Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dying into Now by Pablo Neruda

"In the end, everyone is aware of this: nobody keeps any of what he has, and life is only a borrowing of bones."

~ Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

“There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only…A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”

Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.

Review:  I absolutely adore this book, it's enchanting and heartfelt; a book that you find very hard to put down to take care of chores or other demands that daily life brings.  

The main character, Jean Perdu, runs a floating bookshop on an old barge named Lulu.  Perdu thinks of himself as a literary apothecary which I found to be such a clever title.  He tries his best to prescribe certain books to certain people as a remedy for what ails them; he seems to know what others need.  He's very keen at reading people and what may be troubling them.  At the same time, Perdu has his own issues to include loss (losing the love of his life), regret, doubt, forgiveness, etc.  He's not sure what to do with himself as the years go by without his love, he finally reads a letter that she left for him over 20 years ago. After reading the letter, he leaves everything behind at the spur of the moment and takes off on his barge to return to the hometown of this woman, to find closure after discovering something very terrible has happened.  Along the way, he is joined by other people who are also going through their own issues.

This book is written so beautifully and poetically.  The author's love of imagery and color is very apparent here which helps the reader to visualize what she is referring to, whether it was a stormy sky or fields of lavender.  There's also a sense of adventure as you travel with Perdu along the waterways of France, stopping at various towns in-between, sightseeing and tasting different local fare described in vivid details.  I could imagine all these things and wanted to keep reading more.

The end of the book contains a pleasant surprise; there are recipes from Provence which the reader can try or just hold onto, as if holding onto a little piece of France (for those of us who dream of visiting one day).  There is also a list of books that Perdu would probably recommend to certain people and ailments they supposedly treat.  The author put a lot of thought into this book and it shows.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys love stories, travel, France, adventure, healing, and nostalgia.  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Plum Tree Tavern

~ My short poem Two Plum Trees has been posted at Plum Tree Tavern, run by poet & editor Russell Streur.  It's a lovely poetry journal which features short poems and haiku.  Here is the submission description:

"This tavern invites short work reflecting themes of nature, environment and ecology. Three to 14 lines per poem sounds about right.  Longer works of eco-poetry will also be considered. So will works related to human rights.

Submissions are expected to align with a Green ethos.

A few words on haiku and related forms: these works must arise from direct observation or personal participation in the image. Haiku and similar forms appearing to be of derivative or fictional origin will not be accepted."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Flaming June Poem

Flaming June
(an interpretation of Lord 
Frederic Leighton's painting)  

The sun watches you 
from the top balcony
admires the way your long, 
auburn tresses resemble flames 
burning around your dreams 

falling, floating, swirling, 

vivid as the dusk
holding secrets in its

Your pale body 
delicately swarthed 
in layers
of orange rose petals
each scented with words of
love and hope
every touch of your hand
a love note 

The patient sea 
waits for you
to recite your sonnets
enamored waves dance 
at the sound of your voice
an instrument only the Gods
could have bestowed
sweet as ambrosia 

White marble 
kiss your feet
promise to hold you up
when you are feeling down
cool your temper 
when you have been lit
by passion's ire 

But tonight 
you will sleep in peace
in the soft light 
of your intrepid heart
you will always have respite 
in your dreams 

~ Sept 06 ~

Published in Beauty/Truth: A Journal of Ekphrastic Poetry, Fall/Winter 2007 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Grace Keepers by Kirsty Logan

A lyrical and moving debut in the tradition of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, introducing an original and commanding new voice in fiction.

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, sending the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland ("landlockers") and those who float on the sea ("damplings"), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives--offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future. 

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age.

Review:  The unique storyline is what drew me to this book.  I've never read a story like this one before; a floating circus....who would have thought?  The characters in this novel live in a world that's divided between people who solely live on the ocean (damplings) and those who live solely on land (landlockers).  There is such animosity between the two societies and yet, they couldn't be more alike in their feelings and thoughts.  

Callanish is a Gracekeeper, a person who presides over funerals above the sea.  She cleans dead bodies, performs burial rituals which involve Graces, birds, that are solely bred for this purpose and then allowed to die which seems pretty cruel in itself, and then disposes of the dead by releasing them into the ocean.   She also hides a secret which she has kept from the rest of the world.  It is a solitary life for her, living in a small house atop the sea with few visitors in-between the funerals.

North grew up in the circus, performing an act with a bear...can you imagine, without any fear for her own safety.  She shares a boat with the bear and sleeps beside him for warmth and companionship.  Even though she is surrounded by circus crew, she still feels alone and yearns for something even she isn't quite sure of.  She is also hiding something that is revealed later in the story.  This secret connects her to Callanish in a way that will shock the reader, it is quite bizarre and actually something I'm still not quite comfortable with.

The story progresses at a good pace, there weren't too many moments when I felt bored or uninterested.  The characters were quirky, interesting, and complicated...just as you'd find in a modern fairytale.  You could imagine how they looked and talked, I think the author did a great job with their descriptions and interactions.  I also found some of her verse to be poetic and charming.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys myths, fairytales, and dystopian.  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.