Now that I’ve finished my current work on the sequel to A House Near Luccoli: To A Strange Somewhere Fled, I’m catching up on other things that have been neglected (hey, I even cooked Sunday dinner today to relieve my mom after months of her ensuring I ate well!), including writing some long overdue reviews. I have just updated my Book Review for Others pages for Novels and Poetry Anthologies.
Francina Hartstra is a wonderful poet and ‘water gypsy’. Here is my review of her elegant little poetry anthology:
5-Stars. Beyond the Threshold by Francina Hartstra
July 13, 2014
A Journey away from a most beloved place.
There is sublime silence in the poetry of Francina Hartstra. At the same time, there is much to hear in her concise clear flow of words, which reflect her fondness for Japanese and Chinese poetry with its subtle rhythms, delicate expression and appreciation for what is left ‘unsaid’. As in one of her Haiku’s, her poetry is like the snail’s shell left behind, almost magical evidence that she was there and moved on. Beyond the Threshold is a journey away from a most beloved place, guided by the moon and stars, moved by time and timelessness, nostalgic and yet not encumbered by looking back—secrets shared without revealing them in whispered memories of very personal joys and tears. This poetry is very Zen, offering wisdom that knows enough to question all it answers. There is a tenderness in it and, yet, intensity, too; like a stream moving gently but vigorously on towards a river that will not be its final destination.
I have embarked on Francina’s quietly engaging travels again and again, and whole-heartedly recommend others do the same. This is a lovely poetry anthology that should be widely experienced and treasured.
Available in print edition
I invite you to catch up the following reviews I have done on three excellent novels:
5-Stars. Tally: An Intuitive Life by Mary Clark
Memoir – All Things That Matter Press
May 31, 2014
Mary Clark’s memoir underscores the miracle of unexpected relationships in transforming lives.
Wandering along a narrative rich with compelling philosophical conversations and very personal events, this remembrance of Bohemian artist, Paul Johnson (PJ), transports the reader to avant-garde Greenwich Village in the 1970′s and 80′s and further back through his earlier history. Much of the book allows the reader to have a `fly-on-the-wall’ look into the solitary, collaborative and transformational experiences of the creative, eccentric, needy yet detached `intuitively conscious’ PJ; and the absorbing, if often ambiguous, connection he makes with the sensitive, curious, compassionate and intelligent young poet and community organizer, Erin.
I was especially drawn in by the novel’s main storyline of youth intersecting with old age on a basis of shared pursuits and exploration of ideas. In today’s society, there is often separation of the young and the elderly, as if one is offensive or even a threat to the other. It’s usually assumed they have nothing in common or to cultivate with each other. The young can put a lot of time and energy into longing and looking for external experiences to shape their lives; even those who are creative tend to expect inspiration, knowledge and fulfillment to come from somewhere outside of their own abilities, feelings and instincts. In its best scenario, aging makes us weary of life’s pursuits, necessitating reflection over action; so we become less frantic and more self-realized and consciously alive at eighty than we were at twenty.
PJ can `speak’ for himself on this: “Let it cease. I have created many new identities. I have found new reasons to live. I have lived through phases of bliss, of romantic love, phases of death of consciousness, of depression and aspirations beyond achieving, and the fullness of the joy of being alive.”
As a writer and artist, I fully related and engaged with this continuous cycle of conclusions making new beginnings.
In itself an evolutionary work, Tally: An Intuitive Life focuses on the development of the artist into something much more than a man or woman undertaking some kind of creative venture. Like anyone else, he/she is layered by life; the difference is that his/her experiences aren’t a means to an end but a compulsion of becoming, even after death.
Unexpectedly, I found myself very moved by the book’s ending, feeling the question: how can we be sure we have influenced someone as significantly as they have influenced us? I was deeply affected by the sense that for all left unsaid and undone, so much was understood. Erin–Mary–will never forget PJ, the artist and man, and now neither will those who, through the brilliant delicacy and honesty of her writing, can have the fascinating experience of knowing something of him, too. Available in Paperback and Kindle Editions
4-Stars. Swift Currents of Change by Janet Ashworth
February 7, 2014
Historical Fiction That Lets the Past Live and Breathe
Swift Currents of Change is an excellent historical fiction that lets the past live and breathe through the lives of ordinary folk in extraordinary times. This is storytelling that matters, because it fills out the often dry facts we learned at school. The novel unfolds through the folksy vernacular of the grandmother in a kind of Tom Sawyer narrative about the restlessness of innocence, which has yet to learn the old adage: be careful what you wish for. I love this line of dialogue from near the end of chapter one: “While I was looking to change myself back in 1859, my world was about to be changed forever.”
The novel progresses very well from the simplicity of a childhood that, while far from being idyllic, is fairly happy and predictable, to the complications of an adult world full of uncertainty, conflict, inhumanity and heartbreak along with hopes, ideals and heroism. It is about growing and learning, and understanding if not always with acceptance. All the characters are very dimensional and engaging; they are like pieces to a puzzle: some fit into the scheme of things easier than others. I felt the emotions, including anticipation, love, fear disappointment and frustration—all that the characters were going through, which proves the effectiveness of the writing. The descriptions of the environment were beautifully blended around the action, at times seeming to participate in it.
I was impressed that Ms. Ashworth didn’t make the story melodramatic, that she recognized how somehow life goes on for those who survive terrible yet transforming events, that the everyday things still matter and will continue to for generations to come. If you love history, especially concerning everyday people experiencing it in the making, I highly recommend Swift Currents of Change.
Available in Paperback and Kindle Editions
5-Stars. White Horse Regressions by Steve Lindahl
Paranormal Fiction – All Things That Matter Press
March 3, 2014
A Karmic Dance of Twists and Turns
What begins as a murder mystery evolves into a hypnotic investigation that uncovers the centuries-old connections between a cast of characters fated to repeat the circumstances, intrigues and tragedies of their past lives. Through a series of sessions in which the participants regress to Victorian London and ancient China, stories within the story unfold, relationships are defined and rituals revealed, more questions raised than answered until a disturbing and seemingly unbreakable pattern emerges.
Mr. Lindhal’s suspenseful novel moves backwards and forwards in a karmic dance that also twists and turns; a profound and poignant narrative about reincarnation as it relates to love and friendship, vulnerability and power, the myth of inevitability and the possibilities for better times to come.
Available in Paperback and Kindle Editions
Hope you find some summer reading in the list!
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Books were Rose’s secrets. Reading was an easy distraction, friend to her curiosity and the only thing she was sure she wanted to do. When she entered the library next door, what was real and imaginary became indistinguishable, and she grew ready to reveal the future of her relationship with the written word.
©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back tobardessdmdenton. Thank you.