Hope for Veterans Day: Bringing Back Normality and What We Can Do

Happy Veterans Day Weekend, everyone!
It seems an oxymoron to call it “happy,” but it is indeed a celebration, though of a somber sort, recognizing all those who have fought for us. Some have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives, and all have given a sacrifice of some sort, visible or otherwise.
That’s why I was drawn to this article in The New Yorker, exploring the way so many soldiers are affected by P.T.S.D., and what we can do about it. When I sought to say something meaningful about this day (Remembrance Day, Poppy Day, etc. in other countries), I looked first to other stories. Perhaps it’s the writer in me, but when I seek to find meaning in events, in experiences, I look for the stories–to read, or to tell myself.

This article, published in 2008 but more relevant with each passing day, explores the conundrum of what happens when soldiers come back from war–but really, it’s relatable to anyone who has ever been through anything traumatic (so, everyone). I related to it on several fronts–having experienced trauma, myself, with my traumatic brain injury and thankfully being required to see a psychologist as part of my treatment plan. Not to put my experience on the same plane of heroism as a soldier’s, but I think it is a natural human tendency to dismiss your own feelings when you’re in a situation of huge stress/trauma–your instinct is just to get through it, overcome it, and “level up” into a greater version of yourself, having completed a huge act of fortitude, physically and emotionally.

Except–how can you “level up” emotionally when you had to focus on the physical getting-through of the event, not acknowledging (or even noticing) the huge emotional minefield around you? It doesn’t matter how “tough” anyone thinks s/he is (a common mentality, the article interviewee noted, in the armed forces)–a traumatic event needs to be unpacked. According to the article from nine years ago–meaning the number can only have risen–“According to a recent study by the Rand Corporation, nearly twenty per cent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are suffering from P.T.S.D. or major depression. Almost half won’t seek treatment.”

The key in treatment, says the article, is dissociating environmental or situational stimuli with the traumatic event of the past. I love that medical science is disarming the blanket stigma against video games and tapping into their potential use outside of just entertainment. While I was lucky to experience some high-tech and even virtual reality devices as part of my therapy treatment at Marianjoy during my TBI recovery, what they have now is even more impressive.
So, speaking of “leveling up,” when I read that virtual reality video games are now starting to be used to treat P.T.S.D. with a high degree of success, I was thrilled. It seems like an “of course” idea, but it took a lot of work for them to get a military training platform, turned video game, turned treatment option, into clinics. Just like any dangerous physical venture, it’s important to have a trained guide (here, therapist/psychologist) lead you through the experience and be able to pull you out if it gets too hazardous.

While the whole story was touching and engaging, the line that made me cry was the last one–a soldier who had found immense relief from this virtual reality treatment:

“Most of the intrusive thoughts have gone away,” he said. “You never really get rid of P.T.S.D., but you learn to live with it. I had pictures of my team leader [who was like a brother, killed in front of me] that I couldn’t look at for three years. They’re up on my wall now.”

Wow.

It gives me hope for our veterans, whom I respect and feel we owe so much. If you have wondered, like me, what we can do to help our disabled and otherwise injured veterans, besides buying the cute little poppies from volunteers selling Tootsie Rolls, this CNN article gives a fantastic list of simple, but impactful, ways to help. I also encourage you to think of your own talents and how you can share them. “Talent” is, perhaps, a generous word to apply to my musical skills, but my singalong string band, the Pennies from Heaven, likes to lead carols at our local VA hospital every Christmas, bringing a sense of home, familiarity, normality, and warm memories to those who can’t be “Home for Christmas” (a heartbreakingly common song request from the veterans we play for). The biggest thing we notice from anywhere we play (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.) is that people appreciate the company–bringing the outside world in is a helpful way to help anyone acclimate to daily life. So if your talent is just being a good listener or a good storyteller–I promise you your gift of time and company will be appreciated, even if you can’t see it at first glance–it may mean the world to a veteran or other patient.

I’ll leave you with one more suggestion–to read this moving poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD, who was inspired to write it after presiding over the funeral of a fellow soldier and friend who had fallen in battle in 1915. It’s something I do every Veterans Day, to connect with this day of remembrance, which was established at the end of the very war that inspired this poem (hence the November 11th observation every year):

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“Let It Go, Chicago”: WGN’s Hilarious “Frozen” Parody on Chicago Weather

Hello, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed National Grammar Day /Mardi Gras yesterday. Today marks the beginning of Lent for us Catholics; I’ve decided to give up NOT working out (once I’m finally well again, that is). The jokes are flying today about how everyone wants to give up this eternal winter for Lent. In that spirit, I wanted to share this hilarious video my friend Bryan shared with me. It’s a parody of “Let it Go” done by WGN 9 News about winter in Chicago. You all know I can’t get enough of this song, and even though I’ve seen tons of covers/parodies of it, this is probably my favorite. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! (Click “WGN News” after “Originally posted on” to view the video.)

