Quantcast

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage Foreword by Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 320 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Nevertheless We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage with a foreword by Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a collection of essays from some of the bravest humans in society — those who have taken bad experiences, traumatic events, and more  and come out the other side into a brighter future for themselves. What’s inspiring about these people is not how they have taken their hard journey and learned lessons, which they applied to their own lives, but that they have taken these hardships and lessons and used them to create better futures for others facing similar obstacles.

Each essayists’ style is different and each journey is nuanced. At the heart of this collection is the strength of the human mind and its emotional and psychological flexibility to recover and to move forward and to contribute to society in the best ways. From a Holocaust survivor to an actress who saw acting as a way to be someone other than herself, these essays are about perseverance and strength.

Alia Shawkat’s career, for example, was no longer a way to escape, but a way for her to embrace who she truly is and to show that to others — breaking down those stereotypes. These essays are inspiring. The young and old should read this collection. Jump in head first and learn to let go of the fears that hold them back.

“Music would be no longer something to dabble in but something to swallow me whole if I surrendered to it. Like the ocean, I both longed for it and feared it.” (pg. 102, “You, Sailor” by Erin McKeown)

“It can be a lonely business, this persisting.” (pg. 104, same essay)

The collection touches not only on those most marginalized by society as a whole, but also those lives in the shadows of great basketball players and others finding their own way out of the darkness. Nevertheless We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage with a foreword by Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a collection that should be on everyone’s shelves, and read and discussed by book clubs, friends, strangers, and more.

RATING: Cinquain

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

Source: Public library
Hardcover, 383 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, which was the May book club selection, is the 7th book in the Harry Hole detective series and translated by Don Bartlett.  The translation is wonderfully descriptive and never feels stilted, which is perfect when reading a mystery novel.  In fact, the clipped sentences read to me more like the pace of a mystery/thriller should be, while at the same time being descriptive, evocative, and creating an appropriate emphasis (if sometimes, over-emphasis) on the cold.

Oslo police investigator Harry Hole has solved a serial killer case before, and as his fame makes the rounds in Norway, he garners the attention of a young detective and a killer.  Mothers across the country are disappearing, and statistics reveal that about 20 percent of children are not related to the fathers they live with.  This story involves not only so called mommy issues, as one book club member stated, but also the power of genetics and survival of the fittest theories.

From the creepy snowmen that pop up after the disappearance of mothers across the city to the highly suspicious female detective Katrine Bratt, Hole has his work cut out for him in trying to solve these disappearances and murders.  As the mold is sought out in Hole’s apartment, the case has uncovered a series of ailments from Raynaud’s syndrome to scleroderma and noctambulism and other parasomnias.  These conditions play a significant role in how these characters act, react, and interact with one another, and they often lead to confusion of the facts in the snowman case.

Hole is a prototypical police detective consumed by his work, and like others, his obsession with solving his cases leads him to have a very solitary life in which alcohol plays a significant role.  What’s done really well here is the twists and turns in the case, hampered by the various ailments of the players, but also the dialogue.  It’s purposeful and witty, which can make the errors in judgment all the more ironic.

“‘I’m in the office and have had a look at what you’ve found.  You said all the missing women were married with children.  I think there could be something in that.’

‘What?’

‘I have no idea.  I just needed to hear myself say that to someone.  So that I could decide if it sounded idiotic.’

‘And how does it sound?’

‘Idiotic.  Good night.'” (page 113)

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett, was a thrilling read and well written.  Hole may be an anti-hero, but he’s one you’ll want on your side to bring you justice, even if his own dysfunction can derail him.  Although this is a 7th book in the series, there was enough back story that readers would have no trouble following Hole.  Some readers may prefer to see the character’s evolution from start to finish, and for those, like myself, I recommend starting at the beginning.

What the Book Club Thought:

There were two members, including the one who nominated the book, who did not finish, and one member who skimmed through quite a bit of it.  Those who finished the book did have some issues with the set up of the narration, which shifted quite a bit between main and little used characters.  Overall, some of the crimes were intriguing, and downright gruesome, which some members enjoyed, but there was one scene in which a body was found in such a way that another member said it seemed cliche or recycled from his other book, The Son.  There were a few who rated the book 4 stars and several others rated it about three stars.  This one got mixed reviews, but for those who enjoyed it, they had no issues with the novel’s pacing or the narration.  One member found the narration to be choppy, which they thought might be due to translation, while another member thought it was the author’s style and the need to emphasize the cold.

