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Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Featured Poetry

Space Struck by Paige Lewis

Consider this glowing debut from Paige Lewis a menagerie of near-extinction. Space Struck explores the wonders and cruelties occurring within the realms of nature, science, and religion, with the acuity of a sage, the deftness of a hunter, and a hilarious sensibility for the absurd. The universe is seen as an endless arrow “. . . and it asks only one question: How dare you?”

The poems are physically and psychologically tied to the animal world, replete with ivory-billed woodpeckers, pelicans, and constellations-as-organisms. They are also devastatingly human, well anchored in emotion and self-awareness, like art framed in a glass that also holds one’s reflection. Silky and gruesome, the poems of Space Struck pulse like starlight.

Space Struck by Paige Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this one. I read this one for Life’s Library Book Club. I’d recommend this book to anyone, whether a newby to poetry or a seasoned reader of poetry, anyone in between.

It was a very accessible book of poetry, it was a little generational, but overall encompassed a lot of shared sentiments through recognition.

This one engaged those parts of my brain, like the moments of slight panic or chaos followed by relief and serenity. Like reading Sunday comics after heavy news pages, finally finding the mate to the last pair of socks while doing laundry, sitting on the tarmac in a plane you thought you were going to miss. It’s this satisfying feeling of gratitude and calmness, things are ok, a type of feeling of accomplishment, entertainment, and relaxation for your soul.

I suppose I don’t read poetry enough.

Poetry to me takes a certain amount of discipline. Discipline I don’t always have. A certain amount of concentration. Concentration I don’t always have. It’s never my first pick when choosing a book, but when I do find something I enjoy, I ask myself why don’t I read more?

I think it’s because the audience for whom the book is intended is not always well-defined. And sharing one’s feelings, pondering, and outlook on life is so super subjective and often boring without context, plot, leading trajectory, as a lot of poetry goes from my experiences, that its appeal is somewhat limiting. My exposure altogether is limited so I can’t speak for all. Poetry typically has relational/social concepts, presented as overly complex, yet dubious, often incredibly specific to culture, upbringing, and life experiences that aren’t always commonly shared, ones I don’t understand or find far-reaching or weird, and then to put it into writing in a riddle-like stanza is like double dissatisfaction for me.

Anyway, about the book.

I loved the lines referencing nature the best. The observations and inquiring when to intervene, whether the subject matter stirs up anger, then confusion, let it be, it’s nature. It was an interesting concept for me.

I liked that much was intertwined with bits of history.

I liked that the format of poems where changed up.

Some more vague and personal than others, parts I felt a little naive, then though “Oh, ok.” Others I truly didn’t “get” still very intriguing to read. Some with bits of pop culture, childhood relatability, some depicting more intimate aspects of a relationship, some religious interest, some contemplative, some speculative. I liked the variety.

And I also liked that it was short and that single-subject concepts weren’t exhaustive/belabored/overly descriptive or too-trying. It expressed a feeling/concept and moved on.

But I think what makes this collection unique and interesting to me was how it balanced abstract thought and tangible, concrete circumstances, much relative to my own generation, which made all the difference.

MY FAVORITE CHAPTERS/POEMS:

On Distance

Diorama of Ghosts

MY FAVORITE LINES:

“It’s nothing. The sun, with its plasma plumes and arching heat, is five million miles closer to Earth than it was in July, and we are still alive.”



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Categories
Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Fiction

The Hate U Give (The Hate U Give #1) by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Such an impactful book. I read this one for Life’s Library Readathon. I’d highly recommend this book to everyone.

I listened to it as an audiobook, narrated by Bahni Turpin, who was an excellent narrator, she told the story with great passion, voice clarity, and character distinction, I’d highly recommend this version.

The story was one of struggle and triumph, coming of age during adolescence, a portrayal of racial, social, and economic disparities both real and perceived by the main character who tells her story, one of personal experience as she navigated her way through life, tragedy, and complex situations.

She questioned her own cultural origins, adaptations, and exchanges, vacillating between two roles she felt she had to play in order to maintain her sense of self and personal value, reflecting upon others, and multicultural influences that shaped her identity in who she was and voice to action events she would be called upon to represent.

The writing was phenomenal in such a way that I was taken right into the story. It was very casual in conversation, very thought-like which was fitting for the telling of such a personal story. Some parts lingered on in detail a bit but at the same time felt deliberate, building reader-character relationship, adding effect by sharing even the mundane of the main character’s daily scenario and how an adolescent of her age would likely react and notice her surroundings and personal interests consistent with the time and setting.

The societal issues brought up in this book are ones of great need for recognition and further discussion. It would make an excellent book club and school summer reading recommendation.



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Book Blog Books Featured

Books I’m Reading: Summer 2020 Readathons & Challenges

This summer I’m participating in:

The Reading Rush

Life’s Library Readathon

Libro.fm Summer Reading Challenge

ARC August is coming up too, but we’ll see how far I get with these reads!

The Reading Rush

The Reading Rush is a week long readathon, starts next week!

Here are the challenges:

1. Read a book with a cover that matches the colour of your birthstone.

My March birthstone is aquamarine. I love the blue-green shade seen in the ocean front cover of this book.

Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay by Katie Ginger

2. Read a book that starts with the word “The.”

I have yet to decide between these two…

3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.

TBD

4. Read the first book you touch.

TBD

5. Read a book completely outside of your house.

The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain

6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve always wanted to read more of.

I don’t read a lot of poetry and this book is our next Life’s Library Book Club read.

Space Struck by Paige Lewis

7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

This one takes place in New Zealand.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

Life‘s Library Readathon

This readathon hosted by participants in Life’s Library Book Club is one month long.

There are 16 prompts.

15 for each Life’s Library shelf and 1 bonus.

1. Aloe: A book where magic happens.

:fire:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone #1 by J.K. Rowling

2. Chamomile: Enjoy a cup of tea (or favorite beverage) when reading this book.

:tea:

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

3. Cygnus: A book that either talks about space/the universe OR takes place in space.

:swan:

This one is making a reappearance from previous readathons. Because what challenge would be complete without it?

Earth by David Brin

4. Forest: The character(s) travel far distances.

:compass:

When Bunnies Go Bad (Pru Marlowe #6) by Clea Simon

5. Hibiscus: A book that takes place in Africa or Asia.

:elephant:

The Poppy War (#1) by R.F. Kuang

6. Ivy: There is a 4-legged animal on the cover.

:cat2:

Dark Canyon by Louis L’Amour

7. Marble: A book set before 1970 OR in a world without computers.

:computer:

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

8. Onyx: A book that evokes nostalgia for you.

:water_buffalo:

Again, an appearance from The Reading Rush, this one takes place during from the 1950s to 1980s, decades in which I love learning about Hollywood life of the time.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

9. Pearl: A book that is part of a series.

:octopus:

The Paris Librarian: A Hugo Marston Novel #6 by Mark Pryor

10. Quartz: There is pink on the cover.

:gem:

I’ll be reading this outside as part of The Reading Rush challenge, which also happens to have pink on the cover.

The Secret Seaside Escape by Heidi Swain

11. Rose: Sit where you can enjoy the sunlight when reading this book.

:rose:

Overlapping with The Reading Rush challenge.

The Bone People by Keri Hulme

12. Scale: Read a non-fiction book.

:test_tube:

I’m #57 of 119 on the waitlist for the library… not sure if I’ll get it in time, we’ll see!

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

13. Tulip: Read a book with either a bird or food on the cover.

:owl:

Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay by Katie Ginger

Making an appearance from The Reading Rush.

14. Willow: Read a play or a book of poetry.

:guitar:

Shakespeare for Squirrels by Christopher Moore

15. Gold: Book cover is shiny – it can be the entire cover or just a portion of the cover like the text or part of the image.

:gold_tea:

Also from The Reading Rush.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

16. Bonus: Read a book either Rosianna or John has recommended OR a previous LL book that you haven’t read yet.

:tada:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Libro.fm Summer Listening Challenge

I’m also participating in the Libro.fm Summer Listening Challenge which takes place all summer long.

Here is the bingo card:

What books are you reading?

Let me know what readathons/challenges you are participating in this summer, if you have any book recommendations, and what books you plan on reading in the comments below!







Categories
Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Historical Fiction

Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo

What if the history of the transatlantic slave trade had been reversed and Africans had enslaved Europeans? How would that have changed the ways that people justified their inhuman behavior? How would it inform our cultural attitudes and the insidious racism that still lingers today?

We see this tragicomic world turned upside down through the eyes of Doris, an Englishwoman enslaved and taken to the New World, movingly recounting experiences of tremendous hardship and the dreams of the people she has left behind, all while journeying toward an escape into freedom.

Check out the audiobook at Libro.fm and support your local bookstore

Check it out on Amazon

Blonde RootsBlonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I really liked the concept of this book. Unfortunately that’s where it ended for me. I read this one for Life’s Library Book Club.

The story.

I love satire. Satire that takes a contrasting view and turns it into a narrative that pushes it so far that it becomes believable, relatable, immersed in an idea that can cause you to question reality, cause you question yourself, your own ethos at times.

However I didn’t see the point in this book. It took aspects of African culture and experiences of slaves during the trade and imposed them onto “whytes” as a juxtaposition, which to me, lost the very cause and effect it tried to steer its way through. Its whole foundation, all of its substance, disorientating. Whether satire or not, there was this attempt to draw parallels that just weren’t there.

I would rather have liked the portrayal of satire as an extreme to evoke an empathetic sense. It banked on stereotypes upon stereotypes, trite propositions that did not give rise to irony, sarcasm, or human connectivity. It played it safe. Sardonic but not in a clever or meaningful way.

Apart from the so-called satyrical take, I didn’t feel a stronger connection to it in any sense of the idea that I think the author was trying to convey. I suppose the story is what really felt forced to me. Contrived in such a way that it was running away with itself, losing power, perspective, and what I had high hopes for in achieving the main idea. And the idea was there, but the details to get there were less developed for me. Some parts read like an outline.

The heavy topics seemed to only be there for shock value and it was the explanatory tidbits that followed that really threw me off, especially because the tension seemed to be drawn off of this shock value which didn’t make a strong story of fiction for me in and of itself and were less supported even more so by the over-explanations of them.

Then there was a red-hot poker searing, sending warm bloody tears streaming down your body. Peeling “hairy” skins of a guava. I’ve eaten a lot of guava in my lifetime. I’ve had a guava tree. Had a really good harvest this past year. First, they’re not hairy and second, it’s actually quite common to eat them whole, skins and all. Perhaps the author was thinking of kiwi? There’s also a notable difference between coconut milk and coconut water.

I won’t comment on other discrepancies or even what I thought were less accurate portrayals of rationales behind certain historical events because they’d be tediously beside the point to mention in a story like this, which I felt began to ignore the strengths of context, community, and redemption which would have helped to guide readers and answer the questions proposed in the description in the first place.

The writing.

The writing as a whole wasn’t much of anything new. Read a bit mundane and unoriginal. Fire cackling, wind slapping, cloudy gray skies, heavy wooden door, tan leather boots. The prose toward the end depicted the movement of the story in a more unique way, but then focused more on actual events and became tethered to the dialogue rather than expressing emotional energy, reflection, or perception, which I think was lacking in majority of the book.

There was a lot of explaining away in the narrative. I didn’t feel at ease with the writing style. I wanted imagery and creative language. I had a hard time getting through this book and it wasn’t just the heavy subject matter, but the style in which it was written.

Sentence structure and effect. In recognizing race in a language, the phonic sounds were too formal, too complete and long-winded, too gibberish at the same time, the effect was nonsense to me.

Time. I had the hardest time understanding what time frame it was written in and who it was for. Then realizing it was a mix of time periods and time frames, including a blend of old and modern day vernacular, letting me know early on that this book wasn’t for me. Terms like freaking out, getting mojo back, Inheritance Tax for Dummies along with a twist on geography for role reversal effect wasn’t my cup of tea and was less effective at conveying a message of what I thought of as a more serious and important issue. Time and setting can really solidify a story, this had neither to enhance or support the story in the way I wanted to connect with it more.

POV and tense. The back and forth tenses sort of took me out of the story rather than add to or strengthen the premise. From past to present. There wasn’t a lot going on to drive me forward in the story.

The tone. Monologic tone didn’t fit with the structure of the story. The more graphic parts read just the same as light-hearted ones. Not in a cohesive way, but disjointed actually.

Characters. The growth and development wasn’t there for me. They read the same, not much personality to them. I knew about them but didn’t really know them. As I read on, I even questioned if they were meant to have any emotional capacity, undermining the whole premise.

The voices. The voices were less distinguished. Both main characters read the same people to me.

I will say on my most positive note of the book, “The Middle Passage” was my favorite part of the story and had the most complete concept, thought, and meaningful writing.

Overall this book fell incredibly short for me. I didn’t want to nitpick over this one, but it was just not a good book to me for multiple reasons. I’d be curious to read another book by this author though.

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