Saturday, November 30, 2013
It is narrated in the first person by Claudia, whose life has been filled with death and disappointment. She embarks on a journey to Kauai, Hawaii and spends several weeks with her grandmother’s best friend Tarana, the healer.
Like old Shakespearean plays, Twin Magnolia: A Soul Call is divided into five chapters, with each chapter divided into smaller ‘scenes’ or parts. The third chapter is the backbone of the novella and is the longest chapter, covering around sixty percent of it; while the resolution comes at the end in the fifth and final chapter.
The novella focuses on Claudia’s healing process with Tarana. The latter is around 80 years of age and has accumulated a life-long knowledge of healing. She tells Claudia about the ‘chakras’ of the body and soul and their colours. These ‘chakras’ sound like what we know as the auras. The novella is filled with interesting material such as the uses of mint and colours and their ability to heal.
The reader often feels that Claudia is obsessed with finding love. We learn that she feels incapable of love and that she yearns for her soul-mate; her other half. Luckily, this search takes the reader’s soul to the beautiful Hawaiian Islands and through Tarana’s healing process.
Popescu relies heavily on the reader’s senses particularly the senses of sight and smell. The novella handles the soul and how it needs to let go of pain and fear in order to begin its healing process. Tarana prescribes several common and medicinal herbs such as drinking thyme and mint to help Claudia heal.
We see Claudia’s character and soul develop slowly throughout the novella. Simple things act as progress. For example, the haircut Claudia gets is seen as a means of shedding the old routine. It is accompanied by more painting and the desire to look good and attractive.
There are many references regarding a person’s soul in connection with nature and the earth, and how that affects one’s soul and sense of happiness.
Twin Magnolia: A Soul Call has this slight feel of the supernatural with regards to the healing process and how Tarana, through experience, has gained the ability to read people, sense their pain and heal it.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Shiri by D.S. Taylor begins unlike any other novel, especially the way it opens; “She was born a woman, and her father had yet to forgive her for that.” (p. 6). The protagonist Shiri is a 15 year-old girl who lives with her parents in the small town of Yaham, in Palestine. The Shepherd King sends his soldiers to recruit men from towns and villages to fight the Pharoah Tuthmosis.
Ethan, a friend of Shiri’s, tells her that Princes wear gold. Accordingly, one of the significant images in the first part of the novel is related to gold and how it contrasts between characters and their personalities. When Shiri sees Prince Amenhotep for the first time, “[her] eyes widened as a chariot gilded in a strange yellow metal that seemed to shine like the sun pulled up before them. Gold … the chariot is covered in gold” and “Astride the chariot like some hero of old stood a warrior trimmed in gold.” Shiri later realises that this so-called Prince is “no hero; no prince come to save the day. This was a demon, a monster wreathed in cold, unfeeling gold.”
I loved these images and how one of the most precious metals is depicted as harsh, “cold and unfeeling”.
I liked how the author showed Shiri’s childish infatuation with Joseph; Taylor conveys the struggle in a teenager’s heart very well.
The most important theme in the novel is that of sacrifice and ironically the one who sacrifices the most is Shiri herself, the young shepherd girl from a small and distant town. One would think that the one with the most to sacrifice would be Joseph since he seeks to avenge the death of his father and the abduction, rape and murder of his mother; but in truth it is Shiri who sacrifices the most for everyone. And worst of all, her sacrifices go unnoticed until the end.
Other themes include love, betrayal, slavery, abuse, the master-slave relationship, and immorality, especially that of the temple priests.
I also loved the contrast in personalities; Shiri is a 15 year-old peasant girl and yet she has a stronger character than the Shepherd Prince himself and not just on one occasion but throughout the novel. She is intelligent, strong-willed, voices her opinions and is never afraid to fight back – unless it will hurt someone she loves. In fact, her ability to speak broken Egyptian impresses Joseph. “He raised an eyebrow clearly impressed; few amongst the peasant folk could speak so much as a word of any tongue but their own.” (p. 82)
We see Shiri’s character develop and age through the troublesome experiences she undergoes. She is wise beyond her years and gains more wisdom as the novel unfolds and as she moves from orphaned shepherd girl to slave to mother. She progresses, handling every stage in her life and every hurdle thrown at her all the while bearing a specific cause in mind. She is strongly contrasted to Joseph, the Shepherd Prince.
The novel contains a lot of abuse both verbal and physical, while some of it bothered me a bit, and only because I wasn’t expecting it, I would still recommend that the novel be read by adults over 18 or better over 21.
The most amusing character for me in Shiri is Solon, the old weapons-maker for the Godking Tuthmosis. Solon is like the court jester in medieval plays; he is honest, wise, sarcastic and funny. He makes for excellent humour and comic relief in the novel.
The novel moves at a quick and enjoyable pace. It is quit hard to put Shiri down and when it ends, the reader cannot believe it. I couldn’t imagine waking up the following morning and not seeing what Shiri will do next!
A 4.5-star rating is in order J
Find D.S. Taylor on Twitter: @DSTaylor1 and Goodreads.
Find D.S. Taylor on Twitter: @DSTaylor1 and Goodreads.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Pieces of paper, pottery and glass littered the floor. The whole place was a mess. I guess that’s what happens when people rebel; they storm and rage regardless of place, forgetting all that is precious and beautiful.
Luckily, there are others.
Others willing to rebuild and restore, to create a world of beauty and life once more.
This piece is an entry for this week's Five-Sentence Flash Fiction Contest hosted by Lillie McFerrin.
Your feet bleed as you enter the dark room. Broken glass litters the floor. In the faint light they would have appeared as pretty pearls and crystals. But that is not us, not anymore; just shards of a broken life, a dying love.
Before you is the outcome of my emotional storm.
This week's five-sentence prompt is "Pieces". I used the picture for a bit of inspiration.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Science fiction and time-travel books are two genres that can either make you or break you. Blue into the Rip by Kev Heritage takes a golden trophy in the former. It is an awe-wonder-some read!
The story focuses on Blue, who gets his name from his strange blue eyes. He is a fifteen-year-old boy who lives with his odd parents Eddi and Newt and his sister Annie. The story begins in the past with the setting shifting between the past and the future in the year 2454.
When his sister, Annie, disappears, Blue goes out to search for her in Dooley’s Wood. From there, Blue is hurled 450 years into the future, where he finds himself in The Academy where he is supposed to live, train and study. Blue constantly reminds himself – and the reader – that the future is just a transition and that he needs to go back in time to his parents and younger sister. He eventually realises that The Academy and his friends are all that he has and accordingly goes out of his way to save them.
Time-travel stories are not easy to manipulate but Kev Heritage outdid himself with Blue into the Rip. It is a grand puzzle where every piece falls into place at the end.
Blue into the Rip is a post-apocalyptic novel. Many people have died and due to global warming, it has become impossible to live on the earth’s surface. The Amazon Jungle has become the Amazon Desert and it is impossible to endure the scorching sun.
The novel moves at a fairly quick pace with a good tension-relief scheme. The language in Blue into the Rip mixes slang with some interesting blends such as awe-wonder-some and cra-mazing (crazy + amazing), among others. The dialogue is fun, quick-paced and is the main source of information. Each character is seen through both their attitudes and their dialogue. Although the story is narrated in the third person, the reader feels that the opinions and descriptions are those of Blue rather than anyone else.
Blue into the Rip is rich with characters from the protagonist Blue, who is rather selfish but means well, to his friends Corvus – who for some reason reminds me of Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter books – the assumed-bully Wurtz, the Ganymedian Hermans with his highly formal almost Shakespearean language, to the rule-book-adhering Morgana, and others.
The novel entails intrigues and games, friendships and betrayals mixed with power and ambition. There is a rat in Saturn Squad and there is the mystery of Blue’s identity.
Kev Heritage’s use of imagery in Blue into the Rip is just wicked! It fits the sci-fi theme and scenery. Amongst the images I fell in love with are: “Electricity pylons poked from the murky waters like the masts of sunken ships.” (p. 11), “A car exploded through the playground wall like a high-velocity bullet through a watermelon.” (p. 13), and “It would be like trying to find a single and special grain of sand in the whole of the Desert Amazon.” (p. 319).
Kev Heritage masterfully ties up all of the loose ends in the final chapters and the Epilogue, all of which are intense, exciting and are a roller-coaster ride of their own.
Overall: I was not expecting to be this impressed by the novel, since I’ve had several unhappy sci-fi reads. Blue into the Rip is ‘swick’ and I look forward to its sequel Blue into the Planet.
Special thanks to Kev Heritage for sending me a copy of Blue into the Rip to review for my blog.
Find his book on Smashwords (most formats): http://ow.ly/pYpsh/ Barnes & Noble (Nook): http://ow.ly/qsy0q/ KINDLE UK http://ow.ly/qr8CI Amazon.com: http://ow.ly/qmjOK
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This is the second part of my interview with Poet and to-be novelist Aria T. Glazki. For the first part of this interview, click here. For my five-star review of her poetry collection Life Under Examination, click here.
Q: So, you’ve published a poetry collection and you’re working on some novels. Do you see yourself publishing a short story collection in the future?
I’ve played with the idea of releasing a flash fiction collection, which would include some edited pieces from Flash! Friday contests and some fresh ones, but nothing is certain – especially since the Flash! Friday stories are all available on my blog. I do have a brand new short story published in the Scripting Change anthology, Seeing Past Sickness, out November 4th.
Q: When writing a novel, do you have a main theme in mind or do you write and then start highlighting the themes and dissecting the book?
I focus on the characters and write their story. Themes will come out because real people have pasts and personalities, and if you put them in a situation with other real people, issues will surface and need to be addressed.
Q: How do you go about when it comes to negative critiques?
Let’s be honest, no one likes negative critiques, and I have received plenty of them along the way. I allow myself to feel upset, and I put the critique aside for a few hours until the emotional response has passed. Then, I look at the pieces of the critique and see what if anything is constructive and can lead to improvements.
Q: What genres would you like to experiment with in the future?
Literary fiction is definitely on my list, possibly also mystery or something dystopian, though to be honest, I’m quite happy writing romance novels.
Q: What are you currently reading? And what is your favourite genre in general?
Well, I read a lot of romance, unsurprisingly, but I will try anything with a solid voice and engaging story built around compelling characters, regardless of genre. (I will usually stay away from horror, though, unless it’s by Edgar Allan Poe.) Currently, I’m revisiting some of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Darkhunter novels.
Q: What do you think of self-help books on writing books or novels and publishing them? (Are they helpful or are most of them just a hoax? Would you recommend any?)
Honestly, I haven’t used them except when required to read excerpts in creative writing seminars in school. At the same time, I know many people can and do benefit immensely from well-written books, which explain some element of writing or plotting a story in a way that resonates with that person and drastically improves their work. Some I’ve heard enthusiastically recommended are the 90-Day Novel (& 90-Day Rewrite) and Bird By Bird.
Q: If you can have any super-power, what would it be?
Being able to function on only an hour or two of sleep a night – does that count? It would certain be useful in those times when I’m on a roll with a scene but much too exhausted to keep writing!
Q: So NaNoWriMo is upon us, and I believe you took part in it in 2012. Can you tell us about your experience with it? How has it helped you with your writing?
Yes, I wrote my first full novel as a result of NaNo 2012, so it has certainly helped, I think partially because it allowed me to give myself permission to focus on and prioritize my writing. I wrote a little over 50K in November, and then another 25K through December and January combined, so you can see how the focus of NaNo really increases (at least my own) productivity.
Q: What is your favourite food? (Anything made especially by your mum or related to your place of birth?)
I love so many foods, I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite – though of course just about anything made by my mom tops the list! To this day, hers is the best borscht I’ve ever had.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you, Nada, for hosting me with this interview! Otherwise, I think we’ve pretty much covered it all haha.
Check out Aria's 1000-Follower Giveaway here.
Monday, November 18, 2013
This is the first part of my interview with Poet and to-be novelist Aria T. Glazki. Check out my review of her poetry collection Life Under Examination here.
Q: So first off, there are many light pieces in your poetry collection, so why did you choose the title Life Under Examination? Don’t you think it gives a sense of seriousness to potential buyers?
Well, that’s just it. The collection is about various facets of life, which isn’t exclusively serious or lighthearted – it’s inevitably a mix of everything. The title may convey a sense of gravitas (you’d be a better judge of that than I would!), but the collection begins with some fun pieces, though I like to think their subject matter is thought provoking, despite the tone.
Q: Tell us about the novel(s) you’re working on.
Currently, I have a project out on submission, a novel which I’m revising, and my NaNo project for 2013 – all three are romances, of course. The novel I’m revising is about a frustrated Muse, who accidentally becomes mortal and has to rely on her somewhat ungrateful charge to navigate our world, so there’s a bit of a paranormal element there. The other two are purely contemporary, and they feature a similar group, though focusing on different characters’ journeys.
Q: Which do you prefer e-books or paperback?
Definitely paperback, or even hardback. I certainly see the value of e-books, for portability, accessibility, and lower production costs, but nothing can truly replace a printed book in your hands!
Q: Do you plan on having your new novel(s) in both e-book and paperback or just e-books?
If that decision is up to me, they will absolutely be published both in print and digitally.
Q: You told me Life Under Examination is a self-published book. So what can you tell me about self-publishing in general, are there different types of self-publishing?
Life Under Examination is self-published, and only available digitally at the moment, unless you win a select print copy in one of my giveaways.
There are some wonderful resources out there describing self-publishing options, such as print-on-demand vs. digital-only, and I am certainly not an expert. Personally, I chose to publish first on Smashwords, which converts your book into multiple formats for readers and also distributes it to other online retailers, as well as on Amazon, and eventually through Barnes& Noble, which honestly has my favorite interface. I very well may add other options in the future, time permitting.
Q: What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The pros: every decision is in your hands, which means you are not stuck with a cover you hate, and no one tells you to cut your favorite poem / chapter, etc.
The cons: every decision is in your hands, which means you may feel overwhelmed or out of your element, and you are on the hook for every aspect of the resulting e-book, as well as every marketing decision. Remember that you can research tips & tricks for every part of the process online, and don’t cut corners or publish too soon.
Q: What was the hardest part in producing the book?
The hardest part for me is probably convincing people to give the collection a chance – the word “poetry” scares them off, but those who start reading it find that there’s nothing to fear, and most even enjoy it!
Q: Aspiring writers claim that the hardest part is finding an editor. How did that work for you and for Life Under Examination?
Poetry is somewhat different when it comes to the editing process, but regardless, I have worked with an amazing editor I would recommend to anyone! You can find her on EditsByAnya.blogspot.com & @AnyaKagan.
Q: While still in the drafts stage, do you give your book to family and/or friends to give you comments or do you wait till you finish and go straight to an editor?
I will absolutely give my book to beta readers, but usually only after editing through it a few times myself. My roughest drafts are not fit for public consumption, and I prefer beta readers / critique partners / an editor to focus on the parts I couldn’t fix myself, especially since the more times you see a text, the less able you are to notice issues.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
How much would you sacrifice for a love that wasn’t yours?
Hadassah managed to befriend her kind’s worst enemies and save her brother and the human girl he loves from the Vampiric King—once. After a month spent in quiet hiding under the protection of the Huntsmen, a surprise attack from a band of Kaiju shatters their brief reprieve. Faced with new challenges and new threats, Hadassah and the others must once more fight for her brother and the girl who stole his heart. And this time, the Vampiric King isn’t the only one they need fear…
Action, suspense, humor, and romance collide in this anticipated sequel from teen author, Elisabeth Wheatley.
Author Bio & Links
Elisabeth Wheatley is a teen author of the Texas Hill Country. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, or hot guys in armor, she is wasting time on the internet, fangirling over indie books, and training her Jack Russell Terrier, Schnay.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Ghosts of the Falls by Sarah Gilman is a sweet and highly enjoyable romantic paranormal novella.
Set in Maine, the United States, the novella begins by introducing the reader to exorcist Jade Clarence, who has been given a final opportunity to prove herself capable of working in the family business of exorcism, which deals with earth-bound ghosts not with demonic possessions as seen in movies.
Jade Clarence goes to Maine to exorcise a ghost, and meets Dutch. Jade is different; she knows that exorcisms are painful for the ghosts, whom she does not feel should always suffer. Some are innocent and do not deserve the torment that accompanies an exorcism. So she is a kind of noble exorcist. She tells Dutch “For years, I’ve been researching, trying to write an incantation that would send spirits on to the next world without hurting them, to heaven or hell or wherever they’re supposed to go.”
Jade has a Tinker Bell figurine in her car and likes to compare herself to Tinker Bell whom she says is a "feisty girl who puts up with a bunch of boys," which rings true.
Throughout the seven-chapter novella, Jade explains to Dutch how exorcism works, and reflects on her most recent experience, that of a troubled teenage spirit.
Ghosts of the Falls is a novella in which a ghost finds life in death and where an exorcist finds love and warmth in the ghost.
The language of Ghosts of the Falls is simple with lots of dialogue and short paragraphs, all which add to the quick pace of the novella. The dialogues provide information, interaction between characters and bits of comic relief and romance mixed with comic relief.
The novella has a slight fairy-tale feel to it, but with a remarkable twist in the end.
The book also contains two excerpts from Gilman’s other works, namely Deep in Crimson and Wings in Redemption.
I couldn’t put Ghosts of the Falls down and I am excited to read more by Sarah Gilman. Every girl/woman will want her own ‘Dutch’ after reading Ghosts of the Falls.
I’ve added a page for my Book Reviews, which I will do my best to update regularly.
I’ve also created a Book Review Service page.
And I have finally completed updating the Poetry page.
I’m currently reading:
- · Blue into the Rip by Kev Heritage
- · 2 Officers (2 ضباط) by Essam Youssef
Check out my reblogs: one is on Scripting Change written byAria Glazki and one on Rowayat, a new English-Language literary magazine in Egypt written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Linda Cleary.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The Writers' Centre: Rowayat - a New Literary Journal for Egypt: Rowayat www.rowayat.com is the new venture started by the wonderous and most courageous Sherine Elbanhawy that I am privileged to be p...
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Subterranean Summer is a collection of 35 poems by Joe Maldonado. It opens with a note from the author and the index of the collection’s titles. The latter cover various topics, genres and ideas, in a variety of poetic forms such as rhymed-verse, free verse and Haiku.
The first poem in the collection is the one bearing the title of the book, “Subterranean Summer”. It is an interesting and thought-provoking piece with a good rhyme and flow to it. Following that is “American Cheese”, which is a short, comic but sad piece (in my opinion at least). Then, the reader comes across “Freedom Fries”. It is a piece with an interesting title and one that I absolutely LOVE! It opens with the following strong lines: “Honey, I don’t want your freedom fries,/or anything from your patriotic potato sack of lies,”. Towards the end, there is this line “prisoners of propagandized political paradigms.” Being an alliteration-loving freak, this is perfection for me; satire and alliteration. This line earns you two thumbs from me Joe.
“The End” a simple love poem to which many can relate. It is written using simple wording and a smooth rhyme. These are the lines that stood out for me (a very good thing): "But I guess this is how it ends./With a whimper, not an explosion."
Shortly after, the reader comes to the short poem “Notebook”; an utterly breathtaking piece with an extended image of love mixed with writing and sensuality. I could not pick a line or two for I simply indulged in this poem. I want to quote it whole (but will refrain from doing so).
*Hats off and round of applause for this piece!*
Moving on, the reader arrives at “Soundtrack of My Life”. I, personally, love the title of this piece and how it plays on various kinds of music, singers and bands. Shortly after, the reader arrives at “Fortune Cookie”, which is an interesting piece with some interesting imagery for a fortune cookie. I like the image and alliteration in "plastic prison". It is a poem of hollowness and loss; expectation that ends with frustration and "emptiness".
The collection also encompasses “Goodbye Wall Street”; a satiric piece about the world of Wall Street and brokers. I absolutely LOVE it! I must say this is the first time, for me, to see someone address or tackle Wall Street in poetry. *hats off Joe*
The poem “Beautiful Lies” is another piece that is both interesting and spectacular as it tackles truth and lies. It's one of those poems that carry weight. *thumbs up Joe*
I do not like the use of the “F” word in art in general and in poetry in particular (unless it serves an obvious purpose). In “I am a Metaphor” – and later on in another piece - I did not find that purpose. I do, however, like the reference to the Harry Potter series (or at least for me it's a reference to HP) in the "vomit-flavored jelly bean". The poem also contains some thought-provoking ideas and lines.
I absolutely love the message in the poem “Stay Tuned”. Although to me it feels and reads like rhyming or lyrical prose but it is nonetheless one of the strongest and highly satirical pieces in this collection. A must-read! It has many interesting lines, but to pick a couple, these are my favourite:
"With each show I watch I get slightly sadder/with each chip I eat I get slightly fatter".
Another satire-filled piece is “A Word from Our Sponsor”, which begins with: "Dear Mr. Corporate America". I like the sarcastic tone and the how it applies to all societies and countries.
"Dear Mr. Corporate America/here's an offer/not even the slimiest of you/can refuse". The opening stanza as a whole is dark, sarcastic and downright honest. And I like the use of the word ‘slimiest’. An applause is in order for this piece.
Shortly after, the reader arrives at yet another satirical and critical piece called “Boomerangs”. I particularly liked this stanza: “We are tired/of Pinocchio politicians,/wooden liars/trying to be human." Powerful imagery and alliteration always gets to me.
The poem “Somnambulist Stroll” is a dark piece filled with uncanny imagery. I love it for it appeals to my dark side and the imagery is just splendid. *hats off*
“Somnambulist Stroll” is another must-read piece in Joe's collection.
No poem is a better conclusion to a poetry collection as Joe Maldonado’s “One Last Thing”. It is a poem that bears words of wisdom and that ends on a hopeful note. I truly enjoyed this last piece; the perfect ending.
Thank you Joe :)
“Subterranean Summer” is a collection that encompasses many weighty satirical poems along with pieces on music, love, religion, sadness and more. I enjoyed the satirical pieces a great deal and though some pieces did not appeal to me, I think it is fair to give this collection a 4.5-star rating. (I feel it unfair to give a 4-star rating for there were many pieces that I enjoyed.)
Joe: I would recommend your next collection to be wholly satirical ;)
So there are items on my previous update that have been crossed out and others that haven’t. There’s also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which I will be doing an article on at the end of November and in which I’m faring miserably!
I haven’t finished Twin Magnolia, sadly. So my current reading list is:
· Twin Magnolia: A Soul Call by Victoria Popescu (but I have done some decent progress today, hope to finish it tonight & review it tomorrow tops)
· Blue Into the Rip by Kev Heritage
· The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (the first instalment in The Merlin Trilogy) is still on hold at page 128.
I have, however, added a couple of new pages to the blog and made some background and font colour changes for those who haven’t visited in a while. I wanted to do something a LOT more interactive but I’m just not that much of an html/code geek. Sorry!
Still on my to-read list:
· 2 Officers by Essam Youssef (I’m dying to start this book!)
· Ghost Music by Patrick Linder
My attempts at reading Arabic this month have so far failed epically! I guess it will be the December plan.
Anyone participating in NaNoWriMo and would like to contribute or be interviewed for my article, which will be published on this blog and student magazine for Cairo University, can e-mail me at: email@example.com
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Aria Glazki Writes: Scripting Change Cover Reveal & Release-day Blast!...: The community writing project, Scripting Change , is incredibly excited to announce the release of their inaugural project: Seeing Past S...
Sunday, November 3, 2013
I look at the sky,
Close my eyes,
Take a deep breath,
And those once faraway stars
Come closer to me.
The darkness fades to light.
I open my eyes,
And there I am,
Gliding amidst the stars.
I spread my wings and fly.
I feel the wind on my face,
Fondling my hair.
I see the many colours,
And many wonders
Of the once-believed night sky.
I move from cloud to cloud,
I spread my wings and soar
With the eagles…
As I go higher, I realize
I am soaring
With magical magnificent mythical dragons.
All enchant me…
- Another deep breath –
I feel the cold stony surface underneath me,
I hear the waves beside me, crashing,
I feel the wind blow, but not playfully.
I look around…
Everything is cold, ordinary;
I look to the sky,
I see many shiny
Twinkling little stars