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Monthly Archives: July 2012

Cover Reveal of “Paradise 21: Colonization”

Here’s the latest cover reveal for “Paradise 21: Colonization” by Aubrie Dionne.  The book will be released on November 7. Information and write-up courtesy of Inkspell Publishing.

Finding a new home has never been so dangerous.

Andromeda has spent all seventeen years of her life aboard a deep space transport vessel destined for a paradise planet. Her safe cocoon is about to break open as Paradise 21 looms only one month away, and she must take the aptitude tests to determine her role on the new world and her computer assigned lifemate. As a great-granddaughter of the Commander of the ship, she wants to live up to her family name. But, her forbidden love for her childhood friend, Sirius, distracts her and she fails the tests. The results place her in a menial role in the new colony and pair her with Corvus, “the oaf”.

But when Andromeda steps foot on Paradise 21, her predestined future is the least of her worries. Alien ghosts from a failed colonization warn her of a deadly threat to her colony. And when Sirius’s ship crashes on the far ridge in an attempt to investigate, she journeys to rescue him with Corvus.

Andromeda now must convince the authorities of the imminent danger to protect her new home. What she didn’t expect was a battle of her own feelings for Sirius and Corvus.

Can she save the colony and discover her true love?

Author Bio: Aubrie Dionne writes science fiction fantasy with romantic elements. Her writings have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Inkspell Publishing, Entangled Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. She’s also a professional flutist in New England.

Please visit her website: www.authoraubrie.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2964057.Aubrie_Dionne

Twitter: @authoraubrie

Blog: http://authoraubrie.blogspot.com

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Cover Reveals

 

Forever home

A/N: Written by yours truly, this is a feature about my former high school World Cultures teacher and his wife’s dream to adopt a special needs child from Latvia. They’re a wonderful couple with a lot of love to give. Please read their story below and help them make their dream come true by making a donation to either fund-raiser. Please visit justlovecoffee.com/whiteslatvianfamilyblend or gofundme.com/h59vc

Being a parent with special needs kids means that no two days are ever alike, but Ephrata High School social studies teacher Matt White says it’s the ultimate gift.

“No matter how good of a job you did at work. No matter how bad of a job you did at work. These two are always there at the door with the biggest smiles on their face, ‘Daddy, daddy, daddy!’” said Matt, referring to his adoptive sons 11-year-old Aidan and five-year-old Kieran. “It kind of makes you forget about the real world. It’s really nice. I look forward to those two hugs more than anything every day.”

Matt and his wife Beth have always wanted to provide stable, loving home for orphaned children with special needs. A month ago, they welcomed its newest member with open arms. This summer, the couple has been hosting a child from the Baltic country of Latvia named Einars in their Lancaster home.

“He’s fitting right in to the American culture and quickly picked up on the sense of entitlement and asking for things in stores and saying, ‘This mine?’” said Matt. “It’s fun to discover him.”

An aficionado of cuddling, superheroes and chocolate, Einars, 9, understands a little bit of English and has been getting along so well with his host family that the couple is planning to adopt him when his visit ends in a few weeks and is asking for the public’s help.

The family has developed two fundraising websites to assist with their adoption costs. The first is called Just Love Coffee Roasters, a program created by the company founders and adoptive parents Rob and Emily Webb in order to help struggling parents with staggering adoption costs. The company has given more $200,000 to adopting parents, non-profit organizations, and the arts.

“They use their fair trade products so that in turn they can help build self-sustaining economies for third-world countries and help them to learn how to better care for themselves and give them the resources to do so,” said Beth. “We really wanted to find something that was a way not only for people to help us, but a way for us to give back as well. We didn’t want it to be all one way.”

The second fund-raiser is through gofundme.org, a PayPal-type website where the minimum amount people can donate is $2. However, the family has a long way to go to reach its goal of $13,000.

“For the most part, Matt and I put a lot of money toward the adoption. We’re to the point where we don’t have any funds left,” said Beth. “If we don’t receive the funds, we are not going to be able to complete the adoption process so we are really fully relying on God at this point to bring it about.”

Getting the word out about their fund-raiser has been a challenge so the White family has set up a Facebook page focused on their mission, including information on helping orphans in Eastern Europe and ways to support families who are hosting orphans.

“We have a lot of our fund-raisers on there so that they can look through in order to find us,” Beth said. “Our sphere is limited because at this point in time, we go to a very large church, but they don’t really encourage letting people know about these things because that would bring everyone wanting to jump on board. In that sense, it’s been hard for us to get the word out.”

So far, the family has raised about $1,500 through sub sales with the Ephrata Area School District and another fund-raiser held at Apple Tree Restaurant in Lancaster in late June.

Matt said he and his family are thankful for the support they have received from the school district.

“The school district did a tremendous job. They’re just people giving gifts or buying subs, and it was really a productive venture,” he said. “We had people buy from the high school, from the middle school, and I think from the Washington Educational Center. They really responded.”

Prior to Einars’ arrival, the family gained an education about the Latvian culture from Dr. Mara Anderson, a former German teacher at Ephrata High School and a Latvian native. According to Matt, Anderson has been a “godsend” in giving them Latvian cookbooks and providing them connections to her native friends in the area in case there are any questions or concerns.

“We’ll probably take him to a Latvian service while he’s here, in addition to going to (our) church,” said Matt. “There’s a Latvian church picnic which we are going to attend in August.”

Einars arrived to the United States on June 28 through New Horizons For Children, an international Christian hosting program that brings Eastern European orphaned children twice a year to stay with American host families.

Beth found out about the program years ago from a female acquaintance who was in her first year of hosting an orphaned child. After researching the organization’s website and blogs, she looked at multiple pictures of the children and one instantly caught her eye.

“Einars’ picture just grabbed me right away. I can’t explain why, only the fact that he looked like Kieran,” she said. “I read the little blurb (about Einars), and I knew instinctively that this was a special needs child, and I knew his chances.”

Like Aidan and Kieran, Einars was born to a mother who used alcohol and drugs during her pregnancy. As a result, Einars was abandoned at birth and left in the orphan care system in Latvia.

In Eastern Europe, the children are considered “broken” and “unwanted.” By the age of 16, the kids are released by the government and then put out onto the street.

“No child at that age is prepared to do that. There’s a high percentage of crime and prostitution and suicide as a result,” said Beth. “These are the children that we need to reach.”

Aidan and Kieran were also curious about learning about their soon-to-be adoptive brother, encouraging their mother to let him join their family.

“The boys have been 100 percent on board, and they’ve prayed for him every single day. They have not ceased it. It really has been an entire family effort,” said Beth. “They asked me every day, ‘How many days, Mommy, until Einars comes? How many days until he gets here?”

According to the 2011 survey by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, more than 1,700 European immigrant orphans were adopted by American families, 40 of them were from Latvia and 35 of them were children ages five and up. About 420 immigrant orphaned children were adopted in Pennsylvania. The United Nations estimates that between 100 and 200 million children from around the world are without parents.

“We hope to lower the statistic by one,” said Matt.

As part of the adoption process, Beth and Matt will travel to Latvia in the fall to spend a couple of weeks with Einars as well as meet with social workers and the courts to see if they are deemed suitable parents. About a month later, Matt will go back to Latvia for a day to attend another court session.

“After they deemed us fit, I’ll go to Latvia with Einars and what we’ll do is that we’ll get him medically checked out at the U.S. Embassy, and the adoption will be finalized,” he said.

The Whites have received a lot of support and encouragement from hosting and adoptive families affiliated with the NHFC hosting program.

“It’s a wonderful ministry, and they’ve been very effective putting children in forever homes,” said Beth. “This is how we came to this point currently.”

Another place where the family has received support is at the Schreiber Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Lancaster.

“Schreiber has done wonders with my two sons and has expressed great excitement to help out with Einars,” said Matt.

The couple, who hope to form an orphan ministry at their church, haven’t ruled out the possibility of hosting and adopting more children, but they currently want to focus on the needs of their sons and welcoming Einars to his “forever home.”

“We feel God has called us not only with helping children without parents but also special needs children,” said Beth. “It’s a place we feel very comfortable.”

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2012 in Published articles

 

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“The Dark Knight Rises” to expectation

My thoughts: Out of the Christopher Nolan’s three Batman installments, “The Dark Knight Rises” is definitely the best movie made. It’s got all the ingredients made for a summer blockbuster: intensity, suspense, drama, seduction, and non-stop action!

The movie couldn’t have had a better cast. Christian Bale did a phenomenal job in bringing reserved emotion in his dual role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was in Nolan’s last movie “Inception”, was fantastic. Like in the last two installments, Michael Caine’s character of Alfred brought much-needed warmth and heart as the butler. Tom Hardy knows how to play the villain well. The cast also had a brilliant ensemble in Gary Oldman and Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman. But the breakout star in the movie was Anne Hathaway. Her interpretation of the Catwoman was “purr-fect”. She brought class and sass, and knows how to kick some ass. She clearly did her homework.

In spite of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, folks should really see this movie. It’s really long, but it keeps you sucked into every scene. You won’t want to leave to go to the bathroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if TDKR becomes #1 at the box office and deservedly recognized during the awards season! Who knows? Nolan may finally get a shot at an Oscar!

Two thumbs up in my book! 🙂

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Pop Culture

 

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Tragedy in one of America’s favorite pastimes

Going to the movies has been one of my absolute favorite pastimes since I was 7 years old. My first movie theater experience was a comedy called “Problem Child” starring the late John Ritter. I remember having a grand old time with my dad, laughing my pants off, and surprisingly not being scared of the darkness of the room.

Since that time, I have devoured the movie theater experience as if I’m eating a huge plate of pasta. It’s the one moment where I temporarily allow my brain turn to mush, sit in a comfy chair for at least an hour and a half, and live vicariously through the cast of characters on the big screen. It’s been a part of my comfort zone until now.

Let me first say that my deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their loved ones and the residents of Aurora during this very difficult time. I can’t even begin to understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones though my heart goes out to them. The event on early Friday morning was one of the most shameful, senseless act of violence imaginable, and no innocent person deserves to be punished like that.

THE DECEASED

  • Jessica Ghawi, 24
  • Alex Sullivan, 27
  • Jonathan Blunk, 26
  • John Larimer, 27
  • Matt McQuinn, 27
  • Micayla Medek, 23
  • Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6
  • Jesse Childress, 29
  • Alexander Jonathan Boik, 18
  • Alex Teves, 24
  • Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32 
  • Gordon W. Cowden, 51

The tragedy in Aurora, Colorado yesterday has certainly left an indelible mark on everyone. What was supposed to be a highly-anticipated weekend for thousands of movie-goers seeing Christopher Nolan’s last installment in his Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises turned out to be a nightmare. While we may never attempt to make sense of the motives targeting these innocent people, the one and only comforting is that the culprit has been caught and is behind bars. Presumably, I hope he will be brought to justice.

The victims were clearly on my mind yesterday when I saw a matinee showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” with a dear friend. Though we bought the tickets ahead of time, we entered the theater with a little bit of trepidation in our hearts. The room was quiet. There were some seats already filled, however, it wasn’t a packed house. In the end, my friend and I were glad we went because we thoroughly enjoyed the movie (more about that in the next entry).

Discussions have ignited on the issues of gun control, mental illness, politics, etc., and the pundits, politicians, and commentators will continue to do so until the cows come home. I’m no expert on these issues, but as an American citizen, I ask everybody to do something that we know how to do so well. Let’s unite together just like we did during the September 11 attacks. Before you go off and criticize the first thing that pops into your mind, just stop and think how will this affect others. Have faith in our country, show support to those who are hurting, and love one another like you would want to be loved.

Healing will take some time, and for some it will be difficult entering into a movie theater soon and that’s OK, but people should not stop going to their local movie theaters. Life is precious and fragile. Life is about taking risks. If you don’t, then you’re going to miss out on something wonderful no matter how big or small. The next time you go to the movie theater, don’t do it for yourself. Do it for the deceased mentioned above and the survivors who didn’t get a chance to see a film from start to finish.

As Nolan said in a statement, “movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.”

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Pop Culture

 

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Anne Hathaway is not only an incredible actress, but she also has a keen fashion sense. Topped with her pixie cut, Anne looks quite chic in her little black dresses.

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Did chopping off her hair cause Anne Hathaway to lose her passion for fashion? Recently, the actress — who’s been rocking an adorable pixie cut — has only been wearing black! What’s the deal?

The trend started at the end of last month at an event in New York, when the engaged star donned what would become a recurring outfit: a black shift dress teamed with flats and a gold pendant (left). Then in Los Angeles last week, Hathaway wore a peplum knee-length Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci number and ankle-strap Tory Burch heels, once again, both in black (center).

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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Pop Culture

 

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A big novel about a small town

Don’t hate me, but I am not a Harry Potter fan … yet.

That’s because I haven’t read any of the acclaimed Harry Potter books, but when J.K. Rowling announced that she was writing a book for her adult audience, my attention peaked!

The hype got even bigger when Rowling’s publisher, Little, Brown & Company, unveiled the cover art for the new book entitled “The Casual Vacancy”. It’s set to hit bookstores on September 27. You can actually pre-order online by going on the Barnes & Noble website.

According to Barnes & Noble website, the overview of the book is:

When Barry Fairweather dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

With the presidential election lurking around the corner, this book couldn’t come at a more opportune time. It’s been described as “blackly-comical, thought-provoking, and constantly surprising” by Barnes & Noble. I am very excited to read this book because the topic sounds interesting. I am very curious of her writing style. With all the big hype going around, it would not be surprising if “The Casual Vacancy” skyrockets to #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List before it even hits the shelves. It might even lure non-Harry Potter readers/aficionados (like myself) to read her signature hit series.

One thing’s for sure, we’ve seen, heard, or read the last of J.K. Rowling.

So the question remains: are you going to read her new book?

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Cover Reveals

 

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Book Review (Summer Reading #1): “Come Home”

Reading “Come Home” is like going on a roller-coaster.

You do not know exactly what to expect at every twist and turn, but you know it’s going to be exhilarating and fun. In “Come Home”, Scottoline takes her readers on a ride of a lifetime at dizzying speeds. She packs quite a punch and keeps you hooked until the very last page.

In the first chapter, we are introduced to Dr. Jill Farrow, a caring, nurturing suburban mother and pediatrician, who has finally gotten her and her young daughter Megan’s lives in order after a divorce. She’s engaged to a wonderful guy named Sam. Everything seems picture perfect until late one night Jill’s life turns upside down when her ex-stepdaughter, Abby, shows up on her doorstep and delivers shocking news that Jill’s ex-husband is dead. Abby insists that her father was murdered and pleads with Jill to help find his killer.

Jill reluctantly agrees to make a few inquiries and discovers that things don’t add up. As she digs deeper, her actions threaten to rip apart her new family, destroy their hard-earned happiness, and even endanger her own life. Yet Jill can’t turn her back on a child she loves and once called her own.

This book explores the definition of motherhood and examines the emotional repercussions in a family. Readers can find themselves asking several questions like when do you ever stop being a mother or a stepmother? Is there such a thing as an ex-child? Is there a limit to the love of a family?

Almost all the characters are well-developed and believable. Jill is at the center of this Venn Diagram of characters. She’s torn between helping her old family, which consists of Abby and her sister Victoria, and maintaining her soon-to-be new family with Megan and Sam. How can she possibly juggle those things as well as focus on her career as a pediatrician?

What I love most about Scottoline’s main female characters, including Jill, are that they’re so strong, relatable and determined to get to the bottom of a problem or crisis. They risk their lives just to protect the ones they love.

Scottoline is an expert of “writing what you know.” There’s a wonderful consistency in all of her books where the setting is in the Philadelphia area, which is where she was born, raised, and still lives. From Route 202 to Broad Street, she is passionate about her community and exudes that in all her stories. As a former lawyer, Scottoline does a great job in researching and writing the medical jargon and details.

I jumped on the Lisa Scottoline roller-coaster about two years ago when “Look Again” came out, and I’m glad I did. Each new book she’s published has been brilliantly written and received rave reviews. When her latest thriller “Come Home” came out several months ago, my attention peaked but I wondered how a New York Times best-selling author could continue top her other 17 novels!! I am happy to say that she did not let me down!

I think this is the best book Scottoline has written so far because it’s a compelling novel that’s filled with heart, thrills, chills, and full of life.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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