Book review

Every month, I read and review one ‘Amazon first read’ but have never shared the reviews here despite some fabulous books that I’ve read. This month I happened to pick up a book, which I would like to talk about, as it comments on the most relevant topic – a disturbing fact that nobody likes to discuss.

Before I share my review of the book, I would like to quote a few lines from William Blake’s poem ‘The Little Black Boy,’ written in 1789:

My mother bore me in the southern wild,
And I am black, but O! my soul is white;
……. 

My mother taught me underneath a tree 
And sitting down before the heat of day,
She took me on her lap and kissed me,
And pointing to the east began to say. 

Look on the rising sun: there God does live 
And gives his light, and gives his heat away. 
And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive
Comfort in morning joy in the noonday.
……Read full poem

Sadly, little seems to have changed!!

Under Color of Law (Trevor Finnegan, #1) by Aaron Philip Clark is a chilling and riveting account of the plight of black recruits and officers, so reminiscent of recent protests against the police department. This is an inside story of what goes behind the scene, an eye-opener about how some officers are brutal enough to indulge in violent means to eliminate those they don’t like. This fictional story smacks of stark realism, often brushed aside in connection with the high-handedness of cops.

Trevor joins LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) with dreams of becoming a top-ranking officer and doesn’t give an ear to his father’s warnings that the system is rotten. He is ready to take all the pressure and has to lock horns with the corrupt and selfish persons around him. Does he succeed? Could he get justice for Brandon whose body has been found with no clues? Clark’s power-packed style of writing keeps you turning the pages and my heart sank with each development. I could feel the pain, the frustration, the yearning and the hope of Trevor who refuses to give up.

Clark’s characters are believable, crafted with incisive detail as if he has met them. Trevor’s confidence, determination and resilience shines through out the story. Joey Garcia and Boston Walsh have been handled brilliantly but it is Trevor’s relationship with Sarada that adds a touch of tenderness to the story. The book remains inconclusive but I could understand that the issues that have been raised can’t be resolved in a day and it would take years to see the change of attitudes. I would eagerly look forward to the next book in the series. Highly recommended!

Balroop Singh.

#BookReviews 5 #stars for each one

Some books inspire me to write a review midway and I usually makes notes on my Kindle, more so if it is poetry. There are others, which elicit no response from me even after I’ve finished it. I’ve been thinking what could be the reason for lack of inspiration – monotonous characters or jaded story line?

The books I share today are the ones that belong to the first category – I made so many notes that the reviews were almost ready by the time I finished reading them.

Keeper Tyree by S. Cox – My Review:

If you’ve read and enjoyed ‘Gwen Slade,’ ‘Keeper Tyree’ is even better and steamier than that, with some delightful characters thrown in to keep the interest alive. In her captivating style, S. Cox grips you right in the beginning and moves at a breathtaking speed. When Cathleen O’ Donnell hires Keeper to take revenge from the killer of her son, he appears to be a detached, hardened killer but the way his character evolves with the story, is incredible! The power of a strong, obdurate woman floors him and he has to remind himself that he is just with her for business. He knows his soul is blackened yet he yearns for the tender touch of a woman.

I have read many books of Cox and each one is extremely readable, with strong women characters who define their goals out of free will and refuse to be influenced by circumstances. This one mentions women as “wondrous creatures” and Cathleen as well as Maybell shine through out the story. A page-turner, without a dull moment, replete with continuous action, this book is one of her best. Highly recommended.

Behind Closed Doors by Robbie Cheadle – My Review:

Behind Closed Doors by Robbie Cheadle is an assortment of various styles – haiku, tanka, haibun and free style of poetry that is realistic; it touches upon various facets of life and captures many emotions in a subtle manner. Having read her ‘Open a New Door,’ I am quite familiar with Robbie’s poetry but some of the poems in this collection left me spellbound! 

Inspiring you to rise from “hot ashes” to face new challenges, develop a new perspective and “break your shackles” to reach the improbable, there are many poems dripping with such positivity. ‘Stars in Her Eyes’ brilliantly reveals her “glittering world” when she soars on the “gossamer wings, empowered by the hope to gather the “fairy dust.” Beautiful imagery! The metaphorical poems ‘Contrasting Colors’ and ‘A Fairy-tale Come True’ are superbly written.

‘He Walks Away’ took my heart away, as a mother’s pride and pain has been captured so well in this poem. I could relate to Robbie’s words:

“Her kiss is no longer wanted as he seeks the lips of the other. It’s heart-wrenching to let go…”

‘Can you see the Butterflies’ is another masterpiece, rich with imagery, impelling you to rush outside to watch the wonders of nature. Read this collection and find answers in “sweet dreams.” Such is the magic of poetry!

Secrets, Lies & Alibis by Jacquie Biggar – My Review:

Secrets, Lies & Alibis, written in the signature style of Jacquie, is a short, fast-paced read that leaves you craving for more. I was rooting for Amanda all the time, waiting for the right moment to dawn for the estranged couple. While Amanda is planning to go ahead with her baby all alone, Adam wants to come back to her. It gets exciting with each page, as quick action is thrown in which brings back old unresolved challenges. Some secrets need to be shared!

Relationships and respect remain significant in this book too. Though this is book 8 of the series and I haven’t read all of them but each time I read one, I get inspired to read more.

Thank you. Happy reading

If you like poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

Have you checked my latest release? – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

#BookReviews: Prose & Poetry

This week I would like to share three different genres – a historical laced with paranormal, a prehistoric fiction and poetry about love. Each book enchanted me with its style and characterization.

A Ghost and His Gold: My Review

A Ghost and His Gold is loaded with historical details of the second Boer War in South Africa and I must confess I had no knowledge about this war. This book lays bare the atrocities and the brutalities that are considered to be a part of such conflicts; it also chronicles the long-term effects that they cause on human psyche. It is the powerful presence of the supernatural that keeps you captivated despite the heavy details of the war.

 Cheadle has meticulously put together the poignant plight of the families of the soldiers who dared to defy the British and fight for their rights. It is interesting to note that both perspectives of the war are represented through Pieter and Robert. The story jumps from one time-line to another various times and is told through several POV’s; also switches tenses whenever convenient – it hampers the spontaneous flow of the book. I like the footnotes that clarify local words and expressions.

What impressed me most is how well the emotions have been handled and how adroitly the characters have been developed that they sound realistic, trapped in the circumstances beyond their control. I hate Marta and my heart goes out to Estelle, I didn’t like Tom right from the beginning and developed a soft corner for Pieter – such connections can only be felt with powerful characters.

There are certain absurd expectations: like Michelle asking Estelle “you need to promise me that you’ll not harm him regardless of whether you can forgive him or not.” Who could trust a ghost? However, this is not just a simple ghost story, it highlights serious themes connected with antagonism, avarice, insensitivity and humanity. Well-done!

Laws of Nature: My Review

Laws of Nature (Dawn of Humanity Book 2) continues the story of Lucy and it is better to read ‘Born in a Treacherous Time’ to understand the challenges in the journey of primeval humans. Most of their time was spent in finding food and safety from other tribes and animals. Prehistoric fiction is intriguing and in the hands of Jacqui, it becomes convincing as well as enlightening. Her meticulous search shines through all her books. She shows the life of people of those times through fictional characters who handled all their problems with immense hope.

 Lucy’s mission is the search for a home base. She has to deal with predators; earth changes, freezing temperatures, harsh weather and difficult terrain. Her tribe has been decimated and she could sense that she is being followed but her determination is admirable. Xhosa from the ‘Crossroads Trilogy’ makes an appearance in her dreams to guide and boost her confidence. She promises change would come soon and makes Lucy promise she wouldn’t quit. Packed with action and a new challenge at each step, this book is uniquely different from usual thrillers.

Crossroads: My Review

Crossroads (Winds of Love) takes you through various corridors, which you may have visited yet missed the intense moments of exhilaration; it explores many more aspects of love, compels you to ponder and cultivate resilience. A resilient love is open to maturity but also vulnerable. 

Written in a simple and straightforward style, Jude’s poetry is seeped in ecstasy of sensual love as well as yearning to find love’s freedom; loneliness and wisdom are the rewards – paradoxical? But that is love!

“Loneliness has wrapped me in its embrace, A broken heart has tamed me with wisdom.” How true!

“Once a joy, now an ache” – that is the price of love!

This may be Jude’s debut book but his poetry is so powerful that it draws on your emotions, stirring bittersweet memories and awakens you to “love’s deceptive light.” If you like free verse and want to understand love, this is a perfect book for you.

Thank you. Happy reading!

For more poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

Have you checked my latest release? – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

Chaotic Alleys #ShortStories by Mahesh Nair

Please welcome my author buddy Mahesh Nair who has recently released his debut book – ‘Chaotic Alleys: Collected Works.’ I was enthralled by this book as Mahesh’s short stories unfold like opening a treasure chest; you have to delve deeper to find the gems hidden in the corners – such is his style of writing.

Chaotic Alleys: Collected Works is a fiction compilation of micro, flash, and short stories published, shortlisted, longlisted, and anthologized in journals and magazines.

“I appreciate expression that provokes my senses, causes my gut to rise or settle. If the words remain with me as images, it’s a winner. Mahesh’s writing has done this,” says Bela Johnson — Editor, Writer, & Former Host of Alternative Currents on WERU-FM

Purchase link

My Review:

True to its name, ‘Chaotic Alleys’ escorts you into turbulent lanes of life that diverge into unimaginable proportions. Some of them open into positive vistas but much depends on your own perspective and interpretation. Fresh and poignant, Mahesh Nair’s flash fiction says volumes in just a few words, each one loaded! His stories are close to reality yet unpredictable. They compel you to ponder, as the depth of his words is mysterious.

This book is divided into three parts: flash fiction, short stories and micro-fiction. You could finish it within an hour or keep returning to fathom some profound and chilling truths. Read how callous compassion is, what a sham some wishes are, what a mockery people make of their existence. These stories would shake you to search the exact meaning of life; the elusive realities would unfold with an alarming authenticity. 

‘The Budding 90s’ is layered in the mystery of words; it doesn’t speak about the relationship shared by Amit and Samir but lets you discern what his “walking partner” means to Amit. The symbols of ‘heat’ and ‘rivulets of rainwater’ may seem paradoxical but they add a brilliant dimension to the story. ‘Water’ that trickles from the window and ceiling complete the societal and religious constraints that threaten to weaken their souls.

A subtle comment on the plight of couriers, ‘Alert, Alert’ unravels the truth about parsimonious people. Do they even know what is gratitude? Could they ever understand what compels the couriers to keep going despite the callous attitude of those who sit in the comfort of their offices and get served with the food of their choice? The flashbacks of Samaira’s life add a touch of poignancy to her struggle.

‘A Distance Away’ stunned me, as it is completely unpredictable. Written in an unusual style, it sounds like a normal cruise date, as Randy seems to love Jane. Like a meandering stream, their thoughts don’t give any inkling where they are going to lead each other. This one is my favorite! No guessing would lead you to the truth that unfolds. 

While I sympathize with Samaira, ‘Breathlessly Yours’ left me spellbound. I smiled at the optimism of Jon; would his dreams of wooing a woman, two decades younger than him come true? You’ll have to read to find out.

Nair’s characters exude dynamism but something hides behind their persona that raises the story above the mundane. Whether it is Randy or Jon – two entirely different men, they are well defined and memorable; they may seem realistic yet they are not! The hallmark of Nair’s stories is variety and tone, so different from the traditional ones. Highly recommended.

Meet the Author:

Mahesh Nair studied creative fiction at New York University. He won Strands International Flash Fiction Award, was shortlisted for Bath Flash Fiction Award and Micro Madness NFFD New Zealand, long listed twice for Reflex Fiction prize, and highly commended twice at London Independent Story Prize. His work has appeared in Barren Magazine, Literary Orphans, The Bookends Review, Smokebox, Paragraph Planet, 101 Words, AdHoc Fiction, BlinkInk Print, and Crack the Spine, and is featured in three anthologies. He was a contributing author for a CNF anthology, Lady by the River.

Connecting links:

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Balroop Singh.

#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.