Thursday, June 26, 2014

Get Hooked: The Unholy by Paul DeBlassie III #GetHooked

Title: The Unholy
Author: Paul DeBlassie III
Publisher: Sunstone Press
Pages: 200
Language: English
Genre: Psychological/Paranormal Thriller
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.

Book Excerpt:

“Hush now, child,” said a voice she recognized as that of her mother’s closest friend. 
“The man cannot harm you, mijita, as long as you are with us. We will make him think you are dead. But you must be very quiet. Ya no llores,” the woman warned, raising a finger to her lips.

The woman then carried her into a dark cave illuminated by the light of a single candle. The cave was frightening, with shadows of what appeared to be goblins and demons dancing on the red sandstone walls. “I will return for you soon. You will be safe here,” the woman said. The girl watched the woman walk away, shivering as a breeze blew through the cave’s narrow passages.

Closing her eyes, she rocked back and forth—imagining herself safe in her mother’s arms—then opened her eyes to the light of the full moon shining through the mouth of the cave. The shadows on the walls were just shadows now, no longer goblins and demons. As she slipped into a trance, images flickered in her mind. She saw the woman who had brought her to this place scattering pieces of raw meat around the open mesa where her mother had struggled, helped by two other women the girl could not identify.

Suddenly, the scene shifted to a stone ledge jutting over the mesa, and she heard the pounding footsteps of a man running toward the women. The girl felt her heart race and her breathing quicken, afraid that the bad man would spot them and kill them. Then the image shifted again, and she now saw on the mesa three gray wolves circling the raw meat and the man walking away from the granite ledge. As he left, she heard his thought: The child is dead.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Outdoor Porch Bed: Great for reading!

Omg I have to have this:

Anyone know where to get one? I have looked all over the Internet!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review: 101 Conversation Starters for Families SAMPLER by Gary Chapman #bookreviews

Title: 101 Conversation Starters for Families SAMPLER
Author: Gary Chapman
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Northfield Publishing
Pages: 112

What a fun little book.  I take it this is a sampler from the larger version which according to the front matter of the book, the larger version was published in April 2012.  You know, I like it when authors do this.  This book is a sample to whet your appetite for more.

What's really weird though is that it says it's 112 pages and yet there are only 10 conversation starters listed and the conversation starters are only about one sentence long.  No way can this be a 112 page book.


So I did some digging to find the longer version thinking that that 112 pages might be intended for that one and they goofed.  

Well unless I'm blind as a bat, I don't even see a longer version at Amazon.  Just a couple more "Conversation Starters" books that I'm presuming has even more conversation starters for families.  Oh wait, one is for couples and then the second one is another one for couples.

Oh well.  I like the concept of this.  Anything to help families start talking instead of texting and ignoring good quality family time.  And I like the concept of publishing "sampler" books (this is from a promotional standpoint).  As for the book itself, it's hardly a book but more of a pamphlet of sorts in terms of content, but going over the different conversation starters, I liked it.  Can't say it's a book I fell madly in love with of course, but for the content it does have, it's not half bad.  Just short. Real short.

The author gets an A for effort and the content (what there is of it) isn't bad and really gives you great conversation starters like for example, "Name one talent you wish you had."

Now if I were sitting at the dinner table with my daughter and son and I asked them both, "Name one talent you wish you had," they'd either get silly with it or roll their eyes.  I guess eye rolling can be a talent if done right.

Not sure how to rate this one. Again it's not bad, just really really short.  For this I'm going to have to give it 3 book trees.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book Watch: The Sense of Touch by Ron Parsons #bookwatch

Title: The Sense of Touch
Author: Ron Parsons
Publisher: Aqueous Books
Pages: 252
Genre: Short Story/Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback; Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Old friends uncomfortably reunited and lovers who cling to their distance from one another; disappearing fathers, fiercely loving grandfathers, and strangers who pass through and radically change lives...These are among the characters who populate the rugged Midwestern landscapes of the mesmerizing fiction world of Ron Parsons. In his debut collection, THE SENSE OF TOUCH (Aqueous Books; May 1, 2013), Parsons captures people of various ages in the act of searching for meaning and connection and themselves. Firmly set in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan, the lush but often brutally cold heartland of America, the eight stories explore universal themes--loneliness, betrayal, transformation, hope--in fresh, sometimes fanciful, sometimes comical, sometimes jarring, and always moving and memorable ways.
In THE SENSE OF TOUCH, readers will meet:
* Naseem Sayem, the brilliant, troubled, and mystifying young man at the center of "Hezekiah Number Three." A native of Bangladesh abruptly transplanted to the stark white suburbs of Rapid City at age nine, Naseem never fit in and eventually moved on to study physics at MIT--where, shortly before graduation and after shocking news of his father's infidelity and abandonment, he apparently unraveled and vanished. Three months later, he reappeared out of the blue on his stepmom's doorstep, holding a three-legged cat. Naseem's long search for belonging reaches its apex in a hot air balloon floating over the Crazy Horse Monument.
* Waylon Baker, wheat farmer from birth, and Evie Lund, his wife of twenty-four years and counting, even though she had chosen to live far away--in the alien world of the Twin Cities--for eight years. The odd couple at the heart of "Beginning with Minneapolis," Waylon and Evie can't bear to live together or to divorce because they still love each other with a passion, reignited when they find themselves deep in the dirt, in a hole Waylon dug in his wheat field to serve as Evie's grave.
* The nameless narrator of "The Sense of Touch," a serious, young freshman at the University of Minnesota, fleeing yet still attached to his youth in Texas, haunted both by its predatory demons and its romantic dreams. His liberation comes through an alluring muse: his fiction-writing teacher. A ravishing, wild-haired, Memphis-born African-American graduate student, Vonda speaks directly to him when she makes her dramatic pronouncements. Like, "Our masks are not worn, people. They're grown, day by day." And "Never trust anything, not until you can touch it. With touch, you know you know."
The old friends in "The Black Hills," long separated by distance and tragedy, who unexpectedly compete for the affections of a lovely, vulnerable, and married Lakota woman...the young woman who, in the midst of a Halloween blizzard, stumbles into saving an elderly piano teacher's life and faces hard facts about her own snow-bound relationships and emotions in "As Her Heart Is Navigated"...the exceptional grandfather in "Big Blue" and the playboy reformed by someone else's grandson in "Moonlight Bowling"...and the professor of dead languages facing the mysteries of mortality in "Be Not Afraid of the Universe"... Through Ron Parsons, they all come to life, vividly and with emotional resonance, and work their way into the minds and hearts of readers.
Book Excerpt:
They were relaxing at the top of a waterfall, in a small, still pool where the mountain waters hit an upward slope of folded granite. It was sort of a rounded bathtub, carved out of the rock throughout the centuries by the rushing river, a river so hidden that it was without a name. Just below were the falls, about a 30-foot drop into another, much larger pool of clearest water that was gathered for a respite, a compromise in the river's relentless schedule downward, between split-level decks of flat rock. Further on, the river reanimated and released into a sharp ravine, pulling westward, down through the rugged mountains and faceless forest--the Black Hills National Forest--gaining force until it joined with the rush of the Castle River, near the old Custer Trail, and was swallowed into the Deerfield Reservoir to collect and prepare for the touch of man.

Character Interview: Margaret from Genevieve Crownson's 'The Soul of the Sun'

We’re thrilled to have here today Margaret from Genevieve Crownson’s young adult book, The Soul of the Sun.  She is coming to us all the way from the great state of South Carolina.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, Margaret.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

For the most part I do think I was accurately portrayed. I suppose it’s hard to look at yourself from another’s point of view. Although I was rendered prettier than I really am. Not to disappoint the readers but I am rather plain. My sister, Abby, was the pretty one. And I’m not sure I turned Ian’s head as strongly as readers might think. But being characterized as attractive really isn’t a hardship is it?

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I believe I was born with an inner resilience. I always face my adversities head on. You must always accept your fate and deal with whatever life puts on your plate. In my mind it is the only way to survive in this world. We all have a destiny to fulfill in this lifetime and it is important that we do not try to tamper with it. As I always say destiny is destiny, it is not for us to alter what is preordained.

Worst trait?

I can be too independent and tend to resist help from others. I’ve always felt that I should be the one to take care of the family. As far back as I can remember I’ve had this conviction that I should always be the strong one. I always thought Mama and my sister Abby were delicate creatures, and Daddy, well; he didn’t have much time for anything but hitting the bottle. In my old age I’ve learned that sometimes it helps to have someone to lean on and support you through dark times. Ian taught me that. So don’t be too stubborn and take assistance when it’s offered. You will be a better person for it. Another unfortunate trait I possess is that I’m a little vain. I never leave the house without a little red lipstick on, it just doesn’t seem like the Lord intended me to go out into the world without a little dash of color.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I am a little partial to Betty White, to play my older self. That girl has some spunk in her I really have to admire. As for my younger self, I think it’s a toss-up between Amanda Seyfried and Alexis Bledel.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

I do. His name is Ian. He’s a very handsome doctor. He accepted me right from the beginning. He never doubted my special gifts and always accepted the magic within me.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When I had a vision/dream of my own passing, I realized I was going to die at the hands of a madman. I pleaded and prayed but only ever saw death. I understood that perhaps I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my destiny. I must admit I was petrified.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Oh that’s easy, definitely Wilfred. He was such a spineless jelly knees kind of a lad. He didn’t have an ounce of compassion for anyone but himself.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

The ending was bittersweet. There was gain and loss. Good cannot exist without the evil. Many issues have been swept under the rug. There is much more to come. We will have to wait and see how life unfolds in book two, The Power of Alchemy.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Make sure you are accurate. I don’t need you to fluff the details. The telling of the story is important. It is bigger than me and my family. There could be dire consequences for our world if we are not portrayed truthfully. History is being written here so it’s important to be thorough.

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Absolutely. Book one The Soul of the Sun is only the beginning of the story. There is much more peril to come. Stay tuned. Book two, The Power of Alchemy, continues the story of the Argos Dynasty.

About the Book:

“The hands of time turn on the face of the sun. Only you can move them. If the Watcher controls the hands of the clock he can go anywhere, past or future--
and destroy our planet.” 

Since the days of ancient
Greece, the Argos dynasty has kept a secret, a mystery passed down through their descendants from generation to generation, in the hopes that the forces of good can stop the evil destruction of planet Earth. 

Margaret Ingall is harboring that secret. Time is running out for the descendants of the
Argos. They know a great healer and time traveler will be born of their blood. But the only person that knows whom they will call “the soul of the sun” is Margaret’s sister, Abigail. Before she can reveal the healer’s identity, disaster strikes… 

Evil stalks them, watching and waiting to find out which member of her family has the ultimate power. Is it Margaret’s own child? Or her beloved granddaughter? Or even herself? Their only clue is a powerful protective amulet that will lead them all in a cat-and-mouse game to discover secrets as ancient as time.

If the Watcher discovers the truth before they do, all will be lost.

Fate, time and love weave together in their struggle to fulfill their destiny. Will Margaret’s fears sabotage her family’s protection? Can the healer accept her gifts in time? And once the soul of the sun is finally revealed, will it be too late?

Her power is incredible. The sacrifices required of her are immense.

Will it be enough to stop the Watcher?

For More Information

  • The Soul of the Sun is available at Amazon.
  • Find out about more books by Genevieve here.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

About the Author:

Genevieve Crownson graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelors of Science degree. A love of writing led her to pen her debut novel, The Soul of the Sun. This is book one in her highly anticipated trilogy, The Argos Dynasty. She currently lives in beautiful Charleston, SC with her family and beloved four-legged friends.

For More Information


Character Interview: Brenna Ebans from COMING HOME #characterinterview

We’re thrilled to have here today, Brenna Ebans from Holly Kerr’s Women’s fiction, Coming Home.  Brenna  is coming to us all the way from Northern Ontario, in Canada.  It is a pleasure to have her with us today at The Literary Nook!

Thank you so for this interview, Brenna.  Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

I think my sister Kat has always had the wrong impression of me.  She seems to think I live some sort of perfect life.  I don’t.  I’m not perfect.  She’s the one that has always had it so easy, being the youngest. You shouldn’t believe everything she says about me.
What do you believe is your strongest trait?

Our father left when I was three; Mom died when I was thirteen and I’ve been on my own since I was seventeen.  I think that made me strong and independent.  I don’t have to rely on anyone else to take care of me, although Maggie really helped growing up.  She was more of a mother to me than Mom ever was.

Worst trait?

(Pause)  Apparently, I am emotionally detached and focus too much on work.  At least that’s some of what Toby said when we talked about why he cheated on me, after I found him in the supply closet at work with my assistant.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

(Another pause) I know Toby wasn’t my soul mate when I married him.  I think Seamus always has been, but now that Kat (my sister) is with him…Even though she stole him from me when I was fifteen, she definitely deserves to have me do the same thing!  But I don’t think I could take him away from her.  I mean, she’s Kat.  What man would prefer me over her?

Joss Ryan is kind of interesting.  He’s not my type at all but...he seems to understand me.  And I like the bald head.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I thought I had it all together until I found Toby with Krystal.  It wasn’t the perfect marriage, but I thought I was happy.  And work was going great.  And then I found them…I mean, she was giving him a – I won’t go into details, but it’s not a nice thing to see!  And then I kind of lost my temper and did some stuff and said some stuff.  I kicked Krystal’s purse across the office.  That felt good.  But the other stuff?  I trashed Toby’s office.  After that, I started to get worried.  I lost my job, my marriage and I had nowhere to go except back home.  I’m glad I had Cayleigh and Maggie – I do love my sisters.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Even though I love her and she’s really one of my favourite people in the whole world, I would NOT want to trade places with Maggie.  She’s amazing, but she’s got 5 girls!  I’m not one for kids.  It was the one thing Toby and I agreed on, not that we ever really discussed it.  But Maggie got pregnant when she was seventeen and Mike’s great, but that’s a lot on your plate, especially when she practically raised Kat and I because Mom was just…even before she died, Mom was never there.  She had these moods where she’d hide in her room and not give a damn about any of us and Maggie would take over because she’s 10 years older than I am.

Maggie’s had to take on a lot of responsibilities and even know, with the wedding and Brianna going away to school, I can tell she’s got going on.  But she never complains. I’ve never heard her complain.  I love being part of Maggie’s life, but I wouldn’t want it.  I could never take care of others a fraction as well as Maggie does.  My heart isn’t big enough.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

Kat and I working together?  Without a fistfight?  Amazing.  I can’t believe it worked out that way.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if she decided to write another book with you in it?

Put more of  Cayleigh in it.  If she’s going to write about me, she has to have my sisters in it, so there needs more of Cayleigh.  Besides, I want to know what’s going on with her and Erica!

Thank you for this interview.  Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

This was so much fun!  And it’s been a while since I’ve had fun.  

I’m not sure if you’ll see me.  I think I might hide out for a while…see what happens with Joss.

About the Book:

Loving your sisters is easy. Liking them is the hard part.

Brenna Ebans always wanted more than what Hill n’Valley could give her, so it seemed a simple decision to follow her black-sheep sister Dory’s footsteps and leave Hill n’Valley in her rearview, hoping to locate their missing father. Leaving her sisters and her first love Seamus was harder than she thought, but she’s made a life for herself in Vancouver, started her career at a prestigious law firm, and has found the man of her dreams. But when she finds her husband Toby in a compromising position at work, she loses both her love and her job, and has nowhere to go but home.

Youngest sister Cat has remained in Hill n’Valley, leaving a string of broken hearts—and ex-husbands—in her wake. She’s happy living in the family home, with the ghost of their dead mother to keep her company during the day, and her latest conquest—Brenna’s old boyfriend, Seamus—to keep her warm at night. And she’s less than thrilled to hear about Brenna’s return.
But when tragedy strikes, it brings their father back to Hill n’Valley, and the sisters will have a lot of issues to resolve…

About the Author: 

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you they have always wrote and Holly Kerr is no exception. She’s written stories about bunnies dodging cars and sisters dying, distracting the cute boy in class and dark plots to kill your best friend’s husband.  Coming Home is her latest novel, a story about sisters who can’t get along and living in a small town, two things she knows more than a little about!  A self-professed geek, she loves anything to do with Star Wars, super heroes, Joss Whedon and Harry Potter. She also enjoys running, playing in the dirt and sharing a glass of wine with friends.
Her latest book is the women’s fiction, Coming Home.

She’d love you to visit her website at

Book Watch: Divine Healing Made Simple by Praying Medic

Title: Divine Healing Made Simple
Author: Praying Medic
Publisher: Inkity Press
Pages: 252
Genre: Nonfiction/Religion
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Divine Healing Made Simple is a training manual for the supernatural life, providing street-proven instruction for healing the sick in any type of setting. In addition to healing, the book teaches about prophetic ministry, street evangelism and making disciples.
This book takes a bold approach, addressing the difficult questions that many authors have avoided. Through dreams, online discussions and hands-on experience, the author has discovered the answers to some of the most common questions people have about Christian healing, deliverance and raising the dead. Three chapters are devoted to the problems of why some people are not healed and why some people lose their healing.
This is the first book on healing to harness the power of Facebook. By hosting discussion questions on Facebook, the author has collected the wisdom and experiences of hundreds of divine healing technicians.
Book Excerpt:
How do we develop the kind of faith that heals people consistently? It was in their failures that the disciples of Jesus were given some of the most important lessons from their teacher. When they were not able to heal a boy with epilepsy, they asked Jesus why:
“And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,“Why could we not cast it out?” 
So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:14-20)
Jesus said they could not heal the boy because they lacked the necessary faith. The disciples were not completely devoid of faith; they had already worked many miracles by this time. They had adequate faith for healing some diseases, but not the faith to accomplish this particular healing.
Jesus said if they had faith as a mustard seed, they could move mountains. Many  people teach that Jesus spoke of the size of their faith when He compared it to a mustard seed. They teach that small faith can move mountains – if it is pure or has some other quality.
Jesus didn’t use size in this comparison. He didn’t say they needed to have faith as small as a mustard seed, but rather they needed faith that acts in the same way a mustard seed does. Small faith was never applauded by Jesus – instead he often rebuked people for having little or small faith.
In order to understand why He compared faith to a mustard seed, we need to look elsewhere in scripture. The first mention of mustard seed in the bible is in the kingdom parables of Matthew chapter 13, where Jesus likened the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matt. 13:31-32)
The mustard seed though small, grew to be massive in size. And here is the key to how mustard seed faith behaves – it grows. A seed bears no fruit until it germinates and grows into a plant; the larger the plant – the more fruit it bears. Faith must grow before it produces the fruit of healing.
When I began praying for the sick, almost no one was healed. I was discouraged and I wanted to quit. I had almost no faith. All I had was a promise from God; “You pray and I’ll heal”. I had a seed of promise and nothing else. But the kingdom of God is about growth. So I planted the seed and watered it.
I watched videos featuring Todd White as he prayed with people on the streets and I saw miracles happen. And the seed sprouted. I watered it with scripture, reading every account of healing in the bible. And it grew roots. God gave me dreams in which I saw myself praying for the sick and they were being healed. Leaves grew from a small stalk that emerged from the ground. I continued to lay hands on anyone who would let me and eventually, I saw some of them healed. Fruit began to appear.
In the beginning I failed to understand what it took to see people healed. I saw others operating consistently in healing and I wanted to know how they did it. Like many people, I misunderstood what faith for healing is and how it operates.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Watch: The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams by Daphne Michaels #bookwatch

Title: The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams
Author: Daphne Michaels
Publisher: Daphne Michaels Books
Pages: 130
Genre: Personal Development/Spirituality
Format: Paperback / Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

In The Gifted: How to Live the Life of Your Dreams author, speaker and licensed psychotherapist Daphne Michaels celebrates the nine gifts that are our birthright, guiding readers in how to recognize and use them to transform their lives.  In her author's preface, Michaels reveals how her own journey of life transformation began when she was young and realized that human existence wore two conflicting faces--one of love and joy, and one of fear and despair. She decided then to commit her life to reconciling these two visions because she knew that, irreconcilable though they seemed, together these two faces held the secret to living a life of endless possibility and authentic happiness. Her personal journey and formal education in social science, human services and integral psychology led to the founding of the Daphne Michaels Institute, which has helped hundreds of men and women design the lives of their dreams.

In The Gifted Michaels shows us that the first three “gifts” we must recognize and embrace within us if we are to re-design our lives are Awareness, Potential and Stillness. These three allow us to identify and use the remaining six with a life-changing power:  Disharmony, Harmony, Ease, Clarity, Freedom and Engagement.  Each of these six relies on the “essential three” for its own power to change our lives, and each has its own gifts--its “children.” By approaching the nine gifts with real-world metaphors, Michaels answers in easily understood ways what for many readers have been lingering questions about personal transformation—such as how it works, what kind of commitment it takes, and why, if we’re committed, real transformation becomes inevitable—and addresses obstacles that readers may have encountered in the past in trying to reach in life a happiness every human deserves.

While the human universe’s face of love is celebrated in The Gifted, so is the face of fear that haunted a young girl decades ago. As Michaels shows us in her book, even Disharmony—the “quagmire” of life born of the human ego’s fear, defenses, delusions and despair—is a gift, too, and one as important as the others if we know how to see it clearly and use it. Once we understand Disharmony, we are ready to understand the real purpose of Harmony in our lives. Disharmony does not need to rule us.  It is ours to use as we design the lives of our dreams. 

The final gift in The Gifted, Michaels tells us, is the gift of Engagement. Engagement—with the universe and with ourselves—allows us to use all of the other gifts with more power and joy than we ever imagined possible.

That mountaintop decision never left me. It drove my life’s work and over the years led me to understand that there are gifts – nine of them, in fact – that we are all born with but rarely experience in their full glory and potential. These gifts – which make each and every one of us “The Gifted” of this book’s title – are the keys to living lives of endless possibilities and, in turn, achieving an authentic happiness that cannot be lost. They are, in other words, the keys to achieving the life of our dreams.

Book Excerpt:

Life’s greatest mystery is inside us. It is inside every living thing. Like the deep secrets of the universe, the mystery inside us will never be fully explained. By exploring it, however, we can discover gifts available to us that can change our lives forever.

Life’s great mystery is awareness. More basic than thoughts and more primal than instincts, awareness does not require a centralized brain, as scientists have proven through studies with invertebrates like starfish. While these beautiful creatures have no centralized brains, they possess awareness. Starfish, like all invertebrates, use awareness to perceive, eat, grow, reproduce, and survive.

Awareness is so intrinsic to life that it defines life: living means being aware. From the beginning of life – before we take an initial breath – humans demonstrate tremendous awareness. Prenatal psychologists have discovered that we experience, while still in our mother’s womb, not only light and sound but, even more astonishingly, emotion. We kick our legs when agitated by loud noises and sway pleasantly to beautiful classical music. Months before birth we grimace at the taste of sour amniotic fluid and drink heartily when it is sweet. Awareness grows as we grow.

As we develop as human beings, our awareness stretches in all directions – from awareness of our five basic senses to awareness of external events around us, from awareness of our emotions to awareness of our thoughts, from limited awareness of a topic that bores us to an expanded awareness of topics we feel passionate about. Of all the many dimensions of awareness, the highest form is self-awareness. With self-awareness we begin to appreciate just how far awareness actually extends. Just as ocean waters are deeper than the surface of the sea, awareness is deeper than the surface of our physical body or our conscious thoughts. The infinite depth and breadth of awareness is filled with gifts that are ours to receive.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Book Watch: The Last Ancient by Eliot Baker #bookwatch

Title: The Last Ancient
Author: Eliot Baker
Publisher: Burst Books, imprint of
Champagne Books
Pages: 316
Genre: Supernatural Thriller, Historical Mystery
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Purchase at AMAZON
Around Nantucket Island, brutal crime scenes are peppered with ancient coins, found by the one man who can unlock their meaning. But what do the coins have to do with the crimes? Or the sudden disease epidemic? Even the creature? And who--or what--left them?

The answer leads reporter Simon Stephenson on a journey through ancient mythology, numismatics, and the occult. Not to mention his own past, which turns out to be even darker than he'd realized; his murdered father was a feared arms dealer, after all. Along the way, Simon battles panic attacks and a host of nasty characters -- some natural, others less so -- while his heiress fiancee goes bridezilla, and a gorgeous rival TV reporter conceals her own intentions.

Book Excerpt:

The deer’s blood catches the golden hour light. It radiates throughout the animal’s carcass in fall hues that reflect the island’s rustling red leaves and honey-colored needles littering the sand. Such eerie, blasphemous beauty. I fire shots from my Nikon.
          “That’s six. Six deer mutilations this month,” I say to my experts. Click. Click. Click.
          Branches partially cover the deer. Its eyes are wet brown marbles rimmed and veined in burning red, as though it had been hung upside down for a day. Its lips are peeled back above the gums in a grimace of broken teeth. Brain matter spills through a crack in the skull. Two yellowjackets buzz over the red pulp. Land. Feed. Hover above their feast. Click. The neck is attached to the body by a flap of hide. One of the deer’s forelegs is missing. Inside the hole in its torso I can see that its entrails have been removed. I get on my elbows and snap pictures from the cold, damp sand. The heart is gone, too.
          Dr. Pauline Driscoll, Nantucket’s town biologist, is squatting beside the carcass. She’s furious at Sgt. Brad Fernandez, who is cursing and stomp-cleaning a gore-splattered boot into the sand. She affects his tar-thick Roxbury accent. “Nice shaht cut, ace!” Her silvering French braid swings out the back of her UMass baseball hat as she unpacks measuring tape, sample tubes, and baggies from her turquoise external frame pack. Sgt. Fernadez kicks bloody goo into the bushes.
          “Maybe I wanna carry da machete fuh once, Doctor Driscoll,” he says.
          Dr. Driscoll mutters and scribbles into her notepad. She is oblivious to her windswept beauty. Her dark eyes shine and sparkle, and she’s maintained her triathlete’s figure despite being on the other side of forty. She’s over a decade older than me, but I understand why Sgt. Fernandez wants to impress her.
          Dr. Driscoll carves out an eyeball, coaxing it from the deer’s eye socket with a gloved hand. Tendons follow the jelly marble from the orbital cavity like melted provolone. She saws through the tendons with a retractable scalpel. Fernandez gags. It makes him look like a blushing Boy Scout in his green Environmental Police uniform and billed hat and bulky black utility belt. Driscoll smiles school-girl sweet, dropping the eyeball into a baggie. She offers Fernandez the instrument and baggie, asking him if he’d like to carry the scalpel for once.
Fernandez holds up one hand at her and balls the other over his mouth, gulps twice. “You’re one sick hippy,” he says.
Driscoll hums a macabre rendition of Melanie Safka’s Lay Down as she scoops bits of brain from the crack in the animal’s skull.
          I sniff the shrieking wind. It’s bowing the barrens of pitch pines toward our clearing in the scrub oak like gnarled magnetic filaments. I can smell the ocean, almost hear it, but not see it. From our elevated bald spot in the suffocating brush, I can see the sandy path we just traversed. It cuts like a surgical scar through the open conservation land’s tufts of bladed grass and bristling patches of black huckleberry and pasture rose. It winds up Altar Rock into the reddening horizon, where a hunter stands silhouetted on the rim of the valley, binoculars pressed to his face. The strapped shotgun jutting from his shoulder makes him look like a fierce insect with an antenna.
          “You poor baby,” says Driscoll, passing a black fine-toothed comb over the deer’s patchy fur. She taps the comb and a dozen ticks fall like grains of volcanic sand into a plastic dish. “Those teeth, that pelt--man, you were one sick fella.”
          Fernandez breathes, gets down on one knee, and starts shaving samples from the spine with his own folding knife. He then slices off chunks of muscle and organs that he places into baggies under Driscoll’s direction. Click.
          “I’m bustin’ heads, and you can quote me on that,” says Fernandez through clenched teeth behind his trimmed mustache. “Someone was huntin’ before dawn.”
          “Or something,” I say, snapping close-ups of the spray radius. Drops of blood shine like rubies on wooden pendants in the foreground against a hazy cloud of thorns. The experts exchange looks and groans.
          “Anyways, this is roundabouts where da Pike brothers said dey heard something freaky ’bout an hour ago,” says Fernandez. “Said it was like a deer cry, but kinda mutant, with loads a struggle.”
          Dr. Driscoll stands and examines the sand and rocks for tracks. She picks up the machete she used to carve a trail here through the scrub oak. “Man, what is wrong with people?” she says and hacks at the thorny curtain with skills she picked up surveying birds in the Amazon and in Africa. She asks Fernandez if he can find any boot prints. He shakes his head.
          I ask them to speculate on a predator. No dice.        
          “How about speculating on how it got in here then?” I say. “We lost the tracks and the blood trail way long ago.”
          “Good point,” admits Dr. Driscoll.
          The deer’s remaining foreleg suddenly stiffens as though saluting, hitting Driscoll’s thigh.
          “Oh, fuck me hard on Sunday!” says Dr. Driscoll, jumping into Sgt. Fernandez’s arms.
He whispers, “Relax, it’s a fresh kill. And sure, Sunday’s good for me.”
Driscoll shoves Fernandez, and says to me, “Don’t you dare put that in the article.”
          “I’ll think about it,” I say, and try to smile. Can’t. I’m shaken.