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Czar Nicholas 3Title: Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup
Author: Elisabeth Amaral
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 324
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

The mid-1960s through the mid-1970s was a heady, turbulent time. There was a lot going on back then, and author Elisabeth Amaral was in the middle of it all: the fights for women’s rights, racial equality, a music revolution, be-ins, love-ins, riots in the streets, the rage against the Vietnam War, and sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It was an amazing time to be young.

In Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup, Amaral shares her recollections of those times. She and her husband gave up their jobs in New York City, relocated to Boston with their infant son because of mime, unexpectedly started a children’s boutique, and opened a popular restaurant in Harvard Square. Most of all it is a coming-of-age story about herself and her husband as they embarked on an improbable and moving journey of self-discovery.

With sincerity and humor, Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup offers a personal and revealing account that reaches out to those who find themselves striving to make a relationship work that, by its very nature, may be doomed. But this story is also one of friendship—and of finding the courage to move on.

“A truly wonderful memoir that reads like great fiction. The characters come alive on the page.” – Elizabeth Brundage, author of The Doctor’s Wife and A Stranger Like You.

“The story of how Liz Amaral and her husband became successful at the epicenter of counterculture businesses near Harvard Square / Cambridge from 1967-1975 with their boutique and restaurant is told with humor and insight. Swirling around them are all of the entrapments of the era, the drugs and free love and betrayal, as well as the politics that defined the times.

With a fierce dedication to her son and husband, Liz Amaral triumphs in this stunning memoir where she discovers that, while love isn’t always what we think it is, it remains, in all its multi-faceted transformations, the driving force of who we are and how we live our lives.” – P.B. O’Sullivan, writer and mathematician

“In her intimate and humorous memoir, Liz Amaral reveals the challenges of a young family establishing a home in Cambridge amid the tumult of the late 1960s. You will discover the disconcerting truth about her marriage and the painful path she takes to find herself again. A true adventure of the heart.” – Kathrin Seitz, writer, producer, and coach

For More Information

  • Czar Nicholas, The Toad, and Duck Soup is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:

We shared everything, even our friends. But wait. What about those friends of his? Kind, gentlemen. Always womanless. Don’t even start to go there. Just don’t. It was easier to be in the immediate present, a member of our generation who shared the sentiments of the era, the sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll era. The civil-rights and women’s- rights and anti-war and race-riot era. It was a thrilling time for youth. Along with our frustrations and fury at the government, we also shared an enormous sense of freedom and adventure, of this being our time. And if it was our time, that made it my time. My time to grab an afternoon lover, come home to nights of gentle affection, hug our kid, make supper, smoke some pot, and live happily. With luck, that might include ever after. Piece of cake, and it was no one’s fault.

Thoughts whizzed by. I grabbed onto some, because I knew I would need reminders.

This is my life, not a bad one at all. A very good one, in fact.

That was one thought. Here’s another: Look at me. Look at me! A sensual, sexual, twenty-something woman. A Scorpio. Married happily much of the time, except nighttime, the right time.

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Stupidparty 3Title: Stupidparty Math V. Myth: Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy
Author: Patrick Andendall
Publisher: Fact Over Fiction Publishing LTD.
Pages: 408
Genre: Politics
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Stupidparty Math v. Myth: Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy relies on publicly available facts, resources and tools to deconstruct and relentlessly drill down on the numerous misconceptions held by too many Republicans. Substantiated by more than 1,500 hyperlinks to authoritative resources, readers will find:

  • Stupidparty positions defrocked on: the “Moochers”, the economy, climate change, environmental stewardship, racism, religion, “Freedoms”, guns, and ignorance-based humor.
  • The fallacy of Fox News facts exposed, documented, and explained.

Also included are 1,055 full color images and 121 graphs and charts.

Once thoughtful, discerning Americans understand the destructive forces manipulating their views, they will begin to call for a stop to the stupidity that has invaded our politics and poisoned our political process. The eradication of Stupid from the Stupidparty is the first step.