Comic-version me lamenting winter via Bistrips

Down the Rabbit Hole: Lewis Carroll’s Birthday & Wonderland

Happy birthday to Lewis Carroll and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, two wonderful artists whose work has been celebrated long past their lifetimes. It’s interesting that two artists I have so much interest in have birthdays on the same day, which I never knew, just like in my last double-artist tribute to Bradbury and Debussy, another author and composer duo. 🙂 However, I have much to say about both artists, so this time, I will split up the birthday posts and just focus on the author for today.

According to The Literature Network: “Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on 27 January 1832 at the parsonage in Daresbury, Cheshire County, England…His stories for children remain the most popular, but not only was Carroll a prolific author of highly original fiction he also wrote essays, political pamphlets, short stories, poetry, and mathematical textbooks.”

My relationship with Lewis Carroll over the years has been interesting. Like most people in my generation, I daresay, my first exposure to him was through Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland movie.

It was…goodish. I watched it several times as a kid, but it was never one of my favorites. My next introduction was during a voluntary lunchtime reading circle (Junior Great Books) in elementary school that Kara, Lindsey, and I did together. We read a long excerpt from the book, but none of us really enjoyed it. It was really, really silly–absurd. And aren’t kids supposed to like absurd things? We were missing something.

Then, a couple of years ago, Disney and Tim Burton came out with a live-action sequel:


I LOVED it! This was everything I thought Alice in Wonderland should be: majestic, sweeping, epic, passionate, dark, soul-searching. The danger and stakes were more real, with the terrifying Jabberwocky brought to life:

And oh, the Strong Female Character that was Alice in a FULL SUIT OF ARMOR…

I loved it so much, in fact, that I decided to give the book another go.
Immediately, I was hit again by the overwhelming absurdity of it all. There really is no better word to describe it. It’s silly, yes, but in such a satirical way that it’s a wonder to me that it’s considered a children’s book at all. I realized I had to read only a few pages at a time at most, because while it was funny, every single word was part of a joke with a two-fold–at the least–meaning. Never before had I read something so dense in humor. I am still stalled partway through Through the Looking Glass, which it seems Disney also incorporated into its animated movie.

Besides the layers of humor, though, I uncovered something else in my adult reading of the book: that those emotional and epic elements I loved so much in the sequel movie were still present in the original, still ripe kernels wrapped in complex prose. It is one case–maybe the ONLY case–where I find the language is in danger of distracting from the story.

However, considering the Alice stories were originally oral, told to entertain some friends’ children during afternoon outings, perhaps the language itself is meant to entertain as much as the story. It seems that children often delight in riddles and tricks, so the turns-of-phrase rampant on each page remind us adults to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of it all, even if we do recognize deeper commentaries on life and society. The Alice stories continue to be a hallmark of English literature and cinema–spreading to worldwide art–constantly inspiring new books (like the Splintered trilogy, the second of which I listed in my post on the most-anticipated books of January 2014),

Splintered (Splintered, #1)

…movies, TV shows (like ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland), video games (like American McGee’s Alice), songs, etc. It’s hard to imagine many other texts that have inspired such a creative response. There’s some magic that resonates through the centuries with Carroll’s Alice, and just like we can derive different meanings throughout our own years, surely, we have done the same collectively in our culture. However, if we strip it down, we can still find those basic elements of adventure and wonder that are so exciting to people of any age.

Me as (a more modern) Alice with my (slightly more gentle) Jabberwocky, Chad, for Halloween a few years ago

Top Ten: Words for the Christmas Season

TGIF, readers! For many of you, today was the last day of school or work before a holiday break. But that doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop! 😉

While I was doing my usual perusal of Dictionary.com’s articles, which I thought was a totally normal thing to do until Jeremiah told me otherwise (I’m still not convinced), I noticed some festive entries too good not to share.

In particular, I was drawn to their slideshow, Crack the Christmas Code: Carols Demystified. It caught my eye for several reasons: First of all, earlier this week, several of my coworkers and I had the enjoyable experience of caroling for our annual Patient Christmas Party–more on that later, as it deserves a whole entry to itself. Secondly, as you already know, I am fascinated by etymology. I couldn’t keep this festively entertaining and educational list all to myself. Below, please enjoy my compilation of Dictionary.com’s list of six Christmas Carol word explanations, followed by four seasonal terms from other articles on their site (which I will denote). And please visit throughout the next two weeks for more festive blog posts, perhaps between wrapping gifts and sipping on egg nog. 🙂

Ten Festive Words, and an Etymology in a Pear Tree

1. Wassail

[wos-uhl, -eyl, was-, wo-seyl]

“Here we go a wassailing among the leaves so green!” If you’ve ever heard a caroler sing this phrase and thought, “What the heck is a wassail?” you’re not alone! A wassail is a toast made to wish good health. From the Spanish salude to slainte in Irish Gaelic, many languages wish good health when glasses clink. Wassail is an Old English toast, adopted from the Old Norse ves heill meaning “be healthy!” In the 1600s the word became synonymous with carol singing, though it can still denote a hearty swig.

2. Wenceslaus

[wen-sis-laws]

“Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the feast of Stephen…” Good King WHO? Wenceslaus the First was a duke of what is now the Czech Republic. Sainted and dubbed “king” shortly after his death in 935, he was known for his piety and generosity to the poor. The carol “Good King Wenceslaus” is traditionally sung on Saint Stephen’s Day (Dec. 26), which honors one of the earliest Catholic saints. The carol depicts a cold Saint Stephen’s night in which Wenceslaus journeys into the snow to help an old man.

3. Tidings

[tahy-dingz]

If you’ve ever been baffled by a caroler bringing you “tidings of comfort and joy,” your confusion ends here. Derived from the Old English tidan, meaning “to happen,” a tiding is a new piece of information or an announcement of an event. You can think of it as news rolling in on the tide. So whether your carolers come in on a surfboard or a sleigh, the correct response to “glad tidings” is “thank you.”

4. Figgy pudding

Have carolers ever camped out on your porch and demanded “figgy pudding” making threats like “we won’t go until we get some!” Don’t be alarmed. You’re not caught in a protest; it’s just Christmas. A distant cousin of the fruit cake, figgy pudding is a traditional fig-based cake common in England the 1600s. The carol “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” re-popularized the dessert in the 1900s, and now countless carolers ask for it every year.

5. Holly

[hol-ee]

Have you ever been instructed to “deck the halls with boughs of holly” and then looked up a decorator named Holly? Look no further. Holly is actually a tree with glossy green leaves, whitish flowers and red berries. From American Holly to English Holly, the “boughs” or branches of this tree are a traditional Christmas decoration. The word itself is a shortening of the Old English holegn for the same evergreen plant, which has represented rebirth on the European continent for centuries.

6. Yule tide

[yool-tahyd]

Confused by carolers yelling something about a “yule tide?” Fear not! As is the case with “tidings” the yule tide signifies the coming of the holiday season. Yule comes from the Old Norse word jol, relating to the pre-Christian winter feast. After the advent of Christianity, the term was adopted into Old English as geol to represent the Christmas season.

7. Xmas

The history of the word “Xmas” is actually more respectable — and fascinating — than you might suspect. First of all, the abbreviation predates by centuries its use in gaudy advertisements. It was first used in the mid 1500s. X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And here’s the kicker: Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years. This device is known as a Christogram. The mas in Xmas is the Old English word for “mass.”  (The thought-provoking etymology of “mass” can be found here.) In the same vein, the dignified terms Xpian and Xtian have been used in place of the word “Christian.”

8. Magi

[mey-jahy]

(This and the next two entries are from Dictionary.com’s “Language of the Nativity” slideshow)

Though Jesus’ birth got off to a rough start, things definitely started looking up once the Magi arrived. Outside the Nativity story, Magi refers to a class of Zoroastrian priests in ancient Media and Persia, reputed to have supernatural powers. The word is thought to originate as moyu in the ancient Persian language Avestan. Within the Christmas story, the Bible depicts these Magi or “Wise Men of the East” as presenting gifts to the baby Jesus. But today magi can also mean astrologer.

