The Rag Literary Magazine June issue 6

The Rag Literary Magazine Issue 6

Seth Porter , Daniel Reilly , Justin Duerr (illustrator)

Genre: Anthology, Short Stories, Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Poetry, Magazine

Five stars

Personal failure, self-examination, and the tyranny of entropy fill the pages of the Rag Lit Mag in June. Staying true to the monthly anthology’s gritty theme, the tales range from base to darkly whimsical on a tour through the self. My favorites for this issue were Best Work and On Bread Alone with their forays into the whimsical and departure from grim reality into both symbolic and spiritual regions. One or two tales, I felt ended too soon.

Best Work shocked and charmed with the artist’s self-destructive (literally) artistic process and the near-prophetic nature of his meeting with the homeless girl and her voracious drawing.

Bread Alone spun a bittersweet tale of a man who lived multiple lives through different bodies, jumping haphazardly from one to the next, yet knowing every thought and experience of the new self. The narrator’s profound love and ensuing spiritual journey was both ridiculous and beautiful.

The featured artwork was fascinating, and made me want to zoom in and examine closely the active, colorful, joyful, images tinged with terror and darkness.

The poetry in this issue fit well with the theme, illuminating scenes in sharp detail and drawing me into their emotion.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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Dancing in the Shadows of Love by Judy Croome

Dancing in the Shadows of Love

By Judy Croome

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

Five stars

The tales and perspectives of three women intertwine in a story through time. The child Lulu is an abandoned and shunned albino living in a society that considers her cursed. Zahra overcomes her shattered past of abuse, suppressing her victimized inner child to become a proper “Templeton wife” for a rich son of a pharmaceutical empire. But she lives on a precipice of self-control, and always in the shadow of her beloved, charismatic mother-in-law, Grace. Jamila grows up in poverty and shame because of her gambling father. Once she reaches adulthood she flees to Old Sea City to find a better life. There she meets Zahra’s grandson and they fall in love.

After a betrayal by her first love and a prison sentence for the crime of another, the adult Lulu meets the young woman Jamila and her grandmother-in-law-to-be, Zahra. The three women’s lives intertwine through their loves and their beliefs. Can the mysterious Enoch help them to release their pain and revive their hearts, or will the betrayals of others throw them into a hell of despair?

Judy weaves Dancing in the Shadows of Love into a tapestry of words. She uses past, present, and future; first person and third person, and different perspectives through different eyes to show the complexity and heart-wrenching sorrow of life. Though her characters know what is right, they can’t always find it, follow it, or surrender to it. Through their successes and failings she displays the many facets of faith and sin.

Her scenery feels like a strange mix of another world and this one, fluctuating between the two in a fascinating mix. Some scenes feel like an ancient barbaric past, and others feel like modern times. I enjoyed her interesting symbolism, and though I didn’t always feel I understood each nuance, they created a mystical and emotional feel for the scenes.

This story deserves more than one read just to soak in all the meaning. Bravo to Judy for a beautiful tale! I approve this title for Awesome Indies.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler

White Chalk

By Pavarti K. Tyler

Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming-of-age

Five stars

Chelle suffers through a life where she feels no one cares about her, and she doesn’t feel that way without basis. At fourteen, one of the most difficult years of many people’s lives, she endures poverty and an abysmal family life. Chelle’s mother struggles to support her and her father without any time or heart left for her sensitive daughter. Her father wallows in the throes of alcoholism and when he is home, everyone avoids his fury and humiliation. To cope with all the pain, Chelle turns to an illicit relationship with a teacher, the only one who seems to care, and her self-harm rituals that punish her body to revive her heart.  Hope dawns in Chelle’s life when the hot, edgy new boy takes an interest in her. But what is left for her when every hope she has turns to dust?

Pavarti has written a beautiful, horrible, gut-wrenching tale of grim reality. Truthfully, I never understood the mindset of someone who harmed themself or how they could possibly find solace in it. I understand now. In brilliant, vivid detail, Pavarti shows us how Chelle’s life crushes her delicate heart and drives her to cut and burn her body to take control of something. Though the character may be fictional, I know her story is real to many. This felt like someone’s biography. I cried.

Each character felt like someone real, struggling with their perspective, dreams, and disappointments. No character took the role of villain in this understanding perspective, though many committed crimes. Chelle seemed propelled through life, reacting and acting on her external stimuli without any real understanding, like a child does. Truly this story broke my heart and reaffirmed my determination to be the annoying, uncool, pestering parent I should. I know that if I should encounter a person who has gone through or is going through self-harm, I will be better equipped to reach out to them. Bravo, Pavarti!