This book does not set out to destroy the Republican Party. The U.S. needs at least two parties. But by exposing the abundance of Myth with the relentless use of Math and facts, the problems and then the solutions become self-evident.

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Book Excerpt:

Acorn.

Voting is an important civil right, and many argue it is a civic duty. In Australia you must vote. In Belgium you must show up at the polls, but having shown up, you do not have to vote. Over twenty countries have some form of mandatory voting.

Acorn was an organization devoted to adding voters to the rolls. Acorn often paid homeless people to collect signatures. Thus, it was providing a double public service.

So while on occasion such workers did try and rip off Acorn (using fake signatures to invent nonexistent people) for a few extra dollars, the Acorn organization never created any voter fraud. This may come as a shock to the paranoid conservative brain, but the fact is that nonexistent people cannot vote, not of course unless Jesus decides to rise from the dead (for a second time) in order to vote. Ironically, if one understands anything about Jesus, his likely abhorrence of the Stupidparty and their antics, this must surely be a very tempting option. But like Kerry, Acorn was swiftboated by the Benefactors, i.e., Big Money devoted to an insidious and widespread deception. Big Money wins; the public and its treasured democracy lose. Even after Acorn was hounded out of business, 49% of Stupidparty voters believed that Acorn stole the 2012 election.

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Exile 4Title: Exile
Author: Tom Stacey
Publisher: Tom Stacey
Pages: 389
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

On the fringes of the Verian Empire, two small boys stumble upon a strange altar, buried in the heart of a mountain. There they awaken a horror unseen for generations, that will descend upon the realm of men while it is at its weakest. For Veria is a nation at war with itself, only recently recovered from a bloody rebellion, and the time of heroes has passed. The empire is in a state of chaos, and while its ruler, the Empron Illis, rids the land of his remaining enemies, unseen forces are gathering at the borders. However all eyes are turned inwards. The Empron is not a well man, and there are whispers among the common folk that his advisors are spies; demons that only wear the flesh of men.

Yet there is hope…

In the distant mountains, a forester who has buried his past learns that he has not been forgotten, and that his crimes have sought him out at last. But he is no simple woodsman. He is Beccorban the Helhammer, Scourge, Burner and the Death of Nations, and his fury is a terrible thing.

For when all the heroes are gone, Veria will turn to those it has forgotten, before all is lost.

Book Excerpt:

“Slow down, Loster! You’re climbing too fast!” Barde’s reedy voice carried up to the small boy as he dug his toe into a narrow crevice, skinning the top of his foot. Loster was a confident climber but he had never been this far up, despite having lived in the shadow of the Widowpeak all of his eleven years.

“Los!” The rest of Barde’s protest was lost to the wind, bouncing off of the pitiless rock face and tumbling backwards into the howling elemental maelstrom that plucked at Loster’s clothing. His fine tunic of dark blue satin was ripped at the hip and his leggings bore enough stains and small tears to render them rags.

None of that mattered now.

This far from the ground the Great Hall of his father was a god’s dollhouse. If he’d had the courage to look down, Los would have been able to blot it out with only his thumb.

“Mother is going to beat us if we’re home late again.” Barde hauled himself up until he was just beneath his brother. As the elder by several years, his arms were stronger, but he was also heavier and therefore less nimble. “If we start back down now we might be able to make it.” He did not need to mention what their father would do.

Loster ignored the hopeful tone. “Just a little bit further, then we can start back.” He grinned to himself. “Of course if you’re scared…”

“I’m not! You’re the baby here.” Barde clambered up alongside Loster. “Come on, let’s keep going.” As he moved off, Loster couldn’t help but grin. Nevertheless he caught the hastily concealed edge of fear in his older brother’s voice – it pierced his sense of calm like a broken bone. There were other signs too: the telltale tremble of his legs and arms, the whiteness of his knuckles as his fingers gripped handholds with the strength of a drowning man. Loster frowned. Maybe he was pushing too hard. His brother was only here to look after him anyway. He didn’t share Loster’s interest in exploration unless it involved exploring some of the prettier girls in the village. The small climber suddenly realised how selfish and childish he was being. What if he got Barde killed?

“Hey, I think I found a ledge,” Barde grunted and disappeared from sight only to reappear headfirst a moment later. “Come on, I’ll give you a hand.”

Loster smiled. Mother could wait.

He wedged his boot into a nook, scuffing the soft leather and gripping his brother’s clammy hand. Barde heaved and dragged him up over the lip of the ledge, further ripping his fine clothing. But he did not care. Up here he was untouchable, far away from his mother’s scolding and his father’s hard stares and harder hands. Loster glanced sidelong at his brother. Barde was much bigger than him: broad in the shoulders, long in the limbs. He was the confident one, calm in the knowledge that his father’s status as Lord of Elk was enough to shield him from most of the evils that the world had to offer, even if it could not shield him from his father. Yet now Barde sat clutching his legs to his chest, well away from the edge. To Loster it seemed that his brother had shrunk in stature.

He stood and walked along the edge as if it were a line on the ground. He had seen a few of the travelling troupes perform a similar feat with a length of rope and two tall wooden beams. The act had spectators cooing and screaming with fear whenever one of the high walkers feigned imbalance. Loster wondered what reaction his high walk would get – surely nobody could boast about having performed at such a height?

He stepped back onto stable ground and sat next to Barde. Barde was breathing deeply and looking at the ruin of his boots. It had taken courage to follow him up this high and Loster respected that. Indeed he was not exactly fearless himself. If anything he saw himself as the victim of a self-imposed pressure. Whenever an opportunity arose to do something that others would call daring or dangerous, Loster’s head filled with a hushed but insistent voice, urging him on. The voice had been with him for as long as he could remember and the only way to quiet it – the only way to find peace – was to give in. He wasn’t brave or even reckless. He was the opposite. He was weak.

“Do you think we’re the first people to climb this high?” Barde asked, his eyes scanning a horizon limned in cloud.

“I don’t know,” said Loster. “We’re probably not as far up as we think we are.” He craned his neck to view the rest of the mountain that towered into the heavens.

Barde blew the air from his lungs noisily. “It’s far enough for me. Jaym said I should know my limits and this is mine.” Loster rolled his eyes. Barde had begun lessons with the family’s weapons master three weeks earlier on his fourteenth birthday. He was still in awe of the grizzled old bastard and often quoted him, no matter how banal or ridiculous the statement.

Loster looked around their perch. A few loose stones, just enough room for a grown man to lie down without his feet dangling over the abyss. He walked up to the smooth stone wall and pressed his hands against it. It was cool despite the sun beating down — even that brightest of torches could not warm the Widowpeak. He made to turn around and stopped. A groove ran down the centre of the rock face, about a finger’s width across, disappearing into the floor between his feet.

“Barde, come look at this.” Loster ran a hand down the groove, freeing dust and dirt. Barde appeared at his side, lips parted slightly.

“What is it?” he said.

“I don’t know but we could pry it open. Give me your dirk.” Barde took a quick step back and clutched at the prized dagger tucked in his belt. As a man of fighting age, he had been gifted it by none other than his father, albeit grudgingly. It was a lovely thing with a jewelled hilt and a blade of steel so bright that it shone blue.

“No it’s mine. Father said I must look after it.” The older boy turned his body away from Loster to forestall any attempts at snatching the dirk from its oiled sheath, though Loster suspected that it was also so that he wouldn’t see Barde’s fear. Lord Malix’s rage was a dreadful thing. Almost as bad as his affection.

Loster held out his hands. “Oh come on, it’s a knife. You butter your bread with one.”

“That’s not the point. This is a proper knife, used for fighting Veria’s enemies. Not spreading butter.” He scowled. “You’re just jealous.”

Loster’s hands dropped to his side. He stifled a grin as an idea leapt to mind. “What if this leads to the tomb of some great king?” He waved a hand at the seam in the rock.

“Up here? Not likely,” scoffed Barde.

“Why not? Aifayne said that there used to be a great city on this mountain. That’s what the ruins at Stackstone are all about.”

“That old dustfart?” Barde snorted, yet nevertheless elbowed past his brother. He ran a finger down the gap in the rock face and turned back to Loster. “Give me your tunic.”

“Huh?”

“If there is treasure inside then we have to go and claim it, but I’m not damaging my knife. In case there’s a dragon.”

“A dragon?” Loster raised an eyebrow.

Barde flushed red. “Yes. You never know. You were the one who said we were the first up here.”

“I said I didn’t know.”

“Just give me your tunic.” Loster looked down at his soiled and tattered satin tunic. He sighed and slipped it off, passing it to Barde and shivering as the cruel wind nipped at his naked chest. The older boy grabbed the hem and wrapped it around his dirk before turning back to the rock face. With a grunt of effort he rammed the blade into the groove up to the hilt and began to saw it back and forth.

Nothing happened.

“It’s no use,” said Barde, and slipped the knife from its tunic cover too quickly, slicing the blade into the ball of his thumb. “Gods,” he cursed. A ruby droplet of blood fell from his hand and sparkled as it splashed onto the ground. There was a loud crack like bone splitting and a great door opened in the rock, swinging outwards and threatening to sweep the boys from the ledge. Barde leapt back, knocking into his brother and sending them both tumbling over the edge.

Loster’s hand shot out and grabbed a fistful of rough stone. Glancing to his right he saw Barde doing likewise, terror etched on his features. A shadow passed overhead as the great rock door passed above them, locking into position with a deep boom. Dust showered down on the boys and then all was silence.

“Are you okay?” Barde had remembered his courage and resumed his role as the older brother.

Loster smiled. “I’m fine. Did you drop your knife?”

Barde cursed again. His prized dirk was somewhere below, probably beyond recovery. Loster hauled himself back up to the ledge and froze as Barde scrambled up beside him, sucking his thumb to stem the flow of blood.

The door had revealed a long corridor angled down into the heart of the mountain, and its passage had gouged away a thick layer of dirt and dust, laying bare a quarter circle of mosaic underneath. The hundreds of tiny tiles were chipped and faded but Loster could just about make out a dark figure, picked out in once-black and was-red. The figure’s hands were raised towards a vibrant sun in a sky of azure brilliance.

“What is it?” Barde asked, his dagger forgotten. “It doesn’t look like the king of a great city.”

“That’s because it isn’t.” Loster looked at Barde. “I’m not sure, but I think that’s…Him.”

“Who? Who’s ‘Him?’” Barde knelt and wiped more dust from the floor, revealing a line of strange runic script. Barde sat back on his haunches and frowned. Loster swallowed hard and instinctively moved behind his brother. Barde looked over his shoulder at him. “Well, what does it say?” he asked.

“It’s Old Verian, I think,” Loster recognised the strange shapes from his studies with Aifayne, “but…”

“But what?”

Loster raised his hand to his mouth, absently chewing his grimy thumbnail. “Well that word.” He pointed at a jagged symbol. “I’m not supposed to say it out loud.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean the writing, the man in the picture. It’s Him.”

Barde blinked. “Not the Black God?”

Loster gasped. “Ssssh. What if He hears?” This adventure had been his idea but he was beginning to like it less and less. None of the stories that haunted his slumber were more chilling than the horror tales of the Unnamed. Loster had overheard His true name once but knew it was not to be uttered aloud. Not unless you were one of his thralls from the Temple Deep or were spinning the cruellest of curses.

“Don’t be a baby. He can’t hear us.”

“He’s always listening. That’s what gods do.” Loster could feel the cold without his tunic and had lost his appetite for this particular excursion. “We should get back. Mother will be worried.” He knelt and pulled on his soiled and torn shirt.

Barde knotted his brow. “Well what about my dirk?” he asked, cocking his head.

“What about it?”

“I’m not going home without it.” Barde folded his arms across his chest.

“But it went down there,” Loster said. He gestured at the emptiness behind him. “We have to go down there to get it anyway.”

“Not if there’s a better one.” Barde jerked a thumb at the portal into the mountain.

To Loster it looked like the maw of some fell beast waiting to swallow the two small boys. “We don’t know what’s in there…”

“Afraid are we? That makes sense at your age.” Loster scowled. The challenging voice in his head was strangely silent on this matter. Instead it seemed that his older brother had taken its place.

“I’m not afraid, I just…” he paused. “It’s that.” He pointed at the mosaic. “We don’t know what it means.”

“So let’s find out,” said Barde.

They stepped through the doorway into the Widowpeak, though both took care to walk around the dark figure on the floor.

 

 

 

 

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Night Terror 2Title: Night Terror
Author: Jeff Gunhus
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Pages: 400
Genre: Supernatural Thriller/Horror
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Ten years after her abduction and near-sacrifice to the Source, Sarah Tremont struggles to be a normal teenager. As much as she’s tried to suppress the power inside of her, it’s grown dangerously strong and has drawn the attention of those who want to possess her power for themselves.

The nightmare that she thought was long over starts again as powerful forces descend upon Prescott City to seek her out. With her parents and Joseph Lonetree’s help, Sarah must stand up to an evil much more powerful than the one she faced in the caves a decade earlier. But in the end, she discovers the greatest danger might come from the power living inside of her.

Book Excerpt:

The woman didn’t look evil, but there was no better word to describe her. Charlie Winters would wonder later how he could have missed sensing her earlier than he did. It was equivalent to normal people walking halfway through a field only to look down and find themselves thigh-deep in a pile of rotting animal carcasses, the stench hitting them like a wave. After retching their stomach contents, they would question both their senses and their sanity. How could they have missed such a smell? How could they have not felt their feet sinking into the liquefied soft tissue?

Charlie’s senses were better than a normal person’s. Way better.

It had started when he was only a baby, a fact he knew because he still remembered every second of this life since the moment of his birth. It was a long time before he understood that such a memory was not a normal thing. Other people, normal humans, could not remember the first feeding at their mother’s breast. The hot pain of circumcision. The first glimpse of sunlight as they left the hospital. So many firsts, memories as clear to Charlie as what he’d had for breakfast that day.

Inside those memories, the echoes and shadows of his other unusual senses lingered. The ability to sense emotion. To pick up on intention. Sometimes these abilities strengthened what he observed in the physical world. His grandparents’ cooing excitement over him matched an internal warmth that felt the same as sunshine. His father’s thoughtful stares mirrored Charlie’s sense that his dad would do anything to protect him, to provide for him. Even if there was an undercurrent of trepidation that vibrated like a single out-of-tune string on a guitar, the other intentions drowned it out and gave Charlie a sense of comfort. This was very different from his mother, whose kind smiles and soft features once masked a nearly constant desire to kill him.

Her thoughts alternated between putting a pillow over his head or dropping him down the basement stairs. In darker moments, when his father was gone overnight for a business trip, she would consider carving up her child with a knife. Even going as far as pulling a cleaver from the block and slowly running her sweaty palm down the length of the blade. She never did this in front of him, but that was part of his gift. He could see through her eyes. Feel her emotions. Know her dark intentions. And understand that the threat of violence was very, very real.

But as much as she fantasized about it, his mother didn’t kill him. In fact, she never so much as laid a finger on him in anger. Slowly, over time, the dark thoughts faded, and the light inside his mother came to match her soft eyes and the beautiful mouth that sang to him and called him sunshine. A normal person might never have been able to forget the darkness and might never have trusted the woman who once considered taking a ball-peen hammer to his forehead, but he wasn’t normal people. He was special. And it was that specialness that showed him the truth in her absolute love for him once the veils of shadows had fallen away from her like someone passing through heavy curtains.

Much later, Charlie read about a condition called post-partum depression and understood where the dark had come from. It hadn’t been his fault. Or hers. It was the depression that spawned the evil thoughts. And he liked to think it was her love for him that pushed them back enough to keep him safe.

Even after she recovered, he could sense when she felt pangs of guilt about those days. They were like electric bolts jolting through her. When those moments happened, and they could happen at any time, he would come up and hug her, kiss her on the cheek and tell her how much he loved her. At first, she cried harder when he did it, and he sensed her guilt grow even stronger. Later, she puzzled over how he timed the affection to her thoughts. Over time, the puzzling turned to suspicion, even fear that somehow he knew. After that, like with all of his special gifts, he learned it was best to hide.

But he hadn’t hidden his powers well enough.

If he had, then the woman who called herself Mama D would never have come looking for him.

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The ShuTitle: The Shu: The Gnostic Tao Te Ching
Author: Thomax Green
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 110
Genre: Spiritualism
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Author Thomax Green has produced a compelling new book so cosmic in its scope that it has the power to change readers’ lives. THE SHU: THE GNOSTIC TAO TE CHING is a “modern-day Gnostic work which blends all faiths and sciences into a super belief,” Green says. “With this belief system, you can be a faithful individual without the restrictions and classifications that are imposed by religious groups. In short, it is the way to freedom and happiness.”

Book Excerpt:

In the beginning, there was no multiverse. All that existed was a perfect machine called the Light. This light was like a super-giant sun, except it radiated perfect light which did not burn but instead enlightened with complete harmony.

Those who kept the light were creatures of pure energy. We call them angels, and for a time there was bliss like a perfect equation. Until an alien emotion corrupted half the angels; it was a disease born from love. This dark emotion is called desire.

To desire is not evil, if what you obtain does not harm another. But in the beginning this emotion was so concentrated that it created darkness within the corrupted. They are now known as demons.

What they desired the most was the Light itself. They already had it but they wanted to possess it and call it theirs. This caused the angels to defend the Light from the Darkness within the demons. And a battle ensued.

Angels and Demons cannot die, but there were casualties. And when the Darkness tried to touch the Light it caused the perfect machine to explode.

The Light expanded into an infinite amount of pieces. Mass divided by nothing (or antimatter) equals infinite energy. The perfect machine was broken and time began. It became the multiverse and everything within it is the Light which is called the Inner Light or what we call God. That is how it is all powerful and all knowing. For it is within everything, the suns, the planets, the birds, bees and us. The Inner Light within us we call the soul or mind.

The battle is still being waged, for the machine is broken. The angels are pure Inner Light and the demons are now pure Inner Darkness. As humans we possess both from that original corruption.

The demons want us corrupted for they still crave the Light but they live in Darkness. The angels guide us to become better than we are so we may become pure from harmful desire.

The Multiverse is divided into an infinite number of universes. In some Darkness will prevail in others Light will win. That is why the demons do not stop fighting. For no one knows which universe will prevail good or evil.

This is why we have many lives. For in each incarnation we learn something that makes us either better or worse. Some of us will become one with the Inner Light. This is what we call going to heaven. Others will become one with the Inner Darkness and that is what we call going to hell.

There are those who adopt their inner power completely and when they do they will no longer reincarnate into this world. There are perfect examples from both sides like Jesus, Buddha, Hitler, and Napoleon. There are examples all throughout history of people becoming enlightened by their Inner Light or Inner Darkness. Look at Mother Teresa or Jeffrey Dahmer.

Ultimately when this universe comes to an end it will either be controlled by the Light or the Darkness. And when all universes come to an end whichever power is greater will cast out the other and replace it when time travels in reverse back to the beginning.

And that is the story of all things.

 

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