Colleen’s Ekphrastic #PhotoPrompt

Image Credit: Annette Rochelle Aben

childhood charms beckon
treasures that still hold dreams
dare I discard them?

***

remember the stars?
inspiration to ride on
colors of our choice

***

all were so precious
I chose the golden necklace
that speaks of our love

***

you keep all the stars
I cherish the bonding gold 
pervasive pleasure

***

the beads transport me
to the golden eon we shared
of sheer delight

***
© Balroop Singh

Thanks to Colleen M. Chesebro for this challenge, which explores Ekphrastic writing inspired by visual art (photographs). Annette Rochelle Aben has provided the photo for this month’s challenge.

Thank you.

For more poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

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

Ghosts of the Past

Image from Pixaby

Who doesn’t meet them?
Who doesn’t get pulled in by them
Into those alleys we would like to forget?

I exorcised them, pushed them away
Away into the valleys of obscurity
Closed my doors despite their persistence.

I know they visit uninvited,
They linger in the shadows
To fan your wrath, to create ruckus.

The more you feed them,
The bolder they get
To add angst to your heart.

Only when you stop listening to them
Only when you accept the past
And forgive those you hold responsible

Only when you fight
The self-created demons
Only then, will they recede.

Serenity lies within your heart
But you have to stoke it
To let it permeate around you.
© Balroop Singh

Inspired from somebody who clings to the past and keeps wallowing in self-pity.

Thank you.

Many thanks to Colleen for a lovely review of my latest release – Slivers: Chiseled Poetry

For more poetry: click here to hear Magical Whispers

 

#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.

Silence Is Powerful

Recently I stumbled upon an enlightening book and would like to share some nuggets of wisdom that I gathered while reading it. I quote volubly from the book and also add my own observations.

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh exhorts us to find silence within ourselves. If we try, we would hear five sounds:

“1. The sound of the wonders of life that are calling you. (Sound of the birds, rain etc.)

Everything begins with a sound.

2. The sound of the One who observes the world. This is the sound of listening, the sound of silence.

3. The third sound is the Brahma sound – the transcendental sound, connected with spiritualism in Indian thought.

4. The sound of the rising tide.

5. The fifth sound is the sound that transcends all the sounds – the sound of impermanence, a reminder not to get attached to particular words or sounds.”

In the journey of life, how many of us have heard these sounds? Do we even know about them?

Do we introspect? Do we ponder about our activities, our purpose of the way we are living our life?

I am sure every one of us has heard the first kind of sounds but do we hear the call? Do we pay attention to them?

We also know the fifth sound so well yet never recognize its impermanence. 

There is a “small voice” – the inner voice that is often hushed by us. If we listen to that voice, it could unravel many desires that have not been paid any attention to.

Joy comes from listening to the inner desires that get drowned in the humdrum of life.

“We are what we feel and perceive. If we are angry, we are the anger. If we are in love, we are the love.”

Individual consciousness is required to eliminate toxic elements (anger, fear, despair) from our consciousness. It can be cultivated.

Conscious breathing is a good way to nourish body and mind with mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the practice that quiets the noise inside us. Noise of memories, of experiences, of past regrets, of uncertainty about the future… the list is endless.

Mindfulness too can be cultivated. It is not an easy task but also not unattainable.

“There is a radio playing in our head: Radio Station NST: Non Stop Thinking.” Mindfulness helps in silencing this non-stop station.

“Silence comes from the heart; it doesn’t mean we have to sit quietly.” No. It means learning to control the internal chatter, to calm the mind by “changing the way of your thinking and way of your looking.”

It is this chatter that prevents us from listening to ourselves or any one else. Only when we

“listen deeply to ourselves, can we listen to others. Take some time each day to listen with compassion to your inner child, to listen to the things clamoring to be heard. Then you will know how to listen to others.”

Four mantras to cultivate deep listening and presence in your relationships:

“1. I am here for you.

2. I know you are there, and I am very happy.

3. I know you suffer; that’s why I am here for you.

4. I suffer, please help.”

I have tried to condense a 225-page book into a short post to convey the most significant points that highlight the power of silence.

Thank you for reading.

Balroop Singh.

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

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.