Quick Question: If GOD asks you to be his FB friend, would you…A) Confirm or B) Ignore His Friend Request
This September, a new and uplifting television series premieres on CBS. GOD FRIENDED ME is about an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God, and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him.
This is an inspirational show about hope, faith, and a question we’ve all asked ourselves – what’s my purpose in this world – how can I be of service to others and be an agent of good?
GOD FRIENDED ME is created by Bryant Wynbrandt and Steven Lilien, the producing team behind some of tv’s biggest hits including, GOTHAM, HAWAII FIVE-O, andALCATRAZ. It stars Joe Morton (Justice League, The Good Wife), Violet Beane (The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow), Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi, Homeland) and newcomer Brandon Micheal Hall. The series premieres on Sunday, September 30 on CBS Television.
What Blooms from Dust
by James Markert
Just as Jeremiah Goodbye is set to meet his fate in the electric chair, a tornado tears down the prison walls, and he is given a second chance at life. With the flip of a coin, he decides to return to his home town of Nowhere, Oklahoma, to settle the score with his twin brother Josiah. But upon his escape, he enters a world he doesn’t recognize—one that has been overtaken by the Dust Bowl. And the gift he once relied on to guide him is as unrecognizable as the path back to Nowhere.
After one jolt in Old Sparky, Jeremiah sees things more clearly and begins to question the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murders he was accused of. On his journey home, he accidentally rescues a young boy who follows him the rest of the way, and the pair arrive at their destination where they are greeted by fearful townspeople. When the Black Sunday storm hits the very next day, the residents of Nowhere finally begin to let the past few years of hardship bury them under the weight of all that dust.
Unlikely heroes, Jeremiah and his new companion, Peter Cotton, try to protect the townspeople from themselves, but Jeremiah must face his nightmares and free himself from the guilt of flipping the coin on those men who died.
Filled with mystery and magic, What Blooms from Dust is the story of finding hope in the midst of darkness and discovering the beauty of unexpected kindness.
4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
It’s best to dive into this novel without any preconceived notions, because it’s unlike anything I have ever read. I hesitated to even assign it to one specific genre, because it encompasses more than just simple historical fiction. There are many elements which come together to make this tale wonderful.
It’s 1935 in the middle of Dust Bowl America: specifically, a tiny town called Nowhere, Oklahoma. The story of how the town got its’ name is interesting in itself and a big part of the background, but the people of the town are its’ heart and soul. Twins Josiah and Jeremiah Goodbye parted ways when Josiah called the police to report his twin for murder. Through a twist of fate or luck, Jeremiah was able to break out of jail while in the electric chair, and make his way back to Nowhere.
But the town has more problems than an escaped convict; dust storms have been blowing through daily, the people are starving, and there seems to be no end to the despair everyone feels. Through the return of Jeremiah and the strange, quiet boy he adopted along his journey, the citizens of Nowhere begin to see that there might just be some point to this life.
I can’t say enough about the characterization of this novel. The town features a wide, offbeat collection of residents, but through the author’s fantastically descriptive language, the reader comes to know and form a creative picture in the mind for each one. Jeremiah Goodbye and his family are the main characters, and we get to form a bond with every one of them.
It’s hard to say what I like about this novel so much without giving away the plot points. The story is at times a tough one to read; you can’t help but think about how helpless you would feel if you and your own children were stuck in the same situation. You can’t fight the climate, after all. Though the suffering the characters are going through never gets any easier, you can at least tell that they have a sense of hope by the end. And hope is what got so many people through those difficult times.
About the Author
James Markert lives with his wife and two children in Louisville, Kentucky. He has a history degree from the University of Louisville and won an IPPY Award for The Requiem Rose, which was later published as A White Wind Blew, a story of redemption in a 1929 tuberculosis sanatorium, where a faith-tested doctor uses music therapy to heal the patients. The Angels’ Share is his second novel, and he is currently working on his next historical, All Things Bright and Strange. James is also a USPTA tennis pro, and has coached dozens of kids who’ve gone on to play college tennis in top conferences like the BIG 10, the Big East, and the ACC.
Connect with James
by Demetra Brodsky
Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.
Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A’s and solid friends, he’s only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.
But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make him question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.
About the Author
Demetra Brodsky is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned writer. She has a B.F.A. from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design and lives in Southern California with her family of four and two lovable rescue dogs where she is always trying to make more time for the beach. Dive Smack is dedicated to Pumpkin, the monarch butterfly she once saved from the brink of death. Once you read the book, you’ll understand why.
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Where Charlie is fearless, Parker is careful.
Charlie is confident while Parker aims to please.
Charlie is outgoing and outspoken; Parker is introverted and reserved.
And of course, there’s the one other major difference: Charlie got leukemia.
But now that Charlie is officially in remission, life couldn’t be going better for Parker. She’s landed a prestigious summer internship at the hospital and is headed to Harvard in the fall to study pediatric oncology—which is why the anxiety she’s felt since her Harvard acceptance is so unsettling. And it doesn’t help that her relationship with Charlie has been on the rocks since his diagnosis.
Enter Finn, a boy who’s been leaving strange graffiti messages all over town. Parker can’t stop thinking about those messages, or about Finn, who makes her feel free for the first time: free to doubt, free to make mistakes, and free to confront the truth that Parker has been hiding from for a long time.
That she keeps trying to save Charlie, when the person who really needs saving is herself.
Scream All Night
by Derek Milman
A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.
Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.
But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.
With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?
Chapter 1: Return to Moldavia
Slightly before dinner, Keenan House, the group home where I live, gets a call that my homosexual exorcism is scheduled to take place next Thursday at four.
“But I’m not homosexual. And I’m not possessed,” I say to Len, my counselor.
“You sure?” says Len. He cracks open a PBR and takes a long, gurgling sip.
“Bet you’re both,” says my roommate, Jude, lacing up his boxing gloves.
“Actually,” says Len, belching, softly punching his gut, “I think it’s your brother calling.”
Oren. Of course.
Late-afternoon sunlight smears across the cinder-block walls through broken, yellowed blinds. I throw down my graphic novel, which I was actually half enjoying, and roll out of my sagging lower bunk with a groan. I walk down the hall and grab the phone.
“Why are you calling me?”
“’Cause I know you have lots of homo demons inside you,” says Oren, stifling one of his loud, chirpy laughs. “And I thought maybe it was time for a devil cleanse.”
“Uh-huh.” I hear projected voices in the background—like announcements on a PA or something. “Where are you?”
“We’re burying Dad next week. Funeral is Thursday.”
My dad has been slowly dying for forty years. Emphysema, hairy cell leukemia, diabetes, arthritis; it’s like he just went shopping one day for chronic diseases and never made any returns. More recently, he’s been sliding into dementia.
Thing is, this might really be it. The doctors are pretty sure. “He has two weeks max,” says Oren.
“Shit.” I bite my thumbnail—an old nervous habit instantaneously reborn. I’m suddenly terrified that my family, who I was legally emancipated from three years ago, might be planning something deeply, morbidly insane. But it’s not as bad as all that.
Just a live funeral.
“A what?” The phone slips out of my hands. I juggle it back to my ear.
“Dad’s final wish was to be buried alive,” says Oren.
About the Author
Derek Milman was born in New York City, but grew up in Westchester, NY, where he wrote and published a successful underground humor magazine that caught the attention of the New York Times, who wrote a profile on him at the age of 14.
Derek studied English, Creative Writing, and Theater at Northwestern University. He began his career as a playwright (his first play was staged in New York City when he was just out of college), and earned an MFA in acting at the Yale School of Drama.
Derek has performed on stages across the country, and appeared in numerous TV shows and films, working with two Academy Award winning film directors.
Scream All Night is Derek’s debut YA novel. He currently lives in Brooklyn where he is hard at work on his next book.
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She Doesn’t Know
by Shane Morales
Chloe Parker has just been uprooted to a tiny American compound in Saudi Arabia. You’d think after fourteen years of being an Air Force brat, she’d be used to being the new kid, but it still sucks. At least until she meets charming, charismatic Alex and falls for him hard.
But Alex is a year older and is heading off to boarding school in Switzerland. Chloe won’t see him again for nine months and it’s breaking her heart. She doesn’t even know if Alex likes her back until he gifts her his private binder of hand-written stories and song lyrics to remember him by. That has to mean something, right?
At long last the wait is over and Alex returns, but he’s a haunted shell of his former self. Something bad happened while Alex was away, something that killed the light in his eyes, and Chloe is determined to help him. She has to get the old Alex back.
But Chloe doesn’t know you can’t bring someone back from a place you’ve never been. All you can do is be there when they finally decide to come home.
About the Author
Forever young and living on the fringes of society, Shane Morales delights in questioning authority and challenging social norms. Drawing from his own teen experience, he writes young adult stories about first love and second chances.
Shane grew up overseas and attended a boarding school in Switzerland during the 80s. He went to college in Maryland where he earned a degree in physical geography with an emphasis in comparative paleo-anatomy (he knows a lot about dinosaur hip structure). After graduating, he disregarded his training, promptly fell in with a bad crowd and spent the next 17 years in IT.
He can usually be found at his computer writing, coding, or wreaking pixelated havoc online with his friends.
Shane currently lives in Florida with his wife and two Feline Masters.
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When thinking about a future career, a lot of young people think either one of two things: they want a job that will make them a lot of money, or they want to make a difference in people’s lives. Though it’s there there are many ways in which a person can choose to make a difference, an option that some may not immediately think about is a position in psychiatry.
So many people visualize being a doctor as being in the emergency room or operating room and holding people’s lives in their hands. But there are other medical paths that are just as important and are needed more now than ever–psychologists and psychiatrists.
With the advent of mental health awareness and the stigma around getting help for yourself vanishing, psychiatry is becoming just as important as traditional medicine. A psychiatrist can take on many faces for a patient: confidant, adviser, friend. Think about some of these benefits of taking up a career in psychiatry.
DEEPER RELATIONSHIP WITH PATIENTS
Although some psychiatrists do work in busy hospitals with a lot of patient flow in and out, for the most part a psychiatrist will have a smaller patient load than a traditional physician. Because of the nature of mental health treatment, a lot of deep issues are discussed between doctor and patient, and as a result the patient can feel a sense of trust and security as the relationship between the two is built up.
FLEXIBILITY IN PRACTICE
As I mentioned earlier, the number of people who are searching for help with their mental health problems is growing exponentially. So, naturally, doctors are making themselves more available so they can help a greater number of people. Psychiatrists are now reachable on many channels; online, in office, through telephone and email. So a psychiatrist who doesn’t want to work in a 9-5 office setting doesn’t really have to all the time. If you’re a night owl, having video chats with patients on a graveyard shift might be right up your alley.
In my opinion, mental health professionals are taking up one of the most respectable jobs. It takes a strong person to be able to listen objectively to others’ deep-seated obstacles and not take the stress of the situation upon themselves. In a lot of cases, although you may not hold someone’s beating heart in your hands, you may be saving their lives another way–by giving them the outlet they need before they harm themselves.
Psychiatry is a medical field that will have many upcoming opportunities in the future, so you should consider these points as you choose what you want to do in life.
The Last Time I Lied
by Riley Sager
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.
Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends.
Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.
4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS
This novel kind of blurs the line between YA and adult. There are alternating sections between the current life of 28 year old Emma Davis, and the summer 15 years ago when she was a witness to her 3 summer camp bunk mates vanishing without a trace. Against her better judgment, Emma returns to the newly reopened camp as an instructor. She hopes to find some closure to the event that’s been haunting her, and to find out the truth.
I was hooked from the beginning chapter, and I knew I had to find out the truth about what happened to the missing girls. Emma has not been coping well with the night from 15 years ago; she did a stint in a psychiatric facility, she sees the faces of the girls in random places, and she’s been painting them over and over again, trying to clear herself of the blame she feels for their disappearance.
Emma is haunted, and it’s the defining aspect of her personality. The most interesting character in this book though is only seen through Emma’s memories of the past. Vivian, one of the 16 year olds who went missing, was a whirlwind of charm and bite, a girl who knew what she wanted and how to get it. Viv was the queen bee, and Emma felt pleased to be taken under the wing of a girl three years older. The relationship between them was complicated though, and helped shape the events of the night of the disappearances.
The final chapters of this book are fantastic; there are twists I definitely didn’t see coming and the action felt believable. The end left me wanting more, but I think the way things played out was perfect. I would absolutely read more books by this author.
About the Author
Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.
Now a full-time author, Riley’s first thriller, FINAL GIRLS, became a national and international bestseller and was called “the first great thriller of 2017” by Stephen King. Translation rights have been sold in more than two dozen countries and a film version is being developed by Universal Pictures.
Riley’s next book, THE LAST TIME I LIED, will be published in July. It was inspired by the classic novel and film “Picnic at Hanging Rock” and one horrible week Riley spent at summer camp when he was ten.
A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not working on his next novel, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”
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Let me know if you have ever been to summer camp!
You want your home setting to be as welcoming and comfortable as possible for you, your family and your guests. With a few simple changes, you’ll be able to create the inviting atmosphere that you desire. Here are three easy ways to make your home more welcoming.
Improve the Lighting
If the lighting is just right, anyone who walks into your home will feel more at ease right away. The bulbs for your light fixtures should emit soft light that still makes it easy to see without being too strenuous on the eyes. Using lanterns or floating candles to generate some of your light can also be more appealing. You can also try putting up some white string lights around your doors and windows.
Add Some Appealing Aromas
Certain aromas can also make a home setting more welcoming. Essential oils or air fresheners with scents like vanilla, lemon and lavender are great for enhancing the atmosphere. You can also try cooking some of your favorite foods with grill seasoning sets and letting the tantalizing smells linger for a while. Another simple trick is to heat a little bit of cinnamon in a pan.
Enhance the Entranceway
Anyone who enters your setting will immediately feel more at home if your entranceway is enhanced just right. A welcoming mat placed on your doorstep along with a long rug that sits inside the entranceway can make people feel as though they’re receiving the red-carpet treatment. Placing some mirrors, pictures or artwork just inside the entranceway can also help give a warm welcoming.
These are just a few of the simplest ways to create a living space that makes everyone feel like they’re wanted in your home. With a little imagination and creativity, you’ll likely be able to find additional ways to make your home more welcoming.
As a rule, I don’t generally like to give out relationship advice. There are too many aspects to consider when it comes to the intricacies of relationships between couples, and what works for me and my marriage may not work for yours. But, if you have been thinking that it’s time to talk to a neutral party about what’s happening between you and your spouse, here is some information for you to consider before taking that next step.
Counseling Isn’t Always Negative
The general consensus around marriage counseling is that you should only go if you and your spouse are having serious problems that you cannot work through, or that you are on the verge of a divorce. At least, this is how couples in counseling are usually portrayed on movies and television.
But, sometimes it’s a good idea to think about finding someone to talk to before you get that far into an issue. Sometimes newly married couples seek counseling because they might want guidelines on how to solve problems that arise during the course of their marriage. Or one spouse might have something they want to address with the other, but are not sure how to go about it. In these cases and others, a counselor can help open up communication between you.
There Are Several Options
You should know that there are more options now for marriage counseling than just sitting in a room and talking about your problems. Online therapy is becoming more and more popular, and can be an excellent option for those who can’t find an office nearby, or those who need a more flexible schedule. If you have a trusted friend you can both confide in whom you think will be impartial, that is another option. Many pastors of churches will also offer counseling if you ask.
If you’re worried about cost, some insurances do cover counseling, so be sure to look into your benefits to know what exactly you might have to pay. Online therapy is affordable, and you can often purchase packages of sessions to help lower the price. If you are intent on helping your marriage through a difficult period, you should weigh the costs of therapy against the cost of not getting any help–and that might be a price you don’t want to pay.