#BookReviews #Poetry #Shortstories

This week I would like to share some wonderful books of poetry and short stories. All three books are a quick read and I really enjoyed them.

Variety is the Spice of Life by Sally Cronin

True to its name, this book is packed with a variety of syllabic poetry, pulling at the strings of your heart with poems like ‘Face in the Mirror,’ accompanied by a beautiful picture of the poet and her mother – a reminder of her laughter and ‘The Waltz’ that captures the joy of two hearts. Cronin’s poems are short and meaningful, most of them capture vibrant colors of life. Even drought doesn’t escape her discerning eye. Robins, starlings, bees and butterflies come alive in her poems. If blossoms remind us of fleeting opportunities, bees convey a profound message of diligence and persistence.

Sally’s short stories have always been my favorite, as they bring out the best of human values. I loved ‘The Healer’ and ‘Home Help’ but the winners are the marmalade cat and robin of Miss Lloyd. Cronin’s love for furry friends shines through her stories. I highly recommend this lovely collection to readers of all genres.

Do What You Love by MJ Mallon

‘Do What You Love’ is a little memoir that captures beautiful moments of life, giving an insight into the author’s experiences, hopes and adventures. A delightful concoction of poetry, photography and flash fiction, imagination and reality merge here to share the stories of her life in a succinct manner.

With the symbol of hibiscus flower, Marje introduces herself as a giggling and carefree child whose mentor is Lachesis – the goddess of future. How creative! It is her innovative style of writing that would capture your heart, as all three “sisters of fate” – Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos remain close to her and offer her friendly advice at each step of life.

With a pang in her heart and tears of pride in her eyes, the empty nester also shares the story of her successful daughters and is reassured by Atropos that they have to take their own path. So relatable! It is fascinating to watch the poet conversing with “sisters of fate” and the moments we cherish come alive through her poems.  

The Christmas Bird by Robbie Cheadle

‘The Christmas Bird’ is a heart-warming story of love and compassion. Stella and her sisters are celebrating Christmas when they discover a bird’s nest that had been destroyed by their dogs. Stella gently picks up the surviving baby bird and hopes to save it despite her mom’s warning that it may die of shock. They prepare an old basket into a warm nest for the little bird, feed the bird lovingly and get attached to it. The bird seems to be a perfect Christmas gift for the girls.

This short story infuses a sense of respect toward our environment. The natural instinct of caring for all the species is highlighted in a subtle manner. Loving and letting go is also underlined, as the bird grows wings and learns to be free. Written in a simple language, it is a perfect story for children if the superfluous details of the beer making process are brushed aside.

Thank you. Happy reading!

If you like poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

Here is my latest release  Hues Of Hope 

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Welcome The Necromancer’s Daughter: #fantasy #book @Dwallacepeach #NewRelease

I am honored to welcome D. Wallace Peach, a wonderful author who has a new release. I am also sharing my review of the book at the end of this post. One of my favorite authors, Diana conjures a unique world in her novels – a different one in each book. I love her poetic style of writing and her descriptions are vividly exquisite.

She is a poet too!

There are two poems in The Necromancer’s Daughter, and she has shared the second one here with us. It’s an incantation that summons and animates the dead.

Here it goes:

Death seeks what is frail
your blood pooled and bones brittle
eye sockets empty
owls and flies hover, hungry
to consume your flesh
if death is the ice of night
you ride a stray wind
whisper from shores of nothing
dare not let crows comfort you
for I am the cusp
the gate-keeper, dawn-breaker
I lead you back to your bones
meld your blood with mine
rimmed in eagerness and fear
I restore your heart
summon the flame’s ardent breath
which raging seas cannot quell
by blade or infirmity
your apparition 
awakens from your slumber
begone Death’s black wings
for what I know of nature
the beauty of life grows back.

“I hope you enjoyed that. Like the other poem, this one is based on the syllabic form called the choka, but I needed more lines, so I wrote a variation using both forms of the nine-line poem, plus the shorter tanka,” says Diana. The true rules of the syllabic form can be found on Colleen Chesebro’s blog: https://wordcraftpoetry.com. 

Book Blurb:

A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.

Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.

While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.

Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.

A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.

Meet the author:

A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked. 

In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography. 

Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Amazon Author’s Page

Website/Blog

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 My Review of The Necromancer’s Daughter:

The Necromancer’s Daughter by D. Wallace Peach is a riveting saga of Aster, a still-born royal daughter who was awakened to life by a necromancer and raised with immense love. Peach doesn’t let you breathe and savor the beauty of her exquisite style but builds up the tension with each page, compelling you to keep clutching your emotions and watch how Aster escapes The Red Order, which believes healing death is evil and pursues her even after they had shattered her life, burnt her home, and ripped away her father.

The backdrop and the pictureque winter landscape adds a chilly charm to the challenges faced by Aster. The descriptions are vivid, the friendships exceptional and the kindness exemplary. Peach’s characters stay alive long after you’ve read the last page of her book and the characters in this book stay true to this fact. Can you ever forget Barus, an embodiment of kindness, with a pleasant face but a crooked spine and misshapen hands or lose sight of Teko, the loyal protector of Aster?

Oscillating between his beliefs and intense desire to help Aster, Joreh – the reluctant admirer – gets mired in faith, politics and emotion but he would

 win your heart despite his imperfections. Aster’s mysterious connection to dragons, her will-power and determination to accomplish whatever she thinks is right and her loving heart makes her an endearing protagonist. A female oriented story doesn’t forget to give ample attention to its male characters.

If you enjoy fantasy, if you admire vibrant characters that add to the story, if you like a sonorous style, with a rich vocabulary, this is a perfect book for you. Some magnificent quotes: “The sun surrendered to vermillion clouds and the nightlings flickered between evergreen limbs as they bowed beneath winter’s weight.”
“Sky wept frozen tears for the folly of men, covering their blood as it buried their sins.”
“When dawn pried its fingers through the cracks in her walls”

I am sure you would like to pick up your copy, here are the links:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach/dp/B0B9FY6YZJ

IN: https://www.amazon.in/Necromancers-Daughter-D-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B0B92G7QZX

Thank you. Happy reading!

#BookReviews: #Mystery #TimeTravel #Memoir

Taking a break from syllabic poetry, I want to share the reviews of some fabulous books I’ve read this month. All four are my favorite authors (The Haunting… has been written by two perceptive stalwarts.) I have read one more brilliantly written book by our wordsmith – Diana. I would share it in my next post this week.

The Haunting of Chatham Hollow gives you a few hiccups in the beginning, oscillating between two timelines and many characters but soon picks up a steady pace and keeps you invested in the mystery as well as seances. A complex plot, ensconcing many stories, it is a combination of supernatural fantasy and cozy horror. 

The style of two authors mingles in a brilliant manner! Who seeks the hidden treasure of Ward Chatham and why? Would Chatham’s ghost reveal the secret? What is the significance of the curse? Many such questions keep gnawing at your heart till the end.

The strength of this book lies in the seances, each one more vivid, more captivating than the other, giving you the feeling of a real scene of a movie. Spiritualists and skeptics provide a balanced view but Ward Chatham adds a weird aura to the story.

Benedict is hardly a competitor for Victor, probably due to his nefarious designs and that is why the latter emerges to be my favorite character. All the characters have been crafted with equal astuteness and the most stunning one is the grandmother of Aiden. 

It is marvelous how all the links are woven together in the end. However, some of the details are superfluous; they hamper the pace of the book and eliminating them could have made it more thrilling. Highly recommended for all kinds of readers. 5 stars reading. 

Geller’s Find by Sandra Cox is an intriguing tale, a combination of western and time travel, with a cozy romance thrown in. True to her style, Cox dives into the story headlong, and keeps a brisk pace, never letting you waver an eyelid. While hiking through the majestic Great Basin, Luke’s love for artifacts leads him into the past, as he hurtles down into a deep hole, “whirling into a tube of rock”and reaches in the year 1882 where he meets Lily, a rancher. The vivid description of his journey, as if he were in an elevator is most captivating. Many questions would crop up in your mind – How would he get back? Will he stay and never go back? How would he find his bag that gets lost? Where would he stay? Can he adjust to the unfamiliar surroundings?

Cox’s characters are most realistic and the way they welcome Luke into their lives is heart-warming. Strong yet tender at heart, Saffron likes Luke but he keeps his distance, as he knows he doesn’t belong to their world. Stryker remains an enigma till the end though Luke is smart enough to see through his sinister plans. There is enough action to keep you enthralled. The book converts into a page-turner toward the end and much is left to the imagination of the reader. Pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed. 5 stars! 

The Winding Road is a poignant memoir of Miriam who was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in one of her organs at the time of her hysterectomy. It was considered to be incurable. She was told that the survival rate was six to twelve months among the patients over the past twenty years. An experimental treatment was recommended and Miriam decided to go ahead with it. Her candid account of the treatment and suffering is extremely heart-rending.  My heart goes out to her, as she had the grit and the determination to walk through the unknown road, never losing sight of her destination. The positivity that kept her going despite the long waits, failing health and side effects of the chemo, is noteworthy. It was the most difficult path, with excruciating pains that she had to bear throughout the treatment, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Her persistence paid off; the blessings and prayers of her friends and family plucked her from the jaws of life-threatening cancer and she could fulfill her wishes of playing with her grandchildren. It requires great resilience to relive those moments while telling the story but Miriam chose to share it and I admire her fortitude. She has also shared some beautiful pictures of her family that reinforces how valuable this life is with our near and dear ones. 5 stars!

Happy reading! Thank you.

– Balroop Singh.

If you like poetry, here is my latest release  Hues Of Hope 

Welcome to Charm: A Unique Village!

If you are unfamiliar with the magic of this village, I must share my yesterday’s experience with you. I was trying to write this post and when I uploaded the picture of this book, my laptop went blank! It said: “you are not connected.” I tried all possible ways and means to figure out what went wrong, I couldn’t get connected! In frustration, I gave up and went to bed, thinking I’ll finish this post in the morning. Surprisingly my phone was working fine. So I rebooted my laptop and started once again but no luck!

Hence this post got so late.

Here I am with the book review of ‘Welcome to Charm,’ the most original fantasy I have come across.

‘Welcome to Charm’ is an amazing fantasy with a gentle romance thrown in to keep you hooked. Are you tired of digital devices? Is the stress of life getting on your nerves? Do you crave a vacation in lush green surroundings with exotic flowers without paying a penny? Do you feel the pinch of inflation? Welcome to Charm – a unique village where you don’t have to pay a penny for a burger, can live in your dream house, never would have to lock it or lease it! Sounds incredible? Tonya has a surprise for you at each step, as this story proceeds.

Abby is astounded in the beginning but finds serenity the moment she learns to accept the inevitable. So intoxicated she gets by the company of Nash and the healing touch of Mother Nature; she feels that living in Charm is like living a fairy tale. She agrees to stay and discovers the real reason why she has been brought to Charm and why she couldn’t find an exit road to reach Crestview.

There is another noteworthy  aspect of this book. Though it thrives on fantasy, it also returns to realism when it quotes from the poet Emerson: “there is nothing which nature cannot repair.” It reminded me of the “back to nature” call by the poets of the Victorian Era. William Wordsworth said, “To her fair works did Nature link the Human soul that through me ran.” Penrose uses this unifying theme of life and Nature most effectively.

The childlike charm of this book, the subtle wisdom and the way it has been shared makes it a superb reading experience. I would like to visit Charm!

If you want to accompany me, leave your digital devices behind, as they won’t work there.

Thank you.

– Balroop Singh

#BookReviews #Poetry & #Fiction

Life and Soul: Book 2 is divided into six parts, each one delving deeper into the journey of a soul. Harmony’s poetry would acquaint you with your own soul and would gently guide you toward the eternal light that “always surrounds us.” Her succinct style of writing and rich imagery is the hallmark of this collection. She doesn’t let the darker themes dominate her thoughts, she tries to move on and takes delight in the positivity of life’s lessons.

‘Lonely Soul’ pines for a companion but keeps the pain within and smiles through the words, which would pierce your heart.
‘Seeking Soul’ highlights what is not love, how toxic relationships bruise, stifle and slay your confidence. Feel the power of these words from – Still Laundry To Get Done:
“Vocal chords cut, severed
Silenced with words, curt look
No fists necessary…”
And these words hit me like a dagger: Licking honey off the edge of the razor blade.”
‘Loving Soul’ is drenched in passionate love with unique descriptions of falling in love. Love poems in this section are captivating, with brilliant imagery and elation that flows in rivulets of ecstasy. This is my favorite section.

The essence of her life with all the pungent and sweet delights gleams through the last section – ‘The Life of a Soul.’ Though the poems in this book are personal, they would touch your heart, as the themes are universal. You don’t have to be a poetry lover to enjoy these poems. Highly recommended. 

A Voice in the Silence is much more than a cosy murder mystery, it draws you in with its unique characters – Charlie, Jane and Ben and lets you soar with Finn’s imagination. There is not a dull moment as the tension builds up, with Drea’s stalker getting closer despite all the security measures taken by her family friend and cop – Adam. The story moves at an amazing pace, compelling you to guess who the serial killer could be! Would Drea survive the vicious attack? Would her animal friends be safe? If that is not enough, Will Ralph comes in with his irrational demands and threatens to kill.

Drea is an admirable character, crafted with panache, as she rises to the occasion, can’t be intimidated and knows how to react in a catastrophic situation. Her love for furry friends exudes inspiration and her kindness is exemplary. She has been grieving due to the loss of her husband but she puts it aside to face the challenging situations. Love and life sound more important to her than grief and loneliness and she chooses love – a subtle message that life is far more precious than our losses. 

It is remarkable how Finn has woven an interesting book around various themes of love, loneliness, grief, empathy and callousness with a positive outlook. I enjoyed it.

I was allured to Bella, as the suspense about her character and her physical absence in Sandra Kopp’s earlier book left many unanswered questions about her personality. This book focuses on Bella Jacquelina Gaviano, the most beautiful daughter of Carlo Gaviano and his French wife Marie. The turbulent journey of Bella’s life captivates you despite all the horrific incidents that fail to cripple her free and malicious spirit. An impetuous, self-centered, spiteful and arrogant brat, she grows up with the illusion that she has descended from royalty and deserves the privileges of the elite. She wants the best of everything; she knows the ways to accomplish what she wants and figures out how to remove her stumbling blocks. From a seamstress to a coveted beloved, her life is full of bewildering occurrences. 

Kopp’s style of writing, her love for nature and her exquisite language add a literary touch to this book too. A character-driven story, it moves at a steady pace, never slacking, constantly adding new developments in Bella’s life. On the one hand, she nurtures her intense desire for Joseph whom she could entice with her exotic accent, spoken in a throaty whisper, and her dark brown eyes but she also had high expectations from her marriage to Jean-Pierre, in case Joseph becomes aloof and indifferent. The development of Bella’s character is stunning, as it gets darker and murkier as the book proceeds. You would surely say – OMG! 

It is surprising that she never introspects, doesn’t feel any remorse, never is haunted by her deeds, and is perfect in her pretense. The ending of the book deviates from its focus and introduces some new characters. I don’t think they were needed and the story of Bella could be concluded without those superfluous chapters. There is also some repetition and too many details, which could be edited to enhance its value. If you like dark fiction, you would surely enjoy this book.

Thank you.

– Balroop Singh

For poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

Here is my latest release  Hues Of Hope