Dreaming on an Arabian Carpet is a genre-crossing novel with elements of romance, mystery, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I’ve learnt much from reading about other people, and their stories. I’ve always enjoyed entering different worlds. But it haunted me that I was seeing a world that nobody else was sharing. Perhaps its my background; I was born in a migrant camp of refugee parents, and have spent my life travelling the world. I’ve lived and worked in so many countries. Believe it or not, for a time I lived in Syria, Iraq, and Libya – these are places in the book – and the people I met were all normal; all just trying to get on. But when I returned back to the West, the images portrayed of these places in the news horrified me. I decided to tell a story set in the Middle East. No clichés; no stereotypes – I wanted to tell it how it really is. I took real people I knew, and I took the real problems they faced; loves, family, work, and religion. I wanted my readers to meet ordinary people in the extraordinary circumstances of that Arabian world so far away from everyday life in the USA. I wanted my readers to wonder if this could possibly be true, then to slowly realize it was, and be amazed.
Ricky has a tumultuous but passionate relationship with Breeze. What was your inspiration for their relationship?
When writing about the characters – not only Ricky, Breeze and Leoni, but all of them – I did my best to make them as blameless as I could. I mean by this, that I wanted the reader to picture themselves in the dilemmas they all faced, wonder what they would do, and then be able to sympathize with how each character actually reacted. I thought of it as a chess game. If you were in poverty, how far would you go to escape? If you were alone, to what lengths would you go to find love? What was the best move? The answer will always be a trade-off. But given the incredible barriers they all faced, none of them could have it all; it came down to making singular choices – choosing one dream; one priority. And in making their choice, each character sacrificed the dreams of others. Well, I have to say, it surprised me how readers reacted. In all the reviews I’ve had, readers either love or hate Breeze; they think Ricky is incredibly spineless or courageous. If there is no middle ground when the facts are clear, what hope do people have finding compromise in the uncertainties of real life?
Ricky was a well-developed character that continued to develop throughout the story. What were the morals you were trying to capture while creating your characters?
Religion was an important part of the story. Ricky is a lukewarm Christian – a Filipino Catholic – living in an Islamic world. Walid, Ricky’s devout Moslem friend, is the sounding-board against which ideas about faith flow back and forth. And then there is Breeze, a daughter of Chinese parents who had endured the amoral excesses of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. She is immune to religion. How do we live with religion’s patent contradictions? How do we reconcile the mutual-exclusivity of different faiths? And yet, how do we find a moral compass – meaning and purpose – with no faith at all? These questions clash as Ricky and Breeze navigate their many problems. Ricky’s journey is ultimately one in which he loses the things he wants, but takes on the person he needs to be. Whether you are religious or not, the message in the story is that Truth alone makes you strong. We are all dependent on each other, whether we like it or not, and for that we need to be united one with another. Dictatorships never last; neither coercion, deceit nor unwelcome dependencies. Only a common Truth can hold a family, community or nation together. But in order to build relationships with others, you first need to find that Truth in yourself.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be released in July, 2018. It’s called; When Spring Comes Around. It is a story set in Japan during the 2009 financial crisis. I lived in Japan for some ten years and spent quite a bit of my time working in the securities sector. Let me admit that this too is a story based on real events. Haru, an options trader, is about to be assigned overseas, to New York. But as is the policy of the company, he needs to be married before he can go. The problem is that Haru doesn’t even have a girlfriend, and has no experience with women. His boss introduces Haru and the other company bachelors to prospective brides as they sit under the cherry blossoms at the annual Spring Festival picnic. As fate would have it, sitting amongst them is one of the office girls for whom Haru has developed a fantasy. In the end, Haru dutifully marries Reiko, but also begins an affair with Emily. When the financial crisis hits, Haru loses his job, and finds himself exiled to a menial sales position in far-away Akita in northern Japan. There, alone and humiliated, he wrestles with his passions and the burdens of supporting a heavy mortgage and new unknown wife back in Tokyo.
Kuwait is a country where the poor from around the world gather to serve the rich. Ricky, a Filipino, is among them. He left his IT job in China to forget the sudden and violent break-up with his Chinese girlfriend. Seven months on and Ricky gets a phone call from Breeze. She wants reconciliation. Alone in a foreign land, and isolated by an unfamiliar culture and religion, Ricky agrees. He is reassigned to Tripoli, Libya, and plans to meet up with Breeze along the way, in Cairo. From there the adventure begins. Through Saudi, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Kuwait, and finally back to China, Ricky and Breeze struggle with the legacies of poverty, dislocation, past loves, and family obligations, as they seek a path to their hopes and dreams. This is the tale of two people who want and need each other, but whose destinies refuse to stay intertwined.
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Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, is the touching and sometimes harrowing tale of one boy’s ascent to Heaven. As young Fraser awakens in an unfamiliar and empty room, he struggles to remember how he arrived there and why he feels simultaneously at peace and full of an unexplained energy. Fraser becomes acquainted with several other young people in the same boat. Soon enough, he and the others are oriented to their surroundings, briefed on the details of their arrival in Heaven, and allowed to choose jobs within the kingdom–except Fraser. Even amidst the serenity, Fraser finds himself fighting to understand his true place and purpose among the other angels.
I was immediately struck by Bryant’s depiction of Fraser’s first moments in Heaven. He is overwhelmed but, at the same time, curious and calm. His surroundings are described in the most vivid and tangible details. The reader shares the main character’s peaceful and comforting sensation as he/she enters the first chapter. Bryant spends a great deal of time illustrating the pristine and comfortable quarters to which Fraser is oriented by Gabrielle, his assigned guide.
Bryant uses her cast of characters to emphasize two major aspects of Heaven. She has created Fraser in order to show readers the freedom from pain and suffering found in Heaven and to underscore the fact that those who make it to Heaven are, indeed, believers of God (The Big Guy). I was moved by the flashbacks Fraser experiences with increasing intensity and clarity. As he begins to learn more about the way he reached Heaven, he sees scenes from his life on Earth in a new way–a way he never would have been capable of as a mortal. Each of Bryant’s characters contributes to the plot in a unique way. I am quite partial to Ms. Jamerson, Fraser’s orientation instructor. She’s unflappable and more than willing to provide detailed explanations to Heaven’s newest residents.
One of the most unique aspects of Bryant’s depiction of Heaven centers on the angels’ relationships with their loved ones. The grieving process is very much an earthly sensitivity. Fraser learns quickly that, though he still loves the family he left behind, his feelings toward them will be much less sad, and the expected pining for their companionship and closeness is a not an emotion with which he will battle.
As beautiful and as perfect as Heaven and the angels are drawn in Bryant’s work, her narrative regarding the dark angels is breathtakingly disturbing. The author draws chills from the reader with Fraser’s first encounter with the dark angel hovering above his family. Bryant goes on to describe amazing scenes in which the dark angels seem to be silently dominating life on Earth.
Angels: The Discovery, by Starr Lee Bryant, deserves every one of the 5 stars I am giving it. Bryant provides a thought-provoking account of life after a hero’s death for believers in Christ. I found Fraser’s “choice” of job as both fitting for him and a wonderful tie-in to his concern for his family’s welfare after his death. In addition, Bryant leaves the door wide open for a stirring sequel featuring young Fraser.
Pages: 206 | ASIN: B0788PXZY9
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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I Spy with My Little Eye analyses and discusses our changing behaviours as a society. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This book was important for me to write for three different reasons. First, on a personal level, researching and writing this book has helped me think through a number of concerns that have been in the back of my mind for a while about the direction in which our society is heading. As a result of this process, I’m more convinced than ever that I, as a parent, need to make active choices that go against some of today’s societal trends if I’m to provide my children with a sensible worldview and a solid starting point in life.
Second, I find it worrying that there isn’t greater debate about the values and norms underpinning our society. I think we need to acknowledge and perhaps rethink many of our behaviours if we wish to solve some of the symptoms of ill-health that are plaguing our societies, such as stress and anxiety, financial indebtedness and shallow aspirations. It’s difficult to change course if we don’t know where we’re heading. Acknowledging the problems is therefore a good start. I raise a lot of issues for discussion in this book and it’s my hope that it will be used for spurring debates in schools, book clubs and other places.
Finally, as I see it, questions around morality have too often been outsourced to, and monopolized by, organized religion. What I want to show by using the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues is that being religious is not a precondition for being concerned about, and engaging in discussions around, morality.
This book uses a combination of statistics, quotes and recent topics to illustrate various points. I thought the research was outstanding. What was one thing that surprised you while you were researching this book?
On the whole, the data I used in the various chapters supported the hunches I already had about the issues I raise. In that sense I wasn’t particularly surprised by what the data showed. That said, I was still horrified to have my suspicions confirmed, especially when it came to statistics concerning children, such as the large amount of time they, on average, spend in front of screens, and the little time they spend outdoors.
