Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Lilac City Published

~ My mini-chapbook, The Lilac City, was just published by Origami Poems Project.  I'm so thrilled they published this chapbook and editor Jan Keough was so kind and gracious.  I discovered Origami's website a few years ago but never seemed to have anything appropriate to send to them until recently.  The Lilac City is about discovery of the pacific northwest and fond memories from living in Spokane, WA for over 15 years.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Relic" Posted at The Artistic Muse: Pohemians

~ What a great way to kick off the new year!  My poem Relic was accepted and appears in the latest issue of The Artistic Muse: Pohemians.  I'm so happy that one of my poems made it into this intriguing journal.  I hope to send them more poems in the future, it's a bookmarked site for sure.

* I thought this was interesting and copied it from the site's poetry page:  Poehemiana poet or artist who does not adhere to the norm; a bohemian of poetry or art; a poet or artist who is quite possibly (subconsciously or consciously) inspired by the great  Edgar Allan Poe.

Monday, December 29, 2014

15 Fascinating Facts About Rose Fragrances

This article originally appears via by Lynn Coulter......

For all their eye-catching beauty, roses hide a few secrets in their lush blooms. Their fragrance can be mysterious, evocative, romantic and even surprising. No two rose-lovers experience their scent in quite the same way, a difference that’s due not only to our individual noses, but also to the genetic make-up and growing conditions of the roses themselves. Luckily, learning their secrets doesn’t detract from their allure in any way; it only makes them even more special.
  • Once a rose is fully open, the fragrance is different from the rose in bud. The chemicals that create the scent change as the buds unfold. 
  • Warm, humid weather intensifies fragrance.
  • Rose perfume is at its most intense early in the morning. It’s thought that the scent dissipates as the blooms age.
  • Even roses of the same variety don’t smell exactly alike; scent isn’t always predictable. Rose breeder David Austin says, “We never quite know what we are going to get,” even though his company has been working with roses for 50 years.
  • Perfumer Robert Calkin, who retired from Yardley after a distinguished 40-year career in the industry, has worked with David Austin Roses for a long time, helping describe and evaluate the scents in new varieties. Calkin visits the rose trial fields to analyze plants that may one day be released for sale. 
  • Everyone’s nose is different—or rather, everyone’s perception of scent is different. Some people have very little sense of smell—so it’s fine if you simply enjoy roses for their color and form.
  • Roses are traditional symbols of love and romance. Rose essential oil, also known as attar, is made from the Damask Rose (Rosa damascene) or the Cabbage Rose (Rosa centifolia).  Because the oil is so concentrated, it’s diluted before it’s used commercially.
  • A rose’s petals contain its perfume, although some stamens smell of musk or cloves.
  • The smell of roses is thought to be relaxing and restorative because it encourages us to breath deeply and slowly.
  • It takes at least 8 years for each David Austin English Rose seedling to win approval for its scent, so it can be offered for sale as a new variety.
  • Rose oil is among the most expensive of all oils. It’s made up of 300 active ingredients. Not all of them have been identified yet.
  • Rose oil, like fine wines, can be affected by many factors such as the soil the plants are grown in, the amount of rainfall they receive, and the altitude where they are raised.
  • It takes from 50 to 60,000 rose blooms—all of which are picked by hand—to make one ounce of the finest rose attar.
  • A rose’s perfume becomes stronger before a storm moves in.
  • You can learn about the scent of roses by comparing them to each other. Sniff one blossom and describe the fragrance; is it fruity, sweet, spicy or musky? Don’t experiment too long, or your nose will get fatigued. Try again later, or do as perfumers do, and take deep breaths through a piece of wool, or eat some dry bread, to refresh your olfactory sense.
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Rose Master by Valentina Cano

The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that's hardly the most upsetting news. She's being dismissed from the home she's served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she's never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:

There's something wrong with Rosewood Manor.

Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.

As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them--some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.

When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn't prepared for. The creature is very real, and she's the only one who can help him stop it. 

Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she's grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

Review:  I've been a fan of Valentina's poetry from the first time I discovered it, so when I found out that she had written a gothic, horror novel, I couldn't wait to read it.  The book did not disappoint; it was written beautifully with those familiar poetic phrases that I've come to know from her as a poet.  She does a lovely job with imagery so that each detail enabled the setting to come alive.  As the reader, you could imagine the birds falling from the sky, the moths against the windowpane, Rosewood Manor, the roses, the black fountain, etc.

The characters were well-defined.  Anne was portrayed as a strong, fearless young lady which was probably not the norm in that time period.  The lord of the manor, August, was harder to figure out.  He was complicated, secretive, and silently suffering from some ailment.  

The plot was interesting and certainly mysterious, with the reader wondering what was stalking the halls of the manor and scratching at Anne's bedroom door at night.  When the answers come to light, they are intriguing as well as the backstory behind it all.  I've been reading horror books and watching horror movies for the longest time, so I didn't feel this was an incredibly scary or creepy read.  I felt it was definitely gothic and of a dark fairy tale/fantasy type of story which is appropriate for the young adult crowd.

Definitely a book worth picking up though, it's an enchanting read and you will be turning the blank pages wishing there were more chapters left.  However, I do believe the author is working on a sequel, so can't wait to read that one as well.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Asylum is a thrilling and creepy photo-novel perfect for fans of the New York Times bestseller Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it's a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it's no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux's teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Review:  I came across this book last year but never got around to purchasing it until recently.  I've always been intrigued by historical buildings and places and when combined with paranormal or haunted themes, you've got me.  Also, I thought the cover was really creepy and designed perfectly.

The story was intriguing right from the beginning and I thought the writing was smooth and easy to follow along.  This was actually one book though where I wish it were a little bit more descriptive and detailed in its imagery.  The scenes of Dan and his friends exploring the asylum just didn't fulfill my curiosity enough.  I wanted them to explore every nook and cranny and describe what they were seeing in each and every room, so that was a bit of a let down.  The dark atmosphere was decent and the found photos that were in the book were amazing.  The story was slightly creepy but not enough to give me the goosebumps and I'm not sure if this was intentional since the book is considered a YA horror, mystery novel and not adult fiction.  I also liked the short chapters and the wallpaper background used for the chapter title page.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys haunted places, paranormal, and mysteries.  


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls "sharp as a paper-cut" about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire. 

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self.  Now he's a hitman. 

In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to "tap in" to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. His new job is not that different from his old one: waste disposal is waste disposal. He doesn't ask questions, he works quickly, and he's handy with a box cutter. But when his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, his unadorned life is upended: his mark has a shocking secret and his client has a sordid agenda far beyond a simple kill. Spademan must navigate between these two worlds--the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy--to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he's not the one who winds up in the ground. Adam Sternbergh has written a dynamite debut: gritty, violent, funny, riveting, tender, and brilliant.  "From the Hardcover edition."

Review:  This isn't the type of book I would normally veer towards but the story seemed interesting enough so I thought I'd give it a chance.  I like the futuristic aspect, the intrigue behind the dirty bombing of Times Square and how it was abandoned by half the population in all its radioactive glory.  The other interesting side of the book was the act of "limning", where people would escape into these virtual reality worlds, some people becoming addicted to it like it was a drug.

The main character, Spademan, is a tough-guy former garbageman turned killer for hire.  He doesn't ask too many questions, just gets the job done.  In this case, the woman he's hired to kill, isn't such a simple kill.  He grows fond of her through the story and eventually finds out who hired him to kill this woman who seems so lost and is definitely running away from something.

The writing is outstanding, the author has a way with words, making great use of metaphor and imagery.  There were some instances in which I could imagine a poem sprinkled here and there, in-between the violent, gritty storyline.  This book is written without a lot of periods, so the conversation between different people blends into each other line by line.  This made it difficult sometimes to distinguish who was talking, it reminded me of another book I read, Fiend by Peter Stenson. which was written the same way.

I really tried to get into this book but found that I just wasn't as excited about reading it as other books.  I know it's due to personal preference and as I said earlier, it's not a genre that I would typically read.  However, I would still recommend this book, especially for those who enjoy mysteries with elements of sci-fi and witty banter.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.