Posted in reviews

Swan Songs of Cygnus: The Weight of Black Holes by Vincent Hollow Review

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

An astronaut yearns to reunite with the ghost of his lost love even at the cost of his own life as he hurtles through space in author and poet Vincent Hollow’s unique story-driven book of poetry, “Swan Songs of Cygnus: The Weight of Black Holes”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Side A: horizon

Mourning the death of his love. A bereaved astronaut signs up for a deep – space mission to reunite with her ghost.

Even if it means becoming a ghost himself. Traveling at the speed of light. The astronaut jettisons through the solar system. Pausing only to gaze at its celestial splendor.

Cast under the grandeur of the planetarium. Seeing her apparition in every sphere…

The Review

A truly haunting and beautiful read, author and poet Vincent Hollow has crafted a one of a kind narrative-driven book of poetry that readers will instantly connect with. The overall story of a man suffering from loss who gives up everything to pursue a chance to find his love once more is something many readers will identify with, while the imagery and visual cues the author places throughout the book feel as if they are witnessing the journey of this astronaut themselves. 

The emotional struggle of this volunteer astronaut and writer really is the heart of the narrative. Reader’s hearts will break as they witness the emotional toll that the narrator’s loss takes on them as the journey progresses, and the tragic beauty that comes from having a connection that strong and powerful with another person. 

The Verdict

Breathtaking, heartfelt, and incredibly written, author and poet Vincent Hollow’s “Swan Songs of Cygnus: The Weight of Black Holes” is one of the most unique, creative, emotional, and memorable books of poetry I’ve read in years. A great story with lots of powerful imagery connects readers with the poet and the book’s protagonist in a whole new way and makes for one of the best poetry reads of 2020. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

VINCENT HOLLOW is an astro-poet and interstellar storyteller living aboard the space vessel, Aquarius. Shooting from the star system to star system. Vincent spends his time gazing out into the universal abyss and the depths of himself where he hopes to find his place in the cosmos through the words he weaves in the fabric of spacetime.

https://www.facebook.com/Vincent-Hollow-105005078127184/

https://www.instagram.com/vncenthollow/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Out of No Way: Madam CJ Walker & A’Lelia Walker A Poetic Drama By Roje Augustin Review

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

A breathtaking and creative look into one of America’s first self-made female millionaires during a time of great and violent racial tension comes to life throughout beautiful poetry in author Roje Augustin’s “Out of No Way”. 

The Synopsis

Author, producer, and emerging poet Roj Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter, A’Lelia. Roj’s singular and accomplished work is presented through the intimate lens of the mother-daughter relationship via different poetic forms – from lyric to haiku, blackout to narrative. (One poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.) Written in tribute to Walker, Out of No Way deftly and beautifully explores themes of race, motherhood, sacrifice, beauty, and the meaning of success in Jim Crow America. 

The Review

The author brilliantly captures the lives of mother and daughter and those in their lives with this work of art. The poetry is moving and inspiring, pulling forth everything from everyday discussion between a mother and daughter to the pain of witnessing the loss of life during such a violent and turbulent era of racial injustice and the strain it all has on these two women’s relationships. 

The stand-out to me as a reader in this book was not just the story the author told using poetry, but the poetry itself. The author does a marvelous job of effortlessly integrating various forms of poetry, from haiku and sonnets to nursery rhymes and villanelle, giving each chapter of the women’s lives a different type of poetry to embody that moment. It felt natural and as raw as the emotions these moments invoked, making this book truly shine. 

The Verdict

Breathtaking, often heartbreaking and yet a fast-paced and eloquent read, author Roje Augustin’s “Out of No Way” is a majestic book of poetry and biographical fiction read that is not to be missed. Readers will be enthralled with the author’s unique voice within this poetry while the characters and people involved will keep the reader invested entirely. If you haven’t be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Advertisements

About the Author

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction.  She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom.  Rojé continues to work as a producer while also writing in her spare time.  She currently lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.

Elegy for my Mother

Why Our Hair is not Straight:

The Lost Letters:

Graves & Thrones:

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 9: The Book Connection (Review)
Sept. 16: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
Sept. 18: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
Sept. 23: Impressions in Ink (Review)
Sept. 24: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
Sept. 29 Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 5: Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Oct. 8: Everything Distils into Reading (Review)
Oct. 14: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
Oct. 20: True Book Addict (Guest Post)
Oct. 26: CelticLady’s Reviews (Review)
Oct. 29: True Book Addict (Review)

Follow the blog tour with the hashtag #OutofNoWay #MadamC.J.Walker #RojeAugustin

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”.

Advertisements

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

Advertisements

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)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen Review

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

A powerful book of poetry that dives into the complex nature of female identity and the roles they’ve been forced into playing in society throughout history comes to life in author and poet Elizabeth Hazen’s book, “Girls Like Us”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

Girls Like Us is packed with fierce, eloquent, and deeply intelligent poetry focused on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody. The women in these poems sometimes fear and sometimes knowingly provoke the male gaze. At times, they try to reconcile themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring; at others, they actively defy it. Hazen’s insights into the conflict between desire and wholeness, between self and self-destruction, are harrowing and wise. The predicaments confronted in Girls Like Us are age-old and universal—but in our current era, Hazen’s work has a particular weight, power, and value. 

The Review

What a moving work of poetry. The author does an incredible job of bringing the pain and emotion that many women in life have had to endure through society’s expectations and the roles cast upon them through her work. As someone who considers himself a feminist and someone who has always wanted to live in a world where my mother and sister could live knowing they were viewed by everyone as equals and were respected, this poetry really spoke to me on a personal level while also feeling personal to the author at the same time. 

What really captured my attention as a reader was the way the author writes, in which many of the poems were written with such precision and detail-oriented writing, and yet felt personal to the author and broad enough for others to connect to on their own personal levels. The complexity of the layers of this poetry speaks to the simple desire for equality so many seek throughout their lives, and the ongoing fight to bring that equality to life. 

The Verdict

A truly one of a kind read, the author and poet Elizabeth Hazen and her book “Girls Like Us” is a truly amazing work of poems. The raw emotions combined with the true and often sad realities the poems capture of life connect with readers on an intimate level, and the theme and heart of the book speak to so many that readers will not be able to put it down. Be sure to grab this quick yet powerful read today!

Rating: 10/10

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)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Posted in Blog Tours, reviews

The Colors of Me by Maya and Jello Review

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

It is a true honor to share with you all a rare treat, a review of an outstanding audiobook from Maya and Jello of the book of poetry, “The Colors of Me”. 

Advertisements

The Synopsis

A Collection of Poems Welcome to The Colors of Me, a collection of poems based on inspirations gained from my life experiences. Read and enjoy. Then read again. Read and share the experience with your friends and loved ones. It is a journey you will not soon forget.

The Review

Beautifully narrated, the poems are written and read with conviction and heart, telling a story of growth, empowerment and hope. While some of the poetry does stem into some religious paths (something that is not my strong suit), the overall tone and power for which the poems were delivered made this a must listen/read book.

Themes of self-worth, the beauty of the world and finding hope in seemingly hopeless situations all play a role in the poetry of the author. The audiobook elicits great emotion and warmth within the reader/listener, giving the audience a voice to the emotions the author hoped to stir in them. 

The Verdict

A beautifully read, well narrated and incredibly written book of poetry, Maya and Jello’s “The Colors of Me” is a must listen audiobook everyone should hear for themselves. In an age when audiobooks are becoming more and more prevalent, this is a prime example of the beauty and emotion that this format can bring out in the wonderful words written by the author. Be sure to grab your own copies today!

Rating: 8/10

Advertisements
Audiobook Blog Tour: The Colors of Me by Maya and Jello

Author: Maya and Jello

Narrator: Maya and Jello

Length: 53 minutes

Publisher: M&J Literary Works Inc.

Released: Jan. 28, 2020

Genre: Poetry

A collection of poems. The critics are raving four/four stars. The Colors of Me is a collection of beautiful poems. The author’s creativity is amazing. It’s bold, sexy, spiritual, yet intriguing. Welcome to The Colors of Me. Each poem was written based on inspirations gained from my life experiences. Listen and enjoy. Then listen again. Listen and share the experience with your friends and loved ones. It is a journey you will not soon forget.
Buy Links
Buy on Amazon Buy on Audible
the Colors of Me is available for review from the Adopt-An-Audiobook program! Click here to claim your copy.
  Maya and Jello was born and raised on the beautiful island of Trinidad, the sister island of Tobago in the West Indies. She migrated to the United States as a young teenager. Her main objective was to obtain a great education in the hopes of affording a better life for herself, her family, and to be a blessing to those around her. This quest led her to attain a Doctorate in medicine. But she never let go of her passion for writing poetry. Her works have been published in various school publications under various pen names. During medical school she wrote a segment in the College newspaper under the pen name Sparkie. The poems in this collection were written over a span of 30 years. She hopes that you enjoy reading them, as much as she enjoyed writing them for you.   I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Maya and Jello. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it. Guest Post
Maya and Jello on why readers who love poetry will appreciate this the Colors of Me
If you possess a true appreciation for the art of poetry whether it be pros, verse, lines, or sonnets. Whatever format, whatever flavor. There is something in The Colors of Me written just for you. Each poem embodies the entirety of and experience. And all of the experiences are different. The poems are designed to open up like a flower in bloom and then if needs be fall apart petal by petal. It is in this that I’m able to take the hand of the listener and lead them down a path; meandering through the darkened corners of emotions that we so often hide. Each poem is chock-full of imagery. Who doesn’t have that Mother or Grandmother, Teacher or Preacher who made such a difference in their lives? Who hasn’t experience the wind being knocked out of their sails by betrayal or a lost love? If you’ve ever felt something, ….anything. Then you’ll certainly appreciate The Colors of Me. A good poet can make you cry but I pride myself in making you laugh, and moreover at yourself. The heartfelt romantic pieces are a melee of unbridled emotion. They would ignite the passions in your soul and rekindle what you have, take you back to a time or make you long for that perfect love. You’ll rise to the triumphs and sink in the squalor of inexplicable pain. But just as you think you are about to break, you’ll hear a poem, a message, seemingly straight from the heart of God himself that would lift your spirits, that would mend your heart. It would rekindle your passion for life and living. You’d feel empowered to dust yourself off and rise to the occasion. You’ll gain the strength to embrace your past and forge forward to bigger and better things. And who knows, with faith in your left pocket and hope in your right, you may even venture to love again.

Unstoppable– Koryn Hawthorne

It’s The God in Me– Mary Mary

Closer– Marvin Sapp

Not Lucky I’m Loved– Jonathan Reynolds

The Nearness of You– Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

One Look In Your Eyes– Luther Vandross

A Song for You– Donny Hathaway

That’s Life– Frank Sinatra

Keep Your Head Up– 2Pac

Mar. 22nd: Iron Canuck Reviews and More Willow Writes and Reads Books, Tea, Healthy Me Mar. 23rd: A Wonderful World of Words 4 the Love of Audiobooks Mar. 24th: Nesie’s Place Just Books 2 Girls & A Book Mar. 25th: Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Audiobook News Mar. 26th: Divas With A Purpose Super Booked! Mar. 27th: Jazzy Book Reviews Locks, Hooks and Books Mar. 28th: Sometimes Leelynn Reads Eileen Troemel

Plugging you into the audio community since 2016.

Sign up as a tour host here.
Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author’s Lee and Andrew Fearnside, O! Relentless Death

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

LEE: When we started this project I was a professor, and so writing was a part of my daily life. In my art practice I almost always incorporate stories or ethnographic interviews, so connecting other people’s writing to my images felt natural. 

ANDREW:
Writing thousands of pages of session notes as a psychotherapist made writing second nature. But more than that, learning about active listening and practicing compassion in every session helped me grow as an editor. Throughout the process of editing “O! Relentless Death!”, I found the courage to ask risky questions, to listen deeply, and to stay focused on the heart of a written piece rather than its style—because I’d practiced interacting from those perspectives in thousands of counseling sessions.


Advertisements

2) What inspired you to write your book?


ANDREW:

Lee and I began collaborating in 2015. We gave each other “assignments.” I’d returned to making stuff just a couple years before that time; Lee had been making stuff for years and years, but was interested in stretching her creative practice with unfamiliar media. Partly, the “assignments” were just fun; and partly, they were a chance to apply some good old-fashioned psychological leverage to our individual processes. And they also made for more communication between us, which we both wanted.

So when we realized in mid-2016 that we’d both been doing art-things about the landslide of celebrity deaths that were starting to accumulate at that point, we already had an established channel for communication and collaboration in place. We chose linocut as the medium, because like our “assignments,” it was a medium neither of us felt accomplished in. We were forced to figure out ways to adapt what could be a sprawling process to little plates. That, and we’d both made linocuts with our mother, a lifelong printmaker.

After the 2016 election, the project became clear: there was a parallel between the losses of cultural heroes like Gwen Ifill and, as Progressives, the loss of the election. To us it felt like something died that day. 

LEE:

Our collaboration became a way to grieve together, with each other as brother and sister, and as artists/editors with the writers who participated in the project. It felt like sharing our grief was a way to create community.


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

ANDREW:

While cultural heroes like George Michael and Gwen Ifill are larger than life within the context of global media, they are also containers for enormously powerful cultural forces. They deserve respect for their achievements, certainly, and we mourn their losses.

LEE:

But they also are entry points for people’s experiences. We feel a connection to celebrities, even though we’ve usually never met them, because of the role they play in out lives. I hope that readers will identify with the writers’ reflections of their experiences with celebrities, and see some of their lives reflected in the words and images in the book. 


4) What drew you into this particular genre?

LEE: 

Portraits are both direct and interpretive. The relief prints show our understanding of the specific celebrities, as well as recognizable image, just as the writing show the individual author’s experiences as well as something we can all recognize. I really love working with other artists on projects as it can be energizing to play off of each others’ ideas, so this collaboration with my brother and the writers was a natural extension of what I’ve done before. 

ANDREW:

Art. A deep and abiding love of picture book genres like illustrated children’s books, comics, and old encyclopedias. The grounded understanding that as artists, this book was something we could do that would literally draw real emotional connections between us and our readers, and that that is a powerful political act.


5) What was the one story or celebrity that you identified with the most in this book?

ANDREW:

George Michael. I hated Wham at the time, and didn’t think much of his work as it progressed through the 80s and 90s. And to be honest, I still don’t think he was a great artist, compared to luminaries like Prince. But learning about him in 2016-17, and then making an image of him, I found myself weeping for what he went through, what he carried for all of us. He was outed during a period of intense upheaval and change, and suffered for it. He was forced to be a figurehead for a movement he seemed to have been ambivalent about. And all in public, at the receiving end of a firehose of cultural venom no one, no one EVER, deserved.

LEE:

For me it was Prince, who was a big part of my early adulthood. I listened to his music in high school and college, which for me (and many people) was a time when I really figured out myself as a person. So listening to his music is nostalgic on a lot of levels for me. This also made his portrait the hardest for me to make. Which Prince did I want to show? Could my portrait really capture everything I felt about him? I think I made 3 or 4 images before I settled on the one that made it to the book. 


Advertisements

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

LEE: 

Facebook was where we connected with a lot of potential writers, showed people work in progress, and then launched the Kickstarter campaign that funded printing of the book. We use both Kickstarter and Facebook to keep in touch with our readership, and dabble in Instagram.

ANDREW:

Kickstarter, if we’re going to be really literal about a social media platform. Then, at last, after everything else that we personally did with our own strategy and planning, it’d be Facebook.


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

LEE:

The old saying of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is so true. I used to tell my students that they had to make at least 10 bad things before they had the 1 good thing. You have to keep making, keep revising, and keep getting feedback. It can be a relentless process, being creative, but only by continuing even when it feels like you’re making crap can you push through to the good stuff. 

ANDREW:

Keep tinkering with your daily creative practice, whatever it may be. Every time you do it, you’re doing IT—the big thing, the masterwork, the whole enchilada. Whatever it is for you, you’re going to do it one TRILLION BILLION times. May your moments of inspiration become as common, and as miraculous, as breathing.


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

ANDREW:

I’m focusing on building my practice and business as a muralist in Albuquerque, NM, where I live. 

LEE:

I’m working on a book about animal adaptations to human behavior and encroachment. The book is modeled after a field guide, but is really a series of stories paired with images just like our last book. The stories range from the absurd, like crocodiles in Florida using pool noodles as floatation devices or mountain goats in Olympic National Park becoming addicted to hikers’ urine, to the disturbing and profoundly sad, like wildebeests in Botswana no longer migrating because of fenced off ranch land or cane toads taking over the Australian landscape and forcing out native fauna. My hope is that readers will laugh but also think about what we as humans are doing to the animals we share our world with. The book comes out this spring. If anyone is interested in learning more, follow our Facebook page “Fearnside and Fearnside” or our Kickstarter, “Lee and Andrew Fearnside.”

https://www.chimeraprojects.art/

Posted in reviews

O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss And A Year Of Mourning by Lee and Andrew Fernside Review

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

An emotional and reflective collection of essays, poetry and more bring the lives of celebrities lost in 2018 to the forefront in authors Lee and Andrew Fernside’s “O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss and a Year of Mourning”. 