I approve this title for Awesome Indies.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

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Pre-review: Wolfsangel by Liza Perrat



by Liza Perrat

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Five stars


Generations after the life of Victoire from Spirit of Lost Angels, her ancestor, Celeste Roussel, lives her life in the town of Lucie Sur Vionne. Celeste, inheritor of the bone angel necklace, now endures the Nazi occupation of France in World War II. Life, once rich and bountiful, has become tenuous and difficult. Any wrong move can mean trouble or death for the occupied French, especially Celeste’s brother and the other Lucie Sur Vionne boys who have joined the resistance, and her sister, a nun who hides Germans in the convent. Celeste longs to join too, but finds herself torn between her duty to her country and a blossoming love for a forlorn and seemingly misplaced German soldier named Martin. Can Celeste avoid the traps and perils that loom around every corner to resist the “Boche”? Will her heart lead her to betray her family and friends, and will any of them live to be betrayed anyway? Will she leave behind her oppressive and unloving mother or will she discover why Maman’s heart was so closed to her?

Like Spirit of Lost Angels, Liza has written another historical fiction gem in Wolfsangel. She brings the era to life with the struggles of her characters in a dynamic and beautiful depiction. Biography can not explore the variety of scene and struggle like Liza’s tales, and I love to hear so much about the time period all in one contrasting, unified whole. I find it hard to reconcile that her characters are not real people and that Liza did not experience what they experienced.

The relationships of Wolfsangel fascinated me and moved me. No simple romance for Liza’s characters! I love her bravery and head-on exploration of taboo romance and complicated, close relationships clouded by hardship.

Excitement and tension fill the pages. No restful peace awaits Celeste as danger after danger threaten her and those she cares about. I felt the anguish and stress of never knowing who would be caught, hurt, or killed by an enemy with all power and no motivation for mercy. Wolfsangel kept me eager and afraid for each new chapter.

Liza has given us a new and exciting tale of a turbulent time in French history with her daring and endearing style. I thoroughly enjoyed this thrilling tale.

I approve this title for Awesome Indies.

I received this book from the author for the purposes of an unbiased review.

Wolfsangel will be released November 16!



The Rag Vol. 5

rag pic 2

The Rag, Vol 5

Genre: Literary Fiction, Magazine, Anthology, Poetry

Four Stars

The Rag promises gritty, cutting-edge writing, and it delivers. The stories and poetry in volume 5 pulled no punches. Many of the stories in this issue focus on crime and the people close to it, whether fighting it, contemplating it or committing it. My favorite, called The Girl With Pretention in Her Hair by Bill Lytton, gave us a peek inside the judgmental mind of a man on the subway contemplating the profound ugliness of those around him. We’ve all done it, and the honesty of the piece overcomes the treacherous quality of the act of presuming on the lives of people we have never met.

I confess that I really didn’t understand the poetry at all. A few truths seemed to surface for me, but I guess I’m not hip enough to really comprehend the whole.

Between the writing, the art pieces featured by Meredith Robinson really dazzled me. They are both predatory and awkward, the colors warming the blankness of the animal expressions.

I love, too, the juxtaposition of a digital magazine that brings the reader back in time to a past medium of anthologies, cutting edge and literary tradition. Take a look at The Rag, a unique and progressive approach to literature.

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Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat


Spirit of Lost Angels

by Liza Perrat

Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Born in the farmlands of pre-revolutionary France, Victoire lives the tough but simple life of a commoner under tyrannical rule by nobles, church, and nature. Once she grows up, she must choose between limited means of survival. These means carry her to Paris and then back to her hometown of Lucie-sur-Vionne again after she is victimized by a noble. Tragedy soon tears her away from her village again and transports her back to Paris and into the Salpatiere, a madhouse and jail, from which she shouldn’t escape alive. Fortune smiles on Victoire and she is provided with means of escape and a new life. Will Victoire live for revenge? Will she survive the extreme violence of the building French Revolution?

Liza has created a beautiful history lesson in a story; the best method, in my opinion. Through Victoire, the reader can see many walks of life lived by people of the period and many perspectives on the volatile political landscape.

Victoire is a dynamic character who brings us through her life with honesty and courage.  Her difficult life, helplessness to her fate, and position in life engage the reader’s sympathy and understanding. She brings humanity and reality to the well-known and often overlooked aspects of a country in crisis.

A warning to sensitive readers: this book depicts extreme social situations. Victoire experiences sexual encounters, both consensual and non-consensual, straight, gay, and even adulterous. She is tortured, shot, and participates in riots in which authorities and rioters are harmed and even killed. Many children die of many tragedies. This is the French Revolution, not a bedtime story.

For those who are brave enough to face the grim realities of a people on the verge of revolution or death, Spirit of Lost Angels is a wonderful journey through the extremes of life within the country in crisis.

Spirit of Lost Angels is available as a print and e-book: