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Author Carol Snow’s Writing Space

Carol Snow‘s novel — Just Like Me, Only Better — hits stores today, April 6.  The protagonist, Veronica Czalicki, is a housewife who soon finds herself on her own when her husband leaves her for another woman — the love of his life.  She’s now a financially struggling single mother, but she has other problems too.  She just happens to look like a famous star.  Veronica receives some respite from her daily struggles when she’s asked to become the star’s double.

Check out WriteMeg!’s review.

Let’s take a look inside Carol’s writing space.  Please give her a warm welcome.

My office has pale wood floors, sage walls, and three big windows that look out to the street. It has two oak book shelves that I periodically (and futilely) attempt to organize, a comfy blue loveseat, and a really, really big oak desk.
Years, ago, when we were living in Park City, Utah, my husband found the desk through the local PennySaver. According to the seller, in the twenties the desk belonged to the President of Utah Power & Light; on the side there’s a little brass plague that says, “Property of UP&L.” As far as provenance goes, that’s not as cool as if the desk had belonged, to, say, John Steinbeck. (Granted, it’s hard to imagine Steinbeck’s desk making its way to Utah.) But I still like the sense of history. And, you know — power. (Sorry. That was uncalled for.) The desk has four very deep drawers and a file drawer. We’ve been shoving stuff into those drawers for years. I have no idea what’s in there.

I have a computer on my desk. I use it to answer emails, do research, and waste vast amounts of time. I do most of my writing on a laptop while sitting (slumping) on the comfy blue loveseat. It is terrible for my posture, and I keep thinking I should put the laptop on my desk and sit on one of those big balls that force you to sit up straight or risk falling over. Somehow, I know I’d fall over. Plus, I’d be so uncomfortable that I wouldn’t get any work done.

Mostly, though, I like sitting on the couch because one of my cats usually ends up on my lap. I like to think it’s because they love me and not because my lap is soft and the computer is warm.

Thanks, Carol, for sharing your workspace with us.

I’m not sure how she gets any work done on those adult and teen reads with those cats hanging out all over her desk.  It must be great exercise. . . for them.

***
The next stops on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour are Janel’s Jumble and The Betty and Boo Chronicles.  Go check them out!

FTC Disclosure: Clicking on title and image links will lead you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary, though appreciated.

© 2010, Serena Agusto-Cox of Savvy Verse & Wit. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Savvy Verse & Wit or Serena’s Feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Mailbox Monday #514

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

As you may have guessed, this D.C. area got hit with a lot more snow than expected, which means snow days and kids home driving working at home parents crazy. I hope you are all enjoying your winter activities and the snow if you have it. Back to work for me.

Here’s what I received:

Hope for Fitzwilliam by Jenna Ellsworth, a Kindle freebie.

Colonel Fitzwilliam has always been a ladies’ man, confident and suave. But when his heart falls for the recently widowed Charlotte Collins, he discovers all of his experience does him little good. And as he prepares to depart for war in the Americas, he fears he is leaving Charlotte behind at Pemberley with a more dangerous foe—one he does not know how to fight.

Charlotte Collins, ill prepared to understand the workings of a heart that has been touched, is determined to find a way to provide a new life for her and her unborn child. But as she quietly observes the daily, tender expressions of love between Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, she is forced to reexamine her own beliefs about love and marriage.

With battles looming inside them both, Colonel Fitzwilliam prepares to fight the greatest battle he has ever faced. As the conflict unfolds, even a decorated colonel finds himself helpless against the foe. He can only hope for something greater than himself to intervene—for more than one person has hope for Fitzwilliam to return home safely and secure Charlotte’s fragile, independent heart.

Mr. Darcy’s Mistress by Francine Howarth and Pat Jackson, a Kindle freebie.

Nothing is quite as it Seems at Pemberley! (Republished due to change in publisher imprint)

Jane Austen Fan Fiction: Honeymoon at Pemberley with Elizabeth (nee Bennet) and Fitzwilliam Darcy. But oh what a web of deceit is spun lest a past Darcy secret should come to light. Thus temptation to pry into private correspondence is a dreadful affliction, and the torment of an inquisitive mind adds fuel to a mystery Elizabeth dare not ask Darcy to reveal. Who then can help with unravelling the truth behind a clandestine affair other than Bingley? But trouble comes in threes, so it is said, and a visitor on the doorstep cannot be turned away, no matter she has brought destitution upon herself!

Darcy’s Secret by Reina M. Williams, a Kindle freebie.

Revisit Pemberley in this short story in the Love at Pemberley series, a light, sweet jaunt into the world of Pride and Prejudice.

Caroline Bingley, along with her brother and sister-in-law, returns to Pemberley with a mysterious man whose secret Mr. Darcy soon discovers. Deciding to keep this secret may risk all he values, but love always finds a way at Pemberley.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #513

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Yearning for You by Lory Lillian and Ellen Pickels, a Kindle freebie.

The Darcys are finally married at Longbourn and in a great hurry to travel to London. They are both eager to consummate their marriage and to finally become one in the solitude of their town-home.

But the moment they have so long awaited is delayed by several circumstances they cannot control, so their patience—and the readers’—must bear a daunting trial.

This is a sweet, amusing, low angst, “hot mush” tale about our beloved couple.

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann, an Amazon Firsts.

At twenty-four, Katie Gregory feels like life is looking up: she’s snagged a great job in New York City and is falling for a captivating artist—and memories of her traumatic past are finally fading. Katie’s life fell apart almost a decade earlier, during an idyllic summer at her family’s cabin on Eagle Lake when her best friend accused her father of sexual assault. Throughout his trial and imprisonment, Katie insisted on his innocence, dodging reporters and clinging to memories of the man she adores.

Now he’s getting out. Yet when Katie returns to the shuttered lakeside cabin, details of that fateful night resurface: the chill of the lake, the heat of first love, the terrible sting of jealousy. And as old memories collide with new realities, they call into question everything she thinks she knows about family, friends, and, ultimately, herself. Now, Katie’s choices will be put to the test with life-altering consequences.

The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford, an Amazon Firsts.

At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child.

In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger.

Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.

Seeking Mr. Perfect by Jennifer Youngblood, a Kindle freebie.

Sierra McCain has her life figured out with a fabulous job in New York City and a perfect boyfriend who is the modern-day equivalent of Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy. The type of guy Sierra always wanted to find.

Then, a frantic call from an old friend sends her rushing back to South Carolina where she comes face to face with the very guy she’s spent the past seven years trying to forget–Dalton Chandler whose slow, Southern smile unleashes an army of butterflies in her stomach and sends her heart into flips. Under no circumstance can she fall for him again, and she certainly can’t tell him her long-kept secret.

Caught between two worlds and two very different men, Sierra must decide which love she’ll choose–Mr. Perfect or Mr. Right.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #430

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Mister Darcy’s Christmas by Barbara Silkstone, purchased since I had book 1 and 3. Don’t know how I missed #2.

Christmas just became a lot more complicated for dog psychologist Lizzie Bennet and her sisters. While shopping in London they find little urchin Annie and her dog Sammy. As a fierce snowstorm takes over the city, the aloof but alluring Mister Darcy invites the girls, including Annie and Sammy, to spend the night at his penthouse.

With the best of intentions Darcy asks Annie and her seven siblings to join the Bennet sisters for a quiet Christmas Eve celebration in his London fortress. The skulduggery begins when Caroline Bingley – the villainess Austen fans love to boo – shows up acting the part of the Grinch and Scrooge combined.

Mister Darcy’s Christmas is the second book in Silkstone’s Mister Darcy series of light comedies based on Jane Austen’s timeless tales of jolly old England.

De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland by Judy Juanita from the author for review.

DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland views activism and feminism as they play out in one writer’s political, artistic and spiritual life. A distinguished semifinalist for OSU’s 2016 Non/Fiction Collection Prize, De Facto… is a cross between Audre Lorde’s Zami: A New Spelling of My Name and Jean Toomer’s Cane, blending essay, poems, graphics and literary criticism. An act of self-definition spanning four decades, the central person in DeFacto… is the writer herself, a feminist foot soldier. With the feel of memoir, these essays align with female thinkers Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Lorde, Alice Walker, Michelle Wallace, Angela Davis, bell hooks, Paula Giddings, Michelle Alexander, Roxane Gay and Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Much like the central character in her semi-autobiographical novel, Virgin Soul, whom Juanita calls a female foot soldier, the voice herein is a feminist foot soldier, processing major shifts in American society through the portal of her own artistic development. The essays are set chronologically, beginning with a picture of her Tuskegee Airman father, and an account of a not altogether idyllic childhood in Oakland, California. A patchwork narrative emerges: Growing up in Oakland in the fifties and sixties. Comparing her burgeoning sexuality to young white females in 1964 having orgiastic responses to the Beatles. Formulating an erstwhile womanhood based on Black Nationalism.

Deconstructing the infamous N-word controversy. Looking back acerbically at her romance with The Gun and the black power movement. Paying homage to Black Arts Movement poet Carolyn M. Rodgers. Celebrating 21st century feminism in unexpected places. Examining race and micro-aggression in liberal Berkeley. Living with a ghost/mentor for a year. The book’s format moves from essay to poem to epistle, utilizing the genre of letter writing in the final essay, “Acknowledge Me,” a true ghost story in which a dead playwright, once her teacher, pushes her to succeed. “Whatever Happened to Carolyn M. Rodgers?” pays homage to a poet who became a phantom of the Black Arts Movement (BAM). Rodgers utilized the militancy of the era to draw attention to larger social issues. She mixed slang, nostalgia, curse words, sociology, raw revelation of sexual intimacies to address the abyss between black men and women; she became a near pariah for reviving her Christian faith. “Report from the Front” indicates how America’s most liberal city still channels racism. “De Facto Feminism” tallies the ways feminism finds its way in a country that counts black women out, from fighting/finding contingency, building bridges, breaking bread, doing bizness the old fashioned way, and myriad other examples.

“Cleaning Other People’s Houses” considers the value of physical labor as the author works as a domestic for a living; Juanita leaves that job remembering that Zora Neale Hurston worked as a domestic in the last impoverished decade of her life. In the wake of Trayvon Martin, “The Gun as Ultimate Performance Poem” looks at the gun’s power and role in the African American community from the Panthers to the present. “Five Comrades in The Black Panther Party, 1967-1970” is the author’s recollection on joining the Black Panthers and revisiting the movement some 40 years later. “All The Women in My Family Read Terry McMillan” finds the newly minted novelist asking what to do about black literature, as she finds that it doesn’t quite fit with the chick lit and black chick-lit books her friends and family are reading. “Putting the Funny in the Novel” was written after her agent said her novel (about the Black Panthers) wasn’t funny enough. Juanita learned standup and lived to tell the tale (and jokes). “The N-Word.” In an age of trigger warnings and multiple N-Word explosions, Juanita blasts its premature burial…with qualifications, considerations – and calling it on white cops.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #384

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

The Hermit by Thomas Rydahl, translated by K.E. Semmel, for review.

A car is found crashed on a beach in the Canary Island resort of Fuerteventura. In the trunk is a cardboard box containing the body of a small boy — no one knows his name, and there is no trace of a driver.

