Saturday, April 30, 2016

#Book #Review . . . Behave

From the author of The Spanish Bow comes a lush, harrowing novel based on the real life story of Rosalie Rayner Watson, one of the most controversial scientists—and mothers—of the 20th century. . .

“The mother begins to destroy the child the moment it’s born,” wrote the founder of behaviorist psychology, John B. Watson, whose 1928 parenting guide was revered as the child-rearing bible. For their dangerous and “mawkish” impulses to kiss and hug their child, “most mothers should be indicted for psychological murder.”

Behave is the story of Rosalie Rayner, Watson’s ambitious young wife and the mother of two of his children.

In 1920, when she graduated from Vassar College, Rayner was ready to make her mark on the world. Intelligent, beautiful, and unflappable, she won a coveted research position at Johns Hopkins assisting the charismatic celebrity psychologist John B. Watson. Together, Watson and Rayner conducted controversial experiments on hundreds of babies to prove behaviorist principles. They also embarked on a scandalous affair that cost them both their jobs—and recast the sparkling young Rosalie Rayner, scientist and thinker, as Mrs. John Watson, wife and conflicted, maligned mother, just another “woman behind a great man.”

With Behave, Andromeda Romano-Lax offers a provocative fictional biography of Rosalie Rayner Watson, a woman whose work influenced generations of Americans, and whose legacy has been lost in the shadow of her husband’s. In turns moving and horrifying, Behave is a richly nuanced and disturbing novel about science, progress, love, marriage, motherhood, and what all those things cost a passionate, promising young woman.


I must say I’ve never heard about this particular babies’ experiment, however, having said that, I was deeply disturbed in the way John Watson went about it. In fact, his whole view on raising of children boggled my mind. For a man who didn’t donate much of his time, except for his deposit of seed, rendering his first two children, and then continuing on in his same M.O. with his second set of children, where on earth did he get the notion this is the proper way to raise a child—without any emotion or affection at all? That, to me, was exhaustive and extremely damaging. After reading the epilogue, I realized that my thoughts were somewhat correct, after hearing what happened to the Watson children as they became adults.

The star of the story, of course, was Rosalie Alberta Rayner Watson, the woman who started out with so much vigor and hope and graduated from Vassar College probably never dreamed sitting in a lecture hall one day listening to a renowned psychologist, John B. Watson, demonstrating human behavior before her very eyes would one day be the father of her two sons?  He threw out a ball to the audience and one of the students didn’t know what to think because it was so unexpected, and so she dropped it. Nothing like the element of surprise. However, after Rosalie witnessed this, when Watson threw it to her, she instinctively caught it. He asked her a very simple question, “What were you thinking when I threw the ball?” Her response, “To make sure I caught it.” Watson successfully demonstrated an element of human behavior.

Watson was so enamored with Rosalie; he was more than happy to learn she’d be working with him at Johns Hopkins assisting in his studies of behavior. It appeared that it would be only a matter of time before Watson took his feelings to a whole other level, which Rosalie didn’t turn away. Although he was married with two children, didn’t seem to stop the full-on love affair the two embraced. All the dreams Rosalie’s parents had for her would have been nearly impossible for them to think things would turn out as they did later. This love affair not only caused problems for the Rayner family, Rosalie and John were both fired from their positions. Rosalie had to know better, especially given the fact that Watson had a reputation for sleeping with his assistants, of which she was one. But, she didn’t care because she was in love and lust.

Before they were let go from Johns Hopkins, Baby Albert was an experiment that helped put Watson on the scientific map. Although the experiments didn’t appear to have any lasting effects on the baby, at least not any that one could see or detect, Watson worked diligently on a series of experiments to further drive home his point that humans aren’t born with fear, but rather we’re taught what to be fearful of. Rosalie didn’t seem to like performing these tests and experiments, but just to be near Watson, was suitable for her tastes. As the reader goes through this story, a bit of karma begins to unfold as one would certainly expect.

I found the story to be very intriguing and sometimes a little boring at the same time. I kept expecting the story to go one way, and Rosalie continued to take me in an entirely different direction. I learned quite a bit about Rosalie and her drive, but felt a sense of sadness for her as well. There were so many questions I would have liked to ask her on some of the decisions she made, especially where her children were concerned. Again, it was mind boggling to me to have her husband advise and downright insist that she let her boys fend for themselves—to not indulge in showing or displaying loving affection with her sons. I can’t imagine what type of person I would have turned out to be had my mother not hugged or kissed me. Or even to say she loved me. In fact, it’s that very type of behavior that would certainly suggest the recipe for potentially raising a serial killer or someone with psychological damage. And like I mentioned before, after reading the epilogue, I wasn’t surprised or shocked by what I learned.

This was a pretty decent read, but not at all what I had expected. I’m not sure what I expected—perhaps a little more excitement, but then again, how could it be with the content of the story. I feel Romano-Lax did a good job making Rosalie the star of the story and telling her side of things, as best she could. Mello & June gives Behave four stars. It was interesting enough to keep you turning the pages and quite an education learned about the behavior of the famous John B. Watson.  

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

We were created to Interact. . .
Show your Children YOU Love Them!

Friday, April 29, 2016

#Book #Blitz . . . American Flowers

Proudly Presents. . .A Book Blitz
Featuring Author, Michael A. McLellan

American Flowers

Michael A. McLellan

Genre: Young Adult/New Adult 
Contemporary Drama/Thriller

Chris was in the second grade. His mom dropped the bowl of Fruit Loops in front of him splashing milk onto the sun-faded, oak table. "You know, I really wanted a baby," she said, poking one of her ever-present cigarettes into the corner of her mouth and lighting it with the Bic that she kept in her bathrobe. She drew in smoke, her cheeks sucking in momentarily while she did. Chris thought she looked like a fish whenever she did that. His dad didn't look like a fish when he smoked. She exhaled; it drifted upward to join the layer of smoke that always seemed to hover just below the ceiling in their house. "And then once I had one," she continued, "I found that I really didn't want one after all. But once you have a baby, you're stuck with it." 
A lump formed in Chris' throat and it was a real effort for him to swallow his bite of cereal.

"You mean.... me, Mom?" he asked, his voice wavering and tears welling in his eyes. She picked up her vodka tumbler and drained it.

"Of course I mean you. Now go to school."

Chris Shafer spent the next ten years trying to earn his parent's love—straight A student, baseball star....drug addict. 

Enter Allie Laughton: smart, self-assured, and raised in a similar environment of indifference and neglect. 

They hit it off immediately.

American Flowers follows the lives of Chris and Allie as they go from promising, young adults to the couple the media ignorantly begins calling a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. On the run from Chris' volatile-tempered drug dealer and manipulated by a psychotic ex-convict, Chris and Allie are caught in a dangerous game where there can be no winners. 


Author Bio

Michael A. McLellan is a self-proclaimed blue-collar writer. His body of work includes the 2014 novel, After and Again, the 2015 novel, American Flowers and the shorts, Joe Price and Anywhere But Here.



On Goodreads:

Michael is giving away (2) Signed copies of American Flowers, and (2) twenty-five dollar Amazon gift cards to (2) winners

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#Book #Review . . . The Blue Bath


Kat Lind, an American expatriate living in London with her entrepreneur husband and their young son, attends an opening at a prestigious Mayfair art gallery and is astonished to find her own face on the walls. The portraits are evidence of a long-ago love affair with the artist, Daniel Blake. Unbeknownst to her, he has continued to paint her ever since. Kat is seduced by her reflection on canvas and when Daniel appears in London, she finds herself drawn back into the sins and solace of a past that suddenly no longer seems so far away. 

When the portraits catch the attention of the public, threatening to reveal not only her identity, but all that lies beyond the edges of the canvases, Kat comes face to face with the true price of their beauty and with all that she now could lose. 

Moving between the glamour of the London art world and the sensuous days of a love affair in a dusty Paris studio, life and art bleed together as Daniel and Kat's lives spin out of control, leading to a conclusion that is anything but inevitable. 

M & J’s Review 

What is love? How does one define it? No matter how you view it, love can definitely be shown in various ways. And that, to me, was demonstrated with Kat’s and Daniel’s love affair that ran deeper than the pigment on canvas. 

There isn’t a greater honor than to have an artist paint you so the world can see you the way he views you. After all Kat was in Paris. She was nineteen years old, in school and loving life, not having too many cares in the world. One day out in the rain, she holds her camera up to take a shot of the downpour, when a stranger stepped into focus. 

The camera may not have detected what was about to happen between Kat and the stranger, but their souls most certainly did. A mere chance meeting and a few words spoken, turned into a couple decades of love, lust, loss and gain. 

Kat is now an adult with a husband and small child. Of course, one would immediately think the beautiful love affair she had with the stranger in the park who turned out to be Daniel Blake, the artist, would be who she married. Daniel was not Kat’s husband and her child wasn’t of Daniel’s seed. Now living in London waiting on her husband, Jonathan, to return from a rather grueling business venture, she and her girlfriend went to an art show where she saw herself at various stages of her youth, captured within one year, displayed for the world to see. Perhaps to the untrained eye, no one would know who she was, but Kat knew, as did her girlfriend, Jorie. 

What were the chances of her seeing Daniel twenty-something years later? Of course as soon as they recognized one another, the sparks that ignited twenty-years earlier were ready to explode. Kat tried her best to be the faithful wife and mother, but the heart wants what it wants. And what her heart craved for most of her life, was not only the fumes of turpentine and paint, she longed to be touched by the man who loved her so deeply, he painted her image during the years they were apart. To have a man love you like that is the ultimate for any woman. To know your existence touched a person’s soul, as well as their heart, as if the hands of the clock decided to go counterclockwise, was so climatic, the reader will be pulled in their love story. Sayer’s poetic description of Kat’s and Daniel's love making exhibited such beauty, much like the girl (Kat) in his oil paintings. The colorful images of two bodies entwined with no space in between except for the souls to become one was an amazing work of art that even Daniel couldn’t reproduce. It was so touching and personal and brilliantly written, it will make you weep, in which I did. That is love in its truest form! Wow! 

What struck me as odd is the fact that my readers know I can’t stand romance novels. But I cannot classify this story as romance. This was truly a story about one man’s attempt to capture his love for his woman and how he risked everything to get his true love back. Sayers painted this story with such well-written brush strokes, when the canvas comes into focus for the reader, you’ll be left with a jaw-dropping experience. What an amazing love story. Outstanding Read! 

Mello & June gives The Blue Bath five stars and all the stars within the galaxy. It’s extremely engaging, very touching and moving. You will become cheerleaders for Kat and Daniel as they struggle to find their peace in the world. Damn good read! The Blue Bath goes on sale on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Please make sure you pick up a copy wherever books are sold. Ladies, this is a story you will never forget! Have the tissue box close by! 

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder