I am a die-hard fan of the Felix the Fox mysteries by Assaph Mehr. Let's just get that over with, because I'm afraid I tend to gush whenever I talk about them. Mehr combines some of my favourite elements seamlessly- fantasy, history (ROME!), mythology, and weird food (squid on a stick, anyone?).
Aquae et Ignis is a standalone novella that can be obtained FREE FREE FREE FREE when you sign up for Mehr's newsletter. An easy sell for me since I am already signed up for his newsletter. I can count on his newsletters to give me random historical facts, cuisine, ect- basically the same stuff that roped me into the novels in the first place. It helps tide me over between novels.
So- the novella follows a case Felix takes on. After a senior consul returns from a successful campaign, he becomes a bit mad. None of the doctors can help. His wife refuses to believe he is truly mad. Something WEIRD must be going on. Since it is a Felix novella, I can assure you something weird is indeed going on. Pirates! Haunting! Sacrifices to the gods! Here's the blurb:
The year’s senior consul came back from military campaign stark raving mad. His co-consul doesn’t want to go down in history as the ‘year of the crazy consuls’ – but the physicians can’t find the problem.
One name comes highly recommended for solving nutty cases. In a true Felix fashion, this is a story of Lunacy and Piracy, of Exile and Ghosts!
This is a stand-alone novella of Togas, daggers, and Magic – for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy.
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I've read & reviewed JD Estrada's books before- but here is something a touch different. I haven't read this book yet; it releases Dec. 1. 2018- so this book is on my to-be-read list.
With his adult fantasy/science fiction Human Cycle series, Estrada proved he is a writer with a vivid imagination capable of bringing heart and charm to all manner of monsters.
This book is aimed at middle readers. I am excited to see what he does with that imagination of his in this tale about a boy who dreams of flying.
The First Odventure Novel: Given to Fly by JD Estrada
Have you ever wanted to read a book that dreams about becoming a Studio Ghibli film? Well now you can. Given to Fly is the 13th book by Puerto Rican indie author JD Estrada and his first full length middle grade fantasy novel. But more importantly, it’s a book with a lot of heart and no violence.
If you see movies, TV, video games, or the news at any given moment, it’s almost as if violence is a required ingredient in whatever medium we enjoy. Given to Fly is a book that avoids the use of violence even when it talks about real issues like death, financial and professional struggles, and life in general in favor of finding joy and life lessons through the fantastical.
At 11 years old, John Rivers is a kind hearted kid who dreams about flying. He’s just moved to the Pacific Northwest with his family to a house that although it’s very lovely and very cozy, it’s not exactly magical. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks.
After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom and a huge tree growing over the water. What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing. As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor is all it takes for John to jump at the chance to explore a new world of wonder.
Apart from John Rivers, the other main protagonist in the novel is Fäet Odstein, the literary persona of JD Estrada. Although mainly based on Estrada himself, Fäet probably also has a little bit of Willy Wonka, Cheshire Cat, and many other characters that resonate with JD. Given to Fly is also the first of what will be a series of stand-alone middle-grade novels with Fäet Odstein as one of its protagonists. The purpose of these books shall be to offer stories without violence that hopefully get more children to read and dream.
This is not the first time JD Estrada has written middle grade fantasy stories. His Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore have been described as whimsical bedtime stories with a lot of heart. That same heart was the main driver for this story. Like most of his works, Given to Fly was written longhand in one of the best gifts Estrada has ever received in his life. A long time ago, his wife gifted him a hard cover notebook. The image on it was particularly special to him. She had asked him what image meant the most to him. Without batting an eye, he looked up the image to the Pearl Jam single by the same name. A couple of months later and with misty eyes, he had a hard cover notebook with that same image and the name could only be Given to Fly. But what to write about…
The question lingered in the air and rumbled in his brain until a trip to Orlando had him and his wife going to Epcot Center and getting on the Soarin’ ride for the first time. As sights, sounds, and smells washed over him in the beautiful flight simulator, an idea was born and by the end, he had soared right into an epiphany. “It’s going to be about a boy who dreams about flying,” he told his wife through tears of joy after getting off the ride.
Several years have passed after that ride and finally Given to Fly is ready for you to read. It is a tribute to things that bring him joy and a song that makes his soul smile. In honor of the band that has inspired his life so much, all proceeds for Given to Fly and all other Estrada books for the remainder of 2018 shall be donated to Actionforjackson.org in support of #EBAwareness. Epidermolysis Bullosa is a family of rare genetic disorders that affect the body's largest organ: the skin and Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) has worked hard to support this cause. It is a small token of gratitude for everything the band means to Estrada and aligns with his #Humans4Humans efforts to support different causes and try to make a positive impact through his writing and any other efforts to support good causes that help our fellow humans.
To purchase your very own copy of Given to Fly, visit Libros 787 or Amazon.com.
