Sunday, January 23, 2011

Something unique for Valentine's Day

Yes, it's just around the corner, and yes, I'm going through a rather anti-consumerism phase that coincides with the secret greenie novel I'm just completing (though I'm always happy about consumerism that involves my own books - same too I think for authors of anti-consumer books! May as well be honest about it.) and with the completion of my Marketing degree (I'll never go to the dark side, even if the cookies are good).  But I will say that a) greeting cards tend to be ridiculously over-priced and mostly get thrown out, and b) good poetry lasts, has a transformative effect, and basically is wonderful value however you look at it.  Especially when it comes in such a pretty, and inexpensive package (with such beautiful artwork - Vicki Thomas is a star).  So to appease my super fantastic marketing partner, and also to offer something just a wee bit better than artery clogging chocolates, or landfill clogging cards, I thought I'd reprint a review of the book of love poetry I wrote with Carolyn Howard-Johnson.  Free ebooks for the first 3 people who email me and ask for one.  Happy Valentine's Day all you lovers out there. “Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star...” ee cummings

Reviewed by Molly Martin

Cherished Pulse: Unconventional Love Poetry
by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson
with artwork by Vicki Thomas
Paperback: 36 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1449546052, Oct 2009

Magdalena Ball presents the first 10 poems; from the haunting lyric found in ‘The Ocean,’ strength of ‘Great Sky,’ and stark reality of ‘Dark Matter,’ poet Ball moves the reader toward her final though provoking reflective work; ‘Baker’s Dozen’. Other titles by poet Ball include; Event Horizon, Personality, Body Language, Aurora, Galactic Collision, and Oubliette.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s poems begin with the delicate refrain found in ‘A Woman's Heart.’ ‘Dreaming Lilacs,’ move the reader into a scented, heart felt remembrance before moving on to a playful stanza ‘Hallmark Couldn't Possibly Get This Right.’ Poet Howard-Johnson’s last offering is a poignant introspective ‘Loving Lance.’ Other titles by this poet include; Watching My Daughter Say Goodbye To a Fleeting Love, Another Day, déjà vu?, Discovery, From the Observation Deck, LA Love Story.

Poets Ball and Howard-Johnson have joined forces to create an oeuvre of exquisite work. Readers are offered a rhythmical extravagance as Ball and Howard-Johnson draw upon their journey of life to give rise to an tour de force of superlative work. These bards have crafted an admirable read for their target audience of those who enjoy lyrical offerings. Readers are sure to be captivated in a most charming manner while reading the words offered by this pair of sensitive, forthright women whose evident ardor for life is aptly captured on the pages of this work.

Cherished Pulse Unconventional Love Poetry is a pleasurable collection of buoyant, spirited poetry sure to pique the interest of the most discerning reader who is looking for a nice afternoon’s read. Each of the verses is a true delight. There is something for everyone. Language use is not predictable, nevertheless Cherished Pulse is an invigorating read of agreeably constructed stanzas presented in a satisfactorily rounded assortment. The reader will be drawn into the verses’ rich stitching of sentiment, passion and sensation. Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson move the reader along an voyage of poignant remembrance and encouraged expectations through the panorama of emotive setting. The authors have shaped a enticing publication of some of their most excellent compositions. Verses entice the reader with a multiplicity of intensely felt verses penned about human emotion. Fervor for life surges from the page as these rhymes are enjoyed. Verses filled with tenderness, perceptiveness and consideration are included. Those who are admirers of poetry and those who are not, are certain to find much to enjoy Cherished Pulse. Everyday issues of life tuned into an appealing work is not an easy task. Ball and HowardJohnson have succeeded admirably.

Cherished Pulse is meant to be read and then re-read as longing and inclination strikes. Each rhyme only gets better. The work lends itself well to the gift book tuck in market. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. A delightful read for all poetry lovers whiling away a lazy afternoon in the porch swing with a tall iced tea or mint julep nearby.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Twelve years online. Why review?

2012 is the 12th year that The Compulsive Reader has been in operation. In Internet terms, that's a long time!  So I thought it might be appropriate to explore the question - why.  Why do I do it?  Why review?  Before I hop into it, I thought I might explore why not. There are some good reasons not to write book reviews.  The first is that it's time consuming - I can spend many hours on a single review.  Generally speaking, I don't get paid for it.  The time I spend writing reviews is invariably time taken away from writing other things - such as my next novel, poetry, some other piece of nonfiction (perhaps a paid commission), or time with my kids, working my reasonably well paid day job, etc.  Managing a review website is also time consuming.  Each review is personally edited by me, set up by hand, and hand coded - with images and links sourced, and an overall consistency maintained with each one, regardless of how they are submitted.  I respond personally to every review request (and I get hundreds each month), vetting and distributing them to reviewers where appropriate and of course, I can spend many many hours researching for an interview and conducting them.  So, back to the original question.  Why?  The simplest answer is always the same - love.  The following bullet points explain why I love it:
  • Reviewing a book is like a second, deeper, more interactive reading.   I'll often finish a book - especially a complex one, and not feel like I'm quite finished with it. It isn't until I do a final revisit and analysis where I begin to understand what worked for me, what didn't, and what the ultimate value of the book was for me.  I think back on the many books I read in the years BR (before reviewing), and I can't actually remember some of them.  I remember everything I've reviewed - the characters, the plot, the settings, the voice, the point of view - it's all part of my active memory because of the extra, engagement after the reading.  To me, the review process has now become an integral part of my reading process.
  • I've got a habit to feed.  I can pretty much request any new title that I want and get it sent to me by the publisher.  This may seem like a minor payment for many hours of work, but as someone who tends to buy books as gifts, I know exactly how expensive a new book is (in Aus, it can be exorbitant - the last book I bought for my son was nearly $50).  Being able to get in fast on those authors whose work I will always read and even obtain an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) is a pretty compelling perk, especially if I get to have a conversation with them afterwards about the book.  
  • Fame, glory, and a following.  The respect that comes with being a known, oft-cited reviewer is often well above that which I receive as a lowly author. The 'following' aspect is actually a kind of community of people who are united solely through the love of reading.  That kind of camaraderie is pretty wonderful.  Yes - I'm talking about you - you're wonderful. 
  • Finally, because it feels like a good deed in the service of books and authors.  As the points above show, I definitely get something personally valuable out of reviewing, but in the bigger scheme of things, I also get to showcase and help promote some utterly wonderful books that might have otherwise skipped the notice of the general public.  My focus is always on quality, so I can add a tiny bit of 'non-commercialist' weight on the side of the literarily wonderful.  That kind of positive power, however small, is probably enough on its own to keep me reviewing. 
So there you have it.  Welcome to year 12 (2011) of The Compulsive Reader.  We've got 2,670 reviews in the database (and I've got 10 still in my in-box to set up).  That's a lot of words, and plenty more to come.