Long and Short Reviews loved Who Saw the Deep!

WStD LAS review

 

I am thrilled that Long and Short Reviews really enjoyed Who Saw the Deep. They gave the novel 4.5 stars! Here’s part of the review:

This book desperately needs a sequel. While all of the most important questions find answers, I am extremely interested in finding out what happens to Noah and Amelia after Who Saw the Deep ends. The final chapter drops hints about the future that made me wish the narrative would never end.

Who Saw the Deep is a must-read for anyone who loves alien invasion stories or heart-stopping mysteries.If these genres are up your alley, go pick up a copy today!

To read the rest of the review, click here.

Night Owl Reviews loved Disintegrate!

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“I loved this fast paced YA story and I couldn’t put it down.

There was plenty of suspense that kept me turning the pages frantically as I was trying to figure out if they were going to be alright when they discovered that someone was after them. I loved their relationship together and I wanted them to be there for each other no matter what it involved. I’m new to this author and her writing, but she has made a new fan in me now.”

 

 

Disintegrate

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To read an excerpt, click here.

  • Young Adult, Paranormal, Suspense, Romance
  • Word Count: 51,000
  • Published By: Evernight Teen

Description:

Emily just wanted a normal life: a boyfriend, college, two parents who loved her. Instead, her dad disappeared when she was fourteen and her life at college is anything but ordinary.

When you can manipulate matter like putty and you have no idea why, how do you pretend to be like everyone else? What happens when you meet a guy who has the same powers? Do you trust him to help you find the answers you need?

Emily desperately wants to believe that Jax can help, but the stakes grow higher than she’d ever expected: someone is after them and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want.

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Where to Buy: 

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Thank you for reading

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My first young adult novel has been out for a few weeks and I’ve received some really nice reviews. I just wanted to say Thanks! to all those who have read it and posted their comments on various places (Amazon and Goodreads).

As a writer, I don’t think you can do this as a career unless you truly enjoy fooling around with words. Writing is filled with uncertainty, sporadic pay, and ego-crushing commentary from random people who don’t understand how much effort it takes to write a novel (or a book of poems). So, you really need to enjoy the act of writing in order to keep going. It’s like climbing a mountain, getting to the top, and then realizing you really only made it up the first little hill. The goal isn’t just reaching the top of the ridge so you can see the view. It’s hiking on the trail, too.

When you get a few reviews that specifically mention the characterization you worked so hard on and how the novel kept them turning the pages (or swiping the e-reader screen), it’s truly appreciated. Thanks everyone.

"Who Saw the Deep"- ABNA semifinals and review

My sci-fi novel, “Who Saw the Deep,” made it into the semifinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Publishers Weekly reviewed the full manuscript and offered this review:

This novel is well written, original, and clever. Noah Heath has just completed his doctorate in computer science and his father suggests he give himself a break and help a local senior citizen with some handyman chores. Amelia is a woman that Jaime Heath has known since childhood. On Noah’s first day of work, he notices a flash in the sky, a silver needle, but Amelia denies seeing it. Even so, he hears her call her daughter, Leah, saying,”it’s happening again.” When he returns home, his father starts telling him about the family “artifacts,” a few chunks of old metal. Noah starts to question, and more importantly, believe his father and Amelia’s tales of centuries old invasion and the part their forebears played in it. That the power of computers is limited only by our imaginations makes the tale convincing; the lack of little green men and the highly plausible abilities of the villains make it wonderful reading. It’s a pity to classify this book as science fiction; it reads more like the ancient myths, or even fairy tales. The author really knows his characters and uses them beautifully. Perhaps he’s had centuries to develop them.

If you’d like to read an excerpt, go to my novel’s page on Amazon and download it for free by clicking the Buy Now button. If you’d like to leave a review, that’d be awesome.

By the way, all manuscripts are read without the author’s name, so the reference to the author as a “he” is not surprising. Additionally, the competition started with 10,000 manuscripts and have whittled the entries down to 100 for this round. Technically, I’m only competing against the other General Fiction entries, which means they started with 5000 and it’s now down to 50.

What’s next? May 22: Six finalists announced (picked by Penguin). Amazon customers vote to pick the winners.

I seriously doubt I’ll make it into the finals, but I’m delighted that someone at Penguin will be reading my manuscript.

Disclaimer: Publishers Weekly is an independent organization and the review was written based on a manuscript version of the book and not a published version.

new review for Ballroom – a love story

I’m delighted to announce a new review for Ballroom – a love story has just been posted at Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, written by Rene Schwiesow.

Here’s a tidbit from the review:

. . . Klocek-Lim produced a series of poems about the pain, challenge, commitment, weariness and bliss of dance lessons.  From Waltz to Cha-Cha she utilizes fresh phrases to show us images of the dances, the dancer, and the connection to a dance partner and the environment. 

Click through to read the rest: Ballroom – a love story Christine Klocek-Lim.

Thanks to Doug Holder, Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene founder, for coordinating the review.

my review of "ten poems to say goodbye" by Roger Housden

ten poems to say goodbye
by Roger Housden
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Several weeks ago a nice lady sent me an email asking if I’d like to review a new poetry book. “Free book? Awesome,” the little voice in my head said. A week later I received Roger Housden’s new book, ten poems to say goodbye. It’s a lovely hardcover: warm yellow background with a serene flower in a simple blue bowl beneath the title. I put it on my desk and there it sat while my life suddenly zoomed from leisurely to INSANE. I looked at it often. It seemed like such a pretty little book. I wanted to read it so badly, but I had no time.

Today I finally managed to open it, mostly because I have bronchitis and I can’t actually walk anywhere without getting out of breath. I couldn’t even get the mail without reaching for my inhaler. Yesterday I landed in the emergency room, chest tight, head spinning. Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about poetry. I was watching all the other people in the waiting room, most much sicker than I. When I opened Housden’s book today, I wasn’t expecting it to resonate so thoroughly. My hospital visit certainly contributed to my emotional suprise, but there was more to it than that—

This past weekend I helped clear out my mother-in-law’s apartment (she has multiple sclerosis and has had to move to a full-time care facility). It was strange packing up the mementoes of her life. She is an artist and some of the things we had to fold into boxes were her drawings and paintings. Some of it was old poetry. Some was just forgotten scraps of paper hidden in corners. Once the detritus was cleared away only the most luminous memories of what makes her her survived. My mother-in-law is doing okay, working hard with a physical therapist to keep herself strong, but oddly, the very beginning of the book made me think of her so forcibly I had to stop and just breathe for a moment. Housden’s introduction was like a cold draft of air that suddenly cleared away all the old leaves in my head and left me with his simple mantra: “great poetry reaches down into the depths of our humanity and captures the very essence of our experience.”

I’ve been writing poetry for decades. Critiquing, reviewing, and editing it for nearly as long. Strangely, I had forgotten what it is to be simply a reader. Housden’s book opens with one of the most straightforward explanations of why poetry matters and always will. Poetry captures humanity and “delivers it up in exactly the right words.” The introduction explains why he put this book together, a sort of mini-poetry-anthology. The book gives us ten poems to ponder. Each is accompanied by an essay where he considers the poem, explains why it is important to him, and why it has meaning for others. The poems detail the act of saying goodbye. Through our lives we say goodbye to people, things, and the more amorphous stuff of life. This book reminded me of why poetry is the essential tool of the mind and heart for doing so.

Some of the poems in the book are ones I know and some I’ve read often. “The Lost Hotels of Paris” by Jack Gilbert (I adore Gilbert’s poetry) and “How It Will Happen, When” by Dorianne Laux are two that I’ve seen before. Others were new to me: poems by Ellen Bass, Gerald Stern, Rilke, and more. For some of the poems Housden offers a short biography of the poet to explain to the reader how astonishing the poem truly is, especially as it relates to the poet’s life (he mentions Gilbert’s encroaching dementia to great effect). In others, he remarks on how well a particular poet writes the poetry of humanity. With every poem, however, Housden manages to illuminate the lines and words so that even the most novice reader will understand and appreciate what is happening. The act of reading the poem makes it real.

It’s been years since I’ve read poems like this. Oh, not poems of goodbye or realization or any of the usual human foibles, but rather, it’s been years since I’ve read poems with my writerly eyes stripped away. I try to consider the reader when I am writing, always and of course, but it’s been ages since I truly understood what it’s like to come to a piece of art, innocent and yearning. Housden somehow manages to capture that essence and give it back to you with his essays. He deciphers the poems without taking away from them. Instead he gifts them to the reader with a sort of step ladder that reaches to the top of those towers of words. The remarkable thing is that he does it without imposing himself onto the poem.

