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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Spirituality Self-Help Feature: The Paradise Man According to Thomas Merton @RABTBookTours


Religion, Spirituality, Self-Help
Publisher: Xlibris

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Since Adam and Eve left Eden, humanity has endured through long millennia of hardships and sufferings, especially death. But the hearts of their children and great-grandchildren have never given up the hope that, someday, they could return to the place of happiness that once had been their inheritance. It is a legitimate and dignified dream. In fact, since the day Adam and Eve left, paradise has remained on earth, waiting for every single human child to return.

Mertons paradise, in the last analysis, is on earth, but it is not a spacious place. It is rather an attitude of heart, a state of consciousness, in a spiritual journey. The recovery of paradise occurs when the ego in us becomes empty like a desert. The more the noisy ego diminishes, the more the paradise appears in all its beauty. In fact, this paradise is the face of God, not just an imaginary picture but the true God Himself. The more the face of our ego fades out, the more the face of God shines in his glory, might, and goodness. The desert path is more a journey within our consciousness than through geographical space and time. That is why it belongs to all people and is not just reserved for desert hermits.

According to Thomas Merton, you need not be a bishop, a priest, a monk, a nun, a religious person, or a hermit to enter the spiritual journey. You may be a lay person, a normal churchgoer very busy with your daily duties, but you certainly could be a real paradise man.







Excerpt

Since Adam and Eve left Eden, humanity has endured through long millennia of hardships and sufferings, especially death. But the hearts of their children and great grandchildren have never given up the hope that someday they could return to the place of happiness which once had been their inheritance. It is a legitimate and dignified dream. In fact, since the day Adam and Eve left, paradise has remained on earth waiting for every single human child to return.


Following the great journey of humankind in the search for the paradise, utopias and fairytale worlds expressed in many centuries in various cultures and religions, this present work describes the arrival of the search that means paradise is found. We seek to understand what is the life of the Paradise Man? What is the Paradise World?


Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church spoke to the US Congress on September 24, 2015, and he gave praise to four great Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. The last of these four great heroes, Thomas Merton, will be the lead contributor for this work.


Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is recognized as the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty books and many poems and articles on various topics. The most central themes are the monastic life and contemplative prayer. He was also a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement. Thomas Merton was born on January 31st, 1915 in Prades, France, to a New Zealand father and an American mother. Both were artists. Merton converted to Roman Catholicism whilst at Columbia University in 1942. He was called to priesthood and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, a community of Trappist monks, the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order. In Gethsemani Abbey he lived for twenty-seven years and went through profound ongoing conversion. During his last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions. The Dalai Lama praised him as having more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known. He died in Bangkok on December 10th, 1968 by an accidental electrocution during a conference on East-West monastic dialogue. 2


Thomas Merton left in many of his writings profound observations concerning the noble human dream and in particular he introduced us to the paradise of the Desert Fathers:


Modern studies of the Fathers have revealed beyond question that one of the main motives that impelled men to embrace the “angelic life” (bios angelikos) of solitude and poverty in the desert was precisely the hope that by so doing they might return to paradise. 3


Thomas Merton wrote the above lines in his book: Zen and the Birds of Appetite. This book was Merton’s dialogue with Dr. Daisetz Suzuki, the famous Japanese scholar and writer, about the transcendent experience of paradise in both Christian and Buddhist traditions. Thomas Merton openheartedly shared more with us what he found: “Paradise is not ‘heaven.’ Paradise is a state, or indeed a place, on earth. Paradise belongs more properly to the present than to the future life.”4


Paradise! What is it like? It is not a material paradise providing bodily satisfaction and mental relaxation like that of vacation locations: Hawaii, Miami, Las Vegas and Hollywood. It also is not the paradise of Milton, which has been said by E.M.W. Tillyard to be too weak and unconvincing because it has “too much leisure and . . . nothing to do.” He also compared Adam and Eve in Milton’s work to “old age pensioners enjoying a perpetual youth.” 5 The paradise which Merton talked about was the paradise of the Desert Fathers.


Merton’s paradise, in the last analysis, is on earth, but it is an interior place. It is rather an attitude of heart, a state of consciousness, in a spiritual journey. The recovery of paradise occurs when the ego in us becomes empty like a desert. The more the noisy ego diminishes, the more the paradise appears in all its beauty. In fact, this paradise is the Face of God, not just an imaginary picture, but the true God Himself. The more the face of our ego fades out, the more the Face of God shines in His Glory, Might, and Goodness. The Desert Path is more a journey within our consciousness than through geographical space and time. That is why it belongs to all people and is not just reserved for desert hermits.



This book will include the following aspects of the journey:
  • Ø   the traveler’s experiences of the transformation into a Paradise Man in union with God;
  • Ø   the traveler’s union with fellow humans though still in a challenging world;
  • Ø   the traveler’s harmonious union with the world of creation in a “cosmic dance.” God is the dancer and we are the dance.6



The focus of this work will be on “The Paradise Man;” therefore, we will not go into detail about the biography of Thomas Merton and this is not the study about only Merton’s theory. We should say that we all enter a mysterious world of Paradise and Thomas Merton is our guide leader.  This work is also not aimed as a profound academic research but only a collection of precious notes to help the author himself and other average churchgoers in finding some inspiration for their spiritual journey. “The Paradise Man” will always be the common expression applicable for both “Man” and “Woman.” Biblical citation will be taken from The New American Bible, revised edition.


According to Thomas Merton, you need not be a bishop, a priest, a monk, a nun, a religious or a hermit; you may be a lay person, a normal churchgoer very busy with your daily duties, but you certainly could also be a Paradise Man.


About the Author

Linhxuan Vu or Fr. Peter Dat Tien Vu is a priest and Cistercian monk graduated MDiv (1983) and MA in theology (1987) from Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at Graduate Theologian Union in Berkeley, California. After some years being sub-novice master at Thien Phuoc Cistercian Abbey in Vung Tau City, Vietnam, he is now serving in the chaplain team at the Retreat House of Assumption Abbey in Ava, Missouri.



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Friday, August 23, 2019

Historical Fiction & Satire Feature: Pianist in a Bordello @RABTBookTours


Historical Fiction & Satire

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What would happen if a politician decided to tell the truth—the whole truth?

Richard Youngblood, aspiring Congressman, is about to find out. He’s running on a platform of honesty and transparency—and against the advice of his friends and advisers he’s decided to start with himself. His autobiography will lay his entire life bare before voters just days before the election.

And what a life he’s had. Born in a commune and named Richard Milhous Nixon Youngblood as an angry shot at his absent father, Richard grows up in the spotlight, the son of an enigmatic fugitive and the grandson of a Republican senator. He’s kidnapped and rescued, kicked out of college for a prank involving turkeys, arrested in Hawaii while trying to deliver secrets to the CIA…Dick Nixon Youngblood’s ready to tell all.

He’ll even tell his readers about the Amandas—three women who share a name but not much else, and who each have helped shape and define the man he’s become.

Are voters really ready for the whole truth?

Are you?

Pianist in a Bordello is a hilarious political romp through the last four decades of American history, from a narrator who is full of surprises.





Praise for Pianist in a Bordello

"Pianist in a Bordello is so well crafted it compels readers to surrender and enjoy this irreverent, madcap portrait of a politician. A steady flow historic nuggets, shrewd insights, passionate encounters, and all-out hilarious moments, make it difficult to stop reading." - Underground Book Reviews

"With an interesting combination of literary tools to keep Erickson's plot constantly moving--opening chapters with sarcastic quotes, alternating between the abovementioned scenes, various plot twists, and closing on a humorous, yet thought-provoking note, Pianist in a Bordello is definitely a fun read for all." - San Francisco Book Review

"The author combines highly effective Joseph Heller-style political and social satire with some surprisingly touching personal moments... Erickson welds all of these elements together into a hugely enjoyable comic novel. A fast-paced, raucous tour through the last half-century alongside a modern-day Candide." - Kirkus Review

‘An original setting, carefully researched and vividly portrayed.’ — The Times Literary Supplement



About the Author


Mike C. Erickson grew up in the idyllic college town of Logan, Utah, but because of a twist of fate he graduated from high school in Honolulu. He left Hawaii brimming with aloha and enrolled at Utah State, where he was awarded two degrees and self-proclaimed minor intellectual status, which was of dubious value when the US Army invited him to vacation in South-East Asia. Ten days after leaving Vietnam, he began decades of dispensing pearls of wisdom as a high school history teacher, academic decathlon coach, and on occasion, as a community college instructor in the Sacramento area. Mike and his wife Trudy, have two grown sons and a grandson born soon after this novel is published. When not in Hawaii or another exotic locale, they live in Gold River, California. This is his first novel.

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Inspirational Feature: Living for a Higher Purpose @RABTBookTours



Spirituality, Inspirational
Date Published: February 2019
Publisher: Book Art Press Solutions

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“Living for a Higher Purpose” is an enthralling story that will keep readers interested at every turn of the page as it gives a unique perspective of the Viet Nam War from an eye-witness and survivor. Viet, the central character, has experienced firsthand the after-effects of war in his “broken homeland” under the Communist regime and struggles with “hunger, thirst, heat, sickness, waves, violent storms, sharks, Communists, pirates, ideas of cannibalism, and death” in his escape. War indeed could not bring happiness and security to the people but instead grabbed them of these things. The contents of the story are raw, honest and powerful, coming directly from experience that has been indelibly etched into the memories of Viet. The book is not just a story of struggles, difficulties, and despair but also a story of hope, redemption, and transformation.

The difficult situations Viet found himself in are relatable and parallel to the struggles of the modern-day readers, and the triumph and new sense of purpose that Viet gained will also be something readers will relate to. This book is such an inspiring, life-changing and uplifting read. Anyone who has been through the toughest times of their lives can find comfort and security in reading this book. Viet’s story inspires readers to find their own higher purpose in life.






About the Author


Rev. Peter G. Vu has been a Catholic priest of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan for twenty years and also a chaplain at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. He was born in Saigon City (currently Ho Chi Minh City), Viet Nam and was a young boy when the Viet Nam War ended. He witnessed the war with great horror and deep appreciation for peace. He grew up with the Communist government system and endured many hardships for more than a decade. What helped Rev. Vu and his countrymen tremendously during those dark days was their faith and prayers. His love for prayers and meditations blossomed. He also exchanged new ideas about prayers and mediations with his Buddhist friends. They got along quite well despite their different faith traditions. After high school, Rev. Vu escaped Viet Nam via boat and came to the United States to begin his seminary training. He attended one year of high school here in the US (Union High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan) to learn the language and new culture. He then attended Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan for two years while staying at Christopher House Seminary. Then, the Seminary sent him to attend his last two years of college at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He graduated with a double major: Mathematics and Philosophy. I then attended graduate school at the University of St. Mary of the Lake and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago, Illinois for five years. He graduated and was ordained with the Master Degree of Divinity and the Sacred Theology Baccalaureate.


Rev. Vu has ministered the People of God at six different churches over the last twenty years. Most of them have schools. He has worked extensively with children, especially at School Masses. He has led children in prayer and has seen first-hand their desperate need for it. He was also trained in Clinical Pastoral Care in a hospital and nursing home setting and practiced it at a General Hospital in Oxnard, California. In addition, Rev. Vu has been a chaplain at Grand Rapids Home for Veterans for almost ten years.


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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Inspirational Memoir Feature: Hopey + $0.99 SALE #memoir #nonfiction #newrelease #sale @RABTBookTours @hpmueller242


Inspirational Memoir
Publisher: Inspire-Books
Release Date eBook: August 22, 2019
Release Date Paperback: October 1, 2019

$0.99 SALE

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Hopey chronicles the story of a courageous girl in a '70s Southern Indiana commune, complete with flowers for dinner, a ball of acid in the freezer, and orgies on the living room floor. The chaos of her formative years, which are littered with violent episodes, periods of hunger and assaults, leads Hope to set off on her own at the age of fifteen.

Written as intense past moments, reflective chapters, and flash-forwards, these three voices come together to transcend time and connect the past and the present. Honest and raw, with no request for empathy or complaint, the book is a celebration of the human spirit and an exhilarating read. Hopey is a reminder that we can love, we can believe, and we, too, can be successful beyond all expectations—if we only dare to hope.




About the Author


Hope Mueller is an author, inspirational speaker, executive, and active non-for-profit volunteer. A results-driven leader and change agent, Hope is passionate about career development and community service, among others. Her early years were marked by the experiences on a hippie commune. Hope’s unique childhood shaped her approach and interaction with the world, with a gift of creating order out of chaos and turning vision into reality. She lives with her husband in northern Illinois and actively parents her four daughters through the phases of their lives.

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Thriller Feature: Milestone Trilogy #thriller @RABTBookTours


Thriller
Date Published: July 2019

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2019 Book Excellence Awards Winner - The Lost Ones - Adventure

2018 Book Excellence Awards Finalist - Eagle Shield - Thriller

2018 Readers' Favourite Honours - Eagle Shield - Thriller

2018 International Book Awards Finalist - Eagle Shield - Thriller



The long-awaited award-winning series is finally here.

New never before released chapters and bonus content.



Eagle Shield.

A trained killer must learn to forget everything he has come to know as a well-beaten path. He must become both father and protector to an orphaned ten-year-old girl.




Project Amber

What will she do when she discovers her life was planned from the beginning? How will she handle being recruited into the intelligence community? Will she do more harm than good? Or will she manage to stop the unimaginable?




