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International Action Thriller, Dark Spiral Down—The Real Message Behind the Book ~ Guest Post by Michael Houtz


Every novel written begins life with an inspired idea—an author experience, expertise in a given field, or any number of other bits and pieces that speaks to the writer. Dark Spiral Down chronicles the life of a former Shaolin monk, living in the U.S. with his beautiful wife and toddler son, who earns his living as one of the greatest fighters in professional mixed martial arts history. The motivation behind the book has little to do with the actual manuscript. Nothing on the pages hints at the true purpose of why I wrote this story. Let me tell you how it came about.

A few years ago, I retired early from a career in medicine. No surprise, my first writing effort started with a medical thriller. I felt, and still do, the story has a strong premise and has the potential to do well. Somewhere around that same time, I read an appalling account of a child whisked away from his father to South America by his ex-wife. The courts in that part of the world were manipulated by the new boyfriend, an attorney, and the father struggled mightily against unsympathetic ears. From all accounts on subsequent research, I discovered the dad was a good guy with no history of violence, and he’d been a loving father to his son. His journey for the return of his son spanned years. Imagine dropping off your child with a spouse for visitation and never seeing them again. The account really hit home.

I continued with my medical thriller but kept going back to the event and grew increasingly angry when all his attempts to just visit with his son were thwarted. How could someone be so cruel? I imagined someone traveling there, in the middle of the night, and whisking the boy away from this horrendous adult and reuniting him with his father. Not long after that initial thought, I formed a character in my head capable of a rescue. That’s when I knew I had to write another book. Now.

With all that backstory of my motivation to write my newest novel, you’d expect the storyline mirroring my description. Well, that’s not how this book turned out. Yes, the protagonist, Cole Haufner, is a man with the necessary skill in performing a rescue, but he doesn’t pursue an innocent child’s return. He rescues two young adult women, his Delta Force brother, and recovers a device capable of incalculable destruction. Hey! Where’s the kid? Here’s where my pragmatic brain kicked in.

I’ve seen Best Selling authors write a book later in a series that explains the roots of their primary character. I consciously decided that the first would show where they came from and not wait until #5. Cole’s story-arc beginning has nothing to do with saving children. Only later does he discover his true talent and begin his life’s purpose. I wanted to follow his life in a linear fashion—just as we all live our lives in real life. I also have a secondary motivation.

Dark Spiral Down is my first published, full-length novel. So? Well, I reasoned my freshman effort would possibly look just like what you’d expect from someone’s first attempt—rough around the edges. I’m hedging my bet that Cole’s real purpose in life should be met with more writing experience and thus an improved reader experience. I didn’t anticipate the excellent reviews I’m receiving by significant members of the thriller marketplace—very welcome but unexpected. Did my decision negatively impact what I hoped to accomplish? Not at all. I’m more fired up that ever for Cole to begin his journey of bringing these children home—my true motivation for breathing life into this character. Just so happens I did learn a lot on the mechanics of writing novels this first go-‘round, and I’m confident future books in the series will benefit from my newfound knowledge.

I hope readers will join me in supporting the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Like my imaginary friend, Cole Haufner, I too discovered my new purpose in life.

Bring them home!
Mike

About the Author

After a career in medicine, Mike Houtz succumbed to the call to hang up his stethoscope and pursue his other passion as a writer of fast-paced thrillers. A rabid fan of authors such as Clancy, Mark Greaney, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor, Mike loves series writing with strong characters, fast pacing and international locations, all of which explode into action in his debut novel, a 2017 Zebulon Award winner. When not at the keyboard, he can be found on the firing range, traveling for research across the globe, or trying out the latest dry-fly pattern on a Gold Medal trout stream.

He lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

His latest book is the thriller/international/action novel, Dark Spiral Down.

Website: www.mikehoutz.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/michaelhoutz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.mikehoutz/ https://www.facebook.com/mike.houtz.77

About the Book:

Title: DARK SPIRAL DOWN

Author: Michael Houtz

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Pages: 377

Genre: Thriller/International/Action

BOOK BLURB:

COLE HAUFNER is a reluctant superstar in the professional mixed martial arts world. After his latest fight, his wife and child perish in a car crash. His grief deepens when his brother, BUTCH, a Delta Force operator, is absent from the funeral and reported missing by two furtive strangers who show up unannounced at the burial. Despairing, and acting on a tip, Cole travels to his childhood home in southeast China, looking for his brother.

Butch and his teammate, HAMMER, are the sole American survivors of a gun battle between their unit and North Korean commandos, both sides fighting over possession of a stolen suitcase containing a miniaturized fusion device that could either provide unlimited clean energy or be converted to an undetectable bomb seven times more powerful than a nuclear explosion. Leading the North Koreans is the sociopath, Commander PARK. Pressed into helping the Koreans is a disgraced former CIA operative, BARRETT JENNINGS.

