Rise and Fall of My Beloved

Today it is my pleasure to welcome poet Utanu Maa and her book Rise and Fall of My Beloved.

 

Author’s description

Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a collection of poetry and prose about resilience—about the experience of stigma and rejection, disease and suffering, love and care, loss and grief—and also a testimony of gratitude, forgiveness and togetherness. Each of its three parts is a journey through life’s struggles, pain and loss, all of which require an inner force to overcome, build, rebuild, succeed and heal: resilience. It expresses an undercurrent to an imposed destiny or stigma.

 

Based on the life experience of my late brother, Rise and Fall of My Beloved is a tribute to mankind’s resilience to overcome adversities. The book takes readers from his vulnerable childhood as a neglected orphan set to die, through a childhood in which he was bullied, to his rise as an accomplished engineer, and sadly to his fall as a dying patient of HIV/AIDS. Each poem depicts the essence of unconditional love and care, the dignity of dying of AIDS, forgiveness, and family bond. This book is a manifesto of my brother’s exceptional resilience, the best memory of him that will live forever. It is an invitation, an inspiration, a reflection that, when mankind encounters struggles, disease, pain, death, loss, grief, we have to grieve and heal, and rebuild.

About the Author

I am Utanu MAA. I live in Toronto and work as a public servant within the Ontario Court of Justice. Originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where I studied French Literature and Law before migrating to Canada in 1991, and thereafter studied Fashion Marketing, Paralegal and Law (1year) programs. In 2004, I was a recipient of a prize for the Poetry contest organized by Canada Heritage during the celebration of the Francophonie. “Couleur d’une langue” (The Color of a language), my unpublished poem about the diversity and different accents that give rhythm and power to a language to become an umbrella of one identity. “Rise and Fall of My Beloved” is also my own journey into unconditional love and care, and the resilience to deal with pain, loss, grief, to grieve, heal and continue with life after my brother’s death.

Find the Author

Connect with Utanu Maa at her website or on Facebook.

Buy the Book

AMAZON.COM https://amazon.com/dp/0228836506
AMAZON.CA https://amazon.ca/dp/0228836506
KINDLE https://amazon.com/dp/B08M2DNJHP
BOOKSHOP https://bookshop.org/books/rise-and-fall-of-my-beloved/9780228836506
INDIGO CHAPTERS https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/rise-and-fall-of-my/9780228836513-item.html
BARNES & NOBLE https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rise-and-fall-of-my-beloved-utanu-maa/1138021915
BOOK DEPOSITORY https://www.bookdepository.com/Rise-and-Fall-of-My-Beloved-Utanu-Maa/9780228836506
RAKUTEN KOBO https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/rise-and-fall-of-my-beloved
SMASHWORDS https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1051884
APPLE BOOKS https://books.apple.com/us/book/rise-and-fall-of-my-beloved/id1538242460

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

An Excerpt Just for Readers of This Blog

The Speech

He lacked the speech and was teased, mocked.

People regularly targeted, labelled, and bullied him.

They did not believe in his ability to learn and succeed,

They repeatedly told him loudly, in his face

And ears with intent to persuade him about himself.

They predestined him for failure because he was unable to speak.

He remained silent for a long time, listening carefully.

He observed motions on their lips; he absorbed words and sounds.

Then, one early morning, still in bed,

While everyone was in their last dream or nightmare,

And when time had healed and ended his grieving,

The miracle happened: he spoke!

Words and sounds gusted out of his mouth

Like a volcano erupting after a century of long sleep,

He spoke, he spoke, and he spoke volumes!

He talked firmly to himself or maybe to an invisible entity or spirit,

Repeating verbatim words that he had been absorbing:

The same terms used to tease, label, and mock him,

To bully and denigrate him, to silence him and cast him out.

From the bed where I slept, after we were allowed,

I saw him walking outside like a soldier going to war,

Brave and determined to defend his persona with words!

The struggle was out there, and he went to fight it

With his only but most potent weapon: words!

Words used in a common way: verbally, loudly, and firmly.

He knew the power of words, used for any purpose.

Now equally equipped to face the struggle in his early life,

He spoke correctly just as he had observed words on lips,

Using the same words to tease, mock, or intimidate.

To the big disbelief of all, though I had prayed and pleaded

To my ancestors and God that one day he would speak,

Zola had proven at last his ability to pronounce words.

Soon he would go to school to learn words in books,

To write words on a blackboard or in a notebook,

On a wall or on the ground, carving on a tree or on leaves.

Words pronounced in speech to make a statement,

Words spoken with confidence in a native or foreign language,

Words used to argue, defend opinions, convince, and lead,

Words that would further educate and engineer his brain,

Words as a tool to beat all odds and rise exceptionally like a star,

Indeed, words were clearly spoken by his mouth from this point on.

What liberation, relief, blessing, and privilege!

Thank you!

Utanu Maa — we appreciate your sharing one of your poems with us! Best of luck with sales of Rise and Fall of My Beloved, and with all of your future writing.

