Books and Works

Review of A Soldier’s Children – Jan Sikes

The Blurb:

At the tender age of fourteen, Jennifer shoulders the full responsibility of running a household and caring for her seven-year-old sister. It’s bad enough that their father is lost at war in Afghanistan, but troubles multiply when their so-called mother abandons them for another man. Hardships and struggles are constant companions. Family is whatever Jennifer can make it. That’s the way the cards have been dealt, and that’s the way she’ll play them.
This strong young girl meets every obstacle head-on, while never losing hope for a better tomorrow.

My Thoughts:

I found myself emotionally invested in the characters, anger at their dead-beat mother who abandons her children to fend for themselves. Who does that? I know the mother was mentally distraught over the death of her husband, but I found myself unable to forgive her actions.

Despite my disgust for Mom,  I couldn’t help but admire the courage and resilience of young Jennifer, a teenager pushed to a station far above her years. She demonstrates incredible maturity, ‘quick-on-the-feet’ intelligence, and a ‘can-do’ attitude. Her younger sister, Emily, is adorable and her kindness towards feline, Miss Daisy, is a tell-tale sign that she shares her sister’s traits.

This is a poignant tale, yet the above-mentioned qualities of the main characters, combined with the kindness shown by Mr. Parker and the owner of the antique store is heart-warming.

This is a quick-read that can easily and pleasantly be devoured on a bus ride to, or from, work. The following sentence is the best way I can describe it.

A Soldier’s Children is a professional-grade firework compacted into firecracker size. A small package with a massive emotional impact!

I give this book a FIVE STAR rating.

About the Author:

Jansikesround

Multi-Award winning author, Jan Sikes, has been called a wordsmith by her peers.

She published four biographical fiction books about the journey of two people moving through adversity in order to grow and learn to become better humans. She believes with all her heart there is something worthy of sharing in these stories. Bits and pieces of wisdom, hard-learned lessons and above and beyond all, love…True love that you read about in fiction stories and yet this is truth. The old saying that truth is stranger than fiction fits these stories.

She also releases a music CD of original songs along with each book that fits the time period of the story. Why? Because the stories revolve and evolve around a passion for music.

She has published a book of poetry and art and nine short stories.

She is widowed, lives in North Texas, volunteers at music festivals, has five incredible grandchildren and serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Authors Institute of History, and the Executive Council at Rave Writers’ Int’l Society of Authors. She is also a member of the Writer’s League of Texas and Authors Marketing Guild.

If you wish to purchase this book, or any other of her works, you can do so by clicking on this link: Jan Sikes on Amazon

Connect through Jan’s website: www.jansikes.com
Follow Jan on Facebook: Author Jan Sikes on Facebook
Follow Jan on Twitter: Jan Sikes on Twitter
Follow Jan’s Blog: Jan Sikes on WordPress

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It’s Great To Be a Passenger!

readingbyatrain

Please don’t get me wrong, I love being an author! It’s great to play the role of creator, narrator, character, researcher, proofreader, and reader, all at once. 

Yet, to sit back and just read the written words of another, is so rejuvenating and relaxing!  It’s truly wonderful being a passenger and letting someone else drive the train!

To all of my fellow authors, readers, reviewers, and bloggers, I want to say a huge “Thank you!” 

Keep taking me on those journeys! 

Guest Blog Post: Happiness for author Mark Bierman

Not too long ago, I had the privilege of being hosted by talented blogger, DA-AL, on her wonderful blogsite Happiness Between The Tails. I encourage everyone to visit her site, there is a variety of topics, it’s well crafted and there’s something for all! Thank you again, DA-AL for this opportunity.

Thrills — and reading and writing — have always been important to Ontario blogger/author Mark Bierman. Here he describes his favorite sorts of adventures!…

A special award from Grandma to commemorate Mike Bierman’s bike ride with his daughters from their home to the city of Kingston, a distance of about forty kilometers.

* * “Bonding with my kids is what I love to do!” by Mark Bierman * *

Time has a way of slipping by way too quickly. It seems that only yesterday I held my oldest daughter, Amanda, in my arms when she was a seven-pound, ten-ounce newborn. I was both overwhelmed and overjoyed at the same time. That was back in February of 2007! Two years later, our second, Isabel, was born. Today they are a pair of beautiful, smart, and fun-loving girls with whom I’ve had many adventures. This fits well with both my lifestyle and writing style. I love to write action/adventure, and you can go to my website to find out more about it.

I won’t take up too much of your time here. I know we all have busy lives, so I’ve compiled three of my favorite photos that show the type of activities we do to bond. Thanks for reading! Thank you, Da-Al for opening up your blog today and allowing me the privilege of being a guest!

We were at a waterfall, and the rocks were slippery. I “wisely” cautioned the kids about the slippery algae, but then decided to jump a small puddle, yup, I slipped. Amanda must have been feeling empathetic because she slipped soon after.

In this photo, we are proudly displaying our slimed pants.

On a recent trip, the writer in me was annoyed by this sign. Rather than spray paint “for” between the words, I had Isabel pretend to be a ‘Watch Child.’

She watches and reports ALL to Mom!

I think most parents will agree that spending time with your kids is worth more than anything you can give them.

What’s your favorite way to spend time?…

 

Review of Emerging From Shadows, Poetry by Balroop Singh

The Blurb:

From darkness into light, from despair onto the wider ways of hope…life oscillates between sunshine and shadows. Emerging from shadows is a choice, which lies dormant, which can be gently inspired by self-talk. Each poem in this book banks on the hope of emerging stronger, saner, positive and resilient. Each poem in this book would talk to you, revealing layers of enclosed emotions. Each poem would divulge a secret path that could lead you into the world of poise and serenity.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, for most of my life, I have not read much poetry, having preferred novels and short stories. This has changed since I’ve joined Rave Reviews Book Club and discovered the many talented poets who are part of this writing family. I include Balroop Singh to be among them.

This was the first, and it won’t be the last, book of poetry that I have devoured by this talented author. Each poem follows a similar theme of choosing to make those first, and sometimes painful, steps from inner darkness and pessimism to hope and optimism.

Poetry can often deliver a greater emotional impact using vivid imagery and flowery language, in a far more efficient manner than novels. I believe this is due to the liberty from the requirements of developing in-depth backgrounds for mutiple characters that must hustle through a plotline, while avoiding a backlog of too much detail. Poetry is truly a time-warp back to the Victorian-style of writing, and is a treat!

I highly recommend this book and give it a five star rating!

About the Author:

Balroop Singh, an educationalist, a poet and an author always had a passion for writing. She would jot down her reflections on a piece of paper and forget about them till each drawer of her home started overflowing with poetic reminders, popping out at will! The world of her imagination has a queer connection with realism. She could envision the images of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first poetry book: ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’ She has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. She lives in San Ramon California.

If you wish to purchase a copy of this book, or another written by Singh, you can do so by clicking on this link: Emerging From Shadows, Poetry by Balroop Singh

 

Review Of Circus Tarot – Charles W. Jones

Circus Tarot

circus Tarot

The blurb:

Inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Stephen King’s IT, and cult movie classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Charles W. Jones brings the first installment of the Circus Tarot Trilogy. In the strange land of World Circus, Mary and Darrin discover they aren’t in their safe, dull life any longer, but have taken the identity of one of the cards from the Circus Tarot. After a terrorizing encounter, resulting in death, they learn the bizarre rules of the land, and discover that the denizens of the sinister World Circus want more than to entertain them.

My Thoughts:

I must admit that my knowledge of Tarot Cards is minimal, having no experience with them personally. Had this not been the case, I would undoubtedly have found the first few chapters of this book more enjoyable. However, a glossary is provided at the end of the book, which I realized too late, so those unfamiliar with the world of Tarot Cards may want to read that first. The book also requires a bit of editing.

The storyline is intense, with a few violent scenes that are not for the sqeamish. The story plays well with many reader’s fear of clowns and those who enjoy Stephen King’s,  It, and Alice in Wonderland, will appreciate the similar concepts.

Circus Tarot is an exciting read that holds more twists and turns than a mountain road, it will keep you guessing.

 

About the Author:

He grew up in a small town of five hundred people in Wyoming that everyone always pronounces wrong or spells incorrectly, Shoshoni (show show knee); yes, it’s a real place. His first novel, Dreamwalker: The Second Plain, is LGBTQ+ as are HOME and Daughter of Illusion. His other books include the Circus Tarot Trilogy (it’s Clowns and Tarot, what’s not to love), Hunger, Hydrangeas on the Lanai and Darkness is Coming. And last, but not least, I have two anthology collections, An Unnamed Acquaintance and Liaisons Macabre. Oh, yeah, he currently lives with his husband of twenty-one years in Colorado with their three cats, ten crested geckos, and one saltwater fish tank.

If you wish to purchase a copy of this book, or another written by Jones, you can do so by clicking on this link: Circus Tarot

A Fireside Tanka

I thought I’d try my hand at a bit of poetry, so here goes.

firedenbigh

Lighting up the night

Fearless of the dying light

Crackling warmth you give

Fed by rot, what joy you bring

It makes my heart wish to sing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canucks in the Poconos!

I have to admit, the Poconos Mountains, in Pennsylvania, was not our first choice for a vacation spot. We had dreams of taking our kids across Canada, to the province of British Columbia, where we’d spent our honemoon, seventeen years ago. However, flights across Canada cost more than those to Europe.

Instead, we searched Airbnb and found a little gem. Nestled in the mountains was a three-bedroom guest house located on a horse ranch named, Pleasant Ridge Farm. It’s near the small village of Cresco. Within a relatively short drive, there were beaches, waterfalls, guided cave tours, hiking trails, horseback riding, an amazing live theater, and souvenir shops. The home was clean and cozy, and we were able to visit the barn to meet the horses and friendly staff. Our only gripes were the lack of a toaster, and the proximity of the manure pile to the house. It didn’t smell, but it was less than 200 feet from the back deck and clearly visible. Needless to say, we ate our meals inside.

I’m not going to bore you with every miniscule detail, or family snapshot of our trip, just a few photos with a caption. They are mainly awkward or funny signs, because, hey, this is supposed to be a writing blog. 🙂

 

This sign is posted along the driveway leading up to the ranch. It’s probably a joke, but I can hear some teeth grinding among the grammatical purists. That being said, isn’t it WAY GOODER to slow down and avoid a collision?

 

 

Beware of these kids! They SEE ALL and report EVERYTHING to Mom!

My finger itched for the nozzel of  a spray can! I wanted to place the word ‘For’ in between the words, ‘Watch’ and ‘Children.’ Anyone else plagued with that kind of OCD? Instead, I took the route that would have me sleeping in the guest house, rather than a jail cell, and made a joke of it. I wonder if it’s just an error in the translation from Pennsylvania Dutch?

 

Isabel shows her thoughts on her first horseback riding trip. Either that, or she’s demanding two scoops of the promised ice cream cone.

 

Please remember poor Gus and all geese. Without them, those who clean their poop from our parks would be out of a job.

 

So, being the “wise” father, while playing around on the rocks at the base of a waterfall, I cautioned the kids to be aware of their slippery nature. In a ‘Do as I say, but not as I do,’ parental faux-pas, I jumped from one to the other and got slimed. Amanda, smart enough not to leap, slipped and fell in what must have been an act of empathy. Needless to say, it was ‘Stain remover to the rescue!’

 

One of the trip’s highlights was taking in a live production at the Sight & Sound Theater, in Lancaster. The stage wrapped around the audience on both sides, with some of the sets matching the dimensions of small buildings! There were live camels, goats, doves, pigs, and even a dog, included in the performance. Being a Christian, I enjoyed the production entitled,  Jesus, the story of the life of Jesus from his birth to ressurection. I appreaciate that not everyone shares this belief, but the amazing effects and acting may entice you to visit.

Overall, it was a wonderful and memorable holdiay, spent with the most important people in my life!

Here are some links that may interest you:

Guest House at Pleasant Ridge Farm (Airbnb)

Sight & Sound Theater