Posted in reviews

Palm Lines by Jonathan Koven Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author and poet Jonathan Koven explores the transformative journey that is life in his short book of poetry, “Palm Lines”.

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The Synopsis

These heartfelt poems speak to a transformative journey “to rediscover love as both a question and an answer.” Seeking hope, honoring family, finding love, accepting time’s passage, and understanding gratitude are all major themes explored in this dreamlike collection. 

The Review

This was quite a powerful and emotionally-driven collection of poetry. The author and poet has done an amazing job of balancing the imagery used to conjure up memories of the past, present, and things yet to come with the more in-depth and personal emotional journey that is embedded into those memories. The way the author utilizes a more metaphysical narrative to explore the emotions of these poems really stood out from the rest of the other poetry books I’ve read, splitting up each section of the book into the Heart, Head, and Life Lines that goes typically into reading palms. 

The poems themselves came across beautifully, perfectly capturing the raw emotions that the author poured into each verse. The poetry often read like a haunting melody or song, captivating the reader to live these memories for themselves and take on the feelings that they often invoked, as well as bringing to mind the shared experiences that people could relate with within this narrative, metaphysical poetry.

Amazon Music: Six Months of Disney+

The Verdict

A breathtaking, heartfelt, and memorable read, author and poet Jonathan Koven’s “Palm Lines” is a must-read book of poetry. The way the author blends nature and metaphysical themes into the more personal narratives of the poems themselves really stood out in a positive way, making this book shine. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer, and is Toho Journal’s head fiction editor and workshop coordinator. He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana, and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Read Jonathan’s debut chapbook Palm Lines, now available from Toho Publishing. His award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill is expected winter 2021 from Electric Eclectic. Find more of his short fiction and poetry in:

• American Literary [2012; spring 2013]

• Toho Journal [vol. 1, issue 2]

• Cathexis Northwest [May 2020]

• The Lindenwood Review [issue 10]

• Pub House Books’ Gravitas [vol. 19, issue 1]

• 25 Servings of SOOP [vol.1]

• Paragon Press’ Echo [issue 8]

• Night Picnic Press [June 2020]

• Assure Press’ Iris Literary [fall 2020]

• Black Mountain Press’ Halcyone Literary [vol. 3, issue 3]

• The Dewdrop [April 2021]

• The Dillydoun Review [April 2021]

• 300 Days of Sun [summer 2021]

• Grattan Street Press [fall 2021]

• Head & The Hand Press’ Hindsight is 2020 [fall 2021] 

https://jonathanadamkoven.wixsite.com/portfolio

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Passiflora by Kathy Davis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author and Poet Kathy Davis shares a collection of poetry that highlights life’s everyday struggles and some of life’s toughest battles in her poetry collection, “Passiflora”.

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The Synopsis

Passiflora is a collection of poems about our day-to-day struggles with loss, raising children, relationships, aging and creating art, and how the nature that surrounds us informs how we view these challenges and sometimes serves as a source of solace.

The Review

A beautifully written and emotional narrative unfolds across this amazing collection. The author has a wonderful way of marrying the imagery of nature with the emotional core of life and the events that often define us. From the book’s very first poems, readers are treated to a unique perspective on life in general, comparing the care for a garden to the care one must show for ourselves physically and mentally, not leaving grief or sorrow to fester or grow on its own in the poem HOW TO GROW WILD.

The author manages to pack a lot of heart and soul into a short read. Readers can truly feel the passion radiating off of the page, exploring the simplest to the most complex and emotionally-driven events life has to offer us all. The author’s words are layered and do a great job of getting the reader to read and re-read the book over and over again to gain new insight into what each poem is bringing forth to the reader’s mind.

The Verdict

A masterful, artful, and mesmerizing book of poetry, author and Poet Kathy Davis’s “Passiflora” is a must-read. A truly heartfelt and emotional journey that readers won’t want to put down, be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Kathy Davis is a poet and nonfiction writer who received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her poetry manuscript, Passiflora, won the 2019 Cider Press Review Book Award and was released in February 2021. She is also the author of the chapbook Holding for the Farrier(Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Blackbird, Diode, The Hudson Review, Nashville Review, Oxford American, The Southern Review, story South and other journals. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and been a finalist for Best of the Net and the Conger Beasley Jr. Award for Nonfiction. After raising their two boys, she and her husband moved to an old farmhouse outside of Richmond, Va., where she tends a wildflower meadow when not writing.

https://kathydaviswrites.com/

Posted in Personal Blog Posts

MY NORTH STAR: AN ORIGINAL POEM BY ANTHONY AVINA

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share this poem I wrote for my own mother, Christina Avina. She has been a constant source of love, support and strength in my life, and is one of my best friends in the whole world. We are co-founders of our own paranormal podcast and investigative group known as Phenomenon Paranormal, and she has been a huge source of inspiration not only for my work in this field but in my writing career as well. Mom, I love you with all my heart. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me in my life, and for giving me the strength to move forward each and every day in the face of all that has been thrown in our path. I am fortunate to have had you in my life, and I look forward to what our future will bring us. I love you mucho mucho, to the moon and back.

Love,

Anthony

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My North Star

Through gnarled branches and scarred trees,

Past the edges of the growing forest and raging wind,

I see your light shining against the breeze, 

My North Star.


Over looming hills and under thrashing seas,

Across an ocean in search of me,

You find me with your smile of warmth,

My North Star.


Against all odds from childhood and beyond,

From nights of terror to pain from within,

You have guided the ship that is my life,

My North Star.


A piercing sword in the dark,

Repelling all that would wound my body and soul,

You clash against the crushing weight of negativity,

My North Star.


The embodiment of hope and love in a world of sadness,

You become the messenger of forgotten gods and missing heroes,

A towering warrior and loving mother sharing one body,

My North Star.


Facing the future by shedding the past,

Becoming the symbol of light against the dark,

You hold me in your motherly arms with love and heart,

My North Star. 

Posted in reviews

Part of Me: Lost and Found by Cisel Ozbay Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The painful process of losing oneself can often lead to some pretty insightful discoveries, as readers are sure to find out in author and poet Cisel Ozbay’s “Part of Me: Lost and Found”. 

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The Synopsis

A journey of self- discovery involves completely losing yourself in order to find yourself again. This collection of poems captures all the ways the author has lost herself, and all the truths she has found in doing so.

The Review

The author has managed to blend the artful and emotional side of poetry with the more thoughtful and engaging aspect of philosophy, with readers taking a journey into the author’s process of eliminating all preconceived notions about herself and the world and making new discoveries. 

Each poem is equal parts creative, equal parts philosophical. An early poem that stood out to me was “Ash”, as it speaks to the troubles in our lives that quickly give way to feelings of anger, and yet burning out that anger can lead to the rebirth in a way of our new selves. It speaks to the Phoenix of mythology, which sees rebirth in the aftermath of a great fire, the perfect metaphor for feelings of anger or rage that could easily overtake us if we let it. 

Meanwhile, poems like “Rare” explore the realization that comes from thinking outside of what’s considered the norm, as it can lead to isolation and loneliness, major contributors to feelings of fear and dread. It is about finding a balance and seeking out those who understand your particular approach to life, making these poems incredibly powerful and insightful.

The Verdict

A momentous, emotional, and thought-provoking read, author Cisel Ozbay’s “Part of Me: Lost and Found” is a must-read book of poetry. The last year and a half especially has been hard on us all and has given many of us moments to pause and reflect on our lives. The author captures this enlightening moment of her own and creates a powerful connection with the reader through their profound words and creative approach to the genre. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Cisel Ozbay is an author from London who began writing during her time at University in Aberdeen. She was inspired by her own life experiences and the turbulent times in her life. Acknowledging the benefits of writing on her own self growth she now writes regularly. Her Parts Of Me: From Me to You, and Parts Of Me: Lost of Found books contain poems written during this same period in her life.

https://www.instagram.com/parts_of_me_poetry_/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Guest Post

Guest Blog Post by Author/Poet Elizabeth Hazen

I am honored to share with you a fantastic guest blog post from author and poet Elizabeth Hazen, as part of the wonderful blog tour for “Girls Like Us”.

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For Christmas, which seems like three lifetimes ago, my parents gave my husband a book of interesting words from around the world*. An engineer who has a soft spot for spoonerisms, puns, and wordplay in every form, he found instant delight in this book. Did you know that Germans have a word for the weight we gain from stress-eating? Kummerspeck. Or that the Scots have a word for that awkward pause when you’ve forgotten the name of the person you’re introducing? Tartle. Among my favorites are the whimsical Swedish smultronställe, a place of wild strawberries; the romantic Italian dormiveglia, the space between sleeping and waking; and the essential Japanese tsundoku, that pile of unread books on my bedside table that grows with each passing month. 

Needless to say, I took that book of words from my husband, adding one more to my stack.

Getting through my tsundoku – or at least managing it – is one of my goals for this summer. I am a teacher, and the summer brings with it the beautiful freedom of longer days and fewer responsibilities, but the lack of structure –ironically, frustratingly, and inevitably – invites bad habits and a gradual decline into despair over the time I fear I am wasting. As a result, I know I need to impose some kind of schedule – a routine that will keep me on track. Part of that routine, I have decided, will include reading more poetry. 

One of the lessons I most love to teach to my seventh-grade students involves defining poetry. We examine a range of definitions – the top of our heads being blown off, the best words in the best order, language at its most distilled and most powerful. We can debate the specifics, note our preferences, but that words are the poet’s medium is indisputable. Imperfect, delicious, malleable, living, breathing words. It is my love of words that I always return to during the darkest moments, and boy are these days dark. 

In a review of my recent collection, Girls Like Us, Nandini Bhattacharya defines the poem as “ineffable interrogator, ethicist and chronicler of human history.” Indeed, I certainly have found more accuracy and truth in poems than in the newspaper, more solace in poems than in meditation or exercise, more freedom in poems than in the endless walks I take to escape the confines of quarantine. As when I was in the thick of adolescent depression, poems come to rescue me, to remind me that the legacy of human sadness and loss and pain is infinite, but so is our legacy of resilience and power and change. 

Perhaps poems allow us to do what the Dutch call uitwaaien: “to take a break and walk away from the demands of life to clear one’s head.” Or maybe life demands poems, and it is precisely in these moments of trauma and fear and violence that we must dive in head-first. Whatever they do, I am grateful for them. Here are several recent collections by women that I highly recommend. Each, in its own way, has given me what the Icelandic call radljóst: enough light to find my way.

Difficult Fruit by Lauren K. Alleyne, Peepal Tree, 2014

Thrust by Heather Derr-Smith, Persea Books, 2017

American Samizdat by Jehanne Dubrow, Diode Editions, 2019

The Miracles by Amy Lemmon, C&R Press, 2018

Voyage of the Sable Venus by Robin Coste Lewis, Knopf, 2016

Code by Charlotte Pence, Black Lawrence Press, 2020

How to Exterminate the Black Woman by Monica Prince, [Pank Books], 2019

American Lyric Trilogy by Claudia Rankine, Graywolf, 2004, 2014, 2020

The State She’s In by Lesley Wheeler, Tinderbox Editions, 2020

*The book of words I refer to is Other Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from Around the World by Yee-Lum Yak with illustrations by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

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About the Author:

Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.

Hazen’s work explores issues of addiction, mental health, and sexual trauma, as well as the restorative power of love and forgiveness. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Literary Review, Shenandoah, Southwest Review, The Threepenny Review, The Normal School, and other journals. Alan Squire Publishing released her first book, Chaos Theories, in 2016. Girls Like Us is her second collection. She lives in Baltimore with her family.

