Book Review: That Wasn’t in the Script

About the Book

Josie Bradford feels stuck.

After being moved against her will to New York City and losing her father in the span of a year, the aspiring screenwriter dreams of escaping back to small-town Ohio where she can attend college and go back to some version of normal-if only she could afford it.  

Enter Hollywood teen heartthrob Rowan Adler, an overnight celebrity thanks to the viral streaming sensation in which he stars. Ever-reckless Rowan is bored, sheltered, and desperate to escape the limelight. 

The lives of the two teenagers collide one fateful autumn night when Josie finds an escaped Rowan asleep in the middle of the greasy burger shack where she works, leading her to wonder: How much would this exclusive sell for? 

What follows is an absurd, heartfelt, romantic twenty-four-hour descent into chaos. The unlikely pair slowly learn what it means to embrace the plot twists life throws their way and how sometimes, getting lost is the only way to find out what you really want.  

Purchase link:

https://www.amazon.com/That-Wasnt-Script-Sarah-Ainslee-ebook/dp/B0BS1544CH

My Review

That Wasn’t in the Script, by Sarah Ainsley is a delightful coming of age romance with enough turns and twists to keep the pages turning at a rapid rate. This story is about being young, and growing up, and self-discovery, and having fun doing it.

Josie is stuck in a rut. She doesn’t realize that her life is about to go off the rails when she decides to help out a boy who she thinks is her classmate. But in a few short hours, her life will change drastically as she follows Rowan, a reckless teenaged heartthrob through New York City on a quest intended to give her the future she longs for. As they go through a night filled with wild new experiences, she finds she doesn’t want to benefit from Rowan’s celebrity, but perhaps she wants something else even more.

A teenaged romance with a big dose of reality and just the right amount of humor. I give That Wasn’t in the Script five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Treasuring Poetry – Meet multi-genre author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg, and a review #Poetry #writingcommunity #bookreview

Today, I am delighted to welcome author and poet, Patricia Furstenberg, as my March Treasuring Poetry guest.

Why do you write poetry?

To me, writing poetry is like being a flâneuse of the literary world.

The history and meaning of flâneuse (with its masculine form, flâneur) derive from the turn of the century, late 19th to early 20th. It defines those men and women who had the time, the inclination, the passion (and the finances, back then) to wonder along the streets of a big city and to observe and be a part of the daily city life. Those who enjoyed taking in the city.

It was after this past holiday, when my family and I covered about 200km on the streets of Romania, in Bucharest and Sibiu, that I learned this expression, flâneuse.

Writing poetry is my reaction to being a flâneuse in a city of words. Writing poetry is like strolling among literary creations, classical or modern (buildings made of words if you wish) and taking in their beauty and rhythm. A turn of the word here, a phrase there, they blend with the breeze, the song of bird, or the memories of my youth (like dappled shadows) – creating poetry.

Do you think poetry is still a relevant form of expressing ideas in our modern world? If yes, why?

Absolutely. Poetry permanently sheds a light on the world; it helps us see our everyday life through a different perspective. It adds colour to a world monotonous in its everyday violence. It also highlights, thus helping us remember, the forgotten beauty of life.

Poetry also creates bridges that unite us, past distances (and I mean social distances) or any other barriers. Poetry is that one constant in times of change. Because poetry helps us understand our emotions and communicate them. It helps us make sense of an uncertain future or of a tumultuous past. Poetry translates, by use of imagery that what – at first – is hard to comprehend and it appears scrambled.

Which poem by any other poet that you’ve read, do you relate to the most and why?

So many times I asked myself this question and the answer varied, but more often it was Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” the poem I most relate with.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Life, the simple act of living and of leading a happy and fulfilled family life, are such a tremendous gift – but we tend to take it for granted. I think that contemplating the road that brought us here, as well as the ones followed by our ancestors, is a valuable exercise.

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is about the choices and the opportunities we encounter in life. But unlike Frost’s poem, I believe that it isn’t the regret over the roads not taken that should overshadow our future, but the excitement for further choices, born out of our past decisions. Life is a continuous maze, and a beautiful and exciting one.

