GHOST BOYS by Multi-Award Winning Author JEWELL PARKER RHODES takes on the issue of unarmed children being shot by the police. A 5 Star Book and one of the best Middle-grade Fiction stories I have ever read.

Title: GHOST BOYS

Author: JEWELL PARKER RHODES

Genre: MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, DIVERSE BOOKS

Length: 224 PAGES

Publisher: LITTLE BROWN PUBLISHING

Release Date: APRIL 17, 2018

ISBN: 9780316262286

Price: $9.99 USD

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

.

DESCRIPTION:

The #1 Kids’ Indie Next Pick

A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.

Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better.

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.

MY REVIEW:

With the current social and political climate in the United States, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the growing list of young, black men being killed in confrontations with police, this book is a timely one. This book was in part based on the police shooting of 12 year old TAMIR RICE.

Jerome, a twelve year old African American boy is shot in the back by a white police officer. Sound familiar? It should. This horrifying situation occurs all-too-often in modern day America.

This book is not only engaging and compelling, it is also necessary. I wish there was no reason for a book like this to be written, but sadly wishing does not make change.

Action makes change.

Knowledge leads to change.

When Jerome (as a ghost) realizes that even though he had always lived in Chicago, he didn’t know much about his city and it’s offerings and opportunities, he thinks: “Wish I’d known the world was so much bigger and better than my neighborhood.” I found this both very telling, and very sad. This may seem a trivial quote from the book and one that is non-essential. I do not see it that way. I see it as just another part of the dysfunctional whole.

Knowledge leads to change.

The first step to changing the fact that young black men are being murdered (yes, murdered – it is murder when a person is shot with no provocation) is to make people aware of what is happening. When people are aware, they can choose to do something about it, even if that something is just making sure to pass the word on to more and more people.

Author Jewell Parker Rhodes has crafted a tale that, while written by a black woman, will resonate with both white and black readers. She has taken her story straight from the headlines of National News agencies. This book is important NOW.

When Jerome dies, his ghost stays in the city he was murdered in. The only living person who can see him is a white girl who is the same age as Jerome. Her name is Sarah. This white girl, however, just happens to be the daughter of the man who shot him.

How is that for a twist in the story?

Jerome should hate her and her whole family right? But, wait a minute.
She is NOT responsible for her father’s actions. She is only twelve years old and she really wants to help Jerome in any way she can.

Both Jerome and Sarah can see other ghosts. One ghost in particular decides to talk to them and to help them with their quest for justice. That lonely spirit is none other than the ghost of Emmett Till. Together maybe they can make a difference.

Adding actual historical figures to this story makes it even more impactful.

Reading this book is also the perfect way for parents to start discussions with their children about what is currently happening to young black boys (and a few girls) in today’s society.

It is sad that this topic is still an issue, and it is also completely unacceptable.

It was 1955 when Emmett Till was abducted, beaten, and murdered by two adult white men. His supposed crime? Whistling at a white woman. In 2017, fifty-two years after Emmett was murdered, the woman in question, admitted she lied about Emmett whistling at her. She tried to justify her actions by saying that it was just the way things were back then. Bull Spit.

I applaud Jewell Parker Rhodes for tackling such an emotional topic and writing about it from multiple perspectives. This could not have been an easy book to write.

I rate GHOST BOYS as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO EVERYONE WHO CARES ABOUT OUR SOCIETY, as well as to everyone who cares about Human Rights. Black, White or Brown; it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is. All that matters is that you are a living, breathing human. It is EVERYONE’S moral obligation to do whatever is within their power to eradicate racism and discrimination in our society. This may seem like a monumental challenge, but as it says in GHOST BOYS:

“Can’t undo wrong. Can only do our best to make things right.”

To learn more about shootings in the United States, visit FATAL ENCOUNTERS – A website

FATAL ENCOUNTERS is creating an impartial, comprehensive, and searchable national database of people killed during interactions with law enforcement.

QUOTES:

“Uproar. Panic. Stomping. Cameras flashing. ‘No photos,’ asserts the clerk. Reporters are shouting questions. Community action are demanding justice. Ma, Pop, and Gramma huddle, cling and cry.”

“Sarah already sees me. Better than her Dad ever did.”

“When truth’s a feeling, can it be both?Both true and untrue?”

“People tell the dead, ‘Rest in peace.’ I haven’t any. Rest or peace.”

“Wish I’d known the world was so much bigger and better than my neighborhood.”

“Can’t undo wrong. Can only do our best to make things right.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jewell Parker Rhodes has always loved reading and writing stories. Born and raised in Manchester, a largely African-American neighborhood on the North Side of Pittsburgh, she was a voracious reader as a child. She began college as a dance major, but when she discovered there were novels by African Americans, for African Americans, she knew she wanted to be an author. She wrote six novels for adults, two writing guides, and a memoir, but writing for children remained her dream.

Now Jewell has published four children’s books: Ninth Ward, Sugar, Bayou Magic, and Towers Falling. Her fifth, Ghost Boys, will be released in spring of 2018. She’s also published six adult novels, two writing guides, and a memoir. When she’s not writing, she’s visiting schools to talk about her books with the kids who read them, or teaching writing at Arizona State University, where she is the Piper Endowed Chair and Founding Artistic Director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. She has won multiple awards for her writing.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

LINKEDIN

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

BARNES AND NOBLE

INDIEBOUND BOOKS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

iTUNES

MORE BOOKS BY JEWELL PARKER RHODES:

*

*

GHOST BOYS was partly inspired by the death of TAMIR RICE.

Who was Tamir Rice? And, what happened to him?

Tamir was at Cudell by midmorning on the Saturday he got shot. Usually he’d play basketball or Ping-Pong or games on an old phone that could connect to the rec-center Wi-Fi. But his friend had an Airsoft pellet gun his dad bought him at Walmart, a replica of a Colt 1911 semi-automatic. It was supposed to have an orange tip on the barrel, except it stopped working once and Tamir’s friend took it apart and fixed it but couldn’t get the orange part back on. They traded, Tamir and his friend, a cell phone for the pellet gun, but only for the day: Tamir knew he’d catch hell if his mom found out he was playing with a toy gun.

He shot BBs at a few car tires in the parking lot, showed his friend how they didn’t go straight. He knew enough to put the gun in his backpack when he went inside the rec center, though. He was there almost every day, never caused a problem and wasn’t going to start.

Samaria gave Tamir and his sister turkey sandwiches and fruit when they came home for lunch, and a few dollars to get chips and juice from the corner store. Then they went back to Cudell. Tamir was inside the rec center for a while, then outside, back and forth for more than an hour. On the sidewalk out front, he played with the pellet gun, drawing and pointing at pretend people and, sometimes, real people. No one seemed alarmed, though. Everyone knew Tamir, knew he was a kid, knew he was playing. Even if they didn’t, Tamir didn’t appear menacing: A man named Joe who was 81 and came to practice with an old-timers’ basketball league saw Tamir pointing his gun at the ground only a few feet away and just ignored him.

A little after three o’clock, a guy with a tall-boy showed up in the park to wait for a 3:30 bus downtown. He didn’t know Tamir. He saw a baby-faced guy, five feet seven, almost 200 pounds—Tamir was a big kid—pulling a gun in and out of his pants. Acting all gangsta, he thought. The man called 911 at 3:22. He was a little slurry, but not frantic. He politely asked the operator how she was, then told her he was sitting in a park. “There’s a guy in here with a pistol,” he said, “and, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s, like, pointing it at everybody.” The operator asked him where he was, exactly, and the caller repeated what he said the first time: “The guy keeps pulling it in and out of his pants—it’s probably fake, but you know what? He’s scaring the shit out of me.” He described Tamir’s clothes and then reported the guy with the pistol had moved to one of the swings on the playground. “Probably a juvenile, you know?” Finally: “He’s right nearby the, you know, the youth center or whatever, and he keeps pulling it in and out of his pants. I don’t know if it’s real or not.”