GoodReads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50162841-girls-like-us

Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/2U4wdtg

Alan Squire Publishing (also available is a SoundCloud Audio reading from her first collection): https://alansquirepublishing.com/book-authors/elizabeth-hazen/

Schedule for Blog Tour:

May 4: Musings of a Bookish Kitty (Review)

May 15: Allie Reads (Review)

May 19: the bookworm (Guest Post)

May 26: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)

May 28: Impressions in Ink (Review)

June 2: Vidhya Thakkar (Review)

June 9: Everything Distils Into Reading (Review)

June 11: Read, Write and Life Around It (Review)

June 15: Readaholic Zone (Review)

June 16: Read, Write and Life Around It (Interview – tentative)

June 24: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)

June 26: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)

June 30: Review Tales by Jeyran Main (Review)

July 9: The Book Connection (Review)

July 22: Diary of an Eccentric (Review)

July 7: CelticLady’s Reviews (Spotlight/video)

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Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author/Poet Lamar Neal

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is me making tv shows with all of my toys. I would have legit tv shows with commercials and everything. I guess my first formal introduction to writing was me at 12/13. I can’t remember what exactly motivated me to put pen to paper but I do remember it being a coping mechanism. I wrote down my thoughts and how I was feeling and I would tear it up. It became my way of letting go.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

My mental health. I like to think that this is my therapy session. I just sat down and vented to myself about everything that bothered me. This book is very autobiographical. I wanted to tell my story in hopes that it can inspire other individuals to tell their truth.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Don’t be afraid to be imperfect, it’s natural. I would hope that we as individuals and a society understands that everything in life is a process. We have to work to keep growing. With that said, we have to have moments of introspection to address something that needs fixing. We have to be able to look in the mirror and tell ourselves, “you were wrong.” That type of self-awareness is lacking in the world-well I think it is. To get personal for a moment, therapy is like a curse word in my family. We can look past everything like adultery, drugs, alcohol, abuse, but therapy is where everyone draws the line. I hope that people can read this book and feel empowered to speak their truth-ugly or not. We cannot process as people or a society without that happening

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

Music. I love music but I don’t have the talent to create my own. Songs aren’t anything but poetry over beats, In my opinion. I took the musical aspect out of it and just wrote. I love just how raw and honest you can be in a poem. You don’t have to worry about anything but saying how you feel. I love writing narratives like novels and short stories but at times it’s confining. With a poem, I’m just free.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

James Joyce. I would ask him what was that old man doing in “An Encounter.” I know he was doing something gross but I want him to tell me specifically. In that short story, he never explains what he’s doing, and the kids just reacted. So I just need to know. Besides James Joyce, I would love to sit with Gil Scott Heron. He’s not an author but he’s amazing. I don’t even want to ask him a question, I just want to hear him talk.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Instagram. Most definitely. I’d probably say 100% of my fan base came from Instagram.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Write. And never stop writing. It doesn’t have to be everyday but keep writing. And forget all these rules. Write what you feel, write what you think. I remember when I first started writing poetry, I was trying too hard to follow all these rules and textbook examples of what poetry should look and sound like. Then I realized that there are no rules in art. You just express yourself and I guarantee you there would be dozens if not hundreds if not thousands of individuals who feel the same way.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I like to tell myself I’ll retire but I have a soul of creator so I’m always going to be writing in some way or another. My last two books were collections of poetry but I think I want to go back to my other love, writing novels. So before I’m 30, I might try to publish another novel.

About the Author

Author/Poet Lamar Neal

Outreach specialist by day at a community college. Writer and creative by night. Trying to balance a creative mind in the professional world without succumbing to the doubts every self published writer has. Hopeful that the world will be able to see my writing, not so I can be rich and famous but so I can have my voice heard and connect with others. 

Instagram– @theghostcharades

Twitter-@Ghostcharades

Facebook– /lamarKeonNeal

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Posted in reviews

We All Need Therapy by Lamar Neal Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Trigger Warning: This book of poetry deals with themes and elements of abuse, self-harm and suicide. If these themes are triggering to you, be advised and prepared.

An emotional story of one man’s journey of defining himself and struggling with the world he was born into takes center stage in poet and author Lamar Neal’s poetry book, We All Need Therapy. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

This is a collection of poetry of how a boy, who started whole, encountered the world, which caused some painful cracks to appear in his vessel. He soon learned that when we do not hide your imperfections, a cracked vessel is the one, which lets the light shine through.

