Monday, May 26, 2014



Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest
God is nigh.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar, drawing near
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise for our days
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky
As we go, this we know
God is nigh.

Lyrics written by Horace Lorenzo Trim

Taps is also dubbed, Butterfield’s Lullaby. The tune is a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the Scott Tattoo and was arranged in its present form by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield, an American Civil War general and Medal of Honor recipient.  Butterfield commanded the 3rd Brigade of the 1st Division in the V Army Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

According to Wikipedia, Captain John C. Tidball, West Point Class of 1848, started the custom of playing taps at military funerals. A corporal of Tidball’s Battery A, 2nd Artillery, died, and Tidball wished to bury him with full military honors. At the time, the custom was to fire three shots over the grave, but because of the situation, that wasn’t prudent. So Tidball decided to sound taps in lieu of the customary salute. Shortly after that, it became a military custom.

Taps always brings a tear to my eye. It’s a mournful tune, while simultaneously soothing in an eerie way. We don’t often hear the lyrics, and I feel that’s a shame, because they are beautiful in their simplicity. I believe the song was originally intended as a signal for lights out on military posts. When we were first stationed in Colorado, we temporarily lived on the Army base, and I looked forward to hearing those mournful notes every evening. It served to remind me that others always had my back; others who would give their life to protect me and mine. That was the first thing I missed when we moved off base.

I hope each of you have someone to remember on this day. Someone who was willing to protect and defend you, and give his/her life for you, if duty required that sacrifice. So that you can go to bed at night and know that ‘all is well’ and enable you to ‘safely rest.’ And to remind you, always, that God is nigh.


Cordelia Dinsmore

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Recently I read Bone by Bone by Bone, by Tony Johnston. This is shelved with the middle grade books in my local library, but I believe some parents are probably not going to want their younger kids to read it. I may be among that group, although I'm still trying to sort through all the emotions the book touched off in me.

The setting for the story is a small town in Tennessee during the early 1950s. This was a time and place for a lot of racial clashes between black and white. The main character is a young white boy from a very prominent family. He is befriended by a black boy, and part of the story is a portrayal of the strong feelings the boys develop for each other. Overshadowing this beautiful story of love is a much darker tale of the hatred and fear that enveloped so many lives during that time.

I fell in love with David and Malcolm, the two young characters. One moment my heart was breaking at the hopelessness of their relationship, and the next moment I was shaking my head and chuckling at the antics they were getting into. The author's voice has such strength and depth of feeling, and her use of language is absolutely spot on. I especially love the tone and expressions she uses at particular times, such as when Malcolm tells Hell (the meanest rooster that ever lived) that he's going to eat him "squawk an' all." My family came from Tennessee, and this is the type of expression I grew up on, so I instantly felt a kinship with Ms. Johnston from the very first page.

This story, however, is made up more of instances of hatred than it is of love. It is brutally honest with no holds barred. I admire the author for her ability to pull this off without producing a quagmire of misery and hopelessness. She does come close to doing just that, and except for the strength of the youngest players, that very thing would have happened.

But the very subject matter is enough to make me squeamish about recommending it for middle graders. The language is raw, with no apologies made for it, but I realize it couldn't be more honest. That, too, is another reason for my concerns to recommend it to children. I don't believe the bad language was used in a gratuitous manner; I think it was more of an effort to portray things as they were. I can appreciate that and know the book is more honest because of it, but it still made me cringe from time to time. 

I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself. I rated the book highly because of the skill of the writing and the way I connected with the author's voice. I am not in any way recommending that any of my young readers put it on their TBR list. In fact, if you are tempted, I hope you will clear it with your parents first. 

In the meantime,


Cordelia Dinsmore

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Today I’m excited to have a special guest on my little blog. Her name is Lilly White, and she is the main character in Cornell DeVille’s newest MG novel, Skullhaven. Lilly’s schedule has been quite busy lately, so I’m delighted she has finally found some free time to talk with us today.

Hi, Lilly! How are you? Could you please tell my readers a little bit about your interesting life?

Well, I don't know if my life is that interesting or not. I live at the Sacred Heart Orphanage with Sister Rosemary and Sister Carmen. I spend a lot of time reading but that's mostly in the winter because in the spring and the summer and the fall, I have to help Sister Carmen in the garden. We have flowers and vegetables growing out there. We sell some of the vegetables to the people who drive by the Orphanage. And we take some of the flowers over to the Skullhaven Cemetery and put them on the graves sometimes. 

I love fresh vegetables! Perhaps I can come by someday soon and pick up a few. Fresh salsa is so good this time of year. And I think it’s lovely that you decorate the graves. It shows that you are a caring person. But back to you, Lilly. You’ve certainly had a bit of an unusual upbringing so far, being raised in an orphanage. Tell us, is it frightening to be living in such close proximity to a cemetery?

It was kind of scary when I first found out there was a cemetery right across the highway from the orphanage. And it really bothers me on stormy nights with all the thunder and everything. And, don't think I'm weird or anything, but I have seen some ghosts over there. 

Ghosts? Seriously? Could you tell us about them? Were they hideous, or did they just sort of float around and moan?

No, they weren't hideous at all. Well, except for that big hole in Rico's forehead. That was kind of scary when I saw it the first time, but aside from that, they looked pretty normal. Except they were kind of filmy. I mean, you could sort of see through them. And they didn't moan or anything like that. Actually they weren't nearly as scary as some of the real people I've met lately.

You must be a very brave girl, Lilly, to hang out with a bunch of ghosts – especially ones with holes in their foreheads. But enough of the ghost talk or I’ll have nightmares tonight. Could you tell us a little bit about that gorgeous necklace you’re wearing? Is it a family heirloom?

It's called an ankh. Sister Carmen gave it to me. It's not an heirloom, but it is very old. Father Vargas's journal said that it came from ancient Egypt and it was made for Queen Nefertiti. It's actually enchanted, you know.

Enchanted? How interesting. Can you tell us more about it, or would you rather we read your story for all the details?

Well, I probably shouldn't tell you ALL the details, because you really need to read the book to understand it. I think we should just say that it's enchanted. If you read the book, you'll understand what I mean.

Thank you, Lilly. I intend to do just that. In fact, I hope everyone here will take the time to read it soon. I just found out that the ebook version is being offered FREE on Amazon for the next two days. That’s May 2nd and May 3rd, for those interested.

I have enjoyed our visit today, Lilly, and I wish you the best in life. Please give my regards to your guardians, also. Sister Carmen and Sister Rosemary are doing a wonderful job raising you. You are a charming young lady and a true reflection of their devotion.

Thanks so much for having me, and for the nice things you said about the Sisters. They are kind of special to me.

Here is the LINK for readers wanting a free copy of Skullhaven.

And here is a blurb to help you decide!

Lost Spirits are haunting Skullhaven. And Lilly can see them!

Skullhaven Cemetery is across the highway from Sacred Heart Orphanage, where Lilly has lived for the past seven years since her mother mysteriously disappeared. Lost spirits haunt Skullhaven, and when Lilly starts seeing them, she realizes that the gold cross she wears is enchanted. Danger lurks just around the corner when a ruthless Egyptian antiquities dealer recognizes Lilly’s cross as the priceless Golden Ankh of Queen Nefertiti, and he decides he must have it for his collection. After kidnapping Lilly and giving her his ultimatum—either part with the Golden Ankh or spend eternity in Skullhaven Cemetery—Lilly must summon her inner strength. If she gives up the ankh, the lost spirits of Skullhaven will never find their way home. 

A great choice for any age! Written with the upper middle-grade reader in mind, Skullhaven is a fun adventure with a hint of history, a bit of mystery, and a lot of complexity that will keep readers of all ages turning the pages and wondering—what’s going to happen next! 

And, in the event you'd like to learn a little more about the author, here is some basic information for your enjoyment.

Cornell DeVille considers himself an Imagination Director. A member of the Baby Boomer generation, DeVille was influenced by the state-of-the-art technology of the fifties -- television -- and the great storytellers of the day, including Hollywood icons like Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling. Rather than spending his summer days outside playing baseball, DeVille preferred the world he could find within the covers of a good book.  At an early age, he fell in love with the works of Jules Verne, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, and H. G. Wells.

Those nostalgic memories remained with him throughout the years and continue to influence his writing today. A lover of adventure, mystery, and fantasy, DeVille’s writing leads readers on a journey that allows them to escape the real world and venture into a special realm where anything can happen. His current adventures include Lost in the Bayou, The Golden Disk, Star Wishes, The Treasure of Morro Bay, Scary Night Music, and Skullhaven.

DeVille grew up in the Kansas City area, where he lives today with his wife Rosie, their bichon-poodle, Hannah, and a Himalayan Persian cat named Billy. You can find him on Twitter at cornelldeville1, and on Facebook as Author Cornell DeVille.

That's all I have for today.


Cordelia Dinsmore