Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Author Spotlight: NY Times Bestselling Author Bill Forstchen

I'm so excited to be reading Day of Wrath by NY Times Bestselling author, Bill Forstchen.  I first became aware of his books when I was asked to write a press release for Pillar in the Sky ... and I've been hooked ever since. Forstchen's credentials are amazing.  He holds a Ph.D. in history from Purdue University with a specialization in military history. He is the author of over forty (yes, FORTY) books, of which several have been NY Times best sellers. His groundbreaking novel “One Second After,” published in 2009 is credited by many with helping to start the “prepper movement,” by raising national awareness as to the potential threat of an attack via an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) strike. He along with other experts on terrorism and the military situation in the Middle East firmly believes that it is time America took serious note of the threats leveled by ISIS, that we are their next target and that it is not a question of if, it is now simply a question of when.

So, have you figured out my eclectic taste in books yet?  I'm a mystery-loving, wine & foodie who loves children's books and YA fiction ... especially books about the middle east because I used to live there.  I'm in the process of reading Day of Wrath it right now and will definitely touch base when I am finished.  Until then, read on to learn about Forstchen's inspiration behind the book. 
1. What is the book “Day of Wrath,” about?
Day of Wrath presents, in fictional form, a “scenario” for a potential attack by ISIS (or what some now call ISIL “Islamic State in the Levant”) within the territory of the continental United States that could take place as early as next month.

2. Why a book of fiction about what is a real world threat at this very moment?
Even before 9/11 there was speculation as to how the terrorist organization of Osama bin Laden might strike against America. Within the military and intelligence community “war gaming,” out various scenarios is standard practice: to present “what if,” questions and then present possible outcomes and responses. Unfortunately the idea of taking several fully laden commercial aircraft and crashing them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the Capitol, actually was discussed in numerous planning groups but never taken seriously. A similar scenario was presented in a naval “war game” of the 1930s of a carrier based strike against Pearl Harbor. . . and dismissed. The author’s intent is to present a highly realistic scenario NOW, with the hope that it will stir national debate and the seeking of pro-active responses prior to an attack.

3. The author presents a scenario of a number of teams of terrorists attacking American public schools. Why would ISIS do this and is this concept a truly realistic threat?
The author draws on his work as an historian with an emphasis on military history. Since Columbine, nearly twenty years ago, our society and educational system has focused on school security, but with an emphasis on preparation and reaction to what has become a standard “methodology and profile” of those who attack our schools. In almost all cases it has been a lone shooter. Though outfitted usually in paramilitary equipment they are, in a very blunt sense, not trained to inflict maximum damage, harsh as that might sound in light of the horrific tragedy at Newtown. And in the vast majority of cases, when police arrive on the scene, the shooter usually kills themselves, ending the nightmare.

In 2004 a team of well trained Islamic terrorists seized a school in the province of Chechnya, Russia. It turned into a three day siege, at the end of which the Russian government admitted to over three hundred and thirty deaths, though other reporting sources indicate the count was much higher. The author drew on this as what could be a frightful inspiration for ISIS. Teams of three to five terrorists, hitting half a dozen schools simultaneously, (recall the terrorists of 9/11 seized four aircraft within minutes of each other), striking our schools, they could, in a matter of minutes, slaughter hundreds of children. No school in America, except the one attended by the children of our President, has the capacity to withstand this type of assault.

Within minutes panic would seize every parent in America as reports escalated as to the number of schools under attack and the reaction of all would be the same. . .to race to their child’s school and get them out immediately before it is attacked as well. Therefore, within minutes after the start of such an attack, roads across America would be flooded and thus the second wave of the enemy strike. . .random hits along interstate highways by support teams of two to three terrorists per vehicle. The author draws on this concept from the actual methods used by ISIS in their drive into northern Iraq in June.

