Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guest Author: Ann Stewart and Christopher Burns

The Pink Parasol and The French Confection is a fast paced caper across the continent of Europe.  As our furry heroes track clues and encounter obstacles they couldn’t imagine, you’ll find yourself smiling and laughing and even feel your eyes well up as they form new bonds and rekindle old loves along the way.  This is a loveable and delightful tale that you won’t want to end. As one Amazon reviewer stated “Although I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of things, I didn't want the story to ever end!,”.
Here is a look at The Pink Parasol and The French Confection.
As excitement and the scent of cupcakes filled the air at Genevieve Parfait’s Patisserie, the tiny Parisian rabbit had no idea that baking for the King’s upcoming birthday gala would set off a chain of events that would take her from the Towers of London to the Grand Canal of Venice. When her competitor Jacques, a rat with both a jealous bone and devious mind, steals her sugary masterpiece and plots to keep her as far away from Paris as possible, Genevieve has no time to waste in finding her confection, a tower of irreplaceable cupcakes made of the rarest and most extravagant ingredients. Excitement turns to high anxiety as Genevieve joins forces with the bold and brash Highlander, Collie Duncan MacTartan, a former Scotland Yard detective and his former partner in police work, the proper and particular British Terrier, Finneas Crumpett. As the unlikely threesome follow clues to some of Europe’s most famous landmarks, rookie reporter Sophie Felinee follows their trail bringing international attention to the case and the support of all of Europe. In a race against time, Genevieve and her friends discover much more than cupcakes before the mystery ends in a spectacular and raucous conclusion from high atop the Eiffel Tower.

About the Author
Ann Stewart Burns is a lover of animals, travel and pastries. She resides in a small town in New England with her husband, Christopher and Welsh Corgi, dreaming of more animals, more travel and plenty of pastries.   

While written for children, this book is really for “children” of all ages. It was inspired by our recent trip to Paris and London. We love our book and want to reach as many people as we can to share this wonderful story.

Ann Stewart Burns with husband                                                                                                                      Christopher Burns, Trafalgar Sq.

I loved every single minute of The Pink Parasol and the French Confection. Even the title is perfect. The story was captivating and the animal characters were as imaginative as they were lovable. It was great fun to accompany this troop as they traveled across Europe to solve the mystery of the stolen cupcakes. They learned about the new locations they visited and a little about each other along the way. The inclusion of the journalist in pursuit of their story was just a wonderful addition to an already exciting adventure. I found myself seeking out whatever few minutes I could find to learn what would happen next. They should make a Disney movie out of it. I can just imagine the wonderful stuffed characters that would accompany the marketing of it. I hope we'll see another book from this author soon.” Review by: Sandra Leger Silva

The author maintains a  page at http://facebook.com/pinkparasol  The Pink Parasol and The French Confection is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many online  retail sites.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Movie Review: Skyline


Director: Greg Strause Colin Strause
Stars: Eric Balfour
           Donald Faison
           Britanny Daniel
           Scottie Thompson


My thoughts:

I enjoyed the first half of the film and was confused when the fighting began and was extremely irritated with the ending. No plot, no story and horrible dialogue. There's only one thing I enjoyed in this film. Seeing Britanny Daniel who played Jessica Wakefield in SVH TV series was great! What a timing because I've been wanting to buy a copy of SVH 10 years later.

Anyway, back to the movie, the aliens are taking anyone they see for no reason at all. The movie was played in the entire building and these people could not get out because they will be consumed by the alien, well their brains actually. I thought there was going to be an explanation at some point but there was none. And then when the movie ends, I was like... uhmm... one stupid ending!

Bad bad idea to watch this movie.

