by Gary McAvoy

MY Book Cover

A mythical legend, the resurrection of Jesus, Holocaust Jewish gold, the French Resistance, Nazis, Croatian fascists/terrorists (the Ustasha,) Vatican intrigue, high tech, action…and possible romance…what more could you ask for in a novel? THE MAGDALENE DECEPTION has it all in a masterful blend of real history and ‘what if’ present day!

Gary McAvoy, a superb historical researcher, has skillfully woven a tale that began thousands of years ago and continues into this millennium. There were two plots in this novel, merged into one outstanding story. The first plot explores the Magdalene and Rennes le Chateau in France…the second explores the Vatican involvement in the escape of Nazi war criminals and the long kept gold and money that the Vatican stored for the Nazi government. Much of the story is based on true events, but the author has also used his imagination to reveal what conspiracy theorists suspect is the truth about the Magdalene…a truth that, if revealed (and proven,) would devastate the Catholic Church and Christianity as we know it.

The story concerns a young priest who’s working at the Vatican as a digital archivist. His discovery of a hidden ancient document sends him journeying to research the document further. Concurrently, a young female journalist is working on tracing gold that the Nazis stole from the Jews (and others) as well as the banks that helped them…and the possible Vatican connections. Happily, the two truth-seekers end up working together.

McAvoy includes the right amount of history throughout the story to make the mystery plausible. He also includes descriptions of the inner workings of the Vatican, its political intrigue and behind-the-scenes manipulations. Too, there’s a hint of romance showing the temptations and inner struggles that priests face to maintain their vows.

THE MAGDALENE DECEPTION is a well-researched thrill ride that I highly recommend.

My 10 MOST Exciting Travel Moments

Sunset and the plane

Sandwiched between cloud layers…

Orange, up and down

Traveling is one of the best ways to enhance personal growth and broaden your horizons. It enables you to do things different from your routine activities. When you travel, you step out of your comfort zone to a different environment that urges you become more responsible and gives you a sense of independence. You become a more compassionate person. You view different lifestyles, customs, food, scenery…develop an appreciation for the recent and ancient past… and meet people like you as well as those very different from you, all with a like heart. We all want the same things in life, no matter where our journeys may take us and who we happen to meet along the way.

I’ve documented (with my photos) some of my most thrilling moments encountered in my travels…for me to remember and cherish as well as to inspire you…


First encounter with a lowland gorilla in the Central African Republic…mesmerizing to be almost close enough to touch!
Coming upon a herd of female elephants with babies in Botswana, Africa, as they charged us with stomping and trumpeting to keep us away…
Sichuan Province, Peoples’ Republic of China… first one on one encounter with a giant panda…so sweet and friendly. This was in Wolong, where they have a breeding center, so the pandas were used to human contact.
Hunting with the Bushmen (San people) in Namibia, Africa…smoking out giant porcupines for food. Porcupine skin tastes like crispy bacon…delicious!!! The Bushmen hunt with bows and arrows.
Visiting with Antarctica’s Gentoo penguins as we walk the icy continent of the frozen South Pole. They’re such entertaining creatures…
Spotting a magnificent Bengal tiger in the wild in Bandhavgarh… India. This is my most favorite animal (along with the elephant…) and seeing them in the wild was a most electrifying gift!
Impressive views of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) near the Arctic Circle took my breath away…literally and figuratively!
One of my MOST THRILLING travel moments EVER…ANYWHERE… was when, on a mammoth stretch of barren field, I suddenly spotted some dust in the air then a man galloping on his horse, holding his golden eagle high up in the air…my first sighting of one of the famous eagle hunters of Mongolia. He was on his way to the Golden Eagle Festival.
A trip to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to see a small population of our closest genetic cousins, the BONOBOS, in the wild and on a reserve…another thrilling moment, and one of very few who have seen these apes in their natural environment… they’re isolated and can only be seen in this part of Africa. These endangered great apes closely resemble chimpanzees. but are more peaceful and friendly towards each other. It was compelling and rather remarkable to see so many of our own characteristics reflected in their actions and expressions.
Visiting with the Suri people in Ethiopia…wildly artistic people who were very friendly and generous. Thrilling…because they appeared to be so different from me, but in talking with them, (through an interpreter,) finding that there are more similarities than differences…one heart!!

Real contentment is

Getting lost around the world

Then finding YOURSELF.


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: A quick snow blankets the fledgling greens

Spring snow is not so unusual in Central New York, but unfortunately, it doesn’t last long. We’ve even had snow in the merry month of May!! Here’s my nod to April 2021’s beautifully heavy snowfall…that was gone by day’s end.

Morning snow falling…

Below, roots stir quietly

With Spring’s rhythm.






Rhys Bowen brings Venice to vibrant life in this dual-timeline, historical fiction novel. Filled with intrigue, secrets, history, love lost and found…and enchanting glimpses of evocative Venice. As I have been fortunate to visit Venice many times, I was swept away by the familiar descriptions of places, food, art…like being there…unlike anywhere else! It was a love letter to this fabulous island.

We follow art teacher, Lettie, to the City of Canals” just prior to WWII …and then, her great niece Caroline, who visits in 2001 (on the heels of 9/11) to scatter her great aunt Lettie’s ashes in her most beloved place. Further, upon her death, Lettie left Caroline with a last request, gifting her three mysterious keys, her sketchbook and a single whispered word, “VENICE.”

The unraveling of this puzzling bequest takes us on a gentle (but page-turning) roller coaster ride through different historical times and the lives of both Lettie and Caroline.

I loved every moment of this book and happily give it a RAVE REVIEW!!


THE LADY and the UNICORN by Tracy Chevalier

MY book cover creation…

Tracy Chevalier’s story of “The Lady and the Unicorn” is woven around the 6 famous tapestries (now housed in their own space in Paris’s Musee de Moyen Age.) Considered to be the greatest masterpiece of the medieval ages, they portray the seduction of a unicorn by a series of noblewomen.

The senses- sight, hearing, taste and smell are depicted in the first 5 weavings…the 6th depicts desire. Chevalier’s imaginative and inspiring story, (previously unknown,) weaves fact and fiction to help unfold how, why and for whom these tapestries were created…filling in a background that has sadly been lost to history “The Lady and the Unicorn,” takes place in 1490.

There are actually a few known facts about this group of weavings, thought to have been commissioned by a member of the Le Viste family… French nobility. Designed by a Parisian painter, Nicholas des Innocents, there are, pressed within its folds, the desires, loves and frustrations of all those involved in their production. Artists, cartoonists, dyers, weavers, seamstresses and financiers were all part of the series. The novel tells the story of two families…one, a noble family in Paris and the other, the family of weavers in Brussels, Belgium (then, Flanders, where the finest weaving of the time was performed.) Nicholas and the tapestries are the connection between the two families.

The author’s research on the history of tapestries was all-encompassing. Everything was very well documented …from exactly how a tapestry was made to the usual way a Belgian workshop was organized and run. Chevalier creates and shapes a sense of the lives and relationships lived by a handful of not-so simple people in a snapshot of time! The sections of the book most interesting to me were the descriptions of the Belgian family who wove the tapestries…from the design cartoons (enlargements from original paintings) that guided their art, the way they set up and used the looms, the importance of the guilds in setting and enforcing the standards for their craft to the way they lived among the looms and threads used in their work. Every chapter of the book was a perspective of a different character so you felt what each person involved was feeling…knew what they were thinking.

In “The Lady and the Unicorn,” Tracy Chevalier’s gift as a wordsmith tells a beautiful, timeless and intriguing literary tapestry proving that she’s more than just a good writer but also a good weaver of medieval tales with historical significance. LOVED IT!!!


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: From snowy winter to sunny spring…

I’ve been working on some challenge pieces of digital art for Digital Whisper ( whose theme was a throwback to my childhood…little red wagon…

…and for Flicker’s DIGITALMANIA, (,) we met artist GREG HANSON ( who’s an artist specializing in collage and assemblage…challenging and sooo much fun!

Short and sweet…that’s it for this posting. Hope you’re reawakening with the promise of spring and summer ahead. Enjoy the longer days and the warmer sunshine. I know I will!

Until the next…

Big Hugs,





My Cover for “WOMAN of GOD”

“WOMAN of GOD” follows the life of Brigid Fitzgerald, a woman who survived a difficult childhood with drug addicted parents, as she becomes a doctor, serving on the front lines of war-torn Sudan. I was immersed in her MASH world where hopelessly understaffed, undersupplied, underfunded clinics fought the evil ravages of man and disease. With many twists and turns, Brigid loses several close family members and friends. A series of trials and locations test her faith at every turn and she struggles to maintain her faith in God every step of the way.

As I met the people in Brigid’s life, her story expanded in every direction and I was swept into a drama that focused a harsh spotlight on today’s events while providing a vision of a possible future. Brigid’s story drew attention to aspects of the world that people often overlook…civil war and what little help victims are receiving, coping with horrible family tragedies… and women in the church.