The Synopsis

O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss and Mourning is an artists book created by siblings Andrew and Lee Fearnside. This book mourns celebrities who died in 2016: David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, Gwen Ifill, Alan Rickman and 11 more. Relief print portraits are paired with personal narratives by 23 writers from around the country, including poet laureates, journalists, community organizers, professors and activists. Winner of the 2018 IPPY Independent Voice Award.

The Review

This was a beautifully written collection. The illustrations and personal connection felt between the authors and those the world lost in 2018 was felt immensely. Showcasing the way these celebrities and influential people impacted the authors highlights how those in the public eye have more influence and connections to the world at large than anyone truly realizes. 

Normally these reviews are focused solely on the book itself, but in order to perfectly capture the book’s emotional connection with readers, it’s only fitting to mention the personal connection I had as a reader with the book. 

The two chapters that spoke to me the most involved Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. This year, as many of you know, I lost my grandmother on my mom’s side, whom I was really close to. Six years or so before that we lost my grandfather on my mom’s side, and so it has been a heartbreaking year personally. However one thing that always makes me feel close to them is Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

My father was a carpet installer for his entire life, and one of the clients he worked for was Debbie Reynolds. As he was working, Carrie Fisher as a young child jumped onto his shoulders and asked for a piggy-back ride. Debbie Reynolds apologized but he laughed and obliged, and the young Carrie Fisher got her wish. Personal stories like that have always made me feel connected to my wonderful grandparents, and these two chapters opened up those emotions wholeheartedly, showcasing the author’s powerful approach to the topics as a whole.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel of 2019. While these celebrities hail from 2018, the message and impact of those losses resonates still as 2019 comes to a close. An emotional journey to discover how people as a whole impact our lives and the journey to come to terms with their loss. A beautiful way to honor and keep these memories in our hearts, be sure to grab “O! Relentless Death: Celebrity, Loss and a Year of Mourning” by Lee and Andrew Fernside today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.chimeraprojects.art/

Posted in reviews

Dear Nobody: a poetry collection by Robin Williams Review

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

TRIGGER WARNING: THESE POEMS IN THIS BOOK DEAL WITH THEMES OF ABUSE, SELF-HARM, MENTAL HEALTH AND OTHER STRUGGLES. READ WITH CAUTION IF THESE THEMES TRIGGER YOU.

Author and poet Robin Williams returns with a beautiful and heartbreaking collection of poetry that touches the soul and lays it bare for all to see in her book “Dear Nobody: a poetry collection”. Here’s the synopsis.

The Synopsis

From the letters addressed to no one, comes a strong collection of poetry. With themes of heartbreak and love, to the far less tread upon mental health and trauma, is a work of art you won’t want to put down. Take the road less traveled and read a broken girls words to the world.

The Review

Poet Robin Williams has a beautiful and clear way of showing the world a visual representation of the pain and anguish many struggling with mental health and traumatic experiences have to undergo on a daily basis. From toxic relationships and abusive situations, to feelings of loss and desperation, the author does a marvelous job conveying these strong emotions in a way that elicits both an emotional response and wakes the reader up to the hidden struggles many face in isolation.

The poems in this book will speak to everyone. Whether you are looking for a poem that speaks to the pain you are feeling from a breakup or the powerful and overwhelming feeling of love, to the seemingly hopeless feeling that overwhelms us at times and the need for hope in an all too often hopeless world, these poems are sure to bring a tear to your eye and capture the emotional essence that only true poets can do.

The Verdict

Overall this was a fantastic poetry collection. A story of one woman’s struggles laid bare for all to see, this novel showcases some of life’s toughest challenges, especially in this modern world where issues of online bullying, self-harm and hopelessness are far too common. The author is a master poet and world class writer that everyone should pay attention to, so if you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copy of Dear Nobody: a poetry collection by Robin Williams today. 

From backpacks and planners, to study guides and textbooks, B&N has everything you need to start off the second semester right

Rating: 10/10

https://amzn.to/2BdHPQR

About Robin Williams

My name is Robin Williams. I am an 18-year-old introverted author living in southern Pennsylvania.