About the Author:

Jo Nesbø is a Glass Key award-winning Norwegian author and musician. As of March 2014 more than 3 million copies of his novels have been sold in Norway, and his work has been translated into over 40 languages, selling 23 million copies.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 96 pgs
On Amazon and on Kobo

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, translated by Ted Goossen, is a novella and a dark fairy tale that brings a young teen into the depths of the library’s labyrinth.  The teenage boy loves to read and abides his mother, but the library seems to be his home on many levels until he enters room 107.  From there stranger things happen and the boy meets a sheep man and a mysterious and pretty girl.  Murakami has a wild imagination and it comes to life in these pages.  He’s created a world that is fantastical and odd, but the threats and tensions are real, leaving the reader sweating and despairing alongside his protagonist.

The text is accompanied by odd little drawings and magazine-like images, which add more of a creep factor to the story.  The copy from the library had an odd cover that had one flap flipping up and one flipping down, which could be used as a bookmark, but while reading, they tended to get in the way.  However, that wasn’t enough to detract from the creepy story that unfolded in these pages.  Murakami clearly has a vivid imagination in which animals and men can crossover into different planes of existence.  While many of us enjoy books, reading, and our libraries, The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami, translated by Ted Goossen, sure will give readers a reason to pause before entering their libraries again.

About the Author:

Haruki Murakami (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as ‘easily accessible, yet profoundly complex’.  Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.  Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko.

Mailbox Monday #246

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  November’s host is I Totally Paused!.

The meme allows 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:

1.  Brady Needs a Nightlight by Brian Barlics, illustrated by Gregory Burgess Jones for review.

This book is a Mom’s Choice Award Recipient.  Is your child afraid of the dark? Are you having trouble with bedtime? You are not alone! Even those least likely to have a fear of the dark may have a story to share. In this book you will meet Brady, a bat who oddly has a terrible fear of the dark. This poses quite a dilemma for a creature that sleeps in a dark cave and comes out to play at night. Learn how Brady discovers a creative way to solve this problem…with a little help from some special, glowing friends.

2.  A Star for Mrs. Blake by April Smith for review.

The United States Congress in 1929 passed legislation to fund travel for mothers of the fallen soldiers of World War I to visit their sons’ graves in France. Over the next three years, 6,693 Gold Star Mothers made the trip. In this emotionally charged, brilliantly realized novel, April Smith breathes life into a unique moment in American history, imagining the experience of five of these women.

They are strangers at the start, but their lives will become inextricably intertwined, altered in indelible ways. These very different Gold Star Mothers travel to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery to say final good-byes to their sons and come together along the way to face the unexpected: a death, a scandal, and a secret revealed.

3.  Still, at Your Door: A Fictional Memoir by Emma Eden Ramos for review.

Sabrina “Bri” Gibbons has only a few short minutes to pack her things and help her sisters pack theirs before running with their mother to the bus that will whisk them away from Butler, Pennsylvania, an abusive relationship, and a secret that none of them wishes to acknowledge. She was not prepared, though, for her mother to drop them on the streets of New York with the promise that she would be right back. Haunted by the sight of her mother running back to the cab, Bri, with Missy and Grace in tow, settles in with their grandparents. Thoughts of her present and her future collide with memories of her past, her dead father, and her mother’s bizarre episodes. She watches her sisters struggle with school and acceptance, all the while knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as ‘normal’ children. She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else in and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable. Disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister. Is it possible for Bri to find that balance between her dreams and her family’s realities?

4.  Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich for review.

Holly Brennan used food to comfort herself through her husband’s illness and death. Now she’s alone at age thirty-two. And she weighs more than she ever has. When fate throws her in the path of Logan Montgomery, personal trainer to pro athletes, and he offers to train her, Holly concludes it must be a sign. Much as she dreads the thought of working out, Holly knows she needs to put on her big girl panties and see if she can sweat out some of her grief.

Soon, the easy intimacy and playful banter of their training sessions lead Logan and Holly to most intense and steamy workouts. But can Holly and Logan go the distance as a couple now that she’s met her goals—and other men are noticing?

5.  Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson for review.

Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lilly from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lilly is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lilly’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lilly is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

6.  The Scribe by Antonio Garrido, translated by Simon Bruni, which came unexpectedly.

The year is 799, and King Charlemagne awaits coronation as the Holy Roman emperor. But in the town of Würzburg, the young, willful Theresa dreams only of following in the footsteps of her scholarly father—a quiet man who taught her the forbidden pleasures of reading and writing. Though it was unthinkable for a medieval woman to pursue a career as a craftsperson, headstrong Theresa convinces the parchment-makers’ guild to test her. If she passes, it means access to her beloved manuscripts and nothing less than true independence. But as she treats the skins before an audience of jeering workmen, unimaginable tragedy strikes—tearing apart Theresa’s family and setting in motion a cascade of mysteries that Theresa must solve if she hopes to stay alive and save her family. 

What did you receive?

night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis by Sarah Arvio

Click the image above for today’s National Poetry Month tour post!

night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis by Sarah Arvio is a poetry collection that defies convention in its cathartic purpose as a series of free-association dream poems with accompanying notes on those dreams from the poet at the time she was tackling some serious trauma.  It is more than a collection of poems and notes about those dreams they capture, it is a memoir written as she uncovers some deeply traumatic events in her childhood as she was on the cusp of womanhood.

“It’s easy to forget how complex and intense are the thoughts of children, and how everlasting.  I mean that the thoughts last in the mind, enacting their meanings, even when they seem to be forgotten.”  (page 132)

Arvio’s notes are essential in many ways to the understanding of her dream poems, which are often surreal and disjointed.  The notes help carve out her images and how they associate to one another and which dreams came to her in the same span of time.  She breaks down her word choices for lines in the poems, the origins of words and how their meanings are uncannily related to the trauma she experienced and subsequently forgot.  She also provides insight into the artwork that she saw and that reminded her of the trauma and how certain colors appear and reappear in her poems because of their relation to the trauma.

watermelon (page 19):

in the brightwhite kitchen a tiny pink
watermelon lies on the pink counter
or white it may be white by the fruit
is pure pink flesh I take a bite of it
then I recall a photograph of me
standing & biting the watermelon
in the newspaper that was black & white
though I know my shirt was white & pink
at the fair on something hill (named for
a fruit) where my father bought me a book
that was called something hill something that meant
flesh & then I knew it was fanny hill
the place was strawberry hill & little 
me as francesca seduced by a book

Arvio utilizes repetition of color and words in her poem to illustrate the remembering of a dream while awake, as the mind filters through the image details to carve out the truth of the events. Her poems read like dream interpretations without the conclusion, and in this way, she leaves the poems open to interpretation until the reader gets to her notes section. While these are dream poems, the images and actions will likely make some readers squirm and look away, particularly with the maiming of animals, among other things. These poems are stark and sometimes profane, much like the shame and the trauma explored in the dreams.

night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis by Sarah Arvio is poignant, frightening, and “super real.” Start with the notes at the end of the book, if you want background on her dream poems before you read them, or hold off and read them at the end to get a richer experience. This memoir/poetry collection is meant to disturb.

About the Poet:

Sarah Arvio is a poet who has lived in New York, Paris, Caracas, Rome and Mexico.  For many years a translator for the United Nations in New York and Switzerland, she has recently also taught poetry at Princeton.

Her poems are widely published, in such journals as The New Yorker, The New Republic, Literary Imagination, Boston Review, The Kenyon Review and Poetry Kanto and in many online reviews.

Composers have set her poems to music:  Miriama Young set “Cote d’Azur” as “Inner Voices of Blue”; Steve Burke set “Armor” for the song cycle “Skin”; and William Bolcom set “Chagrin” for the song cycle “The Hawthorn Tree.”

She’ll be at the May Gaithersburg Book Festival for “Poetry in the Afternoon” moderated by me!

This is my 16th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

This is my 25th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.