Monday, March 25, 2013

'Spin the Plate' delivers romance with a punch



Jo is a big girl. At 5’11” she towers over many other people. She dresses in bib overalls and carries a Beretta tucked in them. Casual observers may write her off as an overweight girl or a possible lesbian in her mannish garb. 

But Jo is so much more than any casual glance can identify. By day, she inks tattoos on the patrons of the upscale Ink Angels; by night, she roams the streets rescuing the victims of bullying and abandonment.
In an attempt to keep from thinking about her past, Jo stays busy as much as possible. If she fails, the memories come crashing in, memories of childhood sexual abuse and betrayal by those who should have protected her as a child. Her tightly contained pain pushes her to protect others who experience similar situations.

Into Jo’s carefully structured world comes Francis, an unusual young man. He smiles and delivers messages like “Jesus loves you, you know.” He turns up repeatedly, never threatening her but a little scary in his tenacity.

Author Donna Anastasi
 “Spin the Plate” by Donna Anastasi takes readers into a world of despicable villains and unlikely heroes. The book deals in redemption and hope, pain and healing. There are distinctly Christian themes in the book, although some of the language contained within would belie the fact. At its heart, the book is a love story drawn against an urban backdrop. The love story simply features a most unlikely pair of people.

Forget the delicate, beautiful flower of a heroine and lusty, muscular hero. Here you’ll find a woman who has trained as a Sumo wrestler and a slightly built intellectual. This odd pair carries on a touching courtship that moves secrets and disclosures to a whole new level.


This book packs an emotional punch even as it draws you deeply into the lives of the two people who have spent their lives rescuing others and now must decide whether they can trust each other for their own rescues. Open “Spin the Plate,” and you’ll find romantic stereotypes shattered by the characters and their stories.

“Spin the Plate” will appeal to anyone who enjoys a story with a twist, and doesn’t mind some salty language. There is some violence and sexual content, but nothing gratuitous. The cast, though unusual, will win your heart with the depth of their convictions. The reader will find action, romance and inspiration packed into each chapter.


The award-winning self-published volume is available in both print and electronic formats.

Published by Anastasi Books
ISBN: 9780615748724

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book excerpt: "Spin the Plate" by Donna Anastasi


Today we have an excerpt from "Spin the Plate," by Donna Anastasi, currently on tour with Walker Author Tours. Here the heroine of the story, Jo, reflects on a childhood memory that shaped her as she grew up. Enjoy, and don't forget to pick up your copy of "Spin the Plate"!



There was a time, before the episodes, or at least before they’d gotten very bad, when her parents took her on family vacations to a cabin in Maine. She and her mother stayed a whole month, with her father joining them on the weekends. The two of them would spend endless hours of mother-daughter time together pressing flowers into a scrapbook, drawing a picture next to each in colored pencils, and carefully printing both the scientific and common names. Using a guidebook on native plants and animals like a treasure map, they’d take long walks looking for new flowers to paste into the scrapbook.

One Saturday her mom shook her awake at dawn for one of their early morning nature walks, sneaking out of the cabin while her father was still asleep. Everything was grayish and the air was misty. It was quiet except for the soft cooing calls of mourning doves. They’d been traveling a dirt road for only about ten minutes when they came across a cat-sized silvery gray animal that had been hit by a car.

As soon as she caught sight of it, Jo remembered turning her head upwards and away from the ground. Gazing into the face of her mother, she could see the woman glancing down at the road in a detached sort of way, then curious. She was surprised to see her mother take a gardening glove from the front pocket of the flower-gathering tote she carried. “Oh the poor things,” her mother murmured, as she slipped on the glove.

Her curiosity outweighing her revulsion, the young girl peered down to see the tips of tiny tails twitching atop the soft-looking light gray belly fur of the dead animal on the road. The woman gave each tail a slow, steady tug as though she were pulling baby carrots from the ground. And with each tug out came a wriggling mouse-like animal that her mom tucked into her bag.

As mother and daughter turned around and headed back to the cabin, the woman explained that opossums are marsupials, which means the mothers carry their babies with them in a built-in pouch wherever they go.

Once home, they put the litter of four babies in box lined with an old cloth, then put a heating pad underneath the box on one side. The babies had coats of velvety fuzz and pink hairless tails that curled a bit at the end. The first day there were purplish bumps where the eyes should have been, but throughout the next day, one by one dark slits appeared and grew in size until the babies blinked and stared with shiny black eyes.

She helped her mother feed them a mixture of evaporated milk with molasses using an eyedropper. Each baby, when it was his turn, grasped tightly to the eyedropper with front paws that looked like tiny hands. As a baby possum licked at the glass tapered tip, a thin layer of foamy milk formed at the lips.

Then, after three days, the babies started to lose weight, dying, one by one. She couldn’t remember all their names, but “Peter” was the one to make it the longest: a full five days. Her mother’s words had comforted her then, “Isn’t it better that they pass away sleeping on a soft towel snug inside a dark, quiet shoebox with a belly full of warm milk, rather than starving by the roadside?”

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Childhood Delight in Larry Phifer's 'World on a String'



In an enchanting fable of childhood, Larry Phifer shares the story of a small boy who makes a wondrous discovery. When Charlie finds a big red balloon, he takes it into his heart as a companion. The two friends go everywhere together and he feels as though he has the whole world on a string.





Composed of rhyming couplets, the story relates the joy and fun shared by the two friends until the awful day when the string comes untied and the balloon floats away in a storm. Charlie’s loss is painful, but he learns to cope with it by remembering the wonderful times he shared with the balloon.


Read more about this book here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gritty 'With or Without You' demonstrates the emotional costs of addiction

Childhood should be a safe and stable place. For too many children, the place holds shame and pain. Domenica Ruta was one of those children. She grew up in a household with a drug using, heavy drinking, promiscuous mother and a parade of mother’s male companions. In her frank memoir “With or Without You,” Ruta shares the results of that life and the story of how she overcame the demons.




From her earliest memories in Massachusetts to her college days and into the present, Ruta details the ups and downs of life with her mother’s habits and the effect those habits had on her own behavior, as well as the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a family member. She spares no one in her searing look into the ripples that follow adult decisions and the devastation to children caught in the surge.


Read more here.

Get the Scoop on the Plight of Polar Bears with Zac Unger's Book 'Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye"



Zac Unger wanted to make a difference. After a brief solo visit to learn about the polar bear situation, the firefighter in California’s Bay area took some vacation time. He packed up his wife and three young children for an extended visit to Churchill, Manitoba to learn the facts about the future of polar bears. Along the way, he learned about politics and propaganda tactics as he met the small town populace and the seasonal influx of ecotourists.



Unger recounts his adventures in the sometimes bawdy but always entertaining “Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye.” Readers can accompany him on his attempts to connect with the top names in polar bear research and his discoveries about the conflicting opinions on the future of polar bears. Are they an endangered species or not? 

Read the rest of the review here.

Max Lucado tells of God's 'Second Chances' in latest release



Pastor and author Max Lucado brings his gift for relating traditional Bible stories to modern situations in the inspirational volume, "Second Chances: More Stories of Grace." With the ease of a practiced storyteller, he brings such characters as the Samaritan woman at the well, Jonah and The Prodigal Son into our world and uses them to remind us that we serve The God of Second Chances.

Cover art for "Second Chances"


I am an unashamed fan of Lucado's earlier books. His easy-going manner avoids sermonizing even as he exhorts the reader to claim the new beginning available through God's grace. Lucado gently elevates his audience rather than dragging them anywhere. He continues that tradition with “Second Chances.”


Read the rest of the review here.