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! ❤️
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