Sunday, October 30, 2016

First and Second Chronicles: the power of prayer

First and Second Chronicles are a brief retelling of the events which occur in 1 and 2 Kings. First Chronicles serves as a commentary on the events of 2 Samuel and emphasizes the religious history of Judah and Israel. Second Chronicles serves as the commentary for 1 and 2 Kings and highlights the importance of the temple and the religious revivals in Judah while the kingdom of Israel in ignored. As I read through these books, one thing stood out: prayer. In particular three prayers which are examples of how God can work in our lives if we ask him. With an honorable man named Jabez, we see the power of a simple prayer. With King David, we see a formula in which to pray. With King Asa, we see asking for the impossible in prayer can allow it to become possible.

Jabez is a man who is remembered for a simple prayer with a big impact. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.” By asking God to bless him, Jabez was acknowledging God as the true center of his life and his work. When we pray for God’s blessings, as Jabez did, we need to pray that He take his rightful place as Lord of our homes, our workplace and our lives. The protection Jabez was asking for wasn’t just from the outside world which is full of evil and pain but also internally. The evil and pain which starts from within us in our motives, desires, thoughts and actions. This simple prayer is an example of what can happen when we recognize that God provides all. He provides the means for success, protection from harm and guidance in our lives. If we just ask him to.

David was known as a man of prayer. His prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:10-19 is an example of how we can pray. First, he opens his prayer with praise. In verse 10, he says, “Praise be to you, O Lord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” Second, he recognizes God’s power and glory. He recognizes the God is powerful, majestic and splendor (verse 11). He acknowledges that everything comes from the Lord from their wealth to their honor (verse 12). Third, he prays for the people. In verse 18, David prays that God would “keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever” and “keep their hearts loyal” to Him. He also prays for his son, Solomon, the next king of Israel in verse 19, “And give my son, Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees.”  Wholehearted devotion is complete dedication to God. To serve God above all else. David’s prayer follows a simple formula: praise to God, recognize God’s power, and make our requests. When we praise God and recognize his power before we make our request, we acknowledge that God has the authority to grant our requests and everything we have comes from him.

Asa was a king up against the Cushite army. Knowing that his army had no chance against this army without the power of God, he calls out to Him. His prayer in 2 Chronicles 14:11 says, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, in your name, we have come against this vast army. O Lord, you are our God, do not let man prevail against you.” The Lord provided the victory (verse 12). Asa uses a similar formula as King David. He praised God and acknowledged His power. Then he made his request. King Asa is an example of when facing battles that seem impossible, don’t give up. To paraphrase a common saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get praying. Asa knew he could not do it on his own. He need the power and glory of God behind every swing of his army’s swords. The secret of victory is first to admit the futility of unaided human effort and to trust God to do the rest. God’s power works best though those who recognize their limitations. It is those who think they are able do anything without God are the ones in the greatest danger.

In conclusion, it may seem too simple, prayer. Just ask and you can receive. However, prayer is the most powerful tool a believer has. Prayer is a direct connection to God. When we pray, we have the ear of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. We have the attention of the Father of Lights. When we pray, we have the power to do the impossible. Jabez asked for God’s blessings and protection in his life. And he received it. David asked for hearts of Israel to remain with God forever and that his son would be completely dedicated to serving Him. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen quite like that. Asa asked for God’s help with an unbeatable enemy and he got it. You may say, wait a minute. Two prayers were answered and one wasn’t. Well, that’s another post for another day. The point is all three men humbled themselves before the Lord and made their requests. They knew that only God had the power to fulfill their request and they left it all in God’s hands. Imagine what we could do we did the same. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Presidential Candidate Review: Hillary Clinton

As part of my political review for this election year, I will be review each of the presidential candidate. I will present a brief bio followed by reasons why I would and would not vote for each candidate. Today I will be reviewing Hillary Clinton:

Hillary Diane (nee Rodham) Clinton was born October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois to Hugh and Dorothy (nee Howell) Rodham. She received her Bachelors of Arts from Wellesley College in political science in 1969 and her Juris Doctor degree from Yale University in 1973. She married William Jefferson Clinton on October 11, 1975 and has one daughter, Chelsea, born February 27, 1980. Hillary was first lady of Arkansas from 1979-1981 and 1983-1992. She was the first lady of the United States from 1993-2001. She was a US Senator of New York from 2001-2009. And she was the 67th US Secretary of State from 2009-2013. As with Donald Trump, everyone is familiar with Hillary Clinton since she has been on the national stage for close to thirty years. I will briefly touch on a few of her views on the issues.

On the social issues, she support same-sex marriage and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She supports limitations on the second amendment including bans on assault weapons. Mrs. Clinton would like to see Obamacare expanded with a public option. She opposes school vouchers but supports charter schools. She supports the Common Core standards. She claims to be personally pro-life but is politically pro-choice with support for partial birth abortions. With economic issues, she supports inclusive capitalism. She wants to rescind the tax reliefs and other benefits for companies that move jobs overseas as well as impose an exit tax for companies which move headquarters overseas. She wants to provide incentives for companies that share profits with employees, communities and the environment. She currently opposed (although previously supported) the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She supports equal pay for equal work. She supports the scientific consensus on climate change and opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The reason why I would vote for Clinton is I do agree with her on some of the issues. There should be equal pay between men and women who are doing the same job. There should be a better road to citizenship. I agree with her that the Keystone XL Pipeline is a bad idea. However, there are more issues that I do not agree with her. The reason why I would not vote for Clinton is I simply do not trust her (to be fair, I don’t truly trust any elected official).  She has been caught in lie after lie after lie. Instead of admitting her mistake, which I would respect more than fault her for the mistake, she lies again. She has lied about the big, important things like her email server, Benghazi. She has even been caught in a lie about a small issue like why her name is spelt with two Ls instead of the traditional one. The list goes on and on. Many have sited one reason to not vote for Clinton is due to a due a rape case. The internet has been buzzing about her defense of a child rapist. In 1975, she was appointed to defend this man, which according to my research, she did so reluctantly. She worked the case as diligently as she should have. In this country, everyone is entitled to a defense even those who are guilty.  She didn’t assert that the accuser made the story up. Other witnesses and even a child psychologist made that claim. Finally, Clinton didn’t get him off. The defendant, Thomas Alfred Taylor, agreed to a plea deal. He pled guilty and was sentenced to five years. Interview in the 1980s, she is on tape discussing the case. She does chuckle when talking about this case, however, I don’t see it as chuckling that she got a guilty man off (because he didn’t get off), I think it was a chuckle of nerves. However, the audio is very difficult to hear clearly, according to some reports.

Overall, I think Hillary Clinton has been proven she cannot be trusted with our country. She has been involved in scandal after scandal. The real estate scandal Whitewater in late 1970s and came to light in 1990s. To Benghazi cover-up in 2012 and the deleted emails of recent events. She has said that she wasn’t aware that anything marked with a “C” meant it was confidential. From what I have seen, she has ran her campaign on why Trump is dangerous for our country with little on how she is the better choice. I would have rather heard her stance on the issues than bashing Trump and his past sins. I don’t fault her, or anyone, for changing her opinions or stance on the issues. Opinions can change over time. I fault her for lying. I fault her for thinking the American people as stupid or can’t handle the truth. Unfortunately, I believe this is the mentality of many government officials so she isn’t alone in that aspect. As I’ve said before, this election will be more closely thought about, prayed over and weighed than any other election before. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Faultlines: a story of a family cracked after a tragedy

Faultlines by Barbara Taylor Sissel is the story of how a tragedy can tear a family apart and one woman’s fight to find the truth and keep her family together. The story opens with the call every parent dreads. Sandy and Emmett Cline get the late night call from the police. Their son, Jordan, along with his cousin, Travis and their friend, Michelle, were in a terrible car accidents. Jordan is seriously injured while Travis and Michelle are critically injured. Soon it becomes apparent that there is more to this accident then what is being reported. Jordan is accused of drinking and driving. Len “Huck” Huckabee, a local deputy who is all “badge and ego” seems to have it out for Jordan and is determined to see him charged and convicted for the accident. In the aftermath of the accident, Sandy’s sister and Travis’ mother, Jenna, reveals a secret which shakes the family to the core. In the course of the investigation, the accident seems to be not so clean cut as the police want it to be. What really happened on the road that night? Will the family be able to come back together after what has happened and what has been said?

Faultlines is a story about the dangers and consequences of drinking and driving. I felt some of the plotlines were unnecessary and confused the story. I was trying to figure out how it all it and the connections didn’t quite gel as the story concluded. However, I enjoyed the story for its suspense and its main message of the consequences of drinking and driving. The subject was dealt with in a realistic manner. I recommend Faultlines for its suspense and realistic portrayal of a growing problem.

is available on Amazon in paperback and on the Kindle

on Barnes and Noble in paperback and audiobook

Monday, October 24, 2016

Presidential Candidate Review: Donald Trump

As part of my political review for this election year, I will be review each of the presidential candidate. I will present a brief bio followed by a brief overview of his or her stance on the issues and reasons why I would and would not vote for each candidate. Today I will be reviewing Donald Trump:

Donald John Trump was born June 14, 1946 in Queens, New York to Fred and Mary Anne (nee MacLeod) Trump. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. He took control of his father’s real estate and construction firm in 1971 and renamed it “The Trump Organization.” Everyone is familiar with Mr. Trump. He has lived a life of luxury and often showed it off in television shows like Entertainment Tonight and Inside Edition. In the 90s and 00s, he had a popular reality show, The Apprentice, where he’d utter his famous line, “You’re fired.” In June 2015, he announced his candidacy for president and received the Republican Party nomination in July 2016. He is controversial to say the least.

His stance on the social issues is wide. He is pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother. He opposes legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. He feels that same-sex marriage should be left up to the states. Trump supports a broad interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and opposed to gun control in general. He supports fixing the federal background checks by adding criminal and mental health records to the system. He opposes legalizing recreational marijuana but supports medical marijuana. For economic issues, he has called for the reduction of the corporate tax rate and the elimination of various business loopholes and deduction. Trump favors repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a different free market system. He also supports upgrading the Veterans Affairs facilities and getting rid of the backlogs and waitlists affecting the veterans. Trump supports school choice and local control for primary and secondary schools. He opposes the Common Core State Standards Initiative. He has pledged to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement which he claims treats the United States unfairly and favors countries like China in reductions of carbon emissions. The biggest issue Trump has talked about is immigration. Everyone is well aware he has proposed to build a wall on the US-Mexican border and plans to deport approximately 11 million illegal immigrants. Although in August 2016, he has hinted he has softened his position on the deportation. He now wants to focus on deportation for criminals, those with expired visas and other security threats.

I take issue with his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” what America is he referring to? The America where if you weren’t a WASP, you weren’t considered important enough. The America where your country of origin, your religion, and your language mattered if you found a job, livable housing or even receive the other basics of life. The America where women didn’t have a voice except through their fathers and later their husbands. The America where children were forced to work in horrible conditions for little wages and no education. However, Trump isn’t the first one to use the phrase. Bill Clinton made the same statement of Making America great again in 1991, 1992 and in 2008 during Hillary’s US Senate campaign. Ronald Reagan also used the phrase in his 1980 presidential campaign. So a better slogan “Making American great for our future.”

I searched online to see what people were saying their reasons to vote for Trump. Some of the reasons were seriously laughable and I realized that I had to really think why I would vote for Trump. The main reason why I would vote for Donald Trump is he is the anti-politician. He isn’t the career politician that we are used to. Many supporters are tired of the status quo which had gotten our country nowhere. So much so that people are willing to radically vote for someone who is willing to challenge the status quo. If he can or will is another story. He is brash and in your face. He tells it like he sees it and doesn’t beat around the bush. However, the main reason why I would not vote for Donald Trump is he is vulgar and condescending. I don’t see him being respectful in a diplomatic situation. He’s a very toxic person. Another reason why I would not vote for Trump is he is thinned-skinned and vengeful. I don’t trust him as President especially with foreign leaders. I’m all for transparency; however I do not like Trump’s brand of candor. I will support someone who means what he says; however, I will not support someone who doesn’t do so calmly and respectfully. To do so without demeaning others is a quality of leadership.

Overall, I agree with his stance on some of the issues. I agree that the way things have been done is no longer working and this country needs a radical change. However, I don’t agree with all his proposals to implement those changes. My main concern about Mr. Trump is his personality and the way he behaves in the public arena. This is the man we truly want to represent us as the United States of America? I’m not sure. Is he the lesser of two evils? I’m not sure. What I am sure about is I will put more thought, consideration and prayer into my vote for president than I have in previous elections.   

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Irena's Children: the story of a woman who was determined to save lives

Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo is the true and amazing account of Irena Sandler. Irena has been called the female Oskar Schindler as she rescued an estimated 2,500 children from the Warsaw ghetto. The story opens in 1942 when Irena realizes that the Gestapo is coming to arrest her and she makes every effort to save the list she has of the names of the children and where they have gone. As the general of an underground army, Irena and her network has successfully hidden Jewish children in Warsaw and beyond. The story then takes the reader back to her beginnings. As the only child of a Catholic doctor and his wife, Irena learns from a very early age to care for all people regardless of religion. If they are in need and you are able to help, you are to help. This philosophy helps mold Irena’s sense of social obligation to help those less fortune. As the war breaks out and the Jews are being rounded up and pushed into the ghetto, Irena begins her plan to save all she can.

Irena’s Children is an amazing story of one woman’s determination to stand up to injustice even if it means her own death. Told from her birth to the end of the war, Irena’s story is one of danger and ingenuity in order to smuggle children out of the ghetto. An amazing story which remained untold until a group of American schoolchildren discovered her story and created a play which brought her name out of the shadows. When she died in 2008 at the age of 98, she was still very humble about her efforts. I highly recommend Irena’s Children. Her story needs to be told and retold so that the contributions of Irena and others will not be forgotten in the horrors of Holocaust.

