Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review - zo by Murray Pura

A brand new 5 star review came in for Murray Pura's semi-autobiographical, award-winning novel. The Amazon reviewer is petting a tiger in his profile picture, so it seems like a good idea to listen to what he says. That is amazing!

Review: Zo is one of the many inspiring historical fiction works by Canadian author Murray Pura.
The two poems: “My destiny” by Taras Shevchenko and “The Moon” by poet Andrii Chornavka set the tone for the entire book.

The story is set in the year 1911. The protagonist, Andrew Chornavka, is a monk. Interestingly, the author first introduces him as “Zoya’s brother.” Although the book is entirely written through Andrew Chornavka’s point of view, the book is about his sister Zoya.

The book starts off in the United States of America as Andrew Chornavka is being questioned in a monastery by an officer. The animosity that Andrew Chornavka feels, during that enquiry, is unmistakable. The officer asks Andrew Chornavka a number of questions about his sister Zoya and the readers are taken on an adventure down memory lane. This book is unlike any usual historical fiction. With descriptive scenes and strong characters, it successfully holds the reader’s attention until the end.

The book moves at a fast pace and every chapter leaves the reader wanting more. Strong characters and interesting plots leave the reader wanting more. The characters also show interesting contradictions. A good example is Andrew Chornavka’s character. Despite being a monk, he is described as someone who is “easily provoked to violence, sarcastic and spiteful.” Zoya’s character sketch is also equally captivating. Every chapter, without fail, excites and piques the curiosity and attention of the readers.

What I loved most about this book was author Murray Pura’s writing style. It is very elegant and expressive, almost poetic. His words linger with you even after you have turned the page. Murray Pura tastefully and gracefully describes a tumultuous time not only in Zoya and Andrew Chornavka’s life but also for the rest of the world. With eloquent linguistics, the author accurately sets the tone and articulately recounts events and emotion.

Most of the time, a good book comes down to three significant components - 1) a gripping plot, 2) Strong characters and 3) meaningful relationships between the characters. ‘Zo’ has an abundance of all these three components. This is one of those books that you won’t want to put down until you finish it. It is a book that makes you feel, and the feeling stays with you even after you finish reading it. You feel love when there is love and loss where there is loss and this feeling is guaranteed to resonate within you.

If you love historical fiction and stories about the Second World War period, this one story that you will get swept up into. ‘Zo’ by Murray Pura is the book for you. The relationships and plots are compelling; the storytelling is smooth and enlightening. ‘Zo’ will make you want to stay up late or stay in on a Saturday night just to read “one more chapter”. After reading ‘Zo’, I am definitely intrigued and interested to read other works by Murray Pura. ‘Zo’ is truly a great read and I promise you won’t regret it!

zo is available on all major eBook platforms and your favorite paperback sellers. You can see the review on Amazon here:

Friday, January 19, 2018

Guest Post - Phyllis f. McManus

We'll be running a short series of guest posts with a fun theme! Our guests have been asked to share an unusual or unique writing habit.

The first of this series comes from the best-selling author of The Southern Belle Breakfast Club,
Phyllis f. McManus.

During the past several months, I have experienced quite a few health problems. I didn’t feel like sitting at my computer to work on my next book. Instead, every time a thought popped in my mind about a character or a plot, I would write it on a sticky note and place it in a basket. While sitting in a doctor’s office, the hospital, or just resting I continued this pattern. I made sure I always carried a little notebook with me at all times to jot down any thoughts that might enter my mind.

When I felt better I went to the basket and pulled out the notes. I was surprised when I saw I had hundreds of pieces of paper filled with words. I took each note out and decided where it would fit best in my book. Then I placed each one in folders labeled as Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and etc… When I was able to start working on my book, I got the folder that said Chapter 1 and placed each sticky note on my easel. Right before my eyes was a complete chapter, and all I had to do was connect them all together. It was like putting a puzzle together, piece by piece. The words seemed to flow and before I knew it, I had finished.

This is how my new book, “The Problem with Pearls” was written. Yes, to some of my author friends this sounded very strange, but it worked for me. It was so much fun I have decided to do my next book in just this same way. As a matter of fact, I have my basket sitting right beside my desk just waiting for me to get started on book number ten.

About the author: Phyllis f. McManus was born in Monroe, North Carolina. She started writing as a form of therapy when she lost her parents in a car accident in 2002. She loves to write from her heart and this shows in her characters. She won 1st place nationwide in the Union County Writer's Club poetry competition in 2008 with the poem, "The Edge of Darkness." This is a poem focusing on Alzheimer's, which her Mother had to live with. She also won an award with her short story, "Mama's Memory Box," in 2011. She won first place in fiction short stories for "The Special Gift" in 2015, sponsored by the Union County Writers Club. She is currently doing public speaking about her journey of writing. Her new book, "Do I Know Me?", has been added in the Sneak Previews in the Southern Writers Magazine for January and February, 2016 issues. Also, "Southern Secrets," her sequel to "The Southern Belle Breakfast Club" has been placed in the Must Read section of Southern Writers Magazine as well. Her readers that follower her in her journey calls themselves her "bookies." They make sure they give her encouragement and motivation when she gets writers block.

Be sure to follow our blog for the next guest post. There is a form at the right of this page for the MillerWords newsletter where you can get a free novel just for signing up. Also, "like" us on Facebook for other fun like monthly eBook giveaways!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Cover Reveal - Murray Pura

Originally published in 2008, Murray Pura is reviving one of his personal favorites.

zo is the first story in Pura's series: Saint Zoya's Dance. This novel happened to be a finalist for the prestigious  Kobzar Literary Award of Toronto in 2010. The series continues with the white birds of morning (coming soon to MillerWords) and beautiful skin.

About the book: Andrew Chornavka took on the Trappist’s cowl and disappeared from the 21st century in order to forget the century before.
Yet even at the secluded monastery in America the past finds him. A delegation from the Vatican arrives with questions about his youngest sister, Zoya, who is, to Andrew’s shock, a candidate for sainthood. Reluctant, hostile, wanting only to be left alone to his dairy herd and gardens and prayers, Andrew eventually begins to talk.
The talk takes him where he does not wish to go, makes alive again what he had hoped was dead and buried, and makes real what had long ago been lost. He knows what he has to tell is no more than a story about a family that tried to stay together, and keep love strong, when everything on earth tried to rip that love apart. Yet he also knows the archbishop wants a story about an angel who walked with God.
But Andrew did not experience a world of angels and miracles and fairy tales. And neither did his sister Zo.
Or did she?

Available in all eBook formats on January 12, 2018
and paperback soon after.

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review - Mark Miller

For immediate release:
Author's new book receives a warm literary welcome.
Readers' Favorite announces the review of the Fiction - Short Story/Novela book "Renaissance" by Mark Miller, currently available at
Readers' Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the "Best Websites for Authors" and "Honoring Excellence" awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.

"Reviewed By Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite
We all need rejuvenation at some point in our lives, something that will rekindle the thrill and passion we once had, and awaken us from our stupor, something that will set us on the right course again. Renaissance by Mark Miller is a collection of short stories about various characters living ordinary lives. Their lives at first seem to be just like any others until something happens that initiates the change they have been hoping to achieve. In one of the stories, Richard Thatcher remembers with nostalgia when things were easy; when all he cared about was playing in the mud with his friends who have now moved on with their lives. Looking back, he realizes how much life has changed. Everything seems to be a dazed rush. No stopping even for a breath of air. Pressure continues to mount on him. “Not anymore,” he finally decides, and walks out.

The four stories contained in Renaissance by Mark Miller are all unique in their own way, but still drive the same theme. Each story inspired reawakening within me. It is easy to carry on through life and forget who we are or what we really want. As I read the book, I was reminded of what really matters and what my priorities should be. The Forgotten Well specifically reminded me of the blessing of life’s simplicity and how not to get bogged down by unnecessary complications. The stories contain an honest and inspiring outlook on life and will be a great read for anyone seeking inspiration."

You can learn more about Mark Miller and "Renaissance" at where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.
Readers' Favorite LLC 
Media Relations
Louisville, KY 40202 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review - George Loughmueller

For immediate release:
Author's new book receives a warm literary welcome.
Readers' Favorite announces the review of the Christian - Amish book "Set Free" by George Michael Loughmueller, currently available at

Readers' Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the "Best Websites for Authors" and "Honoring Excellence" awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.
"Reviewed By Michelle Stanley for Readers' Favorite
Set Free is an Amish Christian fiction by George Michael Loughmueller. Allan Howarth is discontented with his job, the bills, and feels like a stranger with his wife, Tina, and their teenage kids. After receiving a letter from a former teacher, Allan travels to the Amish town of Karsten Fields. He meets Ben Abrim, caretaker for a house that Allan inherited. Allan’s plans don’t include living without electricity and other necessities, but he hears a voice urging him to stay. He uproots his family, and they are naturally upset by their sudden lifestyle changes. Although not welcomed by everyone, the family attempts to adjust to their restricted situation. Their patience is fully tested by Allan’s illness, strict Amish rules, the lack of Internet and entertainment. Being isolated from the modern world lets each family member evaluate their lives and make drastic decisions they never thought possible.

Sometimes we need a retreat like Karsten Fields to get away from our stressful schedules and dependence on modern gadgets. The Howarth family had a culture shock when they moved into the deeply religious Amish town, where things are done the old-fashioned way. I have a deeper appreciation for the Amish religion. Some of their laws and teachings promote strong family values, non-violence and learning to respect others’ beliefs. The author was very thorough and detailed in his writing, which was never dull. He brought out every natural emotion and thought that the main characters had, thus enabling me to understand their actions and choices. Set Free is a touching spiritual story by George Michael Loughmueller."

You can learn more about George Michael Loughmueller and "Set Free" at where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.
Readers' Favorite LLC 
Media Relations
Louisville, KY 40202 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Spoiler Alert

I'm going to discuss a sensitive and polarizing topic in this post: The Last Jedi.

If you haven't seen it yet, turn away now because there will be spoilers.

That's the first burning question: will we have an anthology story for Snoke? Who is he? Where did he come from? Does it even matter?

Before I go any further, I will say I loved The Last Jedi. I will also say that this post may be a bit self-serving. I have read and watched so many negative reviews about this movie. I saw an article about a petition to have it removed from canon. If we don't like something, let's whine about it and erase it from history? Does that work in pop culture as well as it does in politics?

The #notmyluke movement is what finally drove me to write this. I realize my opinion is no more or less valid than anyone else's, if you even read this.

Mark Hamill stated in an interview that his Luke Skywalker would never do the things that happened in the latest movie. He would never give up. He added at the end, that this wasn't his movie and a new generation of characters essentially needed to come into their own while he stepped aside. However, our sound-byte world will only latch on to the first part.

But that's what this Star Wars was about: giving up and failure. It was about how we deal with and overcome that failure. My generation grew up with Star Wars. We had idealistic heroes for an idealistic time. Things are not so hopeful these days (or are we blissfully nostalgic?). I, for one, think that many my age have become Last Jedi Luke. We are (or maybe it's just me) closed off from the force. We have forgotten the old ways and lost our hope. Something needs to happen to bring back that connection. This version of Luke realizes that and he comes back, if only to make his final and most important stand.

First they killed Han Solo and now Luke. They are killing our childhood. No. If it lives in our hearts and memories, can it really be killed? Everyone dies. Luke died. Yoda died. I'm going to die some day. That's not depressing. It's life. The death of Luke Skywalker somehow makes Star Wars more real and maybe that's why so many didn't like it? Who likes being confronted with their own mortality?

What else did they not like? Too many jokes? It's a kid's movie. Star Wars was always for kids. Part of the problem is that the kids have grown up.  Maybe it's a little more aimed at kids these days, but it is owned by Disney now. While Marvel may take Disney further and further away from its core values, maybe Star Wars can bring some of those back.

Where were the light sabre battles? This movie was more about the Force than any of the other two movies combined. One of the worst things, in my opinion, that happened to Star Wars was Yoda holding a light sabre. As a Jedi Master for over 800 years, he should have been so far beyond the need for a physical weapon. His few moments in Last Jedi showed some of his true power. Frank Oz and his puppet stole the show for me. And Luke's final moments, expressing himself through the Force, were brilliant. Notice how different he looked from the version of himself on the island? He brought forth the best version of himself, an ideal that he had long since abandoned. I hate how I look in selfies. I wonder what the best version of my self would look like?

Eh, not too bad...

And for those that had a problem with Finn and Rose, are there no romantics left? Rose just lost her sister and she spends her time alone in the underbelly of the ship. Then she is suddenly thrust into an adventure with one of her heroes. Of course she's going to fall for him. We should be happy for something simple and good among all the death and destruction.

I think the last thing I want to comment on is Poe. It is my contention that every story is incomplete without a character arc, a defining change. While Poe's arc was maybe a little obvious, it was solid and necessary. Did he spend a lot of time looking out windows or was he actually looking at a window into his soul? If he had been constantly caught up in the action, he would not have had the time to discover himself.

In summary, The Last Jedi is one of my favorites of the Saga. While I was disappointed that they did not bump into Lando on Canto Bight, I was as equally surprised at how I felt seeing Leia floating in space. The revelation, or lack, of Rey's parents didn't even bother me. They do have to save something for Ep IX. I do apologize if I rambled a bit, I did warn that this would be a little self-serving. I posted some specific thoughts and I would love to hear in the comments if anyone agrees or disagrees with any of my points.

If you would like to see how Star Wars influenced my writing, Journey of the Fourth Queen in only 99 cents on Amazon Kindle -

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cover Reveal - Mark Miller

Mark Miller's first novel is coming home to MillerWords after 10 years.

Originally written in 2007 and first published in 2008, the YA fantasy adventure is the first story of The Empyrical Tales saga. Coming November 10, 2017, this special revised edition is available with new formatting and a new cover design.

Journey of the Fourth Queen
Empyrical Tales Book I
by Mark Miller

About the Book: Where do fairytale princesses go after their happily ever after? The land of Empyrean is home to all the myths and folklore of childhood. The princesses of once upon a time became the four great queens of this land ruled by magic. Now their land is in danger. One of the queens has disappeared. Without the fourth queen, the Forgotten Evil will be freed from its ancient prison. Two sisters, Zandria and Olena, live in a tiny village by the sea. Their world is about to get bigger. With his dying breath, Zandria’s father tells her that she is to be the new queen. The sisters flee their home, chased by werewolves, facing danger at every turn. With the help of some unique allies, they must travel to the crystal castle, claim Zandria’s birthright and stop the Forgotten Evil.
Will the sisters reach the castle in time to save Empyrean? Or will they lose each other forever? Take the first step into the land of Empyrean to join Zandria and Olena on the Journey of the Fourth Queen!

About the Author: Mark currently resides in Florida with his wife and four children. He has achieved some success as a Kindle Best Seller and having one of his short stories selected as a winner in the Florida Writer's Association Short Story Collection. Growing up in Kansas, Mark graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences and received his Bachelor's in Film from the University of Kansas. Mark has written numerous novels, screenplays, short stories and digital series. Many of his stories are geared for the classroom. He has explored his spirituality, writing both with his father and daughter. Inspirational stories with positive messages are his goal with everything he writes.

Available in Paperback and
all major eBooks formats
November 10 from MillerWords

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