Quantcast

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Austen Interviews – An Interview with Captain Frederick Wentworth by Jack Caldwell

Welcome to today’s guest post and giveaway for Persuaded to Sail by Jack Caldwell. This is the third book in this series of books about Jane Austen’s fighting men. Persuasion is my second favorite of Austen’s novels. Caldwell has crafted an excellent interview with Captain Frederick Wentworth and there is a giveaway.

But first, as always, here’s the synopsis of the book:

The long-awaited sequel to Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion. After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia.But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife. All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board…

Without further ado, check out the interview:

JACK CALDWELL – Hello, everyone. Jack Caldwell here. It has been a few years since I’ve done one of my famous interviews.

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM (off stage) – Famous in your own mind!

JC – Quiet in the peanut gallery! Now, where was I? Oh, yes. To celebrate the launch of my tenth novel, PERSUADED TO SAIL, a sequel to Persuasion and Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men, I have returned to this studio outside of time and space to interview the second most romantic man in the Jane Austen Universe. Let’s have a big hand for Captain Frederick Wentworth!

CAPTAIN FREDERICK WENTWORTH – I thank you, Mr. Caldwell. But the second? Who would be the first?

JC – Number One in the fans’ mind would be Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

FW – I do not know the gentleman.

JC – No, you wouldn’t, being stuck out in the middle of the ocean all the time.

FW – I would not refer to serving in His Majesty’s Royal Navy as being “stuck” anywhere.

JC – Her Majesty’s.

FW – I beg your pardon? Has something happened to King George?

JC – Queen Elizabeth II rules Britain now. This is the year 2020.

FW – I see. But Britannia surely continues to rule the waves.

JC – Not anymore. That would be the United States Navy.

FW – What? The colonialists? That cannot be!

JC – Hold your horses there, Freddie. The Royal Navy’s a solid Number Two. Besides, we’re allies now.

FW – My name, sir, is Wentworth. And I must say I do not care for this “Number Two”
business.

JC – You’ll get used to it. It’s better than what happened to France. But, let’s get back to you. You may not be the JA fans’ ideal lover, but you write a mean letter. You’ve been melting hearts for two hundred years. How did you come up with that note?

FW – I simply wrote the words emblazoned upon my heart for eight years.

JC – Wow, that’s a good one. I have to remember that for my anniversary. Which brings me to my next question. Why’d you wait eight years?

FW – I was jilted in 1806, if you recall.

JC – Yeah, but you were just a commander. Two years later you made post. Why didn’t you try again in 1808?

FW – I suppose I could use a broken heart to excuse myself, and there is some truth to that. But I must own it was my pride.

JC – If I understand you correctly, your success, which led to your advancement and wealth, made you too proud to return to Miss Anne Elliot?

FW – Yes. In my pride, I thought myself above the daughter of an impoverished baronet, especially one who was persuaded to jilt me only two years before.

JC –Anne would have welcomed a renewal of your attentions.

FW – I know it well, and it tortures me! What a fool I was! Years of happiness I could have had with my sweet Anne wasted because of my stupid pride!

JC – Not just pride. Weren’t you just a little jealous when you did return to Kellynch Hall?

FW – Yes, I was. Pride and envy—are they not two of great sins we are warned against? Upon my return, I wished to prove that Anne had no power over me, that I was free of her. My pride got me nearly entangled with Miss Louisa Musgrove. How ill-used that poor girl was! Thankfully, she recovered from her fall, fell in love with Benwick—an outstanding gentleman—and forgave me my caddish behavior. And when I knew myself, I thought I was too late, that Anne would accept Mr. William Elliot. The pain my jealous heart caused me! I was well paid for my foolishness.

JC – You were fortunate that Anne figured out Elliot’s game. And you were fortunate no one saw that letter before Anne got it.

FW – Boldness has served me well, both at sea and on shore.

JC – Looks like you and Mr. Darcy have something in common. I refer to writing awesome letters.

FW – I must meet this Mr. Darcy someday. He is married, I trust?