The 911 operator’s notes were passed to a dispatcher, who requested a squad car respond to Cudell park. She said there was a black male sitting on the swings, and she described his clothing. “So he keeps pulling a gun out of his pants and pointing it at people,” she said.

Another dispatcher cut in. “How many calls are we getting for that?”

“Nah, just the one so far.”

She left out the words probably fake and probably a juvenile, and categorized it as a Code 1 call, the highest priority.


At a church a mile south of Cudell, officer Frank Garmback was finishing up a false-alarm call with his partner, Timothy Loehmann, a probationary rookie who’d been on the force for about nine months and only patrolling the streets for about three. Garmback, in fact, was Loehmann’s field-training officer, responsible for teaching him how to become a proper police officer.

That was something at which Loehmann had failed multiple times. Almost two years earlier, he’d resigned from the police department in suburban Independence, which was going to fire him if he didn’t. In less than five months—most of which he’d spent at the academy—he’d been caught twice lying to his superiors, and he’d had his weapon taken away after a weepy breakdown on the shooting range. That was about a woman.

Being unable to separate his personal problems from the job, Deputy Chief Jim Polak wrote, “leads one to believe that he would not be able to substantially cope, or make good decisions, during or resulting from any other stressful situation.”

Emotional immaturity is the phrase Polak used in a five-page memo listing all the reasons Loehmann shouldn’t be a cop. “I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies,” he wrote.

But Loehmann kept at it. He applied to four other departments but got no offers. In September 2013, he failed the written exam for the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department. Three months later, the Cleveland Division of Police gave him a conditional appointment. On March 3, 2014, he was hired as a patrolman.

Garmback drove. Cudell was a straight shot north on West Boulevard, across Madison, and into a parking lot separated from the playground by knee-high wooden posts. But Garmback took a different route, to a narrow block that dead-ends at the park. There were no posts there, only a few spindly trees.

The squad car bumped over the curb. The swings were empty. The only person anywhere nearby, in fact, was sitting at a concrete picnic table under a gazebo a few yards beyond the swings. He was not fiddling with a gun. He wasn’t doing anything at all.

Garmback did not stop.

Tamir stood up, took a few casual steps around the table.

Garmback braked. The squad car slid on wet grass dusted with snow. When it was even with Tamir, before it had stopped, Loehmann got out and fired. The muzzle of his gun was less than seven feet away.

Tamir collapsed.

Garmback radioed that shots had been fired. Black male down. Send an ambulance.

He and Loehmann did not help the boy on his back on a slab of cement, his small intestine spilling out of the hole in his abdomen. For four minutes, Tamir lay bleeding alone.


Survillance cameras recorded the entire encounter. Had Garmback and Loehmann been a couple of local gangbangers in a Toyota, that video would have been enough to convince a grand jury that there was probable cause to believe a crime had been committed, most likely aggravated murder. It happened so quickly, and with the shooter approaching the victim, that a claim of self-defense would have been laughable.

But police officers are not held to the same standards as civilians, nor should they be. They are expected to insert themselves into potentially volatile situations, to confront bad guys with weapons, to stand between chaos and public order. They will at times, even if only for a heartbeat, genuinely fear for their lives or the lives of others. There is a library of case law giving officers wide leeway on the use of deadly force. But these two guys drove up and shot a kid. And it’s on video. “What we have is objective evidence that they summarily executed this child as fast as humanly possible,” says Jonathan S. Abady, one of the attorneys representing Tamir’s estate, mother, and sister. “There is nothing Tamir could have done to not get shot that day.”

“It was almost like they were trying to blame me,” Samaria Rice said. “They were talking to me like I was a bad mother, like I gave him that BB gun.”

Maybe a jury would never convict them, and maybe McGinty would somehow believe the shooting was justified. But the major evidence to make that initial decision—whether to seek an indictment or not—was plainly visible. Weeks passed and McGinty did not make a determination one way or the other. Winter came and went and then most of spring. In early June, the sheriff’s department gave McGinty’s office a 211-page summary of its investigation. A week later, a sitting judge, ruling on a petition from eight perturbed citizens, issued a non-binding opinion that there was probable cause to charge both officers with crimes, including murder (Loehmann) and negligent homicide (Garmback). “After viewing [the video] several times,” Judge Ronald B. Adrine wrote, “this court is still thunderstruck by how quickly this event turned deadly.”

Still, no decision from McGinty.

Finally, at a meeting in the beginning of summer, almost seven months after Tamir was killed, Abady and his colleagues asked what was taking so long. An assistant prosecutor, according to Abady, said McGinty was trying to be “fair and thorough.” He also said he was trying to find experts who could tell a grand jury whether the shooting was justified.

That is highly irregular. For one, experts rarely testify before grand jurors. The bar for an indictment is so low that any prosecutor with a functional ability to speak in complete sentences can clear it. Two, if an expert believes killing Tamir was legally permissible, what’s the point? If the prosecutor agrees, why waste the grand jury’s time?

But set all that aside. Stipulate that fairness and thoroughness require experts to testify. There are many well-credentialed and prominent scholars who study police procedure; credible ones are not difficult to find. Who, Abady wanted to know, are those experts upon whom McGinty would be relying?

“People,” Abady was told, “who you’ve never heard of.”


The first two experts McGinty hired were a prosecutor from Colorado and a former FBI agent wh ko now an associate professor.

S. Lamar Sims, the prosecutor, was familiar to McGinty already: He’d spoken at a March 12, 2015, forum on deadly force hosted by McGinty’s office, focusing specifically on how difficult it is, legally, to indict officers. Two months after that, in May, Sims had explained on a local Denver TV channel how he believed killings by police should be evaluated. “Often we will learn things, facts, after the incident that a reasonable officer did not know, or could not have known, at the time,” he said. “The community may react to facts learned later. For example, looking around the nation, say you have a 12- or 13-year-old boy with a toy gun. We learn that later. The question is, what did the officer know at the time? What should a reasonable peace officer have known at the time when he or she took the steps that led to the use of physical force or deadly physical force?” That, he said, “is a difficult thing for a lot of people to understand.”

Kimberly A. Crawford, the professor, was a supervisory special agent in the legal instruction unit at the FBI academy for 18 years. In that role, she co-authored a report that defended a sniper in the shooting of a fleeing woman during the Ruby Ridge standoff in 1992, which a Department of Justice task force later criticized in part for interpreting legal standards on deadly force in a manner too favorable to law enforcement.

Both Sims and Crawford focused only on the instant immediately before Loehmann fired, which, in their view, was the only legally relevant issue. Neither spoke to Loehmann or Garmback, but how was either officer supposed to know Tamir was a kid and the gun he might have had was a toy? Of course, stopping a few feet from Tamir gave them no time to learn either of those facts. But since they did, Crawford reasoned, “it becomes apparent that not only was Officer Loehmann required to make a split-second decision, but also that his response was a reasonable one.” Meanwhile, to question that tactical decision, Sims argued, “is to engage in exactly the kind of ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ the case law exhorts us to avoid.” (Crawford called it “armchair quarterbacking.” In her analysis, “Whether the officers’ actions were courageous or foolhardy is not relevant to a constitutional review of the subsequent use of force.”)

McGinty released both of those reports to the public by posting them on his office’s website at eight o’clock on the Saturday night of Columbus Day weekend. Zoe Salzman, an attorney who works with Abady, remembers the time because she got her first phone call from a reporter at 8:01. That would suggest the reports were shared with the media before they were posted. They were not, however, shared with Samaria Rice or her attorneys. “They gave us no heads-up that those reports were coming,” Salzman says. And by the time they returned from the holiday weekend and began to adequately critique the reports, the news cycle had moved on.

