Book Review: Sparrow in the Mirror

Chris is back at it again with more reviews coming your way. He has also been working hard on his new blog This & That Books which you should go check out. This time, he read Sparrow in the Mirror by Kunal Narayan Uniyal.

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Look at that composited artwork on the cover, a bird with birds within it, fading at a wingtip into dark vagueness, smaller version trailing along like an image echo. This is a cover of a book of poems. To me, the cover reflects the poems within this book.

Like the birds within the birds, there are definite themes that reoccur and are layered such as the ones on spirituality and religion. Hindu religion and the Veddas, Christianity and the Bible, mixing of both together. There are the themes on life, on pain, on suffering, on death, on redemption, on egos, of the release that lies beyond death, on love, on the transience of life and our works. At times the words are stark with only one meaning, other times they fade into the dark like the wingtip on the cover, leaving you to fill in meaning from your own experience, making the poems more personal to you.

From a technical standpoint, rhythm varies, is free-verse at times, mixed with a rhyming couplet that emphasizes points. Some lines stand almost in contrapuntal harmony with two melodies being played, but working together in the same song.  The cadence of some of the poems reminded me of songs by Natalie Merchant, e.g., Merchant’s Ophelia with Uniyal’s Maya.

There’s an excellent use of repetition such as you see in poems by T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman. It can be done throughout the poem such as in Uniyal’s poem Something Is Not Right, where the title is repeated at the end of each verse on separate occasions; or in one line such as this part in the Wheel of Time

Standing in that lonely hall with those words

Resounding hard and hard and hard

I’m alone, came so; will leave the world even so.

Google repetition and T.S. Eliot or repetition in poetry to see how this common poetry device is used to reach the reader.

So, how well did the use of structure, of phrasing, of poetry devices like repetition, of ambiguity, of hidden meanings that echo back upon themselves to produce harmony (like a Bach fugue—which is just a more complicated version of four groups singing Row Row Row Your Boat as a round) come together?

Quite well. Some poems I read several times, I memorized parts that spoke to me. The poem Mother made my eyes sting a bit (“I’m not crying, you’re crying!”).

The Wheel of Time,

I try creating my life, new structures of delight,

But alas! With my return, all are turned into rubbles

Worth not a single dime.

Who created it, which destroyed my vast stride,

My ego or the wheel of time?

reminded me of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley where the following words are carved into a base of a crumbled decaying giant statue that once would have been awe and fear-inspiring, but now turned into rubble.

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

We read this Bysshe poem in middle school and it almost precipitated an existential crisis in me as I realized even great works will erode away, and I, myself, will one day not exist. I had an echo of that feeling with Wheel of Time although in this case I’m fine with one day not existing (but not quite yet please because that TBR pile isn’t going to reduce itself).

Another poem Search of Life was thought-provoking with several meanings built one on top of the other that you’d only see upon subsequent readings.

Other poems, like House, are simple in their meanings, but convey a sorrow of things lost.

Now that the houses are big, hearts are small.

There are rooms everywhere, but hardly a place for all.

Doors are now locked tight, even God

Needs to try hard to squeeze in

Each confined to its own world,

Calling it house which was home before.

The appreciation of poetry is a subjective thing, perhaps far more so than other books. This makes them harder to rate as we each bring our own interpretations to the verses. As mentioned earlier, when we bring in our own interpretations, we bring in part of ourselves into the poetry so that we connect with it. That connection is an indication of poetry done well.

This book of poems connected with me. I think it was done well. I will be rereading many of these poems again. I hope other readers will also find a connection to these poems.

Book Rating: 5/5


In the mood for a fun western story? Check out Billy (The Kid) by Peter Meech and satisfy that craving!

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Pueblo, Colorado,1932. Bootleggers thrive in a town where the sheriff is on the take and you can kill a man with impunity. In this thrilling narrative, a once-famous outlaw finds himself thrust into the middle of a bootleg war against his will. At stake is nothing less than the life of his best friend and his last chance at true love with the town beauty. But is the legendary gunman who he claims to be, or is he just a retired dentist with a vivid imagination? Peter Meech reimagines the figure of Billy the Kid in a remarkable story told with verve, humor, grit and grace.

About the author: Peter Meech is an author, screenwriter, director and producer. He also mugs for the camera on occasion. His website is www.petermeech.com.



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I left my reading fate in my boyfriend’s hands and let him pick all the books I will be reading in June! Check out the video below:

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Guest Post: Exercise the brain and jog your inspiration

We joined up with another group of amazing bloggers to be a part of their blog tour. The tour is for All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

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Book summary

 In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it’s time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel’s Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Based on the true story of Israel’s annual crane migration.

Print Length: 32 Pages

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub

ISBN-10: 1512444391

ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

All Eyes on Alexandra is available to purchase on AmazonBarnes and NobleTarget and Thrift Books.

About the Author

Author photo

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You can find Anna Levine online at —

Author website: http://www.annalevine.org/

Twitter: @LevineAnna 

Instagram: @booksfromanna 

About the Illustrator

artist

 Chiara Pasqualotto was born in Padua, in northern Italy, currently teaches illustration and drawing classes to children and adults, in particular in Padua during the summer at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics and in Rome. Since 2008 she’s been living in Rome and working with illustration professionally: her first picture book, Mine, All Mine! was published in 2009 by Boxer Books (UK), since then she published with Oxford University Press, Giunti, Terranuova and some American publishers (Paraclete Press, Tyndale, LearningAZ, Kar-Ben Publisher).

You can find Chiara Pasqualotto online at –

Artist website: https://romeartweek.com/en/artists/?id=1495&ida=1004

Blog: http://chiarapasqualotto.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clairepaspage/

And now a guest post that Anna wrote for us!

Exercise the brain and jog your inspiration.

Like Alexandra, the character in my book, I move around a lot. I was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada grew up in Montreal, Quebec, lived in California for four years, Verona, Italy for one year and now live in Israel. When it comes to being inspired, for me there’s no better way than seeing new countries, living as a local (in Verona, where they don’t buy vegetables in bulk, I learned to buy lettuce by the leaf) tasting, listening and soaking up the atmosphere of new places.

But what happens when life interferes and you can’t just take off? That’s when I always come back to my favorite quote by Marcel Proust (author of Swann’s Way also known as Remembrance of Things Past) “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” At times we become so blinded to the familiar that we don’t see the beauty and uniqueness in the world we live. Here are some tricks I use to jog my imagination when I need inspiration.

#1. Leave the car at home. Take the bus, the train, the subway or metro. When you’re out and about take note of faces, fashions and unusual gestures. Listen to the mix of languages and dialects.

#2. Enjoy coffee from your favorite café, but from time to time try a new one. I love my neighborhood coffee shop, (which borders on a cemetery and is a very quiet space to work), but spicing up my cappuccino at a different cafe is sometimes exactly what I need to get a new perspective on a character or chapter of my manuscript.

#3. Walk. Bike. Ski. Skate. Jog. If it worked for the philosopher Henry Thoreau, who said that ‘the moment my legs began to move, the thoughts came,’ it’s worth a try. When I’m stuck on a plot development or annoyed with a character who isn’t listening to me, I get out of my chair and either take a long walk around the neighborhood or get on my bike. Writers spend a lot of time in their heads (and in our seats), we need to get up, move around and interact in order to be inspired and see our world (and our manuscripts) from a new perspective.

Blog Tour Dates


December 3rd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Make sure you visit WOW’s blog today and read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book All Eyes on Alexandra.

muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com


December 5th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

December 5th @ Break Even Books

Visit Erik’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how to jog your inspiration.

https://breakevenbooks.com/

December 7th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com


December 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he joins in the fun of celebrating and shares information about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 8th @ Christy’s Cozy Corners

Visit Christy’s blog and cozy up while you read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://christyscozycorners.com/

December 9th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about designing your ideal writing spot.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 9th @ Christy’s Cozy Corner

Visit Christy’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about how she decided to use crane’s in her story.

https://christyscozycorners.com/
December 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Pamela’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how authors use anthropomorphic animals.

http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/
December 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews Anna Levine, author of All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 13th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read Anna Levine’s guest post about building a theme day around a picture book.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/

December 13th @ Oh for the Hook of a Book

Visit Erin’s blog where she shares her thoughts on Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

www.hookofabook.wordpress.com

December 15th @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog where she features Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra in a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 17th @ World of My Imagination

Stop by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about naming your characters.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Linda’s Blog

Make sure you visit Linda’s blog today where you can read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog

December 20th @ Word Magic: All About Books 

Visit Fiona’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 21st @ Bring on Lemons

Make sure you grab some lemonade and stop by Crystal’s blog today where she reviews Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 27th @ Linda’s Blog

Visit Linda’s blog again where you can read her interview with author Anna Levine.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog


December 28th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog today you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/
December 31st @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi’s blog and read Anna Levine’s guest post on learning about families and different cultures.

https://strength4spouses.blog/
January 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog where he shares his thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about getting into the head of your middle-grade characters.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about using fiction to write non-fiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 7th @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read her thoughts about the book All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

https://strength4spouses.blog/

Kobo Canada

Book Review: The Bird Queen’s Book

Our external reviewer Bonnie Humber has sent in her first review for the book The Bird Queen’s Book by T.L Frances. Bonnie is new to the reviewing team. She runs paint nights in the North Bay area if anyone is interested.

Synopsis: What would you do if you found a mysterious book written in a secret language?

Thirteen-year-old Denny’s life is far from easy. He’s at the bottom of the food chain at school, he works a mind-numbingly boring student job at his uncle’s shredding store, and, on top it all, he has to try out for the school basketball team—and let’s just say basketball’s not his strong point.

But one day, he finds an ancient book in an indecipherable language. Could it be a secret code? Or maybe even… magic?
As Denny starts spinning a fantasy tale around the book, the real world begins to fade from view. It won’t be long before his problems catch up with him, crashing down one by one…

When Denny, a young lad trapped in the mundane rut of his middle school life, happens upon an old mysterious book in his uncle’s paper shredding shop, he is compelled to give the unreadable tome meaning. Inspired by the cover and beautiful, foreign script, Denny escapes his day to day problems by writing a history for the Bird Queen’s Book. His new obsession quickly starts to take over, and affect his relationships with the people closest to him. Is Denny able to keep his loved ones close, or will he risk everything that’s real for a fantasy?

Although the language and imagery were rather basic, I enjoyed the concept and the personality of a few main characters. Although this book is meant for children, I still found this story to be too simple. The story would have been better for me if the plot had more substance. There are so many intriguing areas in this story that could have been expanded upon. For instance:

  • A thirteen-year-old boy with an imaginary friend
  • The history or reasoning behind the outlawing of magic
  • The love and acceptance of Denny by his friend Max, despite Denny’s behavior

I feel that if the plot had more substance on a sociological level, the story would be more enjoyable and less flat.

I was captivated by the plot twist of the imaginary friend. I found this character to be one of
the most developed, and when I realized they were not real, I was truly surprised and I loved it! I really wanted to know and understand more about this character once this twist was revealed.

“Don’t be an idiot”, I scold myself. “It’s just a book.”

I love this quote because as any good reader can tell you, there’s no such thing as “just a book”. I really feel that this story needs some fleshing out. But once that is done, I would definitely recommend it to any young reader.

Book Rating: 3.5/5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

Disclaimer: This book was sent to us in ebook format to read and give an honest review.

There is also a new giveaway being hosted by us! Enter to win some traveling bookmarks and a logo sticker pack!

Enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/5760930a4/?

Good luck and thanks for reading our reviews 🙂 Comment below if you have read this book and what your thoughts are about it!