Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January Book Reviews #bookreview #books #amreading #readingcommunity #poetry #poetrycommunity #fantasy #paranormal @PTLPerrin @JItakali @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! I have started 2024 focused on reading and writing. Not only have I written for at least half an hour almost every day in January, I have also managed to review a few chapters for my critique group and have read a few books. I hope I can keep this rhythm for the entire year. Here are the books I read in January that deserve to be highlighted.

by PTL Perrin

Genre: Teen and Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 284 pages


Troubled Storm won’t risk losing someone else he loves. He won’t let anyone in, especially Sky, who has a nasty habit of breaking through his defenses. Then he’s taken off-world, and everything changes.

Millions of artifacts spread throughout the globe need healing before the planet is safe, and only four teens can fix them. They must do the impossible, or Terra and another planet whose fate is entwined with ours will die.

A looming war threatens to end humanity. A vicious alien has marked Jewel as his own against her will and would destroy the planet to claim her. Pax would give his life to free her. If either is lost, so is Terra. If every sentient species inhabiting our planet can cooperate, Terra may still be doomed.

In this compelling conclusion of the Tetrasphere series, only one thing can save the planet now. Will they discover it in time?

My Review: 

I cannot say enough fantastic things about this series. It was amazing! This book is the final book in the series, and I highly recommend you start at the beginning (here). The "Star Children" have been called upon to save Terra from destroying itself. The problem is they can't do it alone and the other parties don't seem to know how to help them. While trying to figure that out, they also have to deal with Shaula trying to kidnap Jewel and claim her as his own.

This story kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire ride. Every time they seem to make progress, something would happen to bring chaos into their lives. The author created a brilliant series with incredible creatures, all while infusing science and myths into her storyline. Her gift of description made the scenes jump off the pages. 

The story follows four characters, and each one tells part of the story in their own voice. In book one, it took a bit to get used to, but I'm so happy she told the story in this manner because I became invested in all four of them. Plus, there were certain scenes that only one character could truly explain to allow the reader to know what was happening. And the final solution to saving the world was just perfect! I loved this series and would highly encourage everyone to read it.

by Jude Itakali

Genre: Poetry

Pages: 162 pages


In love, at the crossroads of loneliness, we are often at our most vulnerable; longing and lust entangle, fear breeds deception, and love’s intimacy may pave the way to heartbreak’s horrors.
For alas the wind blows where the wind wants.
And yet it always carries hope

Over 120 poems and prose-stories to blow you on a search for love, discovering ecstasies, suffering pains, and finding understanding.
Enjoy Free verse poems, poetic fiction stories, as well as poetry forms like Sonnets, haiku, ballads, tanka, etheree, and many more.

My Review: 

This book of poetry and prose is so beautifully written. I was exposed to Mr. Itakali's poetry through our TankaTuesday poetry group and his blog and fell in love with his brilliant way of weaving emotions into his words. This collection did not disappoint! Broken into different sections, the poet takes us on a journey through the different stages of love, creating scenes that are so easily relatable. 

Some of my favorite poems were Stuck on You, Sickness, True Love?, Dark Refuge, Abandoned by the Tide, Memory, Fighting Depression, Bars of Sorrow, and Endless Love.

I also loved his poetic stories. In fact, those were some of my favorites! Here are a few that really resonated with me: Marenga, Inflamed, and Beautiful Lies.

Interspersed were haikus that were just incredible, such as: 
As the lioness lusts
Pheromones disperse
Driving suitors mad

This collection dives deep into romantic love, betrayal, lust, passion, heartache, and everything in between. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves poetry.

Have you read any great books this month? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Daikan #Tanka #icyheart #snowstorms @YvetteMCalleiro


Hello, beautiful readers! We entered a new season at the 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge. It is now Daikan, or Deep Cold. Colleen Chesebro has challenged us to write a poem using the kigo words that represent the weather in our hemisphere. There isn't much change in the weather where I live, but the northern states have gotten a beatdown with winter storms.

As I was thinking about icicles and a deep freeze, my brain went in another direction. A phrase stuck in my head, and I went with it. I decided to write a tanka poem. Tanka poems consist of five lines with a syllabic pattern of 5-7-5-7-7. The third line tends to be a pivot, essentially creating two separate poems within one. My kigo words are bolded and italicized. 

(courtesy of @dimitriwittman on Pixabay)

snowstorms wreak havoc
icy winds isolate all
loneliness chills me
my heart's frozen to the core
never to be thawed again

Now, don't go worrying about me. 😉 I'm not depressed. I'm very much in a good place in my life. I just thought of all those people isolated in their homes because of the freezing weather and that led me down this path. 

Do you ever feel isolated because of weather? I'd love to hear from you.

Would you like to write a poem of your own? Join our fabulous group here.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Shokan #Haibun #homeless #veterans @YvetteMCalleiro


Hello, beautiful readers! I hope you are well. If you live in the Northern hemisphere and are enduring the freezing weather, I hope you are able to stay warm and safe. We've had a few windy weeks which has kept me from my beloved beach, but my sister and I have found a few moments to go bike riding. Last weekend, we complete a 16-mile ride, partly against the wind, which was a challenge but I loved it. Later this afternoon, we are hoping to visit another park for some more bike riding.

For this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge, Colleen Chesebro has asked us to choose a poetic form and kigo word of our choice. Yesterday, my sister, who sponsors a high school spoken word poetry club, shared with me a video of her team's group piece. Its focus on was partly on homelessness. As I sat down to work on the poem for this challenge, my thoughts turned to those with no shelter to protect them from the elements.

I enjoyed writing a haibun last week, so I decided to write another one this week. I chose to use winter wind for my kigo.

(courtesy of @Ben_Kerckx on Pixabay)


     He lies on the frigid concrete with his back pressed against the uncaring building. His tattered bookbag breaks the icy wind's assault on his face while the sleeping bag a kind soul gave him attempts to prevent his body from getting frostbite. He had signed on the dotted line many moons ago to give his life for our country never realizing his life would become meaningless upon his return from war. He is the unseen, unwanted, and unhoused, and he is very cold.

winter wind chills bones
layers of dirt give no heat
homeless need love's warmth

Would you like to write a poem with us this week? Join our group here. All are welcome! :-)

Saturday, January 13, 2024

#TankaTuesday Weekly #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Shokan #Haibun #snowfight #snow @YvetteMCalleiro


Hello, beautiful readers! School started back up again this week, and so did my busy schedule. It's the morning of day 13 of 2024, and I'm proud to say I was able to write for thirty minutes on eleven of the twelve days that have passed. Ten of those days were spent making progress on Drake's story. I used the other day to write something else. 

I have also completed a 15-20 home workout every morning, did an indoor walking exercise one afternoon (weather hasn't been conducive for walking outside), and used my sauna once. Not quite the goal I had hoped for, but it's still more than I had been doing, so I'm happy with my progress. It's been a stressful week for me with a lot happening, so last night was my first opportunity to look at my email and visit my favorite blogs, including Colleen Chesebro's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge.

This week's invitation was to write a haibun using the kigo words for Early Cold, the Shokan season. A haibun is a paragraph of prose (storytelling) with a haiku attached. The haiku has three lines with approximately 12-17 syllables, depending on whether you use the 3-5-3, 2-3-2, or 5-7-5 pattern. 

With all the stress that has surrounded me this week, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of the traditional kigo words for Early Cold was snow. Obviously, we do not have snow here in South Florida, but a memory came to me so vividly that I felt myself smile and relax as I gave in to reliving that moment. So, I knew I would use it for my haibun.

For those of you new to my blog, since my son was very young, we have spent the summers traveling the USA, usually with my parents. I shared our journeys at the beginning of 2023 through a series of blogs which you can visit here. In July 2017, we visited the West Coast, where my son saw snow for the first time on the top of Crater Lake National Park. He then saw snow again at Government Camp in Oregon and at Mt. Hood. So, I'll use the kigo word snow in my haibun to capture that moment.

First Snow

My son squealed as we rounded yet another bend on our way to the top of the mountain. The narrow, winding road opened to a vast hill on its right side with the most beautiful white blanket of snow. Unable to contain his excitement at seeing snow for the first time, he begged me to pull over, which I did. We climbed the embankment, and I watched in delight as my son picked up the icy, powdery substance in his hands for the first time. I barely acknowledged the brisk, chilly, breeze that came down the mountain; my heart warmed my soul with the breathtaking sight in front of me - a child's pure joy.

snow fight on a hill
mother reverts to a child
loud laughter echoes

Do you remember the first time you (or your children) saw snow? I'd love to hear about it.

If you'd like to write a poem and join us in this challenge, click here

Thursday, January 4, 2024

#TankaTuesday Weekly #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Shokan #BadgersHexastich #Floridawinter #winter @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! Happy New Year! I'm excited to share that I am writing once again. I've written two chapters of Drake's story, and I am eager and excited about finishing his story this year. The goal is June, so fingers crossed I make it. I am also hoping to write more poetry this year, which brings me to this post.

For this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge, Colleen Chesebro introduced the season of Shokan, or Early Cold. The challenge was to use kigo (seasonal) words that represent this season in our area of the world. This past week was a bit cold for me. We had temperatures in the high 40s at night on one or two nights (mostly, it was in the 50s, but that's still cold for me). And now, we are moving into better weather (60s at night and high 70s/low 80s during the day). 

I chose to write a double Badger's Hexastich. This poetry form has six unrhymed lines with a syllabication pattern of 2-4-6-6-4-2. My kigo words are bolded and italicized within the poem. I chose this form because I needed a form that had four syllables on one line. My sister, niece, and I went biking and hiking in the Florida National Everglades Park on New Year's Day, and as we were leaving, we were gifted with the most beautiful sunset. So, I wanted that to be a part of my poem.

(courtesy of @MabelAmber on Pixabay)

Florida Winters

clear skies
stunning sunsets
brush strokes in fiery red
a few wintery days
sweater weather
brisk breeze

next day
sun's heat returns
winds die down, bring calm waves
sunbathing commences
South Florida

Would you like to join our poetry fun? Join us here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Author Spotlight - Maureen Twomey, Author of Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke... oh what fun) #author #authorspotlight #memoir #stroke #strokesurvivor #meettheauthor #RRBC @Maureen_2me @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! I have the pleasure of introducing you to a remarkable woman and author, Maureen Twomey! She is the author of Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke...oh what fun). As you can tell from the title, Maureen survived a stroke and wrote a book to share her experience. I read her book in November, and you can read my review here. I am excited to help you get to know this incredible lady!

Maureen and I spoke over the phone so I could interview her. Since her stroke, writing has been a challenge, but I'll let her tell her story below.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I always wanted to write a story, but when the stroke happened in June 2000 (at the age of 33 years old), writing took a backseat. I initially lost all function on my right side as well as my ability to communicate. So, recovering from the stroke was my priority. As I got better, I decided I wanted to write about my stroke.

My teacher, Ellen Gilbert, agreed to type it for me since I didn't have much control of my right hand or the ability to concentrate for long periods of time (now I write with my left hand), so I shared my story. Laura Mazer, my editor, introduced me to Brooke Warner, who helped me find a team to get my book published. 

What do you love most about writing?

I've always enjoyed being creative. I wrote a story in second grade that will remain unpublished. I have always had a quirky sense of humor. I created a career in copywriting and creating ads. I originally was thinking of going into movies, but I knew I didn't have the voice for that. So, I figured I could go into creative writing. Right out of college, I worked a few jobs before becoming a copywriter. I remember one time when one of my friends pointed out a commercial he loved, and it was one that I had written, which made me elated. I knew that's what I wanted to do in my life.

How did you decide to write about this topic?

I wrote this to share what happened to me. I hope no one ever has to go through what I've been through, but if my story could help them in any way, I knew I had to tell it.

What was one of the valuable lessons you learned through the process of writing this book?

One of the valuable lessons I learned is that it's okay to ask for help. 

(As I read Maureen's story, one of the lessons I took away from her journey was how many kind-hearted people surround us and we don't even realize it.)

How long did it take you to write this book?

Well, I had the stroke in 2000. I don't remember exactly when the idea came to me to write the story because, at first, I was just focused on getting my body and mind to work the way it once had. (That is an ongoing journey.) I finished writing the book in 2015.

How do you like to connect with readers?

It's been about nine years since I published, so I don't really promote it as much as I once did. 

What do you hope readers take away from your book?

I hope readers enjoy my memoir. I want readers to know that I didn't give up and kept pushing to get back to my life. And though I could never get back to my old job, I do volunteer whenever I can.


Thank you for speaking with me, Maureen. I am in awe of your strength and your positive energy. I hope everyone reads your story, and I hope it instills a zest for life within every reader.

When Maureen Twomey was only thirty-three years old, she experienced a massive stroke-one that took away her ability to read, write, walk, and even speak (AAAAAAAHHH!!). Well, she wasn't about to go down without a fight. In Before, Afdre and After, Twomey offers a sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes comical, and ultimately inspiring glimpse at what it is to lose everything when you're supposed to be in the prime of your life-and what it takes to get it back, piece by tiny piece.

“I never thought I’d say this and mean it: This book will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It’s a joyous, inventive journey through loss and recovery, and Maureen’s spirit shines through in this blueprint for living a full, blessed and loving life. Read it now, you fools!!”

—Jeff Kreisler, author of Get Rich Cheating and Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How Spend Smarter

Before Maureen Twomey's stroke, she graduated from UCLA, and she went on to work for several advertising agencies as a creative copywriter. Then, at the age of 33, she had a major stroke (Aaaaaaah!). Well thankfully, her sense of humor is still intact. Before, Afdre, and After (My stroke … oh what fun) tells her story with honesty, sometimes moving, sometimes funny, and ultimately inspiring.

Connect with Maureen here:

Thank you for joining us today. We'd love to hear from you in the comments below. :-)