Sally Cronin: Life’s Rich Tapestry – Woven in words.

Sally Cronin Tapestry

 

I am the type of person that needs to read something before going to sleep, as many people I know do. I had started reading a bestseller (a real bestseller not one that you get powerful corporations to buy 500 copies of your book) from a well know author whom I will not name. The book bored me and so I reached for my iPad to see what I had on my Kindle. There was Sally Cronin’s book which I had downloaded with the intention of reading it on a long flight I am taking in mid-January.

I started reading it and really got into it. In fact, it is the type of book that I will re-read on the plane because this is writing that is rich in thought with too much to absorb in one reading.

Her book is divided into sections: The Seasons of the Year, All Things human, Fairies and other Folk, The Natural World, Remembrance, Celebrating Pets, Random Thoughts, 99 Words in a Flash, Short Stories, The Superiority of Cats, Speculative Fiction, And Last but not least…

I downloaded the book both on my Kindle and on my iPad. I found the iPad experience much more pleasant because the beautiful illustrations were in color, bringing out the richness of the text. One such striking illustration, by Sally, is of a peacock in its glorious and proud colors. Also,  because the screen is larger, I appreciated much more the visual shapes of her poetry.

These are magical, enchanting and touching stories where the good always win. They are uplifting stories though nonetheless profound and always about love in its many forms.

And I mustn’t forget that there are stories about dogs.  A mutt protecting his master from thugs; an old dog in a residence for the elderly showing how love can make one feel young again and a mistreated dog finds kindness in a half-starved young man.

There’s so much in this book that it is impossible to do it justice in a single post. You have to read it and re-read. Its title suits it perfectly: Life’s Rich Tapestry.

For more on Sally Cronin  

 

Q and A with D.G. Kaye – Featuring Carol Balawyder – Warning Signs #Thriller

I am so lucky to have been invited to D.G. Kaye’s blog. In case you are unfamiliar with her you are missing out on someone whose blog is versatile, useful and always interesting. She is a great supporter of writers (Indie and other), provides a panoply of writing and blogging tips, writes about her amusing travel adventures and is very outspoken about things she does not agree with. In short, she is a person who cares.

She is also the author of several memoirs, all of which are worth your time in reading. I have read everyone of them and have laughed, been provoked and become tearful at times. She is that kind of eclectic writer that digs deep into your emotional roots.

Thank you, Debby, for sharing your blog with me today. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. ❤

 

Source: Q and A with D.G. Kaye – Featuring Carol Balawyder – Warning Signs #Thriller

Bau: Oskar’s Quest

 

Oskar's Quest 2

As many of you probably know I do volunteer work. My mistress takes me to different community centers but one of my favorite places is going to the library and having the children read to me. It is extremely relaxing! So, I was very happy when Mistress began reading out loud to me Oskar’s Quest while I was in bed – even more relaxing although there were some tense and suspenseful moments when I worried about little Oskar.

I lay next to Mistress as close to the book as I could get and listened very carefully. I learnt a few new words (in case you didn’t know, dogs can have an amazingly large vocabulary, especially smart dogs like me so people shouldn’t be afraid of teaching dogs and little children new words). There were interesting sounding words such as murmured, fearlessly and scaredy-bird.

After Mistress had finished reading the book I thought hard about Oskar being the bravest bird in the world as I fell asleep and dreamt that I was the bravest dog in the world!

Oscar's Quest by Annika Perry

A lovely book for children, adults and dogs.

Visit Annika Perry here

Nobel Prize Laureate: Olga Tokarczuk

 

olga-tokarczuk-WikiWikipedia

Olga Tokarczuk is the recipient of the 2018-2019 Nobel Prize for Literature. Although this prize is awarded to Olga Tokarczuk in 2019, she is actually the 2018 nomination. The prize was held over because of sexual abuse and financial scandals which led to a series of resignations in the Swedish Academy.  She is the fifteenth and second Polish writer to win this prestigious prize.

Flights

 

Ms. Tokarczuk is no stranger to receiving prizes for her literary works. In 2008 her novel Flights won the Nike award, Poland’s top literary award. In 2018 Flights took the Man Booker Prize for its translation into English by Jennifer Croft. 

Tokarczuk’s work focuses on peace, democracy and activism. In an interview with Claire Armitstead in The Guardian, Tokarczuk had this to say about a two-year book deal on detective stories:

But just writing a book to know who is the killer is wasting paper and time, so I decided to put into it animal rights and a story of dissenting citizens who realise that the law is immoral and see how far can they can go with saying no to it.”

In a fascinating interview with Adam Smith – Chief Scientific Officer of Nobel Media – Olga Tokarczuk speaks of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature as a symbol of hope for those worried about the ‘Crisis in democracy’ she sees facing central Europe.

For more on Female Nobel Laureates for Literature please visit my series. 

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Jennifer Kelland Perry: Calmer Girls

In well crafted sentences Jennifer Kelland Perry traces the journey of sixteen year old Samantha Cross and her family through their different struggles: sister rivalry, parents’ divorce, moving to a new place, teen pregnancy, mother’s drinking, money worries, Alzheimer’s and death. Whew!

Jennifer Perry Amazon

Although the plot of Calmer Girls is far more dramatic than my adolescence ever was, I was filled with nostalgic moments as I found myself reminiscing about my own adolescence with its taste of first love and the confusion of young adult friendships.

The Coming-of-Age story takes place in St John’s, Newfoundland, a city and province I have always wanted to visit and, thus, appreciated the author’s descriptions of St John’s and what it was like growing up there in the 90’s.

 

II found the characters interesting and the author did a good job of portraying their faults along with the family’s dynamics. Although it is categorized as a YA novel, I thought the mother in the story added a domestic reality as she coped with being a mother to two teenage girls while in the midst of a separation and having to relocate to a new city. My interest was sustained until the end. Jennifer Perry makes us care about these broken characters.

 

 

 

 

 

Jacqui Murray: The Quest For Home

the-quest-for-home-book-cover

Driven from her home. Stalked by enemies. Now her closest ally may be a traitor.

In her recent novel, The Quest for Home, Jacqui Murray ( using paleontological facts as backdrop) has written a well-researched work of fiction in which she brilliantly brings to life what it was like to live 830,000 years ago.

Through her main character, Xhosa, Jackie Murray provides the reader with the keys to survival: wit, strategy and perseverance. I loved that the lead warrior is a woman and that her characters come from diverse backgrounds such as Africa, Indonesia, China and Israel. Through them we learn how these people communicated, how they interacted with the animals in the wild and their struggle to survive. I was in awe by the physical and psychological strength of these people – our ancestors.

If you have followed Jacqui’s blog you know that she has a series of “how-to-describe” posts. For example, how to describe sight, how to describe pain, how to describe nature and so forth. Here, in The Quest for Home she applies her advice in how to describe similes:

Pan-do was like a river, curling over the land, sunlight glinting off its rippled surface, a welcome sight because it brought life. But underneath flowed fierce currents. Sharp rocks and treacherous plants filled its depths and it was home to vicious creatures that bit and tore without remorse. Pan-do, once riled, was no stranger to violence. He used it skillfully when he had no other choice, as a means to an end.

A word about violence. In her non-fiction introduction – which is an elucidation on prehistoric man – Jacqui Murray explains how the need to be violent was necessary in order to survive a treacherous world. In the novel’s opening, the violence was against Nature whereby  flood forced tribes to migrate; but the violence was also a means to survive against rival tribes. In this respect, we as mankind have not evolved all that much. We still have our wars, floods and hurricanes that force people to migrate, just as they did in prehistoric times.

The Quest for Home is book 2 of her Crossroads trilogy; however, it can be read as a standalone. Besides using her creative skills to craft a captivating adventure, Jacqui, also shines as an educator in sharing her knowledge of this period. If you are at all interested in learning about your prehistoric ancestors this is a novel you should pick up.

Bravo, Jacqui, for such a notable and sweeping novel.

 

Jack A.Tittle: Saving Alice

I met Jack Tittle at an Algonkian Writer’s Workshop in Virginia a few years back where he was workshopping his legal mystery novel Ripples After Death while I was working my crime novel Warning Signs, which I hope to have out soon.
For my review of Ripples After death click here.

Saving Alice, unlike his legal mystery Ripples After Death, is a fantasy where the characters find themselves in different past time zones. The setting (in the woods) plays an important role as the characters attempt to navigate their lives together.

Jack Tittle Saving Alice

Unable to cope with life, two strangers wish they could live in a time when life was simpler. They meet in the past, charged with the responsibility of righting a wrong before they can return to the present. The woman is escaping from an abusive relationship and a scary past. She distrusts all men and feels safer in her present environment. The man feels he cannot trust women because his girlfriend for the last three years just tried to trick him into a proposal of marriage.
Their life experiences make it difficult for them to accomplish anything, but as they get to know each other, they find common ground to push their intentions forward. As they approach the end of their mission, they make a startling discovery, and their lives change.

I found the novel to be relaxing and pleasant. I read most of it by the pool where I was taken into a fairy-tale world which I found comforting and intriguing.

You can view Saving Alice here.

 

 

T.W. Allgaier: Peace in the Midst

Peace in the midst

An envelope lies unopened in her office. Bakery owner and mom, Mattie, is recently divorced. Her three kids don’t understand why. Running her life in the 1980’s has proven more difficult than she imagined and was about to get more complicated.
Esther, a young widow, is trying to run a farm and raise her three children alone in the early 1940’s. How could her circumstances get any worse?
Thomas, the new county sheriff, is trying to make sense of his life. How did his life turn upside down when he was trying to do the right thing?

What I liked about this book, besides its interesting plot, is the goodness of the characters throughout. Sure, there are a few (very few) dubious, selfish characters, but for the most part the author writes about the caring and kindness of mankind. It is heartwarming and made me feel good reading it as it gave me hope in humanity. Of particular interest, was the emphasis placed on a man as hero.
Although the author’s own moral values are supported by Biblical passages the truths, honor and charity of human nature at its best are universal.
This is a good pick me up book in keeping with the nature of the author’s blog where she offers words of encouragement.

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https://www.amazon.com/T.W.-Allgaier/e/B07KMMFK67?ref=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

 

 

 

Olga Núñez Miret: Escaping Psychiatry

Psychiatry, law and writing. These are three of my favorite subjects to read about. Escaping Psychiatry: Beginnings includes all three. The novella is as much a psychological thriller as it is a legal one.
Mary, the protagonist, is a very relatable and likeable character. In attempts to get away from her career as a psychiatrist and shift to one in writing, Mary is distracted into her role as psychiatrist and finds herself entangled in a court case involving a famous writer accused of murder.
The plot is interesting and the author instills enough suspense to make you want to continue reading. The author, herself a forensic psychiatrist, brings credibility and authenticity to the protagonist.
In this prequel, the author has set the foundation for the remainder in her series:

“Escaping Psychiatry. Beginnings is the prequel to Escaping Psychiatry a volume collecting three stories where Mary and her psychiatric expertise are called to help in a variety of cases, from religious and race affairs, to the murder of a policeman, and in the last case she gets closer than ever to a serial killer.”

 

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Christoph Fischer: The Body in the Snow

The body in the snow

 

Figuring out the puzzle in a mystery is always a lot of fun and has the added perk of exercising the brain.
The Body in the Snow is a modern version of a classic Agatha Christie plotline. Set in Llangurrey, a remote hamlet tucked miles away from the nearest town, is experiencing the worst snowstorm in twenty years. All roads and motorways have been closed.
I was immediately drawn into this cozy whodunit and the domestic dynamics among the characters.
The author begins by introducing the characters, a bit of their background, their family, marital status and so forth in very broad drawn strokes. You get the picture. There’s a Diva, a happy divorcee, a handyman and a host of other unlikeable characters.
Now, in present time, they find themselves neighbors, along with their past histories, secrets and personalities that clash with each other. The characters have such unique characteristics that I had no problem distinguishing them from each other, as is not always the case when there are multiple characters in a story. One of the more endearing interactions was between Bebe, a fading star and Beth, a rooky but spunky detective.
Fischer’s detective Beth is a lot of fun and brings lightness and charm to the novel. No gore or violence was a plus. It was simply a fun, light relaxing read and a pleasant way to exercise the brain muscles.