Thursday, August 22, 2019

Seamus Heaney Opened Ground

  • Opened Ground
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1 edition (November 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374235171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374235178

As selected by the author, Opened Ground includes the essential work from Heaney's twelve previous books of poetry, as well as new sequences drawn from two of his landmark translations, The Cure at Troy and Sweeney Astray, and several previously uncollected poems. Heaney's voice is like no other--"by turns mythological and journalistic, rural and sophisticated, reminiscent and impatient, stern and yielding, curt and expansive" (Helen Vendler, The New Yorker)--and this is a one-volume testament to the musicality and precision of that voice. The book closes with Heaney's Nobel Lecture: "Crediting Poetry."

My Thoughts

I believe that much of what we read is about perception. As such, my capacity to view things of relative importance is somewhat hindered by my priorities at that time. 

It's easy to connect to something when I'm devoted to the opportunity. So,  lately, I've been skimming my bookshelves and the internet and switching between fiction and nonfiction to poetry and sonnets.

With the stated, this month of August I celebrated the birth of someone I hold very dear - my mother. In August, I  also mourn the passing of an author whose work I never tire of - Seamus Heaney.  

Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past." 

So, with this month being the anniversary of his death (he passed August 30 in 2013), I urge you to scout out Seamus Heaney's work if you haven't already. 

Heaney taught at Harvard University and served as the Oxford Professor of Poetry. He is probably best known for  When All the Others Were Away at Mass which was named Ireland's best-loved poem from the past century.

I would not be lying to tell you I could sit all day and listen to videos of him reciting his work. His inflection draws me in and his words strike me like a melody.

Most of all, I love that Heaney's work seems uncomplicated and that simple tasks are explored and the practical is held in high regard. And by practical, I mean he's realistic. He shows readers, through different rhythms, the successes, and the suffering. 

Take two of my favorites by Heaney,  Death of a Naturalist where we see the fascination and fear of life cycles and Mid-Term Break which depicts the ultimate tragedy where the agonizing pain of parental bereavement is closely observed as a sibling fixedly gazes on in shock and disbelief.

Yes! Seamus Heaney reveals to readers the inevitable ups and downs of life

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Author Spotlight on Sonia Faruqi

Sonia Faruqi is the author of, The Oyster Thief an underwater odyssey. She is also the author of critically acclaimed Project Animal Farm, about the world's food system

You'll find from my interview with Sonia that she has a passion for conservation and she educates as well as entertains.

Sonia, for readers who aren’t familiar, can you tell us a bit about your background and process for writing the books Project Animal Farm and The Oyster Thief?

My background is not what you would expect – I went to Dartmouth College and studied economics. I worked on Wall Street in investment banking. I moved back to Toronto with my family, and ended up getting interested in farming and learning about how our food is produced. What I found was that the reality of animal farms (cows, chickens, pigs) is very different than what I had imagined. This is how I came up with the idea for Project Animal Farm.

My second novel, The Oyster Thief, was born out of the wish to get away from the harsh Canadian winter. I started inventing my own underwater world, which quickly turned into creating characters, plot, and a rich underwater landscape. Both of my books are very different, but also similar in some regards. Both required quite extensive research; for The Oyster Thief I snorkelled, scuba-dived, swam with sharks, and read lots of books and articles about the ocean.

What part of the stories was the hardest for you to write?

During my journey through farming and food production, I found it especially difficult to visit factory farms. It was very hard to see the way that animals are treated, from chickens in cages to cows chained to their stalls. However, I was able to translate this hardship into a call to action that will hopefully inspire change.

For The Oyster Thief, the challenge was information. Parts of the ocean are less known to scientists than the moon, and of the millions of species thought to live in the ocean the majority are unknown to us.

How do you know when a book is complete?

After reading it a few times and getting feedback on it.

If you had to describe your writing style what words would you use?

Enlightenment combined with entertainment. Storytelling is an amazing creative outlet, but it is also what you can teach with stories that has a huge impact. I aim to write in a way that educates my audience and facilitates discussion on social and planetary issues, such as animal welfare and ocean health.

What are you doing when you’re not working?

Recently I adopted a rescue dog, Rozetta! She is a very sweet little dog who keeps me busy in my off time.

Do you have any particular practices that help you write?

I am a big planner! I spent three months planning The Oyster Thief scene by scene before I even began writing. Research is also a huge part of my process. For example, when I did research for The Oyster Thief, reading articles and learning how to scuba dive while writing the book helped me to get to know the ocean as a living entity, and create the community of merpeople and animals you can find in The Oyster Thief.

Who is your favorite author?

Ayn Rand. I find her writing beautiful and I love how she combines purpose and art in her works.

And finally is there anything you'd like to tell readers?

