The One with the Unlucky Boy

In the sleepy town of Appleton, a young loner follows a stray cat onto the road and is struck by a car. A leg is shattered, a summer is ruined, and the troubled life of Billy Brahm goes from bad... to cursed.

“When things are good, it is because we remember a time when they were not. When there was pain. But now the pain is gone, so things are ‘good’. When we hurt, it is because we recall a time when we did not. When there was no pain. But now we suffer, so things are ‘bad’. The tiger sipped from the cup, peering at the boy over the rim. Stars swirled in its eyes. “Good. Bad. The cup holds both.”

From rats to cats and back again.

Billy Brahm is just like any other ten-year-old boy. Except that he's not. When an accident leaves him broken - body and soul - he learns there's more in this world than what's on the surface. Nightmares plague him; nightmares so realistic he's left with no choice but to find the strength to face the unimaginable.
It's been a long time since I was excited about reading anything. I admit, my focus is scattered most of the time which is what happens when you pile too much on your plate. But this book. THIS BOOK! A one-day-read because it was impossible to stop.

Anybody who has grown up as a 'misfit' or feeling as if they were on the outside will immediately connect with Billy. It ain't easy growin' up! Billy's an introvert, a cat-lover, a reader, an adventurer and a very sensitive soul.

That 10-year-old boy took me from delighted to defensive to heartbroken to terrified and left me with so much anticipation I couldn't sleep. And there wasn't even one character in this book that you couldn't imagine meeting face-to-face. I bought it all. Every word of it.

Everything that you could possibly want in an adventure/fantasy/action/mystery novel aimed straight at a kid's heart is here. There is nothing more gratifying and exciting than watching a character learn, grow and find out just how brave he really is.

And let's not forget the cats.

The best part? It's only the first in a fantastic series by Brooke Burgess: The Shadowland Saga. 

The book is set to release this November via all major eBook retailers and CreateSpace. You can preview it now at Wattpad.

Double standards and our celebrities

As humans, we seem to have a tendency to, sometimes in our minds and sometimes overtly, reject things that are different than ourselves. To that end, I should admit that I avoided Duck Dynasty for what must surely be that reason. I watched an episode very recently and I have to admit I laughed. A lot. It was fun. That family is different than any I have encountered and there are aspects to their lives I definitely do not agree with. I mean, those beards must be SO hot and itchy! Also, I'm not religious and not a fan of guns. Let me make this clear: these are my opinions and I'm entitled to them.

Switching gears, I am not a fan of Justin Bieber. It may be because I'm 44 years old or it may be because his music just irritates me. His antics do as well. But he's 19 and he's famous and he has a ton of money and bad judgement. Seems like his lifestyle had a better than good chance of occurring the way it has. So what?

Back to Duck Dynasty: Phil Robertson made some less than acceptable conjectures in an interview. One might consider them ignorant, especially if you consider there's a vague possibility he's misinterpreted the bible, and one might also consider them unacceptable. Personally, for my life, I find them both ignorant and unacceptable. Thankfully, I didn't make them. Also, this man is not in my life or the lives of my family and friends so I don't have to worry so much about him affecting me directly. I do not believe that by watching his show, I'm going to turn into an ignorant homophobe. I'm probably also not likely to watch his show all that much, either. That decision is based on what I choose to entertain me.

This brings me to what I really wanted to say regarding Phil Robertson and Justin Bieber and countless others like them in the spotlight. I have a diverse group of friends on social media and they are from all walks of life. There are varying opinions about music, fashion and lifestyle and I respect that. They might not see me expressing my opinion that often out there in social media because I tend to remain quiet about my views. But the following is what I believe:

It is okay to be outraged by what a public figure says and does and when they choose to do it. It was ill-advised for Mr. Robertson to say what he did in an interview and he should fully expect repercussions. One of my friends pointed out that while what he said did not break the law, it does not mean he should be held unaccountable. At the time, he was representing his franchise so, in short, 'working hours'. If any of us said something offensive on the job, we might be held accountable by our employers as well. Whether or not he was truly offensive or hateful is really up to he and his employers to work out.

