Archive for November, 2013

20 Famous Mark Twain Quotations

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

Mark TwainToday is the 178th birth anniversary of Mark Twain. A genius American author and humorist who is best known for his masterpiece, The Adventures of Tom  Sawyer (1876), and its follow-up, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Known for his excellent works, sharp wit and brilliant quotes, the author inspired many great authors, including Kurt Vonnegut and Ernest Hemingway.

To celebrate Mark Twain’s birthday today, we have compiled here 20 dazzling quotations by him.

 1) Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.

2) Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

3) It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.

4) Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.

5) Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.

6) If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

7) Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

8) I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

9) A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

10) In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.

11) Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

12) The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.

13) The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.

14) Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.

15) I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.

16) Honesty is the best policy – when there is money in it.

17) Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

18) The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why.

19) I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not lie; I can, but I won’t.

20) Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

Tell us in the comment section if we missed your favorite that continues to motivate you.


Worthwhile Thanksgiving Recipe Books

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

thanksgiving recipe

Thanksgiving is a time of the year to offer thanks, of family gatherings, good health and delicious food. It is a perfect holiday because it allows you to relax with a plate stacked high with turkey slices, stuffing and pumpkin pie. If you are looking for the healthiest and tastiest Thanksgiving menu to enhance the holiday spirit and to make your Thanksgiving shine for all your guests, look no further. This post contains all worthwhile books that will help you to prepare a stunning meal, or just supplement your side dishes, main dishes, desserts, and appetizers. These books will bring you an opportunity to impress your family and friends with crowd-pleasing and healthy recipes.

Feast your eyes on these Thanksgiving recipe books to make your holiday dinner memorable.

Quick and easyQuick & Easy Autumn Recipes More than 200 Yummy, Family-Friendly Recipes for Fall…Most in 30 Minutes or Less! by Gooseberry Patch: From the mouthwatering Cherry-Pecan Turkey Breast to delicious Thanksgiving side dishes to phenomenal holiday dessert recipes, Quick & Easy Autumn is one cookery book you will not want to miss. It is full of more than 76 easy and quick recipes; each is ready in less than half an hour or is cooked with just 5-8 ingredients or less. With this stunning cookbook, you have all the tools for a memorable Thanksgiving celebration!

Thanksgiving Recipes by Ronnie Rooney: Native of Mthanksgiving recipies newassachusetts Ronnie Rooney brings fun and easy to follow recipes that anyone from a beginner to a veteran cook can use. From turkey and cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and spiced apples, this book contains everything that anyone needs for a delicious holiday gathering.

AutumnAutumn in the Country Cookbook  by Gooseberry Patch: Harvest hayrides, pumpkin picking and warm comforting dishes make us ready to enjoy fall fun! This trusted, well-thumbed resource, presents delicious recipes, is inspired by our desired harvest activities. Packed with easy to follow instructions, Autumn in the Country Cookbook is an ideal book to prepare a full –course holiday meal. With tried & true favorites like pumpkin patch stew, autumn apple-walnut pancakes, and candy apple cheesecake, you’ll like to enjoy these flavorsome recipes all year long.cookery

Thanksgiving Cookery by Elizabeth Brabb: With Thanksgiving Cookery, the author takes the reader to the dinner table with a striking collection of much loved traditional recipes. If you are feeling any nervousness about cooking your first turkey, or if you want to know how to put together a delectable Thanksgiving feast for your family and guests, then enjoy Elizabeth’s collection from basic apple pie to hot apple cider to leftover turkey corn pudding.

Kristen Suzanne's EASY Raw Vegan HolidaysKristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Holidays: Delicious & Easy Raw Food Recipes for Parties & Fun at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Holiday Season by Kristen Suzanne: Whether your tastes run to the  conventional or audacious, this Thanksgiving can be the healthiest and tastiest one ever with the help of this Kristen Suzanne’s EASY Raw Vegan Holidays. This one-of-a-kind guide helps raw vegan enthusiasts to make their holiday eating rich and satisfying. Kristen provides great information about raw foods with how-to tips and delectable and decorative recipes for holiday season festivities.

Hope, these thanksgiving recipe books bring enjoyment to you and your family and friends for years to come. Tell us your favorite thanksgiving cookbook in the comments section below.  


Monday, November 25th, 2013

Guest Author: Anne Cassidy

Anne Cassidy publicity photoKilling Rachel is the second book in the Murder Notebook series. It continues the story of Rose and Joshua whose parents disappeared when she was twelve and he was fourteen. Rose’s mother and Joshua’s father lived together for three years as a family and one night, they went out for a meal at their favourite restaurant and never returned. The four books take place five years later when Rose is seventeen and Joshua nineteen and they begin the difficult search to find out what happened to them.

This search has its ups and downs. In Killing Rachel they are given evidence from an ex senior policeman that their parents are dead, killed by gangsters years before. It’s a terrible blow but one that turns out not to be quite what it seems.

I’ve written many teenage novels. One of the things I’ve always tried to do in my story was to get rid of the parents. This might mean sending them away for work, or on a holiday. I might have to send one of them to prison or put one in hospital. I may split them up thereby halving their power or jurisdiction over the main character, the teenager.

In the Murder Notebooks I decided to literally get rid of them. Instead of making their absence a kind of backdrop to the story, IKilling Rachel decided to make it the story.

I had another reason for getting rid of them. When I was a teenager, I was an only child and desperately wanted to grow up and be older than I was. My parents were loving and protective and kept a careful eye on me. At the time, it was purgatory. My friends all appeared to have more freedom than I did and I struggled against their rule. And I used to fantasise about what it would be like to live on my own, in a flat, away from them. I wanted to be in charge of myself.

So in this book I got rid of the parents and saw Rose and Joshua grieving and lost without their family. They had all the freedom they wanted but it made them desperately unhappy.

What happened to Kathy Smith and Brendan Johnson? This is what the Murder Notebooks series is about. Are they alive? If so, what would make them abandon their children and leave them isolated and in grief?

Killing Rachel gives more clues to this. The third book Butterfly Grave in published in Britain in Nov 2013.

About Author:

Anne Cassidy was a bank clerk and then a teacher. She has published thirty novels for young adults and is best known for Looking For JJ. She lives in Essex with her husband.

Write Like A Woman

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Guest Author: Namita Gokhale

Namita Gokhale 2011priya “The Habit of Love” is a collection of stories about the inner lives of women, their vulnerabilities, their vanities, their assertions. I put these stories together over a long period of time. Some of them were written during periods of creative silence, while lying fallow between books. Others were pursued on impulse and inspiration even while I was working on a quite different book. They are quite different in length, and the period when they are set, but they are all in the voices of women, or about the worlds that women inhabit.   

Some of the women I write about inhabit the ancient past, some the present, but they share the resigned laughter with which they tell their stories. Whether it is Kunti grieving her lost son, or a requiem for Qandhari by her handmaiden, or the story of a middle class woman in an AIIMS ward, the territory of these tales is feminine experience.   The habit of love new

The authors note at the close of “The Habit of Love” says: “These stories were written, on and off, over several years. They have been imagined in airports, scribbled during flights, corrected in traffic jams, deciphered from the backs of envelops. Be it ancient myth or modern malaise, the narrative voices seem to carry an imprint of anxiety and resignation. They are meant neither to amuse nor to instruct, but if the reader flips through them and nods in occasional sympathy, their tale is told.”

It has taken me some time to accept that I am woman writer. ‘Paro’ was written in the first person feminine, as were most of my subsequent novels. ‘Gods Graves and Grandmother’, ‘A Himalayan Love story‘, ‘Shakuntala’ and ‘Priya: In Incredible Indyaa’ carried the voices of very different women protagonists, with varyied b'The Book of Shadowsackgrounds and situations. ‘A Himalayan Love Story‘ had a male narrator, Mukul Nainwal, telling the tale. The story somehow carried no conviction until I brought in the counterpoint feminine voice of Govindi to balance it. Then, in The Book of Shadows‘ I tried to break out of gender boundaries; this time I told the story through the perceptions of a ghost, trapped in time and place in an old bungalow in the Himalayas. The disembodied ghost was neither man nor woman, but the spirit within this lurking presence was more male than female. Once again, a women’s voice, the wounded first person narrative of Rachita Tiwari, had to be stitched in to complete the book.

Do women write differently from men? Do they perceive differently, in nuance, subtlety, the angle of their perceptions? I pondered this when I wrote ‘Mountain Echoes – Reminiscences of Kumaoni Women’ which compiled oral biographies of my grandmother and three grand aunts, all four highly individualistic, vibrant and feisty women.ShakuntalaThe Play of Memory

As a writer, my interests moved to mythology and its living manifestations in India. Four books, The Book of Shiva, ‘The Mahabharata for Young Readers’, ‘Shakuntala: The Play of Memory’ and ‘In Search of Sita: Rediscovering Mythology‘, emerged from this quest. I learnt a lot from the Mahabharata. Unlike the Ramayana, the women of this vast epic negotiated their lives outside as well as inside domestic spaces. Be it Kunti, Draupadi, or Hidimba, Amba, Ambika or Ambilika, queen, demoness, or transgender, these women demanded agency and lived life resolutely on their own terms.

Based on flashes of past-life memories, my novel Shakuntala: The Play of Memory was set in the late seventh century. It took up the fictional story of a stubborn rebellious woman who tried to strike out on her own, and yet, despite the historical The book of Shiva newtimeline, it could be happening today.

The figure of Sita stands as an archetype for most Indian women. Dr. Malashri Lal and I set out to co-edit an anthology of essays and creative interpretations of the enigmatic figure of Sita, and to study the collective wounding that Indian women have vicariously suffered through the centuries on her behalf. Sita, the first single mother, emerged as a symbol of our times, strong and resilient behind the superficial veneer of misinterpreted victimhood.

Researching and writing The Book of Shiva rewarded me with a deeper understanding of the androgynous nature of Lord Shiva and forever altered my perspectives on the nature of male and female energies.

What I learn afresh, every year, is that there is a man in every woman, and a woman in every man. It is our life situations that demand different roles and perspectives of us.   

About Author:

Namita Gokhale is the author of seven works of fiction and several non-fiction books. Paro: Dreams of Passion, Gods Graves and Grandmother, A Himalayan Love Story, The Book of Shadows, Shakuntala: the Play of Memory, and Priya In Incredible Indyaa and the landmark anthology In Search of Sita. Her recent, much acclaimed collection of short stories, The Habit of Love, was published in January 2012.   

Namita Gokhale is also co-director of the famous Jaipur Literature Festival and of Mountain Echoes: the Bhutan Literary Festival. To know more about Namita, visit her website

The Future of Religious Freedom: A Global Challenge

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Guest Author: Allen D. Hertzke

Allen_2x3-3546_Vitale_Dec2011In 2009, I was recruited by the John Templeton Foundation and given a simple but daunting charge: organize a global symposium in Istanbul, Turkey, by assembling top scholars from around the world engaged in questions of religious freedom, constitutionalism, and flourishing social life. Frankly, I was not sure I could pull off this global challenge, but the scholars came and eloquently addressed many of the critical issues we face in the contemporary world:

What is the status of religious freedom today?

What are the different constitutional models that govern religious life?

How do governments or societies repress religious practice?

What are the consequences of that repression?

What are the frontiers of law on the freedom of conscience and religion?

How does religious freedom contribute to peaceful thriving societies?

How does it address the challenges of resurgent religion around the world?

What are the realistic prospects for improvement, and why does this matter?

Inspired by that landmark discussion, I enlisted symposium speakers and other contributors for a book-length survey of the global religious scene. The product of that effort, The Future of Religious Freedom, was published by Oxford University Press this year. 

The book addresses these critical questions by assembling in one volume some of the best forward-thinking and empirical research on religious liberty, international legal trends, and societal dynamics. Leading scholars from law, political science, diplomacy, sociology, and religion explore the status, value, and challenges of religious liberty around the world – with illustrations from a wide range of historical situations, contemporary contexts, and constitutional regimes.Allen

The book features up-to-date treatments of such pivotal nations as China, Russia, and Turkey and illuminates new threats to conscience and religious autonomy in the United States and other Western democracies. It also demonstrates the vital contribution of religious freedom to inter-religious harmony, thriving societies, and global security, and applies these findings to the momentous issue of advancing freedom and democracy in diverse Islamic cultures. Contributors provide bold, lucid, and soundly-reasoned arguments that build on and sometimes challenge each other. For a complete list of chapter topics and authors, Click here

As editor, I strove to blend academic sophistication with accessibility and relevance, so this work could inform scholars, students, and policy makers alike. As is evident in my introductory chapter – “Advancing the First Freedom in the Twenty-First Century” – this book marries passionate conviction with rigorous scholarship. Profound and practical, the book will help leaders and citizens alike navigate the crucible of resurgent religion in a shrinking world.

The Future of Religious Freedom reflects a long-term scholarly quest – calling is perhaps a better word – so I welcome critical feedback. 

Allen D. Hertzke is David Ross Boyd Professor of Political Science and Faculty Fellow in Religious Freedom for the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage, both at the University of Oklahoma. He is also Distinguished Senior Fellow for the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and Senior Scholar for Georgetown University’s project on Christianity and Freedom. An internationally recognized scholar on religion and politics, he is author of Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights. In 2012, he was selected to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

If Money Talks, What Does It Say? Leadership and Business Financing of Politics in Australia.

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Guest Author: Dr Iain McMenamin, Dublin City University

Iain McMenamin The US system of political finance is the result of an interaction of the interests of competing political parties and the decisions of the Supreme Court. Recent cases such as Citizens United, Speech Now and American Tradition have deregulated donations to American politicians. Australia’s parties have interests broadly similar to American parties. Business donors seeking to send an ideological message give to the right, while unions pursuing an ideological agenda give to the left. Pragmatic businesses give to both left and right. This means that the left in Australia has an interest in restricting business donations and the right has an interest in restricting union donations. Australian regulation of political finance spread from its richest and most populous state, New South Wales (NSW) in the 1980s.  In 2011, an outgoing center-left government in NSW restricted business donations. In 2012, the incoming center-right government did the opposite of its American counterpart. Instead, of de-regulating business donations, it sought to restrict union donations too. Now, Australian labor unions have taken a constitutional case to the High Court of Australia (Confusingly, this is the Supreme Court). This case will have major implications for Australian politics.

My book, If Money Talks, What Does It Say? CorrIf Money Talksuption and Business Financing of Political Parties (Oxford 2013) shows that business money speaks the languages of pragmatism and ideology in other countries too. In Canada, before the abolition of business donations, there were very few ideological donations because the two dominant parties were pro-business and centrist. Germany’s main political divide, like Australia’s, is between left and right. When German businesses donate, they overwhelmingly favour the right. Nonetheless, very few do so because Germany’s political economy offers little incentive for firms to finance politics. Individual enterprises do not tend to seek a competitive edge by lobbying the state. The most important policies for firms are not those directly provided for the state but rather those delivered by their business associations. Business financing of politics where you live might be different, but it is unlikely to be unique. My book offers a pioneering perspective on why the language that money talks varies from country to country. Australian and the US have some basic similarities but their systems of political finance appear to be heading in different directions. Given the differences demonstrated in my book and the important of political interests, we should not expect too much convergence in the regulation of political finance across countries.

About Author:

Iain McMenamin studied at University College Dublin, Nuffield College, Oxford and the London School of Economics. His work on many aspects of comparative politics can be found in journals such as World Politics, the European Journal of Political Research and International Studies Quarterly.  He is a senior lecturer in the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University. More information is available at:


Character Inspiration: Because You Are Mine

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Guest Author: Beth Kery

B.W.photoAuthors frequently get asked what inspires their characters. In the case of my erotic romance serial, Because You Are Mine, I had several sources for inspiration.

Ian Noble

I often write sexy alpha males, but Ian was a bit of a departure for me. That’s not to say that as a high-powered business entrepreneur and sexual dominant that Ian isn’t the epitome of an alpha hero. Is he ever. Ian was a bit different, however, because I envisioned him almost like a Harlequin Presents type billionaire tycoon made about a thousand times sexier. As an aside, I also think this is a pretty good description of Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey, although many people might disagree. If so, you might want to pick up a copy of this tried and true romance staple and see what I mean. There’s the gorgeous, enigmatic, aloof billionaire tycoon. There’s the heroine that is an ingénue in his glamorous world who taps into some vulnerability in the seemingly impenetrable alpha.

There has to be some sort of crack in this type of controlled, powerful character, some wound that the heroine helps heal. The allure of the alpha is that he possesses one weakness: the heroine. In letting her into his world, the magic occurs. The heroine transforms that painful scar into a strength—the ability to love, and therefore transform.

Francesca Arno

It’s often the young and innocent who see most truly, and that’s certainly the case with Francesca.  As an artist, she has the ability to see tbecause you are minehe world with unique clarity, and that includes Ian Noble. Even before she meets Ian, she had unknowingly captured him with her art during one of his rare vulnerable moments.

Even though I’m an abysmal artist myself, I love art. I got the idea for Francesca after acquiring a painting from an artist who has a special appreciation for architecture and is able to infuse incredible soul into buildings and cityscapes. I liked the idea of the creative energies of painting and the precise, technical skills of architecture blending in one unique individual. I wanted Francesca to be strong and talented despite her naiveté—an unpolished jewel that Ian immediately recognizes as being priceless.

Francesca helps Ian heal and grow, and he reciprocates. Because of a history of being overweight as a child, Francesca isn’t entirely aware of her beauty and sexuality. Ian not only gifts her with a newfound sense of her femininity, he also encourages her to take the reins of her life—to control her destiny. Ian is known for being a tyrant and control freak, so I loved the idea of him taking that shortcoming and using it to enhance the life of this special young woman. It warmed my heart when Ian swelled with pride upon seeing Francesca blossom into her full, glorious potential. He’s the type of man that really needs to give something meaningful to grow, and Francesca gives him that rare chance.

Book Three, “Because We Belong” in the New York Times bestselling Because You are Mine series released on November 5th 2013 

About Author:

Beth Kery loves romance, and the more emotionally laden and sexy the romance, the better. She holds a doctorate degree in the behavioral sciences and enjoys using her knowledge of human nature to add depth and intensity to her stories. Her works have been translated into more than twelve languages. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels. To learn more about Beth, visit her website Connect with her on Facebookand Twitter


Review: Rick Riordan’s The House of Hades: An “Intense” Thriller

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

House of hades newThe #1 New York Time bestselling author of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series- Rick Riordan is back with the fourth terrific volume in The Heroes of Olympus series, The House of Hades. In this electrifying new book, Rick teleports the reader to various places from Rome to Tartarus, Venice, and lastly Greece. Moreover, you’ll find a lot of deadly monsters, non-stop action, nerve-racking battles, and horrifying psychological thrills in this amazing new entry.

This installment chronicles the adventures of seven demigods (who have one Roman- or Greek-god parent) in their race against time to save humanity from the chief antagonist, Gaea. The book picks up right where the third book of the “Heroes” series, “The Mark of Athena,” left off. Percy and Annabeth fell straight into the Tartarus and the Romans set to attack Camp Half-Blood. The other five demigods are still in our world continues their quest to find the Doors of Death in order to save both Percy and Annabeth. This is true that the stakes are sky high in this novel but our favorite heroes know what will happen if they don’t succeed; Gaea’s armies will never die; the time is less and they must stop the entry of underworld beasts into the mortal world so that they can’t cause havoc on earth.

In this gripping tale, Riordan brings back a lot of characters from his previous series. He has done an amazing task to put all heroes in the limelight at least once and the two main characters into the gulf of desolation. However, we recognize the main characters of this book from the past few books in the series, yet we find them more surprising and entertaining.

This time all the seven demigods, author introduces to us, not only have to face monsters that they’ve already defeated once before but they must overcome their own concerns and fears- something that can be as devastating as a outer world. Written from the perspectives of all seven characters, this new tome in the The Heroes of Olympus series is perfectly paced and keeping you turning pages until the end. The master storyteller Rick Riordan somehow manages to keep every character’s narration interesting. And for the first time, the author introduces a gay teen character, who first expelled by the Cupid himself. Along with the character development, we get some great plot twists in Riordan’s latest Percy Jackson world.

If you have been keeping up with The Heroes of Olympus series and are on tenterhooks for another brilliant work by Rick Riordan, then you will not be disappointed!

The Blood of Olympus, the fifth and final book in the Heroes of Olympus series, is set to be out on October 2014.

Christians Talk About Buddhist Meditation: Buddhists Talk About Christian Prayer

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Guest Author: Rita M. Gross

RitaGrossThis book utilizes one method of inter-religious dialogue in which practitioners of one religion comment on a teaching or practice that is central to the other tradition.  In this book, as the title indicates, Christians and Buddhists discuss their impressions of a practice that is central to the other tradition but not as prominent in their own tradition.  We editors invited contributors from varying denominational perspectives in each tradition to write about their impressions of either prayer or meditation, depending on whether they were Buddhists or Christians. After the primary articles were written, we invited two scholar-practitioners from each tradition to respond to what their counterparts in the other tradition had to say about the primary practice of their own tradition, whether prayer or meditation. 

Overall, this method of inter-religious dialogue promotes a rich interchange between traditions. The leading edge of the conversation consists of the impressions of practitioners of one tradition about a major, and often unfamiliar practice, of another major religious tradition.  In this caBuddhist meditationse, the two practices being discussed seem to be quite different. Prayer presumes the duality of a petitioner and a divine listener, while meditation is usually thought of as an internal process going on within the mind of the meditator.  Therefore, the dialogue pursued in this book requires sensitivity and trust on the part of all involved. Christians commenting on a Buddhist practice, or vice versa, cannot simply rely on stereotypes and misinformation from their own traditions that might float in popular media or in the accepted dogmatic of their own tradition. Any attitude of automatically assuming the superiority of one’s own tradition would be off limits in this exercise of mutual trust. Instead, an open, curious, receptive frame of mind is required. The inquiring scholar-practitioner must ask “What does this unfamiliar practice really involve?” “What might I learn from investigating it more fully on its own terms?” “How has my tradition misunderstood this practice in the past, before we talked as equals with Buddhists or Christians?

Then, other Buddhist or Christian scholar-practitioners respond to what “outsider” commentators, commentators from the other tradition, have said about an intimate and deeply meaningful practice in one’s own tradition.  So Buddhists respond to Christian impressions about Buddhist meditation, and vice versa.  This piece of the conversation completes the circle.  Everyone is enriched, challenged, and informed by this method of inter-religious dialogue. 

About Author:

Rita M. Gross is a Buddhist scholar-practitioner and dharma teacher who has specialized in inter-religious issues and in issues surrounding Buddhism and gender. Her best known book is Buddhism after Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. Her forthcoming book is Religious Diversity—What’s the Problem? Buddhist Advice for Flourishing with Religious Diversity. More information about her is available on the website   

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