#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: Tidal Falls & I’d Rather Be Growing Grapes

Tidal Falls by Jacquie Biggar

Tidal Falls by Jacquie Biggar is more than just wounded hearts or oppressive marriage. It has a well-defined plot that keeps you hooked with the ups and downs of life and some hard decisions that change the course of life for Sara as well as Nick. The story moves at a steady pace and hinges on relationships and emotions. It celebrates friendships and moments of happiness despite the initial hurts. A thread of positivity links all the characters except Tom.

Sara flees her home and takes her daughter Jess along with her. She knows her filthy rich husband who is a well-connected lawyer would hunt her down but she meets happiness in the form of some wonderful friends. How long would she enjoy this freedom? Can she trust Nick? Keep guessing till the end! 

The characters have been crafted with a broader stroke, giving immense confidence and independence to women. Sara’s agony and skepticism could reach my heart; Nick’s open-minded approach to life is commendable and the friendship worth emulating. Realistic as well as challenging situations add an element of thrill to this book.

I gave it five stars.

****

I’d Rather Be Growing Grapes by Jan Romes

I was allured by the name of this book and had no idea what it is about. ‘I’d Rather Be Growing Grapes’ has a weird plot but it has been handled in a brilliant manner, with the right kind of emotions. A fun read, without a dull moment, it keeps you enthralled till the last page. When you place twenty-one young women around a bachelor, there are inevitable chances of fireworks and cat-fights! Will Beau Reinholt find his soul mate?

In her light-hearted style of writing, Jan Romes introduces you to the “she devils” who had signed up for the three-week event called “Pick Me,” each one vying to win the most eligible bachelor, picking at each other, competing to seek attention; their bickering and brawls are hilarious. Egos are hurt, curses are thrown at Beau for not choosing the one who is most eager; Roxanne calls “Pick Me” the stupidest thing ever, organized for money, not love. Tina leaves with a positive comment while Tamara makes sarcastic remarks.

Some sterling expressions that won my heart: “They came at her from all sides, ready to rip into her flesh until they hit bone.” 

“Spirals of ecstasy swirled through her and blasts of warmth detonated below her belly.”

“A bunch of hens trying to peck each other’s eyes out.”Despite the efforts of some of the girls daring to reveal all, Romes keeps the narrative decent and therefore I would like to give her an extra star for that. A well-crafted, charming story, this book flows well and I enjoyed reading it.

This fun book gets five shimmering stars.

Thank you.

-Balroop Singh.

#Life #Emotions #BookReviews

The journey of life is veiled in colors. I have written many times about life yet these two books revealed some more layers for me.

I was drawn in by the analogy – ‘Life is like a bowl of cherries.’ It led me into various alleys even before I opened the book. I love short stories and Sally’s stories regale you with various experiences that are woven into the inescapable web of life. The book begins with ‘The Weekly Shopping’ – the most appropriate, humorous yet grim comment on how technology has crept into our lives. It would make you wonder: can we escape such a trap?

Cronin’s Crisp style of writing, her adroit crafting of characters and her inspirational tone gleams through out the book. Kindness of Elsie would melt your heart when you read ‘The Scratch Card’ and ‘The Date’ would make you dance despite your age. Jennifer’s positivity and planning is superb while The Nanny took my heart away! It is hard to pick up a favorite story, as all of them tingle some emotional cord. A perfect combination of sour and sweet, I savored this “bowl of cherries,” which has a sprinkle of some lovely poetry. Highly recommended.

***

Finding a Balance by Lauren Scott captures myriad emotions that beseech us to accept whatever life offers and find a balance in tears and happiness. A combination of deep love and yearning, the poems in this collection exude realism, speak of sadness but also offer soothing thoughts. Scott knows that our only choice is to move forward. While we seek answers to our questions, comfort can be found in prayers and hope.

The poems are written in a simple and straight-forward style and are easy to understand. There is a craving to rewrite some unpleasant chapters of life, to open new doors, to brush aside dejections and embrace light. My favorite poem is ‘The Box,’ as “The walls stood bare waiting for memories to dress” evoke memories we cherish. Lovely!

Thank you.
Balroop Singh.

How to Nurture Love for Poetry #NationalPoetryMonth

Symbolism and words

Poetry is said to be good for the soul, as it soothes our emotions, helps us dig deeper into  thoughts and dreams and makes us discern the aesthetic pleasures around us. If you avoid poetry and prefer thrillers, probably you have never been exposed to the love of reading a good poem.

Nurturing the love for poetry starts in childhood. If you are a parent, read a poem everyday with your child. Ask the child what s/he likes about that poem. If the child likes it, don’t hestitate to read it everyday but add another one. Begin with simple and short poems.

Encourage your child to collect little poems and make a scrapbook. You can browse poems for kids online. Think about your favorite poets and poems you liked as a child or as a youngster. Share those thoughts with your children or siblings. Discuss what makes you like poetry.

Encourage your child to write a short poem. Bette A. Stevens offers excellent guidelines for writing haiku (an unrhymed poetic form consisting of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.)

Why is poetry disliked? Whenever this question haunts me, I try to look back to search some answers. The only poetry we were exposed to in schools, was the rhymes and that too in Kindergarten.

While reading story books is stressed upon but good poetry books are not easily available. Either they haven’t been written or their level is too high to be understood by children.

Some poems that we meet in textbooks fail to inculcate the love for reading of more poetry though ‘Mr. Nobody’ stayed in my thoughts and I love it even today.

Here is the fun poem: I wish more such poems could be written!

Mr. Nobody

I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody.

’Tis he who always tears out books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.

He puts damp wood upon the fire
That kettles cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
And all the carpets soil.
The papers always are mislaid;
Who had them last, but he?
There’s no one tosses them about
But Mr. Nobody.

The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill; the boots
That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
To Mr. Nobody.
– Walter de la Mare

Whenever a door squeaks, I think of Mr. Nobody!

Poems for children and middle schoolers have to be short and simple. The following poem by Robert Frost could speak to them if imagery is explained by the teacher:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
– Robert Frost

Love for poetry is also connected with how well the poems are taught by our English teachers. Some just read them and inspire children to analyze. While it may be good for developing critical thinking, discussions have to follow to share the opinion of others.

Creative writing workshops in schools that focus on poetry writing develop sensibilities at an early age. Do you have any memories of writing poetry in your school?

In honor of National Poetry Month, two of my poetry books are being offered for just 0.99 cents. If you love poetry, grab your copy now. Thank you. Please share this post at your favorite social networks.

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Poetry
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Why I Like Realism

I call myself a realist though most of my poetry rides on the wings of imagination. I know realism is boring and harsh; modern writers have almost abandoned it but it is ironic that this hypocritical world cannot do away with realities of life that stand before us every single day. However hard we may try to escape them, we can’t eliminate them. Who would like to read about them?

Before you conclude that literary realism is dead, I would like to introduce you to an outstanding book that I stumbled upon recently. When characters accept their imperfections, when they struggle to survive and show the willingness to turn back yet feel entrenched in the situation and no Godfathers come to save them – such stark realism would lack excitement. Strangely I didn’t find this to be true. I am amazed at the relevance of this story, so close to real life.

40179809._SY475_‘It’s A Long Way Down’ by Ian Canon is a realistic and honest saga of David, who had a loving wife, a successful career and the much-awaited award of excellence yet he let himself wander into the darkest alleys of addiction. He couldn’t answer his own question – why? Was it for pleasure, arrogance or escapism? “Success can be suffocating, happiness is hard,” he tries to justify his actions. As David slithered deeper into the abyss of self-imposed addiction, his body tried to react, sending signals of resistance, self-awakening hits him and his efforts to restrain himself are superbly narrated. Despite the theme, this book is brilliantly written, with each detail that keeps you spellbound, making you wonder – what next? What would be the end, detesting the obvious outcome that could be anybody’s guess!

Canon’s style of writing is perceptive, breathing the right emotion into the situation, he shares the depths of despair, the crevasse of self-doubt; human flaws stare at your face, mixed emotions of anger and angst gnaw at your bones, making you the mute spectator of desperation. With no help in sight, this lone journey of an addict is an eye-opener for all those weak-minded individuals who seek pleasure in momentary joy or misuse drugs. David may not evoke sympathy but exemplifies a scaffold of perfect doom.

Ian gets into the mind of his characters, each one perfectly drawn and understands relationships quite well. His delectable prose mitigates the curse words that may seem necessary for the junkies. The book ends on an exquisite note, leaving much to the imagination of the reader, hinting at the power of hope. I am amazed how such a dreary topic could be converted into an excellent book.
© Balroop Singh

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