Monday, December 17, 2012

Our Thoughts are With Those Who Mourn Their Dead . . .

A hundred years from now it will not matter
what my bank account was,
the sort of house I lived in,
or the kind of car I drove.
But the world may be different because
I was important in the life of a child.

Life as many know it ended Friday morning, before 10:00 AM, in Newtown, CT,
when a troubled young man, who had already murdered his mother in her sleep,
drove to the Sandy Hook Elementary School, and there he managed to get past the
initial entry barriers and within 10 minutes of entering the school, had shot and killed the 
principal, the school psychologist, and turned his bushmaster rifle on the teachers and 
children in two of the school rooms.

Now families, communities, and the entire nation is still trying to "wrap our minds around" the reality of this level of violence, the horror that so many children witnessed, the
sense that over 550 children experienced that their lives were no longer safe.  Vigils,
prayer services, community gatherings, family assemblies, and now 28 funerals will be held
in and around Newtown, CT--20 children, six teachers & school administrators, one mother 
and her son, the shooter.

I can only add  my voice to those who are mourning the senseless deaths that have marred the American consciousness, remembering that not only Newtown residents are in mourning, but there are those who were terrorized in Clackamus, OR just two days before this school shooting.  We remember those in Aurora, CO, in Oklahoma City, OK, in Newport Beach, CA, and all the communities in the United States where 24,000 kids have died in the past two years.  And reflecting on the words of the President of the United States, have we done enough to keep our children safe?  And if we have not done so, why not?

It is these thoughts that keep circulating through my mind today, and I felt I needed to express my anger that any child dies, whether s(he) is sitting in a school room, or playing in front of the house when someone starts shooting from a car that is driving past that location. That same anger sizzles and pops in my heart over the abuse children suffer, at those who drink up or spend grocery money on drugs, rather than feed their kids.  

We will never solve all the problems of the world, and there is no law or set of laws that will eradicate evil from the world.  But reasonable people make reasonable laws so that there is a reasonable expectation that our children will be safe to grow up and reach adulthood in pursuit of a meaningful life.  Just as each of us has individual choice about the aspects of our own lives, so we as a nation make choices of what we want to be the factors of American life.  Are our guns, especially those military-type assault weapons, so necessary to us, so precious to us as a society that we just have to have them?  Are we willing to put the safety of any of our citizens, especially our children, at stake in order to satisfy our lust for violence?
These are questions we all have answer, and it doesn't appear that there is any better time than now.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

You Bit Me And I Turned Into What???? "For Toron's Pride" by Tressie Lockwood

When her jerk of an ex-boyfriend turns her into a lion shifter, Sienna just can't accept that she is no longer human. She's determined to live a normal life despite PM'S as a shifter being off the charts. When she meets Toron, the leader of the Pride, she can't deny how sexy he is or her attraction to him, but Toron has a power that threatens to sweep away all the plans she's made for her life. No one man should have that much control over the the people around him. After a night of unbelievable sex, Sienna leaves Toron, and he let's her go. Five years later, she is forced to seek help of the man she's never been able to get out of her head. Will he forgive her for the decision she made so long ago?

Lots of stories embrace the factor of the human who is transformed into a shifter, and that is certainly the premise of this novella.  Yet this is different in that the heroine is an African American and she is sassy and mouthy and not about to embrace her new identity.  Yet she is aware that her life has been changed irrevocably and nothing she can say or do, no amount of resentment against her careless ex-boyfriend can undo what has been done.  Now she is invited--compelled--to attend an instructional weekend held by the Alpha of the closest pride, Toron the lion-shifter and a man who is instantly attracted to Sienna.  But she is wary of him because she knows he is a player, taking multiple women into his bed and one who has made it clear that he has no intention of allowing his heart to become engaged to any one woman.  Sienna is sooooooo not giving in to this hedonist!  That's what her head and heart say;  that's not the message her body is transmitting.

This is an interracial romance between a very dominant alpha, a shifter whose power is undisputed and one who has determined that he will not allow love for any one woman to have power over him.  Yet Sienna with her beautiful chocolate skin, her pouty, sexy lips, and her beautiful eyes whose depths draw him in like quicksand, challenge his life goal and weaken his determination to remain apart from her.  This story seems to have just a bit of a different slant than many paranormal shifter tales.  The two do  manage a night of hot loving, but part without any commitment to one another.  The reader is left to wonder how this is all going to come out.  It is especially upending to find out that Sienna has been raising Toron's son, Simeon, without his knowledge or support.  It seems that is Sienna's preference -- for now.

Tressie Lockwood writes wonderful interracial romance, bringing black and white partners into love relationships that advertise the wonder to be had when two people set aside racial prejudice and simply enjoy the love that grows between them.  That they are often reviled by former friends and family is an aspect that Ms Lockwood does not seek to avoid.  But she also writes of friends and family who seem to be just as blind to skin color as the partners themselves.  It is uplifting and encouraging to read of families who have learned to prize others on the basis of what they are on the inside, embracing their cultural diversity and allowing those differences to enrich rather than divide.  So it is in this novel that not only embraces the racial diversity but also brings in the prejudices that shifters often exhibit between the naturals -- those who were born shifters -- and the "regulars" -- those who have been created at some point in their human lives.

The fun in this story comes from Sienna's mouthy responses to the challenges and people in her life.  She is simply not very impressed with Toron and she doesn't hesitate to express her feelings powerfully.  Such fun!!  It is always a bit satisfying--in a feminist sort of way--to see a powerful man cut down to size by a powerful woman.  And Tressie Lockwood doesn't back away from creating powerful heroines.  Sienna is certainly the quintessential example of such a woman.  

I think readers will really enjoy this story, even though it is a novella.  I would have liked it to go on a bit, but Sienna and Toron's story continues as a part of the back story in the second novella in this series, In Hawke's Eyes, the story of Toron's best friend who is a hawk shifter.  I hope you will consider adding this very readable novella to your library.