#BookReviews 5 #stars for each one!

Writing a review for a good book is like calling a friend and telling her that she is the best. Books are truly magical if they are as terrific as the ones I have for you today. Their magic is immersive and dazzling. If the sea witch is bizarre and scary, the cute fairies of Finn diffuse that feeling but the characters of Jill are adorable. A perfect balance! 

The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by D. Wallace Peach – My Review:

The sea witch wants royal blood and the ferryman’s sacrifices seem endless. ‘The Ferryman and the Sea Witch’ takes you to the fathomless deeps to resolve the catastrophe created by one order of king Thayne’s officers. The consequences of one careless act fall into the lap of Callum, who had to carry the curse on his shoulders. It is difficult to satisfy the hungry witch, who sank every vessel unless her demands are met. She rules the storms, could alter the currents and her bargains are mind-boggling.

A gripping beginning, the fury of the sea witch, the description of shipwreck and the kind heart of Callum pulled me in immediately. In her signature style, Peach creates a world beyond the realistic boundaries and weaves a wonderful tale that would haunt you days after you’ve finished this book. It is the lie of Callum that stunned me no less than the betrayal of Caspia. My sympathies rest with the ferryman, as I wait to see if he would ever be able to walk free.

This book gets murkier as it proceeds with a lot of action. The charms of Naris and Dana keeps it lighter. I admire D. Wallace’s style of unraveling the secrets one after the other, without any unnecessary drama. This is an entirely different kind of fantasy that acquaints us with many aspects of the sea and ships. I must say that I liked the ending despite all the shocking developments. Highly recommended for all kinds of readers.

Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories by D.L. Finn – My Review: 

Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories by D.L. Finn transports you to the land of fantasy, where Danny and Colette meet fairies and discover the realities connected with them. Finn’s description of fairies is so mesmerizing that you wish to visit their world and see them talking to the Redwoods.

Fairies have always allured me but these tree fairies hold a special charm because they have names, could make fire and know why humans lost their ability to talk to giant redwoods.  The way they converse about the environment and make Danny feel special immediately makes you concentrate on their stories. I am sure children would be able to connect with Sequiella.

Finn’s style and tone is amiable, her language is simple and she starts the story quickly to hold the attention of children. The book is written in first person to lend reality to the problem that the fairies want to convey. You don’t even know when fantasy merges into realities of the day. It is a delightful way to acquaint children with the need to save our forests. Highly recommended.

A Mother for His Twins by Jill Weatherholt – My Review:

A Mother for His Twins by Jill Weatherholt is a heart-warming story of two lovers who were separated by circumstances; their love for each other never waned while Nick moved on with his life but Joy got deeply embedded in time. It is interesting to see how destiny puts them back on the track to fight their personal demons and set their guilt aside to embrace life.

This book has some subtle suggestions that need to be absorbed; new avenues need to be respected, little joys of life should be gathered, as life is too beautiful to let it pass by. Jill’s characters are realistic and lovable, they know their flaws and are ready to make amends. What makes Nick admirable is his positive attitude; he wants to learn from his experiences and move ahead. Joy’s yearning to be a part of family is palpable and tugs at the strings of your heart.

A light-hearted story of nurturing love and relationships, this book has been written with immense tenderness to touch every heart. Awkward situations are diffused by twins who add delightful moments to make your heart ache for the love of children. Such books leave their sweet taste behind to savor it long after you’ve finished it.

Thank you. Happy reading!

Balroop Singh.

#Bookreviews #Prose & #Poetry

Last month I’ve read and reviewed eight books but these two stood out due to their unique format and style. So I must share them with you.

Word Craft: Prose & Poetry by Colleen M. Chesbro is an excellent reference book for budding poets who want to learn the art of writing syllabic poetry. From finding poetic inspiration to exploring ideas, discerning your sixth sense and discovering your interests, this book is a perfect guide to writing haiku, tanka, haibun, renga, cinquain shardoma, nonet and many more. Along with the definition and details of each form, there are tips about how to write various forms of poetry. Some brilliant examples add more charm to this book.

Reading this book has been an enlightening experience for me as, I had no idea about how a gogyohka or an etheree is written and that a senryu focuses on the awkward moments of life and does not deal with sentimentality. Chesbro’s pithy style is noteworthy and the clarity of her thoughts could hone the writing skills of even a beginner. Syllabic poetry and its discipline have always scared me but this book infuses a new confidence. All poetry lovers must keep this book on their desk. Highly recommended.

5 stars!

Mr. Sagittarius by M.J. Mallon is a perfect blend of fantasy and realism, poetry and prose that holds magical qualities. Short and sweet, the story of Harold and William highlights attachment to beauties of nature and loved ones. Annette’s presence holds the key to emotions that link us to each other. Mallon’s style of connecting human relationships with willow tree, dragonflies and flowers shines through out the book.

‘The Old Man of Snow and the Snow Snake’ may appear to be a fabulous fantasy but is a magnificent comment on the avarice of man, eager to plunder nature. ‘Bubble Monster’ is a delightful tale of talking bubbles, with a child-like charm but conveys a serious message – “atmosphere is everything.”

‘My Heart is a Cave’ is beautiful and poignant; as it brings out the loneliness of a sibling who is yearning to be reunited with her loved ones. Attachments cling to us. Mr. Sagittarius could forget the names of his lovers but remembered his orchid, his Ruth and his ballerina – all natural beauties! Just within an hour, this book would fill your heart with warmth that would linger around you for a long time.

5 stars!

Thank you.

Balroop Singh.

If you like poetry,  check my latest book: Magical Whispers

You can click here for more poetry.

Snow White: Another Perspective

Snow White has been an adorable character for children since time immemorial and who can forget the dwarfs? Have you ever thought that this timeless tale could be retold with a new flavor? Cathleen has done it brilliantly and that too in two volumes. Here are my reviews of both the books, which should be read in continuation to enjoy the story that goes much far to mingle with the historical facts of the civil war.

My Reviews:

Snow White and the Civil War #1 by Cathleen Townsend may remind us of the fairy tale of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ but this story moves beyond the jealousy and cruelty of a stepmother. It focuses on the development of Gwen, how she learns to survive and excels in various skills that make her a darling of her new friends.

It is Janet’s kindness, her eagerness to learn and her perseverance that makes her an endearing character, well versed with the wisdom that she picks up slowly from her devoted friends cum uncles. Gentle love gestures of Jack and Charlie add a romantic touch to the tale. The role of dwarves has been drawn with bold strokes, which raise this simple story to epic proportions. I really enjoyed reading this book. 

5 STARS.

***

 

Plot of Gold continues the story of Snow White and book -1 has to be read to understand why Jack is looking for Gwendolyn Hilton and why does he owe money to his father. New characters are introduced to give another dimension to the story. Would Jack succeed in his mission? Would he ever meet Janet? The doubts persist as he plans to marry Eliza. Major part of the story dwells on the Civil War, the role of military intelligence and how Jack proves himself worthy of the work assigned to him by Colonel Evans.

Cathleen’s characters contribute significantly to the story; their depth and dimensions are noteworthy and their development is impressive. Though the plot focuses on Jack but all the characters grow, change and emerge out of their conflicts except the wicked stepmother of Gwen. Even Eliza and Mrs. Hammond make their presence felt. I like how poetry, music and dance form an essential part of their lives. This is a fine combination of fairy tale and historical fiction. 5 STARS.
– Balroop Singh 

Meet the author:

“I always wanted to write fiction,” says Cathleen, “even as a child, but for many years I never had anything I thought was good enough to share. My favorite book is The Lord of the Rings, and that’s an intimidating standard.

I finally began by writing biographies of my family members, mostly those from the Greatest Generation, as a family history project. After that, the whole process seemed a lot more possible, as if something inside me had clicked into place. So, then I finally sat down and started writing novels, and it was like they exploded out of me.

I also enjoy writing short stories. Some I submit to online mags and publishers, but others go straight to my blog. I write mostly fantasy, but ghost stories, historicals, and even the odd contemporary tickles my fancy at times.”

Cathleen Townsend trained as a social scientist, and at various times has been a teacher, a waitress, a donut baker, and a construction worker. She’s survived parenting, scuba-diving with a Mako shark, and a plane crash.

Her stories, both whimsical and serious, are drawn from the rich sources of folklore and history to inspire the belief that a single person can make a difference in the world, even if that world contains a dragon or two.

Cathleen lives in California’s beautiful gold country, and in her mind, dwarves and pixies also lurk in the oak- and pine-covered hills. She enjoys chatting with readers on her blog at cathleentownsend.com.

Tina Lost in a Crowd #NewRelease by Miriam Hurdle

Please welcome my blogger friend Miriam who has released a new book for children. Over to you Miriam.

Hi Balroop, I’m thankful for your generosity to host my Book Release Tour and allow me to share my process from pen to publication with your readers.

The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd, Part 3

The Ideas and Messages of the Story

Did you like Aesop’s Fables? I did when I was a child. When I read them to my students, they would shout with me at the end of the fable “the moral of the lesson is…”

Other than Aesop’s Fable, most of the children’s book don’t spell out the lessons. In fact, even when the story has a message for children, it doesn’t need to make it loud and clear. The children are reading the story to have fun.

There are ideas and messages in Tina Lost in a Crowd: Tina took part in decision making for the summer activities such as swimming and a sleepover. She asked permission to invite her friend to go to the concert. She made a right decision when she and Erica got lost in a crowd which was a safety issue.

Children are smart, they read for fun, and they learn the messages on their own term. It would be interesting to have a discussion with the children after they read a book.

Book Blurb:

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do? 

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.

Purchase Links:

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091M586M7

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w?ean=2940162309741

Here is My Review:

‘Tina Lost in a Crowd’ by Miriam Hurdle is a cute little, heart-warming story of two girls who get lost while they are following their dad. Two friends Tina and Erica are excited when they get an opportunity to go to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. During intermission, they get up to go to the restroom and can’t find Mr. Tyler, Tina’s dad. Do they get scared? How do they handle the situation? 

Well-illustrated and written in a simple style, the story conveys some subtle messages to children as well as parents. Mrs. Tyler is a loving mom and plans a number of activities for the summer, she agrees to invite Erica and understands her daughter so well. Tina is a calm and confident girl and could inspire many. She knows what to do when lost. I could connect with her, as I too got lost in a similar situation but wasn’t as wise as Tina!

I would recommend this book to all the parents of young children who wish to raise responsible children.

— Balroop Singh

Meet the Author:

Miriam Hurdle is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She published four children’s books at twenty-six years old. Her poetry collection received the Solo “Medalist Winner” for the New Apple Summer eBook Award and achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.

Contact Links:

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#BookReviews #poetry

This week I have some wonderful poetry books for you. They are quick reads, each one may take just an hour but the thoughts and emotions of these awesome poets would touch your heart.

Minus One by Elizabeth Merry

Minus One by Elizabeth Merry is a collection of short poems and haiku that could be read in less than an hour, each poem has a new theme though all are related to life. Some are vague and you have to figure out your own interpretation. Some lovely memories have been recorded in these poems besides the loss and the pain.

‘Seascapes’ transport you to the beach in a joyous mood, ‘Landscapes’ remind you of suffocations and ‘My Girl’ would fill your heart with aching delight. Read them slowly to discern the real meaning of haiku, as some of them whisper emotions through them. My favorite poems are ‘My Girl’ and ‘Yellow Dress.’

Shadows by Anita Dawes

‘Shadows’ by Anita Dawes reflects on the shadows of life, some of which stay behind us while others inspire to drive away sadness and despair. The themes are universal and symbolize love, darkness, light, time, goodness and dreams. Most of the poems are short and focused. I like the clarity of style and thoughts.

‘Color me Red’ brilliantly describes the moods and yearnings of the poet; ‘Broken’ touches upon those moments of disillusionment and desperation when we need an affectionate touch to reassure ourselves and ‘Nine Gates’ is a little ambiguous but I guess the gates refer to our journey of life, with a message of caution at each step.

Wrong Mouse would make you smile. This collection is a nice assortment of challenges that life throws at us and how we handle them. 

Poetry For you, Truths For Me by Tara Aryan

‘Poetry For You, Truths For Me’ by Tara Aryan is profoundly poignant poetry that rides on the waves of raw emotions, revealing how painful adolescent love becomes if the young heart breaks for whatever reasons. Each poem oozes with emotions that would tug at your heart, pull you into the abyss of her agony, make you a part of her “dark, stormy skies.” Her distress reaches its crescendo with ‘In This Cage’ and ‘Let It Rain,’ as the imagery is devastating in those two poems: “chains cling tightly, frozen, welded into my toughened skin.” I wonder how could love cage you, “anxiety siege you,” a “cloak of claustrophobia wrap around” you yet her words seem so plausible!

Most of the poems have been written in blank verse but there is a rhythmic touch in many, a yearning to move on yet the feeling that there could be no happiness, no life without her lost love. Tara’s style is realistic and could be related to any kind of hurt that is unbearable. Despite the lump in my throat, I could feel the wow factor in her style of expression, so pure, so honest and candid. A big hug for the poet for keeping her head high at the brink of drowning in deep seas of sorrow and pouring the grief into poetry. Bravo!

Poems in this collection mature as the poet enters the realms of understanding and learns to handle life. Wisdom dawns, rage steps in, Tara’s tone changes and a ray of hope shimmers in the later poems. ‘Liar, Liar’ is powerful in this context and lays bare some more truths. Some of the poems would haunt you, touch you deeply and you might need a face tissue while reading. I consider myself emotionally resilient but I had to put my kindle down to balance my emotions.

This one gets 5 shimmering stars.

Thank you.

Balroop Singh.

If you like poetry,  check my latest book: Magical Whispers

You can click here for more poetry.