'AGAPE & ARES is a captivating romantic fantasy, and the reality of the setting, the Greek island of Santorini, is built gradually and only named close to the end, almost like a musical pause before the final crescendo. The motives behind Ares' undesirable traits are revealed early, but the actions he takes multiply more slowly, exposing him as a strikingly handsome but dangerous anti-hero. Agape has no doubt as to her ability to change him, but beliefs rooted deep in early childhood present themselves. Ksenia Sein's telling of the culmination of this ill-fated romance, the tragedy and eternal loss, moved me to tears. AGAPE & ARES is accurately titled and not a book that will be easily forgotten by its readers.'
Sarah Stuart, Readers' Favorite
'Any young person who has taken a holiday on a Greek island will immediately take to this poem. From the start, the reader feels close to the two participants and English readers will feel envy and admiration that a writer who is not a native speaker uses the language so powerfully, so correctly and yet so warmly.'
Neil Taylor, author of Bradt Guide to Estonia
Agape and Ares is a beautiful and romantic story that paints scenic descriptions that transport the reader to a dreamy place called Santorini. The story flows effortlessly, and the reader is swept up into its pages and is lulled into the rhythmic verses. I loved the themes of love and compassion that were woven delicately throughout the story. Agape’s heart is so pure, and her ability to try and find forgiveness in the one who betrayed her is admirable. Agape was a shining star for me in that she possessed the ultimate gift of forgiveness. She was able to see past the ugly and messy pieces of Ares, and she chose to forgive. I appreciated the depths of Ares’ character that were explored. There’s a bigger message in his story about not letting one’s past define one, but rather allowing oneself to love in spite of old hurts. He didn’t allow the chains of neglect and pain to consume him. In the end, he was able to rise above, recognize his wrong doings, and move forward wanting to make things right. I fell in love with this story, and it’s so refreshing to see a story that sheds hope on humanity. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to get serenaded by its pages.
Leanna Floyd, author of Over the Borderline
In truth, I am not an avid poetry reader and I am shamefully unaware of current trends in that genre, but having recently made the long-distance acquaintance of a young Estonian poet, I decided to allow myself an opportunity to re-explore that territory by reading her latest book, Agape & Ares.
I've had a long-term affinity for Estonian music (as in composers Eduard Tubin and Avro Part) and the story in verse I'm reviewing is as musical and pleasing to the ear as a Baltic chamber work could be. It's brief, it's tuneful, and it stirs emotion without creating unpleasant dissonance. I re-discovered something I understood long ago, but managed to lose sight of somewhere in the passage of time--poetry is read with the ears as much as it is with the eyes. This book helped me reconnect with that.
Agape & Ares is a lyric story in verse, beautifully illustrated by the author with simple line drawings, relating romantic incidents that unfold over the course of a few days on the Greek Island of Santorini--a brief love affair between a native Greek, Ares (Greek for the God of War)--a man with an unfortunate past--and the vacationing Estonian woman, Agape (Greek for the Goddess of Love) who is considerably more enlightened. So here we do not have The Iliad or The Odyssey, nor the Delphic Oracle, nor a cryptic Sphynx with a terrible riddle--but we have, instead, the subtly Dionysian confronted by the subtly Apollonian in a brief romantic encounter. A crossing of paths with consequences, and with a measure of enlightenment for the wayfarers.
It seems disproportionate to write a long review, bulging at the seams, when the poem under consideration is so compact and sparing. And too, it's not about a surfeit of plot, nor a Greek chorus of commentators, but rather an economy of poetic utterance, a purity striven for and achieved. Also, it must be mentioned, English is not the poet’s first language. That she accomplishes, in a secondary tongue, a work of this clarity and preciseness is a little miracle.
I could best describe the story of Agape & Ares as one that might easily be painted around the circumference of a Grecian urn in a mixture of cool Estonian and hot Mediterranean colors. And in the urn? Clear water, as evidenced by the following passage, which I underlined while reading to savor later: "...Still, you can create light grey from black By pouring patiently into the bowl of life more white...."
Recommended to its discerning audience without hesitation.
Lawrence Jay Switzer, author of Sayville Tales
I love nothing more than being swept away by a beautiful romance, and the story of AGAPE & ARES did just that. I literally felt as though I’d been transported to the breathtaking Greek island of Santorini and experienced the intense, passionate encounter between a brooding Casanova with a questionable past (Ares), and a woman on holiday whose soul is pure, understanding, and forgiving (Agape). What gives this lyrical tome its depth is the creative, unique way in which the story is poetically woven together. The author’s underlying message of empathy, compassion, and humanity makes for a powerful theme. Packed with lovely sketches and impactful prose, this novelette is one that lovers of romance will not want to miss (and I did not want to end!). I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend AGAPE & ARES!
Denise N. Wheatley, author of The Road to Bliss
This was moving poem written with beautiful prose and imagery. I could taste the Greek culture in every word and imagine the scenery in vivid detail as I read. I loved how the author mixed old history Greek with a modern flare. I studied Greek mythology, and philosophy in college so I was immediately attracted to this book. I enjoyed every page, every line and every word.
Rebecca Henry, author of Louisiana Latte
I am in awe at how a long poem in short story form can draw such emotion! I found myself wanting more!
My hope is that Author Ksenia Sein will turn this into a full novel!
I love the old classics and Ksenia's writing style is reminiscent of an Oscar Wilde prose while still maintaining a modern feel; almost as if the characters were transports from an ancient time set in the now. How did she do this?!!!
Kudos to Ksenia for making me beg an author for more! Well done!
Veronica Lee Hammer, author of BEANIE: The Bat who Drank Way Too Much Coffee
This is a breath of fresh air! Written in a way only a talented writer could. It's almost musical, and flows from line to line, and whisks you away into another land. Precious this is!
P. S. Rowland, author of Simplistic Beauty
This kept me entertained even though it’s way outside my normal choice of books. That speaks directly to the talent of the author. All I can say is it took fantastic writing to keep me in a book when I have a long list that keeps growing, to read yet. This book did exactly that!
Slate R. Raven, author of Magician's Mayhem
This is a beautifully written romance story in verse. A heartfelt poem. The verse is so lovely, and it flows so well. I read it twice, the second time aloud, and it felt like music. Loved it!
Raffaella Rowell, author of The Lake
Agape & Ares tells the tale of a love which transforms, despite jealousy, tragedy, and pain. The reader will be swept away by Sein’s imagery and wise words, like rivulets flowing and feeding the story. Agape & Ares is reminiscent of classic poetry and holds a Shakespearean flavor. I throughly enjoyed the poem; I only wish it had been longer.
Jenny Knipfer, author of By The Light of the Moon Series
In this masterfully written story-in-verse, we follow the tale of Agape, a young woman on holiday on Greek islands, and Ares, a charmingly mysterious local Casanova. The bright and sunny story has a dark twist that gets you to the edge of your seat. I particularly loved Chapter 4, where Agape contemplates her grandmother's advice which serves to foreshadow the tension in the future events. The summery atmosphere drags the reader in, language is skillfully used to weave the light, breezy mood of exciting Mediterranean summer holidays, which is used as a backdrop for romance and excitement. The chapters are marked and complemented by charming drawings that serve to reinforce the overwhelming Greek atmosphere of this story. I highly recommend this wonderful book and can't wait to read more works by Ksenia Sein!
Erna Grcič, author of Beneath the Surface
This story is a testament that even if only for a brief moment, love can conquer all. Opposites do attract, but some attractions just aren't meant to be. This was a delightful tale and I recommend everyone who believes that change isn't possible to read it. The author truly outdid herself.
Henery X (long), author of Positive Energy 24/7
This poem inspires you to read more and enjoy the modern poetry. It teaches us to be strong, never give up if you want to find the truth and get the justice for the bad things or lie. I like deep thoughts here and freshness. And interesting characters, of course.
Thank you for this unique poem. All the best!
Olga Goa, author of Fateful Italian Passion
I was captivated by this romanticly sad story written in verse form! I found the approach and the story very REFRESHING - it flowed so easily and I could visualize each setting, the characters, and locations.
The surprise ending left me wanting to read more. Very good book!!
"I really enjoyed working closely with Ksenia's poems (CRUISE TO ÖSEL)! She has a great style and there was a lot to admire in this work! I believe this collection will inspire and excite readers, and I hope that it reaches as many people as possible!"
Kallie Falandays, Tell Tell Poetry
If you want to be baffled by beautiful imagery and the Soul of Poetry, this is your chance! Ksenia’s beautiful poetry and imagery in ’CRUISE TO ÖSEL’ creates similar mental snapshots in the reader’s mind and draws you into a visionary passage where you almost get a preview of what Paradise must look and feel like and why love and beauty are at the creation of everything, why ‘High Love’ is and will always be our Alpha and Omega. In her words: "Hope leads us through the seas of time. True Faith keeps our spirits high. And if we find the island of High Love, beautiful feelings will fill the world."
I also love how she took the simple, everyday happenings in our world and daily life and captured it in a sensory, poetic experience with mental snapshots that appeal to our senses of sight, taste, touch, smell, and even sound.
Martine Weber, author of Celestial Days
Lovely poet Ksenia has once again blown me away with this beautifully-written, heartful book of poetry. Ksenia has a way of capturing the perfect imagery to accompany her lyrical prose, bringing to life the words on every page. The poignant quotes included with each poem serve as an added dose of inspiration.
CRUISE TO OSEL is a gorgeous getaway in a book. It's one of the those works that truly takes you to another place. It is also a reminder that reconnecting to love, our emotions, our dreams and nature can not only be magical, but is the key to long-lasting happiness.
Denise N. Wheatley
FI guarantee you will never take a cruise like this. With pictures, prose, and poems, author, Ksenia Sein paints a dream-like image of the culture of the Baltic island of Osel. The azure sea, captured in many of her photos, transcends the reader to distant shores rich with heritage.
Submerge yourself in the creative inspiration of Sein as she toured Osel. Thank you, Ksenia for sharing this treasure with readers.
She put the poems on the cookie jar shelf! What does that mean? It means, yes you gotta reach for it but once you do you get your treat. Some poets like to sons and be all mighty and complicated, when the true beauty is what the reader can take from their experience of reading the poet’s work. Ksenia Sein knows how to write, this an author going places!
Slate R. Raven
Ksenia's heartfelt sentiments of her life are beautifully captured through the poems she wrote in this emotional and insightful book.
She masters the manner of life's ups and downs to which is beyond inspirational.
A must read! It leaves you in your own thoughts about life.
What a beautiful collection of poetry and images! I found myself swept away by the imagery and depth of each poem. This is truly a lovely book for the mind and soul!
This book of enchanting short poems hit home. A spiritual journey through past and present. It gives way to thoughts on fears, dreams, self-destruction and belief in yourself. These are wide human emotions. We all have these feelings at times, so I could sympathise with these lovely poems and feel the sentiment within them. Beautiful!
Ksenia Sein has become my favorite writer on Medium. I never knew any such person existed until I became familiar with her writings on this website. Then I picked her book and it left me spellbound. Her poetry is a reflection of free spirited person she is and how she gives back to the universe same love that comes her way. I loved reading The Elixir, Fight For Your Life, Forgive Me, I wish, Who I am and High Hopes, High Love. I loved her idea of clicking pictures while being one day on the sea and forming the poetry to give us the gift of her words. It has healed my heart in a way where it needed healing the most. I would check her other books too.
Gurpreet Dhariwal, author of My Soul Rants
A lovely and inspirational book filled with photographs and poems from a place I used to call home. Ksenia's poems are a true treat, written from the heart with wisdom found through her life experiences as a daughter, wife and mother. Fantastic work.
Poems are filled with love, deep, full of thoughts and all poems make you think. Very clever and useful statements.
I received lots of pleasure while reading Cruise to Osel. It's nice even to hold this book because of hard cover. This book is full of amazing beautiful and colourful photos matching correctly to each poem.