The World of Reading

The Thrill of Mountain Climbing and the Delight of Home Cooking!

The Altitude Journals by David Mauro One would never have picked David Mauro, author of The Altitude Journals to climb the major 7 mountain peaks in the world. Not only wasn’t he a climber, he wasn’t even a hiker. He was down on his luck, living in his sister’s spare room while going through a divorce. Then, he received an invitation from his brother-in-law to climb Mount Denali. And that was the turning point. The Altitude Journals are about his journey, through mountain climbing, with its adventures, its difficulties and its redemptions.  I climbed each mountain with David, routed for him and read every word in his retelling of this journey. David’s sense of humor is evident throughout. When I asked him what he had initially thought when Thai asked him to join him climbing Denali, the highest point in North America, he told me, “My initial thought was, ‘Well, I'm not even a mountain climber so that sounds like a bad fit.’  By the end of the journey I had come of age as an altitude climber, so I understood clearly what I was getting myself into with Everest. I liked my chances of success, which I placed at 30%.” Hiking and climbing…

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“Reconstructing Jackson”- Heartbreak, Love and good food for Valentine’s Day!

  Holly Bush’s Reconstructing Jackson. The year is 1867. The Confederates have lost and the South is bitter, much in ruins.  Throughout the US, the former slaves are free yet most remain fearful, unable to exercise the freedoms they have been given. Enter Reed Jackson, lawyer, handsome and defeated Confederate officer. One leg amputated during the war, the other said to be too weak to use, Reed is in a wheel chair, angry, hopeless and uncertain about his future. His plantation and financé have been given to his younger brother and Reed is sent to the Aimes cousins in Missouri. Holly told me, “He knew the South could not support slavery forever, he knew his father was a cruel man, he knew that good people existed (his mother), he fought in a war he did not support but was expected of him, and he knew that the law must be followed blindly to begin our crawl out of our national conflicts.” So begins the historical romance written by Holly Bush. Reed is confronted with the historical reality of his era. His cousins own a boarding house and employ Beulah, a free Black manager, a bright, educated former slave. She is also a teacher, who elevates…

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Space in the Heart & Food in the Stomach!

    What is apparent from the start of the well-written Space in the Heart are the wounds of the three vibrant main characters. Author Rodney Walther told me, “I like to write characters who are complex, who have some wound or flaw that shapes who they are and how they see the world. Although the main characters Garrison and Danica take tentative steps toward love, they are each pursuing an individual journey of growth, which is as important as their romantic relationship.” Throw in Zoey, a moody adolescent.  In many ways emotionally, she is completely normal with the roller-coaster feelings of a teenager. Being in a wheel chair sets her apart, yet Rodney’s strong and apt development allows us to sit in her chair as we read.  The authors is successful in his goal of writing “Zoey as a teenage girl who happened to have a disability, not as a disabled girl first and foremost.” The plot reveals the nasty side of adolescents who both mock and ignore Zoey. Having been an educator for many years, I have seen these types of encounters. While all bullying is wrong, this type is extremely infuriating for me. Like many teenagers, Zoey wants to handle this…

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Audio Books?

Audio books are now the rage or are they? You can find a wealth of reasons to do audio books from authors and readers. For those of you who follow author, Joanna Penn (a guru for book marketing!) you will know that she is a great proponent of multiple revenue streams.  She encourages authors to get their books out to as many sales opportunities as possible and that certainly includes audiobooks When researching audio books and their impact we found some interesting observations: Readers like memoirs that are read by the author - Tina Fey reading her books it a great example. Fantasy and thrillers are very popular in audiobook form. Some readers hate how slow it is but now you can speed up the reading on most apps which makes for a more enjoyable experience. Like everything today, the technology is moving ahead in leaps and bounds. Audio books are now used where a reader might have watched TV before- Gyms, doing household chores etc.  Again capturing an audience that might have been overlooked.  I appears to me, that everyone has earphones in today- walking, riding, exercising, riding the train or just standing in line to make a purchase!…

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Food Blogger, Wife and Real Life “Nana” in William L. Stuart’s Gemstone Chronicles!

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Susan indieBRAG Foodie Lit Blogger                                                            The Gemstone Chronicles William Stuart. Quite frankly, the whole thing didn’t make sense.  “It doesn’t make sense that a fairy tale can be real,” Nana says to their Elvan guide Elf Finecano.  How can elves be real, magic be bestowed on her, her husband and her two grandchildren? How can they be moved through the shimmery veil between parallel worlds? Findecano  explained “Magic leaves a trail for those who know how to follow it,”… I believe our fate is to complete this journey together…So I ask for the four of you to join me in my quest.” While quests for young people abound in fantasy novels, usually without the protection or knowledge of their parents, rarely are grandparents included.  Nana and Beebop, a pet name for “grandpa”, are both brave and cautious and with their grandchildren, Aiden and Maggie,  learn to use the magical tools given to them. Including grandparents in the…

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A Book for Christmas and Pasta for a Healthy New Year!

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Susan indieBRAG Foodie Lit Blogger Mothers who disappear. Fathers who die. Mothers who are in jail. Parents with hidden identities. And children who search and yearn for their parents and try to find, if not them, substitutes. The quandaries do not end there. Husbands with other families. Organized crime threatening safety.  Diverse racial and religious identities within families. Florence Osmund is fascinated with identity and family. In The Coach House and Daughters, paired novels, and Nineteen Hundred Days, she disturbs the smooth surface of the life of her characters. She takes away their safety and then allows them to develop the strength to create safety for themselves. She told me, “Characters Marie and Ben are confronted with safety issues, both physical and emotional, beyond what most people face in their daily lives. The level of safety they feel is directly related to the risks they take.” Families ground and direct us, whether we remain or rebel. The complexity of the characters’ emotions reveals choices that were difficult and with relationships that remain complicated. Marie Marchetti, the main character in The Coach House and Daughters, discovers that important people in her life…

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A Foodie Lit Thanksgiving

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Susan indieBRAG Foodie Lit Blogger Herodias Long, born with an unusual name, had a long and unusual life. It was author Jo Ann Butler’s luck that while doing a genealogical search, she found this extraordinary woman in her ancestry. (Go to http://www.rebelpuritan.com/More.html for historical information pertaining to the novel.) Personal rights are a central of the trio of novels about Herod’s life and catalysts for many of Herod’s decisions.  With her father and brother dying of the plague when she is 12 and the family finances at a low point, a need for one less mouth to feed causes Herod to be sent to work for her aunt in London.  While she worked hard at her parents’ farm, Herod considers herself a slave at her aunt’s. The days of working class individuals, such as Herod and her families, were filled with an enormous amount of work from before dawn to late at night. Herod’s wish for freedom partially comes from this lack of any leisure.  I was struck at how young children began to work. By as young as 3, children had small tasks and by 8 or 9, often…

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indieBRAG @ IAC

  The information and ideas I would like to share with you come from many of the 800 authors that have received the B.R.A.G.Medallion.  They are eager to share the “off the grid” ideas they have used! The thing that will make any book a bestseller is word of mouth.  Donating or giving your books away selectively is a way of generating word of mouth chatter.   1.  Contact high traffic stores, cafes, shops to leave behind books.   Authors have had success in leaving their books in any place that have “open” bookshelves like Starbucks Make new fans by leaving your book! One author left his books on the reading shelf at his fitness club and was pleased to see in go in and out frequently – hopefully winning new fans. If you only have an ebook- leave bookmarks or literature about your book and how to purchase it.   2.  Join with other authors to do promotions or events Three of our mystery authors got together and did a promotion calling themselves "The Mystical Mystery Sisters". Here is what they did: booked places on book blogs to host their guest posts and promote their giveaway ran a giveaway on Rafflecopter…

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A Ghost Story & Pumpkin Soup for Halloween!

  Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Susan indieBRAG Foodie Lit Blogger By Patti Davis    The Blue Hour by Patti Davis The Blue Hour is dusk, that time between day and night that slips in silently, a few moments each day. It was Joshua Baron’s favorite time of day, a peaceful time when the world’s edges begin to blur. For an alone boy like Joshua, it was a time he was content, at one with nature and free from people, who could be bothersome. The Blue Hour is one of those wonderful books that is part fairy tale, part allegory, part time-slip and… part mean adolescent bullying. It is for young adults and adults alike, in the way that The Little Prince, Alice in Wonderland or The Giver are.  It has a clear message yet the characters, the magic and the quest are expertly woven together from the first to the last word, so the book is not moralistic. It is haunting, a perfect Halloween read. The Barons move to small town Clearoak to escape LA and its lack of civility, charm and freedom to be safe. The run down house is rehabilitated; Josh’s room is painted blue…

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Imperial Passions and Olives, Nuts & Bread!

  Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes   Susan indieBRAG Foodie Lit Blogger By Eileen Stephenson   Byzantium in 1039 is not a time and place known well to many in the modern western world. The author sweeps away many misconceptions in her historical novel, Imperial Passions.  One  fascinating view is of the role of women. While medieval women had few rights in most parts of the world, Eileen shared with me that “Byzantine women held positions of more consequence than elsewhere, and they had opportunities that women in the rest of Europe did not have until centuries later.”  Two women ruled Byzantium in the 12th century, “Empress Zoe and Empress Theodora, who the people of Constantinople were fond of, despite their flaws. I think it just got people used to the idea that women could be in positions of authority.”  Importantly, as Eileen noted, literacy became common in 11th and 12th century Byzantium, reaching down into the middle classes and included women, which helped them accomplish more. Eileen gives us tantalizing views of female doctors and empresses, minority groups, generals and deposed kings, all in this cosmopolitan city. It is the many glimpses of women…

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