Book Review: And We Call It Love by Amanda Vink

andwecallitlove

Release Date: June 1, 2019

Pre-Order on Amazon

Price: $19.95

Publisher: West 44 Books

Plot Summary:

Clare and Zari are best friends. They write music together, go everywhere together, and they know everything about the other. At least they did before Zari started dating Dion. The more Zari falls for Dion, the less she has time for anything else. At first, Clare chalks it up to a new and exciting relationship, and she tries to be happy for her friend despite her loneliness. When Zari starts to show up to school with half-hidden bruises, Clare knows there’s something darker about this relationship that has to be stopped.

Grade: C –

Review:

I usually love poetry and verse, however, this book just didn’t hit the mark for me. I think my biggest issue with it, despite the fact that it was written as poetic verse, was that the writing just wasn’t that poetic. I was expecting more lyrical writing with this type of writing format. Sadly, this wasn’t the case. Another issue that I had with this book is that it was told in alternating perspectives, and I usually love the dual points of views, however, the way it was written, there was no clear definition between who was Clare or who was Zari. So it made it a little confusing to keep up with the plot because of that.

It saddens me that the execution of the story wasn’t done well because the book explored some very important topics like friendship, self-discovery, and abusive relationships. And I think those are some compelling topics for teens to read about if done well. The characters in this book weren’t very well-developed and this book just fell short.

As a writer, I honestly despise being too critical when it comes to debut authors so I won’t delve too much on the negatives. Also, since I’m not the intended audience, the writing may not resonate with me so much, however, middle-grade readers or tweens may find this books interesting.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and West 44 Books for the digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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Poetry: Mephistopheles with Scabbed Wings

darkangel

It was a blue February night

When I first stumbled in your dream.

I felt awkward swaying to your song

As you pulled off my bruised wings.

You were as persuasive as Mephistopheles,

Digging your nail in the pit of my heart.

But I wanted you to plunge into my heart

Where you could hide your ethereal song,

So that I could become your dream

And would no longer need my wings

To soar into you every night,

Like a devious Mephistopheles.

I’ve been yearning to hear your song

Because it makes the blue night

Seem less long, as I dream

Of a raging Mephistopheles,

Who craves to clip my wings

And shatter my bloody heart.

Recently I feel that the night

Passes by slowly, as I lick my wings

Alone. Because Stupidbitch has now become your song.

I now invade you in your dream.

I’m like a horny Mephistopheles

Who wants to fuck your heart.

I know you feel invulnerable when you dream

Because it’s the only place where you can break my wings.

For I’ve got an asphalt heart

Gained from a previous lover with a tainted song

Who used to beat his pain into me every night

Until I began to perceive him as Mephistopheles.

Yes, I know that I’m your dream

But I’m afraid that you’ll want to chew my wings.

You love the taste of the jasmine night

Found within their enchanted song.

You need to run before your heart

Gets devoured by Mephistopheles.

I should’ve confessed in your dream that night

That your song cannot burn my wings

Because I am Mephistopheles ready to claw my way into your heart.

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Short Story: Errors of Grievance

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“I warned you!”

