Monday, March 20, 2017

Review - Petals by Murray Pura

Murray took a chance.

Murray Pura is known for his Amish and Romance novels. He is a best-seller and has won multiple awards. With Petals, Murray took a chance on a different kind of writing. Petals is a collection of poems that tend to be quite personal and more than a little emotional. Murray took a chance outside of his norm and it paid off in the form of a 5-star review.

Petals by Murray Pura is available from MillerWords in paperback and Kindle - click HERE to purchase.

Here is the complete article by reviewer and poet Jim Bennett:

twenty-five powerful poems

five stars

I will give you a quote from the introduction, which is in prose, to provide a first feel for Pura’s descriptive power: “Aunt Helen would bring me intricately decorated eggs at Easter. Whenever I visited her home it was like visiting a foreign country – icons with dark eyes brooded on the walls, pickles and dill floated like pike among lake weed in huge glass jars, pictures of the Pope blessing a crowd and of Jesus opening his chest to a Sacred Heart mingled with a photograph of her father, my grandfather and namesake, lying in his coffin, hands clasped on his chest.”

You will be ambushed by the poem Cottonwoods, which begins thus: “if there are cottonwoods in Ukraine /they will tell different stories //mine speak of the buffalo and the Blackfoot /jade waters wind about their roots /and have their own words...” which leads to a surprise gut-punch ending.

Belonging and alienation are weirdly captured in She Traced my Body on Paper, which begins thus: “She traced my body on paper /And ignored the chill I felt on my skin /As she moved her pencil down my neck /Over my shoulders and down past my heart //Over the pattern of my life...”

I have too many favourites here to mention them all, so I’ll skip to The Girl at the Airport, which is sort-of a love poem told amidst the horror of war, including these fragments: “i met Savella where /smoke wound like the black dreams you cannot remember /but which are snaked too tight to leave your mind...” and later “we fought for the airport by Donetsk /where she held an assault rifle /and it was the shattering and breaking of men...” and “I saw the liquid around her eyes /and the current beneath her skin...” and “killing became kisses /wounds gave way to passions /she had no english /it made no difference...” Now if you think that’s a spoiler, turn to the poem and let Pura tell you the rest of it. You will be surprised.

No carps in this review. No typos. Nothing but powerful imagery and strong experiences.

I will conclude by mentioning War House, which begins thus: “I have seen houses /Where the only things moving /Were shirts and pants pinned to a clothesline /Flipping up and over in a blue sky wind...” Here the tragedy of being caught in a war is described with brutal simplicity.

For me, star counts are hard. I try to be consistent. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. This time, five stars was an easy decision. Enjoy. Pura stands among the great writers of descriptive experience.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

About the Book: This is the story of a war. But it is also a story of human love and beauty and faith that the sun will rise again over a nation torn by terrible conflict. If a novel is like live streaming or Netflix, then poetry is a gallery of HD images taken with your iPhone or Nikon DSLR, each picture sharp and crystalline and rich with color and meaning, etched in your mind forever thanks to its precision and brilliance. This is a small book of such high definition images, vivid snaps of one man's journey through the recent military conflict in Ukraine. People's faces are here, fields of flowers are here, impossibly blue skies and sharp suns, roads and streets and windows that remain perfectly intact even though the rest of the house has been blown to pieces. Love is here, and peace sits in the same room as pain, while hope has more strength than killing or death. The man's words are beautiful and true and, as real as the war he fights is, dawn and tomorrow are more real. Parts of it will tell your story. Parts of it will become your story. Parts of it will take you on a journey you never expected to take. That is the power of poetry in motion. Begin at this man's beginning.

About the Reviewer: Jim Bennett is a poet: five volumes available here; and published in The Fiddlehead, Event, The New Quarterly, and Prairie Fire. Jim started writing poetry in high school, thought a handwritten poem had been created by a student who’d sat in the same desk earlier that day. Mentored by one English teacher, and rekindled by Richard Ketchum, Jim never looked back. Jim Bennett is an unlikely poet: M.Sc. in Pure Mathematics, programmer, designer, and application architect at IBM, CIBC, and SimVest Solutions, you’d expect a techie’s techy and be correct. Still, Jim has varied interests and views his career(s) as funding for himself, his wife, their children, and writing. (Poets rarely get rich by their poems; Jim suspected this and directed his efforts accordingly). Jim takes pictures; images on are his, and cover images on his last three volumes. He keeps tropical fish, but is not expert. Jim Bennett is a poet. Everything else is secondary, except his wife and children.