Is Blood Thicker

Today it is my pleasure to welcome the author Kruze and her urban fiction novel, Is Blood Thicker.

Author’s description

Have you ever looked at your circle and wonder if the people in it are really down for you? That’s the question Ceasar constantly asks himself. In his eyes betrayal is a worse crime than murder, so think twice before crossing him.

Daquans’s was life was filled with what he considered to be normalcy. He is completely devoted to his wife, Aviana, and their son. But how deep does his loyalty run? Can he stay with Aviana when her past catches up with her, attempting to collect an unpaid debt?

Nolan is a prominent member of his family, but he’s also the only one who managed to make it out of the hood. His family looks to him for all type of assistance, including money, because he doesn’t have the heart to tell them enough is enough. Maybe it’s the guilt he feels from his secret that keeps him digging in his pocket for his loved ones.

Join us as we dive into these strangers lives to explore their inner circles. Lies will be told, secrets won’t be kept, and graves will have to be dug. Take this ride with us, and maybe you could answer the question, is blood thicker?

Should you involve your family in your writing?

Having written a series of books about a family myself, I was curious about how much Kruze let members of her own family influence the characters in her story. After all, it is a novel about about family ties. I got a chance to ask her, and here is her interesting response.

My family influence me a lot when it comes to writing, but I did not tap into any of that influence when writing this story. Although the situations in this story have nothing to do with any family member, I know they exist within other families. I will admit that sometimes my family will come to me with ideas that they want me to use. Sometimes I use those ideas and sometimes I won’t. It all depends on if I feel it is a good fit for my story. I do not wish I used more of their influence in this story because I feel like everything came together perfectly. I will be using some of their influence in the near future with several of my upcoming projects.

About the Author

Kruze was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Although she always enjoyed writing poems as a way of expressing the things she didn’t feel comfortable saying out loud, she didn’t decide to seriously become a writer until after she graduated from high school. She started Urban Legends Publishing & Media as a way to create good literature for readers to enjoy. A self-described urban author with an erotic flare, Kruze wrote and published Cap-Poetry, a collection of poems about life, love, and sex from the viewpoint of a Capricorn as her first project. In November 2016, she released Lock and Load, a novel she co-wrote with Ace Capone, an author she signed to Urban Legends Publishing. Next up, is her novel, Is Blood Thicker, which was made available 8/4/2020.

Kruze has several single and joint projects coming out in the future, including another book of poetry, Letters to my Exes, and several novels, including Sins of the Father, Domain High, and The Money Team. She is always working, always striving for self-improvement both in her personal and professional lives. Be on the lookout for Kruze Hatch and Urban Legends Publishing & Media.

Find the Author

You can find Kruze on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kruze.da.author215, via her website at www.urbanlegendspm.com, or email her at kruze.da.author215@gmail.com.

Buy the Book

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blood-Thicker-Family-Worse-Enemy/dp/0578713209

Yes, there is a giveaway

The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

My Favorite Excerpt

It was Christmas morning, and Daquan watched as his son slept in Symone’s bed. This isn’t how we should be celebrating, he thought. He felt guilty. He blamed himself for Zahir waking up to no gifts, no tree, but most importantly, no Aviana. Symone hadn’t returned from looking for Aviana, so Daquan didn’t know how to feel. Did they find her yet? Is Aviana dead? What am I gonna tell Zahir? He thought.

Zahir began to move around but was still asleep. Daquan prayed that he wouldn’t wake up. He hadn’t figured out what to tell Zahir about why Aviana wasn’t there or why they were at Symone’s house.

“I have to make something happen,” he said to himself.

Daquan was his son’s hero, so letting him down wasn’t an option. Daquan headed to the kitchen and searched the cabinets and refrigerator for something to cook. He soon found out that Symone didn’t keep her house stocked with groceries.

“How does she survive like this?” Daquan questioned aloud, still searching for food.

“I don’t need much to survive,” Symone answered, startling him.

“Why are you creeping up on me?” Daquan questioned.

“How am I creeping in my own house?” Symone asked.

“You know what I mean,” Daquan said and closed the refrigerator. “You hear anything about Aviana?”

“Not yet,” Symone regrettably answered.

“What am I gonna do?” Daquan plopped down at the kitchen table. “It’s Christmas, and I have to tell my son I have no idea where his mom is.”

 

Larceny at the Library

Today it is my pleasure to welcome author Colleen J. Shogan and her cozy mystery novel, Larceny at the Library.

Author’s description

Congressional chief of staff Kit Marshall is finally figuring out what it takes to work for a newly minted committee chair in the House of Representatives. After a swanky evening soiree at the Library of Congress, Kit’s husband Doug discovers the body of a high-ranking librarian inside a ceremonial office. In addition to a murder, there’s also a major theft to complicate the situation. The contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets the night he was assassinated have gone missing. Kit’s political boss and the Librarian of Congress ask Kit to investigate, and she’s released into a world of intrigue populated by a frisky donor, an ambitious congressional relations specialist, a cagey rare books curator, an overly curious congressman, and a baseball-loving lawyer. Kit must solve the crime before Doug’s career is tanked by suspicion.

