You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Friday, November 20, 2015

Claws for Alarm Blog Tour and Book Review

ClawsNBA High ResClaws for Alarm by T.C. LoTempio

 Since inheriting her mother’s sandwich shop, Nora Charles is more about hot grilled paninis than cold-blooded murder—until her sister Lacey is arrested. The victim, an esteemed art collector and Lacey’s bullying professor, was stabbed in the heart. Apparently, all over a lousy grade. Off campus, things were just as dicey. The prof had an ex with secrets, a trophy wife set to inherit a fortune in masterworks, and a scorned student mistress. Going undercover, Nora realizes that investigating this crime is the biggest test of her sleuthing career. Because if she fails, even Nick’s animal instinct won’t be enough to rescue Lacey from a perfectly executed framing.

My Review:

Claws for Alarm is the second book in the Nick & Nora series. In this story, Nora has to find the real killer of Professor Pitt before her sister goes down for murder. I want to first say that I love the series, Nora is a fun character and Nick, I wish I could pet the kitty. I loved Nora in the first book. But for some reason, she made me so mad with some of the stupid mistakes she made and the way she put herself in danger. I don't remember her character being soooo careless the way she was here, granted her sister's life was on the line but still. One thing the author is really great with, plots and twist. LOVE them. No matter how rocky this read was, the ending was quite satisfying and I am definitely going to wait for the third book :)

**** stars


Praise for the Nick and Nora “Nick and Nora are a winning team.”—Rebecca Hale, New York Times bestselling author of How to Paint a Cat “Nick and Nora are the purrfect sleuthy duo!”—*Victoria Laurie, New York Times bestselling author of the Psychic Eye Mystery series add to goodreads

Author T.C. LoTempio

Born in New York City, T. C. LoTempio is the national bestselling author of Meow If It’s Murder, the first in the Nick and Nora Mystery series. She has been a staff reporter at the young adult magazine Susabella Passengers and Friends for more than a decade. When she isn’t reporting or writing novels, she and her cat Rocco fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read.


$25 Blog Tour giveaway  

Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

 Ends 12/4/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 28, 2015

Blog Tour: The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn

Sigularity
Legacy Human Cover  The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn

What would you give to live forever? Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is. The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.
Praise for The Legacy Human “This book is Hunger Games (without the violence or controversy) meets Divergent.” “This story is so intense I felt I couldn’t get a proper breath.” “Science fiction with philosophical depth!”     Duality BridgeThe Duality Bridge What does it mean to be human? Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever. Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies. Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all. The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.
  SusanAuthor Susan Kay Quinn Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.
  legacy human   $25 Blog Tour giveaway $25 Blog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/6/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

EXCERPT - The Legacy Human (Singularity #1)
“I will buy it from you.”
“Um…” I’ve missed something, but I’m not sure what. “You already own it.”
“You would not be looking to sell it, if you didn’t need the money.” Her voice is soft with compassion. “And I can’t bear to part with any of your works. It seems a fair exchange. Do you agree?”
Embarrassment flames my face, but I can’t afford to say no. “Yes.”
She rewards me with a dazzling smile that sweeps away my embarrassment. “Good! I’ve already transferred the untraceable chits to your account.”
Untraceable. She’s already figured out the money’s going toward something illegal. And yet she’s breaking the law, no questions asked, all because it’s what I need and she wants to keep my art. She’s always been generous, always given me exactly what I need, effortlessly and with grace, but this… I don’t have words for this thing she’s doing for me. I don’t believe in angels, but if I did, Lenora would have to qualify.
I am so hopelessly lost when it comes to her.
I concentrate on handing the painting to her, resisting the almost overwhelming urge to touch her. Hug her. Make some excuse to get closer. It shames me to want something from her that no decent ascender would give. A pet can kiss its master, but the master won’t kiss back. Not the way I want her to. Lenora is buying my art because she’s kind and decent… and all my base human brain can think of is putting my hands on her.
And how soft her ascender lips would feel.
“Thank you.” My words are hushed. There’s shame in my eyes, so I drop my gaze to the floor.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Author Interview: Karimah Grayson


Today's interview is with Karimah Grayson, author of The Shoulders On Which I Stand.

Karimah recently began writing in the little known genre of Muslim fiction and looks forward to sharing the Muslim American experience with the world.


Can tell us a little bit about yourself and your book, The Shoulders On Which I Stand?

My name is Karimah Grayson. I have been married for more than 25 years and am the mother of four. I also have two grandsons. Currently I’m a Social Science teacher for high school. I live in Broward County, Florida. I’ve been Muslim my entire life. I grew up in Philadelphia at a time when all the Muslims knew each other.

“The Shoulders On Which I Stand” is my debut novel. It chronicles a time in the life of Daria Van, who is a US History Teacher. While teaching, she teaches more than the standard history provided in the textbooks. She ensures to include all of the ethnicities of the country. However, her principal doesn’t like that she is going outside of the textbook and causes a lot of turmoil for Daria. On the home front, she finds out her husband takes a second wife. While she doesn’t mind that he took a second wife, she does get upset when he disrespects her and his second wife.
Daria begins receiving threatening calls and cars following her and her children. Because she doesn’t know what to do, she turns to her brother who’s been on the run for more than twenty years. This story takes twists and turns of emotions and different situations. I cannot tell too much more because it will be a spoiler alert.


