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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Spotlight: Home From Within by Lisa Maggiore



Title: Home From Within
Author: Lisa Maggiore
Publisher: Vagabond Publishing
Pages: 253
Genre: Women’s Fiction

It’s the fall of ’82, and Jessica Turner has finally been set free, entering a public high school after being homeschooled. But her mother wears a frown and her father wears his Colt .45s, with a warning: no dating allowed. Seeking warmth, Jessica finds herself in a secret relationship with bad boy Paul Peterson. When the relationship–and Jessica’s pregnancy–are discovered, Paul will be dead by nightfall.

Seventeen years later Jessica and her daughter live a quiet life with horse farmer, Matt Johnson. Marriage is on the table but Jessica’s remorseful heart will not comply. When an unexpected death brings Jessica back home, she uncovers her father’s secrets and discovers that her true path in life, and love, are just a choice away.

For More Information

  • Home From Within is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:
     I have secrets that need to be forgiven, Jessica thought, staring into the darkness of her bedroom. She sat with her knees tucked under her chin, tented in bedding that was slowly letting out the warmth. The yellow glow from her bedside clock read 3:06 a.m. Jessica glanced at Matt and noticed that he never flinched when her alarm went off. They had been sharing the same bed for many years, but sometimes she hardly knew he was there.
     Wrapping her arms around herself she shuffled toward the bathroom at the end of the hall, flipping on the night-light next to the sink so she could take a hot shower in relative darkness. Cranking open a small window she drew a deep breath allowing the smell of fresh dew, hay, and pine to swirl inside her nose.
     A faint light shone from the bulb above the stove as she ate oatmeal in the kitchen. Various songs from her past kept flooding into her consciousness and Jessica tried to distract herself by focusing on the mundane thoughts of the morning, but that only made the songs louder. And behind the songs were voices that did not want to stay buried under her secret armor any longer.
     Jessica had been able to keep her feelings about the death of her first love, Paul, buried deep. And down deeper were the memories of her father holding those damn Colt .45s that served as judge and jury for young lovers sneaking around. Jessica believed the ache in her chest would go away with time; however, it had been seventeen years.
     But last night, while channel surfing, she stumbled upon the classic eighties movie, Purple Rain, starring Prince. She could not stop herself from watching despite the movie ending at midnight. Caught in a whirlwind of euphoric recall; remembering the excitement of sneaking out with her best friend, Marilee, and going to see the movie. How the sex scene jump-started her adolescent hormones. She spent countless hours daydreaming of Paul singing, “The Beautiful Ones” to her as an ode to loving her so desperately and not wanting to lose her to another. The intensity at the end of the song made her feel alive.
     The songs in the movie evoked feelings in her that were a mixed bag of good and guilt. Usually those memories were ones she could bury, not wanting love and death to overpower her again. But not this time. She allowed herself to remember some of them, resurrecting other memories she could never forget.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Book Spotlight: On the Ropes by Holley Trent Book Feature





Title: On the Ropes
Author: Holley Trent
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Ebook

Her life on hold for too long, Janette Hinson has returned to the United States in search of a mother she hasn’t seen in twenty-five years. But to find her Jan will have to accept help from the one man she desperately wants to avoid: Stephen Scott. Sexy, rich, powerful, and dominating, Stephen has been pursuing Jan for the last year, and she’s the first to admit he more than has what it takes to hold a woman’s interest. But her traumatic past has kept from true intimacy all these years. Yet she senses a darkness in Stephen, one that goes beyond the rumors of his kinkier side… 

 Stephen Scott is not a man to take no for an answer. Ever since he met Jan he hasn’t been able to get her off of his mind. And no matter how many hours he spends at work, he can’t get the hot little vixen out of his system. It’s time to prove he wants more than just a fling, despite his dark sexual history. What he wants from Jan is to Master her. In every way.  

ORDER INFORMATION
On the Rope is available for order at  
amazon
BN

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Holley Trent is a Carolina girl gone west. Raised in rural coastal North Carolina, she’s a lady with Southern sensibilities, but in 2011 her adventurous spirit drove her to Colorado for new experiences. She lives on the Front Range with her husband, two kids, and two cats.

She writes snarky contemporary and paranormal romances ranging from sensual to erotic that are usually set in her home state. Her humor is sometimes subtle, often ribald, and regularly inappropriate. If any of her stories seem overly serious at first glance–keep reading.

 She’s a winner of the inaugural CIM-RWA Abalone Award (for My Nora) and a three-time Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence finalist (My NoraCalculated Exposure, and A Demon in Waiting). A Demon in Waiting was a RomCon Readers’ Crown finalist in 2014. Her M/M romance Winterball won the Passionate Plume award for erotic romance novellas in 2015.  

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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Interview with Christopher Keating, author of 'That Which Maddens and Torments'



Chris Keating had his first story published when he was just seven years old and in second grade. He has been writing both fiction and nonfiction ever since.

He wrote his first book, Dialogues on 2012: Why the World Will Not End, while he was a professor of physics at the U.S Naval Academy. He was inspired to write it because of continually being questioned on all walks of life about the myth the world was going to end on December 21, 2012 according to the Mayan calendar.

After the world didn’t end, Chris decided to tackle the controversial topic of climate change by writing Undeniable! Dialogues on Global Warming, which was published in 2014. He also began the online Global Warming Skeptic Challenge, offering $10,000 to the first person who could prove the fallacy of global warming. His challenge quickly went viral and Chris spent his entire summer that year responding to submissions. He later published a compilation of the submissions and his responses, which can be purchased at Amazon.com or downloaded as a free PDF at ChrisKeatingAuthor.com. Chris also writes the blog, Dialogues on Global Warming, which is devoted to climate change issues.

Chris most recent book is the thriller, That Which Maddens and Torments. It pits an ambitious, hard-hitting young newspaper journalist writing about global warming against villainous denier lobbyists in Washington, D.C., who are working for the fossil fuel industry. At the behest of their clients, the lobbyists will stop at nothing to protect the industry’s profits and to ensure that a scientific study proving the truth of global warming does not become public. Chris hopes that by tackling the issue of global warming via a work of fiction, he will engage a broader cross section of people in the issue.

After successful careers as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy and the Navy Reserve and then as a professor of physics, Chris now lives in the Texas Hill Country, where he continues to focus on climate change research and to write.

For More Information
  • Visit Christopher Keating’s website.
  • Connect with Christopher on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Christopher at Goodreads.
  • Visit Christopher’s blog.
About the Book:

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.

Q: Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The idea actually evolved quite a bit. When I was done, I went back to my original notes and it was surprising to see how much I changed the story line during the process. Basically, I had an ending in mind and I wrote the rest of the book to get me there. The ultimate goal was to tell a good story.


Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Writing is hard. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t try to do it. You’ll spend hours every day on it and wake up in the middle of the night with ideas. One entire chapter came to me in my sleep. Another chapter came to me during a New Year’s Eve party. Writing will consume your life. But, if you like it, it is really a lot of fun. I’m already hard at work on my next two novels.


Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I’m self-published. I explored the idea of doing the traditional publishing, but it is extremely competitive. When I considered all of my options, I decided I was better served publishing myself.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Not really. I had done my research before I started and pretty much knew what I was getting into. I think a lot of people don’t do that, though. The writing of a book is the easiest part. After that, you have to convince the reading public why they should read your book. That part is a lot of hard work.


Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

My next book is Purple Legion. The story line is about the unforeseen consequences of our actions. I’ve shown the working draft to a couple of people and they really liked it. After that, I’m working on a story that takes place in a fictional, Shangri-La place in the Texas Hill Country. It will be a quirky, humorous story.


Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I do research on climate change (I’m a professor of physics). I spend a couple hours every day on science sites, reading and studying science topics.


Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I’m not realty trying to send a message. People who know me might doubt that because the villains are climate change deniers. But, the story would have been the same with any villain. I simply wanted a different villain and felt this group of bad guys hadn’t been exploited too much. It was easy.
  

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Write. That first word is the hardest part of writing a novel. Sit down and do it.


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 15, 2015

Roped in by K.D. Hays Book Blitz!



We're happy to be hosting K.D. Hays' ROPED IN BOOK BLITZ today!




Title: Roped In
Author: K.D. Hays
Publisher: K.D. Hays
Pages: 140
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the administrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it's because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.

But she soon gets her chance. The firm's insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.

Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.

Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen's investigation seems to indicate that the parrot's owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen's suspicion.

At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley's sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister's rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.

But she doesn't have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.

For More Information

  • Roped In is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:

“And you promise that you can be discreet?”
“Of course.” We’d never mingled with nobility or the rich and famous, but we had done work for the old moneyed families in Maryland and knew some of them could be passionate about maintaining their privacy.
“Good,” she murmured, and again I had the sense that she was going through a checklist. I wondered if she might be the personal assistant to a rich woman who needed us to find missing heirloom jewels or locate the beneficiary of a testator’s unexpected bequest.
“I need to hire an investigator,” she said, rather redundantly.
“Yes,” I said, trying to be patient as my gaze strayed to the clock. I was going to have to flat-out run down to Main Street to make it to the salon on time. But it would be worth it if I was able to rope in a new client. With this woman’s educated voice and concerns about discretion, I thought we might be looking at something substantial. Even if it was just a woman wishing to keep tabs on her husband, she might be a client with enough money to pay for a extensive investigation. So I didn’t want to make her feel rushed.
“Why do you want to hire an investigator?” I asked gently.
“I need an investigator. Your best investigator,” she said firmly. “To find out who broke my daughter’s jump rope.” 

About the Author


Kate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction.  As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children's books under the name K.D. Hays.  When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter. 

Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.

For More Information

Monday, October 12, 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

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Baby Boy: A Mother's Story by Marilyn Pelkey Book Blast - Win a $25 Gift Card!

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Baby Boy Title: Baby Boy
Author: Marilyn Pelkey
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Biography
Format: Ebook

When author Marilyn Pelkey’s son, Kendall, was twenty-seven, he was diagnosed with an unusual and aggressive cancer. Less than two years later, he passed away.

A recently separated father of three children at the time of his diagnosis, Kendall was an outgoing and open-minded man who loved music and saw strangers as friends he hadn’t met yet. In this memoir, Pelkey shares the story of their lives and of Kendall’s battle with cancer. She recalls the history of their family, from her childhood through the youth and adulthood of Kendall and his sister, Elizabeth. She also explores how cancer changed her life forever as she learned to live with this new reality. The year after Kendall’s death, she and many members of Kendall’s family got involved with the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and they have worked hard to keep Kendall’s memory alive.

This personal narrative shares a heartbreaking story, but reminds us that there can be comfort found in this second life following the death of a loved one in knowing that you are not alone.


 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Marilyn Pelkey has worked in health care for the last twenty-five years. Currently she is the activity director of a thirty-five-bed facility. After losing her son, Kendall, to cancer at the age of twenty-nine, Marilyn became involved with the Canadian Cancer Society. She and her husband, Stephen, reside in Saskatchewan.

Marilyn is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

 
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins October 5 and ends on October 16.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on October 18.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 4, 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.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
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 façade 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.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Book 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.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
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 façade 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.

Friday, October 2, 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.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
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.


Thursday, October 1, 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


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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.



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