Jacqui Murray: Laws Of Nature

Although Jacqui Murray’s Laws of Nature (Book 2 of The Dawn of Humanity Trilogy) is a work of fiction it is based on intense research on pre-historic times. In her non-fiction introduction Jacqui Murray sites how scientists decoded the clues which were “encased in the rocks, soil, and the few surviving artifacts of her kind.”

Relying on multidisciplined scientists: paleobotanists studied plant seed, paleoanthropologists examined the condition of teeth and calcification of skeletons, Paleontologists examined the tools created during that period 2 million years ago and other paleo scientists studied the rocks, soil, the climate. All offering to Jacqui Murray a foundation for her fiction.

Of the many different scientists Jacqui Murray mentions two: Dr. Lev Vygotsky whose research was based on the means of communication – body language, hand gestures, facial expressions. Dr. Levi Leonard and Conant’s research based on the concept of counting.

In this book of the trilogy, we again meet Lucy – her call name which came to her in a dream. Dreams occur more than once in the book which made me wonder about the evolution of dreams and whether our dreams today are not much different than those of Lucy’s in that they are themselves clues.

I know that I would not have survived in Lucy’s environment where she and her tribe constantly searched for a home base, never really resting because of predators. Added to that are the frigid weather conditions.

Lucy has an acute sense of observation like a detective of our day might have observing footprints. “She stepped into the print. Her toes fell short of the top and the spread of her foot overlapped the sides.” And, “…she spent as much time as she could watching hunters, memorizing how they held the stick, the way they raised it over their shoulders, flung it with one foot and one arm forward.”

Then there is Lucy the healer searching for herbs to cure and heal wounds.

I, for one, have much to be grateful for Lucy and her tribe’s courage and persistence to survive. Had it not been for her and her tribe our current race would likely not be here today.

Praise for Jacqui Murray’s book which teaches us to honor our ancestors and their fights to survive as she does so through a captivating story.

Sally Cronin: Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

Life is Like A Bowl of Cherries, Sally Cronin’s latest book, displays “the complexities of life, love, and loss.” 

Composed of a series of well written short stories, poems and photos, the book begins on a humorous and ironical note on how a woman’s weight loss is cyber controlled – be careful what you put on the internet, folks.

 In keeping with her technology theme, the author shifts course in a sweet, touching story about Jenny – a lonely divorcee who finds a family across the globe thanks to DNA testing.

Sally Cronin’s characters are ordinary people doing ordinary things but in an exquisite way. Take for example, Molly who is interested in horticulture where “not everything you plan will turn out the way you expect.” Alice, a florist who developed “a flare for elaborate floral displays.”  Spunky Elsie Windsor, 93 out on a date with a teenager. Women who fight for their rights such is the case of a woman in the midst of a marriage filled with abuse, patriarchal control and violence.

Romance has many twist and turns. Romantic love can be tragic as Elaine and Tom learn the truth about how their parents kept them apart.

The characters in Sally Cronin’s stories reflect real people. Kind people. Charitable women. Women with big hearts. Courageous women. Loving husbands. Generous women who help a young homeless young man with his own story to share about hunger.

This is a very positive book where love, courage and charity are the winners.

A book to lighten us as we go through these dark days.

The book is also sprinkled with poetry. Here’s one I chose because it’s shaped as a Christmas tree and well, ‘tis the Season. 

Two Hearts

When

You meet

The someone

Who sparks a flame

In your heart and mind

Passion is ignited.

Even when the years have passed

The rapport that has developed,

Energized with a sense of humour,

Binds your two hearts together forever

Visit Sally Cronin’s Blog Magazine for some Christmas cheer

Ana Linden: Frames

Ana Linden Frames

 

I’ve always liked Ana Linden’s books. She’s very good at getting inside her characters’ heads.

Frames consists of four short character driven stories. These are not ordinary characters and through their flaws Ana Linden gives us insight into relationships and human nature.

The subjects of her stories range from the damaged educational system, the cruelty of abuse, loneliness, losers and guilt.

Sometimes you just need to feel a bad day for what it is. Unpleasant. Unexplicable. Normal.

In the opening story, Choices, two strangers meet on a plane. One is planning a vacation while the other has been hired to follow her. It is a fresh twist to the “strangers on a train” theme, filled with its high dosage of suspense and an intriguing love story in a noir atmosphere.
The second story, titled Frames, is about two retired teachers, married to each other and disillusioned with the educational system and marriage. As the story progresses each character individually and separately finds meaning in his/her life and a closer connection to each other. It is a story filled with empathy, kindness and hope. Life is not all doom and gloom. There are treasures to be recognized.
Drive, the third story in the collection presents the sad, long term effects of abuse and the power of guilt. In this story, Ana Linden makes us see child abuse from the opposite angle where it is the mother who is the abuser and the father who silently stands by. The secret the son shares with his father is both touching and sad and as the young boy becomes adult we see how his abuse affects his relationships with women until he meets a woman who is worse battered than himself.

Read a sample of Drive here.

The last story Trespasser is also about abuse and once again here we have the woman abusing her boyfriend – both need each other in their twisted ways. Ana Linden presents a very in depth description of both characters and their inner workings, the abuser making the argument why they are not right for each other while the abused seems unable to let go. This is a good story for anyone interested in the dynamics between a dysfunctional couple and why someone stays in an abusive relationship.

Linden’s writing is not ordinary. She is unafraid to show the rawness of human nature in a unique literary voice. She is an artist using words as her medium. It is reflective writing.  The stories in Frames are the kind that you want to savor and allow the beauty of the writing sink in. There is no sermonizing in these stories and we understand what is not being said. This makes for quite satisfying reading.

 

 

Jill Weatherholt: A Mother for His Twins

 

a-mother-for-his-twins

 

I love a good romance and in her latest novel Jill Weatherholt delivers. The romantic partners in question are Joy (appropriately named) and Nick who were once high school sweethearts.

The author sets her story fourteen years later, though this time, in a professional setting. Joy and Nick are both vying for the position as principal of a mountain community school. Joy has had her heart and future set on that position, hoping “to fulfill her dream of following in her father’s footsteps,” while becoming principal is why Nick came back to this town in the first place.

After suddenly leaving Joy cold, Nick returns to town as a widower with his twin boys and a ton of guilt on his shoulders. It was truly refreshing to read of a male character who is in touch with his emotions and questions his parental role as much as his professional one.

As for Joy, I found that the author captured well what it is like to come home to the emptiness of a house, to cook just for one, to long for the security of a family and to acknowledge that  “… there was no such thing as a happy ending.”

The author skillfully reveals what happened during that fourteen year separation as she goes back and forth from past secrets to present scars: “both carried shameful secrets from their past that they were unable to escape.”

What makes A Mother for His Twins stand out is the depth of the characters dealing with contemporary issues. Think of the Me Too Mouvement, sibling jealousy and past wounds that have been shoved under the carpet.

The author has a knack of keeping the reader hooked. This is an engaging and enjoyable novel and I loved the unexpected ending.

A love story to warm the heart.

For more on Jill Weatherholt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT MAKES STRONG WRITING

In a recent interview with Natalie Portman and CBC’s Tom Power at the Toronto International Film Festival, Portman talked about the inspiration behind her critically-acclaimed performance in Vox Lux.

One of the reasons she so easily accepted the role was because the writing was so strong. Brady Cobert is both the director and writer of Vox Lux.

Brady Cobert

 Attribution: Georges Biard

That got me thinking.

What makes writing so strong?

EM Castellan, a writer of YA Historical Fantasy novels and winner of several Wattpad awards, provides pointers on what you need to make your writing stronger.

One of the most common reasons for agents and publishers to reject a manuscript is « weak writing ». Rather than listing here what makes your writing weak, I’d like to offer a few pointers to help you make your writing strong – or stronger.

To continue reading  click here.