BOOK REVIEW: Burning Gold by Clea Calloway

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 8.26.39 AMBurning Gold chronicles the emotional conflicts suffered by Jenni Ann Gold Cagle. Jenni Ann is a likable twenty-something artist traumatized by the heinous, random act of violence that claimed the lives of her mother, father and beloved baby sister, Abby.

The story begins immediately following the tragedy as sixteen year-old Jenni Ann is adopted into the family of her maternal Aunt Lyn and Uncle Charles Bennet. In spite of her aunt’s and uncle’s love and commitment to helping her heal, Jenni Ann’s nagging conscience never ceases. She believes her recklessness and neglect on The Night makes her responsible for the murder of her family. Jenni Ann refuses her aunt’s repeated attempts to get her into counseling and instead turns to drugs and sexual promiscuity to numb the unbearable pain of guilt and grief.

With relentlessly, tough love from her aunt and uncle, Jenni Ann is able to pull herself from this toxic abyss of self-destruction. She throws herself into life at a new school and soon discovers a talent and passion for art that leads her to Savannah College of Art and Design and eventual notoriety as a budding southern artist.

Enter, knight in shining armor, Ashton Parker. This handsome journalist unknowingly leads Jenni Ann down an intriguing historical trail, exposing family secrets that raise the very real possibility the crime which robbed her of her family might not have been random… might not have been Jenni Ann’s fault after all.

Clea Calloway cleverly uses flash backs across several decades to intricately weave a tapestry of sub plots that result in effortless reading. This engaging page-turner is predictable enough to keep the reader guessing, but not so predictable that the resolution comes off as trite or contrived.

The story takes place in Atlanta and the North Georgia mountains. Clea Calloway employs simple, descriptive prose to invoke beautiful images that will be especially well received by readers familiar with the region. Jenni Ann’s character is well developed and while I wish there was more depth to both Ashton Parker and Detective Will Hardy, it seems Ms. Calloway intentionally leaves us wanting to get to know these two fellows better. Perhaps this is the author’s subtle way of hinting at a sequel? I suppose I could be wrong, but I hope I’m not! In her debut novel, Ms. Calloway has left me wanting to know what happens next!

From the “cute meet” to the emotional conflicts, the mystery and intrigue, right down to the happily-ever-after ending, Burning Gold has everything you expect to get from contemporary women’s fiction. In spite of its tragic central theme, it is a feel-good, beach-worthy romance reminiscent of Daniel Steele. I give it four out of five stars.


© Copyright 2014 Just Another Ordinary Day by Antoinette Datoc All Rights Reserved


BOOK REVIEW: What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You?

Today is my youngest son’s birthday. He is nineteen. He’s filled my heart with more joy than I ever imagined possible and continues to do so, but he was one dreadfully difficult child to potty train. On one particularly bad day during his potty training years (no not months…years), I remember someone telling me not to worry because he “certainly won’t go off to college in diapers.” I didn’t find my friend’s attempt at levity amusing. Perhaps it was because I was, at the time, preoccupied with cleaning my three year old’s poop from under my fingernails, but as it turns out she was right. Jared is headed to college this fall and he is indeed a “super-dooper-pooper” wearing big boy pants (has been for a while now).

Between primary lactose intolerance, several cases of roto virus and the potty training experience from hell, my kids’ poop has been a MAJOR source of angst. I REALLY could have used a poop survival guide back then. Heck the sheer volume and variety of poop a normal baby produces is enough to drive new parents to drink. Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so because a couple of guys actually took the time to write a book about it. Seriously. It’s called What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? and lucky for you, the folks publishing it reached out and asked me to review it. Check out this excerpt from the email they sent me.

Dear Antoinette,

Your blog Just Another Ordinary Day is not only inspiring to parents everywhere, but it is humorous and full of useful tid-bits! That’s why we think you will love Josh Rickman and Dr. Anish Sheth’s book What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You?

Not to toot my own horn, but this is not the first time I have been solicited for a book review. I’m kinda famous (for a blogger, which reminds me, don’t forget to scroll to the footer and vote for me). Anyway, every so often publishers will solicit me for book reviews, but I think I got this particular gig because, as the mother of boys, I tend to write a lot about farts and everybody knows where there are farts there’s poop. Funny thing is, even though I write a lot about radical liberal feminists (a.k.a. wackadoodles), nobody from Simon and Schuster reached out with a request for me to review Hard Choices. Hmmm. 

Anyway, before writing What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? Josh Richman and Anish Sheth, MD collaborated on the wildly popular What’s Your Poo Telling You? and What’s My Pee Telling Me?  With three books about excrement to their credit, you have to wonder what sort of fraternity hazing or potty training experiences provoked these guys to spend so much time thinking about poop. Whatever it is, I’m glad they found a way to turn a bizarre obsession into an entertaining and educational read. Seriously, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a funny, forthcoming fount of fecal facts.

What's your baby's poo telling youWhether you’re already a parent or you’re about to become one, What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? is a must-read. It is an engaging, humorous and insightful go-to guide designed to help parents decipher the oft confusing messages contained in baby poop. The fact is, your baby’s bowel movements can tell you what your baby can’t, but only if you figure out how to “crack” the code.  What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? does just that: cracks the poop code. It is a fascinating handbook of how the characteristics of your baby’s poop (color, consistency, smell and more) can help answer the plethora of questions that plague every parent.

  • Is my baby alright? Is something wrong?
  • Why are there seeds in my baby’s poop?
  • Is it safe to change my baby’s diaper when I’m wearing a silk blouse?
  • Will my baby get into an Ivy League college?
  • And more. (Okay, but not the college thing.)

Parents examining, analyzing and ruminating over their babies’ poop is a time honored tradition. Through humor, anecdotes, insights and fact What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? covers everything you ever wanted to know about baby poop, but were afraid (or too embarrassed) to ask. Trust me, whether you’re already a parent or about to become one, What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? is for you.

Want your own copy of What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? Complete the contest entry below and tell me why. Two winners will be selected to receive a free copy of What’s Your Baby’s Poo Telling You? directly from Avery and Gotham Books. Contest deadline July 31, 2014.