Sunday Salon

I have been catching up with my book reviews; two novels, a poetry anthology and two novellas / short stories. Authors from England, the USA and Australia. Yeshiva Girl was the novel that stood out for me and I was delighted that Amazon posted my review after my recent experiences. I post all my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, you can see Amazon’s response to Finding David, but I have not yet heard back from Amazon on the other three. So the mystery continues; I and other reviewers have concluded it could be the rule that you must have spent £50, or fifty of something in your own currency, in one year to be able to leave a review. As Amazon allows authors to sell their e-books for as little as 99 pence this does not make sense. Nor does it make sense they accept a review for one book and not another. In the meantime, enjoy a look at five very different books and writers.

 

Yeshiva Girl by Rachel Mankowitz

 5.0 out of 5 stars A novel that will stay with me.

12 August 2019

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I came across this novel after reading a review by another English blogger. I thought if an English agnostic chap could be so moved by a story of a New York Jewish girl it must be special. I went over to read the author’s blog and was even more keen to read. Being a teenager involves lots of angst wherever you live, with the pressures of school, friends and awakening sexuality. If you also lived in a tight community and had dark secrets how would you cope? I am fascinated with closed communities of any sort and I really felt I had an insight into the hows and whys of the orthodox way of life. Teenagers are attracted to the security of belonging to a group and some of the teenagers in this story wanted to follow a strict orthodox life, not just because their parents had put them in that position. In the meantime, our heroine is trying to make sense of her parents’ and grandparents’ lives and she is trying to tell people what happened to her. Gradually she reveals to the reader.

 

Life and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

What does happen when we dream; as far as I know, no one is sure, but most of us don’t keep returning to the same dream. I was soon wrapped up in Rick’s story and Dan’s life on a planet in the future which was totally realistic. Each story was so involving the reader might forget about the other side, but both lives get more complicated and the two worlds are brought together dramatically. This is the first novel I have read by this author, but I would look forward to reading more.

 

 Small Town Kid  by Frank Prem

This is the first time I have downloaded poetry onto my Kindle. I had read some of the author’s verses on line which led me to buy this and his following collection.  The verse, without punctuation, words kept to a minimum, is liberating. I was gently lulled into the first poem, setting the scene for a quiet country town. Delicious cooking, a wedding, church on Sunday, but suddenly a letter changes Sundays. Then there is a picnic, a picnic bigger than most of us have known. All life is here including the outhouse.  The boy grows, school, seasons, school report, growing up, the town changes with modern life, friends lost and in the last verse closing the circle.

 

Finding David by Stevie Turner

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Finding David: A Paranormal Short Story ★★★★★   from Janet Gogerty on 15 August 2019
 
Not your usual missing person story.
 
People go missing all the time; when a child goes missing it’s every parent’s nightmare and never knowing can perhaps be worse. The author turns the usual missing person story on its head. Would you talk to a psychic, would you trust them? Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, would you take the chance of ignoring a loved one trying to contact you from the other side? We are soon swept along in this novella and the reader is not sure who to trust, nor is David’s mother Karen as her marriage is threatened.
 
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Samantha

I was interested to see what other reviewers wrote. This is a short story that races along, but it needs better formatting to do it justice. When a different character speaks the dialogue should start on a new line to make easier reading.

A dark tale that does have a positive ending, but is not a fairy tale, realistically it does not just end happily ever after. I would have loved to have seen the latter part of the story developed as the main characters have more to offer and we would like to see more of how Samantha put the past behind her.

 

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Penny the Poet

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Today I have a new guest blogger, Penny the Poet

Penny is one of my local writer friends and we have both been going to the same writers’ group forever. Penny amuses, entertains and makes us think. She can say in a few words what most of us take thousands of words to say. ‘The Lesson’ reminds me of a folk ballad.

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   THE LESSON

I must believe that he, my son, was good

He never lied, nor spoke a bawdy word.

He’d sit against a tree in yonder wood

And whistle in response to every bird

That dared to sing its song to one so still

Then fly away up and around the trees,

Able to soar and swoop at its own will

To each and every place where no-one sees

The mating rituals which, when touched by spring

The birds delight in what each union brings.

 

My son was just like all the birds that fly

He’d spread his wings in haste to find a mate

Betrothed, which often he’d deny

Playing with fire until it was too late.

Each maid in spring with rosy cheeks

And breasts that rose and fell, filled him with lust

Succumb she would in days and not in weeks

His true love unaware he was unjust

Till when his elsewhere pleasures reached her ears

He burnt his fingers on her pain and thus her tears.

 

My son now lies beneath the oak

In yonder churchyard bathed in sun.

He begged forgiveness for he broke

His true love’s heart and was undone.

A maid now carries my son’s child.

Her father, spitting feathers killed

With arrow swift my son so wild.

Lustful, carefree and strong willed

He played with fire, his fingers burned.

No longer loved and lesson learned.

 

Penny Cull     2019

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Friday Flash Fiction – 345 – Little Weed

LITTLE WEED, THE LONG YEARS OF ABUSE

The old gardener’s hands trembled as he picked up the newspaper from the door mat. He slipped out to his potting shed as he heard Mrs. Gardener coming down the stairs.

He laid the paper on the old bench, sunlight barely filtered through the cobwebbed windows, but it was enough to read the main article.

Detectives from Operation Motherwatch are investigating claims that Little Weed was abused for years by one or more flowerpot men. The identity of the flowerpot men is not known, but they have been named locally as Bill and Ben.

The shock allegations follow on from last week’s claims that Looby Loo was abused by both Andy Pandy and Teddy. If Little Weed’s claims are true it will be the first time a plant has made such a serious allegation.

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The gardener had never believed people who said they did not know what was going on, now he had to come to terms with the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on at the bottom of his own garden. But surely Bill and Ben were innocent, perhaps it was some other flowerpot men… Little Weed could be vindictive, she was not the shrinking violet people thought. If only he knew where she was now. It was all Alan Titchmarsh’s fault. The Gardener had come back from recording Gardeners’ Question Time to discover his wife had arranged a makeover; only the potting shed remained. Gone were the greenhouse, vegetable beds, earthenware pots; all replaced by decking. And gone too was Little Weed. Mrs. Gardener was always jealous of the plant, said he talked to her more than his own wife… perhaps that was true… she was no ordinary weed, the first weed to appear on BBC Television and there had been none like her since… She was tough, a survivor, he was thankful she was still alive, but why now, why such allegations now, after all this time? And if it was true, was it Bill or was it Ben?

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Thoughtless Thursday – the antidote to Valentine’s Day

Forgotten it’s Valentine’s Day, can’t be bothered with all the hype? All you need is scissors and glue and old greeting cards to cut up. Make your own card then copy these verses. No need to buy a gift as it will be obvious from the words of the poem that the loved one won’t be expecting any.

 

 

I never buy you flowers in a bunch,

Or your favourite box of chocolates to munch,

I always forget to take you to lunch.

 

But you don’t need those things to know

You’re the one to whom I go

When my heart is full of woe.

 

I never tell you how much I care.

To make up poems I do not dare.

Expressions of emotion are rare.

 

So I made this card

To explain how hard

It is to say I love you.

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Silly Saturday – How to Cheat at Poetry

Kite

The flight of a kite

Is a glorious sight

As it reaches great height

To the watcher’s delight.

 

On the Isle of Wight

It’s quite a sight

To show your might

In the annual kite flight.

 

At the regular site

They hold their strings tight,

Fly blue, red and white

If the wind is just right.

 

The rules some will cite

As day turns to night…

His kite was too light

Her cords were not right.

 

The flight of a kite

Is a glorious sight

As it reaches great height

To the winner’s delight.

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How long is a poem, how long is a piece of string?

With more than 220000 (100000 shloka or couplets) verses and about 1.8 million words in total, the Mahābhārata is the longest epic poem in the world.

The early English epic poem Beowulf comes to just over 3,000 lines, while Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner runs to 625 lines.

But there is no need to write lots of words and lines, follow this simple plan. Think of one word, write down as many words as you can that rhyme with it… then start writing without thinking too deeply…

 

For more poetry cheats visit Chapter Six at my website…

https://www.ccsidewriter.co.uk/chapter-six-fiction-focus/

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Who am I?

At my beginning unnoticed,

Disturbing a few blades of grass.

At my departure miles wide,

Or so it seems to those who pass.

 

Older than any empire,

I’ve watched over cities and towns.

Crossed by legions, traversed by millions,

So often I’ve changed my bounds.

 

I am the setting for history,

For politics and power.

Painted and prosed by the famous,

Unfortunates dreaded my tower.

 

I’ve sucked down many to their deaths,

That was never my intention.

Gentle meadows are what I love,

Not man’s intervention.

 

The city turned me dark,

Hemmed me in with squalor and hate.

I’ve been loched, bombed and tunnelled,

Till my very bed vibrates.

 

My fortunes like tides fall and rise,

Stories captured for many to tell.

Painted by Turner, Canaletto,

Written by Dickens, Jerome and Wells.

 

I dream of a spring in the meadow,

And wonder am I still me,

As my banks sink and salt currents swirl

And I’m swallowed by The North Sea.

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Silly Saturday – Finding The End of The Rainbow

Reginald loved painting

Adored colours

Inspired by what he saw

Never stopped trying to create

Beautiful pictures

Of all the colours in the

World

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RED ladies dancing gracefully

ORANGE  shades of autumn trees

YELLOW downy hair of his baby son

GREEN turbulent seascapes

BLUE skies with Constable clouds

INDIGO flowers in his garden

VIOLET vivacious surrealist shapes

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Robert took photographs

Anytime, anywhere, anything

Integrated technology

New digital camera

Beautiful images

Of the real and unreal

Wonderful colours created by the computer

Salisbury Cathedral

RED balloons in the sky

ORANGE flowers magnified

YELLOW striped bumblebees

GREEN rolling hills and fields

BLUE racing cars

INDIGO  eyes of lovely ladies

VIOLET twilit skies

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Reginald regularly exhibited

At shows and displays

In galleries and art rooms, but

No one bought a single scene

Browsing, gazing, frowning, smiling, leaving. If

Only, thought Reginald, I could see the

World and find more colours.

 

23

Paint the perfect picture, try a new

Approach

Investigate

New colours

Try to find THE END OF THE RAINBOW

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Photos are the way, said Robert

Acquire a computer, find a new

Interest, begged his wife,

Never leave us, but Reginald

Took his leave

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RED desserts he crossed

ORANGE robed monks he met

YELLOW sunrises beckoned him

GREEN turbulent seas carried him towards the horizon

BLUE southern skies warmed him

INDIGO light on the mountain top dazzled him

VIOLET flower that bloomed once in a lifetime, pierced his heart, but still he

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Roamed on and on

Around the world

Into the wilderness

Never giving up hope of finding

Better colours

On the other side of the sky

Wondering if the end of the arc lay there

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RED tinted clouds

ORANGE sun

YELLOW rays

GREEN waters

BLUE raindrops

IDIGO mist

VIOLET shimmer

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Pausing, praying

Reginald asked for

Insight

Saw his

Maker, who said

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Remain still

Avert your eyes, do not go

Into the colours, But

Nearer he went

Brighter and brighter

Onwards in

Wonder

 

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Gazing at the shimmering spot where the

Rainbow burned into the

Earth, darkness fell on his soul and he saw a

Yawning chasm where all was GREY

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God spoke to

Reginald. I showed you all the colours of the

Earth, but still you asked for more. Go

Yonder and see no more.

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Silly Saturday – Staycation

 

There’s a hold up on the motorway,

After junction 59.

Rain is heavy, sky is grey,

Traffic stopped in line.

Must mean we are on holiday.

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Day two and still it rains,

But we have an agenda,

Uncle Ted to steam train,

Then visit Aunty Glenda.

She’s in the Royal Infirmary.

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Day three on sunshine beach,

Lots of places to go.

No holiday is complete,

Without a secluded cove,

Scenery and strangers to meet.

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Bridges over rivers and bays,

Lighthouses, harbours and piers,

Rolling fields and bales of hay,

High crumbling cliffs to fear.

Where shall we go next day?

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Houses of National Trust,

Cathedrals with towers to climb,

Great statues of rust,

Museums and art sublime.

Then home at last we must.

 

Salisbury Cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silly Saturday – Various Verses

                                              Beach Hut

 

Six years we’ve waited for this wooden box,

With flaking paint and rusty locks.

There’s barely room to stand,

The floor covered in sand.

The towels are damp and musty

And all the shelves are dusty.

 

But the kettle and mugs are well in reach

And there’s a great view of the beach.

In the sun we sit and read books

Waves beckon, costumes hanging on the hooks.

Wet and cold return for hot tea,

Strip off and dress in modesty.

 

The neighbours are close, two inches away,

Her next door is topless today,

His huge stomach should not be seen,

Thank goodness for the screen between.

The other side are out of sight,

Soaring under parachutes bright.

 

Their boards dip the waves, then ride up high,

We sit and watch them in the sky.

If we fall asleep as we usually do

We won’t notice when they drop from view.

Until we hear roaring whir above the wave

As Coastguard hovers, kite surfers to save.

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New Things

 

How to adore new things.

No need to buy, to bring

The sensual delight

Of touch, smell and sight.

 

John Lewis sells to you

Cotton, wool, silk, bamboo

Knitting yarns, skeins and such,

Many hues, soft to touch.

 

Call in at the bookshop,

Look out for new stock,

White paper, page pristine,

Smooth spine, jacket clean.

 

Tack shop for leather new

Saddles, bridles on view,

Shopkeeper hopes to sell;

No, just here for the smell.

 

Go down to the saw mill

Experience the thrill,

Newly sawn scented wood,

Golden sawdust feels good.

 

Ancient ocean, old land,

New waves, new tides, smooth sand,

Grains glitter, sparkling foam,

Before feet start to roam.

 

Sunrise reveals hard frost,

New scenery at no cost,

White landscape, yours to view,

Air sharp, breath anew.

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Silly Saturday – Potty Poems

                        Garden Gate         

 

The man next door has a notice on his gate,

ALL CATS WHO ENTER, BEWARE YOUR FATE.

For he prefers two legged creatures,

Those with wings and feathers as features.

 

Four legged creatures who climb, chase and bite

Beware of getting in my neighbour’s sight,

For the man next door is a very good shot,

His eyes are sharp and his fingers hot.

 

Blue Tits swing on the latest contraption,

Before grey squirrels get into action.

Wood Pigeons plummet, Sparrows flutter,

He presses a button and snaps the shutter.

 

Doves coo, Crows squawk, Magpies chatter.

Wren in the hedge hears him natter.

Blackbird sings, Robin hops and follows him around,

Worms and grubs aplenty when his fork goes in the ground.

 

The man next door tied a letter to my gate,

Welcome new neighbour, we surely will be mates,

If my views you share; dogs and cats detest

And make friends with all creatures who build a nest.

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                                     True Love        

 

Robbie was my true love,

He stole my heart one day.

He came to fix the plumbing,

When I was in dismay.

 

He said ‘Where is your stop cock?

That’s where we must begin.’

As leaks sprung all around,

My feelings he did win.

 

It’s location I knew not,

As the kitchen he did roam.

‘May I search your cupboards?’

‘Please make yourself at home.’

 

His voice was melted chocolate,

I did not mind the flood,

As eyes of startling blue

Stirred something in my blood.

 

Shall I put the kettle on?

Was all that I could say,

When Robbie the hunky plumber

Stole my heart that day.

 

He soon was in my cupboard,

Found the valve to turn.

As he knelt upon the floor

My cheeks began to burn.

 

I caught a glimpse of waistband,

Calvin Klein was what it said.

An inch of sun tanned back

Made my face turn red.

 

He filed and sawed and screwed,

As he mended all the pipes.

The sweat began to pour

Down his manly big biceps.

 

We sat out on the patio,

At last his work was done.

Wine and chunky sandwiches

To eat out in the sun.

 

He called upon his mobile

To cancel his next call.

‘Shall I check your heating,

Then will that be all?’

 

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https://www.seanhenry.com/sculpture/