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From An-Other Land Spotlight

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From An-Other Land dives deep into immigration today for the diaspora and its many facets with characters who seek to define themselves in an intercultural setting that is less and less sure of itself.

About From An-Other Land

Never has been the conversation on immigration more pertinent than now, post 2016 US elections. From cancellation of refugee protection and zero tolerance to undercurrent crackdown on H visas to the border wall – the resurgence of nationalism is hitting the globalized population head-on.

But what is immigration today? A question of life or death – fleeing of persecution? A compulsion? Or a mere pursuance of privilege? And what is the US today? A land of opportunities? Or a quagmire impossible to comprehend, inherently racist and selfish?

From An-Other Land dives deep into immigration today for the diaspora and its many facets with characters who seek to define themselves in an intercultural setting that is less and less sure of itself. A reality check and a guide for anyone who wants to understand the modern-day US.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Tanushree Ghosh works in Tech and has a Doctorate in Chemistry from the Cornell University. She is also a social activist and writer. Her blog posts, op-eds, poems, and stories are in effort to provoke thoughts, especially towards issues concerning women and social justice.

She is a contributor (past and present) to several popular e-zines (incl. The Huffington Post US, The Logical Indian, Youth Ki Awaaz, Tribune India, Women’s Web, and Cafe Dissensus). Her literary resume includes poems and stories featured in national and international magazines (Words Pauses and Noises, UK; TUCK, Glimmer Train Honorable mention) as well as inclusion in seven anthologies such as Defiant Dreams (Oprah 2016 reading list placeholder) and The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 (published out of Singapore by Kitaab). Her first single author book, From An-Other Land is on immigration.

She has held different leadership roles in non-profits (ASHA and AID India) and is the founder and director of Her Rights (www.herrights.website), a 501(3) c non-profit committed to furthering the cause of gender equality. She is often an invited speaker or panelist for both corporate and non-profit endeavors.

Connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

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Trials and Trails Book Review

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Through trials along their trails, LeRoy and Johnny B transform people they meet, brand the world a better place, and reap the benefits.

About Trials and Trails

With a past of slavery and compliance, LeRoy has learned to pick his battles carefully. Johnny B, a quick-tempered Sioux, is still learning to control his anger. When dangerous circumstances bond them together, the pair learn to navigate Reconstruction Era America and all its prejudices. They save an innocent man from hanging, reunite two old friends, assist in an honorable death for an elder Indian, and discover their worth as they steadily assimilate self-respect into their lives.

From Jim Halverson’s debut novel comes a tale of adventure, purpose, and the pursuit of self-actualization. Cowboys and psychology ride hand in hand, traveling a journey from living life on the edge to finding a place of belonging, joy, vulnerability, and distinction. Through trials along their trails, LeRoy and Johnny B transform people they meet, brand the world a better place, and reap the benefits.

My Thoughts

In this novel, we are introduced to two characters whose pasts seem so different but at the same time they are so much alike as they try to make a way in a world that just doesn’t quite accept them yet.

LeRoy is a past slave who carries the scars of his past with him. He is quite and gentle, puts a lot of thought into his words and has a good heart. He is slow to anger and has learned to pick his battles carefully. In contrast, Johnny B is Sioux who witnessed the death of his family and was raised by a white family. He was left on his own when the man who took him passed away and this man’s wife could no longer care for him. He is quick to anger and doesn’t tend to hold back his feelings.

The two are making their way through the West in the 1870s and are met with racism, hurtful comments and distrust. Throughout this, they stay true to their morals, beliefs and values. They are two genuine, good hearted men who care about others around them regardless of what has happened to them. They face misconceptions head on in a respectful manner and command respect from these same individuals with their determination, kindness, knowledge and respect for others.

This is a feel good novel full of life lessons for those reading the novel and a reminder to us that at the end of the day we are all the same and to treat each other with respect and kindness.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 4/5

About the Author

Jim Halverson grew up in the rural, gold-mining town of Mokelumne Hill, CA and received his MBA from Golden Gate University. He spent part of his life on a ranch and is an avid student of psychology. He recognizes the struggles of all men and women seeking equality and respect. Jim and his wife, Gail, spend their time traveling from their small farm in Forestville, CA.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Out of the Darkness Book Review

Solving cases for ghosts comes with a unique set of circumstances in Out of the Darkness.

About Out of the Darkness

Gus wakes up in a dark void with no memory and no body. Screaming and cursing does him no good. He’s trapped, until he learns about one man who can help.

Joe Cavelli is a PI who hears ghosts, solves their murders, and sometimes fixes their personal problems. Now he finds himself pestered by an invisible, impatient, and brash amnesiac.

Solving cases for ghosts comes with a unique set of circumstances. This time, Joe can’t even claim to be investigating a murder, since Gus’s body is nowhere to be found. Together, Joe and Gus delve into Gus’s past, uncovering clues that lead to a startling conclusion.

My Thoughts

I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I first picked up this book but it blew me away. We have Joe, a PI, who works on the fringe of police work who has an interesting in with the victims and their families – he can speak with the murdered victims. Then we have Gus, a foul mouthed, angry at the world kind of guy/ghost who isn’t quite sure where he is and what has happened to him. He seems to have lost all of his memory, which is a first for Joe as he tries to solve Gus’ case.

The two, who are complete opposites in personalities, set off to solve a case that they aren’t even sure where to start. Gus appears to be stuck in a black void, with no recollection of his past, his name and what happened to him. He wants to help Joe but he struggles with many parts of his own history. Throughout the novel, we watch as he struggles with his own past, receives visits from other ghosts who try to guide him through his anger and hate.

While Joe struggles with this case at first, the breakthrough comes when he finds out Gus’ full name and that Gus is still listed as missing, which gives hope that maybe just maybe Gus isn’t dead but caught in limbo. The two set out to solve the case and unwrap a series of events that led to Gus’ downfall that will blow your mind.

This is a fantastic, fast paced read with a lot of moving parts. I was hooked into the story within the first ten pages and could not put it down. The last quarter of the book was not what I was expecting but was perfect for this story and ending. A definite must read novel!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Darcia Helle is a Massachusetts native, who escaped the New England winters to write in the Florida sunshine. She lives with her husband in a home full of spoiled rescue animals and an occasional stray lizard. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Book Excerpt

Joe put the few dishes in the dishwasher, made himself another cup of strong coffee, and said, “Okay, Gus. Let’s see if we can figure this out.”

He walked out of the kitchen, Gus’s voice trailing after him. “Where are we going?”

“My office.”

Joe stepped into the room that was the smaller of the two spare bedrooms. He crossed over to his desk, opened his laptop, and switched it on.

“This is your office?”

Joe sat in his padded leather chair. “My home office. I have another, professional place, with an assistant. No need to go there, though, particularly since she doesn’t know about—” He waved his hand in Gus’s general direction. “—you. This.”

“She doesn’t know you talk to ghosts, is what you’re saying?”

“Right.”

“Afraid she’d think you’re crazy?”

“No. It’s just not something I feel like sharing.”

“You banging her?”

“Jesus. No.”

“Huh. I thought all guys banged their secretaries.”

Joe heard the dry humor in Gus’s tone, though the statement still irritated him. “No, all guys don’t. And I said assistant, not secretary.”

“Same thing, isn’t it?”

“No. But it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m a one-woman man.”

Joe opened a browser page, then the Tampa Bay Times website. He typed ‘Angus Smith’ into the search bar and clicked the Enter key.

“What are you doing?”

Gus had a gruff way of asking a question that made it sound more like an accusation. One minute Joe felt bad for Gus, and the next he wanted to punch Gus in the face. If he could see Gus’s face. If Gus even had a face. Did ghosts have faces, or were they just invisible blobs of energy? Joe was too tired to deal with this.

“I’m trying to find out how you died,” Joe said.

“Why?”

“I don’t know, Gus. Because it’s a place to start? Figure out how you died and maybe I’ll figure out why you’re stuck in the dark? Unless you have a better idea?”

A huff, then, “No. I got nothing.”

Gus kept silent while Joe scrolled down and clicked a link. Gus’s photo stared back at him from the screen. Seeing the person for the first time was always an odd experience. He couldn’t help but form a picture of each ghost in his mind, based solely on the voice and the little he knew about who he or she had been. Sometimes he was way off. Other times, like now, he was pretty close.

“That’s a crapass picture of me,” Gus said.

Joe studied the grainy image accompanying the article. Buzzcut. Deep brown eyes. Tattoo snaking down the side of his neck, disappearing into his shirt. He seemed to be snarling at the camera. The article put him at 6’3”, 230 pounds, and Joe could see it was all muscle.

He didn’t address the quality of the photo, ignoring Gus while he read through the article. He double-checked the date on the article, then said, “You’re missing.”

“What d’you mean, I’m missing? I’m right here.”

“I mean, you were reported missing. Last Friday, so three days ago.”

“Missing? That makes no sense, since I’m dead.”

“No one appears to know you’re dead.”

“Huh.”

“Do you remember where you were when you died?”

“No.”

“Were you sick? In an accident? Traveling somewhere?”

“I don’t know!”

Joe leaned back and closed his eyes. He forced himself not to react to Gus’s abrupt tone. The guy had every reason to be upset, though this mess sure as hell wasn’t Joe’s fault.

“Who reported me missing?”

Joe opened his eyes and scanned the article.

“Cat Loring.”

Silence. Joe waited a moment before adding, “Says she’s your live-in girlfriend.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you remember the last time you saw her?” Joe felt a cool wall of air pressing around him.

“Are you leaning on me?”

“I’m trying to read the article.”

Joe suppressed a shudder—barely. “It doesn’t say much. You left the house at your usual time on Thursday morning. You’re not answering your cell phone, and no one has seen you since.”

“I don’t remember.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

Silence.

“Gus?”

“The very last thing? Hell, I don’t know. I might’ve been at a bar with some buddies. I might’ve been driving my truck. Or having sex. It’s all a jumble.”

“Did you and Cat fight the last time you saw her?”

I don’t know. I don’t think so. Maybe.”

“Could she have killed you?” Gus snorted a laugh.

“Cat? Kill me? That’s funny, Mr. Detective.”

“Yeah? Why is it so funny?”

“She just wouldn’t.” Joe rubbed at his burning eyes.

“Tell me about your relationship.”

“Why?”

“Maybe it’ll trigger a memory. Help me figure out where your body might be.”

“Well, shit.”

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Sesame Street: Celebrate Family DVD Giveaway

February is the month of love and what betters represents love than a family? Unconditional love, kindness, caring and respect, everything you can find in a family and more. Sesame Street: Celebrate Family will be on DVD February 5th for all families to enjoy.

About Sesame Street: Celebrate Family

Sesame Street: Celebrate Family includes five stories for curious preschoolers and their families. First, Abby’s family has dinner at Elmo’s house, where she learns that even though families do things in all different ways, they can still have fun working together to make a meal. Then, Cookie Monster realizes he’s forgotten to get a gift for his mommy for Mother’s Day—what should he do? For Father’s Day, Rosita wants to make a video for her dad, but she needs some help from her friends. Next, we meet Rudy, Abby’s new step-brother! Finally, Hooper’s Store is throwing a special party for kids and their grandparents.

Bonus Features:

  • Full length episode: Siblings
  • Elmo’s World Families
  • Sesame Studios: Marvie’s Song for Dad

Our Thoughts

Family is the most important thing in life. It is important for children to learn how families can be the same and different. Every family can have a different make up, different traditions and all should be celebrated and embraced. Children can learn about family, sharing, having fun and celebrate everything that makes a family special. This is a beautiful, fun and special collection of shows that the whole family will love.

Download fun Sesame Street Celebrate Family printables here.

This DVD has a running time of roughly two hours.

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Official Trailer

Disclosure: I received the DVD above in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Ghost Book Review

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Assassinations, a love story, a kidnapping, and many twists and turns characterizes this riveting novel of historical fiction, circa 1958, thirteen years post World War II.

The Ghost Book Review

About The Ghost

Assassinations, a love story, a kidnapping, and many twists and turns characterizes this riveting novel of historical fiction, circa 1958, thirteen years post World War II.

Events are uncovered where The Ghost, a powerful Vatican Bishop, is sending assassins to retrieve a secret tailpiece – a hidden extension of the 1942 Wannsee Conference Papers that underpinned the Holocaust against Jews. Only two copies of this tailpiece remain where names of thousands of high level Nazis such as Eichmann and Mengele are listed along with their future destinations – should Germany lose the war.

At the same time, New York City detectives working with British M16 secret service, and Israeli Mossad agents, get Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and his group, (including an Israeli sanctioned killer) involved in order to find and send the crucial coded microfilm to England’s renowned decryption center. Now, in 1958, these Jewish Nazi hunters will not forgive and not forget.

This story is newsworthy testimony regarding the villains who are actual historical figures and are named. Fitting it all together (as in the screenplay based on the story titled: “We Will Find You,”) is the avenging drama of the novel.

My Thoughts

The Ghost is set thirteen years post World War II and follow several characters who are solving and trying to protect secret paperwork that could destroy a Vatican bishop and release the whereabouts of all of the top Nazi criminals.

The story starts off with the attempted murder of a young boy who was trusted by his Mother with the paperwork. This sets off several events that tie in his alcoholic uncle, New York detectives, British secret services and Israeli agents. It is quite the fast moving and complicated plot with a lot of twists and turns. I found myself at times having to go back and double check to ensure that I did not miss anything. It was an excellent story from start to finish and I found myself researching the characters and some of the events that were described in the novel. While heart breaking and some of the events make you feel sick to your stomach as they did happen, these stories need to be told so that we don’t see this happen again. History classes in school do not cover enough of these stories and I think it is important that we teach our youth and adults about these atrocities so that they will never be repeated again.

The story is well written but is fast paced and demands your attention. It blends history with a great sense of mystery and suspense. You never quite know what is coming next. The ending was well suited to the tone of the  novel, although I would love to know what happened next for these characters as I am sure the events in the novel would have forever changed their lives. A definite must read for youth and adults a like.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Dr. Henry Kellerman, psychologist/psychoanalyst/author, is a practitioner in New York City. His more than 50 years of treating individuals with a host of humanity’s psychological/emotional struggles as well as his more than 30 books published, is testament to his virtuosity AND SKILL in the telling of compelling stories.

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Disclosure:  I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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