I’m an activist for equality between men and women, a fighter against global warming, a member of the lgbt+ commmunity, and a privileged voice for the minority.

I write for myself and for others about things I have gone through, and about things the people around me have gone through. My most highly praised piece is titled “Racism is Over” and tells stories of the racism POC still face today. As I interviewed those for the poem, my heart stung as I saw how blind I was to the discrimination, and I made it a priority to use my voice when they cannot.

I’m a survivor, and so are you. Keep fighting.

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Israfel Sivad (December 2018)

1)      For any newcomers to my blog, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Well, the truth is I’ve pretty much always written. After my parents split up when I was in fifth grade, I started writing myself to sleep at night. I did that all through middle school. I wrote lyrics based on all the song structures in the liner notes to the heavy metal tapes I owned. In high school, I turned that talent into an opportunity to write lyrics for the punk rock bands I played in. I wound up collecting many of those lyrics in my book Soundtrack for the New Millennium. Then, when I went away to college, I started keeping journals, and eventually those journals evolved into stories, novels and poems.

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

We Are the Underground initially started as a project for a writing group I joined when I left New York City in 2012 to move back down to Richmond, VA for a little while. I met a group of guys and girls at a café, and they started giving me writing prompts. Eventually, after I had already written a handful of random poems, I decided I wanted a theme running through the work as a whole. The poems so far had been very personal to me. So, I decided to incorporate my childhood spirituality into the work. Having grown up in Southern California, that wasn’t quite the same as many of my peers. It was based on the mysticism and philosophies my grandmother studied. She called herself The White Witch. Those poems eventually turned into the “Zodiac Cycle,” and that determined the structure for the rest of the book.

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

I really hope readers will be inspired by We Are the Underground to create for themselves, whether that be artistically, spiritually or simply in their day-to-day lives. In addition to that, I’d love for readers to go deep with these poems and find their own meanings in them. I believe I’ve left a lot of room open for interpretation with this book. I hope people will explore all those meanings.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I started writing these poems as a break from another project I was working on (the novel you reviewed earlier, Anthony, The Adversary’s Good News). The poems were able to be jotted down quickly and then revised and modified slowly over time. That allowed me to feel like I was making progress when my novel was progressing so slowly. After finishing the novel, I kept working on the poems as breaks from a handful of other, larger projects I’d started.

5)      What major differences (other than genre) did you notice when writing this book as opposed to The Adversary’s Good News? Would you say it was more difficult or easier to write this book?

Writing The Adversary’s Good News was harder than this book. The Adversary’s Good News took me nearly ten years to complete. It was a massive undertaking. The plotting and wordsmithing was unbelievable. However, We Are the Underground surprisingly required a great deal more research, particularly for the Zodiac Cycle. The Adversary’s Good News was inspired by books I’d already read. Whereas, with We Are the Underground,I spent a lot of time researching astrology for the poems themselves as well as poetic structures so that I could vary the styles and tones of each poem while simultaneously finding forms fitting each one’s content.

6)      Since we last spoke, what social media site has grown to help you connect with readers the most?

Instagram has been garnering a lot of my social media attention. I find it to be a great medium for reaching readers and interacting with the world in general.

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or poets out there, or to anyone looking to expand and explore the poetry genre as a whole?

First, to aspiring authors and poets: Believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Nobody else can determine if you’re a writer. Only you know that. Don’t believe in artistic “gatekeepers.” Nobody else can tell you whether you’ve succeeded in accomplishing what you want to accomplish. As far as expanding and exploring the genre of poetry, I urge everybody to read everything from yesterday’s classics to today’s big press and self-published authors. Read everything from Instagram poets to The Epic of Gilgamesh. And while you’re doing all that, keep exploring what this world makes you think and feel. Write it down. Write it all down. The structures will come. You’ll discover them. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to live.

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

I’m pretty much always working on new projects. What I’m most excited about right now, though, is the first draft of a new novel I recently completed. I hope to release this project in the next year or two. It’s currently called Pomegranate Sutra, and it’s the story of how to find love when you believe you’re too damaged to ever let that emotion take hold. I look forward to sharing it with you all when it’s finally ready for publication.

About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

Website: www.IsrafelSivad.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/israfel_sivad/

Twitter: twitter.com/UrsprungCollect

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UrsprungCollective/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ursprung-collective

Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise