Sunday, March 31, 2024

March Book Reviews #bookreview #books #amreading #readingcommunity #shortstories #selfhelp #teens #ghostmystery #romance #literaryfiction #musicians @kirazian @MaeClair1 @pat_garcia @EichinChangLim @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! I unlocked Level 50 of life this month and am blessed to have such a beautiful life! This month was busy with many celebrations, but I was able to fit in some reading time as well. Here are my reviews for March:

by Pat Garcia

Genre: Short Story

Pages: 13 pages


My Review: 

Can love be found at any age? Why not! This was a sweet story of a woman spending the first 65 years of her life without romantic love. She was blessed with the love of friendship, and when one of her dear friends passes away, she begins to contemplate her life's purpose. And then, she learns to see those around her in a whole new light, and everything changes.

Although just thirteen pages, it's a wonderful story of never giving up and embracing the love that life has to offer. Flawlessly written, this is a great story to read! :-)

by Eichin Chang-Lim and Lora L Erickson

Genre: Personal Transformation, Self-Help

Pages: 371 pages


Want to transition from childhood to adulthood successfully? Discover how to empower yourself for a bright future.

Are you looking for help navigating the ups and downs of being a teenager? Do you have a son or daughter going through growing pains? Hoping to avoid the pitfalls of emotional, psychological, and social challenges unique to young adults? As two experts in the field, multi-award-winning author Eichin Chang-Lim, OD, MS, MA and international psychologist Lora L. Erickson, PhD, LCPC, LMHC-QS, LPC have come together in a crucial collaboration. And now they're here to share how you can take charge and live your best life.

Talking About Adolescence: Anxiety, Depression, and Adolescent Mental Health is an inspirational and easy-to-digest resource that explores top issues affecting young minds. Through a direct conversational style and engaging visuals, Chang-Lim and Erickson carefully walk you through each essential topic while providing healthy coping skills and habits to help you consistently make good choices. Equipped with the tools to succeed, teens, parents, and guardians will confidently look forward to a life of fulfillment and happiness.

In Talking About Adolescence, you'll discover:

- Passionate and well-researched information that can transform lives

- A great start to productive dialogue that will allow parents and educators to connect with teens

- How to triumphantly wade through the traps of social media

- Ways to eliminate the stigma of mental illness so any young person can be comfortable seeking support and treatment

- Key strategies to tackle self-harm, panic attacks, bullies, childhood trauma, substance abuse, neurodiversity, and much, much more!

Talking About Adolescence: Anxiety, Depression, and Adolescent Mental Health is the must-have guide to thriving during those formative years and is the first book in the Talking About Adolescence series. If you like life-changing knowledge, learning more about yourself, and gaining control, then you'll love Eichin Chang-Lim & Lora L. Erickson's comprehensive handbook.

Buy Talking About Adolescence to find self-empowerment today!

My Review:

I have taught high school and middle school students for the past 28 years and can attest that many of our students struggle with mental health and family issues. This book is a valuable resource for parents, teachers, counselors, and teens alike. Written in plain language to make it easy for teens to understand, it dives into struggles that affect their emotional, psychological, mental, and social aspects of their lives. Though my middle school kids may have a bit more difficult following the depth of some of the chapters, high school students would easily be able to connect and absorb the information.

What I love most about this book is that it brings the topics to the kids' levels. It provides videos for them to watch, which is truly their mode of absorbing information. It provides links to articles and other great information for them to continue exploring the topics. It includes questions at the beginning of each chapter to help focus the students and then questions at the end to give them a moment to pause and reflect on what they've read (without making it feel like an assignment). ;-)

I also absolutely LOVE that they include pertinent information of help lines throughout the book to make it easy for teens to reach out for help if they connect with a topic within the book and need someone to speak with. The appendix at the end with videos and articles is so valuable! This is the kind of book that parents can read with their teens a chapter at a time and have real conversations. What a difference we could make in the lives of children if these conversations took place!

Truly, Talking About Adolescence: Book 1 is a game-changer for parents who aren't sure how to deal with difficult conversations and for children who are suffering and aren't sure how to cope. I highly recommend this valuable, vast collection of knowledge, coping mechanisms, and hopeful messages to teens and those who live with or work with teens.

by Mae Clair

Genre: Ghost Mysteries, Ghost Suspense

Pages: 117 pages


The Harbor Pointe Inn has loomed on California's cliffs for generations of Hawthornes. For some, it's been a blessing. For others, a curse. Travel through two centuries of stories to discover the old inn's secrets.

Some hauntings come from within.

Leviticus Sinclair has been a broken man since the murders of his wife and brother. Burdened by personal failures the night they were killed, he occupies himself by crossing the country, searching out departed spirits unwilling to move from this world to the next. His dead brother’s Bible and a pocket watch—forever frozen at the precise moment of his wife’s death—serve as grim reminders of a past he cannot exorcise.

Accompanied by Wyatt Resnick, a paid employee who fills the role of researcher and hired muscle, Leviticus arrives at the Harbor Pointe Inn amid rumors of a vengeful ghost. A phantom who may be the single spirit he has long sought, one capable of freeing him from his torment.

Set in the remote Pacific Northwest of 1887, 
The Price of Atonement is a story of jealousy, guilt, and one man’s relentless quest for absolution.

My Review: 

What an amazing first book for a new series! From the very first paragraph, the tone was set so perfectly. Leviticus can see ghosts and, because of his past choices, has been charged with finding wayward ghosts and sending them to the other side. Wyatt assists him in researching the hauntings and helps him with other tasks. When they visit the Harbor Point Inn, they find it's not so easy to get rid of the ghost because she wants vengeance.

Everything about this story was great! The setting was the perfect setting for a haunted hotel. The tragedy that took place there set up the haunting perfectly. The characters were so well-developed. Leviticus's burden was palpable. I loved how the author sprinkled parts of his story throughout the layers of the events with the other characters.

I loved how Leviticus and Iona interacted with each other and how their experiences together brought clarity and closure to both (well, one more than the The ghost scenes were fantastic, and I could visualize each moment, even almost feeling the chill!

I know each of the books in the series is written by different authors, but this book definitely sets the bar for an amazing series. Honestly, I'd love to read more of Leviticus's travels as he continues to hunt for wayward ghosts. I definitely recommend this book! It's a great read! :-) 

by Lisa Kirazian

Genre: British Literary Fiction, Romance Literary Fiction

Pages: 388 pages


Luminous violinist Kate Driscoll, and her temperamental pianist brother, Neil, try to escape a troubled family upbringing in Somerset when they are accepted to the Royal School of Music in London in 1959. There, they meet their lifelong friends and loves: Anne Curtis, a quiet cellist secretly in love with Neil; Colin Andrews, a Welsh flautist and bartender; Jeremy Longbourne, a witty clarinetist; and Maggie Crawford, a head-turning American soprano. When the young prodigies near graduation, the youth movement, British rock explosion and Vietnam get under way, changing all their lives. They give everything they have to reach the world stage.

But Kate and Neil's lives and careers take different turns, through the years. They endure both triumph and heartbreak, only coming together again when they need each other the most. A sister and brother's journey to wholeness comes full circle decades later, when one of their children, Jenny, embarks on her own musical journey.

My Review: 

It is very rare that a current author can master third-person omniscient, but this author has done so magnificently. Overall, I absolutely loved this story. It is written the way stories were written a few decades ago, with a slow simmer that gradually releases bits and pieces that leave you completely invested by the end.

It's been a while since I've read a story like that, and there were a few moments when I wondered if the story was taking too long to get to where it was going. There were a few places that felt a bit dry of emotion, but then I remembered a few other British lit books I've read that had the same "proper" feeling to them. The emotions are not in your face, but they will reach into your heart and make you cry at just the right moments.

This story's main focus is Kate and Neil Driscoll, but it also follows the lives of several of their close friends. We journey with them as their lives unfold through many decades. Each of them are musically talented and strive to create successful careers in this field, but they are all struck by tragedy in some way. And when they do, have tissues close by!

This was a beautiful story with intriguing characters who lead interesting lives. If you are looking for a story about love - for music, for romance, for children - then you will really enjoy this story.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Shunbun #haiku #SpringEquinox @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! This week, in the 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge, we have entered into the season of the Spring Equinox. We are experiencing longer days and are spending more time outdoors. Here in South Florida, I am loving the warmer weather. Our oceans still have chilly water, but it's more tolerable now. Our winds have kicked up as they always do in Spring. This week, we have had several days in the high 80s, and I've loved every minute of it.

I have had a very busy week (just like every other At school, the students are getting ready for Spring Break, and their attention spans are waning. I've had something going on every afternoon, so I've had little time to do much, but I still managed to write a haiku for this week. My haiku has three lines with a syllabic pattern of 5-7-5. My kigo phrase is bolded and italicized.

(courtesy of @Bluesnap on Pixabay)

March southernly winds
ocean crests, warmer weather
all flock to beaches

To enjoy Spring Break, I will be leaving soon on a cruise to the Caribbean islands to really enjoy the warmer weather, so I may not be around much. Still, I will reply to your comments before I leave or after I return. Be well, everyone! :-)

Would you like to join us in writing poetry? Click here

Thursday, March 14, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Keichitsu #Etheree #StPatricksDay #Spring @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! For this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge, we are still in the season of Keichitsu, or Wintering Insects Awake. It is also the week of St. Patrick's Day. So, I did a little digging about St. Patty's Day.

Did you know most Christian holidays overlap a Pagan holiday once celebrated? St. Patrick's Day is no different. And yet, the holy celebration of St. Patty's Day has lost its power as it's now become a festival celebrating Irish pride, good fortune, and an excuse to drink, especially any green concoction a bar can create.

So, to honor this shift in the holiday, I decided to write a double Etheree. A double Etheree is a poem with twenty lines with a syllabic pattern of 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. My kigo words are bolded and italicized.

(courtesy of @MissyWhimsyArt on Pixabay)

Evolving Traditions

Ostara brings
the Spring Equinox
to celebrate new life
a saint changes holiday
claims the shamrock symbolizes
the Father, the Son, Holy Spirit
three leaves with one stem to unite them all
while Ireland celebrates its patron saint
American Irish celebrate
remnants of Irish heritage
mixed with folklore, fairy tales
leprechauns, pots of gold
and drunken parties
let's awaken

How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? I'd love to hear from you.

Would you like to write a poem? Join us here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Keichitsu #haiku #Butterflies #Spring @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! Tomorrow (March 7th) is my birthday. I've unlocked level 50 and am blessed to have the life I live. This week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge takes us into a new season - Keichitsu, or Wintering Insects Awake. Spring is finally here. Daylight savings time begins this weekend and brings with it more daylight, and I am thrilled about it. I love the long days of light, especially living where I do. 

For this week's challenge, I've chosen to write a haiku, which is three lines with a 5-7-5 syllabic pattern. A haiku focuses on nature, and the first two lines should create one image while the second two lines create a separate image. I've chosen to use the kigo phrase of 'Spring's first butterfly' to celebrate my birthday. 

Reflecting on my first fifty years has me marveling at the transformation I've experienced. There have been some incredible moments, but it hasn't all been easy or pretty. I've done a lot of hard growth through therapy, self-reflection, and inner work, and I am grateful for the journey I am on. I am always evolving, always working to be a better version of myself. And I love myself more today than I ever have before. I will be celebrate this gift of life this weekend with friends and family, so if I'm a little late responding to your beautiful comments, please know I will get to them next week. 

(courtesy of @Erik_Karits at Pixabay)

Spring's first butterfly
delicate wings take first flight
hope transcends all fear

What Wintering insects are awakening in your area? I'd love to hear from you.

Would you like to join us in writing a poem? Click here.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

#TankaTuesday 24 Seasons Syllabic #Poetry Challenge - #Syllabic #poem #poetrycommunity #seasonalKigo #Kigo #seasons #Usui #AmericanCinquain #Snowdrops #LeapYear @YvetteMCalleiro

Hello, beautiful readers! This week has been a bit of an emotional drain for me. So many of our youth are struggling emotionally and mentally, and I've been bombarded with some rough moments this week. It breaks my heart to see teenagers who are overwhelmed with stress and are considering destructive decisions. If you have children, please create an open line of communication. Please create an atmosphere of unconditional love and acceptance, and let them know you will always be there to help them through whatever they are going through. Do not dismiss their angst. The youth of today are hurting, and they need to be seen and heard...and helped.

Okay, now that I've released that, let's shift our energies to light and beauty. For this week's 24 Seasons Syllabic Poetry Challenge, Colleen Chesebro has encouraged us to use three kigo phrases:

early spring [insert flowers]
lingering snow
leap day

Though part of the challenge was to write three different poems, I only had the time and energy for one. I chose to write an American cinquain which is a five-line poem with a syllabic pattern of 2-4-6-8-2. It is untitled, and line five tends to be the pivot point, though I feel as if line four is more of the switch in this poem.

(courtesy of @Terranaut on Pixabay)

leap year
magical switch
dispense lingering cold
smell fragrant early spring snowdrops

Are you seeing signs of Spring where you live? I'd love to hear about it.

Would you like to write a poem with these three kigo phrases? Join us here.