Three Book Reviews: All unique and exquisite, featuring a marmalade cat, slow-motion moments, and dancing!

Variety is the Spice of Life by Sally Cronin is a poignant collection of poetry and short stories. Reading Sally’s entrancing writing is as calming and illuminating as sitting on a slab of granite in the wilderness, witnessing the sun slowly rise to begin another glorious day. The clever cover alone caught my eye – perfect for this blend of poems and prose. Then I turned the pages, and Sally had me at “Key words” which is a short piece packed with power of how words can make our hearts sing or how they can cause our hearts to shatter. Sally writes about life and all it embodies: nature, loss, relationships, and our furry animal friends. The scenes portrayed through her beautiful writing had me drying a tear, reminiscing, and smiling.

A few favorite poems that come to mind are “Expeditions” which inspires us to step out of our comfort zones. “Above the World” speaks of memories from Sally’s youth but evokes wonderful recollections for me of recent backpacking trips with my husband. “Face in the mirror” is accompanied by a lovely, delicate picture of Sally and her mother, which brought forth priceless memories of my mom who passed away over a decade ago. “Seasons” is thought-provoking and speaks not only of nature’s changing seasons, but how life transforms over the years – how hope can be discouraged by “chill winds, the evil that is done by humans.” “Drought” undeniably hit home but ends on a much-needed high note.

Sally’s stories with their realistic and charming characters are beyond engaging as well. I love them all, but the stories that shine are “The Neighborhood Watch,” highlighting the marmalade cat with an impressive left hook. “Miss Lloyd’s Robin” is about a delightful robin, the benefits of forgiveness, and newfound friendship. “The Home Help” touches on loss of hope, unexpected surprises, learning to trust, and renewed excitement for what lies on the horizon.

Variety is the Spice of Life prompts a precious memory or chuckle or a nugget of understanding, whether it’s a poem or story that resonates, brings enjoyment, or simply touches the heart. I love Sally’s writing and highly recommend this collection for lovers of engaging stories and sentimental verse.

Reading Jeff Flesch’s poems in Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow is like strolling along a beach, allowing the waves’ lullaby to soothe your mind from any burdens. He weaves human experiences with the wonder of nature – how we are all connected. The love and sorrow he conveys through his beautiful poetic verses are almost tangible. Jeff’s use of poetic language touches on a myriad of emotions, affecting all senses. And even in sorrow, I recognized that he views life through smiling eyes.

In “Oak Trees” Jeff shares a memory from his youth, “that their branches resemble the veins of my heart or lines of the part you played.” “Slow-Motion Moments” reminds me of my many walks through a forest and how the trees, the birds, and the flowers allow time to think “like an avalanche of thoughts pervade me.” When I am among nature, I revel in the solitude that allows me to breathe in the silence of that moment with deep appreciation. “Cosmic Arts” will take you on a magical ride to contemplate love, surrounding beauty, and the mystery of Heaven “as the sun comes up inside your heart.” “Needle and Thread” tells of a love so deep and relatable; I felt myself tumbling into the beauty of Jeff’s lines. “Did you know it was you lost in my prose? Alas, as the moments tick by, it is you I look for in the wind.”

And then, “Moments Grasped” is sadly the last poem to read, but the lines are enticing, “wafting in the breeze/it’s all I can do to breathe/into this moment and the next/realizing it’s all been/and will be for the best.” Nature Speaks is exactly what the title expresses and is easily enjoyed nestled into your favorite chair, sipping a cup of coffee, tea, or even a glass of wine. Jeff’s writing is sublime, so when you reach the last page, you’ll feel a sense of melancholy. I highly recommend this lovely book for anyone who loves poetry that calms both the mind and soul.

Asunder, Baby by Steven Baird is a profound collection of prose and poetry. In his introduction, Baird conveys that short stories have never been easy for him to write. Yet, his words flow seamlessly, creating such vivid settings that I can’t fathom him having any difficulty at all. His stories and poems reveal loss, beauty, love, and despair with an intensity that digs deeply into the hearts of his readers. Baird’s originality and authenticity in portraying his characters and backdrops are the brilliance of this intellectual compilation.

I found myself dog-earing page after page. Many of the stories and poems turned into favorites, but a few I’d like to highlight are “Where we go dancing,” “Your father’s Delta 88,” “Cinnamon Suites,” “The last angel of the Lord,” and “Rhapsody.”

An example from “Where we go dancing”

“…I can dance the ears off a row of corn when I have a mind to. Why, that corn becomes ashamed of itself and wishes it could be half as worthy as old dry cabbage or a leaf of backfield tobacco then have to endure another minute of the spectaculation of my feet.”

And from “Your father’s Delta 88”

“…and watch the eddies pull quilt-shaped flowers along their creases, folding them, unfolding them, pressing their petals into wine.”

Asunder, Baby is the first book I’ve read from this author, but I look forward to reading more of his incredible storytelling and poetic verse. Highly recommended for those who love prose and poetry that have you pondering and deeply feeling at the same time.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you were enticed enough to click on the links for your copies of these three wonderful books! ❤️

© Lauren Scott, – All rights reserved.
Photo by Oziel Gómez:

93 thoughts on “Three Book Reviews: All unique and exquisite, featuring a marmalade cat, slow-motion moments, and dancing!

  1. Your reviews give a clear picture of beautiful poetry. Thank you for sharing them Lauren. I’ve read Sally book and enjoyed it. The other two poets – Jeff and Steven are new to me. Thanks for drawing my attention to their poetry. Wishing them great success.

      1. Honestly, it’s humbling to read the comments and I’m appreciative of each one. Writing is a slow process for me, and it’s been the longest and quietest part of my life. I simply love to do it. When people receive it and welcome it, well, it still kind of amazes and humbles me.
        So thank you again, Lauren, for this kindness of sharing.

      2. You’re so welcome, Steven, and I completely understand because I feel exactly the same way when reading reviews for my books. So, simply enjoy the ride on Cloud 9. 🙂 And I look forward to reading Ordinary Handsome.

  2. Loving these wonderful reviews of three very different yet very beautiful books! Each book and review has its own story to tell and I love the way that comes across in your thoughts on each collection. ❤

    1. Your comments are always so insightful and beautiful, Layla. Thank you so much! I’m happy you absorbed the differences between all three books, along with the beauty each portrays. I appreciate you taking the time to read them all. ❤️

  3. What a beautiful f review that captured all aspects of Sally’s ability to capture hearts and not leaving anything out.
    Truly a wonderful review Lauren and 3 cheers for Sally!!!

    1. P.S. and how did I miss Jeff and Steven’s wrote up that was also incredible! This is what happens when I read from my phone-:(
      Oops. You have been busy and your words truly are great captures and share the essence of what their books capture in hearts and words!!!
      Nicely done Lauren!

      1. It happens, Cindy! LOL Those darn phones! 🙂 Yes, I’ve been reading and writing reviews, and as much as I’m humbled by reviews I receive, I love helping out authors in this wonderful community. I can only hope that my reviews do justice for the books. So, your words are like music to my ears. Thank you for reading and for supporting! 💗🎶🔆🌼

      2. I know right. Beg for forgiveness and you are most gracious, thanks. You do a great job and I’ve been thinking the same. Did you notice, I said thinking… even intending. Hey, I’ve done some and intention counts for something. You did a beautiful job and I know everyone will be delighted! 🙏🏼 Kudos to YOU!💗🙌🏽🎉

      3. There’s nothing to forgive. You crack me up! 😂 I didn’t write reviews in the beginning of my blogging journey (11 years ago). I began a few years ago, can’t recall exactly when, and I was nervous at first! It was like having to do a book report all over again!! But then I changed my way of thinking, to write them to help the other authors. So, we do what we can! Have a wonderful evening, and thanks again! 💗🎉💐💖💜💤

      4. hahaha. Omg, I was the worst at book reports❣️ but it did do ok in the panoramic boxes Well it’s truly great you are giving back and that’s what we want to do always. You are a gem and YES, we want to help authors always. My spirit is strong. my flesh is week but I’m working on it! 😂💞🎉🌹❤️🥰

  4. Lauren: between yesterday and today (I’m reading this today; you wrote it yesterday) you are the second person to tell me about this lovely poetry book by Sally. Goodness. I will need to get this one at my next purchase. Books like this one I usually like in print. Thanks again for showcasing it and telling me what you loved about it. I know for sure I will love it too.

    Jeff: aww! “And even in sorrow, I recognized that he views life through smiling eyes.” Isn’t that the truth!
    The good news is this book HAS a cozy spot in my home already. I also reviewed it and get this, wrote a long winded poem (a collaboration) inspired by one in the book. About the sea.
    Your words are every bit as soothing and lovely as Jeff’s. I too was enamored by him (still am— don’t tell).

    The third book. Surreal. Because I have yet to e-meet this author. What? To ignore the brilliance of this intellectual compilation is not something I can do.
    The excerpt you shared of ““Where we go dancing”” is smile-inducing. What loveliness. I love it already.

    I’m surely enticed enough but will have to wait to purchase as I still have a few to read and review.
    Goodness so many books so little time.
    I’m grateful to you for the intro to Steven Baird’s Asunder Baby. (I’m writing this down)
    And for this lovely review. You rock, lady. Blessing you.

    1. Hi Selma, thanks for taking the time to read my reviews. I’m so glad you found all of them enticing, and to know that Jeff’s book already has a cozy spot in your home is wonderful. Sublime, wasn’t it? You’ll love Sally and Steven’s books too; I can already tell. I also purchase paperbacks; I love the feel of the pages and the physical book in my hands. But if e-books are the only option, then I’ll take it as well. Thanks again for your lovely comment. ❤️

  5. It’s always very nice to discover new poets, authors and books!
    To be true, I am quite careful when reading poetry in english, cause it’s not my first langage and sometimes I spend more time looking for the word than understanding what poeple wanted to say!
    But you made me want to try some good readings here Lauren.
    As we say sharing is caring and it’s a way that talks to me
    Stay well and have a sweet weekend! 💞

    1. Hi Marie,
      It is great to discover new authors of different genres: that’s how I found Steven Baird, through a mutual friend, and I understand what you said about reading poetry in English. But I’m thrilled that my reviews piqued your interest enough to want to dive into these books. Sharing is caring, so true! Thanks so much for taking the time to read through these reviews, and have a wonderful weekend also! Hugs! ❤️

  6. Sally has a gentle way of writing that both captures your attention as you settle back for a wonderful tale. I think your description, ‘Reading Sally’s entrancing writing is as calming and illuminating as sitting on a slab of granite in the wilderness, witnessing the sun slowly rise to begin another glorious day.’ sums it all up quite accurately, Lauren. I will have to explore the works of Jeff and Steven, as they sound very similar in style. Congratulations to Sally, Jeff, and Steve!

    1. Thanks for reading the reviews, Mark, and I’m glad you liked my description of Sally’s book. I’m sure you’ll like Jeff and Steven’s collections as well. It’s always great to learn about new authors through our friends here. 🥰

  7. With eyes full of tears of joy and of appreciation, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Lauren. You write so beautifully, and it is an honor to read your review of Nature Speaks. I’m humbled. 🥰

  8. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Podcast #Poetry #Flash Fiction – The Waltz and Romantic Gestures by Sally Cronin | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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  11. Thanks, Lauren. I only know Sally’s writing, her blog, and her work promoting artists, writers, and bloggers, and I agree with your review, totally. Congratulations and good luck to all the authors.

    1. Hi Olga, thanks for stopping by to read my review. Sally’s book is wonderful as well as everything she does for other bloggers. I’m glad you agreed with my words, and thanks for your good wishes to Jeff and Steven. All three books are fabulous. 💗

  12. Jane Sturgeon

    Beautiful reviews, Lauren. Heartfelt and eloquent. I have Sally’s book on my TBR and Jeff and Steven’s sound wonderful too. Much love flowing to you and I am sure your support is much appreciated. xXx 💕😘💕

    1. Thanks so much, Jane. I know you’ll love Sally’s book, and Jeff and Steven’s if you get the chance. I think most of us have TBRs that are towering over us. 🙂 Much love flowing back to you, dear friend. Big hugs too! ❤️💐❤️💐❤️🤗

  13. You write such beautiful reviews, Lauren. I’ve read and loved Sally’s and Steven’s books and second your high recommendations. I haven’t started Jeff’s yet, but it’s waiting for me. Such talented poets and storytellers in our community. Huge congrats to Sally, Jeff, and Steven.

    1. Thanks so much, Diana. I love Sally’s writing and when I saw your review of Steven’s book, I ordered it right away. I’m sure you’ll like Jeff’s poetry too. I have a hunch that many TBRs are about to fall over. 🙂 Thanks for showing your support. ❤️

  14. Pingback: Three Book Reviews: All unique and exquisite, featuring a marmalade cat, slow-motion moments, and dancing! – Many Stars

  15. Pingback: Three Book Reviews: All unique and exquisite, featuring a marmalade cat, slow-motion moments, and dancing! – lastrites24608

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