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Alexandria: Unshattered Love

Alexandria: Unshattered Love, Book 1 by L.C. Renie, is the first book in this series, which centers around a healthcare professional who is just getting comfortable with living a single life following a divorce. As she pours her energy into her work in the field of psychiatry, she’s enticed by a close friend, Samantha, to escape for a much-needed vacation to Paris. It’s just the break Alexandria needs, but as she embarks on this trip, more lies ahead than expected.

As Alexandria prepares to unwind and enjoy her new-found freedom with a close friend, she learns a lot more about herself, her past, and the people in her life. The narration flows well and grips the reader as you become acquainted with her personality and way of life. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and how the characters develop into their roles, with a few twists and unexpected shifts in the plot. It’s a great read that initially captures the reader’s attention.

The pace of the book was excellent, giving me enough time to identify with Alexandria and her circle of friends and the people in her life. The more you read, the more you delve into a world of people, places, and experiences that are not as they seem, or at least as they appear on the surface. Alexandria’s journey takes on more than a surprise vacation; but is a life-changing experience full of romance, emotion, and relatable situations.

Alexandria: Unshattered Love, Book 1 by L.C. Renie, is a remarkable book with a well-structured story that’s truly a page-turner. I finished reading the story within a weekend and would highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys romance with much relatable content and characters. It’s an excellent story, and I look forward to reading more from the author and this series.

Pages: 264 | ISBN: 1736498169

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Life-Changing Leadership Habits

We have all seen the results of poor leadership, whether it has been in a school system, in the workplace, or in local or state government. There is nothing worse than being under the leadership of a person or team who does not have the best interests of the organization at heart. Developing the habits of a great leader is integral to creating and sustaining a successful business and maintaining relationships that benefit not only the goal of the organization but each member within as well. Dr. Jeff Doolittle offers readers a master list of life-changing habits in one neat reference tool that leaders can put to use immediately within their organizations.

Life-Changing Leadership Habits, by Dr. Jeff Doolittle, is an excellent handbook that provides business owners and executives the needed tools for developing effective leadership methods and kicking the bad habits that may be holding them back. This book is organized into three easy-to-follow parts that may be read cover-to-cover or easily bookmarked and referenced as needed. Doolittle’s work focuses heavily on character and values, which sets his work apart from other self-help books in this arena.

As someone who is often asked to take over tasks in my school and lead groups of educators, I found Doolittle’s book to be invaluable. One of the most striking notions set forth by the author deals with practice and the importance of having privacy when practicing new and challenging tasks. Having a support system in place when learning new tasks is essential to success, and nowhere is this more evident than in schools. I was impressed with Doolittle’s presentation of this aspect of leadership–it truly hit home.

In addition, Doolittle boldly addresses the role of failure within an organization. He emphasizes the fact that failures should be embraced, leaders should practice vulnerability, and risk-taking should be rewarded. All of these ideas make for a more comfortable work environment. However, no one among us can avoid failure, and learning to create a more supportive environment is paramount to success. Doolittle’s writing is clear on these points.

I am giving Life-Changing Leadership Habits, by Dr. Jeff Doolittle, 5 out of 5 stars. I can see Doolittle’s work as a beneficial addition to any workplace. In fact, as far as required readings go, this book would also make a fantastic reading for school leaders. So many of the principles set forth by Doolittle apply to various workplaces. I highly recommend this book to anyone in a leadership position, no matter the level or organization.

Pages: 305 | ASIN : B0BW3BDKLP

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His Mother’s Son

This memoir provides a deep exploration of a man’s life, shaped by parents who never truly loved him. His mother harbored resentment towards motherhood, and his father, complicit in her wishes, left Paul Anthony feeling abandoned and unloved. The author’s family was unique, and they did not conform to societal norms, earning them the label “accidental.” However, the author’s refusal to comply with his parent’s expectations is a testament to his strong-willed personality; despite his mother’s desire for him to become a teacher and his father’s ambition for him to pursue a career in high-end business, the author chose to follow his passion for mountaineering.

The author’s intrepid spirit took him on a journey to explore the mountains of East Africa and rock climb in Mexico and the Sierra, which helped him overcome disappointment and become more resilient. This book is a brave and cathartic way for the author to express his buried feelings and emotions. As a reader, I couldn’t help but empathize with the author’s difficult childhood and the obstacles he faced. Throughout the book, the author’s independent and daring nature shines through, from his purchase of a bicycle at a young age, to his early start in the business world at just eleven years old, to his later climbs of the rockiest terrain. The author’s views on education, religion, and love for nature are thought-provoking and insightful. This memoir offers valuable lessons, one of which is that we cannot always control our circumstances. Despite his challenges, the author refused to allow them to define him, instead becoming his own person and living a life that made him happy.

I strongly encourage others to join Paul Anthony on his journey from a difficult childhood to a life filled with adventure in his biography, His Mother’s Son: Memoirs of an Accidental Man, for those who enjoy memoirs and biographies. The author’s story is both engaging and enlightening, offering valuable insights to readers.

Pages: 384 | ASIN : B0BGM985KT

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With Hidden Dreams

Máire Malone Author Interview

Hungry Trails follows a spirited Irish girl as she leads her family through famine and disease on a perilous journey to the New World, where they must face challenges and redefine the bonds of kinship and resilience.  What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

The first seed of Hungry Trails was sown when my poem called Great People of the Irish Famine was published in Vision On, an anthology of selected poetry judged by English poet, Katherine Pierpoint in 2005.

Later, I wrote a short story which was short listed in a couple of competitions. A further three years of research inspired my novel.  In my story, the Foley family are evicted from their humble mountain dwelling in the Mayo town of Attymass.

I wanted to write a story in which I could walk alongside the Foleys.  To observe Julie, if possible, become Julie, a member of that family, a young girl, aged sixteen, a girl who was bright and ambitious with hidden dreams of becoming a teacher.

Before the potato blight, before Julie and her family were given a lifesaving opportunity to emigrate to North America, I wanted to see, hear, taste and feel what she experienced when she woke on her bed of straw in a tiny cabin every morning to partake in a breakfast of buttermilk and oatcakes before walking to school. A hedgeschool that was situated two miles away in a dilapidated cowshed in a field hidden by hazel trees.  A school that opened her simple world to new possibilities.  Possibilities, once alive in Celtic Ireland, a country of myth and legend. A country of justice ruled by the Brehon Laws, high kings of Tara, Druids and chieftains.  Possibilities that were dashed centuries before, with the implementation of the Penal Laws.  I wanted to see Julie’s dormant dreams open like a tiny flower that can take root and thrive between concrete slabs.  I wanted that wee flower to blossom, for Julie to grow and become who she was born to be.  That was the inspiration for my story.

Julie is an intriguing character.  What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Julie’s character was born out of the history and the politics I read about in my research.

I wondered why, if there was an abundance of food available, did Julie and the Foley family quake with fear when the potato crop failed? Because they relied so much on it for survival.  Huge quantities of other food supplies were being exported to Britain and other countries leaving the Irish peasants to starve to death.

The Government did import maize from America to feed the starving but this was difficult to cook with and many peasants died from typhus, scurvy and dysentery.  The British did set up soup-kitchens, a road works employment scheme and workhouses for the poor but they drastically underestimated the scale of the disaster and many people received no aid at all.  To add to the crisis, landlords evicted peasants who could not pay the rent because they had no potatoes to sell. 

So, in 1845 when a fungal disease called ‘phytophthora infestans’, or ‘potato blight’ struck and wiped out much of the potato crop, a million Irish peasants in rural areas faced disease, starvation and death.

Fortunately for the Foley family the hedgeschool master and his wife gifted them tickets which allowed them to board the ship to North America.

Also the Catholic Church generated a sense of community at that time that would likely have strengthened Julie’s faith and may have been the lynchpin for her family’s survival.

For Julie, the art of storytelling, poetry, history and Gaelic song provided food for the soul.   The practices of reciting the Rosary, sharing what few resources they had with friends and neighbours, provided Julie with decent values for the life that lay ahead on the Elizabeth and Sarah ship as she sailed from Killala to North America and later when she and her family settled in the working-class district of Griffintown in Montreal.

Julie is blessed with a sense of humour and she and her brothers exchange lighter moments when they share their mirth about Julie’s feisty behaviour the morning following the humiliation of their eviction. She is not afraid of the peelers and is prepared to challenge them even as they threaten  violence, burn their thatch and tumble their walls.

 Julie experiences vulnerability when she feels overwhelmed by appalling conditions in steerage on board the ship, when she is called ‘Bridget’ like so many other Irish immigrant women on arrival in Canada.   Julie’s blood boils when the wealthy Northern Irish widow who owns a mansion on Mount Royal makes rash assumptions about her character in the first minutes of their meeting.  But Julie’s gift of compassion wins through when she recognises that Mrs. McKinnon is vulnerable too.

 Julie is determined.  The parish priest of St. Ann’s in Griffintown becomes her champion and assists Julie in her quest to become a teacher.  What follows is a sinuous road.   Will Julie’s faith keep her dreams alive when time and again further obstacles threaten to extinguish them?

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Hungry Trails is about the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity.  Despite the hardships Julie experiences from family poverty, the death of her wee sister, the loss of her home through eviction, appalling steerage conditions on board the Elizabeth and Sarah ship and several other challenges, Julie manages to cling to her dreams.

The story is also a coming-of-age.  Julie experiences tragic loss of childhood innocence from the opening chapters.  When Peader, the hedgeschool master, announces the closure of his school due to the calamity of the potato failure, Julie recognises the loss;

‘…that young ones like us were bound to leave school to haul baskets of stones to build roads caused bile to rise from my belly.’

Another loss of innocence is forced upon Julie on the road to the ship when she witnesses corpses of men, women and children who lie strewn across the fields and ditches, having dropped like flies from fever, exhaustion and starvation.

Aside from family and neighbourly relationships, Julie awakens to her first love when she meets a young man, Fionn, on the ship who has his own dreams of life in The New World.  We see their tenderness and intimacy blossom in moments of their meeting in the shadows on the ship and later in a series of letters between them when they reach their destinations.

Time and again her dream of being a teacher is waylaid when she is forced to take care of her family.   But in the process, she grows up and through a friendship with an Algonquin Indian woman (who has converted to Catholicism) and her continued correspondence with Fionn, her dreams shine once more.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am presently busy promoting Hungry Trails but my unconscious is working on a sequel to this novel.  I may need to travel to the US to research Julie’s story further.   Perhaps I will visit New York to follow Fionn’s story.  Julie’s brothers, Dermot and Cian are also possible follow up stories.  At present, I am content to read, research, make notes about plot and structure and reflect on organising my travel arrangements. 

Author Links: Facebook | Website

Julie Foley is sixteen when she and her family are evicted from their humble mountain dwelling in the Mayo town of Attymass. Their crime is rental arrears. It’s 1847 and the potato famine has impoverished Ireland. Corpses of men, women and children lie strewn across the ditches and fields, having dropped like flies from fever, exhaustion and starvation. Thanks to the generosity of the hedge schoolmaster and his wife, Julie and her family are given a lifesaving opportunity to emigrate to North America. But first they must survive the journey aboard one of the ‘coffin ships’ where thousands of their countrymen and women have perished before them.
Since childhood, Julie has yearned to become a teacher. Can Fionn McDonagh, the young Irish rebel and poet, persuade Julie to hold on to her dream despite the squalid conditions on board the ‘Elizabeth and Sarah’? Will Julie’s faith keep her dream alive when her family settle in the working-class district of Griffintown in Montreal, and the only chance of earning a shilling is working in domestic service? Can Julie’s dream of a teaching career survive as she toils under the cruel eyes of her employer, a wealthy Northern Irish widow who owns a mansion on Mount Royal?
As a tiny flower can take root and thrive between concrete slabs, ‘Hungry Trails’ celebrates the resilience of the human condition.

My Supernatural Power

Angelica Quantinet Grayer Author Interview

“The Karmatic Way Series: Side Effects” follows four women as they confront the consequences of their past choices and learn to embrace their true selves with the help of Karma’s teachings. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

One of my joys is my supernatural power to break down words and learn their etymological origin. “Karma’s a bitch,” is one of the phrases that I’ve bunked to bring light to the positive side of it. Other examples can be heard on The Angelic Expressive Podcast. 

Side Effects will help my readers own themselves more, and be more accountable for their actions to get what they deserve, desire, and dream for their life with their connections, powers, and freedom. 

Which includes the power and freedom of their words when they speak. Their actions are their karma, and what they want to come back in their life as a result of their words and actions.

That’s the bitch, the loyal dog.

What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Both sides of Karma are the driving idea behind the individual characters’ development in Side Effects. Not to give the story away, two distinctive characters represent the sides of karma, good and bad, and positive and negative. As well as the embodiment of the phrase, “Karma’s a bitch,” without being slowed down by what others say or think about them and their life. 

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Whew, there are so many. Some of the important themes that I explored in Side Effects were the bond and friction between siblings, friendships along with the saying ‘blood is thicker than water,’ parental relationships with their children, children growing up and going beyond their parent’s expectations even if it looks different, relationships with a significant other, generational wealth, and the beneficial opportunities of homeschooling.

What is the next book that you are working on, and when will it be available?

I’ve got three books in different working stages.

The first book I am working on publishing with the help of an agent is a self-help book sharing how I overcame addiction without traditional means by using my supernatural powers and showing others how they can do the same and acquiring a new perspective of addiction to do so 

Not sure when it will be available so stay tuned. 

Then my next work in progress is book two in The Karmatic Way Series which continues Karma’s journey on becoming a human by obtaining a vital principle within men and animals for herself, by way of a daughter who seeks revenge on her mother and sister.

My goal is to have it complete and available in a year, however I’ve got hopes for sooner. 

Lastly, my eldest son and I wrote a book together and I’m working on the best route to go for him. Stay tuned for that as well. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

After centuries of human invocation, Karma is fed up with humanity’s amnesia of their divine inheritance and the blaming of her name.

Living up to the universal and etymological meaning of the phrase, “Karma’s a bitch,” Karma will take the same universal and humane measures to manifest herself on earth while teaching and reminding those who come along on her journey who they all really are.
In Side Effects, Karma begins her incarnation journey from a phrase to a human being, through narration, by speaking up, an action that would have benefited the four women in this story.
Treesy Sands is a successful club owner but not free to live her own life. Ready to make a change and embrace new love, Treesy must first unbind herself from the vow that she made to her sister and forgive herself for the death of her parents.
Twinkle Sands is a free and independent spirit but her blindness puts a strain on the relationship with her sister Tressy who was raised to take care of her. Being a successful club owner is not enough, Twinkle still feels caged. With the opportunity of a new romantic relationship knocking at her door and a risky eye surgery, Twinkle is hopeful to finally see the perfect vision that she needs for a happy life.
Luci Packens never had her mother’s love like she needed, so that hole in her heart yearned for a sister. Knowing her desire, Luci foolishly allows herself to be a pawn in her mother’s game with hopes of getting both as a reward.
Tracy Wright is a foster child that was turned into an agent after the death of her foster sister, the only real family she’s ever known. Now years later, she is assigned to a case that will shine a light on her mysterious past and the hole in her heart.
These four women will find out how much their parents’ choices affect their life in the now.
Because the power to change their future is within their grasp but will they, before the side effects from the past, make it their last.

And Yet Another “ism”!

Cameron Straughan Author Interview

“The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen” is a humorous and unpredictable collection of short stories following the eccentric day-to-day life of a man who finds the most absurd situations perfectly normal. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

There are several sources of inspiration. It’s not at all obvious, but H.P. Lovecraft was a major inspiration. Without him, I never would have started writing. I was also inspired by my own dreams, which I kept in a journal. In my journal, I developed a simple, straightforward, matter-of-fact description of extremely odd dreams (incidentally, a style that drew comparisons with Franz Kafka, who I discovered years later). The more I researched it, the more I was inspired by surrealism. In fact, I am inspired by the three main “isms” – surrealism, absurdism and Buddhism. The shock and awe of punk rock, the indie music DIY ethic and the intellectual approach of Monty Python’s Flying Circus were also sources of inspiration. Lastly, I was inspired by events in my own life, and how I chose to manage those events, long before I was diagnosed with autism. Autism is a powerful source of inspiration for me – and yet another “ism”!

Anthony Zen is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thank you for that kind analysis. In his search for peace and comfort, Anthony is driven to overcome obstacles in his life (interfering parents, awkward workplace relationships, lawless giraffes etc.). Guided by his fierce individuality and strong sense of self, he must achieve success on his own terms. He does not change who he is, or deny the “child inside the man” (nor is he perfect); he is accepting and finds much humour in life, even in places where you’d least expect it. Fundamentally, it is a story about dealing with the social norms of contemporary life that can constrain and degrade us, without losing our sense of humour and child-like sense of wonder. In this regard, my own life is reflected in Anthony’s efforts; as an autistic person, even the most seemingly mundane task can spiral into so much more, just like in the stories.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

If I’ve already answered this previously it’s because an ongoing theme of mine is taking a holistic approach to everything and embracing redundancies – much like a healthy ecosystem. I think the main theme is the lost of individuality, humour, childlike sense of wonder and happiness to the grind of contemporary life. Another theme is the never ending hurdles we must overcome, much like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill, but somehow find joy and solace in our labours. Lastly, if you look deep enough, you’ll find that Anthony’s adventures relate to how an autistic person senses, feels, reacts and manages the environment around them. These are the themes that resonate with me; this is what I relate to.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I never have a problem with writer’s block; my problem is TOO MANY ideas! As a result, I have eight projects on the go, with three that could be released in 2024. The first one may be a graphic novel; I’m planning on using the same illustrator, Pradipta Mukherjee, I used for Anthony Zen. It will be based on a stage play I wrote called “Bear Mask”; a part of it was performed at the Autism Arts Festival, University of Kent, UK. The second project is my first novel – “Once Upon a Time in Transylvania”. It is a surreal horror-western hybrid with an environmental theme. I travelled to Transylvania to research it. Lastly, I have a novella entitled “Missteps” that is an absurd look at the male psyche and how one man’s paranoia causes fissures in his relationship with his fiancé.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A wild, hilarious account of one man’s absurd quest for enlightenment, inner peace and a really good pair of trousers.

These twenty-three interconnected short stories dissect the chaos of modern life with a unique brand of off-the-wall humour. Anthony Zen pokes fun at the idea that our bosses can be pigs, our parents can be embarrassing and absent-minded, time is relative, justice is blind, and the foundations of our relationships might not always pass the inspection of a team of geologists.

In Anthony’s world, the mundane becomes fantastic. EVERYTHING is a target for satire. Are these illustrated stories just a good laugh – some silly fun – or do they deep dive into the minutia and machinations that manipulate our daily existence? YOU decide!

Here’s how readers describe “The Surreal Adventures of Anthony Zen” …
“Very funny.”
“A fun read.”
“Fantastic read!”
“I haven’t laughed so much reading a book in quite a while.”
“My roommate came into the kitchen and asked what I was laughing at [while I was reading it].”
“The book was truly a joy to read.”

Need some fun? Craving a good laugh? Brain needs a stretch? ESCAPE! Dive into the world of Anthony Zen!

The Unluckiest Leprechaun by Far – Book Trailer

So the rule of thumb for interactions with Leprechauns is usually humans capture them for their luck and their ability to give them three wishes. But what if a Leprechaun doesn’t have any luck and can’t grant any wishes? What does one do then?

Ask Liam the Leprechaun – his family’s luck has been low for years, but all of that is about to change. Turnabout is fair play. If humans can capture Leprechauns for their magic, then why can’t a crafty Leprechaun capture a human for her overabundance of luck?

Such are the adventures of Liam and Brianna – two lonely souls connecting as friends in a way that’s truly magical. They learn that luck freely shared is luck that is never-ending.

Nunca Mates A Un Pibe

En Nunca Mates A Un Pibe, el autor Gonzalo Villarruel lleva a los lectores en un emocionante viaje a través del inframundo criminal de Buenos Aires y más allá. La historia cuenta sobre un asesino atormentado perseguido por el recuerdo de un niño que mató y la trágica muerte de sus padres durante la segunda presidencia de Juan Domingo Perón. A medida que se desarrollan los acontecimientos, una masacre sacude un pueblo tranquilo y se forma una alianza impensable entre dos asesinos y sus víctimas.

La narración magistral de Villarruel invita a los lectores a una peligrosa aventura con “El lobo”, el enigmático protagonista de la historia con un pasado complicado del que no puede escapar. El autor genera ingeniosamente tensión a medida que comienza la historia, manteniendo a los lectores en la oscuridad sobre las identidades de las cinco personas que hicieron un pacto para nunca hablar de su participación en un asesinato. A medida que avanza la historia y los cinco se vuelven a conectar, se revelan sus identidades, lo que hace que la historia sea aún más intrigante. Los personajes de Nunca Mates A Un Pibe están bien desarrollados y son multidimensionales, con sus alianzas y motivos cambiando constantemente a lo largo de la historia. El ritmo de la trama se ralentiza a medida que Villarruel ofrece a los lectores la historia de fondo de los cinco, mostrando cómo sus pasados están entrelazados entre sí. Disfruté especialmente las transiciones fluidas entre el pasado y el presente, y la acción vertiginosa que mantiene a los lectores expectantes. Si bien las descripciones del país de la Patagonia podrían haber sido más detalladas, esto no resta valor a la narrativa que es apasionante.

En general, Nunca Mates A Un Pibe es una lectura obligada para los fanáticos de las novelas policíacas y de suspenso. La hábil narración de historias de Villarruel y el intrigante elenco de personajes misteriosos hacen de este libro lleno de acción una lectura cautivadora.

Pages: 325 | ASIN : B0BLFM4RH2

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