May Book Reviews

Summer is Coming (or Winter)! Time for some reading!

Summer is always a busy time of year here in the Pacific Northwest. The rain stops and we all spill outside. My husband and I named our deck “vacation.” So every afternoon we go outside on “vacation” to read.

May book reviews include my 4 and 5 star reads of a lot of poetry, two installments of a serial fantasy, a fallen angel fantasy, a thriller, and a prequel to a new mystery. I hope you enjoy them.

Click on the covers for Amazon global links.

*****

Word Craft: Prose & Poetry: The Art of Crafting Syllabic Poetry by Colleen Chesebro

This book is a must-have for writers of syllabic poetry. Chesebro has the experience and credentials to have crafted this easy to follow and detailed look at twelve forms of Japanese and American syllabic poetry, as well as their variations. Styles range from the well-known haiku and tanka to the less familiar gogyohka and etheree. Though written for poets beginning their exploration of these beautiful forms, I learned quite a lot (and I’ve been writing several of the forms for years).

Chesebro’s explanations not only include the technical aspects of each poetic form, but a quick history, the style’s creative intent, and tips for finding inspiration and writing. These aspects of each poetic form are conveyed in a concise manner, and each section is followed by examples of her poetry and the poetry of authors I’ve enjoyed for years. The poems not only illustrate the preceding lesson but are beautiful in their own right.

The quality of this book and its citations make it useful as a “text book” on the craft of writing syllabic poetry, appropriate for academic settings. Chesebro’s conversational style, easy to understand explanations, and poetic selections also make it accessible to a wide range of learners. The book’s format lends itself to lesson-planning for young poets.

Highly recommended to poets who are just starting out or who’ve been writing for years. An excellent learning tool filled with wonderful examples of the forms.

*****

The Vanished Boy by Harmony Kent

 I read this book in two sittings. I even listened to it on my phone while working out to Jane Fonda. I couldn’t put it down. What parent hasn’t had those moments of panic when a child doesn’t call, or shows up late, or wanders off? For Carole, that scare becomes a nightmare as her son Jayden vanishes without a trace.

The first 75% of the book follows Carole as she desperately seeks clues. I was riveted to her every move, including the realistic struggle of tracking her son through social media, with all the unhelpful information and hurtful comments that come with it. The author did a great job with Carole’s navigation through the technical aspects. Her resourcefulness felt authentic as did her unraveling of the clues—even as she’s emotionally falling apart.

The story is told in Carole’s tight pov until the last quarter of the book when several other characters share their experiences in their own points of view and in varying formats: flashback-style narratives, diary entries, and an interview. This is where the details of the events surrounding Jayden’s disappearance come to life. I would have liked the story to continue with Carole, but the pov of the perpetrator was worth the diversion.

The pacing is desperate until the wrap up at the end. The plot holds together well, and there are some surprises that I didn’t see coming. A great read for fans of fast-paced thrillers.

*****

Crossroads (Winds of Love): Poetry and Prose, by Jude Kirya Itakali

I enjoyed Jude Itakali’s debut poetry book. This is no ordinary collection of poems about love. Instead, Itakali’s poems tell a story about the journey of love, beginning with a prologue and progressing through three Parts. Part 1: Longing and searching. Part 2: Intimacy and Lust, and Heartbreak and its horrors, and Part 3: The other side of love, and New beginnings. The structure intrigued me as well as how he describes some of the poetry as short stories. The styles range from rhyming sonnets to free form verse to a number of syllabic forms including haiku, tanka, senryu, and nonet.

Personally, I agree that love is a journey with parts (or stages), and it was interesting to see the poems divided this way, as well as to follow the emotional journey with the author. A favorite from the section on longing:

Hope

Sing me to sleep
Nightingale of sorrow
Soothe my lonely heart
Cool breeze of twilight
Let the robin trill in the dawn
And bring my soul hope
Let the first rays of sunrise
Beam upon the One
With whom I’ll spend, my last days.

*****

Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Book 2) by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

Son of the Serpent is Book 2 of the Fantasy Angels series, and the story of the fallen angels shifts from Lilith, the instigator behind the angels’ banishment, to Dracul, the son she bore on Earth with Satan. Where Book 1 includes a large cast of pov characters, I enjoyed the narrower focus on Dracul. That said, if you enjoyed Lilith in the first book, she’s still in the picture and has some chapters of her own.

Dracul’s goal in the story is to find his mother, learn why she tried to murder him, and then kill her. Lilith’s goal is to find her perfect mate and rule a world corrupted by her evil. While she’s the epitome of despicable, Dracul is nuanced. Despite his propensity to drink blood and murder, he is full of regret and turmoil and desires redemption and love. I enjoyed the inner conflict and his emotional volatility.

The author weaves the “quest” plot into encounters with biblical characters, places, and events including Noah and the flood, Lot, baby Moses, and Sodom and Gomorrah, to name a few. I’m not especially familiar with the bible, but I recognized elements of the stories, and followed easily. Like the bible, there is rape, evil, and plenty of graphic violence.

The writing and dialog seemed formal, which gave it an authentic biblical feel. I enjoyed that aspect, though the narrative style created a bit of distance from the characters. Pacing was good, and Dracul’s emotional rollercoaster was compelling. He’s a great character, and I look forward to more of his story as the focus shifts in Book 3 to the angel Gadreel.

Recommended to readers who enjoy biblical spin offs, fantasy, fallen angels, and stories of good versus evil.

*****

House of Sorrow: Legends of Madeira by Joan Hall

Ruth lives alone in an old Victorian home. For her whole life she hasn’t believed in luck of any sort. She’s not superstitious, but there are some coincidences that leave her wondering. House of Sorrow is a look at her life, the relationships she develops, her volunteer work, and the newsworthy events of the 1960s including the moon landing and the Kennedy assassinations. Despite gentle pressure from her concerned nephew to move into assisted living, Ruth refuses to sell her home, and only she knows why.

This novella reads at a steady pace. The plot unfolds subtly, and the reveal doesn’t come with a big splash. This story is a prequel to a series, and from that perspective, it works great to set the stage. The length of the read is perfect (about 66 pages, plus back matter which includes the first chapter in the continuing series).

The details of the time are well done as is the setting, and it’s easy to get a feel for the house, neighborhood, and town. I found the characters thoroughly believable and distinct, and the unfolding of Ruth’s life is relatable. There aren’t any villains beyond the mystery surrounding the house, and I would like to learn more about the letter she found in an old chest, a letter that changed her life. Recommended for readers of mysteries, especially as a prequel to the following series.

*****

Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul by D. L. Finn

Finn offers a generous supply of poetry to while away the hours. Part One of this collection focuses on the author’s love of nature and her peaceful moments of reflection when enjoying the world outside. It includes a number of selections based on motorcycle roadtrips through sunshine and beautiful scenery. Part Two is entitled Seasons of the Soul and focuses on a wide range of personal emotions from dark to light, including feelings of loss, anxiety, yearning, self-discovery, and love.

As a whole, the tone of the collection is positive with an emphasis on self-awareness, gratefulness, respect, and personal growth. A lovely book for readers who especially enjoy uncomplicated, sincere, and uplifting poetry. One of the author’s nature poems that I enjoyed:

Waves

The waves glide smoothly on top
Of the salty surface, proudly…
Blending against the azure
Until they merge together profoundly.

Their roar precedes them…
As they hit land—this is where it ends…
They are positive, but they are wrong…
That was only their birth, now the journey begins.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 4, The Old Road by Teagan Geneviene

I read journey 4 on the heels of 3. It was fun reading them back to back, though I’m becoming used to the installments and look forward to them each month. In this episode, the danger to Emlyn and the Deae Matras increases since the brethren haven’t given up the hunt. This installment gives the reader a deep look into Boabhan, a member with some remarkable abilities, and a familiar face joins the group.

The writing continues to engage me, and I like the increased action now that I have a good feel for most of the characters. They’re distinct and well rounded. The story moves along at a good pace with lovely descriptions and details about this world. I have no idea where it’s going, so I look forward to starting Journey 5.

*****

Dead of Winter, Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls by Teagan Geneviene

I think this was my favorite installment of the Dead of Winter (serial) Journeys so far. The backstory of the characters and world is taking less text now that I’ve come to know them, and the pace of the story continues to pick up. The dead are starting to make their presence known, the Un’Nafians are still in pursuit of Emlyn, and she’s gradually revealing her unusual skill to the Deae Matras.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of this journey and the way Geneviene gave glimpses into a variety of random characters lives as the dead came calling. The ending is a huge cliffhanger, an effective one as I’m eager to know what happened! Readers interested in the story, should begin with the first journey. Recommended to fans of epic fantasy.

*****

Happy Reading!

238 thoughts on “May Book Reviews

  1. Hi Diana! Thank you so much for your in-depth and thoughtful review of Calmer Girls. It sounds like you really enjoyed it, and I was delighted yesterday to find it on Amazon. You rock! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kally says:

    Awesome reviews! Your reviews pack a punch in them. Loads of amazing reads here. You’ve accomplished a lot.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. mjnordgren says:

    I love that you are supporting authors. Writing a novel is a huge effort. mj

    Liked by 4 people

  4. vermavkv says:

    very nice..
    Thanks for sharing..

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Mansi Thakar says:

    Thanks for reviewing the Book.
    Starting reading again after a long break. Your review helped in deciding reading first book.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Monalisa says:

    Thanks Diana, i will try them

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I hear u says:

    Very well. Thanks for sharing your views. It is very insightfull

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Taslima naaz says:

    Hey, thanks for sharing 💕

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Baydreamer says:

    They all sound so good, Diana! Thank you for sharing! I just finished Teagan’s Journey 3, so will begin Journey 4 soon. I’m really enjoying her books. I don’t know how you have time to post, blog, read, and review. But I’ll stop wondering and just enjoy your recommendations. 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

    • Ha ha ha. I don’t do much else, I guess. I have a few trips planned this summer and will take some time off to enjoy those with the husband. Teagan’s Journeys are full of unfolding mystery, aren’t they? I’ve been able to keep up so far, but I suspect I’ll get a little behind at points. (I have one of your books on my kindle for June 🙂 ) Thanks for the visit, and have a beautiful day!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Baydreamer says:

        I know what you mean. I could read all day every day. 🙂 And thank you about my book. It’s probably my first that was written years ago. Hope you enjoy. It’s more of a fun, lighthearted read. 😍💗

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Resa says:

    “many” .. not “any”…… although

    Liked by 7 people

  11. Resa says:

    I know you reviewed 6 other books here, but it’s reviews of Teagan’s DOW that intrigue me. Cool that you did 2 here.
    I will get inspired to read again, one day, then for a time will read lots. My stack is very small… 2 books and Teagan’s DOW. (I’ve read 1 instalment)
    I’m open to all genres, including non-fiction. Your books sound fab.
    Meantime, I am distracted by drawing, sewing and taking pics of street art. So any writers to read. So many creative things to do! So little time!

    Liked by 7 people

    • I know, Resa. We always are having to prioritize, and that’s so hard when everything we want to do is fun and creative. I have no trouble choosing books and writing and crafty things over housework, but choosing between them is tough! Have a wonderfully creative day!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Love all the poetry recommendations, Diana! What I love about good poetry is that it’s the opposite of a page-turner; it’s a page-lingerer!

    Liked by 7 people

    • Thanks for the visit, Sean. That is so true of poetry. It can’t be rushed. And I often read it aloud for a whole new experience of the words. Some poems need to be heard as well to appreciate the sounds and rhythms and inflections. 🙂 Thanks for taking a browse of the reviews. I hope your “summer” is starting off full of fun and high energy. Enjoy. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Red Front says:

    […] May Book Reviews […]

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Adele Marie says:

    Reblogged this on firefly465 and commented:
    Great reviews from myths of the mirror and a shout out to Colleen Chesebro and Teagan Geneviene excellent ladies.

    Liked by 7 people

  15. Thank you for sharing your lovely reviews, on this interesting book. Some are just on my TBR. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 6 people

  16. dgkaye says:

    OH what a fabulous reading list and reviews. I have all but 2 of these books and so look forward to ‘regular’ reading again. ❤

    Liked by 8 people

  17. Teri Polen says:

    I like the idea of your “vacation”, Diana. I’d be out there every day. And it looks like you’ve put your time there to good use reading all these wonderful books. Congrats to the authors!

    Liked by 7 people

  18. Vashti Q says:

    Hi, Diana! Wow! You are a prolific reader! Thank you for taking the time to read and review ‘Son of the Serpent.’ I’m ecstatic that you enjoyed it. Also, thank you for adding the review here.🥰
    Congratulations to the other authors! It’s terrific to be included with this amazing group of writers.

    Liked by 7 people

  19. Staci Troilo says:

    Another month of wonderful stories. I’ve only read two of the ones on your list (The Vanished Boy and House of Sorrow) but really enjoyed both very much. Now that I’ve read your reviews, I think I have a few more titles to add to my list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 7 people

  20. Dan Antion says:

    Wow! Diana, you have some books I have read and some books I hope to read in this review. I wish I could read as much as you do. I seem to be a slow reader. I am keeping up with the “Dead of Winter” series, and I have “The Vanished Boy” high on my TBR list. Now I find another book of poetry I might enjoy.

    Thanks for the great reviews. By the way, I lived in the Seattle area for three years, and I remember the point where the rain stops – enjoy the summer 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  21. Wow, Diana, such wonderful and in depth reviews! The Vanished Boy certainly sounds like a page turner. Thanks for all of these recommendations. 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

  22. acflory says:

    Some intriguing reviews, as always, Diana, but I was really struck by your ‘vacation’. I think I’ll start calling my bed vacation coz it’s where I can read guilt free! I think you’ve started something. 😀

    Liked by 6 people

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