About the movie:

Skyline, an effects-laden thriller from directors Colin and Greg Strause, wears its various influences--films like Alien, District 9, Independence Day, and War of the Worlds--on its sleeve, but even if it doesn't measure up to those predecessors, the film offers enough thrills and action to keep sci-fi fans interested. The Brothers Strause, as they call themselves, have done visual-effects work on blockbusters like Avatar, Titanic, and 300, and the effects are by far the best part of this tale (scripted by Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell) about an armada of giant spaceships that suddenly appear in the skies over Los Angeles and immediately set about their business--namely, shooting down immense blue columns of light that hoover every human in sight up into the ships, where aliens will do nasty things to them. Observing this horror from a posh Marina Del Rey penthouse are a group of gorgeous, strikingly solipsistic young people in skimpy clothes, including Jarrod and Elaine (Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson), a couple visiting from New York. A few action sequences find them trying to escape (bad idea, as the mother ships disgorge an endless supply of smaller, tentacled craft and troops of gross, city-stomping monsters to seek and destroy any luckless fool they encounter). But for the most part they huddle inside, watching the action, screaming hysterically, and uttering dialogue that's either cliché ridden ("What are those things?" "Does it even matter?!") or merely inane (mid-attack, Elaine, who's just learned that she's pregnant, complains when someone lights up a cigarette; you'd think she'd have more pressing concerns). And therein lies the problem, as some cool images and jolting moments are mitigated by Skyline's lame script and below-average acting. --Sam Graham (Amazon)

Friday, May 27, 2011

TGIF: Happy Friday!!

It's time for Friday Blog Hop! If you want to join the fun, visit Parajunkee's view and Crazy For Books for the linky . . . .

Q. How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

One to two paperback books, depends on my free time. I also listen to an audiobook (right now it's Vampire Academy book 2). It also depends, for romance books, I can read  1-3 books a week.

"What book-to-movie adaption have you most liked?  Which have you disliked?"

Most liked? Oh most loved! The Lord of the Rings Trilogy!! I could not count the number of times I've watched them and I still watch them everytime I have a long holiday especially at Christmas! My all time favorite movie!! And also The Notebook. Loved it sooo muchh!

Hmm disliked ... Twilight Saga. I hate, really REALLY hate Kristen S as Bella!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Author: Dewan Gibson

The concept for The Imperfect Enjoyment was formed in the mid-2000s when Myspace was like a 24 hour nightclub. I was blogging there to amuse myself and a large, loyal audience caught wind of what they referred to as my "unique voice," which pretty much meant I was able to cleverly describe my personal inadequacies and shortcomings with women and relate that to something larger and more important.

The story of The Imperfect Enjoyment revolves around a secret and forbidden relationship I had with a Muslim student from the Middle East while teaching at university. (Note: I was 22 when I started teaching at the college level; she was 19 and not my student, though a student at the same university.) It begins shortly after 9/11 and reflects tensions between her family and us primarily due to religion, race and other cultural differences, which in some ways reflects the larger tensions between Arabs and Americans in general. Though the story is sad at its core, it’s not my style to write in a melodramatic, depressing manner. I gained my audience by writing in a humorous manner and didn’t take myself seriously enough to change that for the book. I think the passage below reflects the sort of passive political quips you’ll find in my work.

“I stroll through the mall and come across a group of black people. Thanks to the simple-America feel of Lincoln, I wrongly assume the blacks here would be stuck in the 1990s, with high-top fades and Hammer pants, only recently hearing about the Rodney King beating. But in actuality, these are modern and regular black people. The type with the African American predisposition to believe in conspiracy theories, like that Tupac is in Jamaica working as a scuba instructor or that hospitals inject blacks with tainted immunizations that cause cravings for unhealthy food such as fried chicken and hog maws. Shit, these people are black enough to make me instinctively switch from standard English to a more African American vernacular, saying “What’s up?” instead of “How you doing?” just so they know I’m also ‘black enough.’”

The end result is a hilarious but touching book that uses humor to navigate between love, promiscuity, redemption and culture. My goal was to write a book that captured the essence of the times.  Something that people could read down the road and think, “So that’s what post-college life was like during the early 2000s…the Bush years were crazy!” In short, The Imperfect Enjoyment is a story but actually more of a philosophical statement. The statement being, “Do what you’ll smile at 20 years down the road.”

Well, I hope you give my work a shot. The reviews have been great and the responses I’ve gotten from individual people have been humbling. The common response being, “I didn’t think I would like a book like this.”

I hope you give it a shot. If all else fails I’ll return to blogging on Myspace. Thanks for reading.

Dewan Gibson is a humorist and author of The Imperfect Enjoyment. His work has appeared in Defenestration Magazine, the International Journal of Intercultural Relations and Hobo Pancakes, among other publications. Prior to pursuing a writing career he earned a master’s degree in intercultural communication and taught at San Diego State University. Dewan is currently conducting health disparities research and writing a nonfiction humor book about working in a community clinic. He can be reached on his blog at http://www.imperfectenjoyment.com/.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Book Review: Discover Your Amazing Marriage by Jason and Debbie Coleman

Title: Discover Your Amazing Marriage
Authors: Jason and Debbie Coleman
Paperback: 186 pages
Publisher: Seraphina Press June 2010


★ ★ ★   

My thoughts:

I love books that talk about relationship. I remember when I was in college, me and my friends would go to this small bookstore near our school and browse books about relationship, especially about dating men! It was a topic that we can talk about from our first to last period of the day and it never seems to bore us. So when the authors, Jason and Debbie Coleman asked me to read and review their book, I said yes! I was reminded of my college days, though this time, it's a totally different topic - marriage. Yay how serious. How long have I been married? We're going to celebrate our 6th year anniversary this year! Wow, time flies so fast and now we have 2 kids!

What was so great in this book was that I could relate to almost every topic discussed. The authors wrote their day to day activities which makes the book more interesting and comprehensible to read. Great advice on money matters, sex (aha!) and resolving conflict with your spouse. There is one topic which I agree the most: INFIDELITY! Everyone of us know someone who is getting divorced/annullment because of other reasons, like money, incompatibility, etc... but one that stands out from the rest is INFIDELITY. I agree with what both the authors have to say in this book. That is if you are already married, do NOT allow someone of the opposite gender to be close to you. This is not saying you could not have friends of the opposite gender but the book tells you to be careful in choosing your friends of the opposite gender. Allowing yourself to be close to him/her might invite trouble for your marriage. You might think it's harmless but you'll be surprised to know that one of you or worst, both is/are developing something deeper than mere friendship. If you are already attracted to a friend, please let that friendship go.

I am amazed that the authors didn't have any qualms in writing their family life. Writing a book about your day to day activities/decisions is something I couldn't do. It's like confiding your secrets to the world! The authors chose to divulge theirs with this book and I believe by doing so, they can help married couples stay happy with each other.

I highly recommend this book to all those singles getting married (soon) and even to those married for the first or second time. A great book which could help you have a great life with your spouse.

About the book:

We all long for the thrill experienced during our first kiss or first date. The anticipation, the overwhelming joy, the pure devotion, and the bright hope of a romantic and healthy life together. The passion and fulfillment of new romance is a powerful elixir, only to be enhanced over time . . . or so we all want to believe.

Many couples find that over time the reality of marriage—maybe after having children, moving to a new place, advancing in a career, or experiencing a trauma or loss—becomes a habit or, worse, rote duty.

Authors Debby and Jason Coleman have been there, they have lived through the challenges—even infidelity. And now they are ready to share some of the secrets they found to help reignite the romance, respect, and love in their relationship.

No matter how long you’ve been married, with the timely, honest, and spiritually relevant advice in this book an amazing marriage—one filled with respect, love, passion, and devotion—is within your reach.

In this book you’ll learn how to:

• Communicate from a place of love (including how to
better understand the yin/yang dynamics of women
and men for better communication)
• Gain (and give) greater respect to your partner
• Increase the romance in your marriage
• Experience more fulfilling sex
• Explore the true joy that marriage offers
• Enhance your sacred vows
• Benefit from spiritual guidance
• Live a more fruitful and loving life together with
your partner

Re-ignite the romance, love, and sacred vows in your marriage today!

About the authors:

Jason and and his bride Debby have both been active in the local church for the majority of their marriage, working in various ministries with their main focus working with teens and children. They have been active leaders in the Awana ministry for nineteen years as well as serving on the Awana Ministry Team for the Pacific Northwest. They have led a small group adult Bible study for several years. Jason has also served as an elder-elect and he has coordinated the Outreach Ministry in a local church. They have a heart for missions and have been on several mission trips to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

Jason and Debby have four children, three daughters and a son, ranging in age from nineteen to eleven. They are extremely involved in the lives of their children, as the kids are active in sports, school activities, church youth groups, and much more.

Jason and Debby Coleman celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary in September of 2009, and they currently live in Federal Way, Washington. - Amazon

Note: I received a review copy of this book free from the authors, Jason and Debbie Coleman. The review posted above is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Author: Naomi Bulger

Writing with your inner child
A guest post by Naomi Bulger, author of Airmail

In the early 1990s, everybody in therapy circles was talking about the “inner child.” I know this because my father was a group therapist and social worker, and I worked part time at his office during my first year studying literature at university.

Your “inner child” was supposed to be a part of you that you had long since forgotten or suppressed. He or she, once accessed, could help you overcome whatever it was in your past that haunted you. This would lead to a healthier and more fulfilled adult life.

Dad had this nifty trick for “accessing” your inner child, and it all had to do with writing letters. First, write a note to the childhood you, asking them what you want to know. Something simple, like “Dear seven-year-old Naomi, why did you always feel sick before swimming lessons?” Then swap the pen into your off-hand (so if you’re right-handed, use your left hand). You’re now the child-you, so answer the question. This sounds kooky but just try it and you will be astonished at what happens. What goes down on paper bypasses your brain, and you will be learning as you read what your hand writes. Creepy, but cool.

What does this have to do with writing my little magic realism novella Airmail? Well, a lot of things happened while I was writing Airmail that had a similar effect as using my Dad’s technique to access my inner child. And the results, the words that appeared on my screen, were just as surprising and illuminating to me.

The first thing that happened was that I suffered extreme insomnia. At the time, I was operating on between two and five hours of sleep a night, and this went on for over a month. I spent my days in a dream state where nothing ever quite seemed real.

Secondly, I dusted off my French grandmother’s antique typewriter. In Airmail, if you haven’t yet read it, a young woman in New York writes letters to a complete stranger, an old man named G.L. Solomon, in Australia. Initially I struggled to grasp the character of the old man and his reactions to receiving these letters. So an actor-friend of mine role-played the old man for me, while I role-played the young woman (Anouk), posting him letters. I typed some of the letters using the antique typewriter, but it wasn’t easy. Many of the keys stuck so typing was slow and somewhat stilted. Moreover, the only ribbon we had was red, so the words appeared like blood on the page. I typed things that surprised me, like, “I am the paper tiger that haunts your nightmares and destroys your dreams.”

The third thing was that I used to write Airmail at work. This isn’t as dishonest as it sounds. I had a contract job at an investment bank where I was essentially their writer-monkey on call. I had no clearance, and literally nothing to do unless they set me a specific task. No emails, no Internet, no projects, no initiative to take. So while I waited to be asked “can you draft this policy,” or “can you write a memo,” I wrote Airmail. Unfortunately, a fluorescent light over my desk started flickering, and continued flickering until they fixed it more than a week later. Try sitting under a flickering fluorescent light even for one hour. Reality distends, warps, loops.

All of this culminated in Chapter 6 of Airmail one day as I sat typing under the flickering light, among the bankers. Entirely outside of my intention, Anouk wrote to the old man, “Dear Mr G.L., I am writing to you from the Other Side.”

This was never meant to happen. Airmail was supposed to be an innocuous part-travel, part adventure novel, chronicling the stories of a broken but quirky young girl as she travelled around the world. And yet here I was. Only six chapters in, and my main character had declared herself to be dead!

I hit delete and tried again. And again. And again. Anouk was determined to write this letter from the Other Side, and she wasn’t brooking any argument from me. I consulted an author-friend, whose advice was direct and to the point. “Clearly you can’t change it. If you don’t want to give up, you have to go with it.”

So go with it I did, and the course of Airmail and its characters were changed forever. Somehow the month of insomnia, the sticky typewriter with red ink and the flickering, fluorescent light combined to create a kind of “inner child” experience by which the characters in my book surprised me, even as I typed them.

Ordinarily I’m a bit of a control-freak, and I didn’t let go easily. But I guess you could say I wrote Airmail with a hefty dose of help from my inner child.  

My question for you: Do you write your stories, or do they write you?

Airmail, a new magic realism novella by Naomi Bulger, was published in April 2011, and is available online at Barnes & Noble  and numerous other good bookstores. Naomi maintains a blog about writing, creativity and the absurdities of life at http://www.naomibulger.com/, and she promises to write a personal letter of thanks  to everyone who buys a copy of Airmail.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Movie Review: I Am Number Four


Director: D. J. Caruso
Stars: Alex Pettyfer
           Timothy Olyphant
           Dianna Agron
           Teresa Palmer


★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

This is a movie adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same title by Pittacus Lore (pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes).  Let me start this review by saying the following:

(1) Four is hawt! Four is so hawt! Four is sooo hawt!  I'm trying to recall where I've seen this guy but my mind couldn't process anything right now. He is soo hot! (okay enough!) 
(2) I loved Six, she was sooo coool! I totally enjoyed her appearance in this movie. 

I've watched this film twice and I've been thinking yah know. I thought this movie was great at first. I was supposed to give this film four stars but now I have four reasons why I had to take out 1 star up there. 

(1) I haven't read the book so I don't really know if the movie followed the book. The plot of the movie adaptation would have been great if the director provided more information about the story of the aliens and their powers. Maybe a flashback? Please tell me, why do the Mogadorians wanted to kill (in order) One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, and Nine (sorry, just got carried away...) and what about Sam's father? Maybe the sequel (The Power of Six) will provide answers to those questions but those information should be in this film! 

(2) Four is an alien but his main problem is high school life? Yay, high school drama in an alien movie? 

(3) Romance + dialogue = cheesy. Is this an alien movie or what? I agree with one of the reviewers that it was more like a Twilight movie than an action alien film. And lastly;

(4) I was not impressed with the fight scenes. It was really boring. I was glad that Six came and saved the day!

Overall, it would have been fantastic if this film was not as vague as it was. I would recommend you watch this film closer to the sequel's release in August 2011 so you won't be left hanging because of the lack of details in this film.

About the movie:

Extraordinary teen John Smith (Pettyfer) is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events-his first love (Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In My Mailbox

IMM (In My Mailbox) is a weekly meme hosted and created by Kristi at The Story Siren.

This is a way to share the books we received for review, bought, and also books borrowed from the library.


“You are the Bridge...”

Twenty-eight-year-old San Francisco native, Allie Taylor, knew she had issues…but she at least thought she was human. In her version of modern day Earth, a second race of human-like beings called seers were discovered in Asia in the early 1900s. Since then, they have fought in two world wars and live alongside humans as second-class citizens.

So when Allie meets her first, real, flesh-and-blood seer, she's not exactly thrilled when he tells her that she's a seer like him. Not only that, but according to him, all the other seers believe she's going to end the world.

Worse, no matter what she does, everything that happens after that only seems to prove him right.

"A Miracle for Miriam" from An Amish Christmas
Miriam fell for Seth, but he broke her heart. Years later, after he's nearly killed in an accident, Miriam sees him at a Christmas party and notices something is different about him-not just how he looks, but how he acts. When Seth pursues her, she must decide whether to guard her heart or accept his love.
"A Place of His Own" from An Amish Gathering
When Josiah left Paradise the first time, he didn't even say good-bye. Now he's back, ten years later, and he's changed. Why is he so distant and bitter? Where is the boy who used to be Amanda's best friend? Amanda is learning that there are things even a capable Amish girl can't fix. But can she stand there and watch him walk away...again?
"What the Heart Sees" from An Amish Love
A tragic accident rocks a peaceful Amish community, leaving Ellie Chupp blinded and Christopher Bender's future shattered. But they find love and forgiveness in a place they least expect.


Once upon a time,
deep in the dark, green forest
there was an exquisite house made of cake and sugar--
a house made to lure lost, hungry children.

But the witch whose delicious house
lured Hansel and his sister, Gretel
had forgotten two things about lost children:
they can be very clever
and very brave.


Vampires and werewolves. Sworn enemies for over nine hundred years, they have fought a secret war in the darkest shadows of the mortal world, pitting undead strength and cunning against feral rage and savagery. Now, in the hip Gothic streets of modern-day Budapest, the ancient conflict takes an unexpected new twist. Selene is a Death Dealer, a vampire warrior dedicated to the destruction of the hated lycans. Michael is a werewolf, an innocent American newly infected with the lupine curse. Against all reason and history, they find themselves drawn together even as the grisly inhuman war rushes toward its nightmarish climax. They have no idea of the power their unlikely union can unleash -- and of the terrifying secrets that will be revealed in the unearthly realm of...

Friday, May 13, 2011

ARC Book Review: Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Title: Witches of East End (ARC)
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (June 21, 2011)


★ ★ ★  

My thoughts:

Liked it better than the author's Blue Blood Series. 
I've only read the first book of the BBS and I didn't like it but reading this new book makes me want to rush to the bookstore and buy the 2nd book!

I loved the story of these witches! The Beauchamp Family is a spin-off series of the Blue Blood books.  If you are a BBS lover, you'll be glad to know that there are appearances of some BBS characters here. Though I'm not sure if those who have not read the author's first series would understand the history of vampires and witches because it's not fully explained in this book.

While I enjoyed the story, there were a few times in the middle where I did skim over it. There are some parts of the books that were kind of slow. I also didn't like that one of the main characters cheated on her fiancee, that's a total turn-off for me. 

Overall, it's still a great book about witches. If you're looking for a new series to start, you might want to pick up this book.

About the book:

From the author of the highly addictive and bestselling Blue Bloods series, with almost 3 million copies sold, comes a new novel, Melissa de la Cruz's first for adults, featuring a family of formidable and beguiling witches.
The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache.
For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.
With a brand-new cast of characters, a fascinating and fresh world to discover, and a few surprise appearances from some of the Blue Blood fan favorites, this is a page-turning, deliciously fun, magical summer read fraught with love affairs, witchcraft, and an unforgettable battle between good and evil. - Amazon

About the author:

Melissa de la Cruz is the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling series Blue Bloods, which has three million copies in print. She is a former journalist who has contributed to many publications, including Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Allure, and Marie Claire. She spent many summers on Shelter Island, which served as the inspiration for the fictional town of North Hampton. She lives in Los Angeles and Palm Springs with her family and is hard at work on the second book in the Beauchamp Family series.

Note: I received an ARC of this book free from the author's agent, Goldberg McDuffie Communications. The review posted above is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Happy Friday!!

Wow! It's been a long long loooong time since the last time I joined the weekly hop.  I am trying to catch up with reading and blogging... I miss you guys!! Wish I could do this often!

For my new followers, if you want to join the fun, visit Parajunkee's view and Crazy For Books for the linky . . . .

Question of the week:

What is the most emotional scene in a book that you have read lately?

Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead, Rose, Dimitri, and Adrian moments. Reading it made me happy and upset at the same time.


Question of the week:

Are you going to Book Expo America (BEA) and/or the Book Blogger Convention (BBC) this year?

Yay, been blogging for years and still have no idea about these book conventions. And no, I can't attend since I'm from the Kingdom of  Far Far Far Faaaar Away (next to Shrek's Land)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Guest Author: Lisa Espich

Just over six years ago my life was in complete turmoil. After nearly two decades of trying and failing to save my husband from an addiction to crack cocaine and prescription pain pills, I had reached my own “rock bottom”. When I found myself chasing a drug dealer through my neighborhood streets, I realized just how insane my life had become.

I had come home from work to find my husband, Dean, standing outside of his dealer’s car. I knew it belonged to his dealer because I had seen the car before. I had followed my husband a couple of weeks prior when I had suspected that he was going to get drugs. The old white Cadillac parked outside of my house was the same car I had seen that night. Coming home to discover Dean purchasing drugs right outside of our home was more than I could stand.

As soon as I started to pull up into the driveway the Cadillac sped off. I was too furious to let him get away that easily. I spun my car back around and took off after him. I knew it was crazy, but my anger had the best of me.

As he weaved in and out of the neighborhood streets, I stayed right behind him. He finally pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. I swerved my car up in front of his, blocking him from taking off again. My adrenaline had taken over, and at that moment I felt invincible. I am not a big woman by any means. I am 5’3” and about 120 pounds, but that didn’t keep me from walking right up to the side of his car to confront him.

I proceeded to tell him off in the strongest voice I could force out. I went on to threaten if he ever came around my home or husband again, he’d be sorry. While he acted as though he didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, he promised to stay away.

With that I turned around and got back into my car. As I pulled away, I pushed the gas pedal to the floorboard, causing my tires to spin and kick gravel back up at the Cadillac. For a brief moment I felt powerful. I was proud of myself for standing up to this seemingly tough man.

As I drove back home, though, I realized how reckless my actions really were. I had no way of knowing what the outcome would be of a confrontation like that. At that moment I was able to look at myself clearly.

I was living a constant cycle of arguing and crying, driving around late at night looking for my husband, buying back our belongings from pawn shops, putting myself into dangerous situations, and feeling alone and confused. Every attempt I made to help my husband seemed to fail. Even the drug dealer I confronted sold more drugs to him just a few hours later. Something had to change.

That night I created a plan to gain back control of my life. As much as I wanted my husband to get clean, I finally came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t control his addiction. My plan included exercise to improve my self-esteem, saving money for my future security, and putting a focus on my own emotional strength.

The next day I started to put my plan to work, and it was truly amazing how fast everything began to turn around. For so many years I had blamed my husband for my own unhappiness, but I discovered that my happiness wasn’t about him at all. As I began to work on my own inner strength, I learned to use the tools of affirmations and visualization. These things, more than anything else, made such a huge difference for me.

Amazingly, as I began to make my own improvements, my husband began to make positive changes as well. Eventually, he admitted himself into treatment, and we are now enjoying a healthy marriage (over five years clean and sober). There was a time when I had given up hope on my husband ever getting clean, but now I know that recovery really is possible.

This is the reason I wanted to share my story. I understand how desperate it can feel to love a person struggling with addiction. I am not a counselor or therapist writing from a professional stance. Instead, I write as a wife and mother who struggled to save my family from addiction, and finally found the right source of help.

There is a stigma that surrounds addiction, especially when it involved illegal drugs. It is this stigma that causes loved ones to hide the problem, keep secrets, and isolate themselves. Statistically, one in four people are affected by addiction. It is time for families to shed the shame and reach out for help. I know from my own experience, that there can be life after addiction!

Sometimes you have to push your way past the crowd of fear
in order to reach the front row seats of joy - Lisa Espich

Lisa Espich is the author of Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams. After creating her own program for co-addiction recovery, and witnessing the remarkable transformation by her husband, she is now passionate about helping other families to overcome the devastating effects of addiction. For additional resources, information, and a Free Guided Meditation download visit her website at http://www.soaringabovecoaddiction.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guest Author : Mark Chew

I remembered it was in March 2010 that I decided to write a book. It would be the definitive leadership guide for business owners, managers and students. I then declared my goal to my fellow participants in a week-long Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) seminar that taught us to plan and execute our life goals. In my mind’s eye, I could envision the finished book, and smell the paper scent as I flipped the pages. I felt good.
So, I rushed home to my wife to share my dreams with her. Being the practical person that she was, she started to roll her eyes. She was noticeably angry. I had been talking about abstract concepts such as achieving dreams and financial freedom all week after attending the course, and she couldn’t understand it.
She looked at me and screamed, “Mark! If you think it’s going to be easy writing a book, many people would have done it. And why would they read yours!” Incidentally, writing a book was one of the top three most popular goals in the world.
My face flushed with a strange warm feeling of embarrassment. Nobody knew me, so how would my book reach out to others. But a tiny voice in my head added, “Really? Nobody knew who Mitch Albom was either . . .”
I answered boldly, “Because I have what it takes to write a book on leadership.” After all, I had spent close to two decades honing my leadership and management skills in school, sports and in the military.
My wife looked at me and proceeded to fill the entire piece of paper she was holding, with what I thought were cartoon drawings of lips.
She added, “Then, don’t give me lip service. Just do it.”
I smiled. That was her sign of approval. I kissed her and told her I would never let her down.
The next day I planned the content page. I decided to push my writing capabilities so I decided to pen both fiction and non-fiction stories. It was tentatively called “What F are You?” since it revolved around discovering one’s leadership styles from four attributes, namely being “Firm, Fair, Friendly and Flexible”. I wrote a short story back in October 2009, but because of my consultancy work, I had to fly to Delhi and Hyderabad, India, monthly for two weeks. So, I never continued. However, this time was different. I had found my motivation which was to create a legacy for my baby Alyssa, and not to let my wife down with mere lip service.
For the next four months, I dedicated a fortnight to write each chapter, breaking down the chapters to bullet points and pushed myself to complete each point daily. When I was in Singapore, I would first rock my baby girl to sleep at night, and chat with my wife till she too fell asleep, then work would start. When I was in Delhi, I would work from my hotel room after I returned from the client’s office. At times I turned down my colleagues’ request for dinner, and their invitation to tour the sights of Delhi. I had a mission to complete.
When I wrote my fictional story, I had to get into character so that I could feel whatever I visualised. When I fleshed out the content on the characteristics of being a leader, I searched through my physical memory bank and on the internet. Information was literally at my fingertips, and I had to convert them into knowledge.
And there were distractions. World Cup Fever was around the corner, and it didn’t help that Delhi had the perfect timing to telecast these games live! But I typed on . . .
Essentially, I used an excel sheet to monitor my progress and after completing a chapter, I would mark it green and add “Completed”. When I went back to meet my NLP friends, we would share our updates on our goals. On 7th July, I looked through my action plan excel sheet and realised that it was all green. Then, I realised with a sense of pride that I may have actually completed my manuscript. My wife was my first reviewer.
On 9th July, I sent my manuscript to my buddy Sean, via e-mail. Sean had by then published his book, “Winning the Money Game”, which was about his money experiences, and how he formulated a simple step-by-step game plan that was practical and powerful. Sean immediately called me and said, “Bro, let me forward your manuscript to my publisher, Armour Publishing.”

On 12th July, as I was boarding the plane to Delhi again, I looked at my phone to switch it off, but stopped in my tracks when I saw the mail icon flashing on my phone. I opened it and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the words, “Dear Mark, see review of your script. The reviewer felt it was quite good . . .”
Over the next two months, I would spend countless nights polishing the manuscript because the publisher said, “Take your time. Don’t get distracted with coming up with a best-seller. Just make sure it’s something that your grandchildren would be proud of when they read it.”

I badly wanted the book to be published in time for Alyssa’s first birthday in November, but there were some delays and it was only in mid December that the publisher told me that they would deliver the first 200 books I ordered to my house. The others would be distributed to the major bookstores.
I pressed on with marketing efforts as I went on air with Singapore’s 938FM Live, The Living Room on 13th December to share my leadership insights. My wife told me that when she heard my voice on air, she shed tears of joy.
As for me, I felt my eyes water, as I held my freshly printed book, “Discover Your Leadership Style” in my hands on 16th December, and handed it over to my baby girl, Alyssa, and my wife.

I had achieved my goal.

In this enlightening book, Mark Chew provides practical tips and insights to help student leaders, business owners, managers and leaders in any organisation to discover and identify their leadership style. Drawing on his wealth of experience, Mark presents and expounds on four characteristics that the ideal leader should possess — being firm, flexible, friendly and fair.

Inspiring and illuminating, and filled with fascinating stories and vivid illustrations, this leadership guide book will renew your mind and empower you to become the successful leader you were meant to be.

Mark Chew is a business developer and leadership coach, specialising in leadership management and wealth management. He is the author of "Discover Your Leadership Style", and may be contacted at http://chewmark.com .
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