Friday 16 December 2022

Night of Mysterious Blessings by Sally Metzger + Guest Post

Book Details:

Book Title:  Night of Mysterious Blessings by Sally Metzger
Category:  Children's Fiction (Ages 5-8), 40 pages
Genre Picture Book/Early Reader
Publisher Elk Lake Publishing
Release date:   November 3, 2021
Format available for review:  print-softback (USA & Canada), PDF
Tour datesNov 7 to Dec 16, 2022
Content Rating: G. My book is rated G because it has a Biblical world view. 

Book Description:

Have you ever had great big tingly goosebumps? Or tossed and turned too long on a sleepless night? Have you ever seen tall shadows dance in your doorway? Or found a RELAX-let-go peace deep inside? In Night of Mysterious Blessings, you’ll share in the adventures of a boy and his beloved dog. Enter this curious, oh-so-mysterious night, and be amazed at what you see in the morning's light. Best of all, uncover the priceless key to worrying less and smiling more.

​So many books stress God is always with us. How fantastic for a book to proclaim the Scriptural truth that God is also within. It's a lifelong gift for children to discover God makes his home inside them while their hearts are open to
 receive the mystery.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ B&N ~ BookBub 
add to Goodreads

How Is Night of Mysterious Blessings Unique?
When you look for books about God for your little one, there is no shortage of options. My book is different in several exciting ways. 
First of all, I incorporated the Sandman into the story to add to the fun. My Sandman is a cross between Santa Clause and an extremely laidback hippie, wearing a flower headband, matching lei, and flip-flops. He's an expert on the importance of relaxing and has advice on reaching a state of tranquility before bed. He tells our little protagonist that trusting God is the key to letting go of worry and counting his blessings, not his problems, will help him drift off to sleep. 
The Sandman is a self-effacing fellow who declares, "I'm just a guy from a fairytale place, but God is as real as the nose on your face." His bag of sand is lacking in power as well. "This sand from the sea can't compare to (God's) care. Breathe in his calm. He's as near as the air." I haven't found a single book about God where the Sandman is one of the characters. By the book's end, the young narrator and the reader are clear that the Sandman doesn't exist but is part of a strange yet wonderful dream.
Secondly, the book is different in emphasizing that God is within our young insomniac. Many religious children's books emphasize God's nearness, but to proclaim God lives inside us is comfort on a more profound level. The indwelling Spirit is a concept found not just in Christian Scripture but also in spiritualities around the globe. Aiming our prayers inward is a powerful way to develop intimacy with God, and finding a power greater than ourselves within us is finding strength. How much are we loved by an eternal Being who wants to live inside us?
Finally, it's pretty unusual for a book about God to have a funny twist at the end. That part of the book is only for readers. This post won't be a spoiler.
I hope all of you find joy, peace, and confidence as you mine your spirituality. 

Meet the Author:

As a teacher, spiritual director, and retreat leader, Sally Metzger has helped young people discover God’s boundless love for them for over 20 years. She developed and taught a course in faith formation for university students, religion teachers, youth ministers, and parents, and she is the author of two children’s books, Night of Mysterious Blessings and Jesus, Were You Little?

​Sally has a Master of Theological Studies degree
, focusing on pastoral care, and is active in chaplain ministry. Her message: It’s Raining Grace! And through God’s power, we can find and joyfully fulfill our purpose in life. Sally is married to her high school sweetheart, cherishes her children and grandchildren, and enjoys outdoor adventures and travel.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads 

Enter the Giveaway:
Win a signed copy of Night of Mysterious Blessings by Sally Metzger (one winner / (USA only) (ends Dec 17)


Wednesday 14 December 2022

In The Daze of My Youth: A Memoir by Joshua Kraushar

 Book Details:

​Book Title:  In the Daze of My Youth: A Memoir by Joshua Kraushar
Category:  Adult Non-Fiction (18+),  160 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Publisher:  Mascot Books
Release date:  December  2022
Content Rating:  PG-13 + M: Parts of the book talk about illegal drug use 
Book Description:

Hello! I’m Josh―and with the exception of friends, family, former colleagues, and students, you don’t know me from Adam. This autobiography is a down-to-earth, intimate memoir of my life, spanning the bulk of the 1950s through 1970s. Since I’m almost seventy now, my life today has zero resemblance to that of the person I’ve written about. The drugs I partake in today, like Lipitor and Flomax, don’t seem to be as much fun as acid and mescaline were many decades ago. Nonetheless, my memories of youth are vivid and amusing. Many of the vignettes that I have incorporated into the book are true-to-life anecdotes that I have related over the years at dinner parties to amuse my friends. Having taught high school for thirty-five years following the events of this book, I intentionally neglected to relate any of the stories to my students knowing full well that I would be fired on the spot. Since I am now very happily retired, I have absolutely no fear of retribution from irate parents or Board of Education members. In the Daze of My Youth traces my life from good Jewish boy to New York City checker cab driver to degenerate druggie to world traveler. Even though I’m a happily married dad with grown children who are infinitely more responsible than I’ll ever be, I sometimes still feel like the wild man I was many years ago . . .
​Mascot Books
Amazon ~ B&N
add to goodreads
Meet the Author:

​Joshua Kraushar is a former history teacher, cab driver, and New York City tour guide. He received numerous awards during his 35-year career in education, including New Jersey Humanities Teacher of the Year. He was inspired to tell the story of his formative years by friends who generally found his anecdotes related to taxi driving and world travel to be compelling and particularly funny. He also wishes to give anyone who was born during the last forty years a good sense of what it was like to grow up in the ’60s and ’70s and to freak out his former students who assumed he was reasonably sane. Joshua and his wife Terri currently live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with their incredibly hairy golden retriever, Khaleesi, and are the parents of two sons, Jeremy and Zack. 

Monday 12 December 2022

The First State (The Judgement series Book 1) by Tshekedi Wallace


Book Details:

Book Title:  THE FIRST STATE  (The Judgment series Book 1) by Tshekedi Wallace
CategoryAdult Fiction (18+), 237 pages
Publisher: Review Tales Publishing & Editing Services
Publication Date: August 18, 2022.
Content Rating: G 
Book Description:

England is run by the dictator and tyrant Gregory Christopher in the year 2079 from London Metropolitan state. He is crushing the citizens will by enforcing unfair laws using his statesmen, and he has used the police and his alpha hunters to put fear in the people’s hearts. Kofi Achebe and the urban fist revolution factions are fighting the evil head statesman and the men he uses to inflict pain on those who go against him as he continues to rule over the masses. The battle between the state police, unified security services, and the urban fist militia starts to become brutal and gruesome as the mad leader slowly begins to tighten his grip. He knows that he must keep the citizens in line so he can continue to rule. Slowly the despot leader begins to feel that his power is being challenged to the point where he must make the people suffer. Kofi and the urban fist militia leader Trevor Brown know that they must fight to break free of the statesmen’s evil regime and destroy the system they created once and for all. The final war in London Metropolitan becomes a fight to the death that will decide the fate of many citizens.
Buy the Book:
Meet the Author:

Tshekedi Wallace is named after Tshekedi the Great, the King of the Bamangwato of Botswana. In keeping with his namesake, Tshekedi Wallace, who was born in Leeds, is a committed advocate for freedom due to his upbringing. He was born into a well-known family of struggle heroes who fought for the liberation of their people. He grew up listening to vigorous debates about politics, history, and issues of the day mostly discussed at the dinner table. This has given him an enduring love for history, literature, art, and politics. Although he likes to read books across all kinds of genres, he has a special love for science fiction, thrillers, poetry, and non-fiction. In his spare time, he avidly follows what’s happening in movies. He loves music from all cultures and is steeped in African culture in all its manifestations, particularly in the Caribbean and the Americas. In his spare time, he writes poetry.

connect with the author: twitter ~ instagram
Win an ebook Copy of THE FIRST STATE  (The Judgment series Book 1) by Tshekedi Wallace (one winner) (open internationally, ends Dec 17)

Friday 9 December 2022

A Dress the Color of the Moon by Jennifer Irwin


Book Details:

​Book Title:  A Dress the Color of the Moon by Jennifer Irwin
Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  360 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction 
Publisher:  Glass Spider Publishing
Release date:  October 30, 2021
Content Rating:  PG-13 +M: Though this book deals with sexual addiction, it does not contained explicit sex scenes and the language is tame. The book's focus is on the protagonist's path toward recovery from an addiction.
Book Description:

Prudence Aldrich is a sex addict. Five weeks ago, she checked into the Serenity Hills rehab center to prevent that addiction from ruining every important relationship in her life. Now Prue must face the trail of destruction she left behind, including mending the broken bond with her teenage son, finalizing the divorce from her husband, Nick, and using a newly learned set of skills to ward off her insatiable cravings for male attention-a compulsion that puts her friendship with lifelong pal Lily to the test.

​Adding ever further complications to the hurdles in her path is the arrival into town of Alistair Prescott, her in-rehab romantic obsession, and the one person in the world most capable of throwing Prue off her recovery. Meanwhile, Serenity Hills counselor Mike Sullivan is undergoing a crisis of his own-one that will drive him to the rediscovery of a lifelong passion . . . and causing him to cross paths again with Prue, his former patient.

A Dress the Color of the Moon tracks the rocky and sometimes disastrous path to recovery-a recovery that will require Prudence and her friends to face down the demons of their pasts while learning to accept the fearful uncertainty that comes with living life on your own two feet.

Amazon B&N
Powells ~ BAM ~ BookBub
add to goodreads

A Dress The Color Of The Moon is the second of two novels about Prudence Aldrich's sex addiction and recovery. I haven't yet read the first book, but found that didn't detract from my enjoyment of A Dress The Color Of The Moon. There are a few references to earlier events, but on the whole this is a self contained story. The novel starts when Prudence is a resident at an addiction recovery clinic called Serenity Hills where she is learning how to live without triggering her addiction. Unfortunately, she develops an attraction to her counsellor, Mike, who secretly has problems enough of his own. I was interested that a lot of what Prudence struggles with didn't actually seem to be an addiction to sex per se, but to the male validation that intercourse provided. She needed to know that she was wanted physically because her low self esteem did not allow her to feel comfortable simply as herself. Prudence also thinks about starting a relationship with a fellow addict, Alistair, a rich man who I didn't think was taking the recovery process seriously enough for it to work. I couldn't understand why Prudence was attracted to him - other than his bank account - because he came across as a selfish person. Prudence did tend to surround herself with similar types of people though. Her relationship with her best friend, Lily, is also complicated. I thought Lily took a lot of liberties that would have upset me so I could quite understand when Prudence had a moment of indiscreet revenge. I thought that A Dress The Color Of The Moon was as much about navigating interpersonal relationships as it was about recovery from addiction. I didn't like many of the characters ' personalities, but I was quite gripped by this novel. Prudence especially is an unpredictable person and sadly self destructive so it was difficult to anticipate just what kind of a mess she would get herself into next. I did think A Dress The Color Of The Moon got a bit too maudlin and mawkish towards the end, but overall I enjoyed reading this novel.

Meet the Author:

Jennifer Irwin’s debut novel, A Dress the Color of the Sky, was published in 2017 and has received rave reviews, won seven book awards, and was optioned for a feature film. Jennifer’s short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications including California’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Fiction. Jennifer is represented by Prentis Literary and currently resides in Los Angeles.

connect with the  author:

Enter the Giveaway:
Win signed copy of A DRESS THE COLOR OF THE MOON by Jennifer Irwin (one winner)(USA only)(ends Dec 17)


Wednesday 7 December 2022

The Darker The Skies by Bryan Prosek


Book Details:

​Book Title:  The Darker the Skies by Bryan Prosek
Category:  YA Fiction (Ages 13-17),  292 pages
Genre: YA Science Fiction 
Publisher:  CamCat Books 
Release date:  November 2022
Content Rating: PG. It's very clean.
Book Description:

It only takes one to make a difference.

Just days before Jake Saunders plans on proposing to the love of his life, Jake is called upon once again to save his home, Earth. The Earthen Legion troops and its allies think they’re battling only pirates, but a new, more powerful foe from another galaxy flanks their forces and invades, in search of a weapon the planet didn’t even know it had.

​When Jake learns that this new enemy was responsible for the death of his father many years ago, he realizes he can finally face his true nemesis. The odds are stacked against Jake, but with the help of his friends and allies he’s made along the way, he must rally the remaining Legion troops and retake Earth before it’s too late. The fate of Earth and the fate of his love, rest in the balance.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

The Brighter The Stars by Bryan Prosek


Book Details:

​Book Title:  The Brighter the Stars by Bryan Prosek
Category:  YA Fiction (Ages 13-17),  256 pages
Genre: YA Science Fiction 
Publisher:  CamCat Books 
Release date:  November 2020
Formats Available for Review: audiobook (Book Funnel download), and ebook (EPUB, PDF, Book Funnel download)
Tour dates: Nov 14 to Dec 9, 2022
Content Rating: PG. It's very clean.
Book Description:

Caught between love and revenge, Jake has one chance to live up to the man his uncle was.

Earth crashed into interstellar politics as a lightweight, lagging so far behind other planetary weapons systems everyone feared they wouldn’t survive first contact with other worlds without quick action. By 2185, Earth had united itself into five geographic sectors and developed a defense system powerful enough to keep aggressors at bay—for now, at least.

Jake Saunders became a Legion soldier to honor the memory of his war hero uncle, who was brutally murdered in front of him when he was still a young teen. Fast forward a few years, and Jake and his best friend Cal have been tasked with escorting Cal’s older sister Diane to become Earth’s ambassador on a far-off planet. It’s the opportunity of Diane’s career, very likely a lifetime post. But for Jake, that could mean a lifetime’s heartbreak. He has loved Diane since they were kids, and every step closer to that ambassador assignment is a step closer to goodbye.

​But somebody is after more than Earth’s defense, and Jake, Cal, and Diane are on a trajectory to crash headlong into that dangerous plot. Somebody wants to play Earth against its most immediate threat, Craton, and convince both to develop super weapons—and he’s working with the person who killed Jake’s uncle all those years ago. When he reappears on Jake, Cal, and Diane’s journey to the ambassadorship, Jake is faced with difficult choices to look out for his friends and honor his uncle’s memory.
Buy the Book:
CamCat Books
Audible ~
B&N ~ IndieBound ~ BookShop
add to goodreads

The Brighter The Stars is the first novel in Bryan Prosek's young adult science fiction series which is set some two hundred years into the future when Earth is a very different place and humans have made contact with a number of other alien races in our solar system. Despite there now being apparent peace between everyone on Earth, our outlook towards other planets still assumes violent intent so the Legion was formed. The book's juvenile heroes, Jake and Cal, both become Legion soldiers and most of The Brighter The Stars follows their maverick escapades as they rush to save Earth from duplicity and potential disaster.

I did feel that Jake especially often felt too young for the role assigned to him. Both he and Cal are meant to be experienced soldiers, yet their impetuousness generally leads them into more trouble and dangerous situations. Of course, they always survive by the skin of their teeth and always have just the right gizmo to hand to save the day! Prosek has certainly written a fast-paced, exciting novel and I could easily imagine its target audience of teenaged boys being enthralled by Jake and Cal's adventure. There's lots of gung ho bravado, fights, spaceship battles and nefarious aliens to defeat. I did enjoy spotting nods to series like Star Trek along the way too. While The Brighter The Stars isn't the sort of story I would usually choose, it did make for a fun diversion.

Monday 5 December 2022

The Broken Hallelujah excerpt, by Wendy H Adair

Did you see my Meet The Author post with Wendy H Adair on Friday? It was interesting to interview her about her newly published Vietnam War novel, The Broken Hallelujah, and now you can read the book's first two chapters right here!


Martin Carter’s plan is to survive his tour in Vietnam and return to his wife and newborn daughter. He refused his commission to keep from lying to his men but ultimately becomes a leader to his team and to a small group of Vietnamese villagers. He must find whoever is running drugs through the camp before he can safely get home.

Robin Carter’s plan is to care for her grandmother and restart her career after a disastrous divorce. Martin’s footlocker is unexpectedly delivered to their home—he’s been missing in action since 1969. His journals record his harrowing sixteen months in Vietnam. Robin is determined to find the grandfather she never knew before her grandmother’s memories fade.

The Broken Hallelujah is a heart-wrenching tale of family, the lasting impact of lies, and the human consequences of truth.

Has that Synopsis captured your attention? I hope so, because you can now read the Prologue and First Chapter of The Broken Hallelujah ...



Central Highlands, South of Da Nang, Vietnam

December 1969

By now, he should have been used to the smell and the heat and the endless green. Corporal Martin Carter shook his head, his mind wandering into the never-ending mystery of his surroundings. His eight-man reconnaissance patrol moved through the ferns and bamboo, breaking a path through the mist, watching intently for signs of the enemy and any deadly surprises they might have left. Only the whine of insects and the chittering of monkeys broke the silence. As exotic as the jungle looked, it was the smell that would still be there long after he returned home. A noxious soup of rotting plants, sulfurous mud, and dead and dying beasts rose from the swamp as they slogged their way foot after foot, mile after mile, back to home base outside of Chu La. 

The line of soldiers moved slowly down the trail. Sweat dripped unabated out of Martin’s helmet, down his face, and under his collar. He didn’t bother to wipe it away since it was just followed by another rivulet. He’d ripped the sleeves off his jungle fatigues, but it barely helped in the humid sweatbox.

He’d been in-country sixteen months . . . longer than anyone in his unit. By now, Martin could stay on full alert while pondering weightier issues, like why the hell he was still in Vietnam and not home, as he should have been months ago. Goddamn Lieutenant Price. Haven’t got a fair shake from that guy since he showed up, Martin thought, slogging along the barely discernible trail. He can’t know I’ve been checking on him. Only Cowboy knows what I suspect.

Martin tried to focus on the mission. Left, right, left, right . . . the cadence hummed in his mind. It calmed him, but he shook his head to break out of the almost trance-like rhythm(never good to lose awareness. He glared into the jungle, almost wishing to see a flash of black pajamas.

Shorty was up front. His helmet rose above the bamboo like a beacon for the troops. Word was that he was leading the march with an eight-foot python slung over his shoulders. Lieutenant Price would no doubt call him out for it. But Martin was in charge of this team, and he could ignore the boa addition to Shorty’s uniform to partake of the promised meat at dinner. The almost-six-foot-six soldier planned to open a BBQ pit back home in Tennessee after the war. They were just lucky he hadn’t stumbled on another cobra. That thing had been at least nine foot and damn poisonous. The python, though, that would be a great addition to tonight’s meal.

The chopper had dropped them upriver, close to the demilitarized zone (DMZ). They were to clear the way back to Chu La and their camp. They’d done this sweep two days ago. He hoped the VC didn’t figure out how often they were on this trail. It wasn’t safe to set a pattern. What the hell was HQ thinking? All was quiet for the moment. Martin shook his head as soon as he thought that. He’d think of his daughter instead. Adriana was now one. Suse says she has my green eyes and is already walking. Martin patted his breast pocket that held the small photo of Suse and a smiling infant. It was against regs to carry personal stuff on patrol, but he couldn’t leave the photo behind in his hooch. 

They’d had a huge fight . . . he didn’t tell her until after he’d already enlisted. He justified his actions for the hundredth time. It was the timing of it, that’s all, what with her being pregnant. He still hadn’t seen her face to make sure she’d really forgiven him. Thinking of her and the young daughter he hadn’t met made him grin. He checked quickly to make sure no one saw him and then focused on the cami ruck in front of him. Left, right, left, right continued to beat in his head as the team moved closer to home base. 

It was easy to drift to thoughts of his daughter. Haven’t met her, but I’ll bet she’ll know her old man, he thought. I’ve been over here almost as long as Suse and I’ve been married. Better finish that letter when I get back to camp. He shook his head again. 

They’d been marching off and on for six hours. He was in the groove, his feet continued in the trained pattern . . . left, right . . . left, right . . . which let his mind wander to his recent promotion. The lieutenant must have had no choice. Price could continue to torment him as a corporal rather than send him home at the normal end of his tour. 

Martin looked up just in time to avoid walking over the stiff soldier ahead of him. Bonzo Bennie was full stopped. He was the most uptight guy in camp. He’d transferred to Company A after his Huey crashed in a chemical drop just north of Chu La. He still had that death stare when spooked. His shoulders were hunched into his neck.

The entire line stopped . . . no one was breathing. The monkeys were no longer screaming in the canopy, and the birds and insects were mute. Shit, this couldn’t be good. Hopefully Trưởng and his family could get to the caves in time. Goddamn karma. He knew better than to take his eye off the jungle. Raising the M16 to his shoulder, Martin couldn’t tell where the enemy was, as the sweltering wilderness absorbed the sounds. 

He heard the staccato punch of automatic fire, and the mist changed to smoke from grenades. The line of men broke, seeking cover. The sounds reverberated off the trees. His men cried out as high-velocity bullets punched through their protective gear. Running toward the heaviest noise, Martin saw Bennie folded up by the trail with his left leg twisted under and the right side of his face nothing but raw meat and bone. He yelled for Doc, the team’s medic, and kept pushing forward, trying to get to the front, trying to help his team.

Although he still hadn’t spotted the enemy, he fired toward what he believed was the primary source of the attack. He could see very little but the ever-changing green of the vegetation. The sulfur smell of gunpowder now clogged his nostrils, almost covering up the decay and rot of the swamp. 

“Shit, shit, goddamn shit,” he swore as he glimpsed his team, fallen by the trail and into the slime. He pushed through a stand of bamboo, spraying forty-five rounds per minute from his M16, praying to catch at least a few of the enemy. He no longer was thinking(only reacting, dropping the empty magazine and slapping in a full one. 

Raising the rifle back to his shoulder, he felt a hard punch in his left side. He then heard the rifle shot, which sounded oddly like his M16. He didn’t see the soldier come in behind him, but he felt the bayonet slide between his ribs. He swung around, using his rifle as a club, but by that time, he was too slow. He thought one last time of Suse and Adriana as his knees collapsed, and he joined his teammates in the mud and slime. 


Chapter 1



“I, Robin Louise Carter, am not a loser.”

OK, I was living in my old bedroom . . . in Gram’s house . . . divorced . . . no job . . . but—

“I have a plan.” 

Worst affirmation ever. I brushed my teeth, spit, rinsed, and mumbled my morning declaration. It would have to do for the moment. The bathroom mirror reflected green eyes and an intent to make my plan a reality . . . Gram’s health . . . my new PR business. With a slug of coffee and a nod to positivity, it was time to transform Gram’s garage into my ideal living and working space. 

Two hours later, I swiped my arm across my sweaty forehead, smearing the dust into a muddy streak. “I swear, MC, this is the hottest May ever.” I was just short of panting like a dog, so I grabbed some water and drank half the bottle. 

Maryam laughed, her own tanned skin looking remarkably cool. “You’re really surprised that Houston is brutally hot and humid in May? What’s wrong, Robin, ole girl? You get soft living the high life in Dallas?” Her hip cocked against the door, Maryam pulled her ponytail tight, smoothing the straight ebony hair back from her face. 

My short red-brown hair was plastered to my forehead, and I glared at her coolness. Maryam Consuela Davila had been my best friend since third grade. She was “MC” to me, since she orchestrated our most outrageous adventures. But her ability to stay calm and cool in ninety-five-degree heat and humidity was beyond annoying. 

“I’m just saying, MC, we’ve been slogging through this crap . . . I mean stuff . . . for three days, and that window unit is not holding its own.” I was about to turn thirty. Looking around at the junk and dust, I didn’t have much to show for it. I came home ’cause Gram’s memory was failing. And to be honest, my life had turned to shit in Dallas. “I have to strip this apartment clean. I can’t begin to remodel or design my office until this junk is gone.” 

I sounded manic, even to myself. Cardboard boxes and furniture were stacked all over the ’80s gold shag. Gulping another swig of water and wiping my mouth, I managed to smear even more dirt across my face. It was official now . . . I was a total mess. I oozed down the wall until I hit the shag, my knees bumping into another box. Pulling off the lid, I stared at the jumble of old glassware, picking up the dusty vase on top.

Maryam stretched her arms over her head, twisting from side to side. Her eyes suddenly turned serious. “Hey, Rob. Uh, there’s a rumor you probably need to hear—”

“You’re not taking a job in LA, just after I’ve gotten back—”

“No, nothing like that.” Maryam rubbed her thumb over the door jamb. “It’s just . . . OK, here it is. Greg’s in town. He’s teaching at Rice this summer. There.”

It was like she’d punched me in the stomach. I hadn’t seen my ex-husband since leaving Dallas, my divorce decree firmly in hand. “That’s not possible. He’s to stay in Dallas . . . or anywhere but Houston.” I was babbling but couldn’t seem to stop as I pulled up from the floor. I dug into my pocket for a stomach mint and fifty cents for the swear jar. I was trying to clean up my language.

In a placating tone, MC continued. “Sorry, friend. Francie heard it from Deb, who has a niece enrolled at Rice, and she swears she’s taking a history course from Dr. Greg Henderson.”

My hair was now hopelessly tangled in a peaked mess. I shouldn’t still be this furious. I was the perfect faculty wife until I realized he had a major character flaw . . . a need for sex with random coeds. Holding onto the old vase, I waved it around for emphasis. “Jeez, MC. Now I’ll have to spend the rest of the summer trying to avoid running into him.”

“Buck up, sweetie. Houston is huge. We don’t hang in West U that much, so we’ll just avoid it for the summer.”

I shook my head like I was trying to shake off a bad dream. “Grrr. Why does this still bother me? It’s been almost a year.”

MC patted my back. “It’ll be OK. You’re not that girl anymore. The one who said, ‘How high?’ when he hollered ‘Jump.’ You’ve got this.”

Suddenly the vase flew across the room and hit the wall. I jumped as much as Maryam at the noise. “Oh my God. Where did that come from? I don’t throw things.”

Maryam chuckled. “Unresolved issues, much? You’re OK; just breathe slowly.” She put her hand on my shoulder. 

Shaking her off, I slumped against the wall. “Sorry . . . this must be the anger portion of the stages of grief. I hit the ‘shock and denial’ stage when I found him shagging his grad assistant in my bed. I’ve been juggling the ‘pain and guilt’ portion since moving home. I know it’s stupid for me to feel any guilt, but . . .”

Maryam reached out with a quick hug. “You deserve to get angry and even to throw a vase at the wall if you feel like it.”

“Thanks, MC. You’re right. I can get with the anger. ’Cause it really isn’t fair. He had all the fun. Crap, you know, that’s what he called it, ‘just a bit of fun.’” My teeth were grinding as I continued. “So he kept all our ‘friends,’ the house and his job. Everything. At least I was smart enough to keep my last name when we got married.” I shivered at the thought that I might be Robin Henderson and forced to spend thousands to get it legally reversed.

I was wearing a path in the gold shag. At five-foot-eight, I crossed the room in a few long strides. I was on my fourth pass. Finally, I stopped for a breath and another slug of water. 

“OK, I’m done. I’m not going down that path anymore. He is so out of my life.”

I began picking up the broken glass, dropping the pieces in the trash box. Straightening, I squared my shoulders. “I need to fast-track through the next few stages and get right to the reconstruction part. I have no time for the grief game. My priority has to be all about Gram.” 

I could feel my forehead scrunch up. “She worries me. MC, she called me Adriana last night . . . hell, my mother’s been gone twenty-five years. Gram’s too young for this stuff.” Looking at my reflection in the dusty window, I saw a lot of worry lines that could turn into wrinkles. Not a good look for a new PR consultant. Were these thanks to Greg or due to worries over Gram? Did it matter? 

My phone buzzed against my hip. Someone at the front door, according to the new security system. Clicking the app, I saw a UPS guy on the porch. Down the stairs on the side of the garage, I headed to the front yard. “Hey, just leave it on the porch,” I yelled. 

“Need a signature.” He held up his tablet. “Government requirement.”

Wiping my hands down my shorts, I jogged down the drive and up the steps. Grabbing the tablet, I scrawled my signature with an index finger. “What is that thing, anyway?”

“Hell if I know. It’s a heavy sucker, I can tell you that,” he said over his shoulder heading back to the truck.

Using my key, I pushed open the front door. “MC, can you lift that end? Get it on the rug so we don’t scratch the floor.” 

We maneuvered it inside, and Maryam read the label as we settled it in the middle of the room. “Look, it’s for your Gram, from the government. Return address is ‘Department of Defense.’”

You can buy The Broken Hallelujah @ Amazon / The Book Depository / Waterstones

You can find Wendy on the Bungalow Books Facebook page and their Website