Book Promo The Sacred Artifact

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About the Book

Title: The Sacred Artifact

Author: Caldric Blackwell

Genre: Middle Grade

Determined to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artifact, fourteen-year-old alchemy student Craig Pike and his teacher, Cornelius, journey to the birthplace of alchemy to seek the advice of a wise, ancient alchemist named Quintus. With the help of a witty archer, Audrey Clife, they trek across dangerous lands, compete in a cutthroat tournament, and reunite with old friends. They soon find out the artifact is more powerful than anticipated, and they aren’t the only ones seeking to discover its secrets….

 

Author Bio

Children’s book author Caldric Blackwell first realized he loved reading when he read about a bunch of people (with single-syllable names) and their pets (also with single-syllable names) in kindergarten. From that point on, he was nearly inseparable from books.

His interest in reading culminated in him studying English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Exposure to a host of great authors inspired him to begin writing fiction and started his journey to becoming a children’s book author. Although he began writing short stories for adults, he was drawn to the whimsical, imaginative nature of children’s literature and began working on his first book for children.

Blackwell’s debut work is an adventure-filled early chapter book, titled “The Enchanted River Race,” which follows a team of children as they compete in a river race. His next release is the beautifully illustrated picture book “The Boy Who Couldn’t Cry Wolf,” which revolves around a young werewolf who is self-conscious about his inability to howl.

His most recent work is the two-part Young Alchemist series, which is targeted at a middle grade audience. The first book in the series, “The Missing Alchemist,” follows alchemy student Craig Pike and clever archer Audrey Clife as they travel across mysterious lands and battle other-worldly creatures in a quest to rescue a famous alchemist. The second book in the series, “The Sacred Artifact,” centers on Craig’s attempt to uncover the secrets of a mysterious artifact, which entails journeying to the birthplace of alchemy to seek the advice of a mysterious, ancient alchemist.

Outside of reading and writing, children’s book author Caldric Blackwell enjoys jiu jitsu, gardening, and playing bass and guitar. He currently resides in Southern California.

 

 

 

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How van Gogh’s Sister-in-Law Was Instrumental in His Posthumous Fame

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How van Gogh’s Sister-in-Law Was Instrumental in His Posthumous Fame

By Giuseppe Cafiero

 

Jo van Gogh-Bonger
*Amsterdam
*April 1889

Today, van Gogh’s art is celebrated throughout the world for its originality and billiance, being displayed in the most prestigious galleries and routinely selling for millions of dollars when it comes to market.

 

Yet during his lifetime, Vincent only sold one painting: The Red Vineyard, for 400 francs (approximately $2,000 in today’s money). His global fame came posthumously, and it is all thanks to the tireless effort of one person – his sister-in-law, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger.

 

Jo, as she liked to be called, was the wife of Vincent’s younger brother, the art dealer Theo van Gogh. She was close to Vincent and even named her son, the artist’s nephew, after him. But in a cruel twist of fate she lost both her brother-in-law and husband within the space of just a few months. When Vincent died in July 1890 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, his hundreds of paintings and drawings came to Theo, who had been his patron and foremost advocate. When he died early the following year of a brain disease, this artwork – along with thousands of letters between the brothers – came to Jo. Although a widow at just 28, now responsible for bringing up a young son alone, she vowed to find Vincent the wider artistic recognition that he’d not been able to secure during his lifetime.

 

Dismissing the advice from those around her to sell the artwork and offload her burden, she instead set to work on co-ordinating an exhibition Between 1892 and 1900 Jo oversaw close to 20 meticulously-planned exhibitions in Holland, where less well-known pieces were displayed alongside those paintings already acknowledged in artistic circles as masterpieces. Thanks to this strategy, the public and art critics alike started to become familiar with van Gogh, while rave reviews in newspapers helped spread the word across the country.

 

Once this was accomplished, Jo widened the net to Western Europe, connecting with influential art dealers to have Vincent’s work displayed in public and private collections, offering a generous commission on artwork sold as an added incentive. In 1905 she financed and secured a major retrospective at the internationally-prominent Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. It brought van Gogh to the attention of art-lovers around the world, and ensured his fame.

 

Jo, however, was not finished. She compiled a collection of van Gogh’s letters to Theo, which were published in three volumes in 1914. Her efforts were rewarded, as the correspondence helped cement Vincent as the archetypal troubled genius suffering for his intense, visionary art.

