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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Poetry in the Desert, or Mojave in July

“Imagine a heat so dry that it presses down into the earth…” -Mojave in July, A. Brommel p.45

Close your eyes and think of Las Vegas; feel the summer heat come around you, you can hear the tourists, see the bright flashing neon lights this town is known for, and you probably have a limited vision of Las Vegas. When you think of Las Vegas it is hard to separate the trashy, cheesy, formerly mob run town that sparks to life when the sun goes down. "At midnight you can look up at the sky or down towards the lights and be blinded by brilliance. No one told me about the sunsets. No one warned me about monsoon season." -From California, V. Robinson p. 248. The beauty of Las Vegas is found in its desert home, and the beauty of the desert is captured in photographs, and in the work of its poets. On almost any given night of the week you can find yourself amongst local poets at open mics, poetry slams, workshops, ciphers held on the street, and in the homes of Vegas’ poets. "Here in Vegas nothing is old but the mountains silently observing." The Lights of Las Vegas, A. Barnstone p. 268.

Clark: Poetry from Clark, Nevada is an anthology recently published by Zeitgeist Press, which a local imprint with over 100 titles to date. Clark was initiated by Clark County’s first Poet Laureate, Bruce Issacson, and was done cooperatively with Poetry Promise, Inc., currently helmed by Clark County’s second Poet Laureate Vogue Robinson. This anthology is filled with the work of 95 Clark County authors, meaning those from, and those who found a home in, Clark County, Nevada. As with any artistic profession these poets are from a myriad of backgrounds and include educators, street poets, slam poets, high school students, as well as visual artists; Clark also includes the visual work of twelve local artists that enhances the reading of the poetry.

Reading poetry is different than reading a novel, yet they both tell stories. Let Clark tell you a story you’ve never heard and find your way to and through this beautiful desert.

The magical thing about this anthology, aside from its “setting”, "the winds of lasciviousness blow east to west except in Vegas. Everybody knows what happens in places with an oasis." -Chasing The Sun, S. Stewart, p. 234, is that the range of voices is diverse enough to actually give you a true taste of the Valley.

From love poems, "And I want us to go to the park and the day that we go to the park I want to climb to the top of the tallest tree and scream from the top of my lungs I REALLY LIKE THIS WOMAN."- Hope for the Flowers (Thai Food), A. Kenyon, p.4.

To poems that cause you to sit a while and think, "They will find a brown sun baked boy, holding a seashell to his ear, inside is the voice of the poets singing all at once, every poem the world has known from Ode to an Onion to the Illiad. This poem will be there too, but it will all sound like the ocean." -What They Will Find When They Exhume Pablo Neruda's Body, B. Lloyd, p. 1.

Poems that encompass the “Fear and Loathing” vibe Vegas has been known for, "When the guard falls to the floor, blood trickles from a thin crack at the top of his head. This is the start of the mayhem." -How to Kill a Crippled Person in Six Easy Steps (Just Because You Want To) -N. Say, p. 196.

To verses that came out of workshops run in Clark County Community and Cultural Centers "If only the key to happiness could be found in one family. Lately I've been thinking about mankind's finest hours. When other person's beating hearts are put in place of ours."- When Other Persons Beating Hearts Are Put In Place Of Ours, S. Des Lauriers, p. 177

To verses that bring you home, "She has faith in peppermint to soothe the bitterness of parsley. To gather her sons in times of feast and famine; knowing by taste the heirlooms of their heritage, that leafy weed grew hearty where ever it rooted."- tahbouleh, E. Wirshing, p. 167.

Clark even gives you a glimpse into the history of Las Vegas in Dayvid Figler's essay, Au Revoir, Riveria, p. 122.

This anthology took me a while to read; and while I'm hesitant to admit that I'm willing to say that as I went through each page there were some poems I didn't like, that I couldn't relate to, or just didn't understand. That's poetry though. It is a subjective art form used to express the thoughts and emotions of its writer.

“Here, we build urban legends and kill your urban legacies. We still rent the room where John Entwistle overdosed. There is no remembrance left where 2Pac was shot outside of Ellis Island. We crush world tours into a single city block. 3 A.M. view from Sunrise Mountain is breathtaking, partly because you choke on the electric bill, partly because it’s just that fucking beautiful. It is so bright here, we can count the stars.” -Count the Stars, A. Moyer, p.37

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An Intelligence Gathering Mission....

Dun dun duh duh dun dun....dun dun duh duh dun dun....dun dun dun...


With the success of the #JulyIsStrange read-a-long and interest in a future read-a-long I am gathering some intel. I'm looking to do an #ImpossibleRead later in the year, thinking September/October and would like some input on what that means to you! If you could kindly complete the following survey I'd appreciate it!


Review: The Atlas of Forgotten Places

The Atlas of Forgotten Places The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The story I read in this book was not the one I expected. From the description I read on NetGalley I was expecting something with less depth and emotion than what I got. It was a pleasent surprise. Williams' novel takes you around the world and through time; introducting you to horrors and atrocitys, the ache of returning home from something so truly terrible, and leaves you wanting to hold your loved ones a little tighter, and fight just a little harder when something matters. Her scenery comes alive when you read, you feel as though you are in Uganda, in the midst of the war and homes of her characters. She also ignites further interest in the reader regarding the ivory trade, at least for me she did. I was aware of how it had decreased animal populations, but was unaware of its extent in financing these civil wars. However this is also a story about love, love for your sister, your partner, and the ever unspoken bonds of people forced together in horrible situations. Williams' story sucks you in with its mystery, and weaves together an atmosphere that keeps you turning each page. Told from the points of view of Sabine and Rose, their voices are distnct and diffent; though they experience similar traumas, and the supporting characters are equally well written and diverse. What I appreciated the most was the sense of historical accuracy; while the events are obviously fictionalized the history they are taken from is very much real, and the representation that Williams brings to the table is important.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Everything We Read

Howdy Y'all!

Happy day of mulitcolored explosions! I am hunkered down and hiding from the crazies outside and catching up on my book reviews and organizing future blog posts / literature goals. That being said, today you get a Two fer One in this review post! Today I'm going to give you a quick rundown of Kerry Lonsdale's Everything We Keep and Everything We Left Behind (which came out today!!!)

Side note.... SPOILERS AHEAD...obviously!

Everything We Keep was published last summer, and follows Aimee Tierney (yay for having the same first name as the character!). Following the somewhat traditional story line, Aimee has her life figured out. She's going to marry James, the boy she's loved since childhood, they'll have adorable babies, live in the white picket fenced house, one day she'll be able to own her parents restaurant, and life will be amazing and perfect. CUE THE SOMETHING BAD MUSIC! Dun dun dun...... James goes MISSING! He goes out on a boat, he doesn't come back. You then get Aimee at his funeral with the gnawing feeling that something isn't quite right here. Ladies and Gentlemen, trust your gut and all those hours of Lifetime movie watching, this is the part where you'd be screaming at the television that "he isn't missing, he's XYZ!!" As Aimee tries to move on from this loss, she discovers that what she has lost isn't what she originally thought. Suddenly mired down in the clues she's finding Aimee is acting like an idiot, trusting psychics that aren't psychics, and genuinely being stupid in Mexico. You get sucked into Aimee's life, and the mystery around James, and the genuine moments that come from the relationships in this novel. Also, this was Lonsdale's debut and I need her to teach a class on how to write real relationships because nothing felt forced or faked, or insignificant; which as a reader I appreciated. At the end of Everything We Keep you're left with some resolution, some questions, and some satisfaction to tide you over to book two.

Book Two is Everything We Left Behind, and publishes TODAY!!! Seemingly told more from James side, or at least telling more of his story we pick up SIX AND A HALF YEARS LATER!! Y'all this book is seriously part two of a very long and complicated story that combines both Lifetime movie and old fashioned soap opera. James has woken up from a coma/fugue state/disorientation of lies, to find that he'd been living as Carlos, widower and papa to two. Not ready to accept the life he's been living due to some terrible life choices James wants what he could have had. Logically he packs up his hijos and moves to California to once again pursue Aimee, whom he does truly still love, but who has truly moved on, and even has her own kid at this point. Never fear though! James does have his sister in law Natalya to help him and the ever present fear of retaliation from Phil to keep him moving and motivated. Here Lonsdale has given us a more romanticized version of Jason Bourne, which contrasts a bit from book one, but somehow she makes this work!!

Lonsdale's books were not ones I would have read had I not succumbed to peer pressure. I am so very glad that I did. These books are a roller coaster of emotion and happen to take you through some bizarre situations and yet give you honest relationships and reactions. Everything We Left Behind will make zero sense if you haven't read Everything We Keep, and thankfully there will be a third book to this series. The end of book two has multiple epilogues, which is frustrating since book three isn't releasing until NEXT JULY.

I will be crankily waiting in utter anticipation to see what happens next.


Also a HUGE thank you to Lake Union Publishing and Net Galley for the ARC's of both books!!! Seriously, I can't wait until book three!!!!

Review: The Wildling Sisters

The Wildling Sisters The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first experience reading Eve Chase, though Black Rabbit Hall is on my TBR. Chase has mastered the art of suspense, weaving a story into two timelines that pull you in like a spiders web. Beginning with a murder, a dragged out body, the sweat and swelter of summer, and the intoxicating and claustrophobic closeness that is the bond between the Wildling Sisters. Chase also has the exquisite talent of turning the very setting of the novel into a character; Applecote Manor is both setting and antagonist. While I read this quickly, the pace is slow and simmering like summer days in the 50's, when times were simpler and days felt longer. There were a few mysteries in this novel for me, naturally there is Audrey, there is a murder, there are questions you have that never quite get answered and that's okay; they aren't ones that you really want answers too. Chase balances past with present to keep you guessing, but she doesn't seem to favor one timeline over the other. Like most readers I found the past timeline and story to be a bit more compelling than the modern story line, however both serve their purpose in this novel. Hands down once this comes out in July everyone should read it.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Review: The Secrets of Married Women

The Secrets of Married Women The Secrets of Married Women by Carol Mason
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Secrets of Married Women would probably be more aptly titled if it were called "Do I Have the Affair?" While it starts off fun, it gets a little sexy, and somewhere it gets deep...but not in a fun way. I was hoping this would be a fun or quick read, the hook seems simple enough, but the endless hours of thinking that followed it makes it more than a beach read for me. The plot is easy to follow, the characters will take you on a bit of a roller coaster ride, and there are a couple that I felt could have been better. It doesn't feel like all the stories get finished, but that always makes me hope for a sequel, or I just figure out my own ending. However what I truly loved about the book, even though it drove me crazy, was that it did leave me contemplating relationships, affairs, and marriage even after I'd finished the book. My husband wasn't so thrilled with the barrage of questions that came his way haha, but we had some great conversation. If you read this book be prepared to expect more from it. Mason hides the depth and emotion well into this book, but you'll find them, and you'll be glad you did.

View all my reviews

Review: Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka

I surprised myself by liking this book a lot more than I originally anticipated. This was my first time reading this author, and I will definitely be reading Kukafka again. Told from three perspectives over three days and a while after the murder of a school girl named Lucinda, the points of view are drastically different: the boy who loved her, the girl who hated her, and the detective desperate for an answer he can live with.  There were times the author went off on a few tangents, or where one of the characters got bogged down in their own bad habits longer than I cared for. Regardless Kukafka wrote three very separate people and blended them beautifully into one story. I also loved how Kukafka describes emotions in this novel. Somehow they are described perfectly, even down to how they differ between teens and adults; Kukafka even goes into detail about the physicality of grief and guilt and anger, it is truly beautiful and all encompassing.

One Thousand and Six...Pages

Morning All,

Today is Saturday July 1, 2017. That means the #JulyIsStrange read-a-long starts TODAY! I am so excited that my fellow Littens have decided to join me in this undertaking: reading Susanna Clarke's novel Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

Published on August 1, 2006 Clarke's novel follows two dueling magicians. Here's the Goodreads description: "At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

Coming in at a whopping 1,006 pages this novel is huge, intimidating, and all around impressive. I am always awed by authors who have the ability to write so much, and I tend to have an appreciation for authors that decide to write a stand alone instead of a series. Recently I'd been seeing quite a few people post about this book on various social media platforms about how they were to terrified to read it because of its size! (I guess there can be such a thing as too big!) So I chose to host the #JulyIsStrange read-a-long because NO ONE should be intimidated by a book! There are some truly amazing stories that take hundreds of pages to tell; and if you can read a series you can read a book that is just over a thousand pages. 

So I extend the invitation to you, read this book with us. You won't regret it.