Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book Review: Fever Dream / Take Heart by Valyntina Grenier

I first had the pleasure of encountering Valyntina Grenier’s work through Sunspot Literary Journal’s Single Word contest. Since then, this talented artist was picked up by Cathexis North West Press.

Fever Dream / Take Heart is a doubled poetry book. Two chapbooks have been produced in a flip-book format. Bound in the  tête-bêche style, Fever Dream and Take Heart provide two forays through this poet’s feverishly delicious style.

Lifting off from nature, Grenier leaps intuitively between images that comment on humanity’s impact on the climate, corrosive politics, and all that is ferociously feminine. 

Leap anywhere into these works and emerge with your senses swollen and your will to enact change fortified with iron.

FDTHCover75

Valyntina Grenier is a poet and visual artist living in Tucson, Arizona. She was born in Lancaster, California, and educated at The University of California, Berkeley, and St. Mary’s College, Moraga. Graduating with an MFA in poetry, she is self-taught as a painter, installation and Neon artist. In both language and visual art, she pushes the boundaries of representation and abstraction to create a vantage from which to view violence and prejudice. An LGBTQIA artist and activist, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lana Turner, High Shelf Press, JuxtaProse, Sunspot Lit, Bat City Review and The Impossible Beast: Poems of Queer Eroticism. Find her at valyntinagrenier.com or Insta @valyntinagrenier.

Fantastic Books to Help the Environment

You really have to see TREE and RIVER, both from Blotter Books, an imprint of The Blotter literary magazine. Each title contains a poem that has been lavishly illustrated by members of the Orange County artists’ community.

$25 each; available in Chapel Hill / Carrboro at the North Carolina Crafts Gallery, the Botanical Gardens, FRANK Gallery, and indie bookstore Flyleaf Books.

Online orders, contact m_k_smith@yahoo.com.  If you order online, the shipping is free!

Soulful Book Offering Gifts from the Ocean

Sweet LifeI’ve been following the journey of a particular book called The Sweet Life from creation through to its final version. The book, which offers up gifts that originate deep within the ocean, is fascinating.

It started years ago when a group of women were called to travel to various places around the world. They set up sacred stone circles in many places, and the sites can be visited by readers who want to experience the journey themselves.

The book is now available on Amazon for those who want to hear from the very special beings who protect our planet and all humans on it. Guaranteed to be a deeply moving read, and perfect for book clubs.

Tin House to Close; Sunspot to Open

books-2158737_1920June of 2019 will see the last Tin House literary magazine roll off the presses. After twenty years publishing original fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Tin House is saying goodbye.

The move was done in the face of mounting costs associated with print publishing. Rob Spillman, the co-founder and editor, is moving on to other areas. The closing brings an end to a very long stretch of quality contributions to the literary arena.

While some new works will still be published on Tin House’s website, the loss of yet another print publication is difficult for writers. Much of the industry still gives more weight to credits in print publications, so the loss of even one magazine can be bad news.

There is a bright spot, however. Sunspot Literary Magazine is launching in January of 2019. For the first year, one print edition will be published. The magazine hopes to add additional print editions in subsequent years.

Meanwhile, digital editions are scheduled for every quarter. The founder is also considering adding frequent special editions that focus on a single author or a single category.

The magazine’s mission is to “change the world through words,” and is open to new and established authors and artists. Submissions of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, essays, art, interviews, and reviews of books, movies and galleries are being accepted through Sunspot’s Submittable portal.

This is an excellent opportunity to be heard and to enact the change you want to see.

Wind, Waves, and Wonder: Where Dolphins Walk

Where dolphins walk_CoverToday is the first day you can buy Where Dolphins Walk. This memoir from a commercial airline pilot who has traveled the world brings a level of thoughtfulness and meaning to how we move through the world…not only while traveling, but in our daily lives.

With profound consideration and lively stops in a number of the world’s most beautiful countries, Douglas Andrew Keehn gives readers a global cultural tour. The weight of his experiences happen in South America, where he eventually lived for a time before returning to the US.

Throughout his journeys and the book, Keehn returns time and again to the message conveyed by the subtitle: A Memoir of Bridging National Lifestyles, Positive Change, and the Powers of Silence. 

Destined to become the modern-day A Year in Provence for South America’s many jewels, Where Dolphins Walk connects readers with the global harmony that Keehn so clearly feels is not only possible, but is present for everyone who wishes to engage respectfully with other cultures.

Read this over the holidays, and you’ll know exactly where you want to go for your vacations…and possibly for the rest of your life.

Keen CockpitDouglas Andrew Keehn was an avid saltwater angler and deckhand as a teenager. Born in NYC, he was raised in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. He began flying at age seventeen, and has been a flight officer for a major commercial airline for thirty-three years.

After crossing numerous U.S., Canadian, and Mexican cities, his travels shifted south to Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. He resided in Florianopolis, SC, Brazil for more than six years.

Book Review: Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce

Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce. St. Martin’s Press, December 2017.

DarkWindRising_FBCover_onsaleFinally, finally, the wait is over! You can–if you haven’t already–get a copy of Dark Winds Rising, the second in the epic historical series about a Welsh queen who stepped into her power in order to help her people.

The first book in the series is Between Two Fires. That work shows Queen Branwen’s strength of intellect and the strength of her heart as she accepts that the man she married is not her true love.

Now, in Dark Winds Rising, she must face the Queen of the Picts when raiders land on the shores of Wales. A mysterious assassin intent on killing her young son haunts her trail as she moves between different areas. The leaders of various areas would rather maintain their petty feuds with each other than join forces against the enemy, so the queen has her hands full.

Oh, and by the way, she’s pregnant. Provides a whole new angle on that modern mom thing, right? Even though sometimes young kids make it feel like Pictish raiders are marauding through your home!

Well, Queen Branwen never shirks her duty to her people or her country. Although taking her son with her on the road exposes them both to additional dangers, the assassin leaves her no choice.

The scenes in camp between her and her husband, Artagan, are some of the best in this book. They show the real dynamics between men and women during the medieval times while providing Branwen with enough room to move in her own direction.Dark Winds Rising

 

Plus, the touching moments with the family are heightened outside stone walls. Readers participate in very warm and moving interactions between parents and children. And yet the tension never gives way, which of course gives those intimate scenes all the more impact.

This second title in the series is pitch perfect from front to back. You won’t a single place where you lose interest or where you feel lost. You will be thoroughly immersed in Branwen’s world, her time, and the rugged beauty of Wales.

 

Perfect Gift for a Special Teacher

Essential Knowledge for Teachers: Truths to Energize, Excite, and Engage Today’s Teachers by Barbara D. Culp
Rowman & Littlefield
978-1-4758-3132-0

Culp TeachersThrough Writer’s Resource, I helped this author bring this idea into the world. So I know firsthand that this is a perfect gift idea for that special teacher!

Educators build the future of our world by nurturing one mind at a time. If you want to say thanks in a really thoughtful way, give a copy of Essential Knowledge for Teachers by Barbara Culp to the teachers in your school.

This book was selected as a finalist in the Education/Academic category of the 2017 Best Books Awards by the American Book Fest. Something like 2,000 entries were received, so this book rose to the top percentile in order to be classified as a finalist.

It’s such a great gift, you might buy more than one for each of your children’s teachers, or for more than one teacher you want to thank. So, try Jet.com because when you buy two, you get a dollar off the price of each!

Here’s a link to the book on the publisher’s website.

If you have Amazon prime, it’s available for free shipping here.

And for folks who don’t have a local indie bookstore to order it from, here it is at Target.