The Snow Globe


Author: Sheila Roberts
ISBN: 978-0312594480
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

In The Snow Globe, Sheila Roberts has bewitched readers with a charming storyline unfolding in a terrifically imaginative setting. With the holiday theme as a backdrop, The Snow Globe tells us a warm and pleasant tale about miracles that we all need in our lives, miracles we can use to change our lives for the better. Powered by a beautifully constructed plot and a lovable cast of intriguing characters, Roberts’ poignant prose illuminates the story held within the 166 pages.

As Christmas holiday draws nearer, Kiley Gray’s life has turned upside down, taking an extremely ugly turn. Not only Kylie is left heartbroken after being dumped by her boyfriend (for her sister no less!), she also loses her job and can’t find another. On top of that, her two best friends Suzanne and Allison are way too busy to be there for her having to deal with problems of their own; Suzanne is a chronic workaholic, who regularly neglects her husband and daughter to chase her dream. Allison is dealing with weight issues connected with the passing of her beloved grandmother, the person she is most fond of.

The timing could not have been any worse for Kiley as she is left alone during the holiday season with nothing but her miseries to keep her company in a world she doesn’t trust anymore. Then one day, Kiley wanders into an antique store and sets her eyes on a beautiful snow globe, reputed as a miracle performer for those in need of one. The store owner told Kylie about the awe-inspiring history attached to the snow globe and how it has been passed on from generation to generation. She purchases the snow globe without a second’s hesitant. Who else could be in more need of a miracle than Kylie herself? The snow globe turns out to be a real miracle worker, guiding Kylie turn her life around in astonishing ways.

A heartwarming, modern day fairy tale, The Snow Globe is the book for anyone and everyone in need for a miracle in their lives. Immerse yourself in this delightful book, a book so elegant in every aspect.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com

A Shower of Roses

Author: Tom Milton
ISBN: 978-0982990414:
Publisher: Nepperhan Press, LLC

Tom Milton’s masterful storytelling in his rather poetic yarn, A Shower of Roses, lures readers into a world where a poignant and powerful love story unfolds in the backdrop of an extraordinarily evocative setting. If that did not succeed as the perfect antidote, prepare yourselves to be blown away by his elegant writing that has the power to move you to your very existence.

You may wonder, at this point, what Milton’s secret ingredient could possibly be. For starters let’s say that an unforgettable cast, a graceful prose and snappy dialogues are just the icing on the cake. Above all, it is the stirring human touch the talented author so daringly adds to the mix that does the trick and makes all the difference.

Eva works as a pediatric nurse at a New York hospital. She has made it her life’s to help people by doing little things for them, instead of performing great heroic acts. Things are going well for her when she meets Marek, a Polish exile, and falls in love with him. Marek ostensibly works for a large international bank, but Eva soon learns that it is a cover for his role as a CIA agent with the mission of stimulating a popular uprising against the communist government of Poland.

At the request of the CIA the bank transfers Marek to London, where the story opens in April 1981, shortly after Poland announced that it would be unable to repay its foreign debt and the Solidarity movement emerged. Eva had never dreamed of marrying a man like Marek but she responds to his need for love and she devotes her life to him.

She is fully aware that her husband’s work is dangerous. Every time he goes to Poland she worries that he will be arrested by the secret police. Though he drags her into a world of political intrigue and tests her love by subjecting her to increasingly painful experiences, she keeps her promise to love him no matter what he does until she confronts the truth about him – and consequently about herself.

Milton’s somewhat tragic tale raises one fundamental question that has intrigued me as I turned the pages deep into the heart of the story: how far are you willing to go to prove your devotion for someone you love? Told in flashbacks, Milton shifts gears from present to past with an added elegance, exploring the dire consequences of one’s fate in such a circumstance.

If you are craving for a book to put you in the mood to discover shocking revelations about the power of love and devotion, grab a copy of A Shower of Roses – not because your search ends here but because it is so achingly beautiful.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com

Did Not Survive

Title: Did Not Survive
Author: Ann Littlewood
ISBN: 978-1590-587454
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

Truth be told, a mystery laden with multiple layers of pulse-quickening drama does not get any better than this. Did Not Survive, the second zoo mystery by Ann Littlewood, could only be hailed as just another knock-out. Who would have thought that a zoo, of all places, would be a habitat for such harrowing episodes as depicted in this fascinating mystery. Only Ann Littlewood could so effortlessly pull such an original plot out of the mundane details involving a small town zoo with a heroine who has a knack for playing the detective.

The narrative opens at Finley Memorial Zoo in Vancouver, Washington when zookeeper Iris Oakley, now pregnant and widowed, stumble upon the scene where her boss Kevin Wallace is being mauled to death by a zoo elephant, Damrey. While the whole zoo staff is rattled by the tragic incident, Iris, who is still recovering from her husband’s murder, thinks there is a lot more to the whole story.

As Iris continues to put together the missing pieces, she uncovers a number of suspects within the four walls of Finley Memorial Zoo with motives to kill Wallace. Could one of them have committed the murder or is it really the doing of a mad animal?

The list of suspects grows as it turns out that the elephant care at the zoo has been under criticism from animal rights activists who are staging protests outside the zoo. The new veterinarian seems suspicious enough and Iris starts to keep a close watch on her. To make matters confusing, a new foreman to replace Wallace shows up. Add to that are a series of other disturbing events, including the theft of a zoo van and the discovery of a dead tiger. Iris is sucked into the vortex of the unfolding drama as the police keep dropping by and the animals disappear into thin air.

In this well-plotted mystery, the expertly sketched characters come alive with an appealing heroine who will win you over. The carefully detailed behind-the-scenes at the zoo is complemented by the fascinating portrayal of animal care and human failings. With its nuanced and crisp writing and the page-turning pace, Littlewood has delivered a smart mystery that will leave you staggered with awe. Wildly entertaining.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com

The House Blog Tour – Win a FREE Kindle!

About the Book

On receiving the very thing she wants—a divorce and the power to sell their house—over which they have fought the past year—Anna Manning learns that Edward, her soon-to-be ex-husband is dying from cancer.

A faithful wife for three decades, and stay-at-home mother of four children, Anna endured Edward’s constant absence due to travel for his international real estate firm and numerous extra-marital affairs. With their children now adults, Edward has less than six months, possibly three, to live.

Anna takes him home to die in the house she has fought so vigorously to sell. But letting go of someone who has caused so much pain in your life doesn’t come easily. Edward has changed. There are Anna and Edward’s four children, three of whom who are married and struggling to endow their families with meaning and purpose.

News of Edward’s terminal illness provokes her to understand the present, rooted in a wellspring of the past and pouring into a future without him.

The House shows what happens when one adopts the belief that: All hold regret and are seeking forgiveness. Our salvation rests in the hands of others—most particularly the ones we love, and who have treated us wrongly.

So Anjuelle, what inspired you to base The House on a gray area of life (i.e. Anna’s dilemma)?

I wrote The House as a result of taking a writing class entitled, Story Basics. Having earned my MFA in Creative Writing I was scheduled to teach the class in a masters level writing programs. My experience as a student in the class served as training for me to teach it.

The main primer for the class, Story Basics, is Writing for Story by Jon Franklin, a Pulitzer Prize Winning Essayist. In Writing for Story, Franklin addresses the importance of career writers learning to develop an outline or blueprint for writing their fiction.

Upon graduating my MFA program I began exploring various ways and methods for planning out my stories and novels, but that also left enough undiscovered territory that I gained even more excitement to write the story. I wanted to develop or find an outline that fueled my desire to write, not take it away with planning to point of leaving no mystery.

The Franklin Outline as explained in Writing For Story did that for me. A requirement of the class is to use Franklin’s Outline or some variation thereof to plan a story or novel and then write the story or beginning of the novel, about 10,000 words.

I had intended to write a short story. Focusing on craft allowed me to enter that gray area of life that I love to explore.

What is the underlying message tucked away in The House?

The underlying theme of The House is that all of us hold regret for one action or another that we have committed. And if given the chance we would change or alter that action or make another choice. As such we are all seeking forgiveness.

All of us have injured someone. And all of us have experienced emotional hurt. And yet ultimately our salvation, our ability to transcend the wounds and turmoil of this life rest in the co-creative hands of others and ourselves in our ability to seek atonement for the wrongs we have committed, particularly to those we love and who love us, and in our ability to forgive.

The House is a work of Women’s Fiction that explores the life of Anna Manning when on receiving the divorce she has requested and the opportunity to see their home, she learns that her husband of over 3 decades is dying.

I hope that in reading The House readers will gain a glimpse of how we are all wounded and injured by life, and how each of us holds the key to another’s healing. And that by granting love, acceptance and forgiveness to those whom we love the most and who love us, we lay the ground work for our own hearts to mend.

I emphasize loving those who are closest to us, because I thoroughly believe that “charity does begin at home”.

If we cannot love those with whom we sleep, and whose faces we behold upon opening our eyes and before we leave home for the day, we have no hope of accepting and respecting others we encounter at work and beyond the scope of family.

I can only hope that readers will gain a glimpse of not so much what and who we are presently, but be provoked to inspect the integrity of the intent of our hearts and ultimately determine whether they, we, are living from that place. And if not, begin to do so.

Who is your favorite character and why?

It’s hard to say which character of The House is my favorite. I love them all so very, very much. Each one is like a piece of a mosaic, a note on a sheet of music, the line of a poem.

Of course I love Anna and feel very dear to her, but as in life, the protagonist of a novel or short story or any work of fiction is known by her or his associates.

Take away or eliminate one and you’ve lost an important chord or refrain that keeps alive the music, the creation, in your thoughts and heart.

If I had to choose one entity, it would be The House, a character I did not mention, but who plays an incredibly important role in the novel. The Manning home, the house in which so much of the drama of the novel occurs provides not only a crucible, containing the Manning Family. It is also where Edward dies. It is the house he built and the place that Anna, despite their challenges, made a home, one into which Edward sought to retreat and through her compassion and regrets, Anna made safe in which for him to die.

If only we all could make the transition from this life into the next at home.

Which character did you find it the most difficult to develop?

I encountered the greatest difficulty in writing the character, Edward Manning, when crafting The House, not so much because I disliked him, but rather because I did not completely understand him, nor did he reveal himself. In many ways, Edward, throughout the drama of The House, stands like the Buddha watching, observing, experiencing his own pain, but remaining silent as to the minutia of his aches, those he presently undergoes and past injuries that drove him to behave in an unfaithful manner towards Anna. This is a gray area, at least for me, and yet unlike with Anna’s murky spots, we never truly receive answers clarifying the waters of Edward’s emotions.

The character, Edward in The House, epitomizes that which we cannot know fully. Why death has affected him to surrender to Anna after over 3 decades of infidelity is incomprehensible on so many levels, and yet quite understandable. He is afraid, as we all are of this greatest of major transitions.

And yet we wonder why only the certain approach of death brings him to a point of surrender? He never directly addresses that.

Neither does he hint whether his terminal illness is the reason that at the opening of the novel he has granted Anna both the divorce and a deed to the house. What is even more interesting that somewhere along the way when Anna has taken him back home and he recognizes that she has not divorced him, he chooses to give the house to David. By this time he has dissolved Manning Real Estate, made Anna owner of Manning Ventures, a company formed in the face of his approaching death.

I realize now as I write that the dissolution of Manning Real Estate and creation of Manning Ventures symbolizes the death of Edward’s physical body that is to come and the diasporic transformation of what he had built that leads to a sort of immortality.

We lose ourselves, surrender the material possessions we have amassed to those we love, in hopes of gaining a place in their hearts. We gain immortality most simply by living on in the memories of others. We can but hope those memories bring a best, joy, in the least, bittersweet remembrance of what once existed if only for a moment, a shining flame of hope of what could have been.

What did you love most about writing The House?

Writing The House taught me how to plan a novel, and how to write plot. This happened as a result of discovering and using the Franklin Outline as detailed by Jon Franklin in his book, Writing for Story. Writers are always writing for story

Having written 10,000 words by the end of the first of 15 weeks evidenced the outline worked for me.
As a psychotherapist creating characters has always been easy. Developing a way to keep the story moving and not bogged down in dispensing information about a protagonist’s personality has presented my greatest challenge.

Plotting and structuring stories present challenges and growth points for me, most specifically deciding where and when to dispense what knowledge, as deemed and demanded by the action, interaction and conflict between characters.

The Franklin Outline cleared the path for me to write by giving me a road map, while leaving the territory untouched.

What are you future plans? Are you working on another novel?

I definitely plan to keep writing Inshallah. I am presently working through revising the heart of the middle of a novel I wrote in 2001. The novel is entitled Seasons. And this eighth time revising it.

I have also begun writing my novel, yet untitled, for this year, 2010. I will be writing the rough draft simultaneous to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that takes place each November.

I strive to write the rough draft of a novel each year. I do this during the fall. On completion of that first draft, I lay the novel aside and begin revising the novel I wrote the previous year, or as in this case the one I wrote in 2001.

Seasons chronicles for one year the plight of a woman who has lost her sight and how her efforts to help a man dying of AIDS assist her in adjusting to her blindness and gaining new perspective and insight on her husband and herself.

Book Review

Click here to check out the review of The House.

About the Author

ANJUELLE FLOYD is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in mother-daughter relations and dream work. A graduate of Duke University, she received her MA in Counseling Psychology from The California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco. She has attended the Dominican Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, Port Townsend, Washington. She has received certificates of participation from The Hurston-Wright Writers’ Week and The Voices of Our Nations Writing Workshops.

A student of Process Painting for the last decade, ANJUELLE has participated in The Art of Living Black Exhibitions 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 held at the Richmond Art Center, Richmond, California. ANJUELLE facilitates writing groups and provides individual consultation of fiction projects. She also gives talks on The Need for Family, the Writing Process as a Path Toward Self-discovery and Healing.

A wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, ANJUELLE lives in Oakland, California.

Podcasts

Anjuelle Floyd talks about what she hopes readers will take away from reading, The House.

PODCAST 1

PODCAST 2

Click here to listen…

Purchase the Book Online at:
http://www.anjuellefloyd.com/books/the-house/

WIN A FREE KINDLE!
To celebrate the release of her novel, The House, author Anjuelle Floyd is offering a (1) Kindle Wi-Fi (retail value: $139.00) as a part of her promotional blog tour. A WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED DECEMBER 1, 2010.

TO REGISTER ONLINEhttp://bit.ly/TheHouseKindleGiveaway

For More Information
• Visit the author online at http://www.anjuellefloyd.com
• View the blog tour schedule at http://bit.ly/TheHouseBlogTour

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The Lucifer Code

Title: The Lucifer Code
Author: Charles Brokaw
Publisher: Forge Books
ISBN: 978-0765320933

“Welcome to the end of the world as we know it. Within the next few minutes, the course of human events will drastically change.”

Those were the bone-chilling words uttered by Lucifer when Professor Thomas Lourds came face-to-face with the Devil himself in Charles Brokaw’s exhilarating new thriller, The Lucifer Code. Following the footsteps of master of thrillers Dan Brown, Brokaw sends readers through a complex maze in the dark depths of Istanbul, trailing to piece together an evil puzzle that threatens to bring about the end of the world.

Brokaw didn’t waste any time when he immediately plunges the readers into an adrenaline-surging adventure from the opening scene itself, as Professor Lourds pursues a quest more menacing and evil than imaginable as he comes to a challenging face-off with the Devil.

Professor Thomas Lourds is summoned to Istanbul to investigate artifacts never before seen by Western scholars. Upon his arrival, he is instantly caught in a deadly web of assailants chasing him. His captors want him to translate an ancient scroll lost for over thousands of years known as the Scroll of Joy, authored by John of Patmos, who also wrote the Book of Revelation in the Bible.

As it turns out, his captors are not the only one searching for the scroll. The Brotherhood of the Scroll, a secret religious group striving to protect the scroll and, even the CIA wants to uncover what’s written in the aged document, which is believed to be capable of bringing about the end of the world and even raise the Devil himself.

Little did Professor Lourds know that the Devil is already among us in human form and a storm is brewing in Saudi Arabia that threatens to bring the world down around us and destroy humanity, orchestrated by none other than Lucifer himself. While there are people who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the scroll for all the wrong reasons, including a senior official at the White House, Professor Lourds risks his life to save the world from the impending doom as he realizes that the fate of the world rests solely on his shoulders.

With its exhilarating fast pace and The Da Vinci Code-like rush, Brokaw grips the readers with intriguing historical backgrounds and speculations, recreating the thrill of his debut novel The Atlantis Code throughout various exotic locations in the medieval city of Istanbul. I can assure you one thing; this guy sure knows how to weave a thrilling plot out of an age-old belief of the evil rising.

At the end of it all, you will emerge breathless but only more eager for Professor Lourds next adventure, as you can’t help but wonder what Brokaw has in store for Professor Lourds in his next. Needless to say, Brokaw’s fans will absolutely be thrilled with this gripping adventure.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com

And Then There Was One

Title: And Then There Was One
Author: Patricia Gussin
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
ISBN: 978-1933515816

An adrenaline-driven, emotionally-charged force to reckon with, Patricia Gussin’s And Then There Was One recounts a heart-rending and an equally disturbing family tragedy that unfolds against the backdrop of every parent’s worst imaginable nightmare. From the first page itself, you will be gripped in the never-ending suspense surrounding a devastating mystery.