This book looks at some of the problems affecting Britain s society today. Is there a problem that is unique to Britain? What is a problem that is shares with the world?
Although I’m drawing on material mainly from the British context, the issues I’m discussing are applicable to many more countries than the UK. I would argue that much of what I write about are trends found across the Western world. For example, in the first chapter titled Pride I discuss how today’s ‘celebritisation’ – the increased celebration of celebrities – affects the aspirations of young people towards careers that come with fame and glamour. This trend is far from unique to Britain. Seeing, for example, that the reality TV series Keeping Up with the Kardashians is apparently aired in 167 countries, I would say this issue is rather widespread.
Also, the role of the West as a predominant exporter of popular culture and information means that the norms and values we experience today in Britain may well be the norms and values experienced across the developing world in the years to come, if they aren’t already.
I think it would be a worth-while exercise to organize cross-cultural debates around the issues I raise in this book. For example, it would be interesting to set up panel debates at universities for students from different countries to discuss commonalities and differences in how they perceive values and norms playing out in their respective societies.
I understand that you currently live in London, but you’ve also lived in various other countries. How has this affected you as a citizen?
I was born and raised in the Northern Swedish countryside and I have moved many times as an adult, both within countries and across countries and continents. For over a decade now I’ve called England my home; starting off in London, moving out to the Essex commuter belt, and more recently setting up shop in rural Devon.
These moves have naturally altered the mirrors in which I see myself in relation to other people and cultures. Each time these contextual mirrors have changed I have had to step out of autopilot mode and take stock. In that sense, I think the many moves have made me wiser and more understanding as a person. They have also added a comparative perspective to my societal observations. For example, I think I have a better grasp of American politics because I’ve lived in both Montana and Washington D.C. And, I think I understand European geopolitics better because I’ve called Sweden, France, Spain and the UK my home.
On the other hand, I would probably have exercised a louder societal and political voice if I had stayed in my home country. Being an immigrant comes with a natural wish to blend in, and to be accepted. Especially after Brexit, I have sadly found myself adding things like ‘my husband is British’ or ‘I’ve been in England for many years’ when I meet new people simply to justify my existence in this country. I must also admit that I’ve had a fear when writing this book that people will think ‘who are you to come here and judge us?’ I sincerely hope the book won’t evoke such feelings.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?
In my next book I highlight the Western world’s evaporated trust in politics, business, and international institutions and argue that we need to tackle this lack of trust through greater focus on integrity and honesty in public life. I shed light on a number of the mechanisms believed to induce integrity through interesting (and hopefully amusing) cases from around the world, including whether Donald Trump’s fibbing can be stopped by naming and shaming, and if FIFA’s culture of corruption is finally an issue of the past. My intention with the book is to re-package academic research into an approachable format and let interesting cases bring the theories to life.
The book is only in its research phase so it won’t be ready for publishing for quite a while still.
Which direction is our society heading in? Does it provide a good enough nurturing ground for the next generation to flourish? Is it time we took a good look at our values and behaviour and changed course? Dr Linnea Mills offers a frank discussion about the prevailing norms and values in today’s Britain, interpreted through the seven deadly sins and seven heavenly virtues. She tackles head-on topics as diverse as celebrity culture, work-life balance, immigration politics and economic divisions. This is a book for anyone with a keen interest in society, philosophy and politics. Get inspired and join the debate.
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The Victory Perspective, by E. J. Kellett, reveals a new angle on the creation story complete with a dark and foreboding side. Five beings materialize, quite literally, in the first chapter and proceed to make their way through the world around them while one of them, Alpha, emerges as leader. Raphael, Michael, Lucifer, and Gabriel seek ways to understand Alpha’s powers as they develop, strengthen, and subdue the other four. Alpha’s abilities overwhelm the others as he levitates, forces the others into virtual servitude, and begins presenting them with stunning creations, including human beings. When Raphael disappears from their camp, Lucifer must begin a battle within himself as he searches for his friend.
I was immediately taken with the beautiful language penned by Kellett. The striking descriptions of the landscape and the amazing emergence of each of the five beings is breathtaking to behold. Kellett is a master with the written word and fashions fascinating depictions as they grow in their cognizance.
Kellett incorporates several episodes of violence in order to emphasize the differences between his characters and demonstrate Alpha’s dominance. Like the other four stunned onlookers, I struggled through the sight but find it a fitting method for establishing Alpha’s place in the world and helping the reader sympathize with Lucifer as the plotline progresses. Their horror at Alpha’s growing strength and their wonderment at the tools, weapons, and shelters he is able to fashion are highly relatable feelings.