 

Jo died in 1925 but had already done enough to ensure the momentum would continue without her and that her brother-in-law would receive his lasting place among the greats of contemporary art.

 

Vincent Van Gogh: the Ambiguity of Insanity by Giuseppe Cafiero is out now as an audiobook on Amazon, Audible.com and iTunes

 

About the Book

Title: Vincent Van Gogh: The Ambiguity of Insanity

Author: Giuseppe Cafiero

An abrasive itinerary of the presence of women, the landscape and obsession. Such are the internal paradigms that went through the compelling life of the Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.

Not flesh and blood women, but the woman as a guide: Mrs. Jones, the woman as a mother; Kee Vos; Christine Hoornik of Siena; Margot Begemann. The Portrait-women such as Augustine Roulin and Madame Ginoux. And then the backgrounds, endless, unforgettable in this genius’s works: Isleworth, Amsterdam, le Borinage, Arles, St. Remy, Auvers-sur-Oise, where Vincent van Gogh spent his life trying to capture the colors, the atmosphere, the light.

The pain of finitude and his obsession with achieving redemption through art, with intimate and stormy religiosity, with brotherly love, with the French noon sun and, in short, with death. A hard-working and unwavering life where art interacted, in a painful gesture, with the iron will of a hand that never lost its way.

The life of a beloved and devoted man, silenced by the anguish and despair of creation, who could only find peacefulness when he found his own death.

Vincent Van Gogh: the Ambiguity of Insanity is a fictionalized biography and gripping novel of the life of the Nineteenth-Century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. The author, Giuseppe Cafiero, draws a psychological portrait of the Post-Impressionist painter through the women that marked his life and the cities in which he lived.

 

Author Interview Decanted Truths

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1) How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing professionally for (gasp) 40 years. Most of that was ghost-writing (nonfiction) for think tanks. But I started jotting down silly little stories not long after I learned to read. They were pretty bad, with lots of clichés. Looking back, I find it interesting, however, that even my childhood scribbling was character-driven and had a sense of duality (as in, the heroine was not necessarily what she seemed at first glance).

2) Is this book part of a series?

No, this book is not part of a series.

3) What did you find most challenging about writing your book?

Of the four novels I’ve written, this was the most challenging, because it took a long time to find its focus. I started it 20 years ago, with the idea of crafting a fictionalized account of my slum-born grandfather’s ability to pull himself up by his bootstraps. But it just wasn’t coming together, partly because I didn’t feel that much of a connection to him (he died when I was 4). Then the focus shifted to my grandmother, but it still wasn’t right. Things started to come together when (A) I split the venue between Boston (where I never felt comfortable) and Manomet (a place of many happy childhood memories); (B) when the wholly fictional character Leah just popped into my head; and (C) when I decided to use the Waterford decanter as the link connecting the three disparate immigrant families that would have such an impact on each other’s lives.

4) Which aspect of writing do you enjoy the most?

For me, the happiest aspect of writing is when a character takes off. Often that doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. But once the character has been fleshed out to some degree, she starts writing herself and my job is to keep pace. The writing just flows then. When I get off the right path, the characters let me know. First of all, the flow comes to an abrupt halt. Then, the characters disrupt my sleep in the wee hours, let me know they’re unhappy and show me where they should be going.

5) Are you working on another book at the moment?

I’m working on two new novels, at the same time. One focuses on French Canadian immigrants to New England in the 19th century, folks who shunned the typical path of working in Francophone mill towns. The other features a Virginia spinster who works as a school crossing guard and lives a lonely, dreary life, while she tries to manage distressing mental problems – or maybe she really does have psychokinetic abilities and a link to the goddess Hecate.

 

About the Book

Title: Decanted Truths

Author: Melanie Forde

Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction / Family Saga

For Irish immigrant families like the Harrigans and Gavagans, struggle has been the name of the game since they arrived in Boston in the nineteenth century. For twice-orphaned Leah Gavagan, who comes of age in the Depression, the struggle is compounded by bizarre visions that disrupt her daily life — and sometimes come true. She has difficulty fitting in with her surroundings: whether the lace-curtain Dorchester apartment overseen by her judgmental Aunt Margaret or the wild Manomet bluff shared with her no-nonsense Aunt Theo and brain-damaged Uncle Liam. A death in the family disrupts the tepid life path chosen for Leah and sets her on a journey of discovery. That journey goes back to the misadventures shaping the earlier generation, eager to prove its hard-won American credentials in the Alaskan gold rush, the Spanish-American War, and The Great War. She learns of the secrets that have bound Theo and Margaret together. Ultimately, Leah learns she is not who she thought she was. Her new truth both blinds and dazzles her, much like the Waterford decanter at the center of her oldest dreams — an artifact linking three Irish-American families stumbling after the American Dream.

 

 

Author Bio

Raised in a Boston Irish family, Melanie Forde knew her life was infinitely easier than that of her ancestors, refugees from the Potato Famine. The storytelling skills of her elders kept ancestral triumphs and tragedies alive, so that the Potato Famine and the Easter Rebellion felt as real as the Cold War. Inheriting the storyteller gene, Ms. Forde is the author of three earlier novels, her Hillwilla trilogy. She now lives far from her roots, on a West Virginia farm. She still maintains a potato patch—just in case.

 

 

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Book Review: From Frights to Flaws

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Title: From Frights to Flaws

Author: Sunayna Prasad

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Originally published in 2013, the book has been updated to its full potential with edits, while keeping the storyline the same.

Twelve-year-old Alyssa McCarthy longs for a better life. She lost her parents at age seven and her aunt at nine. Her uncle also enforces unfair rules. But Alyssa discovers something she has never thought existed before… magic. A wicked sorcerer hunts her down. He kidnaps her from her ordinary New Jersey town to Yanowic, an enchanted island in Fiji.
Alyssa is trapped in the country due to a giant shield covering it. She must defeat dangerous creatures and the evil wizard in order to leave. But with sorcerers and enchanted technology getting in her way, can Alyssa succeed?

I don’t often read middle grade books, but reading this one, I wondered why not. I actually like books aimed at this audience – these books have the type of magic that is sometimes lacking for YA books, a certain surprised, almost magical view on the world. Here we have a story of a 12-year-old, Alyssa McCarthy, who lost both her parents and her aunt, and who discovers magic is real. She has to run from an evil sorcerer and fight dangerous creatures, and there’s never a dull moment! I think kids will love this book, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Book Review: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry

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Title: Inside the Chinese Wine Industry

Author: Loren Mayshark

Genre: Nonfiction

The wine business is one of the world’s most fascinating industries and China is considered the rising star. A hidden secret, the Chinese wine industry continues to grow at an amazing pace and is projected to soon enter the top five producing nations, supplanting long established countries such as Australia. Inside the Chinese Wine Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of Wine in China takes you through the growing Chinese wine scene.

Wine has had a meteoric rise in China over the past two decades. The nation is projected to become the second most valuable market for wine in the world by 2020. One recent study concluded that 96% of young Chinese adults consider wine their alcoholic drink of choice. Not only does Inside the Chinese Wine Industry explore current expansion and business models, it journeys back to the past to see where it all began.

There are more than seven hundred wineries in China today. Although it’s bit of an oversimplification, the vast majority of the wineries fit into one of two categories: the larger established producers who churn out mostly plonk to meet the growing demand for inexpensive wine and the newer wineries that try to cater to the tastes of the wealthy Chinese with money to spend on luxury goods like fine wine. In the words of wine guru Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, “The cheap wines from the very large producers have mostly verged on dismal.” However, this should not be considered a blanket statement regarding every wine from large producers. Also, she has positive reflections regarding the level of wine produced by “cutting-edge wineries” which she finds “far better.” How good are they? MacNeil asserts: “Some of these wines are so good they could easily pass for a California or Bordeaux wine in a blind tasting.”

 

My rating: 8/10

For the past two decades, wine has had a huge rise in China. By 2020, the Chinese wine market is set to become the second-largest in the world. Still, despite that, in countries outside of China, and for the wider public, Chinese wine is still somewhat of an enigma – an enigma this book tries to solve.

The author has an easy writing style that urges readers to keep reading, and one chapter after another flies by so fast that by the time the reader will very well realize it, they’ll be nearly at the end of the book already.

 

PS. Did you notice that on the book cover, the wine is poured into a form shaped like China? It took me way too long to figure that one out. Way too long.

Book Excerpt The Monster of Selkirk Book 1: The Duality of Nature

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Book Excerpt

Tallis’s mind was racing as they went. There was something much bigger than anything they had anticipated at work here. She just didn’t know what it was. She was holding so many pieces of the puzzle and yet none of them fit together to make a whole picture, and yet, she was somehow in the center of it all.

As she walked beside her cousin, weapons at the ready, she whispered, “Why haven’t we come across more elves?”

Donovan gave her a strange look. “What? The ones we have come across haven’t been enough for you?”

“But that’s just it,” Tallis added quickly. “We’ve really only encountered the one and a score of deranged animals. Everyone says that the forests are crawling with elves when you get this far in, and yet we’ve seen blessed few. Doesn’t this seem, I don’t know, just a little bit odd to you?”

Donovan was silent for a long while. Tallis could not tell if he found her questions annoying because they were silly, or because they genuinely caused him pause.

Just as Tallis gave up that her cousin would ever respond to her, he said, “Ever since Aunt Lana died I have said that the elves were changing in their behavior. For whatever reason, they were going back to old camp sites and deciding to fight to the death rather than flee like they used to. For three years I’ve had to listen to my commanding officers and even my fellow knights tell me I was delusional, and I would be stripped of my position if I kept harping on about being vigilant against a threat they couldn’t see. Even you seemed reluctant to believe me when I said that danger was approaching. But now you see it, the elves are seeping across Selkirk like a wave that cannot be stopped until it has washed its corruption over everything we hold dear. I don’t find this behavior odd Tallis, I find it expected.”

About the Book

Title: The Monster of Selkirk Book 1: The Duality of Nature

Author: C.E. Clayton

Genre: Fantasy

Monsters come in many forms, and not everyone knows a monster when they see one. After three hundred years of monstrous, feral elves plaguing the island nation of Selkirk, everyone believes they know what a monster is. Humans have learned to live with their savage neighbors, enacting a Clearing every four years to push the elves back from their borders. The system has worked for centuries, until after one such purge, a babe was found in the forest.

As Tallis grows, she discovers she isn’t like everyone else. There is something a little different that makes people leery in her presence, and she only ever makes a handful of friends. But when the elves gather their forces and emerge from the forests literally hissing Tallis’s name like a battle mantra, making friends is the least of her troubles. Tallis and her companions find themselves on an unwilling journey to not only clear her name, but to stop the elves from ravaging her homeland.

 

Author Bio

C.E. Clayton was born and raised in the greater Los Angeles area, where she attended the University of Southern California (Fight On!) for both her Bachelors and Masters, and then worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts ranging from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). After going the traditional career route and becoming restless, she went back to her first love—writing—and hasn’t stopped. She is now the author of “The Monster of Selkirk” series and her horror short stories have appeared in anthologies across the country. When she’s not writing you can find her treating her fur-babies like humans, constantly drinking tea, and trying to convince her husband to go to more concerts. And reading. She does read quite a bit. More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, social media presence, and newsletter, can be found on her website: https://www.ceclayton.com/

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The Monster of Selkirk Books series available now!

Book Blitz: My Way To You by Lyndell Williams

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About the Book

Title: My Way To You

Author: Lyndell Williams

Genre: Romance

Lawyer Simon Young is smart, confident, and adept at keeping things with women casual—until he meets his best friend Marcus’s sister, Regina. Immediately intrigued by Regina’s beauty, Simon becomes increasingly enthralled and ultimately risks his friendship to have her for himself.

Social justice writer and activist Regina Kent is usually cautious and savvy. Yet, unable to resist her attraction to the handsome Simon, she plunges into a torrid affair, knowing that she chances angering big brother and her less tolerant followers, many of whom will not accept that one of their most popular pro-Black bloggers is dating an Asian man.

As their clandestine romance evolves, Simon and Regina fall deeper in love. Making sure that things stay between them becomes progressively impossible, and neither knows how much longer they can keep Marcus in the dark and the world at bay.

 

 

Author Bio

Lyndell Williams is an award-winning writer as well as a multifaceted editor, romance scholar and author. She is a managing editor and columnist for various media platforms and serves as a content editor for a select group of clients. She’s had numerous short stories published in collections and enjoys a growing list of subscribers to her Layla Writes Love online short story series.

Lyndell is an adjunct instructor as well as an anti-racism and gender equity advocate. She is committed to the traditional use of literature as social commentary to affect positive social change.

 

 

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