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Cover Reveal ~ Aboard Providence by Keely Brooke Keith

Once again, I’m happy to be part of the cover reveal party of Keely Brooke Keith’s new project, Aboard Providence, due to be released soon. Without further ado, I reveal the cover below!

Aboard Providence Cover

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About the Book

In November 1860, Jonah Ashton is determined to finish his studies at Penn’s Medical School before rumors of Southern rebellion erupt into all-out war. When he learns his father has joined a group of Virginia families planning to sail from America to form a new settlement elsewhere, he travels to his family’s estate intent on saying goodbye. However, when an accident leaves his father in need of a physician, Jonah agrees to serve as ship’s doctor, but he resolves to return to medical school as quickly as possible.

While aboard the Providence, Jonah falls in love with former classmate Marian Foster. Despite their love for each other, Marian has no desire to return to America with him.

After an arduous voyage, Providence runs aground on an uncharted land in the South Atlantic Ocean. While the rest of the settlers celebrate finding the land they wanted, Jonah takes off to explore the island and he soon discovers a startling truth that changes everything, but can it change his heart?

Release Date

October 20th, 2016

Praise for Aboard Providence

A delightful adventure reminiscent of Swiss Family Robinson, Aboard Providence is one of those novels that will stick with me because I feel I’ve lived it. A captivating, well-researched, and deftly written tale I can confidently recommend to a wide range of readers.” – Heather Day Gilbert, author of Amazon Norse bestseller God’s Daughter

With vivid settings and multi-layered characters, Keely Brooke Keith whisks her readers off on a page-turning journey, not just across the ocean, but within the heart. You won’t be able to put Aboard Providence down until the final word is read and then you will long for more.”Brenda S. Anderson, author of the Coming Home series

A blend of history and romance with a compelling inspirational message, Keith expertly weaves an intriguing tale. Fans of the Uncharted Series won’t want to miss this journey.”Heidi McCahan, author of Unraveled

Keely Brooke Keith is a master storyteller, weaving adventure, love, and wonderful characters into a vivid story that will take readers on an unforgettable voyage to a new place. Full of inspirational messages and tales of God’s love, readers will find themselves longing for more. Keely’s story teaches all of us that the journey is just the beginning!”Christina Yother, author of the Hollow Hearts series

Keely Brooke KeithAbout the Author


Keely Brooke Keith is the author of the Uncharted series (Edenbrooke Press) and Aboard Providence (CrossRiver Media). Her novels are known for blending genres in surprising ways. When she isn’t writing stories, Keely enjoys playing bass guitar, preparing homeschool lessons, and collecting antique textbooks. Originally from St. Joseph, Missouri, Keely resides with her husband and their daughter on a hilltop south of Nashville where she dreams up stories, hoping to encourage, comfort, and inspire readers. She is a member of ACFW.

Album Review ~ Mighty by Beckah Shae

Album Photo

cover170x170.jpegGenre

Urban Blues & Soul/Funky Pop

Release Date

July 15th, 2016.

Rating

4.5 Stars

Review


My first impression when listening to Mighty, the first song in this 9-track album was, ‘This is new and good. Catchy, too!’ On the secular side, her voice can be likened to that of Christina Aguilera, and on the Christian side, some of her songs are somewhat similar to Jamie Grace’s. There’s an ‘oldies’ quality to it, and intertwined with jazz, it presents a unique urban style of soul and pop that is pleasantly alluring. This brand of Christian music isn’t done enough,  and I’m of the opinion that there should be more of it. For anyone with a heart for soulful music, looking for a quality that’s uplifting, Shae’s Mighty will be a refreshing discovery!

While all the songs are lovely, look out for: Mighty, Wolves, and See Ya Soon.

Overall, this is a heartfelt, spirit-lifting album. And, while Beckah Shae isn’t new in the industry, for she’s been singing for the past ten years, she’s certainly an artist to look out for.

Album Review ~ Hold the Light By Bread of Stone

Album Photo

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Genre

Funky Pop/Rock

Release Date

July 01, 2016

Rating

4 Stars

Review

This lovely 10-track album begins with the upbeat, faith-refreshing song, (Hold the light) I’m Not Afraid (anymore), which is positively medicinal to the soul. This headnodding, melodious,  flow continues into track 3.

Of applaudable mention is the style/formation of the lyrics—quite poetic and figurative, which intensifies the message in the songs in such an organic way, it’s almost tangible. This is really what rock was designed for!

There are moments in the album when the tempo is reduced/low,  which is good  because low-tempo, slow-paced music distracts less, anyway, from the gospel theme of the songs. Also, a bit of hip-hop was interwoven with the alternative of track 3, Parachute, which was supercool in a unique sort of way.

The rock in this album isn’t so different from the conventional kind we’ve come to know  (and love), but it isn’t everyday you find one where you LOVE half the songs the instant you hear them without the need to have them grow on you in time—Hallelujah, Parachute (feat. Matt Dally of Superchicks), Like a River, Battleground (feat. Manafest), The Change (feat. Beacon Light). I’m of the opinion that each one of them is worthy of being a movie soundtrack.

 

 

The (Unreal) Fantasy of the World of Entertainment, Fashion & Sports

Fantasy

I’m a huge fan of Hawaii Five-O, and I think Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Grace Park, Daniel Dae Kim, and Masi Oka do a fantastic job of keeping the show relatively funny, action-packed, and interesting. While watching season 3, episode 9, a secondary character—a model—said to Daniel Williams (Scott Caan), “People think that the life we live is real, but they don’t realize we’re paid to sell a fantasy” (paraphrased). Unfortunately, many folks don’t realize this is true. They see all that glamor, fame, and money, and take what entertainment TV has to offer as the gospel. I’m not in the world of entertainment, fashion or sports, but I’ve been allowed a peek into it by some few good folks, who are.

What I’ve learned?

It’s not all cheeses, roses, and unicorns (even though reality TV insists it’s so). Anyone who tells you that is lying to you or trying to sell you something.

Yes, there are blessings that come from being successful in each of these industries, and there are probably people whose lives are touched positively and become encouraged to be who they’re meant to be, by inspiring words/actions of those in the industry. But like everything else in life, there’s a price that each successful person has had to pay to get to where they are now. Some went through the traditional tried, tested, and true route of hard work, perseverance, and resilience, some took (and still take) the easier way of selling parts or all of their soul, while some remain stuck somewhere between the bottom rug and the ever coveted place among the stars, confused and at a crossroad where the next step will change their lives forever for better or worse.

This is a world where its seeming benefits and offer have great allure, assuring happiness and fulfillment if you’re brave enough to indulge, and so the competition is dangerously high. It creates an appealing premise that’s almost impossible to resist, and so there’s the tendency to seek attention at all costs. This of course can be understood because of the basic human need to feel significant—a thirst that these industries promise to quench, but never do.

If you’re tailoring your life according to these false fantasies, please stop. You’re sourcing from a design that doesn’t exist—what I call The Facebook Side of Life. This will only lead to sorrow and despair. You will only hold up your farce of a life—and even revel in the applause and envy of others—for so long, before you eventually crumble underneath its impossible weight. You must understand that the very celebrities and their lifestyles, on which you hinge your world on, are as human as you are, with issues and struggles of their own that you may be unaware of. Those you hold in the highest esteem may be more broken than they let on—hiding their reality behind expensive living, fake laughter, and fickle fame. They may cry in private, but have no true shoulders to lean on because of the vicious nature of the world they live in. And when they’re finally exposed, they receive major backlash for simply being a human capable of making mistakes like everyone else. The mass gets angry and disappointed because these celebrities are unable to live up to the unreal image that the media created for them (a lot of times without their consent) in the first place. They were unfairly placed on pedestals held up by non-existing pillars of perfection, and they pay for it as they disappoint, and consequently, discourage whatever hope you may have built as you observed (and probably worshiped) them over time.

For those entering any of these industries, be sure that you’re doing it for more than the unrealistic satisfaction/fulfillment promised by money and fame—there’s no such scenario! Having a true calling and understanding your purpose, go a long way in not only guiding how you approach the industry, but also the ethics/principles you’ll adopt on your journey. As you go higher and further, you’ll either become more proud or grow in humility; you’ll either learn gratitude for new privileges or take the most important gifts for granted; you will mature to the point of showing respect to people of all class/race/culture/religion/belief or grow arrogant enough to adopt bigotry…the list could go on. The veterans in the industry who haven’t lost their souls won’t tell you any different. Please ask one, if you get the chance.

For those already in the industry, if you’re at a crossroad that will change your life, this is a good place to pause and reconsider why you’re there—is there a better purpose to what it is I’m doing now? Is going this way the right thing to do or a selfish act?

I leave you with the words of Pat Boone, which I discovered in media critic, Ted Baehr’s, 2015 release, How to Succeed in Hollywood Without Losing Your Soul (review to come later):

“Run Away! But if you must stay in the industry, commit your career to the Lord. If God opens doors and nudges you through them, you can proceed with confidence, not feeling that if you mess up somehow, as on American Idol auditions, you’re forever ruined. With God, that’s not the case.” — Pat Boone

Take care, take heart, be brave, whatever your choice may be!

Album Review ~ The Light in Us by Jon Bauer

Album Photo

The Light In Us - Jon Bauer

Genre

Rock

Release Date

June 10th, 2016.

Rating

4.5 Stars

Review


The album begins with a song that puts you in easy mode, before proceeding into a flavor that’s more upbeat.

Taking a look at the lyrics, overall, it points to one major theme—gratitude to God for His goodness and faithfulness!

As indicated above, there’s a simple and easy-going manner to which Bauer composed the songs/lyrics. One could argue that the best of most song/poetic writings are fantastically complex, but Bauer, with this album, has shown beauty and depth with simple words. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the songs are engagingly melodious! And, oh! My favorite track is, Say Something!

I hope to see some good selections from this album in WOW 2017!

A Blessing to Every Nation!

Blessed People

Muhammad Ali passed away a few days ago. Though he was an iconic boxer, even tagged The Greatest, he is remembered for something more—his fight against racism and social inequality. He stated more than once that his fame and boxing career were for fighting for the freedom and equality of all races, and not for his personal benefit.

Pause for a moment. Let’s sidestep a bit and collect a verse from Scripture:

“I will make you into a great nation and I bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3 (NIV)

These were God’s words to Abraham (while his name was still Abram) when God called him out of his native land, Ur, and father’s house, to go to the new land that God would show him.

Note the highlighted words: “I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing…and all the peoples on the earth will be blessed through you.”

What can you take from this?

Lots, perhaps. But let’s emphasize one theme today:

“When God blesses a person, one of the reasons is so that other people will be blessed through that person.”

Privilege is never without responsibility. God made Abraham great, and people all over the world still benefit from that greatness. Consider the fact that the nation, Israel—the descendants of Abraham—were the first to receive God’s Scripture. Today, many democratic nations (and the United Nations) trace the root and origin of their laws and constitution (which fight for and uphold human rights) to the Bible. This is just one of many blessings to the nations!

Unfortunately today, great names (fame) and blessings are more about elevating self than serving others. People are being taught (especially on reality TV) that it’s okay to be conceited. And the reasons used to justify this philosophy are outright ridiculous! Sadly, folks buy into this way of life so they can become more like the stars, even being offended and attacking those who question the sanity behind this reasoning, forgetting that love and kindness are the reason the world still “goes around” today. Take out the goodness birthed from love and kindness throughout time, and the world would be indescribably unbearable.

Like Abraham, Muhammad Ali understood the relevance and importance of a great name—to bless people across the globe with the platform that his fame gave him. For Muhammad Ali, it was to be a voice for the voiceless and to stand up against injustice.

When, because of fame, people love, trust and pay attention to you, you just might bring about a desired change if you’re willing to take the necessary steps. At first, it may seem impossible, like nothing is happening. Give it time, and you might discover you’ve brought about a simple amendment or an astounding revolution! It wasn’t so long ago that famous singer, Taylor Swift, managed to sway the mind of Apple by a simple letter, which made life easier for a lot of people in the music industry.

There may be dire moments that will test your faith, and put you in a position where you might have to stand alone to defend what you claim you believe and are fighting for. What you need in times like this are patience, perseverance and resilience (simple, but not easy, I know).

Whether you’re famous across the globe or just on a street, if you find yourself in a position of privilege of any sort, remember to bless people. Bring about the needed change within your territory that you’re able to, and don’t relent in being kind to others, because like Muhammad Ali (and Abraham), people will rather choose to remember you for what you did with your fame, than the talent that led you into it.

Movie Review ~ Children of War

Movie banner

Children of War - Apoloniad Productions

Category

Short Film/Inspirational

Genre

Drama/Romance

Rating

3.5 Stars

Review

This movie is beautifully far more complex than the simple story it presents! It shows the richness and pride in culture, heritage and family, while telling a tale of love, forgiveness, failure, redemption and healing.

War, West Virginia, is a place that appears to have been forgotten, but not by its folks who are proud of its history and contribution to America. It is quite refreshing that it was set there, rather than in a big city, showing the goodness of a town left behind in ruins after so much positive input from it, into the lives of its people and America as a whole. The Children of War aims to tell not just a love and family story, but one of pride that comes from culture and heritage. My only regret is that it’s a short film without the length to further develop this unique story and explore its charming setting—rocky mountains, quiet ponds, and a whole lot more!

As for the dialog/scenes, there appears to be a lot of subtext, which at first glance made the story seem as though it delayed in take-off. “Subtexting” (to this degree) is not very common in movie-making today and can only be perfectly executed with top-notch acting (unfortunately, I found some of the acting wanting). Perhaps this was done to pack the story with so much more than the length of the movie could allow? Needless to say I found this quite interesting, it does allow one view the movie from a unique perspective. Unfortunately, there’s the danger that a viewer may have to watch the movie more than once to attempt to grab its entire complexity; but when one does, the intelligence behind it can’t help but be applauded. My only problem with this is the tendency for a viewer to be confused, and so lose interest, and therefore the richness, that the story has to offer. It is possible though, that this may have been solved with additional time added to the length of the film.

Overall, I found The Children of War charming. Apolonia Davalos, the writer, director, and editor of this film has talent and great potential. I look forward to more movies from her/APOLONIAD.

**Though I offer my review to the public, it’s my opinion and simply that. A thank you to APOLONIAD PRODUCTIONS and actress, Apolonia Davalos, for a private link to view this movie in exchange for my honest opinion.**

CalmAbout the Filmmaker


Apolonia Davalos (AEA/ WIFT-Nashville and TWIFM Member) is a film and Off-Broadway theater director and actress. She is named after APPOLLONIA, an ancient, biblical town, in Macedonia, Greece, south of Lake Bolbe, known today as Nea Apollonia. Hence, she was born with a passion for God and love of history! Her upcoming short modern-western film Children of War will debut through the film festival circuit in 2016.

She is the Co-Writer and Co-Star of the online radio broadcast The Baby Shug’s Show! As an actress, her feature film credits include: The Good Book (on DVD), Providence (recently released in select AMC Theatres), The Perfect Wedding (on DVD), etc. In theater, she received great acclaim for the originated role of LYNN CORDERO in the Off-Broadway production of Looking for Billy Haines in Times Square (NYC). Other theater credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Metamorphoses (The Boston Actors Theater): The Crucible (Salem Theatre Company); and Sisters of the Church (Afrikan Women’s Repertory Theatre). She is further recognized as a producer, director, writer, as well as an inspiring advocate for classical Greek theater through her production company APOLONIAD Productions. She is also known for her hearty laugh, talent for accents, love for martial arts, and singing classic 1930’s tunes!

 “Apolonia Davalos is a passionate, young director dedicated to exploring the plays of Euripides. As a member of a generation used to reading no more than 140 characters at a time, her devotion to a classical poet is worthy of tremendous admiration.” – Show Business Weekly.


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