Review of Jewel, written by Jan Sikes

The Blurb:

For almost eighteen years, Jewel has known little beyond hopelessness and hunger. Barely existing in a ramshackle cabin, on the edge of a Louisiana swamp with her little sister and their mother, she sees no way to stop the downward spiral. When her mother falls gravely ill, Jewel learns that her life is about to take a drastic turn. But will it lead to joy or more devastation?
Take a heart-warming journey with Jewel as she struggles to rise from the clutches of poverty and shame.

My Thoughts: 

A poignant tale that has, without a doubt, played out too many times in reality. An impoverished family that consists of a sickly mother and her two daughters, must come to terms with their reality.

In those days, before the safety net of social assistance, the painful choice was made by Jewel’s mother to send her daughters away, in hopes of a better life.

Jewel was ushered into an alien world of lavish parties and magnificent homes, but everything comes at a price. It’s impossible not to sympathize with this young woman because of her tragic circumstances, and youthful innocence.

An emotional connection with characters is the mark of an excellent book. No issues with that in Jewel. It’s a quick read that wraps up neatly, though it left me with the desire to learn one unanswered question.

I recommend Jewel for the reader who enjoys a short tale of dire straits, desperate measures, and uncertain endings.

Five Stars!

Jewel by Jan Sikes

Meet Jan: 

Jansikesround

Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, has been called a wordsmith by her peers.

She published four biographical fiction books about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love…True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

She also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

She has published a book of poetry and art and nine short stories.

She is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, and the Executive Council at Rave Writers’ Int’l Society of Authors. She is also a member of the Writer’s League of Texas and Authors Marketing Guild.

Connect with Jan and purchase her books: 

Amazon.com

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Blog

She is also a member of Rave Reviews Book Club

 

Six-Word Story

callofnature

John answers the call of nature!

The Lonely Mountain gets a Makeover

 

A seed landed on an ancient, beardless Mountain. Upon seeing the specimen, the mountain scoffed, surely nothing would come of it. Such a puny, insignificant thing could not possible affect a massive, immortal being such as he. His rocky exterior was impenetrable. Over the eons, neither rain nor wind, had been able to topple him.

Creatures such as the mountain goat, the eagle, and the mountain lion had lived and died in his peaks. As agile, mighty, and ferocious they may have been, a mere slip of a boulder had crushed more than a few. Who, or what, was this speck of dirt? What right did it have to habitat his body?

Day after day, the winds blew and Mountain waited for the seed to blow away, yet nothing of the sort occurred. Unknown to its rocky host, the seed had found a small alcove and was protected from the wind. It had also found a small crack in the rock and had begun to take root. Tiny string like roots were, at first, the only things preventing a freefall. Eventually the seed outgrew the alcove and was subject to the brunt of the wind’s fury.

The mountain rejoiced, for it thought surely this was the end, but the little beast hung on. Time passed and the tree grew, in spite of, or because of the storms. Mountain was shocked and impressed, he could feel the roots growing deeper inside of him, splitting rock and gathering nourishment from the slightest source.

One day, when spring arrived, Mountain woke up to see that tree was covered in thousands of beautiful blossoms. Such color had never adorned his drab exterior. This time, he rejoiced for a different reason. This time he was glad his friend had possessed the resilience to not only survive but thrive.

And so, it is with you. In this time of pandemic, economic fallout, and great uncertainty, find an alcove and set down roots in whatever bit of hope and joy you can find. Bloom where you are planted!

 

An Interview with Musician Thomas Mastin; A Tale of Trials, Resilience, and Faith

Today I’m privileged to host, once again, nineteen-year-old singer/song writer Thomas Mastin. Some of you may recognize the name from a previous interview we did back in December of 2018. Please click on the link, if you want to read that one. Please note, that some of the links on that post are no longer available or relevant.  His current social links and some videos can be found at the end of this short interview.

Interview With Up And Coming Musician, Thomas Mastin

Thomas and I go a few years back, I remember a time when he needed two hands to swing one drumstick. Ok, maybe not that long, but it’s been a pleasure watching him grow from a young kid playing his heart out at church, into the talented musician he is today.

