, quick-thinking, resolute, and feel morally obligated to do the right thing, even though it's often challenging to do so.

You don't have to accept my opinion and review of the book; August Snow also has the honors listed below:

Starred reviews from Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus and others
Winner of the Hammett Prize for Crime Fiction
Winner of the 2018 Nero Award
Nominated for the 2018 Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel
Strand Magazine Critics Award Best First Novel Nominee
A 2018 Michigan Notable Book.

* This is a 5 star read for me, but one-half star is removed for excessive profanity, which not everyone enjoys. I give 5 stars to books I can recommend without any reservaton whatsover, but do know that some people prefer not to read so much cussin' in their books!

Hope you find something good to read, and if this debut sounds like something you'd enjoy, I hope you will check it out.

Happy Reading and wear a mask!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Book Review and Giveaway: Full Circle, a Memoir by Pamela Lombana ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour

Genre:  Memoir / Domestic Abuse / Forgiveness 
  Publisher: Wordfall Publishing
Date of Publication: December 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 217
   Scroll down for the giveaway!

Alcoholism and domestic abuse creep silently into people’s lives, shattering dreams. For Pamela Lombana, the excitement of marriage turned into paralyzing fear as alcohol became her husband’s best friend. Surviving the daily physical and emotional abuse was the norm for her and their children. Full Circle tells the story of how love and God’s abiding grace helped Pamela find the strength to leave her husband, Fernando. During this journey, healing and forgiveness allowed her and the children to be there for him when he needed them the most.

Although I mainly read only fiction these days, when I saw the description of this memoir by Pamela Lombana I knew I wanted the opportunity to learn more about it. I have known a number of people who have lived through similar experiences, but were never able to talk about them in such a way. When I read the introduction, written by the author's adult daughter, Christina, it reminded me of something that I've come to believe myself: our experiences, both good and bad, can define who we become, but they can also help us make decisions about who we want to be.

In the introduction, Christina writes: "Life is not just black and white; humans are not simply good or evil. In every person, there is the capacity for good and the capacity for evil. Our lives are defined by the choices we make [emphasis mine]. Some decisions are more harmless...but other choices can start you down the path toward self destruction."

Pamela Lombana's husband, Fernando, had many demons chasing him, resulting from an abusive childhood and later, alcohol addiction. The way that the author writes her story, with tenderness and grace, swept me into the lives of her family and the joys and struggles they experienced. For there were good times in her early marriage and she experienced many delights as a mother to her children.

For someone who is not an addict herself, the author has so much wisdom about the disease of alcoholism, and gives it a stunning anthropomorphic description in the chapter called Alcohol: "Alcohol comes into your life slowly. When you are young, he knocks at the door politely. Once you let him in and he feels comfortable, he wants to stay. He brings laughter and tears, you think he brings courage, but in reality, he brings chaos, unless you can stop him. He can become the unwanted guest in your house."

Fernando was also verbally and emotionally abusive, the seeds of this behavior beginning in his own childhood. At times, some of the descriptions were hard for me to read. Full Circle is an incredible story of the way generational abuse is passed down, and how important it is to break that cycle. Pamela writes poignantly, "Slowly, my marriage had become a quartet: Alcohol, Fear, Fernando, and me. While Alcohol was Fernando's companion, Fear had become mine." My heart breaks for the children who live in such homes, and the scars they carry forever because of it.

Ultimately, Pamela finds the emotional resources to leave her husband, taking her children with her, and starting over. The struggles she endured as a single mother are not unique - this happens so many times to so many women. But the way the author continued to encourage her children, to have hope, to bring wisdom to their lives, is one of the best parts of her story. This memoir came about from journal entries the author made over the course of her marriage, and one that resonated with me was this: "In life, everyone has their own struggles to fight and their own battles to win. I hope I can give my children the tools to do this." I also remember having these same thoughts as I was raising my own two sons, realizing I needed different tools to be a better mom.

Most surprising to me, and so powerfully written, are the parts of the story where the author helps her ex-husband as he nears the end of his life, dying from chronic alcoholism. She works hard at forgiveness, both for herself and her children, and they each manage to find peace with Fernando, who finally, at the end, realizes the damage he has done to his family. It moved me to tears.

Reading about one woman's journey through such difficulties, who came out stronger, wiser, and more empathetic as a result, was an encouraging and powerful experience. I'll never regret having read it. 

Pamela Lombana grew up in Colombia, South America, and emigrated to the United States to attend university. In 1999, Pamela became a pediatric nurse practitioner and went on to run a pediatric clinic in Spring Branch, Texas. Pamela loves working with families and children and focuses on educating her patients and their families. Pamela values strong family ties and friendships. She has three children and four stepchildren. Writing is a passion that started in Pamela's teenage years. She enjoys being amongst nature and loves to go hiking with her husband, Mark. Pamela is passionate about empowering women and providing them with tools to navigate life through her book, Full Circle: A Memoir, her blog, and Wordfall Publishing. Pamela wrote her memoir to offer hope and courage to women experiencing alcoholic and abusive situations.
THREE WINNERS: Signed copy of Full Circle 
APRIL 21-May 1, 2020
(U.S. Only)
Notable Quotable
Author Interview
Guest Post

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Book Review: Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

Storm Cursed (A Mercy Thompson Novel Book 11) by [Patricia Briggs]

*Trigger warning - animal abuse.

I stopped reading this book some time last year, but didn't remember why. When I saw the next book in the series was coming out, I though, "ooh, I need to catch up before starting Smoke Bitten (which came out last month). I got the book at a neighboring library and settled back into the Urban Fantasy world of coyote walker/mechanic Mercy Thompson, and all the characters I've gotten to know over the years I've been reading the series.

Not too far into the book, I remembered why I stopped. There is a very graphic scene of animal abuse (puppies and kittens) which is done by some evil/bad witches to increase their powers.

Authors: if you decide to add animal torture to a book in a series, you are going to risk losing new fans and alienating old ones. I realize that it must be hard to come up with new plot points and conflict/tensions in a long-running series. But this is not the way to do it.

I skimmed that part of the book, and will say that, for the most part I enjoyed the rest of it. I have read this series since the first book came out, and if you are an Urban Fantasy fan, you will love it. I have recommended it to men and women both at the library, and never heard a negative comment about it. If you want to know more about the series, please see my review of Moon Called here:

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, Book 1) by [Patricia Briggs]

In this latest book, Mercy and her pack discover that someone has been raising zombie animals, and proceed to investigate this unusual state of affairs. Which is when we get to the evil bad witches and their black magic with baby animals. After moving on from that part of the book, it proceeds fairly smoothly in the same manner of the rest in the series. Great dialogue, action scenes, and family dynamics among the pack.

I have the next book in the series, and do look forward to reading it. I don't give up on an author or series just because I'm disappointed with both, one or two times in 10 years. But, as I said, this is not the best way to add shock value to your story. I don't really know of anyone who would enjoy reading such extreme animal abuse - if they did, I'd run in the opposite direction, for sure.

Hoping the next book will be better.