A third report, from a former Florida sheriff and consultant named W. Ken Katsaris—whom McGinty had hired to testify against a police officer in a previous case—was released on a Thursday in November. He, too, found the shooting justified. That perspective was not shared with Samaria Rice or her attorneys before it was posted. McGinty, in a statement released with the Katsaris report, said that he was being open and transparent and most definitely wasn’t drawing any conclusions but rather laying off that responsibility on the grand jurors. “I have faith in the people of this county,” he said, “to fulfill their sworn duty to make a correct and honorable decision.”


By the middle of November 2015, almost a year after Tamir was killed, McGinty still wouldn’t say whether he thought either officer should be charged with a crime. But he had presented to the grand jury—and released to the public—the opinions of three experts that, in clear and confident language, absolved Garmback and Loehmann.

At a political forum on November 5, McGinty had also introduced another element into the public narrative his office was crafting: Samaria Rice was trying to make a buck off her dead boy. When he was asked about criticisms Abady and others had made of the Sims and Crawford reports (Katsaris wouldn’t be released for another week), he answered, “Well, isn’t that interesting. They waited until they didn’t like the reports they received. They’re very interesting people, let me just leave it at that. They have their own economic motives.” He later tried to walk that back, saying he’d meant Samaria’s representatives were gold diggers. In a way, that was even worse, as it implied she was too stupid to realize she was being manipulated by greedy lawyers.

At that same forum, McGinty also invoked the sacred secrecy of the grand-jury process. “We want to encourage people to come in, be able to tell the truth, without intimidation, in the search for the truth,” he said. That would seem in obvious conflict with his vows of transparency, but no matter. As part of that search, he’d invited Samaria’s attorneys to go find their own experts on police shootings.

That’s how Roger Clark, the retired cop who got the toy gun stuck in his face, became involved. If a prosecutor presenting his own experts to a grand jury is uncommon, bringing in experts hired by the victim of a shooting is unprecedented. “It puts the victim in the unusual position of having to be the advocate,” says Earl Ward, one of the lawyers for Tamir’s family. “No, unusual is too light: I’ve never heard of it. In my 30 years of experience, this is the first time.”

In more than 20 years, Clark had testified once as an expert before a grand jury, but never as one retained by the dead person’s family. And Jeffrey J. Noble, another consultant hired on behalf of Tamir, had never done so at all. He was a cop for 28 years, retiring as deputy chief of the Irvine, California, police department in 2012. He wrote chapters for police textbooks on tactical recklessness and the notorious code of silence among officers; co-wrote a book on internal-affairs investigations; and, as a consultant, has reviewed hundreds of use-of-force cases. As a cop, he also used deadly force.

Noble knew Clark only by professional reputation and in fact had disagreed with him in another use-of-force case. But he agreed that the shooting of Tamir was unjustified, and for the same reasons. McGinty’s experts focused only on the fraction of a second when Loehmann fired: a police officer only a few feet from a five-foot-seven 195-pound person who matched the description of a man reported to have a gun who was reaching into his waistband. If all of that were true—though the part about where Tamir’s hands were and what they were doing is in legitimate dispute—it was reasonable for Loehmann to fear for his life, according to Sims, Crawford, and Katsaris.

But the few seconds before that, Noble argued, were just as important, both legally and practically. Under accepted police standards, Loehmann never should have been that close to Tamir that quickly. When they entered the park, the officers saw, or should have seen, one person, alone, not threatening anyone. There was no need for Garmback to rush him. “Reasonable police officers responding to a man-with-a-gun call,” Noble wrote in his report, “would have stopped their vehicle prior to entering the park to visually survey the area to avoid driving upon a subject who may be armed. This serves not only to protect the officers, but also serves to protect others who may be in the area and provides both time and distance for the officers to evaluate the situation and develop a plan.”

Noble’s function, admittedly unusual, was simply to give the grand jurors another learned perspective. Neither his opinion nor those of Clark, Sims, and the others could be used to convict or acquit anyone. “As an expert,” Noble says, “my job is to educate.” A grand jury is not contentious. Witnesses are almost never cross-examined, and normally there’s no time, anyway. A typical grand jury in Cuyahoga County churns through 50 cases a day, mostly on little more than the word of a police officer. Noble expected to present his findings, answer a question or two, and be done.

Noble was retrieved by assistant prosecutor James Gutierrez and led to the grand-jury room, where 14 jurors sat in comfortable chairs around tables arranged in a U. Gutierrez took a seat in the center. Matt Meyer sat on Noble’s right. Noble was sworn in. Then, he says, “it devolved pretty quickly. It was an attack from the minute I walked into the room.” Noble says Gutierrez and Meyer tag-teamed him with questions, talking over each other and him. Early on, one of them declared more than asked, “You’re getting paid to be here, right?”

“Hey, wait, your experts are getting paid, too,” Noble said.

“You don’t know that.”

He says he was asked if it “would be in the family’s best interest if there was an indictment.” He was reminded, as if he were a simpleton, that the grand jury had to be exceedingly conscientious. “Justice is about proving that some are not guilty,” Meyer said. “These officers have rights, too.”

Well, yes, but it’s not the prosecutors’ job to prove that to a grand jury. “I’ve never had to fight so hard to defend myself in the midst of a presentation,” Noble told me. “And I’ve definitely never seen two prosecutors play defense attorney so well.”

The hostility toward Noble, he realized, was part of a piece, reducing him to a character—hired gun for vengeful family and greedy lawyers trying to ruin brave cops—in a story that had already been laid out for the grand jurors. Tamir, as would later happen with Clark, repeatedly was referred to as an active shooter. Sandy Hook and San Bernardino (which had happened five days earlier) were both invoked. Video was projected of Tamir playing with the pellet gun earlier in the day, juxtaposed with video of kids playing basketball inside the rec center. For Loehmann and Garmback, only what they knew in a single blink of time was relevant. But for the dead kid, his entire day was fair game, as was what other people were doing inside a nearby building.

It was not difficult to figure out the prosecution’s theory of the case, which was really a defense theory. Near the end of Noble’s testimony, one of the grand jurors, a white lady he guessed was in her late 50s, had a question. “You’re from California, and maybe they do things differently out there,” she began. “But I’m a mom, and I would have wanted the police to protect my kid if he was playing in the rec center that day. He could have gone in there and killed all those people playing basketball.”

The woman was very sincere. “She was not being mean-spirited at all,” Noble said. “What I got out of that was the emotional level they’d been brought to.”

That Tamir could not possibly have killed anyone seemed beside the point.


Loehmann and Garmback were not required to testify or answer any questions from prosecutors. No target of a grand jury can be forced to do so. Even if he was ordered to appear, he could still invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination at any time. As a practical matter, then, a prosecutor won’t invite a grand-jury target to appear. Why allow him to make a self-serving statement if the prosecutor can’t cross-examine, can’t poke holes in his story, can’t point out contradictions and inconsistencies, can’t pick at his credibility? How could the grand jurors realistically judge the veracity of those statements? On the other hand, a target has no real incentive to appear, either: Why risk saying something stupid that can be used against him later?

But at the beginning of December, both Loehmann and Garmback agreed to testify—sort of. Each man brought with him a written statement dated November 30, 2015, more than a year after Tamir was shot dead. Each officer read his statement to the grand jury.

Garmback’s was self-serving, Loehmann’s was self-aggrandizing, and both raised serious questions. For instance, both said they did not see Tamir seated at the picnic table until they were at least even with the swing set—that is, until they were a few yards away from the supposedly armed suspect they’d been sent to investigate. Were they always so lax in their visual surveillance? Both also agreed Garmback said, “Watch him, he’s going to run,” and that they were afraid Tamir was going to run toward the rec center. What, exactly, made them think Tamir would run? And if they believed that, why did Garmback approach from an angle that would almost force Tamir to bolt in that direction? Why not position the cruiser between Tamir and the rec center? Why stop next to him at all, instead of driving away from what might be a mortal threat?

