A Traditional Kind of Book Review: Bird Light by Elizabeth Cohen #MondayBlogs #bookreview #poetry

Poetry is like pornography: I know it when I see it. Or read it if you want to be picky. Or maybe it’s an acquired taste, something you have to be trained to learn to like. Gin martinis might be an acquired taste, but in my case, I took to a gin martini the way a thirsty cat takes to a water fountain.

In any case, for most of my writing life, I’ve avoided poetry, especially poetry that rhymes. Although I do like musical lyrics and most of those rhyme. I’m hedging here because I read a slim book of poetry not too long ago and I want to review it. The problem is, I’d rather just share the poems. But I can’t afford to send each of you a copy so you’re stuck with my attempt at a review. I hope you enjoy it. Even more, I hope you buy this book.

***

Bird Light is a collection of lyrical meditations on birds and things like birds, like life. The poems are by Elizabeth Cohen, whose collection of short stories, Hypothetical Girl, I reviewed last year. The lovely line drawings are by Aliki Barnstone, a woman of many gifts.  The combination of Elizabeth’s poetry and Aliki’s drawings make Bird Light a transporting, transformative experience.

I am a bird lover, particularly of raptors, and so a poem like “The Red Tailed Hawks of Colesville New York” moved me with its simple play of joy and sadness: joy of seeing a couple of hawks christened Spunk and Spike, their closeness and playfulness; the sadness when one day only one is sighted and then, later, neither.

Intermingled with poems about peacocks, red-tailed hawks, bluejays, owls, cranes, red-crested flickers, and many other birds, are poems that read like mini-memoirs, a life spent and described by area codes and zip codes, from being a daughter to having a daughter. I am transported, almost literally it seems, from the red dust and mesas of the southwest to the Flickers and grackles of the northeast.

In particular, I felt transformed by the utter beauty and vulnerability of “Bluebird”: a tattoo of a bluebird to mark a broken heart at 22, except the tattoo is slightly off being on the right breast and not directly on the heart. And yet,

It hovered over the death beds of each of my parents,

And for nine months it glided over the soft,

unconnected bones of my daughter’s head.

Bluebirds are very special to me, being the favorite bird of my deceased stepfather and the favorite bird of his son who died in his early 30s from cancer and who sighted a bluebird once from his window and told his father that God must have wanted to keep him alive a little longer just to see the bluebird. Now I can’t see a bluebird without saying a little prayer for Ken and Tim. And this poem, “Bluebird,” by Elizabeth adds to that pleasant pang I get whenever a bluebird flies in front of me.

The title poem, “Bird Light,” makes its appearance almost halfway through the volume. She starts with,

When my marriage was over

the birds began

and I think to myself that she must have been writing these poems all along, probably refining them a little bit each time until there was nothing left to add or take away, until they were contained and perfect.

One thing ends inside your life

and there is an opening for something new

Your eyes start over, widen toward a periphery

I cling to these three lines and think, this is Bird Light, the “something new” that comes when you allow an opening. Studying birds, sorting your life by area codes and zip codes, a pattern seems to emerge suggesting that everything goes on as it should, or as it will, toward “The Yes”:

had a glass of chilled maybe

with some toasted perhaps

***

I highly recommend Bird Light by Elizabeth Cohen. Pick up a copy from Amazon and enjoy some time with the birds and Elizabeth and Aliki.

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Where am I? #giveaway

No, not me, but Jill Weatherholt! Her debut novel, Second Chance Romance, is now available on Amazon.com (yay, Jill!). Link on through and you can enter a giveaway for her novel. Congratulations, Jill!

Jill Weatherholt

coverHappy Friday! Today I’m blogging at www.inspyromance.com. Feel free to pop over if you’d like to be entered to win a signed copy of Second Chance Romance which releases next Tuesday, February 21st.

Have a great weekend! xo

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Posted in Book Giveaway, Book Promotion

Why I hired a beta reader

Cinthia offers some excellent reasons for HIRING a beta reader … did I say HIRING loudly enough?

Cinthia Ritchie

I originally wrote this  post for my blog but then realized that I needed a post for 49 Writers so submitted it there instead.

Before I repost that, though, here’s the inside scoop. Last week, I hired a beta reader. I did this, as I do most things, rather impulsively. I was browsing through Twitter, saw a tweet from Carrie Rubin about Kevin Brennan’s beta reader service over at Indie-Scribable, read it over and thought,  hmmmm, why not? The price seemed reasonable and I was struggling, lord, was I struggling with the beginning of my novel. I needed a second opinion, and I needed it fast, and I needed it to be as honest and brutal as possible.

So I shot him off an email, agreed to his terms, sent him my manuscript and, for the next few days, put my damned book away and enjoyed life for…

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Living in the Moment: Frida Kahlo and Life #MondayBlogs #FridaKahlo

Some time ago my husband and I went south to visit my 93-year-old mother who is spending the winter with my 72-year-old sister. I note their ages because in their presence I often feel like a 12-year-old, not the 59-year-old I really am. Believe me, the 59-year-old struggles to be free! To be honest, we had a very nice visit. Every time I see my mom, I marvel at well she is, both physically and mentally. My sister is well, too, but she supports Trump (enthusiastically) so enough said about that.

One of the high points of our visit was a trip to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali Museum. Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite artists. The exhibit was nicely organized with photos interspersed with paintings, drawings, and interpretative signs. An image of Frida and Diego Rivera was projected on one wall, making them larger than life, which, in fact, they were. A loop of documentary clips played in one corner of the three-room exhibit.

First, the photos:

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Some of you may know that Frida suffered much physical pain and disabilities in her life. She contracted polio when she was a little girl, which left her right leg shorter and thinner than the left. Then, when she was only 18, she was in a bus accident and suffered near fatal injuries: broken pelvis, ribs, legs, and collarbone, to name a few. Although she “recovered,” she experienced pain and declining health for the rest of her short life.

 

Hell

Hell

She had originally planned for a career in medicine. The bus accident changed all that, and though the accident left her with a world of pain, she left us with a world of wonder, color, and expression.

Some of the paintings in this slideshow are not for the faint of heart. Frida painted what she felt, what she lived.

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I hope you have enjoyed this visit to the Dali Museum and the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

On a more personal note, I am experiencing some “life events” right now. I know my blogging has been spotty and I am more and more AWOL as these events suck up my time and energy. All is well, at least on my home front, but I’m just … busy-busy-busy. Know that I will do my best to catch up with you all and that, at a minimum, I think of you all often.

Ciao, amigos y amigas!

 

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#GoodreadsGiveaway for Eating Bull, a Thriller that Explores #Bodyshaming, #FoodAddiction, and #Obesity–Oh, and Is There Some Mischief Afoot?

Here’s a giveaway for those of you who enjoy novels of action, suspense, and public health importance! I’ve read and reviewed Carrie Rubin’s Eating Bull and loved it! Click on her post for details on the giveaway (as well as her story of what writers fear (almost) most: the “reader” who doesn’t read his or her free copy but just sells it. There’s a special place in h*ll for people like that 😉 ).

Carrie Rubin

If you’re in the U.S. and would like a chance to win one of two paperback copies of Eating Bull, click here or on the image below to enter the Goodreads giveaway. Ends January 23rd.

Good luck!

Click image to enter giveaway. Click image to enter Goodreads giveaway.

That Time I Made the Book Out to Bob

Many people are familiar with Goodreads. It’s a great place for readers to keep track of their books. A giant virtual bookshelf, so to speak. In addition, there are always hundreds of giveaways going on.

The hope is the winner of a book will eventually review and/or rate it. In my experience, that happens about 30% of the time. Most winners probably never get around to reading the book, or maybe they do and just don’t like it enough to give it another thought. But I sometimes wonder if there’s mischief afoot as well—people who enter numerous…

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Audiobook—Naked Alliances is Live! #RRBC

And it’s here! Susan Nicholls’ newest novel, Naked Alliances, is now available at Audible! Yes, you can get there through Amazon, but here is a direct link to Audible: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Naked-Alliances-A-Richard-Noggin-Novel-Audiobook/B01N21H2DB/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1484522538&sr=1-1
If you’re an audiophile like me, you’ll look forward to listening Naked Alliances. The narrator sounds spot-on!

S.K. Nicholls

I’m pleased to inform you that the audiobook for Naked Alliances is live at Amazon!

nakedalliances_audiobook-cover-4

I don’t set the price for the audiobook, but it’s $17.46 if you have an audible account. That’s not a bad price. The paperback is $14.50 and the digital book goes on sale tomorrow for 99 cents.

If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, I encourage you to give them a try. Here’s the sweet part:

Free with Audible trial

$0.00

Try Audible Free

  • Includes two free audiobooks
  • Choose from 180,000+ titles
  • After 30 days, Audible is $14.95/mo.
  • Cancel anytime

Plus, if someone signs onto Audible as a new member and buys their third book, I get a fifty dollar bonus. You can buy me dinner! Sweet!

AND, you can CANCEL any time, so you’re not stuck in some year–long contract.

I also woke up to a very nice review that I would like to…

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More Best Bloggers Blogging to check out …

At the risk of tooting my own horn (yes, I’m old enough to appreciate that tired saying), here’s a wonderful list of bloggers for writers to follow that Susan Toy, fabulous blogger and writer herself, has put together. Yes, I’m on it and, frankly, I am truly honored to be acknowledged by Susan and to be included such great company.

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

While it was impossible for me to have followed, listed, and awarded in my earlier post every blog I know of that is good, I didn’t want anyone to think they’d been forgotten. So here’s an additional list of blogs, many written by published authors, that are always interesting and informative, and will provide you with great reading! (Some of these bloggers review books, interview authors, run guest posts, reblog regularly from other blogs, and promote new publications, as well as offering solid information on writing and getting published and the book business in general, so if you are an author you would be wise to check out all the blogs on this list.)

blogging-meme

And some have reviewed and interviewed me, as well as hosted my guest posts!

Links are included as well for those authors who have been promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations.

Nicholas C. Rossis

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