Hi there kind visitor, thanks for stopping by. I hope you find my blog interesting, and if you do maybe you want to follow me and hit that like button/star/icon and perhaps even leave a comment! Woo hoo that would be lovely.
But that’s not what this sticky post is for. I just wanted to say hold on friends, you are not alone. I don’t know your circumstances but I’m praying for us all that God bless the scientists, professionals, and everyone working around the clock to get this coronavirus under control to some extent. May they find the treatment we need, be successful in developing a vaccine, and keep us all safe and well by implementing policies and directions that will help slow the spread of the virus and provide us some relief.
Social distancing, self-isolating, and quarantining are not easy. No doubt it’s easier for some more than others. I’m thinking of you. I’m praying for you and your family. Hunker down but don’t panic. Make sure you have necessary supplies – like medications and pet food too – but don’t hoard and keep others from getting what they need. Don’t forget to care for your mental wellness as well as your physical. This kind of situation can be super trying on our minds, and stress does not do a body good. So be sure to talk to each other, share your concerns, don’t be afraid to laugh, smile, get some sunshine (safely), and get some exercise whatever that looks like for you.
If you’re interested I put together a survey thing just testing it out and getting a feel for things. I like quizzes and surveys so maybe you do too. My questions revolve around what you’re maybe or maybe not doing to keep yourself sane and occupied during this time, with regard to reading. It should follow this paragraph if I did it right. If you don’t want to take it, no worries, I’m just glad you’re here. 😀 Oh and hit the next button to start the survey. I’m not gathering info for anything other than my and your curiosity. I’ll probably leave this up for the week then share the results, without names unless you say oh oh eLPy talk about me, no promises on that end. 😉 I will then toss up another survey because I think this is gonna be fun.
Okay instead of having my TBR page (like I did in 2019) telling you what I’ve read, what I’m reading, and what I plan to read this year, I’m going to have this post “sticky”. Here, always found at the top of my blog, you’ll see what I’m currently reading and/or listening to and what I just read. If I know for sure I’ll tell you what’s next. There might also be some notes about how I’m feeling while reading/listening. Feel free to comment.
Just started this 8 May after finishing Lagoon by the same author. I’m about 3-4 chapters in and interested. The main character is a young albino girl born in New York City to Nigerian parents who moved back to Nigeria. She gets bullied and makes new friends, so far and there’s something going on, something different about these kids. Even though Sunny gets bullied for being albino, which some in their culture affiliate with witches, she is touch and sassy. It’s great.
I actually started this at the very beginning of May. I think the third book comes out this fall so I decided I should go ahead with this.
So far I don’t love that the main narrator is new, well different from the last book. I get it, it’s someone else reading the story of what happened but from an audio book perspective it isn’t great to now hear your main character with a totally different voice. That said I’m enjoying it, four chapters in. Looks like this book is going to be a lot more about dragons than the first.
This is a cute but interesting little book. I’ve read half of it so far. I appreciate the light-hearted nature of this book though the subject is something very serious. I do recommend it to anyone with anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. It’s nice to laugh while relating about something that’s not so funny, and sometimes drop a tear to know I’m not alone when feeling X.
This find is thanks to the podcast Reading Women. Do check out my page about the podcasts I listen to, mostly about reading and/or writing. Those lovely women raved about this book. There have been others talking about it as well and then I saw it on display at a local bookstore. I said okay, let’s go, you’re coming with me. It’s been looking at me ever since and well, today I figured what the heck, they’re essays so I can read them as I please. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to seeing the life of a person so different than me through their lens.
Got another five-star read here! As I write this this was my most recent finish and it was great. Very unique and original first contact story that takes place in Lagos, Nigeria. I recommend this book and this author. To read my review CLICK HERE.
Awesome fast-paced story. I think it was even better than the first, not that the first was less than but rather this adds to what was already built there. Definitely a five-star read/listen. I really like listening to Tanis Parenteau read this story as well.
In this story you get new scenery as well as some really cool new characters. I highly recommend this story though I will be anxiously awaiting the 3rd book. The author says on Goodreads that she has two more books planned for this series, four total. HECK YEAH! 😀
I don’t typically read contemporary fiction but this sounded interesting to me in part because of the mental health aspect. One of the main characters, one of the sisters, has a mental illness. One hundred pages in I’m intrigued even if it’s not my usual fare. So I’ll be mulling this over with a different set of eyes.
Update: I really enjoyed this book and gave it 5 stars. This story is intense and emotional. Read my Review HERE.
I’ll have to get back to you on how I heard of this book because I’m certain I heard it from a blogger or podcaster. I went right ahead and bought a copy and I’m really happy I did. My jaunt into long, long books, audio and one paperback, has been great (I am still listening to The Name of the Wind, epic fantasy), has left me satisfied, dissatisfied and longing for a shorter more fast-paced story. And I found it here. I’m about 60 some odd pages in and really really enjoying it.
I like the little insert pages that seem to imitate copies of letters, notes, and articles. They add to the story and are unique. There’s a lot of mystery here both to the reader and the main character. I don’t see this being a disappointment. I’ll bet it’s a 4-5 star reader, not ready to commit to 5 yet. 😉
And I finished it in just over a week (I think that’s good, at least for me). Yeah! I am going ahead with a 5-star rating. There’s not currently a sequel but from the sounds of it it’s not out of the question.
I won’t get into how this was an accidental purchase, because I do somewhere else. But here we have another epic fantasy. It reminds me a lot of Lord of the Rings. My patience for long long long stories is just not there. This is a good and interesting story, for sure, well-written and all that. But it’s really super long and probably, again I say this, wouldn’t be hurt if a lot of scenes were cut out or cut down.
All in all it’s no where near DNF, but when I think about how everyone complains that the third book in this series (this first book published in 2007!) has not yet even been ANNOUNCED, I get nervous. What if I love these first two and have to just sit empty handed? Okay maybe not empty-handed because I have so many books to read. Stay tuned…
Update: This story certainly is epic. It’s long and it’s very well-written. I give it four and half stars only because it’s SO DARN LONG. It’s great sure, think Lord of the Rings like I said before. The characters are dynamic and distinct. I could see and feel the events as they happened. But it really takes us through IT ALL. Lol. I do recommend it. I’m really glad I went with the audible version. The narrator puts on a great performance, different voices and all.
This has been on my list since March of 2019. Ms. Victorious over at Victorious Pages is how I came across The Dark Artifices but I know I’ve also seen it elsewhere. I happened to see it for sale at Barnes & Noble, knew it was on my list and well I had to take a good deal. 😉
I’m about halfway through. It’s interesting. Cassandra Clare is a talented writer however this isn’t really my speed. So much time is spent on the day to day of the characters it just feels too drawn out. In my opinion this book would not have suffered from being shaved down. Of course it doesn’t help that I’m reading this and listening to Strange, the Dreamer, both books that…are…d.r.a.g.g.i.n.g. Maybe I should put ellipses in between each of those letters…
Upon finishing: I will not be continuing this series at this time. There are some sample chapters at the end of the book for the next in this series, the first in the ShadowHunters series, and the first book about the characters Tessa & Jem. Of those samples I almost like the first in the whole series but for now I’m moving on.
I give this book a 3 because I do not like the pacing. There’s a lot of repetitive thinking going on in terms of character relationships. By this a mean, a lot of talking about how much one character cares for another though we already know this. This is a character driven book, even then I think it would be better served with a little bit more weight put on the overall plot, the thing that keeps it moving. The reason it doesn’t really feel like it moves enough for me.
So I went back through my notes to see how I found this book. It does not appear I learned of it through any book bloggers. Honestly I don’t know how I found this book! I think she was on a podcast but I can’t find the one. It could have also been NPR but I don’t think so. Maybe it was a fellow blogger and I didn’t write it down…? Ugh…notes are great…
This is an epic fantasy, which means it’s a really big book. Which is also part of the reason I chose to listen to it: not a heavy book and much cheaper because I used the book “credit” I get from audible for the month. I’m in Chapter 26 and still have 19 hours to go. So if you need a big long story, here you go.
It is a long drawn out storytelling that’s for sure. But I don’t say drawn out in a bad way. It’s getting more and more interesting. I won’t be surprised if in the end I say it could have done without being this long but we’ll see. So far I like it, not super in love with it, but it’s cool. 😀
Upon finishing: What I said above came to be, I really liked this book. However, I don’t feel that it would necessarily be served by cutting it down. This is a journey and taking the journey makes for a complete story. Could some sections have been shorter and the story still great? Sure thing. But it’s still an excellent book. I’m giving it 4 stars. I do recommend it and I will continue with the series THAT I DIDN’T KNOW WAS A THING! 🙂
Oh and while editing this to adjust for my review of Strange the Dreamer I discovered that I think I can thank SilverWolfReads for this book. She picked up the sequel during her Great American Book Haul! That’s at least plus 2 for you girl!
[Here’s what I said before:] I’m in about Chapter 10 I think? So far I’m disappointed because this book is taking solong to be interesting. Lazlo, the main character (MC), really feels flat to me at this point. Given the number of roaring reviews I’ve discovered there to be (saw, didn’t read just glazed over a few) I have faith that this book improves but if I was given an ultimatum I’d be tempted to DNF this.
You know a book is taking too long to really grab you when you almost forget you’re actually supposed to be paying attention to what you’re listening to and you struggle to want to.
This book I found thanks to SilverWolfReads after her trip to NYC and her giant book haul. Please do visit her blog (click the link above) and read my review of this book. I most recently finished this book & after what I’ve said above you’ll be surprised to know I’m rating this 5/5 stars.
We’re just getting into May and the sun is shining more and more. This last month has been pretty good for reading. However, as the weather warms I won’t be inside as much but I will need to get some sun – time to read and write – and I’ll be doing yard work which is conducive to listening to audio books and podcasts. 😀
A little while ago I wrote a post for anticipated reading among other things. I’ve since finished some of those, altered plans a little bit and added on to it.
Reading Plans for May & June
At the time of writing I’ve just started Akata Witch (see above). I was going to read the first then some V.E. Schwab but since I already have Akata Warrior I will read that immediately following Akata Witch.
I don’t know what I’ll listen to when I’m finished with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) but I have The Wise Man’s Fear (sequel to The Name of the Wind), The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow;
Let’s see what else? Hmm… do you think I should just read A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy in a row? I also have Planetfall by Emma Newman on my mind and Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward. Any thoughts?
I really love engaging with folks in comments. I’d love to hear what you think about this list and I really thank you for taking the time to read this.
Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?
Hardcover, 349 pagesPublished April 14th 2011 by Viking Children’s
My Review of Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor
Once again Nnedi Okorafor did not fail to impress. I’m pretty sure I read on her page that a movie or show is in the works for this book and I’m excited to see it manifested.
“It’s just an insect specter,” Orlu said as he touched the sting with his knife. He made a popping sound with his lips. “They’re the result of insects people smash. Most angry spirits come from deaths by acts of cruelty. If the insect is angry or a vengeful type, it’ll return as one of these.” Slowly the feeling in her legs returned. The bruise on her hip from falling remained, though.
This is a really interesting book with engaging, dynamic characters that easily stand out from each other. This series might well be described as a more diverse, unique, and perhaps grounded Harry Potter in that we’ve got a group of kids, some of whom are already aware of “magic”, one who is not. They are sent to attend “magic school” all while still leading their “regular” lives. No offense to the Harry Potter series but this story isn’t about your typical idea of magic. A person’s ability is often unique to them or something they’ve inherited from a relative. I love the idea that what might be a disadvantage or flaw in the “lamb” world translates into an ability among Leopard People. It’s beautiful.
This story is easy to read, well-paced, and original. It’s fantastic and feels true to life even as it’s set in a country, continent and culture I do not know. I’m grateful for this opportunity to read a story set in Nigeria flavored with fantasy. We all know one of the beauties of reading is being able to travel outside of our own lives, this book delivers on that in SO MANY ways.
“Lesson one, ” Anatov said. “And this is for all of you. Learn how to learn. Read between the lines. Know what to take and what to discard. Sunny, we don’t teach as the Lambs do. Books will be part of your learning but experience is important, too. You’ll all be sent out to see for yourselves. So you have to know how to learn…”
There is violence, but it’s not overwhelming . I think it’s comparable to a PG-13 movie, mind you I don’t read a lot of books of this age-range so I might not be the best judge. That said my 12-year old niece isn’t big on scary or violent stories/movies but I think I will recommend this to her nonetheless. The main characters are 13-14 years old. Nnedi gives these characters energy and attitude true to children. Sunny, the main protagonist and a new student of the Leopard world, is a spunky, sassy girl who is understandably nervous but brave. She’s bullied for being albino but she remains strong and stands up for herself even though at times it hurts to feel like an outsider.
Okorafor is good at tapping into the characters’ emotions and not forgetting those seemingly small moments of emotional pain, young and old. You’ll also find some great lessons woven into these pages.
“Sunny, there are Leopard People all over the world from every tribe, race, whatever. None is better than the other.”
I will continue to make my way through her work moving right along to Akata Warrior, #2 in this duology. I strongly recommend reading this book and more of Nnedi Okorafor. If you haven’t yet branched out to more diverse authors, Nnedi Okorafor’s books are a great place to start for the fantasy/sci-fi genres.
“Let me tell you something Chichi and Sasha have a hard time respecting,” Orlu said, putting his fork down. “Leopard People – all our kind all over the world – are not like Lambs. Lambs think money and material things are the most important thing in the world. You can cheat, lie, steal, kill, be dumb as a rock, but if you can brag about money and having lots of things and your bragging is true, that bypasses everything. Money and material things make you king or queen of the Lamb world. You can do no wrong, you can do anything.
Leopard People are different. The only way you can earn chittim is by learning. The more you learn, the more chittim you earn. Knowledge is the center of all things…”
From Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)
The following are more quotes from the book that are listed and liked on Goodreads:
“People are too focused on money. It’s supposed to be a tool, not the prize to be won.”
“They’re capable of great things, but potential doesn’t equal success.”
“We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities.”
We’re going through some truly incredible times in the world right now. Sometimes I feel like we should have expected 2020 to be different. I mean, 2020 right? Gosh… The change we are experiencing is profound and much of it overdo. I am proud of those standing up against injustice. I am proud of those standing up for science and the good of the community. I am proud of all the brave people exercising their courage in the face of fear. I am so proud of all the people embracing each other, coming together, and demanding a better world for everyone. People are showing each other that hate has no place among us.
In the midst of all of this, many of us are wondering what can I do? How can I help? Maybe you’re marching, maybe you’re not, but you want to know how you can be a part of the change and help to usher it forward. One way we can do this is to continue to support each other and to support communities of color. We can help by investing in communities of color; this in part means supporting the work done by people of color, and the businesses, the arts, and the efforts among so many other things. In the bookish world, the art world, we do this by buying books by and about people of color. We do this by talking about their books and stories, telling our friends and family, our neighborhoods, our social media-hoods. We can help by promoting more diversity in the arts. Don’t have many or any authors of color on your TBR? Well now is as good a time as ever to branch out. And when you find those authors you enjoyed, spread their name far and wide. Encourage others to read their work. Then find more and share more. Read non-fiction and fiction by and about people and communities of color. Read books that take place in a community, neighborhood or region unlike yours.
We in the bookish community already love to read, so let’s be super intentional in what we pick (if you’re not already doing this) and make sure you pick up books, more books by and about people of color. In fact, I have an idea, get this book and others by this author! 😉
From Goodread’s author bio:
Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.
The above link will take you to her Goodreads’ bio page but THIS LINK will take you to her website.
You can CLICK HERE to read my review of Lagoon, a sci-fi/fantasy, first contact book by this author. Another five star read in my humble opinion.
You can also CLICK HERE for my review of Binti, an awesome sci-fi novella, the first of 3 books I shamefully have yet to finish! (But I will. 😉 )
And I will be re-reading (one of these days) The Book Of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5). I want to refresh my experience with this book as I read it at least a couple years ago but have since become a big fan of this author.
Rest assured I will continue to work my way through her books. Today I start Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2).
Have you read any of her work? Have you heard of these books or her? What did you think? Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. Have you read any I have yet to read? What other authors of color would you recommend we read? I encourage you to share. In the coming week I hope to put together a post about authors of color in an effort to help promote and support their work. Some will be authors I’ve read, some I plan to read but have heard great things about. I would also like to include suggestions from others such as yourself. I plan to link to some great posts with similar lists by other book bloggers.
So let’s as a bookish community come together and show our support for authors and communities of color by promoting their work far and wide.
Let me be real, writing a book is not an easy task. You don’t just sit down and write the story in your head. Sure that’s how you start but a lot happens in the midst of doing that. Your characters will teach you that what you thought about them was wrong.
Here are some other things I’ve learned while writing my first novel:
New characters are going to show up whether you invite them or not. And when they show up don’t try and shoo them away, you have to at least listen to what they have to offer.
Face it, you are going to write A LOT of words that are not going to make it into the finished book.
The above fact is something you have to accept and get over. Move on, don’t look back. Unless you’re like me and copy and paste some of that stuff into a different folder in hopes of using it in other works at a later date.
There are going to be too many days during which you can’t muster up the interest to even look at your story. You’re going to be frustrated and disappointed and even lost. Writing a book is not like butter; it doesn’t soften and get easier to spread if you just leave it out.
BUT despite the above bullet point, you have to continue your work. There are few parts of life that are only ever pleasant, but we push on. We persevere. Writers get over these humps and back to the story. I keep reminding myself that right now I just need to get the story out. One foot in front of the other; one word after the other.
What you start with is likely to change. Period.
Don’t get hung up on names. It’s okay to use a stand in name for a character so you can keep writing. The same goes for your title. Just get to writing and worry about such details later.
Be humble enough to admit you’re making excuses. Yes, sometimes I avoid writing because I don’t know what comes next. Sometimes I need a break. But, saying I just haven’t had time might be true sometimes but if I’m honest, I couldmake time to get it done. Be real with yourself about what you’re doing.
It is okay if your first draft is crummy. Keep writing.
Write your story, not what you think the market wants.
Remember that crafting a story takes many forms. Brainstorming, building character profiles, story-mapping, world-building, creating backgrounds, etc are all part of your writing. So give yourself credit for doing these things, they count. Don’t hesitate to do them if you’re not and you’re focused only on writing words.
Do Not expect to include all of the above in your story. Some of what you write is just for you and your work. Putting all the background you’ve gathered in your book is likely to exhaust your reader. Wouldn’t you say from your experience that this is true?
Today marks the 1st day not only of June but of the 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge! I learned of this challenge over at Fictionophile’s blog. Thank you so much! I understand this is not the first of this summer challenge but it’s certainly the first time it’s sounded so cool! 😉
I’ve never done this challenge, nor do I expect to complete it. However with my new (as of last year) habit of listening to audio books I think I will get closer to finishing than not. Regardless, I will give it a shot, and my best shot! My list – which follows the rules and link to the creator – will include audio books, physical books, e-books, non-fiction and fiction. This feels like a great challenge and I’m excited to try. I am going to include the books I’m currently reading…cheat or not I’m gonna do it!
This challenge 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge – is brought to us thanks to Cathy at 746books.com.
Visit Cathy’s blog at 746books.com and grab the 20 Books of Summer image (seen above). Next pick your own 20 books you would like to read. Then link back to her Master post from 1 June to let her know that you are taking part. When you visit her site you’ll see that she offers images for 15 & 10 Books of Summer as well. I like the sound of 20 of 20 so I’m going for that (even if 15 or 10 would be guaranteed success(HA!)). She would love to hear about your participation so be sure to skip on over!
(By the way, I’m super excited about being able to pick my own 20 books!)
She also urges us to follow along with the #20booksofsummer20 hashtag, and tweet along on Twitter there if you do that.
The challenge starts off on Monday 1 June and finishes on Tuesday 1 September.
Here is my list of 20 books I hope to finish by September 1, 2020. They will include fiction, non-fiction, a lot of different genres, audio and physical books, AND the books I’m currently read. (Well they are still books that I’ll finish in the time frame. 😉 ). They are in no particular order other than the ones at the top (as noted) are currently being read.
If you decide to do this challenge – yeah let’s do it! – I would so love it if in addition to linking to the creator you link back here as I would love to read along with you and hear how you’re doing. 🙂 Don’t forget 10, 15 or however many books is also an option!
The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons – audio book, epic fantasy
Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy
Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – hardcover, non-fiction, sequential art (graphic novel but non-ficiton?)
Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – hardcover, non-fiction
The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman – paperback, non-fiction
Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan – paperback, fantasy
Non-Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge
The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark – hardcover, non-fiction
Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling by Larry Brooks – paperback, non-fiction
Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear – hardcover, non-fiction
Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to Be Grateful for Michelle Obama by Nicholas Haramis (editor) – hardcover, non-fiction – **In case you’re wondering why this and not Becoming (her memoir, which I want to read), because I bought this before Becoming was written
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – paperback, non-fiction, memoir
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – audio book, non-fiction, memoir
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – audio book, fantasy
The Ice House (The Honours, #2) by Tim Clare – kindle e-book, fantasy
The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1) by Kalyn Josephson – version undecided audio or physical?
This list is subject to change. 🙂 Especially the audio book side of things. Creating this list makes me think I could really complete this challenge! (Lol, smh…)
It never ceases to excite and disappoint me when I make book lists. Why disappointment you ask? Because this list feels so incomplete! There’s a bookshelf in front of me as I type and to think I will barely touch the TBR books on that shelf…wow.
Alas, my own book is most important. However as I write reading provides a good break from writing when I need it, and a place from which I can learn because books are my craft.
Hey there folks, how are you doing today? What new things have you been able to embrace during this struggle to overcome the SARS-CoV2 virus and its threat of Covid-19? What can you embrace that you might be overlooking?
I am embracing the time to focus on changing some habits, like being better about getting dishes done sooner than later. I’m also trying to embrace less grocery shopping and healthier picks when I go. Since it’s better to reduce exposure I don’t just go to the store when I feel a craving and have the money (CHIPS CHIPS CHIPS!). I’m also more likely to eat what I have instead of focus on what else I might be able to have. For example, I might say sure I have bread and tuna fish and mayo, so I could make a tuna fish sandwich but I would really rather have some chips and hummus and a hot dog. Nope, I’m not going to the store for chips and hummus. The food that’s available in my house is still food whether it sounds great or not. And do you know what’s so beautiful about this? I discover that that thing I really didn’t think would be as good as a hot dog or Taco Bell mexi-melt, is actually pretty darn delicious! As I ate my dinner the other night – tuna fish sandwich, cashew carrot ginger almond soup (something like that) and a side of fresh yellow pepper I thought, that’s right, I can do this diet thing. That’s right, eating healthy is a beautiful thing (even if I still want some chips and hummus).
By the way, cutting up that pepper made me that much more excited to grow my own orange peppers this summer. I planted my seeds inside (late) and my seedlings have come into this world! Yeah! More on that later.
This quaran-time (as I like to call it) has not been without its challenges, its down days, and fear. But I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on myself and life even more than usual.
Sometimes we have the option to choose which lens we wear. During this lockdown period I imagine a lot of us are donning lens of fear. Still others pick up those of anger and frustration. Some days maybe you don’t think you have a choice, you just feel what you feel. I know that feeling. I know that need.
1) the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
2) an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.
3) Psychology. a strong, usually irresistible impulse to perform an act, especially one that is irrational or contrary to one’s will.
Google search of the word compulsion
Perhaps you feel compelled to be upset, afraid, and/or sad. Perhaps you are focused on how much is out of your control. Perhaps you are compelled to resist a new way of living and seeing life. Perhaps the compulsion is your own, not the fault of another.
We do not have control over SARS-CoV2. We do not have control over the Covid-19 illness. But we have control over ourselves and how we view things. The actions we’ve been required to take, or stop, have been as a result of what is unknown in an effort to protect all of usfor as long as possible. The best way to protect beings from a virus pandemic is to keep said beings away from each other. Unfortunately, we can not rely on everyone to do the right thing without being compelled to do so.
I’m getting beside myself here…
Let’s try something. At least once a week – if you don’t already – choose to wear a different lens. Now come on, don’t roll your eyes at me – kumbaya shit right? – let’s wear a lens that helps us see how life goes on. See what you don’t always see. See passed the veil of stop and go and into a life you do not know…
Today besides this little rant I bring to you a piece of short fiction. It is inspired by real life but fiction. It’s fiction because it is not an exact account of the truth but a representation of it. 😉 Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.
They rise in the morning
They rise early in the morning, with little thought about whether or not they want to. The work has to be done. The work will be done. The work of life will do itself whether you care to participate or not.
Perhaps if they could wish it, they’d talk to their coffee pot. Could you make the perfect cup this morning please? I hear it’s going to be a cold one. These midwestern springs are beautiful, but they are often temperamental. Could you please help me start my day with a great cup of coffee.
Work clothes present and on, fashion step aside there’s work we must do. Clothes up, coffee down, shoes on, let’s go!
Out to the barn they head, the dog running in circles around them. He’s likely the most excited creature headed off to work. Perhaps they cross their fingers before they pass the threshold into the barn. Hopefully the night was good to its inhabitants.
They walk through the barn greeting all the mommas and mommas-to-be. Good morning girls. Are you doing alright? Hello momma, how are your babies? They look over every ewe and every lamb. Are their bellies full? Is she taking care of them? Are they strong and healthy? Those for whom the answers are no require action by the farmers and they oblige the responsibility. That one needs a bottle. Never go to the barn without a bottle. We might have to tube that one. These folks in the barn are not just two-legged creatures; they come in like rays of light through the large doors. They bring hay, corn, fresh water and help. They are protectors, without their farmers many of would not survive on their own. They bring soothing voices billowing up from hearts deep and rooted in what they do. They are not cruel. They are not uncaring wicked creatures. These are real farmers. These are real people. This is a farm, not a factory.
This is a way of life and living is what they do. Keep on with the living her sister used to say.
They spot a ewe at the back of the barn. She’s laying down, straining, her chin outstretched, like a dog getting a good scratch. Life is on its way. She eyes the farmers. She’s wary, but she knows them. They will keep an eye on her to make sure all is well.
They go about their business of chores. They each have their routines, their preferred methods of doing things. Sure they bicker some, but that’s how we get on isn’t it? This is life and they are living it. They are living it despite the deceptive sun that hides the fact of the cold wind. They are living it despite the fact that a lethal virus waits in the wings. It waits where we can not see it. It lingers around all that we do. It waits for us to go about as though nothing else is happening. It waits. It acts. It takes. It is a virus. It does what viruses do.
But the farm must go on, and these people aren’t about to stop. Not age, not pain, not even fear, they are their weathered barns, antique and golden. As long as their blood pumps red as the paint, they will endure. They will listen to the news on their coffee breaks, their lunch breaks, and their dinners. They will take the necessary precautions and heed the science, as they do with any illness. Not simply because they were told but because decades of experience has taught them. And heck, that’s just common sense isn’t it? They will protect themselves, each other, and their flock. They will get up every day. They will do all that they can.
It’s been too long. They’ve given her plenty of time. The ewe in the corner of the barn stands, she is uncomfortable. She still has not given birth. She and the baby could be in danger. The farmers do not panic. They get to work. He takes his coat off and lays it over a nearby fence. She approaches the nervous ewe slowly, cooing softly as she does. The ewe is afraid, it’s in her nature, she’s a prey animal. And yet she knows them. These are her people. They have come to help.
The farmer stops but a few feet away. He approaches from the side. They communicate with each other about what they’ll do. He’ll hold the ewe, keep her still, assuming she cooperates. She will assist in the delivery.
Closer now she can see the lamb’s feet, the tips of two tiny hooves. She knows exactly what she’s looking at. It’s a breach. Oh?Yup. Nothing more to say. She grabs hold of the two little feet and pulls down ever so gently. The ewe does not resist, she grunts. There’s a little resistance from the body but then the legs come free. The farmer pulls and the hind of the lamb is revealed. With a few more gentle pulls against the strength of the body it gives way and the lamb falls to the straw. They use some straw to wipe the newborn’s mouth and nose, to clear the mucous so it may breathe. One of them gently pats it to be sure it’s alive and well. And maybe to be sure it acknowledges its arrival, as much as one can expect.
The lamb sneezes, lifts its small wet head and shakes it. The farmers have removed some of the membrane from around its head but the rest is the work of the mother. Were she not to do her job – which sometimes happens – they would do it instead, albeit as humans do. But this is a good momma. She turns to her lamb and begins licking it clean. She clears it inch by inch, all the while bleating a song that she only sings to her newborn. Even an untrained assistant can hear the soft pitch is different from her normal sound. Its tone is something innate to them. This sound is a bond. This sound is a forging between mother and child. One would not doubt the lamb knows its mother.
The farmers smile. Job well done. Good looking lamb. It is, it’s beautiful. What a good momma. Perhaps if momma spoke the language of the two-legged hairless ones she’d thank them. Perhaps she’d say, I knew I was in trouble, I couldn’t have done it without you. But the farmers would not need that, they know. This is a thankless job but they know they’re needed. They’re needed by the ewes, the rams, the lambs, and the people that count on the harvest. Wouldn’t it be nice though, if everyone knew how much the farmers are needed?
Outside the sun tells the wind to take a break. Let me warm things a bit, it is spring after all.
Outside, somewhere out there among the humans, the virus travels. It is expelled from one to the next. Or maybe it flies, soars, or simply floats, but it carries on because after all, it is life. The farmers know its there but they are here and there is work to be done.
Their eyes and minds open up beyond the delivery. They watch the swallows dip and dive through the barn. They are everywhere and yet their grace enables them to stay in their own space, they bother no one. They carry on. The farmers hear the lambs bleat for their mothers, the mothers bleat for everything. Might they talk to each other? The farmer opens the door to allow the other ewes back inside the barn after tending to one of the herd, a sister or mother perhaps a cousin. Some rush in looking for fresh hay. Others approach the new mother in her pen, smelling what has happened. Still others watch the farmers, wary of what they’re doing as they finish checking the barn and all its inhabitants. The dog sits nearby waiting for a job or a pat on the head.
Well let’s get coffee then we’ll do some marking.
Inside they’ll hear the news that the numbers are still rising. They’ll hear about the angry people resisting the current situation. They know the threat is real. They know that were the world their barn they would have to do things differently. They would have to change their course of action to ensure survival of the herd, not comfort of the individual. They would adjust. They would adapt just as they do every spring.
The farmers know that life isn’t just about survival of the fittest. The farmers didn’t need school to teach them that the mechanism of evolution is adaptation. They survive because they do not stop, they adapt.
One last check of the barns after dinner then they’re off to bed. They will rise in the morning, again and again.
It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.
After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.
Hardcover, 304 pagesPublished July 14th 2015 by Gallery / Saga Press (first published April 10th 2014)
I know I say a lot of stories are unique, maybe it’s just because I’ve been fortunate enough to come across such jewels but this book deserves such a description more than most.
Ayodele smiled and nodded, gazing into the camera. Adaora shivered. If there was any strong hint of the alien in Ayodele’s appearance, it was in her eyes. When Adaora looked into them, she felt unsure… of everything. A college friend of hers used to say that everything human beings perceived as real was only a matter of the information their bodies recorded.
Nnedi Okorafor is a very talented and imaginative writer. I will continue to look forward to and gravitate towards her work. Much like one of the main characters in this book, a female marine biologist resident of Lagos Nigeria, Okorafor is an explorer and scientist of “what if”.
But the air really did shiver. And as I stood there, it came right at me. There was no physical breeze; it came like a ghost. Then it washed over me like a great wave of water. When it passed, I felt drenched, heavy.
This story takes place in Lagos, Nigeria with an almost completely Nigerian cast. I loved this opportunity to visit far outside the world I know. I’m so happy that she went ahead with including large amounts of Pidgin English and other slang as I really enjoyed being fully transported to another time and place. Aliens have landed in the ocean off Lagos with the goal of making contact with the locals, among other things. What will they do? What do they do, the Lagosians and the aliens? Such stories as this really make you wonder, what would we do? Do you think people would panic? Who do you know who might at least try to welcome them? Who might outright reject their existence even as they stand before you?
His aunts were excited to have so many to cook for, and they happily went to the kitchen to get to it. Nevertheless, his mother’s face looked pained. She must have had a feeling that this situation went beyond the family. Beyond their beliefs. Beyond their religion.
Her story is not one I’ve ever read before, not the aliens or their mission, or their skills. If I have heard such a story it would only be similar, but not anywhere the same. I really enjoyed her focus on the ocean as well as the sea creatures interaction with the aliens. That detail alone is unlike other first contact stories.
This story is an accessible easy read and it feels real even as I’ve never seen or met aliens nor have I been to Nigeria. The author is herself Nigerian-American so we have the privilege of reading an own-voices story. I read with a new perspective since I read this during the Covid-19 pandemic. There is violence, mention of sex acts, and strong language.
The story’s structure and voice are also different. I liked the bits from the perspective of animals or various people out and about on the street in addition to switching between main characters. I also enjoyed all of the characters even if we didn’t dive all that deep into them. This story didn’t seem to need that. Even if you find fault in some parts of the story I think you will enjoy it and its originality. Also it’s fast-paced, something is always happening. This book has interesting curves and angles. I recommend this to all fans of sci-fi/fantasy especially first contact, African culture, and ocean stuff. 🙂
Aman iman, Adaora weakly thought. The phrase meant “water is life” in the Tuareg language of Tamashek. She’d once worked with a Tuareg man on a diving expedition. “Aman Iman,” had been his answer when Adaora asked how a man of the Sahara Desert had become an expert scuba diver. …
You might recall my review of Binti, another of Nnedi Okorafor’s books that I loved. I shamefully admit I kind of forgot about it just after I was in the midst of planning to order it. (That felt complicated to say. That’s probably how I forgot. 😉 ) Don’t worry, I will, oh yes I WILL make my way back to it. I’m still planning to re-read The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5) Mainly because it deserves it, I read it a while ago and I forgot I’d already read it when I came across Binti. Yes that’s all weird of me, don’t be surprised.
But never mind that, check this information out in the author’s bio on Goodreads:
Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.
Wow and heck yeah! This woman is making some waves and I am enjoying having the privilege of experiencing them. I encourage you all to check out some or all of her work. Upon finishing this book I’ve started Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1), her YA/children’s fantasy series. I already have both books in the series and am looking forward to reading them. Stay tuned for my reaction to Akata Witch later this month.
Also if you do add her and her books to your list as a result of recommendation, I would so appreciate it if you could give me a shout-out, link back here. I’m all about giving credit where credit’s do, so if you refer me to a book I do not hesitate to give you credit. I do my best to keep notes when I visit other bloggers, listen to podcasts, read articles, talk to people, friends, family and they interest me in books and/or authors. Then I link to and/or mention said person/group/publication when I post about adding the book/author. As I said above I read the Book of Phoenix a while ago and later heard of Binti through at least one podcast, including Writing Excuses.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours, whether you liked the book or not, or are just now adding this to your TBR. Or maybe you’ve read other books by Nnedi Okorafor, let’s chat! 😀
If you want to know what I think about other books I’ve read please VISIT THIS PAGE. Or if you want to know what my upcoming reading plans are CLICK HERE. I try to keep everything up to date as best I can, so stay tuned, follow me, for updates. 😀
Bye for now. I hope you and yours are safe and well.
So guys, how ya doing? It’s Saturday although Saturdays don’t hold quite the same sentiment these days – would you agree – it still feels good in theory. We’ve had kind of a rainy, groggy week which oddly enough echoed through a lot of our moods. However this weekend is already GORGEOUS as far as weather goes.
The plots were original, intriguing but not overly complicated. I don’t mind complicated writing or stories but it’s nice to read something straightforward and easy. Ironically both of these books focused on characters who had their fathers (in some respect) but had lost their mothers. The main characters’ relationships with their fathers are central to the plot. Both protagonists are young women, one is 15 the other I think 19, who are going through some kind of transition in their lives while trying to balance their inner struggles. What I really appreciate about how these characters were written is that they felt true to life, even as one is a ghost (that’s not a spoiler). Some YA books turn me off because I feel they exaggerate the lives and abilities of young adults. Perhaps I’ve not used the right word here. I’m not trying to say teenagers and young adults are like children, or they’re weak or incapable of leading extraordinary lives and adventures. No, that’s not what I’m saying. But it seems like most YA’s focus on young people enduring journeys, trials and tasks that would be difficult for older adults with more life experience. And yet, the young people do just fine, for the most part. A lot of the time I read YA novels (not that I read a ton) I tend to forget I’m reading about a 16 year old or an 18 year old. I’m thinking of one story in particular (I will not name, I did like it though for the most part) in which the main character goes from a sheltered little girl to a wise, ass-kicking, lover, queen and warrior in the span of a year or two and we’re talking young teen. It just didn’t ring true. I struggle with stories that suddenly toss in a scene about how young (usually a girl) the character is when all along they act like much more experienced individuals, even though as in the case above they might be a very sheltered individual with little life experience. That’s a big reason why I try to shy away from YA.
That said, Catching Teller Crow and What the Woods Keep didn’t do that. Their characters felt far more true to life than many if not most other books I’ve read about younger ladies. Beth in Catching Teller Crow read like a 15-year old to me. The authors didn’t try to make her something else, to make her better or stronger. She was herself and perfect as she was. She was a 15 year old girl. The character in What the Woods Keep was a little older and read as such. Sure she had to be braver and maybe some things might feel like a stretch but they weren’t unrealistic in my humble opinion. Check these books out, then come back and tell me what you think. 😀
About a week or so ago I finished listening to The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is an epic fantasy, so it’s very long and I think long books make great audio books. For one it gives you a chance to settle in to the narrator and their various performances. I also find it easier to finish, it’s less daunting. I listen while driving, working in the yard or around the house, even walking the dog sometimes. Do use caution while listening to audio books and doing other things, better to be distracted away from the book than the task at hand. This was a great story, no doubt. The only reason I’m giving it 4.5 stars is because I think maybe it’s a little too long. However Patrick Rothfuss is a very good writer, the skill and talent is there. The characters are interesting and well-rounded, at least the most important for sure. The plot is pretty cool but sometimes I feel like I lose track of what’s actually going on as most of the story takes place as a retelling of the journey that brought our main character to the present time. Again though I have to say it is a very good story. I’m nervous to start the next book which is equally as long because everyone has been waiting on the promised third book for a long time I’ve heard. Today I visited Rothfuss’ website to see if there was any news. But all he said was when there is news he’ll be sure to share it.
At present I’m reading the hardcover copy of Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor, not quite halfway through it but it’s pretty cool. It’s set in Lagos, Nigeria with a large diverse cast of characters. A unique story no doubt, something I see Okorafor does not fail to deliver. 🙂 When I finish Lagoon I plan to read Akata Witch, a yound adult, middle grade (I’ve seen it referred as both?) story, the first in a duology, also by Okorafor.
I’ve not yet decided on my next audio book. For some reason I have a tendency towards wanting to start something new and fresh so I feel a weird aversion towards starting the sequel to The Ruin of Kings, The Name of the Wind or Strange the Dreamer. Lol. I think it’s kind of funny of me, but yeah. Probably I need a break from The Name of the Wind so I’ll likely go with The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons as my next audio book. I do believe the third book is due out this October. 🙂
Aside from my reading my novel work has been…meh. I’m a little stuck with some details going forward regarding where things are going. Feels like I’ve been saying that for a little too long. I have no doubt I’ll break through this, I just need to focus harder and knuckle down, something I plan to do this weekend. With over 200k words I feel good, lots to edit, but there’s still a ton of work to be done. I did figure out that one of my characters, a retired schoolteacher is now a yoga instructor. Hey, what can I say, that detail came to me and I think it makes sense, it’s a good cover for what else she’s doing. 😉
There’s a lot of emotion in this thing, a lot of energy. I think it would help me to put more of my own emotions to work this weekend. This whole coronavirus situation has been beating at my brain and heart this week as I think about the future. How long, for real, until everyone is safe? What about all the high risk people? What about all the people who care only for themselves and their situation? What will happen to people who rush the process? What about the people who are quietly suffering, the people who are keeping their fears to themselves and not talking about them lest they worry someone else? How can we help each other’s mental health?
These are some of my questions. These questions are good to think about, not ruminate on but just consider. And I’ve found for a person such as myself, a creative among other things, that putting these emotions and questions, this soul-digging (as I’ll call it) to work for me and my work is one of the best things I can do. How am I feeling? How can I apply that to what my characters are going through to make it more authentic and deep? When I put my own emotions to work it helps me, it helps me in a ton of ways. So when I am feeling all over the place, stuck, down, up, everything, I think, I have got to write something. A lot of times I don’t do that but when I do, man I’m glad I did (like exercise). 😉
What else? Well I’m working on my raised garden beds, first time ever doing this but not my first go round with a garden, just my first garden in a very long time. I’m stoked! My diet and fitness goals/plans got a little off track in April but I’m set to get back on the wagon! Woo hoo! I’ll restart some kind of daily yoga and exercise regimen and hopefully start running again sooner than later.
That’s it for now but stay tuned for some book reviews, a TBR update, expected reading (basically the same as I shared before), some images (I’m going to return to sharing some of my hobby photography, at least just using it in posts), flash fiction, and I’m going to start a regular short fiction column as well.
Cool please feel free to comment, I do love to chat. Bye for now, I hope you all stay safe and well and have a lovely weekend.
Two Chinese-American sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.
Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again—but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans—but what does it take to break them?
Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.
Paperback, 368 pages – Published January 16th 2018 by Pamela Dorman Books
Goodreads Choice Nominee for fiction and for Debut Author (2018)
Contemporary fiction, mental illness, mention of sexual acts
I know there are a number of other books I’ve read and said I’d review but never have. But I’ve decided I’m not going to put this off only to add it to the queue of reviews I owe you. 😉
Contemporary fiction is not my usual choice of reading. It’s still not, but I easily make exceptions for certain topics. In this case, it’s the matter of mental illness, as one of the main characters, the younger sister has a serious mental illness. I don’t recall how I first discovered this book but I got a paperback copy from Book Outlet over a year ago. In 2019 I said I’d read it, in 2020 I finally did and I’m so glad. I’m not sure what I expected but I got more than what I could have. Let’s just say I almost cried, almost because I resisted the urge to but it was there.
On the cover author Celeste Ng (author of Little Sparks Everywhere) calls this story, “A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters.” This story is that and so much more. My take home message was there’s always more than one side to a story and you don’t know just what another person is going through internally.
I was curious during and after reading this about Mira T. Lee’s experience with mental illness. She writes intense scenes of the younger sister experiencing psychosis. The younger sister in this story does not receive a pinpointed diagnosis rather they say it might be schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, maybe both. As I do not have experience with either, I had to wonder. So when I finished it last night I did a tiny bit of research about her.
On her website she provides links to interviews she’s done. On the site Bloom, Terry Hong interviewed Mira T. Lee in January 2018. Please follow THIS LINK to read the whole Q&A interview. When asked why she chose a taboo subject and how she researched Mira said this:
Mental illness is a subject matter that’s extremely close to my heart, since I’ve seen members of my own family struggle with it. Schizophrenia, in particular, is still one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized illnesses out there, and I’d rarely seen a well-rounded portrayal of it in literature – particularly one that addresses how it affects family members, in addition to the individual with the illness. I wanted to explore the conflicts that this illness can cause, and the ways it can wreak havoc on families… I pulled a lot from my own family experiences with mental illness, but I also read a lot of memoirs, as well as online blogs, particularly firsthand accounts of psychosis. And I spoke with medical professionals about the more technical aspects. I’d also attended a lot of family support groups, so I had a strong sense of the issues and frustrations experienced by loved ones.”
This story is told from multiple perspectives, the older sister, the younger sister, boyfriend, husband. It’s really interesting to read about this subject and the characters’ experiences from their various points of view. It’s such an intense story particularly because the author succeeded in showing how the different people are affected. It’s true that your heart will break for them all even as they might frustrate you at times.
Mira T. Lee’s cast of characters include two Chinese-American sisters, a one-armed Russian Jew, a Swiss man, and an Ecuadorian man, among others. But she said in the above interview that:
At some point early on, I did wonder if I should make my characters non-Asian (i.e. white), but that didn’t feel true to me. These multicultural worlds are what I’ve known in my own life, so it made sense that it should be reflected in my writing.
It’s fair to say, IMHO, that she also succeeded in writing a well-rounded portrayal. Parts of this story take place in NewYork, Switzerland, and Ecuador (among a few others). Here are some excerpts from pages I dog-eared.
In Crote Six, they said I “suffer” from schizoaffective disorder. That’s like the sampler plate of diagnoses, Best of Everything.
But I don’t want to suffer. I want to live.
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia
When we reach the playground, Nipa confides to me that her doctor thinks she’s suffering from postpartum depression.
I’m floored. First, she is telling me. Second, she’s wearing makeup and her hair is clean, and her Natey is perfectly cherubic with his rolls of chin fat and cream bun cheeks.
“It’s weird,” she says. “In all these years, no one’s ever told me I suffered from cancer. I’m a fighter. A survivor, you know.”
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia, listening to her friend Nipa
I’m flustered, confused. For a second my brain feels like it’s full of holes. She waits expectantly. But what would it be, I wonder, to conduct one’s life as a Chinese life instead of just a life? I speak Chinese, I cook Chinese food, practice tai-chi on occasion and drink oolong tea, but to flaunt one’s authenticity seems terribly gauche. I’m human first, aren’t I? Aren’t we all?
Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee – from the perspective of Lucia, in a job interview
There are many more pages that I dog-eared because of what the scenes mean to me, how she wrote them and turned the story so the reader could see from a different angle, of course, among other things. But I think this is long enough, hopefully I’ve made my case as to why you might want to check this out and learn more about the human experience. Also, those excerpts could spoil the story for you and I don’t want to do that.
If you’ve already read this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Or if you’re going to read this, let me know, then come back and let’s talk about it. In my humble opinion, it’s a great book, full of intense emotions and scenes, some sexual bits and talk here and there, talk of pregnancy matters (not a spoiler), moments of psychosis, and matters of immigration.
Imbolo Mbue, author of the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning Behold the Dreamers is quoted on the back fo the book saying, “A compassionate debut…an aching yet hopeful story.” Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation, is also quoted calling it “A heart-wrenching novel. Powerful and unforgettable.”
Yes, it is all those things.
To read more reviews of mine CLICK HERE. If you like the style of this review over the others, you can let me know that too. I don’t usually include excerpts. Maybe this was a product of reading contemporary and being so emotionally impacted. Maybe I’ll do this more often when I really like a book.
Okay I’m off. Stay safe and well. WAIT, one more thing, this book comes at just the right time for me. Being under a stay-at-home order and reading about all that is happening has taught me a lot. I’ve learned that it’s really easy to be selfish (that’s not a new lesson, but one that needs re-learning from time to time) and that we have to be more compassionate. This isn’t about any one of us, this is about ALL OF US. We have to be careful and safe for each other, not just ourselves. You might think you or your town isn’t affected, really, but the truth is, your community is. Can your small town handle an outbreak if it happened? What about immune-suppressed folks who can’t leave the house? Don’t you think they want to go back to life too? But they reallycan’t until they’re more sure than not the coast is clear. If you’re upset about how your life has been impacted, remember this isn’t all about you or any one person or family.
Hello there, how are you? Alright here. Little bit of stress and anxiety, little extra I mean because I had to have a blood test to check up on my thyroid levels. This is a new thing for me. Admittedly I feel strange, like I’m airing dirty laundry talking about it here. I’m thinking about family reading it, like wow that’s personal. But guess you can’t be too surprised seeing as I talk about my anxiety right? And yet… What makes me want to share for sure is thinking about Ritu at But I Smile Anyway and the piece she wrote for the site Cysters. Her piece is titled PCOS-er And Proud! She shares her experience living with polycystic ovaries, how she didn’t know as a teen and then struggled as an adult trying to start a family. It’s a really interesting and eye-opening piece, I encourage you to read it. I knew nothing about PCOS, though I’d heard the words I didn’t know what it can be like for women living with this condition. Her story reminds us, it’s good to share. It’s good to be heard.
So I’m saying it here, I have recently been told I have an under-active thyroid. I don’t really have a story to tell just that this was almost relieving. It helped to explain why I felt a little extra depressed, extra tired all day, and have been having more trouble losing weight than what is my usual experience (my weight fluctuates a lot…my diet fluctuates a lot 😉 Lol.) Of course no one wants to hear your body isn’t doing something right on its own, that it’s kind of malfunctioning but answers are nice. I’m in the beginning of dealing with this situation so we’ll see.
Doctor said start Levothyroxine and get your blood checked again in six weeks. Now that was before Covid-19 took over and the call to stay at home was put in place. It didn’t take me long to say, well I’ll just wait this out and get my blood drawn once it’s safe. But, well you know, this big ole virus situation ain’t such a small ordeal and ain’t going away soon. So I’ve been wondering what I should do. The reason they need to draw my blood again, and probably often if this is a thing, is so they can see if my current dosage is working or if I need more. Today I finally called the doctor’s office and asked if I needed to get this test. Triage nurse said yes. We need to know if it’s working. Okay, thanks. (Anxiety said: SHIT!)
Luckily there are walk-in labs for diagnostic matters, I don’t have to go to the actual hospital, but still. With my mask on I went. Got it done. Nervous the whole time wondering if my mask would keep me safe, if the hand sanitizer would keep me safe, if I should do extra things like take my fleece off before I go home (I did but I think that was overkill). But I thought too about all the women in there (didn’t see any guys, sorry). Soldiers for real. Here I am shaking in my boots for the quick in and out visit I’m conducting. Were there sick people here today? They’re in there every day. They’re in there all day. They see us all. They have to watch us nervous, and probably think how do you think I feel? I stood at check in after questioning my relaxed position in the chair in the waiting room, which was like 10 feet from the check in point. I feel really stupid, standing there like the chair would kill me if I sat in it. I apologized. She thanked me for staying standing. That simple, I felt better.
Now I wait. I wait for my thyroid function cascade panel (something to that effect, the whole shebang) and for time to pass and tell me I’m not going to develop Covid-19. I think about my symptoms (thyroid, not Covid cause I don’t have that). I am still having what feels like trouble losing weight but I’m not quite as tired throughout the day as I was. Nor am I as depressed but my irritability, hm, that’s something that’ll fight you (or me and everything in my circle) like an angry badger. The science me is looking forward to the results, see where this thing takes me. Why? Because what if I do need a stronger dose, if my thyroid is still being lazy (that’s probably not the best way to describe it)? Then they might up my dose. Okay you’re waving your hand, come on what’s the point Elpy? What if feeling better is that close to me? Get it now? Cool.
😀 Okay so that’s the important part of my day. (A small, no his voice is loud. Okay a loud voice in my head, that of one of my characters who recently visited the Saloon at The Carrot Ranch, is reminding me I’m still making excuses for not focusing on my book. He thinks I should mention that to you guys.)
The rest of this post is the light, fluffy stuff I want to share: anticipated reading for the rest of April and May and my recent book haul from Book Outlet! I did not open that box for three days by the way, so I feel good about that, and I sanitized my hands after touching it. 😉 The books are on my shelf now and happy to breathe again. The books I plan to read next are from a Book Outlet haul last year (I recently found them after wondering what happened to all those books…) Oh wait, one book is from Book Depository because it’s an Australian publication and at the time that was the only place I could get it. Let’s get started. I’ll post the pictures then list them with links to Goodreads.
Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina – 2019 – YA Fantasy, mystery – It was thanks to Books and Tea with Brittany (her blog has since been deleted) that I discovered this book written by an Australian Aborigine and has won awards. Yeah! I am now learning that this book was given a different title (?) in the U.S.: The Things She’s Seen. Apparently because they didn’t understand it? That frustrates me…ugh. But this is up next, it’s short and I’m excited.
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – 2015 – Sci-fi, fantasy – This is the author of Binti (OMG why haven’t I finished that series!) and The Book of Phoenix, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed, especially Binti. Naturally, you find an author you like you follow them and go back for their other stuff. 😉
Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – 2011 – YA Fantasy, children’s middle grade – As I said above, I’m a fan of this author. I saw she wrote this interesting sounding book (nominated for Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel 2012) and I was curious. Curious in part too to see if might be a cool rec for my niece.
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab – 2016 – YA Fantasy – I learnt of this author from her interview on the Writing Excuses Podcast (awesome podcast btw). I’ve also heard her mentioned it seems everywhere else. She is a prolific writer. V.E. Schwab is her pseudonym for her adult work, while Veronica Schwab is for her young adult and middle grade work. This will be the first of her work I’ve finally read. I picked up the box set from Book Outlet last year, so I hope I like it as much as other people because I have the trilogy!
Lanny by Max Porter – 2019 – fiction, magical realism – I believe I discovered this book last year thanks to an article on LitHub. I think. Don’t quote me on that. It’s about a tree/forest on the edge of town and that was enough for me, although I did read the synopsis on Goodreads before adding, you should follow the link above. Oh and it received a lot of nominations and is just over 200 pages. Probably read sooner than later.
So there you have it, some personal updates (I promise to keep you updated) and some bookish updates. Now let’s see if I can get some of MY BOOK work done and hear from my characters. Wouldn’t that be nice, if I could talk about my own freaking book? Yes, yes, be patient little one. 😉
Let me know if you’ve read any of these, plan to or are interested (please don’t leave any spoilers). If you add something to your TBR thanks to me I’d really appreciate it if you give me a shout out for it. 😀 Oh and if you want to partake in some kind of buddy read, let me know in the comments. I hope to start Catching Teller Crow this weekend or next week. Alright, onward!
Hello there peoples of the world, how are you? How was your weekend? Mine was good, simple and quiet. I’m healthy and I’m happy, it’s just that there have been some up and down days this week. Mood jumps can be exhausting. It’s like my mind is doing jumping jacks sometimes, but when I jump up and limbs go out they fly off into the room! Lol. Anyways onto a fun and light post for Easter Sunday. And Happy Easter to you all by the way. 🙂
Lois @LoisReadsBooks felt like doing a book tag so she went ahead and found and completed this one. I thought it was such a good idea I decided to go ahead and do it myself! Yeah! Thanks Lois!
20 Questions Book Tag
How many books are too many for a series?
I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about whether or not there can be too many in advance. On the other hand I most certainly have watched some movies (*clear my throat* Fast and the Furious) that should have ended many movies ago. I’ve also seen some shows that were awesome the first season or two then started to feel kind of watered down. So I’ll say I’m totally fine with three, and I might get nervous about more than that.
How do you feel about cliffhangers?
I really enjoy cliffhangers when they’re done well. What’ s done well? When a book ends on a cliffhanger without any plans for another book I’m often not happy. Once in a while you’ll find a story that does this well but usually I don’t like it. If you know there’s going to be another book I’m cool with it, I expect it but I also want a big reveal. Meaning to me a good story gives you something that you’ve been reading to find out all along. Maybe they don’t give you the big big reveal (is Raymond Reddington in the show Blacklist Elizabeth’s father? They have long since revealed the answer btw but it wasn’t after the first season), but they provide you with other big answers that you’ve been asking throughout the book. To leave me with few answers but a cliffhanger? Oh no…
Hardback or paperback?
Hm…both? Hardback feels so official and yet paperbacks are lighter and cost a lot less. So hardback, or hardcover books are sexy let’s say but you don’t want to wear a cocktail dress all the time.
I don’t love favorite least favorite questions, mostly because I have a bad memory and a really hard time making solid decisions, committing to ONE answer. Lol. A series I really really like and might be a favorite is Wool by Hugh Howey. I highly recommend that series. I’m going to leave it there although….nope…moving on…
Least favorite book?
Well can I pick a book I DNF’d? Maybe that’s not fair… Oh well among my least favorites is a book I DNF’d after receiving it as part of a giveaway. The book is Downdrift. I was super excited to read this book which made it that much more of a let down when I found it to be extremely uninteresting. I tried hard to get into it and felt guilty giving up on it, but clearly it wasn’t for me.
Love triangles, yes or no?
More often than not, no. I’ll likely stray from a book when I hear there’s a love triangle involved.
The most recent book you COULDN’T finish?
I almost couldn’t finish Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. It was better than the above named DNF’d book but it just drug on and on and on. However I finished it. Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) I’ve apparently been reading since oh I don’t know, last year, early last year maybe? It’s not bad but it’s just not as interesting as I thought I remembered the first two to be. Maybe too I’ve been reading a lot of other fantasy books that make this one less than interesting. I still plan to finish it, plus I have the last two books in this series (unless there’s been more published I don’t know about). Everfair was probably the last book I DNF’d, so the most recent one but that was last year as well.
Geez, another one of these favorite questions 😛 I really enjoy Hugh Howey’s work, he’s a very talented writer (although I don’t even know what he’s been up to!). Michelle Baker, Deborah Harkness, really enjoy some of their books too. Oh and I really like Maggie Stiefvater as well.
Buying books or borrowing books?
I don’t know why, sure I do, but I feel embarrassed saying I like to buy books. Not that I do that A LOT but I like going to bookstores or even just receiving a new book. I also don’t visit the library a whole lot. I’ve been there for research but I’m not good about making a list of books I want to read and then going and getting them. I would say I’ll change this, but quarantine tells me I won’t for a long time.
I’m laughing thinking about all the people who are going to cringe, and I think they’re going to cringe because I’ve heard/read other people answer this question. I dog-ear. *Catches book thrown by invisible person.* Look I’m sorry, not sorry. I don’t have enough bookmarks nearby me when I want to save a page to come back to whether it’s because they did something right or bad. If the book wasn’t mine, I wouldn’t dog-ear. Funny story, I lent a book to my aunt once, with loads of dog-ears. When I got it back I was so confused because I could have sworn I’d dog-eared a lot of pages. I asked her later about it and she nonchalantly said she’d bent them all back. Lol…
A book you can ALWAYS re-read?
I don’t re-read. I’m sure there are some I would like to but I don’t. There’s too many books out there that I’ve never read for me to read books I’ve already read. That said I could probably read Wool by Hugh Howey (sci-fi) again.
Can you read while listening to music?
Sometimes I have the radio or the TV playing in the background but I don’t think it does me any good. It distracts me more than not, but I also like the sound around me.
One POV or multiple?
Both. I think multiple points-of-view can be awesome when done well.
Do you like to read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?
I wish I could read a book in one sitting! That would be SO great! 😀
Hello everyone, that emergency hug is for any of you who need it. Things are heavy right now, even my diet feels that way (which means I feel that way). Every time I’m feeling this weight (not talking about the physical or the diet, that’s a different conversation that involves…you guessed it YOGA! LOL), something occurs that tells me to hold on and be strong.
My mother gave me this little statue some time ago. I apologize I do not have the artist’s name right now, but neither my mother nor I made it. That said I could have sworn I had her centered on that post and facing a different direction. I was in the bathroom and looked over to see her facing me right as I was feeling a little down. This stopped my thoughts. I was really sure this was not how I left her but whatever…it was perfect. This moment reminded me how I need to carry myself even amidst this struggle.
I have been learning a lot about the struggles of others as we all struggle together. It’s not that I didn’t know but I didn’t know how it feels to be so isolated and restricted. My significant other, among others, has been relaying to me that what we are all experiencing – this social distancing, being restricted from going and doing whatever we want – is what African-Americans and Native Americans, among others, have been living for a very long time. Think “whites only”.
For decades, African-Americans were not allowed to eat wherever they pleased. They couldn’t just visit the new restaurant in town because it sounded nice. A black man could not be seen with a white woman out on the town, enjoying themselves, never mind loving each other, without risking their lives. A black man could not look at a white woman without repercussions. If women were property, black women were less than that. Their work for the family and household, both their own and that of the slave master, was not respected nor noticed, never mind complemented or appreciated. Black people, families and individuals could not go about town as they pleased, smiling and waving at their neighbors – not their white neighbors – without fear or skepticism. White people forced social distancing on all the people of color. We were essentially, the virus, polluting the space we inhabited.
This discrimination has not ended. We are still witnessing the virus of hatred infect millions of people. We are still watching the virus of violence against “other” replicate again and again. Sadly, it is in some people’s DNA. Sadly, some people use their DNA to carry on the evil that is prejudice and racism. We have recently been told that the “other” communities are suffering even more from the virus as a result of decades of discrimination. Some go about like nothing bad is happening, while many suffer directly or indirectly. Sound familiar?
My parents always corrected us when we used that word: SUCKS. But I feel its crassness is necessary here because this sucks. And when I think about how this must feel for anyone or any people to have lived and live on a daily basis, their whole lives, my heart breaks. It is a shattering sensation. A feeling akin to breaking glass inside me. The pieces ricochet and as they do they cut everything around them. Inside I bleed for the inflicted pain.
But I am better for this.
I enter the room inside me and take in the wreckage. With my index finger I touch the blood on the walls. In its reflection I see not only my face as I am going through this trauma now but the faces of so many people I know not to even exist. I’m picking up the pieces of glass and they sparkle. Sparkles inspire me. They speak in a language that is light. They tell me to write. And so I do. I look ahead, searching for what has broken. What I find is that what’s broken was a barrier. On the other side of the barrier is more than me.
I welcome you to join me in this week’s flash fiction challenge. This challenge’s theme is barriers. Interpret it as you will but what you write must be 100 words, no more no less, to mark the 100th day of 2020. Here’s my piece.
more than me
I step forward. Suddenly there’s a wall. I look left, right, turn around. There was a wall here?
A whistle. I turn, there’s a man. He flickers, his brown skin deepens. His beard softens away. She smiles.
Another spark, her form shrinks. A small hand grabs mine. A jolt ruptures the shadows that blind me. We are living a shared experience.
Lightning, the form becomes three. They do not shun me. They bring me close. They sing:
Allow the song
of your soul
to rise above the pain
And bring you to your feet
For you are greater than this.