Scott and Katie Monroe lead a perfectly happy life with their identical triplet daughters; Sammie, Alex and Jackie, and their prominent careers; she, a forensic child psychiatrist and he, a Yankee catcher. While in Detroit to attend Scott’s sister Monica Monroe’s concert, the picture-perfect family of Scott and Katie are shattered when two of their triplets go missing without so much as a clue.

Scott and Katie are utterly devastated, falling apart in the aftermath of the horror they are faced with. The news was especially unbearable for Katie, being always overprotective of her triplets. ‘She knew that she needed sleep, that she was physically and emotionally drained, but when she closed her eyes, the horrors of what might be happening to her daughters burned her retina.’

It is just too much for little Jackie to learn that her sisters Sammie and Alex have been abducted. ‘She thought about her sisters in some horrible place with nothing to eat. Were they being tortured? Could they even be dead?’ Before long, she crumbles under the heavy stress of grief and survivor’s guilt, taking all the blame for herself.

As the investigation sends the FBI on a goose-chase with several suspects and false leads, Scott and Katie’s suffering continues as hope eludes them. ‘They each seem to cycle in and out of paralysis. In and out of hope. In and out of despair.’ As the seemingly never-ending search for the missing triplets continues, Scott finds himself collapsing under despair as much as Katie has. ‘He didn’t know if he could take another day of agony, another day of uncertainty, another day of abject helplessness.’ What if their daughters are never found, or not found alive?

Narrated just over a span of one week, Gussin effortlessly ensnares the readers into the heart of the terror that engulfs the Monroe family. The flawless, taut writing makes it a thrilling ride from cover-to-cover as Gussin gradually peels layer by layer of the dreadfulness that await to engulf not only the Monroe family but also us, readers. Similar to that of the emotional roil of The Lovely Bones and the adrenaline rush of Gone Baby Gone, Gussin tugs at your heart mercilessly with the extremely vivid, distressing details that would make you recoil at times and gasp at other.

An utterly absorbing thriller that will leave you breathless, the fast pace of it will send you turning pages at super speed in your quest to find out the fate of the missing triplets. You will not be able to close the book until you have reached the end of this haunting tragedy. Rush into your nearest bookstore, grab this book and dive right in! You have got to read this one.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com

The Christmas Gift

Title: The Christmas Gift
Author: R. William Bennett
Publisher: Burgess Adams

ISBN: 978-0-9825606-3-1

Publication Date: October, 2010

What if the person you needed to apologize to the most was the one that deserved it the least? That is the profoundly meaningful question explored in The Christmas Gift by R. William Bennett. Highlighting the importance of forgiveness even under the most tormenting circumstances, The Christmas Gift successfully proves that compassion and forgiveness is the ultimate answer to all our worries and sufferings.

Packaged in a deeply moving tale of two young, sixth-grade boys who get off on the wrong foot in their first encounter, The Christmas Gift recounts the astonishing events that lead Scott and Ben to become great friends one day, all because they learned the power of forgiveness.

Scott has just moved into a new town and on his first day at his new school he meets Ben, the school bully who torments other kids. After intervening Ben terrorizing a fellow schoolmate, Scott becomes the new object of Ben’s everyday bullying. Following one-too-many unpleasant confrontations, Scott loses his cool and yells at Ben, in his anger, telling Ben everybody at school including Scott hates him.

Scott has been distressed for days over the yelling, which is not in his nature, and the hurt he saw in Ben’s eyes. Scott has a long talk with his father before he gathers up the courage to go up to Ben’s house and apologizes to him.

During the course of the time, Scott discovers that Ben has no real friends and when Scott finds out the true nature of Ben, the previously unknown good side of him, Scott sees Ben in a new light that is a far-cry from what everybody else see in him. Their friendship thus evolved into a strong bond both Ben and Scott has come to cherish to the end.

The meaningful message tucked away in this heart-warming tale of two young people is loud and clear as Bennett successfully directs the readers to the very core of the subject: how the gift of forgiveness could have a deeply positive impact on the lives of many just like the two characters in this story, their perspective about compassion forever changed. After reading The Christmas Gift, so will yours.

A poignant tale of great substance and inspiration, The Christmas Gift is a life-enhancing, invaluable lesson to people from all walks of life; a life-long lesson that should be carried forward from one individual to another, one friend to another, one family to another, and from generation to generation. An everlasting gift that will shape us all into forgiving, kind, caring and compassionate beings, The Christmas Gift is indeed a wonderful present we must gift not only to others but also to ourselves.

Reviewed by Hamdhoon Rashad for Bookpleasures.com