What inspired this story?

What inspired the book were the various stories that I’ve read through the years of teachers being fired or disciplined for teaching African-American history beyond what I termed, the African-American History Trinity (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Harriett Tubman). I imagined what it would be like if a principal went beyond his means in making someone stop teaching something he disagrees with.

Highlight some of your achievements and challenges while working on your book.

While working on my book, some of my achievements were improving my showing versus telling. Also, I decided to go the independent publisher route and by doing that I found various entryways into marketing my book after it was published. On the other hand, some of my challenges while working on the book were working on description of characters and settings. I found myself doing a lot of research on character development and setting development to work through those challenges.

Describe your writing style in ten words.

I write the story first and then edit the story.

Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.

Five positive words that describe me as a writer are determined, excited, enthralled, tenacious, and serious.

Thank you so much, Ms Grayson, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your writing journey with us.

Want to learn more about the author and her books? Visit her at:
Her website.
Her email: authorkarimahg@gmail.com.
Her facebook page.

Her Amazon author page


Monday, July 20, 2015

An Interview with Author, Saadia Faruqi



Today's interview is with Saadia Faruqi, the author of Brick Walls: Tales of Hope and Courage from Pakistan. Ms Faruqi writes fiction, teaches cultural sensitivity, blogs about religion, and organizes interfaith events. You can learn more about Faruqi on her website: www.saadiafaruqi.com




Can tell us a little bit about yourself and your book Brick Walls? 

 I am a Pakistani American writer, speaker and interfaith activist residing in Houston, TX with my husband and two young children by the grace of God. Professionally I am a grant writer, and by vocation I am an interfaith organizer, speaking about interfaith and Islamic issues at a variety of venues in the Greater Houston area. In 2009 I published a research-based book on grant seeking, and for the last decade or so I’ve been writing non-fiction about cultural and religious issues. Only recently did I somehow get the urge to write fiction, hence my debut fiction title “Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan.”

Brick Walls is a collection of short stories based in my birth country of Pakistan. It is a fictional account of characters living in Pakistan, but the situations they find themselves in are very real. Each story in the collection focuses on a specific obstacle the characters find in front of them – be it poverty, terrorism, gender discrimination, police harassment, political turmoil, ageism, and so on. These are the brick walls the characters face, and the stories are about how they deal with these walls. It is a unique look into the everyday lives of Pakistanis, and how they deal with the problems they face.

What was the inspiration behind the book? 

 During my training, when I would speak about Islam or interfaith topics, I would often be asked about my life in Pakistan. Americans know a lot about Pakistan thanks to the news, but most of that information is very biased. They read about bombs and terrorists and violence, but they never see the beauty and charm of Pakistani culture. All these questions made me realized that a depiction of Pakistani life was much-needed here, and that readers would be very interested in learning more about the daily accomplishments and struggles of the Pakistani people. So I decided to write a fictional account based on the reality of that country.

Highlight some of your achievements and challenges while working on Brick Walls. 

My biggest challenge was to decide which topics or themes to write about. I wanted to show a wide variety of situations that Pakistanis undergo, but I didn’t want to go overboard. So I had to choose very carefully which issues I would write about, and which to leave out. I also wanted to make sure I included a variety of characters, male, female, young, old, rich, poor. My biggest achievement I think was being able to find the correct mix of characters and story lines that really make the book all-rounded without being overwhelming or preachy. I have received wonderful feedback about this aspect of the book and how it appeals to so many different readers.

Describe your writing style in ten words. 

Writing stories of cultural importance in a conversational literary style.

Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. Engaging, dedicated, passionate, informal, and thoughtful.


Thank you so much, Ms Faruqi, for taking time out of your busy schedule and sharing your writing journey with us.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop! 7/2-7/9


Welcome to the Freedom to Read blog hop. 


This hop is co hosted by BookHounds and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. 

For this hop, I am giving away a copy of Brick Walls: Tales of Hope and Courage from Pakistan.

Rules: Fill in the rafflecopter below. :)
This time around, my prize is for US residents only. Sorry. :( 
You must also be 18 +




About the Book:


Brick Walls: Tales of Hope and Courage from Pakistan is a heartwarming collection of short stories filled with larger-than-life characters and the seemingly impossible challenges they face. Be captivated by these fictional depictions of everyday Pakistanis who struggle with poverty, violence, corruption and abuse, yet rise from the ashes stronger and more enduring. There is Asma the lackluster seamstress, Faisal the would-be terrorist, Javed Gul the Pushto rock singer, Farzana the cantankerous grandmother, Nida the ten-year-old girl with a cricket obsession, and many more. Together they form a rich mosaic that showcases the beauty of Pakistan, her culture and her people.





a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, May 25, 2015

Book Giveaway: Sandcastles & Snowmen



Title: Sandcastles & Snowmen

Author: Sahar El-Nadi

Publisher: FB Publishing, June 1, 2013

Summary: A reflective journey of one woman's search and
rediscovery of her faith and spirituality.

Review:  Click on the following link to read the review for Sandcastles & Snowmen

Giveaway: One copy of Sandcastles & Snowmen



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 23, 2015

An Interview With Author Yasmin Mogahed


Today's interview is with the author of Reclaim Your Heart, Yasmin Mogahed.  She is a freelance writer and international speaker. She also hosts Serenity, her show on One Legacy Radio.


Greetings and Welcome. Please tell us a little bit about your book, Reclaim Your Heart.



Reclaim Your Heart is a book about freeing the heart from the chains of worldly life. It talks about healing, about coping and about redemption.



What was the motivation behind writing Reclaim Your Heart

My own life experiences and the lessons I was learning along the way about love, loss, pain and God.


I had the wonderful opportunity to hear you read "I Prayed for Peace Today," at the Seattle IlmFest 2015. What inspired you to write that poem?

A very difficult personal challenge that I had no control to alter. It made me realize how powerless I really am, and that all power belongs to God.



Can you share with us your publishing journey? What were some of your greatest challenges and how did you overcome them?

My biggest challenge was finding the right publisher, as I faced an incident of attempted fraud during my initial search.



Do you have any other projects/books you are working on now?

My next project is a collection of my shorter quotes insha Allah.



When you are not busy writing or teaching classes or giving lectures, what do you like to do?

Spend quality time with the people I love. I enjoy deep conversation and really great humor.



Which of the poems in your book is your favorite and why?

I think it would be "I prayed for peace today" because of how raw that sentiment was.


And for our final question:


As I mentioned before, I attended the IlmFest conference in Seattle and the theme of the conference was Balance, balance in every aspect of our lives, Currently, we are seeing a lot of turmoil in Muslim communities, whether it is in the home, at work, school or with dealing with the public at large. If you had one piece of advice for the Ummah, to heal and grow from these struggles, what would it be?

Stay close to God, nourish your heart with His constant remembrance, and love Him more than anything else.


I would like to thank Ms Mogahed for taking time out of her busy schedule to share her book and insights with us.

Read more about Yasmin Mogahed book and our review of this title on Goodreads.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Book Review: Sandcastles & Snowmen by Sahar El-Nadi


Title: Sandcastles and Snowmen


Author: Sahar El-Nadi


Publisher: FB Publishing House, June 1, 2013


Book Description:

What makes a successful woman indifferent to her faith and what draws her back to it to see the world in new way? Why would a smart woman-of-the-world choose to be a practicing Muslim who voluntarily wears a headscarf, commits to praying five times a day and fasting a full month each year? And how does that decision affect her public life and her international work?


Sandcastles and Snowmen explores faith through the story of a woman on a personal journey to search for spirituality, leading her to reconnect with Islam in a new, global context in the turbulent post 9/11 world.


Review:
Sahar El-Nadi takes the open-minded reader on a true journey to explore and learn about Islam through her own spiritual journey of rediscovery. Born into an Egyptian Muslim family and culture, Sahar El-Nadi still went through a phase where religion was not the main focus of her life. Many young people go through this phase where they have to discover who they are individually and separate from their parent/heritage/cultural influences.


What I like most about this author is her ability to reach out and connect with the reader in a most respectful and culturally sensitive way. Sahar Nadi's  approach of sharing her faith and spiritual journey is a natural conversation. Anyone from any faith can read her book and learn about Islam without feeling pressured, talked down to or admonished. She uses every available resource, recent academic research, Islamic studies, recent and historical events, and religious texts to validate her point of view without invalidating a different point of view. She challenges misconceptions and mis-perceptions about Islam giving the reader a balanced understanding of Islamic faith and practices.


I enjoyed reading about her personal, work and travel experiences as a modern day Muslim woman in her field, the road to her rediscovering Islam, and her personal desire to become a practicing Muslim. She covers a diverse range of topics including, religion, science, arts, culture, politics, current events and so much more.




About the Author:


Sahar El-Nadi is a writer, public speaker and instructor, on leadership, change, creativity, communication and cross-cultures. She is also the creator & director of award-winning initiative 'Don't Hate, Educate!' promoting diversity and tolerance. 


To purchase Sahar’s book at Amazon, Click Here.


To visit the website for Sahar’s book go to Sandandsnow.info

Monday, April 6, 2015

Book Review: Kitty Hawk The Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost

Title: Kitty Hawk: The Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost

Author: Iain Reading

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform,
September 11, 2013

Book Description: Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost is the exciting second installment in a new series of adventure mystery stories that are one part travel, one part history and five parts adventure.

This second book in the series continues the adventures of Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot who has decided to follow in the footsteps of her hero Amelia Earhart and make an epic flight around the entire world. After flying across North America Kitty's journey takes her down south to Florida where she plans to get a bit of rest and relaxation before continuing on with the rest of her long and grueling flight.

As Kitty explores the strange and magical water world of the Florida Keys her knack for getting herself into precarious situations sweeps her headlong into the adventure of a lifetime involving mysterious lights, ancient shipwrecks, razor-toothed barracudas and even a sighting of the great Ernest Hemingway himself. This exhilarating story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept across the landscape and history of the Florida Keys all the way from Key West to the strange and remarkable world of Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas.

My Review:

In the second book of the Kitty Hawk series, Kitty is visiting the Florida Keys for a couple of weeks before beginning her major solo trip around the world.

This adventure around, she has to figure out the mystery of Ernest Hemingway's ghost who seems to be writing yet another great American novel, mysterious green glowing lights out in the waters surrounding Fort Jefferson, and the hunt for ancient ship wreck.Naturally, Kitty finds herself in very dangerous situations that she has to get out of but she always manage to do it with flare and sometimes......SPOILER ALERT....flames, as in a homemade Molotov cocktail! Seriously, where did she learn how to make one of those?

My favorite part came toward the middle of the story. Her visit to the Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park. I learned a lot about the history of Fort Jefferson, why it was there, how it got there and other hidden mysteries in its waters. The story is packed with fun tidbits of historical information.

What I didn't care too much for is how long it took to get to the good part of the story. Her time in Florida seemed to drag out for a long time. Nothing THAT interesting happened except for the Hemingway ghost sighting at his famed writing spot. In fact, the title seems misleading because she really isn't looking for the ghost through out the story. Most of the story is about trying to figure out the who and why of the mysterious glowing lights out on the water.

Overall, it was a fun read. I'm looking forward to Kitty's next adventure.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Author Interview: Hend Hegazi


Today's interview is with debut author Hend Hegazi, author of Normal Calm. Hend is a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in notable Muslim magazines such as Azizah and SISTERS.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, USA. I graduated from Smith College with a degree in biology and shortly after, moved to Egypt where I have been for the past 13 years. I’m married and have 4 children. I’m a freelance writer for SISTERS magazine as well as a couple of online magazines. Recently, I’ve delved into the role of freelance editor, which is an endeavor I’m really excited about.

Can you share with us a little about your publishing journey?
I have always loved to write, but I didn’t become disciplined about it until I realized that those millions of published authors out there are no better than me! Some are exceedingly more talented and their stories are far better than mine, of course, but the opposite is also true. Authors are just regular people who simply make their writing a priority. When I accepted that truth, the idea of finishing my novel shifted from being a dream to being an achievable goal.
Once I finished it, I did all sorts of research on how to get published. Naturally, I learned that unsolicited manuscripts get no notice from most publishing houses and most authors make use of agents. So I set about doing my research into which agents may be interested in an Arab American story, and queried a bunch. A whole bunch. And although a few showed interest, in the end they all declined, saying it was a tough sell. Between the actual rejection letters and the no-reply rejections, I hold under my belt more than 100 agent rejections. Although I mention it with humor, at the time it was discouraging. I decided I would no longer pursue it: if it was meant to be, then God would make it happen.

I stopped actively researching agents, but if I learned of an Arab American published author, I would skim her acknowledgements page, searching for the mention of an agent. If I found one, I would query the agent, if not, I sent the query directly to the publisher. And that’s how I found FB Publishing. I sent them my manuscript, and they saw enough potential to publish it, Praise God.


What inspired your story, Normal Calm?
There were two things: First, I really hated the Arab mentality of blaming rape victims for this horrendous crime which was committed against them. During my research on the subject I have learned that victim blaming is really an international crises, one that all ethnicities struggle with. In Normal Calm, I felt the need to stand up and clearly say that rape survivors are the victims and should never be criminalized.

The other motivation was a desire to give people a window into the lives of Arab Americans. I wanted to show people that although we have religious and cultural differences, we are really more alike.

What was on of your biggest challenges, if any, while writing Normal Calm? And, how did your overcome that challenge?
The biggest challenge I faced was how Amina, the main character, would deal with the rape. In my earliest version, she reports it to the police. That’s what I wanted her to do, so that any readers in her position would be encouraged to take that same route. But when it came down to it, I realized that the novel would take a different path from the one I originally had planned: the police report would lead to a trial, and sentencing, and all sorts of things which, I felt, would pull the story away from the social repercussions of her rape. The thing which made her NOT file a report is the fact that her rapist flees the country. Don’t get me wrong: I encourage any victims of rape to report it to the authorities, but for the purposes of this fictional story, having him leave just made more sense.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your story, without giving us too much of the story.
There is a scene when one of her perspective suitors basically calls her promiscuous, and she tells him off. I love her brashness in that scene, partly because it comes as a shock, even to herself. It shows that we are capable of strength beyond our own awareness.

What is the most important thing you want your readers to take away after reading Normal Calm?
That even when there is a lack of support from people you love, being honest and staying true to yourself will always be rewarded with goodness.

Do you have any other projects you are working on that you can tell us about?
I’ve finished writing my second novel, Praise God, although I still have no news of publication. Along with my freelance writing and editing, I’m developing some ideas for my next book and hope to begin writing that soon, God willing.

If you could share one piece of advice that you wish you had been given at the beginning of your publishing journey, what would it be?
Do not overlook the small, niche publishers. For example, there are Muslim publishers out there, even though they may not easily turn up during your search. Facebook is a super resource to help locate and connect with people, and that includes niche publishers.

This question is for Amina (book character) ... If you could say or share one thing with rape victims around the world, what would it be?
Many rape survivors experience self-blame, but just as it is ridiculous to think of blaming the victims of theft for that crime, it is even more ridiculous to blame rape victims. It may not be easy to find a partner who will understand and accept your circumstances, but if you are honest and true to yourself, God willing, HE will reward you with goodness.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and sharing your writing journey with us.
It is my pleasure. Jazakum Allahu khairan for giving me the platform to share my journey.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Review: Normal Calm by Hend Hegazi


Title: Normal Calm


Author: Hend Hegazi


Publisher: FB Publisher, Jan 1, 2014


Book Description:
Amina is an Arab American woman attending one of the best universities in the US. During the spring of her junior year, Amina is raped by one of her friends, making her essentially unmarriageable in the eyes of her parents and, possibly, the entire Arab community. When her mother experiences a nervous breakdown, Amina fears that she is to blame for her mother's condition. Eventually she falls in love with Sherif, but his reaction to her rape proves him to be unworthy. Deciding to forgo love, Amina focuses on her career. When her best friend introduces her to Mazin, however, she sees in him only good qualities. He is successful, kind, generous...but she feels no love for him. When Mazin asks for her hand in marriage, Amina struggles with the idea of settling for a man she does not love. Knowing that he, too, may abandon her when he learns of her rape is another burden she continues to bear.


Book Review:
This was a really good read despite it not being a book/genre I usually enjoy. The story touches on the subject of rape and how it is handled or viewed in Arab Muslim communities. Rape in general is viewed as "the woman's fault" in almost every culture but it is disturbingly so in Muslim communities because the responsibility of upholding ones dignity and honor is majorly placed on the woman. What is unfair about the practice is that it is not a religious thing. The Muslim faith places the responsibility equally and fairly on men and women to protect themselves and each other but somehow, somewhere, someone misinterpreted and placed it on women.

I enjoyed Normal Calm because Amina was/is a strong character. I loved that she stayed true to herself. Knowing the stigma placed on non-virgins, even rape victims, in her community, she did not allow the incident to change her character, her integrity when it came time to discuss marriage to potential partners.In all of her relationships, she was true to herself and those around, and that was her biggest asset, that is what strengthened her and her relationships.

I particularly enjoyed her friendship with Kayla, a non-Muslim friend she practically grew up with. The love, respect, tolerance and even humor they showed each other when it came to discussing religion, life, school, love and work, was refreshing. Amina found in Kayla a true friend, someone who listened with the intent to understand, not just respond. While Amina's family did eventually support and back her, Kayla was her rock in the beginning, when her life first fell to pieces.

There is still much needed discussions in our communities, discussions that will help heal, strengthen and finally put an end to the victim blaming society tends to do when a woman, girl, or child is raped or abused. Normal Calm opens that discussion, in my opinion, for the Muslim and Arab communities.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book Review: Due for Discard by Sharon St. George

Title: Due for Discard

Author: Sharon St. George

Publisher: Camel Press, March 1, 2015

Genre: Mystery

Book Blurb: 

Aimee Machado is thrilled to be starting her first job as a forensic librarian at the medical center in the town of Timbergate, north of Sacramento, California. Her ebullient mood is somewhat dampened by her recent breakup with her former live-in boyfriend, Nick Alexander. And then there's a little matter of murder: on Aimee's first day on the job, a body is found in the hospital Dumpster, soon identified as her supervisor’s wife, Bonnie Beardsley.

Aimee’s heartbreaker of a brother and best friend, Harry, just happens to be one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, but he is hardly the only suspect. Bonnie was notorious for her wild partying and man-stealing ways, and she has left a trail of broken hearts and bitterness. Aimee is determined to get her brother off the suspect list. Aimee's snooping quickly makes her a target. Isolated on her grandparents' llama farm where she fled post-breakup, she realizes exactly how vulnerable she is.

Three men have pledged to protect her: her brother Harry, her ex, Nick, and the dashing hospital administrator with a reputation for womanizing, Jared Quinn. But they can’t be on the alert every minute, not when Aimee is so bent on cracking the case with or without their help.

Book Review: 

Aimee starts work at a dream job, a forensic librarian at Timbergate Medical Center. Her thrill is overshadowed by her recent breakup with boyfriend, Nick Alexander, a pilot for a rich philanthropist. On her first day of work, a murder is discovered. Not any murder, but the murder of her boss's wife. A woman with many secrets and even more vices. Nothing prepares Aimee for what she finds out next about the murder. Her brother, Harry, knew the victim AND saw the victim before she died. An investigator with a grudge is convinced Harry should be pinned with the murder. As things heat up and Harry is officially made the #1 suspect (after the victim's husband, of course) in the case, Aimee beefs up her detective and forensic knowledge to help find the real killer. She finds help in her new interim boss, single and good looking, Jared Quinn and ex-boyfriend, Nick. Aimee's first 'warning' goes unheeded. Now, she is convinced her brother is being set up. With a whole list of suspects, dangerously mounting threats and a conflicted love life, Aimee pushes on for the truth, whether it kills her or not.

What I loved: I enjoyed the characters. They were fun and easy to get to know and care about. It took me awhile to warm up to Nick but I liked him best of all. Aimee was a complicated character. I would like to say she was a strong character and it seemed like it. She is dedicated and loyal to her brother, to the point she risks her job, safety, and life to clear his name. Yet, she seemed to get herself into a lot of trouble she needed help getting out of, I was a bit disappointed her black belt was not featured as much in the story. I love a mystery where I suspect EVERYONE. With the exception of Nick, Harry, Amah and Jack (Aimee of course) anyone could have been the murder. After all, Bonnie Beardsley left a long trail of broken homes and hearts.

What I didn't like: The pacing of the story did not feel consistent. There were times where it seemed to move at a slow pace and then there were the "can't blink because I might miss something"  pace, like the final showdown! While I enjoyed the characters, there a were quite a few main players. It made it hard for me to keep up with the who's who and who did whats.

Overall, I enjoyed Due for Discard and look forward to seeing other books in this series.


Prices/Formats:
$4.95 ebook, $15.95 paperback

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TQMUVWU

Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/due-for-discard-sharon-st-george/1120803480?ean=2940151250672&itm=1&usri=due+for+discard

Smashwords:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/520641

Friday, March 6, 2015

Book Review: The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens

Title: The Way of Tea and Justice

Author: Becca Stevens

Publisher: Jericho Books, November 4, 2014

Genre: Religion, Political Science, Social Science

Book Blurb:
What started as an impossible dream-to build a café that employs women recovering from prostitution and addiction-is helping to fuel an astonishing movement to bring freedom and fair wages to women producers worldwide where tea and trafficking are linked by oppression and the opiate wars.

Becca Stevens started the Thistle Stop Café to empower women survivors. But when she discovered a connection between café workers and tea laborers overseas, she embarked on a global mission called "Shared Trade" to increase the value of women survivors and producers across the globe.

As she recounts the victories and unexpected challenges of building the café, Becca also sweeps the reader into the world of tea, where timeless rituals transport to an era of beauty and the challenging truths about tea's darker, more violent history. She offers moving reflections of the meaning of tea in our lives, plus recipes for tea blends that readers can make themselves.

In this journey of triumph for impoverished tea laborers, hope for café workers, and insight into the history of tea, Becca Stevens sets out to defy the odds and prove that love is the most powerful force for transformation on earth.

Book Review:

The Way of Tea and Justice recounts the amazing journey of Becca Stevens and her group at thistle farms as they established a tea cafe to help women off the streets heal and rebuild their lives. Becca Stevens is a pastor and much of the book reflects the ups and downs of her journey and how her passion for justice and love for her faith kept her focused even through some very difficult times in her life. Her concept of tea as a way to heal sent her on a journey to learn more about the history and culture of tea.

Her journey also took her across the globe as she visited tea farms around the world. She noticed the injustices against the tea laborers and began an effort called shared trade allowing for better wages and treatment of the labors while creating a business for women, other-wised not given a second chance by society, a safe way to heal and rebuild their lives. I enjoyed reading the many various aspects of tea history and tea culture Becca Stevens shared. I also enjoyed the heartwarming letters included in the book by various women who live and work at Thistle Farms. Many of their stories brought me to tears. I was moved by the love, hope and gratitude they shared in their letters.

The book is very contemplative and Becca Stevens does a lot of reflecting on faith, love, family and as well she reflects on matters of social justice. Sometimes the writing felt a little long-winded and repetitive, but I guess that is the nature of this type of writing. Despite that, I enjoyed the journey of the building of the Thistle Stop Cafe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Due for Discard by Sharon St. George

When I tried my key in the new deadbolt lock, it jammed. I wiggled it loose and tried again. After three tries, I managed to get the door open. When I did, my knees buckled. I grabbed the kitchen counter to keep from falling. Hanging by one leg from the light fixture over my dinette table was a dead turkey. On the table just below its dangling. severed neck was a dark crimson pool filling the stuffy room with the coppery scent of blood.


Title: Due for Discard
Author: Sharon St. George
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Mystery

Book Blurb: 
Aimee Machado is thrilled to be starting her first job as a forensic librarian at the medical center in the town of Timbergate, north of Sacramento, California. Her ebullient mood is somewhat dampened by her recent breakup with her former live-in boyfriend, Nick Alexander. And then there's a little matter of murder: on Aimee's first day on the job, a body is found in a nearby Dumpster and soon identified as her supervisor's wife, Bonnie Beardsley.

Aimee's heartbreaker of a brother and best friend, Harry, just happens to be one of the last people to see Bonnie alive, but he is hardly the only suspect. Bonnie was notorious for her wild partying and man-stealing ways, and she has left a trail of broken hearts and bitterness. Aimee is determined to get her brother off the suspect list.

Aimee's snooping quickly makes her a target. Isolated on her grandparents' llama farm where she fled post-breakup, she realizes exactly how vulnerable she is. Three men have pledged to protect her: her brother Harry, her ex, Nick, and the dashing hospital administrator with a reputation for womanizing, Jared Quinn. But they can't be on the alert every minute, not when Aimee is so bent on cracking the case with or without their help.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: The Way of Tea and Justice by Becca Stevens


I have just started reading this book so I am really excited to dive in. When I opened the book, it began with a poem from Becca Stevens. The first paragraph begins:

The Way of Tea
 
Tea is an invitation to take refuge
from the violence and vulnerability
poured out by the world.
She shelters us in leaves
steeped to soothe souls
with warm kisses.
Her aroma cradles us in timeless dreams.
 
 
 
 
......and it gets better! :) Here's to a nice hot cup of tea and The Way of Tea and Justice

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Tour & Review: The Story Catcher by Donna L. Martin


Title: The Story Catcher

Author: Donna L. Martin (read an interview with Donna, The 3 B's of Storytelling.)

Illustrator: Alyson Peterson

Publisher: Anaiah Press

Topics: Reading, Faith, Patience

Age: 4 - 8

Book Description: 
Addie comes from a long line of readers, or "story catchers," as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own, though, the words play tricks on her. Addie tries everything she can think of to corral those wiggly letters, but it will take a little faith to become the next STORY CATCHER.


My Review:

The Story Catcher is a sweet tale about a young girl who wants to learn how to read, or "catch a story." She sees that everyone in her family can catch a story but when she tries, the stories, hide, play games and fly away from her. No matter how hard she tries, she just can't seem to catch them. No one seems to be able to help her except to say she will catch them "one day."

Many children will find this story relatable since learning how to read can be difficult and most children have little to no patience when it comes to learning how to "catch words/stories." I love Addie's dedication and desire. I love that she does not give up, even though she is frustrated with how difficult it is, something that is not unfamiliar to children. Her attempts at story catching were humorous and fun to follow. Faith. Faith is an important theme in the story. Children are encouraged to not give up and to believe in themselves.



About the author:

By day, Donna L. Martin is a Fourth Degree TaeKwonDo Black Belt; by night, she is a self-proclaimed “ninja author” of picture books, middle grade chapter books, and young adult novels. Somewhere amidst all this excitement, she also created the Free Author Promotion event that takes place every May during the Children’s Festival of Reading. Donna loves laughter, snuggling with her cat, and reading good books. To get a sneak peak of what it was like growing up among the swamps of southern Louisiana, check out Tales from the Bayou on her blog at www.DonnaLMartin.com.




I received an e-copy of The Story Catcher in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Happy Book Birthday!!!!! The Story Catcher by Donna L. Martin

We are so excited to share our first picture book release today!

The Story Catcher BT Banner
Title: The Story Catcher
Author: Donna L. Martin
Imprint: Adventures
Release Date: January 20, 2015
The Story Catcher Book Cover

BLURB:

Addie comes from a long line of readers, or “story catchers,” as her family likes to call themselves. Every time Addie tries to catch a story on her own, though, the words play tricks on her. Addie tries everything she can think of to corral those wiggly letters, but it  will take a little faith to become the next STORY CATCHER.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon Paperback: http://amzn.com/0990908542

 
THE STORY CATCHER FAN CLUB: Fan club membership includes:
Membership Certificate
Bi-monthly Newsletter full of mazes, puzzles, games, news and other goodies
Reading log for earning Story Catcher Award
Short story starring YOU!



TRAILER LINK:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvuB8FQXcmM


Donna L. MartinAUTHOR BIO: By day, Donna L. Martin is a Fourth Degree TaeKwonDo Black Belt; by night, she is a self-proclaimed “ninja author” of picture books, middle grade chapter books, and young adult novels. Somewhere amidst all this excitement, she also created the Free Author Promotion event that takes place every May during the Children’s Festival of Reading. Donna loves laughter, snuggling with her cat, and reading good books. To get a sneak peak of what it was like growing up among the swamps of southern Louisiana, check out Tales from the Bayou on her blog at www.DonnaLMartin.com.  






GIVEAWAY:
Anaiah Press will give away a $20 iTunes Gift Card to one lucky winner and Donna L. Martin will give away a beautiful writing journal.
journal

Enter via the Rafflecopter below.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Tour and Review: Cranberry Bluff by Deborah Garner


How far is far enough to get away from your past?

Title: Cranberry Bluff

Author: Deborah Garner

Publisher:Cranberry Cove Press; November 21, 2014

Book Description: Molly Elliott’s quiet life in Tallahassee, Florida, is disrupted when routine errands land her in the wrong place at the wrong time: the middle of a bank robbery.

Accused and cleared of the crime, she flees both media attention and mysterious, threatening notes, to move across the country to Cranberry Cove, where she has inherited her Aunt Maggie’s bed and breakfast on the Northern California coast. Her new beginning is peaceful – that is, until five guests show up at the inn for a weekend, each with a hidden agenda.

Mix together one blushing honeymoon couple, one flamboyant boutique owner, a deadpan traveling salesman, and a charmingly handsome novelist, and there’s more than scones cooking at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. As true motives become apparent, will Molly’s past come back to haunt her or will she finally be able to leave it behind?


My Review:

Cranberry Cove sounds like a place I would visit and I would definitely stay at Cranberry Cottage Bed and Breakfast. On whole this was a good read. It was a bit tedious in a few place with a lot of descriptions but I still found it enjoyable to read.

The story is about Molly, a bed and breakfast inn owner who is trying to make a new life for herself after involuntarily being involved in a bank robbery. Life seems to be settling in for her until five guest show up. Five guests who are out for something other than a relaxing vacation in Cranberry Cove.

Mr. Charlie Miller was my favorite character. He was odd, reclusive and oh so O.C.D, he reminded me of one of my favorite detectives on tv, MONK. The other characters included Susie and Dan, the newlywed, Sadie, the wealthy boutique owner, I envied her ability to literally shop till she dropped! And then there was Bryce, a single, flirtatious novelist. While Miller was my favorite guest, the others were also well written and added their own charm and wit to the story. Each character is somehow connected to Molly and each other. The plots and twists throughout the story kept me on my toes (well, actually my bum) and reading on. I was pleasantly entertained and pleased with the ending. Kudos to the author. I did NOT see that coming! :D

Oh. Oh. Oh........

There are recipes at the end of the book!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Doubly awesome!!!! :D

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: Khadijah's Got Her Groove by F. A. Ibrahim

Title: Khadijah Got Her Groove

Author: F. A. Ibrahim

Publisher: University Publications
Book Description:

Khadijah Aziz, who only shoots for the stars, has running the perfect Muslim household under control. That was until a mysterious phone number from a woman named Saffron surfaces from her husband Raheem's pocket. Confused and distraught, Khadijah pushes the questionable number to the side and tries to maintain her grip on life as a slew of challenges arise in the relationships she holds most dear. With the threat of slipping, Khadijah struggles desperately to maintain her fascade, but inevitable change is already in motion. Putting family first isn't always easy. Will Khadijah lose everything she's worked for when escalating dilemmas leaves her life boiling like a volcano of issues of the heart, or will she push on to forge a new path for herself: choosing mastery over weakness, peace over strife, and love over fear?


My Review:
I was impressed with Khadijah's Got Her Groove. It is not normally the type of fiction I read, I'm more of a scifi-cozy mystery-action/adventure type of reader but this book really sent me on an emotional roller coaster. Any book that can have me in tears and reaching for tissues is a good book.

Khadijah is a woman in control, of her life, of her family, of her home, of her reputation. But then her life is turned upside down and soon realizes she does not have the control that she thought she had and struggles to the point of a break down and potentially causing harm to her unborn baby. Khadijah is pregnant and stress can cause her to have a very premature delivery. But stress seems to be in her face 24/7. From her daughter rebelling against her and her hijab, her best friend's spiteful and antagonizing non-Muslim sibling, an unknown woman's name and number found in her husband's coat pocket, and a dead-beat father who now wants to make amends. Khadijah learns she has siblings from her dad, her daughter, Laila, is failing school and add to all of this, she is not sure if her husband is faithful or not, if he is lying to her about the woman, Saffron, or not. Khadijah is seriously at a breaking point. But just when she figures out a way to put control back in her hands and bring peace to her heart and her family, she is tested again with the ultimate of handing over control.

I was moved by this story. It takes a lot of courage to learn how to forgive when you have been broken and hurt for so long. It takes courage to remove anger from heart, it takes courage to face your fears. F. A. Ibrahim takes you on a journey with Khadijah as she makes that terrifying effort to grow and become more forgiving, patient and strong enough to face her greatest fears and disappointments.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review: Gilt By Association by Karen Rose Smith

Book Title: Gilt By Association

Author: Karen Rose Smith

Publisher: Kensington Books

Book Blurb:

Between training her new puppy, helping her sister with her baby, and searching for the perfect vintage dress for Kismet's Valentine's Day dance, home-stager Caprice De Luca has a lot on her to-do list. But she's never too busy to do a little staging, and she's looking forward to thawing February's frozen real estate market with her Hearts and Flowers Open House. Her client Louise Downing's romantically decorated home practically staged itself. But when Louise is found murdered, Caprice is forced to turn her attention from sweethearts to suspects. And as the truth comes out in stages, she discovers that Louise had more secrets than a box of chocolate truffles.

My Review:

A great cozy mystery to read on a wintry night with a cup of steaming tea. :)

I take it there was a book before this one as through out the story Caprice mentions her involvement in a previous murder investigation case. While it doesn't make a huge difference in this particular case, it's often mention was a bit annoying and could have been limited. But I guess the author had to since Caprice's "relationship"with Grant was based on their encounter in her first investigative case where he apparently saved her life. But other than that snag, I really enjoyed Caprice as a character who was dedicated, loyal and true to those she cared about.

When Louise, an old family friend is found murdered in her own greenhouse, just hours before her home staging event, Caprice promises her mother to find out the who and why behind the awful death. Between helping out with a charity event, her job as a home stager, raising and training her puppy, Lady, and her cat, Sophia, and wondering if there is even something between her and Grant, Caprice manages to not only reveal a vengeful killer but unearth secrets of Louise's troubled past.

There are a few recipes at the end that I plan on trying out :D

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators