Thursday, October 29, 2015

Cover Reveal: The One Who Sees Me, by Kandi J. Wyatt

Looking for a new read?
It's cover reveal time!
Booktrope Publishing brings you the latest in Historical Christian Fiction...
THE ONE WHO SEES ME
SYNOPSIS
Teenage slave girl Faru’s life has been turned upside down when she discovers she’s been traded to a new master, forcing her to leave all she‘s ever known. Upon her arrival, Faru meets a friend, Cailean, who helps her adjust to life in the strange location. Life settles into a new pattern, and romance blossoms between the young friends. But as soon as they plan to get married, another proposal comes about – one that cannot be ignored. Being a slave means not always marrying who you love.
On a daring journey to heal her heart, Faru encounters the Existing One. Will she trust Him and do His bidding even if what He requests is so hard?
Follow Faru’s tale in author Kandi J Wyatt’s retelling of a Biblical story found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, showing that when things don’t make sense, God will guide the way.
Author Bio & Social Media Links for The One Who Sees Me
Author Bio: 
Kandi J Wyatt is a wife, mother of five, teacher, artist, and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy stories and Christmas programs, and drawing with graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. Kandi also enjoys photography, thanks to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey as both his model and apprentice, and she occasionally serves as his assistant when he needs a “light stand with feet.” To learn more, visit Kandijwyatt.wordpress.com.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Book Spotlight: Ella and An Unexpected Wish




Title: Ella
Author: Virginia Taylor
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ebook

Ella Beaufort knew better than to rely on a sexy stranger. But with two sisters to support on the modest earnings of the family sheep station, she accepts shearer Cal Lynton’s help—along with his intoxicating kiss. The most Ella can hope for is an affair. Something a woman in her situation wouldn’t dare—or would she?

Heir to his family fortune, Charlton Alfred Landon Lynton abandoned his privileged life to prove his independence. He doesn’t have time for a woman, but once he woos the lovely Ella into his bed, he is ready to make her his wife…until she shocks him with her refusal, claiming she can only marry a rich man! Angry and brokenhearted, the heir in disguise leaves the beautiful golddigger behind…

But amid the breathtaking landscape of South Australia, Ella and Cal are destined to meet again. Will their heated reunion lead to cruel confrontation—or the kind of passion that lasts a lifetime? Be sure not to miss the first book in Virginia Taylor’s South Landers series!  

ORDER INFORMATION
Ella is available for order at  
amazon
BN

kobo
google play
add-to-goodreads-button3
   

Virginia Taylor is an Australian writer of contemporary romantic comedy, romantic suspense, historical romance, short stories, and children’s stories.


After a stint at the South Australian School of Art, I worked for an advertising agency,  re-trained as a nurse/midwife, and then married the man of my dreams. Two children later, I began writing romance. While awaiting publication, I painted and designed various theatre sets with a fellow School of Art graduate.In 2013 I sold my first novel-length story.

For More Information
Visit Virginia’s website.
Connect with Virginia on Facebook, and Twitter











Title: An Unexpected Wish
Author: Eileen Richards
Release Date: October 27, 2015
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Ebook

Love Is In The Air

Anne Townsend doesn’t ask for much. Plain and poor, she’d settle for the funds to put food on the table. Making a wish on the fabled Fairy Steps is hardly a solid solution, but to see her two sisters taken care of, Anne’s willing to try anything. Yet when she finds herself suddenly surrounded with suitors, romance is now a possibility for the spinster everyone always ignored—except with the one man who will never want her…

Nathaniel Matthews has no time for courting. As the eldest, he has his family’s lost fortune to rebuild, and his reckless brother to manage before he gambles his future away. Odd that Nathaniel can think of little but kissing bright-eyed Anne, who seems to be fighting off admirers from all sides. Is it the country air, or is Nathaniel ready to discover that love has a magic all its own?

ORDER INFORMATION
An Unexpected Wish is available for order at  
amazon
BN
kobo
google play
add-to-goodreads-button3
 

Eileen Richards has been writing for most of her life. Poetry, totally inappropriate answers to essay questions in school, and interesting error codes during her 30 year IT career has prepared for the manic world of publishing. She writes sassy regency romps set in the small villages of England where the rules are bent a bit and gossip rules the day. Eileen resides with her husband and their diva of a greyhound in North Carolina.

For More Information
Visit Eileen’s website.
Connect with Eileen on Facebook  and Twitter.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Book Spotlight: Not in God's Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict by Paula Fouce



Title: Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
Author: Paula Fouce
Publisher: Paradise Filmworks International
Pages: 254
Genre: Nonfiction/Religion
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook/iTunes

“We're all praying to the same Divine, which is called by many names or no name at all.” In her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Paula Fouce searches for solutions to end the escalating violence between religious groups. She has lived and worked in many South Asian countries including India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, where she experienced a variety of vast cultural and religious diversity.  But Fouce came face-to-face with the destructiveness of religious-based conflict while in India when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

As a result of Gandhi’s murder, thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Fouce escaped unharmed, but she was shaken by the explosion of violence from a people who had treated her with care and compassion before the death of their leader. The experience prompted Fouce to undergo a personal quest to understand the reasons behind the intolerance. What was the genesis of violent religion-inspired conflicts – the underlying chaos that has led to major violent conflicts such as the Crusades (1095–1291), the Partition of India in 1947, the 2009 Mumbai attacks, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the 2015 Paris attacks, and other religion-inspired conflicts?

In NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Fouce shares her journey for spiritual enlightenment that began after she survived a car crash in which she was thrown from the vehicle. After her recovery, Fouce traveled to India in 1974 for a semester of study focused on Hindu and Buddhist art. During an early trip, Fouce met Mother Teresa. She returned to India after graduating from college to continue her spiritual exploration, export art, and guide luxury tours.

NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT discusses the histories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, as well as Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. Fouce spoke with several leaders in the religious tolerance movement, including the Dalai Lama; Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament; and Dr. Joseph Prabhu, a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In the book, the author asks probing questions of faith leaders and scholars in order to devise solutions for ending the violence among religious groups.

“Although there are differences, we can develop a deep respect for all faith traditions that contribute untold richness to our civilization. Religious tolerance is our greatest tool for promoting world peace,” Fouce says. She identifies specific causes of religious intolerance and offers solutions for bringing the world’s faiths together.

After escaping the Indian religious riots in 1984, Fouce was “was struck with how religion had been twisted and used to create dissention and violence, the antithesis of its intention. My point of view is focused on how to bridge our differences; and my book goes into detail, even describing the compassion training that is now taught in many top universities.” Over the three-year period that Fouce worked on NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, she used the transcripts from interviews for the film documentary of the same title (which was aired on PBS stations nationwide) and researched news stories of current religious conflicts. “Education is sorely needed to ensure a peaceful world where it is understood that diversity is not a threat or a detriment to one’s own good. Diversity is to be celebrated,” Fouce says. “Our unquestionable right as human beings is to freely worship the God of our understanding and to follow that spiritual path whose practices support our doing so.”

Fouce’s purpose for writing NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT is to help the reader to understand that there are solutions to religious intolerance. “How do we change the minds of violent fundamentalists? This is the real task ahead, together with preventing people from being attracted to such ideology in the first place. Can we find a middle ground, a live-and-let live coexistence? Herein lies the only answer to the challenge of creating a peaceful future with acceptance. The continued existence of the human race depends on it.”

For More Information

  • Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Download your copy at iTunes.
Book Excerpt:

