Sunday Book Review – The Widow by Valerie Keogh #psycho-thriller

My Sunday Book Review for another psychological thriller about a widow – The Widow by Valerie Keogh. This isn’t a sad widow story, rather a twisted tale about secrets of the past, nasty characters, and a plot that will keep you turning the pages to find out what exactly Allison has done in her younger life to spur on her desire to keep a low profile. But nobody can hide from their past, because there will always be someone who knew you back then – even if you think there isn’t.




‘Keogh is the queen of compelling narratives and twisty plots’ Jenny O’Brien

The brilliant new psychological thriller from bestseller Valerie Keogh.

‘A wonderful book, I can’t rate this one highly enough. If only there were ten stars, it’s that good. Valerie Keogh is a master story-teller, and this is a masterful performance.’ Bestselling author Anita Waller.

Grieving or guilty?

When Allison’s wealthy and charming husband Peter is found dead, she appears distraught, devastated….delighted?

Because despite an apparently picture-perfect marriage, Allison knows it was all built on a bed of lies.

And as the truth regarding Peter’s life and death are revealed, Allison must try to keep her own dark past buried.

Because if Peter was keeping secrets, then his widow is too…

Don’t miss the brand new thriller by Valerie Keogh! Perfect for fans of Sue Watson, Shalini Boland and K.L. Slater.


My Five Star Review:

This book kept me turning the pages. When we first meet Allison we’re given a snippet of an unhappy and emotionally neglected childhood with snippets of Allison’s petty jealousies in school about another girl in her class who seemed to be shown such affection from her adopted mother, stirring Allison’s jealousies and leaving her wondering if ‘her own parents were to die’, would she be lucky to get a doting adopted mother. Every time Allison heard the word ‘family’, it brought a chill to her.

Swiftly the plot moves to present where we learn of Allison’s whirlwind romance with lawyer, Peter who she’d met at a party, and a marriage two months later. We the readers are both happy that this seemingly lonely girl who had a hard life has found happiness and a cushy life, but has she? But sprinkled throughout the story are snippets not brought to light into more detail until almost halfway through the book, keeping us turning the pages as we try to discover who Allison really is. Is she a sweet girl who had some hard knocks and is finally getting her dream life or was there a reason Allison chose to accept Peter’s proposal when her rumblings of past inform us she wasn’t completely happy?

Lots of action and plot twists kept me excited for every new chapter. Allison is stalked on social media by Jo, only Allison isn’t aware Jo has been following her for some time, and then ultimately connects with her and agrees to meet Jo for lunch in London. This is when the thriller in this book heats up. Jo has revenge on her mind for something Allison has done to her in the past and now she’s sneaking into Allison’s life without Allison realizing who Jo is. But it didn’t take now, bereaved Allison long to figure out that Jo is a menace and potentially dangerous.

On the same night after the two women had lunch, Allison gets ready for her dinner date with her husband Peter to celebrate their three month anniversary, only to feel stood up then ultimately shocked when the police show up to tell her Peter has fallen into the subway tracks.

In this psychological thriller, Allison’s planned perfect life begins to unravel after meeting Jo, and Peter’s sudden death. In the first half of book we are privy only to incoherent pieces of Allison’s younger life, through her flashback thoughts. She remembers a fire, then kids in school calling her monster. How can that be when Allison comes off as a protagonist our heart goes out to? And we learn that Jo is a psycho who has been stalking Allison for some time now to exact some sort of revenge on her for the past.

As Allison’s real life nightmare is happening all at once, the hits keep coming as she learns from Peter’s attorney that nothing is what it seemed – Peter isn’t who he said he was and Allison’s new planned out life of leisure with a big house and enough money to leave her set for life are shattered by reality. Peter’s personna was a sham. And it turns out her other newfound friend, Portia who has been coddling Allison during her grieving, has ulterior motives for befriending Allison too.

The story keeps heating up as the diabolical shenanigans progress – especially when Portia decides to hold Allison captive and the only one who knows where she is, is Jo. Can Allison’s nemesis Jo be the one who actually saves her?

