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The Writer’s Guide to Poetry

The Writer’s Guide to Poetry features essays from 11 award-winning poets such as Anne Lamott, Dorothea Lasky, Iain Thomas, Susan Wooldridge, and others who share insights into the art and craft of poetry.

***Free to Download***

The guide also contains artist Nathan Gelgud’s illustrations of poems by Margaret Atwood, Allen Ginsberg, and Madeleine L’Engle. Highlights from the guide include:

  • Insights from 11 award-winning poets.
  • Advice on how to overcome imposter syndrome.
  • 3 classic poems illustrated by artist Nathan Gelgud.
  • Anne Lamott on the devils of perfectionism.
  • Important tips on “telling it slant.”

Check out this illustration by Nathan Gelgud below:

Nathan Gelgud’s illustration of “This Is a Photograph of Me” by Margaret Atwood

Feel free to click on the image and visit Nathan’s website.

Anyone who reads or writes poetry knows that it is a fickle beast, and if there’s anything that gets the muse talking, it’s essays from some great poets and the poems they’ve written.

Also, Signature has a list of 28 books of poetry that you should read this month.  I’ve read Citizen and When My Brother Was an Aztec, and both were very good for different reasons.  If you read any from this list, I’d love to hear what you thought.

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander and Joe Sartore

Source: Media Masters Publicity
Hardcover, 48 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, photos by Joel Sartore, is a gorgeous book for kids — a photographic ark with poems. The images bring forth the magic of Alexander’s poetry from the silly game playing primates to the large rumbling feet of elephants. These short haiku eek out elements of each animal, helping kids identify some of their behaviors and qualities, while engaging their eyes in a play of color.

In “Chorus of Creatures” near the center of the book, Alexander draws parallels between the animals in this ark and humans, calling on all of us to show respect for the world around us, or we might just share its end. At the end of the book is a key with all of the animals listed that appeared in earlier pages, and near the bottom is a key where readers can find out which animals in this ark are critically endangered, vulnerable, and more.

Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, photos by Joel Sartore, is an ark you need in your home to teach children and adults about the animals on our planet and how we are connected to them.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and the New York Times Bestselling author of 24 books, including THE CROSSOVER, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. Some of his other works include THE PLAYBOOK: 52 RULES TO HELP YOU AIM, SHOOT, AND SCORE IN THIS GAME OF LIFE; the picture books, ANIMAL ARK, OUT OF WONDER and SURF’S UP; and novels BOOKED, HE SAID SHE SAID, and the forthcoming SOLO.

About the Photographer:

Joel Sartore has produced more than 30 stories from around the world as a freelance photographer for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine. He is an author, speaker and teacher who captivates audiences with his funny and inspiring adventures.

Guest Post: Flanders Field of Grey by Ginger Monette

In 2015, Ginger Monette, author of the Darcy’s Hope series, entered a flash fiction contest, Picture This! Writing Contest, in which she wrote a short story based on a photograph. So was born, “A Flanders Field of Grey,” which she shares with us today in honor of National Poetry Month.

We hope you enjoy it.

Roger stepped away from his companions and swallowed hard as his gaze swept over the Flanders field on the dreary November day. The musty smell of damp earth and the grey sky instantly transported him back to that fateful day fifteen years before.

November 6, 1917. The moment was nearly upon them. He returned his sister’s picture to his pocket and glanced down the trench into the sea of soldiers. Who would death call today? Artillery shells screeched and boomed over No-Man’s land rocketing fountains of sludge into the air. He raked trembling fingers through his red hair and secured his tin helmet. The roiling grey clouds overhead mirrored the churning in his stomach.

The shrill of the signalling whistle pierced the air. The trench erupted in a primal war cry. He added his voice and vigour to the wave of khaki scaling the ladders and pouring over the earthen wall. The staccato of machine-gun fire joined the percussion of artillery and roar of men’s voices. Defying every instinct, he lowered his head and plunged into the firestorm.

As far as he could see, his comrades slogged across the pocked wasteland of Passchendaele. Green-scummed water filled hellholes deep enough to swallow a dozen men. He gagged on a whiff of wet soil mingled with the stench of decaying bodies. Shells bursting on his left and right catapulted men and mud into the air.

Gunfire mowed down the men in front of him. Shuddering with fear, he stepped over two groaning bodies and pressed on. He ignored the grey hand reaching from a murky pool like a tentacle of death lapping at his heels. Flying lead swept over them again.

His legs failed him.

Little did he know that day
His life would be forever changed
On a Flanders field of grey.

~~*~~

Tom thrust his hands into his coat pockets as his gaze swept over the Flanders field on the dreary November day. A barking dog and the grey sky instantly transported him back to that fateful day fifteen years before.

November 6, 1917. A choir of moaning men mingled with the orchestra of artillery. He quickened his pace, splinting, sewing, sawing. An explosion rocked the underground lair, rattling his surgical instruments and raining dirt from the low earthen ceiling.

The company sheepdog sauntered over and nuzzled his leg. “Not now, girl, I’ve got boys to mend.”

Soldier and after soldier came and went from his makeshift theatre. Late in the afternoon he heaved a sigh of relief as he emerged above ground. He squinted upwards; the grey clouds overhead mirrored the tenor of the day. He could only recall laughing once—with a private who’d caught a round in the leg. In spite of his pain, they’d laughed and joked as he prepped the boy for the hospital train.

A sudden boom sent him reeling backwards.

Little did he know that day
His life would be forever changed
On a Flanders field of grey.

~~*~~

Sarah brushed aside a tear as her gaze swept over the Flanders field on the dreary November day. The mud caked on her shoes and the grey sky instantly transported her back to that fateful day fifteen years before.

November 6, 1917. Open and shut; open and shut. The door of the Nissen hut swung back and forth admitting stretcher after stretcher of broken, bloodied soldiers plastered in mud.

What had she been thinking when she volunteered? That it would be amusing to camp in a six-foot bell tent and nurse men gasping for breath with gas poisoning or writhing in pain with a limb blown off?

She hastened across the duckboards under an ominous grey sky that mirrored the fear every woman carried. Fear that a beau or brother would appear. And then it happened to her. A boy moaning on a stretcher stopped her—dead. Her brother.

Her head flew back with an anguished wail.

Little did she know that day
Her life would be forever changed
On a Flanders field of grey.

But the sun broke through the clouds on the November day over the Flanders field of grey. The light glistened off the red hair of her brother Roger walking with his cane beside the doctor. She smiled as the best friends joked about their long-ago ride on the hospital train.

Sarah quickened her pace to join the two and slipped her arm around the wounded surgeon she’d nursed so many years ago. She couldn’t ask for a more wonderful husband.

Indeed all their lives had been changed that day on a Flanders field of grey.

And they wouldn’t have it any other way.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments about the piece and what inspires you to read about WWI or poetry.

Mailbox Monday #421

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

****Also, if you haven’t signed up, please do for the National Poetry Month blog tour****

Here’s what I received:

The Honorable Mr. Darcy by Jennifer Joy, narrated by Nancy Peterson, a giveaway win from Diary of an Eccentric.

Lieutenant George Wickham is dead.

The shot rings out in Wickham’s tent as the good citizens of Meryton dance the night away at Mr. Bingley’s Netherfield ball. The only person who can confirm Fitzwilliam Darcy’s alibi faces the loss of her reputation and her freedom if she comes forward.

Convinced that her sole motive is the pursuit of justice – and not her growing attraction to Mr. Darcy – Elizabeth Bennet begins an investigation to clear his name and evade an unwanted marriage.

If Darcy didn’t shoot Wickham in cold blood, who did? Which of Longbourn’s neighbors is not who they seem?

With a killer on the loose, can Elizabeth avoid being the next victim as she comes closer to revealing the truth?

Listen to The Honorable Mr. Darcy today to satisfy your craving for a fast-paced mystery interwoven with a heartwarming, sweet romance

One Good Thing by Wendy Wax for review.

Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships.

Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and dealing with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached…

But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling.

Guzzle by Temple Cone, which I purchased.

The poems in GUZZLE are the Americanized cousins of the classic Arabic ghazal. Loose, shaggy beasts, their three-lined stanzas leap from celebration to skepticism to wild laughter. The poems reflect on the nature of language, environmental collapse, the presence of God, erotic desire, genius and madness, fatherhood, fame, and the pleasures of poetry, and they evoke artists and thinkers ranging from Whitman to Wittgenstein, Olivier Messiaen to Sally Mann. Forever stretching the ghazal form to compass the borders of postmodern reality, GUZZLE is a meditation on the ways that “we ourselves are holy timber, waiting to be joined, / Tongue and groove, to raise up the house of the beautiful.”

Darcy’s Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation (The Cousins Book 1) by Jennifer Joy, a free Kindle download.

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s arranged life falls to pieces, his father, Mr. George Darcy, gives him an ultimatum: Marry by the end of the London Season or risk disinheritance. Can Darcy cast aside society’s frigid attitude toward marriage and find true love? Or will his desire to honor his deceased mother’s memory hold him back?

Elizabeth Bennet faces the greatest challenge of her life: Find a husband by the end of the London Season or be forced to marry the heir apparent of her family home, Mr. Collins. A romantic at heart, will Elizabeth find a gentleman to meet her high expectations?

After a disastrous meeting, Darcy and Elizabeth determine not to like each other. But, the London Season has only begun…

Flying by the Seat of My Knickers (The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw Book 1) by Eliza Watson, a Kindle download.

Why run from your troubles when you can fly instead?

When Caity Shaw is fired from her first job that doesn’t require an elf uniform, her older sister, Rachel, an event planner, hires her to work a meeting in Dublin. Caity jumps at the opportunity to travel abroad and escape her pathetic life. However, even four thousand miles from home, there’s no avoiding debt collectors, an overbearing mother, and haunting memories of a controlling ex.

While in Dublin, Caity suffers a series of humiliating mishaps, causing her to lose even more faith in herself. Caity struggles to earn Rachel’s respect—and to keep Declan, her hot Irish coworker, at arm’s length. Declan repeatedly saves Caity’s butt and helps boost her self-confidence, making it difficult to keep her distance from the charming womanizer. When Declan helps her research her Irish grandmother, Caity discovers the mysterious past of the courageous woman she barely knew might hold the answers to her future.

Mr. Darcy’s Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth, a free Kindle download.

Jane Austen’s classic Regency story comes alive again in a tale of pride, prejudice, and a promise. Georgiana Darcy makes her way to Netherfield Park to meet the woman her brother so admires. While at first Georgiana’s presence smooths the course of true love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the ghosts of her past appear to wreak havoc on all of them. Unhappily, Elizabeth finds herself placed in the care of the Darcy family at Pemberley. Assuming he knows the cause of Elizabeth’s distress, Mr. Darcy makes a promise on his gentleman’s honor. The promise, although made with good intentions, becomes nearly impossible to keep for Mr. Darcy, and somewhat vexing for Elizabeth. Some promises are made to be broken but will the ever-trustworthy gentleman let go enough to secure Elizabeth’s heart?

One Love – Two Hearts – Three Stories: A Pride & Prejudice Anthology: The Library, Married!, Ramsgate by J Dawn King, a free Kindle download.

“One Love”, legendary in proportions, unites the “Two Hearts” of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Delight in the sweet romance of “Three Stories” from J. Dawn King’s what-if variations inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Library becomes the set of a comedy of errors which just might open up the path to endearing confessions between these two hearts as Mr. Darcy takes a golden opportunity to command Elizabeth’s attention while at Netherfield Park. (Novella)

Married! Elizabeth Bennet is thrown into a misadventure when she successfully assists a fellow maiden in distress only to find her own reputation jeopardized. When the only solution is to marry a man she just met, can she find happiness with the kind-hearted, but imperfect stranger? Is love a faraway dream in her new life as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy? (Novel)

When Darcy receives not one letter, but two from Ramsgate, he immediately drops everything to rush to his sister’s rescue. What will he find at the end of the road? While expecting the worst, this might possibly be the best thing to ever happen to him. (Novella)

The Library and Married! have both been voted reader favorites at Jaffrecs.com. J. Dawn King has also written Amazon bestsellers A Father’s Sins and Compromised!

Mr. Darcy’s Secret: A Mister Darcy series comedic mystery by Barbara Silkstone, a free Kindle download.

Based on the enduring characters created by Jane Austen, this is a contemporary spin on a classic tale of love denied, and love discovered. Each novella is part of the Mister Darcy series but each adventure can be read as a stand alone.

The mysterious Mister Darcy enlists the aid of dog psychologist Lizzie Bennet in his secret quest. Lizzie soon finds herself deep in his battle where familiar villains join forces to stop Darcy at all costs. Darcy’s true feelings for Lizzie bubble to the surface but can she reciprocate? And what about that peanut butter kiss?

Mister Darcy’s Dogs ~ Book One
Mister Darcy’s Christmas ~ Book Two
Mister Darcy’s Secret ~ Book Three
Pansy Cottage ~ Book Four
Mister Darcy’s Templars ~ Book Five
Mister Darcy’s Honeymoon ~ Book Six
Happy Christmas from the Darcy’s ~ Book Seven
Mister Darcy’s Maltese Falcon ~ Book Eight

Barbara Silkstone’s comedy mysteries feature goodhearted heroines caught up in screwball situations. Silkstone’s Mister Darcy series of comedic mysteries based on Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice now includes eight adventures – with more coming! She is also the author of two Regency novels: The Gallant Vicar and The Return of the Gallant Vicar. The Witches of Longbourn is a series of three lighthearted episodes that weave one tale of love and magic with a charming happy ending.

Look for another Regency romance featuring Darcy and Elizabeth coming this fall.

Silkstone is also the author of the popular Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series. Her writings have been compared to the works of Douglas Adams and Monty Python.

An Encounter at Pemberley: A Pride And Prejudice Variation by Isabelle Mayfair, a free Kindle download.

While touring Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Bennet is horrified to discover they intend to visit Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy. She had hoped never to meet him again after rejecting his proposal months before. But assured that he is not home, Elizabeth decides to take the opportunity to explore Pemberley Woods while her aunt and uncle are out. There, alone in the woods, she is the victim of an accident.

Mr Darcy discovers her lying unconscious and must think quickly to get her to shelter before a storm begins. He takes her to his hunting lodge to tend to her injuries, realising he will have compromised her reputation and be obliged to marry her if word gets out. But Elizabeth is suffering from amnesia as a result of her accident and is intrigued by the kind, generous man who tends to her.

Is this Mr Darcy’s last chance to show her the man he can be? And as for Elizabeth, she is astonished to discover that the warm, caring man she’s starting to fall in love with was someone she disliked intensely before her accident. But just why was her dislike for him so strong?

When word gets out of them spending the night together, Lizzy’s reputation is compromised and the only way out is to agree to marry Mr Darcy. But can she accept him for the man he is now? And can she truly love a man she cannot remember?

Darcy and Elizabeth: A Beau Bon-Bon Christmas (A Pride and Prejudice Winter’s Tale) by Kate Bedlow, a free Kindle download.

It is 1815. Elizabeth Darcy returns to Hertfordshire to see her family at Christmas, but a silly quarrel between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley threatens everybody’s pleasure.

The war is over, but Meryton is anything but peaceful. The neighborhood ladies are each determined her cook will win first prize in the Beau Bon-Bon charity baking competition, and Mrs. Bennet is determined to get the new tenant of Netherfield Park for Kitty—but Commodore Harrington might have other plans.

And there is a bit with a dog…

What did you receive?

National Poetry Month 2017

National Poetry Month 2017 is here.

If you’re posting about poetry this month, I’d love to know about it. I love to cross-promote poetry posts in April on Facebook and elsewhere.

Leave you full post links below:

Happy National Poetry Month!

Caroline by Sue Barr

Source: the author
Ebook, 204 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Caroline by Sue Barr, view her guest post, explores Caroline Bingley from a different perspective, following Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet.  What if all we thought we knew about Jane Austen’s foil to Elizabeth wasn’t completely true? What if there was more to her than we thought?

Caroline has been in love with Mr. Darcy, or at least his society position and estate, for a very long time, and when she discovers he is lost to her forever, she is devastated.  She falls to an emotional low, and while turning to music and listening to her sister’s advice, she strives to make improvements — albeit slowly.  But her relationship with her siblings is not as close as it could be, especially when she makes her feelings known to Charles.

“Caroline eyed the half-chewed sticky mass on the floor and with great determination kept a steady gaze on Louisa’s face.  Not for the first time she wished her sister would not speak with her mouth full.  In front of the wrong person, she could be mistaken for an uncouth gentlewoman, on par with Mrs. Bennet.”

In walks, Lord Nathan Kerr, Mr. Darcy’s new vicar, and he is almost immediately besotted, but like Mr. Knightley, he takes Caroline to task for her past transgressions, even some she didn’t make.  Barr creatively intertwines scripture and is never heavy handed, and she shows the gradual evolution of Caroline from social-climber to a woman who is looking for companionship, respect, and love.  She has a harsh temper, which she must learn to curb, and eventually listening to the advice of her grandmother from long ago, she’s able to seek solace and learn to quiet her frustrations and anxieties enough to see the potential before her without lamenting what can never be.

The only drawback was the convenient ending, which took away some of the redemptive qualities of the novel.  But, overall, Caroline by Sue Barr is a wonderful story about a woman in need of new direction and finds it by looking at the opportunities before her that she might have spurned not too long ago.  This fiery redhead learns a lot about herself and society perceptions along the way, leaving her little choice but to reform herself and become more open to love.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three … in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady- in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information about her other books, visit her website, her blog, and on Pinterest, Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter.

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Darcy Monologues

I know everyone has been excited to see the cover of this May release in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, and I cannot wait to show it to you today.  The anthology itself will be released on May 22.

From Christina Boyd:

The amazing cover art is the genius of Shari Ryan of MadHat Books. She took the cover concept and created exactly as I envisioned. Shari professionally, quickly, and concisely handled my countless questions, suggestions, and “just one more tweak” in the challenging format of the print interior—even had a special script code written to make it happen. And then when the original concept had to be scrapped because of the print-on- demand company’s limitations that were beyond our control (long, convoluted story only to be shared over strong cocktails), Shari AGAIN created the present cover and interior for both print and e-book. I could not recommend her expertise more!

Multi-talented author Beau North designed the individual fantastic short story graphics for our social media promotions. I think each gives a lovely overall feel for each story. And the color concept I think works well with #TheDarcyMonologues branding, too!

About the Book:

“You must allow me to tell you…”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Pre-order here on Amazon.

Before we get to the giveaway, I have another surprise for you. I get to share an image for Karen M Cox’s story in the anthology!

Here’s a little teaser from her story, too:

“You seem to know a lot about this book.”

“You would too if your last name was Darcy.” I mimicked an affected tone. “So, you’re Mr. Darcy. Ha-ha-ha-ha. I’ve been looking for you all my life.” With a grim shake of my head, I took a sip of my bourbon and branch. “His first name was even Fitzwilliam.”

“That sounds a lot like William.”

“Yep. My mother’s little joke–English lit major that she was. Bought me a lifetime of misery with that name.”

About Karen:

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

International Giveaway:

One winner will be selected to win a Kindle Fire with Alexa, and a 7” display.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

The second giveaway is for a $25.00 Etsy gift card.

To enter this giveaway, readers will create a Pinterest Board named The Darcy Monologues and post all fifteen story images from the cover reveals, one per each author included in the anthology, and Tweet the board on Twitter. The Tweet must include the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

All entries will be entered through the Rafflecopter links shown below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Please stop by on July 3 for my review of The Darcy Monologues***

Mailbox Monday #420

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

***Please note that the Mr. Linky is having issues, so please leave any MM links in the comments at the blog this week.***

It’s finally spring, now only if the weather would warm up, I could get into the garden.

****Also, if you haven’t signed up, please do for the National Poetry Month blog tour****

Here’s what I received:

Build a … T-Rex illustrated by Kiki Ljung for review from Quarto Knows.

Welcome to your dinosaur dig! Build a T-rex and uncover the inner workings of the world’s most ferocious dinosaur. Learn about their body, their prey, and their extinction. Encourages imaginative play with a step-by-step 3D model to build, and simple facts to learn, ideal for young naturalists.

Build a … Butterfly illustrated by Kiki Ljung for review from Quarto Knows.

Welcome to the butterfly house! Build a butterfly and uncover the inner workings of the world’s most beautiful insect. Learn about their life cycle, how they find food, where they live, and how far they travel. Encourages imaginative play with a step-by-step 3D model to build, and simple facts to learn, ideal for young naturalists.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn for review in June with TLC Book Tours.

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

Beauty and the Beast: A Coloring Book by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve from Media Masters Publicity.

This enchanting coloring book is full of wonderful pictures, patterns, and borders to be colored in, as budding artists immerse themselves in the story of Beauty, who goes to live with the terrifying Beast in order to save her father…and then gradually learns to love him. All the key scenes and characters are here to color in as you relive this most romantic of fairy tales.

What did you receive?

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

Source: Purchased
Hardcover, 56 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan is a Newbery Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book, and the author notes that he was inspired to write about the 11 slaves listed as property for the Fairchilds estate in 1828. The slave-related document only listed the slaves as “woman” and “boy”, etc., and no ages were given.  Bryan ascribed ages and names to these slaves and gave them jobs on the estate, and the stories he tells in a free-verse poetry format are telling.  My daughter and I read this together in February for Black History Month, but it is a book that has lessons that should be taught to kids everyday.

Bryan’s illustrations aim to breathe life into the dreams of these slaves, those who are bound to an estate with little hope of freedom, except in their minds.  They have skills praised by their owners, and any money they earn from the neighboring plantations enriches their owners.  It’s hard to see how this life could not make the slaves feel hopeless, but Bryan’s free verse poems recall the inner freedom their skills and accomplishments can bring — they have dreams of something more, if not for themselves, for others who they teach and mentor along the way.  From musicians to architects and doctors, these slaves had dreams that out shined their current situations.

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan demonstrates the harsh realities of slavery, while still providing children with a glimmer of hope and joy.  It speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit, as well as the darker drive to control others and deem them less worthy for arbitrary reasons.  The illustrations are bright and dreamlike, and kids will be drawn in.  My only complaint is that the free-verse is very narrative, and less rhythmic than expected.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Ashley Bryan grew up to the sound of his mother singing from morning to night, and he has shared the joy of song with children ever since. A beloved illustrator, he has been the recipient of the Coretta Scott King—Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award; he has also been a May Hill Arbuthnot lecturer, a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and the recipient of countless other awards and recognitions. His books include Sail Away; Beautiful Blackbird; Beat the Story-Drum, Pum Pum; Let It Shine; Ashley Bryan’s Book of Puppets; and What a Wonderful World. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine.

Guest Post & Giveaway: Caroline: The Music Behind the Woman by Sue Barr

Many Pride & Prejudice variations are focused on Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, but what attracts me to Sue Barr’s variation is that it focuses on Miss Bennet’s nemesis, Caroline Bingley.  (OK, maybe nemesis is a strong word)  Caroline has focused on Mr. Darcy for so long, what happens to her after Darcy marries Elizabeth? How does she cope with that loss and what does she focus on now that he’s out of the picture?  Today, Sue Barr will share with us the musical influences of Jane Austen and how it plays in Caroline’s life.

But first, read more about the book below.

Book Synopsis:

Whatever happened to Caroline Bingley after her brother and unrequited love interest married a Bennet sister? Join me in this story of redemptive love and the healing of broken dreams.

Caroline Bingley, beyond frustrated with her brother, Charles and Mr. Darcy both proposing to the Bennet sisters, dreads their upcoming nuptials. For three years, her sole focus has been on attaining a marriage proposal from one Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, only to be foiled by a country miss with ‘fine eyes’. Adrift and not sure of her place in life, she meets the mysterious and devastatingly handsome Lord Nathan, who equally vexes and intrigues her.

Lord Nathan Kerr, third in line to a Dukedom, had a well-earned reputation as a Rake. He cast all that and his noble title aside to become Mr. Darcy’s vicar in Kympton, finding contentment in leading his small flock and doing the Lord’s work. His plan for a quiet, country life is thrown into upheaval when he meets the fiery Miss Bingley. Can he reconcile his rising desire for the spoiled miss with how a vicar’s wife ‘should’ behave?

Purchase Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon AU

Please give Sue a warm welcome.

Thank you, Serena, for inviting me to your lovely blog today to discuss my latest book, Caroline. Today, I look forward to sharing this post with your readers that discusses the musical influences in Jane Austen’s own life, as well as in Caroline Bingley’s story too.

When it comes to musical talents, I have learned that Jane Austen really was somewhat of a proficient and a rather accomplished lady in her musical achievements. From the age of 12 years old, Jane practiced the piano nearly each and every morning. In the evenings, she could often be found performing at the piano for her family and friends.

Even at the age of 20, she was still taking weekly lessons and learning new techniques, which happened to be unusual, even for the accomplished women of her class. Even though her family existed on a limited budget, Jane was always able to have access to a good quality piano. Due to the costs of printed music, Jane belonged to an “informal, women-driven network” of music copyists and borrowers.

In my story, Caroline, I was able to connect Austen’s love for music as we discover that Caroline also has a passion for music which soothes her soul. Whenever troubled, she gravitates to the pianoforte and plays. Personally, I love Mozart and was so glad that he lived prior to the time frame of my story.

One of my favorite movies is Amadeus, not for the characterization of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his protagonist, Antonio Salieri but for the music. There is one song, when the last of the high notes hang in the air before crashing to the end, which gives me goose flesh. The genius of Mozart’s compositions is beyond compare. His piano concerto No. 26 has so many layers in nuance and timing, also any of his Clarinet Concertos, … and who doesn’t love Eine Klein Nachtmusic? Most people listen to the piece with only stringed instruments, but the piano solo, accompanied by woodwinds and stringed instruments is achingly beautiful. I have a CD of his music and love it.

I also wanted Caroline to have layers with her love of music and there were many great Masters to choose from, but I looked for something different. I Googled popular composers in the time of 1812 and Ignaz Pleyel popped up. You Tube is a wonderful place to lose yourself and I listened to many tracks until I found his sonata in F Major. I thought I’d share a link to the scene from Amadeus where Solieri, played by F. Murray Abraham, is describing the music of Mozart to a young priest. I think he won the Oscar from this scene alone.

I challenge you to listen to some classical music, if you don’t already love it. Really, really hear what these Masters composed. Imagine flutes, oboes and clarinets, joined by an bassoon providing the much needed lower layer and then along comes the violin, piercing the air with each rising crescendo in harmony alongside the cello and in the background, bass drums, like a heartbeat.

Can you hear it?

Reference: JOHNSON, CLAUDIA L. and CLARA TUITE (eds). A Companion to Jane Austen. Blackwell Publishing, 2009. Blackwell Reference Online. 25 February 2017

Thanks, Sue, for sharing this with us. I can hear the music now. I’m sure my readers can, too, and I bet they’re excited to enter to win!

About the Author:

Sue Barr resides in beautiful Southwestern Ontario with her retired Air Force hubby, two sons and their families. She’s also an indentured servant to three cats and has been known to rescue a kitten or two, or three … in an attempt to keep her ‘cat-lady- in-training’ status current. Although, she has deviated from appointed path and rescued a few dogs as well.

Sue is a member of Romance Writers of America and their affiliate chapter, Love, Hope and Faith as well as American Christian Fiction Writers. For more information about her other books, visit her website, her blog, and on Pinterest, Facebook, GoodReads, and Twitter.

Enter the Giveaway:

Three winners will receive a paperback copy of Caroline and a Jane Austen Journal and three separate winners will receive an ebook copy of this book. (All giveaways are open to international winners.)

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