Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Path by Tawdra Kandle

Title: The Path
Author: Tawdra Kandle
Publisher: Tawdra Kandle
Pages: 232
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Abby Donavan came to the small beach community of Crystal Cove to start over. After a painful affair broke her heart and derailed her burgeoning career, taking over management for the just-opened bed-and-breakfast was the safe choice. In this sleepy town, Abby figured she could bury her memories and forget the pain. 

When the chance to have her own hotel falls into her lap, though, she can’t resist the temptation. Making the old Riverside Inn into the showplace she’s always dreamed of running offers the second chance she never expected. 

Abby didn’t expect another kind of second chance to land on her doorstep at the same time. Ryland
Kent wants to help her bring the Riverside back to life, and his passion for restoration is irresistible. But as much as she wants to ignore it, she can’t help seeing another spark in his eyes . . . one that offers to reignite her own flame. 

Sometimes the path to a happily-ever-after is anything but smooth.

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Book Excerpt:

She was gorgeous.
And I was in love.
I could always tell right away. Love at first sight was something I believed in, just like I believed in the magic of Christmas, the existence of angels and the hope of a World Series win for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Well, two out of three ain’t bad.
It usually happened for me within the first few minutes. I didn’t have to hear a word; I could just take her in, watch her and feel the hum of possibilities. I loved that giddy sense of hope that filled me during the early days, when everything was potential and dreams, before reality came crashing in and we had to deal with problems and snafus. Before my eyes were forced to see that beneath the beauty lay brokenness and decay.
But for now, all I could see was the future, like a vision spread out before me. She was both the vision and the future. Yeah, there was no doubt in my mind.
The Riverside Inn was a dream come true.
“So you gonna stand there and drool all day, or you gonna get to work?” Lincoln punched me in the shoulder, grinning.
“Yeah, I might. Drool, I mean.” I slid my gaze to his. “She’s pretty damn drool-worthy.”
“Oh, hell, Ry. No way. This one?” Linc glanced at the sprawling building, disbelief in his eyes. “Aw, dammit. You got the look. I see it on your face. You got the look, and that means you’re attached already.”
I laughed. “Pretty sad that you know me that well. Yeah, she’s a go. I signed the papers day before yesterday.”
“Shit, man.” Linc shook his head. “This one is . . . it’s bad, buddy. I saw the reports. Most of the main building’s structurally unsound. Tearing her down to the stud’s a given, but we may have to go father than that.”
“I know.” I’d read the same reports. The old hotel had been empty for years, sitting on this huge chunk of land on the outskirts of Crystal Cove, Florida. One owner and then another had made plans, only to abandon them. That was okay, because I knew she’d been waiting for me all along.
“You know, yet you sign the contract. You commit to this building. To this project. And you don’t only commit yourself, you commit me and the rest of the company, too. Did you think to ask me what I thought before you put your John Hancock down on those papers? Why’d you bother asking me to come up here if you’d already made up your mind?”
I shrugged. “Linc, I gave you a chance at partnership three years ago, and then again early this year. You turned me down both times. I value your opinion, and I try to listen, but if you want a real say in the projects we choose, then you’ve got to be a partner. Because right now, I’m where the buck stops. So you have to trust that if I said yes, I know how we can make it work. And I wanted you to see her because I know this project will start percolating in the back of your mind now. You’ll call me at midnight in a few days with ideas.” I elbowed my friend in the ribs. “Besides, have we ever failed yet?”
“Came damn close in San Francisco.” Linc muttered the words darkly, and I tried not to wince.
“Yeah, but it all worked out in the end.” The old house we’d agreed to turn into a bar and restaurant for a couple in California had seemed like an easy job when I took it. We’d been a solid two weeks into the rehab when one of the guys discovered extensive structural damage, probably from one of the earthquakes. It was too late to turn around, too late to back out, and I was damned glad I had enough capital saved to cover the extra manpower and work hours, not to mention the supplies. We’d eeked it out, barely breaking even . . . but we did it. And now that trendy little bar was getting rave reviews from all the fancy-schmancy food critics on the West Coast.
“Barely.” Linc shook his head. “Well, nothing we can do about this now. You committed us, so we’re all in, for better or for worse. I’m heading back down to Vero, finish up the details and the punch out on the salon. Then if it’s cool with you, I thought I might swing over to Mont Devlin for a little while.”
I kept my face expressionless as I nodded. “Sure. Of course it is. Gonna check in, see the kids a little?”
“Yeah, thought I might.” His mouth pinched together, and I could see his jaw tighten under the thin layer of his beard. “For whatever time they’ll give me, anyway.”
There wasn’t anything I could say to him. Nothing could change the past or make this situation any less painful. So I didn’t insult him with stupid meaningless words. Instead, I gave him a light punch to the shoulder. Linc understood; his lips twisted into what passed for a grim smile, and he shrugged.
“You take what you need, you know that.” I leveled my gaze at him, making sure he understood me. “When you’re ready, come on back here. I’ll put you to work.”
“Sounds like a plan.” He took one step away, toward where I assumed his truck was waiting, before pausing to glance at me over his shoulder. “You got a place to crash here yet, or you still got to find something?”
