A Traditional Book Review: Echoes of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight by Jo Robinson #bookreview #MondayBlogs

I’m still chugging along with a free online poetry course so here, again, is a traditional book review.  And, again, why wait?  I’ve posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads, but why not share the review through my blog now instead of waiting for my Muse (i.e., Time) to strike a different kind of book review within me?  I say, drum up some interest (and hopefully $$) for the author now!  So, here we go …

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Jo Robinson’s novel is a fascinating study of a psychological disorder, Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder, in the framework of a novel. Donna is the wife of Marco, a man used to getting his own way and being in total control. Marco has never physically harmed Donna, but he has emotionally abused and neglected her. Robinson neatly lays out the domestic abuse that is the foundation of Donna’s marriage to Marco as well as Donna’s growing strength and self-determination when she learns, by happenstance, about the madness behind her husband’s actions.

Having worked with victims of domestic abuse, I truly appreciated how well Robinson informs the reader of Donna’s situation without turning her novel into a self-help book. It really isn’t, even though it will no doubt be helpful to any reader who may be a victim to such a creature as Marco. The novel allows you to consider with Donna her options as she tries to free herself from her cruel husband. Along the way she is very fortunate to make friends with a group of charmingly eccentric characters who see through her efforts to hide her shame at being manipulated. And she learns that she has a talent, a skill that few have. A skill that could be her key to freedom.

I liked Donna so much that I wish Robinson had described her a bit more. The reader spends a lot of time in Donna’s head, which works to make her very sympathetic to the reader. But while she considers herself ugly, I suspected that Donna was in fact beautiful. I was frustrated at times to not have a better picture of her drawn for me by the author, but then I wondered if that were on purpose. Without a portrait of lines and color, I had to fill in with my own vision of Donna, and that could be any woman, especially any woman I had counseled in escaping an abusive relationship.

Some things also seemed a little too easy, too convenient for Donna, such as the good luck in finding friends in spite of her near-total isolation. Even her own adult daughter seemed slow to understand what was happening to Donna. And, yet, Robinson doesn’t give Donna too easy a time of it. Extricating herself from someone like Marco won’t be easy, and it could be life threatening to Donna, even her friends and daughter.

I do recommend this book both as an entertaining novel of mystery and as a psychological study that may chill you to the bone.

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Jo Robinson is the author of several novels, which you can learn about here on her Amazon page.  Be sure to follow her blog as well (click here).  With Jo’s writing, there’s something for everyone.

Ten Things Not to do if You are the Designated Fill-in Shopper

If you’re not the grocery shopper in your family, better read this list courtesy of John Howell. Successful grocery shopping takes skills that few of us have … Enjoy!

Fiction Favorites

a store

This list is inspired by being tapped by my wife to do the grocery shopping while she was on a trip. It is true in our house our chores are divided according to talent. I have no talent in the area of grocery shopping. I cook competently and do dishes (uh load the dishwasher). I also do not do laundry and not because I have a problem doing it. The fact that at one time we had pink towels and sheets from formerly white is the main reason for being banned from the laundry.

Ten Things not to do If You are Designated Fill in Shopper

If you are asked to shop, do not buy anything that is not on the list. If you do, at best you will be making a return trip for the returns. At worst, you will need to attend a special class run by your…

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Never say never: get Occasional Soulmates for free next weekend

To everyone who enjoys a good story, one that she will ponder for a long while after finishing the book: Next weekend, one of my fav authors is GIVING AWAY his most recent novel. You can get Occasional Soulmates for free next weekend! Of course, I would prefer that readers do what I did and buy the paperback version because it is so much more fun to read than an e-book. But, if you haven’t yet read Occasional Soulmates, take advantage of the free promotion next weekend. Read and fall in love with Sarah Phelan and Dylan Cakebread and follow them on their sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-breaking journey. Then buy the paperbook because, you know, you’ll want that baby on your bookshelf.

Photo on 9-22-14 at 7.24 PM

WHAT THE HELL

3D cover

I know, I know. I said I’d never do it. Early in my self-publishing experiment, I declared (at least I think I did) that I’d never give my books away as a promotion. The very idea repelled me. I gagged at the notion that people would grab the thing by the hundreds for free but they wouldn’t pay the 99 cents I usually ask in a promo. Yet, it seems to be the case that self-publishing ebooks is almost dependent on the freebie.

What changed my mind, you ask? Well, for one thing, sales of Occasional Soulmates have been (sob sob) disappointing. My experience this time around has driven home the fact that you have to market constantly, you have to spend quite a bit of money, and you have to obsess over the selling of a book to give it any kind of life on the charts. Possibly I…

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A Traditional Book Review: Three Ghosts by Katie Sullivan #MondayBlogs #bookreview

As I often complain to anyone who will spare me a few minutes (and that usually reduces to a few seconds once they see I’m about to complain):  I have a  tower of to-be-read  and to-be-reviewed books that may as well be called Eiffel for it’s height.  It’s my own fault, I know.  I buy books at the urging of friends, or because of a fascinating interview with the author, or because I participated in a promotion, or, as in this case, because I am already familiar with the author’s writing and just had to read more. 

Many of you I hope already know Katie Sullivan from The D/A Dialogues, an often hilarious blog where Katie spars with a Druid who’s been living in her head for roughly the last 20 years.  She is currently working on a series, a young adult historical fantasy novel replete with Druids and Fae, magic and mystery.  I’ve read the first novel since published, Changelings:  Into the Mist, and wrote a review which you may read here.

When I heard that Katie was publishing a novella, I couldn’t wait until it was available.  And while I prefer to write my reviews in the form of stories, well, sometimes there just isn’t time for that.  But I did write a traditional review, as would be acceptable on Goodreads and Amazon.  So, here it is.  I hope you enjoy it and that it makes you want to pick up your own copy of Three Ghosts.  

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three-ghosts-cover

Three Ghosts is a fast read not just because it’s only 69 pages. The author pulls you right in with a conflict between two men, Pearse Finnegan and Pat McGuire, and the woman between them, Pearse’s wife Deirdre. Pearse supposedly dies in a conflagration of an abandoned wharf, and Deirdre is gone from Ireland. Fast forward 15 years and Deirdre is back in Ireland on a mysterious assignment. There is much that is mysterious in this well-told tale, and to say too much more would give it all away.

Let’s just say, Deirdre has to come face-to-face with the ghosts of her past, not knowing which of them, if any, she can trust. In many ways, the twists and turns of this story reminded me of some of the Alfred Hitchcock movies of intrigue and betrayal. While I am by no means an expert on Irish history (recent or long past), the author Katie Sullivan appears to be quite astute with historical details as well as creating a sense of place so strong I once felt I was sitting in the table next to Deirdre and Pat as they worried over events yet to unfold.

I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed in the ending, in part because it came too soon. I would have liked to have kept reading, to have had that tell-all scene drawn out some more, to have continued to feel the rising tension as everyone slowly realizes who has been betraying who. As it was, the ending reminded me of the old Perry Mason TV episodes where Mason brings together all the suspects and then neatly points out the murderer.

Perhaps the author thought she needed to wrap things up, but she didn’t. I would have liked to have stayed in the company of Deirdre O’Brien a good while longer. While I’m not sure I would trust Deirdre as far I could throw her, she was still someone I could admire for her wit and her will. I recommend this novella in large part for the pure entertainment value of Deirdre. Perhaps, as subtle hint to the author should she read this review, we haven’t heard the last of Deirdre O’Brien.

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Now, Dear Reader, get thee to Amazon and purchase your own copy of Three Ghosts!

Top Ten Writing Things Not to Discuss with Anyone Who’s Not a Writer #MondayBlogs

Here’s a funny but all-too-true Top Ten list from John Howell that should resonate with every writer out there, published or not. Enjoy!

Fiction Favorites

This list has as inspiration personal experience in trying to discuss writing with non-writers. Hope you enjoy

a writer

Top Ten Writing Things Not to Discuss with Anyone Who’s Not a Writer

10 If you are a writer, do not discuss how hard it is to write. If you do, at best you get an eye roll. At worst, you be talking to someone who has to disarm bombs for a living and will laugh out loud in your face.

9 If you are a writer, do not discuss your characters as if they are real. If you do, at best you will find people avoiding you. At worst, you will be talking to someone who has an imaginary friend that they believe would be a perfect protagonist for your next book.

8 If you are a writer, do not discuss your latest plot breakthrough. If you do, at best you will…

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Poem: She Burned Bright #Mondayblogs #poetry

The following poem was published on The Community Storyboard way back in June 2013.  I confess this re-post is in part because I’m at a loss for new material.  The well runneth dry at the moment.  But another reason is because I’m preparing to take a free online class on how to write poetry.  The course is through the University of Iowa International Writing Program.  You can find more information about by clicking here.

This poem is in memory of Wendy BishopShe was my mentor when I began my master’s in English program back in 1990.  I had a teaching assistantship and she was director of the teaching program, so we had frequent meetings.  I recognized a kindred spirit in her: we had both lived on the West Coast, we both had liberal views relative to those in the region where we now lived, we were close in age, and we were introverts.  But I was intimidated by the depth and breadth of her ever-growing portfolio and shied away at times when I should have been close at her heels.  We kept in touch off and on over the years until she died from leukemia at the young age of 50, in November 2003.  She was always incredibly busy, but always, always smiling and writing.

I miss her still.

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They laid their hands side by side

She marveled

At how much alike they were

The one near death

The other nearest life

The one near death

Burned bright

With beach-bleached hair

Sandy skin

A smile an ocean-wide

She burned bright

And hummed through

Dot-matrix printers and laserjets

A low constant hum of life in words

Paper cascading from their mouths

Laid end to end they would circle the earth

And wrap it tight like a silk girdle

She burned bright

Writing more in her one-half-century

Than most could have written in two

She burned bright

The one near death

And marveled at her daughter’s hands, so like her own

She burned . . .

. . . out

And grown men cried

And grown women sighed

And I

who so wanted to be like her, she who burned bright

Stopped breathing

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Ten Things Not to do When Changing TV, Phone, and Internet Providers

Thinking about changing internet providers? Read this list of what not to do, courtesy of John Howell. Heed his warnings and you might avoid accidentally going off the grid.

Fiction Favorites

This list has as inspiration recently changing phone, internet, and TV providers. I wanted to get higher speed internet, and the local phone company had nothing faster, so I had to go to a new supplier. I bought a bundle including phone, internet, and TV.

a cable install

Ten Things Not to Do When Changing Entertainment Providers

10 If you are changing entertainment providers, do not expect anything to work that day. If you do, at best you will be frustrated. At worst, you will need someone to apply some electroshock to bring you back from the heart attack.

9 If you are changing entertainment providers, do not let them touch anything until verifying the price. If you do, at best the price will be the same as agreed. At worst, some clod in the sales department quoted you a price on just half the equipment, and now the COD charge is twice…

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Book Blitz: Small Talk by Robert T. Germaux

Small Talk Book Blitz Banner

 

Small Talk Cover

About the Book:

A serial killer has the people of Pittsburgh on edge, and Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked Special Assignment Squad are working feverishly to solve the case before more innocent lives are lost. But the killer proves to be a formidable foe, whose viciousness appears to be matched only by his ability to elude capture.

Throughout Small Talk, the reader is given glimpses into the mind of this cunning and sadistic murderer, an individual who seeks a face-to-face confrontation with his pursuers, a confrontation Daniel is only too willing to provide.

Read the first seven chapters of Small Talk

About Robert Germaux:
Robert Germaux Author Photo

Robert Germaux and his wife, Cynthia, live outside of Pittsburgh. After three decades as a high school English teacher, and now a good many years into retirement, he is beginning to have serious doubts about his lifelong dream of pitching for the Pirates.

Small Talk is Robert Germaux’s second book. His first book, The Backup Husband, is a contemporary romance novel, available on Amazon.

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of Small Talk.

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Live on Amazon Kindle: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue by Charles E. Yallowitz!

LEGENDS OF WINDEMERE:
SLEEPER OF THE WILDWOOD FUGUE
LIVE on Amazon Kindle!

The final champion stirs and reaches out to any who can hear her voice. Yet all who heed her call will disappear into the misty fugue.

Awakening their new ally is only the beginning as Luke, Nyx, and their friends head south to the desert city of Bor’daruk. Hunting for another temple once used to seal Baron Kernaghan, they are unaware that the game of destiny has changed. Out for blood and pain, Stephen is determined to make Luke wish he’d never set out to become a hero.

By the time the sun sets on Bor’daruk, minds will be shattered and the champions’ lives will be changed forever.

Don’t forget to mark it as ‘To Read’ on Goodreads too!

Charles E. Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: Legends of Windemere
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

Read the Previous Volumes of Legends of Windemere!!!

BEGINNING OF A HERO

PRODIGY OF RAINBOW TOWER

ALLURE OF THE GYPSIES

FAMILY OF THE TRI-RUNE

THE COMPASS KEY

CURSE OF THE DARK WIND

Short Short Story: Unraveling #Mondayblogs

Following is a bit of short of fiction that was published last year in The Paperbook Collective (Issue 7).  The issue itself is available here.  It contains plenty of good fiction, poetry, and photography for your reading pleasure.
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Maggie tossed the gray mess to the empty spot beside her. She rubbed at her eyes, crushing the tiny bits of “sleep” that had crusted in the corners. Her OttLite floor lamp, tall, skinny and utilitarian, hung over her, shining a pool of white light on her hair which made the auburn and gray strands pop. She sat up straight and pulled her thick unruly hair away from her face, winding it into a knot at the base of her neck. Times like these, she thought, she was grateful that her hair was wiry enough to hold together without pins. That knot, as variegated as her favorite skein of yarn, would stay at the base of her neck throughout the night and perhaps even into the next day.  She reached for the clump of lacy gray alpaca yarn that she had just tossed aside. The wooden needles clicked together, still sheathed in the stitches of the “shrug” she had been knitting. Maggie wanted to shrug at the idea of knitting a shrug. It had seemed like a good idea at the time. She had drooled over the picture of the sweater in the catalogue, a bolero style with a paneled back that curved at the sides. It looked simple yet elegant. Much the way Maggie wished her life was.

Maggie had the simple part down pat. She lived with her cousin, who was more introverted than she and thus the perfect roommate. She had inherited her house and only had to pay taxes, no mortgage. She managed a yarn store that had already been in business for twenty years and had devoted customers when she took it over. There was very little effort she needed to make to get through her days. Her life was very simple. But there was no elegance.

Maggie knew that the lacy lightweight shrug would turn into a frumpy cocoon the minute she put it on. Everything did. She had a thick mane of hair she couldn’t control, a pear-shaped body that no clothing designer cared to design clothes for, feet that had gotten wider over the years, and she was a klutz. She could not chew gum and walk at the same time. She had to use the wall whenever she attempted Tree pose in her yoga classes. And she was lonely. Loneliness felt very inelegant to Maggie. Loneliness was simple but there was no style to it, no way to make it appear refined.

When Bobby, her husband, was still alive, she had knitted scores of hats, scarves, socks, and sweaters for him. Although she was already a fast knitter, she had wanted to be even faster to ensure that he always had an ample supply of woolen garments to see him through their long, cold winters. So she learned to knit the Continental style, with the casting yarn on her left hand and picked up with the right-hand needle. The Continental style also looked more elegant.

The problem, she thought, as she looked critically at the knitted fabric that hung lifelessly from her needles, the problem was the purling. She hadn’t gotten the hang of purling in the Continental way. For twenty-five years, she had knitted American style, using her right hand to throw, or loop, the yarn over the right-hand needle. With the Continental style, she ran a greater risk of dropping stitches since she was now “picking” them instead of throwing them. And once Bobby was gone, she hadn’t needed to knit fast anymore. Her knitting slowed as her world contracted to this small spot on her couch, where she tried to knit for herself.

The longer she sat there and fussed over the shrug that was actually almost complete, the more she worried. Could she unlearn the Continental? She wanted to ask Bobby, but he wasn’t there. He wasn’t even a ghost in her house, since they had been living in a small apartment the day he died. Maggie turned to the empty spot at the other end of the couch. She imagined that it would have been his spot. She could almost see his thin frame propped up with throw pillows, his long legs stretched out on the ottoman. He would be sipping hot tea, and he would offer to read to her while she knitted. She stared, forcing his image to come into focus. Was he actually looking at her now?

Maggie’s hands moved slowly, sliding the stitches off the thin needles. She wrapped the loose yarn around her fingers. She kept staring at that dark empty spot as she started to unravel.

***

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