Here is what bothers me: Phil Robertson, Justin Bieber or anyone else that may say or do offensive things still do not deserve hatred spewed back at them. I mean true hatred - name calling, belittling, etc. Doing that just makes us as bad as we feel they are. A celebrity makes a remark against our LGBT society or says something that is inferred as discriminatory such as 'Anne Frank would have loved me' (to paraphrase) or even inferring that a reporter is a pedophile (thanks Rob Ford) and we take these things as offensive, but to turn around and call them long-bearded, ignorant hicks or little idiot or, and this one really gets me, 'fat fuck', really only illustrates that we are just as capable as them of being pretty darn stupid, inappropriate and judgemental.

I am not saying take such a high road that we don't hold EVERYONE accountable for their mistakes when those mistakes are hate-filled, offensive and really, really bad examples to set for our young. I'm just saying, why would you want to repeat their behaviour? To me, it's like teaching a child to hit by hitting them. Why not just say 'I find this remark/behaviour/example deplorable and as a result I dislike this person and will no longer read/watch/listen to them.' And there's the rub, you have a choice to not pay attention to them. You also have a choice to lead by example. That's how lessons are taught and learned.

By Joe Bielawa  Uploaded by MyCanon (Justin Bieber) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Internet, I can't live without you

I write to you today, Internet, with apologies that the majority of this world forgets that they should use title case for your name. You see, I feel like you deserve so much better for everything you have given me.

Thank you, Internet, for teaching me patience and how to be a better listener through Social Media. Were it not for all the drama and constant complaining on Facebook, I might never have learned that anyone can be a social worker - even me. I can also be a chef, a photographer and a doctor without having to even go to school. Thank you for Google.

Thank you for the friends from my childhood with whom I'd long since lost touch. I'm so glad that most of them are back in my life. As for the others, thank you for the ability to block and ban.

Thanks so much for giving Justine Bateman a new home. In the 80s, I wanted to BE her. Now that she's back (and batshit crazy), I think I want to be her even more.

I really appreciate having a place where I can mindlessly correct every spelling or grammar mistake from a safe distance. While these people can leave the digital party every bit as easily as they could leave a real life party they are attending with me, they won't. They never will. Thank you for the captive audience.

When you went mobile, the world rejoiced. Oh! Internet on the go! I will never get lost again as long as I use Google Maps on my iPhone and not the alternative. I will know where my child is at all hours of every single day until he figures it out and leaves his phone at home or turns it off.

Remember that day when you tricked me into believing I'd reached the end of the Internet? We laughed until we cried, didn't we?

You make people do crazy things, Internet. Sometimes they do illegal things. To your credit, you're a darn good detective and you sure do help track these miscreants down. Credit goes to them for often being stupid, but to you for allowing them to showcase their stupidity and get caught.

I don't know where you come from, Internet. I don't know how you got here. I just know that you changed everything and when you can do that, change the world to the point where it simply can't go back, that's something.

"Justine bateman 9-20-1987" by Alan Light - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Parade - the musical

Don't think of this as a review because, as I've pointed out, I'm not really a reviewer. Think of it as the words of a person who went to a show and wants to tell you how she enjoyed it in case you are looking for something to do over the next week or so.

Virtual Identity Crisis

It's funny how blogging is something I very much want to do and yet, I have the hardest time just churning out something interesting for people to read. I feel very disconnected from my blog. I have attempted reviews. I have attempted covering minor news stories. I have even attempted to work within the confines of 'content farms'. I think I may have decided it's just not personal enough.

You wanted it, he had it...

In the late 80s, I finished high school and got myself a couple of summer jobs. One was with a kids arts camp and the other in a record store. I would get up in the morning, grab the camp bus at the mall nearby. When I returned at the end of the day, I’d rush like crazy to get the transit all the way from the north west end of Mississauga to Kipling station in Toronto. For those in the know, that’s a hefty trip.

Personal Responsibility

Is it lost on our kids? Today I read a meme on Facebook. It was a cartoon showing Wile E. Coyote strapping himself to a rocket and lighting a wick to blast himself off, undoubtedly in pursuit of the Road Runner.