I was, at times, taken aback at the rather familiar tone of the characters. To hear characters who I associate with angels speak in mundane terms, sometimes using slang, was a bit off-putting. The intensity of the creation story seems to call for a more formal tone, even though this is a far cry from the traditional story which most readers would readily recognize. I had a hard time resolving my discomfort with hearing Alpha, depicted as the creator, curse.
Some readers may find the description of evolution unsettling. As Alpha discovers his efforts to create humans go somewhat awry, readers will find that he is not in complete control of the process. The resulting beings are not pleasing to him. (This is only one of the ways Alpha is very much humanized throughout the reading.)
The closeness between Lucifer and Raphael is touching, and Lucifer’s insistence at finding Raphael at all costs keeps the reader involved in the plot. As the two discover more about themselves and more about Alpha’s intentions, their relationship mimics human exchanges. Again, this is not something most readers are used to seeing from depictions of divine beings. Making that transfer to a different mindset might be a struggle for some.
Lucifer’s reappearance in the Garden of Eden places a new spin on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, one of the most iconic scenes we know from the Bible story is, here, given all the qualities of a drama. Lucifer, though always a major factor in Eve’s decline, is personified by Kellett and shown to be thoughtful and not without worries of his own. In addition, Adam and Eve’s conversations are basic in language and have a commonplace feel.
While beautifully written with remarkable imagery, I was not completely comfortable with the take on the creation story. However, there is much to be said for this reimagining of the immediately recognizable story of the origins of our world.
Pages: 314 | ASIN: B078Y9QJW1
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Sacred Secret does a fantastic job of providing a better understanding of the power of the New Testament Covenant Meal. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
I grew up as a pastor’s daughter. My parents pastor, and I now pastor with them. As I studied the Word of God, I found God revealing the power of His Blood to me and it became of vital importance in my life. While giving a message on Communion, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “This is more than a sermon, this is a book.” About a month later, I woke up with the first words and paragraphs of this manuscript running through my head. I knew it was the beginning of the book that He had spoken to me about.
I got a sense of your zeal for the subject in every page. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
As I was writing about what God had shown me about His passionate Meal, I realized that every revelation was a special gift. Allowing me to share these moments with others intensified the divinely, beautiful moments graciously given from Him.
You provide in depth analysis of profound religious ideas that are supported with scientific explanations. What research did you do for this novel to ensure accuracy?
As God would reveal to me things that I had no previous knowledge of, I began to search for confirmation of the truths that I was shown. Sometimes the question would resound inside me for several weeks as I searched patiently, knowing that an answer had to exist. These pursuits always ended up confirming what God had shown me—because God is always accurate, specific, and precise.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope that readers come away from this book, craving the One who is the substance and power of the meal.
IN PASSION―THE UNPRECEDENTED SACRIFICIAL VICTIM BECAME THE MEAL
POWERFULLY PASSIONATE & PASSIONATELY POWERFUL
Sacred Secret is a humble attempt to show the great power and hidden treasures of a meal of incredible potency while also revealing the never-ending passion contained in a meal prepared and set on a banqueting table of love.
This book will dissipate feeble conceptions of the blood by revelations of vivid manifestations and powerful effects contained in the sacred meal.
Do you know what you’ve been served?
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A Deal With God tells the tale of sweethearts Rebeccah and Leon whos fates are intertwined after a romantic summer night. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their relationship?
I believe the reason “Deal” has been so popular with readers and reviewers alike is because the interpersonal relationship between the characters are so real. The truth is there relationship between Leon and Rebeccah was very rocky. She blamed him for everything that was wrong in her life. The night before his marriage to Deana he tells her he is shocked to be remarrying because his first marriage was so bad.
This book is inspired by a true story. What were the real events that you used in this book?
The real event in question is that she actually died in the car wreck in chapter 2. Most characters in this book are based on actual people with real personalities and emotions. I love asking readers if they can tell me which parts of the book are real and actual verses what I made up.
We learn about Deana’s life and her hardships at the beginning of the story which builds a beautiful persona. What were some things that surprised you the most about Deana?
To keep the man who raped her from ever finding her when he got out of prison they changed her name and put in her in a boys orphanage in a different school zone. My old asst coach said it best: “If you asked Murphy (Deana) to run through a brick wall she would be back in a few minutes with a sledge hammer.” The story is unique in the feature it gives you the best of both fiction and non-fiction literary worlds.
Deana Murphy endured a life and death of brutality and hardship. She met every challenge God gave her and it made her stronger and stronger. God had a plan for her and she would need every ounce of this strength. Deana always dreamed of a bigger life. However, she never realized smaller can be just perfect. She wants romance and love, but she never realized sometimes it can take a little Divine intervention. In return, though, Deana senses the payback price will be steep. it is something big but God does not fully disclose the task. Desperate for a second chance, Deana agrees to do “anything ” God desires.
Deana Murphy had been unlucky at love. Yet the man who was perfect for her lived in one of the smallest towns in the United States. When God gave her a second chance at life, he was actually playing matchmaker. He sends her to rural Georgia, deep in the country to meet Leon Samuel’s. Sparks fly and love prospers as these two paths intertwine. This book features the greatest pick up line any woman can use on a man .“A Deal with God” is the romance novel readers have been waiting for.
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In Forsaken, we see the changing lives of four women who have come together in friendship, mainly due to Ellen’s faith in God. When Anne’s son is injured by a hit-and-run driver, Ellen’s daughter, Ruthie, receives a message she feels she must deliver, but will the doctors believe a child hears from God? Devastated over their son in a coma, Anne and her estranged husband must find ground to struggle through this overwhelming situation.
Harriet’s love for the child allows her to set aside the fact she has found Marigold to be the daughter she allowed into adoption over twenty years ago. Now the two sit in a hospital room while Harriet wonders how to approach her. Marigold has her own problems; pregnant with complications she cannot reveal because everyone would know she had married Matthew, and his parents are dead set against her.
Life has become nothing but trial and hardship; Bitty’s chief of police has been injured in a drug bust that left one officer dead. Andrew Graves was the suspect’s PR man. Had it not been for one man seeing something worth saving in Andrew, he would be in prison. Now his boss is on trial. Just when they think it can’t get much worse, Ellen’s ex-husband decides if Daniel Gates can’t come up with a certain amount of money, he will declare his right as Ruthie’s father, gain custody, and move Ruthie to Florida.
Will Ellen’s undying faith in the God she believes in sustain her or will she fall?
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Cross of a Different Kind, written by Anthony Maranise, dives into the relationship between cancer and Christianity. A “field guide” for those affected by cancer, Cross of a Different Kind was created for those who have cancer, those who know someone affected by cancer and for the survivors of cancer. Each person will find solace in this novel, regardless of what part of the journey you are on and feel a connection of both faith and hope through the inspiring words and reflections. It’s a reminder of the light in the darkness and how God can bring spiritual comfort and acceptance in a time of loss, sadness and grief.
Cross of a Different Kind is a novel based on the ideologies of Christianity, written especially for those experiencing cancer themselves. The book is split into different sections with each part addressing the different stages of cancer that someone may be in.
The author, Anthony Maranise, tells of his battle with childhood cancer and the feelings surrounding his family, relationship with God and what it meant to find hope in some of his darkest hours. Maranise words are raw, honest and inspiring, allowing the reader to develop a sense of trust and gratitude for the words he writes. At times I felt as though I was sitting in a room, listening to him tell his story as it opened up the pathway to reflect on our personal experiences with cancer.
With statistics such as 69% of cancer patients praying for their health regularly, it is clear that Cross of a Different Kind is a novel that will connect with many people who have been touched by cancer. There are many Christianity references, but they are used to inspire hope, clarity and acceptance in a time of great trauma and stress. Cross of a Different Kind talks about how the journey of faith has helped the author and many others against the tough battles brought on by cancer.
So many of us know someone or have even experienced cancer ourselves and will find the feelings and reflections in the novel provide a sense of solace and comfort in the times of great stress and alarm. One of my favourite sentiments was that it is important to grieve and mourn the loss of our loved ones (even if we believe we will meet them again). Another idea the author presents is that those experiencing cancer are soldiers in their own way, battling the sadness, anger and trauma brought on by sickness that steals happiness and joy. This idea instills a sense of comradery and connection with the book, allowing the reader to feel acknowledged and understood in regards to their own personal battles with cancer.
Cross of a Different Kind will bring the reader a sense of spiritual comfort, understanding and information for those who are experiencing the journey that comes with cancer. I would recommend this for all Christians who are suffering from the burdens of cancer- whether it is themselves or their loved ones.
Pages: 188 | ISBN: 0692974148
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How a church wrongfully uses the Word of God to their own advantage for the unreasonable exercise of power and exploitation.
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