This brings me back to the beginning, when I consider what it’s been like to have to stop moving (literally) directly after spending a weekend moving someone else’s life into boxes. Housden said in the introduction, “. . . the fullness of life escapes us either way, whether we are holding on or pushing away. . .” I have had to both stop and say goodbye in the space of a week. My mother-in-law is even now struggling with the same idea. Housden insists that poetry can help us with this. “Well, yeah,” I think, paging through the book. Inevitably, I stop on page 46 and read the closing lines of Jack Gilbert’s poem:

“. . . We see the memory
of when they were, once upon a time.
And that too is more than enough.”

Housden’s delightful collection of ten poems, one for every kind of goodbye I can imagine, is definitely a book I would recommend. Both writers and readers will enjoy the gorgeous poetry, some of which I have read and loved for years (selections from Gilbert, Laux, Rilke, and others). Housden’s insightful thoughts about the poems illuminate the lines with a joy I didn’t expect in a book that documents the act of leaving and letting go. His essays and these ten poems reminded me that “. . . our life of the senses and feelings and thoughts, it all matters after all.” Especially when saying goodbye.

my review of Dark And Like A Web

Dark And Like A Web by Nic Sebastian


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Last April, as I wrote a set of poems for NaPoWriMo, I also read a set of poems by Nic Sebastian. She called them “prayers and charms” and I eagerly clicked over to the website she’d set up for them each day. I didn’t want to miss any. My life was growing more hectic and difficult as the year progressed; her poems calmed me down. They helped me think about the deep spaces of the mind and heart and soul and how my internal landscape informs my dreams and wishes. Back in April 2011 I had no idea how much more insane my year was going to become.

Nic published this collection of NaPo poems later in the year, calling it “Dark And Like A Web” after a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke. She set up a website that offered online access to the poems as well as recordings of her beautiful voice speaking them with depth and emotion. I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew how these poems would help me get through my year. Every time some disaster occurred (death, earthquake, hurricaine, blizzard) I invariably picked up her chapbook and read one of the poems. They aren’t all peaceful.

In “there are howling wolves” the narrator explains how “their voices tesselate” the night.” How “we vibrate.” It isn’t a comfortable sensation. As the short poem progresses, the reader stumbles over “shattered constellations” and “pieces / of this night.” There is no comfort to this poem, except that very discomfort creates a sort of truth that comforted me. At the very end of the poem, the speaker talks of how “we are not coming” and “never were.” People don’t always figure it out. After an unexpected death in my family this past summer, I felt comforted by this truth. The poem is completely surreal, but the core of it is emotionally real.

Other poems in the chapbook resonate similarly. In August I went on vacation with my family to Washington, DC. While we stood on the National Mall, an earthquake confused our day. People wandered everywhere while random sirens pierced the streets. Two days later we were in Ocean City, Maryland, trying to finish our vacation on the beach. Hurricaine Irene dismantled those plans and we were evacuated along with thousands of others. Cars packed the roads and I read Nic’s poem “containing prayer beads and Bangkok.”

This poem is set in Bangkok and Seattle but really the cities don’t matter. It’s the internal landscape of the poem that accompanied me on my journey. I wanted what the speaker of the poem wanted: peace. Love. But, “he tells me to find / my own mantra.” The poem speaks a list of exotic places and fills them with gorgeous imagery: “black hair / kicking in the wind” and “gold-shot pain / of sunset.” The beauty is always accompanied with an active rushing away from peace. The end of the poem renders the speaker mute. That is what disaster does to a person. Once again, I was strangely comforted. This chapbook was the friend who lived across the country from me. The friend I couldn’t talk to very often. The friend who nevertheless understood exactly what I had been feeling in the midst of destruction.

Last year I promised Nic a review of this chapbook. I could go on about the imagery of the poems, their beautiful lines and surreal verbs. How they spoke to me even when I thought I couldn’t go on because the earth was covered with snow and a lack of water. Or how the characters in the poems let me dream about places I wanted to go: mountains and rivers and temples. Ultimately, I can’t really review this collection of poems, can’t say: “oh, I give it three stars or five or seven.” Because this particular chapbook of poems carried me like a boat over the drama of my emotions this past year. I can’t help but love them. As the opening poem of the book states: “I think you are / a small flame embedded / in silence.” Thank you Nic, for giving voice to that flame and letting it light my way for those difficult months. Thank you for that gift.