Which of your own poems is your favourite and why?

I enjoyed following the antics of the puppies depicted in my poetry book “as Good as Gold”. There were times when I would write and laugh. When I grew up in Romania we would live in an apartment so we shared some pretty close living quarters with our dog. Whoever looked after a puppy will remember that, at the beginning, they hardly sleep through the night.

While writing “As Good as Gold” I enjoyed mentally watching a puppy conversing with the moon, or meeting an owl (during night-time, of course) for the very first time. Writing from experience… Today I look fondly on those memories. Thus, my favourite poem is “Why, Rain?”  where we follow a puppy on his first encounter with a surprise storm during what starts like a perfect summer day, just right for some nature exploration.

Is writing poetry easy for you compared to prose or do you do a lot of editing and revision of your poems?

I enjoy writing poetry for its free form and lack of constraints. Poetry allows my thoughts to roam unrestrained. For me, writing poetry is like finding shapes in the clouds – they can be anything and I won’t be wrong in writing them as such. The reader, in turn, can interpret them the way she sees them and none will be wrong for taking that what her / his heart chose to see.

Writing prose asks for much more structure, although I enjoy it just as much. Writing prose is like building a house.

Poetry is like writing a song. Sometimes you hum it for a long time before you get the melody out on paper just the way you heard it in your mind. Prose is more like writing a symphony. Just as rewarding, perhaps more demanding. Prose will confer a whole set of ideas, where poetry will distil the thought to a perfect, silky thread.

What mode (blog, books, YouTube, podcasts) do you find the most effective for sharing your poems with poetry lovers and readers?

As an independent author with self-published poetry books as well as poems published in various poetry anthologies I find that, today, readers show a fear of commitment towards poetry. I discovered that publishing my poems on my blog or into an online literary magazine I can reach a wider audience than publishing a poetry book.

My review of As Good as Gold, A dog’s life in poems by Patricia Furstenberg

As Good as Gold: A Dog’s Life in Poems is a delightful and uplifting collection of poems about domestic dogs and puppies. Each poem is accompanied by a lovely photograph of the dog through whose eyes the poems is written. I liked that the poems were told from the perspective of the dogs and I thought the freestyle form of poetry suited this book well as each poem is a mini story or adventure.

The writing style is conversational and relaxed. The following few extracts give a feel for the style of the poetry:

“Puppy tiptoes,
Takes a peek.
Sniffs carefully …
What IS that squeak?”

“It’s oval, it bounces, it floats away,
It’s pink like his tongue, it wants to play!
“I’m coming!” barks pup and off he goes.
Down the hill the pink shape flows
And puppy follows suit. It’s just within his reach,”

For cat lovers, there are also a few poems told from the perspective of our feline friends and I loved those especially, as I am a cat owner.

I think this book is a lovely way of teaching children about animals as pets and the writing is appropriate for both children and adults, all of whom will adore the antics and curiosity displayed by the dogs, especially the puppies.

Purchase links

Amazon US

Patricia Furstenberg’s Amazon Author page

About Patricia Furstenberg

Writer and poet Patricia Furstenberg authored 18 books to date. Patricia grew up in Bucharest and was brought up listening to the legends and folktales of Romania’s past. She came to writing through reading, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents. Her writing career followed a sinuous road that passed through a Medical Degree, practicing medicine, extensive traveling, and it also produced a happy marriage and two children. The recurrent motives in her writing are unconditional love and war, while Patricia’s keen interest for history and dogs brought her writing, through a perfect loop, to her native Romania. Today Patricia writes fiction and poetry. Her poems were published in anthologies by Green Ink Poetry, The Poem Magazine, and Lothlórien Poetry Journal as well as in over thirty online literary journals

Find Patricia Furstenberg

Author Website 

Amazon UK  

Amazon US

Twitter / Instagram / Facebook / LinkedIn / Goodreads / Book Bub / AllAuthor

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/


WordCrafter News

New Release

Delilah releases through book dostributors on March 21, but there’s still time to pre-order your copy of Delilah here:

The later half of March will be busy, with the release of Delilah and a five day WordCrafter Book Blog Tour to get the word out, March 20 – 24.

The tour will include a fun interview where author Sara Wesley McBride chats with my character, Delilah, excerpts from the book, and posts about the historic female figures who will appear in each book in the Women in the West adventure series, and character profiles for the two characters which top-level Kickstarter backers Tim Ward and Carol Fowler have earned the privilage of naming in book 2 of the series, Sarah.

Kickstarter Progress Update

Until then, I will be busy signing and shipping the print copies of Delilah to mid- and top-level Kickstarter backers. I should be ready to continue working on Sarah in May, and I hope to have it ready to publish by the beginning of 2024. I also plan to work with a professional cover designer to smooth and improve my book covers. I want to thank everyone who supported me in this project, not only financially, but through sharing and networking it as well. All support was greatly appreciated. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Poetry Treasures 3: Passions

I’m also excited as the compilation of Poetry Treasures 3: Passions gets under way. We had some fabulous guests on “Treasuring Poetry” in 2022 and I’m looking forward to including their works in this very special collection. In addition to works by the series host, Robbie Cheadle, works by the following author/poets may be included: Penny Wilson, Judy Mastrangelo, Yvette Prior, Patty Fletcher, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, Willow, Yvette M. Calliero, Chris Hall, Abbie Taylor, and Smitha Vishwanath. I can’t wait to dig in to the poetry submitted for inclusion by these wonderful poets. Robbie and I are not very far into the process. In fact, I think we might still be waiting for all the submissions to get in. We had two previous anthologies, which both turned out quite well, and I’ve no doubt that this one will rival those.

You can still get a copy of these two wonderful anthologies from your favorite book distributors.

Poetry Treasures: https://books2read.com/u/3n7BDR

Poetry Treasures 2: Relationships: https://books2read.com/u/3kP8aK

2023 Short Fiction Contest & Anthology

Submissions have begun to come in for the 2023 Short Fiction Contest, as well as stories submitted by invitation for the anthology. It’s much too soon to talk about the contest entries, but I can tell you that we have invitational submissions from Chris Barili, Joseph Carrabis, Michaele Jordan, D.L. Mullan and Stevie Turner, with promises from many others. It’s still very early in the process.

You can find submission guidelines and enter the 2023 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest here.

You can get copies of last year’s WordCrafter Press anthologies: Once Upon an Ever After: Modern Myths & Fairy Tales; Refracted Reflections: Twisted Tales of Duality & Deception; and Visions. Available through your favorite book distributors.

Once Upon an Ever After: https://books2read.com/u/mKdWGV

Refracted Reflections: https://books2read.com/u/3kPyxn

Visions: https://books2read.com/u/49Lk28

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For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.

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Want exclusive content? Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. She won’t flood your inbox, she NEVER sells her list, and you might get a freebie occasionally. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, just for joining.


Book Review: Kingdoms at War

The Audio Book

An epic series starter with nearly 1,100 five-star Goodreads ratings: Young mapmaker-in-training Jak dreams of exploring new worlds. But when he and his mother unearth the legendary dragon gate, Jak finds himself caught between his own growing power and magical enemies who will stop at nothing to eliminate him… From a USA Today bestselling author!

Purchase Link: https://www.chirpbooks.com/audiobooks/kingdoms-at-war-by-lindsay-buroker

My Review

I listened to the audio book of Kingdoms at War, written by Lindsay Buroker, and narrated by Vivienne Lehany. Buroker takes readers on a science fantasy adventure that won’t be soon forgotten, complete with her signature snark, and Lehany brings it alive with her mastery of varied character voices.

Just as Jack and his mother find the artifact his father lost his life searching for, their find is discovered by the zidar, and they are swept away with the dragon’s gate to the distant kingdom of King Yidar. But if Yidar figures out how to use the gate, it could mean distruction for Jack and all of his kind, so his mother gives the key to the Captain of the female mercenary regiment for safe keeping, this making the whole regiment a target. Can they figure out how to wake the gate up? And if they do, can they convince the dragons to help them gain their freedom from the wizard kings and their Zidar? But will they be able to get the dragon’s gate away from Yidar and prevent him from discovering it’s secrets?

Kingdoms at War is book one in Buroker’s Dragon’s Gate series, and it brings the promise of much more to come. A delightful tale which kept my full engagement throughout. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Book Review: Themis’s Revenge

About the Book

Zeus rewrote her laws. Now, Themis, Goddess of Justice will extract her revenge.

She is Themis goddess of Justice, only she can write the rules that govern men. Zeus, king of the gods, has other ideas. Not only did he cheat on her, but he changed her laws. Horrified that Zeus has doomed an innocent man to be fed to a Titan god, Themis must descend into the depths of hades to save the damned soul- without Zeus’s knowledge.

But an omnipotent being guards the prison of Typhoeus. One with blood pulsing through his veins. He’s neither god nor demon and he refuses her entry into Tartarus. With no way around him, she must go through him- and step directly into his arms.

In a race against time, Zeus and the Titan god’s hunger, Themis is willing to sacrifice everything to save an innocent soul. But is she willing to destroy her own soul by opening her heart again?

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Themiss-Revenge-Queens-Underworld-Book-ebook/dp/B0BB396CCW

My Review

Themis may not be one of the goddesses you remember from mythology in school, but she won’t be forgotten once you read Themis’s Revenge: Book 4 of the Queens of the Underworld series, by RA Winter. As the frosty, but fiesty Goddess of Justice, Themis rebels against the all-controlling powers of Zues and his pig-headed male ego, and finds herself heating up in the underworld with boiling rage and fiery sexual energy, as she first realizes that she doesn’t have a clue when it comes to Zues’ activities or intentions, and things get even hotter, as she begins to figure it out and learns that there is no one she can trust.

Her path in the underworld leads her to the one whose name must not be spoken, and in trying to unravel the mystery of who he is, Themis finds that even unspoken prophecies are no less true, as she becomes a part of a prophecy uttered from her own lips. Zues is not one to tolerate disobedience, but the tell-tale runes she acquires are a dead giveaway, pun intended, that she has visit the forbidden realm and lived to tell about it, and he’ll be even less forgiving if he learns that the prophecy of his destruction now rests on Themis’s hands.

Themis’s Revenge brings mythology to life, or death, as the case may be. A well-crafted and skillfully told story. I give it five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Growing Bookworms – Meet children’s book author, Darlene Foster, and learn about her Amanda travel series and a review #childrensfiction #bookreview #growingbookworms

Today, I am delighted to introduce Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda travel series of books for children aged 9 to 12 years old. I have read several of the Amanda books and enjoyed them all.

Your Amanda stories appeal to me as they take me back to my own childhood readings days of The Famous Five and Adventure series. Was there any particular children’s author who influenced the style of your Amanda series?

That makes me very happy to hear this since the Enid Blyton books were very popular. I didn’t read the Famous Five series growing up in Canada, but I enjoyed The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope as they travelled to interesting places, encountered danger and solved mysteries. I also enjoyed Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, and Nancy Drew because the main character in each series is a young girl who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries. The author who influenced me the most was Lucy Maude Montgomery. She created a character I totally admired. Anne Shirley is spunky, caring, positive and resourceful. Her relationship with her best friend, Diana Barry, is described incredibly well, as is the setting in the charming province of Prince Edward Island.

Are the characters of Amanda and Leah based on any particular person or people?

Amanda is the twelve-year-old me I would have liked to have been. I felt my life was boring living on a farm and dreamt of travelling the world. So there is a bit of little me in Amanda. The great thing about being a writer is that you can recreate your childhood and be whoever you want to be! Leah is a combination of some of my closest friends as well as a dear aunt who is my age. Leah is Amanda’s, Diana Barry.

When you visit schools and chat to the children, how do they react to the travel element of the Amanda books? Do they find it exciting and exotic or do some find it scary and overwhelming?

I am always amazed at how many of the students have done a lot of travelling already. One of my first questions at a school presentation is, “How many of you have travelled to other countries?” There is always a sea of hands. Then I ask if they have been to the country in my most recent book. There are usually some who have travelled there. The classrooms are very diverse these days and many of the students were born in a country other than Canada or the US. The international schools I visit in Spain contain students from all over the world. Children are much more well travelled these days for various reasons. They always suggest I write a book that takes place in their or their parents’ original country. I would say that most children today relate to the travel element of my books. If they haven’t been to the countries I’ve written about, they plan to visit them someday.

What comes first, the setting, characters, or the plot idea?

For me, the setting always comes first. I choose a place that I find intriguing and go from there. The two main characters, Amanda and Leah are always the same, but I have fun coming up with a few new ones for each story.  The plot is the last thing I work on and the part I find the most difficult at times. It usually evolves as I write the story.

What are your goals for the Amanda series? Are you planning to make it a long-term series like The Famous Five?

As long as people continue to want to read these books, I plan to continue writing them. There are so many more places Amanda could visit. I’m currently working on book number ten, Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones.  There are twenty-one Famous Five books; I’m not sure I’ll write that many but you never know!

Books for children are harder to market than books for adults. How do you go about marketing your books and what works best for you?

This is true. Word of mouth is always the best; getting the books in the hands of children is vital so they can spread the word. Visiting schools, libraries, and book stores is effective but not always possible. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing virtual visits to schools all over the world. This has been great for getting the students, teachers and school librarians to know about my books. I have learned that I need to market the books to adults as well since they are the ones who actually purchase the books and write the reviews. Being part of a blogging community has worked well for me as everyone is so supportive and helpful in getting the word out about my books. I have also learned a lot from other bloggers/writers. Marketing is ongoing, and there is a huge learning curve.

Thank you, Robbie, for the opportunity to talk about my books and writing in general.

You are a delightful guest, Darlene, and I am thrilled to host you here and discuss your books.

My review of Amanda in France

Amanda in France is the latest in the adventure series of books by Darlene Foster. I have read several of the books in this series, and enjoyed them all. The author has a marvelous way of integrating historical and environmental landmarks into her works in a natural and interesting way that is appealing to young readers.

Amanda and Leah are fortunate enough to accompany Aunt Jenny to Paris, France. Paris is a fascinating location and Amanda is completely bowled over by the sights, sounds, and foods on offer. The threesome are staying in a dormitory attached to the Shakespeare and Company book store, where they will work a couple of hours each day. Amanda, a great lover of books, is delighted and can’t wait to share her book knowledge and enthusiasm with others and promote reading.

Naturally, the girls meet a wide spectrum of new people, including the fascinating but mysterious, Phillipe Lawrence, an older man who is doing research for a book; Jerome, a young man who has become involved with some dodgy friends; and Pierre, who works at the Paris Opera House.

The new characters and fabulous sites set the stage for another exciting and interesting Amanda adventure that includes their visiting famous gardens, graveyards, and helping to save works of art during the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Congratulations to the author on another exciting and well written adventure story.

Purchase Darlene Foster’s books

Darlene Foster’s Amazon Author page

Amazon UK

About Darlene Foster

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, traveling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not traveling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia. www.darlenefoster.ca

Darlene has a blog where she shares here stories and adventures here: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/


Book Review: Wreckleaf

The Book

Book One of the Wreckleaf Series.The very thing that keeps me alive… could easily kill you. Seventeen-year-old Nerissa John isn’t supposed to exist. Designed as a disposable novelty, her kind were eliminated years ago. But after a fatal act of self-defense exposes her, Nerissa and her outlawed family are captured. Under false identities, they are enslaved in the most exclusive place on Earth—the island of Panacea, the lap of luxury for the world’s elite traveler. In exchange for their unique, but perilous service to the island’s governing authorities, Nerissa and her family are allowed to live.

With the opening of the tourist Season and the launch of another island-made product promising health and vitality, Nerissa makes a disturbing discovery. She and her family have become unwitting accomplices in a deadly experiment of unimaginable magnitude. She vows to redeem her past by exposing the corrupt, power-hungry officials who control both her family and the pure-humans she has somehow grown to love. It is their only hope for true freedom. But what will her blind determination cost? Will she once again do more harm than good? “A real page-turner, Wreckleaf is a fast-paced, emotional rollercoaster that celebrates both our differences and our equality—a hauntingly relatable, beautifully moody YA debut that will leave you calling for FREEDOM!”

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Wreckleaf-1-JD-Steiner/dp/0692104526

My Review

As is often the case, the cover is what first drew me to this book. But little did I know about the fantasy journey JD Steiner with Wreckleaf.

Nerissa and her kind are hybrids, who require a special leaf, found only under the ocean on ship wrecks, to survive. When Nerissa unwittingly uncovers a well hidden secret about experiments being done on her own kind, as well as those being performed on unsuspecting tourist, who visit the lavish vacation spot of Panacea, she becomes a target for those who don’t wish their secrets revealed. But the more she learns, the more determined she becomes to expose the truth, before she loses any more of those she loves.

An exciting and fast-paced YA fantasy that keeps readers guessing until the very last page. I give Wreckleaf five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


Treasuring Poetry 2023 – Meet poet and author Andrew McDowell and a review #poetry #bookreview #Treasuring Poetry

Which famous poet has influenced your poetry the most?

When I was young, I admired William Shakespeare. I was impressed with how he used words to convey emotions and ideas, and I wanted to follow his example. In my junior year of high school, I participated in a Poetry Out Loud contest where we had to recite a poem. I chose Sonnet XVIII (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and won third place. The Shakespearean sonnet was the first poetic form I tried to consistently write in beyond regular rhyming lines. It would not be until college that I began branching out to other forms and eventually free verse.

Which poem that you’ve read has impacted the way you see things in life?

This was a tough one, but one poem that has impacted me is Robert Frost’s famous “The Road Not Taken.”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In what way has this poem influenced your viewpoint?

Most people interpret it as about making new trails, which is how I interpreted it as a child. Many times, when I’ve been walking, when I took a turn different from the norm, the last three lines presented themselves in my mind.

However, I’d heard that interpretation is accurate, so I looked it up, and to my surprise, it’s true. Frost wrote it as a joke regarding his friend and colleague Edward Thomas, who often hiked with him and had trouble deciding which way to go. The poem is not only about how choices we make determine where we go in life, but also that we often look back and wonder whether we’ve made the right choice. Though I did not grow up with that interpretation, I have found it to be true and profound.

Perhaps Frost’s way of telling poetry influenced me, too; I remember a professor in college, who taught a poetry class I was in, observed that I liked to end poems with a meaning or lesson, drawing a parallel to Frost.

What is your favorite of your own poems?

This was another tough one, because several have special meaning to me. But of those I have published so far, one that deeply resonates is “Lonely Wolf,” which appeared in the 2019 Spring Edition of And I Thought Literary Magazine. It was written in college as a failed attempt at a pantoum, but after a few rejections, I rewrote it as a villanelle. It speaks to the loneliness I have felt—socially and romantically.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

Amongst the tall pine trees and heavy snow,

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Young once within a den huddled tight.

The years passed and sadly I had to go.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

***

Embarking for the greatest peak tonight,

There shall I convey my long-held sorrow.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Though many have come within my sight,

Why they stand distant I can never know.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

***

Winter’s bitter cold reigns in silent might.

Dark silence only brings light to my woe.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

***

Here I stand alone on this rocky height.

Here I do bay up where countless stars glow.

I am a lonely wolf who walks at night.

Hear my cry to the half-moon shining bright.

What’s next for you in your writing career?

My focus right now is fiction. My fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood came out in a new edition, so my primary goal is to complete the sequel. I do have many unpublished poems, so I want to keep an eye out for publishing opportunities. A volume of poetry isn’t out of the question—if I can find a unifying theme (my poems touch on many unique ones).

About Andrew McDowell

Andrew McDowell became interested in writing at age 11, inspired by childhood passions for stories and make-believe. By the time he was 13, he knew he wanted to be a writer. He studied at St. Mary’s College and the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association.

In addition to his fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood, Andrew has written poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction, and he is interested in writing drama and lyrics. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, when he was 14.

Find Andrew McDowell

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon

Review of Mystical Greenwood

What Amazon says

Dermot is a fifteen-year-old boy living in a remote village in the land of Denú. He has always longed for something more in his life. Now, everything changes after he sees a renowned creature–a gryphon–in the sky, and then crosses paths with a reclusive healer who harbors a secret.

Soon, he and his brother have no choice but to leave the only home they’ve ever known. They travel with new friends across the land through several great forests, along the way meeting an old man, a family of unicorns, and witnessing an important birth. They must evade fire-breathing dragons and dark-armored soldiers hunting them down, all serving an evil sorcerer determined to subjugate the kingdom, and who will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Denú’s only hope is if a renowned coven returns to face the enemy after years in hiding. Dermot, however, suspects their own role may be more significant than he thought, as he slowly discovers a power which exists amongst the trees and creatures of every greenwood. Can they save those they hold dear? Will Dermot find what he has sought? Or will all that’s free and good be consumed by darkness?

My review

Andrew McDowell has written an extraordinary fantasy tale which centres around the guardians of nature and the Greenwood, called driadors. The plot follows a typical good versus evil path, but the overlay of the protection versus the destruction of the natural environment was unusual, topical, and really fantastic.

Dermot and his brother, Brian, do not get on. Brian is the son who always does as he is asked by his parents and fits the mould of a pleaser, while Dermot is a dreamer and has always felt he was intended for more than his life as an apprentice blacksmith to his father. The rivalry between the two boys comes to a head when Dermot is carried away by a hunting gryphon. Dermot persuades the gryphon to drop him but he is injured during his fall. He wakes up in the care of a healer called Saershe, and her grandson, Ruairi. Dermot realises that they are not ordinary forest dwellers and, following his return home, he becomes obsessed with finding them again.

Brian becomes aware that Dermot has had some sort of unusual experience during his absence and uses this knowledge to stir up trouble for Dermot with their parents. Meanwhile, an evil force in the shape of a fallen driador called Taranis, is lurking just beyond the village, waiting for an opportunity to wreak havoc and destruction and restart an old battle against the driadors. Dermot and Brian will have to learn to trust and rely on each other, and harness the power of nature if they want to save the Greenwood, their friends, family, and themselves.

This is an unusual and well paced story with interesting characters, and these elements more than makes up for the odd moments in the book when Dermot and Brian’s emotional reactions to situations seem slightly lacking in depth or incongruent to the circumstances.

The author has great potential as a writer and I would love to read the next book in this series and find out what happens next in the battle for control between Taranis and the driadors.

Purchase Mystical Greenwood

Amazon US

Andrew McDowell Amazon Author Page

My review of As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad

What amazon says

As the World Burns: Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad is an anthology of poetry, prose, essay, and art inspired by the unprecedented events of the year 2020. It embraces fierce and raw creative works relating to life during the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter, Donald Trump, and the economic uncertainty and horror of the last eight months. One hundred and fourteen writers and artists spanning ten countries and 30 states are represented in this powerful volume. It is both a story of survival and an act of resistance.

“We speak with many voices, to the damage wrought in these violent, fevered months. Let us never forget or turn away, from what is just, what is necessary, to keep light alive in this world.”

My review

This is an interesting recording by numerous contributors, of the status of the world and society in the run up to the Covid lockdowns, and during the subsequent on-going pandemic. The writings, which comprise of mainly poetry, but also some essays and visual art pieces, also cover events that ran parallel to the lockdowns and pandemic that had an impact on society and politics.

Reading this anthology is an adventure as the messages are intense and vivid and the styles of writing hugely varied due to the significant number of contributors. Although not all the styles of poetry appealed to me, they were all memorable due to the strong emotional messaging, and well worth reading.

My favourite poems are as follows: Falls the Shadow by John W. Leys, I Think the Birds don’t Care by Kelsey Hontz (the words “Somebody has mixed up the two themes of apocalypse and paradise, which would be a fireable offense if anybody were still in the director’s chair for this year of hindsight.” really resonated with me.), Lately by L. Stevens, Quarantine by Andrew McDowell, Upon Waking in a Pandemic by Christine E. Ray, Choice Perhaps by Jane Dougherty, Thirteen Ways of Looking at Life before the Virus by Leslea Newman, Am I Angry? by John W. Leys, Virus by Erik Klingenberg (nightpoet), and Tumbling by Merril D. Smith.

Two of the essays, were particularly interesting to me. I-Soul-Ation by Dr. Sneha Rooh. The closing words of this essay have sadly not come to fruition, in my opinion:

“I would like to think that we will hug people longer, be grateful to be able to work, that we will smile brighter when the masks come off and we’ll let the smiles fully enter our hearts, that we will be careful abut the lies sold to us and remember that we are precious mortals with precious lives and an immense ability to connect and care.”

I am of the view, that the world has returned to its previous status quo with alarming speed and that as a species, we have learned nothing from the lockdowns and the pandemic.

The other essay I particularly enjoyed was Serendipity by Kim D. Bailey.

This book is an important documenting of life during this difficult and stressful time of life when the entire world united to face a common enemy. Sadly, we have still not learned our lesson, as I mentioned above, but perhaps some of us have found more courage to fight for a better eventual outcome for our planet and for humanity.

Purchase As the World Burns

Amazon US

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/


Book Review: Vanished on Vacation

What they’re saying on Amazon

  • “Fantastic book with many twists and turns!” – Alese M. Brockman
  • “Jennifer outdid herself. Vanished on Vacation needs to be3 made into a movie.” – Kindle Customer
  • “Suspense at its best” – Reita Pendry

The Book

As a frantic search for missing student Avery Jennings begins, everyone is hiding something—Avery’s family and friends, the resort’s staff, and its wealthy guests. It’s up to FBI Special Agent Victoria Heslin to dig deeper. Motivated by her own mother’s abduction years ago, she’s determined not to let Avery become another missing person statistic.

The Mexican authorities aren’t cooperating, and Victoria realizes she’s up against something more powerful than she imagined. Taking matters into her own hands, she plunges into a hellish ordeal that will test her strength and courage like never before.

“How much will you risk to find this girl?” the officer asked.
“Whatever it takes,” Victoria answered without hesitation.

Or is it already too late?

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Vanished-Vacation-Agent-Victoria-Heslin-ebook/dp/B09YJ79K6X/

My Review

Vanished on Vacation, by Jennifer Ruff, is a contemporary thriller that will keep readers on the edges of their seats. I didn’t want to put this book down. I was compelled to keep reading to the very last page.

Women disappear in Mexico all the time, but when a young American girl vanishes without a trace, folks tend to sit up and pay attention. Especially when she is the niece of one of the FBI’s top agents. That’s when agents Hiesling and Rivera are put on the case, and they will leave no stone in Mexico unturned to find young Avery, who disappeared on the last day of her vacation. But when the Mexican authorities suddenly turn cold and uncooperative, they get the feeling they’ve stumbled onto something bigger than just the kidnapping of one girl.

A thoroughly entertaining and suspenseful read. I give Vanished on Vacation five quills.

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Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? You can request a review here.


2023 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest is open for submissions

I want your scariest paranormal, dark fiction and horror stories for the 2023 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. Make my skin crawl, my spine tingle, and my heart race. Keep me up at night. Make me leave the light on, just in case. Show mw your deepest, darkest fears. See submissions guidelines below.

2023-short-fiction-contest

Submission Entry Fee

Please submit entry fee here for your 2023 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest submission here.

$5.00

Submission Guidelines

Genres: Paranormal, Dark Fantasy, Horror or any combination there of.

Length: up to 5000 words

Submission Deadline: April 30, 2023

Pay: Royalty share

Rights: First Anthology Rights and audio rights as part of the anthology; rights revert to author one month after publication; publisher retains non-exclusive right to include in the anthology as a whole. 

Open to submissions from January 1 through April 30, 2023.  

Submit: A Microsoft Word or RTF file in standard manuscript format to KLBWordCrafter@gmail.com.

If you don’t know what standard manuscript format is, review, for example, https://www.shunn.net/format/classic/

Multiple and simultaneous submissions accepted.

Find some helpful tips for submitting short fiction here, but mainly just follow the guidelines.

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