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No Boundaries – Karen R. Sanderson

Image result for karen r sanderson

I had the pleasure of getting a pre-release copy of Karen’s book, No Boundaries a few months ago. This is what I wrote about it.

“Sanderson’s book No Boundaries evokes a place in time we can only revisit in words. It’s like being on a long journey. The images and ideas described remain long after we have stepped off the pages. Beautifully crafted, they speak to the heart, from the heart. Sanderson is at her best when writing about love and loss as evinced in ‘Mom and Bocelli’ and ‘I wish I had known you’.”

For those of you interested in poetry, No Boundaries contains an interesting mix of poems. People and places are immortalized on the pages. The images and ideas blend in seamlessly and remain long after you close the book. There is something for everyone.

Here’s one about the military.

The Trade

Inspired by Kristi P-L, USAF, Iraq 2009-2010

She packed up her comfy jeans and laying-around T-shirts

She shrugged into a heavy canvas uniform,

now her second skin

Boxed up her peep-toe high heels and sandals

and stacked them away

Now all she’s got are dusty high-top boots with heavy tread

No delicate black eyeliner around lovely hazel eyes

Just smudges of purple, her badges of fatigue

No long showers here

Just unshaved legs so she looks like the rest of the troops

Forget salon haircuts with mousse or gel

In marches a permanent helmet-head hairdo

She strains to remember how lovely that last manicure felt

Handling weapons with broken, scraggy fingernails,

unpolished and blunt

Velvety cosmetic powder abandoned at home

She wears the Iraqi desert upon her face

Late night chat-fest nights with friends of her choosing,

no more

Now, it’s early morning wake-up and drill

No delicate sparkling pendants around her neck

Just a dull metal chain with tags that identify

her blood type

While mother’s comforting shoulder and soothing touch

wait at home

She learns combat strategies and

how to react to roadside bombs

Instead of cradling a tiny baby

She crawls into a burdened flak jacket

that hides her girlish figure

She rolls out with a loaded M4 and a 9mm Beretta.

Image result for karen r sandersonAbout

Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!”

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, poet, writer, and a fabulous grandma. She completed writing coursework through UCLA and the University of New Mexico. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com.

Karen is currently pursuing a degree at Minot State University and Lake Region State College in Interpreting and Sign Language Studies.

Connect with Karen on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Contact at karenrsanderson@midco.net.

www.karenrsanderson.wordpress.com

 

Featured

Windy City Sinners -Melanie Villines

My review of Melanie Villines very interesting book Windy City Sinners is up at Goodreads. Check it out, along with other reviews at the link, or read it below.

Everyone’s a sinner and a saint.

I didn’t know what to expect from a book described as “A Magic Realism Crime Novel”, but the more I read the more involved I became in the lives of the residents in that little neighborhood on the Far Northwest Side of Chicago. As my eyes ran over the words, I was pulled in. I found myself cruising down the road looking for a house to move into and observe everyone I met within the pages. I wanted to take my laundry to Redemption Dry Cleaners to know what Virginia had to say about my level of sin.

Everyone sins but in Windy City Sinners, you can get your sins washed away at Redemption Dry Cleaners at a price, and that price keeps rising as the fame and success of the dry cleaning business grows. People go into debt just to get their sins washed away little realizing that money cannot pay for sins committed. Yet the owner and originator of this unique business, Virginia, is least bothered where the money comes from, as long as it keeps coming.

“Does the State of Illinois ask where people get the money to buy lottery tickets? Do the riverboats ask where people get the money they spend in the slot machines and at the gaming tables? Does the Catholic Church ask where each dime comes from that goes into the collection plate?”

Every character has his/her spot in the limelight and readers are given a front row seat to their lives to view their sins. Everyone is a saint and sinner rolled into one. What’s interesting is that while they commit the most unbelievably bizarre crimes one can’t feel negatively about any of the characters. Even Grazyna who steals from the dead without remorse, is quite likable. We find ourselves sympathizing with her views, and even accepting that there is nothing wrong with taking from the dead since what use are all those decorations placed on their graves since they are no more.

“Grazyna doesn’t see this as robbery. Silk flowers are expensive, after all. And what good are they to the dead? The flowers look much better in her yard. The departed souls have told her as much. She confers with them, asking for their consent before she takes the flowers. Grazyna considers herself fortunate –life is so much simpler when you receive permission for an act that most people would deem as a sin.”

Everyone wants to lead a good life and they are trying to find ways to do so, legally or illegally. They are also trying hard to be good people in the eyes of God, and are always making excuses for their sins or trying to find ways of redeeming their sins.

Marek impersonates a black man to rob because he thinks no one would suspect a white man of holding up dry cleaners. A recent immigrant, he needs the money to make his dream come true, and he reasons with himself that,

“outright robbery is more honest than corporate deceit.”

Father Spinelli the frustrated and angry pastor is not interested in tending to his flock. Being in the Church is merely a means of employment. He yearns to become as famous as Father Antonio Vivaldi and the inability to realize his ambitions has made him into a bitter man who has no choice but to listen to the problems of his congregation while all he wants is to make music, get a record deal and become famous.

The author succeeds in keeping the reader waiting to turn the page and discover more. This was one book I found hard to stop reading, and was quite disappointed that it had to end. It’s entertaining and hilarious and you feel for the characters, all of them. There’s good and bad in all of us and the characters of Windy City Sinners are proof of that. Everyone’s faults and weaknesses are brought out into the open and analyzed. We see kindness lurking in almost everyone coupled with greed and avarice. We also see the sheer determination and effort the characters put into what they do to deceive everyone around them, like Officer Jerry Valentino, who tries to hide the stash of drugs in the statue of the Virgin Mary and the crimes Sammy the mafia man is willing to commit in order to quit his line of work.

Money and fame are the guiding forces behind every action of the characters. When Virginia’s dry cleaning business becomes almost like a religious cult, Grazyna also decides to get in on the sin redemption business and starts the Spotless Souls Housekleaning Service selling a line of sin-removing sponges and other do-it- yourself products.

“She realizes there’s no end to ways you can make money – once you get started with a good, solid business concept.”

Everything is business and everyone wants to make it big. Yet there is a price to pay as everyone finds out. But do they learn from their mistakes? Or from the clairvoyant cat?