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Enhancing our Capacities

Shantha Kumar Author Interview

Shantha Kumar Author Interview

Functional Nutrients For Brain Health is a perfect title for this book as it outlines the different foods that can cause different health effects. What is a common misconception people have about food and brain health?

As we enter a new millennium, we are endowed with astounding knowledge about our Universe and ourselves and it is in our best interest to use them to our maximal advantage. We have to strive to protect our environment, our health and well-being and continue the momentum in the right direction. For this, we have to harness and combine the wisdom of the past with the insight and progress gained in the current information era. Lifestyle options with adequate and nourishing food, exercise and rest are needed to cope with the challenges we face every day.

Thus, the focus of this book is to provide guidelines for preserving and enhancing our capacities of intellect and thinking with proper dietary practices. This is especially important as we have extended lifespans, a plethora of commercial food products, food supplements, food fads and drugs that may be baffling to consumers. With increases in incidence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementias and symptomatic brain disorders like autism, a retrospective look into how diet can influence proper brain function can help alleviate these conditions.

The brain is the control center of the body and as such, it has to function ideally for the rest of the body to be in perfect health. Besides its role in coordinating motor and sensory functions, the human brain has a major function in higher-order thinking and information processing skills. The role of the brain in fact extends beyond the physical into the meta-physical realm and consciousness.

A common misconception that people have about food and brain health is that what is good for the body is also good for the brain. However, this may not always be true, because every system in the body is specialized and nutrient needs are based on this. A high protein diet may favor an athletic body but may not be an ideal composition for brain functional activities. Similarly, a ketogenic diet may favor weight loss but may not be the best fuel for the brain. Also, growing fetuses, infants and children can have different nutrient requirements than adults for proper brain development.

What were some topics in the book that were important for you to cover?

I would consider this book as a preliminary attempt to understand the relation between diet and brain health. There are contradictory views on the effects of foods on brain health and the diversity of dietary practices, cultures, food availabilities makes it challenging to discern the right foods to use and the wrong foods to avoid. The approach I used for my book is to look closely at “best practices” in cultures where brain health was a priority and use scientific data to support their dietary styles. Another approach was to look at studies where specific diseases were correlated to dietary principles and try to have a disease model with a scientific basis to fit into these conditions.

However, to make the book useful to consumers, I have some dietary guidelines, plans and recipes which is the ultimate goal and this is a work-in progress.

One thing that I discovered with some of the food discussed was that although foods have health benefits they often also carry negative affects. What is a food that carries more health benefits than negative affects?

The ideal food, especially for infants and children, is milk. It is a complete food with correct proportions of macro and micronutrients and fluids. For adults, adequate and optimal quality and quantity of nutrients is important and foods can be beneficial when this principle is applied. Foods should also be customized according to a person’s needs and health status to maintain the body in homeostasis.

Do you plan to write more book on health and well being?

At this time, I would like to concentrate on making my ideas and work useful by applying the knowledge base about diet and health into the actual practice of planning diets. Also, providing people with better awareness and information regarding scientific evidence and strategies, so they can make informed choices in their food habits.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Facebook

The evolution of mammals and humans is marked by a massive expansion of higher thinking abilities which has paralleled changes in associative regions of the brain and inter-neuronal connections.. This book aims to portray the role and influence of dietary factors in brain health and its intricate networks and has suggested menu options in diet planning for preserving healthy cognitive functions and preventing disease. With increasing life span, it has become a challenging issue to preserve the normal functions of the nervous system and prevent cognitive decline due to aging processes. The rising rates of diseases like obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autism, depression disorders that affect personality and brain health can be countered by dietary practices that establish better equilibrium and homeostasis in the body and central nervous system. Thus, optimal brain health involves nurturing and maintaining these capabilities and the structural and metabolic networks in the brain. Some of the relevant macronutrients (Caloric Energy, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats) and micronutrients (Vitamins, Minerals, Phytonutrients – Flavanoids, anti-oxidants, etc.) and their cellular and systemic functional roles in normal and abnormal health are discussed. Traditional practices in dietary control in cultures with a strong history of mental abilities have been used as the foundation for many of the recipes and suggested diet plans, while scientific advances in our understanding of the nervous system has been used as the rationale for some of the dietary modifications to achieve optimal cognitive abilities and preserve memory functions, especially in the aging process.

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Snapdragon: A Father-Daughter Story

A harrowing tale of family challenges one women faces traversing the life of her defiant father after her mother’s passing. Embodied with the faith of God the author narrates her perseverance with every roadblock she encounters, which adds up quickly as her patience is tested dealing with a rebellious father. Snapdragon reads as a series of episodic events, each chapter highlighting a situation that would bring anyone to the boiling point of frustration. Woven through each of these trials, the author recounts her involvement with faith. Her Christian beliefs are spun deep into the fabric of this intimate story revolving around confronting all odds to find peace with her father.

Allison St. James undoubtedly writes with a personal voice, her persistence to become close and receive the love of her father is heartbreaking at times. The seemingly open face view of her struggles with personal relationships, financial setbacks, and physical ailments never once waiver her beliefs. Aside from anyone who is a Christian or feels they have some connection to organized religion might find Allison’s passages depicting her beliefs to be preachy at times. However, her honest expression of the situation will have any reader astonished with her resolution and drive to care for her father.

The author writes with a clear tone that had me flipping through page after page finishing the book in no time. Easy to read and written in the first person the story flowed smoothly through each transition. I was impressed with the heart and emotion that shown through with such simple language. Although a few characters came off written with just a rigid introduction, and I wondered how many times Allison could be “emotionally drained”, the spirit of these relationships fostered a deeper understanding of how convoluted the authors’ life became as the story went on.

Allison’s story is composed of real-life scenarios which don’t always amount to a fairy-tale ending. Instead, despite all the challenges the author faces, Snapdragon portrays a genuine feeling of forgiveness. It reassures the reader that through these constant battles in life doing the right thing might be difficult but the conscious will always remember that decision.

Pages: 238 | ISBN:1449788777

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The Backwards K

The Backwards K by [Hebert, J. J.]

Reading a sports-themed inspirational novel is one of the best things about literature. You get to learn a lot about particular sports and your heart is filled with hope and aspirations at the same time. ‘The Backwards K’ is a great book simply because the author wrote it with enthusiasm and deep feelings. The book is nothing but entertaining, exciting, fun to read and educative. There is so much one can learn from Jet Brine’s life; everything from his struggles, achievements, goals, personal life, general work and contribution to the baseball community. Reading about Jet Brine’s love for baseball was a wonderful experience. I learned how passion and dedication can make you move mountains through his life. Each one of us wants to be a winner and achieve set goals at the end. Jet Brine made me clearly visualize this.

Jet Brine’s end game was to be the best at baseball. He loved slot machines too and enjoyed playing the games. I loved that about him because they made the story cheerful and happy. I loved reading Jet’s story up until things started falling apart. I must admit that I did not see the troubles in his marriage coming, as he seemed so much in love. Linda is among the characters I loved in the book. I had so much faith in her as she seemed to turn things around. She rarely disappointed and was incredible throughout. She was one of the engaging characters whom I could feel connected to. I loved how she reasoned and how she brought the best in everyone. I appreciate her because her encounter with Jet Brine made the plot interesting and fun to read.

The Backwards K is a fictional inspiration book which apart from being entertaining, offers lessons that can help the reader in real life. It is great when a work of fiction blends with the real world, making the reader relate better to the events and the characters in the book. There are some things that most of us did in the past and would love to forget or overcome them. Jet Briner struggled with such things and got to be in situations where he needed to forgive self to move forward. Through Jet Brine, one gets to see how imperfect humans are. You may excel in everything else but one thing comes between you and your success. I am glad the author helped me examine myself when he wrote about Jet. The major theme in the book may have been sports but the author sure explored a lot of issues through the main character.

J. J. Hebert is an excellent writer. His way of storytelling is great and his execution of characters worth noting. Everything in the book flowed well; the plot, themes in the book, lessons, the diction and the general presentation of content. The author is skilled in more than one ways. I love that he made me inspired and motivated by reading Jet Brine’s story. One good thing about J. J. Hebert is his style of narration. One easily grasps what he is talking about and fully enjoys the story.

Pages: 226 | ASIN:  B076B6M1RS

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Moon Dogg

Moon Dogg by [Greco, Michael]It’s easy to judge a situation from the outside looking in. Jerome Doggman has an opinion about religion and is looking into a specific sect for his next project. Jerome is a semi famous Arizona filmmaker working to expose the practices of a particular fundamentalist religious group. As luck, or lack thereof, would have it. He gets too close to something he shouldn’t and is murdered. You would think that this is the end of it but alas! It is actually the beginning of things.

The subject of Jerome’s expose would have been a teenage boy, Abraham, who’s been in a coma for eight years. When Jerome dies, he reincarnates in the body of Abraham. As if that is not strange and complicated enough he has the hots for the boys sister, Florence. Jerome’s journey is long and enlightening, all the while fighting the fact that his previous killers want to kill him, again.

Michael Greco puts together a hilarious tale of life through the eyes of different people. This book is beautifully written. The story flows smoothly, almost like the characters and story took on a life of its own without control from the author. It is exquisite. I felt that the prose was simple and easy to digest. For such a wild plot, it is pretty easy to wade through and find the lessons in the story.

One of the biggest takeaways from this story is the importance of putting oneself in another persons shoes. Jerome would have remained judgmental of Abraham’s sect for life if he got to live his own life. Another beautiful thing is the realization at the end of what the true purpose of reincarnation had been. It was never about uncovering truths and secrets. Not to mention the happy, maybe a little sad, ending. It is nice to see the characters wrap up so nicely.

The author weaves in some old folk tales into the narrative that help to deliver some complex ideas. All in all, it is a book that is thought provoking and engaging.

Pages: 373 | ASIN: B07B7H3NMV

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Life and Family

Titan Frey Author Interview

Titan Frey Author Interview

Reflection: The Paul Mann Story is the story of an elderly man retelling his life to his grandson through his journals. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?

I worked in a nursing home at the time I started to write this book. Seeing all the residents, seeing how their lives were going, made me understand how precious life and family is. This gave me the idea to come up with an elderly resident who would tell his story.

Paul lives an interesting life with twists I didn’t see coming. Was his story planned or did it develop organically while writing?

A few of his life moments were planned but most developed organically as I wrote through the story.

Throughout the story I felt that family and love was important. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

Yes, I wanted to show that in the midst of life, good and bad, at the end of the day we all need our family.

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

I am currently writing a time-traveling story that will involve a real event in history. There is no release plan yet.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Facebook

Reflection: The Paul Mann Story by [Frey, Titan]

When you’re old, tired, and alone, will you reflect on your life?

Well, one-hundred-and-four-year-old Paul Mann is. After not seeing his grandson, Marlin, for nearly five years, he reads to him from his journals. Paul relives his best moments with his late wife, Janet. He also relives the horrors he saw in the second world war, and from his crazy, murderer of a step-father.

Will you let Paul Mann read to you?

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Seven Days in Lebanon

Seven Days in Lebanon by [Tremayne, Eleanor]

In the early 1900’s in old Russia, the beginnings of the Russian revolution are forming. The aristocrat class is in danger and families are making plans to escape before the war takes not only their homes and properties, but their lives. Olga is a young doctor and the only daughter of Natasha Vishnievsky. Her father arranges for her to escape, unfortunately things do not go as planned. Seven Days in Lebanon is a book filled with history and based off the real life of Olga Von Eggert Khadjieff, Eleanor Tremayne’s grandmother. The book covers three generations of women’s lives in the family and is weaved together through journal entries, memories, and an ambitious well off artist looking for meaning in his own life.

The story starts out in Russia, but quickly moves into Olga’s escape from the Bolshevik army and the journey she takes is not an easy one. Fate kept her alive on more than one occasion and her skill as a doctor kept her alive more than once as well. The beginning of the book goes into detail about her escape from Russia and, eventual marriage to Prince of Kiva, through journal entries and stories that Olga is telling her granddaughter Anastasia. Olga’s mother Natasha kept a journal of notes, family history, and memories meant for Olga. However, it was never reunited with her and ended up in the hands of Damian Tolbert a rich French artist that writes and shoots photography.

The story’s point of view jumps around a lot, going from Olga, to Anastasia, sometimes her parents, and to Damian. The time lines are also mixed and mingled, it is not told in a linear fashion rather just like it would be listening to a family member, bits and pieces here and there and you have to assemble it all together in order in your own mind. It is confusing at first but soon you realize that the writing style is slightly different for each point of view. It draws you in despite the jumps. Knowing this novel is based on real events that took place in the life of the author’s grandmother, Olga, makes the story that much more interesting. These are first hand events and stories passed down from one generation to the next, a lost tradition.

There are some harsh topics and some graphic details involving death, and rape, and murder. However, they are told from the perspective of facts and not in a sensational manner. It is just how things were back in that time. There are times the stories feel like a history lesson and times like a day dream. The mix of styles makes this book intriguing and you want to keep reading it. The sad and brutal events are mixed with hope and promise of a better future.

Aside from the history element, seeing Anastasia discovering her heritage is probably my favorite part. How things from the past, little things like that raven imagery all start build a bigger picture for her and she grows into her heritage that prior to Olga’s death she said she didn’t care about. This is a great telling of a family and their history told in a manner that is fun and engaging and not like that of an autobiography or history book. This would be a great choice for anyone looking for a book club book or discussion group.

Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07NJJTGYJ

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The Implications of Immortality

David Crane Author Interview

David Crane Author Interview

Price of Life follows immortals and the battle between the factions of immortals over the future of the human race. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

The inspiration for this novel came to me from the 1990’s Highlander series starring actor Adrian Paul in the title role. The show was very successful and I was thrilled about the plot and the theme regarding the implications of immortality. The novel was also inspired by my studies of eastern philosophies and mysticism as well as ancient European tales of humans becoming demigods as a result of an accident or a test by the gods or mysterious alien forces.

You did a fantastic job of blurring the lines between good and evil in this book. What were some driving ideals you used while writing?

The driving ideals I used in my writing were about two worlds, one official,l dominated by humans, another secret, dominated by the immortals. I thought that it would be interesting to put these two worlds on a collision course and give each character human and immortal a unique voice that would define their personalities and be the driving force behind their actions. Just like in the human world, among many immortals in my novels the lines between good and evil are sometimes blurred depending on a situation they find themselves in.

Dina is one of my favorite immortals. Who was your favorite character to write for?

Dina’s character is also my favorite in the story and initially, I wanted to tell the story from her point of view but decided to give each character a chance to speak for themselves. Dina’s actions are good and decent, and her personality defines her strong moral code and sense of justice. She uses her powers to help people and on some occasions she punishes evil and the people who betray her and those whom she loves. The episode about trying to kill Hitler was actually a stand alone short story I wrote in 2010 and in that story Dina was a mortal person blessed with her extraordinary gift of foresight.

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

I am currently working on some ideas for my next novel but would like to share with you the novels I wrote during the previous years. I will definitely like to submit another novel to you to be read and reviewed and hope you and your readers enjoy undertaking another literary journey.

Author Links: Amazon | ForemostPress

Price of Life by [Crane, David]

At the dawn of civilization, a prehistoric hunter finds an unusual meteorite that offers him powers of life and death and makes him an immortal. Twelve thousand years later, his descendants, inheriting the gene of immortality, are living in secret among unsuspecting humans. Able to give and take life at will, they struggle for survival across the centuries.

When a group of human fanatics and evil immortals each come with their own horrific plan for world domination, other humans and immortals must join forces to stop them regardless of the cost. At stake is the survival of both races as they prepare to face the greatest challenge of their lives.

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Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir

Lost in the Reflecting Pool: A Memoir by [Pomerantz, Diane]

I was truly touched by this memoir by Diane Pomerantz.  Her honesty and candor, as well as her shard recollection of her life’s experiences is truly inspiring and, as a person interested in human relationships, I found this book speaking to my soul. Diane Pomerantz writes as if in conversation. Perhaps this comes from her decades of work as a child psychologist. The writing has a conversational flow and is emotional without being overly flowery or expressive. She states later in the book that writing is very therapeutic for her and this is evident to the reader.

This is a memoir about a life full of challenging experiences to which many people can relate but also moments that are so unique to her story. The author takes us through her years as a married person and into her later years and up to the present. We experience her meeting her husband.  He is a physician and she is a child psychologist. They build a life together, including many issues with fertility and adoption. We experience their early years of marriage, including intense difficulties with fertility and adoption. There are many heartbreaking incidents like when the young couple adopts a baby, names him, and brings him home only to find out that the birth mother has changed her mind. It is inspiring how the author faces these challenges, she is rocked to the core but also finds a way to move forward. It’s beautiful how she got both of her children. I loved this part of the story. It made me laugh when she said her daughter liked her new brother for the first few weeks but was then ready to send him back! My son said similar things about his baby brother in the beginning, so this made me smile.

As the years go on, we watch her husband’s true personality come to forefront. It is truly disturbing to watch this unfold. She sees certain things in the beginning that are red flags but continues raising her children with him and even working together. There is a story about how she and Charles co-treat a young woman for anxiety and Pomerantz is alarmed by his dismissive response to the patient. Through the author’s struggles with illness she discovers more and more truths about her husband. It was alarming to read the breakdown of their partnership and his actions and state of mind. Her descriptions were so alarming at times, yet I believed every detail.

There is a lot of difficulty, trauma, and heartbreak in this book, but it all comes around to a positive ending and left me feeling like I was more aware in my own marriage and relationships. I like that she is able to move forward without anger, even though she doesn’t have to forgive. I really enjoyed this book. The writing style was so comfortable and easy to read. The authors candor about her life are refreshing in a world where people often only want to show the good.

Pages: 337 | ASIN: B07414L8B6

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Her Stories Are Universal

Sylvia Sanchez Garza Author Interview

Sylvia Sanchez Garza Author Interview

Cascarones follows the life of a Mexican American girl in Texas that must balance her culturally rich heritage in a whitewashed school. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It was important for me to write and share my story since I believe that diversity is so important to all of us. Everyone needs to know that being different is a gift― especially our young readers. They need to be able to see themselves, their culture, and their traditions in books, music, and movies. Since reading has always been one of my passions, I realized that there was a lack of published stories that reflected Mexican American families such as mine.

When I was growing up, I loved it when our teachers would take us to the library to check out books. As I grew older, I started to realize that most of those books were about people that I couldn’t relate to. The characters weren’t anything like my family or friends. They didn’t look like us and definitely didn’t talk like us. When I started visiting bookstores, the same seemed true. Even today, it is still difficult to find books written by Mexican American authors in libraries or bookstores. I felt it was important to write about my beautiful culture and traditions so that readers would be able to experience the rich and colorful experiences that I was so privileged to grow up with.

We get to explore Suzy’s character all the way to adulthood. What were some driving ideals behind her character?

Cascarones is about a Mexican American girl growing up in South Texas always surrounded by family and friends. Love, faith, and simple fun are seen through her character. In a way, her stories are universal because everyone has their own version of Suzy’s story.

She grew up surrounded by people who left a huge impression on her just by being in her life. Her character is able to change and adapt to the situations that change in her life. Many of the characters in Cascarones are based on people who passed away at a very young age. They are vital to Suzy’s life and helped to shape who she becomes. Since Suzy grows up in a large extended family that is surrounded by love, she realizes that everyone in her life is important even though she is faced by challenges.

