Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Please Read - For Charity's Sake!

The Gravy Queen

By Cheryl, Crystal, Leo and L. Joel

Durrant and William Cryer



It was a delight to have the opportunity to read The Gravy Queen: A Tribute to Veleen Durrant! This is the first book produced by Piggy Ink (Poets Inking for the Global Good, You-knighted – All proceeds from the purchase of this book will go directly to Foyer de Sion, an orphanage in Haiti (


The Gravy Queen is highlighted from the front to the back cover. How? Well, picture mounds of mashed potato clouds with gobs of gravy raining all over them and that will begin the image. Look on the back cover to see pictures of the children and read about Crystal’s trips to Haiti, before and after the death of her beloved mother. Inside, the gravy really starts pouring as each of the authors share their love through poetry, stories, and pictures. An extra special surprise is a number of recipes right from her kitchen.


So, who is The Gravy Queen? She was a woman loved by the authors—Cheryl, Crystal, Leo and L. Joel Durrant, and William Cryer. Additionally, seven of Veleen’s thirty-five grandchildren were adopted from the Foyer de Sion orphanage. She and her husband hosted an annual reunion for families associated with Foyer de Sion and played a large part in helping to raise funds for this orphanage. How about a sample from various poems!


“...So sit beside me on this mountain chair,

and dip your spoons into the evening air,

and savor what the Gravy Queen prepared—

the savory spuds and gravy gleaming there. (p. 2)


“...Thus began the reign of the Gravy Queen

And never was a fatter kingdom seen.” (p. 8)


            And then a little Christmas Fudge? (recipe – p. 9)


“You call...?


--And like the breath of a sneeze,

I leave my shadow on the wall

And find you--” (p. 19)



painting our imaginations

from an overturned paint bucket

with shades of Agatha Christie...” (p. 28)


And from her husband:


“Signs of spring begin to temper the loss...

But my roses remain dormant.

Rose canes with huge thorns forbid touch,

When will my rose blossom again

With her color and fragrance?”


You will find love, faith, joy, glorious tributes, good-eating recipes and most of all, the beautiful memories that The Gravy Queen gave to her family and so many others. Clearly, this woman’s introduction to words, to reading, has made a major impact on her family, as each speaks poetically and in prose to describe this woman who meant so much to so many. The book is very well designed both inside and out, using print styles, colors and interesting designs to enhance and please the eye.


This review of The Gravy Queen is contributed to benefit the children of Foyer de Sion, whose motto is “Hope gives Life.” (back cover) I wholeheartedly recommend this book for not only its beauty but also as the first project of Poets Inking for the Global Good, You-knighted


G. A. Bixler Independent Professional Book Reviewer


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sir Colonel Dr. Charles McGee - Read His Biography!

     IP Book Reviewers



Tuskegee Airman: The Biography of Charles E. McGee

By Charlene E. McGee Smith

Branden Publishing Company

ISBN:  0780828321860

245 Pages



In writing the biography of Charles E. McGee, her father, Charlene E. McGee Smith, Ph.D., in Tuskegee Airman: TheBiography of Charles E. McGee, also provides an extensive overview of nearly 90 years of American history!


Please consider this a major research effort, which highlights not only the life of a great American, but:


·        An extensive history of the creation and present status of Tuskegee Airmen.

·        The development of aircraft used during wartime.

·        Highlights for all significant historical events during these years.

·        A continual look at race relations; i.e., segregation, civil rights, and, in particular, racial issues within the military service(s) and in America.

·        A significant list of resources and a detailed index!


There were just too many awards to mention in this review, from the Air Force Fighter Combat Record Holder through to The Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by the United States Congress. It will be each reader’s privilege to read of these recognitions and commendations.


I enjoyed most, though, reading of Charles McGee’s personal family life and of the many individuals affected through knowing him. The pictures on the front cover reveals a man whose eyes share the warmth of love and compassion—a man of integrity who claims respect due based upon respect given.  Sample items I appreciated most included:


·        Lessons passed down for generations in the McGee family dictated Charles endure them [acts of racism] with quiet dignity. So he turned a deaf ear... (p. 22)

·        “As hard as things were, there (in the camp) I was not black or white. Just another American pilot and officer afforded the same treatment as the others. That was better than I got when I was freed and returned to my own country after the war.” (p. 55)

·        Charles named his plane “Kitten...” (p. 56)

·        Having come this far, the Tuskegee Airmen faced two enemies and one was American. (p. 59)...and, later, “They knew when they had Red Tails flying with them, they had protection from the Germans they could count on.” (p. 61)

·        “...a lot of what we [Tuskegee Airmen] fought for was an opportunity to overcome having someone look at you and, because of your color, close a door on you.”

·        Responsibility to God, country and family took on new meaning when it included six pound, ten ounce Charlene Edwina McGee... (p. 71)

·        “Up there above 30,000 feet with the earth below and the canopy of the heavens above, you realize you are a speck, a grain of sand in the grandeur of the universe.” (p. 88)

·        ...he completed the 7000th mission flown by pilots of the 18th Fighter Group, went on to complete 100 combat missions, flying his final mission on February 20, 1951. (93)

·        When it was time to learn to swim, Dad offered a few pointers then threw me [the author] in the deep end of the pool... (97)


Forget about for whom this biography was written. Instead, add to your must-read list, the biography of one of America’s finest! Find a copy of Tuskegee Airman by Charlene E. McGee Smith and read one of the best Americana books around!


Sir Colonel Dr. Charles McGee – I am honored to have had the opportunity to review your life story!


Respectfully submitted,



G. A. Bixler For IP Book Reviewers


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ghost Story is Wonderful!

The Secret of Lucianne Dove 

By Roberta L. Smith

238 Pages


Sometimes an author presents exactly what you want to read—the book has a beautiful, enticing cover; a little mystery; a ghost or two; strong, endearing characters, a storyline that keeps you turning pages; excellent writing; and an ending that ties up all the little issues that sometimes are left hanging! Quite simply, I found all this and loved The Secret of Lucianne Dove by first-time novelist, Roberta L. Smith!


The book opens in 1881 when Lucianne Dove is being hanged—for a murder she did not commit. Admittedly she had been a prostitute, having no other way to make money. And she had also been a lover to the man who had been killed. But that was as far as her guilt went. Even as he led her to the gallows, the sheriff felt that hanging Lucianne was wrong.


Before she was hung, she asked to speak, “Please. Please tell Janie to get in touch with her little sister.”


It was a hundred years later, more or less, when Mickey McCoy started having dreams. Mickey was still working as a news reporter, though he had passed the normal retirement age years ago. His career had been his life. Mickey had received awards for his writing, but he’d never felt that his work was completed. When the dreams started, he wasn’t sure what was happening, especially the one where Marjorie Main in Ma and Paw Kettle in Lake Tahoe, played for an entire night.


At about the same time but a couple hundred miles away in Lake Tahoe, a woman named Marjorie was in the midst of a quarrel with her daughter Luce. Luce had also been having dreams and her mother had refused to believe and accept anything that her daughter shared. While Marjorie wasn’t aware of it, Luce had taken to walking around in Virginia City, sometimes asking the question, “Do you know Janie or where I can find her?” The dead woman who came to Luce in dreams had told her what to do and where to go.


One of the places she was to visit was the Comstock Children’s Home. Though run down and threatened by individuals at the State Children’s Services, who supported it, there was much love and concern provided the children who still lived in this orphanage.


And so it was the spirit of Lucianne who entered into the dreams of those who would listen and see her, who worked to reveal the secret that had never been shared. Lucianne not only cleared her own reputation for murder but also provided the way through which Mickey McCoy was able to write her story and redeem his own life.


This heartwarming tale often centers on the Children’s Home and readers will soon find themselves involved in the lives of the director, staff, and the children. I have no idea whether any part of the story is based upon fact; however, if it wasn’t, it is certainly written as if it answers one of the greatest mysteries of the past.


A touch of history, a touch of romance...this is a beautiful story to curl up with on a dark and cloudy weekend! I’m hoping this writer considers a sequel! In the meantime, get a copy and enjoy The Secret of Lucianne Dove!  You’ll be glad you did!


G. A. Bixler

IP Book Reviewer


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Do you Want to Enhance your Intelligence and Understanding - Challenge 5

Your Exceptional Mind:
Enhance Intelligence; Expand Understanding
By Robert J. Flower, Ph.D.
The Gilchrist Institute Publishers
ISBN: 0-9759501-2-6


Do you feel you have achieved what you want in your life? Or, are you just starting out and have major goals toward which you are moving? Robert J. Flower, Ph.D., wants to help you answer these important questions! Your Exceptional Mind is Dr. Flower’s latest book in introducing what he defines as our innate natural thinking and intelligences.

When individuals say, “I want to be exceptional, I want to be successful...” they are, in essence, making a work, to strive “to be all that they can be” as others have said. This is not easy and requires dedication! There are “four prime factors which limit our achievement: fear, ego, ignorance and self-deception.”  In other words, it is we, ourselves, that limit our own achievement!


So, how do we work around, or eliminate, these limitations? Even in the Foreword, Dr. Flowers starts, by saying, “I found truth!” Further, “seeking truth is never easy...The secret to discovering truth is being willing to accept wherever it leads you...and be prepared to give up control and follow blindly.”


I think for many of us, giving up control is extremely hard to conceive, little on, implement! I know I have the problem. And I would even admit that my need to retain control is based upon one or all of the four limiting factors. And like many of you may be able, I can even trace it to a point in my life; i.e., for me, when my position was eliminated—or in my words—I was fired, after nearly 38 years working at one institution.


Dr. Flower responds, “Research has found that if you take exception to and challenge your negative thought patterns in an emotionally charged fashion, you will be more likely to get over them.” (p. 104) I know this is true intellectually and with Dr. Flower’s help, I hope to succeed!


One of the amazing points shared by Dr. Flower is that his book(s) packages basic fundamentals of understanding—the underlying human dynamics that control our lives. (p. vi). Consider these words:


·Focus ·Beliefs ·Expression ·Models ·Order

·Measure ·Reflection · Details ·Whole ·Functions

They are not new to you, are they? Yet, consider just the first one: “Focus.” How many times have you been unable to do just the simple act of focusing on a topic? Perhaps your mind is troubled with problems at home, or that deadline you have at work, or there may be an illness or a death in the family.

Dr. Flower suggests that we must “always focus on the development of our potential.  Wow! (p. 107) Each of these words represents one of our intelligences. Using the above example, you may quickly realize that implementing each intelligence to move toward success and toward developing an exceptional mind will be difficult. But, Dr. Flower has assured me that once it clicks, it’s easy!


Are you ready to start? Then, this book will be a must-read for you.


"When we die, God asks us just one question; what did you do with what I gave you?"—Robert J. Flower




Sunday, August 10, 2008

Met The Challenge - Knew I Would!

Thought I'd better submit another update to my reading list, so I can move some of these on for others to enjoy!

Read/Reviewed (Available on Gather)

Bravo! Greatness of Italian Music by Guy Graybill 

Conspirator's Odyssey: The Evolution of the Patron Saint by Aaron Kinte Kuykendall (Gather member)

Dr. Joel Berman's Understanding Surgery: A comprehensive Guide for Every Family

On Persecution, Identity & Activism: Aspects of the Italian-American Experience from the Late 19th Century to Today by Cristogianni Borsella

The Tiniest Tiger by Joanne L. McGonagle

NY Times Bestselling Authors

Below the Surface by Karen Harper 

Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter

Blood Brothers by Nora Roberts*

Hundred-Dollar Baby: A Spenser Novel by Robert B. Parker*

I is For Innocent by Sue Grafton

Innocent as Sin by Elizabeth Lowell*

Killer Dreams by Iris Johansen

Left to Die by Lisa Jackson*

Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton

Run For Your Life by Andrea Kane

Tempting Evil by Allison Brennan

The Body of David Hayes by Ridley Pearson

The Bone Parade by Mark Nykanen

The Dead Room by Heather Graham

The Hollow by Nora Roberts*

Three in Death by J. D. Robb* 

So there are so many that don't reach NY Bestselling List! Hmmmm...

Cat in a Red Hot Rage by Carole Nelson Douglas

Dead Guilty by Beverly Connor** 

Dead Hunt by Beverly Connor** 

Dead Past by Beverly Connor**

Dead Secret by Beverly Connor**

Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon

Dressed to Die by Beverly Connor**

One Grave Too Many by Beverly Connor**

Uniform Justice by Donna Leon 

Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare

What Lies in Shadow by Tina Wainscott

*Favorite Author

**New Author Added to Favorites


27 Earlier

59 Total

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Better Read This One More Than Once!

By Alicia Kirschenheiter

51 Pages


Oscar & Otis is a new fun book by Alicia Kirschenheiter. Maciej Zajac beautifully illustrates it in a way that adds emphasis to the storyline!  The children's book is written to encourage physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle; however, individuals of all ages may find it a challenging reminder!

Oscar and Otis are best friends who have a story to tell. By the way, Oscar and Otis are cats! How cool is that!

Oscar overheard his mom talking to their doctor about her husband being overweight. He had called to discuss how his weight puts him at a higher risk for many health problems. Oscar immediately became concerned since he doesn't want his dad to be sick!

Though Oscar talked to his mom and she told him not to worry, Oscar does--enough to call his best friend, Otis. After thinking about his dad, he realized that he also could become sick. When Otis answered, Oscar asked what he knew about being fat. Otis mumbled a reply because he just happened to be having a snack! Oscar invited himself over to Otis's house to talk about it more. He realized that his dad had a big belly and that it could lead to a sick heart.

In fact, if he kept eating like he did, he could get a belly just like his Dad!

Oscar and Otis talked about what they could do. Otis mentioned that he'd seen television commercials for a gym--and a guy called King Phineus! They got on the computer and learned more about the Fitness Center and decided to go see him--right after Otis' mom made them a snack: chocolate sundaes with whipped cream!

(You get the feeling that Oscar and Otis might need to change their eating habits too?)

When they got to the gym, they saw people with big bellies, some small, old people and even girls! This doesn't seem right, they thought. They met Phineus then and explained their concern about Oscar's dad and that they wanted to get something to help him get skinny. So Phineus showed them around and even let them try some of the equipment.

Finally Oscar knew what to do, he would send his dad there one day to play on the machines and get healthy. But King Phineus told them that it would take longer than one day, but with the right program, diet and determination, anyone could lose weight!

When Oscar got home, he found his dad in the kitchen having a snack. He decided right then was the time to talk to him--and so he did!  And his dad listened and, encouraged, decided to not only help himself, but also his son.

And soon both families began different types of exercises and diet programs. Oscar and Otis found that they had more energy and became involved with playing sports and activities with other kids. 

The author is an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer and Weight and Lifestyle Management consultant. She notes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out that over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children and adolescents. It has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 (back cover).

Parents, grandparents, concerned adults--if you know of a child, or children, who is already beginning, or has a weight problem, please consider this book a must-read!