To see more titles from this publisher, search "MillerWords" on Amazon Kindle. To see more from author Murray Pura, please visit: Murray Pura Writing on Facebook. Jim Bennett reviews for the site Kindle Book Review and has his own blog at

Monday, March 13, 2017

5 Questions - Joy Ross Davis

The 5 Questions today are for Joy Ross Davis. Her story The Beggar's Miracle is available exclusively on Amazon Kindle from MillerWords. Click here to get it:

MW: The Beggar's Miracle tells the story of an orphan named Bitty Brown. Often, an author identifies with or connects with their main character. What does Bitty Brown mean to you?

JRD: Ah, Bitty Brown. I am a student of Irish history. During one of my rounds of study, I came across an article about a trial in Ireland (2013) in which the proprietors of a state-run orphanage were charged with abuse. I delved into the subject and discovered many accounts orphans who were sold to Americans. From there, I did more research into the daily activities of the "Laundries" as they became known (owing to the laundry they took in from citizens, most of which contained piles of bills to pay for getting a child). Because many families wanted infants, many of the children sold to Americans were the products of sexual abuse of the young women (16 and older) who remained in the Laundries. Bitty Brown represents all of the children who were mistreated and abused at the Laundries. The study of the laundries touched my heart so deeply that I knew I had to write about it. The name Bitty Brown came to me while I showered, and I knew at that moment that she would be the girl who would tell the story of the Laundries.

MW: So, it is quite a personal story. With the story set in Ireland, your connection goes a little deeper. Your writing shows that you've been to the Emerald Isle, you must love it. How many times have you been?

JRD: I've been to Ireland four times. During my first trip there, I worked as a travel writer for Tourism Ireland for six months. I traveled across the country finding exciting places and writing about them. Along the way, I forged friendships with many people in Ireland. That was in 2003. I've been back three times, and I'm sure I'll go again. Ireland calls to me, and I feel as if my heart's home is there. I have a dream of living there one of these days.

MW: That could be a real possibility! Writers tend to live on dreams, so we wish you the best in fulfilling yours. Now to switch gears from dreams to nightmares, it seems that the "laundries" had truly horrible conditions. Does anything like that still exist in Ireland today?

JRD: The Laundries still operate today in Ireland. However, they are called Children's Homes, and only the oldest of the orphans can be assigned work duties. Strict governmental guidelines and regular inspections keep the homes running according to the law, but somehow, I believe that the practice of selling infants to foreign couples still flourishes, though I have no proof or evidence to support the belief.

MW: That sounds like the subject of a new book. I can already see Liam Neeson in the movie adaptation. He does have a particular set of skills. While you may not have Mr. Neeson in your book, you do have an element of the paranormal. How important is the paranormal in a Christian-themed story?

JRD: Virtually everything I write contains an aspect of the paranormal. Perhaps it is my attempt to have readers think beyond the worldly. With Bitty Brown, the beggar Jude and his dog are both paranormal entities without whom Bitty might not have survived her life on the streets. I've always had a strong belief in angels and spirits. An event from my childhood began this belief and has lasted my lifetime. I don't expect people to change their beliefs when they read one of my stories. I simply expect them to form a bond with the angel characters, to expand their imaginations and entertain possibilities. Without some form of paranormal aspect, my stories couldn't be told because at the heart of each one is the thought that angels exist. My hashtag on Twitter is #angelwriter. And that's what I want to be. I want to stir people with my quirky view of angels and their interactions with human beings.

MW: We have angels and orphans. That feels like an emotional story that could touch readers. As the author, why do you want people to read this story?

JRD: The greatest appeal of the story, to me, is that it offers hope to all who feel oppressed. It is a heart-warming story that affirms the idea that any one of us can become victims of circumstance, but we can all be rescued from those circumstances and given a new start. Bitty represents everyone who faces struggles and hardship. When two strangers approach her, she shies away at first. But those strangers offer her nothing but love. They provide a safe place for her, they give her a family, and they show her how to love in return. Hope, redemption, and the possibility of greatness come to Bitty Brown just as they can come to her readers.

MW: In the end, it is about hope. We can always use more of that. Thank you, Joy, for visiting with us today! The Beggar's Miracle is available now for ONLY $1.99.

Buy it HERE
or search for "MillerWords" on Kindle