JC – He sure is. Now, my new novel, PERSUADED TO SAIL – on sale now! – chronicles your honeymoon cruise with Anne to Bermuda. But there are surprises—

FW – Chronicles? You write about my voyage? Were you on board?

JC – Of course, I was. I’m the author. As I was saying—

FW – Sir, I must ask your meaning! Were you spying on Anne and me?

JC – That’s my job.

*** (SOUND OF SWORD LEAVING ITS SCABBARD) ***

FW – Stand up, sir! I will have satisfaction!

JC – Wait! You don’t understand! That’s not how this works! I write about Anne and you, the readers read it, and they fall in love with the both of you all over again!

FW – No one spies on my Anne! No one!

COLONEL FITZWILLIAM (off stage) – Need any help?

JC – Oh, wonderful! SECURITY! Thanks, everybody for stopping by this episode of the Austen

Interviews! I think Serena is offering a giveaway for you. Just check below. SECURITY!

FW – Fitzwilliam, hurry along! He is getting away!

JC – SECURITY!!

Giveaway

Leaving your comments and your e-mail address below this post you can get a chance to win one (1) physical copy and one (1) e-book copy of PERSUADED TO SAIL. (Note: Only U.S. addresses are eligible for physical copy, so please add the country you are writing from in your comment).

This giveaway ends on June 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m.

Mailbox Monday #583

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 we received:

The Other America – A Speech from The Radical King by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Cornel West, free at Audible.

In a rousing speech on race, poverty, and economic justice – given less than a year before his assassination – Martin Luther King Jr. drives home the mission behind his Poor People’s Campaign. It is a clear-eyed look at the disparity of wealth in America, what it means for people of all colors – and a message of inspiration dedicated to the power of the people.

“And I say, if we will stand and work together, we will bring into being that day when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. We will bring into being that day when America will no longer be two nations but when it will be one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Wanda Sykes’ powerful performance delivers King’s compassion, outrage, insight, and vulnerability like few others could – and reminds us all of the relevance his words still have today.

“The Other America” is one of 23 speeches and essays from The Radical King, curated by Dr. Cornel West, including words never recorded in public – a revelation for his legacy.

The Martin Luther King Estate has allowed, for the first time, a dramatic interpretation of King’s words, by some of the most charismatic and activist actors working today: LeVar Burton, Mike Colter, Colman Domingo, Danny Glover, Gabourey Sidibe, Wanda Sykes, and Michael Kenneth Williams.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi purchased from Audible.

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism – and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes listeners through a widening circle of antiracist ideas – from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities – that will help listeners see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo purchased from Audible.

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to ‘bad people'” (Claudia Rankine). Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.

In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

What did you receive?

Guest Post: A Writing Space in a Plague by Sarah Relyea, author of Playground Zero

Today’s guest is Sarah Relyea, author of Playground Zero. Her novel explores identity during a tumultuous time in American history, the late 1960s, when freedoms begin to emerge thanks to the counterculture of the 1960s. Before we hear and see Sarah’s writing space, let’s check out the book and a brief excerpt.

Book Synopsis:

1968. It’s the season of siren songs and loosened bonds—as well as war, campaign slogans, and assassination. When the Rayson family leaves the East Coast for the gathering anarchy of Berkeley, twelve-year-old Alice embraces the moment in a hippie paradise that’s fast becoming a cultural ground zero. As her family and school fade away in a tear gas fog, the 1960s counterculture brings ambiguous freedom. Guided only by a child’s-eye view in a tumultuous era, Alice could become another casualty—or she could come through to her new family, her developing life. But first, she must find her way in a world where the street signs hang backward and there’s a bootleg candy called Orange Sunshine.

Excerpt from Playground Zero (Part II, Chapter 5):

Then on Sunday, Alice’s father asked if she would go for a walk.

“Where are we going, Dad?”

“Just for a walk. It’s a beautiful day.”

So, he’d learned the local commonplaces, Alice thought, though coming from him the slogan sounded phony and jarring.

She could see they were heading for Telegraph Avenue. She wondered if they would be passing People’s Park, but her father was an uneasy presence and there would be no asking. Contact of any kind was becoming unbearable; there was a hum whenever they found themselves alone in a room, the sound of suppressed anger. She could not remember when they’d last gone anywhere together; but here he was, on a Sunday in May, offering to lead her on a walk through the forbidden zone. Maybe the park was a sign of change, and he was responding. Maybe the adventure would forge a bond between them, the beginning of a new sympathy. She’d never been on Telegraph Avenue with her father alone. She could sense him moving alongside her, carrying her along. Why was he taking her there? Was there something he planned to show her, something he wanted her to know?

Rounding the corner by the park, they saw armed men guarding the fence, the hapless parcel of land overrun by vehicles and equipment. One hand resting on her shoulder, her father shepherded her across the street and proceeded along the edge of the park. Every few yards, they passed close by a National Guardsman as the young man’s face responded, the eyes following them, human and wary. Armed with rifles and gleaming bayonets, the men were ready for combat, or for a sunny campus day.

Her father had placed himself between her and the armed men, as though forming a moving barrier—ready to block, dodge, flee. She was by a scrimmage line, and he was guarding her. They pressed on, ready for a move by one of the guardsmen. Then, as they passed a heavy-jawed man, the man shifted his weight and her father veered, bumping her hard.

The sunny day glared numbly, marred by her father’s fear. If only she could run home, but her father’s hand was grasping her arm.

Moving at a faster pace, they cleared the park and rounded the corner onto Telegraph Avenue. The army camp had faded, mirage-like, replaced by simmering anarchy and people in colorful garb. Her father was moving along in a bubble, barely glancing around as he paused and removed a copy of the Berkeley Barb from a vending machine.

“Here’s the paper,” he remarked, handing it over. “Don’t go anywhere—I’ll be right back.” Then he moved on, leaving her by the door of the jeans shop as he approached a nearby jewelers. She unfolded the Barb: on the cover was a photograph of a boy, younger than herself and seated in a swing. Up he smiled, sunny and joyful, at the overbearing body of an armed man, demanding that he leave or be uprooted and removed.

Emerging from a doorway, a boy dropped and crushed a smoldering cigarette before prancing on.

She moved under an awning, away from the flow of passersby. A car horn sounded as a Ford pulled up; the door swung open and several longhaired boys tumbled forth in purposeless hurry to be there.

As she lingered by the jeans shop, wondering why her father was buying jewelry, she was bumped by a young man. Pale forehead, black hair, eyes of blue glass: she’d seen him before, maybe in photographs of the park. He was lean and muscled, wearing frayed bell-bottoms slung low; beads on a leather thong hung over the bare abdomen. He paused before her, shoulders pale, and waved the lazy plume of a musk-smelling cigarette. He engaged her eyes; as he reached forth offering her a smoke, she saw the thumb, where he wore a heavy ring made from the handle of a spoon.

“I’m Johnny,” he confided, holding the smoke between them. The tone was close and friendly. “I’ve seen you before.” He put the joint to his mouth and inhaled sharply. When he spoke, a plume poured from his mouth, fading. “What’s your name?”

The heavy cloth of the awning flapped near her face. “My father’s in there,” she said, and glanced toward the jewelers.

He moved away and was soon squandering words with a couple of boys her age. They reminded her of windup toys she’d once seen, abandoned in random movement on a store shelf.

When her father emerged from the jewelers, he was burying something in a jeans pocket. The jeans were no longer new; he always wore them now when he was home. She wondered what he’d found in the shop but never bothered asking, sure of an uninformative response.

They were passing along the park, as they’d come, when her father grasped her arm roughly and dragged her by a parked car. Then he leaned and scooped up a fragment of asphalt, balancing it loosely in his palm, as a nearby guardsman adjusted his bayoneted rifle. She would have run, but how could she abandon her father to the guardsman? She was staring at the man’s rifle in the ugly noonday glare, when her father propelled her along between the parked cars and across the asphalt no-man’s-land to the far side of the street. There they passed an overgrown rhododendron.

He tossed the rock in the rhododendron.

“What happened?” she asked.

He made no response. When she looked up, there were damp beads under his mouth and in the lines of his forehead. “He made a threatening move,” he answered, finally. She’d seen nothing—or maybe she’d been unaware of the meaning of things she’d seen. As they passed out of sight of the guardsmen, her father glanced over and then away. “Do you plan to inform your mother that we came by the park?” he demanded. “She’ll be unhappy with us both.”

Alice was feeling too confused to respond.

“Well, have it your way,” he added.

Sounds intriguing doesn’t it? I really wonder what is going on here and what Alice is thinking about this encounter. Check out the YouTube book trailer later on.

Please welcome Sarah as she shares her writing space with us today.

For several years, my writing space had been a small apartment in Brooklyn. No rural cottage, the space nevertheless offered a clean desk and comfortable chair, easy access to my books and papers, and freedom from interruption. As a New Yorker, I’d learned to forgo suburban comforts: the plush leather chair and backyard gazebo. I wouldn’t know a mud room even if I was sinking in its quicksand.

Then everything changed. Governor Cuomo’s stay-at-home order threatened to cut me off from everything but my carefully controlled sanctuary—in what suddenly seemed a germ-infested apartment building. And not for a few focused days, but for weeks or months of bleak confinement.

There are moments when heaven and hell become indistinguishable.

I hurriedly packed my computer, some books and papers, and a few changes of clothing. My ex had kept our apartment in ultra-gentrified Park Slope, and we’d agreed to help each other through the pandemic. Who else could we rely on? Wearing rubber gloves for the escape, I climbed into a germy cab just as the car service was shutting down for the quarantine. If I couldn’t flee to the Hamptons, at least there was Park Slope!

And here I am, with a messy partner. Uncomfortable furniture. Mold. A troubling cough. It’s pollen season, we keep reassuring each other. And the apartment is very dusty.

One creates a writing space by writing in it. I wrote the early drafts of my novel, Playground Zero, in this Park Slope room. But the room has changed; my partner and I have changed. Fortunately, writing is internal. I wrote about California while living in Brooklyn. There was method in that, because the real writing space is a space of the mind. The physical space merely grounds the writer.

I open a window and let in the good light. My coughing eases. Windows are comforting and transitional—between the world and me.

If only I had an old farmhouse overlooking the fields. (Melville wrote Moby Dick in such a room, though—spoiler alert!—Captain Ahab is not a farmer.) But sometimes we must make do with cramped quarters, other people’s stuff, and ambulance sirens wailing in the distance.

Right now, my window leads to a world in collapse. Dare I go out and enjoy the daffodils? The neighborhood, shuttered and hushed, is not the place I’ve known. I can’t see the ambulances as they pass blocks away, so I imagine them. I adjust to an uncomfortable chair and wonder what will be left when the ambulances stop wailing, when we’re free to emerge. Free to stop imagining and be city kids again.

Book Trailer for Playground Zero:

About the Author:

Sarah Relyea is the author of “Playground Zero,” a coming-of-age story set in Berkeley in the late 1960s. Sarah left the Berkeley counterculture at age thirteen and processed its effects as a teenager in suburban Los Angeles. She would soon swap California’s psychedelic scene to study English literature at Harvard.

Sarah has long addressed questions of identity in her writing, including in her book of literary criticism, “Outsider Citizens: The Remaking of Postwar Identity in Wright, Beauvoir, and Baldwin.”

With her PhD in English and American literature from The Graduate Center, CUNY, Sarah has taught American literature and writing at universities in New York and Taiwan. She remains bicoastal, living in Brooklyn and spending time on the Left Coast. Visit her on Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

The Sting of It by A.J. Odasso

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 95 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Sting of It by A.J. Odasso is a collection of poems exploring loss, grief, and the lasting sting of devastation. It’s almost like the bottom has fallen out of each narrator’s life. The cover is the outline of a bee with the interior of the outline the iconic Temptation of St. Anthony, which in this context highlights the temptations found in each poem and the struggle to reconcile the inevitable, lasting pain of life.

In “The Book of Drowned Things,” our narrator believes they are a ferryman whose job is to now shuttle people to the land of the dead. Images of death and sorrow hover like ghosts throughout the collection, even as the narrator makes a simple trip to the liquor store — what is this wine they buy, is it just another step on the path toward death and end to sorrow or is it simply just a bottle of wine? One of my favorites is “stone ghost” (below) because the narrator looks the monster in the eye without flinching, seeing beauty instead. It is this childlike response that makes it so easy to believe in Odasso’s dark fairytales.

stone ghost

Ancient monster, I remember the day
I first saw your face, spread my fingers

on the glass and breathed in awe. Eyeless,

your ghost peered through text and reflection
to welcome me home: This was the sea,

my daughter. Your time has come.

Odasso also modifies her poetry into different shapes on the page, which bring to life many of these narrative scenes. I love the poems in “Katadesmos” that mirror the curses that would have been written on them in Roman times. In “You’ll Never Know,” the narrator casts the first stone — like an instigator — shedding light on the short comings of a false deity. I can only think about our modern times here and the many false leaders we’ve had, particularly the current leader of the nation who “won’t listen or warn them.” But the narrator here warns that “We are stronger than you think, we whispers, and we/ push with our backs, our hands splayed against the glass. Your edifice shudders.”

I love the universality of The Sting of It by A.J. Odasso. I loved the collection’s classical undertones, its vivid language, and its personal nature. From illnesses to what identity means, especially the harsh atmosphere that can surround someone who lives outside the societal definitions. It’s time for broadening our definitions of identity, gender, and the self, and Odasso has called us to arms — no longer should we be complacent. Life asks us to feel the sting.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

A.J. Odasso‘s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications, including Sybil’s GarageMythic DeliriumMidnight EchoNot One of UsDreams & NightmaresGoblin FruitStrange HorizonsStone TellingFarrago’s WainscotLiminalityBattersea ReviewBarking Sycamores, and New England Review of Books.  A.J.’s début collection, Lost Books (Flipped Eye Publishing), was nominated for the 2010 London New Poetry Award and was also a finalist for the 2010/2011 People’s Book Prize. Their second collection with Flipped Eye, The Dishonesty of Dreams, was released in 2014; their third-collection manuscript, Things Being What They Are, was shortlisted for the 2017 Sexton Prize.  They hold an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University, where they were a 2015-16 Teaching Fellow, and work at the University of New Mexico.  A.J. has served in the Poetry Department at Strange Horizons since July 2012.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner (audio)

Source: Publisher
Audiobook, 9+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, narrated by Richard Armitage, combines not only my love of Jane Austen and her novels, but also WWII. Armitage does an admirable job narrating all eight of the main characters from the steadfast and stoic Dr. Gray to the U.S. starlet of Mimi Harrison. Each of the characters’ lives — Adam, Adeline, Andrew, Evie, Frances, Dr Gray, Mimi, and Yardley — are revealed slowly throughout the novel and how they connect to one another reminds me of those moments in movies where chance meetings create a lasting bond. Some of these characters also mirror those in Austen’s novels, like the awkward shyness of Dr. Gray and the forward-thinking Adeline. WWII is a perfect time period for these characters because of the loss endured by those whose family die in the war and how Austen’s novels tangentially spoke about the tensions between England and France. Set in Chawton, England, what better place for a Jane Austen society to form?!

“I just feel, when I read her, when I reread her–which I do, more than any other author–it’s as if she’s inside my head. Like music. My father first read the books to me when I was very young–he died when I was twelve–and I hear his voice, too, when I read her.”

Jenner’s novel pays homage to Austen in a way that many other variations don’t. She understands the Austen characters and their motivations, but in creating her characters and their motivations they are not talking to us as Austen’s characters but fans of Austen’s words, her thoughts, her dreams. Jenner’s characters want to talk about Austen in a way that helps them deal with their own losses and pains, but they also want to preserve Austen’s great novels for generations to come and to do so by preserving her home in Chawton, even if it is against the wishes of the owner, Mr. Knight.

I loved how class lines are crossed in Jenner’s novel and how forward-thinking women drive the action, but the men can be so obtuse sometimes. The funny little moments of misunderstanding are definitely reminiscent of Austen, but I was irked that Mimi failed to see the opportunist streak in Jack Leonard after awhile. She saw it at the beginning, but once she got comfortable, she lost all sense where he was concerned.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, narrated by Richard Armitage, is a book not to be missed by Janeites. I really loved Armitage’s narration — he was so soothing to listen to and he carried the character-driven novel really well. Do not miss out on this gem.

RATING: Cinquain

Check out an excerpt from the audio read by Richard Armitage:

Spotify users can access a playlist for The Jane Austen Society.

About the Author:

Natalie Jenner is the debut author of THE JANE AUSTEN SOCIETY, a fictional telling of the start of the society in the 1940s in the village of Chawton, where Austen wrote or revised her major works. Born in England and raised in Canada, Natalie graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in English Literature and Law and has worked for decades in the legal industry. She recently founded the independent bookstore Archetype Books in Oakville, Ontario, where she lives with her family and two rescue dogs. Visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and GoodReads pages.

Mailbox Monday #582

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 we received:

Finna by Nate Marshall for review.

Definition of finna, created by the author: fin·na /ˈfinə/ contraction: (1) going to; intending to [rooted in African American Vernacular English] (2) eye dialect spelling of “fixing to” (3) Black possibility; Black futurity; Blackness as tomorrow

These poems consider the brevity and disposability of Black lives and other oppressed people in our current era of emboldened white supremacy, and the use of the Black vernacular in America’s vast reserve of racial and gendered epithets. Finna explores the erasure of peoples in the American narrative; asks how gendered language can provoke violence; and finally, how the Black vernacular, expands our notions of possibility, giving us a new language of hope:

nothing about our people is romantic
& it shouldn’t be. our people deserve
poetry without meter. we deserve our
own jagged rhythm & our own uneven
walk towards sun. you make happening happen.
we happen to love. this is our greatest
action.

Tapping Out by Nandi Comer for review.

The relentless motions and blinding colors of lucha libre, the high-flying wrestling sport, are the arresting backdrop to Nandi Comer’s collection Tapping Out. Mexican freestyle wrestling becomes the poet’s lyrical motif, uncovering what is behind the intricate masks we wear in society and our search for place within our personal histories. Comer’s poetic narratives include explorations of violence, trauma, and identity. The exquisite complications of the black experience in settled and unsettled spaces propel her linear explorations, which challenge the idea of metaphor and cadence.

The harsh realities of being migrant and immigrant, being birthright and oppressed, are as hard-pressed as the plancha move to the body. Each poem in Tapping Out is a “freestyle movement” of language and complexity put on full display, under the bright lights and roars of survival. Comer’s splendid and barbed, Detroit style of language melts the masks with searing words.

Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change, and Courage by Tori Amos, which I purchased from Audible.

Since the release of her first, career-defining solo album Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos has been one of the music industry’s most enduring and ingenious artists. From her unnerving depiction of sexual assault in “Me and a Gun” to her post-September 11 album, Scarlet’s Walk, to her latest album, Native Invader, her work has never shied away from intermingling the personal with the political.

Amos began playing piano as a teenager for the politically powerful at hotel bars in Washington, DC, during the formative years of the post-Goldwater and then Koch-led Libertarian and Reaganite movements. The story continues to her time as a hungry artist in Los Angeles to the subsequent three decades of her formidable music career.

Amos explains how she managed to create meaningful, politically resonant work against patriarchal power structures – and how her proud declarations of feminism and her fight for the marginalized always proved to be her guiding light. She teaches us to engage with intention in this tumultuous global climate and speaks directly to supporters of #MeToo and #TimesUp, as well as young people fighting for their rights and visibility in the world.

Filled with compassionate guidance and actionable advice – and using some of the most powerful, political songs in Amos’ canon – this audiobook is for anyone determined to steer the world back in the right direction.

What did you receive?

Beautiful and Full of Monsters by Courtney LeBlanc

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 78 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Beautiful and Full of Monsters by Courtney LeBlanc is a harsh look at failed relationships and the narrator’s part in those failures, but it also takes a close look at verbal abuse (“the terror of vocabulary”) and the desire to stay with someone you “love.” In the opening poem, “Forest Fire,” there are redwoods growing inside her (beautiful, but wanting), but rather than nurture that forest, “You stand watching/me burn.” A number of these poems speak to the push and pull of desire and escape, the narrator is unsure which way to turn, unable to break away and do what is best for their mental and physical health, but also desirous of love, one that lasts through everything and props her up when she needs it. She also longs to be a dependable lover, someone her partner can rely on.

As much as these poems are about love and relationships, they also are a self-examination of how one can fail even with the best intentions to be a faithful partner or hold onto the love/desire they felt for the other person at the beginning of their relationship. Each poem has a certain rawness about it, making them highly emotional and visceral poems. But one of my favorite poems int he collection is less overt and more surprising in its use of language.

Self-Portrait With Without

With soy milk. With a latte drunk
each morning in the dark kitchen. Without
the lights on because you slept on the couch
again and I don't want to wake you. With dinner
with friends, everything fine. Without conversation
during the car ride back. With negotiations
as to who walks the dog when we get home. With you
in front of the computer when I go to bed. Without
the weight of you beside me. Without my rings
on when I sleep because my fingers swell. With them on
the next day, newly cleaned and brilliant. With
the sun prisming off the diamonds as I drive
to work. With me spinning them around as I fly, my fingers
puffy by the time I land. Without them on when I shower
away the day's grime. With my hands bare as I open the door
and let him in. With my hands on him. Without a word said.

Beautiful and Full of Monsters by Courtney LeBlanc is collection that speaks to the tug of love and desire and our rational mind, but also to the conscious and subconscious need to suppress our own inner monsters. These are the parts of ourselves that are less than pleasant company and often steer us away from what is best for us. In many ways, these monsters are our baser selves seeking out pure pleasure, even if it is fleeting. Aren’t we all just beautiful monsters at times.

Rating: Cinquain

Educate Yourself: Black Lives Matter

I’m just going to post some images of books you should read to educate yourself about our country’s history.

I’m not going to do any thinking or speaking for you.

Read.

These have languished too long on my TBR list:

There are so many other books that you should read.

Guest Post: Spend Some Time with Audiobook Narrator Thérèse Plummer

The Audiobook Publishers Association says, “26% of the US population has listened to an audiobook in the last 12 months.” And the American Association of Publishers adds, “Digital audiobook revenue rose 32.1% in 2018’s first quarter and audiobooks now earn publishers more than mass market paperbacks.”

Have you ever wondered what it looks like to be an audiobook narrator in action?

I know I have. Today’s guest is Thérèse Plummer and she’s sharing with us some inside videos of narrating books and Yelp reviews.

Let’s start with the Behind the Scenes look at audiobook narration:

Check out Thérèse Plummer as she narrates Yelp reviews:

About the Audiobook Narrator:

by Jody Christopherson

Thérèse Plummer is an actor and award-winning audiobook narrator working in New York City. She has recorded over 350 audio books for various publishers. She won the 2019 Audie Award for her work on the multicast, Sadie by Courtney Summers for Macmillan Audio, was nominated for the Mutlicast Any Man by Amber Tamblyn for Harper Audio and her solo narration for The Rogue Planets Shaken by Lee W. Brainard for Podium Publishing. The American Library Association (ALA) awarded her work on Sourdough by Robin Sloan as part of the 2018 Listen List: Outstanding Audiobook Narration for Adult Listeners.

Thérèse is the voice of Maya Hansen in the Marvel Graphic Motion Comic Ironman Extremis, Dr. Fennel in Pokemon and for various Yu-Gi-Oh characters. Television Guest Star Roles on The Good Wife, Law and Order SVU and the upcoming series Virgin River for Netflix. Visit her on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Mailbox Monday #581

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 we received:

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, narrated by Richard Armitage, for review in June.

This program includes a bonus conversation between the author and Kathleen A. Flynn, author of The Jane Austen Project.

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now, it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people – a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others – could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with listeners for years to come.

What did you receive?