The old priestess pounded a weathered fist on the small dining table, her dingy blouse falling off of a dark, bony shoulder. “But you know more than Miss Beaulieu, eh?”
Across the small table, Momma dried a rivulet of shame from her cheek.
“I didn’t mean no harm,” her voice quivered. “I swear.”
From her cold, moonlight-washed perch atop the old bayou house, Adelaide shifted her attention to the agitated women below. Rolling her skinny frame onto her belly, she shivered under her thread-bear dress, setting her little doll beside her. He balanced on his round torso, head draped in a dry tangle of Spanish moss. Yellow lamplight sliced across his black button eyes and together they peered through a crack near the chimney overlooking the kitchen.
“I never took it out the house.” Momma insisted. “Someone done stole it.”
Miss Beaulieu planted a hand on her hip and took a long draw on a short cigar.
“Who done the spell? That jinx, Laronde?” Syllables of dark smoke puffed out of her mouth. Momma stroked her arm and looked away.
“Stupid girl.” Beaded bracelets criticized and chided on Miss Beaulieu’s thin wrist. “His bad voodoo gon’ come back to him and everyone he cast for.”
“You’ve cast for love before.” Momma’s eyes pleaded.
Miss Beaulieu jabbed a finger. “You know this ain’t the same.”
Adelaide’s heart ached. She didn’t like seeing Momma so upset, but she also didn’t like being only one in the house when Momma fell into one of her dark moods. So when her brothers escaped to the river to hunt gators, Adelaide took refuge on the rooftop. In a cigar box, tucked under a missing brick in the chimney top, was her trove of knick-knacks. Her new doll, dressed in cotton pants and a burlap overcoat, was her most valuable addition. It was bad to spoil surprises but Adelaide knew Momma had made this Christmas doll just for her.
“‘Sides,” Miss Beaulieu paced, “he got himself a faithful wife and a good job in Baton Rouge. You think all the Magick in the world gon’ make that man wanna leave that to take up wit’ you out here? Wit’ your five kids?”
Adelaide gave the little man a kiss to ease his troubled expression, the scent of cloves and musk wafting up from the crude stitching down his chest. She would replace him in his hiding spot under the floorboard tomorrow.
“Can you make him a gris-gris bag for protection?” Momma wiped her apron across her cheeks. “In case something happen to the doll?”
Adelaide froze.
“A good Christian like him won’t be caught dead with a necklace full of chicken’s feet and dove’s blood.”
Adelaide’s eyes fell upon the little man beside her. Dried grass protruded out of his stiff arms and legs. He suddenly appeared feeble and indisposed, like a paralyzed prisoner.
“Ain’t no spell on your lover can be reversed without that doll.” Miss Beaulieu dropped a large dollop of ash onto the floor. “Only the One Most High can help him if something happens to it.”
Nausea swallowed up Adelaide like the cold, wet mouth of a whale.
Miss Beaulieu leaned in. “Who you think done stole it?”
“Adelaide?”
Below, Adelaide’s brothers eased their rowboat up to the, rotting, crooked pier. The eldest, Francois, shielded his eyes from the bow lantern to see her better.
“Why you up there?”
Flushed from hiding, Adelaide leapt to her frozen bare feet, accidentally kicking her treasures down the slanted roof. The doll bounced over the ledge. Vertigo struck her numb. Her footing slipped and she tumbled down the sharp slats.
“Adelaide!” Francois’s voice broke as her footing slipped.
A screech leapt from her throat before she plunged into the river. Frigid water hit like glass on her stomach. It rushed up her nose, burning the brain lobes behind her eyes. Sound muted, heavy and low in her ears. Her mind jolted with panic. Adelaide’s eyes popped open but there was no light. Her heart pounded. Only the flash of a brass shoe buckle glittered as it somersaulted down into the watery shadows. She grasped but only caught emptiness. Lungs aching for air, she pulled her way up through the cold void and burst to the surface.
“Sweet Jesus!”
“Grab her!”
“The doll! The do—!” A wave of river water sloshed into Adelaide’s mouth.
“Adelaide, stop! Settle down!”
“No, no, no!” she cried. Strong hands gripped under her arms and slid her into the tiny boat. Violent coughs rattled her little bones. She gagged from a bellyful of the Mississippi and tried to writhe free a final time.
“I…I…didn’t know!” Adelaide sobbed. Warm arms wrapped around her and pinned her to the seat of the small wooden rowboat. “Momma, I didn’t know!”
“Adelaide?” Momma’s voice carried from the house.
“Settle yourself, girl.” Francois held her firm. “What are you carryin’ on about?”
Adelaide’s eyes darted beyond the bucking bow, searching for the voodoo, but it had sunk all the way to the bottom of the bayou.

By: Erica Ruhe

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Poetry: Mourning Glorie

bed

Photo courtesy of parisapartment.wordpress.com

These frigid sheets mourn your soul.