Each story gives more insight into the family as well as their culture and history. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?

The title Cascarones represents the cycle of life. The cascaron starts out as an egg with so much promise for life. The gold yolk inside symbolizes the life that we all have since we all start our journey as an egg. However, in order to make a cascaron the egg is removed, and the shell is then decorated in the most beautiful and artistic way possible. It is then cracked, falls to the ground and becomes part of the earth. It fertilizes the dirt and is reborn with the grass, trees, and flowers. That is what happens to us. Our life begins as an egg. We all have a gold yolk that represents our inner soul, but at the end our body goes back to the ground. The shell or the cascaron represents us, for we are all here only temporarily. In an instant we could be gone, for we do not know when our time will come. Life is fragile, just like a cascaron.

Everyone has a story inside of them waiting to be written. If there is not anything out there that reflects who you are, then it’s up to you to do something about it. Whether it’s about one’s religion or no religion, culture, or even sexual orientation it’s important to share one’s own story. Start writing and get the message out to everyone else. Once the writing starts, the rest will fall into place.

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

My next book is titled The Golden Egg and should be released next month. I’m really excited about it because it will be a bilingual chapter book. One page will be in English and the following page in Spanish. Even though Cascarones has some Spanish in it, many people have asked about a bilingual version.

I also have a poetry book that is forthcoming. Poetry is something that I truly enjoy, and it’s a beautiful way to express feelings in an artistic way. I have several selections that I’m excited to share with readers.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Cascarones is a young adult bildungsroman, a coming of age story narrated in a non-linear fashion that revolves around the life of a Mexican American family living in the Rio Grande Valley in Deep South Texas. The main character, Suzy, as well as her family and friends are encircled by rich traditions and culture of the region, shaping who she becomes. There are many beautiful people depicted in this novel who helped transform Suzy. The narrative shifts from present to the past to connect the reader with cultural traditions that changed through the years. It exposes how Easter was and is currently celebrated in the Rio Grande Valley and growing up during the sixties and seventies as a Mexican American amidst discriminatory undertones.

Sylvia Sánchez-Garza was born in Mercedes, Texas and raised in Weslaco, Texas. As a young girl, her family moved to Houston, Texas for a few years while her father worked on his doctorate at the University of Houston. She returned to and settled in the Rio Grande Valley. “I knew that it would always be my home,” Dr. Sánchez-Garza confessed. She and her husband live in Edinburg, Texas and own a real estate business. She has four sons, who make her very proud. She holds a B.A. in English, an M.A. in School Administration, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies. Cascarones is her first novel.

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Painted by Words

Painted by Words is a gorgeously written life story of a small-town girl who goes through many ups and downs, all while keeping a positive outlook on life. I enjoyed this book for the simple fact that I could relate to it, and it was so easy to read. I felt like I was completely immersed in this book, from the beginning to the very end. It was like I was living her life with her. Every chapter detailed a different event in the author’s life, one that was either triumphant or beautiful. All the while, you learn more and more about the author. If you’re looking for a book to while away the hours, then this is definitely the one that you’re going to want to read. Not only does it give you a bit of nostalgia, as the author explains her life as a little girl, but it will bring up memories of your own past mistakes, which can be therapeutic in a way. I believe this is the authors first book, at least her first published work, and it really stands out to me. I liked how intimate she was on every page, the fact that she wasn’t afraid to tell her truth. She didn’t hold back on any account of her memories. Another thing that sets this book apart from so many memoirs that I have read recently, is that the author writes as if she is talking to a friend. It made reading it that much more enjoyable.

There’s nothing better than curling up on a snowy winter day, knowing that you get to sit back and read about someone else’s life. There are so many different stories and lessons to learn from this book. The only thing that I will say is that I wish there was more to read! But I guess she has to live her life first. If she decides to write more books, I will be the first one in line to get them! Thank you for telling us your story.

Pages: 482 | ASIN: B07945T7KB

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