Some books, like Artemis Fowl, I need on my bookshelf. Classics with brilliant cover art that add to the splendor that is #mydustybookshelf.
Book lovers all have preferred formats. Whether it’s your Kindle collection, a bookshelf in your house, or listening to your favourite audio book. We devour our favorites in different ways. Personally, I can’t follow along with audio books. My mind meanders and I often find myself three chapters later wondering what happened. E-books are cheaper, of course, and convenient but I still find that there’s nothing quite like holding a copy in your hands. My brother, on the other hand, loves audio books. He can listen while commuting, doing assignments, or coding. He can’t stand e-books or print.
Some books, like Artemis Fowl, I need on my bookshelf. Classics with brilliant cover art that add to the splendor that is #mydustybookshelf.
My current fantasy adventure is with N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy. I started reading “The Obelisk Gate” earlier this week and am thrilled to be back in the Stillness. If you’re reading/have read any of The Broken Earth books feel free to share your thoughts.
I came across this Top 10 theme on The Broke and the Bookish and thought it would make a nice “getting to know me” post. I started book blogging last month; it’s been different. As with any book, a new world is opening that I never knew existed. As my archives show, this blog has gone through quite a few changes. For the past 5-ish years I’ve been posting poetry, random thoughts, and devotionals. My poetry seemed to draw more attention so I stuck to poetry which was great. I’ve gained some great and supportive followers
For the past 5-ish years I’ve been posting poetry, random thoughts, and devotionals. My poetry seemed to draw more attention so I stuck to poetry which was great. I’ve gained some wonderful, supportive followers and I’m grateful for them.
Last year though, I decided to venture off in pursuit of publishing my poetry. Sadly, most of my favourite pieces are on this blog and publishers aren’t too keen on that. I took a break from my blog but missed it. And thus the book blog was born. I’ll still post poetry from time to time – Book Spine Poetry is a thing after all. I digress.
My Top Five Childhood Favourites
#5 Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz: I enjoyed Velocity so much that I had to get another Dean Koontz read. Life Expectancy was intriguing.
#4 Velocity by Dean Koontz: I had read way too many Sweet Valley High and SVU books. I needed to move on to fiction that was more substantial. I chose Dean Koontz.
#3 The Children Next Door by Jean Ure: A story about a young girl who moves to a new town and befriends two mysterious children who live next door.
#2 To Kill a Mocking bird by Harper Lee: Need a say anything. A classic told through the eyes of children playing their little games.
#1 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: Green Gables has always been my escape. I’ve read it countless times and always cry. Anne of Green Gables is the timeless tale of an orphan girl whose wildest dreams are coming true. Read it with a box of tissues.
That’s my Tuesday Top 5. What were your favourite childhood books? Have you read any of the books on my list? What were your thoughts?Let me know in the Comments below.
This week I’m introducing My Poetry Corner where I’ll review chapbooks, literary magazines/journals, and other poetry collections. And I might add one of my own pieces from time to time.
In this week’s Poetry Corner I’ll be reviewing Len Verwey’s In a Language that You Know which is scheduled for publication later this year.
Let me start by showing my appreciation to NetGalley and the Publisher for sending me a free copy of the book for in exchange for an honest review.
My initial judgment of a book is usually based on the cover. That’s what caught my attention as I browsed titles on NetGalley. The artwork was intriguing. However, I requested this one because of the title, In a Language that You Know AND because it’s part of the African Poetry Book Series. One of my reading goals is to consume more poetry, especially by South African poets. After all, great writers read.
In a Language that You Know is a collection of poetry that paints the life of a man whose life was shaped by his experiences in Southern Africa. I say Southern Africa, because several poems reference Mozambique. The poems are grouped by life cycle: childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, and adulthood. Collectively, the poems tell a beautiful coming of age story complemented by the author, Len Verwey’s, well-constructed prose.
What I liked
Verwey’s style, which is mainly prose poetry, gave the collection a narrative feel. The pieces flowed so seamlessly that at times I forgot I was reading poetry. I suppose that’s what prose poetry is meant to do. In several areas, he used titles to set the scene for the next section. Poems like Coast, Experts, Sunnydale, and 1999 ground the reader in the stage of life and era being discussed.
The poems about the Apartheid era are also different from others I’ve read. Verwey’s selection narrates someone who lived his life amid the civil war. He did what he wanted, other times he did as he was told, and in the midst of it, made money when he could. The love poems were sweet and definitely a few of my favorites.
I must say that Verwey writes great endings. There are a few non-rhyming couplets that were really captivating.
What I didn’t like
Although there were some lovely pieces, most of the poems aren’t the kind that stay with you long after you’ve turned the page. There were several moments when I got to the end of a poem and had forgotten what the poem was about.
The forms used are analogous, mostly because of the style. They are almost entirely prose poetry with variations of free form and a few other variations but for the most part, prose broken into verses. Personally, I would have appreciated more variety.
In a Language that You Know was okay. There are one or two pieces I’d go back to and even recall from time to time but overall it was a nice story. Would I recommend it? I don’t know. Maybe. Depending on whether or not you appreciate prose poetry. I do think it would make an interesting mini-series or perhaps even a short film.
“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”
I’m reading The Broken Earth series with the lovely folks over at the Fantasy Buddy Reads Group on Goodreads. Beyond Middle Earth and Westeros, I haven’t explored the world of fantasy fiction much. Nevertheless, since I enjoy the genre on both the big and small screens, I took the plunge. And am I ever glad I did.
The Fifth Season is the first book in The Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin. In this epic dystopian fantasy, Jemisin narrates the events that led up to the end of the world and the effect it had on the inhabitants of the Stillness.
In The Fifth Season, Jemisin gracefully explores what it means to be human and how ignoring our innate worth can have severe consequences.
“That we’re not human is just the lie they tell themselves so they don’t have to feel bad about how they treat us.”
As a start to the series, it introduces the geography, history, and politics of the Stillness. The Fifth Season also shapes the main characters, giving the reader a look at their humanity and brokenness. It also provides an intro to orogeny which is a valuable but dangerous super power. By the end of The Fifth Season, the reader knows that the world has ended, who caused it and why.
What I liked
I enjoyed Jemisin’s narrative style – which switches between second person and third person depending on the POV. It reminded me of Toni Morrison’s style in The Bluest Eye, which I’ve actually missed in the books I’ve read of late. Jemisin’s ability to weave story lines and arc in an engaging way is remarkable.
Each storyline developed at a great pace filled with action, romance, and suspense. Each character developed through the challenges they faced and the secrets they discovered about the world, the Stillness.
The visuals were great too, from the obelisks to Yumenese and the islands, Jemisin paints lovely and gruesome pictures that allow the reader to escape into Stillness and experience life with the characters. The nature of orogeny and the extent of an orogene’s capabilities is revealed in stages, which lets the reader discover new capabilities with the character.
The foreshadowing in the novel is another well-written feature. There’s an appealing balance between what is revealed and what remains a mystery.
Alabaster was definitely my favourite character other than Syenite. Reading the Fifth Season was also fun because it felt African. The dreadlocks and complexion aside. For instance, there’s a scene where Damaya’s mother calls her “Dama Dama” and it felt like reading something homegrown. It was refreshing.
What I didn’t like:
It took a while for me to realize that the story is set in three eras. This made the geography confusing at times. I didn’t care much for the love triangle.
The Fifth Season starts with the end of the world and then moves on to more interesting things. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the Stillness and its people, and Jemisin’s writing. The Fifth season is definitely making my top ten list. The Prologue was also confusing at first. However, when I finished I re-read portions of it and it made more sense.
This read had so many memorable moments and tweetable quotes. Choosing my favourites proved difficult. But here they are:
“He takes all that, the strata and the magma and the people and the power, in his imaginary hands. Everything. He holds it. He is not alone. The earth is with him. Then he breaks it.”
“Nothing to do but follow your crazy, though.”
“The source of the glow is beyond the mountains, as if the setting sun went the wrong way and got stuck there.”
“neither myths nor mysteries can hold a candle to the most infinitesimal spark of hope.”
About the Author
N. K. Jemisin is an author living and writing in Brooklyn, NY. This is fortunate as she enjoys subways, tiny apartments, and long walks through city parks. Her short fiction has been published in a number of magazines and podcast markets, and has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula award. She won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award.
What is clear now is that of all of that hope, fear, lust, love, and grief, nothing remains but Pecola and the unyielding earth. Cholly Breedlove is dead; our innocence too. The seeds shriveled and died; her baby too. There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.
Today I’m doing a throwback to a book I read last year. My creative writing lecturer recommended this book years ago because of the timeline Morrison uses in The Bluest Eye. I finally read it. And from the first page Morrison’s style, and play with words captivated me.
The Bluest Eye was like coming up for air. I’d read three John Grisham novels back to back (which I would not recommend) and needed something that would remind me why I enjoy reading.
Set in Lorain, Ohio, this epic tragedy tells the story of a little black girl, Pecola Breedlove, who longs for Blue Eyes. No. The bluest eyes in the world. Using different POVs and writing techniques, Morrison touches on beauty, abuse, racism, incest, and our innate desire to belong and be loved.
What I liked
The novel starts with a children’s story based on a basal reader Fun With Dick and Jane.
“Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy. See Jane. She has a red dress. She wants to play. Who will play with Jane?…”
This simple refrain is repeated but deconstructed in a manner that paints the destruction of each character, especially Pecola. It set the tone for the story Morrison’s technique also shadows the events in the story.
Pecola’s story is told through the narrative of others in her community: her friend, her parents, strangers. As if she has no voice of her own, which is sad but the Bluest Eye was meant to be a tragedy.
Morrison’s character development intrigued me. Most chapters had a different story arc that tied into Pecola’s life toward the end but the processed showed the brokenness of each character. I didn’t mind it at first because I suppose she wanted to show the flaws in all of them and the reasons for their actions. I found this interesting because other than Pecola’s father, Cholly Breedlove, I could empathize with all the characters.
Then there were the different narrative styles for each POV. The entire book is narrated by Claudia, who is looking back on a specific year when the Marigolds didn’t grow in their town. In the first section as Pecola’s storyline is explored, the narrative is simple and really true to the narrator. Short sentences humorous moments that reminded me of Scout and Jeremy Finch’s antics in “To Kill a Mocking Bird”.
Later the narrative style changes as Morrison explores Pecola’s parents through flashbacks and more complex sentence structure. Pauline Breedlove’s chapter was fun to read. Mostly because Morrison cut through the flashbacks with stretches of first person monologues. It felt as if Pauline was watching a documentary about her life and then clicked pause to reflect on key moments and their impact in her life and consequently Pecola’s.
Cholly’s chapter follows a similar style to Pauline’s but without the monologues. After Cholly’s back story we have Soaphead, whose story is also told in the third person narrative but includes a letter to God which he essentially writes to vent. In the letter, the reader is given a foretaste into Pecola’s fate.
Morrison ends with a dialogue between Pecola and either her inner self or an imaginary friend about her rape, her blue eyes, and whether she has the bluest eyes in the world. It’s really sad. This section has absolutely no narration just dialogue but again it was used in a creative way to communicate Pecola’s fate.
And then Claudia briefly wraps it all up with commentary on her and the community’s role in what becomes of Pecola. Much like the closing narrative in The Film version of the Help (still need to read the book). What I didn’t like
After page 125 of this version, it gets quite graphic. There are a number of explicit sections. I skipped much of Cholly’s chapter and Soaphead’s letter.
Though the backstories served a purpose in the overall tale, I grew tired of being introduced to some new in each chapter. And I felt that Soaphead Church’s story was unnecessarily explicit in areas. Much of his letter was unneeded, in my opinion.
Overall I loved this story. It was sad and deep and dark and it’s definitely a heavy read emotionally. But Morrison’s artistry makes it one of my literary treasures. I’d recommend it. But have something light-hearted on standby.
Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. She is the author of several novels, including The Bluest Eye, Beloved (made into a major film), and Love. She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize. She is the Robert F. Goheen Professor at Princeton University.
“Yes, sometimes I read books because the covers are shiny.”
This year is already eight months in. Can you believe it? Here’s what I’ll be reading, and possibly reviewing – this August.
Broken Earth Trilogy by N .K. Jemisin: I’m doing a Broken Earth buddy read with a group on GoodReads. To celebrate the release of book 3 in the trilogy we’re reading all of the. I started The Fifth Season last week and so far I find Jemisin’s writing style refreshing. I love fantasy but I haven’t read much in the genre. I’m looking forward to telling you more about it in my review this months.
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay: Another Fantasy Buddy Read. I’m looking forward to this one because I like the cover and the Title. Yes, sometimes I read books because the covers are shiny. I’m reading it on Scribd but I’ll probably buy a hard copy if I find one. I like shiny books with pretty covers even if I didn’t like the actual story.
Birthing the Miraculous by Heidi Baker: Heidi Baker is one of my heroes. Her life story is inspirational. Born and Raised in Laguna Beach she left the western world to be a missionary in Mozambique where she is making a difference one person at a time.
Prufrock: The latest issue of Prufrock is out. Stoked. Prufrock is a South African literary magazine. It showcases poetry, prose, and art by established and up and coming writers.
That’s my August TBR pile. What will you be reading?