In the countryside outside Delhi, our car sped past endless miles of yellow mustard fields gently rippling in the warm breeze.  It was 2002. My friend Arif was taking me to visit madrassas, Muslim religious schools, in the small agricultural villages. A Kashmiri Muslim, Arif was keen to help me comprehend the causes of religious bigotry. He too had witnessed strife between followers of different religions. I had met him years before in India, when we were both immersed in the peaceful lifestyle of the Himalayas.  It was an idyllic time.
Turning off the main road onto a dirt path, we dodged ancient bullock carts lumbering past. The air was clean out here and I inhaled deeply. The village was peaceful and picturesque. Our car pulled up to a rambling clutch of cement buildings. One was quite elaborate, bearing a striking resemblance to a mini Taj Mahal.
As we climbed out, Arif said, “You don’t know much about Islam, so here’s your chance, to ask this guy whatever you want.”
“True, I’ve been living with Hindu yogis, but this will be totally different.”
Yogis eschewed society’s distractions to seek the answers to the deepest questions of life. They allowed me to accompany them on the ancient footpaths to sacred shrines high up in the Himalayan Mountains. I had spent time photographing them for a book on yogis, Shiva that I wrote with my friend, Denise Tomecko. “The way the Hindus embraced me, their kindness was overwhelming! They invited me into their temples and homes, and offered me their only piece of bread.”
 “That’s right, in India our favorite saying is, “Guest is God,” he laughed.
“That’s when I know the snacks and milk tea are coming. Even though they have so little.”
It felt a little strange accepting the boundless offerings they showered on me. I had grown up privileged in Los Angeles with loving parents, and had been fortunate to attend the best private schools. “The yogis and lay people viewed me only as spirit, as an expression of God.”
“That’s India,” Arif laughed.
“You’re right, this is a good chance to talk to a Muslim holy man!” Walking across the powdery dirt clearing surrounded by yellow mustard flowers towards traditional buildings covered in intricate Islamic patterns, we were greeted by young Muslim boys attired in colorfully embroidered baggy trousers and long loose shirts, with skull caps, their huge smiles revealing perfect bright white teeth.  A man with a long beard sitting on a hemp cot, greeted us with the traditional “Salaam halekum,” and motioned me to sit. Hindu, Muslim and Sikh villagers were gathered at his feet in rapt attention as he sat relaxing outside.
Arif explained, “As the head of the madrassa, school they seek him out for prayers and healings, they scribble their problems and those of loved ones onto those small slips of paper”.  The faithful folded the scraps and dropped them on the cot where the holy man prayed over them. 
He requested one of his young students to bring tea, as well as his massive, aged and dog-eared copy of the Quran. He stood and made a point of showing me passages in the holy book about Jesus and Mary.
He read in Urdu and Arif translated, "If somebody had leprosy, he would be healed. And he would go to the graveyard and tell the dead people, "get up," and they would rise. And he would tell the people what was in their house, and the house would be many miles, five hundred miles away. He knew all, this was a symbol of Jesus Christ."
            I asked him, "What is Jesus called in the Quran?"
            "Isa Massi. There are two stories about Christ in the Quran. This is another one." He turned the pages. Arif continued translating, "It's about Mary now. She was taking a bath in the jungle, cordoned off with cloth. Gabriel came. She was under a date tree, and she would just shake the tree and eat the dates during her pregnancy. And there was a spring right there, where she used to get the water, right there in that place. It's written in the Quran. And she came with the child, and people sort of looked down upon her wondering, how, where did she get this baby? And the child spoke at that time. He was ten days old. ‘I am God's follower and I am sent by God, and I have come with the Bible, the book of God. And I will always listen to my Mother.’”
            "He went to Israel, that is where he was crucified. From there he vanished. And he's alive up there," he pointed skyward. "And he'll come back again to us," the Muslim man smiled.
I was touched by how he sought to find common ground with me, pointing a bony finger at the Islamic script as if I could actually read every word; he enthusiastically recited the passages aloud in his gravelly voice.
The wizened holy man then led us into the madrassa where a row of boys sat on the floor huddled over a long, low wooden table supporting massively thick Qurans. Their haunting melodic voices recited from the holy book for hours as they tried to memorize its’ words. “By the time they are eighteen,” Arif explained, “they will know the entire Quran by heart.


Book Spotlight: That Which Maddens and Torments by Christopher Keating



Title: That Which Maddens and Torments
Author: Christopher Keating
Publisher: Christopher Keating
Pages: 274
Genre: Suspense/Thriller

With the encouragement of her uncle, a retired professor of geophysics, Josephine Black, a recent college graduate, begins reporting on the issue of climate change for a major New York City newspaper. She quickly discovers that she has a passion for the subject and a talent for investigative journalism.

It’s not long before Jo’s hard-hitting articles are being noticed. However, leaders within the powerful fossil fuel industry don’t like what they are reading. They believe that the information in Jo’s articles could threaten their profits eventually, and they are also concerned that Jo will uncover a scientific report written by a friend of her uncle’s that proves the truth about global warming. The industry’s leaders are ruthless and are willing to stop at nothing to silence Jo and protect their profits.
Soon, Jo finds herself caught up in a very dangerous high stakes “cat and mouse game” related to the climate change debate. A game that combines politics and policy brokering at the highest levels of government with criminality. However, Jo is determined to outwit her ruthless enemies no matter what it takes.

Full of twists and turns, That Which Maddens and Torments is an entertaining, page-turning read. However, it also provides readers with insights into the debate surrounding the issue of global warming and helps to explain the motivation behind many of the global warming skeptics or deniers we read about or see on TV.

For More Information

  • That Which Maddens and Torments is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:

Introduction

They hadn’t hurt him. In fact, they had treated him quite well. That didn’t really change things, though. They were waiting for him in the apartment when he arrived and forced him to sit at the table. One of them sat with him while the other searched the apartment.

“Are you comfortable, Dr. Chriswald? Can I get you something to drink? Maybe something to eat?”

The old man shook his head.

“Why are you still in my apartment? I answered all of your questions. I don’t know anything about this report you keep asking me about.”

“Please, professor. Don’t lie to me. We know that you had the report. Just give it to us or tell us where we can find it and we’ll leave. No one is going to hurt you, but I must know where to find that report. You’re an old man and it wouldn’t take me long to force it out of you, but I don’t want to do that. Tell me what I want to know and we’ll be on our way.”

He was an intimidating figure. He wasn’t large or muscular, but there was a look about him that made you think this was someone to avoid, someone that would make you cross the street so you didn’t have to walk by him.

He was sitting at the table with professor when his accomplice came in.

“I can’t find anything. It’s not here.”

The professor’s questioner looked at him and said, “We’re going to have to do this the hard way. You are not going to like this. But, don’t worry; you’ll give in quickly enough.”

He was surprised at how fast the old professor could move and was caught off guard. Before he could do anything Chriswald jumped up from his chair was racing across the room - not towards the locked door, but to the window behind him. Without uttering a sound he went head first through the window.

The second man started to run after him before the first man stopped him.

“No! Someone might see you. Its five stories to the sidewalk. He’s done.”

“Oh, man! This place is going to be crawling with people. We need to get out of here.”

Seth Kern agreed. He could already hear the screams outside.

“Did you leave any evidence?”

“No. I was careful.”

Kern calmly nodded his head, “Good. Did he have some kind of list of contacts? He knew he would be forced to talk and he was willing to die instead. That means he had some secret he didn’t want to tell us. My guess is he did something with the report. He might have sent it to someone he knows for safe keeping.”

“Yeah, I saw an address book. I’ll get it.”

They took the address book and quickly let themselves out, leaving the building before anyone had a chance to see them. The clamor out front helped cover their escape. People were looking to see what the fuss was all about and weren’t in the hallway.

Once clear of the building Conrad Holiday asked, “Did you mean it? Were you going to just let him go?”

“Sure. I wasn’t paid to kill him, just to recover the report, and a dead body always results in an investigation. Besides, what was he going to do? Tell people about the report? Even if he did talk, people would have ignored him. It would have been just another crazy conspiracy theory with no proof or evidence. No, he wasn’t a threat to us.”

He wasn’t concerned about the dead professor. They had been careful breaking in and had made sure to not leave any evidence of their presence as they searched the apartment. He had no idea what kind of explanation the police would come up with, but he was sure it wouldn’t involve the two of them.

He was more concerned with what to tell his client. The professor was dead and the only lead they had was an address book. But, he had been in bad situations before and he would explain it somehow. Besides, he knew his client wanted that report too badly. He would let some things slide, as long as Kern was making progress.

“I wonder. If he had the report, why didn’t he take it to the press?”

Holiday shrugged his shoulders. “Maybe he was trying some blackmail?”

Kern shook his head. “I haven’t heard anything like that. Besides, the people involved would have just paid and moved on. It would be pocket change to them. No, I have a feeling there is more to this than we know about.”

With a sigh he pulled out the address book and began looking through it.

“Hopefully, one of these people knows something,” he thought.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Book Spotlight: Not in God's Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict by Paula Fouce



Title: Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
Author: Paula Fouce
Publisher: Paradise Filmworks International
Pages: 254
Genre: Nonfiction/Religion
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook/iTunes

“We're all praying to the same Divine, which is called by many names or no name at all.” In her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Paula Fouce searches for solutions to end the escalating violence between religious groups. She has lived and worked in many South Asian countries including India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, where she experienced a variety of vast cultural and religious diversity.  But Fouce came face-to-face with the destructiveness of religious-based conflict while in India when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

As a result of Gandhi’s murder, thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Fouce escaped unharmed, but she was shaken by the explosion of violence from a people who had treated her with care and compassion before the death of their leader. The experience prompted Fouce to undergo a personal quest to understand the reasons behind the intolerance. What was the genesis of violent religion-inspired conflicts – the underlying chaos that has led to major violent conflicts such as the Crusades (1095–1291), the Partition of India in 1947, the 2009 Mumbai attacks, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the 2015 Paris attacks, and other religion-inspired conflicts?

In NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Fouce shares her journey for spiritual enlightenment that began after she survived a car crash in which she was thrown from the vehicle. After her recovery, Fouce traveled to India in 1974 for a semester of study focused on Hindu and Buddhist art. During an early trip, Fouce met Mother Teresa. She returned to India after graduating from college to continue her spiritual exploration, export art, and guide luxury tours.

NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT discusses the histories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, as well as Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. Fouce spoke with several leaders in the religious tolerance movement, including the Dalai Lama; Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament; and Dr. Joseph Prabhu, a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In the book, the author asks probing questions of faith leaders and scholars in order to devise solutions for ending the violence among religious groups.

“Although there are differences, we can develop a deep respect for all faith traditions that contribute untold richness to our civilization. Religious tolerance is our greatest tool for promoting world peace,” Fouce says. She identifies specific causes of religious intolerance and offers solutions for bringing the world’s faiths together.

After escaping the Indian religious riots in 1984, Fouce was “was struck with how religion had been twisted and used to create dissention and violence, the antithesis of its intention. My point of view is focused on how to bridge our differences; and my book goes into detail, even describing the compassion training that is now taught in many top universities.” Over the three-year period that Fouce worked on NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, she used the transcripts from interviews for the film documentary of the same title (which was aired on PBS stations nationwide) and researched news stories of current religious conflicts. “Education is sorely needed to ensure a peaceful world where it is understood that diversity is not a threat or a detriment to one’s own good. Diversity is to be celebrated,” Fouce says. “Our unquestionable right as human beings is to freely worship the God of our understanding and to follow that spiritual path whose practices support our doing so.”

Fouce’s purpose for writing NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT is to help the reader to understand that there are solutions to religious intolerance. “How do we change the minds of violent fundamentalists? This is the real task ahead, together with preventing people from being attracted to such ideology in the first place. Can we find a middle ground, a live-and-let live coexistence? Herein lies the only answer to the challenge of creating a peaceful future with acceptance. The continued existence of the human race depends on it.”

For More Information

  • Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Download your copy at iTunes.
Book Excerpt:

In the countryside outside Delhi, our car sped past endless miles of yellow mustard fields gently rippling in the warm breeze.  It was 2002. My friend Arif was taking me to visit madrassas, Muslim religious schools, in the small agricultural villages. A Kashmiri Muslim, Arif was keen to help me comprehend the causes of religious bigotry. He too had witnessed strife between followers of different religions. I had met him years before in India, when we were both immersed in the peaceful lifestyle of the Himalayas.  It was an idyllic time.
Turning off the main road onto a dirt path, we dodged ancient bullock carts lumbering past. The air was clean out here and I inhaled deeply. The village was peaceful and picturesque. Our car pulled up to a rambling clutch of cement buildings. One was quite elaborate, bearing a striking resemblance to a mini Taj Mahal.
As we climbed out, Arif said, “You don’t know much about Islam, so here’s your chance, to ask this guy whatever you want.”
“True, I’ve been living with Hindu yogis, but this will be totally different.”
Yogis eschewed society’s distractions to seek the answers to the deepest questions of life. They allowed me to accompany them on the ancient footpaths to sacred shrines high up in the Himalayan Mountains. I had spent time photographing them for a book on yogis, Shiva that I wrote with my friend, Denise Tomecko. “The way the Hindus embraced me, their kindness was overwhelming! They invited me into their temples and homes, and offered me their only piece of bread.”
 “That’s right, in India our favorite saying is, “Guest is God,” he laughed.
“That’s when I know the snacks and milk tea are coming. Even though they have so little.”
It felt a little strange accepting the boundless offerings they showered on me. I had grown up privileged in Los Angeles with loving parents, and had been fortunate to attend the best private schools. “The yogis and lay people viewed me only as spirit, as an expression of God.”
“That’s India,” Arif laughed.
“You’re right, this is a good chance to talk to a Muslim holy man!” Walking across the powdery dirt clearing surrounded by yellow mustard flowers towards traditional buildings covered in intricate Islamic patterns, we were greeted by young Muslim boys attired in colorfully embroidered baggy trousers and long loose shirts, with skull caps, their huge smiles revealing perfect bright white teeth.  A man with a long beard sitting on a hemp cot, greeted us with the traditional “Salaam halekum,” and motioned me to sit. Hindu, Muslim and Sikh villagers were gathered at his feet in rapt attention as he sat relaxing outside.
Arif explained, “As the head of the madrassa, school they seek him out for prayers and healings, they scribble their problems and those of loved ones onto those small slips of paper”.  The faithful folded the scraps and dropped them on the cot where the holy man prayed over them. 
He requested one of his young students to bring tea, as well as his massive, aged and dog-eared copy of the Quran. He stood and made a point of showing me passages in the holy book about Jesus and Mary.
He read in Urdu and Arif translated, "If somebody had leprosy, he would be healed. And he would go to the graveyard and tell the dead people, "get up," and they would rise. And he would tell the people what was in their house, and the house would be many miles, five hundred miles away. He knew all, this was a symbol of Jesus Christ."
            I asked him, "What is Jesus called in the Quran?"
            "Isa Massi. There are two stories about Christ in the Quran. This is another one." He turned the pages. Arif continued translating, "It's about Mary now. She was taking a bath in the jungle, cordoned off with cloth. Gabriel came. She was under a date tree, and she would just shake the tree and eat the dates during her pregnancy. And there was a spring right there, where she used to get the water, right there in that place. It's written in the Quran. And she came with the child, and people sort of looked down upon her wondering, how, where did she get this baby? And the child spoke at that time. He was ten days old. ‘I am God's follower and I am sent by God, and I have come with the Bible, the book of God. And I will always listen to my Mother.’”
            "He went to Israel, that is where he was crucified. From there he vanished. And he's alive up there," he pointed skyward. "And he'll come back again to us," the Muslim man smiled.
I was touched by how he sought to find common ground with me, pointing a bony finger at the Islamic script as if I could actually read every word; he enthusiastically recited the passages aloud in his gravelly voice.
The wizened holy man then led us into the madrassa where a row of boys sat on the floor huddled over a long, low wooden table supporting massively thick Qurans. Their haunting melodic voices recited from the holy book for hours as they tried to memorize its’ words. “By the time they are eighteen,” Arif explained, “they will know the entire Quran by heart.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Book Spotlight: 'The Secret Lives of Animals,' by Stacy Tornio

The Secret Lives of Animals



SYNOPSIS

The Secret Lives of Animals is the perfect mix of field guide know-how and armchair entertainment. In addition to the standard field guide notes and range maps, the meat of the book will offer up “spark moments” in nature—something fascinating or memorable that catches your attention and sets you on a path of lifelong learning. The Secret Lives of Animals will feature more than 100 North American animals and over 1,000 tidbits in a fun, colorful, illustrated format.











PURCHASE



GIVEAWAY


WIN A FREE BOOK AND A PAIR OF KEEN SHOES




ABOUT THE AUTHORS


Website  /  Facebook  /  Twitter  /  Pinterest  /  YouTube

Stacy Tornio is an Oklahoma girl at heart, though she’s lived in Wisconsin for the last 10 years. As editor of Birds & Blooms Magazine, Stacy is able to share her love of backyard nature. Her first book, Cathy’s Animal Garden, takes readers on a picture journey into the neighbor’s scary backyard in search of a homerun baseball. Project Garden, her recent book, is a monthly guide filled with activities to keep the whole family gardening all year long. Along with her husband, Steve, Stacy enjoys watching her two children explore nature in their Milwaukee backyard and on trips up north.


Ken Keffer was born and raised in Wyoming.  A vagabond naturalist, he’s done a little bit of everything, from monitoring mice and vole populations and picking up carnivore scat in Grand Teton National Park to researching flying squirrels in the Tongass National Forest of southeast Alaska, and monitoring Bactrian camels in Mongolia’s Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area. He’s also worked as an environmental educator in Wyoming, northern New Mexico, coastal Maryland, and along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio. Ken enjoys birding, floating on lazy rivers, and fly fishing in the mountains out west.



Brought to you by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Book Trailer Spotlight: Heartbound by P.I. Alltraine




Title: Heartbound
Author: P.I. Alltraine
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Pages: 177
Genre: YA fantasy romance

Petyr has never found it necessary to consider the humans as anything more than distant, inferior beings–until now. They are the cause of the fatal disease that has plagued his realm, taking the lives of too many of his kind. As a future leader of a realm in peril, Petyr must find a way to resist and cure the affliction. He must enter the unfamiliar realm, appear to be an ordinary eighteen-year-old human, observe, and learn.

However, things don't exactly go according to plan. Instead of embarking single-mindedly on his sober mission, Petyr meets an 18-year-old girl who does things to his emotions that he can't quite fathom or control. Petyr is falling in love, and he almost forgets the gravity his choices have on his entire world. Despite the risk it poses to his life and hers, he wants to know her, and he wants her to know him–and his world.

For More Information

  • Heartbound is available at Amazon.
Book Excerpt:

I defied my fate the moment I leapt out of my apartment’s third-story window. I landed on the pavement without a sound. In the same instant, my feet blended into the measured pace in which humans carried themselves.
Gazing up at the sky, I tried to find something to remind me of my home, of my duty. The future leader of a realm in peril cannot be overcome by irrational desires, I thought.
Thick smoke obscured the heavens so much even the brightest stars were dull and barely visible. A reminder I was trapped in this city, in this realm. Too far away from everything I knew, too restrained, too human.
Through the chaos in my mind, I captured the image of the girl with brown and dark-auburn tones in her hair, the shine that bounced from her loose curls, the depth in her hazel eyes, and even the awkward half-smile when she caught me looking at her. But the memory wasn’t enough. I needed to see her again.
I kept walking until I reached the riverbank in the heart of London. The water rippled with a disheveled mesh of gold and red, reflecting a large architectural structure. My gaze lingered on the clock tower adjacent to the building, gauging its height. A temptation to feel even a fraction of my true nature became a need in every fiber in my body. No longer able to rationalize, my muscles coiled, and I let go. Wind enveloped me with its familiar warmth as I sprang across the River Thames. I aimed to land on the lower portion of the tower, to indulge in the pleasure of my ascent. Though too fast for human eyes, each maneuver, each somersault, each back flip was slow enough for me to savor every moment of my liberation.
On a part of the roof concealed from the passersby below, I was closer to the heavens than I’d been since arriving in the city. Still, I didn’t belong here. Hundreds of lights sparkled below me, each representing a life I didn’t comprehend. Allowing myself to break free from my human fa├žade had made me a liability to the others. For a few moments of freedom, I let myself forget the importance of my purpose here—the lives that depended on it.
Somehow, having the girl’s image in my mind brought calmness within me. One that felt permanent. One that extinguished the sense of entrapment, despite the thick layer of smoke that was still very visible to me. I held on to the calmness as I regained the confidence to face the others.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Spotlight: 'A Dragon's Guide to Slaying Virgins' by Isabelle Saint-Michael

Morgan had resigned herself to death. She had been ready to follow her true love into the afterlife, if only a certain Dragon hadn’t “rescued” her. She wasn’t grateful – after all, she was a full-fledged Lady Knight and perfectly capable of making her own decisions, without the help of arrogant Dragon Lords, no matter how good-looking everyone seemed to think they were… 
After dragging Lady Morgan from a Troll’s lair and dropping her off in another realm, Vallen thought he’d never see her again. But then an old member of his Knight Order betrays her oaths and begins amassing an army of thugs and highwaymen - in the same realm he’d left Morgan. 
Racing back with only his brother for a squire, Vallen finds Lady Morgan, accompanied by a teenage Werewolf, ready to take on this Dragon all by herself. But it will take all of them to defeat her, and little do they know that in this battle, the secrets of their broken hearts will rise up from the past and walk again… 

PURCHASE


The Author



Isabelle's Website / Twitter Facebook Goodreads / YouTube

Isabelle Saint-Michael currently lives abroad in Seoul, South Korea with a transition in process to the UK.  Writing is now her full-time gig, but she spent a number of years working in the online media industry.  (That’s when she upgraded her personality software from socialite to geek.)  Her hobbies include reading, shopping, travel, and medieval shenanigans with her closest friends.  She has earned such coveted nicknames as The Fighting Smurf, The Iz and Wiffle Ball Monkey Slayer.
From the author: “The Elven Life is a blog connecting a series of books and characters that I have created.  So many times we buy books but then must wait a year at least to get another fix.  In a world of immediate gratification I wanted to build an interactive way of storytelling for my readers.  Each book, along with the blog, is a free-standing story, but they will occasionally have connecting themes, characters, and messages for our fans to catch.  Check us out and keep watching!  Books will be available through Amazon, Kindle, and a retailer near you.”

Follow the entire TOUR HERE
Brought to you by Worldwind Virtual Book Tours

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Book Spotlight: My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily by Gilda Morina Syverson



Title: My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily
Author: Gilda Morina Syverson  
Publisher: Divine Phoenix and Pegasus Books
Pages: 277  
Genre: Memoir/Travel/Family Relationships

In this multigenerational memoir, My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily, our author travels with her Italian-born father, Italian-American mother, and very-American husband to the villages of her ancestors. This trilogy tale leads the reader through ancient sites of Rome, landscapes of a picturesque countryside, seaside villages of Sicily, olive trees in the valley of Mount Etna, while contrasting an emotional journey between a father and daughter.

Former North Carolina Poet Laureate, Joseph Bathanti, says, "My Father's Daughter: From Rome to Sicily" is a travel book in every sense. Syverson - a savvy, funny, elegant tour guide - expertly escorts us through the gorgeous time-locked terrain of Italy, but also along the often precarious byways of the heart. This book risks everything: its humanity, its courage, its sheer unbridled candor, the moving sweep of its poetic language and its refusal to turn away from the breathtaking mystery of love and ancestry.

For More Information

  • My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
Book Excerpt:

Sunday, October 15
Bright lights on the digital alarm blink 5:00 a.m. Five o’clock? What in the world am I doing awake? And what is this inner voice nagging me about room reservations in Rome? Something doesn’t feel right. Today? Sunday. Tomorrow is Monday. We’re leaving—Mom, Dad, Stu and me—for our trip to Italy and Sicily.
Why this message now and not when the itinerary arrived two months ago? Wait. I did wonder why the address for the hotel was different from what Carol, our travel agent, gave me on the phone. Why didn’t I pay attention to those feelings when the reservations first arrived?
I’ve been to Italy half a dozen times. Anything’s possible there. The building could be on a side alley, the address on the main road. Carol referred to the place as Hotel Columbus, and in her next breath called it Hotel Cristoforo Colombo.
It didn’t seem unusual to hear her use English and then Italian. After all, we both have Italian backgrounds. That’s why I used Carol to make the flight arrangements. I even chuckled when she rolled those rich flowing vowels off her tongue. Maybe I shouldn’t be so friendly and focus strictly on business.
One night on the Internet, I looked up the Hotel Columbus. Just like Carol had said, the address was Via della Conciliazione, Numero 34. The ad even touted that they were only blocks from the Vatican. I assumed the street address on the itinerary was simply an error. How many Christopher Columbus Hotels could there be, anyway? It wasn’t a chain— that much I knew.
At different times in my life, I’ve learned to let go and let others do things for me. But it didn’t come easy. Being the second oldest of eight children, I’ve often felt overly responsible.
I can’t be in charge of absolutely everything. At least that’s what I’ve tried to tell myself after having moved away from my large Italian-American family. Besides, our agent is not just any fly-by-night. She’s been in the business for over thirty years specializing in trips to Italy.
Now, here I am the morning before we’re supposed to leave, and I can’t stop churning. If I don’t get back to sleep, I’ll wake my husband. There’s no sense in both Stu and me being sleep deprived. I slip out of bed, climb the stairs to my art studio and quietly close the door. I hate following up after Carol, but I’m calling that hotel in Rome.
Buon giorno,” I say in my best Italian. “Parla Inglese?”
I’ve learned that if anyone there admits to speaking English, his or her verbal skills are much more fluent than my broken Italian. Luigi, the person on the other end of the phone, takes my last name and my parents‟ name, then asks for our reservation numbers.
“No problema,” Luigi says in his rich accent; we are booked.
To be absolutely sure, I say, “Now this is the Hotel Columbus two blocks from the Vatican, correct?”
“No, not correct,” Luigi replies. “We are about fifteen kilometers from the Vatican.”
Fifteen kilometers doesn’t register. I envision fifteen yards, fifteen feet, fifteen anything but kilometers.
Si,” I repeat, “fifteen kilometers is right down the street from the Vatican, correct?”
“No, not correct,” he says again. “Kilometers, kilometers,” he repeats, pronouncing each syllable—key lom e tours.
And then it hits me.
KILOMETERS?” I bellow, “But my travel agent said that you were in walking distance of the Vatican.”
“We are not,” he says. “You will have to take a bus or a tassi.”
Frantic, I hang up furious with myself for not having listened to my intuition after the itinerary arrived months ago. I ignored that internal voice trying to tell me something was awry and assumed my imagination had gotten the best of me, as I’ve been told most of my life it did.
I click on the Internet and find the phone number for the other Hotel Columbus and call. A woman named Stefania also replies yes to my question about speaking English.
“I’m sorry, Madam,” she says, “We do not have your name.”
She doesn’t have the reservation number that I read off either. Obviously, the confirmation system at one hotel is different from another. But I am grasping here. It’s pretty apparent that our reservations are with the first place I called.
I’m going to Rome with my mother and father, seventy- three and seventy-six, respectively. Although they’re not old, they’re not young and used to traveling either. And we’re not even staying close to the Vatican.
My father attends Mass every day, sometimes twice. Mom is not compulsive about daily Mass, but she is excited about being within walking distance from what we’ve always been taught is the seat of Catholicism.
Thanks to Stu, my Episcopalian husband, we’re scheduled to see Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's piazza the morning after we arrive in Italy. Stu's nephew's wife’s father, a colonel in the U.S. Army, had once been stationed at the American Embassy in Rome, and he was able to arrange a papal audience for us. Well, the four of us and about 8,000 other people.
The plan is to walk to the piazza from our hotel. Since the year 2000 is the Catholic Church’s Jubilee Celebration, we do not want to fight the traffic with the thousands of pilgrims who will be flooding Vatican City from all areas of the capital. Even though the main impetus for the trip is to visit my parents' ancestral towns in Sicily, how can we go to Italy with my folks and not visit Rome?
Now on the other end of the phone, Stefania, the woman from the hotel near the Vatican, is trying to calm my rattled nerves.
“Madam, stay in the hotel that you have a reservation for and then try to find another place after you arrive. Rooms are scarce here,” she continues. “You are lucky to have one at all.”
Lucky is not how I’m feeling. I explain to Stefania how my parents are older, that it’s my mother’s first trip abroad, and we are willing take any available rooms. After several apologies and her sympathy, Stefania says they are totally booked. Exasperated, I go back to bed and crawl beneath the covers. So much for trying not to rouse my husband.
“Stu,” I whisper, “Those hotel reservations in Rome... they’re not at all near the Vatican.”
His eyes pop open.
Now we’re both awake for the day. I wait until almost 8:30 before I call our travel agent at home. Carol and I spend most of Sunday on and off the phone. Even though she looks on numerous Internet sites for another place near the Vatican, none of her attempts meet with success.