BOOK REVIEW: Love Lost and Found

Summer days are still with us, and they can be hot and heavy. Some romances are like that, too. If you want to add superb and tasteful piquancy to your library, Pamela Beckford’s “Love: Lost and Found” is for you. This is seventh in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books as the spirit moves.

————-

“Velvet Kisses.”

Of the nearly one hundred poems in “Love: Lost and Found,” these two words are mated perfectly in just half of one line in the double acrostic poem, “Love or Lust.” They stand out as one of the most weighty and passionate-driven images any poet or writer can share.

“Velvet Kisses.”

We feel the softness of lips touching lips, we experience lips caressing skin, we are aware of lips sweeping across bodies with compulsive gentleness and full richness. These are luxurious kisses described with just two effortless words, and they stand out for me as intense demonstrations to exhibiting love.

Pamela Beckford is a remarkably talented writer. After reading “Voices of Nature” (a co-authorship between her and Kirsten A.), and “Dreams of Love” her solo authorship, I was undeniably expecting more delightful poems in “Love: Lost and Found.”

And Pamela did not disappoint.

She has an exceptional style in which she conveys varying emotions and sentiments between two people in a complex relationship, and more particularly in this collection, the thoughts, dreams, desires, and understanding the speaker conveys throughout each poem.

One of the more striking poems is “He.” Here we see the juxtaposition of this relationship at a point in time:

“He is my everything
I am his plaything.

“He is my world
I am his toy.

“He is my number one priority
I am his second choice.

He is my day and night, sun and moon
I am his amusement.”

In just four unfussy stanzas, we see her realizations: a two-sided relationship, serving definite opposite purposes for both parties, both tangible and intangible. We understand her perspective of an ethereal significance to this relationship – He is important to her, something beyond the here and now, otherworldly, infinite emotional love. Conversely, we recognize his attitude – She is less important, a toy, a secondary thought – when there is a thought to be had.

Pamela intelligently captures love and relationships; there is a mature allure in each line, in each scene, in each description of togetherness and estrangement. The reader is allowed to use his or her own imagination of what is transpiring at any given moment.

The author makes this collection of poems enjoyable to read by the fact she employs varying styles of poetry: acrostic, ehteree, tanka, senru, for example. In fact, “Tantalizing,” an etheree, is fun to read aloud with the alliteration of the “t” that begins each line. Moreover, it is an edification to learn what other styles of poetry exist. This collection is diverse, indeed.

I highly recommend “Love: Lost and Found” by Pamela Beckford. I encourage readers to savor every poem, and find the love lost and the love found.

You can find “Love: Lost and Found” through Amazon — CLICK HERE.

© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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BOOK REVIEW: Dreams of Love

Love, romance, and relationships know no season, and “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford is no exception. If you ever were in love, still in love, think you’re in love, or wish you were in love, this collection of her poetry is waiting for you to read. This is sixth in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books.

. . . .

Breathtaking.

That singular word – breathtaking – is the best one-word description of “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford that kept coming to mind as I lingered within the pages.

“Dreams of Love” is a superb collection of thirty-one poems that not only touches upon the varying facets of a relationship, but is also a powerful timeline of the changeable levels of growth in a relationship. Simply put, “Dreams” can be read in no particular order as stand-alone poems; conversely, if read in order, it presents a love story.

Pamela Beckford is an extraordinarily talented poet. After recently reading “Voices of Nature” (a co-authorship between her and Kirsten A.), I was, indeed, expecting more delightful poems in “Dreams.” What I didn’t expect was the exceptional style in which she conveys varying emotions and sentiments between two people finding themselves in a complex relationship. For example, in “It Started With a Look,” I felt and saw the excitement, both physically and emotionally:

“Your hand in mine
Electric was the air
I started to talk, but then
You began to play with my hair.”

Initially, the speaker is seemingly in control of this momentous meeting, with her hand in her lover’s and by her beginning to speak. However, suddenly it’s her lover who takes control of the meeting by playing with her hair, and as we read further, using his “finger [that] traced [her] mouth/Eager to explore . . .” Many emotions and illustrations are woven into just those few lines alone: desiring, loving, caressing, controlling, surrendering, holding, longing, looking, tenderness, playfulness, peacefulness, heat, and hearts skipping beats. Though Pamela doesn’t write those words per se; they are the emotions and thoughts she creates succinctly and implicitly. What we do find here and with this collection is a complex back-and-forth relationship between two lovers.

My favorite poem in this collection is “Melting.” Specifically, the line “Two melt into one” is a beautifully written thought that conveys everything about what a loving and trusting relationship is, not only in the passionate sense as we might initially interpret here, but also in the everyday condition where two people walk together side-by-side through the mundane, too. Indeed, “Melting” has a duality about it: the here-and-now passion and yet, a wanting for the future.

In “Just Out of Reach,” we feel the pain of the lover going “home to her” (my italics) and the speaker woefully, yet hopefully, calling out to him that “. . . forever my heart will be yours.” This poem is, indeed, heartbreaking and forlorn. There is a feeling of desperation with threads of love and hope on the female speaker’s part.

I cannot say enough positive aspects about “Dreams of Love” and Pamela Beckford. I would like to analyze and speak to every one in her collection here, but then that would be taking away the enjoyment for you, her current and future readers. I encourage you to enjoy it, as I have — without preview, to fully enjoy and interpret yourselves.

This collection of love poems left me in breathless wonderment. I liked it so much, I’ve read it three times already. We all, I believe, can relate to her poetry. Certainly, as she wrote, “Poetry is an expression from deep within the soul.”

Pamela Beckford articulates beautifully. I applaud her for conveying those deep, soulful expressions in such a magnificent, yet intimate, way.

I highly recommend “Dreams of Love” by Pamela Beckford.

You can find “Dreams of Love” through Amazon by clicking HERE.

© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

BOOK REVIEW: Twilight’s Indian Princess: Book I

I'm a member of Rosie's Book Review Team.
I’m a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

If you have an empty block on your kitchen wall calendar this summer, “Twilight’s Indian Princess” by Margaret Jean Langstaff might just be the thing to fill in that space. This is fifth in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books.
……….

Ever have “that kind of day” where nothing goes as intended? Ever have one of “those” days that actually spread across years—maybe across a lifetime? Ever realize everyone around you is perpetually demanding, needing, pulling, provoking, and commanding even more from you while your see your life go unendingly neglected and suitably unfulfilled? Ever feel like dumping all it back on their heads like a hot mess and taking your life back for yourself?

Margaret Jean Langstaff brings this all together in “Twilight’s Indian Princes” through her protagonist, Sarah Sloan McCorkle, and frames the scenes into delightful, and at times, hilarious vignettes. This is a novelette short enough (40 pages) to read on the train to the office or during the lunch hour.

The story is framed around Sarah Sloan McCorkle and how her family treats her: from her nagging mother; to her sweet, yet ever-wanting, children; to her husband who, despite supposedly being below her station in life, she loves and appreciates and married anyway.

We see Sarah look at herself one day, and feeling “mired in her dark wintery responsibilities of daily life,” she looks to begin “to focus on focusing.” And so, one day, she focuses on the blank squares on the kitchen wall calendar. She sees them as representing unscheduled family activities, yet she sees them—perhaps subconsciously—akin to the empty spaces in her life, where others convinced her to follow a safe, traditional path rather than the “risky, dangerous” avant-garde profession of which she dreamed and was gifted to do. She wanted to fill those spaces, and if she couldn’t fill them post haste with her own dreams, she at least wanted to fill them with time for herself, even if it happened to be “up to her neck in fragrant froth” in the bathtub. Indeed, she “was beginning to enjoy her time off from Time.”

Yet, as the Scottish poet Robert Burns once wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry,” and that is how Sarah’s day continued. We watch as she deals with an incident that finally snaps her, and thereafter, we follow her to more serene and introspective moments.

Margaret Jean Langstaff has a writing style that keeps the reader’s attention, and the reader must reciprocate by paying close attention. There are well-written long sentences, like streams of consciousness. Humor pervades throughout the pages. I laughed at a scene where “a hush puppy whizzed across the table and hit [Sarah] on the nose.” The author made the scene even more powerful when “Sarah set aside her fork, dabbed her lips, folded her napkin, lay it down next to her plate and stood up.” We know by now something is afoot, something quite unexpected.

The author gives several characters perfect southern accents with questionable grammatical structures that you can fairly hear amplifying from the pages yet not think twice about. It’s natural. The letters that Sarah’s children write to her are convincingly children’s voices. To Sarah, Wesley, her husband, is a “cave man” and “gorilla,” yet he is likeable with an unforgettable regional voice, peppered with out-of-date words, particularly one.

Margaret Jean Langstaff writes lovely descriptive scenes, most particularly:

“Her mind went all loose and bubbly and took off on its own, unmoored and rudderless, and sailing here, there, everywhere, like a drunken butterfly floating through the warm moist air, darting off, alighting, tasting, returning, then fluttering off to something else.”

Sarah saw her life the same way: rudderless, darting off, fluttering off to something else, and she was looking for what she wanted, not what everyone else wanted. She wanted to be free, unrestricted as a horse running in the open plains.

“Twilight’s Indian Princess” is quirky, yet fun, and stimulates familiarity and reflection. Initially, I wasn’t sure of where the story was headed, but as I kept reading, I found some ways to identify with Sarah and the people around her.

I recommend “Twilight’s Indian Princess” for a fun, quick read. Indeed, you may find things in common with some, or all, of the characters.

You can find it HERE on Amazon.

© Susan Marie Molloy, and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

BOOK REVIEW: Biokill

I'm a member of Rosie's Book Review Team.
I’m a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

These lazy days of summer sometimes need a little action, and a novel packed with rousing adventures is the ticket to losing oneself in the nefarious world of a terror campaign with a biological terrorism bent. This is fourth in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books.

. . . .

“BioKill” by Stuart Handley is novel bursting with intrigue, action, a terrorist cell, biological warfare, electrifying chases, lusty scenes, murder, mutilation, a cat fight, government subterfuge, escape, humor, and remarkable characters in an extraordinary plot.

While a terrorist cell conspires bioterrorism in the United States, Matt Lilburn, an American special agent with Homeland Security, finds himself on the case, along with the British Dr. Evangeline Crawston and a slew of memorable protagonists ranging from a tentative neighbor lady, to the virtually hilarious gang of the five Bloods, the bizarre chief of Homeland Security, the owners of an aviation business, and, of course, the terror cell inmates composed of Bomani, Bashir, and Yusuf, just to name a very few of the rich cast of personalities.

The author is astute in his use of scene-changing within the novel. He cleverly and seamlessly moves his story, chapter to chapter, from Brooklyn, to England, and to places within the United States with such deft smoothness that the reader easily follows the action without questioning or backtracking to previous pages to re-read. Indeed, whereas one chapter may be taking place in Brooklyn and the next in London and later, on a pig farm in New England, Stuart Handley ties each scene so well to another it’s as if the entire novel is akin to a quilt of individual blocks with no visible seams at all.

The players in the novel are real and well-developed, and where necessary, the author gives them accents and vocal modulations. For example, Alessio enunciates his accent well: “I see you ‘ave brought a friend . . . I canna but try.” We can hear neighbor Bonny as she talks to the police: “I was gonna get back on the phone and tell you to . . . bust those A-rabs . . . I see you brought the whole dang station wid you!” We get indignant along with blonde Timothy the caterer/waiter as he “let out his own shriek” when he exclaims that he “’ordered lilac-colored napkins, lilac, not … blue.” Timothy owns and operates The Galloping Caterers, and I could not help to give Timothy a slight, albeit faux, British accent in my mind to go along with his hissy fit, because the name The Galloping Caterers reminds me of the late British gourmand Graham Kerr of The Galloping Gourmet. And when the “lucky” five Bloods found the red Nissan Maxima and attempted to drive it, the manual transmission threw them for a hilarious loop: “Yo man, I seen on the movies – this car had one of those things and you got to push something in with your foot to make it go . . .”

Yet, there was something so real and creepy when the members of the terrorist cell, Bomani, Bashir, and Yusuf spoke. “Yusuf and I go to a cattle auction” “ . . . when we have finished our work for Allah . . . we return to our home and assimilate ourselves back into Western society.” Their voices and personalities are real and wicked, and Stuart Handley captures this flawlessly. Bomani, in particular, has a distinct voice in using variances in verb usage and not uttering contractions.

I enjoy Stuart’s writing style. It is very vivid, descriptive and intelligent. He uses foul language sparsely, as in those moments when characters are so totally shocked or frustrated that a four-letter word slips out. Lusty scenes are tasteful and allow the reader to envision all the naughty little details within the imagination. Stuart’s background in livestock production and an inspector for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), et al gives authority to his novel.

There are a few instances within the novel where the author (who is from New Zealand) moves from American English to British English, such as “bonnet” for a car “hood,” “petrol tank” instead of “gas tank,” “mobile” for “cell phone,” “air-sock” for “wind sock,” “windscreen” for “windshield,” and a technical description of a helicopter’s speed measured in miles per hour, when airspeed is actually measured in knots. I caught the aviation-related points immediately, since I have a long background and career in the aviation field. It stuck out for me. Yet, I believe it all will not take away from the story for most readers.

Admittedly, this is the first novel in this genre that I have read. I was not disappointed at all. Moreover, I cannot say enough positive statements about “BioKill.” It produces non-stop action; it lays out a very real and plausible evil; it brings a little lightness to round out the reality; and it makes the reader think, laugh, and become more aware of contemporary events.

I highly recommend “BioKill” by Stuart Handley, and if I rated this novel on a five-star scale, I would give it six stars.

Yes; it’s that good.

© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

BOOK REVIEW: Red Clay and Roses

rosies-book-review-team-1Summer is in full swing and what better way to relax after a sizzling day than with a book about the Deep South and family secrets and surprising discoveries. This is third in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books. . . . .

“Red Clay and Roses” by S. K. Nicholls is an honest look into the joys and ruthless realities of life in the Deep South during the 1950s and 1960s. The novel predominantly delves straightforward into lust, rape, murder, criminal abortion, lies, adoption, denial, and love, and particularly how race and gender relations intermingled within those ruthless realities of life.

The author presents this story as roman à clef; that is, as a novel based on a real life overlapped with fiction. She skillfully wrote to give the reader an interesting, eyes-wide-open view into the foul side of human attitudes and behavior, mirrored with the sweeter side that life can bring. Not only does she present to the reader the ugliness of lust, rape, abortion, et al, she also lays out the misery of mental illness, financial chicanery, and the protracted goals for women’s rights and civil rights in general.

It is obvious that the author researched well, as not only were the historical events correct, but also were the everyday things of life: Hair styles, clothing, language, place names, popular singers, and product names, for example. She is meticulous in describing things, sometimes to the minute detail. The reader, if familiar with places in the South, will recognize such places as Rexall Drugs, Kay Bee Jewelers, the Chattahoochee River, and Merritt Pecan Company. Even the late Freddie Hubbard, an American jazz trumpeter, was spun into the story early on.

What also makes this novel real is the author’s expert use of medical terms and medicine in general. As she is in real life a registered nurse, her knowledge becomes an excellent asset to the descriptions of the characters’ experiences with hospitals and their nefarious involvements. She uses medical terms and medicine in such a way that the reader is at ease; the descriptions do not come across at all as dry nursing class lectures, but almost as a matter-of-fact professional descriptions that the reader accepts.

S. K. Nicholls writes with ease and clarity and gives the reader rich, full scenes to imagine with the simplest of words, such as in the telling of “ . . . my first kiss in the midst of the rain of swirling pink crabapple petals . . .” She proves that simplicity paints a masterpiece.

She also effortlessly shows the soul of a building where it “reeked of chemicals and pain.” With just those five words, the reader feels and smells the repulsion of what once existed in one room. Even the real, but imaginary, “fairy babies” with their stinging “insect-like tails” that Ms. Bea fears almost materialize within the novel’s pages.

The author is adept at using dialect to give her characters a real life to their voices. Though a different dialect than those utilized by Mark Twain and Charles W. Chestnut, S. K. Nicholls nonetheless hears dialect well. She also employs the use of early twentieth century and mid-century slang to a T. “Slap me some skin!” was my thought as her characters, particularly Moses, spoke easily with words and phrases common decades ago.

“The word from the bird” is this: S. K. Nicholls’ “Red Clay and Roses” is a well-written, factual fictional novel that will grasp the reader’s attention from start to finish. I would place it among other well-known historical fictional novels (such as, for example, those written in the vein of Anthony Trollope and Margaret Mitchell) to be used as, perhaps, required reading in both high school and college English and American history, and social studies courses.

I highly recommend this novel.

© Susan Marie Molloy and all works within. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material and any works here on this site without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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