4. How realistic is it to speculate that ISIS will even attack the United States and secondly, how would such suicide attackers even gain entry into our country?
ISIS has made clear its threats. . .amongst their various stated goals: establishing a caliphate which they already claim to have done, destroy Israel and even the seizing of Mecca. A goal they boast of nearly every day is to launch an attack inside the United States. The author links this to the far too obvious news that security along our southern border is in a shambles. As border security personnel focus on the humanitarian crisis now existing there, it is clearly evident that vast stretches of our border are not secured. ISIS seized over one half billion dollars of hard assets, meaning primarily gold, in its sweep across northern Iraq. Bin Laden boasted he accomplished his goal with less than half a million dollars. What could have a billion buy in terms of smuggling of personnel and very low tech equipment, meaning rifles and ammunition only, into the United States? Also, just days prior to the release of this book, members of Congress have stated openly that at least a hundred members of ISIS have already been infiltrated into our country and are preparing an attack. . .the only question left is “when, where and how?”
5. Why would schools be the target?
Anyone who has the ability to stomach the hour long “documentaries” actually recorded by ISIS, already knows the answers. They have displayed a ruthless cruelty unmatched in modern history. And they understand “their enemy,” as well. Consider a scenario where five or six of our elementary and middle schools became slaughter houses for such murderers. (They would choose these schools because high schools and colleges have too many adult and near adult males who might fight back). Simply run a search on “ISIS, executions, children,” for the evidence of what they are capable of. It would be a psychological blow, a psyche blow to every American that it becomes difficult to imagine how our society would function in the weeks and months after. Would any parent want to send their child back to school a day, a week, a month after such an attack? Every school henceforth would be an armed camp. How might laws be changed to try and insure some semblance of security, or might it be a means to fundamentally change some laws in our country? The blow would be far more devastating that Pearl Harbor, which solely hit a military target, or 9/11 which hit commercial and military targets. ISIS has the ruthlessness to contemplate murdering hundreds of children to gain the goals they seek, to humble, humiliate, and to terrorize.
6. Your book shows an enemy that is extremely savvy with “social media.” Why?
Our methods of communication and social interaction have undergone a lightning speed change in the thirteen years since 9/11. Everyone carries a camera with them, everyone has instant access to a global audience. So does ISIS. For the first time in the history of warfare a foe has the ability to broadcast to the entire world their actions, be they noble or terroristic within seconds. Imagine a 9/11 where the thousands trapped in the World Trade Center and aboard United #93 were able to broadcast to the world what they were seeing, enduring, even to their own deaths. Imagine an enemy who could do the same. The cell phone has become as an effective a weapon as an AK-47.

7. Why did the author write this book?
As a warning to act now, to prepare, because this is a very real threat and not simply a work of fiction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grade A Stupid Book Blitz

I am so excited to host the Book Blitz for Grade A Stupid by A.J. Lape. The Blitz will run on 16th and 17th March. This book is highly rated and currently free in US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia. It is only Rs. 60 in India.
Check out the entire
Grade A Stupid by A.J. Lape
Series: The Darcy Walker Series Book 1
No. of Pages: 375
Publication Date: November 2012
Genre: Young Adult Mystery, Thriller, Humor
DARCYVILLE: Where stupidity is celebrated with a deadly dose of sin. 
Fifteen years ago, Darcy Walker's parents thought it was a good idea to give her a unique name: Darcy, meaning "dark walker." Whether that was a stroke of genius or stroke of stupid, they definitely nailed the irony. She lacks direction, her grades stink despite a high IQ, she's boringly average--although flirting admirers claim otherwise--and God help her, she's infatuated with a bad-boy. 
A bad-boy that her hottie best friend, Dylan, wishes would get acquainted with his fist. 
And, oh yeah, there's that tattoo that was a royally stupid idea. 
With her life spiraling out of control, everything changes when she skips class and finds a dead fact, it gets worse. It jump starts Darcy's inner-verb, and her brain hardwired for action gets caught up in a situation she can’t let go. 
Set in the fictional Cincinnati town of Valley, Ohio, Darcy falls into a world of threats, violence, and gangland exploits chasing down every clue to finger the murderer. When a fellow misfit is arrested for the crime, Darcy goes from zero-to-sixty trying to clear his name--constructing aliases, breaking the law, everything that makes perfect sense to her but reeks of Grade A Stupid to everyone else. 
Trouble is...will she live to see sixteen?

 Add to Goodreads: Grade A Stupid by AJ Lape

“THERE WAS ALWAYS a boy in your life that common sense and the prayers of parents told you to stay away from: fast talker, fast car, and fast hands. He was the boy your father kept a loaded shotgun by the door for and met on the front porch if he ever thought about venturing onto his property…let alone the threshold. He was the tall, dark, mysteriously handsome, and uncharacteristically quiet one that made you wonder what was going on in his head, and that little voice in your head said it wasn’t always so honorable. He was the boy you broke all of the rules over because bad-boys equaled excitement and the rebel in you liked the ride.”

~Buying Links~  {FREE in US, UK, Canada, Germany, and Australia} {Rs. 60}
iTunes {FREE}
Kobo {FREE}
Smashwords {FREE}

~About the Author~

A. J. Lape is the author of the Darcy Walker Series which has stayed on Amazon's teen's mysteries and thrillers bestseller's lists since its debut in 2012. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, an ADD dog, a spoiled hamster, and an unapologetic and unrepentant addiction to Coca-Cola--plus a lifelong love affair with bacon she has no plans to sever. A graduate of Morehead State University with a Master's degree in Communications, she's a PI wannabe and recently joined the Citizen's Police Academy in her hometown but daily stops crime through the fictional ADHD character of Darcy Walker. If the FBI ever checks her computer, she'll be wearing prison-orange due to the graphic and disgusting "wiki" articles she looks up...all in the name of career research, of course.

Sign up for A. J.'s newsletter:

~The Darcy Walker Series~

Book 1: Grade A Stupid by A.J Lape {FREE}| {Rs. 60} | Barnes & Noble {FREE} | iTunes {FREE} | Kobo {FREE} | Smashwords {FREE}

  Book 2: No Brainer by A.J Lape | | Goodreads

  Book 3: 100 Proof Stud by A.J Lape | Goodreads

Book 4: DEFCON Darcy by A.J Lape--> New Release | | Goodreads


Giveaway is an ebook set of Grade A Stupid, No Brainer, 100 Proof Stud, and Defcon Darcy

Open WW
Ends 6th April

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~Organized By~
Njkinny Tours & Promotions

Friday, March 13, 2015

Great Cake Decorating Takes the Cake

I loved Great Cake Decorating by Erin Gardner and would use it as a coffee table type of book for my kitchen. 

When I was in college, I worked in a scratch bakery, decorating cakes for all occasions.  I remember first learning how-to make roses.  My boss put me in the middle of the bakery department on Mother's Day with a decorating station and about 100 heart cakes.  I made "made-to-order" cakes embellished with roses and a written sentiment on each cake while the customer watched and waited.  I'm such a perfectionist and if the rose wasn't perfect, then it went back into the frosting tub and I started over!  I had the best and most patient customers that day! 

What I appreciated about this book is that Erin does a great job explaining the importance of having a solid cake or foundation to work on.  She further explains how-to make frosting and other decorative elements in a clear, concise manner.  I am new to fondant and she has given me the courage to try it!  I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to delve into cake decorating.

Great Cake Decorating
by Erin Gardner
Taunton Press
ISBN:  978-1621137603
224 pages

 Rated 5/5 flip flops!  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

I absolutely love reading a book before seeing on the big screen and I'm so happy I was able to pick up a copy of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger before it's movie premiere in the UK and US in April. 

We've all felt like the DUFF - Designated Ugly Fat Friend - at one time or another.  The story follows Bianca and her friends.  They oftentimes hung out at the Nest, an under-aged dance club.  While Bianca's friends hoop-it-up on the dance floor, she typically counts the minutes until it is time to drive them home while sipping on her cherry Coke and talking to the bartender. 

She's way too smart to fall for the man-whore, Wesley Rush.  She tried to convince herself that he's simply disgusting, especially since he's starting calling her "Duffy."  Home life is tough and Bianca finds herself turning to Wesley for comfort. 

I loved the fast-paced, snarky dialogue between Bianca and Wesley Rush.  The author takes us on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as Bianca juggles an enemies-with-benefits relationship with Wesley, her father's bout with alcohol after being sober for 18 years, her absent mother, and their impending divorce.  Amazingly, Bianca keeps this all under wraps and doesn't even tell her best friends ... at first.  This book has it all:  great characters, humor, romance and readers are right in the middle of it all! 

I can't wait to see the movie and based on the book, my expectations are high for hilarity. 

Recommended for mature teens due to sexual content.

The DUFF:  Designated Ugly Fat Friend
by Kody Keplinger
Publisher:  Poppy
ISBN:  978-0316084246
304 pages
Category:  YA fiction

 Rated 5/5 flip flops!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Olive Tree: A Lesson in Acceptance

It’s not often that I see positive stories about the Middle East and was thrilled to see this little gem of a book, The Olive Tree.  I lived in the Middle East for 5 years and one of things that intrigued me was that for any problem, there was always a beautiful story with a life’s lesson to be told.  This book is a prime example of how things taking place in today’s world can be simplified into something that a child can grasp and make their own. 

The story is about a boy, Sameer, who is from Lebanon.  His neighbors left when the war began and when the news spread that they were returning home, he wished and wished that they would have a son to play with.  As it turns out, they have a daughter, Muna.  Sameer and Muna just don’t see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to the prized olive tree that resides on Muna’s property.  Even though the olive tree drops its delicious fruit on Sameer’s side of the wall that separates their homes, Muna insists that the fruit belongs to her family.  It takes a horrific storm to bring the two children together.  Through their journey, they learn tolerance and compassion, which ultimately results in a beautiful friendship. 

Cool Flip-Flopping Tip:  Parents can download a coloring page from this book. 

This is a book that I recommend reading with your children.  It creates goodwill and tolerance, showing us all how to be caring and supportive of others by example.   

Available at major bookstores and online retailers.

The Olive Tree
Written by Elsa Marston and Illustrated by Claire Ewart
Publisher:  Wisdom Tales Press
ISBN: 978-1937786298
List price: $16.95 USD
Pages: 32
Category:  Juvenile Picturebook/ Multi-Cultural

Ages 4-8 years

 Rated 5/5 flip flops!
Sample of the beautiful illustrations in The Olive Tree

Friday, March 6, 2015

Clearing Clutter: Tackling Physical, Mental and Spiritual Clutter

Alexandra Chauran’s bio says that she is a second-generation fortuneteller and a professional psychic intuitive … and I believe it.  From the first pages of her book, Clearing Clutter:  Physical, Mental and Spiritual, I felt as if she was telling the story of my childhood.  Growing up, my home also was very much “lived in” and was adorned with things … lots of things!  Things that included trinkets from our travels, handmade items, collections (owls, figurines, stamps) or items that simply could not be parted with because of emotional attachment.  In short, we had clutter and it was something that I never unlearned as an adult. 

Clearing Clutter essentially shows us what it is to have Feng shui for your mind, space and spirit.  Clauran goes on to identify and give clear examples of the various types of clutter and the havoc they can have on our lives.  Throughout the book Chauran provides tips to clear the clutter in your life, including meditation.  What I most appreciated is that she provides real examples and stresses that change is not an overnight process.  It takes time and even if our lives have clutter, we can find a way to be balanced while we work to rid the clutter from our lives. 

This is a book that I will read again and I highly recommend it to those looking to rid themselves of the stresses that having clutter in our lives can cause. 

Available for pre-order at all major bookstores and online retailers.

Release Date:  July 8,2015
Clearing Clutter: Physical, Mental, Spiritual

By Alexandra Chauran
Publisher:  Llewellyn Publications
ISBN: 978-0738742274
List price: $15.99 USD
Pages: 240
Category:  Body, Mind & Spirit, Inspiration, & Personal Growth

 Rated 5/5 flip flops!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Paris Hop! is C'est Magnifique

C'est magnifique!!  There are so many things I loved about Paris Hop! by Margie Blumberg.  Aimee and her Grandma Goldie spend a "girl's day" in Paris.  Their ultimate goal is to make it to the "tippety-top" of the Eiffel Tower.  I loved following along with them on their journey ... visiting the Mona Lisa, enjoying a puppet show in the park, and posing for a local artist.  Unique to this book is the French-English glossary which references 22 different words/phrases.  One of my favorite moments is when they stop by a dress shop to play dress up and "zip and twirl with flair!"  At the end of the day, not only is the story heartwarming, celebrating relationships with grandparents, but we all actually learn something.  Lastly, but certainly not least, the illustrations are beautifully done by Renee Andriani. 

Available as an ebook and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and BAM

Paris Hop!
Written by Margie Blumberg and Illustrated by Renee Andriani
Publisher:  MB Publishing
ISBN: 978-09913646-9-5 (paperback)
List price: $11.95 USD (paperback);
Pages: 40
Category:  Juvenile Fiction/Family/Multigenerational

 Rated 5/5 flip flops!