Archive for February, 2014

Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Loved One

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Guest Author: Gary Roe

Gary Sykes pics 087“I can’t believe this is happening. This hurts so much. How am I going to get through this?”

Facing the loss of a loved one is painful and often traumatic. How we say goodbye is important. Is it possible to prepare our hearts and move through this time in love and forgiveness with a minimum of regret?


You’ve had to say goodbye to a loved one, or you will. You know someone who is dying, or know someone who does. That’s why New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey and I wrote Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of Loved One (Harvest House, 2013). This gift book, beautifully illustrated by Michal Sparks, is designed to be a very personal and practical roadmap for those who are grieving. Saying Goodbye

I have the honor of serving as a hospice chaplain. I’ve walked with thousands of people through their personal valleys of grief and helped them navigate the emotional minefield that often surrounds the death of a loved one. My patients and families have inspired me with their courage, wisdom, and faith. We share some of their stories in this book.

People often struggle with confusion, guilt, anger, and helplessness at times like these. Cecil and I have said goodbye to those we loved and we’ve been present when others have done the same. In Saying Goodbye, we share what we’ve learned and provide some answers to these questions:

Life is full of loss. Death is real. This is hard, and how we say goodbye really matters, both for ourselves and for our loved ones.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a loss, I would love to help. In addition to Saying Goodbye, I invite you to check out my newest book, Surviving the Holidays Without You: Navigating Grief During Special Seasons and also my Good Grief Mini-Course on my website. 

About Author:

Gary is committed to helping people heal and grow. He writes and speaks from more than 30 years of professional ministry. He has been a university minister, a missionary in Japan, and a pastor in Texas and Washington. He currently serves as a hospice chaplain and bereavement specialist. In addition to Saying Goodbye, he is the co-author (with Cecil Murphey) of Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (2013) and the author of Surviving the Holidays Without You (2013) and the Good Grief Mini-Course. Not Quite Healed was voted one of the Top 50 Non-Fiction Books of 2013 by a national book club and was a Lime Award Finalist for Excellence in Non-Fiction. Gary also writes inspirational community service columns for several newspapers. Visit him on his website at

Exclusive Interview with Philipp Meyer, Author of “The Son” and “American Rust”

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Philipp Meyer, please credit Courtesy of the AuthorGrew up in Baltimore, Philipp Meyer is an acclaimed author of the bestselling novels American Rust and The Son. Studied at Cornell University, this 40-year-old famous American fiction writer had done several jobs, from a bicycle mechanic to Wall Street trader, before becoming a full-time author. He earned huge accolades, including Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2009), for his 2009 debut novel, American Rust, and was featured in The New Yorker’s list of 20 best authors under 40 in 2010. Today, we are honored to have him here sharing some of the remarkable facts about his newly published, “The Son” and his ideas as a writer.

Your debut novel American Rust received significant critical plaudits for its original depiction of post-industrial America. And your second novel, The Son, spans 150 years and five generations of a South Texan family. How did you come up with the idea of writing these novels?

A million ideas are always passing through your head, every day, basically. What matters is the ones that grab you somehow. The ones that feel important but that you can’t exactly understand or articulate why. 

Can you tell us about the research process and the experiences you lived in order to write a 576-page multigenerational saga about a Texas-oil-and-ranching dynasty? Which part do you enjoy the most – researching or writing?

I read about 350 books, took classes on tracking animals, spent a month at blackwater to learn about warrior cultures and combat, taught myself how to hunt with a bow and arrow, killed several deer and ate them and tanned their hides, etc. Hunted and or/camped just about everywhere in Texas the book takes place, learned all the native plants, etc. Interviewed hundreds of people.

There is no contest between researching and writing. I write because I have no choice, because I’m a writer, because I’m an artist. It’s inside me. The research is just work. When it was fun, it was fun, but it’s not like writing.

What are the main themes that have been followed throughout theSon pb c course of the novel, “The Son”?

I’m a bit reluctant to explain my own work, but basically I wanted to explore our country’s creation myths, our sense of where we come from, and why our sense of this is basically completely wrong. 

What is it like to have your works, in terms of content and style, compared to authors such as Steinbeck, Faulkner and McCarthy? Who do you consider to be the greatest influence in your work?

You really can’t think about it. You spend 10 or 15 years writing and being rejected by the world, so you sort of get used to not listening to what people have to say about your work, good or bad. All good art, all good thoughts, come from inside your own mind. The moment you start letting other people influence your sense of yourself is the moment you are ruined, not just as an artist, but as a person.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

My entire life really revolves around writing. My main hobbies I guess are doing outdoor stuff, backpacking and hunting. Also working on cars, trucks, things like that. The standard stuff dudes do, or did, in the old days. But really I organize everything around writing.

Can you discuss any upcoming projects? What do you have in the pipeline?

Working on another big novel, which will be a big ambitious thing like The Son. Also working to turn The Son into an ongoing television series.

If you had one piece of advice for aspiring writers with work in progress what would it be?

Very simple. Never, ever listen to anyone but yourself. Also, don’t be a coward.

Rapid Fire Questions:

What are you reading at the moment?

Difficult Men, about TV showrunners. 

Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?


Where do you like to write?

Anywhere, really. Usually wherever I live.

Your favorite season?


Favorite positive saying?

Don’t be a coward

Thank you so much for such a great interview!

To know more about Philipp, kindly visit his website


Theme and Premise: C.C. Hunter’s Approach To Finding The Heart Of Her Stories

Friday, February 21st, 2014

Guest Author: C.C. Hunter

Christy Craig Portrait 2There’s a question I’m regularly asked by potential readers: What’s the theme/premise of your book? At first, I have to admit, the question stumped me. When I heard other authors answer the same inquiry with such preciseness, I worried I’d skipped a part of the writing process. And yet, with some thought I realized theme and premise do exist in my work, I simply approach it from a different direction than some authors.

I never set out to define the theme as I start working on chapter one. I don’t purposely insert a premise in my work, but it’s there; living and breathing on the pages of my books. And it comes from my characters. 

When approached to write a paranormal series by St. Martin’ Griffin, I was hesitant. I’d never written a young adult novel, and it had been years since I’d lived in the teen world. So the first thing I did was take a long stroll down memory lane. It was crucial that I get into the skin of Kylie Galen, my sixteen-year-old character. 

So after revisiting my past, I did what most authors will never admit to doing. I plagiarized.  From my own life of course. When I was sixteen, my parents’ divorce rocked the foundation of my world. The loss of a family member brought on grief. I had a friend take a walk on the wild side and I wasn’t ready to follow. I had a boyfriend wanting things that I wasn’t willing to give.  All these problems I experienced added to the issue almost all teens face: an identity crisis.

Taken at Dusk by C.C. Hunter
Whispers at Moonrise by C. C. Hunter
Shadow Falls The Beginning : Born at Midnight and Awake at Dawn by C. C. Hunter
Chosen at Nightfall by C. C. Hunter
Born at Midnight by C. C. Hunter, Katie Schorr
Awake at Dawn by C. C. Hunter
Untitled Della Tsang #1 by C. C. Hunter

So the inner conflict of my main character, and what some might say is the premise of my series, is a young girl trying to figure out how she fits into her world, now that everything in her world is changing. But remember this is a paranormal novel, so I had to build those conflicts around some supernatural aspects. My tag line for the series quickly became: Kylie Galen spent sixteen years trying to figure out who she is, only to realize she doesn’t know what she is. 

Inadvertently, Kylie discovers she’s only half human. Sent to a camp with other supernaturals—vampires, witches, faes, werewolves, and shape-shifters—she is stunned to learn these species even exist. She’s even more stunned when they insist she’s one of them. However, the identity of her species is as much of a mystery to them as it is to Kylie. A misfit in the human world, she’s now a misfit in the paranormal world.

The five book series is Kylie’s journey of self-discovery. It’s about confronting change. It’s a story where she forges new friendships, new loves, and learns to accept people in spite of their flaws. Her path pushes her to accept loss and to deal with grief. And she does it by embracing what is good in the world. Ultimately, Kylie not only discovers who and what she is, but she becomes comfortable with the life she’s living.    

More than once over the years, I’ve questioned if I’m on the right path. There have been times when I was uncomfortable in my own skin. When I looked in the mirror and didn’t know the woman staring back. This wasn’t just when I was in my teens. It’s something I think women face at every new stage and change in their lives. When we first become mothers, when we hit thirty, forty, fifty. When we become grandmothers. When we change careers. It’s when we move and are forced to make new friends. And I believe it is for that reason over half of my fans are adults.  So I guess you could say, my theme/premise, or as I would call it, the heart of my story, is universal. 

As a matter of fact, of the hundreds of emails I receive from teens and adults, very few are about the supernatural world. They are about Kylie, about her learning and accepting who she is and what she wants in her life. For my older readers, Kylie’s story may be reminiscent of their own coming of age. And I believe her journey of self-discovery is inspirational and offers us all a little hope that we too may soon look in the mirror and know and love ourselves a little better.

About C.C. Hunter:

C.C. Hunter, a New York Times Bestseller, is an Alabama native, a multi-published writer, motivational speaker, and writing teacher.  She currently hangs her hat in Texas and writes the USA Today best-selling young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls, published by St. Martin’s Press/Griffin. When she’s not writing her young adult novels she working on her humorous romantic suspense novels for Grand Central that she writes under her real name, Christie Craig.  Learn more at or

Roman History Matters…

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Guest Author: Peter N. Bell

PNB's photoMy recent book, Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian, fulfilled a life-long ambition.  I’d always wanted to be an academic, not a civil servant. But the feeling of being a lower-class outsider, surrounded by all those brilliant  upper-class types in Oxford, deterred me. Thirty years on, however, the Northern Ireland Peace Process, in whose negotiation I took part, was all but concluded. So I seized my chance; returned to Oxford; and now, in my book on the ‘Troubles’ of the Later Roman Empire, I have exploited much that I later learned —at first hand— about violent political conflicts and their resolution.

Human nature — I agree with the philosopher, David Hume — has not changed fundamentally over the millennia. We should, therefore, exploit this common nature, as the ancient Greek historian, Thucydides, also urged, not just to enlighten us about the past—our past, but also to help understand problems we face today. This is a powerful justification for the study of history.  But to achieve our goal, historians need to do more: to write, for instance, in ways that an intelligent, but non-academic person can also relate to; we need to give up the idea that we are somehow just excavating ‘facts’ and can safely ignore insights that social scientists continue to put at our disposal. I have tried hard to do this in my book .

I tried to explain how a great pre-industrial state, the sixth-century CE Roman Empire, survived the storms by which it was buffeted: the conflicts, for example, between an exploited peasantry and their landlords and tax Peter Bellcollectors; between rival Christian factions struggling for supremacy across the whole Mediterranean; how an emperor from humble origins, fought to consolidate his rule against an entrenched aristocracy; how  sporting rivalries lead to riots in which much of the capital , Constantinople, was burnt down... Yes, Justinian implemented in response a mass of sensible, pragmatic policies—massive administrative reforms, for instance, and was tough when he needed to be. But central to his success was establishing the legitimacy of his authority; he didn’t just have power, he tried as hard as he could to convince the wider society he used it rightly, morally— and as he thought God would have wished. The result? He stayed in power for thirty- eight years — a long time for a Roman emperor; he not only saved the Eastern Roman Empire from collapsing as the Western half had fifty years before him, he reconquered Italy and North Africa. He also bequeathed us what we now think of as Roman Law and such masterpieces as the Great Church of Hagia Sophia which still blows the minds of visitors to Istanbul. 

Similarly, achieving a legitimate — and peaceful— political settlement in Northern Ireland, seen as just across the whole community, was at the heart of what my colleagues and I were trying to achieve.  When regimes, however brutal, forget they need to be seen as legitimate — as happened with the Soviet Union or, more recently, in Egypt or Libya— they fall. Now that is a very important lesson from history…

Author’s Bio

Peter Bell comes from Sheffield in the North of England. After reading Classics and Philosophy at Oxford University, then serving as a volunteer aid-worker in Ghana, he joined the UK Diplomatic Service, later transferring to the Home Civil Service — and Northern Ireland. There he focussed on political development and defeating terrorism. He came back to Oxford in 2000 to obtain the doctorate from which his current book grew, and is now a member of Wolfson College there. Earlier publications include Three Political Voices from the Age of Justinian (2009, Liverpool University Press).

Top 10 Romantic Quotes From Literature

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Author: Sherry Helms

book 1

When you’re falling short of words to express your love to someone special in your life, then look at someone else’s can be very helpful. Almost all the great poets and writers have penned down the intricacies and mysteries of romantic feelings in the paper.

Here, in no particular order, is our selection of top 10 delightful love quotes from literature that will help you convey your deepest feelings effectively to the person you are dearly fond of. Have a look:

1. “One half of me is yours, the other half is yours, Mine own, I would say; but if mine, then yours, And so all yours.” —William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

2. “No matter what has happened. No matter what you’ve done. No matter what you will do. I will always love you. I swear it.” –– C.J. Redwine, Defiance

3. “I never loved you any more than I do, right this second. And I’ll never love you any less than I do, right this second.” –– Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, Beautiful Creatures  

4. “Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.” —William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

5. “True love is rare, and it’s the only thing that gives life real meaning.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

6. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” –– John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

7. “Sometimes I can’t see myself when I’m with you. I can only just see you.” –– Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily

8. “I don’t care how hard being together is, nothing is worse than being apart.”–– Josephine Angelini, Starcrossed

9.“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”  ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

10. “I knew the second I met you that there was something about you I needed. Turns out it wasn’t something about you at all. It was just you.”–– Jamie McGuire, Beautiful Disaster

Top Ten Most Romantic Novels: Valentine’s Day Special

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

On this Valentine Day, celebrate love with these wonderful romance novels whose essence speaks of love, whose pages and stories will please your senses and leave you experiencing a plethora of emotions. Whatever your plans for this romantic day, with or without your Valentine, these romantic books will take you into a world of love where you can have your heart’s desires fulfilled.

Here are our top ten picks for romantic novels, from medieval romances to recent classics, to try out in the spirit of Valentine’s Day.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen        

Pride and Prejudice

Published in 1813, Pride and Prejudice is one of the most enduringly admired novels in the English literature. An ironic novel of manners, Pride and Prejudice revolves around Elizabeth Bennet, the chief protagonist and the second eldest of the 5 Bennet daughters. The garrulous Mrs Bennett wishes just to find a perfect match for each of her five daughters. It is an incredibly enjoyable story that book-lovers find irresistible because of its rich character study, depth, earnest romance, comedy and liveliness. The author beautifully narrates the trials and tribulations of a young woman in 18th century snobbish English society.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre

Partly autobiographical, Jane Eyre is a masterful tale of a women’s quest for love and liberty. The novel starts with the small and intelligent English orphan Jane Eyre, who physically and mentally abused by her aunt and cousins. When the girl attended a charity school, she further suffered the same hardships and tyrannies. Through it all, the girl remains strong-minded and decides not to allow such an unkind and egocentric world to squeeze her freedom or her strength or willpower. Charlotte Brontë’s timeless classic, “Jane Eyre” is a must read for anyone desiring to honor the indomitable power of determination.

Love Story by Erich Segal

Love Story

This is a funny, heartfelt, and moving story of two young college graduates, Oliver and Jenny, who meet at the Radcliffe library and get married quite a few days after graduation. It shows the beautiful bonding between two people who come from different worlds and who are opposite in nearly every way. Translated in 20 languages, Love Story ranked the top-selling work of fiction for all of 1970 in the US. Beautifully written, heartbreaking and touching, amusing and flip, Erich Segal’s outstanding novel, Love Story, still continues to make true lovers, desperate lovers, singles, readers from all around the world smile, laugh, and shed tears. Published on February 14, 1970, Valentine’s Day, this book is highly recommended to everyone who wanted to know the meaning of true love.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook

Based on a true story, The Notebook is a 1996 romantic and touching tale of love lost and regain by American novelist Nicholas Sparks. At thirty-one, Noah Calhoun, back in coastal North Carolina after WWII is distressed by memories of Allie Nelson he lost decades earlier.  Socialite Allie Nelson is about to marry an ambitious and prosperous lawyer, but she could not stop herself thinking about the boy who captured her heart like no other.  Then, starts a heart touching tale that moves us to laughter and tears and make us believe in the power of love. This is a truly moving love story, with all the emotions to hook you from the get-go.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Time Traveller's wife

The debut novel of American author Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a mesmerizing love story about Henry DeTamble, a librarian with a genetic disorder that causes him to travel involuntarily through time, and about his wife, Clare Abshire, an artist, who has to put up with his regular absences and dangerous excursions.  Classified as both romance and science fiction, the book examines the issues of love, freedom and loss and uses time travel as a way to look at miscommunication and distance in relationships. Published in 2003, The Time Traveler’s Wife is a spellbinding story of fate and belief in the bonds of love.

Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Gabriel's Inferno

From national bestselling author Sylvain Reynard comes a captivating and wildly passionate tale of a brilliant and enigmatic professor, Gabriel Emerson, and a kindhearted young woman Julia Mitchell. When Julia enrolls at the University of Toronto, she knows she will meet someone with whom she shared some crucial moment of her life. A fascinating and sinful exploration of seduction, unconditional love, and redemption, this is an unforgettable tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn love and forgiveness.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer


Twilight by Stephenie Meyer converted millions of people into readers. An amazing young-adult vampire-romance novel chronicles the story of teenage girl, Isabella “Bella” Swan, who falls in love with a beautiful vampire boy, Edward Cullen. First book of the Twilight series, this is the best-ever written book that will blow your mind. Besides winning nearly every YA award under the sun, this is as timeless as well as perfectly executed tale of love.

Lolita by Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov


Penned down in English and published in 1955 in Paris, Lolita by Vladimirovich Nabokov is a funny, harrowing, heartbreaking, and transcendent story of a 37-38 year old European intellectual Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring and doomed passion for a 12-year old Dolores Haze. Lolita is his private nickname for Dolores. Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, Lolita, is a captivating story that has the power to raise both chuckles and eyebrows.

Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Nobody's Baby but mine34-years old unmarried Physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington wants a baby, but not a husband. However, her genius restricts her options and she’s decided to find an average or, preferably, stupid man or a man with limited intellect to balance out her genes. Written by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and published in 1997, this is an incredibly amazing story of a nerdy professor who has never known family importance fall in love. Filled with lot of humor, engaging characters, enjoyable contemporary romance, spellbinding plot-line, feel-good ending this book is a must-read for everyone.

A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

The Kingdom of Dreams

Kingdom of Dreams is an amazing and extremely poignant story of headstrong Scottish beauty Jennifer Merrick who was abducted from her convent school by the Duke of Claymore, Royce Westmoreland. Known as “The Wolf,” Royce’s very name strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies. But the proud Jennifer does not easily surrender to the powerful and brutal English warrior. Besides, she challenges his will until the day the rogue guy takes her in his powerful embrace. And suddenly she finds herself trapped in a mystifying web.

Did your favorite romantic novel make the top ten? If not, let us know about your favorite in the comment box below?

Bridging the Gap Between Music and Fiction

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Guest Author: Colleen Hoover

ColleenI wrote Slammed just over two years ago, and it was the first novel I ever wrote. Writing was something I’d always wanted to do, but I never thought it was something I’d be able to do successfully. I’ve always loved writing poems, short stories, and even getting creative with my blog posts and Facebook statuses. It wasn’t until November 2011, when my 7-year-old son was in the cast of a local community theater play, that I started my first full-length novel. I had to bring him to play practice for three hours a night, so I would kill time by doing the two things I enjoyed most other than writing: listening to The Avett Brothers or watching YouTube videos of people performing slam poetry. That’s when I had the idea to write a book that included my two favorite things.


It was actually a lyric in an Avett Brothers song that finally gave me the push I needed to write my first book, so it only seemed fair to use the book as somewhat of a tribute to my love for them. The lyric is “decide what to be and go be it” from the song Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise. I carefully selected lyrics to be placed at the beginning of every chapter that I thought related to what was going on at that point in the story. In addition, the characters perform what are called slam poems, or spoken word poetry, throughout the story.


I know what you’re thinking: What does this all have to do with bridging the gap between music and fiction? Well, I received such an overwhelmingly positive response to the inclusion of slam poetry and Avett Brothers lyrics in Slammed, that it gave me the idea to take it to the next level. My next book, Maybe Someday, centers around two characters in their early twenties who write music together. As the characters complete a song, readers will have the opportunity to actually listen to it. I teamed up with musician Griffin Peterson, who wrote eight original songs to accompany the book. Music has been so influential in the development of my writing career, and we’re both so excited to share this project with readers and see their responses to the concept. The book releases March 18th, and you can learn more about the project by clicking here.


Fun Fact: The main female character in Ugly Love, which releases August 5, is named Tate. TATE is the acronym for my other favorite band, The Airborne Toxic Event. The main male character’s middle name is Mikel. Mikel is the name of the lead singer from The Airborne Toxic Event.


About Author:

Colleen Hoover is the author of five New York Times bestselling novels. Her first series was published in 2012 and includes Slammed, Point Of Retreat and the companion novel This Girl. Her second series, published in 2013, includes the #1 NYT’s bestseller Hopeless and the companion novel, Losing Hope. She has released a free novella, Finding Cinderella, as a thank you to her readers for their continued support. The novella is a companion to her Hopeless series, but can be read as a standalone. Colleen lives in East Texas with her husband and their three sons. Colleen is doing a giveaway every single day for the year of 2014. You can follow Colleen on Instagram and Twitter @colleenhoover, Facebook at, and her blog at if you want the chance to win some awesome swag this year.

Book Review: Still Life with Bread Crumbs: A Novel by Anna Quindlen

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Author: Sherry Helms

AnnaAfter publishing her memoir, “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, The New York Times Bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Anna Quindlen is back to her novel form. Her seventh novel, Still Life With Bread Crumbs” is an amazing story offers an emotive glimpse into the inner life of a late-middle-aged woman, Rebecca Winter, who seeks renewals and finds that the life is more exciting than she ever imagined.

The story starts with a 60-year-old photographer, Rebecca Winter, who separated from her philandering husband. Once, with her amazing domestic-themed photography, “Still Life with Bread Crumbs,” she revered as a feminist icon, but now years later, her career is descendent, her income is stale and her fame is waned. She needs money for the care of her aged parents and for her mother’s nursing home fees. Denuded of self-confidence, Rebecca rent out her New York apartment and relocated to a cabin in rural New York to save some money and to find a place where she can reignite her creative spark. There she meets a 40-year old attractive, amiable local roofer, Jim Bates, who helps her with the challenges of moving into the new place and instructs her that everything she looks through camera lens isn’t always what is real.

Exceptionally written and impressively realistic, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a touching and often hilarious narrative of a woman re-inventing herself. Each turning chapter lends the reader into the path Rebecca walks. Anna Quindlen has drawn a marvelously complex character in Rebecca, whose life framed-out like photography needing clarification, signifying her downfall after success. A woman of great depth and one who begins to internalize the qualms that have held her back, and finding peace with her aging father, her cold, demented mother, her son, Ben, and most of all herself.

With her astuteness, Quindlen has written a story that not only presents Rebecca’s year-long adventure but also provides an intimate look at the pivotal aspects of life such as solitude, love, defeat, decisions and joys. Through this novel, she teaches us that we should appreciate life in all its imperfection and we must have trust in ourselves and our talents.

This delightful novel allows you to explore yourself and to know who you are rather than what others expect you to be. The author has beautifully captured both the elegance and frailty of family life in the novel. Wrapped in a pleasant story – this is an emotionally rich and encouraging novel tells that the life doesn’t end at 60, or at 75. Moreover, the beautifully developed and realistic characters of the novel stay with you even after the book is over.

How A Children’s Book Influenced My Writing Style

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Guest Author: Brooklyn Ann

SONY DSCWhen I was little I once read an adorable book called, “Gregory: The Terrible Eater” It was about a young goat who did not want to eat garbage like the rest of his family. Instead he wanted to eat fruits and veggies. For some reason I remembered it as being about monsters instead of goats, but maybe that’s just ‘cuz I’ve always liked monsters. Anyway, the story ended with a compromise: Gregory could eat a can of soup…as long as he ate the can. Or have spaghetti with shoe leather instead of meatballs.

The story was intended to be a humorous backwards way of looking at kids who don’t want to eat healthy.

Well, over the years I’ve come to realize that society also seems to have ideas about what is considered “healthy” reading material. The classics, highbrow literary fiction, peer-reviewed nonfiction, and most self-help books are looked upon with approval. Ah yes, you are broadening your mind!

Genre fiction and graphic novels, on the other hand, are met with sneers and huffs of scorn.

When defending my favorite books, that funny goat story lingered in my gregory_the_terrible_eatersubconscious. “But Jurassic Park teaches the reader about Chaos Theory and Gene Sequencing! This historical romance accurately describes the War of the Roses! This urban fantasy handles practical firearm safety!” Etc…

When I began a light guilty-pleasure historical romance of my own, I had no idea that that quirky children’s story’s influence remained until after it was published. Little did I realize, I had snuck some “healthy” stuff into my fluffy romance novel. I incorporated real historical figures and events within the story such as the birth of the horror genre, which came about when Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Dr. John Polidori were partying like rock stars in Switzerland and decided to have a ghost story competition. Frankenstein and were created that night.

I also added in details such as the death of John Keats, the death of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Coronation of King George IV.

So I guess there is a little bit of healthy stuff snuck in with my “Junk Food.”

My next novel in the series, ONE BITE PER NIGHT, explores the history of the Royal Academy of Art and the scandalous love triangle between the infamous portrait artist, Sir Thomas Lawrence and the the daughters of the acclaimed actress, Sarah Siddons. I also describe the Phantasmagoria, the precursor to modern horror films.

What “Junk Food” books have you read that had something “healthy” inside?

Author Bio:

A lover of witty Regencies and dark paranormal romance, Brooklyn Ann combines the two in her new vampire series. Her debut novel, Bite Me, Your Grace is in stores now and the second book, One Bite Per Night releases in August 2014. Her debut Urban Fantasy romance, Wrenching Fate releases February, 2014. The former mechanic turned author lives with her family in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. She can be found online at as well as on twitter and Facebook.

Books To Read Before They Hit The Big Screen In 2014

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Author: Sherry Helms

Every year, an average of thirty books in numerous genres– including classics, suspense, mystery, thriller, children’s, YA– have been adapted into movies, and 2014 is no exception. There are a few highly anticipated movies based on bestselling books that are going to be released in coming months this year. But before they hit the big screen, make sure to read the book first to get a better foundation for all of them.

Here, we have compiled a list of such books- worth reading before they come to theatres. Have a look:

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead


Targeted towards 12 years old and up, Mead’s book series is an enthralling story based on St. Vladimir’s Academy, a school where human-vampire hybrids learn magic to become the protector of the mortal vampire race. The protagonists, Lissa Dragomir and dhampir Rose are chums and shares a special bond that they can’t quite explain. After being away for 2 years, they are captured and brought back to the Vampire Academy.

Why You Should Read It: Filled with plenty of wicked vampire adversaries, this book is highly recommended for those who love action and romance.

Cast: Sarah Hyland, Zoey Deutch, Olga Kurylenko, Joely Richardson

Release Date: February 7

Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin


Set in 1916, Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin is a novel laced with fantasy and romance. It is a spellbinding love story of a burglar, Peter Lake and the heiress of Manhattan mansion, Beverly Penn. After the death of the fatally ill young woman, Peter Lake discovers the ability to bring her back from the dead.

Why You Should Read It: You’ll like Helprin’s lyrical prose and surreal depiction of a snow-bound New York in this amazing 748-page novel. A must-read novel for everyone who is looking for a story that is filled with love, beauty and justice.

Cast: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Will Smith, Jennifer Connelly, Matt Bomer

Release Date: February 14

Divergent by Veronica Roth


First book in teenage dystopian trilogy penned by author Veronica Roth is set in a future Chicago where people are divided into five factions based on their personality traits (intellectual, Amity, Candor, Fearless and Abnegation). The protagonist, Tris, discovers that she doesn’t quite fit into any of the groups and hence declared Divergent. She determines to retaliate when she exposes the plan to eradicate all the Divergents.

Why You Should Read It: This is a real page turning series that will leave readers wanting more just as the The Hunger Games series did! Highly recommended for anyone who loves a good dystopian book with a lot of action sequences, a bit romance and good plot!

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoe Kravitz, Ashley Judd

Release date: March 21 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


John Green’s most ambitious and touching work yet, The Fault in our Stars is a poignant tale of 16-year old girl, Hazel, who is suffered from stage IV cancer and a boy named, Augustus Waters, who is afflicted with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcomameets. They meet in a cancer support group. With a shared obsession of the book written by Peter Van Houten, The Imperial Affliction, and a similar sense of sarcasm both fall in love, despite their inevitable fate.

Why You Should Read It: A truthful and hilarious novel tackles big subjects like –life, cancer, death, love. The depth of the thoughts of the characters and the fear, rage and sadness that accompanies the terminal illness will have you smiling, crying, and possibly even depressed for a few days after you read it. If you enjoy YA novels, full of witty humor and tear-jerking events, this book is just right for you.

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort

Release date: June 6

The Giver by Lois Lowry


Set in a Utopian fantasy world where everything is perfect, Lois Lowry’s well-loved novel, The Giver is a story of 12-year old Jonas who has been chosen as the “Receiver of Memories”. The old receiver “The Giver,” who knows the truth of the past, trained him. Often described as the first YA dystopian novel, “The Giver” shows the dark side of a utopian society, like lack of personal liberty.

Why You Should Read It: A brilliant book to read with family and friends and will give you a lot to think about. 

Cast: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes, Brenton Thwaites, Taylor Swift

Release date: August 15

Dark Places A Novel by Gillian Flynn


Libby Day was 7 when her mother and two older sisters were killed in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” The sole survivor of the brutal murder attempt, Libby testified her 15-year-old brother, Ben as the Killer. Twenty-five years later, the hardened and selfish, Libby is approached by the Kill Club, a group of murder-obsessed amateur investigators. She’s stunned to hear that most of them believe Ben was wrongly accused and the real murderer is still on the loose.

Why You Should Read It: A perfect read for every mystery and crime lover. The author has concocted such a twisted and suspenseful plot that even the shrewdest readers won’t have envisaged it.  

Cast: Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult

Release date: September 1

This Is Where I Leave You A Novel by Jonathan Tropper 


The world of Judd is ruined when he had to face the pain of not only the sudden death of his father but also the betrayal of his wife Jen, who had an affair with his boss. As per the dying wish of Judd’s father, he was forced to sit down to Shiva and spend seven days and nights with his dysfunctional family under one roof for the first time in a decade. They confront their problems and deal with years of repressed bitterness, misunderstanding, and fury.

Why You Should Read It: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper is a wickedly funny and emotionally touching novel that makes you both cringe and crack up. The author has portrayed the characters so realistically that you’ll find yourself absorbed in it even after the book is over.

Cast: Rose Byrne, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Jane Fonda, Dax Shepard, Connie Britton, Jason Bateman

Release date: September 12

The Maze Runner by James Dashner


Released in 2009, The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a YA Dystopian novel set in a post-apocalyptic world. A boy named Thomas wakes up in the lift with zero memory. Surrounded by a group of boys, he was trapped in a place called the Glade that is full of horrible creatures called Grievers. 

Why You Should Read It: It is an enthralling novel with extremely captivating plot that will keep you up at all hours of the night until you finish. There is always so much mystery, dangerous twists and turns, suspense and thrill being built up throughout the story that you will be drooled over the pages.

Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Release Date: September 19

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand


Unbroken penned by author Laura Hillenbrand is a true story of an Olympic track star, Louis Zamperini, who became an airman in World War II. In May of 1943, his plane crashed over the Pacific Ocean. After being stranded at sea for more than a month on a raft without food or water and having to fend off leaping sharks, he and his companion Russell were taken as a prisoner by Japanese Forces.

Why You Should Read It: From the author of the bestselling Seabiscuit, Unbroken is a perfect read for a fan of war stories. A memorable story of man’s ride into extremity, this is the evidence to the resilience of the human will power and courage.

Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Jack O’Connell, Jai Courtney.

Release date: December 25

Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson


A woman named Christine wakes up in an unknown bedroom everyday next to a stranger. Each night, her memories disappear after she falls asleep. The story moves forward with a slow pace and the narrator of the story, Christine, tries to understand and uncover the hidden truths of her past. Relying on her doctor, she starts a journal to help jog her memory every day.

Why You Should Read It: Suspenseful from start to finish, Before I go to Sleep is a must read for every mystery and suspense lover.

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong, Colin Firth

Release Date: No release date has been set yet


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