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Mailbox Monday #530

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:

We Will Tell You Otherwise by Beth Mayer for review in July.

  • What does Beth Mayer’s intimate collection of short stories want to tell us? That the dead have much to teach the living, that madness can point the way to clarity, that the burn of departing never cools, that inside abandonment can be redemption. Mayer’s prose rattles like bones, proving that no matter how far you live in the margins, you can’t escape the telling.

    –Desiree Cooper

  • Beth Mayer’s stories unflinchingly explore the tough and the tender sides of family life as well as offering us a window into the lives of those we often prefer not to notice when we pass them in our neighborhoods. I was moved by the deep emotional truths in We Will Tell You Otherwise, and the slyly ironic and often sardonic wit of these stories kept me smiling all the way through. What a lovely collection of stories this is!

    –David Haynes

  • The stories in Beth Mayer’s We Will Tell You Otherwise are indelible treasures, full of poignancy and pathos. Mayer is the best kind of writer—one who doles out her wisdom with humor, who mines the intricacies of love, friendship, and family effortlessly.

    –John Jodziov

What did you receive?

Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 1+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith is an Audible original that mixes  Smith’s memoirs, poetry, and music into one live performance. In spoken-word style and deadpan tone, Smith takes listeners on a journey into her creative life where they will meet Robert Mapplethorpe, Allen Ginsberg, and so many others. She talks about her early nomad days in New York and the freedom it afforded her, but also the deep hunger for food she couldn’t afford. Working to feed her belly became an early goal.

Her children, Jackson and Jesse Paris Smith, accompany her performance as well, making this a delightful family affair. Even though I’ve read her memoirs, I really loved hearing them spoken aloud in her own words and accompanied by her music. It creates an intimate portrait of the singer and writer. Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane by Patti Smith is a great addition to her memoirs on the shelf and the music in your ears.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred debut albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

Eraser by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Source: Purchased
ebook, 21 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Eraser by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant, is a delightful children’s book exploring the nature of not only creativity but also team work. Kang’s character, the eraser, finds that all of her friends — pencil, crayon, etc. — get all of the praise for their creative and productive work. Only Ruler and Pencil Sharpener seem to appreciate her friendship and hard work. She’s bummed that she’s not as creative as the rest of the school supplies. She decides to leave and most everyone isn’t sad to see her go.

While she’s gone, the pencil and others soon realize that eraser enabled them to have a second chance when they made mistakes. Second chances are important in life, and she was a big part of their team.

Kang’s story is filled with not only puns and humor, but life lessons for parents and kids alike. We all have our own talents and we must learn to embrace them and the roles we can play in our own lives, especially as part of a team. Eraser by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant, should be part of every kid’s home library.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Authors:

Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small and its follow-ups, That’s (Not) Mine and I Am (Not) Scared, as well as Can I Tell You a Secret? and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can be seen regularly in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. As an author, Anna routinely goes through first, second, and third drafts; Chris wears down many erasers while making his art. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit Anna and Christopher at www.annakang.com and www.christopherweyant.com.

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 26+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston, narrated by Leena Emsley, is a novel that catches Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in a ancestral dispute with ties to Colonel Fitzwilliam’s past in Portugal as an soldier. Clarkston’s supporting characters in Portugal and England will keep readers on their toes with suspense and a mystery to unravel. All the while, their hearts will be ringing out with pain for the anguish off Elizabeth Bennet who fears the man she loves will never know her true heart and for Mr. Darcy who languishes, imprisoned against his will with no inkling of why.

In the darkness, Mr. Darcy reaches for the Elizabeth he hopes can love him after he’s tried to right the wrongs to her family before his capture, and in turn, she spends many sleepless nights searching him out in the dark prison. She fears she’s losing her mind over these ghostly encounters, but she does not want them to stop because she aches for him to live. He believes his dreams to be just that as he fears she will find another before he can escape and return to her.

Meanwhile, Colonel Fitzwilliam takes center stage and has his hands full with manipulative relatives trying to wed him to a grieving niece and a mystery surrounding the death of his cousin. Clarkston has ramped up the tensions in her novel, creating a web of lies and mystery for readers and the Colonel to unravel together. Lest we forget about Wickham, he rears his ugly head as well, though he’s not as irredeemable as we think.

I was riveted the entire time, and though the audio seems longer than most, it was well worth every minute. I was never bored or wishing for the pace to pick up. Emsley does an admirable job in narrating each of the Portuguese characters and the English characters, making each on distinct, which was a tall order with this large cast. Her grasp of the Portuguese was pretty close to what I remember of my grandparents’ speech. It was wonderful to hear.

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston, narrated by Leena Emsley, is angst inducing, will make you cry, will make you scream at the injustice, and will have you deliriously happy when it all ends. My only wish is that there is a sequel to explore Colonel Fitzwilliam’s days in Portugal before this saga even began.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.

Search for a Poet Laureate in Montgomery County, Md.

Interested in having a

POET LAUREATE

in Montgomery County, MD?

 

Join us on Monday, May 20 at 7 pm

at The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda (see writer.org for directions)

A discussion of how we can establish a Poet Laureate position in Montgomery County.

Organized by an ad hoc committee of local poets

Discussion will include: Why do we need a Poet Laureate? What would the duties of the Poet Laureate be?  How would the Poet Laureate be selected?  Would there be compensation or would this be an honorary position?

Reservations for this meeting are not required, but we want to be sure we have enough seats .

Please RSVP to [email protected].  Thank you!

Mailbox Monday #529

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:

Darcy and Elizabeth: Mischief and Misunderstanding by Cassandra Knightley, a Kindle freebie.

A stolen kiss at the Netherfield Ball sparks a merry war between Darcy and Elizabeth.

After unexpectedly inheriting both a title and the fine estate of Messina Grove, Lord Bennet and his family leave Longbourn forever to start a new life of nobility. And why should they not? Mr. Bingley and his party had quit Netherfield no more than a week earlier, leaving Jane quite publicly heartbroken, and Elizabeth secretly so.

A Forever Kind of Love by Christie Capps, a Kindle freebie.

In this sweet Regency variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy’s eldest son sets out to seek a bride. Alexander Fitzwilliam Darcy is the spitting image of his father—in looks, temperament, and his inability to impress a woman not particularly wanting to be impressed.

Darcy, against the loving advice of his intelligent wife, decides to help his son along. In the process, the forever kind of love our dear couple has for each other is displayed as tenderness meets stubbornness and affection meets determination.

Come along for the bumpy ride between Darcy & Elizabeth as love blooms at Pemberley—or does it?

We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines, illustrated by Julianna Swaney, which came from the Easter Bunny.

You and your children can learn all about the Gaines family’s story of becoming gardeners in Joanna’s first children’s book—starting with the first little fern Chip bought for Jo. Over the years, the family’s love for gardening blossomed into what is now a beautiful, bustling garden.

Julianna Swaney’s illustrations bring the Gaines family garden to life with colorful, whimsical watercolors and invite you to enjoy the beauty of a thriving garden.

Katt vs. Dogg by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein, which also came via the Easter Bunny.

Oscar is a happy dogg—a rambunctious kid who loves being a Dogg Scout. Thanks to his family, he knows that snobby katts are good for nothing but chasing up trees.

What did you receive?

YouTube Poetry: Pablo Neruda

Beautiful Justice by Brooke Axtell

Source: Publisher
Paperback, 241 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

“Although approximately one in six women will be sexually assaulted, more than 90 percent of rapists will never spend a day in jail.” (pg. XI)

Beautiful Justice by Brooke Axtell will inspire those who have been abused, trafficked, and left feeling unworthy to rebuild their self-esteem, create their own sacred places, and heal from their abuse. Axtell’s memoir is more than a look at her life and recovery, it is a call to those with similar stories and experiences.

She asks nothing of them but to care for themselves, to rediscover their own worth, and to find a community that can support them in that endeavor. Throughout the memoir, she offers poems she wrote throughout her experiences as a way to speak about the suffering and long road of recovery.

“Beautiful Justice is the art of taking back our lives and reclaiming our worth after abuse. It is a form of Justice that does not depend on what happens to our perpetrators. It is centered on our recovery as a creative process.” (pg. X)

Axtell’s recovery from abuse and trafficking was a long one. But with the help of her parents after a tumultuous time, she had two champions for her self-worth. At one point, her father praises her and reaffirms her as an intelligent young woman, while her mother helps her find places to seek out the help she needs. Even as she succeeds in some areas of her life, she is still battling demons.

“I strive for perfection in every dimension of my life — my dance, my studies, my spiritual path. I want to shine so brightly the shadows cannot consume me.” (pg. 16)

Axtell does not dwell on the horrors she experienced, but on the emotional trauma, the PTSD, and the dark shadows that follow her. Her recovery also provides lessons in how you can fool yourself into believing that all is right with your own world, even when you have not resolved the darkness that follows you. She offers moments of joy, her struggles, and her poetry in an effort to demonstrate the hard road of recovery but also the hope that can be found around you, if you are willing to ask the right questions of yourself. What makes you happy? How can you reclaim your life? How can you rebuild your worth without connecting it to what happens to the perpetrators of your abuse?

We are the untamed.
We are the unashamed.
We are beautiful justice
Just watch us rise. (pg. 143)

In addition to her story, she offers journal prompts in the back to help other survivors get started on their own recoveries, she provides them poems of strength and hope, and she provides mantras they can use to reaffirm their own worth. While she speaks a lot about how her ties to Christianity helped in her recovery, she also cautioned readers on how some doctrine and those who offer it can lead you away from your recovery journey. Axtell says that you need to find your own touchstones and paths to recovery, and many of the answers are within yourself. Self-reflection, self-care, and creativity can help those in recovery blossom and rebuild their lives. Beautiful Justice by Brooke Axtell is a journey of reclaiming self-worth and identity, while manifesting the beauty inside in the form of art and celebrating the value we bury inside.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet and Author:

Brooke Axtell is the Founder and Director of She is Rising, a healing community for women and girls overcoming gender violence and sex trafficking. Her work as a human rights activist led her to speak at The 2015 Grammy Awards, The United Nations and the U.S. Institute for Peace.

Her work as a writer, speaker, performing artist and activist has been featured in many media outlets, including the New York Times, LA Times, Rolling Stone, Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, CNN and The Steve Harvey Show. Brooke is an award-winning poet, singer/songwriter and author of the new memoir, Beautiful Justice: How I Reclaimed My Worth After Human Trafficking and Sexual Abuse.

A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim by Walt Whitman

A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim
by: Walt Whitman

A sight in camp in the daybreak gray and dim,
As from my tent I emerge so early sleepless,
As slow I walk in the cool fresh air the path near by the hospital tent,
Three forms I see on stretchers lying, brought out there untended lying,
Over each the blanket spread, ample brownish woolen blanket,
Gray and heavy blanket, folding, covering all.

Curious I halt and silent stand,
Then with light fingers I from the face of the nearest the first just lift the blanket;
Who are you elderly man so gaunt and grim, with well-gray’d hair, and flesh all sunken about the eyes?
Who are you my dear comrade?

Then to the second I step—and who are you my child and darling?
Who are you sweet boy with cheeks yet blooming?

Then to the third—a face nor child nor old, very calm, as of beautiful yellow-white ivory;
Young man I think I know you—I think this face is the face of the Christ himself,
Dead and divine and brother of all, and here again he lies.

Today’s Poetry Activity: Haiku

You knew it was coming. At least, you should have. I love writing haiku, so it seems fitting that we try to make our own today.

In short, haiku is a Japanese three-line poem that juxtaposes two images or ideas and “cutting word” between them — something that signals a moment of separation — as well as 17 syllables total in a 5-7-5 pattern spread out over three lines.

From Matsuo Basho:

The old pond-
a frog jumps in,
sound of water.

Here’s one of my urban haiku published at Better Than Starbucks:

Black gloss screen holds tight,
Slack jawed stare, eyes wide open,
Empty sockets filled.

Please share your favorite haiku or write one of your own in the comments. Here’s a Haiku Generator if you want some help.