The case takes her to the inner bowels of the Library of Congress, Ford’s Theatre, the National Portrait Gallery, and the D.C. Public Library. In the end, Kit must put her own life on the line to retrieve her most valuable possession, which goes unexpectedly missing as she hunts down the killer and thief.

My Review

In Larceny at the Library Colleen J. Shogan has written an enjoyable cozy mystery enhanced with an insider’s knowledge of DC politics and a wealth of fun information about the Library of Congress and the world of historical artifacts.

Her amateur sleuth, Congressional chief of staff Kit Marshall, is diligent and methodical, and she delivers an admirable solution to the crime, just in time. I liked Shogan’s supporting characters and felt she introduced enough about each to make them three dimensional without getting bogged down in extraneous plots. On the whole, the story works well on an intellectual level.

I wish I’d read the previous novels, as I’m guessing author Shogan covered basics I missed. I needed to know more about Kit Marshall in order to really like her. I kept wondering what she was doing solving murders. Worse yet, when characters from previous stories showed up, I found their cameo appearances frustrating. I have a feeling this particular book works better on an emotional level if the reader is already invested in the main character and is happy to see people from her past.

Every book stumbles a bit somewhere: for this novel I’d say it could use a little more zing. I don’t want car chases and ticking bombs in my cozy mysteries, but less mundane food descriptions, fewer extraneous references to pop culture, and a lot less dialog that boils down to people introducing themselves to each other would have allowed this basically good story to pack more punch.

As it is, it’s a fun read and I’d like to read more by this author. I do recommend this book to all cozy mystery fans, and particularly to those who are also history buffs or are fascinated by watching the DC scene.

About the Author

Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at several universities and previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate and as a senior executive at the Library of Congress. She is currently the Senior Vice President of the White House Historical Association.

Colleen is a member of Sisters in Crime. “Stabbing in the Senate” was awarded the Next Generation Indie prize for Best Mystery in 2016. “Homicide in the House” was a 2017 finalist for the RONE Award for Best Mystery. “Calamity at the Continental Club” was a 2018 finalist in the “best cozy mystery” at Killer Nashville. She lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan.

Find the Author at

https://www.facebook.com/washingtonwhodunit/
https://twitter.com/cshogan276
www.colleenshogan.com
www.goodreads.com/cshogan276

Buy the Book at

Amazon  or BN.

Yes, there is a giveaway

The Author will be awarding a $75 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter here to win.

This post is part of a tour sponsored by Goddess Fish. Check out all the other tour stops. If you drop by each of these and comment, you will greatly increase your chances of winning.

GF

My Favorite Excerpt

Dunlap motioned for me to follow inside her private office. With a spectacular view of the historic Jefferson Building and the United States Capitol accompanied by floor to ceiling windows, the Librarian’s corner suite constituted prime real estate on Capitol Hill.  Her desk was littered with papers and books. I appreciated a disheveled work space and instantly felt at ease with the homey appearance of her personal space.

“Please sit down, Ms. Marshall,” she said, pointing to a leather armchair. She took a seat directly opposite me, straining to offer a smile.

“I’ll touch base with Sergeant O’Halloran later this afternoon,” I said. “I’ve already done a preliminary survey of the immediate suspects so we can talk freely about where the investigation stands.”

“Impressive,” said the Librarian, her hands folded neatly on her lap. “How did you come up with such a list?”

I explained that a limited number of people knew that only her fingerprints and Gustav Gaffney’s could open the safe. Given Doug’s observations, if we assumed that Gaffney was killed last night instead of this morning, then only those already inside the building would have had access to the Librarian’s ceremonial office. That narrowed the list of possible suspects considerably.

“Then who are we talking about specifically, Ms. Marshall? asked Dunlap. “After all, I’m in charge of the Library of Congress, and I need to know who might be responsible for these heinous crimes.”

“Of course, ma’am.” I ticked off the known suspects with my fingers. “There’s Gordon Endicott, Joe Malden, Lea Rutherford, Janice Jackson, and Congressman Henry Chang.”  After taking a breath, I continued. “The police likely consider my husband Doug Hollingsworth a suspect, too. But I don’t.” I chuckled. “For obvious reasons.”

“Thank you for those names, Ms. Marshall,” said the Librarian, now with a pinched expression on her face. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to go back to the drawing board.”

My head flinched backwards. “Excuse me, ma’am?”

“Many of those individuals are my employees here at the Library of Congress,” she said. “None of them could have killed Gustav Gaffney or committed theft.”

“It’s hard to imagine a colleague you know and trusted could have done this. But I’ve seen this unfortunate scenario time and time again. You’d be surprised what motivates people to do horrible things.”