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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

*Book Blast* LOVE AND OTHER MOODS by Crystal Z. Lee

 




Love New Adult Multicultural Romance?

Love and Other Moods

By Crystal Z. Lee

Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.

Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancĂ©’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.

Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.

This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships—familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships—in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.


“This heartfelt, transporting story sparkles with a constellation of characters who call this city home while pursuing their China dream. As multifaceted as Shanghai itself, this novel follows overlapping narratives about the complexities of adulting, of parenting, of the urban quest for love and finding one’s place in the world.”

— EMILY TING, film director of Go Back to China and Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

“Awash with cosmopolitan expats and jet-setting locals, Love and Other Moods shimmers like the diamonds adorning China’s glitterati, while exposing haunting personal histories and intergenerational strife. With dazzling twirls around Shanghai’s World Expo, glitzy fashion shows, art deco architecture, jazz clubs, gourmet restaurants, and disappearing food stalls, this novel compellingly pulls the reader into the pleasures and pains of becoming an adult in a city soaring to global status.”

— JENNY LIN, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Southern California and author of Above sea: Contemporary art, urban culture, and the fashioning of global Shanghai

Amazon → https://amzn.to/2Vqx5IN

Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/36iVsON

Book Depository → https://bit.ly/2VgLd6Y

IndieBound → https://bit.ly/3fIWlTE


Naomi had packed four suitcases from New York, and right now they were stacked unevenly on top of one another in the hallway, forcing the front door to open only halfway, just tight enough for her to slide in sideways. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lived by herself. The lonely apartment was mildly depressing.

She felt like walking aimlessly. She passed by wrinkled men playing a game of Chinese chess, teenage girls in designer sunglasses taking photographs of each other, a woman gesticulating wildly as she yelled into her cell phone, tourists examining a guide book, a cloud of second-hand smoke drifting from outside a cafe, Uighur men selling kebabs, well-heeled shoppers clinging to their purchases, two men in yarmulkes talking heatedly, shrieking children competing with the racket from honking vehicles, and the sea of commuters gushing out of the Huangpi Nan Lu metro stop. Naomi let herself be swept up into the human river, bodies crushing against each other, arms brushing and shoving, no apologies no offense taken. Being in this city meant your senses were constantly accosted.

A man approached her with a flier featuring images of iPhones, Rolexes, LV handbags, and said that their shop was just ahead in an alley. She declined and quickened her pace. She spotted an empty bench by a bus stop and flopped down. Barely noticing as the traffic whizzed by, the racy selfie on Seth’s phone resurfaced in her head. A steady stream of downpour coaxed pedestrians to open a colorful array of umbrellas, or duck into convenience stores, boutique shops, malls entrances. Naomi felt wholly unequipped and unprepared, again, by this city.

Her hair was stuck to her face and her forehead was damp. She was relieved that the inclement weather matched her mood, for tears had started forming and slithering beneath her eyes, blending with the droplets of rain running down her face. She wiped it away with her sleeve. She just wanted to throw up all the fury and regrets that were lodged in her stomach, she wished it could all be flushed out of her head.

It was starting to hit her, the reality of having no boyfriend, no job, and nowhere to live.

She wondered if the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai was too small to co-exist with her ex-fiancé

 















Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.

Follow the author on Instagram @ Crystal.Z.Lee










Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Book Review: ‘River Aria’ by Joan Schweighardt

From the pen of talented historical novelist Joan Schweighardt comes another well-crafted, meticulously researched story about family, community, immigration, oppression, the environment, and having to face the consequences of one’s actions.

It’s 1928 and the Great Depression is looming around the corner when two impoverish but talented mixed-raced—Amerindian and European—Brazilian immigrant cousins travel to NYC to find a better life and fulfill their dreams. Estela, a singer of arias and a product of the Teatro Amazonas during the time of the rubber boom, has a beautiful voice and dreams of becoming a famous opera singer; Jojo is a fisherman and a gifted artist. As a start, Estela is offered a seamstress position at the Metropolitan Opera House while Jojo is offered a scholarship at an art school. Will they achieve their dreams against all obstacles? If yes, at what price?

River Aria is the third installment in this author’s series and is focused on the next generation of the family featured in the first book. There is so much I enjoyed about this novel! The worlds of art and music in 1920s NYC come together engrossingly. The multifaceted, original characters—you don’t often read stories about indigenous people from Brazil—and their struggles to find purpose and meaning in a complex, ruthless city that is a character all on its own, kept me riveted. Parentage and identity are big themes with both Estela and Jojo as they struggle with their origins and how it affects their lives. Having read other books by Schweighardt, I’ve become familiar with her literary prose. She always strives for depth, and she pays great attention to detail.

The author visited the rainforest, as well as Manaus, the Amazon, and Rio Negro as part of her research, and considering the authentic feel of the plot and characters, I’m not surprised. In spite of this, however, the writing doesn’t get too heavy-handed, which is sometimes a problem in this type of book. I particularly recommend River Aria to historical fiction fans who have a special interest in the rubber boom that took place in Brazil in the early 1900s and how it affected the fishing villages and the indigenous people living there.

Find out more at www.joanschweighardt.com

Monday, December 14, 2020

Book Blast: By the Shoreline by Little Stickman

 

 







Title: By the Shoreline
Author: Little Stickman
Publisher: Partridge Singapore
Genre: Poetry
Format: Ebook
Spiritually poised in a realm of sanity comes with a mind that continuously travels extensively throughout time. As the heart accompanies, companionship becomes something so precious that words turn speechless. The heartfelt poems written throughout experiences, observations, stories and heartbreaks are the main cause of survival this soul has been.


PURCHASE HERE
She writes what she feels. She writes what she hears and experiences as she goes through relapses, challenges and sweet moments that inspire her, she immediately typed them down in poems. Thus, her poems are just pure genuineness


Little 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 December 7 and ends on December 18.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on December 19.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone! 

ENTER TO WIN!a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Book Feature: The Color of Together by Milton Brasher-Cunningham

 

A book written with honesty and empathy about things common to us all…

THE COLOR OF TOGETHER:
MIXED METAPHORS OF CONNECTEDNESS

By Milton Brasher-Cunningham



Title: The Color of Together: Mixed Metaphors of Connectedness
Author: Milton Brasher Cunningham
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Pages: 160
Genre: Christian Nonfiction

The Color of Together begins with the primary colors of life–grief, grace, and gratitude–and enlarges the palette to talk about the work of art that is our life together in these days. The idea for the book began with understanding that grief is not something we get over or work through, but something we learn to move around in–something that colors our lives. Grace is the other given. Gratitude is the response to both that offers the possibility of both healing and hope.



“Locating ourselves in the adventure of life requires reliable tools for exploration. Milton Brasher-Cunningham gives us finely-tuned metaphorical gyroscopes to navigate our way with God, others and even ourselves. The Color of Together will help us find our place again and again along the way.”  ~ Rev. Dr. George A. Mason, President, Faith Commons, Dallas, Texas.

“In his beautiful new book, Milton Brasher-Cunningham shares arresting thoughts on grief, grace, and gratitude. He claims that we are all shaped by our sorrows and generously tells his own stories of loss. All the while, he leads us toward hope. The Color of Together is both poetic and instructive, relatable and deeply philosophical. It awakened my heart to read this book; I hope it will do the same for you.” –Jennifer Grant, author of A Little Blue Bottle

Amazon → https://amzn.to/30Urxsj

 Barnes & Noble → https://bit.ly/3jZ8OD6



Chapter 1

Sometime after we moved to Boston, Ginger, my wife, signed me up for a watercolor class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. Our first task was to make a color wheel. We set the three primary colors—red, blue, and yellow—equidistant from each other around a circle we had drawn on the paper, and then began mixing them to show the shades it took to move from one to the other. The purples, greens, and oranges that filled in the circle illustrated the relationships between the primaries, which stood in such contrast to one another on their own. Wherever we started on the wheel, there was a connection, a way to get to the other colors.

Color is more than pigment. It is figment as well. For us to see color requires an act of imagination and an understanding of relationship.

One Christmas after the watercolors, Ginger enrolled me in an iconography class at Andover Newton Theological School. I spent over a year learning the spiritual practice from a wonderful man named Christopher Gosey. Before we ever picked up a brush, we learned the vocabulary connected to what we were doing. We were not going to paint the icons, Chris said, we were going to write them.

As one who has learned to play with words more easily than with paint, the verb choice caught me. Good writing is descriptive and evocative. The challenge is to show, not tell; to reveal. Good writing tells a story, takes us on a journey, connects us to something larger.

The “cartoons”—the outlines of the figures we would write—had been passed down for centuries, much like basic plot structures in literature, or the elements of grammar and style.

The point of our work was to be faithful to those who had gone before and to what they had handed down, rather than to try and be original. Our offering was to trace the lines others had made and then color them with pigments we had mixed not so we could worship the icon, but so we could open a “window to heaven” to create a “thin place” for connection to God.

The phrase thin place entered our vocabulary through the earthy spirituality of Celtic Christianity. It describes the places where the border between what is seen and what is unseen becomes permeable. Liminal. Thin. Translucent. Transcendent.

It is a sacred space of disquietude; a turbulent silence where things are still and vibrant in the same moment.

As I sat in the sun-drenched room of the aging building, listening to recordings of Russian church bells, and learning how to write my brush across the blank parchment-covered block etched with the image of Mary, I came to understand more of what Jesus meant when he said, “Lose your life to find it.”

Our paint was almost translucent, by design. We mixed our colors by adding natural pigments to acrylic medium. In ancient days, the pigments were blended with egg yolks. The practice of iconography is more about prayer than painting; the necessary repetition was meditative and focusing. As we laid down the colors, we moved from heavier shades to lighter ones, choreography that held intentional theological significance. The first strokes of the lighter colors on the deep background didn’t seem to have much effect, yet, over time, and with intentional repetition, the colors took hold. The deeper tones became the background—the foundation—for the illuminating presence.

Without the contrast, the light would have had little significance. The base substances from which the pigments came were earthy and natural. The black was made from ashes. Some of the browns were made of dirt or powdered stone. At every level, the experience rubbed heaven and earth against each other like sticks to start a fire.

The work of icon writing is deliberate. To get a color to show up on the icon meant going over each line twenty to forty times. The spiritual practice was to turn the repetition into ritual—a sort of physical prayer. The move from heavier tones to lighter ones felt counterintuitive until I began to see the colors dawn on the icon. We traced images that had been handed down across centuries, much like we repeat rituals in worship. Everything about it was fraught with a sense of connectedness, a new way of seeing who we were in the context of who had come before and who would follow. The whole enterprise was steeped in metaphor.

In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul wrote, “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.”

In a sermon on that verse, Ginger said, “We are dust, which becomes pigment in God’s artwork.” The pigments we used to write icons were made from earthy substances, just as we are.

The Greek word translated as work of art is poiema, which even my spell check knows is the root word of poem. Paul said, “We are God’s work of art.” Not works. Work. Not I. We. Together we become the artwork, handmade pigments illuminated by God’s presence, as it has been from the dawn of creation.

Riding the color metaphor train took me to the field of the philosophy of color, which is as esoteric as it sounds, and perhaps, not a journey everyone wants to make. But I took a trip, nonetheless, as I wondered about grief as a primary color.

Philosophers look at the way humans see color, or whether we actually see color at all. One of the ways of seeing is called color adverbialism, which is to say, we do not see red, as much as we see red-ly. What that means is there is a relationship between the object, the perceiver, and the context—another relational trinity.

The philosopher articulating the theory was not being intentionally metaphorical when she said, “Color vision is as a way of seeing things—flowers, tables, ladybirds—not, in the first instance, a way of seeing the colors.” What I heard her say was the colors we see have to be connected to something or someone for them to be significant.

In 2020, our sense of what it means to be together has been heavily shaded by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have lived in quarantine, without the ability to gather, to hug those we love, to share a meal, to go to a baseball game, or to share a pew at church. I have watched people gather on the Guilford Green
in groups of four or five, separating their lawn chairs to an appropriate distance just to be together. As Zoom has begun to feel like a necessary appliance in our lives, we have found ways to change backgrounds so we are surrounded by palm trees and superheroes in our little square on the screen. We are colored by our losses in ways our world has not known so pervasively for over a century.

Life, however, is a litany of losses in any age: failures, injuries, disappointments, betrayals, missed moments, things done and left undone, deaths, falls, illnesses, fears, lowered expectations. Life is also a compendium of blessings, of things for which we can be thankful: families, ball games, good food, starry nights, first kisses and last ones, friends, sunshine, spring rains, puppies, and pie. And life is an abundance of grace, of those things we stumble into, that find us, that surprise us and ambush us with the reminder of a relentless love that will not let us go. All three are true all the time.

Though we often feel them singularly because of our limitations, one is not there without the others. They are the primary colors we see in the context of relationships, with something or someone, in any moment. When we see grief-ly, grateful-ly, and grace-ly, we can see the color of together.












Milton Brasher-Cunningham was born in Texas, grew up in Africa, and has spent the last thirty years in New England and North Carolina. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and has worked as a high school English teacher, a professional chef, a trainer for Apple, and is now an editor. He is the author of three books, Keeping the Feast: Metaphors for the MealThis Must Be the Place: Reflections on Home, and his latest, The Color of Together.

He loves the Boston Red Sox, his mini schnauzers, handmade music, and feeding people. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with Ginger, his wife, and their three Schnauzers. He writes regularly at donteatalone.com.







Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Book Feature: THE SWORD AND SORCERY SERIES by Dylan Doose

 

Love Epic Fantasy?

THE SWORD AND SORCERY SERIES
By Dylan Doose



 

Title: FIRE AND SWORD (Book 1)
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 366
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

“An epic tale…”—Library Journal


A broken nation in need of a savior.

Ravaged by plague, decimated by dark magic, infiltrated by a foreign evil seeking to dominate from within, Brynth is on the eve of its dissolution. When all the good men are dead and gone, who is to answer the call and defy what is wicked for what is right?

A Twisted Tale of Three Unlikely Heroes.

Heretic monk turned Sorcerer, Aldous Weaver. Infamous crusader turned fugitive, Kendrick the Cold. Aristocrat, rogue, monster hunter, and legend in his own mind, Theron Ward.

Three men condemned to die for their crimes find in each other both the will and the means to survive. A dark brotherhood with Sword and Sorcery is forged, and all monsters meek and mighty do fear the three.

“Gritty, fast-paced and compelling!” 

Honorable mention in Library Journal’s Indie Ebook Awards and a Shelf Unbound Magazine Notable 100!

 





Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B011H0JWCI


 

Title: CATACOMBS OF TIME (Book 2)
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 120
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

“Dylan Doose is a master.”—Amazon reviewer


It’s going to be a long and bloody night.

The clock is ticking and Dr. De’Brouillard has a date. Dinner is at the Graves and a contract to cure one of the cursed is sitting on the plate. But when an old and dear friend reaches out from murky shadow for a helping hand, will the Doctor take it, risking all if he ends up being late?

New heroes join the fray. Are they friend or foe?

Dr. Gaige De’Brouillard believes science, not magic, conquers all. Even death is just an equation to be solved.

Malory “Butcher” Dahmer knows that life is but a dream, no wickedness, no sorcery too strange or obscene.

An Academic and a Gangster make for an interesting team.

Don’t miss the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘visceral,’ ‘fantastic,’ and ‘intriguing’—get your copy of Catacombs of Time today!


 


Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017WUOWPY

 

 


Title: THE PYRES (Book 3)
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 317
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

Monsters. Magic. Epic Battles.

The mountains and valleys of Romaria echo with the calamitous sounds of civil war. A New Order challenges old gods and on the festival night of the Pyres, the tides of destruction are fully unleashed. 

When the great white city of Brasov turns black with ash, when the sky goes red and the moon hangs like a dark void above, who will stand against the darkness? 

A Twisted Tale of Three Unlikely Heroes.

Heretic monk turned Sorcerer, Aldous Weaver. Infamous crusader turned fugitive, Kendrick the Cold. Aristocrat, rogue, monster hunter, and legend in his own mind, Theron Ward.

Three men condemned to die for their crimes find in each other both the will and the means to survive. A dark brotherhood with Sword and Sorcery is forged, and all monsters meek and mighty do fear the three.

Don’t miss the next thrilling instalment in the dark fantasy that reviewers are calling ‘gritty, fast-paced and compelling’—get your copy of The Pyres today!

“Grim, gritty, and good!” —Amazon Reviewer

 


 




Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01J6C0VE2

 

Title: ICE AND STONE (Book 4)
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 136
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

BOOK BLURB:

“Dark and excellent!”—Amazon Reviewer


Raise the sails! Blow the horns! It’s raiding season!

After a storm, Therick—raider from the frozen north—lands on the wrong foreign shores. With axe in hand and violence in mind, he and his warriors seek out villages to pillage and plunder. 

But when a timeless evil rises, Therick is forced into a battle not his own, a battle of gods and monsters…a battle he cannot win.

New heroes join the fray. Are they friend or foe?

Therick, son of ice, born with a serpent’s eye and a reptilian will to stay alive. 

Eona, daughter of stone, huntress of the great jungle. 

Will they unite, or fight as the world around them crumbles? 

 

 




Amazon → https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XJQP93D

 

Title: AS THEY BURN (Book 5)
Author: Dylyan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 334
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

“Addicted!”—Amazon Reviewer


Darkness Returns to Brynth.

The shadow of a great invasion comes from the North, threatening to bring with it an oppressive new way of life, the way of the axe. A city recently saved now lies twisted and forever altered by a secret society within. 

Caught between these two wicked forces, the innocent citizens of Brynth need a savior…or three. 

A Twisted Tale of Three Unlikely Heroes.

Heretic monk turned Sorcerer, Aldous Weaver. Infamous crusader turned fugitive, Kendrick the Cold. Aristocrat, rogue, monster hunter, and legend in his own mind, Theron Ward.

Three men condemned to die for their crimes find in each other both the will and the means to survive. A dark brotherhood with Sword and Sorcery is forged, and all monsters meek and mighty do fear the three. 

 

 




Amazon → https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077CCP1RS


Title: BLACK SUN MOON (Book 6)
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 296
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

In the beginning there was madness and there was death.

A string of occult murders leads veteran holy-man-with-a-big-sword, Cullum Shrike, to Wardbrook, a treacherous place of pagan practices, corrupt leaders, and sinister sorcery. 

Cullum must purge his beliefs as he is forced to face the evil within, for when all light dies, only darkness can kill a shadow.


New heroes join the fray. Are they friend or foe?

Cullum Shrike, warrior priest of the holy Order of Seekers. Haunted by the ghosts of his failures, he clings to his faith even as treachery and insidious betrayal are revealed.

Nyva, the witch, is bound to the black house on the hill. She is stronger than she could imagine, she just needs someone to unlock her latent power.

An unlikely pair, but a pair they do make and when the dancing starts, they might just bring the house down.

Don't miss this thrilling—and terrifying—stand-alone full-length novel in the dark and gritty Sword and Sorcery series! 

 

 




Amazon → https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JCX9SSL

 

Title: EMBERS ON THE WIND (Book 7)
Author: Dylan Doose
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 384
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery / Dark Fantasy

The Contract: Get to the Tower, Kill the Beast.

Simple enough? The problem is Theron, Aldous, and Kendrick are no longer in a world they know and between them and the tower are a few hundred miles of woods and waters infested with beasts and monsters. 

With a mutant and a dead man as their only guides, the three will have to rely on their trust for each other more than ever to get through. 

A Twisted Tale of Three Unlikely Heroes

Heretic monk turned sorcerer, Aldous Weaver. Infamous crusader turned fugitive, Kendrick the Cold. Aristocrat, rogue, monster hunter, and legend in his own mind, Theron Ward.

Three men condemned to die for their crimes find in each other both the will and the means to survive. A dark brotherhood with Sword and Sorcery is forged, and all monsters meek and mighty do fear the three. 

 

 




Amazon → https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08D8KCFRG

 



Dylan Doose is the author of the ongoing dark fantasy series, Sword & Sorcery. He also pens the new weird western series, Red Harvest. His debut novel received honorable mention in Library Journal’s Indie Ebook Awards and was a Shelf Unbound Magazine Notable 100.



Website: https://www.dylandooseauthor.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dylan_Doose

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dylandooseauthor