Irena’s Children
is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

in hardcover and eBook

Thursday, October 20, 2016

California Propositions 2016 Part 4: Props 63-67

My final review post for the California proposition. (Remember you can read the full text of each proposition as well as more in depth arguments for and against each proposition at

Proposition 63 is the Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban Initiative. The proposition prohibits the possession of large capacity magazines and requires most individuals (exemptions include law enforcement, correctional officers and licensed private security companies) to pass a background check and obtain authorization from the California Department of Justice to purchase ammunition. Arguments for Prop 63 are that it will close loopholes in existing law. It protects the rights of law-abiding citizens to own guns for self-defense, hunting and recreation. It is supposed to address the issue of illegally armed felons. The arguments against Prop 63 are that it will burden law-abiding citizens who own firearms. It would not keep firearms and ammo out of the hands of criminals. Prop 63 would divert resources away from local law enforcement and burden an already burdened court system. Opponents also claim that Prop 63 is a safety risk and waste public resources.

Proposition 64 is the Marijuana Legalization Initiative. It is designed to legalize recreational marijuana and hemp products under state law and establish a 15% sales tax, a cultivation tax of $9.25 per ounce for flowers and $2.75 per ounce for leaves. It is designed to prevent license for large scale marijuana businesses for 5 years (as to prevent an “unlawful monopoly power”). Prop 64 also has provisions related to the rights of employers, driving under the influence and marijuana business locations. Under Prop 64, marijuana would be legal for individuals 21 and older. It would exempt medical marijuana from some of the taxation requirements. Prop 64 establishes packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards and restrictions for marijuana products. It prohibits ads and marketing to minors and allows local regulation and taxation. Prop 64 also authorizes resentencing and destruction of records for prior marijuana convictions. Supporters for Prop 64 claim that it safeguards against minor use while allowing responsible adult use. It would generate tax revenue and provide funding for after school programs, drug prevention education, treatment programs and research on impaired driving. They also claim that Prop 64 would prevent legislators from using revenues for pet projects and it would make marijuana safe, controlled and taxed. Opponents of Prop 64 claim it would result in more highway fatalities due to impaired driving and increase black market and drug cartel activity.

Proposition 65 is the Dedication of Revenue from Disposable Bag Sales to Wildlife Conservation Fund Initiative. It is designed to required al revenue generated by state mandated sale of carryout bags to be earmarked for a special fund for specific categories of environmental projects. Supporters of Prop 65 claim it would stop plastic bag fee revenue as extra profits for grocery stores. Instead the fee revenue would be directed to the California Conservation Board who would be responsible for allocating the funds to various projects. Opponents of Prop 65 claim it serves the interest of the plastic bag companies and would distract from the phase out of those bags. The proposition does little to help the environment.

Proposition 66 is related to death penalty procedures. It is designed to keep the death penalty in place while speeding up the appeals process by putting the trial courts in charge of initial petitions, establishes a time frame for death penalty reviews and requires appointment of attorney to work on death penalty cases. It would require death row inmates to work and pay restitution to victims’ families. Supporters argue that Prop 66 keeps the death penalty in place while making provisions to make sure that no innocent person is executed. Opponents argue that with the sped up process, Prop 66 would increase the risk of executing an innocent person and remove all legal safeguards.

Proposition 67 is the Plastic Bag Ban Veto Referendum. It would ratify Senate Bill 270(2014). It would prohibit large grocery stores and pharmacies from providing plastic single use bags with a provision for smaller stores to have an additional year. It allows single use plastic bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and other perishable items. It would mandate stores to charge 10 cents for recycled, compostable and reusable grocery bags with an exemption for consumers using the California SNAP program. Prop 67 also provides $2 million to state plastic bag manufacturers for the purpose pf retaining jobs and transition to making thicker, multi-use and recycled bags.  Supporters of Prop 67 argue that the opposition campaign is funded by out-of-state plastic companies who aren’t invested in protecting California’s environment. They claim Prop 67 will help protect the environment without hurting low-income consumers or decreasing job creation. According to Jon Berrier, a spokesperson for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, summarized the organization's arguments against Prop 67, saying, "The [plastic bag] industry obviously is opposed to this particular piece of legislation because it seeks to ban a 100 percent recyclable product and also put fees on consumers for other bag alternatives. It’s all orchestrated as a cash grab by members of the California Grocers Association to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees, none of which goes to a public purpose” (San Francisco Chronicle, “Makers of plastic bags gather signatures to overturn ban,” December 29, 2014).

My final thoughts on these propositions. On Prop 63, I don’t see how it will address the criminals who will have access to these guns and magazines. Criminals are criminals for a reason. They will find a way to get them and still get them, they will. On Prop 64, the opponents claim that legalizing marijuana would led to an increase in the black market. How? The black market is usually no longer there for a substance that is no longer illegal. For instance, when Prohibition ended in 1933, the rate of bootleggers dropped dramatically. Did it eliminate bootleggers? No; however, many bootleggers lost money because people didn’t need to use them to obtain alcohol. Will the same happen with marijuana? I don’t know; but, saying that Prop 64 will increase the black market seems to be a weak argument. On Prop 65, I like that it keeps the bag fee from being extra profits for the stores; however, I can’t see how it guarantees the money will be used for the projects the proposition is designed for. Yearly audits maybe? Oh, but paperwork can be faked. I’m not sure about Prop 65. On Prop 66, the other death penalty proposition, I don’t know how a law can guarantee that no innocent person would be executed. How about no innocent person in prison in the first place? Lastly, on Prop 67, I understand the motivation behind the plastic bag ban because too many people do not dispose of the bags properly; however, the reusable bags aren’t always a healthier alternative as many people do not clean them out for the next use. I think the ban is a good idea and I think once the bags are phased out and people get used to the alternative, they will see its benefits. I just think we could have more than one alternative. Maybe bags which can be laundered? After use, throw them in the laundry. Cleaned and sanitized for the next use? Thank you for reading my thoughts on the propositions. I hope I was able to clear up some confusion or inspired you to look into the propositions a little more closely. Read for yourself. Research each proposition as best you can. Weigh the pros and cons when making your decision for a yes or no vote.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Finding Libbie: you never really forget your first love

Finding Libbie by Deanna Lynn Sletten is the story of one woman’s discovery that her father was married before her mom. Through her grandmother’s tale, Emily Prentice learns the heartbreaking story of her father, Jack, and his high school sweetheart, Libbie. Elizabeth “Libbie” Wilkens is the daughter of the wealthy Wilkens family. They own half of the town of Jamison, Minnesota. Jack Prentice is the son of a farmer who works part time at his uncle’s gas station and dreams of owning his own mechanic shop. The two fall in love, despite her mother’s objections, and get married after high school. While their life together starts out idyllic, it soon sours as Libbie begins to experience wild mood swings and Jack is pushed from her life. Emily is heartbroken to hear about her father and Libbie. She’s determined to find out what happened to Libbie. Is Libbie still alive? Will Emily find her? Will her father want to revisit that painful part of his past?

Finding Love is a beautiful love story in which love wasn’t enough to keep Jack and Libbie together. Through social stigma, family reputations and misunderstanding of what was happened to Libbie, their life together is torn apart. Without giving too much away, I was angry about how Libbie was treated in her family. I was disgusted how some people looked down on Jack and his dreams. I cried at the end. I highly recommend Finding Libbie. You’ll relish in the love story and the hopes that true love will find each other again.

Finding Libbie
is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

in paperback, Kindle and audiobook

Sunday, October 16, 2016

California Propositions 2016 Part 3: Props 59-62

Continuing my review of the propositions for the upcoming election: (Remember you can read the full text of each proposition as well as more in depth arguments for and against each proposition at

Proposition 59 is the California Overturn of Citizens United Act Advisory Question. If approved, Prop 59 would allow state’s officials to use their authority to overturn the Citizen United v Federal Election Commission decision. The Citizens United v Federal Election Commission decision ruled that laws placing certain limits on political spending by corporation and union are unconstitutional. The arguments for the proposition is to insure the voice of the people is not drowned out by corporations and billionaires and to limit excessive political spending (i.e. “buying” elections). The arguments against the proposition is that it is a “feel good measure” that would hurt small businesses that are incorporated and fails to prohibit or limit corporate and union contributions. The proposition limits free speech of the corporation.

Proposition 60 is the Condom in Pornographic Films Initiative. If approved, it would require the use of condoms and other protective measures during filming pornographic films as well as requiring producers to pay for certain health requirements and checkups such as vaccinations, testing and medical examinations related to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Producers would need to obtain a state health license and post condom requirement at film sites. The proposition imposes violation liability on producers or anyone with a financial interest as well as talent agents who knowingly send performers to noncomplying producers. Prop 60 permits state, producers or any state resident to enforce the requirements. The arguments for Prop 60 are that it creates accountability for work safety and health, and reduces risk of STIs and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Arguments against Prop 60 are it is poorly drafted, it could lead to lawsuits which threaten performers’ safety and violate worker privacy.

Proposition 61 is the Drug Price Standards Initiative. If approved, Prop 61 would regulate drug prices by requiring state agencies to pay the same prices that the US Department of Veteran Affairs (USDVA) do. It is designed to strict the amount that any state agency could pay for drugs and provides funding for the purchase of drugs, even if the drugs are not directly purchased by a government agency. Prop 61 only applies to purchases by state agencies and not individuals. It also prohibits state agencies from buying prescription drugs at any price over the lowest price paid by the USDVA, except where required by federal law. Prop 61 would apply to any program where the state agencies are the ultimate payer of the prescriptions with exempts purchase under managed care like Medi-Cal. The main arguments for Prop 61 are to fight price-gouging from drug companies and provide access to life-saving drugs. The main arguments against Prop 61 are that it will rise costs to veterans, reduce patient access to medicines and increase bureaucracy red tape and taxpayer costs. According to, Prop 61 was written by Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), who exempted his own organization from the requirements of Prop 61.

Proposition 62 is the Repeal of the Death Penalty Initiative which would repeal the death penalty and making life without possibility of parole the maximum punishment for murder. It would retroactively apply to those already on death row, requires restitution paid to victims’ families, raises the amount of wages from inmates paid to victims’ families by 60%, and any provision found invalid would not affect other provisions. The arguments for Prop 62 are to save taxpayer money by replacing a costly and inefficient system, provide criminals opportunity to work and pay restitution, provide closure for victims’ families and eliminate the risk of executing an innocent person. The arguments against Prop 62 are that it protects the worst criminals while diminishing protections of victims’ rights, cost millions, and it would end the death penalty when it should be amended.

Just a few thoughts on the proposition. In response to the Prop 59 opposition who arguments that it limits free speech. Unions are made of members who may or may not agree with the candidate or law which the union leadership is trying to endorse. What about their free speech to not want their union to spend their union dues to support someone or something they don’t agree with? In response to the Prop 60 opposition’s argument that it violates worker privacy. Employers are required to provide for the safety of all their employees. So if your illness is putting others are risk, then the employers need to be aware to ensure the safety of another. I also find it highly suspicious that the individual drafting Prop 61 makes a provision to exempt his own organization. If it benefits California, why exempt the AHF? I’m on the fence when it comes to the death penalty, so Prop 62 (and the related Prop 66), however, closure for victims’ families doesn’t always come from the offender’s death. I think many people would be shocked to find out that there are victims’ families who advocate against the death penalty. Read for yourself. Research each proposition as best you can. Weigh the pros and cons when making your decision for a yes or no vote.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Clementine and Claudia: the story of two sisters and the paths they take

Clementine and Claudia by Piper Milton is the story of two sisters, who during World War I, take different paths in life and the aftermath that occurs when their paths collide again. The story opens in January 1917, Clementine is heading home from a field hospital in France to attend her sister’s wedding in England. On the train ride, she meets and falls in love with a handsome military officer which fate doesn’t allow her to discover his name. The day of her sister’s wedding she discovers the handsome officer is her sister’s fiancĂ©, Alexander! Torn between her own desires and her family’s honor, she decides to try and forget her feeling. Fate turns again and Clementine and Alexander are put together on a chance encounter. Can Clementine really forget her love for Alexander and see him as her brother-in-law? Can she find her own happiness?

Clementine and Claudia, a drama about two very different sisters: Clementine sacrifices her freedom and safety to serve as a nurse on the front lines, while her sister, Claudia is very selfish and is only concerned with how the war is effecting her social life. The story’s drama kept me on the edge of my seat. With many twists and turns, the story had an ending I was not expecting. With the backdrop of the World War I, the intense moments heightens the drama of the love triangle between Clementine, Alexander and Claudia. I highly recommend Clementine and Claudia

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

California Propositions 2016 Part 2: Props 55-58

Continuing on my overview of the ballot propositions for this coming election: (Remember you can read the full text of each proposition as well as more in depth arguments for and against each proposition at

Proposition 55 will require the personal income tax increase on incomes over $250,000 to be continued. If approved, the tax increased approved in 2012 would be extended for 12 years in order to fund education and healthcare programs. Proponents argue that the taxes will be kept the same as approved by Prop 30, only extended. It would only affect the wealthiest Californians. Strict accountability and transparency standards will be set to ensure money to local schools and prevent budget cuts while continuing to restore funding lost during the recession. Opponents argue that the tax increase was only supposed to be temporary. Extending the tax increase is unnecessary and would hurt small businesses.

Proposition 56 is to increase the cigarette tax to $2 a pack. An equivalent tax increase would be added to other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine. The revenues generated from the taxes would be allocated for increasing funding for existing healthcare programs, prevention programs, tobacco-related disease research, law enforcement, University of California physician training, dental disease prevention programs and administration. If the new tax causes decreased sales of cigarettes and tobacco related products, the proposition calls for other tax revenue to be transferred to offset decreases to existing tobacco-funded programs and sales tax revenues. The main arguments in support of Prop 56 is the new tax would reduce tobacco-related healthcare costs and prevent youth smoking and address tobacco marketing aimed at youths. The main arguments against Prop 56 is the new tax will fund insurance companies. There is no allocation for funding schools (as was specified in other tobacco tax initiatives).

Proposition 57 is the Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative. It increases the parole chances for felons convicted of non-violent crimes and more opportunities to earn credit for good behavior. It also allows judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juvenile crimes as adults. Proponents of Prop 57 claim it provides a way to reduce California’s prison overcrowding as well as rehabilitation for juveniles and adult inmates through evidence-based rehab. It keeps dangerous offenders in prison. It will save millions in tax dollars. Opponents against Prop 57 claim the bill has been poorly drafted and allows offenders of rape, lewd act of a child and human tracking to be released early. They also claim that the bill allows for career criminals to be treated like first-time offenders. Proposition 57 also overturns provisions of victim’s rights law like the three strikes law and Victims’ Bill of Rights.