I’m very open to listening to thoughts and answering questions about my books, and I enjoy interacting with my readers! If you would like to keep in touch, I have a website at where I provide exclusive content and publish a monthly newsletter. You can also interact with me on Instagram and Twitter @Sonia_Faruqi.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Legacy Letters Carew Papritz

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: King Northern Publishing (January 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985708875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985708870


The Legacy Letters reveals to us the rediscovered private letters from a dying father to his children—and his wife.  His words of wisdom, interwoven between deeply personal stories and poignantly-told memories, ultimately become the practical, moral, and spiritual guidebook for his children he’d never live to see, and for his wife, his redemptive act of love. The Legacy Letters has won 5 national awards, including the Mom’s Choice Award. 

My Thoughts

There is something achingly personable about opening The Legacy Letters to the page titled Early Evening.  It's really difficult to explain. At first, my eye was drawn to the page and then I found my hand gently caressing it

I often think of sunset as a tranquil time and in this book, it's an appropriate time for an intimate ceremony of final rest.

I've reread December 23rd multiple times and my heart aches when I come to the words, dying far away from his family and friends

This man who is dying chose to give these letters to his wife and the children that he would never live to know. 

These precious letters contain much value!

These words faithfully guide us and speak to the essence of a life lived with small things in natural beauty.

In a  book about the size of a hand, Carew Papritz brilliantly makes us aware of the silent nature of this message which is a simplification to a gratifying, soulful life. And while I loved the warnings about the compromises of adulthood, and the morse code of semi-finished thoughts, I  think my favorite passage was there is no fear in dying just the fear of not loving and living deeply enough.

The Legacy Letters was gifted from the author. 

The Legacy Letters, I treasure.

About The Author 

Carew Papritz, also known as The Cowboy Philosopher, is the author of the multi-award winning book The Legacy Letters. Though fictional, The Legacy Letters has won acclaim as a life lessons book for all generations, gaining the distinction of being the only book in publishing history to win awards in both fiction and non-fiction categories. A Renaissance Man in an age that lauds the specialist, The Huffington Post says Papritz "intrigues and enlightens, charms and catalyzes change for every reader."    

As part of his many innovative and adventurous first-ever book signings, Carew truly lives his book’s central message to “live life to the fullest” while signing books on top of volcanoes and horses. These events and other YouTube videos, such as the “I Love to Read” series and his annual literacy-driven charity event, “The Great Book Balloon Launch,” inspire kids and adults to rediscover the joy of reading! Proceeds of the summer’s sales of The Legacy Letters went to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.  Proceeds from his recent “First-Ever Book Signing while Stomping Grapes” went to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.  Other charities include Reading is Fundamental and the Military Mama’s Network. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Truth About Gretchen Alretha Thomas

The Truth About Gretchen 
 Alretha Thomas 
File Size: 2772 KB
Print Length: 341 pages
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
Release date: Jun 18, 2019

Gretchen Holloway, in her final year of graduate school, is in the throes of auditioning actors for her thesis film, inspired by a murdered young football star who has haunted her dreams for two years. Gretchen believes making the movie will be cathartic. But instead of freeing her, embarking upon the film production unleashes a sequence of events that lead Gretchen to conclude that she’s the reincarnation of the young man. 

Regina Wilson has always wanted to be an actress. When her agent gets her an audition for a role in Gretchen’s film, which eerily mirrors one of the worst events of her life—the unsolved murder of her older brother, Robert—she’s hard-pressed to go through with it. Upon fleeing, she leaves behind a keepsake that features Robert’s photo. Gretchen sees the picture and recognizes Robert from her dreams. She tracks down Regina, and after being rebuffed and called crazy, Gretchen’s unexplainable knowledge of events in Robert’s life eventually convinces Regina that Gretchen is Robert reincarnated.

The two decide to have his case reopened, but their significant others are dead set against it, and the police, who believe that Robert’s death was gang-related, are less than cooperative. However, Gretchen is desperate to get justice for her former self, and Regina wants justice for her brother. The women piece together the final week of Robert’s life. And the deeper they delve into his past; one shocking revelation follows another, leaving them wondering who they can trust and if they’ll live long enough to find Robert’s killer and bring him to justice.

My Thoughts

Thomas begins this tale with a Patriot jersey clad redhead, Gretchen Holloway, laying in bed next to her fiance Lance. She is reliving a nightmare and soon you learn it's been 2 years since she really got any good sleep.

Into the story steps forthy tw0 old Regina Wilson who introduces, Robert Parker. 

Robert was gunned down on an important day in history,  January 1, 1991. Robert was only 24 years old.

Regina is going to audition for Gretchen but backs out at the last moment leaving behind an object that can hold or transport something. And readers learn this will forever tie the two together.

