Certified Financial Planner Authors New Book to Help Families with Special Needs Members Stress Less Over Money

Families with special-needs members live with constant stress. They worry about taking care of their family member with a disability, getting out of debt, saving for retirement, and providing a secure future for their family members. Rob Wrubel, a Certified Financial Planning professional and a father of a daughter with Down syndrome, has penned a new book, Financial Freedom for Special Needs Families: 9 Building Blocks to Reduce Stress, Preserve Benefits, and Create a Fulfilling Life.

The book aims to help families who have a member with autism, Down syndrome, a brain injury, cerebral palsy or some other cause of an intellectual or developmental disability remove as much of that stress as possible.

Financial Freedom for Special Needs Families is based on his Blueprints for Special Needs financial planning process, which the father of three children created after the birth of his middle daughter. Wrubel is now dedicating himself to becoming the leading expert on financial planning for families with a special-needs member.

Financial Freedom for Special Needs Families will help families:

  • Understand special-needs trusts and how to have one in place in 30 days.
  • Create financial stability.
  • Take steps to fund a trust to care for their family member with special needs.
  • Appreciate how much they have learned about themselves by caring for a family member with a developmental disability.
  • Gain more clarity about what they want out of life for themselves and every family member.

Author Rob Wrubel with his children

CREDENTIALS: In addition to being a Certified Financial Planning professional, he is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary and a partner at Cascade Investment Group. He has spoken at conferences given by professional organizations serving lawyers, CPAs and investment advisors (such as Estate Planning Council and Financial Planning Association meetings). Wrubel speaks regularly to family association groups and at school transition program meetings. His books, workshops, and educational talks help families plan for the future, preserve their benefits and achieve financial freedom. Wrubel is the recipient of the Don Haney Award given by the Arc of the Pikes Peak Region, for the value he has provided to the community of people with developmental disabilities in Colorado Springs. Wrubel was featured in the Gazette – the daily newspaper for the Pikes Peak region – and the article can be found here: http://gazette.com/parent-of-down-syndrome-child-pens-book-on-financial-planning-for-special-needs-family-members/article/1566933.

Wrubel has written two books, Financial Freedom for Special Needs Families and Protect Your Family. Articles he has authored have appeared in Exceptional Parent magazine – a national magazine serving families with a special-needs member.

Book Information: Published by Rosalibean Publishing Company, the book is available for $19.99 at Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Financial-Freedom-Special-NeedsFamilies/dp/0996659218/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1509986970&sr=8-2&keywords=wrubel) or contact the author for bulk purchases through his website www.robwrubel.com

AVAILABILITY:  Colorado, nationwide by arrangement, and via telephone

Review: A Pearl for My Mistress by Annabel Fielding

Synopsis

A story of class, scandal and forbidden passions in the shadow of war. Perfect for fans of Iona Grey, Gill Paul and Downtown Abbey.

England, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household.

Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the pressures of the new century. And in the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy.

Accompanying Lucy on her London Season, Hester is plunged into a heady and decadent world. But hushed whispers of another war swirl beneath the capital… and soon, Hester finds herself the keeper of some of society’s most dangerous secrets…

Review

This has got to be one of the most well researched books I have had the pleasure of reading! It is insightful, immersive and has such depth it makes it difficult to put down.

A debut novel for Annabel Fielding it is a compelling piece of historical fiction that definitely does not feel like a first novel! You can tell Annabel has a passion for History as it leaps from every page!

Not a typical novel set in the 1930’s pre WW2 period it focuses on the developing love story of a Lady and her maid amidst a time of high political tensions around the world.  It is an explosive mix of forbidden love, social class, far right movements and strong emotion. It will pull you in and leave you bereft when the story ends.

I hearty recommend this book and cannot wait to see what comes next from this talented author.

Reviewed by Nat

Amazon

About the Author

Annabel Fielding, having graduated from the University of Arts London with an MA in Public Relations, is a PR assistant by day and a novelist by night. Being a self-professed history geek, she dedicates her free time to obscure biographies, solo travel and tea. She also posts a mix of book reviews and travel photos on her blog. She can also be followed on Twitter as @DearestAnnabel.

Disclosure: The Pursuit Of Bookiness received a copy of this book free of charge in return for an honest review.  All opinions are our own

 

Review: Addicted to Death by Matthew Redford

Synopsis

Following the murder of Benedict and Darcy Blacktail, two eggs savagely beaten to death outside their home by an unknown, fedora wearing assailant brandishing a large metal spoon, Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, carrot and the leading food detective in the police force, is called in to investigate. When the only food sapiens minister in the Government, Professor Perry Partridge, is murdered at the Strawberry Strip Club, run by the young damson Victoria Plum, DI Wortel suspects that the two cases may somehow be linked. As the Head of the Food Related Crime Division, DI Wortel is ably assisted by his human colleague Sergeant Dorothy Knox.

But as their investigation begins, four celebrity chefs are sent death threats. It’s a recipe for disaster as the incarcerated evil genius MadCow McBeef is seeking parole; someone appears to have crumbled Mr Bramley’s apples; and there is an anti-GM food protestor on the prowl. And why do Oranges and Lemons think they owe someone five farthings? DI Wortel and his team must find out who is seemingly addicted to death. It will take all efforts – human, fruit and vegetable – to figure this one out.

Review

This book is as bonkers as it sounds! It is the most random Crime novel I have ever read!

It was stand up funny! Who knew you could get so much content out of food! It is a credit to the author who took a crime novel and turned it on its head!

It is light-hearted and actually a really good plot line (even if the main victims were eggs!)  It’s definitely not one to be taken seriously.

However, the characters had a depth and life to them beyond they foodie form that shows the authors true talent!

If you are bored of the conventional then I advise you to get the down right kookie a try!

About the author

Born in 1980, Matthew Redford grew up with his parents and elder brother on a council

estate in Bermondsey, south-east London. He now lives in Longfield, Kent, takes masochistic pleasure in watching his favourite football team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, is a keen chess player and is planning future food related crime novels. To counterbalance the quirkiness of his crime fiction Redford is an accountant. His unconventional debut crime thriller, Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime Investigation was published by Clink Street Publishing last summer.

Website / Twitter

Guest Post: The Learn by Tony Halker

Synopsis

“The Learn” is about personal development, friendship, love,  family loyalty, abuse of power, trade, technology change and the landscapes in which all of those things occur. My particular canvas for the novel is a pre-history landscape that enables me to consider modern issues and problems more objectively than if I set them now.

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.

A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.

At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

Excerpt

The excerpt below is when the main character, Owayne, challenges Huw regarding conflicting loyalties between his duty to his tribe and his oath to the Druid priesthood which trains and develops him. Huw was groomed by his Iceni clan to be a priest, to seek power in that way but for the benefit of the tribe; a conflict with his oath as a Priest is inherent in that grooming.

Likeable as he is, Huw seeks to be loyal to his oath and peers and to his own family tribe. As a result he is the most tortured of the characters. His response to challenge is to refer to his tribe and their homelands, to rationalise why that home landscape has formed loyalties in him that are in conflict with those of other tribes and of the religious belief and value system that they all claim allegiance to.

 

Excerpt from “The Learn”

Owayne Challenges Huw’s Thought

 

“Huw, the death of the Syth, our honoured guest while we were the guard has shamed us all, it was your blood family that took the life of that Syth, now summer fails to give warmth, there are bad spirits of the night and the Syth seek to placate the Gods. You were there, you were surprised to hear your cousin say you were not! Why is this occurring, what happened, why are you and your people working against the Goddess, against your oath?”

I have said this calmly without venom or judgement. Nial and Gwen are with me, not threatening, seated with no stick or staff, calm openness in our body stance. I have bowed to him, a mark of respect, I saw him attack Merle and me on Mon, I have not spoken, I wait now, not pushing, he cannot rush from us, there would be dishonour in his spirit were he not to face us.

“Owayne, there are things I cannot speak of, the ways of my people are different, I am sworn to them by blood.”

“We are all sworn to the Goddess, oathed to the Learn, we eat with you, fight together, grow wet and cold, we see you as brother and friend. You are reserved and have held your council here but you are one of us; you tear our loyalty between our oath, the Learn and you.”

“Rocks, seas, winds and plants of the Ordovici coasts have formed you, carved the spirits within your ancestors now in you. My lands are different, I am made another way. I see your lands and ways and have respect for them but my people must prosper between the seas of the east and the plains of horse peoples.”

“That cannot mean the death by knife of honoured guests, blood spilt on Beltane, even in Iceni lands these are sacred things to all Celts and Druidii.”

“Owayne I have not spoken of our time on Mon, you saw my people, my lords, cousins, Haron my uncle, he is Druid sworn, he wields power in Iceni tribes and families both as priest and leader, his brother my father was clan leader, I might have been that though another leads us; Haron interprets the way of the Goddess, of Nature Anu, he guides us in her ways.”

“Does he guide you or tell you? Nature is our guide, our window into the thoughts and ways of the Goddess; her beauty is in us, in our coming to Know the way of the stars, sun, in earth, in the day and warmth and food and thought, especially in our thinking; these are our guides; training of the Learn is to tune our senses to guide so that we may choose the right way, Haron cannot choose your way or that of your people!”

“The life spirit of Iceni is different from that of Ordovici, Atrebati or Ancaliti. Our land is flat, we have no mountains, a few small hills, everywhere is wet, full of flowing reeds in swamps, bird spirits are different, they live in the ground or on water, nestling into hard grass; we have no holes in the ground where we take stones, horses cannot walk our swamp paths, we make our dwell from wood, setting trees in the mud, forcing them in, once they are down we build our dwell on those platforms and posts above water. Our spirit Gods are in the tree stems, the water that does not rise, the ducks and birds that we can eat, the willow we use to make eel pots, the fish we eat, berries, roots and flowers that the Goddess gives us to survive. The Goddess has given us Know in salves and life, our children live, our numbers grow, we need more to prosper. We trade across seas and with Ancaliti and Atrebati; they dominate us to the west, the seas dominate us to the east where they take our muddy shallow slow moving rivers and streams, the soft ground of our coasts are undermined by the sea Gods and fall there, our forests and woods at the shore’s edge are taken by the seas and over run with sands and mud.

“All these things make our thoughts different from Ordovici, our Nature is not yours! Our earth is brown and good, it is thick though we must drain and dam lands to get enough dry ground. The sea Gods invade our coastal lea in winter, sometimes in summer, destroying our cereal crops, so we look and build new ones, we build dykes and dams higher and higher as the seas rise, but still they rise.

About the Author

About Tony Halker

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a

geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website / Twitter / Blog

 

 

Review: The Witcher Chime by Amity Green

Synopsis

In 1922 and in 1988 a deadly, possessive entity imprints on members of the same family, ancient as Genesis and determined to remain free. Savannah Caleman is the latest object of obsession in this chilling, historical tale of haunted legacy and terror.

Savannah Caleman’s family has been coming apart since the early 1920’s. After a horrific suicide by their great aunt, the Calemans sell off the family ranch, hoping to leave the stigma of insanity behind and gain a fresh start at a property known by locals as “The Witcher Place.” Days after the move, Savannah’s father isn’t himself and her mother grows increasingly distant. Her little brother, Chaz, is forced out of a second story window by a being that makes Savannah question her sanity for the first time. Her mother takes Chaz and flees the state. Savannah and her younger sister, Molly, are chased home by a mountain lion but when Savannah turns to look back, the cat has transformed into a man. Their father’s behavior takes a more serious twist as horror abounds and Savannah turns to distant relatives for answers, fearing the insanity is real and has spread. Her father is no longer in control. Armed with a shotgun, Savannah is forced to protect herself and her sister.

The evil plaguing her family dons a suit and tie and introduces himself, giving Savannah an ultimatum. She must decide between her sister’s safety and aiding a monster that can’t be identified as either an angel or a demon. Either way, Savannah is torn, and takes to single-handedly running the family affairs with precision as she takes care of her sister. The Witcher Place is transformed to her liking using family money. Distractions are only that. Releasing a monster to roam at will isn’t a stellar option, no matter the promises it makes. The stain of murder and torment cannot be erased. He has fallen, been shackled, and now has plans to rise once more using Savannah as the key to regain grace.

Review

Wow! This is a pretty intense horror by an extremely talented author! I’ve not read anything by Amity Green before but she really knows how to bring a story alive!

As always I don’t give away spoilers in my reviews which, in this case, makes it difficult to talk about the plot line as it is all so integral to the story!

Savannah is a strong protagonist and you immediately warm to her but the world in which she finds herself is chilling and dark and just a true horror based world!

If you are a fan of horror then this is horror in its purest form! It is evil and dark and choc full of suspense.  The ending is outstanding and the whole story gave me the creeps as a good horror should!

Reviewed by Nat

About the Author

Amity Green was born in a small town in Colorado in the spring of 1971. She graduated high school in Kingman, Arizona in 1989.

She started taking college courses in the fall of 1992 while working as a raft guide on the Arkansas River.

Amity won her first writing award as an essayist in the fall of 1998 and continued college part time while raising her children and working as a haul truck driver in the mining industry.

In the summer of 2006, she went to Austin, Texas to continue her education. She has studied Creative Writing and British Literature, including a stint in London during the summer of 2010, where she toured and studied theater and the history of English Literature. Amity returned to Colorado in late 2010, where she began her first novel, “Scales” which she outlined in Stratford Upon Avon while touring bookstores and playhouses.

Since then, many of her short stories have appeared in numerous published anthologies and continue to appear in new publications. In 2014 she moved to Manitou Springs, Colorado, where she currently resides and continues to produce works of Urban Fantasy and Horror. Amity is a proud member of the Horror Writers Association and keeps steady attendance at local writers groups. A lover of animals, Amity is an advocate against animal abuse and assists with lost pets in her community.

Disclosure: The Pursuit Of Bookiness received a copy of this book free of charge in return for an honest review. All opinions are our own.

Blitz & Giveaway: The Storm by Amanda McKinney

The Storm
Amanda McKinney
(Berry Springs Series)
Publication date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense

The snow is dropping in Berry Springs… and so are the bodies...

On a pitch-black wintry night, Detective Dean Walker finds a man in the middle of an icy road, with a bullet between his eyes—a murder that is eerily similar to his father’s, which was never solved. Coincidence? No, Dean doesn’t believe in coincidences. He also doesn’t believe in love at first sight, until he meets the victim’s wife.

Psychologist Heidi Novak is hardly settling into her new mansion in the small, country town of Berry Springs, when she receives a late-night visit by the handsome Dean Walker. Seconds after learning that her husband has been murdered, gunshots explode around her and it becomes apparent that she is the next target.

With a massive winter storm looming, Dean races to find the killer and keep Heidi safe, while facing a long a list of suspects, including Heidi’s arrogant sister-in-law and a local, crusty cowboy. As the evidence mounts, Dean becomes more convinced than ever that his father’s murder is connected to the death of Heidi’s husband.

And he can’t help but think . . . will Heidi be the second love he loses to the ice-cold killer?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Dean pulled Dusty from the pen, saddled him up and jumped on.

“Alright buddy, let’s go.” He guided the horse out of the barn and into the dark night. He inhaled the cool winter air as Dusty leisurely stepped into the field.

He loved riding horses—something about it made him feel free; free of worry, free of stress. He closed his eyes for a moment and listened to sounds of the woods around him—the wind whispering through the tall pine trees, the sound of Dusty’s hooves crunching on the icy grass beneath him and the night calls of the thousand different critters that call the Ozark Mountains home. The faint smell of a fire burning somewhere in the distance tickled his nose.

Despite the picturesque surroundings, he looked into the woods and tensed. Usually, being alone on his land cleared his head and gave him a calmness that only the outdoors could provide. But, not tonight. Tonight, the woods seemed ominous in the dark night, with long shadows stretching across the field like fingers reaching to grab a hold of him.

Like someone watching him from the darkness, waiting to grab hold.

He thought of his mother, and the look in her eyes when she asked about Clint Novak. Although it wasn’t said, there was no doubt that she had been thinking the same thing he had been since he looked down at Clint’s body. Could it be the same person? The same person who killed his father six, now seven, years ago?

The thought seemed inconceivable. What was the connection between his father and Clint, and why wait seven years?

It wasn’t just the location of the bullet hole, it was just something in his gut that made him on edge about it. A sixth sense. And, obviously, something in his mother’s gut felt the same way, too.

He pulled Dusty to a stop where just seven years ago—to the day—he and his father were burning brush, right before his father was shot and killed.

He sat still for a moment. His eyes scanned the tree line in the distance—as he had done a million times—trying to put a face to the murderer who killed his father. Was it someone who knew him? Or, was it just pesky trespassers who got a little too trigger happy?

He took a deep breath and slid off the horse.

Flashbacks of holding his dead father in his arms shot like lightning through his head. His fists clenched as he paced the area.

As if Dusty knew what was going on, he bowed his head in grief, and respect for the dead.

Dean tilted his head to the sky, letting the light of the moon wash over him.

He whispered, “I’ll get him, Dad. I’ll get him.”

As tears threatened to sting his eyes, he reached into his pocket, pulled out the bottle of whiskey and took a sip. And, poured a little out for his father, as he did every year on this day.

Anger washed over him, and a renewed determination to catch the bastard that killed his father had him seething. He inhaled deeply, took another swig and looked into the woods.

He’d get the son of a bitch.

As he turned to mount Dusty, something in his gut twisted. A foreboding of something to come.

 

Author Bio:

Amanda McKinney, author of Sexy, Suspenseful Mysteries wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. When Amanda isn’t tending to her two beautiful boys, she’s hidden behind her computer screen crafting page-turning murder mysteries, peppered with titillating love scenes. Having been born and raised in the south, Amanda’s books are set in small, country towns and reflect southern culture at its finest.

Amanda’s debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, was released in January 2017, followed by the first two books in the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES, THE WOODS and THE LAKE. The third book in the series, THE STORM is scheduled to be released in the Winter of 2017.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook

 

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Guest Post: How Christmas Was Spent During The Crusades by D. N Carter

Who Controls The Past Controls The Future

 An epic love story must overcome religious divide and a plot to eradicate two blood lines, as the Crusades and the search for the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail gather momentum.

Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles; religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.

Sometime between 1110 AD and 1120 AD in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights — the founding knights Templar — recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former, advanced civilisation, beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.

Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms — from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives ever be the same again.

The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic, which sweeps across England, Scotland and France, to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth — and crack the ancient code — behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself.

About the Author

After strange and vivid experiences whilst living in Cyprus as a child, author D N Carter has been fascinated by the history, myths and legends of the Middle Ages and mankind’s past. As he got older travels to Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Languedoc region of France and the deserts of Arabia fuelled his enthusiasm. While not decoding maps and mathematical codes D N Carter enjoys adventure sports from parachuting to microlight flying. Today he divides his time between East Anglia in the UK and the south of France with his family.

Website

Christmas during the Crusades

By

D N Carter

 

The word ‘Christmas’ was first recorded in AD 1038 when a book from Saxon England used an amalgamation of the Old English expression ‘Christes Maesse’, meaning ‘Festival of Christ’. But it was not celebrated in the same fashion we do today. In fact most of the world didn’t celebrate it at all and Easter was considered more significant along with the Annunciation, celebrated on 25 March, when Jesus was supposedly conceived. But those who did celebrate Christmas did so from the 25th December to Epiphany on the 6th January…twelve days. It was preceded by a month of fasting in some regions which was seen as a time of special preparation for God’s coming, his adventus, from the Latin word adventus meaning ‘coming’ into the world, of both the infant Jesus, and at the end of time at the apocalypse, hence we get Advent. Christmas eventually came to dominate the medieval calendar and Advent was originally known as the ‘forty days of St. Martin’ because it began on 11th November, the feast day of St Martin of Tours. Christmas or Xmas?  With Xmas, the X actually stands for the Greek letter chi, which was the early abbreviation for Christ or the Greek ‘Khristos’. The X also symbolises the cross on which Christ was crucified. William the Conqueror chose to be crowned on Christmas day in AD 1066.

 

The use of an evergreen tree features in rituals of many cultures, but medieval Christmas trees were not a common element and their popularity only began in the 19th century. It is known that the Church would decorate trees with apples on Christmas Eve, which they called ‘Adam and Eve Day,’ but the trees remained outdoors. The giving and receiving of gifts were more commonly given on New Year’s Day or elsewhere in the Christmas season, not on the 25th. The singing of Christmas carols began to increase during the late middle ages and many of the medieval carols we sing today had their rhythms regularised and their harmonies rewritten to suit later tastes. In the Crusader states an individual would usually sing solo whilst others danced around him, or her.

 

The Christmas nativity with the baby Jesus in a manger was not something seen in medieval Christmas festivities. That practice did not start until the 16th century. The Christmas crib originated in AD 1223 in Italy when Saint Francis of Assisi explained the Christmas Nativity story to local people using a crib set up in a cave at Greccio to symbolise the birth of Jesus. This simple symbolism was rapidly adopted by Crusaders in the Holy Land as it gave an immediate visual means to convey and celebrate the story.  Most Christians see Christmas as commemorating the birth of Jesus on the 25th December; but this tradition was adopted by the Christian faith from earlier traditions such as the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, in honour of Saturn the Harvest God, and the Scandinavian festival of Yule and other Pagan festivals centred on the Winter Solstice, all celebrated on or around the 25th December. The original tales of Jesus’ birth from the gospels were expanded, especially in the Holy Land. One example, being the story of the three Maji/Magi (Magi – the route word for Magician) was changed so they became kings and given names with their own backgrounds (one eighth century legend described one of the three as being black). By the early-twelfth century, the liturgy would include dramatic scenes, such as ‘angels’ singing.  This would lead to the development of plays, especially in towns, were Bible scenes were dramatised.

The official date of the birth of Christ is absent from the Bible and is still hotly contested. In the latter part of the 4th century, the Roman Empire made Christianity its official religion and it was Pope Julius I who settled and established the date on the 25th December. The 3rd century historian Sextus Julius Africanus stated that Jesus was conceived on the spring equinox of 25th March, as already mentioned above, the choice being a shrewd and effectual method to ‘Christianise’ the pagan winter festivals that fell on this date. The winter solstice is the day the sun reverses its direction of its cycle from south to north, connecting the birth of Jesus to the ‘rebirth’ of the sun. However the Epiphany on the 6th January was often more enthusiastically celebrated as it was the celebration of Jesus’ baptism and the visit from the three Magi/kings.

Unlike today, Christmas was seen as a time for quiet prayer and contemplation, not fun and frolics.  But the festive season in the High Middle Ages became a time of excess dominated by a great feast, gifts for rich and poor and general indulgence in eating, drinking, dancing and singing. Eating Turkey for Christmas was not practiced…as Turkeys come from the Americas and had not been discovered, nor chocolate, so in general, a boar’s head was on the medieval menu with beef, venison, partridges, geese, bread, cheese, ale and wine. Christmas was also a time for charity and sharing food, such as  loaves of bread, beef and bacon with mustard, chicken soup, cheese and as much beer as they could drink for the day. The rich would eat goose and, with the king’s permission, swan. If the poor could afford it, the Church charged a set price of seven pence for a ready cooked goose. An uncooked goose would cost six pence…about a day’s wages. Venison from deer would not be on the menu for the poor, but in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, some more charitable lords let them have what was left of the deer; those parts known as ‘umbles’. These were the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains mixed with whatever else they could get, then made into a pie. The poor would eat ‘umble pie’ and where the expression ‘to eat humble pie’ originates.

Large mince pies were baked but filled with all sorts of shredded meat along with spices and fruit, the recipe only changing in Victorian times when the meat was left out. Originally baked in rectangular cases to represent the infant Jesus’ crib and the addition of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg was meant to symbolise the gifts bestowed by the three wise men. Similarly we see today, these pies were not very large and it was widely believed to be lucky to eat one mince pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas. Only in the Victorian era was the recipe amended to include only spices and fruit. Christmas puddings in Medieval Europe, especially England, were a spicy porridge known as ‘frumenty’. Made of thick porridge, sometimes boiled wheat, with currants and dried fruit stirred in. Yolks of eggs were also added and, if available, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. The mixture was left to cool and set before being served. In the Holy Land it was usually the mince pies that were favoured as the ingredients were more readily available.

Boxing Day was traditionally when the rich gave gifts for the poor. In medieval times, the gift was generally money given in a hollow clay pot with a slit in the top which had to be smashed to retrieve the money. These small clay pots were nicknamed ‘piggies’ and became the piggy banks we use today. Christmas Day was traditionally a ‘quarter day’, one of the four days in the financial year on which payments such as ground rents were due, meaning many poor tenants had to pay their rent on Christmas Day! December 28th is ‘Holy Innocents Day’ or ‘Childermass Day’, the day when King Herod ordered all children under two years of age be killed. In some European towns it was the custom for a boy to be given charge of a town for one day after being made a bishop for just December 28th. Children, especially in England, were reminded of Herod’s cruelty by being beaten. December 28th was seen by many then as a day of bad luck. No-one would get married on that day; no-one would start a building on that day and Edward IV refused to be crowned on that day.*

 

*Additional Sources: C N Trueman ‘Medieval Christmas’.  Dr Matthew Champion, research fellow in medieval and early modern history at St Catharine’s College Cambridge. Ben Johnson.

 

Blitz: The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

The Upside of Falling Down
Rebekah Crane
(Skyscape)
Publication date: January 30th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

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EXCERPT:

My composure cracks when I’m safely tucked in a stall in the bathroom. Everything shifts, my real need coming into focus, like a caged bird that knows it doesn’t want to live behind bars anymore.

I need to get out of here.

How can I see my dad and not love him? What is wrong with me? Everything I thought would happen hasn’t.

I press my sweaty head against the cool stall door. I wish I could be who Stephen wants me to be, a fearless girl willing to fight through this. More importantly, I wish I could be who my dad wants me to be. Clementine Haas. But I can’t. To go home with him like this would mean that every day he’ll wake up and want Clementine there, and instead, every day it will be me—whoever I am. We’ll both live in a constant state of disappointment.

I can save him from that.

I come out of the stall, focusing on myself in the mirror.

“Jane,” I say to my reflection. “I’m Jane.”

Stephen surely won’t help me get out of here. He wants to keep me safe in the hospital, which is still surrounded by camera crews and reporters. But there’s another way.

The hallway is clear of my dad and Stephen when I poke my head out from the bathroom. My heart races as I walk swiftly away from my room and toward the staircase at the other end of the hall. Once the door closes behind me, and I’m safely tucked out of sight in the stairwell, a moment of relief comes, but it’s brief.

The railing keeps me steady as I make my way down the steps and onto the first floor. My legs are weak, slow, but it’s not an option to stop at this point. Stop and I get caught. Move and I might find freedom.

In the courtyard, Kieran sits at the table where I left him, his feet up on the bench, a book in his hands. I check out the cover. It’s clearly a romance novel.

“You like romance novels, too,” I say. “We have something in common. Though I wouldn’t peg you as a romantic.”

“I’m full of surprises.” He squints in the sunlight. “I’ve never understood why guys go for fast cars and guns when these books have fast women and sex.”

“Honesty again. That’s a good thing.”

Kieran dog-ears the page he’s on and closes the book, setting it down on the table. “You ran away from the dare.”

“I didn’t run away.” I take back my seat. “I had to do something.”

“What was that?”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m ready now.”

“Are you sure, Jane?”

Kieran is just full of good questions, but debating the answer with myself would take too much time.

“Jane Middleton,” I say, holding out my hand. “That’s my last name.”

“Very royal sounding.” He places his warm hand in mine and says, “Kieran O’Connell. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Very Irish sounding, Kieran O’Connell.”

“Half-Irish, on my mother’s side.”

“And your dad?” I ask.

“Technically, he’s British, but he’s more asshole than anything.”

“Honesty again.” I reach for the last container of Jell-O on his tray. “I’m ready for my dare. Spoon, please.”

Kieran holds one up but doesn’t hand it over. “Are you sure you want to do this, Jane? It’s pig and cow parts.”

This is so much more than Jell-O. This is my life he’s holding in front of me.

“Where’s Waterville?” I ask, pointing to his hat.

“South of here a few hours.”

“Is it by Cork?” I ask, remembering the map and trying to sound like I know a thing or two.

“Not exactly. A bit more west.”

“Is that where you live?”

“For the summer months.”

I point to his T-shirt. “Then you go back to Trinity College?”

“Yep.”

“And where is that?”

“It’s in Dublin.” Kieran looks at me oddly. “Have you not heard of Trinity College?”

“Of course, I have. I just forgot for a second. It’s in Dublin. Right.”

“What about you?” he asks. “Are you on break from college as well?”

The question throws me. I have no idea if Clementine is in college. But I’m also not sure it matters. The part of me that keeps searching for Clementine needs a break. Jane can be whoever she wants. “Yeah, sure,” I say.

“What are you studying?”

“Undecided,” I say quickly. “You?”

Kieran rolls his eyes. “Business.”

“You don’t sound happy about that.”

“Not everything in life can be happy, Jane.”

The spoon rests in Kieran’s hand. No, sometimes life beats you down. Sometimes life deserts you, and your only choice is to find another path. “Are you going to give me that spoon or what?”

“You know, you don’t have to do this,” he says. His blue eyes hold mine. He knows this is more than just Jell-O, too. That’s what a dare does. It taunts you to take a different direction, to do something you never thought you could do, to jump, knowing that a million consequences could be on the other side of that dare, but that if you don’t do it, you’ll always wonder. And sometimes wondering is worse than consequences.

“I’m doing it,” I say. And I shovel a spoonful of pig and cow parts into my mouth.

Kieran sits back, a broad grin growing on his face. When I’ve eaten the container clean, he claps.

“I wasn’t sure you had it in you.”

I have to choke down the last bits of Jell-O, then I put my empty container on the tray with his, only partly satisfied.

“Why are you here?” I ask. “It can’t possibly be for pig and cow parts.”

“I come up to volunteer. Help out my fellow man and all. The food is just an added bonus.”

“That’s nice of you.”

“People need help,” Kieran says coolly. “It’s the least I can do.”

“People do need help,” I agree. “And now it’s my turn.”

“For what?”

“Truth or dare?” I say.

A glimmer comes to Kieran’s eyes. “That’s my line of questioning.”

“It’s not fair that I answer the question and you don’t.”

“Life isn’t fair, Jane. It’s all Jell-O, remember.”

I lean across the table. “Are you chicken or something?”

My confidence is surprising. Kieran seems to bring out something natural in me, or maybe he brings out more faith that the girl I was is still with me, just waiting to come out. Our eyes are fixed on each other’s. Kieran crosses his arms over his chest.

The clucking starts first. Then I start to flap my arms like chicken wings. Kieran glances around at all the other tables, and then he starts to laugh.

“OK. OK.” He holds up his hands in surrender.

But as soon as the clucking stops, someone drops an entire tray of dishes onto the concrete sidewalk. They break with a loud crash. I startle, freezing in my seat. It chokes the breath right out of me. A head rush comes on so suddenly that I’m worried I’ll faint right in front of him. Blood sinks to my feet. My hands go clammy. I start to sweat.

“Are you OK, Jane?”

Kieran talks, but I can’t see him. My head rests in my hands. Sound reverberates through me, and an intense pain creeps up behind my eyes. For a second, I swear I feel someone grab my hand. I expect to see fingers intertwined with mine, but they’re gone, and I’m left with a horrible empty feeling inside my chest.

“Are you OK?” Kieran asks again.

“I’m fine.” If I faint, this is over. With ragged breath and shaking hands that he can’t see under the table, I say, “Truth or dare, Kieran?”

“We don’t have to do this.”

“Truth or dare?” I say again more forcefully.

Kieran shakes his head. “It’s a Catch-22. Neither is easy. They both have consequences.”

“Do I have to start clucking again?”

He pauses for too long, and then he says, “Fine. Dare.”

The blood returns to my hands and head. The sweat dries on my forehead. This time, my voice doesn’t shake as I speak.

“I dare you to get me the hell out of here.”

 

Author Bio:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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Four Opportune Places to Sign other than Book Stores by Douglas Wells

 

Today Douglas Wells author of The Secrets of All Secrets joins us here on The Pursuit Of Bookiness once more for a tongue in cheek look at book signings! 

Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and even your local independent store won’t host a signing for you?  Instead, try some or all of the following venues. You’ll be surprised by the exposure and following you will gain.

  1. Mud Wrestling Events: To take full advantage of this venue, bribe the bartender to let you sign from behind the bar where you’re protected. For a promotional incentive, every time someone buys your book, you sign it and buy the person a beer. When one of the wrestlers pins the other, give a free book and beer to the first three people to reach you. An additional benefit here is the material you can gather for your next book by observing the fascinating culture of mud wrestling.

 

  1. Monster Truck Jams: This one is a gold mine. A winning strategy is to make contact with a driver and offer to sponsor him. Set up your table at the Pit Party, which occurs before the Jam. Drape a large flag of your book cover over the front of your table. At the bottom of the flag you should emboss, “Proud Sponsor of Maniacal Masher!” Once the jam begins move your table next to the concessions. Purchase several miniature Matchbox style Monster Trucks. Kids love these things, so give these out to them. Their parents will feel obligated to buy your book. You should also make sure Maniacal Masher is flying your flag from the truck roof or bed.

 

  1. Gospel Tent Revivals: There’s a hard and fast rule regarding this one: Don’t sign in the summer. Position your table at the opposite end of the tent from the pulpit. Everyone leaving the revival will pass your table, and you’ll be well out of range of the preacher’s spittle. It will be helpful if your book has some sort of spiritual theme or tie-in. If not, stretch it a bit. Say, for example, your book is a mystery with a couple of gruesome murders in it. Not a problem. When discussing the book with revival goers focus on the idea of the victims’ reward in Heaven.  If the revival involves “call and response,” definitely jump to your feet and join in on the response. It may go like this: “Do you believe?” The proper response is, of course, “I believe!” but you should wave copies of your book in both hands over your head when you do it. For this venue, it’s a good idea to bring bookmarks with Bible verses on them.

 

  1. Traveling Carnivals: Insist on having your signing table positioned in front of the YO YO ride. When riders get off, they’ll be so disoriented you’ll be able to sell and sign two or three books apiece to them. Make sure, however, to put enough distance between your table and the exit gate to allow for “upheavals” before the riders reach you. An effective promotional incentive is to hand out free tickets to the Shoot-A-Duck.

 

Bonus: If none of the four venues pay off, you can always become a carney.

Review: Hit by P S Bridge

Synopsis

A terrorist threat, a sinister organisation, and a threat to the security of the free world.
Renowned British lawyer and Sandhurst military academy dropout, Mark Lucas King is assigned the case of his career: to prosecute known terrorist Mohammed Al-Azidi.

All King wants is justice and to do his job successfully. But his peaceful life is shattered when a team of merciless hitmen targets him and his family and the court case collapses. Framed for assault and suspected of his wife’s murder, King must leave his legal career behind and go back to his old career as a British Army sniper in order to catch those responsible and hold them to account. Mark King’s brand of justice doesn’t involve a court room.

Forced to battle against highly trained hitmen to clear his name, King discovers that a sinister organisation known as Invictus Advoca is operating behind the scenes. What is their connection to him and the Al-Azidid case?

As the hunt for those responsible takes him far across Europe, can Mark unravel the mysteries that shroud this secretive organisation and peel back the layers to discover why he and his family have found themselves the target of professional hitmen?

Time is not on Mark King’s side as he races to prevent a global terror threat, discover who killed his wife, and find out who wants him dead, and why.

Review

Hit has an extremely intriguing plot line that throws you into the action from the very start!

The author has an easy style of writing that makes the book one you can keep up with but faced paced enough that you won’t lose interest.  The plot reminds me somewhat of “Taken” with the idea of an unassuming man being dangerous when his family is threatened.

It won’t take you long to get through this book when you start reading and I cannot wait for the next installment

Reviewed by Nick

Author Bio

 Living in Hampshire, right on the edge of Southampton Water, P.S Bridge has spent over a decade working in the private financial and legal sector. Away from his professional life, he embraces his creative side and is often found writing stories whilst listening to music. An avid reader from a young age he counts author Scott Mariani as one of the many influences that finally encouraged him to put the finishing touches to the first in his Mark King thriller series.