The Great American Read

Are you participating in The Great American Read?

The Great American Read

100 books were chosen for the possibility of becoming America’s Favorite Book. There’s also a 8-part series on PBS where they talk about the books and the influences they’ve had on us. You are encouraged to read as many as you can and vote for your favorites.

To see the complete list, click here.

I am far from done but I’ve read (recently and in my lifetime):              * = Favorites

  1. 1984 George Orwell
  2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
  3. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll
  4. And Then There Were None Agatha Christie *
  5. The Call Of The Wild Jack London *
  6. Charlotte’s Web E. B. White
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia C. S. Lewis
  8. The Clan Of The Cave Bear jean M. Auel *
  9. Crime and Punishment Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  10. The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown *
  11. Don Quixote Miquel de Cervantes
  12. Flowers In The Attic V. C. Andrews *
  13. The Godfather Mario Puzo *
  14. Gone With The Wind Margaret Mitchell *
  15. Harry Potter J. K. Rowling *
  16. Hatchet Gary Paulson
  17. The Hunt For Red October Tom Clancy *
  18. The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan *
  19. Jurassic Park Michael Crichton
  20. Little Women Louisa May Alcott
  21. The Lord Of The Rings J. R. R. Tolkien
  22. Memoirs Of A Geisha Arthur Golden *
  23. Moby-Dick Herman Melville
  24. The Picture Of Dorian Gray Oscar Wilde *
  25. The Pillars Of The Earth Ken Follett *
  26. Rebecca Daphne du Maurier *
  27. The Stand Stephen King *
  28. To Kill A Mockingbird Harper Lee *
  29. The Twilight Saga Stephanie Meyer

Some of the books listed, I’ve read other books by that same author but not the book on the list.

What books have been your favorites?

How To Look At Age With Grace And Pride

Such a beautiful way to look at aging.

a cooking pot and twisted tales

When I was twenty, I thought thirty was old,
then I became thirty and it wasn’t so bad.
Lo Presto! Forty came calling and looks good on me,
that now I realize fifty isn’t old at all.

I realized that age flies and are only numbers when you count,
‘cos these numbers don’t depict the essence of who you are
and the miles you’ve walked in life.

I’ll embrace fifty when it does come round
with grace and a lot of gratitude
for to age is a blessing
that many don’t live to see.

Fifty, The Daily Post

© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha

out-of-the-silent-breath 2

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Big Decisions Can Be Scary!

In everyone’s life ” a little rain must fall” and also a few big decisions. I’m not talking about the decision of changing the color of your living room or whether to get the cat fixed. I’m talking major, life-altering decisions such as where to go to college, what career to pursue or which guy to marry.

wedding dress with red sash

Most of these life-altering decisions you face early in life when your youthful attitude keeps you from completely freaking out. Still, you usually come up against some major decisions later in your lifetime. Maybe you’re faced with a divorce, health issue or job loss. These types of decisions can make you lose sleep and cuss out the mailman.

crazy woman

Change can be exciting but also terrifying. The same way that baked mac & cheese can be a comfort food to a lot of people, our lives chugging along in the usual pattern can be comforting. No surprises. No fears of the unknown. But it can also keep us in a rut, missing out on new adventures and experiences. A short change to our daily lives, such as a vacation, can be safely looked upon with anticipation and excitement because we know afterward we will go back to our comforting, daily routine.

airplane wing

It’s the kind of decision that will be long-term, life-altering that can turn us into insomniacs. We know by making this decision, our daily routine will change in one or more ways. My husband and I are currently facing one of these major decisions, the down-sizing loss of a job and the decision to relocate. Looking for a new job intimidates most of us; the resumes, the applications, the interviews, etc. Tack on relocating your family to another unfamiliar state and you’ve got yourself a plate full of stress.

moving van

So, how do you make a life-altering decision? Toss a coin? Compare the pros & cons? Pray on it? Consult a psychic? Everyone has their own tried-and-true method for making decisions. I, personally, pray about things and use the pros vs. cons method. I list the pros and cons of each option then go with the majority. I also try, notice I said try, to compartmentalize things so it doesn’t get overwhelming. Not familiar with that 32 cent word? Compartmentalize is not only fun to say, it helps you divide things into categories. To pigeonhole your tasks. I concentrate on one task while the others are locked up to wait their turn. The ‘try’ was because sometimes you can’t concentrate on just one task at a time. But when it is possible, it works for me.

key in lock

What are your methods for making decisions?

What are some major decisions you’ve had to deal with in your lifetime?

Your experience may help someone else going through something similar. Thank you for sharing.


New Year, New Look

Thanks to my friend Marje (Kyrosmagica) who put me on to these cute, fun Bitmojis.

Here’s mine. Does it look like me?




Since this photo was taken, I’ve changed my glasses to rimless ones.


What do you think? Have you discovered bitmojis yet?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Camping Anyone?

This week the Daily Post weekly photo challenge is Optimistic. “How do you fuel the fires of optimism?”

I too am deep in the middle of a Northern winter which can cause cabin-fever and sleepiness in people like me who prefer the sun and warmth of the rest of the year. So every January, while the snowplows clear the roads and the bulldozers remove the snow piles which are so high they block the driver’s view of traffic…

snow on deck

I get out a new calendar, my Old Farmer’s Almanac and a map to plan our season of camping trips. I grew up camping with my family so naturally my husband and I began camping and continued while raising our two sons. We even took along nephews and friends of the boys so it was loads of fun! Even now, with one boy done with college and one just starting they bring their girlfriends along. Good thing they picked girls who like to do things outdoors 🙂

Here are a few photos from various camping trips over the years.

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, NY


Cooper's Rock State Park WV

I love this guy! Cooper’s Rock State Park, WV


Allegheny State Park, NY

Thunder Rocks at Allegheny State Park, NY


Letchworth State Park, NY

Letchworth State Park, NY


Ohiopyle State Park, PA

Climbing up under the falls at Ohiopyle State Park, PA


Our summer home


Family Reunions – Gift or Curse?

A couple of weeks ago, my mother’s side of the family had its annual reunion. We meet at a park, bring food, donations for our own Chinese auction and photos to share. We’ve done it rain or shine and always have too much food and desserts.

grilling hot dogs - morgue file

Things have changed over the years. My cousins and I used to be the kids running around, playing on the playground and skinning our knees and elbows. Our parents were the old people to us and our grandmother and grandfather, we considered ancient. In reality, our grandparents were in their sixties and our parents in their thirties or forties. Of course to a five-year-old that is ancient, right?

vintage photo of couple - morgue file

Now, in what seems like only a blink of an eye, we cousins are now considered the old people and our parents the ancient ones, those that are left. Our kids are either finishing school or married and having their own kids. Where did the time go??

I know the family structure has changed over the decades. My mother’s brothers and sisters had larger families (up to 6 kids) where today couples seem to have only 2 or 3 kids so that cuts down the number of cousins in a generation. Then, too, young people did not always move away but found a spouse locally, settled down and began their families. Nowadays, four of my nieces/nephews, three of my cousins and one sister all live out-of-state making it very hard to travel back for reunions. Then there is the fact that some relatives (mainly of the younger generations) would rather spend a Saturday or Sunday with their friends than with crazy relatives. All these factors contribute to our diminished ranks at the Ricker clan reunion.

2014 Ricker Reunion

Yet, family is important. They’ve been with you your whole life. They accept you with all your quirks and will always be the first ones to show up when you need a hand building a deck or moving into a new house/apartment.

Those old aunts and uncles can entertain you with stories about your parents when they were young or tell you about life in the ‘old days.’ Someday, you will look back and they will have passed away while you were too busy with your life and friends.

flag large - morgue file

Then there is the unexpected deaths (one of my cousins went off to Afghanistan and was killed defending our country). You would remember how much fun you had playing together as kids and wish you had kept in touch or had at least seen him once more at a family reunion.

Life is way too short and unpredictable to take things and family for granted.

Does your family have reunions? Do you go? I would love to hear your comments.


Challenge Accepted!

Thanks to Marjorie over at Kyrosmagica I’ve been nominated in a Free Style Writing Challenge. My topic is “fear: an adrenaline shot, taken or avoided  – your choice.” I know a thing or two about fear and my strength in writing is fiction writing, so I combined those two things for this writing challenge. Challenge accepted!

(Remember this is a flash fiction/free style writing exercise which means no editing or proofing, just writing. So keep that in mind as you read this 🙂 )

Here goes!


She stood enclosed in a metal box, her breaths echoed off the walls. Her clammy hands ran up and down the surface seeking an escape to her incarceration. “Oh, dear God, oh, dear God,” became her mantra. The air grew thinner and her vision began to gray around the edges – she would soon pass out.

“Ding.” The metal doors slid open and life-giving air rushed in from the 4th floor.

She had survived the elevator ride.

5 Minutes, 77 words


I do suffer from claustrophobia some times such as a narrow passage in a cave or in a crowded room with no windows. All the above symptoms hit me and the only cure is to get the Heck Outta There!

But even though I am joking about my claustrophobia, there are people whose lives are crippled because of their fears. Do not tell them their fears are silly. No one would purposely put themselves through this torment for a little attention. The reactions are real; the pounding heartbeat, the clammy sweat, trouble breathing, anxiety, changes in vision and hearing….

Please be sympathetic to people no matter what phobia they have. It’s no picnic in the park.

Do you have fears yourself? Let me know in a comment below and Have a great day!

#2 pencil

So, here are the rules for this writing challenge:

1. Set a stop watch or your phone to 5 minutes or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.

2. Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.

3. Fill a word document with as many words as you want. Once you began writing do not stop even to turn.

4. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in MS WORD (it is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules)

5. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.

6. At the end of your post write down ‘Word count =_____’ so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.

7. Copy paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new Topic for your nominees and copy paste these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

I nominate the following bloggers:

One Spoiled Cat – “Living life day by day with love”

Hair Ball Express  – a cat’s daily diary

Beautiful Life with Cancer

Think Positive, Be Positive

Marta Lives in China

Those are my 5 but ANYONE who wants to participate – go for it! Just be sure to send me your link so I can read it 🙂



Your topic, if you choose to accept this challenge, is… Love (can be the love of a parent for a child, two lovers or the love for your pet – have fun with it)



A Typhoon Led Me to the Red Cross

Red cross smiley -morgue file

Growing up in America, what I knew of the Red Cross was that they were some mysterious group of people who traveled to emergency sites to help people. I always pictured them as modern-day Clara Bartons wearing nurse’s uniforms. It wasn’t until I was researching typhoons for my book, Hong Kong Treasure, that I truly understood all the ways the Red Cross help people.

Since March is Red Cross Month and I’ve pledged to donate a portion of each Hong Kong Treasure book sale to the American Red Cross, I thought I would take a moment to shine some light, and well deserved praise, into that mystery surrounding ‘the people who help people.’

Clara Barton

In 1881, Clara Barton founded the American branch of the Red Cross. To read more on Clara Barton, check out my previous post, Red Cross to the Rescue.

Every day the American Red Cross is working to ‘help people’ with little or no glory.

Just looking up for March 6th, here are some of the news reports:

  • The Red Cross assisted in Schenectady, New York, after a morning fire ripped through an apartment building. They opened an emergency shelter in a nearby church, supplied food, clothing and personal items and replaced medications to the displaced families.
  • The Red Cross assisted after a house fire in Augusta, Wisconsin.
  • The Red Cross assisted after a fire in a duplex in Manchester, Connecticut.
  • The Red Cross assisted with the failed sewer system in Livingston County, Michigan.

fireman's outfit

Then on March 7th:

  • The Ohio Red Cross team was sent to West Virginia where melting snow caused low-lying areas to flood and contaminate the water wells.
  • The Cincinnati Red Cross is preparing to go to West Virginia, also.
  • The Red Cross helped residents after a 3-alarm apartment fire in Houston, Texas.
  • The Red Cross helped after a house fire in Green Pond, South Carolina.
  • The Red Cross responded to a fatality fire in Little Rock, Arkansas. This was reportedly the third fatal fire in the past week. The Red Cross went door-to-door in high-risk neighborhoods with fire safety education, installing smoke detectors and battery replacement where needed. They also funded the emergency replacement of food, provided shelter in hotels, clothing and lifesaving medications, then assisted with funeral expenses.

fire flames

The Red Cross has also provided care and help during this 2014-2015 brutal winter weather, Tennessee and New York being the hardest hit states.


