Dena Daigle Reviews Love, Lies and Lullabies by Ashley Jane — September 26, 2018

Dena Daigle Reviews Love, Lies and Lullabies by Ashley Jane

I must admit, before I was introduced to Ashley Jane’s debut book of poetry and prose, Love, Lies and Lullabies (released on July 30, 2018), I had not yet had the privilege of indulging in her work; but after opening the cover, which is adorned with raw yet beautifully soft imagery, I am an instant fan.

Ashley opens this collection with the lines, “We painted with words, immortalized our souls with ink, sold our hearts to the masses,” a brilliant tagline sure to entice any admirer of words. We are then whisked into the whimsical realm of romance, where we experience both the beauty of the fall and the not-so-elegant reality of relationships in the book’s first section, Love.

In this section, Ashley brings us along the journey of a wounded heart that once settled for far less than deserved until coming to the realization that everything she ever wanted was right before her very eyes.  Ashley describes the “quick descent” one experiences when falling in love and puts perfectly into words what we feel in a new relationship, when struggling to find balance between the urge to stay and the instinct to run- a battle of the mind and the heart that anyone who has ever been scorned by love can relate to. But in pieces like Fragmented Heart we experience the patchwork art of careful hands willing to gently put the pieces of a once shattered heart back together.

I practically fell in love myself when I read the poem Lesson in Love, which reads:

“You hold me under velvet skies,
tracing each of my scars
and reminding me
that I am stronger because of them,
leaving me enough of those shadows
to rebuild myself
with bits of love.”

And although in Love is Messy, Ashley says “we try to define it, but it is not meant to be defined,” I believe she describes Love rather perfectly in this aptly titled section.

In the second section, Lies, we relive the pain of betrayal that adheres to our bones like mortar to the bricks we then stack high around our broken hearts.  As Ashley shares with us the misadventures of seeking happily-ever-after in fraudulent fantasies portrayed by “actors who use hearts for a stage,” we are reminded to take caution in the quest for love. She perfectly explains the way we lose ourselves when we become wrapped up in the pretty little lies we allow ourselves to believe against our inner knowing. I love the way Ashley reclaims her power by learning to “filter through the fallacies” in Self-Taught and then seals the deal by scrawling the lying muse’s name into her “little black book” and tossed away the key. My inner goddess cheered with joy as I celebrated that victory!

Lullabies, the last section of this incredible compilation, serves as a beautiful reminder that our inner light is always ready to illuminate the darkness when we are. Its dreamy vibe is filled with magic and mystery, the moon and stars, and an oceanic sky of endless possibilities to soothe the soul.

Ashley Jane’s Love, Lies and Lullabies is a must have for every poetry collection.

Love, Lies and Lullabies is available at Amazon.

Kristiana Reed Reviews Magpie in August, by Kindra M. Austin — July 24, 2018

Kristiana Reed Reviews Magpie in August, by Kindra M. Austin

Austin stuns with her debut novel, Magpie in August. A lovingly written narrative about living, dying and the purgatory in between.

I’ve been an admirer and reader of Austin’s poetry since late 2016, a little while after she started poemsandparagraphs. Austin always writes honestly with the razor-sharp ability to steal the breath from my lungs and make me punch the air with my fist. However, I did not know what to expect with Magpie in August, except it grew out of her relationship with her late mother (as revealed in her interview with Sudden Denouement founder, Jasper Kerkau).

Within the first few pages, Magpie, our protagonist, was sketched into my mind in vivid magenta, violet, and deep charcoal. Magpie’s love for Peter was palpable from the first time he called her ‘Beautiful’ as if it was her ‘God given name’. Her mother, Lynette, is an angel and demon wrapped up in one and Renny, Magpie’s reader and listener, a friend and foe. Austin leads us to believe we know everything there is to know about these people. Magpie can be cruel. Lynette is fickle and flippant. Peter is a watchful guardian and Renny is silent.

But, they are people, not characters and so our omniscient facade soon falls away. In every chapter, Austin gifts us a new angle, new mirror and new prism to refract everything we knew through. In fact, it is only Peter, quite fittingly, who remains the same.

Austin gave me a safe space to reflect on my own relationships, to draw parallels and thank my blessings. Her exploration of grief and loss is beautiful. A stunning, heart-wrenching tribute to the human condition and its difficulty to love unconditionally, when love, at the end of it all, is what we do best. Every person receives redemption of some form – Magpie, Lynette, Wren, Dalton (Magpie’s father) and even Jessica Wenzel.

Austin’s unwavering guidance into the darkness of rock bottom, Lake Huron and even the supernatural was superb. Authors like Cecelia Ahern (If You Could See Me Now), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) and Douglas Kennedy (The Woman in the Fifth) came to mind as Austin matched their ability to write people not caricatures and take them to places we didn’t expect; never once causing the reader to doubt their ability in ensuring it all makes sense in the end.

Magpie in August ends just as it should. The Magpie who wakes up from a dreamy slumber in chapter 1 is the Magpie embracing all the earth and sky have to offer in the final chapter. Austin brings us full circle; allowing us to reap the rewards of a woman saving herself.

Magpie leaves us believing she deserves to breathe, love and wait for her ‘beloved stars to awaken silvery blue in an inky sky.’

Magpie in August is available at Amazon.com


Kristiana Reed daydreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Indie Blu(e) is Hosting Its First Facebook Author Takeover event — July 10, 2018

Indie Blu(e) is Hosting Its First Facebook Author Takeover event

AUTHOR SLOTS STILL AVAILABLE!

Indie Blu(e) is holding its first Facebook Author Takeover event on Monday, July 23rd from 2 to 7 pm EST.

We are offering 10 30-minute slots for Indie Authors to “takeover” the event page and promote the hell out of their titles and network with new readers and other Indie Authors. Involvement is pretty simple- all participating authors promote the event on their own social media and encourage their followers to attend. Each author gets a 30-minute slot where they get to post exclusively on the event page and interact with the attendees. All participating authors are encouraged to stop by periodically throughout the event to meet and support the other authors. If you would like to claim a remaining 30-minute slot, please email Kindra and Christine at indieblucollective@gmail.com. We will provide additional information about the event and language to help advertise it.