Cole meets with the uncle who raised him, MASTER LI, and is warned to stop his search for Butch. Barrett discovers Cole’s identity (with the help of a genius computer hacker, LILLY), which opens a twenty-year-old wound when Barrett was blamed for the disappearance of Cole’s father, along with the man’s invention. Barrett enlists the 14K organized crime syndicate to help capture Cole. Hammer, separated from Butch during the fight for the device, thwarts the gang’s attempt to kidnap Cole, and the two then set off to find Butch and the device. All parties converge on the city library where Butch, now disguised as a monk, is attempting to communicate with the Pentagon. Barrett and Park capture Butch, while the 14K gang nabs Cole.

Danger mounts as Chinese authorities begin investigating foul play within their borders. Cole fights his way free of the gang and reunites with Hammer. Both men find Barrett’s apartment and discover Lilly (the man’s stepdaughter), who divulges Barrett’s identity and plan. Cole clashes with Hammer, who is willing to sacrifice Butch in order to recover the fusion device. Lilly offers her help in exchange for her and Barrett’s rescue from Park’s grip. Meanwhile, Barrett discovers the true nature of the case the North Koreans are pursuing and, sensing he and Lilly are to be assassinated by Park once he has the device, frees Butch. Butch, trusting Barrett was sent to rescue him, leads the turncoat to the site where he hid the device. Barrett, hoping to make a quick fortune selling it, shoots Butch before escaping with the case.

Cole, along with Hammer and Lilly, arrives at the location of Butch and finds him gravely wounded. Butch fingers Barrett for shooting him and for stealing the case. Cole wants only to save his brother but Butch makes him promise to kill Barrett and recover their dad’s invention. The revelation that the device is his father’s scientific discovery propels Cole forward to fulfill his brother’s mission. Cole is forced to abandon Butch at a hospital. Cole pursues Barrett to a remote dock where the ex-CIA man is planning to escape China by boat. With the Chinese military now actively looking for Cole, Cole confronts Barrett and Park sparking a gunfight. Barrett kills Park. As Barrett turns the gun on Cole, Hammer kills Barrett. Cole, Hammer and Lilly escape via the boat, and the fusion device is safely returned.

Praise for Michael Houtz Books

“If you’re in the market for a fast paced, action filled, page-turning thriller, Mike Houtz delivers a must-read novel. I highly recommend this emotional rollercoaster of a book for every die-hard thriller reader…Get it ASAP!”

~Lima Charlie Review

“…this work proves that author Houtz is undoubtedly a rising star in the publishing world.” ~Andrea Brunais, Author

“Mike Houtz takes us on fast-pace adventure in Dark Spiral Down, a thrilling ride along the border between China and North Korea, where Cole Haufner is in pursuit of his Delta Force brother and a device that has the potential to change the world forever or destroy it.”

~Dan Grant, Author

“Dark Spiral Down is a phenomenal debut novel by Mike Houtz. This book has everything readers of the genre love: a great plot, memorable characters, and a powerful voice. It’s a must-read!” ~Ammar Habib, Bestselling & Award-Winning Author, Editor-in-Chief of Thriller Magazine

ORDER YOUR COPY: Amazon 

EN by Michelle Reynoso - Book Review

Book Description:
Faith McDaniels is smart, but defiant. A loner in a new high school, she openly rebels against a cruel world that took her mother. When Faith unexpectedly discovers the secret symbiotic world of Enlitra, it looks like the universe still has a surprise or two. But her newfound abilities to bend & shape energy (EN) gain the interest of an unnamed, energy-siphoning fiend, who wants to harvest Faith's power to destroy both Earth and Enlitra.
Faith rallies her old friends for help, but now she must decide how to keep them safe without plunging both worlds into destruction. Or becoming the dark entity herself.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:
USA: USA Link
Australia: Australia Link
Brazil: Brazil Link
Canada: Canada Link
France: France Link
Germany: Germany Link
Italy: Italy Link
India: India Link
Japan: Japan Link
Netherlands: Netherlands Link
Mexico: Mexico Link
Spain: Spain Link
UK: UK Link

Connect with the Author:
Twitter: Twitter Link
Author Website: Author Website Link

Author Bio:
As a teen growing up in NH, nationally-recognized author Michelle Reynoso juggled milking goats by dawn, high school honors classes by day, and soliloquys on stage at night. She went to New York City for the first time on a leap of faith, on her very first day of college after never visiting the city before. She's held a variety of jobs, but some of the quirkiest ones are as a reader to the blind, greeting card assembler, and overnight mail stuffer, but it was while working as a manager for a global telecom software company she wrote the majority of her first young adult novel. Like many of her characters, Michelle is a culmination of a wide range of experiences, and these are what inspire her diverse characters and richly creative fantasy worlds.
Michelle has been writing since she was six years old. She received national recognition when her debut book Do You? was a finalist in the Writers' Digest International Self-Published Book Awards, the New York Book Festival, and the Global E-book Awards. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Wordsmith Studio, and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA).
And now Michelle's journey continues with new experiences developing day-by-day as she lives and writes in NJ with her husband of twenty-plus years, teenaged lyricist son, diva cat, and her monster-sized goldfish, crafting stories to delight readers young and old. 

Book Review by Carmen:
This book was unfortunately not quite for me. The writing was fine; but the story didn't catch my attention. The initial blurb sounded interesting, though it turned out to be a little too YA for me. If you're into paranormal/fantasy YA that has a strong female (protagonist) character, then try picking this book up. I ended up giving this book a two star rating and got a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

*Please be sure to support the author by buying their books and connecting with them on social media.

I Challenge You....

https://www.pexels.com/search/fitness/
To a 4 week Health & Fitness challenge! 

Let's get on track with nutrition and fitness right in time for the summer. 

Been awhile since you have been to the gym? Never joined a gym before? No problem. This challenge will be for beginners +. I will be giving out free weekly tips and exercises for the 4 weeks on my Facebook & Instagram pages. 

Want a full program including meal ideas/recipes and workouts to either lose weight or build muscle? 

Sign up for my 4 week challenge program for $50. You will be added to a super secret email list & Facebook group (for conversation and motivation). This program is all online - can be done from the comfort of your own home - no gym membership required. You will need a couple sets of dumbbells, stability ball, yoga mat and a couple resistance bands. 

Help the dogs!

$10 from each participant will be donated to Rocky Road Dog Rescue. Space is limited.  Sign up today. I will be sending out the first email on May 6th, 2019! 

Want in-person training? I will be offering my personal training and nutrition coaching services starting in June - either in yours/my home or 1:1 online live training. 

Talking about Depression by Cindy Stulberg and Ronald Frey ~ An Excerpt from Feeling Better

For years, the first line of defense for depression has been pharmaceuticals, but in their new book Feeling Better: Beat Depression and Improve Your Relationships with Interpersonal Psychotherapy (New World Library, November 20, 2018), psychologists and authors Cindy Goodman Stulberg and Ronald J. Frey, PhD, say that it is actually our relationships that offer the most effective path to healing.

Knowing that depression is an illness as legitimate as any physical ailment, Feeling Better helps readers get clarity around the four main areas in life that can be contributing factors to why people feel sad, blue, down, and depressed: life transitions, complicated grief, interpersonal conflict, or social isolation. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

# # #

If you’ve been keeping your depression to yourself, it’s time to share the burden with someone else. If we let others know about our temporary limitations, we’re more likely to receive support for our efforts and new ideas for how to cope. Opening up also gives others the opportunity to share their struggles with us — experiences we may never have known they had. Suddenly, we don’t feel so alone anymore.

It’s normal to feel shy, scared, embarrassed, and anxious about telling people. Many of us — me included — have our feelings of self-worth tied up with being seen as one of those people who have their act together. (It’s common among people in helping professions. We help others, but we don’t always have the skills to help ourselves.) If you’re used to being the capable one, it can feel uncomfortable to admit to others that you’re struggling. Plus, if you haven’t reached out for help before, you don’t know it’s possible for someone to offer you support and show they care.

The first step is to acknowledge that being strong isn’t always a strength. The next is to imagine a different future, one where there’s a little more give-and-take in your relationships. Many people will want to help you as much as you want to help them. Let them in.

Don’t feel you have to tell everyone about your depression. Start with one or two people who are affected by your illness or who you think will be understanding.

It’s usually helpful to share the symptoms of depression with the person you’re confiding in. That way you both have the same understanding of the many physical and emotional impacts of the illness and can speak a common language. Let the person know that you’re working hard to feel better. Explain that you need to take a break from some of the things you usually do to give yourself the time and energy to make positive changes. Reassure them that the situation is temporary. Listen to their concerns, and be open to their suggestions.

Some people will really understand. Some may offer to help. (Don’t refuse the casserole.) Some might not get it; you can sense they’re trying, but they’re struggling to empathize. If that person is close to you or you need their help with some of your responsibilities, try sharing this chapter of the book with them. Of course, you won’t want to assign reading homework to a person who isn’t a reader. Instead, show them the book and talk them through the important information, as in a highlight reel or postgame recap. They’ll get the point that your information comes from a credible source — the book — but they won’t have to read it themselves.

Unfortunately, some people might not be supportive at all. You can’t change that. But at least you’ll know who you can turn to the next time you need advice or assistance. Try not to blame those who don’t understand. They may show their support through actions, not words, by doing things like fixing the car or spending more time with the kids.

Many people who have depression stop socializing, and their isolation may be compounded by other circumstances, for example, a move to a new city, the arrival of a new baby, a spouse who travels a lot, or the lack of a strong support system. John, for example, never felt he had kind, caring friends or family. Admitting to himself that he was depressed has been hard enough, because it feels like one more way he’s failed. How is he supposed to share that with the very people who are responsible for his feelings of inadequacy?

If, like John, you feel there’s no one you can talk to about your depression, we encourage you to open up to one person anyway. John swallows his pride and tells his brother (the most supportive of his unsupportive siblings) about how he’s feeling. First, he explains the symptoms. Then he says that he’s working on getting better. His brother expected John to say the things he’s said so many times before: “I’d feel better if I had a girlfriend,” “The problem is my job,” “I just need more money,” “If I’d stayed in school, this wouldn’t be happening,” “It’s because I’m living with Mom and Dad.” When John’s brother doesn’t hear John singing the same old tune, he’s pleasantly surprised. He praises John for making an effort — a first in their relationship.

Often our words are received poorly not because of what we want to say, but because of how we say it. It takes a little self-reflection to recognize the patterns in the way we communicate with the people in our lives, but it’s worth taking a look. John’s go-to style has been to make excuses and blame others. You may find, like John, that making a change in the way you communicate helps you feel you have someone to talk to. It’s not something you can accomplish overnight, but now’s as good a time as any to start — and we’ll continue working on this together over the weeks ahead.

You may feel there’s no one you can talk to about your depression because, in your family and community, talk of mental illness is shameful and therefore off-limits. You may worry that if it gets out that you’re depressed, it could affect your future. Rest assured, there will be someone you can talk to. That person may be outside your immediate family or cultural community. They may be more of an acquaintance than a friend, or they may be a professional.

# # #

Cindy Goodman Stulberg, DCS, CPsych, and Ronald J. Frey, PhD, CPsych, are the authors of Feeling Better and directors of the Institute for Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Visit them online at http://interpersonalpsychotherapy.com.

Excerpted from the book Feeling Better. Copyright ©2018 by Cindy Goodman Stulberg and Ronald J. Frey. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

The Jewel of Abundance by Ellen Grace O'Brian ~ Book Excerpt


A Grateful Generous Heart 

An excerpt from The Jewel of Abundance by Ellen Grace O’Brian 

Although millions of Westerners practice yoga simply for its health benefits, the philosophy and wisdom behind the multifaceted discipline have far more to offer. In The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga, award-winning author and Kriya Yoga teacher Ellen Grace O’Brian reveals an overlooked aspect of yoga: its powerful teachings on prosperity. She draws upon the ancient Vedic tradition of yoga philosophy and practice and shows how spirituality and earthly success can complement each other, leading to realization of the higher Self. O’Brian presents a clear explanation of both the philosophy of yoga and the nuts and bolts of practice, such as setting up a daily meditation routine, incorporating mantras, discerning how to cooperate with universal principles for complete well-being, and cultivating mindfulness in action. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book. 

# # # 

A grateful heart is a magnet that draws to us what is harmonious and good. This idea is reflected in a playful metaphysical adage: not, “We see things as they are,” but, “We see things as we are.” In other words, our state of mind and consciousness color our perception and determine how we see and experience things. Taken a step further, this dynamic explains how we also then draw to us what corresponds with our consciousness. When our hearts are grateful, when we approach others and life itself with gratitude for all that is given, we generally reap more of the same. The opposite is true as well. When we’re down and depressed and can’t see much good anywhere — that experience will tend to compound itself. 

Life in the manifest realm is mixed — light and dark, hot and cold, day and night, up and down, fast and slow, and so on it goes. But beyond all duality and changing phenomena is the unchanging Absolute Reality that we can know as good, as whole and completely supportive of its divine purpose. Isn’t it better for us to call forth the good in every situation? To call it forth in every moment? We can do this through training our mind to extract what is good, what is praiseworthy or useful, and gratitude is one way to do that. Simply look deeply into any relationship, or any situation, and ask what there is to be grateful for. There is always something. When we find it, and call it forth, our heart opens and we become more receptive to the presence of divine grace at hand. 

Which comes first, gratitude or grace? They seem to arise together. Gratitude is our natural response to the gift of grace, and gratitude itself opens us to the awareness of ever-present divine support. When we work hard toward something and accomplish it, or desire something and attain it, we generally feel good, and along with that we feel some relief — a kind of “job well done!” out-breath. A very different feeling arises when we become aware of the powerful presence of divine grace that has allowed us to experience more than we ever could have without divine support. On those occasions, we feel something else. We feel awe. We are amazed, inspired, and yes, grateful. 

The distinction between relief and awe is a good indicator. It gives us a glimpse into how expansive our life is, how awesome it is or can be. 

Gratitude Practice 

Gratitude stretches us to be bigger, to expand our consciousness, to open our hearts and our minds more fully. When we begin the practice of cultivating gratitude, we often notice that it’s generally easier to feel grateful for what we like, for what we want or find pleasant. It’s more difficult to experience gratitude when what comes our way is unwanted. 

I once worked with a woman who had an amazing gratitude practice. It was so pervasive that it was contagious. I found myself feeling grateful for her because her grateful attitude made our encounters so pleasant. Her responses frequently surprised me and helped me to expand my perspective. This was her practice: Whatever I offered her, she responded with a genuine “Thank you!” Her response was always the same. If I offered her my praise and gratitude for something she did well, she would thank me. If I let her know that she had made a mistake or that something was not done well or right, her response was still “Thank you!” This was the key that made this practice so effective. She was truly grateful, her words accompanied by a genuine smile. She never gave one of those “thank you” nods accompanied by a smirk. How did she do that? I never asked her, but my guess is that she was a natural at cultivating spiritual awakening through selfless service. She did what she did as an offering, as her way of worship. She was grateful when it went well, and she was grateful when it did not because that gave her an opportunity to learn. 

Being able to say “thank you” to what comes, both pleasant and unpleasant, is unconditional gratitude. “Thank you” can be said aloud when appropriate, or silently as a prayer, but let’s say it! We can practice offering gratitude for something or someone that has pleased us and for something or someone that has not. The first is easy. The second, not so easy. It becomes easier as we hold that whatever comes into our life and experience always brings an opportunity for us. What will we do with that opportunity? When we meet it with gratitude, our potential to prosper and grow in love is multiplied. 

# # # 

Ellen Grace O’Brian is the author of The Jewel of Abundance and director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, CA. Ellen is a yogacharya (an esteemed yoga teacher), a radio host, and an award-winning poet who weaves poetry into her teachings on spiritual matters, pointing to the mystical experience beyond words and thought. Ordained by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, she has been teaching Kriya Yoga philosophy and practice nationally and internationally for over three decades. Visit her online at www.ellengraceobrian.com.

Excerpted from the book The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga. Copyright ©2018 by Ellen Grace O’Brian. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

Grace in Mombasa by T N Traynor - Book Review

Book Description:
Inspired by true events. Betrayal and loss, romance and heartbreak, and one woman’s journey in faith.
From the day she was born, Grace Clifton has navigated a life of loss and heartbreak, without a mother to guide her and through the ravages of two World Wars. With England in the midst of a Second World War, Grace experiences the excitement of love and romance, but all too soon, it turns to heartbreak. Through it all, Grace is sustained by her unwavering faith in God, but when all she holds dear is ripped away from her, Grace is left devastated and doubting everything she’s ever believed in.
As the world slowly recovers from war, Grace too begins the process of healing from the deep wounds inflicted by life. However, her steadfastness to God is lost and she determines never to pray again. When an unexpected opportunity comes up in Kenya, Grace seizes the chance to escape the memories, hoping to find a purpose and build a new life for herself. In the city of Mombasa, Grace soon begins to realise she can’t ever distance herself from life’s complications, but if she’s prepared to open her heart, maybe her fragmented faith will blossom once more bringing her the hope, love and the healing that she desperately needs.
Grace in Mombasa is a story about a woman whose amazing faith is shattered when her life falls apart, but will God simply let her go? If you like heartfelt dialogue, stories seeped in fact and history, and memorable characters, then you’ll love Tracy Traynor’s moving and inspirational novel.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:
USA: USA Link
Australia: Australia Link
Brazil: Brazil Link
Canada: Canada Link
France: France Link
Germany: Germany Link
Italy: Italy Link
India: India Link
Japan: Japan Link
Netherlands: Netherlands Link
Mexico: Mexico Link
Spain: Spain Link
UK: UK Link

Connect with the Author:
Twitter: Twitter Link
Author Website: Author Website Link

Author Bio:
I have read lots of fantasy books, and many have been fab, but many more have been hard to read, making that escapism a bit too hard.  My story, therefore, is not full of complicated plots, and names you can’t pronounce, nor is it worded for the highly intelligent.  One of my favorite comments to date, from Rhianne Statom who has read my book, is that “Oracle’s Quest is like Lord of the Rings but for those of us who don’t have degrees in Middle Earth”!!
My dream is for people to be able to pick up my book and to get lost in the story.  I escaped my circumstances so many times by being lost in a good story and this is my driving wish for others, that they may get caught up in the people and places of Talia, and for just awhile, leave their own world behind them.

Book Review by Carmen:
There were aspects that moved a little bit fast for me, were skipped, or that I would have liked to have known more about. The first part of the story is about Grace Clifton's life in England; and I feel that this could have been condensed quite a bit if it had been done correctly. 
The second part is about her time in Mombasa - and for me - this was the interesting section; though I would have really liked to have known a little bit more; since I thought that the story in this section was really intriguing. I ended up giving this book a four star rating and got a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

*Please be sure to support the author by buying their books and connecting with them on social media.

The Broken Branches by Becky Villareal - Book Review

Book Description:
A school project begins a journey for Sarafina Garcia that will change her life forever. In an attempt to gain a scholarship to a prestigious school, she is thrown headfirst into a labyrinth of family history that will confuse and deepen her search. Don't dig up old bones, was the response Sarafina received from her mother when she asked for help. What was it in the family history that was so horrible that she wouldn't discuss it? Only by delving into historical records will she solve the lingering mystery of her parentage and mend the broken branches of her childhood one last time.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:
USA: USA Link
Australia: Australia Link
Brazil: Brazil Link
Canada: Canada Link
France: France Link
Germany: Germany Link
Italy: Italy Link
Japan: Japan Link
Netherlands: Netherlands Link
Mexico: Mexico Link
Spain: Spain Link
UK: UK Link

Connect with the author:
Twitter: Twitter Link
Author Website: Author Website Link

Author Bio:
Becky Enriquez Villareal was born in Dallas, Texas in 1954 to missionary parents who worked with the migrant workers who came from Mexico. She grew up in several different Texas towns but particularly loves San Antonio. For twenty-three years she has been teaching early childhood in Dallas Independent School District. For the past fifteen years, she has been completing family research. The grandmother of three she enjoys writing and spending time with her family.

Book Review by Carmen:
This book had a lot of potential - and would have benefited greatly if it had been a full length novel. The ending was most certainly unexpected. I would have liked to know so much more about Sarafina Garcia's life. I ended up giving this book a four star rating and got a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

*Please be sure to support the author by buying their books and connecting with them on social media.

The Strange Curse of Breda by Steven Arnett - Book Review

Book Description:

It’s 1971 and a horrible murder has occurred near the town of Breda in west Michigan. A young woman, Jane Lucas, has been dragged into the woods and stabbed. The letters ZOSO from the Led Zeppelin album have been written in blood on her waist, which leads the police to think it might be a cult murder. Suspicion falls on the commune located on a farm near the town. The shock and horror townspeople feel after that murder, though, are nothing compared to the shock and horror people feel when another murder and then another murder of the same type occur. 
The Strange Curse of Breda is about those murders and how they are finally solved. As each murder occurs, the level of fear in Breda intensifies, to the point that the townsfolk either flee the town, arm themselves to the teeth, or fall into an almost catatonic state of fear. The county sheriff, the state police, and even the FBI are baffled. However, Jim Leiden, a young man who runs a small grocery in Breda, finds a clue that may link all the murders together: The hanging of a man named Obadiah Kurtz that occurred in 1889. Jim researches the story and finds that the victims are descendants of the people who were responsible for hanging Obadiah. After Jim’s discovery, he’s in a race against time to try to get the police to believe him and find the murderer before he can kill the only person in the whole world who really matters to him: His beautiful fiancĂ©e Julie Veere, who happens to be one of those direct descendants! 

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:
USA: USA Link
Australia: Australia Link
Brazil: Brazil Link
Canada: Canada Link
France: France Link
Germany: Germany Link
India: India Link
Italy: Italy Link
Japan: Japan Link
Netherlands: Netherlands Link
Mexico: Mexico Link
Spain: Spain Link
UK: UK Link

Connect with the Author:
Facebook: Facebook Link
Twitter: Twitter Link
Author Website: Author Website Link

Author Bio:
Steven Arnett was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1951 and enjoys writing fiction and poetry. He has degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Maine. He currently lives in Johns Creek, Georgia, with his wife, Delphine, and daughter, Vivienne. His novels Winners and Losers and Death on Lake Michigan have both received 5 star reviews from the Readers Favorite Web site.

Book Review by Carmen:
Here's the thing about this book: From the beginning of this novel, you know who the killer is; what you don't know is why they're doing it. You get the idea that it's for revenge - but revenge for what? 
At the beginning of the novel, you get a small snippet of a hanging that took place in the 1800's, and from there you jump to the 1970's. This book focuses a lot on the murders that take place in this small town called Breda, as well as the detective, Bill Mathers, that tries to solve these murders. 
This was a fairly quick read as well as an enjoyable one. I ended up giving this book a four star rating and got a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

*Please be sure to support the author by buying their books and connecting with them on social media.

Nora's Promise by Sedona Hutton - Book Review

Book Description:
She trusts animals more than men. He runs through women like tires. Will an orphaned child force them to change gears?
With her sister’s death, Nora’s life changed in an instant. Forced to raise her orphaned nephew, the animal rescuer doesn’t expect to be dumped and fired by her kid-hating boyfriend/boss. After her own close call and a message from beyond, Nora introduces the little boy to his handsome, fast-living absentee father.
Davey Johnson is a hot-shot NASCAR driver who never wanted to be slowed down by fatherhood. But when he finds out he has a nine-year-old son, he vows to be a better father than his old man. When his first efforts fail in a big way, he enlists Nora’s parenting help. But what starts as a chore transforms into something way hotter than a final lap.
When Davey’s sponsors clash with Nora’s vegan ways, he’s forced to choose between his passion for racing and his love of Nora. Will they be able to blend their lives or will their romance run right off the track?

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:
USA: USA Link
Australia: Australia Link
Brazil: Brazil Link
Canada: Canada Link
France: France Link
Germany: Germany Link
India: India Link
Italy: Italy Link
Japan: Japan Link
Netherlands: Netherlands Link
Mexico: Mexico Link
Spain: Spain Link
UK: UK Link

Connect with the Author:
Facebook: Facebook Link
Twitter: Twitter Link
Author Website: Author Website

Author Bio:
Author Sedona Hutton finds inspiration in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and curly-coated retriever. In addition to writing, she's a Reiki Master and a certified Chopra Center Meditation instructor. She enjoys reading, yoga, gardening, and experiencing the great outdoors on boats, motorcycles, and Jeeps. Sedona pens a "Peace, Love, & Joy" blog on her website.
Sedona Hutton's novel Cloud Whispers was a Finalist in the 2018 Readers' Favorite Contest, an Official Selection in the 2018 Summer eBook Awards for New Apple Literary, and Shortlisted for the Books Go Social Best Indie Book of 2018.

Book Review by Carmen:
I enjoyed this book, despite some of the supernatural elements that I felt shouldn't have been there, though thankfully, they didn't make a lot of appearances in the novel. I enjoyed the romance between Davy Johnson and Nora Williams, though I felt as if Davy sacrificed a little bit too much for Nora, though I guess that's how love goes sometimes. Steph Daley had a nice warm motherly personality and I liked how her side of the story ended. I ended up giving this book a four star rating and got a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

*Please be sure to support the author by buying their books and connecting with them on social media.

The Journey Into Freedom by Jason Mahr - Book Review

Book Description:
"How Can I Overcome My Struggle?" 
This is the question that has been asked over and over again since Jason's TEDx Talk "Pornography Isn't Your Problem" was released in the summer of 2016. People from all over the world have contacted Jason seeking advice after viewing a talk that has been seen by millions. This book is the first step in the answer to that question. Jason shares his personal journey that led him to healing through shame-free relationships and essential life coaching.
Passionate about helping others overcome their personal constraints (it doesn't have to be porn), Jason shares with you how a broken spirit and humility can lead you to a place of identity that you never thought possible.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon:
USA: USA Link
Australia: Australia Link
Brazil: Brazil Link
Canada: Canada Link
France: France Link
India: India Link
Italy: Italy Link
Japan: Japan Link
Netherlands: Netherlands Link
Mexico: Mexico Link
UK: UK Link

Connect with the Author:
Twitter: Twitter Link
Author Website: Author Website Link

Author Bio:
My guess is that you found this page by watching my TEDx talk "Pornography Isn't Your Problem".  Since the release of my talk, life has changed dramatically.  I accepted a job as a youth pastor while continuing on the path of helping others overcome similar challenges in their lives.  Thank you for your encouraging notes!  I can't respond to them all, but I want you to know that it means a lot to me!  I'm excited for the future and the great things that are happening as a result of the popularity of my TED talk!

Book Review by Carmen:
This was a very quick read. It doesn't go into a lot of detail and touches lightly on basic things - that points a person in the right direction. I ended up giving this book a three star rating and got a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

*Please be sure to support the author by buying their books and connecting with them on social media.

Discovering Pain’s Purpose An excerpt from The Pain Companion by Sarah Anne Shockley


In the twenty-first century, one might wish that pain were an easily treatable nonissue. It is not. Millions of doctor and emergency room visits stem from pain, and addiction to pain medications, which is rampant in the United States, and often takes root when someone in pain is attempting to manage unremitting discomfort.

In The Pain Companion: Everyday Wisdom for Living With and Moving Beyond Chronic Pain (New World Library, June 2018), author Sarah Anne Shockley, who has personally lived with chronic pain since 2007, offers fellow pain sufferers a compassionate and supportive guide for living with pain that can be used alongside their ongoing medical or therapeutic healing programs. We hope you’ll enjoy this excerpt from the book.

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In the Western allopathic medical world, physical pain is treated almost entirely from a material standpoint.

In our highly technological and sometimes formulaic culture, we think we will fix our pains if we can just land on the right approach from a confusing and often contradictory variety of programs, pharmaceuticals, cures, and techniques: Pop these pills, take this yoga class, read this book, start eating this, stop eating that, get off the couch, relax more, get out more. We tend to treat pain solely with physically based remedies or to mask it with chemical inhibitors.

Our doctor usually asks us where and how it hurts, and we are encouraged to describe the pain only as it is manifesting in the body. It is a rare Western-trained doctor who asks the patient how they feel about the pain emotionally, what was going on in their life just before the onset of pain, or a myriad of other inquiries into the patient’s emotional, psychological, and spiritual state of being.

One of the reasons that we usually don’t treat physical pain with anything more than physical remedies is that, most obviously, it is experienced in and through the body. Physical pain is so overwhelming for the sufferer that it appears to point only to itself. This seems logical. Yet, while we do live in a physical body, we also consist of a mind and emotions, and many believe we have a spirit or soul as well.

Despite the lack of clear boundaries between these aspects of the self, we have developed different therapeutic approaches, models, and remedies for each, as if each could be addressed uniquely and apart from its impact or reliance on the others.

Consequently, the prevailing medical language refers to the body as a thing, an object, an impersonal lump of flesh. Its physicality is somehow unrelated to the parts of us we can’t see, but which we may, nevertheless, consider the essence of who we really are. The body is inexplicably, but fundamentally, treated as separate from the inner us.

Similarly, we talk about our conditions, our pain, and the organs and systems of our bodies as if each had a life of its own as a disparate entity.

We name our conditions and refer to them by those names, as if we have been invaded by an outside force that remains distinct and separate even though it is completely interwoven with our bodies, our thoughts, and our feelings. Our condition literally lives in us and with us, yet we speak of it as something that could be pointed to and catalogued and extracted.

Although much has been written in recent years about body/mind/spirit integration, particularly in connection with the rising popularity of traditional Asian medicine and acupuncture, the Western medical approach is only beginning to adopt the concept that treatments need to include and address the whole person. Ultimately, therefore, while hugely beneficial in many cases, our scientific approach to life and to health has taught us to compartmentalize our bodies, our lives, our selves, and our pain.
Meanwhile, a growing number of people are not finding relief from pain medications or medical treatments of any kind, and doctors are finding a growing number of painful conditions, such as fibromyalgia and thoracic outlet syndrome, that are difficult to diagnose clearly or treat successfully. Additionally, we have been conditioned by our culture to keep going no matter what. We are not taught to listen to the body, or to our emotions and feeling states as they relate to the body, and certainly not to listen to or honor pain. We override the body’s signals routinely by working too many long days, by overeating or undereating, and by using various substances to feel energized when we’re exhausted or to calm down when we’re hyper.

In a society driven by schedules and fairly rigid work and educational structures, it’s probably a natural consequence that we would develop a medical system that makes getting back on track as soon as possible one of its top priorities. Nothing seems to be wrong with that on the surface, but what if, by doing that, we are sidestepping a significant purpose within the process of healing? What might be the consequences of ignoring the body’s signals, its method of communication? What if, instead of killing, or utterly eradicating, pain with pharmaceuticals, we used medications primarily to reduce pain to a manageable level, so that we can still hear what the body means to tell us in the language of pain? By not honoring the body’s inner timetable and how it relates to our whole self, we might be derailing a deeper meaning held within the pain. If so, then it is possible that this inner purpose unfolds only when we respect it and give it the time and attention it seems to be asking for.

# # #
Sarah Anne Shockley is the author of The Pain Companion. In the Fall of 2007, she contracted Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS), which is a collapse of the area between the clavicles and first ribs, and has lived with debilitating nerve pain ever since. She has been a regular columnist for the Pain News Network and is a regular contributor to The Mighty, a 1.5 million–member online community for those living with chronic illness and pain. Visit her online at www.ThePainCompanion.com.

Excerpted from the book The Pain Companion. Copyright ©2018 by Sarah Anne Shockley. Printed with permission from New World Library — www.newworldlibrary.com.

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