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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Tony Baker Is Blown Away by Coming-of-Age Book



Title : Purgus
Author : Angie Gallion
Genre : General Fiction/Coming of Age
ISBN :  978-1539133810
Rating : 5 out of 5 Stars



Reviewed by Tony Baker originally for Amazon
As I sat down to read Purgus, the second book in Author Angie Gallion's series, I was excited and filled with wonder. How could the next book in this series blow me away as did the first? Well, it did...not just a little but completely! The next  in the life of Alison was so gripping I actually felt like I wanted to enter the book and be a part of it. As I stated in my first review of Intoxic, this Author  me right next to her. The writer once again captured the true feelings and gut wrenching pain that those of us like Alison feel in our actual lives. Myself, and so many out there have lived this life described in this journey. I say that because it is a journey, just like mine. Thanks to this one-of-a-kind Author I have turned and faced my own demons that have haunted me most of my life, and I'm 62. Through her writing I have found healing for a wound I have carried since I was a young boy. As I closed the book at the final chapter I was completely at peace. This journey of Alison is formidable and shows you can turn your life around no matter what has happens to you. She is us and we are her. I can only imagine what is in store for Alison in the next book (Icara), but I'm about to find out! Well done Angie Gallion!






Learn more about Angie Gallion here:  angiegallion


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Jendi Reiter Reviews Em Jollie's Poetry

 Field Guide to Falling
 by em jollie
Website https://www.facebook.com/emjollie
Genre - Poetry
ISBN-10: 0997347201
ISBN-13: 978-0997347203
Name of reviewer - Jendi Reiter
Published in Reiter's Block, Jendi's blog -
Link to buy book - best to buy directly from emjollie@gmail.com but also available on Amazon

Reviewed by Jendi Reiter originally for her blog, Reiter's Block



Western Massachusetts writer em jollie’s new poetry collection A Field Guide to Falling (Human Error Publishing, 2017) is like a stained-glass cathedral window: even in scenes of suffering, the glorious colors give joy and uplift. Much of the book processes the aftermath of breaking up with a beloved woman, though at the end, the narrator seems to find a new beginning with another partner and a greater sense of herself as complete and sufficient. But this therapeutic summary can’t do justice to the mystical meaning of her journey. The speaker bravely walks up to the edge of everything we consider permanent, looks into the clouds swirling above the bottomless gulf, and finds a way to praise their ever-changing shapes. These poems imply that the value of falling–in love, out of love, out of Eden into a world of loss–is in how it challenges us to keep our hearts open, to say Yes despite it all.

Specificity keeps these classic themes fresh. A lesser poet would risk pathos with the extended metaphor of “How to Set a Firefly Free” as a farewell to a relationship where love exists but is not enough. This poem works because it is a real firefly first, a symbol second.
Firefly, suddenly setting aflame cut crystal hanging
from ceiling fan pull-chain. Greenish glow in each facet
while all night dogwood salts dark-wet sidewalk
flowers ripped gloriously open in rainpour.
Isn’t that a love poem all by itself? Those “flowers ripped gloriously open” already remind you of your own worthwhile heartbreak, whatever that was. The ending, which makes the personal connection explicit, only confirms what you felt it was about from the very first lines.
…If only
I didn’t know why lightning bugs blink.
If only I wasn’t so wise to the fact that your light
does not belong to me, will not ever.
If only I didn’t know that was right.
So naturally I just Googled why lightning bugs blink. Wikipedia says the trait originally evolved as a warning signal to predators that the bug was toxic to eat, but now its primary purpose is to communicate with potential mates. This dual meaning of sex and death confirms the speaker’s sad verdict on this love affair, which earlier in the poem she compared to the bond between a neighbor and his snarling dog: “[w]e said they were so mean they belonged together. Yet there/was something sweet about the belonging.”
jollie has one stylistic tic that I understand is common to the Smith College “school” of poetry, which is the occasional (and to my mind, random) omission of “a” and “the”. I’m sorry to say this is a pet peeve of mine. It creates a missing beat in the rhythm of a sentence, which distracts me. It’s fine to twist grammar to make a more compressed line, but I feel that this works best when the entire poem is written in an unusual voice, not when a single part of speech is excised from otherwise normal English.
jollie has kindly allowed me to reprint the poems below. It was hard to choose just two! Buy her book here.
Object Constancy
Sand can be grasped in a palm, yes. But wind
will take it eventually. Heart is body’s hourglass,
holding its own beginning
& end, its constant ticking tipping moment into
granular moment, for a while. You could take my skull
in your hands, but you will have to give it back
at some point. As will I.
Sure, Freud’s nephew came to understand
that Teddy Bear was just over edge of crib when it
disappeared from sight. But where is that Teddy now,
if not in some museum, curators desperately
fighting its inherent impermanence? Presence has to be
interrogative, doesn’t it, rather than declarative?
Dust is still dust. What I mean is: how
do I trust more than what I learned in the chaos
of childhood when since then I’ve been ingrained with loss
upon loss, like every human walking wings of light
through time?
Feather the paintbrush of my fingers across your jaw.
Feather the paintbrush of your fingers across my jaw.
We color each other for this moment. Just this one.
Then it’s done, days like hungry teeth devouring
endless could-have-beens into the finite sacred what-was.
I say: I love you (I have no choice)
What I mean to say: I let go (I have no choice)
****
A Few Desires, or How to Hunger
I want to be the malleable soap
your hands sculpt as you cleanse yourself,
as ordinary and as daily and as caressed as that.
I want to be the cutting board, that firm surface
you can lay edges against, that allows you
to divide roughage from nourishment.
I want to be the pillow case, containing all
the softness for resting your public face
and the slim canvas you play your private dreams onto.
Let me suds into joining the stream of water
down the drain, become the bamboo board
oiled so many times until finally, split, I am
placed on the compost pile. Let the laundry
tear my threads until, like the pillow case,
I cannot contain, but let every thriving thing seep out.
But in truth I can be none of these things,
just this tiny self loving you, accepting your gifts,
providing what sustenance I can in return.
In other words, use me up, until I am done with myself.


MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Jendi Reiter is a poet, novelist,  and principal of the essential WinningWriters.com where she often judges for their sponsored poetry contests. She also blogs at Reiter's Block. Find quotations from Rumi in many of her signatures:  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"There is a morning inside you, waiting to burst into light."
~ Rumi


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Joan Dempsey's New Novel Gets Raves from Reviewer Karen Dodd

A POWERFUL BOOK FOR OUR TIMES

by Joan Dempsey
She Writes Press, October 2017
ISBN 978-1631523083
Paperback $16.95; E-Book $9.95
Fiction: Literary, contemporary, political, LGBTQ

Reviewed by Karen Dodd, author of Deadly Switch: A Stone Suspense , originally for Amazon
5-Star Review

I absolutely loved this book! I literally couldn't put it down. At the same time, I didn't want it to end. Everything about the story was exquisite: the rich, beautifully developed characters, the simultaneous sub-plots (which were tied together seamlessly) and the obvious research that went into the writing. I couldn't help thinking how very timely this story is in today's political and social atmosphere.

I was fortunate to be an advance reader for Joan Dempsey’s This Is How It Begins, a novel about an eighty-five-year-old Polish American art professor, Ludka Zeilonka, her family, students, and a mysterious man whose memory has haunted her for sixty years.

The story, set in 2009, but with skillfully written bits of backstory, grabbed me by page four and never let up. Without slowing the pace, Dempsey takes the time  to create multi-dimensional characters, as well as a strong sense of place and setting. Somehow, she has created characters and situations that could easily be defined as “good” or “bad,” without imparting judgment or suggesting to the reader how they should feel. Just the opposite; I found myself challenging my own tendency to see things as black or white. Besides entertaining us, the author’s uncanny ability to expose truly awful modern-day and World War II injustices, and yet remain unbiased, has kept me thinking about this story long after I finished reading it.

I recommend this book to anyone, regardless of the genre they might normally read. I’m normally a consumer of mystery/thrillers but This Is How It Begins has elements of literary fiction, historical fiction, modern-day political and social issues—and yes, it has a compelling mystery to it!

I am thrilled that This Is How It Begins has been accepted as a must-read for our book club this year!

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Joan Dempsey
Author and Writing Teacher
THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS, a novel
m:207-310-0365
w:thisishowitbeginsnovel.come: joan@joandempsey.com
  
HEAR ME READ AN EXCERPT FROM "THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS"



MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Malala Gets Reviewed--and Critiqued


Title: I Am Malala
Subtitle: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Co-author: Christina Lamb
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
307 Pages eBook $9.99 paperback $11.99
ISBN 978-0-316-32241-6

Reviewed by Scott Skipper originally for his blog at ScottSkipperblog.com


The whole world knows that Malala is the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she campaigned for girls’ education. I Am Malala is much more than recounting that gruesome event. It is a frank and accurate history of Pakistan, especially the Swat region and the Pashtun tribe. She is brutally honest about the barbarism of her people, particularly concerning the subjugation of women who are denied an education and forced to confine themselves to home and travel only with a husband or male relative. They often practice arranged marriages and sell daughters as brides to settle family blood feuds. Malala also reveals in vivid terms the dysfunction and duplicity of Pakistan’s government and army who, while claiming allegiance to the US and accepting billions of dollars, aided and abetted Osama bin Laden.

 All this is very interesting and on the mark. Because Pakistan is supposedly an ally, we seldom hear the truth about this ruthless, backstabbing, hypocritical nation of tribal barbarians who possess nuclear weapons. We can see video of Taliban in Afghanistan herding women into soccer stadiums and shooting them in the head, or stoning women on the street. What we don’t see are videos of the same atrocities in Pakistan. Malala describes these outrages in an almost offhand tone and never once considers that the root cause of the problem is Islam. Despite her ordeal and having become a world-renowned proponent for educational reform, she faithfully accepts the repression of women, keeps the scarf on her head, and claims to want nothing more than to return to the Swat valley where her attempted assassin has become leader of the local Taliban. She tells about, when visiting Mecca, her mother bought a new burqa for the occasion. It can’t be both ways. One is either subjugated or not. She even sugar coats parts of the Quran, once stating that Mohamed “migrated” from Mecca to Medina. History tells us that the Meccans had had enough of him and ran his ass out of town.

 I have to say that I am glad I read I Am Malala, but I can’t say that I ever warmed to the person. I also think that this book isn’t particularly well edited. How much the co-author contributed, I can’t say. The voice sounds genuinely Malala’s, but there are some places where a native English speaker might have suggested changes. It also bothered me that in her gushing admiration for Obama, she claimed that he rose from a struggling family. Struggling how? Is being raised by affluent white grandparents struggling? It’s a remarkable story that shines a light on a global crisis, but I’m not sure Malala Yousafzai actually sees the crisis.

MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Scott skipper is the author of authorHalf Life, A Little Rebellion Now and Then, and numerous other titles. Learn more about him at:
Official Author's Website www.ScottSkipper.com
Facebook.com/Scott Skipper
Twitter: @SSkipperAuthor--


MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

How-To Book for Beginning (And Not-So-Beginning!) Poets

How to Write Classical Poetry
Subtitle: A Guide to Forms, Techniques, and Meaning
Coeditors: Evan Mantyk, Connie Phillips
Publisher: Classical Poets Publishing, 2017; 
156 pages; $19.99
Illustrated
ISBN-10: 1546853316

Submitted by Carol Smallwood, author of In Hubble’s Shadow (Shanti Arts, 2017) and In the Measuring  (Finishing Line Press, 2017)

How to Write Classical Poetry: A Guide to Forms, Techniques, and Meaning is divided into three parts. The first is why great poetry is still useful today. The second is how to write specific forms such as the haiku, triolet, villanelle, rondeau, terza rima, limerick, rubaiyat, pantoum, sestina, rhupunt with examples of them as modern and classical poems. The third is ten of the most famous from such giants as Robert Frost, William Shakespeare with discussion about each poem.
As a writer and reader I’ve often wondered what exactly makes a formal poem or a free verse poem and how does a sonnet differ from a villanelle—and what about rhyme and/or meter? Or more basically, what makes meter? The classical forms of poetry in my experience are not often covered in creative writing classes so this guide is most timely. 
An example of its usefulness is the section about the sonnet divided into four levels:

Easy: A Sonnet in 10 Minutes
Medium: Rhyme-y Poetry
Medium-Difficult: Poetry with Rhyme and Structure
Difficult: Sonnet in Iambic Pentameter and Careful Attention to Meaning
    
The guide includes a painting selected as a subject to write about with steps on writing with samples of each level of difficulty in composing.
“The Mechanics of Classical Poetry” a six- page discussion of rhyme and meter: terms to understand better such as iamb, trochee, and couplets, octets. “How to Write a Poem Like ‘The Raven,” a 11 page discussion about how the poem is written (deciphering the meter), a modern example, and writing one of your own.
The Society of Classical Poets, the publishers of the book, was formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to foster good poetry as well as formal poetry in 2012. You can subscribe and have free formal poetry e-mailed to you on their website: http://classicalpoets.org. One of the editors, Evan Mantyk is a teacher and the President and Editor and they accept poetry, essays, reviews, and offer competitions, annual journals, and much more on their visually stunning, constantly updated site. The Society has members around the world with a physical location in Mount Hope, New York.



MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Reviewer Calls Novel about Alcoholism Riveting

Title : Intoxic
Author : Angie Gallion
Genre : General Fiction/Coming of Age
ISBN : 978-1536904055


What a powerful story! I rarely say this about a book but this one actually emotionally gutted me; it was so dark, disturbing and almost impossible to read at times due to all the events happening to the young protagonist Ali, yet so incredibly riveting and powerful, and I couldn’t help but admire Ali’s strength.

Told from a first person POV, it tells a story of a young girl whose mother is battling alcoholism. Or, not really battling but living it, completely ignoring the crumbling effects her lifestyle has on her only daughter’s life. Utter neglect and constant emotional torture are what comes to mind while reading about a fifteen-year-old teenager who, by some twisted turn of events, happens to become the only responsible adult in this dysfunctional family. The spectrum of emotions that replace each other in Ali’s mind with yet another disappointment, another loss of job, another forgotten birthday, another new man appearing in her mother’s life who is much worse than the previous one was, is truly heartbreaking. The icing on the cake for me was this little girl thinking - on Christmas Eve - that she would have rather lived with her mother’s very first boyfriend who sexually assaulted her constantly, solely because at least she knew what to expect from him.

Yet, despite all the emotional and physical abuse, Ali’s willpower and resilience are truly worth admiration. The persistence with which she set her mind on getting out of this swamp of a life sends an incredibly powerful message to the readers, and till the very end, I rooted for Ali to get her “happily ever after” that she undoubtedly deserved. Read this book; it’s one of those stories that should be on everyone’s must-read list.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Learn more at the author's website : angiegallion



MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER


Find Ellie Midwood's website. She writes history, romance and is the bestselling author of The Girl from Berlin.






MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Canadian Reviewer Lauds Their Women's Day and Ruth Latta's Young Adult Novel

Book Title: Grace and the Secret Vault
Author:  Ruth Latta
Genre: Young adult historical fiction
Publisher: Baico Publishing Inc. (Ottawa, Canada)
ISBN: 978-1-7721-60925
Purchase Online:  info@baico.ca


Reviewed by Stephen Dale originally for Apt.613 (online magazine, Ottawa, ON)


                To mark International Women’s Day in 2017, a group called Equal Voice organized an event in which young women from across Canada occupied all 338 seats in the House of Commons. The women spoke powerfully of the issues that are important to them and, in the process, made a strong symbolic statement about how politics might be different if more women were involved. With only a quarter of the seats in Parliament currently occupied by women, it’s clear that the seat of Canadian democracy remains, overwhelmingly, a boys’ club.

                That the number of female Parliamentarians has increased to some extent recently is a testament to the strength of a few trailblazing women determined to defy the odds and take their place on the national political stage. One of those pioneers was Grace Woodsworth MacInnis, who served as the NDP Member of Parliament for Vancouver Kingsway between 1966 and 1974.
                Ottawa novelist Ruth Latta recalls that, as a student at Queen’s University in the early 1970s, she was fascinated with this diminutive yet dynamic women, one of the first Canadian Parliamentarians to regularly raise issues of concern to women on the floor of the Commons. Latta’s latest young adult novel, Grace and the Secret Vault, (Ottawa,  Baico Publishing Inc. 2017  www.baico.ca  ISBN: 978-1-77216-092-5) is a fictional account of an especially formative period in Grace’s life.

                Although the book doesn’t deal directly with Grace’s work as a politician, in a subtle way it sheds light on how the future MP developed the determined outlook and fortitude of character that would be necessary to storm the bastions of male power.

The novel recreates a particularly turbulent year in Grace’s early life. Her father, J.S. Woodsworth (who would go on to lead the CCF, the forerunner of the New Democratic Party) had lost his job as a minister in an idyllic British Columbia coastal town because of his opposition to the First World War. In 1919, with the war over, Grace’s father remains unafraid of courting controversy. He travels the country speaking out for social justice, and takes a role in organizing the landmark Winnipeg General Strike.

Against the backdrop of these historic events, Grace gets an up-close lesson in courage. Her father stands tall in the face of condemnation, economic sanction, and even the threat of violence. Perhaps more importantly, Grace’s mother summons a special kind of strength: keeping the family afloat by working as a teacher, overseeing a chaotic household of high-spirited children, setting a tone of optimism and good humour.

Latta tells this story in a fluid, fast-paced and conversational way, seamlessly weaving together the daily details of life in the British Columbia of a century ago with the book’s overarching political narrative. The characters’ dialogue is conveyed convincingly in the lexicon of the day, but the emotional pull of the story is timeless. And despite its subject matter, the author avoids propagandizing. There’s also a sly twist on the idea of the “mystery” that adds some fun at the end.

Grace and the Secret Vault is a lively read and a historical tale with a clear resonance for the contemporary reader, especially for the young person who might want to grow up to change the world.



MORE ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Ottawa writer Stephen Dale’s latest book is Noble Illusions: Young Canada Goes to War (Fernwood Books).



MORE ABOUT THIS BLOG

 The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Of particular interest to readers of this blog is her most recent How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically (http://bit.ly/GreatBkReviews ). This blog is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.