Proposition 58 is the Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education proposition. If approved, Prop 58 would repeal most of 1998’s Prop 227 and provide English learners a structured English immersion program. Supporters claim that Prop 58 allows for all students to become proficient in English ASAP (side note: it’s hard for even native English speakers to be proficient). The instruction programs will allow English speakers the opportunity to learn a second language (side note: how exactly? The proposition doesn’t specify but the school districts are to provide the opportunity). Opponents claim Prop 58 will overturn policies that have improved language education and reestablish “Spanish-Almost-Only instruction” in public schools.

Read for yourself. Research each proposition as best you can. Weigh the pros and cons when making your decision for a yes or no vote. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

The River at Night: a vacation turned nightmare

The River at Night by Erica Ferenick is a suspenseful drama of four friends whose vacation takes an unexpected turn and they must fight to survive. The story opens with Winifred is trying to get out of the once a year trip that her friend, Pia, is planning. River rafting doesn’t seem like her thing but after a sad encounter with an older man, she decides to take the chance. Along with their other friends, Rachel and Sandra, Winifred takes the trip to Maine where they met up with their guide, a young man named Rory. Their trip starts out well but soon takes a tragic turn and the four friends are left alone in the wilderness. As they try to reach the local town, they realize they are not alone. Soon they have to run for their lives. Will they reach safety? Will they back it back alive?

The River at Night is an interesting story which is slow to start as the real action doesn’t happen until about half way through. Each woman is on the trip for different reason; unfortunately, I could find any of them relatable or real. I felt Winnie would never go on the trip, let alone take charge like she does. The story reminds of a cross between Deliverance and the film The River Wild (1994). The book wasn’t my taste; however, I will recommend it to readers who enjoy this type of action fiction.

The River at Night
will be available January 10, 2017
on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
in hardcover and eBook

Saturday, October 8, 2016

California Propositions 2016 Part 1: Props 51-54

With Election Day coming up, I decided to do a review of the presidential candidates as well as the propositions which will be on the ballot for Californians. There are 17 propositions on the ballot this coming election. I will review each briefly; however, I will not endorse a yes or no vote. That is for you to decide. I have my own opinions, which may change by Election Day. So my purpose is to possibly help clear up the information on each proposition by presenting each proposition with a brief description as well as the main arguments for and against. I highly recommend reading the full text of each proposition at For this post, I will discuss Propositions 51, 52, 53 and 54.

Proposition 51 is the California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative. A yes vote on this proposition would support the state issuing a $9 billion in bonds to fund improvements and construction of school facilities for K-12 and community colleges. The money would be allocated for constructions of new school facilities for current schools as well as charter schools, modernizations of older schools, facilities for career technical education programs as well as improvements to community college facilities. Supporters argue that California schools and community colleges are in desperate need of repair and maintenance to meet the standards for earthquake, fire and health safety. Opponents argue that Prop 51 will put the state further in debt and it doesn’t guarantee equitable distribution of the bond money. So larger, better equipped schools will receive money before the smaller, poorer schools.

Proposition 52 is the Voter Approval for changes to the hospital fee program. Currently, the federal government requires that the state contribute a matching contribution in order to receive federal funds from Medicaid. In 2009, a program was created that required hospitals to pay a fee to help California obtain the matching funds. If approved, money collected from hospital fees would be harder to divert from its original intention of funding Medi-Cal. Voter approval would be needed to divert funds. Opponents to Prop 52 claims that it diverts resources to special interest and does not guarantee funds will be spent on healthcare with no accountability about how the money is spent. From my understanding is Prop 52 isn’t changing the hospital fees, it is just making it harder to divert the funds without voter approval. So I’m not sure if I buy the opponents arguments against Prop 52.

Proposition 53 would require elections and voter approval for projects that cost more than $2 billion. If approved, voters would have to approve any project costing more than $2 billion before the state can issue public infrastructures bonds that require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment. It is known as the “No Blank Check” Initiative. Proponents argue that politicians need to be held accountable to provide an accurate estimate of how much a project would cost. There would be no impact to local projects, freeway construction or natural disaster response projects. The opposition, led by Governor Jerry Brown, major claim is that it would require a statewide election for certain local projects as well as gives no exemption for emergencies and natural disasters. I have read the full text of this proposition and this argument is very wrong. From my understanding, the proposition is very clear about what projects would need voter approval and local projects are not affected.

Proposition 54 sets certain conditions under which legislative bills can be passed. The purpose is to require all bills to be published in print and online for 72 hours before each legislative house can vote on it. It requires all legislative house make audio/video recordings of public proceedings and publish them online within 24 hours. Proponents claims that it would increase transparency in California’s state government and stop the practice of “gutting and amending” legislation. Opponents claim that Prop 54 would introduce unnecessary restrictions on the legislative process, increase taxpayer costs and give special interest too much power on the legislative process.

A thought I had while writing this, I find it funny that whenever someone is in opposition of a proposition, like this one, they mention the scary “special interest.” It’s possibly true; however, they give a nameless special interests and not all special interests are evil. If I support a certain bill and I lobby for its passing, I have a special interest in it. However, does that mean the law is evil? Not necessarily. Does that mean I get money for the passing of the bill? Not necessarily. I’d be wearily of any opposition which immediately claims “special interests will benefit” because it may not be true.  Read for yourself. Research each proposition as best you can. Weigh the pros and cons when making your decision for a yes or no vote.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Girl from Venice: a mystery set in war torn Italy

The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith is a World War II drama set in Italy as a simple fisherman is pulled into a world of spies and wartime suspicions. Innocenzo “Cenzo” Vianello is a fishing one night in the lagoon of his village when he finds the body of a female, Guila, floating in the water. After a moment’s hesitation, he pulls her on his boat and from that moment, his life is never the same. He is pulled into a world of espionage, half-truths and mysteries as to who this woman is and what the Germans and the Italians what with her. She soon goes missing. With the addition of his family obligations and his resistance to do what is expected of him, Cenzo is pulled by the desire to rescue Guila. Will he find her in time? Will he discover why she’s so important to the Germans? Is there someone else after her?

The Girl from Venice is a fast paced drama with twists and turns, suspense which will leave you holding your breath. I enjoyed this book from the first page and I eagerly turned each page waiting to see if Cenzo finds Guila before the Germans do. I enjoyed reading a World War II story featuring Italy and the attitudes of the Italians toward Mussolini, Hitler, Americans and the war itself. There is so much I enjoyed about the book but I can’t really talk about finer points due to spoilers. However, if you enjoy a love story hidden in the suspense of World War II, you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend The Girl from Venice.

If Girl from Venice
will be available October 18, 2016
on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
in hardcover, audiobook and eBook

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Captive Heart: romance and survival in the wilds of the American Colonies

The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep is a love adventure story set in the wilderness of the American colonies. It opens in London, 1770 with Eleanor Morgan being dismissed from her governess position for her safety. Her only option is a governess position in the colonies. However, the plan goes awry and she ends up married to widow, Samuel Heath, in order to take care of his young daughter, Grace. Samuel, a frontiersman with a hidden past and a not so hidden enemy, is a dark and mysterious man. Eleanor must learn to live in the wilderness with its dangers at every turn as well live with a man she resists getting close to. When Eleanor hears the rumors about his past, she is confronted with the man who knows and the man people whispers about. Can she trust her heart and open her heart to this man? Or must she run when she has the chance?

The Captive Heart is a great love story set in the American colonies as the resistance to the British crown are brewing. It is a wonderful story in a historical setting. A romance which leave you on the edge of your seat. There were scenes which leave steal your breath away as the suspense, danger and romance heightens. You will love Samuel and Eleanor as they slowly fall in love and you will find yourself urging them to acknowledging their feelings and cheer when they finally do. I highly recommend The Captive Heart.

The Captive Heart
is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

in paperback and eBook

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Three great books to add to your library

Today I have two three new children’s books to review. First, A Dog Named Cat by Anne Tolle and illustrated by Ricka Kinra is a story about a dog who is chosen by his family for the boy, Tad. He is given the name Cat, after Tad’s baby sibling called him a cat. The family, thinking it was funny, called the dog Cat. He soon loves his life with his new family but he will met various animals which will lead him to question why he is called Cat when he is clearly not a cat. He is determined to change his name but how to tell his family? Until one day when he does something which causes Tad to change it for him. Ms. Toole writes a wonderful story in prose which children will love the story and the rhymes makes it fun to listen to. This story is a great way to introduce children to poetry in a fun and relatable way. I highly recommend A Dog named Cat for any school or family library. 

Second, If you were me and lived in…Poland by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Kelsea Wierenga, introduces readers to the Central European country. From the first official kingdom in 1025, we learn that Poland was the first European country to have a constitution which was written on May 3, 1791 and only second in the world after the United States. The book discusses the capital of Warsaw and everyday life in Poland. From the grocery store items to traditional foods to famous tourist attractions, readers get a sense of what life can be like in Poland. This book is another great addition to this amazing series. As usual, the book also introduces famous Polish individuals and gives a vocabulary list at the end. I highly recommend If you were me and lived in…Poland as well as the many other titles in this series.

Third, If you were me and lived in…Viking Europe by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova, takes the reader on a historical trip to 870 AD, Northern Europe and the world of the Vikings. The book introduces some of the common knowledge and misconceptions about the Vikings. Vikings were known to travel and plunder but they were experiences explorers, settlers and traders. The book introduces life in this world as the different classes from the elite to the slaves. From their diet to their homes and everyday life and the special occasion and festivals, this book introduces a world of ages past. I highly recommend If you were me and lived in…Viking Europe.

A Dog named Cat by Anne Toole,
If you were me and lived in…Poland
If you were me and lived in…Viking Europe
 by Carole P. Roman

are all available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble