Of Ashes and Dust – a Book Review

Of Ashes and Dust by Marc GrahamTitle: Of Ashes and Dust by Marc Graham

Genre: Currently #54444 in Best Seller’s Rank in Books, Literature & Fiction, Literary (Historical)

Publisher: Five Star Publishing

Publication Date:  March 2017

Of Ashes and Dust – Cover conveys roughly the subject of the second half of the book.

In this debut novel by Marc Graham, he has created a heart-rending, soul-searching story of a man reflecting on his life as it literally ebbs away.

Of Ashes and Dust follows James (JD, or Jade) Robbins as the son of a poor sharecropper, more comfortable with the Negro slaves in the fields of Arkansas in 1846 than that of his close, but upper class landowners.

Growing into his teen years, he falls hopelessly in love with the daughter of the owner of the land on which his family works, and gives his heart and soul to her, pledging his undying devotion until they are split by the Civil War. He is forced to leave his family and his love, finally changing from a beautiful, passionate young man into a world weary, combat wounded veteran. The emotionally charged descriptions of the Civil War battles stab at the heart and cries with the protagonist, until he is finally mustered out to heal and rejoin his love. But things have tragically changed back home as well.

Graham poignantly paints a deeply ravaged person mourning the loss of his soul mate to another, reducing the reader to helpless tears.

Seeking to leave that grief behind, Jim Robbins finds work and leaves the state with his buddy Dave to join the railroad expansion effort toward the west. He and Dave continue their work toward the Pacific after they successfully join the rails at Promontory Point.

The author provides rich descriptive detail of the struggle laying the rail west with unerring historical accuracy, the interaction and tragedy of confronting native peoples, and the immigrant Chinese working the railroad; human lives deemed expendable. It is out west that Robbins eventually finds another love with whom he believes he can share a mutual passion and life philosophy, but it seems that Robbins is again to be denied an enduring love. Dave forces him to go on and together they sail for Australia to help complete railroad construction there.

The characters are fleshed out so well, you ache to have them somehow survive–where is my “happy ever after?” Jim Robbins is immensely empathetic. The dialogue is so natural; the author might have taken it from civil war reports or newspaper accounts along the way.

This story grabs you by the collar from the beginning, and inexorably builds upon itself until, while you know what is going to happen, don’t know exactly how until the end…and then it’s soul crushing. Sometimes you read a book that stays with you after “the End.” This is one of those.

Bullseye!I was given the book in exchange for an honest review. It is packed with intense sensitivity, love, power, loss, regret, and triumph. Recommended for anyone interested in a book that won’t let you go.

Marc Graham - authorRosepoint Publishing: Five of Five Stars

The Author: Marc Graham is an “actor, singer, bard, engineer, Freemason, and whisky aficionado.” If he is not actively hiking the Colorado’s Front Range with his wife and dog, he is either on his computer or on the stage. ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

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Infographic for Click to Tweet Guidelines for WordPress

How to Add a Click to Tweet LinkMea culpa, and by the way, that is directly from the Oxford Dictionaries that I was so busy posting about on my blog Friday. Yes, I was trying something new, and as always with this old dog, graphic tricks don’t come easy. So apologies to all who received multiple updates as I doggedly tried again to create a “Click to Tweet” to my post. This is a free basic plan–there are paid upgrades (aren’t there always?). You’d think these things would be easier than they are, but apparently everything has to be tantamount to learning Photoshop. I seem to be the last one to figure these things out–or maybe not–if you haven’t tried it lately, perhaps this could help?

Just in case you could use a short Infographic on the whole Click to Tweet thing, I created this one and hope that it helps sufficiently that you will try it, if you aren’t indeed way ahead of me already. Click to Tweet

Continue reading “Infographic for Click to Tweet Guidelines for WordPress”

Which Side of the Oxford Comma War Are You On?

Oxford CommaThe Oxford University Press sparked a war back in 1892 that continues to this day with as many on both sides of the line protesting their side as the right one.

The Oxford comma (also referred to as a serial comma, or even the Harvard comma) is that “comma before the conjunction at the end of a list.” The Oxford University Press style guidelines touched off the conflict back when Horace Hart, controller of the University Press, organized a set of rules for the Oxford Press employees.

While the anti-comma faction would eliminate the second comma, the pro-comma faction would add it, sure that it provides clarity. The “pro’s” are more commonly found in the U.S. (I wouldn’t be without mine!) Only journalists forced to use the AP style generally omit it, but that was originally a bid to save space! The anti-comma people hold sovereignty in the U.K., except, of course, for Oxford University–go figure.

Why all the fuss over bell, book, and candle? Aren’t we invoking the Oxford comma for purposes of clarity?  Click to Tweet

And doesn’t that really promote consistency of comma use? Apparently not in some scholars eyes. The article by Warren Clement to The Globe and Mail noted this example: “She invited her father, a tuba player and several ballerinas. It is clear that she invited her father, the musician and the ballerinas.(?Is it?) Now insert the Oxford comma: She invited her father, a tuba player, and several ballerinas. Suddenly the father has become a tuba player.(Really?)

Hmmm…You say to-may-to and I say to-mah-to…

And we’ve been at this 125 years? So I’ll submit to you one final argument illustrated in riveting detail that you may or may not have seen before: “We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin.” I rest my case.

Illustration-Oxford comma
Illustration by AE Ferg-Offered by Stephen Tall

 

I’ll stick to my Oxfords, but I’d be interested to know if you do. Do we have a majority? ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Pokémon GO May Not Be Senior Friendly

Pokemon GOWhat is all this hullabaloo about Pokémon GO? Are you one of those “10 years and older” willing to see what the uproar is about? This is not the first time I’ve tried to catch up to the latest craze. Pokémon GO has now hit more than “21 million active daily users.” You’d think there would have to be something really captivating about it. Turns out, it’s Augmented Reality. (That’s AR to anyone older than 10 years.) A few days ago, I wrote about AI (Artificial Intelligence). This game appears to be a long way from intelligence of any kind. TPokemon Go Ballhe whole point seems to be that of throwing a virtual ball at a virtual creature.

Pokemon Pikachu
Pikachu

Being such a progressive older person, however, I do have a smart phone. And this game is free. (They always start out that way.) But then, here is the catch–there are no instructions. What little print is included must be at 6 pt–WAY too small to read.  I assume that’s because Pokémon is totally familiar to our younger generations who still have good eyes (the original Nintendo game is 20 years old), and they are well acquainted with the annoying little yellow creature and need no instructions.

Pokemon turtleBut Pokémon GO was only released July 6th and this version is specifically designed for mobile application, Apple iOS and Google Android devices. The game was developed in San Francisco by Niantic and uses the phone’s own GPS to appear in gamers physical locations. WHOA! (That’s the “augmented reality”!) Using the device’s camera, different monsters pop-up, who can range from dragons to crabs (I “caught” one yesterday). They all have these amazingly unique names; don’t ask me what the crab was called. Continue reading “Pokémon GO May Not Be Senior Friendly”