The Review

I was taken aback by the beauty and tragedy and pure emotion of this poetry book. The poems spoke to me in a way that touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye. You can feel the poet’s pain and heartbreak in each line, such as this passage from the poem Morning/Mourning:

“Living in the ruins of dreams
I was never supposed to have. Tomorrow we might lose everything Before our hearts can prepare.”

The author does an amazing job weaving themes and issues that plague our world to this day. Challenging the toxic masculinity that haunts young boys who dare to live outside of societal norms, fighting back against racial injustice and dealing with themes of love, loss and the pain of not fitting into the mold set out by our elders/peers, this book brings the causes of both inner turmoil and societal upheaval in our world currently into the spotlight like no other book of poetry out there right now. It also does a great job of addressing mental health overall, challenging this need to label anyone with a mental health condition as “crazy” when they are far from it. It was refreshing to see a poet and author expose their mental health struggles to the world in such an open and honest way, and showcase the need to fight against the stigma of mental health overall.

The Verdict

This is a must read book of poems. Due out on January 25th, 2019, these poems will touch on the struggle to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to fit you into a mold you don’t feel comfortable in. Full of heart, pure emotion and a message of hope and struggle that will help highlight the very healthy need for everyone to get therapy and face that inner turmoil head on. If you love beautiful poetry and raw emotional story telling, then pre-order your copy of We All Need Therapy by Lamar Neal today.

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/All-Need-Therapy-Lamar-Neal-ebook/dp/B07JQYYKCL/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&ref_=dbs_s_def_awm_dirs_l_2&storeType=ebooks

Instagram– @theghostcharades

Twitter-@Ghostcharades

Facebook– /lamarKeonNeal

Dr Seuss: Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free

Find the perfect gift for everyone on your list with the Barnes & Noble Gift Guide.

Posted in reviews

The Sugar Mill by Bhav Mangat and Harp Seehra Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair, honest review. All opinions are my own.

A beautiful collection of poetry comes to life in authors Bhav Mangat and Harp Seehra’s The Sugar Mill. Here’s the synopsis:

“The Sugar Mill” is a doodle filled collection of poetry and prose that explores experiences with distress, love, and cultural taboos. With a strong emphasis on self-discovery and growth, the book proves to be a true celebration of the self and all forms of intimacy. The journey is divided into 4 chapters, each following a different stage of sugar refinement: Cane, Crushing, Cleansing, and Crystallizing.

This story focuses on a central story of a young boy from a very broken home. It tells his story of surviving hardships in his childhood, only to meet a fellow classmate and fall in love. It tells the story of their love, and helps show him the love that never resided in his own life back when he was a kid. It’s a story of childhood lost, love found and making your own family. The writing is beautiful and well done, bringing a light to serious themes and topics like the way women are treated around the world and the insecurities that mistreatment can bring. It also highlights a refreshing amount of love and joy that can be found in the best relationships, as with the poem “I Must Be Scenic”, which depicts the way two people in love view those they love in context with the rest of the world.

Overall this was a wonderfully written poetry book that deserves to be read. Full of hardships, struggles, romance and true love, this is one of those rare books that redefines the genre. With wonderfully innocent doodles that bring a unique form of imagery to life within the poems themselves, this is a wonderful example of how poetry in the modern age looks, and how we should all be absorbing it. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of The Sugar Mill by Bhav Mangat and Harp Seehra today!

Rating: 10/10

 

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Posted in book launch, book news, Book Promotion, Book Related Blog Posts, Personal Blog Posts

Book Release: Blood and Romance by Anthony Avina

Hi there guys. Seven years ago I released a short book of poetry called Blood and Romance. Today I updated the book to better reflect my writing, gave it a cool new cover and finally gave the book a paperback version. Now the book is available in Kindle and Paperback formats. If you enjoy good horror and romance themed poetry, then pick up this cool book for only $4 on Amazon, and best of all it’s available for Prime members (free shipping)! I hope you guys enjoy it and in the comments below if you read the book tell me your favorite poem.

Buy the Book!