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Sunday, 31 December 2017

I cannot think of a title for the last poem of 2017



Last year,
This year,
I have myself

I bid adieu to 2017,
Making  sense of the rebellion inside me
Rebellion that has become second nature
So it has even stopped asking for my permission
Before flaring up illusions to pieces
Before setting fires to the imagined

Because it all came down to the three-dimensions
though I may have even seen a fourth

I woke  up to a snowfall and my lips rose in a curve
I didn't realise I was smiling until my jaw hurt
I was a wide-eyed kid in the moment I saw the whites
And gave that effortless smile
I fear
I may not experience again the magic as it froze

I once slept by the riverside in a place with colorful walls
I fear
My feet and those waves might never get close

Not a moment went by, that I regretted
So I fear
If I will ever say the same of any coming year

But this year also taught me:
I fear only what I look forward to

And so I look forward to all of those

But most of all,
I learnt this new thing
I know
I am going to practice a lot
I said no.

xoxo

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Book Review and Spotlight: Rarity from the Hollow by Robert Eggleton


About the book:


Title: Rarity from the Hollow 
Published by: Dog Horn 
Published on: November 3, 2016 (first published March 11th 2012)
Pages: 284 
Genre: Science fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

Blurb: Lacy Dawn's father relives the Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out,and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage -- an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first.

Will Lacy's predisposition, education, and magic be enough for her to save the Universe, Earth, and, most importantly, protect her own family?

Rarity from the Hollow is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. It is a children's story for adults, not for the prudish, faint of heart, or easily offended



Half of author proceeds are donated to Children’s Home Society of West Virginia for the prevention of child maltreatment

About the author


Find the author here: 



Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.



Social media:

           

Fun Fact:

Political Allegory: This novel was the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power -- parody with no political advocacy one side or any other. Readers find out how Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The allegory includes pressing issues that are being debated today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, an issue that several European commentators have compared to cockroach infestation; extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; sexual harassment…. Mr. Prump in the story was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. The counterpart, Mr. Rump, was based on my understanding of positions held by Bernie Sanders as I wrote the story. Part of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance, now more easily identifiable as Trump Tower. The political allegory in the novel is obvious now that Donald Trump has become a household name.


My Review:

I remember reading the blurb of the book, and the first words I muttered to myself were, "Oh, well then!" "It usually takes me time to become comfortable with a third person narrative, but I find it worth the time. When truth bombs are slipped in subtly into the narrative, it is even better an ice-breaker between me and the book, and it happened when Lucy mentioned, "Complaining is like sitting in a rocking chair. You can get lots of motion but you ain't going anywhere"

The book is not a casual read, so if you are looking for one, stay away. Often the chapters will take re-reads to understand the teeming number of undertones each sentence had, or the issues that it touched upon. It is a very odd read, and yet very thoughtfully crafted. The themes it touched upon might be way too many for my liking, especially since I like to read fast.
There are a lot of fart jokes slipped in though, so it is safe to say that the humor helps to keep up with the allegories and the fictional devices of the plot.

The crux is that the novel touched upon a lot of social taboos, issues and gives a push to the discourse for them, and even with the element of humor and satire, it manages not to offend the reader. That's a commendable feat in itself.

My favorite bit from the novel, you ask?

“What’s a dollar?” Oak asked.
“It’s made of paper and you can buy things with it,” Lacy Dawn said.
“Eat shit,” the oak tree said.
I wish her the best of all nutrients.

and this one

“You can bandage dysfunctional family dynamics by doing homework or washing dishes as if everything is functional,” the walnut tree quoted DotCom.
“Don't piss me off, Walnut."
“You can impact a family crisis, Honey, by engaging in healthful routine,” the maple tree continued to quote. "



Links to the book: AmazonGoodreadsBarnes and Noble


Excerpt from the book:


Excerpt from Chapter 13, Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé:

            …..…Jenny (the mother) walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn's name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.
            I hear her voice. Why won't she answer me? 
            “Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods. 
            Nobody responded. The trees weren't supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.
            I will always love you guys. 
Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.   
            Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 
            Jenny looked to the left of the path.
            There ain't no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 
            She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn't exit and into a blue light that did.
            “All right, you mother f**ker!”
            “Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you're supposed to (a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story)."
            DotCom (the android) sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.   
            "Grrrrr," emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie (Lacy Dawn's dog) made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.
            “Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”
            “You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out,” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.
            Stay between them.
            “Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I'm old enough -- like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend -- what you call it -- my fiancé.” 
            “You been messin’ with my little girl you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce. 
            “MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”
            Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.
            He ain't got no private parts, not even a little bump.   
            “DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”
            Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.  
            “Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.” 
            I will need much more training if I'm ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.
            “Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”      
            Jenny's left eye twitched. 
            DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother…    
            …(scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself)… “Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There're a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain't complained since the shots started -- not even with an upset stomach.”
            "He's a doctor?" Jenny asked.
            “What's your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that's different -- even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”
            “Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.
            “So?”
            Mommy's right. Maybe I need a different argument.
            A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.
            "What's that?" Jenny asked. 
            She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27 / 7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.
            “But, you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.
            “Mommy, I'm so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn't talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he'd be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain't had no chance to talk. All I know is that he's home and I'm sooooo happy.”
            “Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more…. 
            It's unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that's a good sign. Maybe she's right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They've been together for a while and I ain't seen a mark on herThat's unusual too. He ain't got no private parts and that's another good thingHell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. I'd better play it smart. I don't want to lose my baby. 
            “What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.
            “I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”
            “My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition -- the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam…,” DotCom said. 
            They both glared at him. 
            "Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said. 
            “Okay, Mommy.”
            “I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her. 
            “I love you too,” DotCom said.
            Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile -- at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.   
            Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up….”



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Source of the review copy: Author 


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Monday, 18 December 2017

Book Review: Mamá Graciela’s Secret by Mayra Calvani


Mamá Graciela’s Secret
Publication date: October 10, 2017
Written by Mayra Calvani
Illustrated by Sheila Fein
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing
www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com
36 pages, 3-7 year olds
Reading guide at: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

Description:
Mamá Graciela’s TENDER, CRUNCHY, SPICY bacalaítos fritos are the best in town...
Local customers (including stray cats!) come from all over the island to enjoy her secret recipe. But when the Inspector discovers that Mamá secretly caters to so many cats and he threatens to close her tiny restaurant, Mamá must come up with a plan to save it—and all of the animals she loves.
About the author:
Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her children's picture book, Frederico the Mouse Violinist was a finalist in the 2011 International Book Awards; her anthology Latina Authors and Their Muses was a First Place winner at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards; her nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, was a Foreword Best Book of the Year winner. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others.

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 30+ years, two wonderful kids, and her three beloved pets. When she's not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com




About the illustrator:

Born in Queens, New York and living in Los Angeles since 1987, Sheila Fein has always been inspired by the changing world around her. Earning her BA in Design from Buffalo State College of New York, her concentration was on drawing, painting, printmaking, and photography. Sheila's education as an artist has taken her everywhere from Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia to Bath University in England. Today, Sheila Fein runs two figurative workshops, Imaginings Sketch in LA and People Sketchers in Thousand Oaks. She has been featured in numerous collections, magazines, books, solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and drawings reside in public and private collections. Sheila loves to make the imagination of others a reality and has done so through her commissioned Fein Fantasy Portraits and Interactive Paintings. In addition to being a fine artist Sheila works as an illustrator. She just completed the book "Mama Graciela's Secret" for Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing.


My Review:
"A children's book where everything makes sense: the illustrations, the story and the message!"
I have always maintained that I look for two elements in a children's book. One, how well the book endears itself to the little readers, and two, the message that it puts across. 
It is indeed interesting when the two blend together nearer to the climax of the book. And admittedly, children's books have the most heart-warming of them. This book faired well on both the aspects. It follows the story of a restaurant owner who has to choose between her livelihood and her love for pets. The great part of the story was its uniform tempo and tone. This ensures that each time the book is read, the reader gets to choose what s/he wants to focus on: whether it is the dilemma that she faces, whether it is the solution, whether it is the message of love...as a young reader, you get to choose what you want to focus on. This is what an open-ended, but morally rich book would look like. Yes, I'd call it an epitome. 
The illustrations were a treat to the eyes as well. They complimented the story well, and in fact, at ties, even stole the limelight. Illustrations in a children's book should exhibit clarity and capture the plot with all its minor details. The book passes this litmus test also. 
All in all, I'd recommend this book to be on the shelf of a young one. (Hope all the parents are listening)
Book info:
ISBN:HC 978-1-365-86153-6
SC 978-1-365-86155-0
ISBN Dyslexic Font Version:
DY HC 978-1-365-86154-3 DY SC 978-1-365-86156-7
**This book also has version printed in the Dyslexic font, the typeface for people with dyslexia. Go to www.dyslexiefont.com to find out more about the typeface.
Suggested Retail Price - 17.99 Hardcover & 13.99 Softcover 40 % Discounted Price – 10.80 Hardcover & 8.40 Softcover
Available through - Ingram - Discount 40% Returnable – Yes
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing – Discount 40% - Orders@maclaren-cochranepublishing.com Returnable – Yes
Publishing company Contact Info: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 1024 Iron Point Rd 100-1478 Folsom CA 95630
916-897-1670
Tannya@Maclaren-cochranepublishing.com www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com
MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing 620 Buchanan Way, Folsom, CA 95630 916-897-1670 www.maclaren-cochranepublishing.com

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