Loehmann, meanwhile, testified that in his few months on the job, he’d already been “involved in many active-shooter situations.” Really? How loosely does Loehmann define “active-shooter situation”? Do shots actually need to be fired? By the common definition, the last active shooter in Cuyahoga County was a man who shot his wife and daughters in a Cracker Barrel in 2012.

Loehmann said he and Garmback repeatedly yelled “Show me your hands” as they approached Tamir. (Garmback acknowledged the windows were up, which would have made shouting orders pointless.) “As car is slid [sic], I started to open the door and yelled continuously ‘show me your hands’ as loud as I could,” he said. “The suspect lifted his shirt reached [sic] down into his waistband. We continued to yell ‘show me your hands.’ I was focused on the suspect. Even when he was reaching into his waistband, I didn’t fire. I still was yelling the command ‘show me your hands.’ ”

Loehmann said he’d been trained to leap out of the car “because ‘the cruiser is a coffin.’ ” He said he tried to get to the back of the cruiser. He said he and Garmback “were still yelling ‘show me your hands.’ With his hands pulling the gun out and his elbow coming up, I knew it was a gun and it was coming out. I saw the weapon in his hands coming out of his waistband and the threat to my partner and myself was real and active.”

That’s when he fired twice.

The most obvious of the many questions Loehmann’s testimony raised was: How does that version square with a video showing that Loehmann pulled the trigger almost immediately after opening the car door? How fast can he yell “Show me your hands,” and how much time will he give a suspect to comply?

There may be plausible, even credible, answers to those questions. But none of them were asked. Instead, after reading his statement, each officer invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.

That could not possibly have been unexpected.


Thanksgiving Weekend 2015, Earl Ward was told by Meyer that McGinty’s office had hired a video expert to enhance and analyze footage from cameras around Cudell park, and that his report was going to be released—once again, the Saturday of a holiday weekend. But there was nothing new in the analysis, Meyer said, nothing of any consequence revealed in the enhancements.

That appeared to be true. The two videos weren’t so much enhanced as synced and broken down into stills. The images were still grainy. They did not show Tamir pointing anything at the police, or even getting anything out of his trousers. But to McGinty’s expert, who specializes in the software used to record video and in teasing out information hidden in the small variances between pixels, they clearly showed Tamir reaching into his waistband an instant before Loehmann shot him.

To Jesse Wobrock, an expert in biomechanics hired by Abady’s firm, they showed that Tamir had his hands in his pockets when Loehmann fired, and that the upward movement of the boy’s arms was a reaction to getting hit with a bullet, not a prelude to it.

To a layman, they are Rorschach blots. Stare at a still image long enough—as opposed to watching it flash past in a half a second as part of a moving series—and the brain can be convinced either way. But McGinty’s version requires believing that a 12-year-old child rushed by two police officers reflexively reached for his toy gun. Wobrock’s version requires only accepting that a body will jerk when it gets shot.

And there was, to Wobrock, one new thing in the enhancement. When others had reviewed the raw video, they’d calculated that 1.7 seconds elapsed between Loehmann getting out of the cruiser and firing. After seeing the individual images, Wobrock cut that to less than one second.

Wobrock appeared before the grand jury after Abady publicly complained about the way Noble and Clark had been treated. “My experience was probably more gentle than the others’,” Wobrock says. “But they were acting in a way like they were defense attorneys for the cops. Their line of questioning had to do with attacking me professionally.”

Meyer asked the questions. He showed images from the shooting, and videos that demonstrated that a person can pull a gun and shoot in less than half a second. He controlled those with a remote he’d stuck in his pants. “Today I have a remote in my waistband,” he joked with the grand jurors, “and not a gun.”

Mostly, Wobrock says, he was asked about his background in deciphering video code. He does not have any. Wobrock is an expert in forensic biomechanical engineering and kinematic analysis—how the body moves and reacts, particularly when it is being shot, beaten, or otherwise traumatized. “But if you have two eyes,” he says, “you can see what was going on in the video.”

Meyer brought up the civil suit pending in federal court—“Basically,” Wobrock says, “that the mom was looking for money out of this thing”—which cast Wobrock as just another hired gun for the money-grubbers. Who could trust his opinion, this academic who didn’t understand video-compression coding?

On the Monday after Christmas, McGinty announced that the grand jury had declined to indict either officer and that he had recommended no charges be brought.

The key evidence, both McGinty and Meyer said, was the enhanced video.

“You could actually see him draw his gun on this film,” McGinty said.

Meyer, meanwhile, focused on a gray dot on the gazebo floor after Tamir had collapsed. That was the gun, he said. “For it to have fallen on the ground, it would have had to have been in Tamir’s hand,” he said. “Which means he would have had to have pulled that gun out.”

Those are both extremely debatable assertions. And neither, curiously, was mentioned when Meyer contacted Earl Ward a month earlier. Back then, there was nothing of any significance at all in that enhanced video.

Samaria Rice was the last witness to appear before the grand jury. She waited in the hallway of the courthouse while her daughter answered questions. Samaria didn’t want to tell me what her daughter was asked or how she answered, only that she was shaking when she came out. Her daughter had been there that day. Look at the video: Garmback and Loehmann watching a boy bleed to death, and she enters from the left. There’s no sound, but she’s screaming. “They killed my baby brother,” she shrieks. Garmback grabs her, takes her to the ground, handcuffs her, puts her in the back of the cruiser that’s next to her dying brother.

Samaria was still at home then. She was putting groceries away when two kids from the neighborhood banged on her door. “The police just shot your boy in the stomach,” they told her. She ran to the park, and the police told her she could stay with her daughter or go to the hospital with her son.

What could she do? She rode in the passenger seat of the ambulance.

The last time she saw Tamir alive, he had tubes stuck in his arms and his tongue lolled out of his mouth. And then he was dead. He was wrapped up like a tamale, she remembers, only his face showing, and she wailed and she sobbed and she tried to kiss him good-bye, but a police officer held her back. Her boy’s body was evidence and couldn’t be contaminated.

She sat before the grand jurors as a character in a script already written: Tamir had been acting all gangsta that day, Tamir had pulled a gun on the cops, Tamir could have killed everyone in the rec center. Any mom would have wanted the police to protect the children playing in the rec center and the park. Three experts said the police had no choice, said killing Tamir was a reasonable thing to do.

And Samaria? She was suing the city for wrongful death. Samaria wanted money. Samaria had a record: The day the police killed her son, she was on probation for selling weed. It didn’t matter that Samaria refused to ever live in the projects, that she’d moved to a white suburb so her kids could go to better schools and only moved back so her kids wouldn’t be the only black ones in class. It didn’t matter that she worried so much about her youngest two that she’d only recently let them off the porch to play.

The prosecutor asked her if she knew Tamir had a toy gun that day.

He asked her where he got that toy.

“The look he had on his face, it was almost like they were trying to blame me,” she said. “I’m saying in my head, Why are they talking to me like that? They were talking to me like I was a bad mother, like I gave him that BB gun.”

One of the grand jurors asked her what Tamir had been like. It was not an insincere question. But what does a mother say about the boy the police thought needed shooting? That he liked to draw and paint and make pottery at the rec center? That he helped his mother sweep and mop? That he liked the ice cream and French fries at McDonald’s and Cool Ranch Doritos and cereal, even if Samaria wouldn’t buy him the sugary ones?

Or that he wasn’t allowed to play with toy guns? Not even that cheap bright plastic one at the Dollar General?

What does any of it matter now?

Samaria wasn’t surprised that Garmback and Loehmann weren’t indicted. A prosecutor doesn’t spend a year laying the groundwork only to screw it up at the end. Maybe it wouldn’t sting as badly if McGinty had been forthright about it, if he’d made a decision and owned up to it and explained it, instead of dribbling out some parts and burying the rest in legal secrecy and ducking behind anonymous citizens, muddying rather than clarifying. But maybe not. No one was indicted, and no one would be.

Samaria knew the settlement was coming, and she wished it wouldn’t be public, thought maybe she should move away, to Charlotte or Lexington, another city where people won’t bother her at the gas station, at the store, on the street. People—strangers, a Cleveland police dispatcher—want to take selfies with her. “Once they recognize my face, it’s ‘Oh, let me give you a hug,’ ” she says. “Throwing themselves on my body, getting all in my personal space.”

They mean well. But still. Sometimes they say, “Oh, you’re that boy’s mom.”

Sometimes they say, “Oh, you’re Rice’s mom.” And sometimes, because enough time has passed and memories have gotten foggy and all the stories begin to blur together, people stop and stare and try to remember. “Oh,” they’ll say, certain but not really, “you’re Trayvon Martin’s mom.”

Advertisements

DROP BY DROP is a fantastic work of Speculative Fiction by Award Winning Author Morgan Llewellyn – A true 5 Star Book

Title: DROP BY DROP

Subtitle: A NOVEL OF TOMORROW

Series: STEP BY STEP – BOOK ONE

Author: MORGAN LLWELYN

Genre: SCIENCE FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION

Length: 320 PAGES

Publisher: TOR BOOKS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: JUNE 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8866-7 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-0-7653-8868-1 (eBook)

Price: $25.99 USD (Hardcover)
Price: $12.99 USD (ebook)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

DESCRIPTION:

From Morgan Llywelyn, the bestselling author of Lion of Ireland and the Irish Century series, comes Drop By Drop her first near-future science fiction thriller where technology fails and a small town struggles to survive global catastrophe.

In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible—navigation systems, communications, medical equipment—fail.

In Sycamore River, citizens find their lives disrupted as everything they’ve depended on melts around them, with sometimes fatal results. All they can rely upon is themselves.

And this is only the beginning . . .
*
*
*
MY REVIEW:

“Drop by drop, the change came to Sycamore River. Slowly and quietly in the beginning, not enough to cause a ripple on the placid surface of the town. Few people noticed at first. Change can be like that.

This Speculative Fiction novel is a completely unique idea of how change can begin without most people noticing.

This is the first book in the “Step By Step” series which promises to be not only one of a kind, but also one that will challenge the idea that we need technology to survive.

The small town of Sycamore River and its inhabitants will get under your skin and readers will find themselves actually caring about what happens to them.

Set in the not too distant future, Drop By Drop is a unique look at one possible future … And a scary one at that.

Morgan Llywelyn has an amazing ability to create people who are so realistic they could be your next door neighbors. She also describes the many different ways people react in a crisis. Some step up and others fall apart. Her writing will grab your attention and you will be unable to stop reading… literally. I read the entire book in less than twenty four hours and I was wishing the next book in the series was already available. I predict that DROP BY DROP will be on many Bestseller Lists and I rate it as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK:

“Every life’s a highway with a certain number of doors in it. When you go through one you can either leave it open or close it behind you.”

“To the average American male, whose automobile was emblematic not only of his financial status but also of his manhood, the situation was personal.”

“The threat of personal extinction was enough to make a man grab what happiness he could while there was still time.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Morgan Llywelyn was born in New York City on December 3, 1937 which makes her 80 years old now.

Morgan Llywelyn is an American-born Irish author best known for her historical fantasy, historical fiction, and historical non-fiction. Her fiction has received several awards and has sold more than 40 million copies, and she herself is recipient of the 1999 Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year Award from Celtic Women International.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

AZ QUOTES

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

AUDIBLE (Audiobooks)

FANTASTIC FICTION (Complete List of All Morgan’s Books)

WIKIPEDIA

ISFDB (INTERNET SPECULATIVE FICTION DATABASE)

INDIEBOUND

BARNES AND NOBLE

POWELL’S

BOOKS-A-MILLION

*

REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE by Anna Mainwaring RELEASES TODAY

TODAY is the day YA readers have been waiting for.

REBEL WITH A CUPCAKE by Anna Mainwaring comes out today.

Check out my 5 STAR REVIEW of this book by clicking HERE.

When you go to the review page, you will also be able to read the book’s synopsis and find out all about the author.

Come back to this page and let me know what you think about this book.

MY PUDDLES – A Memoir by Thai Peck – MY REVIEW of this fascinating new Memoir.

Title: MY PUDDLES

Subtitle: A NON-FICTION SHORT STORY

Author: THAI PECK

Genre: NON-FICTION, MEMOIR, HISTORY, AUTOBIOGRAPHY, BIOGRAPHY

Length: 97 PAGES

Publisher: BALBOA PRESS

Type of Book: SOFTCOVER

Received From: GOODREADS

Release Date: MAY 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-0899-1

ASIN: B072M4Q161

Rating: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐+0.5

DESCRIPTION:

My Puddles is a true story. It’s a short anecdote recalling a tale of growing up from childhood to the age of seventy and a woman’s journey through time, places, and self-discovery.

MY REVIEW:

Neither the title, nor the description really give any information about this book.

MY PUDDLES is a memoir written by Thai Peck about her life. She only briefly remarks upon her unhappy childhood in Vietnam.

At the tender age of seventeen, she met and eventually married an Australian War Correspondant named Brian Peck. Thai had two children, a boy and a girl and despite life’s ups and downs, they remained married until the sad day in 2015 when Brian passed away.

Thai eloquently expresses just how much they loved each other in the book’s first chapter:

“In September 1968 … At Singapore airport about to board an Air Vietnam flight, among the crowd, a couple of Americans…through them I met this Australian reporter. While each man offered to carry one of my bags, only one remained faithfully carrying them through our many journeys for the rest of his life. Until one morning in April 2015 when he took his last breath in my arms. His name was Brian Peck. He was my best friend, my confidante, and my all. He brought happiness into my everyday life for 45 years.”

Besides her relationship with her husband, Thai also writes about her travels to many countries and her life as a diplomat’s wife. She candidly describes the hippocritical nature of those events – glitz and glamour on the surface, but lonliness on the inside.

I enjoyed reading about Thai Beck’s life and as a self-published book, she has done a good job. What she does need, however, is a good proofreader and editor. It is readily apparent that the memoir is written by someone whose first language is not English. There are quite a few places in this book that need to be edited.

The need for proofing and editing are significant, but by filling this autobiography with numerous photographs and copies of Thai’s paintings, the joy of reading this book increases immensely. I rate MY PUDDLES as 3.5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐ +0.5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

To learn about this author, visit the following links:

GOODREADS

iTUNES

YOUTUBE

GOOGLE BOOKS

AMAZON

CHAPTERS / INDIGO

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

BALBOA PRESS is a Division of HAY HOUSE. It is a book publishing company that helps aspiring self-help and transformational authors self-publish books and achieve their dreams. Offering professional cover design, editing, marketing and more, authors can publish a self-help book ready for print on demand. Specializing in the mind, body and spirit genre, Balboa Press is your gateway into the world of publishing.

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

PINTEREST

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW of THE REPATRIATION OF HENRY CHIN Written by Isaac Ho and Narrated by Anthony Lee – 5 Stars – Speculative Fiction at its finest. MUST READ!!!

Title: THE REPATRIATION OF HENRY CHIN

Author: ISAAC HO

Narrator: ANTHONY LEE

Genre: FICTION, DYSTOPIAN FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION

Length: 7 HOURS and 41 MINUTES

Publisher: DIGITAL FABULISTS

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Received From: THE NARRATOR

Release Date: JANUARY 19, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

Watch the trailer for this book HERE.

*

DESCRIPTION:

Amid the growing hostility between the United States and China, an executive order authorizes the creation of repatriation camps to safely secure Chinese Americans. Mild-mannered pharmacist Henry Chin goes on the run with his mixed-race teenage daughter and is relentlessly pursued by an ICE agent who will stop at nothing to capture these potential domestic terrorists.

