Blog Archives

Secrets of the Kashmir Valley

Secrets of the Kashmir Valley is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the untold truths of the Kashmir Valley. Farhana Qazi does an excellent job of bringing to light the true stories of women in this region who have suffered immense pain, loss, and terror. The stories are not only filled with sadness but also with hope for a better future.

The author effectively conveys the reality of life in one of the most militarized zones in the world, where the Indian government has imposed strict control, making it difficult for the voices of the Kashmiris to be heard. Despite the constant fear of detention, curfew, and violent raids, the women of Kashmir continue to celebrate happy occasions, but always with the underlying fear of what might happen next.

This emotional book highlights the atrocities committed by the Indian army, including mass graves, restrictions on basic human rights, and the countless incidents of rape, even of women as young as 17 and as old as 80. The writing style is simple yet powerful, making the reader feel the pain and suffering of the women in the region.

Secrets of the Kasmir Valley is a moving and eye-opening account of the struggles faced by the people of Kashmir. These powerful stories bring awareness to this country and what the people endure. For those that want to learn more about this region and understand what it is like to live there as a woman, this informative and passionate look at life in the Kasmir Valley will shed light on the decades of suffering and the unstoppable desire for survival.

Pages: 186 | ASIN : B08D68Y5FL

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Mumentous by Amy Schultz takes us into the heart of Southern high school culture and gives us a warming glimpse into the tradition of the homecoming mum. But is this tradition something worth continuing? What does it truly represent? Is it just a showcase of modern consumerism? Or does it stand for something much deeper? No matter where on the spectrum of thinking you fall into, taking a deep dive into Southern United States culture can be an enjoyable ride. So let’s take a dive into the stunning photos and unique commentary writing of Amy Schultz in Mumentous!

When we’re talking about the focus topic of Mumentous, we are discussing someone’s local culture, and as I am not immersed in that culture, it can be hard to understand the infamous tradition. This charming book of fascinating stories takes readers into the culture that embraces homecoming mums with gusto. One of the highlights of this unique book is the black-and-white photography showcasing modern high school culture; it has a profound effect on the book as a whole. It made the book feel more immersive and was the added touch that sent this book from an average diary-like piece to an almost Joan Didion-esque piece of journalism. Additionally, I enjoyed the artistic spins on true stories that Schultz openly admits to. Her quote about being an artist and not a historian was cheeky and admirable. I could relate to the sentiment as a fellow writer who enjoys writing about real life. I will say that if you’re looking for some big ah-ha moment that is going to somehow expose unheard-of news, this book is not for you. It is simply an artistic and heartfelt view of a popular piece of Texan culture. It’s real everyday stories.

Mumentous by Amy Schultz is a well-written book about the history of the homecoming mum in Texas. It’s a book that I enjoy having on the shelf to simply pull down and flip through every now and then, to slowly pick through when you want something lighthearted and intriguing. But, if anything, simply buy it for the photographs; they are beautiful!

Pages: 178 | ISBN : 163988565X

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Palisades of the Heart

Phyllis A. Still’s Palisades of the Heart: Dangerous Loyalties, Book Four, is a captivating young adult historical romance that picks up right where its predecessor, Warrior on the Western Waters, left off. Set in August 1776, the novel follows Mary Shirley as she and her family settle into their new home in Cooks Fort, Western Virginia, following their escape from the Shawnee village. Mary is now nearly 15 years old and must navigate the challenges of finding peace after her traumatic experiences while also exploring her first love with William McGuire, a scout for Cooks Fort.

Still masterfully crafts Mary’s story, introducing new characters while developing the ones readers have come to know and love. What stands out most is Mary’s character development. Readers witness her transformation from a young girl to a woman who grapples with the lingering effects of her past trauma. Still writes about Mary’s PTSD with care and delicacy, so much so that even readers unfamiliar with the previous books will understand what she’s been through.

The perfectly crafted dynamic between Mary and Will is another highlight of the book. Still captures the beauty of first love through these characters, detailing their shyness and constant thoughts of one another. Their story reminds us that love is a constant throughout history. A fun fact about the book is that Phyllis is an eighth-generation descendant of DAR Patriot Mary Shirley McGuire, who inspired the Dangerous Loyalties series. Still’s commitment to doing justice to her ancestors shines through in this successful and thoroughly enjoyable series.

Palisades Of The Heart is a fantastic read for historical fiction enthusiasts. This story of romance and the thrilling adventure that comes from living on the frontier is sure to capture the heart of readers. Whether you’ve read the previous books or not, the novel will keep you captivated from beginning to end.

Pages: 257 | ASIN : B0BVGN6XPC

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Way Worse than Attica

The shocking story of one of the most violent prison riots in American history began simply enough. Plagued by various personal and civic rights infringements, inmates of the Penitentiary of New Mexico turned to litigation to force change. But all this produced were two consent decrees with mandated reforms that were totally ignored by the authorities. Frustrated by the failure of the prison’s administration to follow through with the agreements, the inmates resolved to take the prison, attract media attention and create public awareness about their deplorable living conditions. What followed was a bloodbath. Designed to be one of the most comprehensive and accurate accounts of the 1980 riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico, Dirk Cameron Gibson’s Way Worse than Attica employs a scholarly and methodical approach in detailing the real-life event.

Dirk Cameron Gibson writes for two main reasons: to ensure an event of such magnitude is well documented and to present lessons from the 30-year-old fiasco that are still relevant today. What’s impressive is the combination of sources deployed to give a detailed account. It reflects the kind of rigor, attention to detail, expansiveness, and precision you’d expect from an academic, especially an Emeritus professor. It also inspires confidence in the accuracy of his work.

I also like how it’s not just a historical account but a detailed and nuanced analysis of the riot, the surrounding events, and their implications. It’s not just about what happened but also why it happened and why it’s worth paying attention to decades after. The prose is easy to get through, and the storytelling is gripping. In terms of structure, Gibson also wins as he presents a cohesive material despite the many parts he has to account for.

Way Worse than Attica is a well-written and meticulously researched account of the 1980 penitentiary riot. Focusing on not just the “what” but the “why” and the after impacts of the inmates, their families, and the correctional officers, this is a well rounded look at the entire event. Readers that enjoy history and prison documentaries will find this a fascinating book.

Pages: 468 | ISBN: 1665533498

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Felicity: Art, War and Peace

Felicity: Love, War, and Peace by Piers R. Blackett and Annah Otis is a lovely memoir about the artist Felicity Blackett, her life, and her art. Born right before the first World War and living through World War Two as a grown woman with a new family, she experienced many hardships and losses, and yet she thrived with the help of her friends, family, and her art. She moved all around Europe at first before finally settling in South Africa, where she passed away in 2011, surrounded by friends, family, and a community that loved her.

This inspirational book also includes passages from Felicity’s own diary, which are her first-hand reflections on her circumstances and the world around her, making this memoir partly autobiographical, which immerses readers into Felicity’s world. Included in this touching book are photographs of Felicity, her family, and especially the art that she created during the period the book touches upon. This allows the reader to connect with this biography much more personally than just reading a dry description of a person’s life. Readers are shown how Felicity lived and the emotions she felt at the time, and they can also have a glimpse into what her mindset was at the moment.

This well-written book is dedicated to mothers and artists. The contents reflect this, as Felicity’s view of the world was heavily influenced by her role as a mother (like having to send her daughter away to America during the war as the enemy sunk ships of refugees), as well as her unique interpretation of the sights around her as an artist. I would, however, also recommend this book to anyone interested in a perhaps more different view of that period in history between the First World War and modern times. I highly recommend this historical account with beautiful illustrations.

Pages: 132 | ASIN : B0BSSL469F

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Forbidden Homeland

In the book Forbidden Homeland: Story of a Diasporan, author Katia Tavitian Karageuzian shares her experience in solving mysteries concerning her family history rooted in the Armenian Genocide and the Karabakh Conflict. As an immigrant born in Lebanon, Karageuzian describes her discovery of long-lost relatives that she knew nothing about. This snowballs into almost a decade’s search for the involvement of America in Armenia and the generational trauma that was inherited as a result of this conflict. Furthermore, she exposes injustices still continuing in the ongoing wars in Transcaucasia, including withholding aid for Armenians starving in Artsakh.

This book has a rich history of geopolitics and most ‘superpower’ countries’ political roles outside their country. It shows that foreign policy affects people in traumatic ways worldwide if misused. Furthermore, the book articulates so much resiliency, generational trauma,  and crimes against humanity that occurred, which are not talked about in many forums or books. It is written very vividly, which evokes emotion from the reader to research and familiarize themselves with everyday politics and policies.

One of the most chilling accounts she described was the feeling that her sister and she were being watched while waiting in front of Hotel Al Bustan in the middle of a sandstorm, and the statement, “Practically every Armenian family has a Genocide story because practically every Armenian is the descendant of a Genocide survivor.” The book is truly a five-star read. Its title is befitting because, as an immigrant, Karageuzian is extremely emotional and factual about the homeland that was always forbidden and forgotten. She also includes pictures of her homeland and her relatives to show life before and after the war.

Forbidden Homeland: Story of a Diasporan is an emotionally charged memoir examining the author’s family’s history and heritage. With heartbreaking and thought-provoking stories, this biography will give readers much to think about and reflect on.

Pages: 386 | ASIN : B0BPMV4TNX

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Mythical Creatures I Created

Jennifer Ivy Walker Author Interview

The Lady of the Mirrored Lake follows a healer who becomes a warrior priestess and embarks on a perilous quest to defend the sacred waters of the Goddess while facing a diabolical threat to her love and kingdoms. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that was different from book one?

In The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven–book one of the trilogy– I separately developed the characters of the protagonists, Tristan and Issylte, weaving the intricate threads of the plot which brought them together as fated mates. In book two, The Lady of the Mirrored Lake, I developed their passion and purpose as they unite against the wicked Black Widow Queen who threatens them both.

What were some challenges in the story that you felt were important to developing Issylte’s character?

In book one, Issylte is a royal princess, forced to flee the wicked stepmother who seeks her death. She finds refuge with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant healing magic of the enchanted forest. Fate leads Issylte to the otherworldly realm of Avalon, but when the evil queen traces her path, the gifted healer is forced to flee once again.

In book 2, Tristan teaches Issylte weaponry, enabling her to become a warrior priestess of the Tribe of Dana and the Lady of the Mirrored Lake.  She must undertake a perilous quest to discover what priceless object lies hidden in the sacred waters she is sworn to protect. In developing Issylte’s character, I wove together many of the French legends I researched, such as the Gallizanea priestesses of the Île de Sein and the Golden Fairies– les Fées Dorées. I altered and embellished certain aspects of those legends to enhance my plot as the mythical creatures I created bestow magic abilities on Issyle.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing?

 The scene where Issylte, as a  little white dove, flies into the castle dungeon of Tintagel to save her imprisoned mate, Tristan. In the original medieval French legend of Tristan et Yseult (which inspired my trilogy), there is a chapter called Le Cheveu d’ Or–the Golden Hair. I used that same theme, adapting it into a shapeshifting, paranormal scene that was very exciting to write. (And, I hope–to read!)

What can readers expect in book three of The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven series?

The conclusion of the trilogy– entitled The Emerald Fairy and the Dragon Knight–will be published June 21st, on the summer solstice. Tristan and Issylte, empowered with Druidic magic, have enlisted the aid of a triad of shapeshifting allies–the Wolf Tribe, the Bear Clan, and the Mélusine Sea Dragon Warriors. Armed with a trinity of enchanted Elven weapons, the Emerald Fairy Issylte and the Dragon Knight Tristan must defend their Celtic kingdoms against the combined destructive force of the wicked Black Widow Queen, the malevolent Shadow Fairy Malfleur, and the invincible Viking Trident.

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Hunted by the Black Widow Queen, Issylte–a healer with the verdant magic of the forest–must flee Avalon with the two finest knights in the Celtic realm, both wrongly accused of treason. The trio travels to Bretagne, where Issylte heals a critically injured wolf and obtains fiercely loyal, shapeshifting allies.

In mystical Brocéliande, Issylte becomes a warrior priestess of the Tribe of Dana and otherworldly mate of the Blue Knight of Cornwall, discovering with Tristan a passion that transcends all bounds. When she becomes the Lady of the Mirrored Lake, sworn to defend the sacred waters of the Goddess, Issylte must undertake a perilous quest to discover what priceless object lies hidden in its murky depths.

As a nascent evil emerges in a fetid cave, Issylte and Tristan must face a diabolical trio that threatens their lives, their love, and their kingdoms.

Enchanted. Enflamed. Entwined. Can their passion and power prevail?

The Reader’s Companion to the World of Jane Austen – Book Trailer

This beautifully illustrated book is a concise yet comprehensive account of Jane Austen’s life. We will look at her family, friends, and suitors. We will discover her favourite food, music and authors. We will explore the cuisine and fashion of the period. We will sneak into a public ball at the Assembly Rooms in Basingstoke to see Jane Austen meet the love of her life. We will help Mrs. Austen create the menu for their Christmas dinner. Lastly, we will enquire about Jane Austen, the iconic writer, and examine her masterpieces and the literary devices she used in her novels.

–2022 Indies Today Book Awards, Finalist
–#1 Bestseller on Amazon in the USA and Canada
(Romantic and Gothic Literary Criticism)
–#1 New Release on Amazon in the USA and Canada
(Romantic and Gothic Literary Criticism – Author Biographies)
–5-Star Recommendation Badge, Indies Today

This book contains many delightful illustrations of the period and it will make a beautiful gift for any fan of Jane Austen.

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