A diabolical tale and a wicked read with secrets held and ultimately revealed as the plot twists keep coming and keep us guessing right up until the end.




ive Star Review:

My Five Star Review:

My ve Star RevieMy Five Star Review:This book kept me turning the pages. When we first meet Allison we’re given a snippet of an unhappy and emotionally neglected childhood with snippets of Allison’s petty jealousies in school about another girl in her class who seemed to be shown such affection from her adopted mother, stirring Allison’s jealousies and leaving her wondering if ‘her own parents were to die’, would she be lucky to get a doting adopted mother. Every time Allison heard the word ‘family’, it brought a chill to her.

Sunday Book Review – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

My Sunday Book Review for one of my favorite reads on vacation – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by one of my new favorite authors, Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is a wonderfully written book full of revealing truths, compassion, survival, glamor and heartbreak where Evelyn tells her lifestory of her rise to fame in the 1950s thru 80s Hollywood.




“If youre looking for a book to take on holiday this summer, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has got all the glitz and glamour to make it a perfect beach read.” —Bustle

From the New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & the Six—an entrancing and “wildly addictive journey of a reclusive Hollywood starlet” (PopSugar) as she reflects on her relentless rise to the top and the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

“Heartbreaking, yet beautiful” (Jamie Blynn, Us Weekly), The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is “Tinseltown drama at its finest” (Redbook): a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth.


My 5 Star Review:

This book was not on my reading list, but a friend gave it to me at the pool while on vacation, and I was addicted. This book was an addictive, fictional story that read as juicy as though reading a biopic on any famous actress of the golden era. Iconic actress, Evelyn Hugo, begins telling her story of her meager beginnings as an immigrant child from Cuba who lived in Hell’s Kitchen New York as a child with an abusive father and her loving mother who died when Evelyn was a young child. Her mother’s dream was to make it to Hollywood, but she never did, so beautiful and cunning Evelyn vowed that she would get there for her mother.

The book begins by Evelyn handpicking journalist Monique (for reasons we will find out at the end of the book) to write her autobiography. Monique was a young journalist writing for Vivante magazine and jumped at the chance to have the only rights to writing about Evelyn’s life. Monique is told that she may publish it after Evelyn dies – which would be soon after Evelyn tells her story in detail, complete with raw honesty, truths, pain, and her ambitions, which made her become the most iconic movie star of her time. We will learn why she had seven husbands – each of them methodically chosen to both, advance her career, and to protect secrets.

Evelyn’s first husband was a handsome, but not so intelligent young man who lived above her apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Ernie Diaz was going to Hollywood to become a grip on set, so Evelyn, aged 15, befriended and feigned her love for him so she could marry him to get away from her father – and a ride to Hollywood. Evelyn was sexy and smart and learned quickly which lunchbars the studio execs liked to hang out at in hopes of getting discovered. She was eventually discovered by producer Harry Cameron who got her some small roles, and incidentally, eventually became her best friend in life. Evelyn knew that to get the bigger roles she’d have to sleep her way to the top and had no qualms doing so.

In this story, we get to see the other side of Hollywood, what goes on in the backgrounds with producers and top execs calling the shots, fixing up dates with rising stars with big stars to be seen in public to attract buzz, the chauvenism and crap female actresses had to put up with, from leading men and execs. After Evelyn does her first big movie with leading man Don Adler, sparks fly between them, and suddenly, Evelyn is marrying Don, a man she thought she loved until she saw his dark side, but nevertheless, her marriage to him was a huge rung in her ladder to success. Don tries to ruin her career when she leaves him, which has producer friend Harry getting her new roles with a friend at another studio.

In the meantime, Evelyn befriends famous actress, Celia St. James, and it is that relationship that will become the utmost important in Evelyn’s life as she reveals that Celia became the love of her life, introducing secret bi-sexuality topic that was a forbidden thing back in the Hollywood 1950s. To detract the papparazi always on their trail, Evelyn comes up with a plan to marry hearthrob singer Mick Riva, formulating the plan with Celia that she’d make him fall for Evelyn, suggest going to Vegas, getting drunk and married and shortly annulled. Throughout the shenanigans of having to sleep with husbands and other men, Celia, a confirmed lesbian, was often jealous and broke it off with Evelyn several times. Evelyn begins doing movies with sex for French producer Max, and Celia can’t get passed that. Eventually, Evelyn gets a new role as Anna Karenina, playing with hot actor Rex North, who Evelyn marries to further her career. Meanwhile, Ev hears Celia married famous football quarterback John, and when Evelyn and Celia reconnect, they discover the perfect storm.

Evelyn and producer/best friend Harry Cameron formulate a plan to keep the press out of their personal lives and their choice of partners. Harry was in love with John and they’d quietly been together for a long time. Harry and Evelyn decide to marry so she could live with Celia and Harry with John without causing attention to the media. And Harry and Celia decide to have a child together because they both wanted a child – another thing Celia had to digest. The storyline is a clever one and depicts the times well, as in the early 60s, being gay was not even an option to admit to publicly. But once again, paradise is ruined when Celia can’t get past Evelyn’s sex scenes in a new movie produced by Max – starring her ex-husband Don Adler.

After many good years together, tragedy strikes Celia’s husband, and then Evelyn’s husband Harry who is heartbroken and ruined after John’s demise. Since Celia has once again left Evelyn, Ev caves to the advances of old friend producer Max and marries him. As Max’s love in reality was just star struck with Evelyn, she once again leaves him and makes her way back to Celia. They decide to leave the Hollywood world and move to Spain, and once again, to divert attention on them, Celia asks Evelyn if she’ll marry her playboy brother Robert, so the three of them can live happily ever after. But it wasn’t always happiness as Evelyn’s daughter Connor grew up struggling with the crazy Hollywood lifestyle, and Celia develops a serious illness. While married to Robert, Celia and Evelyn decide they must marry, not legally, but to sew up their lifetime love and committment. Robert becomes a great friend to Ev and even a good father figure to Connor.

Evelyn reveals this both enthralling, yet often, heartbreaking story to Monique, admitting her flaws and downfalls, detailed with reasons for doing everything she did in her life with resolve, despite a few regrets, her climb to stardom and whatever it took to get her star to rise, and ultimately, her real desire for privacy because of the greatest love of her life, Celia.

The author has painted a complex picture of characters caught up in the Hollywood glamor and the Hollywood emotional instability and heartache of actors and marriages, and at a time where being gay meant having to hide it from the public. By the time I finished this book, I felt like Evelyn really was a big movie star from the Hollywood glamor era who led a fascinating life. This was one of those ‘hard to put down’ books.


Sunday Book Review – The Lilac Notebook by Carol Balawyder

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. I was very much looking forward to Carol Balawyder’s newest release – The Lilac Notebook, and Carol’s books never disappoint. Carol’s story is a delicious mixture of broken and dubious characters. This murder mystery encompasses much more than just murders, always left with a calling card – a post card of Vincent Van Gogh’s, Starry Night.

The author takes on the challenge of early onset Alzheimer’s, as her protagonist Holly is navigating through beginning stages of the horrible disease, and in the process, her incompassionate husband Roy, leaves her, although he agrees to take care of her financially (isn’t that charming?). And once Holly sets up her new life and apartment near McGill University in Montreal, she decides to take a poetry class there to keep her mind sharp. While there, she befriends Kim and Amelia, both victims of childhood abuse, but they’ve digested their horrors in different ways, and so both of them are affected different ways.




Three university friends. One in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, another out for revenge and a third murdered.

Holly Baranov is in the beginning stages of fast advancing Alzheimer’s at 40. Unwilling to care for her, Holly’s husband leaves her. While frightened to be on her own, Holly is relieved to be freed from the clutches of a controlling husband.

She moves out of her large home in the middle-class west end section of Montreal and into a small apartment near McGill University where she enrols in a poetry course in the hopes of stimulating her brain.

There she meets Kim Harris, a thirty-something beautiful but damaged law student and Amelia Rose, a twenty-year-old pole dancer in a seedy nightclub who wants nothing more than to graduate, teach high school, marry and raise a family. Both Kim and Amelia were victims of incest, though each see her perpetrator differently. Kim chose law so as to right the justice she was denied while Amelia is angry at the justice system for separating her from a flawed father who was nonetheless her whole world.
When Amelia is found strangled in her apartment, Holly becomes involved in the investigation, both as prime suspect and as a means to defend herself.

Detective Alice Vireovich and her rookie partner, Detective Dan Cardoni, currently investigating the murders of two middle aged men, are also tasked with investigating Amelia’s murder: They come to believe all three murders may be linked because of a Van Gogh Starry Night postcard found at the scene of all three crimes.

Holly’s health worsens quickly. She is transferred to a support facility. Along with her fading memory, Holly is also losing her ability to speak and write. She is uncertain whether she killed Amelia as her friend Kim, ex-husband Roy and the police suspect.

A niece (whom Holly doesn’t recognize and whose motives she distrusts for suddenly wanting to help her) visits Holly regularly and reads Holly’s notes about Amelia’s investigation. This eventually leads the investigation away from her as they seem to implicate Kim.

Kim’s law teacher at McGill agrees to take on the case pro bono, motivated by her interest in litigating whether damaging effects of childhood abuse pose the question whether murder can ever be justified in such cases.

The expanding investigation leads to more findings relating to the postcard found next to Amelia’s body, bringing into view a surprising new suspect.


My 5 Star Review:

Another page turner by Carol Balawyder. The book begins with our introduction to Holly’s life and marriage to Roy. He is a dominating husband who realizes he doesn’t want to take care of his wife when she is newly diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, so he asked her for a divorce – charming he is not. Not completely heartless, Roy sets up Holly in a lovely apartment near McGill University. Holly enrolls in a poetry class in efforts to keep her mind intact. She also keeps her Lilac Notebook handy so she can write down things she wants to remember for that proverbial day her memory leaves her for good. But it turns out, Holly keeps more notes in that book than just things to remember in her daily life.

Holly meets two girls in poetry class, who ultimately, will unknowingly, bring Holly into a murder scenario . Kim is beautiful, in her thirties, law student, and damaged from the incestuous abuse of her childhood, and Amelia is a mere twenty years old who pays for her schooling through her pole dancing activities at a dance bar. Amelia has a father complex. Her father touched her in places a father shouldn’t ever, since she was a very young child, and Amelia took that as love and still misses her father after her mother threw him out a few years prior.

One day Holly calls on Amelia, and when she doesn’t answer, Holly discovers her dead body in her apartment when she tried the unlocked door. All we know at that point is that Kim drove Amelia home, and Amelia was supposed to be meeting an online date at a cafe after Kim dropped her off, and Holly’s husband Roy had previously been spotted with Amelia. Yet, there’s also a serial killer out there and one of his Van Gogh postcards was left behind at the murder scene. Could any of these characters be the killer?

With Holly’s inner confusion, she trains herself to make mental notes in her head and in her Lilac Notebook about her own investigation about facts she’d gathered about Amelia’s last moves, before those remembered moments get jumbled in her head. So while she still has her wits about her, Holly keeps notes of all she’s seen and her thoughts on possible suspects.

Holly found a phone number in Amelia’s coat pocket and discovers the meetup time at the cafe. Not yet telling anyone, including the police, Holly ventures out to the cafe to feign accidentally meeting the person who Amelia was to meet to see if she can detect foul play. But when someone decides to implicate Holly as the potential killer, her mixed up mind goes into tailspin when she begins doubting herself and her own memory as people ignorant about Alzheimer’s are whispering that Alzheimer’s patients can get violent. But why would Holly want to kill Amelia? Holly becomes the amateur sleuth in the case on her own until she herself becomes the suspect. Holly now with trouble speaking, although her mind seems clear on what she wants to say, keeps all her thoughts and investigations in that Lilac Notebook.

The story brings in murder, incest, abuse and Alzheimer’s and ties them in all together succinctly, giving us well researched information about the state of Holly’s mind. Balawyder demonstrates the human condition by sharing what goes on in Holly’s head, the lack of compassion from some people, and the sadness of Holly losing her independence through her horrible journey through the mind-stealing disease.

This book was hard to put down as suspects were mounting, and poor Holly who had enough to contend with in her own upside down world, besides the police on her case, because her finger prints were found in Amelia’s apartment, and someone is looking for a scapegoat to hide their crime. I had my idea about who the perp was, but the author knew how to throw in those curveballs that continued to have me change my mind, adding a great twist on a suspect as the killer is ultimately revealed.

The author has done an amazing job informing us with her research, about the dark path that Alzheimer’s takes on one’s life by incorporating the knowledge through Holly’s words, thoughts, and actions. At the same time, Balawyder has taken us on a nail-biting story of a murder among friends with some unscrupulous characters to keep us guessing till the end.



Sunday Book Review – Grief Songs by Elizabeth Gauffreau

My Sunday Book Review is for Elizabeth Gauffreau’s beautiful picture and poetry in memoir- Grief Songs – Poems of Love and Remembrance. The author generously sent me a paperback copy of this beautiful poetic memoir. Inscribed in handwritten words at the front page, Liz writes: “I hope Grief Songs will resonate with you. Living with grief is a very hard road to travel, as you know all too well.”Thank you Liz.


Get this book on Amazon


“Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It’s a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto–the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small.”
~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

“Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family’s shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be. ~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review

“A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author’s most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau’s poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past.” ~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review


My 5 Star Review:

The author brings us this heartfelt little book of poetic memoirs inspired by snippets of her life with poignant memories wrapped up in poetic telling, accompanied by nostalgic photo imagery. The theme throughout the poems and photos is love, loss and remembrance, shared in vignettes.

This is a short book that packs a punch of life through the pages. A lovely tribute to Gauffreau’s lost loved ones, mother, father, brother, expressed through Tanka poetry. Stories you can read over again and again, leaving us to conjure our own nostalgia about people from our own past lives, depicting moments in time through snapshots of life.


One of the author’s heartfelt Tanka’s in remembrance of her brother George:

For a Crooked Smile (accompanied by a photo of smiling brother George)

oh, that crooked smile

he was my little brother

teller of tall tales

he smiled for me one last time

around the tube in his throat



Sunday Book Review – Why?: A Complicated Love by Danny Kemp

My Sunday Book Review is for Danny Kemp’s novella – Why?: A Complicared Love. Complicated love is an understatement in this fast paced and sometimes raunchy story of love and consequences.





Why? Is a story set in a web of despair, sex, unreachable emotion and love. One man’s crippling injuries, caused by an unprovoked, vicious attack, ruins the lives of everyone around him. This includes Terry Meadows, a nineteen-year-old boy who falls in love with the main character’s daughter Laura, twenty-seven years before the opening of the story.The twisted, interconnecting matrix in which Francis, Laura’s father, lives, destroys and distorts his daughter’s image of life beyond repair. It is a sad tragedy with an unexpected ending.


My 5 Star Review:

This novella is a story about sex, corruption, and despite the goings on in this criminal telling, love and a tragic love story.

The book begins at the end of the tragedy and goes into the story leading up to that end. Terry is a nineteen year old who wound up in the wrong place looking for sex. When he meets Sammy, a woman who could have been his mother, and she entices him to come back to her place for some raunchy rock and rolling sex, Terry had no idea that his life would take a 180 that day.

We’ll learn that Sammy is always being watched by her criminal, impotent, perverted, almost invalid husband Francis. They live separately, but he controls her life – and his own voyeur sexual fantasies. After a lengthy session up in Sammy’s bedroom, Terry meets her daughter Laura and an instant spark is shared between the two. But Terry is just learning that he is now under the power of Francis, anyone who tangles with Sammy is open target to become one of Francis’ criminal accomplices and if they don’t comply, is threatened with torture and a fiery end. Laura is well aware of her father’s twisted life and knows well he doesn’t make idle threats.

Francis is happy that Terry is servicing his wife and lets him know that if Terry can keep her happy sexually, and supply some other people to do the same, Francis will elevate Terry’s life in status and money. Terry really has no choice once he’s now in Francis’ world. The only caveat is that Terry cannot touch Laura, and herein lies the conflict, Francis has made clear to Terry the consequences of ever touching Laura.

Laura is well aware of the dangers of her father’s wrath, yet secretly harbored an attraction toward Terry for years. Years later, Terry is financially set and ordered to fly to Rome with Laura, by Francis. Francis sent Laura in charge of the papers to have Francis and Sammy’s marriage annulled. Francis felt after so many years he should set his wife free. At the same time he was setting up Terry to see if he’d be faithful to his promise to Francis of never touching Laura. Epic fail.

The Why? A Complicated Love is just that, and not just for one, but for Francis, Sammy, Laura, Terry, and quite frankly, anyone else who becomes part of any of their lives. Love is complicated, and often misconstrued, and for some, even fatal.

Note: Although the subject matter evolves around sex, it is not explicit.


Sunday Book Review – The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle #Cancer #Memoir

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I am thrilled to be sharing my review for Miriam Hurdle’s – The Winding Road: A Journey of Survival – surviving near fatal cancer. This book is both, a heartfelt and heart-wrenching journey, bravely told by Miriam, and miraculously she was gifted the opportunity to live. Not only is this book a tale of Miriam’s diagnosis and her physical fight for survival, but a testament to her diligence and being her own advocate to push through the medical system.



In the summer of 2008, Miriam Hurdle was diagnosed with melanoma-an aggressive and invasive cancer in her internal organs. The survival rate before 2008 was low. Besides risking harsh treatments for a slim chance of survival, Miriam had hoops to jump through. By the time she received treatment at the beginning of 2009, her cancer had progressed from stage II to stage IV. It was a rough and uphill winding road. But alongside her was support and encouragement. Accompanied by the love of her family and community, this is Miriam’s journey of faith and miracle. It is a heartwarming story of resilience, courage, and the will to live.

My Five Star Review:

A courageous journey defying all odds, Miriam Hurdle is a true warrior woman.

Hurdle takes us through her journey of discovering an almost always fatal cancer. She’d already soldiered through several operations to remove fibroids and ultimately, a hysterectomy, when she thought she was moving on, only to be told they found a rare melanoma growing within her internal organs. It wasn’t enough what she’d already endured and her frightening future, but this woman fought all the way through the medical system just to get the experimental and low odds of life saving treatment she would need to live.

This book is a raw accounting with pure honesty and love, of the author’s journey and her unrelenting spirit to get the help she needed for just a chance to live longer. She fought the red tape of the system as her cancer was quickly progressing and her request for treatments remained in a pile of other requests, and her faith and love for her family and determination to live no matter how small the chances were of the horrid experimental treatments and their proposed side effects alone that could have killed her, did not deter her from.

Her story is not only about the journey through hell, but her thoughts and feelings as she approached each hurdle and roadblock along the way, as well as the financial burdens involved and finding willing and compassionate people in her field of teaching who aided in helping to fund her journey. Written with extreme courage and offering anyone hope to know that persistence is always worth it, despite the odds.

This book is not only about Miriam’s journey through cancer, but also, the importance of faith, family and community who came to the her aid and cheered her along, and the miracle that she is still here with us today.

©DGKaye 2023

Sunday Book Review – From Volyn to Kherson: Interpretations of the War in Ukraine by Frank Prem #freeverse #poetry

My Sunday Book Review is for Frank Prem’s moving new release, freeverse poetry with his interpretation of the war in Ukraine – From Volyn to Kherson. This is a most moving collection of tellings from the vision of Prem based on some of the many articles written about the heinous war in Ukraine.


From Volyn To Kherson, tells the stories of hardship and suffering and bewilderment experienced by the people of Ukraine in the early weeks of the 2022 Russian invasion and war.

The collection draws on news reports and social media postings during the most un-curated war the world has ever witnessed, interpreting and translating the raw emotion of this wartime experience.

There is no part of Ukraine that has been left untouched by this war, and no part of the poet left untouched by these stories of the Ukraine.

This book will be part of a series.


My 5 Star Review:

This book is a deeply emotional read as told through the vision of author Frank Prem in his style for which he’s known – freeverse poetry in his deep observational writing. In these stories, the author has taken from what he’s seen on the news, and from headlines and stories across the globe reported by brave journalists, and evokes his own heart and compassion in his tellings and interpretations, leaving us, the readers, to absorb the enormity of the effects on human life and the human condition.

Prem introduces his stories with a question at the beginning – ‘Which of us will be Ukraine, tomorrow?’

“People used to think about new car or IPhone, but nobody was thinking about peace. Now, we are dreaming of it. When old people used to wish each other peace, we didn’t understand what they meant. Now we do.”

Every one of Prem’s poems pierced through my heart. I will share here just two of many heartwrenching tellings:


In okhtyrka (the tsentral’ne)

they are preparing

the cemetery now

in okhtyrka


and his platoon

are gone

vacuum bombed

air taken


of them

and then

they died


in okhtyrka

they are digging


on grave

I think

the cemetery


the tsvyntar

it doesn’t matter


there won’t be any funerals held

for awhile

and both of them

will be overrun


too long


nobody asked us (in russia)

helping them

is treason



is nothing


will be different now


is the changing

of our world


into darkness

do you know . . .


asked us


is the true


knowing that none

of us

really matter

and to speak


or horror

or sorrow-

for ukraine . . .


is a crime


Sunday Book Review – Grow Damn It!, by Cheryl Orteglia

Welcome back to my Sunday Book Review. I am thrilled to review this book today by friend and debut author, Cheryl Orteglia – Grow Damn It! – The Feeding and Nurturing of Life. Cheryl runs an amazing, and often hilarious blog all about her colorful life at Living in the Gap. She writes about things that happen in her daily life, and there never seems to be any shortage of stories. Cheryl can make a book out of what may seem an ordinary day, but from what I’ve read, no day is ordinary in Cheryl’s life.

This is Cheryl’s debut book, and I truly hope there will be another and another following. I was also thrilled to bits when she invited me to write an editorial for her book just before publication. I’ll share it here with you:

Praise For:

Vignettes and slices of life that will touch your heart, make you laugh, and sometimes cry—but, mostly, laugh. From tales of life, loss, values, victories, kids, road trips, and wine—always wine, Oreglia’s mini memoirs are guaranteed to captivate and entertain. I highly recommend this read! Sit down and savor these stories and Grow Damn It, while living vicariously through Cheryl’s journeys of life. I love her attitude and wit and am already looking forward to her next book!

~ D.G. Kaye, author of Twenty Years: After ‘I Do’ – Reflections on Love and Changes Through Aging.


Grow Damn It! is a captivating work by Cheryl Oreglia, who uses uncommon honesty and arresting humor to draw you into her cantankerous life, forty-year marriage, and revolving empty nest. She claims the space between past and future is where our potential is created or destroyed.

If you don’t like where your life is going, dig deeper, and write a new story. By weeding out the things that clutter her life, she invites you into a refreshing space with some of her most popular posts from her beloved blog Living in the Gap.

She surrounds herself with a gaggle of intriguing friends, along with a large and rambunctious family who challenge both her and the reader to live fully in an ever-changing world. Her provocative writing dares us to confront our lives not only with optimism, but courage, and uproarious laughter. Oreglia uses her experience to explore what matters most in life… the degree to which we love and are loved.

My 5 Star Review:

This book is an inspiring and entertaining romp through memorable moments in the life of Cheryl Oreglia – ‘Living in the Gap’. With her sassy attitude and clever wit, the author takes us somewhere between lost in the 70s and back to the now. Her stories will bring us to places many of us have been to in life, in tales we can relate to. From living life, to suffering losses and everything in between, and even some tours of California wineries, well, because, Cheryl loves wine, to her beloved lakehouse in Clear Lake, California, we get to take in a day of the life of Cheryl – which is never usual, by any means. As Cheryl likes to say, “Persevering after failure is learned behavior and it is the one damn thing that improves with age.”

“Middle age is a time for living unapologetically,” with a wealth of advice and reminders to live life to the fullest and stop focusing on our flaws, Cheryl does just that. You will laugh and you will cry, but you will laugh mostly as she shares hilarious stories, most of them including her good sport husband and wingman, Larry. And it doesn’t sound like these two waste much time with their living, especially when there is wine. Did I mention the wine?

As she glides through life and continues to query where the time goes, the author asks, “How did we arrive at old age where energy is as extravagant as premium gasoline?” But nothing stops this woman. She is a force to be reckoned with. When she speaks about events concerning her children, she’ll take your heart with her, and make you pause for a moment as she’ll remind you of heartfelt stories of your own. “We never think of our time as finite. Instead we saunter through life as if we will live forever. When the landscape of your life suddenly changes, you are left with the impossible task of repainting your life, minus the brilliant colors, or familiar forms.”

Get this book, and get some wine to go with it, and stroll along with Cheryl and her Bombeck-esque stories. Just a few to mention: When it’s Covid lockdown and your whole family moves back in with you during their home renos, the boat ride and broken ribs, the Thai massage and the Larry factor, Colonoscopies and Coffee, Revisiting old friends and the bird on the Uber driver’s head, and hilarious biking adventures. I tell you, this couple need their own reality show!

Cheryl is a whippersnapper with prose and humor. She’s tough and loving, and takes no shit. And she can tell a story that won’t let you want to close the book. “Idleness is not the root of all evil, as the Jones’ would have you think. It is the fertilizer, which is required, if you wish to Grow Damn It!”