I’m offering you a brief glimpse into his journey. A tale of struggles, perseverance, Faith, life detours, and lessons. Thomas’s ‘can do’ spirit is an inspiration!

Me: You’re not a shiny penny to the music industry. You’re young, but you’ve already had a significant amount of experiences. Can you share some of those?

Thomas: Two summers ago, I was a drummer in a band called Arbour Season. We played a lot of venues in Florida including Busch Gardens, Splitsville in Disney Springs, and Mother’s Restaurant in Tampa. We’ve also done House Shows, which are exactly what they sound like. The band would do their gig at a residence either indoors or out.

Me: There’s been some ‘bumps in the road’ since those sunny Florida days. Can you share what’s happened and how the course of your career has changed?

Thomas: Well, as things go, we parted ways and I charted a course for a solo career, however, I’m a social guy and decided it wasn’t for me. I met Nathan Hardy, an amazing guitar player and fellow song writer. We formed Hello July. The name came to us one day, when we were in Nashville. I saw a poster for a band called Goodbye June. I jokingly mentioned Hello July. The agency that signed us, Brave Enough Agencies, supported it.

We began singing Blues, but our genre has evolved into a mixed style of rock and pop. It almost sounds a bit like Cold Play, and U2.

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Thomas Mastin & Nathan Hardy

I’ve gone through an issue with my voice. As it turns out, I was straining my vocals, making them inflamed and they bled at times. Someone who knows more about singing than me, said to be careful, or there could be permanent damage. I’m taking some lessons and going a bit easier. I’m also learning certain diets that can help or harm your voice.

Me: I hope coffee’s okay!

Thomas: (laughs) “Oh yeah. I couldn’t do without it. I also couldn’t do without the ton of people reaching out to me right now. I didn’t expect that. It’s incredible! People have offered free lessons, I’ll have to choose which offer to take.

Pastor Dusty (Parkway Church, Amherstview, Ontario) has also been a huge inspiration. When I was eight, he told me, “If you can’t sing for five people, you can’t sing for 5,000.”

I’ve never forgotten that saying, even put it in the notebook that I use to write music. Those words remind me to be humble and with the trials of the past year, I’ve lost an arrogance. I’m no longer that high schooler who expects everything to fall into place.

Me: I think people can relate to struggles. We all have them and there’s an appreciation for an artist who is open about their challenges. They realize they’re not alone. Listening to music is often an emotional experience for most people. It can soothe, recall distant memories, and bring joy. You’ve been given a special gift.

Thomas: Yes, and now I’m in a place where people can relate to me better. This past year has taught me who I really am and that I sing, not for fame, but for God and to inspire listeners. It’s been hard for some to wrap their heads around the fact that I’m not pursuing a Christian music career, exclusively. I understand that, really, because when you grow up in the church and you say that you’re pursuing a music career, they expect Christian only. But I want to reach those who are struggling, both Christian and non. The band, NeedToBreathe, does this. They play worship songs on Sunday mornings, but festivals throughout the week.

We are planning a tour of Canada first, before eventually heading to America. We’re hoping to start with a few local House Shows. I’m willing to travel to the Toronto to Ottawa areas, and beyond. We have one booked, a couple from our church, they want to be the first.

Thomassinging

Thomas in action!

Me: Does Hello July have any videos?

Thomas: We’ve made four. Speaking of a humbling experience, one day I was in a line-up at the grocery store and a woman behind me recognized me from a video. I asked her how she liked it, expecting a positive answer.

“It’s a good thing you’re pretty!” she said.

(laughs) I was surprised but answered, “Well, I’m glad I’m pretty, at least.”

Me: We all get those. They’re great reminders that not everyone appreciates your work. Most of the time it’s a matter of personal tastes. Personally, I don’t pay much attention unless a particular issue is mentioned by several different people.

Check out Hello July singing Coldplay’s  song, Yellow.

 

 

Hello July on YouTube

My name is Thomas Mastin, I’m a 19 year old singer song-writer from Roblin, Ontario! Here are some links to my social media and one of the videos my bandmate Nathan and I have put out.

Find out more about Thomas and Hello July 

Hello July on Facebook 

Hello July on Instagram

Thomas Mastin on Facebook

Thomas Mastin on Instagram