There’s an inescapable authenticity to Brigid Fitzgerald that propels the story forward…along with very short chapters…(not that you’ll WANT to put the book down! ) James Patterson and Maxine Paetro have given readers a tale of perseverance that’s not their usual fare. It will entertain some and irritate others, but it will give all readers something to think about. A gentle thriller with a contemporary feel, I can only hope that there’s a sequel in the works…there’s so much more to this journey for Brigid and her daughter.

A highly recommended read!


MY LIFE IN 6 WORDS: Escape the ordinary…the world waits!

Longing to travel

On a big, steel bird I’ll fly

To places old…new…

See people I miss,

Rekindling dear old friendships

…and bask in their glow;

Get lost on strange streets

In unknown cities and towns…

Tasting new cultures:

Civilization’s cradle-

Africa- my heart’s at home

Sharing with people;

A kaleidoscope

Of animals and colours…

The dark continent.

Italy’s beauty…

It’s ancient, crumbling charm

Infusing my soul;

Patchwork tapestries

With cypress trees…stitched by hand…

And notable landmarks;

Warm, friendly people

Under a vast Van Gogh sky…


But now, mind travel,

Searching for a place to land…

Planning tomorrow…

Lady Liberty

Shrouded in the New York fog…




TWO BOOK REVIEWS: THE EVENING and THE MORNING (Ken Follett) and SPY (Danielle Steel)

Thirty years ago, Ken Follett published one of my MOST favorite novels (that blossomed into the KINGSBRIDGE series…) PILLARS OF THE EARTH. Now, a prequel to the Kingsbridge Trilogy, THE EVENING and THE MORNING, shows Kingsbridge’s humble origins and how it grows into the bustling city it would eventually become.

The tome (900+ pages) begins towards the end of England’s “Dark Ages.” Starting in the year 997 CE, it covers the years to 1007 (…actually about 125 years before PILLARS begins.) Kingsbridge doesn’t exist…there are just a few buildings in a run down hamlet, Dreng’s Ferry…far from any of England’s major cities at that time..

My book cover for THE EVENING and the MORNING…

The story blends many characters, both sinister and well intentioned, into the developing hamlet of Dreng’s Ferry…the beginnings of Kingsbridge from Follett’s Kingsbridge series. The story takes us through the interweaving of these characters who eventually shape the town and the cathedral that many of us came to know in Follett’s previous books. The characters became familiar…a well-intentioned man of the cloth, a very bright young peasant man with the mind of an engineer, a wellborn lady brought below her station by circumstance, a vicious clergyman obsessed with personal ambition and a brutish thug of an overlord. Each character, brilliantly developed, became part of my family!! Much of the plot revolves around the personal lives of the main players (above)…their loves, losses, dreams, scandals, betrayals, marriages and children.

Anything Ken Follett writes is a masterpiece. His intricate plots, deep characters and his writing voice work together to create beautiful book tapestries. This good vs. evil book, THE EVENING and the MORNING, proved to be a most enjoyable escapist journey via historical fiction.


My book cover for SPY…

Danielle Steel’s SPY is a historical fiction novel that combines elements of espionage, romance, drama and mystery. It’s a story of family relationships, loss, standing up and fighting for your beliefs…and commitment. Our heroine is Alexandra Wickham, a young British aristocrat.

To me, this book is divided into two parts. The first half of the novel is about Alex’s service in the Special Operations Executive (SOE) branch of England’s military. She begins her journey in 1939 when she joins the war effort following her two brothers. Starting as a truck driver for the armed forces, her capacity to prevail in the face of adversity catches the attention of MI6. Her fearless nature and flair for languages sees her recruited as a spy, working behind enemy lines on perilous missions.

In the second half of SPY, Danielle Steel traces Alex’s life over three decades of intelligence service during wartime and peacetime…a risky, treacherous existence- indeed, living a double and secret life. We also see her falling in love, becoming a wife, mother and eventually a grandmother.

Most WWII spy novels end with the spy returning to civilian life…something I think would be a very difficult transition. Instead of the ordinary, Steel places Alex in key international locations with her diplomat husband, (while maintaining her secret spy status for MI6,) as the world is rebuilding after the war and into the Cold War…Britain, France, India, Russia, Morocco and the United States…an interesting spin.

Although I got a real feeling for what it was like to be a spy during challenging times, while keeping it all secret from loved ones, I didn’t feel I really got to know the characters well enough. That being said, I did enjoy this quick read and DO RECOMMEND it!