9. Myrrh

[mur]

Though the exact number of Magi present at the nativity is unknown, biblical scholars assume that there were three based on the number of gifts they brought. One of these was myrrh, a bitter-tasting resin gum made from small thorny trees of the genus Commiphora. Exodus 30:23 cites myrrh as a key ingredient in the holy anointing oil used to consecrate Aaron and his sons as priests. Myrrh as a gift of the Magi symbolically anointed the infant Jesus as a religious leader.

10. Frankincense

[frang-kin-sens]

From perfuming the sanctuary in Exodus 30:43-38 to aiding prayer in Revelations 8:4, frankincense makes numerous appearances in both the Old and New Testaments. What is it? Frankincense is a gum resin made from Boswellia trees native to Asia and Africa. It can be burned as incense or used directly on the skin as perfume. Etymologically, frankincense is from the Old French, franc- which means “noble or true” referring to the purity of the “incense” it describes.

——————————————————————————–

Well, dear readers, I hope this list has left you enlightened you–in a “star of wonder” type of way. 😉

Best wishes to you in managing that elusive balance between insane busyness and holiday cheer. I hope you have many moments of peace, joy, and love this holiday season. Please join me throughout the next couple of weeks for more festive posts, including more lists, as well as reflections on what Christmas means to me.

“Let it Go”: Inspirational Song from Disney’s “Frozen”

Hello, dear readers. Thank you for your warm response to my last post; it means a lot to me. Tonight, I wanted to share a song with you that I’ve been listening to nonstop (mobile users, click here): “Let it Go,” from the Frozen soundtrack (available for preorder on Amazon). It’s making me even more excited to see the upcoming Disney movie. I love almost all Disney movies, especially the princess ones, but I can tell this one is going to have special significance to me–especially for the reasons I described in my last TBI postFrozen is not only based on a classic fairy tale (Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”), but it also focuses on the power of the love between sisters.

the power of family is the strongest magic of all

Via TangledDisneyFrozen on Tumblr

This song is a bit more poppy than I usually lean towards (at least this version of it; I suspect Idina Menzel’s movie version will be less so); however, it’s very catchy and uplifting. Demi Lovato’s voice is amazing, as always. I do love the message in it, too. These lines were especially significant to me, in light of yesterday’s post/my TBI journey:

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small,
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.
Up here in the open* air, I finally can breathe;
I know I left a lot behind, but I’m too relieved to grieve!

*I can’t tell if she’s singing “open” or “cold, thin” here–I prefer “open,” for my purposes. 😉

I so relate to that feeling–that feeling of perspective and being relieved when you let go of your worries and embrace your gifts, as unlikely or troublesome as they might initially seem. ❤

I’ll post my reaction to this movie once I’ve seen it; hopefully, I can see it for my birthday next week (cementing my princess status, I think). I’m hoping the movie will be as good as I’m imagining it to be! 😀

A Song of Beautiful Sorrow: Kung Liljekonvalje & Chicago a Cappella

A week ago, I had the great experience of going to a Chicago a Cappella concert with my mom. I actually won the tickets on WFMT, my favorite classical music station, for answering a quiz question correctly. 🙂

Listen at work.

Click to listen to WFMT streaming.

I’d never really been to an a cappella concert before, save for the ones my friend Kara’s choir sang in high school. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but if WFMT was promoting it, I knew it would be good. I invited my mom to go with me.

Embedded image permalink

My mom and I snapped a picture during intermission. We had such a great time! 🙂
I’m looking a little severe in all black, but let’s just say it’s festive for Halloween season. My mom, of course, looks beautiful as always! ❤

We were blown away immediately. The nine voices of the choir blended together so richly, yet you could still hear individual qualities. We were impressed not only with the immaculate quality of every selection, but also the wide range of genres they chose. Since it was their 20th Anniversary celebration, their theme was “best of” from the last 20 years of their performances.

Chicago a cappella

The musical director gave a short explanation before each piece, just enough to get a sense of the song. While all the songs were fantastic in their own ways, there was one in particular that my mom and I really liked. It was the second one they sang, and we were transfixed by it. The song was in Swedish, but the music was haunting, and with the snippet beforehand, we felt the song just as intensely as if we knew all the words. I even had tears in my eyes.

I wanted to share the translation with you, since I found it so beautiful. The lyrics come from a poem, and apparently, the song has become extremely popular in Sweden.

From the Chicago a Cappella program notes:

David Wikander: Kung Liljekonvalje

This song takes place in a miniature world conjured by a poet’s imagination. Gustav Fröding’s finely-wrought poem creates a single beautiful scene, so complete that it feels like it was cut in whole cloth from a Swedish cousin to JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. (In fact, Fröding and Tolkien both used medieval images and style in their works deliberately, so the kinship is an overt one.) The soaring, plaintive melody and exquisite counterpoint are by David Wikander, a Swedish church musician of the early twentieth century. The piece has carved out such a firm place in Swedish hearts that it is virtually considered to be folk music—a high honor indeed for “composed” music [likely, of the 20th century].

I’m going to post the translation first, since I’m assuming most of my readers speak English over Swedish. 😉 The original lyrics will go after it, though. Please do listen to the audio excerpt available on the Chicago a Cappella website, too; I hope they will include the full version on a CD or MP3 soon.

File:Lily of the Valley (2528553648).jpg

Lily of the Valley (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

King Lily-of-the Valley

King Lily-of-the-Valley from the grove,
King Lily-of-the-Valley is as white as snow,
now the young king mourns
over Princess Lily-of-the-Valley-Maiden.

King Lily-of-the-Valley, he lowers
his sad head so heavy and weak;
and the silver helmet shines
in the pale summer twilight.

Around the bier, a spider weaves
from the “incense place” with floral scent
an incense [that] slowly flows;
the entire forest is full of fragrance.

From the birch’s rocking crown,
from the wind’s waving green house
small songs of sorrow sound;
the entire forest is filled up with whistling.

A message is whispered through the valley
about a king’s sorrow among whispering leaves,
in the wide kingdoms of the forest,
from the capital of the Lilies-of-the-Valley.

Original Swedish lyrics:

Kung Liljekonvalje av dungen,
kung Liljekonvalje är vit som snö,
nu sörjer unga kungen
prinsessan Liljekonvaljemö. 

Kung Liljekonvalje han sänker
sitt sorgsna huvud så tungt och vekt,
och silverhjälmen blänker
i sommarskymningen blekt. 

Kring bårens spindelvävar
från rökelsekaren med blomsterstoft
en virak sakta svävar,
all skogen är full av doft. 

Från björkens gungande krona,
från vindens vaggande gröna hus
små sorgevisor tona,
all skogen är uppfylld av sus. 

Det susar ett bud genom dälden
om kungssorg bland viskande blad,
i skogens vida välden
från liljekonvaljernas huvudstad.

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An accurate selfie of how I’m feeling right now.

Aren’t those lyrics so lovely and haunting? And “haunting” fits the seasonal theme so well; I just had to share them. I think this elegy is a sweet example of how love transcends time and life itself. All of the nature symbolism shows us that the princess isn’t really gone; she is everywhere, in everything. Her people, especially her father, keep her memory alive. ❤

“Aloha, Mozart,” by Waimea Williams, Review–Novel Publicity Blog Tour

Hello readers! Tonight, I have the pleasure of being a Novel Publicity Blog Tour host for Waimea Williams’s Aloha, Mozart, from Luminis Books. It’s a beautiful story combining several of my favorite interests–classical music, Hawaii, and Europe–but one that I might not have picked up on my own. I’m very glad I did, and I hope by the end of this review, you might be inspired to, as well. Read on for more info about the book, my review, and prizes!

About the book: Would you risk your life–or your soul–for the sake of art?

Born into an impoverished Hawaiian family in the 1960s, Maile Manoa’s quest for a life in music lures her to the high-stakes world of European opera. In Salzburg, Austria she attracts the attentions of powerful men and falls in love–with a troubled young musician, with the city, and the intrigue that surrounds her.

When Werner von Wehlen, the famous conductor at the center of Salzburg’s glamorous music festival, offers her a leading role, she is forced to confront the Nazi heart of the classical music scene and von Wehlen’s treacherous past.

With Soviet tanks threatening to invade the city on the evening of her much-anticipated premiere, Maile must choose between recognition on the world stage or leaving the city with her life–and her conscience–intact.

This debut novel hits all the right notes–following in the spell-casting footsteps of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto.

My review guidelines: As you know from my first Novel Publicity review, I HATE spoilers as a reader, so as a reviewer, I avoid them as best as possible. As a writer and an editor, I put a lot of value on the language itself used to tell a tale. A 10/10 review for me will be one with an amazing plot, characters I love, and enchanting writing. I can’t get lost in a book without falling under the spell of its words–and the spell will be ineffectual without a great plot to fall into.

With that said, please enjoy my review.

Aloha, Mozart

“Aloha, Mozart” is Waimea Williams’s debut novel from Luminis Books. Click the image to purchase this book.

Review

I was shocked to discover this award-winning book was a debut novel from Waimea Williams. Upon reading the author’s bio, which I will include below, I did learn that she has won numerous awards in the past–including the illustrious Glimmer Train–as well as having completed a writing residency. This prior experience would explain how polished this writing was, but it does not diminish how impressed I was!

I would classify this as an adult historical fiction novel. I think the book would most appeal to mature teens and adults, especially those who have an interest in music performance/music theory.

The world: Although the novel took place in several different locations, each was authentically enchanting. Details so minute and charming that only an artist would notice made you feel like you were seeing the world through the main character’s eyes and walking in her shoes. From my own music background, I can personally attest that the sections about music and performance were impeccably described. While I found the heavy level of music detail fascinating, I could see how it might be off-putting to someone who might not be interested in music. I think that you have to have some kind of artistic passion, be it writing, drawing, etc., to connect with this book, and I think the deepest level of connection occurs for music performers (I, personally, was mesmerized). Williams’s Hawaiian origin and operatic background shone through in the text when she described the lush, mesmerizing setting and ethereal singing. Hawaii is one of my favorite places on earth, and classical music is my favorite genre. No wonder they inspired such a desire to express beauty from its…

Characters: I loved Maile Manoa from the very first time you meet her. You see–no, you feel–how she experiences music, and you hope you get to spend the rest of the book in her point-of-view. She is a complex character who is coming into her own, figuring out priorities and making mistakes along the way. She is passionate, sensitive, courageous, and vulnerable; even though she’s not using any weapon but her voice, I would classify her as a Strong Female Character. I don’t think I can talk too much about the other characters without revealing too much of the plot, but I will say that they were well-designed, too. None were as amazing as Maile, but that’s OK; I think it was a good choice to let her shine amongst the rest of the cast.

The plot didn’t come with the nonstop action you would expect from an adventure novel, but that kind of pace wouldn’t mesh well with this story. It was a slower-moving but beautiful journey; sort of like a scenic river cruise, with plenty of surprising turns to keep your interest. Williams represented the mystery, high stakes, and drama well, throughout the novel. The message of this plot is SO IMPORTANT, and it takes the entire novel to earn such a poignant message. You can see a hint of what I mean with one of my favorite quotes, which I’ll include as part of…

The language: “No one owns music,” [he] said…And the divine became human. The ageless gift, the spiritual resonance of music based on selfless love.” Oh my goodness. Jewels like this were sprinkled all throughout the text, but this was one of my favorite. Doesn’t it just sum up the way your heart swells when you interact with a poignant piece of work–be it music, literature, etc.? The generous lyricism and insight offered in this text make the language my favorite aspect of the novel. Readers with some familiarity with Hawaiian vocabulary will enjoy additional meaning from the text (even the multiple meanings embedded in the title), but it is not necessary to the enjoyment of the book.

Review: 10/10. Phenomenal! I am a lifelong fan of the author.

About the author: Originally from Hawaii, Waimea Williams spent a decade in Austria and Germany as an opera singer and has received fiction awards from Glimmer Train, The Lorian Hemingway Competition, and Salamander Review. She has enjoyed the honor of a writing residency at the Ragdale Foundation, and her short story “Vienna Quartet With Dog” received First Prize from the Charlton Review in 2012. She currently lives near Honolulu. Connect with Waimea on her website, Facebook, or GoodReads.

About the prizes: Who doesn’t love prizes? You could win either of two $25 Amazon gift cards, an autographed copy of Aloha, Mozart by Waimea Williams, or an autographed copy of its tour mate, Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray. Here’s what you need to do…

  • Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  • Leave a comment on my blog.

That’s it! One random commenter during this tour will win a $25 gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win–the full list of participating bloggers can be found here. The other $25 gift card and the 3 autographed books will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form on the official Luminis Duo tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

Luminis Books was launched in January, 2010 by husband and wife team Tracy Richardson and Chris Katsaropoulos with a mission to publish thought-provoking literary fiction for children and adults. We publish what we love: Meaningful Books That Entertain. Our award-winning books engage and inform readers and explore a wide range of topics from love and relationships, teen sexual assault and homelessness to string theory, consciousness, and the Universal Energy Field. Luminis Books is a proudly independent publisher located in Carmel, IN. Learn more at www.luminisbooks.com.

Learn more about Aloha, Mozart‘s tour mate HERE.