John Rivers is a kind and imaginative 11-year-old who is about to learn that magic not only exists, but is closer than he thinks. As much a dreamer as he is curious, John comes across a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing. Influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Pan, and dreams of flight, Given to Fly is a book full of heart that skips the violence in favor of the fantastical.
John Rivers is a kind and imaginative 11-year-old whose new home may be cozy, but there’s nothing magical about it. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks. After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom with a huge tree growing over the water. What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing. As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor is all it takes for John to jump at the chance to explore a new world of wonder.
Given to Fly is the 13th book by Puerto Rican indie author JD Estrada. It is a work that shies away from violence in favor of exploring the inner child we all have that is always ready and willing to dream.
Sky Is Waiting is the first song released for Storm for the Adored, a joint poetry book and album collection. Recorded live in the living room for that warm friend-over-for-tea feeling.
Sky Is Waiting
I’m at the door
Do you want to know
The things I saw
Do you want to know
The things I know
Bleed it out
Riot of toxins
Down to the earth
I saw the moon
In a blue sky
I saw the moon
And I knew
No one can take
Be brave tonight
Don’t you settle into
Don’t you know
Look up tonight
I’ll see it with you
Nina Pak, image from her website
Nina Pak is an artist whose work tells stories. She has been working with photography for more than 30 years! Her work has been published internationally in magazines, as well as featured on the covers of novels.
That last fact is of particular note if you are one of my author friends looking for the right artist to create your book cover. Check out the gorgeous images on her website and be inspired! If you think her work is the right fit for your book, don't hesitate to contact her.
Book cover featuring image by Nina Pak, c/o her website
I was lucky enough to model for a photo shoot with Pak. The images she created are ethereal... I can forget they were taken in an urban setting despite knowing behind the scenes details.
Here are a few of those images:
The Dragon Cager is an adventure story with an alternate England. There are men who turn to dragons, druids, half-druids, conspiracies, and a central love story. Well, on Lachlann's side it is a love-love story, and on Evie's a hate-love-hate-love story. The arguing between the main characters is fun and witty, though I would not have Lachlann's patience. Evie, despite being plenty lovable, is also insufferable and stubborn at times.
She is cast out for her imagined sins by her village, and then clings to the same values that condemned her. I wished she would give up on her notions of purity, but it fit the fantasy world Oake built.
There was a full on dragon fight that was thrilling to read, and Lachlann's sister in particular shone as a woman I'd like to know better. All in all, another great book by Oake.
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The weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to change colour... yes. It is pumpkin season. Pumpkin Spice Lover by Nico Rosso is a fun, short read but make sure you stock your kitchen with the necessary spices before you dive in. You are going to crave the stuff as sure as the characters clearly crave each other from page one.
This book is burning hot, and each time Alex and Camila give in to their fling their connection deepens. I enjoyed the frank descriptions and lack of shame from the characters. No shy half measures here!
So what is keeping these obviously well matched in the bedroom apart the second they leave it (or her living room, or his hotel room, or...you get the spicy point)? The story is revealed slowly, and it reads like the juicy gossip you wish someone would share with you in real life if you are really honest with yourself.
His long term ex is marrying her brother. Family and friendship bonds are tested as Alex and Camila have to decide if it is worth it to disclose their relationship to their loved ones. Everything could go so, so wrong!
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My latest poetry book, The Liminal Hymns, is now available in ebook on Amazon! The paperback is coming soon!
The Liminal Hymns sing the story of moments between, leaving certainties to embrace doubt. Liminal spaces are explored through examinations of mythology, philosophy, and religion. With sardonic shots of whiskey and wit, this collection delves into the sensory and psychological kaleidoscope of the human condition.
In Numina by @assaphmehr is finally out!
-detective w/ magic skills
-Rome inspired fantasy world complete with maps on his site
-fish sauce and strange ancient culinary delights
-haunted houses that haunt dreams
- I GAVE MY EDITORIAL REVIEW DEBUT ON IT
I was eighteen. I was done. I’ve read that a lot of suicides are impulsive acts, but mine was a culmination of years of careful contemplation.
I had a reason for every pill I swallowed, every incision. I’d tried for what I felt was the last reasonable time, and been mistreated by the last person. I had no other exit strategy- I’d been on my own a bit over a year, with no finances to improve my situation.
I was staying with friends, but of course there were strings attached. I was done with the strings. I was going to sever them. So I did.
It was going along according to plan. I fell asleep.
But I was found and put in a car by the friend who was one of the reasons. The fire truck met the friend part of the way to the hospital, and that is why I am here.
I woke up in the hospital covered in vomit and charcoal with a nurse screaming at me. Her words are the most vivid part of this whole memory for me. She told me I was selfish, taking a bed from people who deserved it, that I was a waste of time.
I wanted to tell her I agreed, which is why I’d tried to kill myself in the first place! But I don’t remember responding. I’m not sure if I could; there were tubes everywhere.
I wished I never woke up then. First thought, even before the nurse’s tirade was No. Not this, not still. A crushing wave of disappointment.
After, I was committed by the state. The police who arrested me for the crime of suicide didn’t want to cuff me. They tried to call and get permission not to do it, but they had to follow the rules. They cuffed me loosely. They treated me like glass, carrying me from the wheelchair to their car and strapping me in.
And then there was a sea of psychologists who couldn’t get me to divulge my secrets. I was asked if there was anyone I wanted to call.
There was no one.
I said what I thought I had to- that it was all a big mistake, I was fine.
What about these scars and cuts? They’d ask, mildly interested.
Nothing. I fell on a fence. I’d say, or whatever other thing. I remember protesting, claiming innocence, but I don’t remember specifics. I didn’t have access to pointy things like pens for journaling.
And then I was released, because what can you do? And I was alive, although I wished I wasn’t.
It took me a long time to be grateful to the firemen for driving in a rush to revive me.
The main thing that kept me alive after was knowing I could fail, and then be locked up.
But whatever it takes, really.
I’m alive, and I am glad I’m alive.
I had coffee this morning with hazelnut milk. When I was eighteen, I’d never had coffee with hazelnut milk. I’d never sat at the table I sit at now surrounded by books and garden gnomes and a person I can call in an emergency.
Sometimes it takes time, and depression comes and goes in waves. I built a boat for myself without the doctors, because I don’t like being out of control locked up. That’s fair enough. Whatever gets you though. We’re finished soon enough as it is.
That’s why I am for police and other emergency personal carrying Narcan and being trained to handle overdoses. Life is too precious to throw it away that easily at eighteen. Before you learn you can weasel your way out of all kinds of things!
Yes, some people overdose again and again. Give them chances. It’s a simple application of a drug.
Don’t be that nurse screaming at someone already at their lowest all the words they’ve said to themselves a million times: you’re selfish, you’re taking from people better than you, you’re a waste of time.
Time is a gift. Give it.
The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars: A Neuropsychologist's Odyssey Through Consciousness by Paul Broks- New Release Book Review
When celebrated neuropsychologist Paul Broks's wife died of cancer, it sparked a journey of grief and reflection that traced a lifelong attempt to understand how the brain gives rise to the soul. The result of that journey is a gorgeous, evocative meditation on fate, death, consciousness, and what it means to be human.
The Darker the Night, The Brighter the Stars weaves a scientist’s understanding of the mind – its logic, its nuance, how we think about what makes a person – with a poet’s approach to humanity, that crucial and ever-elusive why. It’s a story that unfolds through the centuries, along the path of humankind’s constant quest to discover what makes us human, and the answers that consistently slip out of our grasp. It’s modern medicine and psychology and ancient tales; history and myth combined; fiction and the stranger truth.
But, most importantly, it’s Broks’ story, grounded in his own most fascinating cases as a clinician—patients with brain injuries that revealed something fundamental about the link between the raw stuff of our bodies and brains and the ineffable selves we take for who we are. Tracing a loose arc of loss, acceptance, and renewal, he unfolds striking, imaginative stories of everything from Schopenhauer to the Greek philosophers to jazz guitarist Pat Martino in order to sketch a multifaceted view of humanness that is as heartbreaking at it is affirming.
On my crowded bookshelf nestled between novels and Vaccai vocal exercise books, is one of my favourite books of all, Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology. It’s one I’ve read time and again, gotten tea stains on (I am the worst), and as much as some of my more spiritually minded friends have found his assertions depressing, I cheered.
Yes! I am a chunk of meat! And I make stories! It really couldn’t get better than that. How wonderful to have your perspective validated! It’s great. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I tend to remember. And read those books again. And drink my tea over them. When they send me into research spirals, so much the better.
So, I was naturally excited to hear Broks was releasing another book. My cupboards are well stocked with tea, I have permanent insomnia... I was ready to dive into his observations and categorically pull them apart at the seams, seeing what I agree with and what I can research for... years, I guess. It’s brain science.
When I found out the subject matter- his memoir about grief mixed in with the brain stuff I was in for, I was both sad for him (I’ve never experienced a spouse’s death, and I can’t begin to comprehend the loss) and grateful he wrote a book like that. There are a lot of books- and people, really, that claim everything happens for a reason, and there is an afterlife. We need more stories about getting on with life when there is no afterlife to soothe the pain. At least I do.
The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars examines consciousness, one of my favourite subjects. It was a joy to read his opinions about theories I’ve fussed over (like the bicameral mind), and also ones I’ve never heard of until his book. I’ve found that some things are best enjoyed through books so you don’t bore your friends to death… If you are interested in thinking about thoughts, here’s the book for you.
Links for Paul Broks: