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The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Tree House by Dori Hillestad Butler

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 128 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Tree House by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, is the 7th book in this series, which I think is best read in order (although they do recap previous information in each). I think young readers will have an easier time following the character development and changes in both kids’ lives if they start from the beginning of the series.

In this book, a group of girls in town have noticed strange goings on at the tree house where their club meets. Some of the girls believe it is a ghost, which is why Claire and Kaz are on the case, but some of the girls think it is the rival boys’ club trying to frighten them away from the tree house. There are a number of dynamics at play in this book, from learning to include a younger brother, to girls wanting their own time to play together without boys, to young kid ghosts who now much listen to their parents after being on their own for so long. There is a lot of play here, and it shows in the interactions between the ghosts and the “solid” Claire, as well as between the groups of kids themselves, and the dynamics those kids and ghost kids have with their own parents.

The short chapters and illustrations make this a book for early readers to read on their own without much help, but for older readers with more experience, the plot may plod along too much. This series has kept my struggling reader engaged, but over the last year as her skills have improved, the series is not as exciting as it has been for her in the past. However, now I want to know what happens in the next installment because the cliffhanger of this book is a doozy.

The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Tree House by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, is a good series for early readers with its short mysteries and ghosts. Readers will love the interactions between the ghosts and the children, and the parents will love reading along with their children, hoping to solve the mystery.

RATING: Quatrain

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton

Source: Purchased
ebook, 366 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton is part romance and part time travel, but it is also a novel about friendship and finding the gumption to go after what you want. Our heroine Rose Wallace is eager to meet her online friend Morgan after spending so much time with her online in Jane Austen forums.

“‘Is this one of those moments when I don’t understand you because you’re British?'”

But she’s also eager for the annual Jane Austen festival that takes over Bath, and added bonus, she’ll get to help archaeologist Dr. Aiden Trevellyan settle in before his talk on his most recent research and dig in Chawton. But soon, she becomes intrigued with an upstairs visitor, Jenny Ashton, who has a peculiar way about her and simply seems to live the older customs now.

“‘Pray, how is this a convenience store? One can barely turn about, ’tis so narrow, and there is no logic to the produce on display. I find naught of convenience about it.'”

Through a portal, Rose and Jenny are thrust into a time where Rose’s life is less independent from her not-so-great mother, and (GASP!) the works of Jane Austen have never been written. Rose and Jenny must either find a way back to their old lives or resign themselves to the new ones — ones in which Rose may flounder at her job at the library but one that could provide her a romantic partner. How do you choose between the life you’ve known and loved with one full of unknown possibilities?

The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Grafton shines in the building and rebuilding of friendships across time and space. No TARDIS needed here, but Rose must learn to meet the challenges before her without losing sight of who she wants to be.I just loved all of these characters and their misunderstandings and awkwardness. It’s wonderfully funny too.

I just had to get the next book in this series… stay tuned for that review.

RATING: Quatrain

Mailbox Monday #642

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen by Ada Bright and Cass Graft, purchased for Kindle.

After becoming trapped in present-day Bath due to a mishap with her time-travelling charm, Jane Austen is safe and sound back in the 1800s thanks to Rose’s help. Now, Rose is ready to focus on her fledgling romance with dreamy Dr Aiden Trevellyan.

But when Jane reappears in the present, it looks like Rose and Aiden have no choice but to follow her back to 1813…

Staying in the Austen household, Rose and Aiden are introduced to a number of interesting figures from the past, including Jane’s eccentric – and surprisingly modern – neighbour. Suddenly Rose’s life is in need of a re-write as she discovers some unexpected ties to Jane Austen’s world and her past.

This is the sequel to The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen.

What did you receive?

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs

Source: the poet
Paperback, 72 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

***full disclosure: Jeanne and I have been poetry blog buddies for a long time.***

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs is a travel story in verse, a journey of self-discovery, reflection, and enjoyment. It was no surprise to me that her collection begins with a quote from “Ulysses.”

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move."

This is the perfect quote for this collection. It is a movement to places, while at the same time a separation from those places and experiences into a moment of now, which is fleeting and yet becomes part of not only the reader but the poet herself. I loved that each page resembles a postcard back with a name and location, and the poem on the opposite side, providing the reader with a person that the poem is speaking to (not just the reader). This dialogue makes each poem unique. I would loved to have seen the actual images of each postcard, though Griggs does provide enough description in her poems to put you there, holding that card as she writes her short missives.

From "Postcard with a piece of the Berlin Wall" (pg. 7)

...I received
a broken-off piece from
the Berlin wall, the world was
Safe, we could retire
in the countryside.
Now our kids have moved
away but we're still here
where our neighbors just
voted to build a border wall.

Griggs is candid and uses her wry humor to highlight the ironies of our world. An America a little less concerned with freedom and more consumed by fears. While some of her poems speak about the wider world, they are often grounded in the locality where she is. These poems also examine what it means to grow into adulthood and to age beyond where we believe ourselves to be mentally. From “postcard of Niagara Falls,” “I missed you,/….wishing I could watch you/see this, wondering if I left/you alone too much, pursuing/your own course around/me,…/” (pg. 34)

There are so many good poems in this collection it is hard to pick a favorite, but for fellow bibliophiles, “postcard from Cape Cod” (pg. 38) will speak to you:

we could live like in the books,
without any of the fuss
of having to sustain anything
except ourselves, making meals
of little dishes on trays,
the wine we brought poured
into an endless line of glasses.

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs is a delight to read. These are poems I will read again at the beach or on a vacation (should I ever take one again). There is so much light in these poems. It made my spirit lighter as I read them. We all need that these days.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Jeanne Griggs is a reader, writer, traveler, and ailurophile. She directs the writing center at Kenyon College, plays violin in the Knox County Symphony, and reviews books at Necromancy Never Pays.

My One Week Husband by Lauren Blakely (audio)

Source: Audible Purchase
Audiobook, 7+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

My One Week Husband by Lauren Blakely, another audiobook with a full cast, is delightful in terms of romance and sexual tension, but my favorite parts are the musical interludes as we learn about the secret past of Daniel Stuart. His past is integral to how he acts, reacts, and engages in relationships with women and why his drive is so business focused. Like Daniel, Scarlett Slade is a savvy businesswoman, and as the newest business partner of Daniel and his college buddy Cole, she brings a bit of sexy into Daniel’s life, but she is far more than just a body to ogle. She is smart and she holds secrets that driver her in business.

Daniel and Scarlett are flirty, fun, and made for each other. And their relationship goes from business to red hot once they decide they need to scope out their next hotel chain acquisition by pretending to be newlyweds — hence the title. These two gamble in business day in and day out, but when their hearts are on the line, can they take the risk?

Lately, I’ve been on a Paris kick — watching movies and reading books set in Paris — I am longing to travel somewhere, and Paris is romance. Here Daniel is English, and that accent and Paris are a lovely combination. Add in classical music and violins (see videos for some of the pieces mentioned – Beethoven is one of my favorites), and I am over the moon with this romantic tale. My One Week Husband by Lauren Blakely is one of her best — there is a ton of character development here and hot, steamy scenes.

RATING: Cinquain

When I Bleed: Poems about Endometriosis by Maggie Bowyer

In simplified terms, symptoms of endometriosis may include: excessive menstrual cramps, abnormal, or heavy menstrual flow and pain during intercourse.

Endometriosis affects an estimated 2 to 10 percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 40. Go here for more information on Endometriosis.

Source: the poet
Paperback, 118 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

When I Bleed: Poems about Endometriosis by Maggie Bowyer is a collection that will open your eyes to what it is like to be chronically ill and to struggle to find not only a diagnosis and treatment but also acceptance among friends, family, and loved ones when you cannot even get out of bed some days. This collection also includes some information about online support groups and places to seek out information on this baffling ailment that can sometimes take more than a decade to diagnose.

