Reblog- Angel Lore: part 5 by Toi Thomas #OurAuthorGang

Sorry if I haven’t been adding a lot of original content here anymore. I’m mostly sticking to my IWSG and Cephalopod Coffee House monthly posts from now on, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see other book or movie reviews at random intervals or WIP updates (’cause you might).

BTW- Today I’m over at A Small Gang of Authors finishing up my series on angel lore. I think it’s a pretty good finale (if I do say so) and it gives you a teaser for the next blog series I’ll be writing (in case you’re interested).

From Pinterest via
The Fairy – basic version by Bogdan-MRK

Today, in part 5, the finale, of my Angel Lore series, I’ll be sharing more angel knowledge with you from U – Z, as I complete my trek through the alphabet (see part ONE, part TWO, part THREE, and part FOUR). But first…

Do I believe in angels? Yes, I do.

I’ve come across many depictions of angelic encounters and find that they, or beings like them, have a place in almost every major religion and culture…

Read more at A Small Gang of Authors.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Reblog- Angel Lore: part 1 by Toi Thomas #OurAuthorGang

I’m hanging out over At Small Gang of Authors again today sharing some of my fascination with angels and how they inspire me. Check it out.

from Pinterest via Toyas Tales: ” I’ll Be Watching You ” by Beata Belanszky-Demko. Acrylic on Canvas.

Here are a few things to know about me. I’m a huge Batman fan, I adore classic Betty Boop, and I love angels and angel lore. When I first started writing my book Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel, I knew I’d need more than my geek-girl fascination with angels to help me flesh out the characters of this story…” Read more at Angel Lore: part 1 by Toi Thomas #OurAuthorGang

Whispers from the East by @amietheauthor Virtual Book Tour Interview by #thetoiboxofwords via @RABTBookTours #historicalnovel

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Amie Ali, about her fiction book entitled, Whispers from the East. Enjoy!

Amazon

Where did the idea for Whispers from the East come from?

I am a part of a support group for Western women who are born to non-Western born Muslim men. The stories I hear from the women who pass through and my friends who have committed to the group are amazing. Some are wonderful, some are terrible, and some are just like any other relationship that doesn’t cross cultural and religious barriers. I felt like these stories needed to be heard. None of the characters are based on any one person or experience. I think every woman I have spoken with that is in this type of relationship will see a bit of herself in all the characters.

How did the title of this book come about?

The title was the result of a huge amount of brainstorming. Plays on words and phrases that are catchy and memorable, in the hope it might entice a reader to look closer. Whispers from the East was a title that I was excited about the moment it was presented to me. This is the story of three women with ties to South Asia, a land they have been drawn to through their experiences and love lives. One was born there, and two were gently coaxed. There were no loud sirens or declarations to the East…just the whispers of their hearts.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

The book is Literary Fiction under the sub-genres of Historical Fiction and Women’s Fiction. I didn’t choose the genres, the genres chose me!

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

The overall message is that there are many, many different kinds of love. It doesn’t fit into a box. People have different expectations on what a relationship and a marriage should be like, and no matter where you are in the world, ultimately we are all looking for love.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

I’ve actually only been asked this once before and even I find the answer to be quite shocking. I wrote Whispers from the East in under 90 days. Once I started, it just poured out of my soul.

Who is the protagonist of this story?

There are three women in this book who all share the role of protagonist, and they are Ammi, Carolyn, and Ivy. Ammi is the Pakistani mother of three sons, two of whom immigrate to America and eventually marry Carolyn and Ivy. The story is told from the point of view of each woman.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

The antagonists are misconception and miscommunication. All of the protagonists have their own internal battles to fight, and their inner struggles are the only antagonists in Whispers from the East. And those demons are fierce!

Where and when is this story taking place?

There are three distinctive time settings and three locations the stories take place. Ammi is a migrant in the 1947 Partition of India, so we see her move during that time from New Delhi, India to Lahore, Pakistan, where she raises her family. We then meet Carolyn in the 1970’s San Francisco Bay, followed by Ivy, in 1980’s Florida.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Ammi is central in the story and, as their mother-in-law, in the lives of Carolyn and Ivy. She’s definitely the one who pulls at my heart strings the most.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

You know, it’s almost impossible to not have bits of yourself in what you write. Where Amie Ali is in Whispers from the East is in the scenery. I have traveled pretty extensively and that tends to translate onto the pages. It would be hard to write about a place I have never experienced first hand, but thankfully, I don’t have to!

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I wish I could buy canned chickpeas instead of uncooked, but my husband wouldn’t go for that!

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

I have THREE main characters and I’d give them to: Mahira Khan (young Ammi), Amanda Seyfried (Carolyn), and Anna Kendrick (Ivy).

As for the score, I’d have to leave that in the expert hands of Hans Zimmer.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

While Whispers from the East is a stand alone and not the start of a series, I do have a tie-in to follow it that will be out next year. Exciting!

~

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To obtain your copy of Whispers from the East, a Reader’s Favorite, please visit the links provided.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

ReadersFavorite.com

This has been a
interviewpic-toibox

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Review: Chasing the Avatar

Chasing the Avatar by Jovan Jones

Sadly, I give this book a 2.

DidntLike

Maya is an educated and highly successful black woman who is somewhat lost in her life. In search of meaning and higher purpose, Maya latches on to Cha Ma, a believed avatar for the Hindu goddess Kali. The story that follows is a recount of any and everything Maya is willing to do to reach enlightenment, but then there’s also the presence of Maya’s Christian praying parents.

Initially the idea of this story had me more than intrigued. I read a few pages in the bookstore just to get a feel of what the narrative would be like, and what I sampled, pulled me in. Unfortunately, trying to read the whole story wasn’t so exciting.

So, here’s the good. The descriptions in the book are amazing and full of life and emotion. Seeing the difference and, oddly enough, the seminaries of worship and praise rituals between the Hindu faith and the Christian faith were astounding. If someone were completely foreign the ideas of Hinduism and Christianity, they may have trouble deciding which they’d prefer, given that both are depicted in such a powerful way in the beginning of this book.

My favorite parts of the story quickly became the passages describing Maya’s day to day encounters while staying in India, but they didn’t remain my favorites for long.

Also, the contrast of Maya’s adventures in India and her parent’s struggle back home started out as this epic spiritual battle that was entertaining to see unfold, but alas it didn’t end that way.

The bad came on so slowly, I almost didn’t see it until I realized that reading the story was starting to make me angry. Everything in the beginning of this story was so powerful, and vibrant, and new, but after a while everything became repetitive. The back and forth spiritual struggle, while entertaining at first, became monotonous. Maya didn’t start off the story being an especially likable character, but she was an interesting character with a spiritual dilemma that many could possibly relate to, but after a while, she just became annoying.

I could go on debating the many aspects of this story that I truly appreciated in hopes not to turn others away, but in the end, I just didn’t enjoy this reading experience. For anyone who’s read any of my other reviews, it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock that I was also annoyed that this book had no conclusion. It leaves you hanging on for the next book, but it doesn’t exactly leave you with a cliffhanger. I also have to be completely honest and admit that I’d already started skipping around through the book when I discovered the ending was lacking.

I have a feeling that my tendency to read a lot of fantasy and sci-fi may have had something to do with why this reading experience was so unpleasant, but I’m not putting all the blame on that. I’ve been expanding my reading horizons lately and this book just didn’t keep my attention, even though it had so much potential.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book unless you happened to be interested in religious mash-ups and spiritual warfare, but I do have a few people in mind that I’m going to share this with.

This review has been posted to GoodReads. If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Pinata-Maker’s Daughter Interview with author Eileen Clemens Granfors

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Eileen Clemens Granfors, about her fiction book entitled, The Pinata-Maker’s Daughter. Enjoy!

Image provided by author.

Where did the idea for The Pinata-Maker’s Daughter come from?

I wanted to write more about a character from the first book I published, Some Rivers End on the Day of the Dead. I thought a lot about going on with the same protagonist (Marisol), but I decided on a prequel. Carmen was my favorite from the first book although I love Joe too. I found a way to work both characters into the new book. So this is Book 1 of the Marisol Trilogy.

How did the title of this book come about?

I chose this title because who can resist a piñata? At the same time, the reader would also know that the family income is not going to be very high so life will be challenging. Several months before writing the book began, I found a picture by Donna Dickson that portrayed the comfortable, loving relationship of a mom and daughter. Donna, who lives and works in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, graciously allowed me to use her art. It is the perfect scene for the book’s cover.

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

Okay, here’s where I goofed, I guess. The middle book was about a junior high kid, very innocent and often put off by the world’s hardships. In The Pinata-Maker’s Daughter, since Carmen is in college, she gets herself involved in escapades that are PG-13. Compared to other YA, it’s mild, but I have had readers object. I felt that Carmen showed her impulsive side in the worst ways, but a few readers were pretty ticked off. I now call the book women’s fiction although it could certainly be placed as LATE-age YA or New Adult.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

When writing this book, I was endorsing the growth kids go through in college. Yes, they certainly do a lot of stupid stuff, but they grow and learn. If they are lucky, they leave home and live in a dorm. They find out that the world they come from is not the only world there is. They learn about hardships of health, of love, and of parental expectations from a variety of sources. This opposition was something I faced as a senior; parents who did not see any reason to go away to college. They were worried about money, and they also didn’t really want me to leave for Los Angeles since our whole family is in San Diego.

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

Raised by an army major, I am a disciplined person. I write every day, two to three hours. It took about a year to write this book if we include the rewrites, the changes, and the decisions of making things work out logically. I purposely left the ending brief so that if I someday finish the trilogy, the reader will know Carmen, Joe, Marisol, and Franco well enough to be interested in the futures they face. I grew up in a town that edged up to the Mexican border (Imperial Beach, CA) so my classmates and friends were often Mexicans. We were multicultural before the word was used much. That’s how I see the world.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

Carmen is accepted to a prestigious college. She lives in a poor Hispanic neighborhood south of San Diego and her mother absolutely opposes her leaving home for college. She goes anyway with scholarship money. Almost at once she feels like an outsider. Her roommate, Shirley, is a special girl, but even money can’t solve her problems. Carmen falls right away for two very different men, one a frat rat who makes her laugh and one a Hispanic rights leader who woos her into joining the campus movement against fraternities and sororities. Carmen is constantly saying the wrong thing to one or the other of them and getting mad at the way she feels used by both men. She has a hard time making herself feel equal although two nuns on a semester’s study break help her a lot. But she turns away from the religion of her youth to look into the religion of love and more freedom to live her way.

Who is the protagonist of this story?

Carmen has grown up as the high school nerd with just a kind of goofy, boy-crazy friend across the street. Kids know she is the piñata-maker’s daughter, and some befriend her just for the candy she gives away. By the time she is 18, she is ready to take on the world. She loves books, art, and her mom. But her mother is such an embarrassment to her! From the way she wears her hair to the coveralls she works in, Lucia is someone Carmen would lock in a closet if she could. Lucia seems to stand in the way of all Carmen’s dreams, but she also has a tender heart. She even loves tomato worms! Carmen knows her mother means well; she simply must have a way to show she is growing up as her own woman and that doesn’t mean being the piñata-maker’s daughter for the rest of her life. A college degree, travel, a job somewhere rich and fancy, that’s what Carmen dreams of.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

Because of Carmen’s insecurities, she finds almost everyone her antagonist. She is possessive about men when she has no right to be, so she is constantly jealous of womanizer Franco and casual flirt, Joe. Both men cause her to question her self-righteousness and tendency to be judgmental. Franco does take advantage of their shared heritage and he’s not as kind as Joe is. He is absolutely dedicated to himself and his causes. College life itself is a conflict for her. She is used to be the best student, and now she’s one of thousands.

What is the major conflict in this story?

Carmen is faced with growing up. She is no longer under her mother’s thumb, and sometimes, she is so impulsive she stirs up more trouble than she can handle. She tries to be a good friend to her roommate, but her roommate also makes her uncomfortable. She is far too fixated on finding romance and lets her studies come second. She has fought hard to achieve this dream, but she is in danger of losing it to her wayward heart.

Where and when is this story taking place?

The story takes place in a fictional college north of Los Angeles. It is not UC-Santa Barbara! But Carmen travels home to San Ysidro, CA often. The time is the present.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

I’m a mom who has had the kid who thinks I’m way too strict, way too old-fashioned, and she really wishes I would get a grip. With that in mind, I absolutely dearly love Carmen’s mother. So I love Lucia and the way that she doesn’t back down to her impulsive daughter. I also love Joe Sneed for his youthful goofiness that contrasts with Carmen’s serious side.

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

The most important part of my life experience in this book is my desire to attend a big, well-known, prestigious university. Not one person in my family supported that dream. Not even my college counselor thought a four-year university was worth it. I found a way. The city of San Ysidro, the beach scenes, and many of the people come from my growing up in the San Diego area are part of Carmen’s love of place.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I wish that all students at the cusp of adulthood would take time to learn that life is beautiful and meaningful. Lucia (Carmen’s mom) raises tomato worms because she loves all living creatures. She wants for Carmen to live right, be strong, and to be free, like the mariposa butterfly. If people felt free to act as themselves sooner in life, there would be so much less bullying and fixation on looks. Carmen learns a lot about getting over herself in her first year of college.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

There is death in this book. There is illness. It is a sad part of the book from which Carmen learns more lessons, but honestly, having taught for 33 years and having students or their loved ones die of disease or their parents or car accidents, I wish no young person ever had to face death without knowing the joys of living life as an independent adult.

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Carmen: America Ferrerra

Joe: Josh Hutcherson

Franco: Emile Hersh

Mama Lucia  Eva Longoria

Theme song: La Vida Loco

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

I am so lucky! The new film, THE BOOK LIFE, with Diego Luna, Tatum Channing, and Zoe Saldana came out October 17th. So there will be interest in the Day of the Dead, which is the middle book, SOME RIVERS END ON THE DAY OF THE DEAD. And some readers may choose to read THE PINATA-MAKER’S DAUGHTER FIRST!

My plans for this book are to keep it in the view of the readers through Twitter, newspapers, local libraries, my book business cards, my blog, my interviews, and attending book clubs. I have a recipe for a piñata cake on Pinterest. I’d love to bring a cake to your book club discussion!

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To obtain your copy of The Pinata-Maker’s Daughter, please visit the link provided.

Amazon

This has been a
interviewpic-toibox

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords