Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review of WTF by Laura Foley

Wtf: Poems
by Laura Davies Foley
Published February 17th, 2017 by Cw Books

Laura Foley’s “WTF” refers to her father’s initials and, slyly, to the abbreviated colloquial exclamation, in a pun that laughs and cuts, in this reckoning with a fraught father-daughter relationship. These spare poems communicate more like snapshots than narrative lyrics, beginning with sympathy and gratitude, moving through disappointment, anger and resentment, without ever losing compassion, as Foley examines her father’s formative WWII experiences and, consequently, how he shaped her experience and character, ending with a positive recognition of her father in herself.


Though this might be a short book of poems it reveals an abundance of insight into Laura's father, a mentally fragmented man of war, and the lifelong relationship between the two. Unquestionably, brief in words, the poems contain the extent of knowledge, emotions, and insight felt as if I had read a full novel. Additionally, sometimes in a composition of poems, one might stand out more than the others that I relate to more, but this did not occur in this book I found each poem equally poignant therefore each one containing a favorable flow telling its own part of the tale. Finally, I learned something crucial that war does not only shatter the individual who fights in it but also negatively affects the next generation. Overall, WTF is a remarkable read. I have read it four times and am looking forward to reading more of Laura Foley's work in the near future.

Tientsin, December 1941
The night before his imprisonment,
after a truly Russian feast,
toasting each course with vodka,
he danced and sang all night.
In the rickshaw at four a.m.,
he wore his Manchurian fur coat
pulled up around his neck
against forty below,
each star frigidly distinct
in foreign constellations.
The chill Gobi Desert wind
blew Japanese sentries in too,
surrounding his house at six a.m.
where he slept like a child
beneath a warm Tibetan carpet--
the man who would be my dad,
who never slept so well again.

 Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of six collections. She won the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor; and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: WTF, Night Ringing, The Glass Tree and Joy Street. The Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared on The Writer’s Almanac, in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.

A certified Yoga Instructor and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, she is the mother of three grown children, grandmother to two granddaughters. She and her partner Clara Gimenez live among the hills of Vermont with their three big dogs.

Follow her on GoodReads, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Review of Catherine Ryan Hyde's New Book ALLIE AND BEA

Allie and Bea
By Catherine Ryan Hyde
publication: May 23rd, 2017 by Lake Union Publishing
Paperback, 350 pages

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.


I have reviewed multiple books of Catherine Ryan Hyde's and have become an admirer of her work. Even though she has thirty-two books written, her topics are always new and fresh. Allie and Bea is the perfect read for this summer. I was hooked right off the bat and became invested in the story. It flew by undoubtedly too fast prompting surprise as I turned the last page. Furthermore, her writing does not bog the reader down being overly descriptive and wordy. Hence, she takes the reader on a learning experience through the eyes of creative characters who you will laugh with, cry with and grow along with.

“And you don’t eat flour because…”“Well, I could. But why would I? I ordered fruit and oatmeal. That’s food. Why should I have a bunch of bleached flour instead? There’s no nutrition in it. They take out all the nutrients when they refine it. And then they fortify it with vitamins, but it’s just like taking a vitamin pill. You might as well pop a daily vitamin and skip all the refined carbs, because they only make you hyper and crash your blood sugar and make you irritable.

Unquestionably, Bea made the utmost impact on me even though she was stubborn and pigheaded. As the story unfolds, she changes, but I will try to not give too much of the story away. To begin with, Bea lived most of her life around her husband, therefore, living day after day basically secluded in their little world. As a result, of his death she was left with little, then the worst happened and Bea was scammed out of what money was left. Subsequently, in her mid-seventies, she became homeless with only her van for shelter. Nevertheless, this seems abhorrent yet, then comes along Allie and Bea slowly begins to regard the world in a new light. Hence, it does not matter what your age is when changing your life for the better since no matter what your age there is always room for personal growth and evolution.

“What I wonder now,” Bea said, “looking back, is what I did all day in the trailer. I didn’t have a job. Or much in thee way of hobbies, come to think. I guess I read and watched TV. And the day went by…”I guess I wonder why I didn’t try to do more.” Bea said…”I had all these hours that added up to all these days, and I look back and it seems my goal was mostly to make them go away. But that’s not a proper life. That’s not really living”.

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the award-winning author of more than 30 published books. Her bestselling 1999 novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major Warner Bros. motion picture starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt.
In addition to my writing, over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of professional public speaking. I was privileged to speak at the National Conference on Education and at Cornell University. I even got to share a dais with Bill Clinton for three speeches. And I was invited to the White House for the movie screening of Pay It Forward.

"Thank You"

Sunday, May 14, 2017


All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

by Carole Giangrande
Published April 10th 2017 by Inanna Publications
Paperback, 200 pages

In the morning fog of the North Atlantic, Valerie hears the frenetic ticking of clocks. She's come from Toronto to hike on the French island of St. Pierre and to ponder her marriage to Gerard Lefevre, a Montrealer and a broadcast journalist whose passion for justice was ignited in his youth by the death of his lover in an airline bombing. He's a restless traveler (who she suspects is unfaithful) and she's the opposite: quiet, with an inner life she nurtures as a horticulturist. Valerie's thinking about Gerard on assignment in her native New York City, where their son Andre works. In New York City, an airplane has plunged into a skyscraper, and in the short time before anyone understands the significance of this event, Valerie's mind begins to spiral in and out of the present moment, circling around her intense memories of her father's death, her youthful relationship with troubled Matthew, and her pregnancy with his child, the crisis that led to her marriage to Gerard, and her fears for the safety of her son Andre and his partner James. Unable to reach her loved ones, Valerie finds memory intruding on a surreal and dreamlike present until at last, she connects with Gerard and the final horror of that day.

Thinking like this had done it, distorting the world into one continuous moment, bending the fabric of space so that she was here and not here.

The book’s plot slowly unfolds predominantly throughout the tragic day of 9/11. The narrative is told through the eyes of the main protagonist Valerie, who unfolds both the past and present to the reader. Therefore, the book takes you through many emotions, yet the main focus is not placed on death, but in my interpretation time, which the theories that the author contrived blew me away. For instance with exotic clocks, breaks in time, time collapsing upon itself, along with a multitude of other interesting ideas. Can we manipulate time? Granted Valerie has a mammoth connection to the tragedy that is occurring in New York City but for me discuss that aspect of the book in this review would give too much of the story away. Furthermore, the wording is both elegant and poetic, including a slew of French zesting up the language. Hence, the author, accomplished painting vivid images within my mind's eye that will never be forgotten. Overall this book is unique being unlike anything I have read before. Go get a copy! You will not be disappointed.

Valerie didn’t believe that Jean-Claude had rediscovered the systeme de pilotage- flying on pirate beacons, communicating with blacked out towers, sending encoded signals on lost radio bands, keeping the two of them hidden.

Born and raised in the New York City area, Carole Giangrande is a Toronto-based novelist and author of nine books, including the award-winning novella A Gardener on the Moon, the novels An Ordinary Star and A Forest Burning, the short story collection, Missing Persons and the novellas Here Comes The Dreamer and Midsummer. Her third novel, All That Is Solid Melts Into Air will be published in Spring 2017. She’s worked as a broadcast journalist for CBC Radio (Canada’s public broadcaster) and her fiction, poetry, articles and reviews have appeared in Canada’s major journals and newspapers (Her essay “Goshawk” was Lyric Essay Award Winner in the Eastern Iowa Review, 2016). She’s read her fiction at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, at the Banff Centre for the Arts (as an Artist-in-Residence), the University of Toronto, on radio and at numerous public venues. She has recently completed another novel.

Find out more about Carole at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

✋✋Tour Stops
Monday, May 15th: Readaholic Zone
Tuesday, May 16th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, May 17th: Literary Quicksand
Monday, May 22nd: Kritters Ramblings
Friday, May 26th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, May 25th: Girl Who Reads
Monday, May 29th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, May 31st: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, June 1st: 5 Minutes For Books

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Knowing by David Graham PROMO BLITZ

Dark Fantasy, Thriller, Horror
Date Published:  March 2017

United by destiny, they must stand together to face an ancient evil.....

Ceri Edwards and two school friends lift the lid on an ancient book of recipes belonging to Betty Williams, a volunteer at the local hospital in Pontypridd, South Wales. Two Kansas City cops step off a flight at London Heathrow and one of them falls to the ground with a painful conviction that there's something evil in the air.

United in their destinies, Ceri and the police officers are drawn into a world where prophecies are pitted against invisible forces planning to raze London to the ground and bring down the Royal Family.

It all rests with Dai Williams, recently knighted MI5 agent and reluctant hero, to bring some order to the improbable events and to ensure that afternoon tea at The Ritz continues for another hundred years.

A great cross between Kim Newman and Ben Aaranovitch and a thrill for any fan of contemporary urban horror.

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A decent, pot-bellied, cast iron cauldron usually sold for a hundred pounds. One that was antique and appropriately fire-tarnished doubled the sum. Use by an accredited witch—specifically a member of the Dynion Mwyn tradition—could nudge that figure into the stratosphere. That was because a well-used cauldron was believed to absorb spells into the metalwork, supposedly making incantations more effective. Debunking that idea was as fruitless as rubbishing homeopathy—particularly now that Welsh folklore remedies had royal approval and were being marketed under the Cymry Originals brand, with a crest of giant leeks crossed like swords under a flying harp.

None of that was of the slightest interest to the three girls peering into the bubbling contents of the vessel. Ceri, Dilys and Bronwen liked to imagine their Celtic magick delivered with Grimm determination and lashings of David Giuntoli whom they had already accorded the title of ‘Honorary Welshman’. He would know a good potion if he saw one and would have no time for fictional fripperies like wands. They were for stupid kids who knocked themselves out walking into the wall between platforms at railway stations. Owls were cool, though, although they were far too self-important to be used as posties.

All three would-be witches were outfitted courtesy of Georgio @ Asda. ‘Gold Witch’ was an absolute steal at three pounds—if zero carat bling rocks your cwch. They had also considered the ‘Mental Patient’ blood-spattered straitjacket costume, but Bronwen’s mum was a social worker and thought the mentally ill deserved more respect than a few pence-worth of garish polyester. A gorily-streaked, plastic meat cleaver was an optional extra and she thought it was very realistic.

It was all for show, of course. They had no need of such embellishments, but it kept their mothers happy—and, hopefully, ignorant of what they were up to. The fact that Halloween—or, more accurately, All Hallows’ Eve—was just around the corner, provided the perfect smokescreen for their activities. There was always the chance Ceri’s mum might enter the room while they were in the middle of adding an eye or two of newt, so they had the music system turned up loud and playing Super Furry Animals. Actually, newt eyes were so yesterday. They’d read that modern witchery had honed the ingredients down to essences of magic which could be bought over the internet if you knew where to look. Currently, they had no internet thanks to the stupid British government, so they’d had to improvise— after tossing salt over their left shoulders, crossing their fingers and reciting a hundred Hail Marys.

Other Books by David Graham:

Publisher: Austin Macauley Publishers
Published: July 2015
Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, Crime

What causes an adolescent – straight A student Brandon P Marshall – to walk downstairs naked, armed with a pair of Glocks, and go all Charles Manson on his family? This is only one in the horrifying trail of incidents that brings together Detective Sergeant Dale Franklin of the Kansas City Police Department and his poster-boy rookie, Steve Abrams. Meanwhile, across the pond, Dai Williams, in Battersea London, safe inside his improvised Faraday cage, is coming to terms with his special talents – talents that will take ‘getting-into-the-mind-of-the-killer’ to a whole new level. Al-Qaeda? Drugs Cartels? Internet freaks? David Graham’s The Screaming leaves no possibility untouched as Dai enters a bizarre and horrifying world where kids scream.


David Graham lives in an ostensibly carbon zero house in rural Kent with his partner and cat amidst fields of maize and poly-tunnels of strawberries. Previously, he lived and worked in London as a consultant in the National Health Sservice. His previous non-fiction titles include: Medical Computing and Applications, Creative Sound and Computer-Assisted Medical Learning: Clinical Anatomy. David turned his attention to writing fiction in 2012. Since then, he has written one self-published novel (Looks Could Kill) and two traditionally published novels (Captive and Wet & Wild) under the name David Ellis. Looks Could Kill was in the Amazon Kindle Top 10 of spy thrillers and was downloaded more than 3,000 times. Captive was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. He has also written two romance novellas under the name Richard Longfellow. His horror thriller The Screaming was published by Frostbite Publishing in the US in 2014, and by Austin Macauley in the UK in 2015. His new book The Knowing is the sequel to The Screaming and is due to be published early 2017 by Urbane Publications.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Review of MEXICO: STORIES ~ Perfect

Mexico: Stories
by Josh Barkan
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 24th, 2017 by Hogarth

The unforgettable characters in Josh Barkan’s astonishing and beautiful story collection—chef, architect, nurse, high school teacher, painter, beauty queen, classical bass player, plastic surgeon, businessman, mime—are simply trying to lead their lives and steer clear of violence. Yet, inevitably, crime has a way of intruding on their lives all the same. A surgeon finds himself forced into performing a risky procedure on a narco killer. A teacher struggles to protect lovestruck students whose forbidden romance has put them in mortal peril. A painter’s freewheeling ways land him in the back of a kidnapper’s car. Again and again, the walls between “ordinary life” and cartel violence are shown to be paper thin, and when they collapse the consequences are life-changing.

These are stories about transformation and danger, passion and heartbreak, terror and triumph. They are funny, deeply moving, and stunningly well-crafted, and they tap into the most universal and enduring human experiences: love even in the face of danger and loss, the struggle to grow and keep faith amid hardship and conflict, and the pursuit of authenticity and courage over apathy and oppression. With unflinching honesty and exquisite tenderness, Josh Barkan masterfully introduces us to characters that are full of life, marking the arrival of a new and essential voice in American fiction.  


What a mind blowing book MEXICO is! Other reviews I read complained about not knowing about the amount of violence this book entails, which boggles my mind due to the fact it is mentioned in the blurb. Nonetheless, the macabre content is just an important aspect of these short stories as humor, courage, and love are also crucial components to shaping the atmosphere of these stories. Additionally, the cartel in one way or another represents a sizable portion of the plots within this book, therefore, causing the gruesomeness but the author contains such skill in his ability to write regarding how the characters in the story grew as individuals overcoming any ghastly incident that occurred to them becoming stronger people. Consequently, not all the stories have a happy ending, but each contains an important premise. Finally, MEXICO consisted of tremendously great writing its as if the book had hands holding on to me as my mind ingested the profoundness of intriguing writing. Oh, wait! Ordinarily for me in a book of short stories, there is one story that slightly rises above the rest, but not in MEXICO each one impressed me uniformly.

JOSH BARKAN has won the Lightship International Short Story Prize and been a finalist for the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, the Paterson Fiction Prize, and the Juniper Prize for Fiction. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his writing has appeared in Esquire. He earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught writing at Harvard, Boston University, and New York University. With his wife, a painter from Mexico, he divides his time between Mexico City and Roanoke, Virginia.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

By the Wayside: Stories ~ REVIEW

by Anne Leigh Parrish
Published February 8th, 2017 by Unsolicited Press
Paperback: 246 pages

Marvelous. Honest. Generous. From the first story to the last, "By the Wayside" catches your attention and demands that you give into its every whirl. Each character unfolds with a precision that will have you wondering how Parrish managed to create such real-to-the-bones people within a world that captivates you with ease.

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As a fan of short stories I was looking forward to devouring BY THE WAYSIDE but I hate to tell you that is not how it transpired. In this situation, I only read 60% of the stories due to legitimate circumstances. After years of reading short story books, I have constructed a strange pattern in the manner I read them, never from front to back. Therefore, I start with the first story which had me excited, more on that later, then the last, after that I jump around marking each story with a Post-it so I don’t overlook something essential in my review. I know you are thinking why am I telling you this? Hence, the stories were not holding my attention due to the fact the main points eluded me. Even short stories have a beginning, middle, and an end, but these felt as if a small section from a general book had been removed and just placed on the pages. Therefore, when I went back and looked at my Post-it’s all but one were revealing the same conclusion, little depth, dry writing style, and what was the author insinuating to the reader?

Nevertheless, I kept thinking about these stories on and off for days, as if they were haunting me, causing my mind to go rogue trying to figure out what this author was attempting to convey, eventually leaving me at a loss. All things considered, there is a story that I give high praise, please don’t fall over, AN ANGEL WITHIN the first one in the book. In contrast to the others, this contained uniqueness and the writing was impressive. Furthermore, it’s about an Angel that sits wobbly on the head of a pin in a woman's chest. So could you imagine my surprise regarding the rest of the book? In conclusion, remember though BY THE WAYSIDE was unbefitting to me realize you as a reader could fancy it.

Anne Leigh Parrish is the author of All the Roads That Lead From Home, stories (Press 53, 2011); Our Love Could Light The World, stories (She Writes Press, 2013); and What Is Found, What Is Lost, a novel (She Writes Press, 2014). Her new novel, Women Within, is forthcoming from Black Rose Writing in September 2017. Find Anne on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

Monday, April 3rd: Dwell in Possibility
Wednesday, April 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Thursday, April 6th: Lit and Lifeauthor guest post
Monday, April 10th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, April 12th: Mama Vicky Says
Thursday, April 13th: Bibliophiliac
Monday, April 17th: Books ‘n Tea
Wednesday, April 19th: Susan Peterson
Thursday, April 20th: Dreaming Big
Monday, April 24th: BookNAround
Tuesday, April 25th: Bookchickdi
Wednesday, April 26th: Maureen Downing
Thursday, April 27th: Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Monday, May 1st: 100 Pages a Dayauthor guest post
Wednesday, May 3rd: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Thursday, May 4th: Seaside Booknook
Friday, May 5th: Readaholic Zone