This barren bed cries your name.

There’s nothing left of you in me.

You tore every particle that belonged

To you away.

This pale white pillow misses the weight of your head.

These useless rose petals wait to fall upon you.

Loneliness wraps its icy claws around me.

Devouring me without mercy.

You’re no longer here to cling to.

You’re no longer here to move closer to.

This bed never seemed so vast—so endless—

Without you—it’s infinite.

I hide beneath the covers but still no warmth I feel.

This room is in eternal winter

Ever since you left.

These fragile sheets yearn for your body.

This immense bed bleeds your essence.

I’m waiting here for you.

I shall always remain here—

Waiting for your return.

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7 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block

beautiful journalist looks typewriter

Photo courtesy of http://araugustyn.com

It happens to the best of us. If you’re a writer, you’ve at some point dealt with the dreaded Writer’s Block. Every writer has struggled with this at some time in their lives, but there are methods of overcoming this dreaded obstacle rather than wallowing in self-pity and allowing months turn into years and finding yourself even more in the tunnel of no return than before. So don’t be that writer. Below are some suggestions on how to push through the block and be one with the muses once again.

  1. Read poetry. – This can put you in a certain mood and allows the creative juices to flow.
  2. Go for a walk. – Even if you’re just going around the block with your dog, sometimes the movement and being out in the open air allows our brain to refocus.
  3. Play a game. – Not a video game that can suck up eight hours of your life without noticing, but a true hands on game, whether it’s a round of cards with friends, a board game, or chess, sometimes doing a different activity other than writing will help your thoughts regenerate.
  4. Paint or draw. – I personally love to draw using charcoals. Sometimes when your brain is doing something creative in a fun setting (you’re not agonizing to be the next Picasso) you find that it opens up the doors of your writing brain too.
  5. Listen to music. – If you wish to be in a certain mood to help create the setting and atmosphere of a story, then I listen to music and many times just listening gives me ideas for prose. Jot those ideas down.
  6. Keep a dream journal. – I know this seems so cliché, but it works! When I first started writing my YA novel CUT HERE, I began with Lena’s backstory of how she had lost her mum. That backstory was inspired by a nightmare I had in the summer of 2008 when I dreamt of seeing a fur coat splattered with blood and later seeing a book entitled CUT HERE. I wrote that odd dream down and didn’t use that idea till the winter of 2011 when I began writing the novel, so what may seem like an irrelevant dream or idea now, could be useful later on! You never know!
  7. Write pitch ideas down. – You may end up not using them at all, but thinking up plot pitches for a book may just get you out of the writing funk and excited about a new project!
wb2

Photo courtesy of www.bang2write.com

Whatever you do, just remember that NOT WRITING isn’t a solution to overcoming Writer’s Block! You need to be proactive and willing to put the effort to get out of the tunnel rather than wait for the muses to come and rescue you from writer’s hell. So after doing any of the suggestions above, just write. Whether it’s about the activity, your day, or writing ideas, just write. Because the only way to truly overcome Writer’s Block is to start writing. You can do it!

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Poetry: Broken Doll

broken doll

Love has treated me
Like a toddler treats
Its toy.
That’s why my hair is tangled
and my limbs are broken.

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Upcoming Books: Betty Bites Back – Horror Stories for Young Feminists

bettybites

I’m thrilled to announce that my short story, GOOD SISTER, BAD SISTER is going to be included in the upcoming anthology Betty Bites Back – Horror Stories for Young Feminists (coming out October 2019). This anthology is put together by award-winning badass authors, Demitria Lunetta, Mindy McGinnis, and Kate Karyus Quinn.

Here’s a little teaser of what my story is about:

GOOD SISTER, BAD SISTER by Azzurra Nox

Puberty comes with many changes, but after being bitten by a mysterious animal in the forest, Dilay finds out that some changes may just give her a certain edge she didn’t have before.

Until then, support me and the amazing authors that are going to be included in this awesome anthology by stopping by the Kickstarter Page for it (even if you can’t contribute monetarily, forward the link on your social media so we can spread the word!).

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Hiking – Purisima Creek Redwoods Reserve

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It had been years since I had been hiking, but I knew that if I found myself again in Northern California, I just had to see the famous redwoods. My boyfriend and I chose to hike up the Purisima Creek trail, since it was the closest to where we were at at Half Moon Bay.

Driving to the location proved to be a feat in itself, as we went up spiraling roads that looked incredibly sketchy at best (think slasher horror movie vibes), but once we arrived at our destination, we were awe-struck by the beauty of the forest.

The Purisima Creek Redwoods are located on the western slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains. The trail was filled with coastal redwoods, creeks, ferns, berries, and some seriously large crows.

Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to hiking, so I embarked the hike wearing jeans, a vampire tee, and Doc Martens. What? That’s not the appropriate attire you say? I guess I figured with the gorgeous trees surrounding us that resembled the sort in Twilight, that maybe Edward Cullen would pay us a visit in all of his glittery glory.

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For not being expert hikers (can you believe that we managed to forget to bring water along with us?), we walked the eight mile hike (roundtrip miles) that had slight inclinations and numerous bridge crossings.

One thing that I was very astonished about, was that I didn’t encounter any insects whilst hiking (usually my avoidance of bugs is one of the top reasons why you’ll rarely see me hiking). But I really enjoyed seeing the incredibly beautiful redwoods, and would truly recommend anyone who happens to be in the area to check the out! Not to mention that the trails are so very populated with other fellow hikers that meeting new people was the easiest thing to do!

I enjoyed this hike so much, that I may check out another trail in my near future.

Suggested Pack List:

  • Hiking boots (although my Doc Martens worked out just fine, thankyouverymuch)
  • Backpack (makes it easier to carry anything you need and keeps your hands free)
  • Camera (so you can share all your gorgeous pix with your friends & family!)
  • Water (a must! But we forgot!)
  • Sunglasses/hats (I forgot a hat & sunburned my scalp, yelp!)
  • Sunscreen (if you’re ghostly white like me, you’ll burn even in the shade so don’t forget it!)

Which hiking trails have you done, and which ones would you suggest me to do?

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Travel Post – London (Part 1)

1. London Eye

London Eye

As the train pulled out of Rotterdam Centraal Station, I couldn’t calm the butterflies in my stomach. My next destination was London. London! I’d navigated my way through The Netherlands, but London? As excited as I was to finally meet the city I’d romanticized about my entire life, it was overwhelming. It was like wishing to meet your favorite celebrity and seizing up with terror at the actual opportunity. Plus, London is huge. I didn’t grow up in the country but I am no city girl. My upbringing was that of a vagabond military brat. The majority of my community life revolved around military bases and surrounding towns, which is to say, I mostly landed in comfortable populations well below the quarter million mark. Savannah, Georgia was about as close to a big city I’ve ever lived: roughly 150K. Did I really have the courage to wander such a behemoth of a city of over eight million people?
The butterflies were still aflutter with anticipation when I stepped off at the Brussels-Midi/Zuid Station in Belgium but, little by little, the fear was giving way to excitement. Making my way to the Eurostar terminal, I went through another security checkpoint and waited with passport in hand for the next available customs officer.
“Remove your hat. What’s the purpose of your visit?” he asked, with an intensity I’d only experienced from a military gate guard under a high-security alert. I slid my beanie off my head and smiled at his dreamy English accent.
“Vacation.”
“And how long will you be staying?” he continued, giving my near-empty passport a thorough inspection.
“Two days. Not long enough to see everything but I’m going to try!” I gave a little laugh, practically bouncing on my toes. (I’m actually annoying myself as I recall the encounter.)
His eyes flicked unceremoniously over my face. Yeah, I know my picture is fifteen pounds lighter but it’s me.
“Where will you be staying then?”
“A bed and breakfast. The Luna-Simone on Belgrave Rd.”
I was ready to rattle off the address, phone number, and reservation confirmation code.
“A bed and breakfast, eh?”
His expression remained hard but his tone had suddenly taken on a wistful tone. He pounded a stamp on a page and slapped my passport back onto the counter. He sighed.
“Sounds nice. Enjoy your stay.”
Poor guy. Customs officers are not in the customer service business. They’re not supposed to be friendly. They’re in the I-have-to-be-suspicious-of-you-in-order-to-do-my-job-well business. And to top it off, a large portion of the people he waves through are all going to or from holiday. Meanwhile, he’s stuck indoors, in a glass cube, under life-sucking fluorescent lighting. I hope he gets his own stay in a B&B soon.
Riding the Eurostar was one of the highlights I’d booked on this trip. I know, I’m a bit of a nerd. High-speed railway is another one of those big city novelties that I’m sure loses its shine after the ninety-second time you’ve traveled on it. But this was my first. It was smoother than I had imagined it would be. And quiet! Extra large windows allowed for scenic views and ample opportunity to play with the motion parallax of the landscape; admiring the slow promenade of buildings and roadways in the distance; trying to catch a clear glimpse of blurred blades of grass below; becoming quickly disoriented and training sight to the pale blue sky. A digital ticker over the train car doors kept a tally of our speed, edging upwards of 290 kph (about 180 mph).
We dove under the English Channel and when we emerged again, it was a sparkling, sunny, winter wonderland. Snow caked the hills and frosted the bare trees. The kids a few rows ahead even set aside their video games to ‘whoa’ over the landscape. The snowfall was a precursor to the pending “beast from the east” winter storm that would hit in the coming days, dumping more snow and serious travel delays all across the UK. But when you don’t have a job to be at or kids to juggle because of canceled school everything about an on-coming blizzard becomes charming and magical.
Even with a slow-down due to icy tracks, the trip to St. Pancras took just under two hours. I emerged from the bustling, cavernous train station and out into the stream of people. The walkways had been shoveled clear of snow but that made no difference walking through the half-melted slush that squelched around my sneakers. Damn you, sensible, middle-aged self! Boots would really have been the proper footwear now! I walked the three and a half miles from the train station to the hotel, reveling in the atmosphere. Business folk dressed for executive meetings walked with a pep and purpose in their step. Some tourists took in the skyline around them, looking to street signs and generally clogging the flow of foot traffic. Even mothers with their small children in tow made for their destinations like they had executive meetings of their own.

2. Locals Chilling

Locals Chilling

On my way, I encountered a couple of locals chilling on a table outside a local bakery. Two snowmen, one dressed in a snappy scarf and hat, enjoying what appeared to be a fine, miniature cigar, and the other…well, he was stark naked with a blank expression. I’m sure there’s a funny story there. It certainly gave me a little laugh. Even the employees inside were getting a kick out of watching people stop and take pictures of the winter art installation that had popped up outside their business.
I continued on. Black cabs rushed past on the wrong – uh, opposite side of the road. I was hyper-aware of the fact that the American elementary school proverb “look left, then right, then left again” was a liability here. At every walkway intersection in bold white letters on the asphalt were the words, “LOOK RIGHT”. If my sneakers didn’t immediately give me away as an American tourist, muttering this mantra to myself at every crosswalk surely did.
The Luna-Simone Hotel was just on the outskirts of Westminster, a short walk to Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, and Kensington Park. Most importantly it was a ten-minute walk to Victoria Station where I’d catch the shuttle to the London-Gatwick Airport.

Convenient, clean and tucked into a relatively quiet street, this B&B also came to feel like home in the mere two days I spent there. Some travelers might like a more spacious suite than where I stayed. The bathroom was small with just enough room for everything you need and the room is filled out with a queen bed, a small wardrobe, and a desk. There’s enough space to comfortably walk the perimeter of the room but not much else. For me, however, it was absolutely perfect. I’ve been on a mission to downsize my life and belongings so snagging a cozy, clean room such as this one for a reasonable price was exactly what I was looking for. I plan on returning and would recommend it to anyone interested in staying close to the sights without spending an arm and a leg.
https://www.lunasimonehotel.com/info/
With just enough daylight left to explore options for dinner, I found the perfect spot for amazing pad thai and people watching: Rosa’s Thai Café. This sweet eatery is right on the corner of Gilligham Street and Wilton Road, large windows overlooking the city street. Over hot jasmine tea and spring rolls, I watched business professionals, families and college students stroll by. Everyone seemed just as enamored of the cold snap as I was, dressed in their most fashionable coats, gloves, beanies, fur-lined hoods, and (sigh) boots. The vegetable pad thai arrived on my table in a swirling veil of sweet-savory steam. I clicked my bamboo chopsticks with glee and for the next forty-five minutes, nothing else existed except my dinner and the stage full of people passing just outside my window.
https://www.rosasthaicafe.com/

 

3. Rosa's Thai Cafe

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

Particularly entertaining were the antics of one little girl in a pink parka and her mother waiting at the street corner. The mother was engrossed with her phone and the three-year-old was engrossed with something other than holding her mother’s hand. The girl pulled, her mother absently following the tug on her arm until realizing she was being led off course and rerouting them back to the street corner. The spunky adventurer in pink tried a different tactic, successfully squatting down until she slipped from her mother’s grasp, sprinting down the sidewalk after who-knows-what. It only took two seconds for the mother to realize she had an escapee, dart after her daughter and herd her back. This went on for about ten minutes the whole time the mother never losing patience and the grinning daughter never losing determination. I wonder what bedtime looked like in their household.
On my way back to the hotel, I rubbed my belly through my jacket pockets, a satisfied sigh clouding up in the cold air. At the end of the street, I ran into a familiar face: the dapper snowman from the bakery. Evidently, he had given his hat away to his naked snow-mate out of pity and decided to retire to the local flower bed for the night.
I could live this kind of life very easily. Travel to new countries. Eat incredible food. Let the inspiration for stories and characters flood in at me from every angle. This was my first taste of the city, and it was invigorating.
Back in my room, settling in under the warm bed covers to shamelessly watch an episode of the local soap opera, EastEnders, the anxiety from that morning couldn’t have been further from my mind. The years of longing to travel across the pond came flooding back. I was really here and my beloved London awaited.

4. Retiring to Flower Bed

Retiring to Flower Bed 

Keep your eyes peeled for PART 2!

By: Erica Ruhe

Poetry: A Haiku for all the Boys I’ve Kissed

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1.
You taste of ashen
smoke. I swallowed bright colored
pills. You were danger.

2.
The snow kissed my hair
You kissed my lips, magically
winter melted, now.

3.
You deserve more
than seventeen syllables
my beautiful love.

4.
In a dressing room
You stole a kiss, tore my
dress, and forgot her.

5.
Before you kissed my
lips, you kissed my nose, and I
fell for you so hard.

6.
Drowning in your lust,
The rain clung to my hair like
your skin clung to mine.

7.
He murmured, “Your bloke
is wrong. All you ever needed
is a man like me.”

8.
Your kiss was deadly,
oxygen escaped like a
thief, in the cold night.

9.
Fire, you burned me through
until there was nothing left
But naked white bones.

10.
Dressed as a doting
nurse, I pushed you against the
wall and claimed you as mine.

11.
Berlin is icy
on my bare limbs, please don’t let
go. I just want you.

12.
A cozy hotel
is where I dropped my dress, and
my bestfriend title.

13.
Give back my records,
Your calloused fingers tugged my
hair, the night sparked flames.

14.
You used to hate me.
But your tongue worshiped every
part of me, for days.

15.
We passed each other,
Pulled me in a soft embrace.
It cut me in two.

16.
Music, two a.m.
You so young, and I so wise.
I stole your CDs.

17.
Your music captured
me. I stumbled into you
and inhaled the stars.

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