“I have a place in town. The owners have a friend— Cooper Davis, he’s actually a carpenter, a woodworker. He’s going to do the decorative wood and the built-ins here on the Riverside. Anyway, I guess he just moved in with his girlfriend, and he’s got an apartment he doesn’t need at the moment. It’s furnished, close to the site and best of all, free. Cooper says he’s just happy to have me there to keep my eye on his shop at night.”
 “Sweet.” Linc had regained a little of his calm. “I’ll get in touch when I’m back. Where’re you setting up the guys?” “Motel the next town over. It’s got restaurants, stores, bars . . . all the stuff they need to be happy while they’re here.” I considered briefly and shook my head. “And probably enough for them to get into trouble, unfortunately. But we’ll deal with that when it comes.”
“Sure. Although I’ve got a feeling this one’s going to keep them so busy, they may be too tired to cause problems after work.”
I grinned. “You could be right.”
Linc laughed and started walking again. “I’ll be in touch. Don’t have too much fun before I get here.”
“Fun doesn’t start ‘til you do, buddy.” I yelled at his departing back, trying to ignore the slump in his shoulders. I’d known Lincoln for over ten years. We’d met on one of my earliest jobs, when I’d just started out. I’d been an unhappy combination of cocky and homesick, carrying a giant chip on my shoulder to hide my terror that I might fail. He was a few years older than me, already married with a kid, and he’d taken me under his wing. When I’d launched my own company finally, offering Linc a partnership had been a given. But his life had changed radically by then, and he wasn’t ready for the added responsibility. Or so he claimed.
Still, we all knew Linc was as much a part of this company’s leadership as I was. He might not’ve had the title, but he put in the time and did the work. I just wished that it gave him some peace of mind, something that had been missing from my friend for far too long.
The sun was sinking lower in the sky, and I rubbed my jaw, thinking. I was tempted to go in and check out a few sections of the old hotel that I hadn’t gotten a chance to really explore during my short walk-through with Logan Holt a few days back. We had a rule at this stage in the game: nobody, no matter how experienced or careful, was supposed to be in the building alone. In these rehab projects, we couldn’t always predict when a supporting wall might decide to give way, or when a cracked foundation might shift. The guidelines I’d laid down myself stated that one person needed to be outside while at least two went in together. Breaking that rule was grounds for instant firing.
But hell, I was the boss. I knew my way around these old beauties, and I had an uncanny sense of where I might not be safe. Stepping inside a little ways wasn’t going to hurt anyway. I checked my cell and made sure I had both battery life and signal before ducking beneath the yellow caution tape.
The Riverside had been built over a hundred years ago, before Crystal Cove had even really existed. She’d been de- signed to cater to the river traffic; although the Cove was known for its beaches, they weren’t as popular a century before as they were now. Instead, the hotel had welcomed guests who were meandering down the waterways from Jacksonville to the interior of the state, which had still been largely wilderness in some places.
I imagined what she must’ve been like then; pretty and graceful, her two main wings sprawling over a large expanse of green lawn that went to the edge of the river. Wide verandas beckoned weary travelers, and the huge kitchens produced some of the best food south of Savannah. I could picture it, and I wanted it for her again. I knew I could make it happen.
Stepping carefully along the shadowed corridor, I paused, squatting to examine some partially-rotted molding. I pulled a small folding knife out of my pocket and carefully pried off a piece. I rubbed my thumb over the front and smiled. Oh, yeah. I could work with this. Wasn’t easy to find this kind of decorative trim anymore, but I’d taken a peek into Cooper Davis’s shop, and I was pretty damn sure he could replicate it. Might take some sweet talking, but he seemed like a good guy, and he was undoubtedly passionate about his work. Well, so was I, about mine. I’d make this happen.
Standing again, I moved into a large open space which I decided must’ve been either a dining room or some kind of reception hall. The windows here went nearly to the floor. It would’ve been something to see in its time, I mused, even though now not one pane of glass remained. There wasn’t even a decent frame left. That was okay. We’d bring them back.
A cool breeze blew through the room, and despite the stifling heat in the hotel, I felt goose flesh raise on my arms. I glanced out the gaping holes that had once been French doors leading to the side porch. For a moment, just a split second, I could’ve sworn I’d seen a movement, something more than just the swaying of the trees. But although I stood frozen for a while, I didn’t see anything again.
“Ghosties.” I muttered the word to myself, shaking my head. All of us who worked this job, who spent hours and days and weeks and months inside ancient buildings that wanted to come back to life, were familiar with the feeling that we weren’t always alone. It didn’t surprise me anymore; after all this time, I was now convinced that certain expe- riences, both traumatic and ecstatic, left an imprint on the walls of the building where they happened. I’d never seen a ghost or even suspected one might be haunting a house I was working on, but it didn’t mean I didn’t believe. It didn’t mean I thought they didn’t exist.
And right now, in this place, I had the distinct sense of being . . . observed. As though someone were keeping an eye on me, not yet sure whether I was here for harm or for help. I stuck my hands in the front pockets of my jeans and spoke out loud, not shouting but not whispering, either.

Beautifully Shattered by Courtney Kristel

Title: Beautifully Shattered
Author: Courtney Kristel
Publisher: Amazon
Pages: 412
Genre: Romantic Suspense

What would you do if your world fell apart right before your eyes? If everything you held dear was stolen before you had a chance to say goodbye, would you give up or keep fighting? Adalynn Maxwell didn't decide to give up. She was robbed of her choice.

After years of therapy, Adalynn finally wants to move on and her brother's sexy best friend Jax lures her further out of her shell. But she doesn’t understand his game and he changes the rules at every turn, making her fall into the waiting arms of the mysterious Doctor Kohen Daniels, whom she can’t seem to avoid. She’s terrified of trusting him, but something about him makes her want to bare her soul.

Adalynn is desperate for that all-consuming love she reads about, but doesn't believe she deserves it. Her desperation to prove to Jax that she isn’t a little girl anymore may ruin her forever. One wrong decision can change her entire future. She has one last choice to make, but will it be ripped away from her like everything else? Will she pay the ultimate price?

For More Information

  • Beautifully Shattered is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:

I want to pretend to be the confident person I used to be, but I’m not her, I can’t pretend. Not even wearing a mask can transform me into a different person. When the song ends, I thank the stranger for the dance when I feel him behind me. My whole body breaks into chills. I know if I turn around, I will come face-to-face with Jax. I’m not ready, but my body doesn’t want to listen to me anymore. I slowly turn around toward the one person that I want more than anything.
I’m taken aback when it’s not Jax. This is a new stranger. The man staring intensely down at me wears a blood red mask that covers his entire face, except for his lustful lips. He looks like the devil; the mask even has horns at the top. I blink a few times, expecting this devil mask to disappear and a simple black Casanova mask to take its place. 
Automatically, I take his offered hand. 
Mr. Secretive pulls me close so there isn’t any space between our bodies. I can feel his hard muscles underneath his tux. My breathing has become embarrassingly noticeable, and I’m pretty positive that my skin is on fire when his hands start to roam my bare arms. I look up at his face, trying to see his eyes, but with the lack of light on the dance floor, it’s impossible to tell the color. 
I’m so confused, everything in me tells me this is Jax. He’s the only one who can ignite my skin, that makes my whole body burn. But my mind can’t process why he’s in a different mask. 
Because this isn’t him. This is Mr. Secretive. 
He still hasn’t said anything and I don’t want to break the spell he has me under. He continues to grind his groin into my pelvis with the beat of the music, making it painfully obvious how aroused he is. By the pool of moisture gathering in my panties, it’s safe to say I’m in the same boat as him. The song is almost over when I get a quick whiff of his cologne. 
And I know without a doubt who’s behind the mask. 
I shouldn’t have doubted myself. I knew it was Jax before I turned around. I know him. My body knows him. I can feel him even from across the room. It’s as if my body, my soul, wants to haunt me forever. To torture me some more by reminding me what I can never have. 
Reaching up, I thread my hands through his velvety soft hair. I pull his head down to me and press my lips to his. Jax releases his hold on my hips to cup my face as he deepens the kiss. I meet his tongue eagerly, loving the taste of him. I nibble on his lip and he growls into my mouth, turning me on even more. He’s the one to pull back first. I smile when I see he’s as breathless as I am. We’ve both just run an imaginary marathon. 
The smoldering look he gives me makes me shiver. I’ve never wanted anyone as desperately as I want him right here, right now. Without thinking long enough to talk myself out of it, I grip his hand and lead him off the dance floor. If there wasn’t people everywhere I would be sprinting with him to the nearest closed door. I weave us through the crowd and out to the hallway. I pull him along while I find somewhere for us to be alone. 
The first door we come to is locked. Same thing for the second one. We both sigh in relief when the third door opens. As I tug him in after me, my heel catches on the rug and I start to fall, but his grip on my hand saves me. He holds me to him as if he’s afraid to let me go. Spinning me around, he roughly slams his body into mine, banging my back into the wall. His hands are everywhere. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Home From Within by Lisa Maggiore

Title: Home From Within
Author: Lisa Maggiore
Publisher: Vagabond Publishing
Pages: 253
Genre: Women’s Fiction

It’s the fall of ’82, and Jessica Turner has finally been set free, entering a public high school after being homeschooled. But her mother wears a frown and her father wears his Colt .45s, with a warning: no dating allowed. Seeking warmth, Jessica finds herself in a secret relationship with bad boy Paul Peterson. When the relationship–and Jessica’s pregnancy–are discovered, Paul will be dead by nightfall.

Seventeen years later Jessica and her daughter live a quiet life with horse farmer, Matt Johnson. Marriage is on the table but Jessica’s remorseful heart will not comply. When an unexpected death brings Jessica back home, she uncovers her father’s secrets and discovers that her true path in life, and love, are just a choice away.

For More Information

  • Home From Within is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Book Excerpt:

     I have secrets that need to be forgiven, Jessica thought, staring into the darkness of her bedroom. She sat with her knees tucked under her chin, tented in bedding that was slowly letting out the warmth. The yellow glow from her bedside clock read 3:06 a.m. Jessica glanced at Matt and noticed that he never flinched when her alarm went off. They had been sharing the same bed for many years, but sometimes she hardly knew he was there.
     Wrapping her arms around herself she shuffled toward the bathroom at the end of the hall, flipping on the night-light next to the sink so she could take a hot shower in relative darkness. Cranking open a small window she drew a deep breath allowing the smell of fresh dew, hay, and pine to swirl inside her nose.
     A faint light shone from the bulb above the stove as she ate oatmeal in the kitchen. Various songs from her past kept flooding into her consciousness and Jessica tried to distract herself by focusing on the mundane thoughts of the morning, but that only made the songs louder. And behind the songs were voices that did not want to stay buried under her secret armor any longer.
     Jessica had been able to keep her feelings about the death of her first love, Paul, buried deep. And down deeper were the memories of her father holding those damn Colt .45s that served as judge and jury for young lovers sneaking around. Jessica believed the ache in her chest would go away with time; however, it had been seventeen years.
     But last night, while channel surfing, she stumbled upon the classic eighties movie, Purple Rain, starring Prince. She could not stop herself from watching despite the movie ending at midnight. Caught in a whirlwind of euphoric recall; remembering the excitement of sneaking out with her best friend, Marilee, and going to see the movie. How the sex scene jump-started her adolescent hormones. She spent countless hours daydreaming of Paul singing, “The Beautiful Ones” to her as an ode to loving her so desperately and not wanting to lose her to another. The intensity at the end of the song made her feel alive.
     The songs in the movie evoked feelings in her that were a mixed bag of good and guilt. Usually those memories were ones she could bury, not wanting love and death to overpower her again. But not this time. She allowed herself to remember some of them, resurrecting other memories she could never forget.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Lisa de Nikolits, author of Between The Cracks She Fell

Thanks for joining us at the book club Lisa.  Can we begin by having you tell us how you got into writing? 

It’s the only thing I have ever been naturally good at! I had a love of books from a very early age and I just instinctively knew that that was what I wanted to do with my life. That was my place in the world, being a storyteller.

Why did you choose to write novels in the suspense thriller genre?

Actually I didn’t! Suspense and thrillers are just one kind of book that I write. I write about whatever fascinates me or holds my interest and it doesn’t have to be suspense thrillers. Although that said, five of the seven books that I have written are suspense thrillers, as is the 8th novel that I am working on. I think that the suspense thriller framework is such a great one device to showcase characters and it’s a great way to test morality. I am all about morality – what is absolute morality? Is there even such a thing? And what do ‘good’ people do when they are put in situations that test their ethics and their religions and all the things that they hold dear? That would be the main thrust of my writing, the main focus, studying what people will sacrifice by way of morality, when they are thrust into difficult circumstances.

Where is your book set and why did you choose that location?

The idea came from urban exploration. I love being an urban explorer and I have set off alarms more than once, I can tell you! I truly do live by the code; go in if you can find a way, don’t break things, don’t destroy, don’t steal, leave everything as you found it.

I often search websites looking for places that other explorers have posted and I found a mentioned of an old school a couple of hours outside of Toronto and I persuaded my husband to take a trip.

The first time we went was in the middle of winter and there was definitely enough there to pique our interest in returning in the spring.

In the meantime, I did some research and found that the school had been many things in its time; a prisoner-of-war camp for German officers in the Second World War, an English school for Chinese immigrants and an Islamic school, the last of which had fallen to bankruptcy and the local government was trying to figure out what should be done with it.

When we returned to the school, it was very easy to get into all the buildings (of which there were many). In one room, I found some scraps of paper written by a former student, some ramblings, a poem and some homework and that made me wonder about the kids who had boarded there.

I’d like to know more about Between The Cracks She Fell.  Can you give us a little background into why you wrote the novel?

The idea for this book came from three ideas that intersected.

The first idea presented itself via me a young man who had been disowned by his family. I had recently started a new job and I had immediately felt a connection with this guy – let’s call him Ashley – because he, like me, was originally from South Africa and he had come to Canada in 2000, as had I.

When I asked him about his family, he told me that he didn’t see them any more, that they had disowned him, he was excommunicated.

I was incredibly shocked. I come from a very close-knit family and I can’t imagine something like that.

“But why on earth would they do that?” I asked.

“Because I’m gay,” he said to which I replied that wasn’t any reason at all to kick him out.

“They’re Jehovah’s Witnesses,” he said as if that explained everything but I still didn’t understand and he explained their way of thinking, that homosexuality is a sin and he needed to repent, or he would not go to heaven along with his family.

“But surely they speak to you in secret?” I asked, simply unable to grasp the concept of one’s family just abandoning a member like that. “How old are you?” I asked him.
“I’m twenty-two,” he said, “and they don’t speak to me. Not even my twin sister. My Mom meets me for coffee every six months or so, to see if I have repented, or if she can persuade me to.”

“Not even your twin sister,” I echoed. “I just can’t get my head around that. How long ago did this happen?”

“Two years ago. I’ve been fine really. I couldn’t live a lie. The funny thing was, or maybe it’s not so funny, I was actually going to propose to my long-time girlfriend, ask her to marry me but then instead, I ended up telling her I am gay.” He grinned. “Not exactly what she was expecting. But I needed to do it. I didn’t have a choice. Or, I did have a choice, I could live my whole life a lie or I could be myself.”

I just knew that I would find a way to write about his story. He was so lovely, so gentle and so kind, a talented artist and we soon became good friends. I asked him if I could use him as a muse in a story that was forming in my head and he agreed.

The second idea came from urban exploration. I love being an urban explorer and I have set off alarms more than once, I can tell you! I do live by the code; go in if you can find a way, don’t break things, don’t destroy, don’t steal, leave everything as you found it.

I often search websites looking for places that other explorers have posted and I found a mention of an old school a couple of hours outside of Toronto and I persuaded my husband to take a trip.

The first time we went was in the middle of winter and there was definitely enough there to pique our interest in returning in the spring.

In the meantime, I did some research and found that the school had been many things in its time; a prisoner-of-war camp for German officers in the Second World War, an English school for Chinese immigrants and an Islamic school, the last of which had fallen into bankruptcy and the local government was trying to figure out what should be done with it.

When we returned to the school, it was very easy to get into all the buildings (of which there were many). In one room, I found some scraps of paper written by a former student; some ramblings, a poem and some homework and that made me wonder about the kids who had boarded there.

So I had three things which converged into a single book idea… firstly, Ashley being disfellowshipped. Then the school with the Islamic kid’s jottings (Islam, a religion with which I was unfamiliar, a religion which is clearly having a powerful impact on the world and about which I wanted to learn more), and then, the school itself.

The history of the buildings was so remarkable, and so was the destruction that had been wrecked upon them; violent damage that had taken concentration and work and focus and I found myself wondering about the perpetrators of all that ruin.

What kind of kids (or young adults) would have that much anger, and that much time to invest in the almost-systematic destruction of a place?

I knew I had good ideas for an overall story but I still needed a protagonist and I found her fairly easily.

A friend of mine had been talking about her primary reason for marrying her husband and it was because she could trace his genealogy back to the first settlers of Canada – he came from a solid bloodline and she wanted that for her children.
“Imagine,” she said, “not knowing the genetic pool from which you’ve sprung. It’s unthinkable!”

At least, it was unthinkable to her. Her comments immediately made me want to develop a character obsessed with her ancestry because this was something that couldn’t have interested (or worried) me less in my real life.

I think that’s why I write books – I try to explore themes about things that I really am unperturbed by but which seem to cause others a lot of distress, and religion is surely one of them, along with family trees.

I’d like to know more about your main character.  Can you tell us more about him/her?

I had decided that my main character, an immigrant young woman from England, would take a summer to live off the grid in the old school and somehow become involved with the young Islamic student and a fellow who echoed my disfellowshipped friend.

Homelessness, religion… surely the kiss of death for a novel? I did have other aspects for sure, the young kids who destroyed the school were to play a large role, headed up by Lenny, one of my favourite fictional bad boys ever, and there was also the ex-boyfriend of my protagonist; he was the main reason she ended up homeless and alone. And there would be crime, of course there would, Ashley’s boyfriend was a shady realtor, Imran (the Islamic student) seemed intent on jihad (or was that just an idle threat?) and Lenny’s crime-driven lifestyle would result in a young girl being murdered – all crimes which Joscelyn (the protagonist) solves. All she wants is some time to be left alone, to regroup and think, but she ends up sorting out a whole bunch of crimes and finding resolution in the things that have happened to her.

She also believed that her mother killed her father by hitting him over the head with a cast-iron frying pan and she gets to the bottom of this once and for all.

Can you tell us a little about the other supporting characters?

There’s a group of young kids who destroyed the school my protagonist goes to live in, and they are headed up by Lenny, one of my favourite fictional bad boys ever. And there is also the ex-boyfriend of my protagonist; he is the main reason she ended up homeless and alone. And there is crime, of course there is, Ashley (Joscelyn’s new friend) doesn’t realize his boyfriend is a shady realtor, Imran (the Islamic student) seems intent on jihad (or is that just an idle threat?) and Lenny’s crime-driven lifestyle will result in a young girl being murdered – all crimes which Joscelyn solves. All she wants is some time to be left alone, to regroup and think, but she ends up sorting out a whole bunch of crimes and finding resolution in the things that have happened to her.

She also believes that her mother killed her father by hitting him over the head with a cast-iron frying pan and she gets to the bottom of this once and for all.
So there is a strong supporting cast of intriguingly different characters.

They say all fiction books have pivotal points in the book where the reader just can’t put the book down.  What’s one pivotal point in Between The Cracks She Fell?

When Joss discovers who her real father is, and where he is living. She has been trying to find out her entire life and when she learns the truth, it is not what she expected at all.

What’s next on the agenda for you, Lisa?

I am working on three novels: The Nearly Girl (which will be published by Inanna in Fall 2016), No Fury Like That (which is being considered for publication by Inanna for Fall 2017) and Rotten Peaches which I have written to rough first draft and which needs a lot of work. The Nearly Girl is about a girl with a rare psychological disorder; she gets things right but only nearly. For example, she will set off to take a bus to work and she does get on a bus, only it’s the wrong one. She also has no way of feeling extreme heat or cold and is quite happy to take picnics in the snow, wearing only a t-shirt and sandals. As you can imagine, this makes normal life impossible for her, and in order to be eligible for welfare, she has to attend therapy sessions by Dr. Carroll. But Dr. Carroll is a man with secrets of his own – he keeps his family drugged and locked up because they are so untidy and noisy – and Amelia (the protagonist in The Nearly Girl), discovers this and puts her own life in danger by setting them free. The book also features Henry, a poet trying to prove propositional logic with his poems, Meghan, (Amelia’s mother) who is a body-builder, as well as a cast of characters who join Amelia for Dr. Carroll’s unusual brand of therapy, Do The Opposite Thing.

I had such fun writing that book – it’s quite light-hearted and the characters, while somewhat quirky, are all very funny and loveable. I love John Irving’s early works so very much and I sometimes think that some of my characters and plots are reminiscent of Cider House Rules or The World According To Garp, or A Prayer for Owen Meany – although I would never categorize myself in that great writer’s level.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you! Thank you with all my heart. What is the point of writing if there is no one to enjoy it? I appreciate every single reader, every comment, all the feedback. It never ceases to amaze me and I never run out of gratitude.

About The Book

Title: Between The Cracks She Fell
Author: Lisa de Nikolits
Publisher: Inanna Publications
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Format: Paperback / PDF
Pages: 350
ISBN: 978-1771332255
Genre: Suspense Thriller

Buy The Book:

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Book Description:

The award-winning author of the Hungry MirrorWest of WawaGlittering Chaos and The Witchdoctor's Bones delivers an original and riveting new novel about societal betrayal, familial loss and religious jihad. A suspenseful and lyrical read, Between The Cracks She Fell is a powerful - first person narrative about the explosive consequences of betrayal, survival in troubled times and the pervasiveness of religious domination.

When Joss finds herself having to make mortgage payments without help from her depressed, stoner boyfriend who has just moved out, and the company she works for folds leaving her suddenly unemployed, she is forced to sell her house, on which she takes a financial loss. She decides to camp out in a vacant complex of school buildings to give herself time to decide what to do next. It turns out the building is used by a gang of teenagers for wild, drug-fueled parties and Jess soon finds herself both repelled by their charismatic evil leader, as well as sexually attracted to him. She knows he is dangerous even before she finds his girlfriend's dead and violently abused body in the school library. During this time, she meets and befriends two other people in difficulty: Emma, a narcissistic thief living with her dog in a stolen car and Ashley, a young homosexual who is heartbroken by the fact that he has been expelled from the Jehovah's Witness church because he is gay. When her former boyfriend reappears as a born again Christian, Joss is immersed in a journal she found that contains the thoughts of a Muslim teenager who becomes increasingly radicalized. Her struggle to understand her former boyfriend and this young man's spiritual quests prepare her to make some hard decisions about her future. Between The Cracks She Fell is about a woman who falls off the grid and the explosive consequences of betrayal, survival in troubled times, and the pervasiveness of religious domination.

Book Excerpt:


I reached my destination with no great sense of joy but at least I wasn't crying.

A purple, red and black pentagram marked the path ahead of me and the sea of grass rolled this way and that and my throat closed and my eyes stung but I swallowed the tears.

I tried to pretend I was Gibreel Farishta, a hero bigger than me; that tuneless soloist tumbling out og thin air; what an entrance, yaar.

First you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! How to ever smile again, if first you won't cry?

But there would be no more crying for me. My former life was dead. I needed to escape for a while, hide out and then, once I got my energy back. I would figure out what came next.

Right now all I could say was that I was alive, and that is the point I guess, much like Gibreel, standing, with pigs falling out of his face and no God to help him.

I held my arms aloft and waded through the knotty field, as if paddling through an upward flowing river, pushing forward against the current.

The summer offered shoulder-high fragrant grasses laced with thistles and weeds and despite the misfortunes of past events, I was not blind to the beauty of the tiny lilac flowers or the red roses that grew wild and free.

I could see the buildings in the distances. It had been a while since I had seen them but they sprawled low at the other end of the playing fields, just as I remembered.

I had packed for the task at hand; knife, bottled water, flashlight, pillow. Kind of funny really, how natural this solution felt, like it was some kind of okay. It wasn't the first time I'd purposefully left the grid; my first solo adventure had taken place when I was eleven. Tired of school, friends, mother, swimming lessons, and tuck shop lunches, I hid out in a farmer's shed, armed with books and apples and bars of chocolate. i stayed for two nights and two days, sleeping in a hairy horse blanket that I shook free of cobwebs and drew close around me, breathing in that rich scent of dry sage, dust, leather, sweat and all the other good things that horses smell of. I returned home when I ran out of food and reading material. Mum was furious but I wasn't sorry; I'd done what I needed to do and it was the same this time, although there was less choice in a sense, as I had in fact lost my house to the bank and my job to the recession and my boyfriend to a nervous breakdown.

I could think of no other way to heal, to regroup and to find the solo me that I could rely on. I had made a mistake, relying on Shayne but I would get over that. I would get over everything.

Book Trailer:

About The Author

Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. 

Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women's Issues Fiction and was ling-listed for a Relit Award. Her second novel, West of Wawa, won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was one of Chatelaine's four Editor's Picks. West of Wawa is available in bookstores and online.

Her third novel, A Glittering Chaos, launched in Spring 2013 to reader and review acclaim, and is about murder, madness, illicit love and poetry.

Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor's Bones was launched Spring 2014 to reader and literary acclaim. The Witchdoctor's Bones is a thriller about the darkest secrets of African evil; the novel seamlessly weaves witchcraft and ancient folklore into a plot of loss, passion and intrigue and a holiday becomes a test of moral character.

Her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell, was published in Fall 2015 and has been called "a whirligig-ride into the dark recesses of "what-next?" It is a compelling and multi-layered penetrating and twisty tale of insurrection."

"A lyrical and deeply moving examination of emotional pain and faith on a collision course with organized religion. Lisa de Nikolits highly believable and human characters are outsiders struggling to find meaning, and perhaps hope, in contemporary urban society. With a deft and confident clarity of style, she explores the complex interplay of faith, crime and social isolation. Highly recommended." - M.H. Callway, award-winning author of Windigo Fire (Seraphim Editions). 

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Virtual Book Tour Event Page

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Paula Fouce, author of 'Not in God's Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict'

Paula Fouce is a critically acclaimed filmmaker and author. Her film credits include Not in God’s Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama, Song of the Dunes: Search for the Original Gypsies (PBS stations), Naked in Ashes, Origins of Yoga, and No Asylum. Her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, delves deeper into the subject of religious intolerance and offers solutions that are aimed at uniting all faiths. She was partner and director of KRCA TV Channel 62 in Los Angeles and served as co-chair of the Southern Asian Art Council at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Fouce is the owner and president of Paradise Filmworks International, a production company based in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She is currently working on a book that chronicles her experiences living and traveling with the yogis in the Himalayas.

For More Information
About the Book:

Title: Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict
Author: Paula Fouce
Publisher: Paradise Filmworks International
Pages: 254
Genre: Nonfiction/Religion
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook/iTunes

“We're all praying to the same Divine, which is called by many names or no name at all.” In her new book, NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT (based on award winning film that aired on PBS "Not in God's Name: In Search of Tolerance with the Dalai Lama"), Paula Fouce searches for solutions to end the escalating violence between religious groups. She has lived and worked in many South Asian countries including India, Tibet, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir, where she experienced a variety of vast cultural and religious diversity.  But Fouce came face-to-face with the destructiveness of religious-based conflict while in India when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.

As a result of Gandhi’s murder, thousands of Sikhs were massacred. Fouce escaped unharmed, but she was shaken by the explosion of violence from a people who had treated her with care and compassion before the death of their leader. The experience prompted Fouce to undergo a personal quest to understand the reasons behind the intolerance. What was the genesis of violent religion-inspired conflicts – the underlying chaos that has led to major violent conflicts such as the Crusades (1095–1291), the Partition of India in 1947, the 2009 Mumbai attacks, the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, the 2015 Paris attacks, and other religion-inspired conflicts?

In NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, Fouce shares her journey for spiritual enlightenment that began after she survived a car crash in which she was thrown from the vehicle. After her recovery, Fouce traveled to India in 1974 for a semester of study focused on Hindu and Buddhist art. During an early trip, Fouce met Mother Teresa. She returned to India after graduating from college to continue her spiritual exploration, export art, and guide luxury tours.

NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT discusses the histories of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity, as well as Jainism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, and other religions. Fouce spoke with several leaders in the religious tolerance movement, including the Dalai Lama; Mark Juergensmeyer, professor of Religion at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Dr. Karan Singh, a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament; and Dr. Joseph Prabhu, a trustee of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions. In the book, the author asks probing questions of faith leaders and scholars in order to devise solutions for ending the violence among religious groups.

“Although there are differences, we can develop a deep respect for all faith traditions that contribute untold richness to our civilization. Religious tolerance is our greatest tool for promoting world peace,” Fouce says. She identifies specific causes of religious intolerance and offers solutions for bringing the world’s faiths together.

After escaping the Indian religious riots in 1984, Fouce was “was struck with how religion had been twisted and used to create dissention and violence, the antithesis of its intention. My point of view is focused on how to bridge our differences; and my book goes into detail, even describing the compassion training that is now taught in many top universities.” Over the three-year period that Fouce worked on NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT, she used the transcripts from interviews for the film documentary of the same title (which was aired on PBS stations nationwide) and researched news stories of current religious conflicts. “Education is sorely needed to ensure a peaceful world where it is understood that diversity is not a threat or a detriment to one’s own good. Diversity is to be celebrated,” Fouce says. “Our unquestionable right as human beings is to freely worship the God of our understanding and to follow that spiritual path whose practices support our doing so.”

Fouce’s purpose for writing NOT IN GOD’S NAME: MAKING SENSE OF RELIGIOUS CONFLICT is to help the reader to understand that there are solutions to religious intolerance. “How do we change the minds of violent fundamentalists? This is the real task ahead, together with preventing people from being attracted to such ideology in the first place. Can we find a middle ground, a live-and-let live coexistence? Herein lies the only answer to the challenge of creating a peaceful future with acceptance. The continued existence of the human race depends on it.”

For More Information

  • Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Download your copy at iTunes.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Thanks for joining us at the book club, Paula!  Can we begin by having you tell us why you wrote your book, Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict?

Paula: I lived in South Asia for many years, working in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kashmir, China and Tbet. I studied many religions there, and life was very peaceful. Suddenly in 1984 I was trapped in a religious riot, when some Hindus slaughtered Sikhs. My life was threatened, and I was appalled with how religion had been twisted, and used to create division and violence, the very antithesis if its’ intention. This horrific experience caused me to go on a quest for solutions to religious intolerance and to write a book about it. Today the number of  stories in the daily news about killing in the name of God continues to be overwhelming.

Is there a solution to end the escalating violence between religious groups?

Paula: The most powerful solution to end violence between religious factions is education. The Dalia Lama is teaching how all faiths share the same common values such as kindness, compassion, honesty, etc. By recognizing the commonalities in all religions, and teaching these values outside of religion, as secular values, they transcend divisive attitudes. These positive values are universal; they don’t belong to any particular religion, but are practiced by all paths.

You have lived and worked in many South Asian countries.  Can you tell us more about that in relation to your book?

Paula: The experience of living amongst so many varied and rich religious traditions was so expansive mentally emotionally and spiritually. The Jains are strict vegetarians, some wear a cloth over their mouth so that they don’t inadvertently breathe in and kill an insect. the Sikhs, the Zoroastrians. India is the cradle of many of the world’s great faiths, and it was also interesting to see how faiths in India adopt and adapt faith traditions. For instance, when a Holy Communion or a Conformation take place in a Catholic family in Mumbai, it is celebrated like an Indian Hindu festival, with lots of sweets to eat, outdoor twinkling lights, etc. That was very cool, also seeing people at Mass sitting crossed legged on the ground.

What was the worse religious-based conflict you saw over there?

Paula: The worse religious conflict I experienced was being trapped in the riot when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated, and Hindus were killing Sikhs. But I have also seen great prejudice due to the caste system, where villagers were treated terribly due to being “lower caste” in the Hindu caste system. They were kicked out of their village and made to live outside, and they are not allowed to enter and worship in the same temples.

Do you believe there is religious conflict here in the United States and what ways can we learn to deal with it?

Paula: There is religious conflict in the United States. There are bombings of abortion clinics and killings of doctors who perform abortions. There are random terrorist attacks by extreme Islamists. There are comments made by people who mistakenly label all Muslims as terrorists. There are attacks against Jews and synagogues. There was recently a shooting at a black Christian Church. There are turban-wearing Sikhs mistaken for Arab terrorists that have been gunned down on the street, and many other instances.

What’s next for you, Paula?

Paula: I am writing a book about when I lived and traveled with the yogis throughout the Himalayas. I am also producing two new documentary films: Passion Pain Dance about the Gypsies, and The Dark Hobby about endangered reef wildlife being wiped out to extinction.