The last thing Fuerteventura needs is a murder. The island’s already got half-empty bars and windswept beaches, and the local police are under pressure to cut the investigation short.

But long-time islander Erhard, who sees more than most people, won’t let the investigation drop — and he has nothing to lose. He has severed ties with his wife and child in Denmark and has cut himself off from the modern world.

The question is: can an old man who knows nothing about mobile phones, the internet or social media possibly solve a murder in the modern world, especially one that stretches far beyond the sandy beaches of Fuerteventura?

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede, which I purchased for book club.

Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be concerned when they find two human sorcerers setting spells near the border. And when the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest.

Amazon Kindle Freebies:

An American Airman in Paris by Beatriz Williams

Octavian Rofrano has never met the girl whose photograph was his constant companion through the long days and nights of the Great War. The promises he made to himself and that far-away image in the silence of his cockpit have never left him, but the anguish and loneliness of post-Armistice Paris has crept into his bones. One night, Octavian finally decides to lose himself in the sad beauty the City of Lights offers, but as reminders of that 11th day of November fill his mind, can he let go of past hopes or does the promise of salvation still have a hold on him?

Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay

Elizabeth left her family’s home in Seattle fifteen years ago to pursue her lifelong dream—chefing her own restaurant in New York City. Jane stayed behind to raise a family. Estranged since their mother’s death many years ago, the circumstances of their lives are about to bring them together once again.

Known for her absolute command of her culinary domain, Elizabeth’s gifts in the kitchen have begun to elude her. And patrons and reviewers are noticing. In need of some rest and an opportunity to recover her passion for cooking, Elizabeth jumps at the excuse to rush to her sister’s bedside when Jane is diagnosed with cancer. After all, Elizabeth did the same for their mother. Perhaps this time, it will make a difference.

As Elizabeth pours her renewed energy into her sister’s care and into her burgeoning interest in Nick, Jane’s handsome coworker, her life begins to evolve from the singular pursuit of her own dream into the beautiful world of family, food, literature, and love that was shattered when she and Jane lost their mother. Will she stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane—and Elizabeth to Nick’s Mr. Darcy—or will she return to the life she has worked so hard to create?

Yes, Mr. Darcy by J. Dawn King

Elizabeth Bennet’s girlish dreams of love and romance are shattered. Her father has decided she will be the one to secure her family’s future through a marriage of convenience to his heir. Disappointment and sadness weigh her soul when she travels with her aunt and uncle—a consolation before she submits to duty. When she sees the reflection of her heartbreak in the face of an unknown young lady, Elizabeth reaches out to the girl, extending a hopeful outlook she herself has been denied. Mr. Darcy regrets missing the opportunity to know the pretty stranger who helped his grieving, younger sister rise above her sadness. Hope keeps him seeking her face in every crowd. As time passes it seems the woman he admires might be an ephemeral dream born of his heart’s desire. Darcy finally finds her when he is forced to visit his friend, Mr. Bingley, but is she already taken? Can he restore hope to this woman he barely knows? Will she let him?

Lost to the Ocean by Melanie Schertz

Elizabeth Bennet and Georgiana Darcy were friends of long standing when they ventured a trip together to Ramsgate. While there, they are kidnapped by George Wickham, taken on a waiting ship which was to take them to Portugal. But these plans are waylaid by a storm which destroys the ship, leaving the young ladies on the shores of war torn France. While Georgiana’s brother rushes to find them, could there be someone still in England who was mysteriously behind Wickham’s behavior?

Mister Darcy’s Dogs by Barbara Silkstone

Doctor Lizzie Bennet, struggling against her conservative English countryside upbringing, determines to prove her worth as a dog psychologist. Nothing will deter her from her career until she meets the uppity and oh-so mysterious Londoner, Mister Darcy. His on-again, off-again flirtatious manner, and his pompous putdowns challenge Lizzie’s short temper. When Mister Darcy hires her to train his lovable basset hounds for an important foxhunt, Lizzie accepts the task despite knowing next to nothing about the sport and harboring an intense fear of horses.

Two of the villains Austen fans love to boo and hiss arrive to torment Lizzie: Caroline Bingley, in hot pursuit of Mister Darcy does all she can to discredit and humiliate Lizzie. Mister Darcy’s old nemesis, George Wickham, stalks the Bennet family.

My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White

After being dragged to the 2005 movie Pride and Prejudice by her mother, sixteen-year-old Elizabeth’s life changes when Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy appears on the screen. Lizzie falls hard and makes a promise to herself that she will settle for nothing less than her own Mr. Darcy. This ill-advised pledge threatens to ruin any chance of finding true love. During the six intervening years, she has refused to give any interested suitors a chance. They weren’t Mr. Darcy enough.

Coerced by her roommate, Elizabeth agrees to give the next interested guy ten dates before she dumps him. That guy is Chad, a kind and thoughtful science teacher and swim coach. While she’s dating Chad, her dream comes true in the form of a wealthy bookstore owner named Matt Dawson, who looks and acts like her Mr. Darcy. Of course she has to follow her dream. But as Elizabeth simultaneously dates a regular guy and the dazzling Mr. Dawson, she’s forced to re-evaluate what it was she loved about Mr. Darcy in the first place.

Devour (book 1) by Shelly Crane

Clara has it all.

A wrestling-star boyfriend, she’s popular, tons of friends, all the right school activities, pretty much a perfect life…up until her parents died. Now she lives with the town pastor and his family, and though they take good care of her, she feels alone in a crowd of people.

But when a new guy comes to town, Clara is fascinated with him, no matter how much she tries to fight it, and her carefully constructed, perfect little world begins to crumble. And then things take a turn for the…unexplainable. Eli confesses to her that she gives him something he’s never had before, something he needs.

Everything is about to change for this normal, pretty, popular girl in a supernatural way.

Queen of Someday (book 1) by Sherry Ficklin

Before she can become the greatest empress in history, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

Dark Desires (book 1) by Eve Silver

Betrayed by those she trusted, penniless and alone, Darcie Finch is forced to accept a position that no one else dares, as assistant to dangerously attractive Dr. Damien Cole. Ignoring the whispered warnings and rumours that he’s a man to fear, she takes her position at his eerie estate where she quickly discovers that nothing is at it seems, least of all her handsome and brooding employer. As Darcie struggles with her fierce attraction to Damien, she must also deal with the blood, the disappearances … and the murders.

With her options dwindling and time running out, Darcie must rely on her instincts as she confronts the man she is falling in love with. Is he an innocent and misunderstood man … or a remorseless killer who prowls the East End streets?

Snowy White World to Save by Stephanie Lisa Tara

Where has mother gone? Mothers don’t leave. Mothers stay, forever. Mothers are like redwood trees, those special forever trees that grow hundreds of feet high and live for thousands of years. Mothers read storybooks aloud. They know the power of a story. Power that can even make the wrong-beats of a child’s heart go away.

Maybe the monarch butterfly was right? Perhaps they should make the journey. The one that was too long, and too far, for a girl with a wrong-beating heart. Yet there was someone in the redwood forest that Eliza just knew could help. Not just any someone. Another mother. The first mother. The one, Eliza’s own mother had spoken of. Great Mother Redwood. The very first, the oldest and wisest redwood tree of them all. She, who started the forest thousands of years ago, might know where mother had gone. It seemed impossible. To find one who had never been seen, one who had only been spoken of? Yet. Mothers dont leave. They are like redwood trees. They stay, forever.

Eliza decided she must try. She would put one foot in front of the other, slowly. She would take small steps. She knew the butterfly would be patient alongside her. Down the path. To the forever trees.

2015 Challenge Wrap-Up

Every year, I check my blog to see if I met my reading challenge goals.  I was a little late in doing so this year, but I did want to see how I did.  Some years I am better at keeping track throughout the year, but this was not one of those years.

I’ll list the books for each challenge and link to the reviews below.

2015 Poetry Reading Challenge (Goal is to read 1 book or 20 individual poems):

  1. Joy Street by Laura Foley (review)
  2. Silent Flowers: A New Collection of Japanese Haiku Poems edited by Dorothy Price (review)
  3. WET by Toni Stern (review)
  4. Crow-Work by Eric Pankey (review)
  5. Doll God by Luanne Castle (review)
  6. Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust (review)
  7. The Robot Scientist’s Daughter by Jeannine Hall Gailey (review)
  8. Pictograph: Poems by Melissa Kwasny (review)
  9. Vessel: Poems by Parneshia Jones (review)
  10. Medic Against Bomb: A Doctor’s Poetry of War by Frederick Foote (review)
  11. Banned for Life by Arlene Ang (review)
  12. Free Air: Poems by Joe Wenke (review)
  13. Remember the Sun: Poems of Nature and Inspiration by Melanie Simms (review)
  14. The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight (review)
  15. Looking for Potholes by Joe Wenke (review)
  16. Double Jinx by Nancy Reddy (review)
  17. Pride & Prejudice: Retold in Limericks by Seamus O’Leprechaun (review)
  18. Lost and by Jeff Griffin (review)
  19. The Book of Goodbyes by Jillian Weise (review)
  20. Ohio Violence by Alison Stine (review)
  21. Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko (review)
  22. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (review)
  23. Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow (review)
  24. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (review)
  25. Red Sox Rhymes: Verses and Curses by Dick Flavin (review)
  26. Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons by Margaret Wise Brown (review)
  27. Wet Silence by Sweta Srivastava Vikram (review)
  28. Dark Sparkler by Amber Tamblyn (review)
  29. The Same-Different: Poems by Hannah Sanghee Park (review)
  30. The Uncertainty Principle: Poems by Roxanna Bennett (review)
  31. Strange Theater by John Amen (review)
  32. Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle (review)
  33. All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson (review)
  34. Underdays: Poems by Martin Ott (review)
  35. National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! by J. Patrick Lewis (review)

2015 War Through the Generations – Read Any War (read any # of books about any war):

  1. After the War Is Over by Jennifer Robson (review) WWI
  2. War’s Trophies by Henry Morant (review) Vietnam War
  3. The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson (review) WWII
  4. The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin Who Brought the World to War by Tim Butcher (review) WWI
  5. Medic Against Bomb: A Doctor’s Poetry of War by Frederick Foote (review) Iraq Wars
  6. The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy (review) U.S. Civil War
  7. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck (review) U.S. Civil War
  8. The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna (review) WWII
  9. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (review) War in general
  10. The Great War: Stories Inspired by Items from the First World War illustrated by Jim Kay (review) WWI
  11. Mireille by Molly Cochran (review) WWII
  12. Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans (review) WWII
  13. The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach by Pam Jenoff (review) WWII
  14. The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton (review) WWII
  15. The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch (review) Bosnia War
  16. Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North (review) WWII

2015 New Authors Challenge (read 50 New-to-Me Authors):

  1. Jewel Kats
  2. Henry Morant
  3. Deborah Johnson
  4. Mallory Ortberg
  5. Andy Miller
  6. Tony Stern
  7. Lorna Schultz Nicholson
  8. Dora Levy Mossanen
  9. Tim Butcher
  10. Rebecca Skloot
  11. Luanne Castle
  12. Mallory Kasdan
  13. Danielle Paige
  14. Jan Hahn
  15. Rebecca Foust
  16. Melissa Kwasny
  17. Parneshia Jones
  18. Frederick Foote
  19. Joe Wenke
  20. Melanie Simms
  21. Natural History Museum
  22. Marie Slaight
  23. Greil Marcus
  24. Nancy Reddy
  25. Jeff Griffin
  26. Seamus O’Leprechaun
  27. Erika Robuck
  28. Abigail Samoun
  29. Jillian Weise
  30. Jo Nesbo
  31. William Todd Rose
  32. Alison Stine
  33. Lisa Pliscou
  34. Paul B. Janeczko
  35. Claudia Rankine
  36. Charlotte Zolotow
  37. Jacqueline Woodson
  38. Richard Torrey
  39. Jo Baker
  40. Richard Fairgray
  41. Jonathan Lethem
  42. Margaret Peot
  43. Jim Kay, various
  44. Mi-ae Lee
  45. Ae-hae Yoon
  46. Judith Fertig
  47. Robert C. O’Brien
  48. Cassie Premo Steele
  49. Maria Grace
  50. Hee Jung Chang
  51. Molly Cochran
  52. Bryan Ballinger
  53. Lissa Evans
  54. Matthew Jervis
  55. Kim Norman
  56. Dick Flavin
  57. Gillian Flynn
  58. Geert de Kockere
  59. Susan Andra Lion
  60. Rachel Simon
  61. Meg Waite Clayton
  62. Lidia Yuknavitch
  63. L. Shapley Bassen
  64. Amber Tamblyn
  65. Hannah Sanghee Park
  66. Roxanna Bennett
  67. Bella Forrest
  68. Nuala O’Connor
  69. Anna Llenas
  70. Lauren Redniss
  71. Lisa Maggiore
  72. Martin Ott
  73. Joe Hill
  74. Anne Margaret Lewis
  75. Catherine Bailey
  76. Maggie Stiefvater
  77. Jean P. Moore
  78. Linda Ashman
  79. Beau North
  80. Terry Border
  81. Kate Louise
  82. Clement C. Moore
  83. Kimberly Knutsen
  84. Ree Drummond
  85. Alexander McCall Smith
  86. Jussi Adler Olsen

That’s it for me in 2015; now I have to really start thinking about 2016 challenges.

There will be a poetry reading challenge announcement soon!

Interview with Jeannine Hall Gailey, author of The Robot Scientist’s Daughter

2015PoetryMonthIn conjunction with Poetic Book Tours and the 2015 National Poetry Month Blog Tour, Jeannine Hall Gailey agreed to be interviewed about her poetry, including her new collection, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter.

I’ve read her poetry for several years, and I just cannot get enough.  I hope that you’ll not only check out her interview below, but also her April book tour.

A few of your collections — Becoming the Villainess and Unexplained Fevers — have reinvented and breathed new life into beloved heroines, myths, and fairy tales.  How do these stories inspire you to create the vivid and unusual narratives in your poems?  Which are some of your favorites?

At the time I was writing Becoming the Villainess, I was particularly interested in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and the story of Procne and Philomel, and more unusual fairy tales, such as the story of the French fairy Melusine, which I fell in love with after researching it after reading A.S. Byatt’s Possession, and the story of “the coat of thousand furs,” or Allerleirauh. I was not interested in the Disney versions of the fairy tales, as I knew even as a kid how much they differed from their Grimms’ origins, but I did enjoy sort of tweaking the clichés of those films.

Then of course I got really interested in Japanese folk tales a few years ago, when I was writing She Returns to the Floating World, and researched and found as many of them translated into English as I could. I loved the ones that focused on older sisters rescuing younger brothers, which is quite a common trope in Japanese folk tales, and of course the tales of transformations of women into foxes, cranes, peonies, etc. There are so many interesting tales out there. I also love Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” – it’s a fascinating, complicated, and unexpectedly feminist piece of work. I love re-working those characters.

Unexplained Fevers actually centers on the fairy tale characters I neglected in my first book, because I felt that they were too passive. But after reading the Snow White/Rose Red references in Haruki Murakami’s After Dark and the Rapunzel narratives in Osamu Dazai’s Blue Bamboo, I started thinking about how I could re-write characters like Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White – and that’s how I started writing that book.

robotIn your new collection, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, your subject matter is a little more concrete, including but not limited to the history of nuclear development, family, and nature. How did this collection come to be and did you find the process easier or more difficult compared to previous collections?

I think a seed for this collection was planted when I was working with Dorianne Laux at the Pacific University MFA program some years ago, and she encouraged me to write more about my own life. I considered my life too boring to write about. And Ilya Kaminsky, I remember, told me after reading my first couple of books that “now is the time for you to create your own fairy tale.” I held on to both of those things, but it took me a while to figure out how to incorporate my own experience into poetry.

The Robot Scientist’s Daughter was born in the series of “elemental” poems in the book—poems like “Cesium Burns Blue,” “Radon Daughters,” and “Elemental,” —and then I started thinking about ways to create a character that was like me but was not—and I came up with the Robot Scientist’s Daughter character. Those are more fantasy and sci-fi-based poems, and therefore more familiar to me and fun to write. The straight-up history/autobiography poems were probably the hardest to write—Oak Ridge’s history is fascinating—even the Wikipedia entry can sound like a weird prose poem—but making that history sound poetic was something I struggled with. I did include a series of poems about my childhood that were not as fun to write, but I wanted something that would give the reader sort of a child’s-eye view of the beautiful, mysterious nature of growing up on a farm in Tennessee, not just the “atomic history down the street” part.

Nuclear research, energy, and bombs are dangerous but yet humanity continues to engage in these activities despite the lasting risks. In “They Do Not Need Rescue”, the poem discusses the silence surrounding the consequences of these activities — that the people living nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory signed away their family’s lives for a meager paycheck and a house — and it raises questions about why they would remain silent even years later and not speak out. Is it a question of fear vs. bravery, or something more?

I can’t really speak for the people who made those decisions, which are individual to each of them. But I do know that the contracts for people that work/worked at ORNL – a huge source of lucrative jobs in a region that even now doesn’t have a ton of great jobs – were pretty prohibitive and threatening, and people in that area signed a contract and stuck with that agreement. If they don’t feel comfortable speaking out today, it’s probably because of the wording of the contracts they signed. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that the people of Oak Ridge are victims – they certainly don’t think of themselves that way – and there’s a culture in Eastern Tennessee of individualism, hard work, patriotism, and a tendency towards the taciturn rather than the loquacious.

Also, the dangers of radiation were not really well known early on in the work of ORNL – as reading some of the memoir of one of Oak Ridge’s early “Safety Physicists”, The Angry Genie, would indicate. In the beginning, they were focused on winning World War II, getting the bomb before the Nazis, and not as worried about pollution and those kinds of “down the road” problems. There was a little bit about how they taped uranium to the wrists of some of the nurses there, to see the effect; I mean, they were very naive back then. The Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters, for instance, indicate that even today, how little prepared most companies and countries are for the kinds of problems that can happen with nuclear disaster, how little they understand the magnitude of something like nuclear pollution, how it stays around for multiple human lifetimes. It’s something to keep in mind as our nuclear power plants age here in the United States.

JeannineHighResHeadshotmediumWriting is a solitary endeavor for many authors. How do you maintain contact with the outside, and how does that differ from the experience of reading your work aloud for an audience?

I’ve belonged to a writing group for thirteen years, and that really helps. Also, Seattle and the surrounding cities have great writing communities. I volunteered with several terrific local journals for many years, which is also a great way to stay connected with the writing community—currently I’m on the Board at Crab Creek Review. Writing itself is work that must be done alone, but sharing it, getting it published, dealing with rejection, applying for grants or residencies—all those parts of the writing life really benefit from the help/encouragement of other writers. I also enjoying teaching, editing manuscripts, and a new venture—helping poets with PR for their books! I absolutely root for every single student and editing client to succeed!

I also think social media – Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, what have you – can really help you feel connected to the larger writing world in a way that just wasn’t possible when I was a younger writer. A lot of people hate them, but I absolutely think they are a gift (even if I haven’t exactly figured out how to be the greatest Twitter-er or anything yet.) You can see when different magazines have a call for submissions, or congratulate a friend on good publishing news, or follow writers you admire. I mean, you can’t spend all day on that stuff, but it’s great on a rainy Sunday to go to the Twitter #poetparty, for instance, and say hi to some writing friends and feel encouraged.

What poets you’ve read are making a difference with their poetry, either trying to influence societal, environmental, or political change? What other poets should we be reading?

For the first question: There are really so many! I think probably Carolyn Forché, Alicia Ostriker, Margaret Atwood, Pattiann Rogers, Sandra Alcosser, and llya Kaminsky have all been particularly influential in terms of the way they write their activism. But I am so excited about reading the younger generation’s take (do I sound super-old there? But it’s true!) on issues like racism, feminism, the environment, immigration—I feel that younger writers right now are unafraid of taking on big ambitious subjects than my generation was/is. Another few poets that I think tackle difficult and thought-provoking political subject matter with imagination and empathy: Jericho Brown, Eduardo C. Corral, Saeed Jones.

For the second question: There are so many good poets here in the Northwest that I think don’t get enough attention – in particular, I’d like to champion the first books by poets Annette Spaulding-Convy and Natasha K. Moni, which are both exceptional. And we have a wonderful group of female poets up here, people like Kelli Russell Agodon, Kathleen Flenniken, Kelly Davio, Elizabeth Austen, Martha Silano, Jenifer Lawrence, Marjorie Manwaring. They’re not just great poets, they’re great people who put time and energy into their poetry community. I love the work that my friends at local press Two Sylvias Press are putting out, too – definitely worth taking a look at. I discover great poets out here all the time, people I’ve never met that I’ll happen to hear at a reading. I try to highlight books I love in my reviews for places like The Rumpus, too. Reviewing is still something I try to do on a regular basis, especially for books that might otherwise get overlooked. Anything to bring more love to poetry!

Thanks, Jeannine, for sharing your thoughts with us and your poet recommendations.

Mailbox Monday #177

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Martha’s Bookshelf.

Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received last week:

1.  The Subject Tonight Is Love by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky from last week’s library sale.

To Persians, the fourteenth-century poems of Hafiz are not classical literature from a remote past, but cherished love, wisdom, and humor from a dear and intimate friend. Perhaps, more than any other Persian poet, it is Hafiz who most fully accesses the mystical, healing dimensions of poetry. Daniel Ladinsky has made it his life’s work to create modern, inspired translations of the world’s most profound spiritual poetry. Through Ladinsky’s translations, Hafiz’s voice comes alive across the centuries singing his message of love.

2.  The Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer, which was also from the library sale for my mother.

From the bestselling author of Between Husbands and Friends and An Act of Love comes a wise, wonderful, and delightfully witty “coming of age” novel about four intrepid women who discover themselves as they were truly meant to be: passionate, alive, and ready to face the best years of their lives.

Meet Faye, Marilyn, Alice, and Shirley. Four women with skills, smarts, and secrets—all feeling over the hill and out of the race. But in a moment of delicious serendipity, they meet and realize they share more than raging hormones and lost dreams. Now as the Hot Flash Club, where the topics of motherhood, sex, and men are discussed with double servings of chocolate cake, they vow to help each other . . . and themselves.

3.  The Wonder of It All by Elizabeth P. Glixman from the poet for review.

4.  Sea Change by Karen White for review in June from the publisher.

For as long as she can remember, Ava Whalen has struggled with a sense of not belonging, and now, at thirty-five, she still feels stymied by her family. Then she meets child psychologist Matthew Frazier, and thinks her days of loneliness are behind her. After a whirlwind romance, they impulsively elope, and Ava moves to Matthew’s ancestral home on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia.

But after the initial excitement, Ava is surprised to discover that true happiness continues to elude her. There is much she doesn’t know about Matthew, including the mysterious circumstances surrounding his first wife’s death. And her new home seems to hold as many mysteries and secrets as her new husband. Feeling adrift, Ava throws herself into uncovering Matthew’s family history and that of the island, not realizing that she has a connection of her own to this place—or that her obsession with the past could very well destroy her future.

5. The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian for review from Random House.

The Sandcastle Girls is a sweeping historical love story steeped in Chris Bohjalian’s Armenian heritage.

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo and travels south into Egypt to join the British army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.

Fast forward to the present day, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed “The Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss – and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

6. Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen from the publisher/author for review.

High-school sweethearts Julia and Michael have left their humble West Virginia roots far behind for a glamorous life in Washington, D.C. As they achieve more in their careers—she as a high-end events planner, he as the CEO of his own sports-drink company—they lose themselves as a couple. After Michael has a near-death experience, he decides to give away all their wealth and focus on his relationship with Julia. But she’s not ready to forgive him for choosing his work over her when she needed him most. Pekkanen’s novel traces the couple’s attempts to make amends for allowing success to replace love.

7. These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen from the publisher/author for review.

Cate, Renee, and Abby have come to New York for very different reasons, and in a bustling city of millions, they are linked together through circumstance and chance.

Cate has just been named the features editor of Gloss, a high-end lifestyle magazine. It’s a professional coup, but her new job comes with more complications than Cate ever anticipated.

Her roommate Renee will do anything to nab the plum job of beauty editor at Gloss. But snide comments about Renee’s weight send her into an emotional tailspin. Soon she is taking black market diet pills—despite the racing heartbeat and trembling hands that signal she’s heading for real danger.

Then there’s Abby, whom they take in as a third roommate. Once a joyful graduate student working as a nanny part time, she abruptly fled a seemingly happy life in the D.C. suburbs. No one knows what shattered Abby—or why she left everything she once loved behind.

8. The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner from the publisher for review.

So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

9. The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico by Sarah McCoy, which I bought at the Gaithersburg Book Festival and had her sign!

It is 1961 and Puerto Rico is trapped in a tug-of-war between those who want to stay connected to the United States and those who are fighting for independence. For eleven-year-old Verdita Ortiz-Santiago, the struggle for independence is a battle fought much closer to home.

Verdita has always been safe and secure in her sleepy mountain town, far from the excitement of the capital city of San Juan or the glittering shores of the United States, where her older cousin lives. She will be a señorita soon, which, as her mother reminds her, means that she will be expected to cook and clean, go to Mass every day, choose arroz con pollo over hamburguesas, and give up her love for Elvis. And yet, as much as Verdita longs to escape this seemingly inevitable future and become a blond American bombshell, she is still a young girl who is scared by late-night stories of the chupacabra, who wishes her mother would still rub her back and sing her a lullaby, and who is both ashamed and exhilarated by her changing body.

Told in luminous prose spanning two years in Verdita’s life, The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico is much more than a story about getting older. In the tradition of The House on Mango Street and Annie John, it is about the struggle to break free from the people who have raised us, and about the difficulties of leaving behind one’s homeland for places unknown. At times joyous and at times heartbreaking, Verdita’s story is of a young girl discovering her power and finding the strength to decide what sort of woman she’ll become.

10. Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith from BookCrossing at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

In Morality for Beautiful Girls, Precious Ramotswe, founder and owner of the only detective agency for the concerns of both ladies and others, investigates the alleged poisoning of the brother of an important “Government Man,” and the moral character of the four finalists of the Miss Beauty and Integrity Contest, the winner of which will almost certainly be a contestant for the title of Miss Botswana. Yet her business is having money problems, and when other difficulties arise at her fianc?’s Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, she discovers the reliable Mr J.L.B. Matekoni is more complicated then he seems.

11. Break No Bones by Kathy Reichs from BookCrossing at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Among the ancient remains in a Native American burial ground, Tempe discovers a fresh skeleton — and what began as an ordinary teaching stint at an archeology field school in Charleston, South Carolina, fast becomes a heated investigation into an alarming pattern of homicides. The clues hidden in the bones lead to a street clinic where a monstrous discovery awaits, and Tempe — whose personal life is in upheaval, with two men competing for her — can’t afford any distractions as she pieces together a shattering and terrifying puzzle.

What did you receive?

Waking by Ron Rash

Waking by Ron Rash — a collection of poems broken up into five parts — and the cover’s barren landscape with its snowed in vehicle is a perfect depiction of the desolate landscape presented in the first selection of poems.  From “Woodshed in Watauga County” (page 7) “as mud daubers and dust motes/drifted above like moments/unmoored from time, and the world/” and from “Junk Car in Snow” (page 8), “No shade tree surgery could/revive its engine, so rolled/into the pasture, left stalled/among cattle, soon rust-scabs/”   Rash does desolation and emptiness well, but he also just as easily paints vivid imagery reminiscent of lucid dreams and the lingering impression of those dreams during the stages of waking.  In “Milking Traces” (page 5), “those narrow levels seemed like/belts worn on the hill’s bulged waist,/if climbed straight up, tall steps for/stone Aztec ruins–though razed/”

In section two, many of the poems focus on farming and the hard work that comes along with cutting through the wilderness to build a life.  In many ways, this could be construed as the cloudy ascent from sleep or the struggle of growing up from childhood into adolescence and adulthood.  Each journey can be arduous, but the destinations can be well worth the struggle or so Rash’s poems suggest.  In “Pocketknives” (page 18), “vanity of men caught once/when dead in a coat and tie,/so ordered from catalogs,/saved and traded for, searched for/in sheds and fields if lost, passed/father to son as heirlooms,/like talismans carried close/to the bone, cloaked as the hearts/”  But there is a subtly to the hope in these poems.

Each poem in this collection relies heavily on nature imagery and the suppositions the poet makes, and Rash seems to be reflective and regretful in some, while content and accepting in others.  Many of these poems can weigh heavily on the reader, especially if read in sequence.  The prologue poem really sets the tone for the collection, which can fulfill a dreary day or provide a modicum of solace for those who are feeling reflective.  The poem suggests that readers pause, reflect on their lives and moments with family and friends to see the true nature of them rather than rush through daily activities and becoming absorbed in the mere movement of life.

Resolution (page xi)

The surge and clatter of whitewater conceals
how shallow underneath is, how quickly gone.
Leave that noise behind.  Come here
where the water is slow, and clear.
Watch the crawfish prance across the sand,
the mica flash, the sculpen blend with stone.
It's all beyond your reach though it appears
as near and known as your outstretched hand.

Waking by Ron Rash is a solid collection of poems that shifts between reality and dreams and nostalgia and how things are.  Readers interested in the Southern traditions and culture will see a brighter presence of the majestic mountains and sparkling rivers.  They will see nature as it is and how southerners interact with it and build lives from the frontier that still exists.

About the Poet:

Ron Rash is the author of three prize-winning novels: One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight; three collections of poems; and two collections of stories. A recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University.

This is my 25th book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.

 

This is my 57th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

75th Virtual Poetry Circle


Welcome to the 75th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Continuing with the holiday-themed poems, today’s poem is from Anne Porter:

Noel

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they’re cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry
That are loved all the more
Because they are so common

But there are carols
That carry phrases
Of the haunting music
Of the other world
A music wild and dangerous
As a prophet’s message

Or the fresh truth of children
Who though they come to us
From our own bodies
Are altogether new
With their small limbs
And birdlike voices

They look at us
With their clear eyes
And ask the piercing questions
God alone can answer.

Let me know your thoughts, ideas, feelings, impressions.  Let’s have a great discussion…pick a line, pick an image, pick a sentence.

I’ve you missed the other Virtual Poetry Circles.  It’s never too late to join the discussion.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! by Michael P. Spradlin, Illus. Jeff Weigel

The holidays are a time for merriment and getting together with family and friends to celebrate and share.  Part of the holidays has always included caroling, at least for some people.  My husband and I love to sing, though we don’t sing well, but we like to make up lyrics from time to time.   It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! by Michael P. Spradlin and illustrated by Jeff Weigel is the perfect collection of remastered Christmas Carols to liven up the holidays.  There’s even an introduction by the witty and dark humored Christopher Moore.

First, can you tell what classic novel this line’s beginning resembles?

“It is universally acknowledged that there are very few literarypursuits which cannot be improved with the addition of zombies, which are to the written word as cheesy goldfish crackers are to life in general; those little cheesy goldfish crackers also improve nearly everything.”  (Page VII)

Christopher Moore certainly has a unique perspective on literature and how it can be improved, but in the case of the zombie Christmas carol book, he may be correct.  Spradlin’s lines are well placed and maintain the rhythm of the original carols.  Family members young and old will love to sing to these revised songs —  from It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, I mean, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies to Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly, oops I mean, Deck the Halls With Parts of Wally.

Zombie, the Snowman (Page 39)

Zombie the Snowman was a jolly, happy ghoul,
With a corncob pipe and some boy’s nose
And two eyes he got at school.

Zombie the Snowman is a fairy tale, they say;
He was undead, it’s so,
But the children know how he came back to life one day.

There must have been a virus in
That old silk hat they found,
For when they placed it on his head,
He began to dance around.

Oh, Zombie the Snowman was alive as he could be,
And the children say he ate brains all day,
And they ran from that Zombie.

Thumpety, thump thump,
Thumpety, thump thump,
Look at Zombie go.
Thumpety, thump thump,
Thumpety, thump thump, 
Over the hills of snow.

Zombie the Snowman knew the brains were fresh that day,
So he said, “Please run, because it’s lots more fun when I eat your brain that way.”
Down through the village with a femur in his hand,
Running here and there all around the square,
Sayin’, “Decapitate me if you can!” 

He chased them through the streets of town 
And at a traffic cop,
And he barely paused a moment when he heard the cop’s brain pop!

Zombie the Snowman
Had to hurry on his way,
But he waved good-bye, sayin’, “Please do cry,
I’ll eat your brains someday!” 

At a short 81 pages, It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! is a fun read and will have you giggling and guffawing and singing.  Chock full of gruesome and surreal drawings of zombies in Santa Claus suits and other holiday outfits are eye-catching, and add additional verve to the carols.  This humorous Christmas carol book would make a great stocking stuffer and an after-holiday gift.  Heck, it would just be a fun gift for birthdays, anniversaries, and any other occasion.

FTC Disclosure:  My husband purchased this copy for me.  Clicking on title or image links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.