From "2020" (pg. 2)

But all the laughter
Has been compressed out of me

Chronic illness can be debilitating, so much so that Bowyer says, “It’s like once I was done healing/I ceased to be.” (pg. 4) Bowyer not only tackles the exhaustion and pain of the disease in their poems, they also tackle misconceptions about endometriosis in “Dirty Girls’ Disease.” Readers can expect to take an emotional roller coaster ride with Bowyer, who speaks in verse about their experiences, emotions, and emptiness of battling the disease alone.

From an untitled poem (pg. 24)

I am a kitchen
Without plates,
Pots,
Pans.
I can burn
Pain into
My skin
On the burners;
I can gut myself
With utensils
That seem to serve
No other purpose.
What is the point
Of a kitchen
When my home
Has been destroyed?
Pain Erases People (pg. 51)

There are versions
Of myself
I will never recover,
Stolen by moments
I will forever remember.

This collection will shed light on an illness not many people know about and even fewer understand. This collection spoke to me among the many pitches because it is something a family member has dealt with and others have dealt with in the past. While I do not have it myself, it was important to me to learn more about how this illness affects others, especially those in my family. When I Bleed: Poems about Endometriosis by Maggie Bowyer can provide others with greater empathy and provide a cathartic experience for those with the disease, demonstrating that they are not alone in this battle.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Maggie Bowyer (they/them/theirs) is a poet and the author of The Whole Story (Margaret Bowyer, 2020) and When I Bleed: Poems about Endometriosis (2021). They are a blogger and essayist with a focus on Endometriosis and chronic pain. They have been featured in Germ Magazine, Detour Ahead, Poetry 365, and others. They were the Editor-in-Chief of The Lariat Newspaper, a quarter-finalist in Brave New Voices 2016, and were a Marilyn Miller Poet Laureate. Visit their website.

Excerpt & Giveaway: A Learned Romance by Elizabeth Rasche

Welcome to another great Jane-Austen inspired novel guest post, excerpt, and giveaway.

Elizabeth Rasche’s latest novel, A Learned Romance, focuses on Mary Bennet, the most practical and religious sister. Read about the book:

“She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequel of an unnatural beginning”–Jane Austen, Persuasion, chapter 4

MARY BENNET HAD NEVER WISHED for anything more than to be known as the meek and pious Bennet sister, the one who sweetly brought peace to her family.

BEING THE LAST UNMARRIED BENNET SISTER, the pressure to partake of a London Season with the nouveau riche Wickhams was considerable, no matter how little she desired it; but, her young sister Lydia would not hear a refusal. Mary hoped she could pass her days as quietly as a mouse and maybe encourage her still-wild sister to become a more demure wife and stop quarrelling so much with her husband.

BUT WHEN LYDIA’S FLIRTATION with scientist begins stirring gossip, Mary discovers it is not enough to stay meek and quiet. She must protect Lydia’s reputation by drawing the man’s attentions her way, and convincing the world it is Mary, not Lydia, who attracts Mr Cole. If she fails, Lydia’s disgrace will taint every family member connected with her—Bennet, Bingley, and Darcy alike—and Mary will have no hope for her own future. But alluring a gentleman is hardly the sort of practice Mary has a knack for. Though it goes against every fibre of her being, Mary must turn aside from the peace she craves and uncover the belle within—all while finding her heart awakening in the illusion of romance she has created.

Don’t you just want to know what happens? I love to see wallflowers come into their own.

Now, for today’s excerpt! Enjoy and give Elizabeth a warm welcome:

Hi Serena!

I am so honored to be share this excerpt of A Learned Romance with you and your readers and to connect with readers who also love Jane Austen’s characters. I hope you’ll enjoy A Learned Romance, especially if you’ve been speculating what Mary Bennet’s life might have been like once Jane, Lizzy, and Lydia were married.

Mary accepted her sister’s invitation, sensing Lizzy wanted more than a discussion of what books to purchase. Sure enough, as the Darcy carriage launched into the flood of coaches and carts swelling the road, Lizzy’s brow furrowed with worry.

“I want to talk with you about Lydia. She is as heedless as usual with this Mr Cole. If she goes any further, her respectability as a married woman will be at serious risk.”

Mary twisted the strings of her reticule on her lap. It was nice to feel her sister deemed her worthy as an ally, and Mary felt a small satisfaction that her predictions of grave results might yet prove true, but in her heart of hearts she dreaded interfering. She liked the idea of being the patient consoler in the aftermath of a great scandal, but she had no desire to be an active participant, not even in preventing it. “I fear the same, although I do not see what I can do about it. Lydia does not listen to me.”

Lizzy’s tone was sympathetic, but firm. “You are living in their household. Should Lydia be deemed less than respectable, you will share in that judgment more than the rest of us. That is a great disadvantage—but being in their household also means that you are uniquely placed to help avert a catastrophe.”

Mary slouched a little in her seat. “I cannot do anything. Lydia always goes her own way. She will not do anything just because I tell her.”

Lizzy took her hand. “I have thought of that. You cannot disassemble this flirtation of Lydia’s from her side. Anything we do to try to persuade her will only spur her on more recklessly.”

“Then what?”

“You must work on Mr Cole instead.”

Mary blinked in surprise. “But I do not know him. Why would he listen to me?”

Lizzy leaned back a little. Her increased ease made Mary wary; it meant Lizzy thought she could bring Mary round to her way of thinking. And Lizzy is usually right. Mary squared her shoulders and tried to look imperturbable as Lizzy said, “He may be a sensible man; perhaps all you will need to do is drop him a hint, or tell him outright it would be better for him to stop flirting with Lydia.”

“And if he is not so sensible?” Experience had taught Mary that Lydia’s friends usually were not sensible people.

“Then you must draw his attention away—split it between you and Lydia. There will still be gossip, but it will mean less if the world is not sure who Mr Cole favours. Indeed, if they think she was only paying him attention for your sake, it will be very respectable indeed.”

Mary’s dry laugh hurt her chest, as though it scraped against an old wound. “Attract a gentleman myself? And worse, one who likes Lydia first? Lizzy, this is a poor joke.”

“You can do it. We are a handsome family, every one of us. You think you are not pretty because you wear old clothes and compare yourself to Jane. None of us are anything compared to Jane.” Lizzy’s eyes crinkled in a rueful expression, showing she had had similar feelings.

“You think that because you have made a brilliant match, we are all capable of it. I assure you, I am not.”

“You are pretty and intelligent, and you have a good heart. You can turn this Mr Cole about your finger if you so choose,” Lizzy insisted.

“Nonsense! I could not, and I would not if I could.” Mary’s chin jerked down. “It is wrong to engage in idle flirtation.”

“Is it idle when it saves Lydia’s reputation?”

“The ends do not justify the means.” Mary knew she sounded sententious, but she clung to her idea of virtue to avoid being swept away by Lizzy’s intensity—and a secret gleam of interest of her own. Was it true? Could Mary be the sort of person Lizzy imagined, a wily, charming belle who snatched men from the grasp of her sister? It seemed a ridiculous dream, but one with a glamour that intrigued her despite herself.

“Are there not examples in the Bible of women laying out to attract men for the greater good?” Lizzy said.

Mary could not resist the opportunity to display her scriptural knowledge. “I am no Esther, nor am I Ruth.”

“I am only saying that your morals need not cavil at such a project.” When Mary hesitated, Lizzy made the most of it, bearing down with an entreaty Mary found hard to resist. “Please, Mary. It is for the good of the whole family, and Lydia’s as well. Surely you do not wish to see her scorned and shunned?”

A sliver of guilt slid into Mary’s gut. She had entertained thoughts of some disaster befalling the Wickhams, and readied herself to deal with it—was that not wishing ill on them? Of course I do not really wish to see Lydia hurt. But the thought meant little when she compared it to her self-righteous imaginings of the last few weeks, and she felt she had no real evidence of sisterly kindness to prove her heart pure. Doing what Lizzy asked of her would be proof, though.

“I will speak to Mr Cole, then. I cannot promise more.”

“Thank you, Mary. You have relieved Mr Darcy and me of a weighty burden of worry.”

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing this excerpt.

About the Author:

After acquiring a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Arkansas, Elizabeth taught philosophy in the U.S. and co-taught English in Japan. Now she and her husband live in northwest Arkansas, which is over 4,000 miles from Derbyshire. (Doesn’t everyone measure distance from the center of the world, Pemberley?)

She dreams of visiting Surrey (if only to look for Mrs. Elton’s Maple Grove), London, Bath, and of course, Derbyshire. When she has a Jane Austen novel in one hand, a cup of tea in the other, and a cat on her lap, her day is pretty much perfect.

Elizabeth Rasche is the author of Flirtation and Folly, as well as The Birthday Parties of Dragons. Her poetry has appeared in Scifaikuest.

GIVEAWAY:

The giveaway is international and for an ebook copy of A Learned Romance. One winner per blog stop, and winners will be announced a week after the blog tour ends on the Quills & Quartos Facebook page. Good Luck!

Mailbox Monday #641

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse (A Cape Bay Cafe Mystery Book 1) by Harper Lin, a Kindle freebie.

Francesca Amaro moves back to her hometown of Cape Bay, Massachusetts, and takes over the family business, Antonia’s Italian Café. She spends her days making delicious artisan cappuccinos, until she stumbles upon her neighbor’s dead body. When the police discover Mr. Cardosi was poisoned, Francesca becomes a suspect.

The victim’s son, Matty, happens to be Francesca’s old high school friend. Together, they uncover the secrets of the locals in order to find the killer in their idyllic beach town.

Includes two special cupcake recipes!

Later by Stephen King, purchased with Audible credits.

SOMETIMES GROWING UP

MEANS FACING YOUR DEMONS

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave.

LATER is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel It, LATER is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

What did you receive?

Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? by Bella Mahaya Carter

Source: FSB Associates
Paperback, 352 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? by Bella Mahaya Carter is a book focused on not letting rejection and negative thoughts get in the way of your dreams. Carter’s book guides writers through the doubts, negative thoughts, roadblocks, and obstacles of writing and publishing, helping them review their own perspectives and how to change their mindsets.

She begins by talking about her hammock where she daydreamed and thought about her writing, but one day, her neighbor cuts the shade tree down in his yard and the hammock is now not “perfect.” Carter’s thoughts are consumed by the loss of shade and the bright sun, but her husband suggests she moves the hammock to another spot. She’s unwilling to do that, until she realizes that sometimes obstacles pop up when we need to change direction.

“I had traded the powerful peace that I am for the illusion that somebody had taken it,” she says. “You may think, as I did, that someone or something outside you is responsible for your upset. As convincing as this appears, it’s a misconception. Our peace and happiness come from within.”

Our internal demons and thoughts are those that keep us from reaching our dreams, and she urges us to stop being rats on that spinning wheel and get off. We need to release ourselves from the “cage of our own making.” In order to do this, however, you need to know wholeheartedly what you want, especially from your writing. You need to have a clear vision of the writing and its purpose. Without it, agents and external forces can push you in directions that are not a perfect fit for you. While some may provide additional opportunities that you may want to pursue, other opportunities may not be a right fit. The trick is to have a clear vision at the start to recognize those right opportunities.

“We cannot control outside circumstances or thoughts, we can choose how we relate to them.”

Carter does offer some writing advice, but her book is less about craft itself and more about the mindset you need to create freely. She does offer a great deal of insight about choosing agents and publishers and learning what route is best for your writing. Where Do You Hang Your Hammock? by Bella Mahaya Carter is part spiritual journey, part publishing advice, and part writing craft advice.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Bella Mahaya Carter is a creative writing teacher, empowerment coach, speaker, and author of an award-winning memoir, Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy, and a collection of narrative poems. She has worked with hundreds of writers since 2008 and has degrees in literature, film, and spiritual psychology. Her poetry, essays, fiction, and interviews have appeared in Mind, Body, Green; The Sun; Lilith; Fearless Soul; Writer’s Bone; Women Writers, Women’s Books; Chic Vegan; Bad Yogi Magazine; Jane Friedman’s blog; Pick The Brain; the Spiritual Medial Blog; Literary Mama, several anthologies’ and elsewhere.

Guest Post from Brittany Benko, author of Poetic Poetry

Today’s guest article is with Brittany Benko, a poet, freelance writer, and blogger. She’ll be talking about her new book, Poetic Poetry.

First, a little bit about the book:

Poetic Poetry is a poetry collection that speaks to the soul about everyday life. In this collection, you’ll find rhyming and contemporary pieces. Painting a picture with words, readers will enter the world of beaches in the Carolinas, the Blue Ridge Mountains, seasons, love, faith, flowers, the pandemic, the passion of motherhood, experiences with an autistic child, and much more.

Please welcome, Brittany:

When I was thirteen years old, my mom and I moved from a big city to a small beach town in South Carolina. My mother at the time was going through a divorce and wanted to live near her sisters so she could start a new life. The year we moved was 2000, and to this day I still reside in the Palmetto State.

As a poet, I tend to write with passion and life experience. I’ve spent many years enjoying the beach and soaking in its beauty. As a beach local, I’ve become accustomed to the environment. Sights and smells can be easily recognized, and the water has always called out to my soul. This makes it extremely simple to write about a beach environment.

In my book I have a few poems written about the area I live in. My goal was to explain what living in a beach town is like including both pros and cons. It’s effortless to close my eyes and picture the colors in the sky over the ocean, smell the saltwater, and feel the waves hitting my feet in the shallow end of the ocean. I think readers yearn to capture a connection when they read any type of book, and writing about an area they live in can do just that. Plus, it makes it effortless for me to capture imagery and emotions on paper.

As a writer, I like to create stories from a mixture of emotion, experience, knowledge, and passion. I think it’s important to write about what you’re passionate about and what you enjoy. Poetry is something I relish. I like the creative freedom poetry gives the writer, and also the challenge of explaining a topic through rhyming poetry. My goal is to bring back rhyming poetry to the world of poets and poetry readers with as much heart felt moments as I can muster.

Thank you, Brittany, for stopping by the blog today.

Learn more about Brittany in her interview at Laura’s Books & Blogs.

About the Author:

Brittany Benko is a special needs mother, law enforcement wife, self-published author, poetry blogger, and freelance writer. She has been featured as a poet in the Autism Parenting Magazine and the Open Door Poetry Magazine. Brittany is currently working on a children’s picture book about autism spectrum disorder and a poetry collection about law enforcement lifestyle. When Brittany is not writing she enjoys spending time with her family, walks on the beach, reading, and listening to instrumental music. You can connect with Brittany by visiting her two websites: author website and poetry. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Guest Post: Rha Arayal on Poetic Inspiration and Sample Poem from Encapsulated Emotions

Welcome to today’s guest post from U.K. poet Rha Arayal, who’s collection Encapsulated Emotions was published this month.

I love sharing new poets with everyone, and Rha will explore her inspirations and share a sample poem with us. First, let’s learn a little more about the book.

Book Synopsis:

Rha Arayal’s debut poetry collection weaves a compelling story composed of layers of truth and emotion. Encapsulated Emotions gathers a plethora of questions, thoughts, feelings and bottles them up in a powerful three-part collection. Each dynamic line is corded with powerful imagery and descriptive phrases poised to uncover the reader’s deepest thoughts and memories.

Several pieces are coupled with illustrations throughout, offering a visual rendering of Arayal’s words. Sifting through the collection, you will surely catch on the author’s practice of drawing on the natural elements such as the sea, air, sun, and stars to bridge the thread between us and the world around us.

Readers will experience the three umbrella themes of collection, preservation, and decay. In this collection, readers will find pieces threaded with feminism, love, and contemplation. With each page, readers will find themselves consumed by the stirrings of Arayal’s words, breathless for more.

Please welcome, Rha:

Hello! Firstly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to feature on your blog. My name is Rha Arayal and I am a 17 year old poet from the United Kingdom.

I draw much of my inspiration from my surroundings, which are student and city life. This is evident in my poetry, which has the central themes of mental health, feminism, nature and social injustice.

I think that teenagers notice and study the world around us more than adults would like to think; social media use has become an integral part of my daily routine and it is a source of new friends and connections.

However, like many other people my age, I have become sensitive to the darker side of social media use and this is a theme which is also significant in my work.

My debut poetry collection, Encapsulated Emotions, includes all of these mentioned topics and was released on the 7th of July. It is now available to purchase both as an ebook and paperback on Amazon!

The journey to publication was a long one, but one that would be impossible without actual content and poetry!

In a nutshell, I would describe my writing process as unique. The best term to describe it is that I have the tendency to “binge write” (write sporadically, for example, going without writing for up to two weeks and then writing several poems in one day). Although I recognise that this wouldn’t work for every writer, I’ve grown accustomed to the routine and I find it quite relaxing – the feeling after writing lots of poems at once and releasing so many emotions out of your mind is quite therapeutic. As for the specific details of my writing process (when and where I write and what resources I use), I will go on to discuss that shortly.

I enjoy writing at my desk, which is my primary workspace for schoolwork and revision. I really like recognising that there is something sweetly poetic about having a homework document open in one tab and furiously typing a poem in another, ignoring the world and its demands for a blissful interval. As you may have guessed, I use my laptop and an overflowing Google Docs to write my poems. Whilst I appreciate the beauty of messy handwritten poetry in well worn notebooks, my mind is so frantic when writing that the poetry would be both illegible and diseased with multiple spelling mistakes!

I usually write in the evenings – I’m a night owl, as they would say. You’ll most probably find me crouched over my laptop and typing away between 9pm and 11pm… I would definitely write later than that if my mum didn’t come into my room and forcibly tell me to switch my laptop off!

My experience of being a published teen writer has been very positive; I’ve been given a platform to use my newfound (sometimes musically rhyming) voice, which is more than what some adults are presented with during their whole lifetime. Of course, I am proud of this but in no way does that mean that I will stop – if fate thought that handing me a single publishing contact would subside the burning passion, sometimes even anger inside of me, fate was utterly wrong.

There are so many stories that I haven’t told yet, so many images that I’ve failed to conjure, so many injustices that I haven’t touched upon. I can only hope that these will form with time, practise and research. Moreover, I hope with all of my heart that my first book is exactly that – the first. I know that I have enough ambition to publish many more books, to be featured in many more magazines and to gently affect the lives of many more people.

Here’s a sample poem from my book titled “Magician’s Assistant”:

you saw us in half
yet we receive applause second.

you make us disappear
but we’re more here
than you reckoned.

you banish us from stage,
you lock us in a cage,

yet we escape
yet we remain
unscathed.

magic is not an illusion
it is the perfumed fusion
of a magician’s assistant;

her steady high heeled stride
and the fact that you want her to die.

she flashes her white teeth;
like clean piano keys
and the audience swoon.

she waves her dazzling hands
and lies alone
in her coffin of doom.

Thank you, Rha, for sharing your writing routines and inspirations. The poem is wonderful, and we look forward to more.

About the Poet:

Rha Arayal is a fresh, unique emerging poet. She is of British Nepalese ethnicity and lives in South Wales. She started by establishing a growing Instagram poetry page, @encapsulated_emotions and never looked back. Now, she’s fallen in love with prose and always has a fountain pen and notebook by her side. Her Instagram address is @encapsulated_emotions.

Mailbox Monday #640

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Velvet, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

This is what we received:

Postcard Poems by Jeanne Griggs for review.

In days before selfies and social media, postcards were a ubiquitous feature of travel, providing both means of communication with friends and family while away, and souvenirs of journeys once back home.

Even if not quite gone, they seem more than a little nostalgic now, as do many of the poems in Jeanne Griggs’ new collection, Postcard Poems. By choosing to present her poems as short notes that could fit on a postcard, she has opted for a formal brevity; and the conceit of holiday communication allows her to write both about place (so that her poems are often both ekphrastic and epistolary – a neat trick) and about the people in her life.

Travel, of course, is always a journey through both exterior and interior spaces, physical and mental, and we witness both in these often wistful poems. A visit on Cape Cod with friends, “women of a certain age”, affords an opportunity to “live like in the books, / without any of the fuss / of having to sustain anything / except ourselves.” Children grow up over the span of these travels, despite her wishing she “had caged” them, holding onto the past. A third visit to Niagara Falls is the first without her son – “the first time / you were too young to remember / and the second too old to want / to come along” – who is now far off in Siberia on travels of his own. Iowa is a place equally exotic, known only “from watching a baseball movie / … until we left our daughter / there”, and they drive long out of the way to visit the Field of Dreams site, “And it was there, / just like we’d seen it, / in real life.” Stopping “South of the Border” she buys “picture postcards of this place on the way / to where we’re actually going.” That’s a good description of the mosaic of life that is constructed out of these brief notes, a chronical of stops along the way until, in the final poem, “all future plans suspended… / we are / still saving up from our last trip.”

Escape Velocity by Kristin Kowalski Ferragut, a gift from a dear friend and fellow poet.

A courageous testament, lush with startling imagery, Kristin Kowalski Ferragut’s Escape Velocity focuses on the personal in order to illuminate the universal. “Truth leaves words in shambles,” Ferragut cautions us. Nevertheless, “All the days in this long life / fill with such wonder of / words . . .” With each poem standing on its own as a singular story, taken as a whole, this premier collection takes the reader on an Odyssey, unsettling at times, tender at others, through memory and loss, forward with strength and resilience to confront “This love of what grows wild flowers . . . erratic, uncertain, hard to stare down.” The laws of physics cannot constrain this poet’s quest; the reader will be rewarded for accompanying her on the journey. —W. Luther Jett, Author of Everyone Disappears, Our Situation, and Not Quite

“I challenge you to / Unzip your skin and see / if you make it to the West Coast. / Exactly.” In Escape Velocity , Kristin Kowalski Ferragut invites us to experience the moments that make a life with finely honed wording and well-crafted stanzas that awaken every sense, often in unexpected ways. With deep compassion, she delves into relationships with family, loves and loves lost, the joys and sorrows that come with the bits and pieces that make a life and give us our sense of where we are in the world, sprinkled with delectable moments of wry humor. This exquisite debut poetry collection takes us beyond our usual understanding of self and place in a “rare conversation that matters.” —Lucinda Marshall, Founder and Host of DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Author of Inheritance Of Aging Self

Kristin Kowalski Ferragut sends us “Whirling / in our individual little confoundations,” as she reconciles the collective discord we face. She shoulders such universal themes as grief, love, and grace in a uniquely flawless dance. In “Unbearable Lightness” she muses, “We anchor ourselves in burdens, lost causes . . . to keep from floating away.” In lines like this, Ferragut startles us from our safe repose to experience the jeopardy and promise of motion; to believe in second chances and in our ability to “put the blood back / in the stone.” —Alison Palmer, Author of The Need for Hiding

What did you receive?