Sunday, November 30, 2014

AudioBook Review: The Boots My Mother Gave Me by Brooklyn James

The Boots My Mother Gave Me (Audio Book)
by Brooklyn James 



Paperback: 280 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 9, 2010)
Amazon Paperback Link


Kindle Edition
File Size: 602 KB
Print Length: 282 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1461054397
Publisher: Arena Books (August 9, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link

Audible Audio Edition

Listening Length: 9 hours and 57 minutes
Program Type: Audiobook
Version: Unabridged
Publisher: Brooklyn James
Audible.com Release Date: August 12, 2014
Whispersync for Voice: Ready
Amazon Audible Link

Note: I received a review copy of this book free from the author, Brooklyn James. The review posted below is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.


Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


My thoughts:


This book tells the almost always painful and sometimes happy life journey of a woman named Harley LeBeau. She came from a dysfunctional family which mainly caused by her alcoholic father. She wanted to escape this life sooo bad she went away (after high school graduation) to find happiness and peace of mind she never got at home.


Oh... this is my first audio book that I truly enjoyed, I love the author's voice! Wish she could narrate all my favorite books, surely, I'd buy them all ;) This has a soundtrack which I think is cool, unique for an audio book. It was soooo nice to hear someone singing songs while "reading" but sometimes it could be distracting. Not that bad, just a little bit weird. The story telling and dialogue felt authentic. You know that feeling you get carried away with it...found myself talking to Harley like a friend... like she was just on the phone LOL 

One character I soooo want to be my latest *wink* book boyfriend is Jeremiah Johnson, a.k.a. Miah/Big Johnson. He's Harley's best friend, her first friend, first kiss, the first in everything. Even after miles away, years not seeing each other, they still maintain that best friend, not so romantic relationship. I got so many issues with Harley about Miah, if she's my friend in a real world, I think she'd be in a hospital now. I like Harley, a lot,  but when it comes to Miah, ohhh I hate her. *long sigh*


As you can see below, I've just labelled the book my "all-time-favorite", means this is highly recommended! Try this one, you won't be disappointed.

Listen to one of the authors songs HERE

About the book:


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk through life in someone else's shoes? 


Strong-willed tomboy Harley LeBeau puts you in the boots her mother gave her, as she takes you along her journey of escape from an abusive childhood and the desire to find herself as she comes of age. Made to feel a burden to her father simply by her gender, Harley is determined to prove her worth and independence, leaving the small town she grew up in and the one boy who gave her a soft place to fall, Jeremiah Johnson. Torn between saving herself and abandoning her mother and younger sister, Harley chooses her own life in hopes they will choose theirs, too. 


A mature, candid read for everyone. A must for women. The Boots My Mother Gave Me explores the dynamics of abuse and dysfunction, the courage to overcome, the strength in sisterhood, and the ongoing conflict and unconditional love between mothers and daughters. 


Climb into Charlene the Chevelle for a fast-paced story about a girl who is tough enough to survive and tender enough to learn to trust in love. 


About the author:




Brooklyn James is an author/singer/songwriter inspired by life in the Live Music Capital of Austin, Texas. Her first novel, The Boots My Mother Gave Me, has an original music soundtrack and was chosen as a Quarter Finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. This book has ranked in Kindle's Top 100 Coming of Age and Women's Fiction.

When she is not writing books, she can be found playing live music around Austin as part of an acoustic duo. Like most everyone, she treasures her time spent with family and friends. Brooklyn has been in a Weezer video, met Harry Connick Jr. as an extra on the set of When Angels Sing, and she was Mira Sorvino's stand-in on Jerry Bruckheimer's Trooper pilot for TNT. She enjoys reading, dancing, working out, fishing with her hubby, and a good glass of kombucha.


Brooklyn holds an M.A. in Communication, and a B.S. in both Nursing and Animal Science. Her nursing career has seen specialties in the areas of Intensive Care and Postpartum. She serves as a Guest Speaker with a focus on awareness and prevention of Domestic Violence and Suicide.


Find her at www.brooklyn-james.com or www.facebook.com/BrooklynJamesAuthor. You can also find her music on Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, YouTube, and Pandora.

Book Spotlight: Come Along With Me (A Gracie Book) (Volume 1) by Linda Schell

Come Along With Me 
(A Gracie Book) (Volume 1)
by Linda Schell

Series: A Gracie Book
Paperback: 82 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; One edition (December 10, 2013)
Amazon Paperback Link

Kindle Edition
File Size: 468 KB
Print Length: 83 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1494451204
Publisher: A Kinder World Publishers (October 18, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link

About the book:

Come Along With Me will transport eight-to twelve-year old children, their parents, and their grandparents to another world when they read Come Along With Me, an adventure about friendship and caring, the unfortunate consequences of jealousy, and the power of hope. 

Meet Gracie, a ditzy dwarf kangaroo from the Thirty-sixth Universe--a creature who lives in a perfect realm. Because she is bored, Gracie longs for an adventure to St. Petersburg, Russia, a place she imagines is filled with beauty and enchantment. Much to the tiny ‘roo’s surprise, her ability to transport herself to the land of the czars has failed. She ends up at a dairy farm in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, where she saves the life of Gibson, an abandoned Maine coon cat. 