Subsequently, Gretchen finds the object and recognizes the man from her nightmare -  the man she believes she once was.

This intricate story is written in the first-person present. I love the significance of the drops of water and the way other characters are pulled into this story. The conversational passage of transmigration is intriguing and Thomas's writing style is strong and allows readers to have a vivid sense of effect.

I received a copy of this book through the generosity of the author.

About the Author

Alretha Thomas is an award-winning author, playwright, director, and producer. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

48 Peaks: Hiking and Healing in the White Mountains Cheryl Suchors

48 PeaksHiking and Healing in the White Mountains
Cheryl Suchors
ISBN 9781631524738
Price #16.95 ( USD)

At forty-eight years old, Cheryl Suchors—hoping to find concrete successes and a feeling of control as she changes careers and fifty stares at her from the horizon—vows to summit the highest forty-eight peaks in New Hampshire’s grueling White Mountains. Neglecting to consider her flimsy body, scoliosis, bum knee, and fear of heights, she dives into the challenge.

Along the way, Suchors suffers numerous injuries; her hiking buddy succumbs to ovarian cancer; and she endures breast cancer, a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and five years of adjuvant therapy herself. But she always returns to the mountains—and in that connection, she finds spiritual nourishment, as well as a space powerful enough to hold her grief. Over the ten years it takes her to complete her quest, she learns that mastery alone doesn’t satisfy her and control is often an illusion—that she must connect with hiking comrades and with nature in order to feel nourished and enriched. In the end, Suchors creates her own definition of success.

My Thoughts

I believe many of us recognize the value of friendship. This book goes beyond to explore life after loss with a journey in the most rugged mountains in New England. 

This is an evocative read which teaches us how the experience of nature assists in the healing process.

I reviewed this NetGalley for She Writes Press.

Cheryl Suchors began writing at age six, when she wrote a play starring her sister and herself. She continued to write poetry until she took a detour through the business world for twenty years. She holds degrees from Harvard Business School and Smith College. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Writer's Digest, City Book Review, Limestone, The Distillery, RE:AL, and HerSports, as well as in the anthology My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends. In her business career she coauthored the book Own Your Own Cable System. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and a plethora of plants; their grown daughter lives on her own. Cheryl continues to hike every chance she gets, most recently in Poland and Canada.

She Writes Press

The Top 10 audience this week is from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, Pakistan, Portugal, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and an Unknown Region

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Lethal Justice by Blake Sebring

Lethal Justice
Blake Sebring
  • Paperback: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Independently published (June 16, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1074370260
  • ISBN-13: 978-1074370268
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

Given enough time, can you convince your mind to change the truth? After the shocking conclusion to “Lethal Ghost,” everything in county sheriff Officer Luke Rennison’s life is disrupted, including his family, his friendships and his career. Lines are drawn in his midsize city, and Rennison is isolated, second-guessing his actions and facing down his own doubts as the trial for his life begins. But how do you find the truth when everyone is trying to use the trial to make their own statements or push their own agendas on issues such as police brutality, law enforcement procedures and the rights of citizens?

My Thoughts

If you recall I'd mentioned a while back I'd read all of Blake Sebring's books. Well, Sebring is at it again. He's out doing book signings for his latest thriller Lethal Justice which is a sequel to the book Lethal Ghost and I see many readers who've reviewed it are already pumped on wanting book three.

 My review of Lethal Ghost was 
"There was no relaxed comfort in reading this book. Instead, it was an emotional roller coaster. Yes, this book gives an insight into victimology and the difficulties law enforcement face, but more than that, it teaches us our 'what ifs' are not insignificant. This ending can easily transition into a series and I'm hopeful for a movie.

I think most of us that read the thriller genre know that these reads involve disturbance and character conflict where friends betray friends and not all protagonists are good.  

Yes, even our heroes have flaws and this often brings about a depth of complexity which entices readers by raising our anxiety or reaching into us - making us more aware of our specific phobias and eliciting panic when exposed. 

I won't go into much detail about Lethal Justice but I will tell you Sebring's characters are names of people he knows. And what I love most about this is many of these names I recognize and it amuses me as to which direction he takes with their characters.

For those who have not read Sebring's thrillers, they have great rising action with twists. And more than being action-driven they have a valued argument and premise.

I've read most of Sebring's 11 books and it's always a pleasure to meet with him.

About the Author
A native of Fort Wayne, Blake Sebring covered the Fort Wayne Komets' beat for 28 seasons, covering more than 1,500 games, and is one of only four men to cover the team over 60 years for The News-Sentinel. Besides legendary sports editor Bud Gallmeier's 35 years, no one in newspapers has covered the Komets longer. He started working at The News-Sentinel at age 15.

"Lethal Justice" is his 11th book. He is also the author of six sports nonfiction books, including ``Fort Wayne Sports History,'' ``Tales of the Komets," ``Legends of the Komets," ``Live From Radio Rinkside: The Bob Chase Story,'' ``The Greatest Mistake I Never Made" and ``On To The Show." His first novel was ``The Lake Effect,'' followed by "Homecoming Game" and "Lethal Ghost." followed by 
"Features in Faith"

Monday, August 5, 2019

Author Spotlight Anne Butler Montgomery

Anne Butler Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. Her first TV job came at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, and led to positions at WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, and ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter. She finished her on‐camera broadcasting career with a two‐year stint as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery was a freelance and/or staff reporter for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. Her novel, The Scent of Rain, was released in March 2017.  A Light in the Desert  was published in November 2018. Nothing But Echoes is set for publication in 2020. Montgomery teaches journalism at South Mountain High School in Phoenix, is a foster mom to three sons, and is an Arizona Interscholastic Association football referee and crew chief. When she can, she indulges in her passions: rock collecting, football officiating, scuba diving, and playing her guitar.

Anne kindly agreed to my interviewing her regarding her career and writing of her novel A Light in the Desert. I'll be posting a  book review of it in the near future. Now, onto the interview.

Anne, can you tell us a bit about your background and process for writing A Light in the Desert?

I spent about fifteen years as a reporter in both television and print, so I approach my novels much the same way I handled being a journalist. I spend a lot of time investigating particular topics that interest me. In regard to A Light in the Desert, that included not only the real-life cold-case deadly sabotage of an Amtrak train in the Arizona desert, but also PTSD and child abuse. I interview people with first-hand knowledge of the topics I write about and find that they are often woven into my fictional characters.

Please tell us how you went about studying the themes of child abuse and PTSD.

After my career as a journalist ended, I became an inner-city high school teacher. Over the past nineteen years, I have come in contact with many abused and neglected children. In fact, I became a foster mom after meeting some of them. While I’m happy to say that my three boys are now in their twenties and are successful young adults, they still call me mom and I hope they always will. As far as PTSD is concerned, I had a dear friend, a Vietnam Veteran, who suffered from the ravages of that syndrome, as well as Agent Orange poisoning. The character of Jason Ramm is based on some of the stories Don told me about his in-country time during the war. As mentioned above, when I want to learn about a topic, I find people who have first-hand knowledge of the subject and interview them extensively.

As an experienced journalist, what advice would you give to someone who is a prospective journalist?

Those interested in pursuing a career in journalism need to understand that it is a mobile career. That means you must be willing to leave where you are and move quickly to another locale. Think of the media industry like Minor League Baseball. Each move should be to a bigger market. Of course, that means leaving friends and loved ones behind. It might also mean delaying marriage and family life. So, you must be open to change. Also, the most important skill a journalist needs is the ability to tell a good story. It doesn’t matter if it’s TV, radio/podcasting, or print, excellent writing skills are essential. 

Do you have any particular practices that help you write?

I let a story roll around in my head for months before doing any actual research. I identify the components I want to include and try to determine how they might fit together. For example, I just finished a manuscript about the problems associated with wild horses as humans encroach on their habitat, escaping an abusive relationship, and the fragility of the Sonoran Desert riparian environments. Once I have an idea of how to put those puzzle pieces together, I begin my formal research. As far as actual writing, I’m what’s referred to as a “pantser”. While many authors plan their story lines out ahead of time, I work chapter to chapter, by the seat of my pants – hence “pantser” – and let the characters take me with them. I am often as surprised as readers to discover new things about my characters and the actions they take.

If you had to describe your writing style what words would you use?  

It will probably come as no surprise that I write like a reporter. That means my style is often concise and to the point, so there’s not much in the way of flowery prose. (This style comes from years of writing to time and space constraints. In TV, I’d only have ninety seconds to tell a story. Or I’d be held to five-hundred words in print. You learn to eliminate anything unnecessary. Also, I use very short chapters because in my mind I see video scenes. 

Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have one. I am a low-level dyslexic and, until I was older, I found the thought of reading for pleasure ridiculous. While I’m not devoted to any particular author, I like to read historical fiction – often about the World War II era – as well as mysteries, suspense, and thrillers. 

And finally, is there anything you'd like to tell readers?

While my books are fiction, they are based in fact. I work very hard to make sure I get the factual parts right. For example, The Scent of Rain details the life of a teenage girl fleeing the horrors of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a cult of polygamists who believe it’s OK for old men to marry young girls. I interviewed a woman who twice escaped from the FLDS, and a doctor who worked with the cultists, and I went to Colorado City, Arizona to observe them. So, I’d like my readers to know that, even though they are reading a fictional story, they will learn factual information along the way. 

Anne Montgomery 
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