Laburnum Lanes is a small collection of beautiful poems by Shantha. The poems mainly contain nature themes, such as birds and marigolds, with birds as illustrations. Some of the poems have continuances. For instance, a poem may continue into another poem, telling a short little story within those small series of poems, while all of them tie together pleasantly. The book is serene with its descriptions of nature and the beauty of it. The poem book is also incredibly cultural. It makes references to Indian culture and the author provides footnotes to define the specific aspects.
I enjoyed this collection of poems. While it is a short read, it is a beautiful one. Many of the lines of many of the poems resonated with me or touched me in a profoundly deep way. A lot of the lines paint detailed exquisite visuals. For example, “Strawberry Filled Path” elicits visions of strawberries on the ground as well as gives the visual of someone holding strawberries. You can even get the smell and the feel of sunshine from it. Shantha’s words jump from the page and really make you feel like you are in the scene they paint. Similarly, “A Large Palm” does the same as “Strawberry Filled Path.” The reader sees the flashes of imagery. Many of Shantha’s words are paintings that have come to life, with being able to see, smell, and even feel the some of the descriptions. It takes talent to be able to construct strong sensory responses. Even the title of the poem book evokes imagery of the trees.
Poems like “Togetherness” also have great lines in them, like “marigolds come from heavens/They are not born of the womb.” It has such powerful phrasing. Then there is something like “Meditation” that resonates with me because it illustrates parts of life so well. Many of these poems are like this poem in that way, where it is relatable because it reflects life.
I have so many poems bookmarked because they either resonated with me in some deep, profound way, they were relatable, I enjoyed the imagery, or I loved the phrasing. I am a huge fan of poetry because it can be done so well and conjure up different feelings and can even be an outlet for feelings. I think Shantha was able to do this magnificently with their poems, tap into universal feelings while also giving readers a taste of Indian culture. It definitely made me want to look into Indian culture more and be more educated about it.
I think good poetry makes you feel something, but great poetry leaves this feeling of change within you. It gives you new knowledge, new perspectives, and the hunger for more of it all. That is what Shantha’s poetry did with me. It was interesting and beautiful. I highly recommend this book of poems to anyone who is a fan of poetry or even just pretty words and phrases.
Pages: 130 | ASIN: B07DLZPCXL
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Pharaoh’s Arrow is a picture book that tells a fascinating story using authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this book together?
I have taught elementary school for over 25 years. I have always found that using picture books is a great way to teach subjects like history and art to students. Picture books bring history alive. I found in teaching about Early Societies that there was an abundance of information books but not picture book narratives. I wanted to create a resource that teachers or any Egyptology fan could use and enjoy that included factual information but was also entertaining. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought this would be a great way to break into writing and illustrating picture books.
Each piece of artwork in the book was done by you on papayri. What was that process like?
The illustrations are actually done on paper to replicate the look of papyrus. I included directions in the back of the book, so readers can create similar drawings. The secret is to colour with pencil crayon, as this medium will resist paint. Then I painted over the coloured illustration using brown and yellow tempera paint. I used a large paint brush and painted both directions leaving the brush strokes showing. Last, I covered the wet paint with a disposable cloth and rubbed the cloth then removed the cloth. That is how the look of papyrus is achieved. It is simple yet works. I hope readers will try it out. I made a Youtube video to demonstrate the technique and colouring pages are found on my website https”//georgeneeb.ca
I felt that you did a great job of getting the facts of ancient Egypt correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?
I spent months researching how the Egyptian drew everything. I looked through lots of information books about Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had a distinct way of drawing. Their style is simple yet graceful. I’ve heard the Egyptians described as the first graphic artists. People were drawn in profile but with forward facing eyes and shoulders. It is almost a contorted look. I also researched how trees, homes, palaces and animals were drawn. Egyptians didn’t uses perspective and size differences were usually due to importance, so sometimes the Pharaoh was drawn larger than everyone else. This made illustrating the book challenging because I couldn’t draw a lot of varied perspectives, such as a bird’s eye or an ant’s eye point of view. I really could only do some close ups in order to keep faithful to Egyptian style.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book is totally different. It is a story about an overweight girl that longs to be a super hero, but her mother and aunt really pressure her to act like the other girls and try to be pretty and popular. When some bullies befriend her, she has to decide if this is the person she wants to be. I did the illustrations using cut paper and also dyed paper backgrounds. The book is in the editing stage, so I hope it will be ready by late summer. I am also writing a book about an Emperor and a dragon in Ancient China. It will be illustrated to look like Chinese silk paintings have come to life to tell the story.
Akia loves living in an oasis far from the Nile River with her father. But when she is faced with another family tragedy, Akia embarks on a plan of revenge that takes her to the ancient capital of Memphis and to meet Almighty Pharaoh. She quickly learns that vengeance isn’t as easy as it may seem! Come visit Ancient Egypt through a tale told in rhyming couplets, authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings come to life. Ages 8 – 11 or any Egyptology fan!
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If you’re shopping for a picture book, George Neeb’s Pharaoh’s Arrow should be high on your list of choices. This unique book is an experience like you haven’t seen before – a whole book written and illustrated in the style of ancient Egypt! Neeb took the time to paint all the pages by hand and tell us a story of revenge set in the times of a bygone era. He studied Egyptian art and it shows on every page.. Every page is an individual work of art, bringing the artistic style of the Land of the pyramids into the modern format.
While set in ancient times of the pharaohs, Neeb came up with the story himself. As he explained, he tried to get the facts correct. The style of clothing and the makeup match the era the story is set in and he spent a considerable amount of time giving his book the feel of an old papayri. He didn’t just stop at the characters, whom he painted in the drawing style of the ancient Egypt, but went as far to match the authentic hieroglyphics that appear throughout the story with the text!
Pharaoh’s Arrow excels in the themes it takes us through. While picture books usually don’t trouble themselves with big moral questions, George Neeb had other ideas for his characters. What starts like a story of revenge ends up differently than you would expect. Without giving the details, you will be surprised with the decision the main character decided to go with. And while odd, the decision is very practical. Considering the times the story is happening the decision is quite fitting. I felt that Neeb’s poetry was not his strong suit and were not lyrically challenging, but he is still able to tell an interesting story.
Many odds and ends of the life of ancient Egypt show throughout the book. The story starts in quite an unusual way – the mother of Akia, our heroine, is killed by a crocodile which makes her father decide to live in the desert. Crocodiles where a predator on the Nile back in the day and the situation gives us a glimpse of life thousands of years ago. Burial rites of the ancient Egypt are also referenced and Neeb also talks about the spirituality that the people of those times were observing. His reference of “ba”, roughly translated as the modern concept of the soul, is something you will not find in many books that deal with this long gone civilization!
The illustrations are unique and make it an unforgettable work of art. At the end of the book Neeb even explains how to accomplish the style yourself, making the Pharaoh’s Arrow a perfect choice for anyone interested in painting and history.
Pages: 18 | ASIN: B07DV1XL2M
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All Roads Shattered is the third book in the All Roads series of dark fiction stories and poems. In the last book you said you wanted to go darker and bring more sci-fi into the story. Did you want to continue that in book three or did you envision a different path?
With All Roads Shattered I wanted to show darkness and variety, perhaps a different type of ending other than just brief character life lessons or moments.
The characters are all superbly created, as usual. Is there anything from your own life that you put into your characters to make them more believable?
Most of the time, no, at least not with this book. I did that with All Roads Home. In All Roads Shattered I wanted my characters to have their own life and story. Put my “empathic feet” into make believe shoes.
I enjoyed all the stories in the collection, as they all inspired some reflection afterward. Is there a story that didn’t make it into the collection?
If anything, a poem might get put to the side to be reworked but that’s about it.
Do you find that you write stories that challenge you as a writer, or stories that are easy for you to write?
I write what I feel or imagine, so it’s not difficult. I never mind a challenge if it inspires mournful beauty or captivating contemplation.
ALL ROADS SHATTERED, the third book of Lisa Diaz Meyer’s All Roads Collection contains two short story sagas, five multi-genre, dark fiction short stories and twelve macabre poems. Other books in this dark fiction collection are ALL ROADS HOME and ALL ROADS DESTINED.
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All Roads Destined is a collection of stories from fantasy to science fiction with links back to your first collection. What was the inspiration for this collection of stories?
As for the Outposts, I wanted to continue on since I’d left it as a cliffhanger in All Roads Home. I then felt I wanted to bring more loneliness and some addiction awareness into the equation as these subjects, real or imagined, can be sad and frightful.
I felt that this book was a bit darker than the last collection. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing this book?
I did want to go darker, bring more science fiction in but based off subjects that make people uncomfortable. Again the addiction issue, some odd poetry. As you said in your review, the short story The Crone was your favorite. It was also mine, too. And I love when something like that can just come upon me, the imagery and the way I want it to be read.
You also included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. What was your favorite poem from the collection and how did you pick which poems made it into this collection?
The poems or fragments I write in between or even during a WIP. My favorites in this book were Clocks and The Water Globe, both having to do with the passage of time.
What is your process like for writing short stories? Does it differ from longer novels?
There’s a certain pace with short stories that I prefer. I may be inspired to write a longer novel one day, just not yet.
Destiny is what we bring to the world where the roads are stained with tears and blood, and paved in eternal stone. In Part One, the continuation of The Outpost Trilogy shifts from post apocalyptic to science fiction. Part Two, The Enduring contains five dark fiction short stories. Part Three, The Fragments include fifteen poems of urgent struggle and destination. New York author, Lisa Diaz Meyer relates to the odd, macabre & funereal. ALL ROADS DESTINED is the second of her ALL ROADS trilogy.
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
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All Roads Home is a collection of your short stories covering many genres and topics. Did you write this collection with the intention of putting them together in a book or did you write them separately?
All the stories, poems and plays were written at different times in my life and I decided to put them together thinking to showcase the many different genres and writing styles I enjoy.
The book is split into six sections with each covering a different theme. The Enduring was my favorite section. What was your favorite from the collection?
The Outposts were my favorite to write as it was my first time trying a post-apocalyptic story line which I later I turned into a saga that runs throughout my current books.
What do you find enjoyable and challenging about writing short stories over longer novels?
I like the idea of creating short stories and many different worlds. The challenge is to pack as much of a punch in a small amount of pages and create characters to love, hate or identify with in a short amount of time.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on my fourth book of dark fiction short stories and poems. I am hoping to have it published in the early months of 2019 or sooner.
All Roads Shattered by Lisa Meyer is the third book in the All Roads collection. This collection of dark fiction stories and poems begins with The Outposts III, which satisfyingly continues with the story of Georgia and Mitchell who we have been following through both books one and two. As we left them in book two to come to terms with their new life together, in this collection, Lisa picks up with the journey the two still must endure.
Then there is a three-part story in the form of People of Gods, a haunting selection of 12 pieces of poetry in the section titled Fragments, two further extended stories in the section The Enduring and finally, to end the collection, three small but perfectly formed short and simple stories which pack a huge punch in the section of The Oddities!
The Oddities features three ‘out there’ stories with Preacher, Crooks, and Helge. In a word, wow is what springs to mind when reading through each of them!
With Preacher, I never saw it coming at all, but the conclusion was oh so satisfying! Crooks was a great concept and equally mesmerizing. However, Helge had to be the most disturbing story of them all! I had, in fact, become so captivated by the last three stories that I wasn’t expecting the book to end when it did.
Helge produced some near awful visions in my mind as I read through, think Jack the Ripper style, back streets of grey and misty London; enough to give you nightmares. Yet, it was a tremendous and thoroughly satisfying end to a superb collection.
Having read both the first and second books in the collection, a part of me would have thought that perhaps by now Lisa may have run out of steam. After all, All Roads Home and All Roads Destined were for me, both 5 star reads. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
When you have read all three books, you may begin to feel that Lisa has a stronger connection to the futuristic sci-fi genre. This is perhaps because it is always the more extensive of stores and at the very beginning of each collection, with a continuation throughout the three.
However, in All Roads Shattered, the story I found the most compelling and atmospheric was Dinner with Myles. This was a story which I didn’t want to leave and could easily imagine Lisa writing a book based on this genre; such was it handled so well.
The ending to this story was, yet again, superbly accomplished by Lisa, as all her short stories have been throughout. However, I would still love for her to write a prequel to this one! Neil and Myles are wonderfully drawn, and complex characters and I could very well imagine them as partners working on crimes and investigating mysteries!
The great thing about reading Lisa Meyer’s collections is that each one gets better as you go along. That is particularly hard to achieve for many writers of such collections, but the All Roads Shattered collection is perhaps the most extensive and best written one yet.
It almost feels as though Lisa’s confidence has grown with each outing and this is therefore reflected in the intensity and broader scope of her writing. Her stories seem to expand and take on a deeper meaning in their unique genres in this collection, and I believe her writing style almost borders along the lines of perfection this time.
If you only manage to read one story, then Dinner with Myles should be that one. I can guarantee you that once you’ve sampled this nearly perfect piece of prose, you will feel compelled to read on.
Pages: 252 | ASIN: B0718Z38LD
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In the book, From the Shadows: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Renewal, author Elizabeth Onyeabor introduces her audience to the sum of her parts, figuratively speaking, and takes the reader through the journey of her life. Readers meet the youthful, bright-eyed, big-hearted, trusting Beth who she has left locked away for decades, and her counterpart, a less trusting and icier persona, Liz, who she adopts abruptly at the beginning of her teen years. Liz is described as the mask that gets her through every day. Liz is the person that coworkers and social media contacts know. She is also painfully drowning in depression. Her only hope of becoming a whole person again is to reconcile with the girl she locked out so many years ago.
Onyeabor’s reflective journey is written as a narrative, a journal, and a collection of poems rolled into one piece. I personally prefer the narratives to the more metaphorical parts of the book. I can identify more with her real-life stories and experiences. However, I do recognize the importance of her poetry. It is cathartic for her. It is a therapeutic release. It is her outlet. It is necessary.
The author dives very deep into her depression, explaining its breadth and depth. She explains how she feels and why. She describes the magnitude of her sorrow, guilt, shame, obsession, self-deprecation, and even suicidal tendencies. I’ve been lucky enough not to be able to fully comprehend being in such a depressed state, but it gives insight to the reader about what it must be like. It is obviously a constant battle for someone dealing with this degree of depression to keep her head above water. I’m sure those who are prone to depression would take solace in knowing there is someone out there who understands, and that they are not alone in the quagmire that Onyeabor describes.
In my eyes, Onyeabor is your typical wife and mother who makes sure everyone is taken care of, everyone but herself. Also, typical of mothers and women in general, she places the blame for literally everything that could possibly go wrong in her entire family on herself. She is the fixer. She feels like anything that is broken happened by her own hands. She also feels like she has the responsibility of sweeping up the broken pieces, dusting them off, and perfectly gluing them all back together. The problem is that nothing is ever perfect. She continues to chase perfection anyway. Never hitting that mark feeds her depression.
Another identifiable theme throughout the book is striving for spiritual perfection. Readers will see themselves in this struggle as old as time itself. Good vs. evil. We are often our own harshest judges in this aspect as well. She holds herself to unreachable standards. That perfection thing never quite happens, and it leaves Onyeabor feeling like a sinner at times.
I did find myself at times questioning how someone who seemed to have it all could be so depressed. I guess that’s the point. Living in exotic places, vacationing in Paris, having a successful job, raising independent kids. Those things aren’t always enough. Those things are sometimes painted façades stretched across crumbling buildings. I also feel for her family. It couldn’t have been easy for them to never hit that perfect mark either, and to feel helpless. They wanted to help her. They just couldn’t. It’s a personal choice to stay in the dark caves you’re accustomed to or to step out into the light. It’s a long walk. A journey. I cheered her on for deciding to take those first steps.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It is written well, but can feel repetitive. There are also a lot of breaks in the flow due to the poetry entries. Over all, I think it could be very useful to readers dealing with depression. It will give them strength to pursue their passions and hope that there are brighter days on the horizon.
Pages: 208 | ASIN: B01MTKFS9U
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All Roads Destined by Lisa Diaz Meyer is the second book in the All Roads Trilogy. Consisting of a collection of dark fiction stories and poems, the book is divided into sections including one story in four parts, four shorter stories and a selection of poems to finish off with. I would strongly recommend reading Lisa’s first collection, All Roads Home, as the four-part story in this collection continues from a story in the first book, charting the characters activities since we last read about them in book one.
Slightly different than the format of her first collection, All Roads Destined leads with a prologue and then three parts of one short story, alternating in each chapter with Mitchell, Gerard, and Georgia.
The Building, The Alpha Post, The People’s Government and Notas Territory are all chapters of a story which cleverly links back to the first book and includes the character of Georgia, whom we discovered was being held as the subject of scientist’s aim for cancer immune females.
Previously, Georgia finally escaped the people who were working on her as an experiment and now has her baby Sylvie with her as well as her partner Mitchell, equaling her own little family. However, there’s still a way to go and escaping her captor’s clutches was only the first part of this journey.
Immediately dark at the first-page of the prologue, with a superbly built up tension permeating the very start of this book, we begin with Georgia once again, though we know very little about the mass confusion that is happening at this moment in time.
The flip between narratives in this story is an excellent way at holding your interest long enough and succeeds at explaining a little about the primary doctor, Dr. Gerard, who worked on Georgia for many years. This is one short story which is experimental in structure, but fascinating to read!
The middle section of the collection is titled The Enduring, and it is here where perhaps my favorite story of the book is, called The Crone. So simplistic in its action but so stylish in its deliverance, this is the story that highlights how easy it is to conjure up any one of Lisa’s characters instantly. However, here the prose also excels. With Harret and the returned Berkstadt left to live out their remaining time together in their beautiful kingdom, this was a thoroughly satisfying and complete short story.
Finally, Lisa has included a selection of poems in the section titled The Fragments. Personally, I found these poems more satisfying than those in the first collection.
I enjoyed the poetry section even more as I’m very selective about poems and won’t automatically reach for a book of poetry when purchasing my preferred books. So, to have it included in a collection such as this encourages you to read it, seeing as you’ve read the stories, and its addition opens your eyes to something new and different.
Ultimately, The Fragments serves as an entirely satisfactory ending to yet again, a beautiful collection.
Pages: 217 | ASIN: B01M0DVEO1
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