The unlikely pair become fast friends. While Gracie tries to find her way back home, Gibson carves a life for himself on a farm with his newly adopted mistress, the farmer’s young daughter. There’s one hitch: The overworked farmer demands that Gibson earn his keep. Gibson’s task is thwarted somewhat when he experiences strange visions. But are these visions the result of a thrashing he received from the farmer’s two dogs? Or, maybe Gibson sees parallel universes? 

As outsiders the little kangaroo and the cat from the city negotiate the perils of farm life. They meet two malicious rats who hate anyone who is happy. The two devoted friends must contend with stampeding cows and a barnyard of critters that have little use for newcomers. 

Will Gibson keep his sanity and become the little girl’s pet? Will Gracie ever see the splendor of the Russian Versailles? Will the farmer survive the evil machinations of the rats, Bratwold and Eastman? Drift back to the days of Barbie dolls, hula hoops, and Sputnik to find out. 

Book Excerpt:

Deep inside the thirty-sixth universe, just south of the Never-Ending Rainbow, millions of shimmering spheres drift serenely through a tranquil sky. Gracie, a gentle soul, lives on one of these spheres, located near the heart of not only one of the oldest, but quite possibly the grandest of all the universes.

When the rays of the Everlasting Never-Ending Rainbow find their way to Gracie’s sphere, rose petals in myriad shades of pink and red flutter playfully to the ground. The creatures in Gracie’s world amicably take turns removing the petals from their lawns and winding paths. Here, even the local version of “bad weather” (which is always conveniently forecast well in advance by the Weather, Whether or Not creature), rarely turns out to be anything more severe than a late afternoon breeze, producing much rose-petal clutter, but little else. Undoubtedly, Gracie’s world is perfect in every way-- except for one small problem: Gracie is bored.

So, what’s a tiny kangaroo-like creature with large, almond-shaped, brown eyes to do? Gracie patted her rotund tummy, wiggled her toes (that she hadn’t seen in years), and decided that what she yearned for more than anything else was an adventure, an adventure that would take her to a beautiful city full of history, drama, and most
importantly, new creatures. Yes! Something entirely different from what she had known up till now. Wasn’t that the whole point of adventure? Not only something different, but something to learn.

Her decision made, Gracie scampered to the nearest Citadel of Contentment. She checked in with the proper authorities, and then passed directly to the Hall of Knowledge and Wonderment. The workers at the Hall gave Gracie directions to her adventure destination. As far as the workers were concerned, Gracie’s request was routine. Nothing out of the ordinary; nor was there anything in the workers’ directions to warn her to be mindful of any happenstances along the way. What was there to worry about? Nothing bad had ever happened in Gracie’s space. She knew herself to be a privileged creature, therefore did not feel any need to plan ahead for unseen possibilities. She had no reason to suspect that even in the most perfect of worlds there might be exceptions to the rules…

Before departing on her trip, Gracie stopped at the Establishment of Abundant Supplies to purchase some Get Well, Stay Well Stuff in case she became weary on her
journey. Gracie tucked her newly acquired supply of Get Well, Stay Well Stuff in a finely crafted drawstring purse and placed it in her handy kangaroo pouch. When needed and used, the stuff would sparkle like stardust. Now, packed and eager to begin her adventure, Gracie, the tiniest of all the kangaroos in all the universes, set out with a hop and a trot down the Path of Desired Destination, singing her own made-up song:

“The sky is oh so blue
The grass is oh so green
It’s a perfect day
In every way
With many new sites to see.
And along the way
I’ll stop to make
Some brand new friends
Who are just as nice
As ME!”

Arriving at the Portal of Specific Destinations, Gracie held up her direction card to the appropriate energy field. A reassuring voice counseled,“All is well." Please push the destination button for Earth…St. Petersburg…Russia.” Trembling with excitement, her fingers shaking, Gracie did so. “Thank you,” said the voice. “Have a pleasant journey.”

Gracie hopped with delight. The prospect of experiencing firsthand the wisdom and art housed in the , the largest on the distant planet Earth, plus the beauty of the czars’ palaces, the enchanting architecture of the city, the music-- oh yes, the music!--all called to her, flooding her heart with a wondrous sense of anticipation.

As she stepped into the Time Warp Tube, Gracie had a disconcerting thought. She knew from all too many past experiences that whenever she became excited about something, she tended to make mistakes; mistakes that occasionally required much time and effort to correct before she could achieve her desired goal. This absentmindedness had caused Gracie no small amount of inconvenience, even mayhem, over the years, but ultimately everything seemed to turn out for the best. That’s why now she tried to recall if perhaps in her eagerness she may have pushed the wrong button. Unsure of her actions, Gracie decided not to worry. If indeed she had erred and hit the wrong key, well, surely the machine would correct her mistake. That’s what machines did Her excitement mounting, Gracie prepared for her arrival to the planet Earth.

Around her, dashes of energy pushed the Time Warp Tube forward in the warp zone, while simultaneously, pulses of energy pulled the tube toward Gracie’s chosen destination.

A jarring clap of thunder, a distant peal of bells; then, with unexpected abruptness, it was over. Journey’s end. The door to the Time Warp Tube slid open with a soft pneumatic hiss, and Gracie, unable to contain her joy, rushed headlong down a short metal ramp and found herself smack in the middle of …

Whaaa…!

Eyes wide open, Gracie took a slow 360-degree survey of her surroundings. Something was amiss here. Where were the cobbled streets, the bustling people? Gracie’s travel log boasted that St. Petersburg was the greenest of Russia’s major cities. She had prepared herself to revel in the splendor of two hundred parks and gardens, not to mention the one thousand tree-lined streets; but not one travel brochure mentioned corn fields.

