Friday, July 28, 2017

Takhayyal writing prompt 67: Queen

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

It's Friday?! *gapes*
Seems I went a little over this week when I thought I had the newest Takhayyal writing prompt scheduled. Oops!

Have no fear!

The newest prompt is one I came across via Pinterest. Magical or realistic? 
What is she doing? Who is she speaking to? 
You decide. Can't wait to read the piece(s) you come up with based on this new image.

Photo credit: Unknown. Image found via Pinterest

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; 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!


Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Steps by Iveta Redliha – Book Review

Book Name: The Steps
Author: Iveta Redliha
(Available in Latvian and English)

"The empty window frames like dark forest lakes conveyed chilling secrets. It seemed as if the massive wooden doors were nailed shut in order to keep them from spilling too much information."

The Steps by Latvian author Iveta Redliha is a gripping but heartbreaking story centered around people who lived or were connected to a property called The Bradbury.

Leonora, a fresh-out-of-school greedy graduate is secretly hired to become a surrogate mother. She views the opportunity as easy money and posh living and lies her way through to get the job. She thinks she will have the time of her life partying, but soon realises that her dreams will not come true as the family she's being a surrogate for insist that she live on their premises, the Bradbury, for the duration of the pregnancy and under their rules and supervision.

Kurt and Nelly are a married couple who have been unable to conceive. They hire Leonora through a surrogacy programme to carry their baby. The moment the three of them arrive at the Bradbury, the reader meets Greta, their maid and helper, whom Leonora immediately despises and mistreats.

Meanwhile, Reyna receives a phone call, telling her that her mother has died. The investigation soon dries up after it is discovered that her mother died of a heart attack and not murdered. However, things don't add up to Reyna. Her mother had left their shared tea shop without closing down and had been meeting with an unknown man.

When Reyna receives the will, she discovers that her mother had been keeping secrets, including recently purchasing the Bradbury mansion. When she visits the run-down house, she encounters Lucas, a secretive but handsome man, who entices her from the first moment.

"Shivers ran down Reyna's spine. For a moment, she thought his last words were meant as a threat. The stranger's look had been so sharp and penetrating, horrifying and exciting at the same time."

Lucas, on the other hand, appears to despise Reyna, even though he has never met her before. However, bit by bit, he too begins to develop feelings for her. Lucas is a little reminiscent of Heathcliff from Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, except that The Steps is a much better and more exciting book.

The Steps is gripping from the start. Its pace is fast, especially as the author jumps between scenes and characters without being all over the place.

I felt that Reyna was too gullible and very trusting, particularly of strangers. She was also a bit slow, and while I realise that the purpose of her slowness is to confirm the reader's suspicions or unveil new information for the reader, I still felt she could have been a little smarter, especially since she's not a child.

I like that there are no superfluous characters in The Steps. Each character has a role to play, including the quirky, helpful and ever-giggling Lucy. Sometimes the reader wonders if she's crazy, but she is definitely the main source of comic relief in the novel.

Another character in the novel is Greta, the Bradbury's maidservant. What I liked about her is that she has her moments. In addition to always keeping tabs on Leonora, she sometimes even makes Leonora think and wake up from her attempts at seducing Kurt.

Lucas strikes the reader as a calculating character from the start. I like how Iveta Redliha give the reader bits from Lucas' thoughts, making excellent opportunity for suspense, especially since he does not mean Reyna well and the reader has no idea why he feel such animosity to someone Lucas has never met.

I liked how Iveta Redliha kept me guessing, connecting the dots, then guessing all over again.

The Steps handles a variety of themes like family, marital relationships, greed and growing up. I like how the author made the characters progress differently. Not all of them move forward, but all the main ones had some sort of character development, particularly Leonora.

One of the few things that bothered me about The Steps was the speech. There was no use of quotation marks. Instead every line begun with a dash, and there were intermittent dashes in between, making it hard to follow on who is speaking and what is part of the characters' thoughts.

Some chapters were rather long, particularly at the beginning. I don't like stopping mid-chapter.

I liked the use of imagery, both metaphors and similes throughout the novel. The description of the setting is quite picturesque and nicely done as well.

"Once their eyes locked, they couldn't look away, the gaze of their blue and grey waters merging into one whirlpool."

The Steps is full of irony, role reversals and all the literary elements a reader can dream of. Simply brilliant.

I couldn't put the The Steps down, and when I wasn't reading, I kept thinking of the characters. When I finished reading, I couldn't stop thinking about them.

"A quiet noise, like a moan or a sigh broke the silence thus startling the visitors. Lucas took it as a sign that the old building was weeping with him. If only he were alone and could let loose his suppressed grief about the house, once a beautiful home, turned into an abandoned shack, just like his soul, like his whole life…"

I liked how Iveta Redliha tied up all the loose ends at the end and I was glad I was able to correctly guess many if not all of them.

Overall, The Steps is a suspenseful, heart-breaking, gripping dark tale of a house and its inhabitants. A 10-star must-read.

Purchase The Steps by Iveta Redliha via Amazon

About the Author:

Iveta Redliha is a 39-year-old author from Latvia. She is a married mother of three wonderful children.
We have two pets, chocolate Lab named Horton and Birman cat named Smurfette. As you can see we like animated movies. :-)

I have degree in Psychology, and two professional diplomas in Stress Management Coaching and Consultancy, and Neuro Psychological Immunology. I am looking forward to work in my sphere one day.

Writing is my true passion! I have been writing since I was 8 years old, and besides prose, I love to write poetry, too.
I write fiction in the thriller/suspense/crime and mystery genres.

The Steps is my first book, not just the first translated in English, but my actual first book. It was published in Latvian in October 2013 in my country and you can still buy Soļi (The Steps) in book stores.
When I was 17, I found the poem “The Steps” by Paul Valery in my school library. The poem touched my soul so deeply, so I wrote it out on the small piece of paper. As time passed, I read the poem again and again, and knew that it has and will have some impact in my life.
When I was writing my book, I knew that the poem “The Steps” will be one of the most important things in it, and will play the major role at some point. So, when I came to choosing the title for my book, there were no doubts for me about that – The Steps was the only choice of my soul.

As for my inspiration, surprisingly for myself, mostly I find my inspiration in music, and particularly in some songs. For example, when I wrote the chapters with Lucas in them, I listened K.D Lang’s version of song “Hallelujah”, and Latvian band’s Instrumenti song “Pieturi mani sev klāt” (Hold me tight). When I wrote my new book, I mostly listened kora musicians and singers Toumani Diabaté and Sona Jobarteh (Western Africa).    

One month ago I finished my second book, and now working on it with publishers in Latvia. It is thriller/suspense as well.

Follow Iveta Redliha on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Joyful Trouble by Patricia Furstenberg– Book Review

Book: Joyful Trouble
Author: Patricia Furstenberg
Independently Published with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
ISBN: 978-1521089576
ASIN: B07227P973
Publication date: 17 April  2017
Target audience: 6-10
Genre: Children's, Animals, Historical, Humour


A humourous read about an incredible dog and how he had found his true, yet unexpected calling.
A dog. A friendship. A purpose.
When a Great Dane arrives in a navy base nobody expects him to win everybody’s hearts, although breaking some rules along the way. But things soon turn sour as somebody threatens to put him to sleep. Who will stand up for this for-legged gentle giant?
Tackling universal themes and voicing animal rights and the importance of fighting for what is right.

Book Review by Nadaness In Motion

Joyful Trouble by Patricia Furstenberg is a fun, fast-paced read about a Great Dane named Joyful Trouble, who befriends seamen on a naval base in South Africa and is later added to the base as a member.

The book opens with Ana and Tommy, who are nine and five, respectively, asking their grandfather to tell them the story of Joyful Trouble.

"Doggies! I want to see the custard Danish!"
"Great Danes, Tommy. They are Great Danes."

The Great Dane easily befriends the seamen, but its unpaid rides on the train anger the ticket collectors and officials, who ask that he be put to sleep so they can get rid of him. 
"The poor dog was in trouble for being a friendly, four-legged creature."

What happens after that is beautiful and according to the author based on a true story.

Joyful Trouble is enlisted as "ordinary seamen" and becomes part of the navy.

I liked how Patricia Furstenberg weaved the story of Joyful Trouble as a story within a story.

There are intermittent parts where the children ask questions, express worry or excitement about the events of the story and so on, which reminds the reader that they're not just reading about the dog but about other people as well. It also provides some comedy, especially when Tommy jumps in.

"Choo-choo train!" Exclaimed Tommy and he was soon a train himself, running along the living room, following the carpet lines like imaginary train tracks.

The characters are adorable, especially Tommy, whom I absolutely loved. He's super cute and funny and makes the book light, whereas his sister Ana is the grown up one who keeps asking her grandfather to tell her more about Joyful Trouble and his adventures.

"I knew what was at stake."
"'Steak!' Exclaimed Tommy suddenly, wide awake. "I'm hungry!"

Photo credit: Patricia Furstenberg

It is worth mentioning that the novella has several tales about Joyful Trouble, from the day the grandfather as a young seaman meets the dog till the day Joyful Trouble dies (which made me cry).

Overall, Joyful Trouble is a must read for all ages.

Overall rating: 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of Joyful Trouble from its author Patricia Furstenberg in exchange for an honest review.

Update: Check out Nadaness In Motion's interview with author Patricia Furstenberg.

About the Author:
Patricia Furstenberg came to writing through reading. She is known to carry a book or pen and paper everywhere she goes.
Patricia enjoys writing for children because she can take abstract, grown-up concepts and package them in attractive, humorous, child-friendly words and pictures, while adding sensitivity and lots of love. What fuels her is a need to write and… coffee, “None. Plus? Five cups.”

After completing her Medical Degree in Romania, she moved to South Africa, where she now lives with her husband, children, and their dogs.

Connect with author Patricia Furstenberg via her Author WebsiteAmazon UKAmazon USHuffington Post SAGoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Takhayyal writing prompt 66: A Demon Ally?

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

Friend or foe?

I came across this and didn't know what to make of it, other than to put it up as a writing prompt and see where it will take us writers.

Arabic for Imagine, Takhayyal is a challenge for writers of all ages and genres; a place to spark creativity and explore new genres.
Your post can be in English or Arabic, prose, poetry, short story, flash fiction; 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!


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Cleansing the Anger - Poem by Nada Adel Sobhi

No matter how hard I try
Anger resurfaces,
Moving slowly,
Dominating my thoughts,
My dreams, my fantasies,
Putting me on edge,
Slowly gnawing at my mind,
And worse my soul.

Anger at others

I've done my part
And more
Yet it's not enough

It seems nothing
Ever really is enough

But the emotions,
Angry black and red,
Control my mind,
Burying my happiness,
Searing through me like a saw,
Weighing on me like dumbbells,
Pulling me down every time I rise.

I was kind,
But in my kindness
I must have been blind.

Or whosoever I bestowed with my care
Devoured it, wanting more.
Craved it, never satiating,
Never getting their fill.

And I gave
And I gave
And I gave

Till I was out.

How long till I replenish
What was taken from me?
How long till I rid myself
Of fury and disappointment?

How long?


By: Nada Adel Sobhi

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Immortalized in Ink by Aria Glazki – Book Review

Immortalized in Ink by Aria Glazki is a collection of 36 short stories and flash fiction pieces. 

The collection begins with the centre piece and 10-star opening story "Immortalized in Ink". I've read it before in Scripting Changes' anthology Beyond the Words and adored it. I still loved it and can't get enough of it.

"They say the pages give you lives – open the cover and step through. Escape into the words and find your solace, or adventure. Everything you never knew you needed exists within a book."

Glazki denotes from the beginning that the pieces in the collection were mainly part of the Flash! Friday flash fiction writing challenges, which used images to inspire writers, although many of the pieces have long since been revised. On that line, I must note that in some of the stories I felt I wanted to see the image that inspired them, sometimes because I didn't get the story the first time I read it and sometimes because I felt it would make more sense if I knew the source of inspiration.

Still, I must highlight that most of the pieces are easily read as standalones. With or without the picture that inspired them, the flash fiction pieces are easy to read and don't have many – if any – cliffhangers.

I've said it once before – possibly in another review – and I'll say it again: I adore Aria Glazki's writing and style. She has a way with words and Immortalized in Ink is evidence of that.

"Regenesis" took my breath away! Fantasy mixed with excellent visual and the overall theme of rebirth. 10 stars to this one!

"A wash of life carpets the scars of war etched into the land."

"Flight Plan" is an action-packed five-star flash fiction piece. Loved it and highly recommend it.

"Perspective" is a stunningly beautiful piece that artists and writers can relate to. Another five stars to this one.

One of the pieces that mixed several themes is "Heritage", a dash of the paranormal with art and excellent writing. A must read.

I also loved the way Glazki built the pressure in "Lookout". My breath picked up and I was about to start biting my nails!

I've read "On the Job" during the Flash! Friday challenges but I loved all over again. The piece titled "News to Share" is very emotional and made me cry.

Other recommended stories in Immortalized in Ink include: "Beloved", "Winter's Refuge", "Legacy", "Winter Promise", "Untethered" and "Institution".

One of the things I liked about the Immortalized in Ink collection is the fact that several stories handled the theme of writing or art - "Perspective" and "Heritage" are among those - while some had paranormal elements. I also liked several of the dark pieces in there.

Last but not least, "Be a Man" is a story I've read before, but is by far one of my favourites for Aria Glazki. Simply, it's a 10-star piece.

"I've lived a thousand lives, and none at all. Each time the cover opens, the path begins anew, an invitation to the reader to walk, hop, duck, devour, run – or linger. Meander through new minds." – From "Immortalized in Ink"

Overall rating for Immortalized in Ink: 4.5 stars

Note: I normally use British spellings on my blog but since this is a book name so I decided to use its original spelling "Immortalized in Ink" to avoid confusion in case anyone decides to search for it on Goodreads or elsewhere.

Check out my book review of Beyond the Words, where Aria and I have pieces, and feel free to purchase a copy to support literacy. (You can find my poem "Words" in that anthology)

The anthology Breaking Free features "Be a Man" by Aria Glazki and my poem also titled "Breaking Free". You can hear me recite my poem at a local poetry event here (start at minute 2:13)

My first ever read for Aria Glazki was her poetry collection Life Under Examination. Check out my five-star book review here.

About the Author:

Aria Glazki's first kiss technically came from a bear cub. Though no fairytale transformation followed, she still believes magic can happen when the right people come together—if they don’t get in their own way, that is. So now Aria writes heartfelt romances about relatable people overcoming real-world obstacles to build love that lasts.

Available now are steamy paranormal Mortal Musings, sweet contemporary Mending Heartstrings (now FREE on Kindle Unlimited!), and spicy contemporary Tasting Temptation. All of her novels are standalone stories, so you can pick just one or read them all!

Learn more about Aria's books on her website, or catch all the exciting moments by signing up for her newsletter.