Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Loyal Son by Wayne Diehl

Title: Loyal Son

Author: Wayne Diehl

Print Length: 439 pages

Publisher: Wayne Diehl

Publication Date: April 13, 2020

 

About.

In 1846, on the eve of the Mexican American War, hundreds of Irish-Catholic immigrants under the command of abusive, Protestant officers fled the American Army and joined the other side. They were formed into a special unit under their inspirational leader, John Riley. Known as the St. Patrick’s Battalion, they became the fiercest and most feared artillery unit in the Mexican Army. Loyal Son is the fictional story of one of those San Patricios, eighteen-year-old Patrick Ryan from County Cork, Ireland. On the brink of losing their farm, his father entrusts him with their life savings and sends him to America to purchase land and establish roots. He and his sister arrive at their uncle’s house in Philadelphia a week before anti-Catholic Bible Riots erupt. When rabid Nativists invade their neighborhood, Patrick joins his cousins to resist them. During the three days of violence, the family’s house is burnt to the ground and with it all of Patrick’s money. Desperate to make it right and fulfill his duty, Patrick joins the army for the enlistment bonus of one hundred and sixty acres of land. His only goal is to get a farm and see his father, mother and brothers join him and his sister in the Promised Land of America. Nothing worked out the way any of them hoped.

When Thomas Ryan realizes he won’t be able to save the family’s land in Newtownshandrum, County Cork Ireland, he decides to send his youngest son Patrick and his sister Ellen to America to find property for the family. The voyage to America is not an easy one. I enjoyed being able to experience what that was like for many of the immigrants through the characters, such as having to drink water contaminated from being stored in old, rotten containers, to rash and fever. After arriving in New York City, Patrick and his sister encounter trouble and are bullied by boys who force them to stay the night with a widow from Dublin named Mrs. Fitzsimmons. The next day, they meet their Uncle John and Aunt Mary, who they will live with as Patrick tries to find work to make money to buy land, and so starts the journey.

From the bible wars of the Catholic vs. Protestants, the Texas Annexation Treaty, the Election of James Polk, and the National Debate on Slavery, there is a lot of good history in the backdrop of Patrick’s journey. Through the eyes of a young Irish boy and his cousins, we see the racism and discrimination against the Irish people who are stereotyped as “alcohol-soaked animals, corrupt papists, and sexual deviants.” The author does an exemplary job of foreshadowing Patrick’s eventual enlistment in the army. When religious riots explode, it forces the family to defend their position, ultimately leading to the burning down of Uncle John and Aunt Mary’s home along with the savings Patrick was going to use to buy land.

Even though the story is from a young Irish boy’s perspective, I liked how historically accurate it is also for African Americans at the time. Slavery was such an ingrained part of American society that it was a common part of everyday life. The author shows this in his descriptions of the enslaved blacks and their interactions with the people around them.

“At daybreak, James walked down the porch to the barefoot, teenaged slave holding his horse.”

“A stout, unsmiling negress in a faded calico dress and a white kerchief wrapped around her head met them on the steps of the expansive portico. James handed her his hat, riding gloves, and overnight bag.”

“Jackson noticed his protégé approach and rose slowly from his chair. The small black boy attending him tried to help but the General snarled at him and he backed away.”

This book is action-packed all the way through, historically accurate, and because Patrick and his cousins are young men, it maintains the right balance by being just as fun as it is about war and racism. The boys are young, like girls, and get into some pretty severe fights and trouble with the law.

Loyal Son is not a short book, but if you enjoy history and have some time on your hands, you will love it.

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 4/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

Loyal Son is available now on Amazon!

*Free with KU!*


My book review registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.

One Cool Strategy for Busy Bloggers

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Blogging takes up a lot of time and staying consistent, whether that’s blogging once a week or every other day, isn’t easy.

But it could be more manageable.

Republish Your Content

Who says you can’t share the same content again? Whether that is an interview you did, a radio show, or a blog post, every once in a while, you can reshare an older post by rescheduling it to republish.

Even though it is an earlier post, it can still apply to the current time. For instance, if you wrote about Juneteenth this year, you can reschedule that post to publish again on Juneteenth next year. Between this year and next year, you would have met more readers and gained more views. It will also surprise you to see how many of your current readers did not see the post the first time around.

Go through your blog posts and choose a post that resonated deeply with your audience you feel is relevant enough or important enough to repost.

Using myself as an example, Thursday, I republished a Throwback Thursday Jam by Minnie Riperton.

First, you will need to edit the post. I prefer the classic editor because it’s easier for me.

Next to the published label, click on edit and change the date and time to the day you want to republish the post.

Once you have chosen your new date, click ok and schedule.

I will not republish this video because I already did, but if I were to keep it this way, this post would publish again on August 2, 2020, at 12a EST, and new people will see it.

The first time I posted this song was back in 2017, and when I republished it last week, it received more views from people who had not seen it.

It reminds me of publishing in that your book is always new to the people who have never read it.

Your post is always new to the people who have never read it.

You can also share some of your older posts/articles on social media. People who don’t know you and never read your work will probably become new followers of your blog for more value.

I have found some cons to doing this, I must mention. If you are blogging on WordPress (which is the platform I am always referring to since I blog here), I caution on reposting blog posts that have been re-blogged a lot. The republished version will have a new link meaning that backlinks to your article that someone may have shared with their audience on their blogs won’t work.

A backlink is a link created when one website links to another and is suitable for SEO or search engine optimization. This is why I said you could also share the posts as many times as you want on social media without reposting it. In this way, you can edit the post and share it without breaking the original link. I would also recommend avoiding reposting too much. Fresh content is always preferable.

Don’t have time to blog? If you have been blogging for a while, you possibly have tons of content sitting right there to republish and it only takes about ten minutes.


Note: Republishing is easier and more effective if you have built up an archive of posts. You can’t repurpose content if there’s no content.

Click here for more blog tips!

His Skin

Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

‘Handsome’ does not conjure the strength succulent enough
to uncover the sun underneath his skin.
Shame on those who sexualize him.
Who sees his body as cheap and public.
Who does he think he is, being darker than a brown paper bag?
Sometimes they notice him
like the moon against the pitch-black sky
and still, he is only handsome “for a dark-skinned guy.”

They do not know that he is the color of the gods.
I will describe him the intensity of ebony
a precious rarity.
How’d he get so lucky?
Who bathed him in sunlight?
This black hardwood-colored flesh.
Delicately bronzed.
He is black keys on a piano.
Play a song for me.
Whisper truth through lips thick and sensual
remarkably soft and pliable.
This espresso-colored body.
Dangerous when diluted.
Potent when raw.
They do not know any better.
How do you greet someone so breathtakingly gorgeous?

It will take them a minute to get used to the truth.
That not even the bite of winter can dare diminish
his light.

Writers Wednesday – Chapter 15 – The Women with Blue Eyes

Note: If you are new to this series and have not already read the first few chapters, please do so. For this part, you want to go back to chapter three and eight for context.


Chapter 15: “The Door”

One Year Ago

Not being able to move your arms and legs is one of the worst feelings in the world. 

Janiyah squirmed. She also could not speak. Big Sam had tied her arms and legs and put duct tape over her mouth. What’s worse than being tied up like an animal? Knowing your little brother and sister is in the other room, completely oblivious to what’s going on outside of cartoons. 

“What’s my little mama gonna do now?”

Her fat ass leaned against the wall, smoking a blunt. Big Sam was a woman, her name short for Samantha, and she was one of the biggest drug Queenpins in Chicago. Her name is what made her so good because everyone assumed she was a man. Sam had men under her, though, taking orders and moving weight. She didn’t have to do anything but give orders. When Janiyah met Tabitha, she had no idea she was Big Sam’s cousin. They became close friends, and both got trapped. Janiyah’s body trembled to think of the things they used to do, what people did for money, what people did for love.

She ignored Sam’s questions; her eyes were darting around the room. She looked at the driver—that piece of shit. Adam had a big crush on her, and maybe she could give him a chance, or so she thought. After finding out about Big Sam, she planned her escape with Mike and Kayla. He was supposed to take them to the bus station. Instead, he brought them here, right back to Big Sam. Of course, he was working for her. She should have known. 

“Come on Niyah,” Sam continued, “you had to know I knew you would try and escape me. The good thing though, is that Ronnie ain’t that smart.”

Janiyah cringed at the mention of her little brother’s name, gritting her teeth against the tape’s stickiness. He was so naïve about Sam.

“He is starting to ask questions, though,” she took a puff of the blunt and blew out the smoke, “I wonder why?”

Big Sam winked, and her brown eyes flashed a glacial blue and then went back to brown. Janiyah frowned. It had happened in a matter of seconds. If she were not looking directly at the woman, she would have missed it. What was that? Did her eyes change? Janiyah shook her head as a chill ran down her spine. She couldn’t have seen what she thought she saw. 

They were in an undisclosed location, but it looked to Janiyah to be a warehouse with a room in the back. Spacious and roomy, the cold-storage area was large and tin-roofed with concrete floors. Windowless, no one could see the inside of the building. In the middle of the space sat one table with several boxes on top. It was where they did their dirty work, she was sure.

Big Sam put the blunt out on the bottom of her shoe, and then extended her arms to receive a box from one of her men. She took out a knife and cut the package open, pausing to glance at Janiyah.

“I’m sure you will keep your mouth shut about what you see here.”

Janiyah raised a brow. That was a weird statement. Drugs. Of course it was drugs. What was so secret about that?

Sam nodded to a man in the distance. He had been standing next to the closed door that housed Mike and Kayla since they got there. Hands folded in front of him, the man had not said a word. He nodded back at Sam and knocked against the door with his knuckles. “Ey,” he shouted, “bring ’em out.”

The door creaked open, and Janiyah rocked the chair so furiously that it tipped over, causing her to crash onto the floor, her face hitting the concrete first, her nose and mouth bleeding underneath the tape and sliding down her chin. Janiyah screamed from the pain to her jaw, her eyes bulging out of her head at what she was seeing. It was her baby sister Kayla, blindfolded with a gun to her head. The man walked the girl closer to Janiyah. Big Sam smirked.

“As I said, I’m sure you’ll keep your mouth shut about what you see.”

Big Sam walked over to Janiyah and ripped the tape from her mouth, specks of blood flew off with it. Sam cringed and wiped the droplets that landed on her hand off on her jeans. Janiyah screamed from the pain.

“Please,” she cried, “please don’t hurt her.”

“It was just a matter of time before you told Ronnie about our little investment.”

At the mention of Ronnie’s name, a sound is heard near the door. 

Ronnie emerges from the shadows, points a gun at Big Sam, she smiles, and Janiyah screams.

“Ronnie, no!”

***

Present Day

That’s not really what happened next, but it always ended this way, missing all the other stuff that happened in-between. The same scene played itself on a loop in her mind.

It was the same nightmare and the same scene. Why couldn’t she remember anything else? It always skipped to the part when Ronnie pulls the trigger, but she never sees him fall. Should she be thankful? Hell no. Not seeing her brother die but replaying the moment just before he did was no favor.

Tina would always come to her rescue, rocking her back and forth. She thinks I’m a saint. Janiyah was thankful for her mother’s best friend taking them in, but there was so much she didn’t know. Janiyah blamed herself for Ronnie’s death. If it weren’t for her sneaking around with Tabitha to work for Big Sam, he would have never gotten involved. All she wanted to do was help her mom pay back her debt. All Ronnie wanted was for his sister to stop doing what it was she was doing.

Everyone had their secrets, she guessed. Somehow, hers seemed far worse than everyone else. Tina saw a therapist and took crazy pills, and Miss Bernice let the kids take turns sitting in the passenger’s seat of her car. None of that seemed as bad as her situation. Big Sam was dead, but everybody in the hood knows just because the leader dies, that doesn’t mean your debt is paid. It just passes on to the next person in charge. Her mama may have been strung out and unstable, but she was still her mother, and she still owed.

Emotion rose in Janiyah’s throat as she started the ignition of her car and headed in the direction of Tabitha’s house, convincing herself again to keep quiet. There was no way Tina could know that she still worked for Big Sam’s people. And there was no way she could tell anyone about what she saw that night. Not about Sam’s eyes, which Janiyah was still not sure happened, or what was in those boxes. She just wanted to get the rest of this money and finish paying her mother’s debt, and it would all be over. She had cash from Ronnie’s case, but there was no way she could explain why she took thousands of dollars out of the account.

She had to finish the job.


Coming Up:

Chapter 16: “Something’s Not Right”

Wed.  7/8/2020

Are you new to this series? Click here to start from chapter one.

Dear Indie Author, Don’t Let People Rush You

It’s easy to get caught up watching everyone else publish their books when you are still writing yours. In the Indie world, people publish frequently; some writers are churning out hits every month. And as we sit there, watching them hit Best Seller’s Lists and USA Today Best Seller’s list, we must fight the urge to rush our WIP (Work in Progress) just for the sake of getting something out there. Some people write best-sellers in a few weeks or months and some people, a few years.

It’s not just watching others publish that can make an author anxious, but it is also excited readers. Authors love their readers and rightfully so! Without a reader, there is no book, so authors cater to the literary needs of their tribe, listening to feedback, praise, criticism, suggestions, and recommendations. But, even in this instance, the author must hold ground!

Authors, lean in close…

No matter what these people say to you, stand firm because the compliments are captivating! Readers know how to stroke the ego. They are truly good at what they do. Do not underestimate it. Suddenly, you are the best author they’ve ever known (yes, more than Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, JK Rowling, and Maya Angelou), and your book will give them life. Like, literally give them life. They will die without your next read.

Everyone breathe.

It is going to be okay. I can assure you, the reader is not going to die.

Simply smile, nod, and inform them the next book is coming, but it is not here now.

Trust me. Everyone will live.

Take as much time as is necessary for your masterpiece. Make sure it is as polished as you can afford to make it, and then, when no one is paying attention, it is done.

Your people will love the surprise!

Here are classics that took longer than a few months to write:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley  (1 Year)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (2 Years)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (6 Years)

The Lord of The Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (12-17 Years)

 


Looking for more Indie Author Basic Tips? Check out this page for more!

Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – Catch The Moon, Mary by Wendy Waters

Title: Catch the Moon, Mary

Author: Wendy Waters

Print Length: 258 pages

Publisher: Wendy Waters

Publication Date: October 16, 2019

Mary Granger is a gifted musician who sees visions of music and moves her hands to the tune of the song she hears in her head, like playing an invisible piano. The children call her “Mad Mary” because she doesn’t understand their jokes. She is nervous, and her mannerisms read like someone with autism or some other disorder. But Mary’s music is extraordinary and came as a way of dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse from her father, James.

Then, there’s the archangel Gabriel, who has been on Earth for a thousand years and is depressed about whether he will ever return to his glorious state. He returns to heaven to find it in chaos. His father (“God”) is gone, and so is his brother Rigel. The angels have adopted a “do what thy will” attitude. Gabriel is searching for a saint who can help him enlighten the world.

Mary and Gabriel meet when the angel is swept away by Mary’s music, which draws her to him like a magnet. Mary is a child, about eleven-years-old, and Gabriel wants her to sell him her music. The child, Mary, can’t sell the music because it takes her away from James’ abuse. Witnessing the act, the angel causes significant pain in the man’s stomach and makes a pact with Mary that he will own the rights to her music in exchange for protection.

He believes Mary’s music is the key to restoring his light and promises her fame and fortune in exchange.

But when Mary is an adult and works as a paralegal, still bound by the contract, Gabriel doesn’t seem to be as kind as he was when she was little. He kills, and people close Mary start to die.

There is a lot to unpack in this book, including the biblical connection between Mary and Gabriel, the angel that came to tell Mariam she was pregnant with the Messiah. And because I believe there are fallen angels who many celebrities worship for fortune and fame, becoming miniature versions of gods on Earth, i.e., stars, I enjoyed the realistic premise of this book. However, the plot in Catch the Moon, Mary is not predictable and gets more profound as the story unfolds.

Catch the Moon, Mary is gracefully written. I was immediately caught up in the poetic writing style of this author. From the first sentence, I was pulled into brilliant prose and description that made reading easy. I felt part of Mary’s world because the writing was like feeling the music, not just reading it. As a poet, I love this. The entire book is written with this kind of artistic expression. The author is unique in her descriptions, so that not one sentence is ordinary. Waters does not just tell us the sun is rising, but that “suddenly, the sky was rimmed with yellow flame as dawn cracked over the horizon like an egg.” She does not just tell us Mary’s music is good, but that, “her music pulsating like breath.”

I was not a fan of the musical notes used instead of Chapter Headings, but it makes sense, given the author’s writing style. As I said, this author is no ordinary writer!

Plot Movement / Strength: 5/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 4/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

Catch the Moon, Mary is available now on Amazon


My book review registry is OPEN. To learn more about my registry be sure to visit the Blog Book Review Policy page here.