Or big trees without branches, one after the other, all connected by black looping wires. Gracie gawked at the bewildering display of earth flora, and wondered why she
had never spotted these odd specimens in any botanical catalogue. As she pondered this mystery, a gray barn owl swooped down out of the still opaque sky, circled Gracie like a playful feather, and inquired mockingly, “Hey, hick. Yes…you! Haven’t you ever seen a telephone pole?”

Embarrassed, Gracie cringed--a first for the tiny ’roo. Not only that, she was astonished her thoughts had been so easy to read, even by a common owl. Ignoring the impertinent bird, Gracie thought, I came to this realm seeking culture and excellence. Instead, I have discovered the land of the uncouth. This will never do. 

She turned to hold her direction card up to the Specific Destination machine’s energy field. Her plan was to return home and start over. To her chagrin, she discovered it was too late. The machine, its assigned task completed, had already shut the portal door and set off on another journey. Operating on a strict timetable, it waited for no one.

Although disappointed, Gracie knew this unexpected development was merely a minor inconvenience. She had no cause for worry. Her portal access was located in front of the strange tree--no, make that the telephone pole--closest to the lane leading back to a big, white farm house. Gracie leaned back against the pole with her arms folded, and braced her right foot against the pole. She knew all she needed was a little patience.

She’d wait for tomorrow’s moon, then catch the next ride home. With plenty of time to kill, Gracie studied her surroundings with newfound interest. The owl had vanished, but other animals and insects quickly made their presence known, from the worms crawling through the dewy grass to the annoying swarm of mosquitoes trying to feast on Gracie’s ears; crickets chirped, frogs croaked. There was increasing activity everywhere as a new day--Gracie’s first away from home--prepared to dawn.

In the distance, a faint whine slowly rose in pitch as a pair of headlights emerged over a gentle rise in the road. A rolling contraption of glinting metal slowed as it neared the spot where Gracie stood. Gracie recognized the mass of metal as a car, thanks to her pre-trip studies. The back door of the vehicle swung open, and a pair of muscular arms tossed out a large burlap sack which landed with a thud in a swampy roadside ditch. The car, a l958 Chevrolet coupe, spun its tires and sped away. Within seconds, the black ribbon of road was as deserted and silent as it had been just a minute earlier.

Gracie ran over to inspect the bag. Something very much alive--and angry was thrashing about inside. In short order, the bag tore apart and a dark form slowly emerged.
Terrified, Gracie fled down the lane toward the farmhouse, taking refuge in some Lilac bushes close to a small bridge leading to the nearby house. From this vantage point, she could see in all directions and still remain hidden.

The creature made its way silently down the lane toward the bridge. Cornstalks bordering both sides of the driveway rustled softly as the shaggy, black-haired animal with a dagger of white on its powerful chest strode warily down the lane. Before reaching the bridge, it stopped; its huge head panned right, then left as it carefully scouted this unfamiliar territory.

What the creature saw in the dim light of dawn confirmed its worst fears. His unblinking eyes took in the fact that he was now on a farm--a place he most emphatically did not want to be. He was a cat, born and bred in the city, with absolutely no experience of life in the boondocks. To his advantage, he wasn’t some common calico, but a fully grown twenty-five pound Maine Coon cat, a dude, if you will. Back home, he had possessed status and a well-earned reputation for terrifying all the prissy little frou-frou dogs in his neighborhood. On a farm, however, he knew that life was played by different rules, and here he was clearly out of his element. If he wasn’t careful, he would find himself at the bottom of the pecking order. His previous cushy existence in the city would mean zilch to these roughneck hayseeds.

As the great cat lingered in place, pondering its fate, its magnificent white whiskers bestowed a look of regal dignity to its already imposing countenance. Gracie was duly impressed, but wished the great cat would hurry and cross the bridge so she could return to the telephone pole and make herself comfortable while she awaited the next moon. The truth was that Gracie had no desire to remain in this place.

Her heart yearned for St. Petersburg. Lingering here would be a waste of time, perhaps even dangerous. What if the big cat took her for an overgrown mouse, or worse, an undersized rat? Gracie fortified her courage by clutching her Get Well, Stay Well pouch and keeping her gaze riveted on the long-haired feline with huge paws It took the sound of a rooster’s cry to get the cat moving again. With a deliberate gait, he inched his way across the bridge, then paused again as a light flashed on in the barn. Seconds later, after a harsh burst of static, the lilting melody of the “Tennessee Waltz” drifted out into the yard for all to hear. Roused from his slumber, and none too happy about it, Bergeroff the bull butted his head forcefully against the barn door in a gesture of displeasure. The other farm creatures paid him no heed; they all knew that Bergeroff was always grumpy no matter the occasion.

A farmer clad in overalls and a blue-and-white striped farm hat came out of the barn and headed toward a cinderblock milk house. Two dogs, an Airedale and a Border Collie, danced at his heels as he wrestled with a heavy milk can. The dogs were eager to start the day, their senses heightened as they bounded across their domain, alert for any intruders that might have sneaked in during the night.

Unfortunately for the cat, who was still holding his position in the lane, the dogs’ hunting instincts were well-honed. As if on command, both canines simultaneously froze in place, noses twitching, deep growls rumbling in their throats. Even in the dim light of dawn, their eyes quickly locked onto the cat’s motionless silhouette. Unable to contain their delight at what the morning had brought them--a cat!--the dogs howled excitedly and took off down the 



Although slowed by too many years of easy living, the cat still liked his chances. He figured if he could reach the pasture he would stand a better chance of escape. He took a series of mighty leaps and had very nearly reached full speed when the Airedale-- well-practiced at this sport--caught him by the neck. To the dogs, trespassers deserved no mercy, and they weren’t about to show any now. They took turns pummeling the cat, smashing its body to the ground. They circled the wounded animal, snarling and barking in glee.

The cat, writhing in pain, knew he would be torn to pieces if the dogs continued their play. But they didn’t thanks to the fortuitous arrival of the farmer’s young daughter. She’d been about to set out on her morning chores when she heard the commotion and saw the dogs circling their prey. Running as fast as her eight-year-old legs could carry her, she reached the site of the melee and quickly figured out what had happened: another stray cat paying the price for wandering onto the family property. Always sympathetic to those in trouble, the little girl commanded the dogs to back off. They did immediately, pleased with their morning’s exercise; then, at the girl’s further insistence, they trotted happily back to the barn.

The little girl bent over to get a better look at the injured animal. The cat was too whipped to utter a sound, let alone move. Alarmed that it might be dying, the girl hurried away so she could tell her father When the little girl was out of sight, Gracie ran into the pasture. She approached the cat cautiously, peered at it for a few seconds, then said, “Excuse me? Can you hear me, big guy? With your permission, I’ll come a little closer.”

The cat didn’t stir, so Gracie continued, “Look, if you don’t want to talk, that’s fine. I’ll be on my way.”

After what seemed like an eternity, the mauled cat responded in a weak voice, “You have my permission, but as for talking, I don’t have much strength left to talk.”

Gracie inched closer. Tentatively, she touched his trembling body to see if any bones were broken. She checked his throat, then his stomach. “I think you’re going to make it,” she declared. “Your body has experienced a severe beating, but I don’t detect any broken bones. You can probably thank your shaggy mane for that.” She paused before adding, “I’m not a doctor, but I do have considerable knowledge about matters pertaining to health.”

“So, you’re saying I’ll live?”

“Yes. You’ll need to take care of yourself, of course. You need rest, you need to stay out of the hot sun--”

“How am I going to do all of that in this pasture? Look, I’m not from around here. I don’t know a soul.”

“I’ll help you,” Gracie said. She reached into her pouch and pulled out her drawstring purse containing her supply of Get Well, Stay Well Stuff. She sprinkled a few
flakes on top of the cat’s head and across the left side of his body. Although not wanting to appear stingy, she needed to save the sparkling flakes for her journey to St. Petersburg.

“Now roll over,” Gracie commanded. “I’m going to do your other side.” 

Although in pain, the cat dutifully followed her instructions. Whatever was to him at the moment was beyond his comprehension and control. He resigned himself to let whatever was going to , happen. Gracie gave one final flick of flakes, then put away her purse. To his amazement, the cat already felt strength returning to his body.

“Okay, I’m going to give you a rub down now,” Gracie announced. Her little fingers began to pound the cat’s chest and stomach. She rubbed and massaged both sides of his body, then scratched with her nails under his chin. His body began to squirm with delight. “I don’t know what you’re doing,” the cat declared, “but it sure does feel good.”

To read more, BUY the book HERE



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Release: The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

The Vineyard


Author: Michael Hurley
BISC: Literary fiction; Fiction general
Format: Trade Paper, 5 x 8, 384 pages
Publisher: Ragbagger Press (November 25, 2014)

About the book:

From Michael Hurley, winner of the Somerset Prize for his debut novel, THE PRODIGAL, comes a complex and ambitious, allegorical tale of old money, young passion and ancient mystery in a classic New England seaside village.

Ten years after their college days together, three wounded and very different women reunite for a summer on the island of Martha's Vineyard. As they come to grips with the challenges and crises in their lives, their encounter with a reclusive poacher known only as "the fisherman" threatens to change everything they believe about their world--and each other.

“Hurley writes beautifully,” says Kirkus Reviews, “especially when describing island and nautical life.” Publishers Weekly praises “his well-crafted prose.”



About the author:


Born in Baltimore in 1958, Michael Hurley holds a degree in English Education from the University of Maryland and a law degree from St. Louis University. He is admitted to the bar in Texas and North Carolina. Michael's debut novel, The Prodigal, won the 2013 Somerset Prize for mainstream fiction from Chanticleer Reviews and was shortlisted for several other literary awards. His first book, Letters from the Woods, is a collection of essays chosen as a finalist for the ForeWord Review Book of the Year Award in 2005. In 2012, Hachette Book Group published his sailing memoir, Once Upon A Gypsy Moon, about the 2,200 mile solo voyage that ended with the loss of his boat in the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti. The Vineyard is his second novel. After more than thirty years in trial practice, Michael retired in 2014 to write, sail, and pursue the secret of life full time. He lives near Charleston, South Carolina.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Book Spotlight: Cover Him With Darkness: A Romance by Janine Ashbless

Cover Him With Darkness: A Romance
by Janine Ashbless

Pages: 240
Publisher: Tempted Romance
Amazon Link

Synopsis:

What happens when the daughter of the village priest falls in love with an archangel banished from heaven? Milja’s heart is struck when she catches a glimpse of the preternaturally beautiful prisoner her father keeps captive beneath his church’s altar. Torn between tradition, loyalty and her growing obsession with the fallen angel, will Milja risk losing her family, and her eternal soul, for the love of this divine being? Janine Ashbless will transport you to a world where good and evil battle for true love.

Book Excerpt

The first time I saw him fettered there in the dark, I wept. 

I was seven years old. My father led me by the hand down the steps behind the church altar, through a passage hewn into the mountainside. I’d never been permitted through that door before, though I knew that the key was kept under a loose floor tile beneath the icon of St. Michael. In those days that picture made me nervous: the archangel’s painted eyes always seemed to watch me, even though the rest of him was busy throwing down the Devil and trampling him underfoot. 

All along the narrow tunnel beyond the door there were niches cut into the rock walls, and near our church these were filled with painted and gilded icons of the saints and of Our Lord, but farther back those gave way to statuettes of blank-eyed pagan gods, growing cruder in execution and less human in appearance as we walked on. I clung to Father’s hand and cringed from the darkness closing in behind me, as his kerosene lamp picked out the rock-cut steps at our feet and our breathing sounded loud in our ears. The journey seemed to take forever, to my child’s mind. I couldn’t help imagining the carved and painted eyes in the tunnel behind me: glowing pinpoints of light that watched my retreating back—and I kept looking over my shoulder to see. 

Finally we came out into a roofless chamber, where the walls leaned inward a hundred feet over our heads and the floor was nothing but a mass of loosely tumbled boulders. I looked up, blinking at the light that seemed blinding, though in fact this was a dim and shadowed place. I could see a wisp of cloud against the seam of blue sky overhead, and the black speck of a mountain eagle soaring across the gap.

There he lay, upon a great tilted slab of pale limestone, his wrists and ankles spread and bound by twisted leather ropes whose farther ends seemed to be set into the rock itself. It was hard to say whether the slab had always been underground or had fallen long ago from the mountain above; our little country is, after all, prone to earthquakes. Dirt washed down with the rain had stained him gray, but I could make out the muscled lines of his bare arms and legs and the bars of his ribs. There was an old altar cloth draped across his lower torso—and only much later did I realize that Father had done that, to spare his small daughter the man’s nakedness. 

“Here, Milja,” said my father, pushing me forward. “It is time you knew. This is the charge of our family. This is what we guard day and night. It is our holy duty never to let him be found or escape.” 

I was only little: he looked huge to me, huge and filthy and all but naked. I stared at the ropes, as thick as my skinny wrists, knotted cruelly tight about his broader ones. They stretched his arms above his head so that one hand could not touch the other, and matching tethers held his ankles apart. I felt a terrible ache gather in my chest. I pressed backward, into Father’s black robes. 

“Who is he?” I whispered. 

“He is a very bad man.”  

That was when the prisoner moved for the first time. He rolled his head and turned his face toward us. I saw the whites of his eyes gleam in his gray face. Even at seven, I could read the suffering and the despair burning there. I squirmed in Father’s grip.

“I think he’s hurt,” I whimpered. “The ropes are hurting him.” 

“Milja,” said Father, dropping to his knee and putting his arm around me. “Don’t be fooled—this is not a human being. It just looks like one. Our family has guarded him here since the first people came to these mountains. Before the Communists. Before the Turks. Before the Romans, even. He has always been here. He is a prisoner of God.”

“What did he do?”

“I don’t know, little chick.” 

That was when I began to cry. 

“What did he do?” became a question I repeated many times as I grew up, along with, “Who is he?” My father didn’t lie, but neither could he answer my question truthfully. He was an educated man, though he had taken up the vocation of priest of an isolated village in one of the most barren, mountainous corners of our rugged country. He had studied engineering at university in Belgrade, but he admitted that the answers to my queries were unclear to him. “The gods have condemned him,” he would say, with a sigh. That sounded so strange coming from an Orthodox priest that I didn’t know what to think.

Every Sunday, after going down into the village to celebrate the Divine Liturgy with the congregation in the church there—nobody ever climbed up the two hundred steps to our dingy little chapel carved into the sheerrock—he would descend into the prisoner’s cave. He would take the manwater and bread, and wash his face. My father was not without compassion,even for a prisoner, and he felt the responsibility of his position.

“Is he…Prometheus?” I asked when I was ten, and had been reading the Greek myths in one of the dog-eared books Father had brought from the capital. “The gods chained up Prometheus forever. Is it him?”

“It may be.”

“But…Prometheus was good, Papa. He taught us how to be civilized. He stole fire from the gods to bring it to men. He was on our side!”

“What did man do with fire, Milja?”

“Cook?”

“He smelted iron, little chick, and with iron he made swords. He made all the weapons of war, and men have slaughtered men in countless millions ever since. Are you sure Prometheus had our best interests at heart? Would we not have been happier if we’d stayed in the innocence of the Stone Age?”

I was too young to answer that. Father sighed and fetched a black-bound book, laying it on the table by the window where the light could fall upon it. He opened the pages to somewhere near the beginning.

“My grandfather told me that it is Azazel we hold in our keeping. Have you heard of him?”

“No,” said I in a small voice.

“Neither man nor pagan titan, little chick, but a fallen angel. A leader of the Watchers: those Sons of God who lusted after mortal women. The Israelites dedicated their scapegoat sin-offering to Azazel every year when they drove it out into the wilderness. And just like the Greeks’ Prometheus, he is credited with teaching men metalworking and war-craft—and women the arts of seduction and sorcery. Here in the Book of Enoch, see; the angel Raphael is commanded by God: ‘bind Azazel hand and foot and cast him into the darkness. And lay upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever.’”

“Which is right, then?” I asked. “Is he a demon or is he Prometheus?”

“Maybe he is both, and it’s the same story. Or maybe he is something else altogether. All I know is that he’s been here since the beginning, and that it is our duty to keep him bound. It’s what our family forefathers dedicated their lives to. And you must carry on when I am gone, Milja. You must marry and teach your husband and your sons, so that it is never forgotten. And you must never tell anyone else, all your life. It must not go beyond the family. Promise me!”

“Why not?”

“What if someone, someone who did not understand, felt sorry for him and set him free? What if he is one of the great demons, Milja? What would happen to this world?”


I was eleven when I started to visit him in secret. I took him food, because I couldn’t bear any longer to lie awake in bed thinking of how hungry he must be. I knew he could get water—when it rained it would run down the rocks onto his face—but at eleven I was always ravenous myself, and starvation seemed the worst of tortures. And the image of him lying bound there haunted my dreams more and more, evoking feelings I had no words for—not then—until it seemed impossible for me to stay away.

Still, I went at midday, when the light was strongest and the cavern least frightening. I brought him bread crusts and cheese. I picked berries from the mountain bushes and fed them between his cracked lips.

I remember the first time I did it, the first time I went alone. I climbed up on that big rock slab and knelt over his dirt-streaked body, and he opened his eyes and looked up into mine. His irises were so dark that they couldn’t be distinguished from the pupils, and in this half-light they looked like holes.

“What’s your name?” I whispered.

I don’t know if he heard me. He certainly didn’t reply. He just looked at me, from the depths of his private torment.

“I brought you some milk.” I tipped the teat of the little skin of goats’ milk to his lips and let it trickle into the side of his mouth, carefully: I was scared of choking him. His throat worked and his lips twitched, bleeding. He drank it all and I sat back. That was when, with obvious and painful effort, the lines of his face pulled into a brief smile—a smile so fragile a butterfly might have trampled it underfoot.

That was when I was lost.

I was fourteen when I first heard him speak.

“Milja,” he murmured, greeting me. His voice was hoarse from disuse, but its depths made the hair stir on my neck. I nearly fled.

“What’s your name?” I asked once again, but he didn’t answer, withdrawing instead, it seemed, into his anguish once more. He only twisted from one hip to the other to ease the strain on his back, and hissed with pain. The power of his corded body, terrible even under constraint, made me tremble.

He spoke only rarely in the years that followed, and what he said made little sense to me—often it wasn’t even in any language I knew, and when I could make out the words they seemed to be nothing but fragments. “Leaves on the brown-bright water…” he might mutter to himself. I think he was remembering things he had seen before he was imprisoned. As I grew to realize how the uncountable years had stolen even his mind, I felt dizzy with horror.

About the author:


Janine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure – and that’s “fantasy” in the sense of swords ‘n’ sandals, contemporary paranormal, fairytale, and stories based on mythology and folklore.  She likes to write about magic and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.

Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000, and her novels and single-author collections now run into double figures. She’s also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora’s Cave among others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology Geek Love.

Her work has been described as: "hardcore and literate" (Madeline Moore) and "vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love."   (Portia Da Costa)


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Guest Author: Patricia Fry

I’ve been writing nonfiction for publication since 1973. Ten years later, I established my own publishing company—way before it was fashionable to do so. I earned my living writing articles for magazines for over twenty years before shifting into teaching/editing/consulting mode. I continue to work with other authors on their writing projects and I continue to write and publish books through my own publishing company as well as a variety of traditional publishing companies. I currently have 47 books to my credit. 

By June of 2012, I’d written hundreds (maybe thousands) of articles on many topics and I was the author of forty books. It was my birthday month and I wanted to give myself something special. What would it be this year? Another rescued kitten, a spa day, a walk on the beach? As I pondered the possibilities, one idea kept niggling at me: “Try your hand at fiction. You really ought to write fiction.” 

“Okay,” I agreed. “I’ll try it.”

It didn’t take long to come up with a topic: Cats. And a genre: Cozy mysteries. I had to sleep on it for a few days to create the theme: a kleptomaniac cat who helps solve crimes. YES!!

What fun I had writing the first in the series, Catnapped. This book led easily into book two, Cat-Eye Witness. In fact, I’ve just finished the eighth in the series and am working on the ninth. I’m sometimes asked, “Is it grueling, arduous work?” No. Writing has always been my passion. I tell people, it’s something I can’t not do. But writing fiction—creating stories from a pinpoint of an idea—is simply exhilarating. I’ve never had so much fun. 

Some reviewers call my Klepto Cat Mysteries revved up cozies. One said they are cozy mysteries on steroids. There are no talking cats. The cats are all cat-like. Only Rags, the kleptomaniac cat, is particularly intuitive, clever, and his timing can be impeccable. Those who meet him say he has purrrrsonality. 



=====
The Gift of Fiction

Author Patricia Fry
Matilija Press
All 7 Klepto Cat Mysteries formatted for Kindle 
Books 1-4 also in print
This post features The Corral Cat Caper (Book 7 in the Klepto Cat Mystery series) publication date November 7, 2014

=====


The human characters include Michael and Savannah Ivey, a couple of veterinarians who live in a small town in Northern California in a hundred-year-old home. The Iveys and their array of interesting family and friends seem to always be involved in fascinating, harrowing, mysterious situations and you can be sure that Rags, the cat, will have a paw in the action.

In the latest in the series, The Corral Cat Caper, Savannah’s horse, Peaches, goes missing, Rags goes into mourning, and mystifying activities are revealed in the brush. 

The Corral Cat Caper is rich in adventure of the feline as well as equine sort. In one scene, Rags attempt to save their sweet kitty, Buffy, from a catnapper and Savannah helplessly watches the drama unfold via a surveillance camera app on her phone. 

This story is full of sweet and evil surprises, unexpected twists and turns, and plenty of action and adventure. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Trailer: Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure by A.J. York

Delilah Dusticle's Transylvanian Adventure
by A.J. York

Series: The Delilah Dusticle Adventures
Paperback: 124 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 22, 2014)
Amazon Paperback Link

Kindle Edition
File Size: 1599 KB
Print Length: 125 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: A J York; 1 edition (January 15, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link

About the book:

Delilah Dusticle is back with an action packed mission. In this illustrated instalment, Delilah and the Dustbusters are invited to Transylvania, to cater for the Hallow Eve Ball. All is not what it seems and Count Dracula has a very unusual request. Get ready to join the fun and experience the magic!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Guest Author: William R. Leibowitz

The Story Behind Miracle Man
by William R. Liebowitz

What inspired me to write Miracle Man? Three things, really.

Firstly, I wanted to tell a story about a real hero—not a celebrity, but a person who treasures and acts on important human values. A person who, in fact, is an anti-celebrity, in the sense that he pursues his selfless goals in virtual isolation. I think such a person would be inspirational in the times we live in –where baseless fame has seemingly become the chief goal of so many. The protagonist in Miracle Man, Robert James Austin, uses his extraordinary gifts selflessly to cure diseases. He doesn’t want adulation. He doesn’t want his picture to be on magazine covers and T-Shirts.

In my opinion, too much time and attention is heaped upon meritless celebrities who contribute nothing to society and have no talent other than the ability to garner media attention. I believe that this undermines the fabric of our society and sets a terrible example for today’s young people. We need a real modern day believable super- hero, who can be inspirational—and Robert James Austin is that guy.


Secondly, Miracle Man is a vehicle for me to convey, in an entertainment context, a humanistic message that’s very important to me –i.e., the sanctity of each individual human life and how the loss of just one person can have extraordinary ramifications. Throughout history —including current times, so many people have died needlessly. The world proceeds as if these casualties are just “numbers”. But I believe that the person who would have cured cancer was exterminated in a Concentration Camp during World War II. And what about the millions of Asians who were slaughtered in Cambodia and the millions of Africans in Uganda, Rwanda and the Sudan? —aside from the tragedy, I believe that some of these people would have made a contribution that changed the world. That’s why Miracle Man begins with the ancient quote from scriptures: “To destroy one life is to destroy an entire world and to save one life is to save an entire world.” When you read Miracle Man, the relevance of this quote will become very clear.

Thirdly, I wanted to get people thinking about a serious problem that affects us all. Just like Miracle Man’s Robert James Austin –I find it incomprehensible that virtually no major disease has been cured in over 50 years. How can that be the case when so much money has been spent over the decades on research? Simply put, there’s a lot more money to be made
in treating symptoms than there is in curing diseases. Austin realized that Big Pharma has no interest in curing diseases. It just wants to keep selling expensive symptom treatments –and as we know, many people are on ‘medication maintenance programs’ for years. Austin wanted to change all of that –and that’s why be became Big Pharma’s worst nightmare in
Miracle Man. I think people need to start asking questions. Big Pharma’s shenanigans are in the newspapers every day and it’s clear that they have scores of politicians in their pockets. Miracle Man, in an entertainment context, explores these issues.


About the Author

William R. Leibowitz has been practicing entertainment/media law in New York City for a number of years.  He has represented numerous renowned recording artists, songwriters, producers and many of the leading record companies, talent managers, merchandisers and other notable entertainment businesses.  At one point, he was the Chief Operating Officer/General Counsel for the Sanctuary Group of Companies, a U.K. public company that was the largest ‘indie’ music company in the world (prior to its acquisition by the Universal Music Group).  

William has a Bachelor of Science degree from New York University (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a law degree from Columbia University.  He lives in the village of Quogue, New York with his wife, Alexandria, and dog, George.  

For More Information

Visit William Leibowitz’s website.
Connect with William on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit William’s blog.

Miracle Man

Author: William Leibowitz
Publisher: Manifesto Media Group
Pages: 428
Genre: Cross-genre Thriller
Format: Paper/Kindle

About the book:

REVERED   REVILED    REMARKABLE

The victim of an unspeakable crime, an infant rises to become a new type of superhero.  

Unlike any that have come before him, he is not a fanciful creation of animators, he is real. 

So begins the saga of Robert James Austin, the greatest genius in human history.  But where did his extraordinary intelligence come from?

As agents of corporate greed vie with rabid anti-Western radicals to destroy him, an obsessive government leader launches a bizarre covert mission to exploit his intellect.  Yet Austin’s greatest fear is not of this world.

Aided by two exceptional women, one of whom will become his unlikely lover, Austin struggles against abandonment and betrayal.  But the forces that oppose him are more powerful than even he can understand.   

For More Information

Miracle Man is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Trailer: Quest for the Middle Kingdom by Jack King

Quest for the Middle Kingdom
by Jack King

Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Charles River Press (July 22, 2014)
Amazon Paperback Link

Kindle Edition
File Size: 1518 KB
Print Length: 228 pages
Publisher: Charles River Press (July 21, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Amazon Kindle Link


About the book:

Four years after the bloody Boxer Rebellion of 1900, the wounded lands of China had grown resentful of all things Western. Known as ‘The Middle Kingdom’ to the Chinese people, their capital city was no place for a lone Scotsman. 

David was born and raised in the Scottish Highlands where he spends his days enjoying his family, the affections of his true love, Rose, and having an after-dinner drink with friends. Life is good in the brisk-green hillsides of David’s beloved Scotland. 

But David’s life takes a sharp turn when he discovers his fiancĂ©e sleeping with a relative, leaving David brokenhearted and anxious to follow a recent vision compelling him to the exotic and faraway country known as The Middle Kingdom where the answers to his questions lie. 

David sets out on an arduous voyage over land and sea in his search for closure. His aching-heart is the least of his trials when his journey becomes a dangerous quest, encountering pirates, bandits, and a bevy of lusty ladies with questionable motives. 

Fighting to keep body and soul intact so that he may realize his predestined purpose, David struggles to reach The Middle Kingdom, or die in the trying.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guest Author: Alison Neuman

The Writing Process of Nonfiction versus Fiction
by Alison Neuman

Writing my memoir Searching for Normal was by some measures much easier than the fiction I'm accustomed. For my fiction, I stick to the process of using the three act structure made popular by Aristotle. The three acts provide me an idea of when my characters should be finding their moments. With the acts markers, I can build a timeline with details of each character and which page the action should occur. As the memoir is based upon my life, the chronological order of the events. While having the events presented was a help, choosing which events required some consideration. This was the point where the themes and character growth became decision makers for each event. If the event, say learning how to drive, did not advance my theme of achieving normal or aid my characters to grow, it was eliminated from consideration.

In a lifetime, real people come and go. In a memoir, there is a set group of people who have made entrances and exits and play a part in the journey. A life is filled with numerous people but a memoir does not require the reader to meet nor know every person that has made a different in the writer's life. This was one of the differences in writing nonfiction that I found challenging. With many relatives, and not wanting to leave any out and make them feel neglected, my first draft included all my aunts and uncles. As the editing process began, I had to analyze each scene and decide if the scene was advancing the story, characters, themes or plot. My editor gave me a quote to keep in mind when we were completing the final edits: "all the people are important in your life but not in your story."



I also had to keep in mind during the memoir writing process that it was important to me to have the book be truthful to my memories. After all, every person has the possibility to remember a single event in a different way. This consideration also included deciding how to paint each character. Every person has good and bad days and if a snapshot was taken and provided to everyone on a bad day, it would not give a true picture of the person. Additionally - let's face it - these were real people in my life whom I would still be interacting with. I gave some of the people the book to read and provide feedback as to their character portrayal. Each character was also provided a fictional name to provide them some anonymity and space. While writing nonfiction and fiction have many different features, they also share themes, plots, characters and editing.

About the Author

No one ever expected Alison Neuman to live past the age of three, let alone become a successful author and performer.  

Now, an inspirational figure, Neuman has never let the painful disease she suffers with, dermatomyositis, dictate what she can and cannot achieve in her life.

An award-winning singer, Neuman has even done dance performances with the iDance and Cripsie Groups in her native Edmonton, Alberta, Canadian hometown.  Along the way, she has become a college graduate, earning a degree in creative writing from MacEwen College, despite being told she'd never amount to anything.

Searching for Normal is her memoir and anthem to anyone who is suffering through sickness or obstacles that seem too impossible to overcome.

"You can and will achieve life's greatest dreams," Neuman says, "if you take it one step at a time; even if that step is while you navigate via a wheelchair."

For More Information

Visit Alison Neuman’s website.
Connect with Alison on Facebook and Twitter.
Visit Alison’s blog.
More books by Alison Neuman.
Contact Alison.

Searching for Normal: A Memoir

Author: Alison Neuman
Publisher: Fireside Publications
Pages:302
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

About the Book:

They thought she was going to die. At three-and-a-half years old, bed-ridden shivering in a cold sweat, Alison Neuman's tiny fingers wrap around her mother's for strength.  But even at this age, Alison is determined to beat the odds.  

When years of hospitalization robs her of most of her childhood, she finds joy.

When children and adults avoid her like the plague, she finds friendship.

When she cracks her skull in a playground accident, when her math teacher holds her back a grade, and when she is mistreated by the medical professionals that were entrusted to help her, she finds strength.

And even when it becomes clear that the painful disease she has, dermatomyositis, will leave her wheel-chair bound for the rest of her life, Alison does not let it defeat her.

She will conquer it, she will achieve her greatest dreams and along her journey to finding normal,  she will find joy, humor, passion and music.

In this inspirational true story, Alison Neuman tells of her daily mission to triumph over pain,  to prove wrong the naysayers that say she "cannot", and become a reminder to us all that can't is only a mindset and happiness is a choice.

For More Information

Searching for Normal: A Memoir is available at Amazon.
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Watch the book video at YouTube.

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