Review of Gregory W. Randall’s Uncommon Refrains

We are conditioned, those of us who love books, to expect in the narratives we read either happiness or tragedy. Every novel, memoir, poetry collection must contain in its pages a thread that drives us from one point to another, from the beginning to the end. Therefore, I needed to read Gregory W. Randall‘s poetry chapbook, Uncommon Refrains (from The Lives You Touch Publications), twice before I could even come close to understanding that it isn’t really about the narrative thread. It begins in a hospital and of course I expected to read about either recovery or death, but instead, Randall’s poems describe the experience, not the journey. It’s true the book is divided into sections that suggest a narrative (The Hospital Stay, Grace Notes, and finally Homecomings) but even so, the philosophy of the poems doesn’t travel in one direction.

The book opens with a single poem that is outside of the sections titled, “A Sort of Nocturne.” This poem begins with a description of driving on the highway which is in actuality an opposition to travel: the narrator instructs his wife to pretend that they haven’t driven for hours on the way to the hospital. Pretend all the difficulty of a severe illness didn’t happen, the phone calls, the “dilemma over / whether I stay behind to keep our life afloat,” the lack of sleep. At the end, the reader realizes what the narrator already knows. This terrible moment in their lives is “almost seasonal-a cycle without end.” This tragedy happens all the time, to many people, as well as to the larger universe so that we’re all truly just living in the midst of “an exhaustible dark.” A reader might think the poem is a tragedy in the truest sense, except that Randall also insists what we have is “luminous,” like stars. The poem sets up the rest of the collection perfectly: though we live with difficulty, joy has hold of us as well. Life is both a “luminous spark” as well as “an inexhaustible dark.”

The other poems illustrate this ying-yang philosophy. Some are tragic, like the title poem of the book, “Uncommon Refrains.” It ends with the idea that “we’ll never swim so deep again.” Nothing lasts. The next poem, “Unusual Patterns,” insists upon educating the reader about how what we choose to do forms a weave in which our understanding is altered. People may misinterpret this strange pattern, but that doesn’t render it any less valid. The rest of this section continues this idea while illustrating the narrator’s interaction with his wife’s sick daughter. She has had a stroke and is in the hospital enduring brain surgeries. The narrator speaks of the hospital and their relationships with love and compassion.

The second part of the collection, “Grace Notes,” illuminates the narrator’s relationship with the sick woman’s daughter. He sees the girl’s youth, her incredible resilience as she deals with her mother’s illness and is amazed. In “Girl Reading,” the narrator states, “you amaze me with your / burgeoning language.” as if her growth is in direct opposition with her mother’s decline. The other poems of this section, cleverly titled as a reflection on the girl’s name, Grace, continue this fascination with health and change, but ultimately, the last one ends with this, “we’re left to wonder / how much longer / any of us will really know you.” Uncertainty creeps back into the poems and once again I’m reminded that this collection encompasses more than narrative. This isn’t a story with a beginning, middle, and end, despite the suggestion of it that threads through the pages.

The last section focuses on the narrator’s wife, the sick woman’s mother, the girl’s grandmother. These poems are fraught with waiting, with the silences that populate a house when one of its occupants is missing. The house isn’t just a building, but a metaphor for their relationship. When tragedy strikes, we often think of going back to the moment right before, when everything seems well. We expect to return when the disaster is over. Of course, this is impossible. “Legitimate Desires” ruminates on this when the narrator states, “isn’t this legitimate desire / to go back / and reclaim the irretrievable hours / why we linger in the pool” as if to cling to that need, but life is dangerous. Relationships are fragile. In “Re-entry” Randall writes, “I’m so aware of your absent heaviness / that I grab your sleeve, hold onto you / tenuous as a kite.”

Taken separately, some of Randall’s poems might seem tragic, some hopeful. When read altogether, the poems give birth to a different idea: that reality is constructed of those moments that we live right now, this very moment. The past and the future are both creations we make up to give us a framework on which to hang the chaotic present. So, too, is this book of poems constructed around the three females most important to the narrator, decorated by the tragedy of the stroke his wife’s daughter suffers and subsequent brain surgeries. Ultimately, we humans live in the inexhaustible dark. The trick, this book seems to say, is to accept this and live in the present’s luminous spark.

11 January 2011, Christine Klocek-Lim

One Tree Bridge by Dennis Greene

I had the honor of reviewing One Tree Bridge by Dennis Greene, and it is now in print! Here is an excerpt from my review:

Greene manages to give [hard truths] to us with a beauty of form and sound so delicately balanced that they go down easy.  The reader feels the burn of the poems but can’t help consuming more because we desperately need the knowledge. One Tree Bridge is the simplest possible metaphor for existence on our world, yet the message inside the poems is larger than that. The birth and death of an individual, of our species, are simply two stops on the road within an infinite universe. [It] explains that so much of what we think we know about the universe depends on our perspective.”


If you’d like to read the whole review, or buy a copy of the chapbook, please visit The Lives You Touch Publications. 

Review of Holly Rose Review Issue 3

Holly Rose Review’s Issue Three, the Wonder issue, opens with the photo of a spectacular tattoo, a remarkably colorful peacock inked by Michael Kozlenko cleverly eyeing the viewer as if to say: “What you looking at?” And indeed, I wondered what I was going to see in the pages to come, hoping I would not be disappointed. I was not. The next page revealed “Metus Orbis,” oil on canvas by Aaron Zimmerman. I could not tell if the peaks were mountains or the soft heads and flowing hair of goddesses waiting out a storm. Delightfully fanciful, the image made me think of that surrealistic moment one feels on the edge of waking when the dream world and real life intersect, lighting everything with surprise.
Inside the issue, the tattoos range from what looks to me like the moment of creation, creatures springing full-grown from the soft earth of the skin as in Rich Bustamante‘s work, to the impossible mermaid in Jason Wainwright‘s art. I wished I had the courage to let someone needle such worlds into my skin; the wings etched on the back of yet another person seem nearly real, the face of the woman in Sean Herman‘s art mysterious and compelling.
Of course, the tattoos are only half of the wonder of this issue. The poetry is also astonishing, given how many of them walk that fine line between psalm and bitterness, all of them surreal in the way that only metaphor can explain. Dorianne Laux’s poem “Wonder,” written specifically for this issue serves as the backbone of the journal. Every word leads the reader into a strange place, familiar yet not, like a dreamscape where you are not falling, but flying. The sky becomes a tattoo becomes a bird. The accompanying art is a tree that is as strange as ink and skin can make it: curving along the canvas of the skin in a wonderfully twisted way, the colors vibrant and alive.
The other poems in the issue continue the idea of wonder, like Eugenia Hepworth Petty’s “The Bird” and its focus on life and death and the delicate moment of childhood when one learns how terribly the two are connected. Or Christine Hamm’s “The Mermaid of September Cove” which explains clearly the gritty reality of that imaginary creature, how working for a living in a tank of water could still touch the lives of so many in a way that is more tangible than myth. Erika Moya’s poem, “Chassure [1]” details the odd intimacy of flesh and scent, using the sensuality of making love to spring into the larger world of memory. Raina León’s “Face” is even more fractured than the rest, each numbered stanza its own piece of the whole, discrete images of the body that are connected only because we know how important and necessary our faces are to each other.
However, my favorite poem of this issue is Joseph Millar’s “Skin.” Cengiz Eyvazov’s tattoo shows the bliss of sharp objects, a woman both captured and set free by the shackles and spikes decorating her body. The poem explains why this is possible, how the pain of such piercings leads to transcendence. At first the imagery is nearly unbearable, “one-inch ebony dowel/stretching the hole in his earlobe” and “mute/dreadlocked carcass.” But one must give in to the poem as one gives into pain, and in the end, adrenaline lights “the body’s soft candle” in a way that makes perfect sense. It’s been years since I remembered this and now I almost want to get another piercing after reading this poem.
The issue ends with Siimon Petkovich’s fractured words, the very disarray of the lines serving as a visual explanation for the tattoo by Jason Wainwright: a huge orange sky and ocean, waves crashing like flowers against the skin. This is what it feels like to gallop into the world, the poem seems to say, the idea too active to keep words together. Instead, Siimon makes every letter dance into pieces on the page. After reading this issue, I can do no less.
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