Monthly Archives: April 2016

~Review: The Red Wraith by Nick Wisseman~

The Red Wraith cover

Magic awakens in Early America. The Red Wraith is born.
On the eve of the Harvest Ceremony, Naysin, a child of the Lepane nation, manifests powers of a dual deity forever torn in two by light and darkness. Cast into exile by his clan for being a spawn of human and spirit, Naysin is lost in a world of change as pale men from the sea arrive to plunder the riches of the Earth. Guided only by the devious facets of his spirit father, Naysin has no choice but to master his powers to survive the destruction of his people.

And so the legend of the Red Wraith begins. For Naysin, it is a path of darkness and death that will take him from one end of the land to the other and down into the depths of infamy. The New World will know him as the indigenous monster who kills in the name of vengeance, but that’s not who he wants to be. And when he encounters a group of fellow magic-users, Naysin realizes he may yet have a chance to set everything right.

My Rating:  4 Stars!

This book was written about a young Indian man named Naysin who was the offspring of human and spirit.  Having been branded and exiled from his people, Naysin was forced to strike out on his own and contend with the dueling powers inside himself as he searched for the meaning of his existence.  This was the story of Naysin’s awakening to a higher calling and predestined life purpose.

The Red Wraith was a fantasy book with some history woven into it.  The writer expounded on the main character’s plight and developed the story around his situation.  Therefore, it had huge doses of fiction and fantasy…which is a good thing because I love both!

If you are also a fantasy fanatic, this one’s definitely for you!

Where you can find The Red Wraith:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Red-Wraith-Nick-Wisseman-ebook/dp/B013O6RQCG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461741168&sr=8-1&keywords=the+red+wraith

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-wraith-nick-wisseman/1123535405?ean=2940157718268

Where you can find Nick:

Website:  http://www.nickwisseman.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/nicholas.wisseman

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/nickwisseman

Interview with Nick:

1.  Please tell me a little about your book and why you decided to write it.

The Red Wraith is a historical fantasy set in Early America. The protagonist is a Native American who becomes the focus for magic’s reentry into the world.

The original inspiration was just an image: several people climbing a steep hill, atop which waited a lone magician. (My first draft had this scene as the prologue, but during the editing process, the encounter was moved to a later point which made more sense in the story.)

When I started outlining, though, I realized I wanted to inject some historical elements—at the time, I was getting my Master’s in U.S. History and wading through a lot of academic texts. Charles Mann’s 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus was one of the most striking (and readable): it explores the true consequences of disease for Native Americans after Europeans arrived in the “New World.” Mann’s not alone in framing that impact in apocalyptic terms, but his account was the first to make me think about what it would have felt like from an indigenous perspective. (Side note: I don’t pretend to speak for Native Americans, past or present. But as an author, unless you only want to “write what you know”—which for me, would be white, Midwestern males, a.k.a. boring—you’ve got to project a bit. And as long as my characters are plausible, in that I can imagine at least one person realistically looking/thinking/acting like them given the conceits of my story, I’m okay with it.)

From there, I did some additional research, picked a real-life location for the steep hill (Monk’s Mound, a giant earthen pyramid near St. Louis and the impetus for some dumb luck I had when I was on an archaeological dig in college), and started writing.

2.  What do you hope to accomplish through the publishing of your story?

Primarily, I hope anyone who reads the book enjoys the time they invested in it. But it’d also be great if some readers found the historical elements interesting enough to investigate on their own.

3.  If you could meet one famous person, who would it be and why?

Oh, man—I bet pretty much everyone starts by answering this with “It’s hard to pick just one.” But let’s keep it topical and go with Jacqueline Carey. Her Kushiel’s Legacy series is a masterpiece of historical fantasy, and one of the main reasons I got into the genre.

4.  What would you like your readers to know about you?

I moonlight (daylight?) as a barn hand. My wife loves horses, so about six years back, we moved to rural Michigan and found a property with 11.5 acres. Now we have four horses and lots of farm chores. They get me away from my desk, though, and completing a manual task gives me a satisfaction I can’t get from typing up a digital document.

So overall, it’s pretty great

5.  What is your favorite food, color, place, activity?

Sushi, blue, Vancouver, and (assuming I’m not allowed to say writing) playing basketball.

6.  If you could give me one piece of advice about life, what would it be?

Finish what you start. (It doesn’t always apply—sometimes you really do have to cut your losses. But if something’s still worth doing, then do it.)

~Review: Weeds In Nana’s Garden by Kathryn Harrison~

final cover_mar22 2016

A young girl and her Nana hold a special bond that blooms in the surroundings of Nana’s magical garden. Then one day, the girl finds many weeds in the garden. She soon discovers that her beloved Nana has Alzheimer’s Disease; an illness that affects an adult brain with tangles that get in the way of thoughts, kind of like how weeds get in the way of flowers. As time passes, the weeds grow thicker and her Nana declines, but the girl accepts the difficult changes with love, and learns to take-over as the magical garden’s caregiver.
Extending from the experience of caring for her mother, artist Kathryn Harrison has created this poignant story with rich illustrations to candidly explore dementia diseases, while demonstrating the power of love. It is a journey that will cultivate understanding and touch your heart.

My Rating:  4 Stars!

This is a sweet, touching story about a young girl who loves her Nana very much.  Sadly, her Nana is affected by Alzheimer’s and she slowly becomes sicker over the course of several years. This picture book speaks of how Alzheimer’s changes a person and how it is painful for loved ones to watch the disease progress.  

Weeds In Nana’s Garden has wonderful illustrations and a heartfelt story line.  The author has dedicated this book to support the Alzheimer Society of Canada.  The last pages are filled with questions about Alzheimer’s as asked by children.  Answers are given in understandable terms.

This book is a visual delight as well as a touching story.  I highly recommend it to younger children and their parents as a way to explain the disease known as Alzheimer’s.

Where you can find Weeds In Nana’s Garden:

http://weedsinnanasgarden.com

http://www.amazon.com/Weeds-Nanas-Garden-Alzheimers-dementias/dp/0994946708/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460123405&sr=1-1&keywords=weeds+in+nana%27s+garden

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/weeds-in-nanas-garden-kathryn-harrison/1123572984?ean=9780994946706

https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/weeds-in-nanas-garden-a/9780994946706-item.html?ikwid=weeds+in+nana%27s+garden&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0

Where you can find Kathryn:

https://www.facebook.com/kathryn.harrison.338

https://www.instagram.com/kathryn.harrison.art/

https://www.pinterest.com/flipturnpublish/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29662910-weeds-in-nana-s-garden

 

My colored pencil piece entitled Tree Of Healing

I created this piece years ago when I was in the process of healing from my trauma. While I was creating it, I felt like the tree above the soil; empty, alone and devoid of life. I had faith that things would get better, but I didn’t know how long it would take. I reminded myself to be patient. Eventually, I began to feel like the roots of the tree. I was filled with God’s love and found my purpose for living. Thus, this simple piece was born.

Tree Of Healing

I have this drawing for sale on Fine Art America and Red Bubble.  Here is the description I created for this piece as seen on both sites:

To the parched soul, God’s light brings healing and oneness.  The only way to wholeness and completion is being joined with God in His heavenly light and breath.  God shines His light upon us and it is up to our own individual discretion as to whether we receive Him or not.  Reception of Him grows in us strong roots of love.

If you are unfamiliar with my story, I have it written in my book Breaking The Silence.  It is a fictional account (because names and places have been changed) of my life.  It is true and it is what I experienced.  My art reflects the stages I’ve been through in my journey of healing.  I hope you enjoy this simple yet heartfelt piece.

Best wishes and blessings,

Diamante

~Spotlight: The Girl From Berlin by Ellie Midwood~

The Girl from Berlin OTHER SITES

This is a diary of Annalise Meissner, a young German Jew with long time ago falsified papers, living a carefree life in pre-war Berlin. A talented ballerina, she comes from a wealthy family and at first doesn’t want to concern herself with the changes her country starts undergoing under the new Nazi regime. However, when the oppressions against the Jewish population begin, she realizes that she can’t be a silent bystander and swears to help her people in any way possible.
She falls in love and gets married to her father’s longtime friend, Standartenführer Heinrich Friedmann, who even though he works for SD – the Reich Secret Service – seems to share her views, and soon Annalise learns why. Her new husband turns out to be a counterintelligence agent working for the US government, and together they start a dangerous game against the sinister Gestapo, trying to save as many lives as they can and not to compromise themselves.
But it’s not only the persecuted people Annalise wants to save; she meets the leader of the Austrian SS Gruppenführer Ernst Kaltenbrunner who everyone seems to fear, but for some reason Annalise isn’t intimidated by the Chief of the Austrian Gestapo and doesn’t believe the rumors about his brutality. Gruppenführer Kaltenbrunner isn’t hiding the fact that he would love to get this beautiful girl as his mistress, but Annalise, despite the mutual attraction, stays faithful to her beloved husband. However, the risky game she’s playing will soon change everything…

Reviews:

“THE GIRL FROM BERLIN is a beautiful story about a young ballerina in pre-war Berlin. It is about love, triumph over tyranny, and the extent to which humanity will go to defeat oppression.
Written in diary-like style, the story follows Annalise Meissner, a young German Jew, through the dark years leading up and into WWII. Historical accounts such as the ‘Night of Broken Glass’ and the wholesale persecution of the Jewish population are accurately portrayed and well-researched.
This is a finely-written novel that does not disappoint. I found myself turning pages late into the night. Ellie Midwood masterfully paints with words, pulling the reader in deeper with each page and each chapter, and keeping the suspense high throughout.” (Frank Scozzari, bestselling author of “From Afar”)
             *                              *                                   *                                 *
“First off, no one writes Anti heroes they way Ellie does. A story of a perfectly ordinary couple in perfectly ordinary surroundings. As perfectly ordinary as it gets when one of you is Jewish and the other one is working for the other Government under the pretext of serving the fuhrer, while in Berlin in the 1940’s.
I was hooked into the story before even the prologue could end. I was literally on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next, wanting more and at the same time cringing at discovering what ‘more’ had to offer.
The characters are properly developed and know their purpose and role in driving the story forward. The dialogues are cleverly crafted and give the readers enough bait to keep them desperately trying to catch it.
This is the second book of Ellie’s that I’ve read and i can see how much and how well she has grown as a writer. Well done! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.” (Aarohi Brar, bestselling author of “Pluviophile”)
Where you can find The Girl From Berlin:
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Berlin-War-Criminals-Widow-ebook/dp/B018L3WM6C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1461129935&sr=8-1&keywords=the+girl+from+berlin
Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-girl-from-berlin-ellie-midwood/1122700202?ean=9781517353063
Where you can find Ellie:

My newest creation! Counteract Every Negative Thought!

Counteract every negative thought by Diamante Lavendar

Here is my most recent inspirational quote, brought on by some hard days that I’ve gone through. I made this quote to remind myself and to inspire others! The last few days (the last week, actually) has been tough. In order to counteract a bad attitude, I started stating a blessing or something I was grateful for in response to every negative thought that went through my head. It helped a lot!

If you know someone who is going through a tough time right now, feel free to share this quote with them. It will help to spark some positive energy in their heart and give them hope that tomorrow will be a better day!

Just remember…this too shall pass!

Where you can find Counteract Every Negative Thought:

Fine Art America:  http://fineartamerica.com/featured/counteract-every-negative-thought-diamante-lavendar.html

Red Bubble:  http://www.redbubble.com/people/diamantelavenda/works/21565110-counteract-every-negative-thought-by-diamante-lavendar?p=photographic-print

<a href=”http://fineartamerica.com/shop/shower+curtains” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>shower curtains for sale</a>

~Review: The Oui Trip by David O’Neill~

The Oui Trip cover

It’s been a tough year for Bob and Joan Younghusband. Bob’s been made redundant from his plumbing sales job selling loos and lock nuts, and just as they’re about to get away from it all, Joan loses her beloved father, too. Deciding the sunny climes of the Med are just what they need, the Younghusbands head for France in their hired camper. But every dream has its price, and this one comes with Joan’s alcoholic stepmother who throws the ultimate spanner in the works. Then there’s the shocking revelation when Bob and Joan stay with old friends that could rock their relationship to the core… and turn their dream trip into the holiday from hell. Tailed by an inspector of the French Police Nationale and a Glaswegian gangster by the unlikely name of Stephan, Bob and Joan have to find a way out of their home-made nightmare… or it won’t just be their plans for a relaxing break that go down the toilet. Murder, mayhem, sex, gangsters and badly spoken French, this dark comedy has it all.

My Rating:  4 Stars!

This is a silly book with serious undertones.  A story of a vacation gone very wrong, Bob and Joan head off after Joan’s father’s funeral in an attempt to re-ignite their marriage.  What they delve into is a nightmare of death, destruction and mayhem when they become intertwined with a dangerous killer and a drug smuggling operation.

Complete with police interrogation and humor ranging from slapstick to macabre, this story is intriguing enough to cause the reader to keep turning the pages to see what will happen next. The plot is well thought out and the characters are well developed.  The author did a very good job of making the story line realistic.

A great book for those of you that enjoy a funny crime story!

Where you can find The Oui Trip:

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Oui-Trip-David-ONeill/dp/0993266738/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460699626&sr=8-1&keywords=the+oui+trip+david+o+neill

Barnes and Noble;  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-oui-trip-david-oneill/1122576738?ean=2940152111590

Where you can find David:

Website:  www.berryoneill.uk

Interview with David:

1.  What prompted you to write your book?

I’ve been writing for many years now, but mainly in the SciFi and Fantasy genre.  It was after a few glasses of wine with a good friend and his wife that the idea for the plot was hatched, with all the ups and downs of the characters arriving in my head fully formed – and there wasn’t a spaceship or magical sword in sight.  I sat on the idea for a while, letting it bubble and stew in the background as I worked on other things, but it kept coming back to me like a puppy wanting to be fed.  And, with every thought the idea got, it did indeed get fed until there was nothing I could do except admit that it needed to be written.  So I sat down and plotted the book out, putting everything else on hold while I did, and by some sort of magic that even to this day I can’t comprehend, it became a book.  The characters took on a life of their own, their dialogue and interplay with the other cast members invading my mind and I could hear them talk all the time, like loud lodgers in an adjoining room within my mind.  The only way to quieten them was to commit their conversations to paper which I suppose I did with glee, the writing process for this book happening so naturally that I almost didn’t notice it.  I suppose, without descending into cliché, that when the muse hits you there is nothing you can do except let it take you over and make you a puppet for what it wants.

2.  What genre of books do you enjoy reading?  Who are some of your favorite authors?

As I’ve already alluded above, my reading genre is dominated with SciFi, and sometimes a bit of Fantasy.  I have a list of authors that I turn to for my otherworldly fix as long as your arm, but if I had to produce a brief summary it would have to include: Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds and Greg Bear to name a but a few.  I am almost ashamed to not mention the classic authors like Heinlein, Asimov,E.E. Doc Smith, Larry Niven et al, but I don’t want to turn this into list that rambles on forever.  If I can take a moment to concentrate on the Fantasy side, I would have to mention Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, with again a blush of shame for not mentioning many other authors, like J.R.R. Tolkein, Moorcock, Terry Brooks and so on.  I could go on for ages, looking through my book collection and pulling out names that need an honourable mention, but I won’t.


3.  Do you have any works in progress?  If so, please tell me about them.

I have many works in progress, I am happy to say. I am just finishing off a fantasy novel, The Gates of Hell,  set in both Saxon times and in the present where Hell wants the Earth destroyed.  It is down to a group of four very different individuals, from then and now, to stop this happening.  This book is getting the final edit as I type this, so should be out soon.  I am also plotting the sequel to The Oui Trip because there are a few unanswered questions that need to be addressed, and, I’ll be fair with you, the character’s voices are starting to clamour once again, so I can see this being moved up the priority list.  I have a few SciFi action/adventure novels on the go too, which I return to whenever I get a chance, which isn’t easy with all the other stories jostling for attention in my head.

 

4.  Where would you go on a dream vacation?  Who would you bring with you?

 

This is an easy one: France.  I love the country, the food, the wine, the laid back way of life.  You also get some pretty good weather the further south you go, which to someone living in England and used to the ever changeable vagaries of the weather here, is always an attraction in its own right.  Who would I bring?  Again, another easy one: my children.  We’ve been over to France a few times on vacation and they loved it.


5.  What would you like your readers to know about you?

 

I think I have the same needs and desires of pretty much anyone, if I’m going to be honest.  I love my children and grandchildren, and would love to find that ‘right’ person share my life with.  I love cooking, Italian being a personal favourite, and I am a keen musician, playing an odd assortment of instruments, but all with a minimum of competence.  I read a lot, write a lot and smile more than I frown.  Not much more that I can say, really.

6.  If you could give me one piece of advice about life, what would it be?

 

Again, that’s an easy one: Don’t be afraid to love.  Love yourself, love others, love life.  You’ll be surprised how quickly you get it back, whether it’s in the company of friends, or in the smile of a grandchild.  And when it is given back to you, it tastes so much sweeter.

~Review: Dinner At The Zoo by Mr. Baker-Hall~

Dinner At The Zoo cover-image

What will happen in the zoo when it closes out tonight?
Shall we go see, me and you, how animals grab a bite?
Tonight, don’t be a sleeper, never you mind the dangers.
Let’s follow the zookeeper as he fills all the mangers.

My Rating:  3 Stars!

This is a cute story for toddlers and elementary age children.  The pictures are very nicely done and the colors bright and inviting!  The pictures follow the story line well and are fun and interesting!

I do think that some of the wording could have been made clearer, however.  A few of the rhymes and tongue twisters would probably be confusing to children.  Some flow perfectly while others fall a bit short.  This is a challenge for writers who create picture books.  It is important to make the words understandable to a younger child while still flowing well with rhyme.

Over all, this is a cute book!  If you have a child or grandchild that loves animals, they would probably get a kick out of this story!

Where you can find Dinner At The Zoo:

http://www.amazon.com/Dinner-At-Zoo-Mr-Baker-Hall/dp/191128505X/

Where you can find Mr. Baker-Hall:

Interview with Mr. Baker-Hall:

1.  What prompted you to write your books?

It was one very specific image that my daughter and I saw on the newspaper one day. It showed a group of people fearlessly helping a hippo walk back to the zoo in the flooded Georgian town of Tbilisi, in Eastern Europe. We talked about what the animals could have done to escape the zoo during the flood and then we went to bed. The whole story came up in my dreams, so the first thing I did that morning was sit down and write “The flood at the zoo”.

2.  Do you have any works in progress? 

Wonderful things keep happening in that zoo, so we never know when a new book may come out. For example, a few days ago, a vet went there to check all the animals. A few weeks ago, it snowed there. Spring is coming soon, and I wonder what it will bring…

 3.  Do you write in other genres?  If so, which ones?

No, I only write children’s books. I may write some books for older children in the future, so they can continue following my work as they improve their reading skills. I’d love to foster their development.

 4.  What would you like your readers to know about you?

I was born in Never Never Land and used to be one of the Lost Boys until I eventually decided to grow up. I then moved to Whoville where I studied Literature with Cindy Lou Who. On school breaks, I used to travel to Wonderland where I was the official storyteller to the Queen of Hearts. When I almost had my head cut off after I did not end a story with “They lived happily ever after”, I fled to London where I live now with my wife and daughter.

 5.  If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

That everyone could always go back to that special time in their childhoods when their imagination had no boundaries, everything was possible and anything could happen. Unfortunately some people forget how to do that. Luckily, I still have some pixie dust that I can use to return to Never Never Land whenever I want.

6.  If you could give me one piece of advice about life, what would it be?

To live life to the fullest and enjoy every step of the journey. If you give a plot to a group of writers with a fixed start and end, I assure you they will write completely different stories. The beginning and the end will be the same, but the adventure in between them will be unique. That’s just how we write our own lives. Life is not about the destination, but rather how you get there and the experiences you have on the way.

My newest creation: Eternity Is A Position!

Here is another piece of my graphic art. I created this piece to remind myself and others that eternity is a position. Eternity isn’t a place we need to travel to. It’s a place in our hearts, minds and spirits where we live. We can live there right now. That is how we attain enlightenment here…before we pass on!

Eternity Is Not A Place by Diamante Lavendar

Eternity is a place inside us and around us.  A place of love, wisdom, understanding, peace and laughter.  A place of light where we can truly be ourselves!

This quote along with all of my other artistic creations are available in hundreds of products on several different websites.  You can find them in home decor, apparel, gift items, stationery and more!

Enjoy!

Where you can find Eternity Is A Position:

Zazzle:  http://www.zazzle.com/collections/eternity_is_a_position-119095415019232286

RedBubble:  http://www.redbubble.com/people/diamantelavenda/works/21464941-eternity-is-a-position-by-diamante-lavendar?p=photographic-print

The March Lowdown!

Hi everyone! Here’s what went on during the month of March! It was a pretty busy month!

The March Lowdown by Diamante Lavendar

As always, I’m very grateful to everyone who participated in my blog!  It’s been a lot of fun expanding my reach to not only authors but also artists!  I’ve met and look forward to meeting a lot of fun and interesting people!

May you all remain prosperous, happy and healthy in the years to come!  I look forward to working with you on future projects as well!

Cheers!