The Lost Ones.

With the nuclear reactor dying, the horror of lasting through winter plays heavily on their minds. To survive, they must evacuate and escape to Australia. But the reality of the Australia they'd heard about is far from the images that live in their minds.





About the Author



Carl Lakeland lives with his wife in the sleepy town of Snake Valley, 36 kilometres south west of Ballarat in Australia.

Lakeland grew up during the early seventies western suburbs of Sydney. Having enlisted into the military at the age of seventeen, he draws on his experience to create powerful and engaging speculative fiction.

“Sometimes, I can’t let things be,” says Lakeland. “I write stories with passion that others might see as being obsessive. I live and breathe it. I dream it when I sleep. But I never write down my dreams. If I can’t remember those things I’ve dreamt, they’re not important enough.”

Carl Lakeland’s stories revolve around the element of ‘what if?’ He pushes the boundaries of his stories to the edge of the Official Secrets Act, which will have the reader wondering about the aspect of creative licence, or the possibility of fact in his writing. Either way, the reader will be left to make up their own mind. His books are fast paced, edge of your seat thrillers which are distinctively written in a way that will have the reader guessing which way the story is about to head.

“As a writer, unpredictability is the key essence. If I write something that can be foreseen in coming chapters, it’s not good enough. I will scrap it. My goal is to keep the reader wondering, even sometimes to the detriment of my good guys!”



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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Feature: Pharaoh's Star by Olivia Hardy Ray #scifi #mystery #fantasy #review @RABTBookTours @verajanecook



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Science Fiction, mystery, fantasy
Date Published: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Chattercreek


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The mystery that unfolds on a dark, eerie back road in upstate New York sends Nick Dowling on a frantic quest to understand his past. What he discovers about himself slowly drives him toward madness. Where does the truth unfold, in mystery or in the dream? Is truth the illusion he can't embrace? Just who is Nick Dowling?













My Thoughts

I liked the characters and storyline. 
I just had a hard time putting this one down. Every chance I got I was reading it....on my break at work....waiting in line at the store...waiting for class to start...in bed at night. 
I enjoyed reading about Nick and his journey of self discovery plus a whole lot more. With the world building, the story, and the personalities of the characters. When it got to certain puzzles in the book, I found myself excited to join in and solve them!  I enjoyed myself immensely and would definitely recommend!


About the Author

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Olivia Hardy Ray is the pen name for Vera Jane Cook, who is the author of Dancing Backward in Paradise, 2007 winner of the Indie Excellence Award for notable new fiction and an Eric Hoffer Award for publishing excellence, also in 2007. Dancing Backward in Paradise received a 5 Star Review from ForeWord Clarion. The Story of Sassy Sweetwater was a finalist for the ForeWord Clarion Book of the Year Award and the recipient of a five star review from ForeWord Clarion. Where the Wildflowers Grow was her third southern fiction novel and is receiving 5 star reviews from Amazon.com. Her latest southern fiction novel just released is Pleasant Day. Her woman’s fiction novel is Lies a River Deep and the soon to be released ‘Kismet’. Under her pen name she is also the author of Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem, and Pharaoh's Star. The sequel to Annabel Horton, Lost Witch of Salem is Annabel Horton and the Black Witch of Pau. That novel will be released this summer. Jane, as she is called by friends and family, writes in the genres she loves: southern fiction, women's fiction, mystery and fantasy paranormal fiction. She lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her spouse, her Basenji/Chihuahua mix, Roxie, her Dachshund, Karly, her Chihuahua, Peanut, and her two pussycats, Sassy and Sweetie Pie.


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Historical Thriller Feature: A Roman Death #historical #thriller @DeniseOHagan3 @RABTBookTours


Historical Thriller
Publisher: Black Quill Press

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Skullduggery and scheming in Ancient Rome on the eve of Caesar's assassination.

Historical thriller set in Ancient Rome. In 45 BC, Julius Caesar is at the height of his power. Lucius Scaurus, the young, good-looking fiancé of a high-society girl is poisoned at the couple's own pre-wedding banquet. In the trial that follows, Roman society is shocked when the girl's mother, Helvia, is accused of not only of murder, but of incest. Cicero comes to Helvia's defence, but the killer's identity remains a mystery until the final twist – or two.


Praise for A Roman Death:

‘Poison, poetry (both high-minded and salacious), marriage for money, marriage for love, gang-rape, cowardice in battle, scheming slaves, conniving aristocrats, malicious matrons casting magical curses, and (as if all this were not enough) a previously unknown oration by Cicero - there's so much going on, so expertly conveyed ...’ —  Steven Saylor


‘An absorbing story, with fully drawn characters, a fascinating place and period, all given vibrant life in the author’s best work so far.’ — Kirkus Review


‘An original setting, carefully researched and vividly portrayed.’ — The Times Literary Supplement


‘Religious beliefs and superstition in the ancient world play a key part in Joan O’Hagan’s novel about mayhem in Rome … The identity of the killer, in this excellent classical puzzle that is also a classic whodunit, is revealed in a splendidly contrived shock ending.’ — Gerald Kaufman, The Listener


‘Who put the poison in Lucius’s wine, what truth in the scabrous accusations? Cicero for the defence; an unusual treat, don’t miss it.’ — Christopher Wordsworth, The Observer


‘The contexts are all smartly timed … beware of wicked terminal twists.’ — Stephen Walsh, The Oxford Times


‘In this novel, excellent as a mystery and as a reconstruction of the life of upper-class Rome in 45–44 BC, O’Hagan tells a story of murder, magic, love, greed and intrigue, the plot of which could have come right out of an oration of Cicero.’ — Fred Mench, Fictional Rome: Authors & Reviews.






Excerpt

A ROMAN DEATH - Excerpt: pp 184-7


‘Oh judges, I tell you that this woman — intelligent, wilful and passionate — is far from being the conventional and trustworthy Roman matron she appears to the world. I have already underlined her implacable opposition to her husband’s wishes. Not for her to conform, oh no! Nor in other ways does she conform. Not for Helvia the devotion to her household gods, not for her the religious observance that is the duty of women and the strength of our society. I regret to tell you, gentlemen, that Helvia is a devotee of that Egyptian goddess, that Isis, whose worship has so many times been banned from our city — was forbidden, indeed, as recently as four years ago.’

The advocate paused, glancing at the judges, singling out L. Aemilius Paullus in particular. ‘You will remember how one of your numbers, when Consul, once tore off his toga and drove an axe through the temple doors to set an example to the workmen who had been told to demolish the Iseum. Anyone will applaud such an example, who is a true Roman and faithful to the gods who protect our state.’

The speaker could ignore the waves of muted protest rising from angry spectators now, so many of whom were humble folk. None of the judges, all coming from that comfortably enshrined noble or knightly class, upheld such worship. All the same, he was on delicate ground. Caesar was in power and Caesar had reinstated Isis.

‘Imported worship which deals not in solemn rites owed to traditional gods, but in mysteries and frenzies and incited enthusiasms,’ rumbled the advocate ominously. ‘Why would a lady of Helvia’s class and background have recourse to such practices?

‘I do not ask you what can happen in the temple of linenclad Isis, gentlemen,’ he went on ironically. ‘I do not care to ask you — nor, judges, would you particularly wish to know. But we do know that in other towns the shrines of that goddess are generally not too far from the brothels, and we are content to remain in ignorance of those who give their devotion to bulls and monkeys and reptiles and birds of all sorts, and,’ Messalla paused delicately, his face a study in lofty distaste, ‘those who are said to indulge in practices erotic or magical …

‘Helvia’s resort to Isis worship, to magic, is alien to women of her status. Who can trust a woman who covertly enlists the forces of darkness and evil? She who does so is clearly capable of any deed. But this is not all …’

Messalla paused again.

‘As we all know, the great bulwark of our community, its whole strength, is the family, by reason of its natural and human ties. As we all know, the greatest merit of all from the family is this union of man and woman for the procreation of children.

‘I do not argue that Helvia was not a devoted mother.’ Another pause. Messalla looked round for absolute quiet now and waited until he got it. ‘I do not argue that, iudices. I argue only that Helvia was, as well, too devoted a sister. This woman, married to the honest Fufidius for almost twenty years now, since she was fifteen years old, has for long had a most delightful relationship with her brother. With her brother Cinna, the poet, who is now also Tribune. I regret, however, that it is a most unnatural relationship, as well. I speak, gentlemen, of an incestuous relationship.’

A long collective sigh rose from the audience. This was better than any theatre. Helvia sat as if turned to stone, her mature beauty etched in the band of light that fell on the bench. Aghast, Fufidius rose to his feet, but was motioned down by Cicero.

‘This relationship may have been suspected by a few, but it was well hidden by the incestuous pair. As you know, slaves cannot testify against their masters except in one instance — in a case of incest...



About the Author



Joan O'Hagan's other books include Incline and Fall (Angus & Robertson), Death and a Madonna (Macmillan), Against the Grain (Macmillan) and Jerome & His Women (Black Quill Press).


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