***************************

MY REVIEW:

THE REPATRIATION OF HENRY CHIN is terrifying in its possibility, especially with someone like Donald Trump in the Whitehouse. Plus, America has already forced one ethnic group into internment camps in the past. Don’t think so? All a person needs to do is look back in American history to WWII when all Japanese Americans, despite where and when they were born, endured “…forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific coast. 62 percent of the internees were United States citizens. These actions were ordered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor…Those who were as little as 1/16 Japanese and orphaned infants with “one drop of Japanese blood” were placed in internment camps.”

(Click here to learn more about this subject)

So, if it has happened once, with a President who was much less volatile and elitist than the current President, why couldn’t it happen again? I don’t think it will take long for the current American racial tinderbox to explode. What that will look like? We have no idea, but Isaac Ho has obviously thought the issue through.

Tackling important issues such as racism and domestic terrorism, this audiobook should be required listening.

Henry Chin is an ordinary guy, in fact, his life would be considered boring by most people. He has Chinese blood, but he is an American and always has been. In fact, eight generations of his family have lived in the United States. Eight generations in America is more than many white people can claim.

With The United States and China on the brink of war, racial divides in America begin to focus on an “Us vs. Them” mentality. On one side of that divide is anyone with even a single drop of Chinese blood and on the other side is the rest of the American citizens. The President decides to place all Chinese people into camps “to keep them safe.”

Henry Chin wants no part of those camps and he and his daughter break out in spectacular fashion.

One gung-ho Immigration Agent decides that Henry must be a terrorist and fixates on capturing the father/daughter team.

Meanwhile, Henry is struggling to bond with his teenage daughter and hiking through a National Park is probably not the best way to do it.

This audiobook takes off like a rocket and the story gets more and more tense until listeners are literally on the edge of their seats.

Narrator, Anthony Lee was a superb choice for this story. His pacing is 100% perfect and his ability to voice different characters with varying accents is unparalleled. It is easy for the listener to distinguish between characters since each voice is unique and distinctive.

I rate this audiobook as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I will be recommending it to my friends and followers.

Follow me here on my blog and

Follow me on Instagram @Amiesbookreviews

Follow me on Twitter @Amiesbookreview

** I received this audiobook at no-cost from the narrator. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion in any way.**

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isaac Ho (何亭) is a graduate of the UCLA MFA Screenwriting program.

Awards include: Winner Asian American International Film Festival Screenplay Competition, Stephen N. Gershenson Scholarship in Screenwriting, ABC/Disney Fellowship semi-finalist, SF Weekly Black Box Award for Best Play and the Asian American Arts Foundation Theater Grant.

Isaac is also a CAPE Foundation New Writers Award Finalist for Television.

Isaac is the writer and producer of the indie film 1,001 Ways to Enjoy the Missionary Position starring Amanda Plummer.

Isaac’s debut novel The Repatriation of Henry Chin tells the story of an Asian American pharmacist and his daughter who go on the run to escape pursuit from the government as terrorists.

He is also the author of Death in Chinatown, a contemporary thriller about a brewing fictional Chinatown gang war.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

AUDIBLE

AMAZON

***************************

ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Anthony Lee has been told that his voice is deep, resonant, smooth, and clear. Yet, it would be years before he would finally embrace that gift and start using it artistically.

A native of California, Anthony grew up with an equal fascination for knowledge and leisure. He would enjoy studying various subjects in school as well as doing fun things in his spare time. His motivation for success and happiness helped him achieve a solid education, a successful job, and a new life to live as his reward for years of hard work.

His decision to try voice acting came after receiving plenty of compliments about his vocal quality over a short amount of time. Whether those words came from friends or strangers, he could no longer deny the possibility that there may be something special about his voice. Hence, from October 2015 to June 2016, Anthony enrolled in night and weekend classes at Elaine Clark’s Voice One Academy in San Francisco, where he trained in the art of voiceover for narrations, commercials, and characters. He thoroughly enjoyed honing his voice for things like audiobooks, technical materials, corporate narrations, e-learning modules, documentaries, commercials, promos, animations, video games, and talking products. Overall, he considers his journey into voiceover to be very rewarding, not just for what he learned but also for the great instructors and classmates he met along the way.

Now with professional voice training, Anthony is stepping out into the world to lend his voice. He loves to take virtually any kind of script and work to deliver the message in a suitable way. His enthusiasm for voiceover makes him strive to be a versatile actor in the craft. Every time he is given an opportunity to provide a voice, he hopes to leave a lasting positive impact.

When he is not doing voice work, Anthony enjoys playing chess, ice hockey, pool, Sudoku, and video games, as well as watching movies, reading about random topics on the Internet, and traveling. He lives in Northern California.

To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

ACX -Listen to his voice samples HERE

TWITTER

AUDIBLE

GOLDEN GREMLIN BLOG TOUR and GIVEAWAY

Book Details:

Book Title: Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers

Author: Rod A. Walters

Category: Adult Non-Fiction

Length: 228 pages

Genre: Humor

Publisher: Omega Man Press

Release date: November 2016

Tour dates: Feb 12 to 23, 2018

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Mild and indirect innuendo to both sex genitalia, a short essay about the fictional “AssBook,” an essay on current health-care talk, a teaser “is his cord long enough?” to get readers to choose a short piece on electric cars next, etc.)

Book Description:

Written to make Dave Barry, Lily Tomlin, and Ben Stein laugh, Golden Gremlin: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers delivers the experience of a balanced life, and the wisdom to like most of it, and then laugh at the rest of it. What the heck, Barry lives in Miami, habitat of geezers, and Ben Stein is one. The world really needs that push, vigorous or gentle, from misanthropes & geezers, the world’s most valuable golden gremlins. Misanthropes pretend to not like or need other people, but in reality, they merely prefer their own company much of the time. Geezers, aside from that silly name, also like their own company quite well. Both share the virtue of seeing the world calmly. You get pointy bite-sized life pointers from these experienced gremlins, told in easy bite-size chunks. Laughter included in the price! Two out of three wouldn’t be bad either.

Life is good! So laugh a little at yourself on the way through these pointy essays, and that will buy your laughing at the world’s simpler parts, guilt-free.

Golden Gremlin comprises about 70 short essays bundled into six topic areas:

NATURE: boys, ugly drivers, and coffee cups in the ‘fridge.

WORDS: the real meaning of Caucasian and Genre.

BUSINESS: deafness at the economics conference, and getting on AssBook.

KITCHENS: sushi chefs, and truth about manna.

HISTORY: when Hell froze, and Attila the Honey.

Golden boy gets to be GOLDEN GREMLIN: experience overcomes certainty.

What things could possibly be more important!

To read reviews, please visit Rod A Walters’ page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

MY REVIEW:

Firstly I would like to thank both the author and iRead Blog Tours for providing me with a copy of this book.

I enjoyed reading the humourous opinion pieces in this book. GOLDEN GREMLIN: A Vigorous Push from Misanthropes and Geezers made me laugh out loud numerous times while reading and nothing is better for the soul than a good laugh.

This book was written with the silver-haired set in mind. Author Rod A. Walters has taken the wisdom he has learned through his long life and turned that into essays, stories, poetry and even songs. My favorite piece is a short poem about dog poop which you will need to buy the book to read.

This book will both inform and entertain readers and is a fun and funny read.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

*

About the Author:
Rod Walters lives and writes in upstate New York to prove he can be an all-season writer. Since he wants everybody to be all-season persons no matter her or his circumstance, his writing aims sharply toward the practical—without turning into one of those godawful do it ma’ way authors. Life, after all, is practical hour by hour. Self-described as “old enough to know better, and he probably is,” his former life as Army officer, engineer, and administrative assistant could not have better prepared him to write both light and more serious short pieces pointing to creating a balanced life. Chuckling at yourself usually makes a good takeoff, he says. Giving up having to be certain makes for a good landing, especially for one’s friends! Then again, who the heck wants to live a balanced life? Mostly everybody does. That’s why he now writes. Although many friends nudge and badger him to be a Facebook and Twitter butterfly, he tries not to spend many numbing hours a day with circular keyboard tapping. Writing works better.Connect with the Author: Website
Enter the Giveaway!

Giveaway:

Prizes: Win a paperback copy of Golden Gremlin. One winner will also receive a $25 Amazon GC. 5 winners total / open to wherever Amazon ships

(Ends March 3, 2018)

THE GRAVEYARD GIRL and the BONEYARD BOY is a YA Enthralling Page Turner Everyone Will LOVE!!!

Title: THE GRAVEYARD GIRL AND THE BONEYARD BOY

Author: MARTIN MATTHEWS

Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, CONTEMPORARY FICTION

Length: 366 PAGES

Publisher: BLACK ROSE WRITING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: DECEMBER 7, 2017

ISBN: 9781612969749

Price: $6.99 (EBOOK)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

16-year-old albino Drake Stevenson lives a life alone in his world of video games and comic books, dreaming of one day saving a real princess. But fantasy becomes reality when his lawyer father suffers a heart attack, and the Stevensons are forced to move to flyover country in order to take up the family business: Stewardship of the oldest and largest cemetery in the state.

There, among the weeping angels and willows of Centralia Cemetery, Drake meets Scarlet, an unusual girl who needs his help to find her killer.

Complicated by his albinism, a mentally unstable sister bent on high school domination at any cost, and a jock with a deadly secret, Drake sets out to find the shattering truth about a murder no one will speak of, to help a girl no one can see.

MY REVIEW:

What drew me to this book initially was the intriguing title: THE GRAVEYARD GIRL AND THE BONEYARD BOY. Then I read the first paragraph and I was captivated. The book begins like this:

“The first time my sister Brie tried to kill me, I’d been six-years-old. A budding sociopath, Brie’s murder attempt had been to lock me outside of the house at noon during a summer heatwave. She had been eight. Now a senior in highschool, Brie’s still two years older than me, and she’s since graduated to full psychotic, cum laudé.”

Hmmm. How would locking someone out of the house be a murder attempt? My interest was definitely piqued.

The story is about a teenage boy who has Oculocutaneous Albinism, which means Drake Stevenson is an albino. He also has a condition that often goes hand in hand with albinism which is: hyper-photophobia. This means that light of any kind, but especially sunlight, burns his eyes. Too much light exposure could lead to permanent blindness. This condition forces Drake to have to wear wrap-around sunglasses. His skin is very pale and he describes his appearance like this:

“And my hair isn’t blonde, it’s the color of freshly fallen snow in the Alps on a cloudless, moonlit night. And no, my eyes are not that pink color…They are, however, a rather striking shade of blue-collar.”

I LOVE THIS BOOK. It is a impressive novel by Indie Author Martin Matthews. It is the first time I have read anything of his and I know now that I will be seeking out more of his work.

When Drake’s lawyer father has a heart-attack, the family moves away from the city and back to the small town of Centralia where his father has agreed to take over the family business. Just what is that business? Well, they are the caretakers/owners of the largest and oldest cemetery in the entire state.

Shortly after arriving at their new home Drake meets a beautiful girl the same age as he is. Usually he has a hard time talking to girls, but for some reason this girl is different. At first he does not realize why she seems so different, but eventually realizes she is a ghost and she needs his help bringing her murderer to justice.

With so many fantastic twists and turns this book is an enthralling page turner and is populated with marvelously realistic characters. This book surpasses the typical Young Adult novel and rises above – WAY ABOVE.

I rate this book as highly as is possible which is 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ If I could rate it higher I would. I am willing to put my reputation as a reviewer on the line to say that this is a MUST READ novel. In fact, I am hoping that the author continues on with these characters and turns this book into a series. If he does, I will be first in line to buy my copy.

**Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy this book**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Martin Matthews is an expat from England, Great Britain. After living in California for many years, he now lives in Central Illinois with his beautiful wife, amazing son, and a grumpy, old cat named Winston.

Martin began his writing career as a child, storyboarding Sonic the Hedgehog comic books for his family. Later, he progressed to writing Star Trek fan-fiction before attempting his first novel Merlania at 16 — a 200,000 word science-fiction epic. He’s been writing novels and short stories ever since.

Martin holds degrees in Art and Design, Graphic Design, and Computer Information Science. When he’s not writing, he can be found producing music, art, and fried rice.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

WATTPAD

BARNES & NOBLE

iTUNES

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Black Rose Writing is an independent publishing house that strongly believes in developing a personal relationship with their authors. The Texas-based publishing company doesn’t see authors as clients or just another number on a page, but rather as individual people… people who deserve an honest review of their material and to be paid traditional royalties without ever paying any fees to be published.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

*

Graveyard Pictures Obtained From www.ghoststoriesandpictures.com

*

#TheGraveyardGirlAndTheBoneyardBoy #NetGalley

SNOWSISTERS – A New LGBTQ Young Adult Novel by Tom Wilinsky and Jen Sternick Releases in 8 Days

Title: SNOWSISTERS

Authors: TOM WILINSKY and JEN STERNICK

Genre: FICTION, LGBTQ, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: INTERLUDE PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Cover Art: C.B. MESSER

Release Date: FEBRUARY 15, 2018

ISBN: 9781945053528

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

**************************

CONTENT WARNINGS:
***Some of the characters in this book are unreliable narrators. Some have opinions and information about the world which are not well-informed. Others are subjected to that ignorance.***

ADDITIONAL WARNING:

***This book contains transphobic and homophobic language and descriptions of transphobic bullying. It also contains misgendering of a transperson and a description of violent, homophobic child abuse.***

**************************

DESCRIPTION:

High school students—Soph, who attends private school in Manhattan, and Tess, a public school student who lives on a dairy farm in New Hampshire—are thrown together as roommates at a week-long writing conference. As they get to know each other and the other young women, both Soph and Tess discover unexpected truths about friendship, their craft, and how to hold fast to their convictions while opening their hearts to love.

**************************

MY REVIEW:

Tess is thrilled when she learns that her application to attend the Young Women’s Writing Conference has been accepted. Tess’s life on a dairy farm in a small town in New Hampshire is a far cry from the life led by fellow conference attendee Sophonia. Soph leads a life of privilege and luxury in New York City. In fact, her parents are some sort of exiled European royalty.

The two young women are almost complete opposites in every way. Tess is straight. Soph is gay. Tess writes anonymous Fan Fiction online and Soph writes rhyming poetry. Tess is an introvert and extremely shy. Soph is an extrovert who is a social butterfly. Tess plans to go into the army while Soph is applying to the prestigious Minerva College.

So, when these two girls are thrown together as roommates, neither one is sure of how to befriend the other, but both are determined to try.

Meanwhile, next door to their room are Chris and Orly. The tension between them is thick enough to cut with a knife. Chris fancies herself a feminist and a journalist, while Orly is planning to write a memoir about growing up in a small town. Chris may believe she is a feminist, but she is NOT. Orly is a trans girl which would not bother any true feminist, but Chris constantly refers to as her as “him.” She wants Orly banned from the retreat and her prejudice and discrimination are horrible.

How in the world are these young women all supposed to get along?

I have read some reviews of SNOWSISTERS in which people are upset by the inclusion of misgendering and discrimination in this story. However, it is the character they should be upset with, NOT the authors. This behaviour was included in the story because, unfortunately, there are still many people in the world that act just like Chris (or worse) when it comes to trans people. It is necessary to inform readers of the existence of this type of prejudice so that we can do everything possible to eradicate it. Tess says it best when talking to Soph: “It’s-it’s a hard world, Soph. It’s hard for everyone in different ways.”

As the Writing Conference progresses, so does the bonding between the attendees. Not only do they learn to improve their writing, they also improve their relationships and some form bonds that may last a lifetime.

This book is a glimpse into the lives of young women struggling with their identities and trying to decide what they want for their future. This applies to every teenager, whether gay or straight. They all need to find their place in the world and to do so while dealing with the massive changes in their bodies and minds that comes with adolescence.

The only issue I had with this story was with Soph’s diary entries. They are written in short verse and they seem very juvenile to me and as if they were written by a younger person. They definitely do not seem like they would have been good enough to gain her admittance to an elite writing workshop. Here is just one example of Soph’s diary entries:

“A powerless night with
three turns messy.
I’m surprised what comes
out with Hennessy.”

I believe that more books discussing being gay, trans, or pan and about coming out are necessary, but I look forward to the day when they are no longer needed. #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks

I rate SNOWSISTERS as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can pre-order this book now by clicking HERE.

**************************

ENTER TO WIN ONE OF FIVE Multi-Format eBook Editions of SNOWSISTERS by Tom Wilinsky & Jen Sternick + $25 IP Web Store Gift Card Grand Prize

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!!! Hurry! Giveaway Ends February 27th, 2018

**************************

*Thank you to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free copy of this book.*

**************************

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

JEN STERNICK and TOM WILINSKY met in high-school where they started a conversation which, years later, is still ongoing.

ABOUT TOM: Tom lives in New York with his partner and the world’s most beloved orange tabby cat, Newky.

He likes cold weather, anything with zombies in it and old cars. Never has he ever…been picked first for a team in Phys. Ed… used a selfie-stick… gotten Jen to watch an episode of South Park….

ABOUT JEN: Jen lives in Rhode Island with her husband, two kids and a cranky seven-toed cat named Sassy.

She likes live theater, visiting any place she’s never been before, and admits to a mild Twitter addiction. Never has she ever…won a game of Scrabble…remembered the lyrics to the The Big Bang Theory theme song… been able to convince Tom to read a self-help book…

To learn more about these authors, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

TUMBLR

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

**************************

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Interlude Press is a boutique publisher of award-winning LGBTQ fiction. We publish fiction for Young Adult readers through our imprint Duet.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

PINTEREST

TUMBLR

Award Winning Writer KAETHE SCHWEHN’s New Book – THE RENDING AND THE NEST is coming soon. Check out my review now!

Title: THE RENDING AND THE NEST

Author: KAETHE SCHWEHN

Genre: FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION and FANTASY

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: BLOOMSBURY USA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: FEBRUARY 20, 2018

ISBN: 9781632869722

Price: $26.00 USD (HARDCOVER)

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A chilling yet redemptive post-apocalyptic debut that examines community, motherhood, faith, and the importance of telling one’s own story.

When 95 percent of the earth’s population disappears for no apparent reason, Mira does what she can to create some semblance of a life: She cobbles together a haphazard community named Zion, scavenges the Piles for supplies they might need, and avoids loving anyone she can’t afford to lose. She has everything under control. Almost.

Four years after the Rending, Mira’s best friend, Lana, announces her pregnancy, the first since everything changed and a new source of hope for Mira. But when Lana gives birth to an inanimate object–and other women of Zion follow suit–the thin veil of normalcy Mira has thrown over her new life begins to fray. As the Zionites wrestle with the presence of these Babies, a confident outsider named Michael appears, proselytizing about the world beyond Zion. He lures Lana away and when she doesn’t return, Mira must decide how much she’s willing to let go in order to save her friend, her home, and her own fraught pregnancy.

Like California by Edan Lepucki and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Rending and the Nest uses a fantastical, post-apocalyptic landscape to ask decidedly human questions: How well do we know the people we love? What sustains us in the midst of suffering? How do we forgive the brokenness we find within others–and within ourselves?

MY REVIEW:

The word that best describes THE RENDING AND THE NEST would, in my opinion, be: Bizarre. But, that isn’t quite fair. To leave that as its only descriptor would be incomplete.

Most post-apocalyptic fiction follows a pattern, a well-used and much-loved formula used by authors that works most every time. In this book, not only is that formula not used, it is thrown off a fifty-foot cliff into an ocean occupied by mutant octopuses. (No, there is no such thing in the book as mutant octopuses… I made that up.)

The idea that an event occurs wherein 95% of the population simply vanishes with no explanation is not new. In fact, Fundamentalist Christians have believed in something called “The Rapture” since as early as the 1830s.

“The Rapture is an eschatological term used by certain Christians, particularly within branches of American Evangelicalism, referring to a purported end time event when all elect Christian believers—living and resurrected dead— will rise into the sky and join Christ for eternity.”
Source: WIKIPEDIA

I am NOT saying this book is about the Rapture, it could very well be that is exactly what happened, but despite a myriad of suggestions as to the event’s origin or meaning, the author intentionally leaves the reader in the same state of curious inquisitiveness as the characters. They want to know what happened and why, and what it all means, but they are left to wonder and to theorize, the same as the reader. All they know for sure is that somehow their world was charged in an instant and most everyone they knew disappeared.

Jumping forward to a few years ‘post-event,’ Mira and the group she bonded with on the day their world was forever changed, are now living in a small colony they dubbed “Zion.”

Mira’s best friend Lana discovers she is pregnant and after nine months gives birth, not to a living baby, but to a plastic object. The shock, grief and incredulity begin to wear off as more “babies” are “born.”

Mira needs to figure out what is going on and how best she can protect those she loves.

When a traveler arrives and tells them about ‘The Zoo,’ their world view shifts.

This book brings up profound questions. Questions that are not only relevant to the characters in the book, but also to the reader and to every single person on the planet:
* What is love?
* What is the point of existence? (In other words; what is the meaning of life?)
* What makes us who we are? Is it our history? Is it our family?
*Who are we when everything is stripped away? Are we the same person? Do we want to be the same person?

If you enjoy books that are post-apocalyptic and/or are outside of the norm, this book is for you.

I rate THE RENDING AND THE NEST as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

FAVORITE QUOTES:

“To birth a baby is to suffer in a new way.”

“Here is a truth: After you experience the apocalypse, after you are living on the other side of it, falling in love still feels like its own apocalypse.”

“The problem with love is that it craves an outlet. Love is a verb, as my father said, and so love makes us act: notes scribbled, roses purchased, hair brushed, ointment administered. Simple acts and tremendous ones.”

“I fell asleep … A bloody mess curled around a gun. Aching with love I wasn’t sure I’d be able to offer to anyone else again.”

“That’s what being a teenager often is: not so much asserting yourself as trying not to fall through the ice.”

“For a few brief days I’d even been some fucked-up version of a mother.”

**************************

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – IN HER OWN WORDS:

I was born in Chicago but I’ve lived beside a lake in Minneapolis, on a sleepy street in Indiana, in a rural mountain village in Washington, across from a Mattress Mart in California, upon the side of a volcano in Ecuador, near the coupling of train cars in Montana, and between the dusty walls of a farmhouse in Iowa. Now I live in Northfield, Minnesota where the re-enactment of a bank raid each year is softened with the scent of chocolate breakfast cereal cooking in the Malt O Meal factory down the road.

I studied creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Montana and earned a BA from Gustavus Adolphus College. I currently teach composition and creative writing at St. Olaf College.

I’m the author of The Rending and the Nest, Tailings: A Memoir, and Tanka & Me. I also am the co-editor of Claiming Our Callings: Toward a New Understanding of Vocation in the Liberal Arts. My poems and prose can be found in journals such as Crazyhorse, Pleiades, jubilat, Witness, Minnesota Review and the anthology Fiction on a Stick. I’ve been the recipient of a Minnesota Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, a Loft Mentor Series Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net Anthology award.

A poem of mine is printed on a sidewalk square in the town where I live. This means that lots of people can read my words or ignore them, decorate them with sidewalk chalk or spill Pinot Grigio into their very crevices. This makes me happy. I think writing belongs in the messy middle of our lives, making us stranger and stronger, word by word.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

AMAZON

BOOK REPORTER

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE