What I’m reading now:  Bloodsworth—the True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA Evidence, by Tim Junkin

Bloodsworth is the nonfiction account of how Kirk Bloodworth was wrongfully accused and spent 9 years in prison for the alleged heinous rape and murder of a child.    So far, the book includes a short history of how DNA came about (“clearing the innocent as well as identifying the guilty”), the history of the Maryland Penitentiary, and a short Baltimore history beginning in 1661.  I love a book that gives the historical backstory to explain why things happened and what was going on at the same time.

Kirk’s personal story of triumph is intermingled with the above in an interesting and far from boring way.  I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

This book was selected by the Maryland Humanities One Maryland One Book campaign.

Copyright 2004 by Tim Junkin and Kirk Bloodsworth

Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Submitted by Rosa L. Griffin

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What I just finished reading:  Heavy is the Rain, by Stella Adams

Ms. Adams’ book is wonderful.   You know the old saying, “When it rains—it pours”?   Well, little Billie (named after Baltimore singer Billie Holiday) has had her share of ups and downs, and most of her downs were brought on by unsavory adults as well as by an emotionally unavailable mother and an absent father.

I can’t leave out Grandma Gertie in South Carolina who had a special bond with her granddaughter, Billie, to the point of always knowing when Billie was in trouble in Baltimore.   Ms. Adams did her due diligence in researching Baltimore City, Maryland, locales and history for her fiction novel.   And, if you have lived in Baltimore, the locales in her book will hopefully dredge up pleasant memories for you.  It brought back many memories for me.    Her book is fast-paced and thrilling because there are mysteries going on during the novel that make for a lot of suspense.

Copyright 2013 Stella Adams, Plenary Publishing, Charleston.  Look for her new book, Beneficial Life, just published in 2018 by Stargo LLC.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

 

 

What I’m Reading Now:  Power Walking, A Journey to Wholeness by Maxine Bigby Cunningham

I found Maxine’s book very inspiring.   Her book, Power Walking, is a memoir containing poetry, affirmations, and Scripture.  It is filled with prayers to God.  And, the most unique part of all is her life in falling.

Maxine has physically fallen many times in her life because of medical conditions.    Many I suspect were caused by a type of perfectionism in which she must carry on at any cost despite a broken ankle, fainting spells, stroke, anxiety attacks, mental health, etc.   Sometimes she was hospitalized, and other times released from the hospital on the same day.  The Scriptures are appropriately related to her seeking God’s help or successfully coming out of each circumstance.

She has a unique history of the suffering in her life, but also how God brought her through.   Maxine is not beating you down with Scripture but asking you to join her in standing up after a fall.

Maxine is made of stronger stuff than me.  It is a book small enough to be read often and should be.   I plan on referring to her book again.

Her book may be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Power-Walking-Maxine-Bigby-Cunningham/dp/1419643916/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535328050&sr=1-1&keywords=Power+walking+cunningham

Publisher:  BookSurge Publishing, 2008

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

What I’m reading now:  My Life as a Mermaid, A Tale to be Shared, by Michelle D. Smith

Imagine a society where everyone is treated the same.   A mermaid/merman decides what they want to be and do before birth.   Their friends are whales and dolphins.   There is no necessity for money.   Clothing is unnecessary.   Couples mate for life.

Everything is done for the society/collective’s benefit.   There is no greed or crime.

But lest you think mermaids are pushovers, small sea animals are killed but only for each meal, not for storage or mass production.

Humans are the mer peoples’ only natural predators and biggest polluters of the sea.

Michelle has written a book about a perfect community as told to her by her mermaid guide, Shahia.  I believe her book would make a great fantasy or inspirational movie.

Her book can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/My-Life-As-Mermaid-Shared/dp/1329964780 2015

Contact:   Michelle D. Smith’s website is www.YourSpiritualGarden.com, blackrefer.com/michelle.html, and lulu.com/spotlight/MermaidLife.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

What I am reading now—Fifty Shades of Grey

Last week, I borrowed and read the book Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.  This is her first book of three in the series.  This week, I’m reading Fifty Shades Darker, the second book in the series.   I already have the third book, Fifty Shades Freed.

I borrowed all 3 books from the library at the same time.   However, I paid to see all three movies (my control-freak side) on the big screen.  I needed closure to see how their sado-masochistic (S&M) adventure worked out.    I have to find the review I wrote of the first movie and I will be writing a review of the book trilogy as a whole.

I read someone’s comment before I saw the first movie that her books couldn’t possibly be bestsellers because they are so poorly written.  That commenter was a liar.   E. L. James’ books are well-written from pretty sex-novice character Anastasia Steele’s point of view in her turbulent affair with handsome rich young man, Christian Grey.

Another commenter asked why Christian Grey had to be rich.   Being poor is not something I want to fantasize about.  Fantasy is how we escape a condition we don’t want to be in.   Been there–lived that!

“Laters, baby!”

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m still writing a review of Jodi Picoult’s book, Small Great Things.   The review is coming soon.

 

Another comment was that

Libraries are still FUN!

Since the first group of cave dwellers, there have been story tellers.  A great deal of human history was passed on by librarian-types, those who wanted to share survival tactics, knowledge, and history.

In recent years, some people have said that libraries are no longer necessary because we have technology at our fingertips with our “smart phones”—iPhone, Android, etc., with which we can do research, but nothing can take the place of the enthusiasm of a great librarian.

Years ago, I went into the library and never looked back.    My first job ever was a page (a job which entails shelving and retrieving library materials and even circulating materials) in my local branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in East Baltimore.   I shelved books and magazines daily and gladly while in high school.   I fell in love with reading.   With a book or magazine, my imagination was able to travel warp-speed to other people’s lives, investigate dangerous places and situations, and fantasize safely.

I worked in a library for the next 30 years from the time before Baltimore Junior College became Baltimore City Community College—from student worker to secretary to circulation technician.  I loaned books, magazines, rooms for meetings, and computers to our college population.   Even some community members were provided limited library services as well.

After that, I worked at the Johns Hopkins University Press as a Permissions/Office Assistant for a short time where I had the pleasure of handling and reading books and professional journals, as well as copyrighting the same.   I also got a chance to work with authors which was a thrill!

Now, I’m an author (see my website at https://nervikularose.com).   In the past year, I joined a book club, Woodlawn Page Turners, for which I have read a book a month.   We are reading Jodie Picoult’s book Small Great Things for June, but we will be off-site discussing it over great food.   I will be writing a review of that book for my blog (https://nervikularose.wordpress.com).

To this day, I am more likely to have a book or journal in my hands rather than using my phone or laptop to read a book.   I use an audio book only when the physical book is not available or when I’ll be doing a lot of driving.  It was great hearing Ta-Nehisi Coates, a former Woodlawn High School graduate, reading his own audio book, Between the World and Me, to me.   It would make a great book assignment for high school students as it was written to his teenage son.

And, let’s not forget the TNT television show, The Librarians, in which an ensemble of librarians live out the adventures we can only imagine.

Libraries today are staying in the thick of things, providing computers for typing papers and game play, conducting classes and workshops, having speakers, providing musical entertainment for all ages, etc.    Visit your local library especially if you’ve never been to one in your life and not just for the computer games!

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Review of book, Had I Listened: The Things You Do Before You Know, by Hines Early

If you’ve lived in Baltimore, Maryland, from the 1950’s on, you will certainly be able to relate to Hines Early’s first non-fiction book, Had I Listened.  He vividly describes the hustles that were available to African-Americans to keep their heads above water back in the day.

Hines Early started out smart.  At the age of 9, he schooled his young mother about a colored television she bought on time, meaning $5 per week until it was paid for.  Hines figured out that the used television that she bought from a door-to-door salesman would end up costing three times what it was worth.  She sent it back and they eventually bought their own outright.

Hines had jobs like cleaning out A-rabbers’ horse stables that his grandmother used for manure in her plants.  A-rabbers were the entrepreneurs of their day, bringing fresh fruit, vegetables, and fresh fish daily to our doors via horse and wagon, a rare sight these days.  Hines has been everything from show promoter to clothing salesmen to mail business owner.  Can you imagine seeing Jackie Wilson, soul singer extraordinaire, live at the Royal Theater in Baltimore, Maryland?

Along the way, he had a few good advisors like his grandpa Steve.  But, Hines was no different than we are.  He chose the things he wanted to assimilate into his life from his advisors, but mostly went by his own instincts, making mistakes along the way, experimenting with various vices like gambling and drugs.

Hines can proudly say that he and his wife raised their own children and a few others with college aspirations.  He came out of it all, giving back to the community.  In his first book, he imparts the things he learned along the way, even after he knew.  You will laugh with him and cry with him. His story was more than “interesting enough to read about”.  His book was later produced as a play.

Publisher:  Graphic Imaging, Inc.  © Hines 2007.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Book, Once Upon a Wedding, by A.N. Hopps

This book, Once Upon A Wedding, is an emotion-packed ride from beginning to end.   A.N. Hopps makes you laugh, cry and lust after her characters in her first novel.  But, the most burdensome emotion is the constant frustration of not being able to strangle Norma Jean.

The author’s voice is natural and plain-speaking, the way real people talk.  I like the way she doesn’t over-detail the descriptions of her characters, leaving us to use our own imaginations to envision them.  You can feel the pauses, embarrassments, tension, and need to murder.  I certainly used my imagination.

Everyone has known someone like Norma Jean, the “friend” who tries to control you and constantly puts you down.  Edith, the “side-kick” who bowed to the “queen’s” wishes most of her school years.  Although Edith eventually became her own woman, she was still haunted by Norma Jean’s influence over her.

I hated to put the book down between readings to carry on my daily commitments.  A.N. Hopps has written a true romance in every sense of the word.  And, the author has done it in such a way that anyone could put themselves into the story, whether as one of the male or female characters.  I plan on reading it again.

Publisher:  Xlibris Corporation.  © A.N. Hopps 2009.

Review written by Rosa L. Griffin

 

 

 

Review of Odessa Rose’s BOOK Water in a Broken Glass

Tonya Mimms, an up-and-coming young sculptor, meets Malcolm, the man of her dreams, after a series of bedding and discarding other young men to avoid her attraction to women that she discovered in high school.  Tonya and Malcolm begin a sexual relationship.

Then, blink!  Tonya’s head is turned just like that by a beautiful, sensual woman with some of the same attributes as Malcolm.  Malcolm and Satin’s voices, scents, and complexions assault Tonya upon meeting them. Each potential lover has their own business, is physically fit and attractive, owns their own home, drives a great car, and would be devoted to Tonya if Tonya would allow it.

Tonya is like a kid in a candy store whose been told that she can have whatever she wants.  She splits her affections between the two rather than switches them to Malcolm or Satin exclusively. Is it possible to be in love-at-first-sight with two different people, even two different genders, in the same month?  Who will Tonya choose?

What if you are the one who is so afraid to be different that you will verbally abuse or beat up anyone who threatens others’ perceptions of your “normalcy”?  There are also families involved in each relationship. “People don’t like it when you’re not who they need you to be.”  Ms. Rose’s novel explores the confusion of adolescence and sexual identity—a theme that is artfully interspersed throughout the book.

Ms. Rose has written a powerful novel rivaling James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room in the intensity of issues that it brings before the reader.  Like Baldwin’s David, Tonya is insensitive to the people that she is hurting while finding herself.  However, Tonya is also tortured by her own selfishness, unlike David.

I fell in love with Ms. Rose’s lyrical rhythm of writing and intelligence of expression.  Her book is one you won’t want to put down while reading and won’t want to end when you have finished it.

Written by Rosa L. Griffin

Published on Amazon 2/6/11