Sunday, November 30, 2014

THE SHARP HOOK OF LOVE by Sherry Jones: Book Spotlight & Excerpt

01_The Sharp Hook of Love


Sherry Jones
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Gallery Books
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Pages: 352

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

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The first retelling of the passionate, twelfth-century love story since the discovery of 113 lost love letters between Heloise d’Argenteuil and Pierre Abelard—the original Romeo and Juliet.

"While I sleep you never leave me, and after I wake I see you, as soon as I open my eyes, even before the light of day itself." —Abelard to Heloise

Among the young women of twelfth-century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God.

But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever. Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Notre-Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

Praise for The Sharp Hook of Love

"Heloise is the sort of heroine you cannot help rooting for: brilliant and naïve, vulnerable and tough. The Sharp Hook of Love will have you up all night holding your breath as you turn each page." (Rebecca Kanner author of Sinners and the Sea)

"Jones weaves history and passion in a tale full of emotional heft that questions what it means to truly love someone..." (Kirkus Reviews)

"A sensual journey into twelfth century Paris. With a sharp eye for historical detail, Jones weaves an unforgettable, compelling tale about enduring love." (Lynn Cullen nationally bestselling author of Mrs. Poe)

"Passion and treachery mingle in Sherry Jones's explosive novel The Sharp Hook of Love. Wrenching and erotic, this is a grand romance in every sense of the word." (Mary Sharratt author of Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen)

Buy the Book

About the Author

Sherry Jones is the author of five biographical fiction books: The Sharp Hook of Love, about the famed 12th-century lovers Abelard and Heloise; The Jewel of Medina and The Sword of Medina, international — and controversial — best sellers about the life of A’isha, who married the Muslim prophet Muhammad at age nine and went on to become the most famous and influential woman in Islam; Four Sisters, All Queens, a tale of four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany, and Italy, and White Heart, an e-novella about the famous French “White Queen” Blanche de Castille.

For more information please visit Sherry Jones's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Goodreads.


When I lifted my gaze so shyly to his face, did he behold the
girl dancing inside me? Could he hear the music playing so
sweetly? At night, alone in the study of my uncle’s house, reading
the Porphyry assigned to me and writing my arguments, I would
hear that tune begin quietly, as if played by a distant piper, then
increase until it had filled me to overflowing and drowned out all
thoughts but those of Abelard. How intently he gazed into my
eyes as I spoke, pouring out my very soul to him in our long
talks. Who had ever listened to anything that I said? Who had
ever responded with smiles and compliments? With him, I
became utterly myself as never before—and, to my astonishment,
when I looked into his eyes like mirrors reflecting myself back to
me, I admired the person I beheld there. Thinking of him,
bathed in that sweet music, I would take up a new tablet and
write verses to accompany that tune—words not of feigned love,
as in our letters, but of the elation that had seized me on the day
we met, and which aroused my spirit more with every moment I
spent in his presence.

For him, I’d told myself, our letters made up an elaborate
game of elocution, and no more. Every teacher played similarly
with his scholars, writing letters as an exercise, an amusement.
Love? What had a philosopher to do with love?

To one who is sweeter from day to day, is loved now as much as
possible and is always to be loved more than anything. Standing in
the cathedral, reading these words, I felt a fullness in my chest, as
though my heart expanded. Who had ever loved me?

—The Sharp Hook of Love, page 26

The Sharp Hook of Love Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 24

Tuesday, November 25

Wednesday, November 26
Review at Book Babe

Friday, November 28
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Sunday, November 29
Spotlight & Excerpt at The Lusty Literate

Monday, December 1
Interview at Mina's Bookshelf

Wednesday, December 3
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, December 4
Review at The Lit Bitch

Friday, December 5

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

IT'S THIS MONKEY'S BUSINESS by Debra Mares: Review and Author Guest Post

It’s This Monkey’s Business
by Debra Mares
Published by Justicia House
32 pages
Children’s Books

Purchase at AMAZON

"Cabana, a young spider monkey is brought to life to tell her story It's This Monkey's Business to help children who are affected by domestic violence and divorce. Cabana, who lives with her parents in a treehouse high up in a rainforest canopy, becomes startled one day from her Mama's scream, when she is waiting atop a tree branch for her Papa to teach her how to swing. After falling to the forest floor, Cabana frustrated from her parents' fighting, decides she will search for a new family to be part of. Her persistence is cut short when she braves the river to play with a pink dolphin, unaware she cannot swim. The tragedy brings her parents together to realize they can no longer live together. Cabana reconnects with her Papa, realizing he is the only one that can teach her how to swing.

It's This Monkey's Business is an approximately 756 word children's book targeting ages 4-8, which is set in a rainforest and featuring "Cabana," a young female Spider Monkey, her parents and rainforest animals. The book is approximately 30 pages long and features full spread color illustrations."

The hardest thing that I ever had to do as a parent was explaining to my children that their dad and I were getting a divorce. I don’t think that the grief and sorrow of seeing my marriage bond dissolve were nearly as deep and shattering as the pain of having to tell my kids that the world as they knew it was going to change forever.
The fear of breaking the news and single-handedly destroy the comfort of their family setting is gut-wrenching at best, paralyzing at worst, but  letting your children’s innocent eyes witness the drama of domestic disagreements and pending separation without explaining the circumstances can be even more confusing and traumatizing. There is no way to spare a little soul the emotional hit caused by the knowledge that mommy and daddy won't be living under the same roof any longer, but a considerate, age-appropriate, gentle choice of words can help minimize devastation and fear.
To a child of divorcing parents, the world can suddenly appear as an intimidating place. If the parents' disagreements are aggravated by a display of violence, abuse, and neglect, that world becomes even more frightening. Communication becomes essential to control the emotional damage.
Mares' storybook is a great way to prepare the ground for such a conversation and a perfect tool to convey, in a fictional, colorful, friendly setting, what a soon-to-be-single parent needs to say at a level of understanding that a child age 4 to 10 can easily grasp. I would highly recommend Mares' book to all those parents who are looking for guidance on how to prepare their children to these unfortunate circumstances and to those parents who would like to introduce their little ones to the complexity of family bonds, in docile and compassionate terms.
5 out of 5 stars
***Review copy graciously offered by the author in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion.
I am thrilled to have Debra Mares on Mina's Bookshelf to share her considerations, as a woman, a prosecutor and an advocate, about divorce and domestic violence. Welcome to my blog, Debra!

Growing Up With and Writing About A Jaguar: Domestic Violence

by Debra Máres

Over 3 million children witness violence in their home each year.  As many as 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in their home.  This topic is big in the news, from NFL players being accused of it, to events marking the end of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  And this topic is real for me.  

What most people don’t know is that I grew up with a jaguar: domestic violence.  It wasn’t easy.  Its effects are long-lasting.  Children witnessing domestic violence or are victims of sexual assault or physical assault constantly respond with stress, which affects their ability to focus, learn, trust and develop empathy.

Whether you were around it as a child, were an abuser or victim, the pain pushes forward.  Boys who witness family violence are more likely to batter their partners as adults and girls who witness abuse are more likely to become involved in abusive relationships.

I hope if you are reading this, you never experienced domestic violence as a child or adult.  However, chances are you know someone who has.  1 in every 3 women will be exposed to domestic violence during their lifetime.  Domestic violence happens behind walls and its usually not discussed outside the home. If you’ve ever been through it or know someone who has, I hope this post will help.



I still remember the day my dad left home and my parents separated.  I was so relieved, thinking I would finally live in peace.  He walked out the back door off the laundry room . . .

That’s when a new set of problems began.  To numb the pain, I began to escape.  Children of domestic violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.  The average age a girl has her first drink is 13.  For a boy, it's 11.

Then, my sister came home from her freshman year in college . . . pregnant.  Another effect of children of domestic violence is teen pregnancy.


Life sure does have a way of teaching you the lessons you need to learn.  I graduated from college, then law school.  I got married . . . then divorced.  I’ve been through a lot of relationships . . . and therapy.  It took a while, but I got through it.  Today, I have a healthy relationship with both of my parents, who I love and trust.  I mentor over 100 youth as a Community Prosecutor; many who have also been affected by domestic violence.  I am happy I can teach them tools to get past their pain.  I share my story with them and tell them things like, “it’s not your fault,” “you’re not responsible for what happened,” and I encourage them to focus on their education, learn about healthy relationships and build positive self-esteem.

People have asked me how I overcame the effects of growing up with domestic violence.  But all I can say is I’ve handled it like a jaguar: tamed it, managed it, and trained it as best I could.  I work daily to keep my mind, body and spirit balanced.  Meditation.  Exercise.  Discipline.  I practice and teach empathy.  I also focus on the happy times growing up.  Because there were a lot.  Summer trips to Tahoe.  Fishing.  The beach.

I also remind parents there are ways to lessen the negative effects to their children.  Keep a close relationship with your child and let them express their fears, talk about the chaos at home and don’t keep it a secret, help your child stay connected to extended family, help them build healthy self esteem & relationships, teach them empathy, help them develop an easy temperament, stress the importance of education, facilitate relationships with mentors, educate yourself and your child on the affects of abuse so you know their triggers, teach impulse control, incorporate healthy eating, exercise & meditation, and most importantly, make life fun and don’t forget to laugh! Life has already been stressful enough.  


Another thing most people don’t know is that I write poetry and legal thrillers about domestic violence.  And I’ve released my debut children's book, It's This Monkey's Business, targeting ages four to eight and bringing awareness to domestic violence.

If you would have asked me ten years ago if I would ever be able to talk publicly about growing up with domestic violence, I would have said, “no way.”  But poetry has helped me express the ineffable, especially childhood fears.

Behind the Wall

Little girl, behind the wall.
Curled up, in her ball.
Parents fighting, while she's alone.
Another scream, another moan.
Always worried no one could hear,
Her silent death, caused by fear.
Every time she feels him pull away,
It takes her back, to that abandoned day.
Curled up, in her ball.
Now a woman, behind a wall.

Writing It’s This Monkey’s Business was daunting; as a children’s book, I had to put myself back into my own shoes as a child.  With a lot of support, I was able to do it and it was even therapeutic.

Page 18 of It’s This Monkey’s Business reads:

“Did Papa push you?” Cabana asked.
Her mama got quiet really fast.

Then Mama said, “It’s not your monkey business.”
(Forgetting that violence at home is scary to witness)

If you are struggling with the effects of domestic violence or know someone who is, know this:

You will get through it.

You’ll come away from it a stronger person.

You WILL find serenity and love in some form.

You WILL learn to trust.

Take each day at a time & balance. Mind. Body. Spirit.

Go easy on yourself and from time to time, visit the sea to breathe.

About the Author

For Independent Author Debra Mares, violence against women is not only a topic in today's news, it's a topic in her crime novels, cases she handled as a county prosecutor, and now it will be the topic in her first children's book It's This Monkey's Business.  Debra is a veteran county prosecutor in Riverside currently specializing in community prosecution, juvenile delinquency and truancy.  Her office has one of the highest conviction rates in California and is the fifteenth largest in the country. You name it - she's prosecuted it - homicides, gang murders, domestic violence, sex cases, political corruption, major fraud and parole hearings for convicted murderers. She is a two-time recipient of the County Prosecutor of the Year Award and 2012 recipient of the Community Hero Award.

Debra is the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant farm worker and factory seamstress, was born and raised in Los Angeles, was the first to graduate college in my family, and grew up dancing Ballet Folklorico and Salsa. Her own family story includes struggles with immigration, domestic violence, mental health, substance abuse and teen pregnancy, which she addresses in her novels. She followed a calling at 11 years old to be an attorney and voice for women, and appreciates international travel and culture. Her life's mission is to break the cycle of victimization and domestic violence. 

Debra is also the co-founding Executive Director of Women Wonder Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization implementing creative intervention and mentoring programs for at-risk youth.  In 2012, Debra self-published Volume 1 of her debut legal thriller series, The Mamacita Murders featuring Gaby Ruiz, a sex crimes prosecutor haunted by her mother's death at the hands of an abusive boyfriend. In 2013, Debra released her second crime novel, The Suburban Seduccion, featuring "The White Picket Fence" killer Lloyd Gil, who unleashes his neonatal domestic violence-related trauma on young women around his neighborhood. 

To bring to life "Cabana," Debra partnered with 16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia and Los Angeles based professional illustrator Taylor Christensen

16-year-old Creative Director Olivia Garcia attends high school in Panorama City, California, is the Los Angeles youth delegate for the Anti-Defamation League's National Youth Leadership Mission in Washington D.C., an ASB member and AP student and enjoys reading, crafting and knitting.

Taylor Christensen is a Los Angeles-based illustrator holding a BFA from Otis College of Art & Design, focuses on fantastical creatures and surreal imagery, and produces artwork for illustration, character and concept design.
Her latest book is the children’s picture book, It’s This Monkey’s Business.



Friday, November 21, 2014

And the winners are...

Time to announce two giveaway winners!
1 copy of VOICES ECHO by Linda Lee Graham goes to Deanna Stevens
1 copy of  THE RIPPER'S WIFE by Brandy Purdy goes to Angela Holland
Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to the kind followers who entered the contests! Deanna and Angela have been notified via email and can claim their prize replying to my message.
I have one giveaway open: 1 copy of GLOBAL PREDATOR by Jack MacLean is still up for grabs. The contest is open for a few more days, so don't miss the chance to win an electrifying political thriller. Click HERE to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

DREAM IN COLOR, THINK IN BLACK & WHITE by Jonathan T.K. Bissell: A Review



How to Get Unstuck and Fulfill Your Dreams

by Jonathan Bissell
High Performance Impact, LLC
108 pages; Paperback/Kindle
Self-Help/Personal Growth

Purchase at AMAZON


4 out of 5 stars

An inspired heart is capable of anything. The truth is, though, that you cannot build a dream on good intentions alone. A goal that is not planned is simply a wish and a dream that is not chased will remain a fantasy: the longer you let that dream go, the longer it will take to come back. And how easily we let go of dreams! Reality, with its 'black & white', rational thinking, limits our ability to unleash our imagination and potential for creativity: external expectations, limited financial resources, a busy family schedule can wipe all the colors off the canvas of our existence. 
In his latest motivational book, DREAM IN COLOR, THINK IN BLACK & WHITE,  coach and author Jonathan Bissell claims that, despite a belief to the contrary, the unbound, colorful dreaming process of our childhood days increases our ability to think rationally and strategically. Imagination, matched with determination, wise counsel, practical and actionable solutions, leads to the fulfillment of our dreams. In his approachable and readable guide, Bissell walks the readers through a clear roadmap to personal growth:  dream visualization, emotional risk-taking, fear exposure, synchronized scheduling, choice patterns (outcome/operational/ownership) are some of the strategies Bissell recommends in order to maintain focus and prevent self-sabotaging thinking.
Our chances to succeed in the pursuit of a dream are strongly linked to our pattern of choices, and for that purpose the author ties up each chapter with practical "how to" advices, examples and assignments that will prepare the reader to step up to the next stage of his quest. One simple step at a time..."getting started is more important than getting it perfect."

***Review copy graciously offered by the author in exchange for an unbiased and honest opinion.

About the book

Somewhere along the way, you had a dream that you let go of. But it hasn’t let go of you.  You're the reason this book was written.  Because dreams matter. Dreams are powerful. And sometimes dreams just won’t go away – no matter how impractical, ill-timed or financially risky they are.

This is a book about getting unstuck in your life or career. It’s about learning to dream in COLOR and think in BLACK & WHITE. There are three parts to this book: Dreaming in Color, Thinking in Black & White, and Fulfilling Your Dreams. Each part contains practical “how to” steps and examples explaining how to get unstuck and move toward your dream. The rest is up to you.


About the author

Jonathan Bissell is a coach, author, speaker and teacher, as well as the CEO of High Performance Impact, LLC, an executive coaching firm helping proven and emerging leaders to identify and consistently leverage patterns of high performance. He helps dreamers do and leaders excel.
Born in Liberia, Africa and raised in Upstate New York, Jonathan has lived and worked in Japan, New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Le Moyne College. Jonathan enjoys reading, long coffee breaks with his wife, co-creating children's stories with his daughters, writing poetry, and supporting couples in ministry. 
If you'd like to stay current with what Jonathan is writing and doing, or get advance notice on new books or events, sign up for his mailing list at Jonathan can also be contacted for coaching, training, teaching or speaking engagements.
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