This year I’m bringing back Poetically Speaking for National Poetry Month (April) to discuss some of my favorite poems. Today’s poem is “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)” by Emily Dickinson:
Books I Had Planned to Read:
Books I Did Read:
- Namesake by Adrienne Young
- The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag
- Can We Talk About Consent?: A book about freedom, choices, and agreement by Justin Hancock, Illustrated by Fuchsia Macaree
- Mayhem by Estelle Laure (kindle)
- Henry V by William Shakespeare (audio)
- Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock (kindle)
- All Of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman (Kindle)
- Titus Andonicus by William Shakespeare (audio)
- The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden
- 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston (reread)
- 10 Truths and a Date by Ashley Elston
- Simone Breaks All the Rules by Debbie Rigaud
- How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao
- Don’t Hate the Player by Alexis Nedd
- One Great Lie by Deb Caletti
- Sunny Song Will Never Be Famous by Suzanne Park
- Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson
- Emma by Jane Austen (seasons edition) (preorder)
What I Thought of Everything I Read:
You can also see what I read in March.
Penelope “Pen” Prado dreams of opening her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant (and local institution in Austin, Texas): Nacho’s Tacos. While Pen has managed to get her experimental desserts on the menu, her traditional parents are unwilling to let Pen go any further instead wanting her to focus on nursing school. Watching her brother flounder managing the restaurant, Pen finally admits she’s been skipping classes and finds herself fired.
Pen’s last day is Xander Amaro’s first and his opportunity to finally change his luck and make a place for himself with his aging abuelo. Meeting when both of them are spinning out, shouldn’t lead anywhere. Except it does drawing Pen and Xander together in the heady reality of first love, finding their own paths, and working together to save the restaurant that comes to mean everything to both of them in Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet (2021) by Laekan Zea Kemp.
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is Kemp’s debut novel. The story alternates between Pen and Xander’s first person narration.
Kemp brings the setting of Austin, Texas and its Chicanx vibrantly to life while offering a carefully detailed behind-the-scenes look at the fast-paced, high octane world of a restaurant kitchen.
Staccato writing and snappy dialog immediately draw readers into Pen and Xander’s stories as the two crash into each others’ orbit. Pen’s vicious anxiety attacks and Xander’s own stressors worrying about his grandfather and his own immigrant status can make for a claustrophobic–and nerve-inducing–narration.
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is a thoughtful, fast-paced story perfect for readers looking for a romance with an unlikely connection and delicious food descriptions.
Possible Pairings: Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert, Verona Comics by Jennifer Dugan, Lobizona by Romina Garber, When We Collided by Emery Lord, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
In a small town, you are forever defined by the worst thing that ever happened to you. Maybe your mother died and you’re so angry you see red every time you miss her. Maybe your best friend went missing, her body found two years later. Maybe you almost lost your little sister when a stranger approached her in the woods. Maybe your mother and father refused to listen when you tried to tell them what happened to you at church every Sunday in the confessional.
And maybe what happens to define you in your small town has an echo. A ripple when your best friend reinvents herself as the girl every boy wants. An attempt at justice that leaves you lighter and sparks a fire in your wake. A missed connection as you cross paths with a volunteer firefighter in the evacuation center.
Maybe this is all there is. All anyone in your small town will ever know about you. But maybe you’ll still die famous because doesn’t everyone die famous in a small town?
Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town (2021) by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is a collection of loosely inter-connected short stories.
Starting in Alaska the stories follow teen characters across the Pacific Northwest and Alaska as their lives cross paths in the aftermath of a devastating abduction, a sexual abuse scandal at a small town church, and a forest fire that changes everything.
Shifting viewpoints and locations slowly come into focus as readers find the core of the book where each story is a spoke around one (or all) of these events.
Standouts in the collection include “Alaska was Wasted on Us” and “The Stranger in the Woods” which serve as interesting mirrors with the two possible outcomes in the face of a near tragedy (Fiona realizing how wrong she is about Finn and Jenny realizing how close her family came to losing sister Jade forever).
Fans of Hitchcock’s previous Morris Award nominated short story collection will enjoy the similar structure found in Everyone Dies Famous in a Small Town. Recommended for short story fans and readers of suspense.
Possible Pairings: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter, This Raging Light by Estelle Laure, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration*
Blog Posts of The Week:
- Can We Talk About Consent?: A Non-Fiction Review
- Top Ten Tuesday: Colorful Book Covers
- ARC Adoption Program Updates
- Poetically Speaking: Myth by Muriel Rukeyser
Tweet of the Week:
Instagram Post of the Week:
How My Week Went:
This week was hard but my entire log of reviews is now on Pinterest and I finished my miniature model so there’s that.
This year I’m bringing back Poetically Speaking for National Poetry Month (April) to discuss some of my favorite poems. Today’s poem is “Myth” by Muriel Rukeyser:
Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the
roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was
the Sphinx. Oedipus said, “I want to ask one question.
Why didn’t I recognize my mother?” “You gave the
wrong answer,” said the Sphinx. “But that was what
made everything possible,” said Oedipus. “No,” she said.
“When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning,
two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered,
Man. You didn’t say anything about woman.”
“When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you include women
too. Everyone knows that.” She said, “That’s what
Sometimes the entire payoff for a poem is in the last line. I’ve been thinking about that “That’s what you think.” ever since I read this poem. Rukeyser really brings the flaw of male default thinking (as detailed in Invisible Women) to the forefront here and, furthermore, highlights its prevalence in all arenas–including history and classical literature. Hat tip to Laura Amy Schlitz for direction me to this poem when she mentioned it in her novel Amber & Clay.
It’s back now and updated with streamline due dates, and open to anyone with a platform where they can share long form reviews.
Details, requirements, and available titles can be found here: https://missprint.wordpress.com/adopt/
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.
That’s where Can We Talk About Consent?: A Book About Freedom, Choices, and Agreement (2021) by Justin Hancock, illustrated by Fuchsia Macaree comes in.
Hancock uses his experience from his work as a sex and relationship educator to break down how consent works in a few areas in this book geared toward younger readers including:
- how we greet each other
- how to choose things for ourselves
- how we say no to things
- communicating and respecting choices in sexual relationships
- the factors that can affect a person’s ability to choose
- how to empower other people by giving them consent
The book itself says it’s for readers age 14 and up (likely because sex is mentioned and because some pages are text heavy) but if read together with discussion, this can work for younger readers as well.
Hancock’s no-nonsense text is approachable with clear examples (and a lot of pizza metaphors) to break down this crucially important topic. Macaree’s illustrations add a lot of pop and variety to the book and also represent people with a realistic variety of skin tones and appearances.
Unfortunately, the design of the book itself makes Can We Talk About Consent? nearly unreadable in places and favors gimmicky page spreads in favor of clearly sharing information.
The book has full color illustrations and is printed on glossy paper. This with the small text and narrow trim size, means the book has small print. Compounding the issue: some of the illustrations are very low contrast like one with speech bubbles that are dark green with black text.
Meanwhile other page spreads have completely bizarre layouts including one shaped like a pizza (I cannot overstate the amount of pizza in this book) where the most important information (“If consent is about choices and freedom, then it’s more than just avoiding something we don’t want.”) is not only buried at the bottom of the page but printed upside down.
Can We Talk About Consent? shares a ton of important and valuable information (including a glossary and additional resources). Unfortunately a book design that seemingly failed to consider that this book has to be read makes it difficult to easily interface with much of that information–particularly for anyone who is visually impaired or needs larger and clearer text to read.
Blog Posts of The Week:
- Pointe: A Review
- Firekeeper’s Daughter: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review
- Poetically Speaking: The Stolen Child by W. B. Yeats
Tweet of the Week:
Instagram Post of the Week:
How My Week Went:
Catalog updates at work are killing me. If I have to edit the same training document one more time, I will scream.