Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a Transgender Child

I Promised Not to Tell: Raising a Transgender Child

Published July 8th, 2016 by Cheryl B. Evans
ISBN 0995180717
230 pages

What is unique about this story is that it follows one transgender child from birth through age eighteen. You get a real sense of what this family went through. Their son's desperate effort to comply with societal gender norms, a suicide attempt, a family member's struggle with God and transgenderism, a heartbreaking death and much more. Every step of their son's transition from female to male (FTM) is discussed in detail, including hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgeries. This book shares it all in the hopes of making a difference in what seems like a harsh and cruel world for transgender people.

The journey this family took is spelled out in the pages of this book in the hope that it offers encouragement, support, and wisdom to others. Mom shares many of the resources she used along her own family’s journey and extends to you a friendship that goes far beyond the pages of this book. This book can help pave the way to acceptance and understanding. I Promised Not to Tell - Raising a transgender child is an honest and timely memoir.

This is an engaging read written through the eyes of a loving mother with a transgender child. The prose reads like you are having a personal conversation with the author who being a greenhorn when it comes to writing did well with composing this book.

The sole purpose of this book is to educate all people about what it is to be transgender. Therefore, is not exclusively intended for families with a transgender child, but for all people due to the importance of knowing what it means to be transgender in today’s society. The correct term is Gender Dysphoria where people identify with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth due to genetics and the biological makeup of their brain. Transgender is not about being gay or straight. It is not a mental illness. They are not pedophiles just because they want to use the bathroom that matches their “gender identity”. The book does explain all aspects of what it is like to have Gender Dysphoria from how it affects them mentally, the physical alterations that have to take place, also the enormous effects on the family and how detrimental it is for the family to be supportive and understanding.

“The most basic thing about transgender people is they truly believe they are the gender they identify with! Transgender women do not think of themselves as men wearing women’s clothing, they ARE women. Naturally, they should be in a woman’s washroom.”

This is not the first book that I have read in regard to someone's journey transitioning from one sex to another, but it is the one I have learned the most from. I believe this is due to the fact that it is written from the viewpoint of a person who is standing back and watching it all occur whereas also involved. Therefore, everything the mother saw or went through with her child so does the reader. You are there when Jordan first goes to school as a boy, you are educated by the doctors at the same time the family is, learning about the importance of hormones, go through surgeries, and learn what a packer is along with his outstanding mother. In addition to, the obstacles that you do not think of like having to change the gender on passports, birth certificates, and driver's license. It is hard, but Cheryl gets it done.  

The word of God says love thy neighbor, it doesn’t say love thy neighbor except for the ones you do not like...It also says in the bible that God looks at one’s heart, not at one’s outward appearance.

This is not just a book it is a learning experience. An important one for people of all ages. There is so much more I would like to mention about what I read, I could brag about this book for pages, though I think it is more important that you pick up a copy and read it for yourself.   


As you can see there is no picture of Cheryl, keeping it this way so she does not out her son as transgender so he can live a normal life! Wife, mother, friend and author. Cheryl B. Evans was born and raised in Canada. She has been happily married to her husband for more than twenty-three years and together they have raised two wonderful children, one of whom is transgender.

Friday, September 9, 2016


Saving Phoebe Murrow

by Herta Feely
Published September 2nd, 2016 by Upper Hand Press LLC
ISBN 0996439560
425 pages

A story about the timeless struggle between mothers and their teen daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist. This heart-wrenching, harrowing debut novel for fans of Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight) will make you question what's needed to keep your children from harm.

Phoebe's mother, Isabel, is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe. With her busy schedule, though, she fails to recognize another mother's mounting fury and the danger Phoebe faces by flirting with a mysterious boy on Facebook. A cyberbullying episode aimed at Phoebe pushes her to the edge with horrific consequences. In her search for justice, Isabel, a DC lawyer, sets out to find the culprit behind this cruel incident.

Saving Phoebe Murrow, set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.

WOW, what a mind blowing book. This is a must read for parents in this era where computers consume our lives. I loved the author's descriptive writing and all the incredible twists and turns you never see coming. It is an astonishing realistic portrayal of CRAZY parents and how detrimental cyber bullying is to a teenager. When I was young we did not have the internet so all bullying basically happened at school. Therefore, the bullying did not follow us home or spread like wildfire to all your peers at one time.

First, we have Isabel, who puts her work as a high falutin’ lawyer and social status before her daughter Phoebe, who is just trying to fit in her freshman year. Isabel judges whom Phoebe can be friends with by the social status and sophistication of the girlfriend's mother not by the actual girl herself. Isabel makes rash decisions, not considering the consequences of how it will affect Phoebe mentally or her life at school. Phoebe has been a responsible teenager yet is easily deceived by a monstrous person lurking in cyberspace. Teenagers can be bitterly cruel not understanding that what they type on a screen can afflict just as much pain as if they say it to a person's face. Therefore, when a teenage girl's computer screen lights up with terrible insults what does she do to take the pain away?

Second, there is Sandy, who married up in life, having zero couth and does not fit in socially with the other mothers especially Isabel. Sandy's daughter Jessie is one of Phoebe's close friends until Isabel has had enough of Sandy's lax attitude to parenting. Such as letting minors drink under her supervision, giving Jessie birth control informing her daughter “more than anything boys want to have sex and she should have fun” and that is just the tip of the iceberg concerning Sandy and her scandalous behavior.

As the two girls try their hardest to be normal teenagers the mothers in their life are ripping it apart. The book incorporates ghastly parenting from two different ends of the spectrum. One end is completely crazy, the other you will have to read the book to find out. Do yourself a favor and get yourself a copy today.


Herta Feely (also published as Herta B. Feely) is a writer and full-time editor. Her short stories and memoir have been published in anthologies and literary journals, including The Sun, Lullwater Review, The Griffin, Provincetown Arts, and Big Muddy. In the wake of the James Frey scandal, Feely edited and published the anthology, Confessions: Fact or Fiction? She was awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship and an Artist in Literature Fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for The Trials of Serra Blue. She has also received an award from American Independent Writers for best published personal essay for a piece on immigration. A graduate of UC Berkeley and Johns Hopkins University, Feely is the co-founder of Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization dedicated to saving children from unintentional injuries, the leading killer of children in the United States. Her newest book, Saving Phoebe Murrow, will be released in September of 2016. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and cats.

Thank you, Upper Hand Press, for allowing me to review this book
All opinions are my own

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

THE BURIED BOOK by D.M. PULLEY - A mystery you don't want to miss !

The Buried Book

by D.M. Pulley
Published August 23rd, 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Paperback, 399 pages
ISBN 1503936724

When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he’s left on his uncle’s farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible.

It’s 1952, and Jasper isn’t allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He’s lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle’s good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she’s coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses.

As he’s drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother—and now it’s chasing him too.

Do you love a great mystery? Well, this is one you should not pass up. As a reader, you will tag along with nine-year-old Jasper as he desperately tries to figure out what has happened to his mother. Jasper lives in Detroit, Michigan and one early morning his mother drives him up to his uncle Leo's farm in Burtchville, north of Port Huron, leaves him there and does not return. Due to the fact that I am a Michigander, it caused the story to feel authentic and extra compelling to me since I have been to these locations. Anywho, Jasper is smarter than an average nine-year-old and will do anything that is necessary to figure out what has happened to his mother even putting his own life in danger. In addition, the author does an astronomical job of having the reader see the story through the eyes of a young boy.  Whereas, this story takes place during the early 1950’s I learned a few interesting facts about this era and some tricks they used to get alcohol during the prohibition.

“I must apologize for him, Some of my tribe like to drink whiskey with strangers and play games for money. Such things always lead to trouble…I do not let the bad spirits of others come and bother me”

The prose is spectacular with minute hints hidden throughout. Therefore, try as you might sorting out the good guys from the bad is hopeless. Unthinkable occurrences and situations arise from beginning to end, keeping the reader on their toes. Jasper stumbles upon the family's haunting past drawing him deeper into the unknown. When a dreadful incident transpires Jasper can not decipher if what occurred was real or not. Could he have been hallucinating? Was it a dream?  Do I have you intrigued yet? Well, you have to read THE BURIED BOOK to understand. This is a great mystery and I will definitely be reading it again.

Jasper thought of the detective and felt his anger return. “You know what the law said last week? Huh? A police officer came here Monday. He said they’d found...buried in the woods...They think there might’ve been a crime! He said it might be your fault!”  


Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

Winning the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Grand Prize launched D.M. Pulley's career as a published author. Her work surveying an abandoned bank building in Cleveland, Ohio inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key. The unexplained disappearance of a family member inspired her second novel, The Buried Book. She lives in northeast Ohio and is currently at work on her third book.

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D. M. Pulley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, August 22nd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, August 23rd: Booked on a Feeling
Wednesday, August 24th: Wordsmithonia
Thursday, August 25th: FictionZeal
Thursday, August 25th: Write Read Life
Friday, August 26th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, August 29th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 30thReading Reality
Wednesday, August 31stDwell in Possibility
Thursday, September 1stA Bookaholic Swede
Tuesday, September 6thKahakai Kitchen
Wednesday, September 7thBrooke Blogs
Thursday, September 8thReadaholic Zone
Monday, September 12thBewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, September 14thNo More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, September 15thA Book A Week

Friday, September 2, 2016

Author Russel Lazega Uncensored

Russel Lazega author of  MANAGING BUBBIE

*For my review & more about Russel's book go to my blog post of MANAGING BUBBIE

Bubbie (Lea) knew she had a powerful life story to tell and decided you had the ability to write it and her intuition was right as usual.  The book has won numerous awards and amazing things are coming up in association with the book.

1. Was there a reason behind Bubbie wanting her story told? (Besides that it is incredible) 

It's funny.  When I was in college, my grandmother ("Bubbie" we say in Yiddish) would tell me in her thick Polish-Jewish accent, "I vant you should write these tings down, Russel.  Mine stories. Mine life.  I vant you should make a book from these tings -- a book to tell vhat I did to bring mine children here to this country.”   I always knew that she had managed to "Forrest Gump" her way into and out of some pretty powerful moments in history but for close to a decade I kind of blew off the idea of writing it all down.  I was busy with important things like my education and career.  For Bubbie just two things were important: 1) her family and 2) surviving.  It took me a while to figure out how important history — one’s own personal history — can be.  Bubbie knew it and would always nudge me: “You vatch. A million dollars they'll pay you for this story.  I know from these tings.” Well, maybe it wasn’t a million dollars but she was definitely right that the world would connect with her story.

2. Though, she is looking down upon you from heaven what do you think Bubbie would say about it all?

Bubbie actually lived to the age of 95 and really was most proud of just living that long. She’d say, “Oy, I never imagined I could live so long.  Vit all the tings I survived.  Who could tink I vould ever live to be so old.  I’m a little slower, but still here.  Alright, I shouldn’t complain.  I managed.”  That’s probably the universal message of this story — that so many of us in the country are here in this incredible free place because our parents or grandparents — ordinary people — did extraordinary things to get here.

3. How does it feel to have written such a powerful book?

You know when I first started on this publishing project nearly two decades ago I had a prominent agent and some of the big publishing houses were showing interest but the concern seemed to be “will middle America care about the story of a little old Jewish lady in Miami Beach?” Is there a market for this beyond Brooklyn, L.A. and South Florida? It warms my heart to see how wrong the big publishers were. It turns out, my best response has been from people who aren’t Jewish who relate because my family’s story is their family’s story — even though we may look different. I get emails from Chinese people, Russian people, Cuban people saying “Holy mackerel — that’s my mother!" or "that’s my grandmother!” We’re a nation built by the sweat of immigrants and definitely one built by the sweat of fierce mothers. I guess big publishing missed that.

4. You have written in the past law publications but did you ever think you would write a book of this magnitude?  
I’ve got a Jewish mother and Jewish grandmothers — I don’t think I had a choice.

How emotionally difficult was it to sit and listen to Bubbie, someone you love so much, tell you of the horrible things she had to endure to stay alive?

For the most part, not at all.  Bubbie went through some incredibly trying times and trudged through some pivotal moments in history but she always looked at life and making it here to America as a heavenly gift.  Survival was a badge of honor for her.  In fact, people are shocked to see how funny her story and character were.  Like when she got older and needed to be in an assisted living facility.  She got herself her kicked out of like 5 facilities in a span of 6 months. They said she was “unmanageable” because she kept breaking out of the nursing homes.  She became the Houdini of Living Oaks.  She’d say, “It’s a concentration camp.  They’re concentrating people.  All day these people vait to die!  Like a death camp.  Not me.  I escaped from Hitler.  I can escape from here."

5. Was writing about it liberating in any way?

Definitely.  But I think what it’s done more than anything is connect me with so many people who are overcoming their own struggles with grace, dignity and a smile.  One of the greatest joys for me is when someone writes me and says. “You know, I’m battling my own adversity but your grandmother’s story inspired me that if she can triumph over what she went through then I can get through this.”  I don’t think she ever meant to be uplifting for others. It was simply that through much of her life she was confronted with decisions that meant live or die for her and her children and after making through that gauntlet the only things that mattered were the things that are truly important — family and survival.  The rest was just gravy.

6. In the book, Bubbie has this incredible inner strength and was always thinking one step ahead never letting her guard down. When she was finally settled in the U.S was she able to finally relax and let down her guard?

Not really.  She really was always the ultimate “mama bear."  I think when you manage to bring your children safely out of hell you tend to become a bit overprotective with your kids — especially for Jewish mothers who are known to be a bit attached at the hip to their children.  I remember my mom telling me how Bubbie was the mother-in-law from hell for her through much of her life. When my parents first got married they were living in a low-rent basement flat in Brooklyn.  Bubbie would take 2 buses from Manhattan, walk 5 city blocks in the dead of winter, let herself into the young couple’s apartment and set dinner for one — for my father.  “My baby’s so skinny,” she’d gripe, "That girl couldn’t possibly be feeding him.  Not like Mama.”

7.  After everything that she went through did Bubbie ever mention wanting to go back and visit Poland or any place she took salvage in? 

Bubbie left Poland at a pretty young age, and of course the conditions there were awful, so I don’t think she ever saw it as a home she wanted to go back to.  She did go back to Belgium and France and enjoyed it because her nephew caught and cooked her a fish but home for her was always America.  Through the war she went through one hell of a journey to get her kids safely here to the U.S.A.  I don’t think there’s any looking back from that.

8. Have you ever traveled to Poland or wanted to?

No.  I don’t know that there’s much left of the Lodz she knew and as Bubbie would always say, “I live in the greatest country in the vorld now — America — the home from the free. Vhat I vant to look back there for?"

9. Was it as incredible as it sounds growing up in such a large loving and close Jewish family?   

Yes, and frighteningly true — even down to my foul-mouthed 78-year-old great aunt Pauline. They say insanity runs in some families.  In mine it gallops.  A lot of people questioned my decision to tell two stories in this book (Bubbie’s early/wartime years in Poland, Belgium, France and Spain and then her later years in 1980’s Miami Beach) but I felt it’s important to see not just where someone starts but where they end up.  In my case it was in a loving, zany, multi-ethnic, melted melting pot clan in Miami Beach. That’s the family she ended up seeding this wonderful family that was her existence. Looking back from that lofty vantage point you can laugh and cry a lot easier with her along her journey through her life because you know from the beginning it all turns out ok.  

You have some incredible actors and people from broadway participating in the audiobook version of Managing Bubbie.

10. How did you manage to get such fantastic and well-known performers to participate?

A little drive, a lot of luck and a healthy sprinkle of “word-of-mouth.”  As an indie it’s always hard to draw attention to your book and get people to take notice.  For me I was fortunate to hit at a time when people want to see great female-driven stories.  And a pregnant mom and her two small girls going at it alone against the Nazis — that scream female empowerment   Well, one thing led to another and soon I managed to catch the attention of a prominent casting director, Ed Arenas, and a rising star writer/producer, Ethan Smith, who got the story in front of some iconic actors including broadway/T.V. Legend Linda Lavin (who plays Bubbie in the upcoming audiobook), Gavin McLeod (of Love Boat fame), Broadway and film star Lainie Kazan, and Grammy-nominated comic Judy Tenuta (who gives a riveting dramatic performance).  In total, the audiobook will feature a full-ensemble cast that will also include: prominent voice-over actors JJ Crowne and Alex McKenna as well as my daughter Kassandra and a talented young  actress named Taylor Blackwell playing Bubbie’s two young daughters.  

11. Are you nervous about reading your part? I would be.

Oh yeah, I forgot about me.  I’m a natural ham so I really loved having the opportunity to relive my wacky life on audio to be recorded for all posterity.  Now let’s see how my singing sounds.

You are in the process of finishing up writing the screenplay with Hollywood writer/producer Ethan S. Smith to make it into a movie.

12. Who do you think Bubbie would want to play her?

Wow.  There are really two Bubbie roles to cast.  1940’s Bubbie and 1980’s Bubbie.  For 1940’s Bubbie I think we’d need a really giving actress because so much happens in the 1940’s scenes — that’s where so much of the work is — but it’s the lovable, funny, cantankerous, unmanageable 1980’s Bubbie that everyone remembers.  So that’s a tough one — an actress who can really share the spotlight.  For 1980’s Bubbie I’d always been intrigued by the idea of Betty White as Bubbie but after hearing Linda Lavin hit this one out of the park on the audiobook there isn’t a doubt in my mind why she probably has a room full of acting awards.

13. Would you play yourself or do you have someone else in mind? 

Oh, man.  I’m too old to play me.

I ask all authors this question. Have you meet Whoopi Goldberg?

No, I haven’t but would love to.  She’s truly one of the funniest people on the planet and as my grandmother would likely have said, “she sounds like a nice Jewish girl."

Thank you, Russel, for doing this special interview for Readaholic Zone!