The American Red Cross has also helped internationally in Haiti (5 years after a devastating earthquake, they are building safer housing in Port-au-Prince) and in the Philippines (Typhoon Rammasun which hit July, 2014).

Red Cross truck

If you are like me, you never realized just how important the Red Cross is and how much they need our support. Please consider donating blood, volunteering your time or attending a fundraising event in your area.


Hong Kong Treasure book cover  A portion of every book sale will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Buy here:




An Interview with Deshi Han From Hong Kong Treasure

Since the release of Hong Kong Treasure is so close, I thought it would be fun to interview Deshi Han.

(Deshi walks in dressed casually in wind pants, a t-shirt and sneakers, and I am immediately aware of his energy and maleness. He sits with an easy, confident grace of one in peak physical condition which is visible from the fit of his clothes. Very sexy!)

Deshi, thanks for coming in to talk with us. I know you’re a very busy man.


“Yes, very busy but am pleased to talk to you. “

So you are forty-four years old, Chinese and a famous movie star and producer in Hong Kong. How did you get into acting?

Hong Kong Shoreline with ferry

“I like to jump around when I was kid so my Mother sign me up for movie. Very small part in movie but make me want to learn acting and Kung Fu.”

Then you eventually started making your own movies. Did you ever make any here in America?

film set

“Yes, I make two movies in America but they not make big success. Maybe I try again some day.”

You’re really big into charity work. Can you tell us about that?

“Yes, charity, everyone should do. If everyone help someone, then not so many people need help. You understand? My English not always so good.” (chuckle and smile)

(Deshi has a cute little boy smile)

I can understand your English just fine. So, what kinds of charity do you do?

“When bad storms come, typhoons, tsunamis, hurricanes, I bring money and supplies to the people. We also build centers for our seniors who need food and care while families work. I also take presents to children hospitals for sick kids. Any thing I can help, I like to do.”

That’s how you rescued Annie. Taking food and supplies to the Philippines after a typhoon, right?


“Yes, she lose her memory in typhoon. She too upset in shelter so I take her home to Hong Kong so she rest and get memory back.” (frown) “I thought it be so simple. She get memory back and I take her back to family.”

Things aren’t going as you planned?

“No. She mix-up my schedule all the time, she has nightmares that are memories of some one who wants to hurt her and everyone tease me that I fall in love with Annie.”

You mean you aren’t falling in love with Annie?

(runs his hands through his hair and looks away) “I have no time for love. I am very busy man. Make movies, do charity. People need me. No time for silly love story.”


Yet, when Annie confesses her fear that someone in her past is after her, you assign one of your stunt crew to be her bodyguard when you can’t be with her.

Yes, I need protect her, but more trouble starts…


If you want to know what else happens to Annie and Deshi, you’ll have to pick up a copy of Hong Kong Treasure at its release. (eBook release February 19 and print book in March)

Until then, you can read an excerpt here: Hong Kong Treasure

A deadly typhoon stole Annie’s memory. And now, can a handsome Chinese stranger save her from the danger she has forgotten?

Hong Kong Treasure will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony and others.


Blogiversary Contest Winner Announced!

A big THANK YOU to all who attended my blogiversary party and entered my contest! Without you, none of this would be any fun 🙂

And now,

(drum roll)

the winner is

(faster drum roll)

Marjorie Mallon!

(cheers, cymbals)






Marjorie has won a signed copy of my new book, Hong Kong Treasure.

Congrats, Marjorie! And thanks for your likes and comments over the year. Hope you enjoy my book and be sure to let us know what you think of it.

For anyone else, you can find out about Hong Kong Treasure and even read an excerpt at My Romance Books site.

And be sure to checkout Marjorie’s blog Kyrosmagica.