Friday, May 29, 2015

Anne Higgins' Reconnaissance - Review

My thoughts
I've always loved poetry and I always say to myself, "You need to read more poetry." However, I usually find myself reading more classic poetry, like Keats, Dickinson or Poe. I find myself lacking in the reading of contemporary poetry which is why I decided to join this tour for Poetic Book Tours.

I really enjoyed the wide range of subjects the poet covers in her poems. Anything from birds to driving in traffic. Very interesting and the poems almost made me feel like I know her personally.

I had two favorites in the book. The first is "Hearing Yesterday." I will share the last couple of stanzas from it here:

I believe in yesterday, 
which does not change,
where John Lennon still walks
out the door of the Dakota.

Another song says don't stop thinking about tomorrow.
But I believe in yesterday.
Another song says the landslide brought me down...
and I'm getting older, too,
so I believe in yesterday.


My second favorite I love because I can SO relate to it at this time in my life. It's called "Apology Poem" and I will share it in its entirety here:

Brenda Lee sings I'm Sorry in her halting voice, 
voice like a boy's, choking low like a tomboy's voice, 
harsh, halting, timbre changing,
please accept my apology....

Who's sorry now?
I'm sorry for the time I ran over the rabbit on the country road,
for never asking my mother about her childhood,
for not going to the eye doctor for five years,
until it was too late
sorry for all the times it was too late.

I'm sorry for selfish reasons,
for words that got me in trouble,
for words held back.

Sorry for negligence too global to mention.

Sorry I don't want to list any more.
Wishing I could pack up
all the sorrows
in some overlooked locker
in the far corner of a bus station
in a desert outpost. 
Sorry I wished for that.


I've always read that good poetry makes you feel. And that a poem speaks to the soul. I will testify that these two poems, especially the last one, spoke to my soul.

I really enjoyed this book of poetry and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading poetry.

Reconnaissance by Anne Higgins, a collection of poems published by Texture Press in Sept. 2014. Check out the early praise:

“‘The river flows by like a giant’s dream,/and if I dipped my hand in, what would come?’ writes Anne Higgins. Countless moments of wonder like this illuminate Reconnaissance, a collection that is both lovely and fierce. Elegant and precise descriptions of birdlife and gardens mingle with angry confrontations with illness and a tour de force poem about a catastrophic fire in a Catholic elementary school. A poet in full command of her lyric powers, Higgins also offers us jets of language play and splashes of Magritte-inspired surrealism. An eclectic collection of many pleasures and surprises.” — Lynn Levin, author of Miss Plastique

“Anne Higgins is a first-class observer of the natural world and a poet with poise and grace. In this excellent collection, she charts the habits of birds, imagines the lives of French painters, and reflects vividly on her own childhood. The poems in Reconnaissance embody their title: they are ranging explorations reported to us with intelligence and insight.” —Ryan Teitman, author of Litany for the City

“To say Anne Higgins is profound is to be embarrassingly reasonable. She comes alive in a sensory world liberated by ideas worthy of our love. Her excitement in living and dying changes all the complex problems turned to vexed questions. Hers is the predicament of a kind of faith otherwise forgotten in our cyber-fracture world. I’m beginning to think people are just born with faith in God (i.e., life, beauty, language, spectacle,) and if this is so, then the luckiest of them can take all that potential and show us what is possible.” —Grace Cavalieri, presenter for “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress,” on Vexed Questions

Early praise for the book can be found in the The Hollins Critic magazine: “Reconnaissance is Anne Higgins’s seventh poetry collection. In it, she reconnoiters her past, significant events in American history (the assassination of JFK, 9/11, a fire in which twenty-eight eight-year-olds died), her diminishing eyesight. (In “Another Blind Beggar” she informs us that there is “a grey footprint in the center of my vision, / a grey cat sits in the center of the field.” She writes about life as a nun and favorite pop songs. There are poems about birds, insects, and her mother. In short, this book maps an entire life, the life of a vibrant, intelligent, and sharply observant woman. “Morning yelps with cold,” she writes, and we feel and hear the charged air, become conscious of the exciting chill.” — Review by Kelly Cherry

About the poet
Anne Higgins teaches at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. She is a member of the Daughters of Charity. Her poems have appeared inCommonweal, Yankee, Spirituality and Health, The Centrifugal Eye, and a variety of small magazines. Garrison Keillor has read two of her poems on “The Writers Almanac” – on 10/8/01 and 8/8/10. She is the author of six previous collections of poetry. Check out an interview with her by Susan Smith Nash. Author photo by Michael Hoover.


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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Cat Thursday - Cats in Art (11)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

First, I'd like to thank everyone who voted for Arya and for the well wishes on her success. She is excited (yeah, right!). Remember, you can still vote every day until June 3 (Sorry...U.S. only). VOTE HERE

And's this month's cat art gallery. Enjoy!

1824-28 Henry Heath (English Illustrator, fl 1824-1828)  Miss Ann Thropy

1874 Edward Lamson Henry (American artist, 1841-1913)

1938 Sandra Bierman (American artist)

Which is your favorite? I'm kind of partial to the first one, although the kitty in the last one is darn cute. =O)

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Friday, May 22, 2015

HFVBT: Alison McMahan's The Saffron Crocus - Book Review

My thoughts
When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I really wanted to read it. Plus, the cover is gorgeous and intriguing. The Saffron Crocus is a first rate work of historical fiction adding in elements of historical mystery and romance. It's a sweet romance, not at all off-putting. And the mystery really kept me guessing until almost the very end.

The author did an excellent job of describing the sights and sounds of Venice. And the characters are vividly drawn, especially Isabella. I love strong, young protagonists because I think it's empowering for young girls to read about characters like this. This being a young adult novel, it's the perfect piece to inspire young readers.

As stated, this novel is considered young adult, but it is an enjoyable read for adults as well. I found myself thoroughly entertained while reading the entire book. I will look for more of this author's works in the future.

About the book
Publication Date: December 13, 2014
Black Opal Books
eBook; 306p
Genre: Young Adult/Historical Mystery/Romance

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Winner of the 2014 Rosemary Award for Best Historical for Young Adults.
Venice, 1643. Isabella, fifteen, longs to sing in Monteverdi’s Choir, but only boys (and castrati) can do that. Her singing teacher, Margherita, introduces her to a new wonder: opera! Then Isabella finds Margherita murdered. Now people keep trying to kill Margherita’s handsome rogue of a son, Rafaele.

Was Margherita killed so someone could steal her saffron business? Or was it a disgruntled lover, as Margherita—unbeknownst to Isabella—was one of Venice’s wealthiest courtesans?

Or will Isabella and Rafaele find the answer deep in Margherita’s past, buried in the Jewish Ghetto?

Isabella has to solve the mystery of the Saffron Crocus before Rafaele hangs for a murder he didn’t commit, though she fears the truth will drive her and the man she loves irrevocably apart.


Who knew a singing career would be this much trouble?

“Rafaele!” She flew into the garret. “Piero, it was so wonderful, wait until I tell you!”

The stool next to the bed was knocked over. The tray with the genepy bottle was on the floor, one of the cups broken. The fat candle that had been burning next to Rafaele’s bed had been flung to the other side of the room.. Canvases were strewn all over the floor, some of them slashed, and many of Master Strozzi’s jars of paint elements were broken.

Did Piero and Rafaele have a fight? She quickly suppressed the thought. Who would get into a fight with a man who was already injured?

Something else must have happened.

She walked across the garret. “Piero? Rafaele, are you here?”

Rafaele was not in the bed. The sheets and blankets she had piled on top of him were strewn everywher. Blood-stained sheets spilled over the edge of the pallet. There was a pile of clothes on the floor.

She walked around to get a closer look.

Not clothes. It was Piero. Face down, one arm stretched out before him, as if in supplication.

A puddle of blood under him.


Praise for The Saffron Crocus
“I adored this beautifully written, passionate book. The Saffron Crocus is a glittering, thrilling opera of a novel that plucked my heartstrings and kept me reading at fever pitch. Brava, Alison McMahan! Encore!” -Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Wicked Saga

Buy the eBook

About the Author
Alison McMahan chased footage for her documentaries through jungles in Honduras and Cambodia, favelas in Brazil and racetracks in the U.S. She brings the same sense of adventure to her award-winning books of historical mystery and romantic adventure for teens and adults. Her latest publication is The Saffron Crocus, a historical mystery for young. Murder, Mystery & Music in 17th Century Venice.

She loves hearing from readers!

Author Links

Tour Schedule:
Hashtags: #TheSaffronCrocusBookBlast #TheSaffronCrocusBlogTour #YA #Historical #Venice
Twitter Tags: @hfvbt @AlisonMcMahan

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cat Thursday - Arya is a star!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

So, first off...guess what? Arya is a week 5 finalist in the 1-800-PetMeds Calling All Pets Contest! I hope you will vote for her. You can vote once each day up until June 3rd and one voter will even win a TV! Here's where you can vote. Look for her in Week 5, look for the pic below. I appreciate your votes. :) Wish her luck!

And now I share with you some winning cats...


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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Announcing The Mega Perpetual Challenge Read-a-Long!

I'm almost as excited as Tom Hiddleston!

In order to increase interaction and participation within four of the perpetual reading challenges I host, I've decided to host this MEGA read-a-long event. Although this event was designed around the four respective reading challenges, you do not have to sign up for any of them to join in on the read-a-longs (although I would welcome anyone to sign up).

The hub for the entire event will be here at The True Book Addict, but the individual read-a-longs will be hosted at their respective blogs (I will list those below) and The Fantasy Project read-a-long will be dually hosted at its blog and at its Goodreads group. As the hub for the event, I will create a page listing all the reading schedules and links to the blogs which can be accessed in the menu bar at the top of the blog.

Here is the awesome button I created for the event:

grab button for The True Book Addict
<div class="the-true-book-addict-button" style="width: 350px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"> <img src="" alt="The True Book Addict" width="350" height="206" /> </a> </div>

So, here is the schedule of read-a-longs and their respective blog urls:

June 2015: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - hosted at Goodreads group and at

July/August 2015: The Covenant by James A. Michener - hosted at

September 2015: The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice - hosted at

October 2015: Salem's Lot by Stephen King - hosted at

Stay tuned. I will be posting the read-a-long schedules in the menu page up top in a few days.

I hope you will join me for one, or all, of the read-a-longs!


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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cat Thursday: Authors and Cats (43) - Author Shaun Mullen and his Rescue Cats

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I have a very special Authors and Cats post for you this month. Several months back, I was contacted by an author to feature one of his books at my historical fiction site, Historical Fiction Connection. In the process of our correspondence, he mentioned my being a cat person and told me that he has four rescue cats. One of them, named Django, was abandoned by his mother at four weeks and rescued just as a red-tailed hawk was about to carry him off for dinner. Of course, I always love talking to fellow cat people and I asked him if I could feature him on a Authors and Cats Cat Thursday. Of course, he agreed! He wrote something up about his cat rescue story and sent along pics of his little darlings. And so, introducing Shaun Mullen and his cats!

I have been compared to novelist Ernest Hemingway by more than a few people because of my writing style — spare but rich prose — and my visage — full beard and bald head. But there is a third similarity: A mutual love of rescue cats.

The first of many rescues that I, and later my love and I, have had over the years was Terrapin, a six-week-old-or-so descendent of cats 
at the Ernest Hemingway House in Key West. Papa, as Hemingway was called by family and friends, had included a provision in his will that the cats living on the grounds of the big house on Whitehead Street were to be cared for in perpetuity. He had said nothing about their not being adopted.

Terrapin, a slightly cross-eyed ball of black and white fluff, was polydactyl as a result of interbreeding. He had six toes on one front paw, five on the other and the usual four on each of his back paws.

Fast forward 40 years to our mountain retreat and our four current rescues, all males as it turns out, who share our house and mountainside grounds with brother-sister chocolate Labradors, who also are rescues. Everyone gets along just fine.

The oldest of the cats at age 13 is Kimba. While he is a hunk and a half in the looks department and has one blue and one green eye, he is a few whiskers short of a full meow probably owing to his having been malnourished in utero and his feral existence as a kitty. He’s great at climbing up trees but hopeless when it comes to getting back down.

Next comes Iggie, who as a kitten was found cowering next to a religious statue in a friend’s yard. Now age 6, Iggie is one of the two most intelligent cats we’ve ever known. Slightly cross-eyed, he spends hours staring at the ceiling; it was only recently that we deduced that he wasn’t spacing out but working on Foucault’s Last Theorem.

Mr. Taj had been abandoned at age 2, or so, and somehow had survived most of a brutally cold winter when we lured him into a Havahart trap. Now age 5, it has taken him years to build up trust in people. He is built like a linebacker, but has the most delicate meow, is deceptively quick and an excellent mouser.

Django will turn 2 this summer. He had been abandoned by his mother and at age 5 weeks or so, had lost about a third of his tail and was hawk bait; indeed, the day we trapped him in a briefcase there were two red-tails circling overhead. He is a great leaper and easily clears two sleeping dogs from a standing start.


We we have a tried-and-true way to avoid many of the hassles of acclimating a (terrified) new rescue cat.

We put a newbie in our downstairs powder room with a screen door to keep it in, or alternately a big dog cage with little Django. They stay under house arrest for as long as necessary — about a month on average — and during that time become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells of the house and have plenty of quality sniffing (and hissing) time in getting used to the other critters.

When they’re ready to be released, they fit right in.

Shaun Mullen is the author of There's A House in the Land. He says this about the book:

As a career journalist of the old school, I had long resisted writing about my own life on a farm beyond the far western suburbs of Philadelphia in the 1970s, but people kept telling me that those years on the farm would make for a very special book. They were right.

There’s A House In The Land (Where A Band Can Take A Stand)” fell into place when I decided to write about the farm from an historical fiction perspective.

Writing about my decade on the farm through the lens of historic fiction let me do a couple of things: A few of my housemates had not survived the decade, but most were alive and I wanted to protect their identities, so names of people and places were changed. And I rearranged some events from their sometime chronological inconvenience to my writerly convenience to give the book a better and more dramatic flow.

Another problem remained. Our adventures aside, there was a profundity to our time together, the lessons we took away and how they have shaped our lives since. I did not want to write a fictionalized memoir that would come off sounding like a rural version of the movie “Animal House.” In this I succeeded, at least according to reviewers.

About Shaun
Shaun D. Mullen is an award-winning journalist and more recently an author.

Over a long career with newspapers, this editor and reporter covered the Vietnam War, O.J. Simpson trials, Clinton impeachment circus and coming of Osama bin Laden, among many other big stories. His work was nominated for five Pulitzer Prizes. Mullen also mentored reporters who went on to be the best in the newspaper and television business, including several who won Pulitzer Prizes.

He is the author of "The Bottom of the Fox: A True Story of Love, Devotion & Cold-Blooded Murder," a 2010 true-crime book about an unsolved murder in the Pennsylvania Poconos that recently has seen a surge in sales because of the manhunt for Eric Frein, who was captured after a 48-day manhunt and is charged with murdering a Pennsylvania state trooper. In August, he published "There's A House In The Land,” an historical fiction tale of the 1970s.

“Kiko’s House” is Mullen’s blog about political and cultural affairs. He also is a guest columnist at “The Moderate Voice.”

Much of Mullen's work is archived in the Shaun D. Mullen Journalism Papers in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library.

Author Website
Buy the book on Amazon

You can enter to win a copy of There's A House in the Land here. There's still TWO WEEKS to enter! (Click the know you want to *wink*)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spotlight on Jennifer Bort Yacovissi's Up the Hill to Home {Giveaway}

Genre & Subject:                                                     Historical Fiction                                                                       
Demographic:                                                          Adults, Women, Catholics
Release Date:                                                           April 28, 2015
Publisher:                                                                  Apprentice House Press / Loyola University Maryland
Publisher Phone:                                                      410-617-5265                                                                                 
Distributor:                                                                Ingram                                                                                        
Hardcover ISBN:                                                    9781627200394
Paperback ISBN:                                                    9781627200561
Ebook ISBN:                                                            9781627200400

Prices:                                                                        $35.99 (h), $19.99 (p), $5.99 (e)

Author URL:                                                  

Publicist:                                                                    Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist -
Pages:                                                                        477

Images:                                                                     None

Index:                                                                        No

Bibliography:                                                           No

Bindery:                                                                    Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook

Family. Home. Memories. Lillie Voith holds these values most dear.

When the cherished daughter, wife, and mother of nine is bedridden after a fall, her memories tug at threads woven through a century, as the fabric of her family frays around her.

“A living portrait of a loving family”, Up The Hill sketches four generations of the Miller/Beck/Voith clan from pre-Civil War to Depression era Washington DC.

Buy the book

About the author
Jenny Yacovissi grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, just a bit farther up the hill from Washington, D.C. Her debut novel, Up the Hill to Home, is a fictionalized account of her mother's family in the same region. 

In addition to writing historical and contemporary literary fiction, Jenny is a reviewer for Washington Independent Review of Books and Historical Novel Society. She owns a small project management and engineering consulting firm, and enjoys gardening and being on the water. Jenny lives with her husband Jim in Crownsville, Maryland. 

To learn more about the families in Up the Hill to Home and see photos and artifacts from their lives, visit 


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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Cat Thursday - Cats Being Jerks

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats! (share your post in the Mr. Linky below)

I seriously have not laughed so hard in a long time. Cats Are The Biggest Jerks was the title of the post on FailBlog (over at that this video was posted on a few days ago. I would have to agree. Case in point: Today, Alice and Arya were in the kitchen and Arya tried to play with Alice. Well, Miss Alice was having none of it. She hissed and snooted that nose up. So I said to Arya, "Get her." You know how you do. I always say that to them when they're playing. Well, Alice got mad at me when I said that and hissed and then hissed again when she walked by me. I know she was hissing at me because Arya was way across the room. What a B. lol  I still love her, of course. We cat parents know how cats are and still love them, despite their jerk-y tendencies. It can be a trial sometimes though. haha. Okay, here's the video. Hilarious! (P.S. About 3:35 minutes in, the woman on the couch talking about getting rid of her cat and he keeps attacking her...I had a cat like that once. He literally tore up my arm. I had to give him back to the previous owner because my sons were very young and I was afraid he would attack them).

More slightly jerk-y moments...

These last two are my favorites. :)

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