Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – Miriam Hurdle, Jessica Norrie, Cynthia Reyes and Gwendolyn Plano

The first book today to receive a recent review is Miriam Hurdle for her collection Songs of the Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude

About  Songs of Heartstrings

Human being has the willpower to travel through an exhausting journey, win a tough battle, and heal a deep wound. Strength from hope keeps us going until the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and striving until the storm is over.

This poetic memoir comprises themes ranging from the suffering through an undesirable relationship, surviving an aggressive cancer, to the happiness in true love, the joy of parenthood, and gratefulness toward the Maker. Hurdle reveals the honest self-talk and reflects a heart filled with optimism, faith and trust. She illustrates the poems with her beautiful photos and paintings.

A recent review for the collection on Goodreads

Sep 14, 2019 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Songs of Heartstrings: Poems of Gratitude and Beatitude is the first book of poems I’ve read by Miriam Hurdle. This collection was published in 2018 after the poet found hope through the many lessons she’d experienced in the previous years of her life. Nature inspired her, pushed her to conquer all the obstacles thrown in her path. Though not a frequent reader in this genre, I do review these works a few times each year, as I studied poetry in college and find myself interested in reading it on occasion. I am glad I chose this one and encourage others to give the author a chance too.

The collection is organized in a few manners: by type of poem and by category. In fact, to me, some were mini stories and not necessarily a poem. That said, the author clearly shows us that poetry comes in all forms. It’s not just about rhyming or repetition. Nature is the first focus, aptly titled Songs of Nature. I feel like Ms. Hurdle wrote her poems while sitting in nature, witnessing the great beauty of animals, insects, weather, trees, and other naturalistic parts of our world. Frequent photographs, some the author took herself, accompany the sections, showing us the inspiration of what led to the poem.

Rooted with some religious beliefs, the author connects with God to openly ask for help and thank the Creator for all that she’s been given. There is raw pain and innate fear in the words, but there is also hope and promise. At just the right moments, Ms. Hurdles takes a swift turn to share something more light and funny, almost poking a bit of amusement at something that tickles her in nature. It fits, almost matching the surprises in store for all of us throughout the day.

One of my favorites, A Tiny Spider, is simple but deep:

A tiny spider labors
every night to
spin his web in
perfect symmetry.
What an innate architect is he!
patiently watches for
his prey to volunteer.
Meal for the night and
reward for the
labor and wait.
Before dawn, down
his trap and hides away.
When the night is nigh
he starts his day.
Spins his web
again, again.
Again!

Covering other basic human emotions and complex dreams, we experience dissonance, physical healing, marriage, parenthood, tribute, reflection, challenge, and inspiration. I personally enjoyed the conversations with her parents, learning about how she connected with them from two continents so far apart. Kudos to the author for a wonderful opportunity to express herself and wade through the pain and sacrifice we encounter in life, only to find the ray of light through words and expressions. 4.5 stars for the full collection.

Read the reviews and buy the collection: https://www.amazon.com/Songs-Heartstrings-Poems-Gratitude-Beatitude-ebook/dp/B07K1S47W9

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Songs-Heartstrings-Poems-Gratitude-Beatitude-ebook/dp/B07K1S47W9

Read reviews and follow Miriam on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17252131.Miriam_Hurdle

Connect to Miriam via her website: https://theshowersofblessings.com/

The second author with a review is Jessica Norrie for her recently released book The Magic Carpet.

About The Magic Carpet

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

One of the recent reviews for the book on Goodreads

I must admit that I got an expected but completely welcome surprise when I read this book. The magic carpet is an intricate and beautifully told tale of a school project and several families involved. Each child in the class has been allocated a fairy story to take home and make their own any way they wish.

The narratives switches between each family and each chapter is dedicated to a different class member. Diverse, intriguing and almost voyeuristic, we are allowed to peep into the lives of each family as they tackle the homework project in very different ways. All the adults in the story are increasingly distracted by events in their own lives and it’s up to the children to bring everyone together.

I adore that Jessica Norrie has given each family a very unique identity through circumstances. culture and race. Each relationship and situation is delicately written and issues are tackled with sensitivity but bring he characters to life. I became invested in every single child in this novel.

This is a breathtaking and addictive story about stories, families and children.

Head over and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magic-Carpet-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B07TXZP2S2

And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Magic-Carpet-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B07TXZP2S2

Also by Jessica Norrie in English and German

Read the reviews buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jessica-Norrie/e/B01CEUZF26

and on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Infinity-Pool-Jessica-Norrie-ebook/dp/B011RA8QZW

Find more reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3270629.Jessica_Norrie

Connect to Jessica via her blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com/

The next author with reviews for her latest release is Cynthia Reyes, a gardening memoir – Twigs in my Hair.

About Twigs in my Hair

Author Cynthia Reyes returns with Twigs in My Hair, a book about her lifelong passion for gardens and nature and the surprising relationships and events involved. Gorgeous photographs by Hamlin Grange complement a humorous and profound story. A beautiful gift for gardeners and non-gardeners. Readers will meet a variety of interesting creatures, both human and animal, some of whom compete for gardening produce or gardening glory. You may conclude, after reading Twigs in My Hair, that the gardener’s love for growing things swings from reverence to mania. But there is also a deeply emotional side to this story about what happens when a passionate gardener can no longer do what she loves.

One of the recent reviews for the book

K. Pickering 5.0 out of 5 stars A Book to Savor September 7, 2019

I intended to take my time with this book… To read a few pages every day…make it last. I did not succeed. Every time it caught my eye it beckoned me back and just under 4 days later I was finished.

I would highly recommend “Twigs in my Hair” by Cynthia Reyes. She invites us into her world through her gardens, past and present. Her beautiful stories are accentuated by her husband’s (Hamlin Grange) striking photographs. Photographs that give us a glimpse into their gardens and their lives.

Thank you for allowing us to sit awhile in your gardens. Thank you for introducing us to your neighbors and friends. Thank you for sharing part of yourself, warts and all. We are richer for it. – Karen Pickering

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Twigs-my-Hair-Gardening-Memoir/dp/0991837924/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twigs-my-Hair-Gardening-Memoir/dp/0991837924/

Also by Cynthia Reyes

And co-written with Lauren Reyes-Grange – Illustrated by Jo Robinson

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cynthia-Reyes/e/B00F1HTQQ6

Read more reviews and follow Cynthia on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7072186.Cynthia_Reyes

Connect to Cynthia via her website: https://cynthiasreyes.com/

And the final author today with a recent review is Gwendolyn M. Plano for her memoir Letting To into Perfect Love.

About the book

Inspiring and unforgettable, Letting Go into Perfect Love is a riveting account of a journey through the terror of domestic violence to a faith that transforms all. As a college administrator, Gwendolyn M. Plano lived her professional life in a highly visible and accountable space–but as a wife and mother, behind closed doors, she and her family experienced unpredictable threat. The statistics are staggering–every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten–but to Gwen, this was her secret; it was her shame. When her husband eventually turned his brutality on her son, she knew she could no longer remain silent.

Alternately heart-wrenching and joyful, this is a story of triumph over adversity–one woman’s uplifting account of learning how to forgive the unforgiveable, recover her sense of self, bring healing into her family, and honor the journey home. Accompanied by glimpses of celestial beings, Gwen charts a path through sorrow to joy–and ultimately, writes of the one perfect love we all seek.

The story that unfolds is not a blow-by-blow account of savagery hidden within a twenty-five-year marriage; rather, it is a walk through innocent dreams betrayed–to courage found. “Tragedy spares no one;” Gwen points out, “it just courts each of us differently. One way or another, it finds a path into our hearts, and there we do battle with the intruder.” As a survivor who came out of her unhealthy relationship determined to start over, Gwen artfully depicts the challenges of balancing the obligations of motherhood and career with her family’s healing process, while offering hope to anyone facing monumental challenges.

Integral to Gwen’s journey is her faith. Because of her Catholic upbringing, she struggles with the scandal of divorce, but finally makes her peace. When her daughter reveals her molestation by clergy, however, her fragile sense of serenity dissolves. We walk with Gwen as she tries to make sense of this horror. The agony experienced by the entire family is devastatingly palpable. Against all odds, Gwen emerges confident of her faith and begins to see the threads of meaning in even the darkest moments.

This is a book for all. But, for those who have been in a destructive relationship, Gwen’s story will be heartbreakingly familiar. For those who have been spared such diminishment, it will provide insight into the often misunderstood phenomenon of domestic violence. Since one in every four women will experience such threat in her lifetime, understanding that murky world may provide the reader with the skills needed to help his or her sister or friend or neighbor. Whether victim or friend, though, readers will be inspired by the author’s courage and ultimate resolution of her predicament. And, you may see your own challenges a little differently.

One of the recent reviews for the book

In her book Letting Go, Gwen Plano recounted her two abusive marriages in honesty and courage. She married the first husband after he had a mental breakdown. The psychiatrist gave her hope that Bruce could recover. She married him intending to help him and saved him from being admitted. She couldn’t handle his outrage and filed a divorce. She married Ron six months after they met. There were signs of Ron’s disturbed behavior, but Gwen stated that she was in a fantasy world of young love. In the years to come, Ron uprooted the family on minutes of notice and moved across the country and even to Japan. After they came back to the US, he was getting more violent, demeaning and controlling. He physically abused young son when the baby was seven months old. When the daughter was sexually abused at age five by clergies and complained about that years later, Ron didn’t want to deal with it.

During the twenty-five years of abuse, Gwen studied and taught. The workplace was her escape. The busyness kept them going for twenty-five years. At one point, she realized Ron made her feel “small.” In an abusive relationship, women kept the abuse in secret, fear the reporting results in more abuse. These women may fear of not being able to stand on their own feet.

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letting-into-Perfect-Love-Extraordinary-ebook/dp/B00K7WYTW6/

Also by Gwendolyn Plano and co-written with John W. Howell.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Gwendolyn-M-Plano/e/B00I5TAJ04

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gwendolyn-M-Plano/e/B00I5TAJ04

Read more reviews and follow Gwen on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7341478.Gwendolyn_M_Plano

You can find out more about Gwen on her website: http://www.gwenplano.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books under your arm..thanks Sally.

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22 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Updates #Reviews – Miriam Hurdle, Jessica Norrie, Cynthia Reyes and Gwendolyn Plano

  1. Thank you so much, Sally to include Jame’s fabulous review of my book and my review of Gwen’s book. I enjoyed the reviews of other talented authors and the reviews of their book. ❤ I'm off to the airport to see my granddaughter. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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