Sunday, May 19, 2019

On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles by Sophie Schiller – Book Review

Book: On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles

Author: Sophie Schiller
Number of pages: 76
Publication date: 31 January 2019
ISBN13: 9781794456693

This review was originally meant to be published in April for National Poetry Month 2019 but better late than never. Today, I'm reviewing a poetry collection titled On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles by Sophie Schiller. The collection features poems inspired by Schiller's visit to the Caribbean.

Comprising 30 poems, On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles is a collection of mostly rhymed and absolutely picturesque verse. The poems paint pictures or tell the history of some of the Caribbean's historical figures.

Each poem is followed by a colourful illustration by Skaidra Zayas

One of the most beautiful pieces in the collection is "There Is a Wise Man in the Sea" with the "wise man" being a surprise.

He was at least three feet in length
With flippers that showed that greatest strength
This mast of his aquatic domain
Taught me that "Nature does nothing in vain."

Another picturesque piece is "I Found a Danish Skilling" which tells the story of a Danish ship buried in the sand since 1767. The image it paints is beautiful and each time I read it, takes my mind to an image of ship buried in the sea with divers surrounding it and marveling at it.

In her poems, Schiller uses her surroundings including lizards, birds, and flowers, for inspiration. Her poem "The Oyster" and "I Dive Beneath the Ocean's Waves" are examples of that and must-reads.

As I said, Schiller dedicates several pieces to historical figures in On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles including "The Land of Alexander Hamilton," "The Legend of Kong Juni," and "Queen Coziah."

"In 1733, as the legend goes
In St. John of the Caribbees
Arose a slave both brave and both
Whose name was Kong Juni

This African, a warrior chief
With each whipping he endured
Decided he would never rest
'Til his liberty he had secured."

Some poems are also dedicated to historical places like "Annaberg" and "Charlotte Amalie."

Schiller concludes her poetry collection with notes on some of the poem's topics and historical figures like Kong Juni and Queen Coziah added to Danish impressionist painter Hugo Larsen, who had lived in the Danish West Indies and painted between 1904 and 1907.

It is rare that one falls in love with an entire collection. There were may be one or two poems that weren't "amazing" for me but the collection On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles is definitely one of the best I've read. It's a must-read picturesque selection of poems. I hope Schiller visits more places and writes about them.

Overall rating for On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles by Sophie Schiller: 5 stars.

Note: I received a free copy of On a Moonlit Night in the Antilles from its author Sophie Schiller in exchange for an honest review.

Connect with Sophie Schiller via Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Knight's Secret by Jeffrey Bardwell – Book Review

The Knight's Secret by Jeffrey Bardwell is a bit of a strange fantasy with some creativity in terms of characters and ideas. Having said that, I think the book could use some work because the first two chapters were amazing then the story dragged.

The book opens with Kelsa's grandfather, Sir Corbin, being invited to give a speech before the new Empress. However, shortly after he dies – before making the trip. So, Kelsa and her mage mother cook up a plan to transform Kelsa into Sir Corbin, take on the role, and give the speech.

The Knight's Secret is narrated from Kelsa's perspective, first as a girl, and starting chapter 3 as a woman pretending to be a man. An old one.

There is lots of humor, especially how Kelsa adjusts to being an old. Imagine a 16-year-old girl turning into an 80-year-old man with a lot of health hazards!

"It was an effort to straighten myself, not from any aches – though my body had those aplenty – but from old habits. Kelsa sat in the saddle like a sack of potatoes…but the great Sir Corbin? The Hero of Jerkum Pass always perched in his saddle like he had a spear shoved up his backside."

In terms of characterization, I loved Kelsa and her witty, sarcastic comments. She is the main character after all. And she does all the hard work in the novel.

The language in The Knight's Secret was fine, with little imagery. Narration was a bit difficult to navigate. Even though it's all from Kelsa's perspective, when she becomes her grandfather, she thinks as a man and would occasionally comment that some fleeting thoughts are Kelsa's.

I applaud Bardwell for his idea of transformation but felt it was a bit confusing at times. Still, the book wasn't as fast-paced I would have liked. Remember the speech from chapter 1? By chapter 10 or later, it's still not written or given.

I came to a point where I was thinking of dropping the novel altogether but decided to give it one more chapter to decide. Luckily, that chapter kept me going till I finished it.

Did characters ever talk so much? In The Knight's Secret they do. A freaking lot! There was a ton of dialogue in the book. And while I favor dialogue over endless descriptions, I felt that The Knight's Secret had too much that just didn't move the action or novel forward. I honestly started skipping lines.

I rarely comment on book covers, unless they're wicked amazing, but in The Knight's Secret, I felt there was a discrepancy since Sir Corbin was over 80 years old. When Kelsa transformed, she looked like her old grandfather. Not the young-looking knight on the cover. I like the cover but I just don't think it's fitting for this book.

There was also some adult content that I had not been expecting. Considering who the characters were, it wasn't particularly interesting. Or I wasn't willing to read this.

A lot of secrets and information the reader has been craving throughout the book are revealed at the end. But let's not talk about the end because I felt the story ended abruptly. I understand that series tend to have open endings, but this was odd. I felt like I was watching TV and the lights went out in the middle of the movie, not that I got semi-satisfying ending.

Overall, I think the book could use some work. Hence, my overall rating is 2.5 stars.

Note: I received a free copy of The Knight's Secret from its author Jeffrey Bardwell in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Takhayyal Writing Prompt 96: Ramadan Lanterns

Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen, Artists, Poets, Writers, Authors, Dreamers, Friends and Family; Welcome EVERYONE to Nadaness In Motion's MONTHLY picture-prompt writing challenge Takhayyal or Imagine.

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.

The month of May this year coincides with the holy Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan. I found this image I had saved a while back to be the perfect celebration and means of inspiration where hundreds of millions of people come together to fast and be united.

You're free to interpret the image as you see fit. May be take your Muse in an oriental realm? Or imagine what it would be like to be surrounded by these beautiful lanterns? What about characters? What does their seller think, feel, or even want in life?

As always, your imagination and your words...

Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction, an imaginary situation, an artistic thought; you name it and write it.

General rules:
·        No nudity, violence, and/or abuse.
·        Leave the link to your post in comments below OR post your piece as REPLY to this post
·        Your piece MUST be inspired in some way or other by the above picture
·        Multiple entries allowed
·        It is not required but it is a nice and encouraging gesture to comment on others' pieces.
·        Feel free to add your Twitter handle (@....) so I can tag you in my tweets!


Friday, April 26, 2019

Open Your Eyes to a New Day - Poem

Lightly, nimbly, let's forget
The sad dream we dreamt in the night
Like the darkness that fades in the morning rays
Let's forget…

And then let’s open our eyes
To the morning light
Let the rain fall on our skin
And wash our souls within
Let’s awaken anew
With purpose and strength
Let’s open eyes
To a new day

A friend posted the first part and it inspired my reply. I later learnt that this first part was part of a Korean song from the late 1970s. The part in green is entirely my own.

The original is in Korean, so I'm guessing "Lightly, nimbly, let's forget/The sad dream we dreamt in the night/Like the darkness that fades in the morning rays/Let's forget…" is a translation. But here's the song via YouTube: Song Çang Şig- Unutalım

Special thanks to my friend Sara Ahmed for bringing these words and this song to my attention. Thank you for the inspiration :) 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Interview with Sharon Pape - Blog tour for Magickal Mystery Lore

Today, I'm excited to be featuring paranormal cozy mystery author Sharon Pape and the fourth book in her Abracadabra Mystery series Magickal Mystery Lore through an exclusive interview.

I previously reviewed the first book in the series Magick and Mayhem here on the Nadaness In Motion blog. It sets the scene for the humor and mystery. Got an instant 5-star review from me.
The books can be read as standalones. In the interview, Pape talks more about both the Abracadabra Mystery series and her other books.

Happy reading!

Book: Magickal Mystery Lore
(An Abracadabra Mystery) - 4th in Series
Author: Sharon Pape
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
publisher: Lyrical Underground
Publication date: 16 April 2019

Number of pages: 317 (including a sneak peek into book 5)


This spells trouble . . .

The New Camel Day Fair is a fun-filled event for residents of this upstate New York town. Kailyn Wilde, a modern-day witch of ancient lineage, leaves her potion shop, Abracadabra—and her feline familiar, Sashkatu—to attend with her fortune-telling Aunt Tilly. Joining them is legendary wizard Merlin, who’s discovering new pleasures of time-traveling to the modern world, including curly fries and kettle corn—but the appeal of the Tilt-a-Wheel is beyond his mystical imagination.

The real wild ride begins later, when neighboring sweet shop owner Lolly rushes into Abracadabra with news about a dead body. The victim has one of Lolly’s fudge knives stuck in her back, but in spite of the sticky evidence, Lolly is only one of several suspects with ample motive and opportunity. Meanwhile, Merlin’s research into old family scrolls and electromagnetic ley lines is causing some unusual mix-ups. As the two investigations collide, Kailyn will have to do everything in her power to prevent disaster…

Interview by Nadaness In Motion

On Books and Writing

How many books can you write at the same time?
Sharon Pape: I’ve found that I’m at my best when I concentrate on writing one book at a time. Having said that, my subconscious is always busy working on other ideas.      

How many edits do you go through to reach the final version of your books?
Sharon Pape: I’m one of those writers who edits each chapter before I go on to the next - can’t help it. I edit the whole book after I finish it. My beta reader gets it and we go over everything she finds, so that’s another edit. I send it to my editor who may still find a few mistakes – so that’s 4 edits.

What authors – new or old – have inspired you to become a writer? And particularly a mystery (or cozy mystery) writer?
Sharon Pape: I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I’m sure most of the authors I read throughout my life have increased that desire. As a kid, I loved reading mysteries like the Dana Girls, as written by Carolyn Keene and The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. I fell in love with the paranormal in books by Stephan King and Dean Koontz. Gone with the Wind made me a fan of historical fiction. James Michener and Leon Uris were among the writers who nurtured that love. I’m a fan of all the genres as well as mainstream literature and wish I had the time to write in every one of them!

Do you feel that the cozy mystery genre has put some restraints on your writing? (For example over-the-top or adult romance is frowned upon, the same with explicit language or even minor cursing)
Sharon Pape: No, each genre has to be taken for what it is. If I didn’t like the restraints, I’d write a different kind of mystery. However trying to write believable characters, especially criminals, without using even minor cursing does present a challenge.

The Abracadabra Series

If you could pick an actor to portray Merlin from the Abracadabra books, who would it be?
Sharon Pape: In the Abracadabra series, Merlin is an old man with scraggly white hair and beard. Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future immediately comes to mind. There are many character actors who could fit the bill with a little help from the hair and makeup people.

How many parts are you planning for the Abracadabra book series?
Sharon Pape: The 4th book, Magickal Mystery Lore, debuts 16 April 2019. I’ve just finished book 5 and I think that will probably be the final one in this series. I have another series spinning around in my head, begging to be set free.

Other Books by Sharon Pape

What excites you about writing each of your series? (What is your favorite thing about each series that makes you want to write more books in it)
Sharon Pape: Initially I’m excited by the concept of each series and the ways in which I can explore that idea. Over time, it’s generally a particular character or characters in the series that make(s) me want to write more books. In A Portrait of Crime, it was Zeke Drummond (think Sam Elliot a couple of decades ago.) In Abracadabra, it’s Merlin and aunt Tilly. That’s not to say that I don’t want to write more about the main character in each series, but I often have more fun with the secondary players.

What can you tell us about your Crystal Shop Mysteries? Why is there only one book in that series?
Sharon Pape: When Penguin and Random House merged, they took an axe to most of their cozy series and Crystal Shop was one of the victims. Unfortunately most publishers won’t take on a series when the first book is already published. I would like to continue the series someday – there was so much left undone, but I’d probably have to self-publish it. I also loved the setting in Sedona, one of my favorite places in the world.

Can you give readers a larger or more detailed synopsis about your book "For Everything A Season"? (Is it horror? Paranormal? Romance? A combination? What can you tell us about it since it appears quite different from your usual writing)
Sharon Pape: It was my first published book back in the ‘80s. At that time, there was no paranormal or supernatural genre, so the publisher, Pocketbooks, changed my title to Ghost Fire and put it in the horror section, where it didn’t really belong. When the rights reverted to me, I reissued it as an ebook under my original title, For Everything a Season. I always considered it to be paranormal, but some readers have called it a gothic mystery and romance. The book starts off in the seventeenth century, during the Salem Witch Trials, moves to the 1980s and ends in the year 2022.  I think a more detailed synopsis might give something away.

Here's the synopsis to For Everything a Season
Not all the witch trials took place in Salem. And there are people in nearby Rachael Crossing who believe the abandoned old house in their midst has roots going back to those awful times.

Determined not to be spooked by vague rumors, Deborah Colby leases that house for the summer and when she meets Ethan Burke, she's certain she's made the right decision - certain her whole life has been leading her there to him. And she may be right, but for all the wrong reasons.
The book was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed.
I’m in the process of making it available in paperback for those readers who prefer a “real” book, like I do!

Bringing Sharon Pape into the Picture
If you can travel to any five countries in the world what would they be?
Sharon Pape: I’ve already been to a number of my favorites, France, Italy, England and Spain along with a few others. I’d like to visit Switzerland, at least one of the Scandinavian countries, one of the Eastern European countries, Portugal and Australia (with a side trip to New Zealand while I’m down under.)

Last but not least, if someone were to go through your latest research for your book(s), what would they find?
Sharon Pape: They’d find interesting facts about marmots, medieval vocabulary, herbs and poison – don’t worry, the marmots and the poison never meet. J

As part of the blog tour, there is a GIVEAWAY. Enter using the widget or Rafflecopter link below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep up with the rest of the tour including book reviews, interviews, spotlights, and guest posts here.

About the Author

Sharon Pape describes her writing career as having two stages. Back in the dark ages, before computers were in every household, she had three paranormal books published. The first one was condensed by Redbook Magazine, the first paperback original they had ever condensed. Around the same time, Redbook published her first short story.

Then life brought her an unexpected challenge that went by the name of breast cancer. When her treatment was over, she became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery Program and went on to be the program's coordinator for Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Several years later, with the help of her surgical oncologist and two other survivors, she started her own not-for-profit organization to provide information and peer support to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.

Once the organization was running smoothly and didn't require as much of her time, she returned to her first love - writing. During this second stage of her career, she's been writing cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist and a splash of humor.

Connect with author Sharon Pape via her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Purchase Magickal Mystery Lore by Sharon Pape via Amazon or B & N

Friday, April 19, 2019

Lost in a Quatrain by Adiela Akoo – Book Review

April is National Poetry Month, so I managed to squeeze in a couple of poetry collections to review.

The first is Lost in a Quatrain by South African author and poet Adiela Akoo. It is a collection I'm glad to have come across. There are many poems I could relate to and many I'd love to quote "whole".

The 65-page collection begins with the short but inspiring poem "Within" which I felt spoke to me as a writer and poet. "Empty Chairs," whose beginning is the same as its ending, leaves the reader aching. It's a painful poem of memory and loss; it also strikes a chord with me because in the past 45 days there have been four deaths in the family. It also reminds me of my poem "The Picture".

Back to Lost in a Quatrain, there were a few political and spiritual pieces, including "Know Thyself".

"Cape Town 1990," which tackles the issue of white versus black skin, is painful to say the least. Similarly, "New Apartheid" is a must read. And while I don't think my country had much of the skin problem, I related to this poem.

"Only to find a new apartheid walking in
That now wants to condemn us
For the way we are praying!"

"@2pm" is an interesting piece on the time 2 pm, where a lot of things are being done by different people. It gives a sense of togetherness and aloneness at the same time. Though a short piece, it's an idea that is definitely worth thinking about.

"What's Up?" is a hilarious story and conversation within a poem. I loved it!

Lost in a Quatrain includes several deep pieces such as "Not Enough," "Broken Winged Bird," "Are YOU Ready?" "As the Rain Pitter-Pattered," "Wrapped Up," just to name few. There are many and I enjoyed them all.

"Hormonal" is a powerful womanly poem about – you probably guessed it – women's monthly period. I appreciated that Akoo wrote about this and included it in her collection.

"Coupling" is poem about writing and I totally relate to it! I felt that Akoo was reiterating my thoughts about words and poetry that come to me in the middle of the night. This is a five-star piece.

One of the poems that I had me thinking a lot was "You Are a Woman, You Must Learn to Live with Being Sore" which Akoo says was a grandmother's advice. The poem tackles a contrast about women having to be strong but in pain in a way. They need to take care of their homes and husbands but at the same time they need to be strong. It's a poem worthy of study and being included in syllabi. I get the idea; I would assume my grandmother thinks the same way. I know I have a few points I'd argue about as would many young and older women nowadays. Still, it's worth reading and thinking about.

The language in Lost in a Quatrain is simple but the imagery and flow were amazing. Some were like songs and others were experimental like the one-sentence poem which I felt should be extended into a full short story. Meanwhile, the poem with the same title as the book, "Lost in a Quatrain," comes late in the collection but I adored its flow. Each quatrain tells of a situation or short story. I felt that if were longer, it would make a beautiful song.

Overall rating for Lost in a Quatrain by Adiela Akoo: 4.5 stars. A must-read and a collection to be remembered. Thank you for bringing to my world, Adiela.

Note: I received a free copy of Lost in a Quatrain from its author Adiela Akoo in exchange for an honest review.