Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sensory details, lush imageries, and carries the reader away!


Under the Apple Boughs
By Peter Maughan


In a series of seasonal vignettes, Peter Maughan has crafted a pleasurable read that has been highly anticipated and reviewed by many. I received a review copy from the author with much excitement. Having purchased Peter Maughan's novel, The Cuckoos of Batch Magna which I gave my highest recommendation a few years ago, I was eager to begin this new novel. Under the Apple Boughs is rich in sensory details, lush imageries, and carries the reader away into the countryside.

Visit Peter Maughan's Amazon Page


The setting offers the reader a variety of settings within the West border area of England and Wales. From the kitchen of George Perry, Bedroom of Miss Holsworth, to the local Inn, the reader will not find the stories lagging or slow in pace. Peter Maughan uses several themes from the didactic, social, and escapist with a purpose of entertaining. The author uses aesthetic and emotional qualities in his writing. For example the author uses this talent as a basis with the tone of the hunting trip as, "Powder from the hazel catkins by the stream blew in a breeze and the alder trees, that in summer shaded a bridge built by monks, were bruised with purple flowering, and yellow points of the primrose were a small bright find among the winter drabness."

I further enjoyed the meditative repetition of words that Peter Maughan used when describing the "percussion of death had beat the air, as barrel after barrel was emptied into the flocks of woodpigeons" and at the end of the day, "the evening star fluttered above the valley, fluttered and then held, and the rapid call of the woodpecker reached out across the wood like a question." There is no question that the author is a master of lyrical style, yet do not be fooled as Maughan expresses an elegiac tale of his beloved Bill Sikes. This not only keeps the reader engaged but offers a different story with each short.



Peter Maughan an ex-actor, fringe theater director,script writer, married, and living in the Welsh Marches.

My favorite short was, Passage to Spring. From the descriptions and word choice such as the cocooned and near death stir of the earth's pulse strengthened as the first colors cut into the land like small healing wounds left me breathless. Additionally, I felt as if I were walking and capturing all the sights, sounds and tastes in a rhythm of poetic syntax. I also greatly enjoyed the short story titled, Village Wedding. With rich twists of emotional wedding day festivities and experiences, the guest, bride, and groom are the center of the plot with climatic rise and fall. The author teases the reader with a bit of foreshadowing as he earlier states, "putting aside for that moment what is, or was, or might be, and allowing only what should be."



Visit Amazon.com to purchase your copy today!


I had difficulty with rating, Under the Apple Boughs. I did not find it as the same quality as the author's previous work, The Cuckoo of Batch Magna partly due to the difference in novel verses short story format. This is more of a personal preference than that reflecting the authors work. However, I do highly recommend this book. I especially feel that readers aged 30 and older would be more drawn to Under the Apple Boughs. These stories can be easily read over and adapted into monologue for an afternoon tea. Make sure you visit the links provided and pick up your copy today!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cripes! Snow Alligators with Peter W. Collier.

“Rules are rules, no matter how silly, even when weather outside is so chilly.” 

Imagine having a snow day with no school and being forced inside with a cold. Peter Collier’s children’s book, Snow Alligators, confronts this catastrophe of all children who are not able to go play outside. 


Purchase your copy here!

 

With a musical rhyming pattern, the author creates a pleasurable story for children ages 3 to 8. This book is a great read aloud story and an entertaining way to teach rhymes to further strengthen your child's language and reading skills.

 

The author offers many Free Children's E books online for download.

 

Snow Alligators is sure to bring laughter and language play to any young reader. The best part? The ending! 

 

Click here for a great interview with Peter Collier

 

Your child will be absolutely delighted with the surprise conclusion and be prepared for squeals and laughter. The tone and style of the narrative is simple, silly, and without any heavy cumbersome topics that would bore a young reader.

 

Visit Peter Collier's Facebook page

 

Peter Collier further sparks the readers imagination by explaining what happens to missing mittens and hats, 

“The snow alligators snatch them below; what they do with them then, I'm not very sure, they might use them as bait, like a fisherman's lure.” 

 

A Canadian author with stories and style deserving attention, Peter W. Collier began with writing rhyming prose stories for his own children. His stories are both a delight to read and to hear.

 

The illustrations by Amy Ting are appropriate and well executed. Soft and calming in detail and wonderful visual appeal, each picture is a relaxing scene for a great indoor winter read. I recommend Snow Alligators by, Peter Collier.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome to Gang Territory with Peter St. John

Some stories in life become great novels that are exceptionally written, adorn a library, or perhaps become a well-known movie. However, very few novels have the ability to captivate the heart and soul as Peter St. John has in his novel Gang Territory. This reader has been captivated, charmed, and fallen in love with a cast of characters that touch every aspect of the lives we each live. The story begins in 1940, a young boy arrives in the village of Widdlington to live with his pious spinster aunt after his orphanage in London was bombed. The struggles obtained in a new community build relationships and sculpt one's faith to give example to some of the complexities that Peter St John has emphasized in his novel, Gang Territory.

Purchase your copy here!

Many of the friends encountered along the way engulf the spirit of growing together as community, that although separated by boundaries or gang territories of the 1940's, teaches acceptance, love, and forgiveness. A common bond was formed with Archibald "Golfball" during government enforced milk breaks as well as the loyalty and advice of Jenno. A bully named Snaylor devised a contest of pissing over the bathroom wall and there is the Vicar who lives with secrets. The acceptance of Mr. "Dummy" Pearce with his primitive innocent ways is another of the concurrences of growing up in a small village.

Peter St John is best known for his six "Gang" books about children's gangs during World II. These novels spring from adventures in an English village as an evacuee from the London Blitz.

One of my favorite characters and exchanges was between Mrs. Rumble and Peter. Peter tells Mrs. Rumble that she was "one of the best Christians that I know. There's more love in this little house than in any church I've ever been in the whole vast convent where I was." An overflowing of tears and the embrace of the Rumble family who didn't attend a church, but lived the teachings of a higher power of love, goodness and human respect is a great example of true Christianity.

The London-born author's career begin shortly after the Second  World War, as a military pilot.
Furthermore, the gift of a soapbox derby cart that has a bit of every community member in the axle, wheels, and paint scheme, open the door to friendships that last for a lifetime. Examinations of behavior demonstrate the adult prejudice and past transactions that can bring about a change in the children of a community and an aunt who truly loves a little boy. The stories over lunch, on the playground shared with an orphan and stranger to an established community, challenge each of us to examine our own life and sometimes listen to the heart of another much like the cost and true loss of Mrs. King and Winnie during war. Sometimes we find out our greatest supporters are like Miss Hanger and Miss Ufford or a simple thankful prayer to God said by the author at bedtime.



Peter St. John displays talent, internal emotion, and interpersonal dynamics in his writings. His tale is one that we all share, each of us who grow into the world! Gang Territory is funny, touching, and full of love hidden in the heart that burst with each page. Get ready to laugh, cry, and fall in love with a great group from Widdlington, England! Peter St. John digs deeply into the soul and capriciousness of humankind! I highly recommend Gang Territory by Peter St. John!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Poet



Have you ever read a poet and author that you felt in your soul? Bashir Sakhawarz has crossed continental boundaries with his words and bravery. I had to share and hope you too will feel his breath in your heart! Again his name is Bashir Sakhawarz.  His book, Maagir- The Snake Charmer was a highly intense, bold, and passionate thought provoking read! 

Bashir Sakhawarz currently lives with his family in Geneva Switzerland.

 Bashir Sakhawarz  is an award-winning poet, a novel and short story writer. He has lived in Europe, Asia, Africa and Central America and has worked for a number of international organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union, the Asian Development Bank, The International Red Cross and NGOS.
Read my review here.
I highly recommend Maagir-The Snake Charmer by Bashir Sakhawarz. I am sure, I am not his typical "target audience" Yet, what is a target audience? That of what you wish and desire to connect with. The truth is that love and inspirations usually comes from the most unexpected places. Maybe words and actions are the spray of a fountain?

Fountain



Written by Bashir Sakhawarz   

Life is a fountain
Rising with a jet of energy pointing to the sky
Falling under its own weight.
Rising, falling
And one day no rising but just a fall.
I am a fountain
I rise when you channel feeling in me
I will never fall
If you stay in me.


http://valentinammaka.blogspot.com/2013/07/an-authentic-portrait-of-afghanistan.html

Please read this amazing interview with Bashir by Valebtina Acava Mmaka. It details his freedom from Kabul and The Mujahidin. Furthermore, it accounts Bashir's near escape from death.  Always remember, we never know who and how we influence others. Either with our words or actions.  Enjoy the poem below.

Kabul
By Bashir Sakhawarz

I create you
Through the sadness of the time
Through the heat of evaporation
Through the dust of none returned caravans
Through the soul of stone
Through oceans of stillness.

I create you
Behind my closed window
Behind sleepy eyes
In the darkness of being
In the boundary of shadows.

Kabul
Just two syllabus
Just two syllabus and yet an ocean
Without it oceans are empty

Balahisar
The highest fortress
An old man with crashed shoulders

Chehelstoon
Shaky faulty tower
Once a nest of singing birds
Today naked without soul
Naked without song
Raped by avalanche

Bagheballa
A hanging garden
A hanged life

Kabul
I create you like a poet
On the back of my poetry book
On my walks
On my talks
On my deserted Island
I create you with poetry, wine, dust, stillness, happiness, time, laughter, repetition, sadness.

Kabul
My mistress hidden in torn clothes
My lover in my cold bed

Kabul
I create you with a single tear

Kabul
A two syllabus word
A journey of history
Without you Rustam not born
Without you Buddha in sky
Without you Mahabarat not written

Kabul
A silent eye
In a quiet sky
A virgin in solitude
A raped widow
A paradox
A picnic garden of the Americans
A goal post of Russians
A melting pot of bad guys Taliban
Good guys Mujahideen
A rainbow of peace
A circus
A laughter ha ha ha
Haha and ha ha ha
A laughter of a drunken man with no tune
No rhythm
A forgotten woman
A bride of thousand men

Kabul
A diary of adventures
A travelling man
Racing through curves
Valleys
Mountains
Oceans
Sky
Feelings
Loneliness
Solitude


Kabul
A book of tragedy
A story within story
I see you in distance
I feel you under my skin
Tonight I sleep with you Kabul.


Yes! Inspiration comes to us in the most unusual ways and sometimes it unites the likeliest of sources and countries to make us better, to make the world better, and to invite others to want to be better.  Thank you, Bashir Sakhawarz! Reminds me of a quote by Paulo Coelho, in his novel The Alchemist   

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Sunday, January 5, 2014

John Grandits and his Blue Lipstick Poetry

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems
By John Grandits
A Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

While waiting for our local library book club meeting to begin, I was completely distracted by my friend Linda. She was laughing hysterically, and immediately pulled me over toward her direction to look at Blue Lipstick by John Grandits. Instantaneously, we were both given, “the look” by the librarian for our laughing outburst.

John Grandits is a poet, typographer, art director, designer, & writer. He’s written cartoons, articles, humor pieces, fiction and nonfiction for children and adults.

John Grandits has penned a fantastic collection of original poems written from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl named Jessie. Jessie shares her point of view of life, school, and family. The lack of poems for teens to appreciate is exactly what John Grandits targets his audience with in Blue Lipstick. However, many adults will be able to relate to the poetry collection especially if you have a teenager at home.



The whimsical appeal of the art and twisting of the text invites the reader to become a participant of each poem. This is a brilliant idea that John Grandits has incorporated with his illustrations because the reader is actively involved.


Moreover, as one reads you become more aware of the emotions and tone. For example the color choice in “Bad Hair day” exemplifies the internal and external conflict as Jessie’s new hair color choice tests her relationship with Lisa. Furthermore, this poem demonstrates resolution with Lisa and the tender comforting wisdom from Jessie’s mother.

"The poems were all really clever. Students could really relate to what Jessie is going through at her school."
Kristen from Goodreads.

Personally I don't think it's fair to review each individual poem because poetry is something so intensely subjective that it just wouldn't do them justice. I didn't think any of the poems were bad in Blue Lipstick but I enjoyed some more than others.


John Grandits at age 5

My favorites were, The Wall, Mondrian, Advanced English, and A Chart of My Emotional Day. The creativity of the author was impressive and one could easily finish this book in one afternoon.

from Technically, It's Not My Fault: Concrete Poems

I was particularly impressed with the placement of the poems. This is what I feel made Blue Lipstick flow so easily and could be used within a classroom setting.

John Grandits is associated with a number of juvenile publishing ventures including Cricket, Muse, and Click magazines, Crown Books for Children and Random House

The poems are all written in unique shapes and designs that reflect the content of the writing. I recommend Blue Lipstick by John Grandits.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Exceptional Plot, Imaginative, and Whimsical Wit!


Brimstone and Lily (Legacy Stone Adventures)
By Terry Kroenung
A Book review by Ginger Dawn Harman



Are you ready to enter the world of shape-shifting swords, Civil War battles, magic cannonballs, combat pelicans, Arab terrorists, and swimming trees? Meet Terry Kroenung, author of Brimstone and Lily, book one of the Legacy Stone Adventures. The story begins with twelve year old Verity Sauveur, a ragamuffin with red hair that has a rather large imagination. After Verity accidentally falls she has been given a momentous task to save the world. Along the way she discovers much about herself and those around her. The setting for the story is Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1862. Terry Kroenung is well researched and provides readers with a fun and exciting way to learn geography and historical period details.




Jasper who is the center of much of the humor and wit in Brimstone and Lily is developed over the course of the novel. Each Character is plausible and enhances the plot with its fast pace and never leaves the reader lacking excitement. The author is also very clever with the name of his characters. For example, Verity means truth and she later becomes friends with Sha'ira which means poetic. This play on words as poetic truth is but one symbol of virtual reality competing with what is real. Exemplified with subtle brilliance, Terry Kroenung uses references to Shakespeare, yet the content is not too challenging for younger teens to understand. This novel could easily been read by mid-grade level and up.


Visit Terry Kroenung's Facebook Page

Several literary devices are used in the novel Brimstone and Lily. I almost feel like I shall knight the author as the king of metaphors and similes. Notwithstanding the amazing imagery, there were several great ones such as;

 "Short and round, she wore spectacles on the end of her sharp nose. They made her look like Ben Franklin's sister." Furthermore, "A hot wind swirled around me, peeling the letters from the wall and making the cavern look like it was filled with angry fireflies"

were among my favorite lines. Conversely, Terry Kroenung displays part of his personal life experiences from working with adjudicated gang members with his haunting images such as; "His unblinking black eyes seemed as large and round as an ox's. Pretty and dead at the same time, they made me feel like I stared at an orchid floating in a cesspool."





In a thematic parallel, Verity's experiences reflect her own search for personal growth. The plotting is exceptional. And one more thing--by the time I reached the end, I was ready to grab a sword and rescue `Eddie from the clutches of the evil Merchantry.'

Jasper's Foul Tongue (Legacy Stone Book 2)


I highly recommend Brimstone and Lily by Terry Kroenung and invite you to listen to my radio interview with him.

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