Poetry

All posts tagged Poetry

Book Tag – Shelfie by Shelfie #13

Published November 11, 2018 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

Here are the other Shelfies I’ve done: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  7 8 9 10 11 and 12.

Anyway – on with the tag, it’s time for the second shelf of my second bookshelf and we’re looking at the middle part of the image.

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

There are a random flotsam and jetsam of books on this shelf as probably expected from me now, haha but this is probably the most organised of my bookshelves. It’s certainly the least “busy” and one day I hope to get all my bookshelves like this! This shelf plays host to some of the hardbacks I still have to read and are a mixture of genres, including some nonfiction. I think the only hardbacks that I’ve read on this shelf are More Than This by Patrick Ness and Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

There is a sneaky little book of poetry you probably won’t be able to see on this shelf and it’s The Black Riders And Other Lines by Stephen Crane. I’m not a great expert on poetry but there’s a particular poem in this collection that my partner and I share a special connection with. We originally saw the poem online and both loved the darkness and simplicity of it and then when Mr B was out one day and saw this collection in a shop he first of all made sure “our” poem was inside it and then promptly bought it for me!

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

I’m torn between two here but I’m going to go with House Of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I do understand it’s somewhat of a cult classic but every time I leaf through it and see the structure of the narrative and the odd things that the author has done with the text, I have to say I feel slightly intimidated and that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t got to it before now. If you’ve read it and can convince me otherwise I’m happy to change my mind?

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Apologies for duplicating my answers here but it would have to be the Stephen Crane poetry collection for sentimental reasons!

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I adore this particular edition and although it’s actually Mr B’s, I’ve kind of claimed it for my own. Ssssh. Don’t tell him.

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Bedtime Stories For Grown-Ups by Ben Holden. I walked past this in Waterstones late last year and although I’m really trying not to buy any more hardbacks at the moment, I couldn’t resist this title. Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

“There are few more precious routines than that of the bedtime story. So why do we discard this invaluable ritual as grown-ups to the detriment of our well-being and good health?
In this groundbreaking anthology, Ben Holden, editor of the bestselling Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, challenges how we think about life, a third of which is spent asleep. He deftly explores not only the science of sleep but also why we endlessly tell stories – even to ourselves, as we dream.
Holden combines his own illuminating storytelling with a treasure trove of timeless classics and contemporary gems. Poems and short stories, fairy tales and fables, reveries and nocturnes – from William Shakespeare to Haruki Murakami, Charles Dickens to Roald Dahl, Rabindranath Tagore to Nora Ephron, Vladimir Nabokov to Neil Gaiman – are all woven together to replicate the journey of a single night’s sleep.
Some of today’s greatest storytellers reveal their choice of the ideal grown-up bedtime story: writers such as Margaret Drabble, Ken Follett, Tessa Hadley, Robert Macfarlane, Patrick Ness, Tony Robinson and Warsan Shire.
Fold away your laptop and shut down your mobile phone. Curl up and crash out with the ultimate bedside book, one you’ll return to again and again. Full of laughter and tears, moonlight and magic, Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups joyfully provides the dream way to end the day – and begin the night . . .”

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

Without a doubt that would have to be the Judy Blume – In The Unlikely Event. If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you might be aware of the fact that Judy Blume is my goddess and I’ve been horribly scared to read her latest adult fiction in case it doesn’t live up to the hype going on in my head right now. However, it will happen. Er….eventually!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

I’ve got quite a few objects on this shelf and I couldn’t choose just one to tell you about so I’m going to mention all three. The first was a gift from a very dear friend who I’ve known since we were in primary school together. We recently made contact again after many years of lost contact and were delighted to discover that we’re just as close now as we were back then!

The second object(s) are two candles from the Etsy shop William & Joseph. They do some wonderful literary themed candles and these are two I’ve been saving as they have quite a spring/summery scent and I’d like to burn them at the appropriate season. There’s nothing I love more than lighting a candle, getting all snuggly in my pink fluffy blanket with a cup of tea and reading in my little library!

The third item(s) is most of my bookmark collection (excluding the ones currently in use). I’ve got some really precious bookmarks in here including one given to me by my Gran, one given to me by my sister (Chrissi Reads), one especially made for me which arrived in a book swap package and a couple from Persephone Books that are really pretty.

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

It perhaps gives the false impression that I’m quite organised?! This is the reader I would like to be and in the next few weeks, I’m planning to do a major overhaul of my first bookshelf (already featured in my Shelfie by Shelfie tag) and be really brutal with myself. If I’m never going to read it or can’t say WHEN I’m going to get round to it, off it goes to the charity shop. The problem is I feel like I’m missing out on some great books that I already own as I can’t see them on my shelves!!

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t tag anyone but if anyone wants to do this tag, I’d be delighted and I’d love to see your shelfie.

For other Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere, please see:

Chrissi @ Chrissi Reads FAVOURITES shelfie HERE and her Shelfie by Shelfie 2 HERE.

Sarah @ The Aroma Of Books Shelfie 1A, 1B, 1C 1D and 1E

Dee @ Dees Rad Reads And Reviews Shelfie HERE

Jacquie @ Rattle The Stars Shelfie HERE

Stuart @ Always Trust In Books Shelfie #1 HERE and #2 HERE.

Jennifer @ Tar Heel Reader Shelfie #1, 2, 3, 4  5, 6, and 7

Paula @ Book Jotter Shelfie #1 and 2.

Gretchen @ Thoughts Become Words Shelfie HERE.

Kathy @ Pages Below The Vaulted Sky Shelfie by Shelfie #1 HERE.

Jenn, Eden and Caitlynn @ Thrice Read Share A Shelfie HERE.

Nicki @ Secret Library Book Blog Shelfie by Shelfie 1 and 2.

CJ @ Random Melon Reads Shelfie by Shelfie HERE.

Thank you so much to Chrissi, Sarah, Dee, Jacquie, Stuart, Jennifer, Paula, Gretchen, Kathy, Jenn, Eden, Caitlynn, Nicki and CJ for participating in Shelfie by Shelfie, it really means the world to me. Hugs!

If you’ve done this tag or you’re one of the people above and I’ve missed out one of your shelfies please let me know and I’d be happy to add you to Shelfie by Shelfies round the blogosphere!

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #14

Advertisements

Mini Pin-It Reviews #26 – Four Random Books

Published October 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four YA novels for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) It’ll Ease The Pain: Collected Poems And Short Stories – Frank J. Edwards

What’s it all about?:

In an age of hyperbole and phoniness, Frank J. Edwards creates images and narratives that ring true, yet reveal life to be more interesting than we realized. Even if we have seen hundreds of TV shows about emergency departments, Edwards’ story “It’ll Ease the Pain” paints a portrait of one doctor’s 24-hour stint that is fresh and unforgettable.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2.) The Princess Saves Herself In This One (Women Are Some Kind Of Magic #1) – Amanda Lovelace

What’s it all about?:

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3.) Admissions: A Life In Brain Surgery – Henry Marsh

What’s it all about?:

Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical front line. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered.

Following the publication of his celebrated New York Times bestseller Do No Harm, Marsh retired from his full-time job in England to work pro bono in Ukraine and Nepal. In Admissions, he describes the difficulties of working in these troubled, impoverished countries and the further insights it has given him into the practice of medicine.

Marsh also faces up to the burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering. Unearthing memories of his early days as a medical student and the experiences that shaped him as a young surgeon, he explores the difficulties of a profession that deals in probabilities rather than certainties and where the overwhelming urge to prolong life can come at a tragic cost for patients and those who love them.

Reflecting on what forty years of handling the human brain has taught him, Marsh finds a different purpose in life as he approaches the end of his professional career and a fresh understanding of what matters to us all in the end.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) How To Be Human: The Manual by Ruby Wax

What’s it all about?:

It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you’re on all twos and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive – most of us aren’t, what’s gone wrong? We’ve started treating ourselves more like machines and less like humans. We’re so used to upgrading things like our iPhones: as soon as the new one comes out, we don’t think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it’s new, it’s better.)

We can’t stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we’re on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we’ll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we’ll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what’s ‘better’, and if we can do that we’re on the yellow brick road to happiness.

I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain. We answer every question you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you’ll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you’ve upgraded your iPhone.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Graphic Novels.

The Sun And Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

Published June 23, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

What did I think?:

Hello everyone and welcome back to another review on bibliobeth today. I’ve been away for a little break, perhaps longer than I would have liked as I’ve had some life “stuff” to deal with that has led to me being offered a new job. It’s been a tough decision for me to make as it involves uprooting myself from a place I love working, but practically and health-wise it’s going to be the best move to make as it will involve a reduction in both travelling and travelling costs! Anyway, today I’m here to talk about the second volume of poetry by Rupi Kaur who also wrote the astounding Milk and Honey (which I’m a huge fan of). Let me be frank, I’m not any kind of poetry connoisseur and I know the author has had a lot of criticism about her poetic style but all I’m here to say is, different things work for different people and personally, her poetry DEFINITELY speaks to me.

Rupi Kaur, author of the poetry collection The Sun And Her Flowers

Unlike most fiction/non-fiction books I review, it’s going to be pretty hard to give a synopsis regarding the particular content of The Sun And Her Flowers but there are overlapping themes between Rupi’s first collection and this, her second. It is divided into five chapters, all in turn connected with the growth cycle of flowers so we have: Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising and Blooming. As you may have suspected (or if you read the author’s previous collection,  we start out on a somewhat darker note with Wilting and Falling where the author explores more heart-breaking nods to her life experiences so far. This includes her struggles with insecurity and body image, the break-up of relationships, her relationship with her mother and emotional and sexual abuse. Rupi uses her own simple but effective illustrations to complement her poetry which varies in length from a few paragraphs to merely a few lines but it seems every word is chosen so methodically in this latter case that just one sentence can be devastatingly moving.

After the initial few chapters, The Sun And Her Flowers embodies a much more positive message than Milk and Honey which at times, went into some very terrifying emotional places. The author focuses much more on learning to love yourself as a woman, accepting yourself for who you are, connecting with family and friends more often and accepting your past whilst trying to move on. The messages in her poetry that promote self-worth are dazzlingly effective and something I can see myself re-visiting myself if I’m having a bad mental health day and need a little boost. She still goes to some murky places and if you’re particularly sensitive to the topics I mentioned in the above paragraph, I would approach this collection with caution but generally, I could feel the optimistic change in her writing compared to Milk and Honey.

It’s almost as if Rupi Kaur has got everything out of her system, released a lot of anger and negativity regarding her past and although she understandably still has demons that haunt her, she is managing her own emotional well-being a lot better. She is able to discuss things that have happened to her in her past, confront the debilitating emotions that she suffered (and still continues to suffer on bad days) but can see the light at the end of the tunnel and approaches things with a much more positive outlook. For me, after Milk And Honey, my expectations were exponentially raised and although it isn’t the five star read that Kaur’s debut collection was and didn’t have as much of an emotional impact on me, it’s still a moving piece of work that I would be happy to read through again in the future, especially when I’m having particularly trying points of my own life.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

One – Sarah Crossan

Published May 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

What did I think?:

I’ve been a little bit worried about writing this review. I’ve written a couple of more critical reviews recently and to be honest, I find those a bit easier to write as I find you can really focus on the aspects you found more difficult in a novel and discuss them more extensively. Sometimes I feel there’s only so many times you can say the words: great, amazing, touching, beautiful etc, etc before they become meaningless and don’t adequately convey the depth of emotion that you felt about a book. One is a book just like this. Told entirely in free verse, this story made my heart swell, burst rather painfully and moved me beyond the point that I ever thought I could be moved. I wasn’t sure I was going to connect with it at all considering I haven’t had that much experience (if any!) with novels told in this style but boy, was I wrong!

Irish author, Sarah Crossan, author of One.

One is the story of conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi, both very much individuals mentally speaking, but physically, from birth they are forced to share vital organs in their body, keeping each other alive in the process. Life isn’t easy for Grace and Tippi. All they want is just to be like any other teenager, going to school, hanging out with friends and having relationships with boys. However, as their bodies are permanently entwined, there are obvious difficulties of them doing these things alone which makes life highly stressful. Coupled with this is the stares they get just from walking down the street and the hungry media at their door, particularly when the girls decide they’ve had enough and they want to be separated. This is the tale of their daily struggles with their rare condition, of two very different girls with such a special sisterly bond it will not fail to break your heart.

American conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel.

Wow, this book. It made me feel so many emotions that I never ever thought I could experience from this particular style of writing. For it is the free verse that makes this book so incredibly unique. Sarah Crossan manages to say so many things with so little words and each word appears to have been chosen so methodically that it reads like a dream., smooth, unfaltering and utterly gut wrenching. I fell completely in love with the characters of Grace and Tippi, especially in the way they faced their struggles head-on independently and bravely. Obviously they don’t have any idea of what it’s like to be apart, they’ve been joined together their whole lives so have got pretty used to their situation. However, you can see their frustration and upset when they realise how their condition may prevent them from having a “normal” life like other girls of their age. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of giving something away but if you like YA fiction, you’re interested in trying something a bit different and you’re in the mood to be emotionally torn apart, you simply have to give One a try. I’d love to know what you think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Baltic Books Blog Tour

Published April 9, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special post on my blog today. From the 10th-12th April, The London Book Fair will be taking place at Olympia in London. The fair focuses on all parts of the publishing industry and is the perfect marketplace for rights negotiation and sale and distribution of content across all forms of media. Exhibitors from every part of the globe are welcomed and the fair itself is packed full with exciting content including seminars, interviews and workshops. In fact, there are over 200 seminars packed into three days of the fair and with titles such as “From Promotion To Pitching,” and “An Introduction To Kindle Direct Publishing: How To Get Started,” there’s sure to be something for everyone interested/part of the industry.

In 2018, the London Book Fair is choosing to showcase Baltic literature, that is, authors from the countries Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and I jumped at the chance to feature one such author on my blog. Kārlis Vērdiņš is a Latvian poet and I would like to feature one of his poems, Come To Me on bibliobeth today.

“Writing poetry has always been at the core of Lativan literature and at the heart of our country, but when I was beginning to write in the nineties journalists would often query if the form was as popular as it was in the Soviet times. Now, I understand the different role that poetry has had to play in Latvian life across our county’s history, from oppression to freedom and now, as we celebrate 100 years of our independent state. The role of the poet has evolved. Contemporary poetry still engages with the history of Latvia, the formation of our identity and all that lies in between, but this is alongside work that explores sexuality, gender, body. There is still the political, as there ever will be, but so much more than before there is the personal. Actually one might say: poetry is the way how Latvians think, speak and see the world. Actually there is nothing but poetry in our minds.” – Karlis Verdinš 

Come to me by Kārlis Vērdiņš 

I was bringing you a little cheese sandwich. It was two in the

morning, everybody sleepy, shops closed but in the I Love You bar

they gave me a little cheese sandwich.

I was in a taxi bringing you a little cheese sandwich ’cause you

were lying there sad, perhaps even ill, and there was nothing good to

eat in the house. Was real expensive, around one lat, but that’s OK.

So I was in the taxi with my little iluvu, all squished, practically

cold. But for some reason I didn’t make it home. Somehow I ended

up where all were merry and witty, and starving. So I drank, I sang,

but I saved my little sandwich.

Must have been the third day when I could finally treat you to it,

you were so angry, you ate the sandwich hardly looking at it. Had I

had more courage, I would have said: but you know I love you, you

know I admire you. Don’t make me say it again.

Kārlis Vērdiņš

Come to me by Kārlis Vērdiņš was chosen as one of the greatest love poems from the last 50 years by the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Karlis Verdinš was born in 1979 in Riga. With an M.A. in Cultural Theory and a Ph.D. in Philology, Verdins is the author of many academic papers (including a book on prose poetry, Bastarda forma, (2010)) and essays on literature, both Latvian and foreign, as well as a prolific literary critic. He has published four volumes of poetry – Ledlauzi(Icebreakers / Riga: Nordic, 2001, 2nd ed. 2009), Biezpiens ar krejumu (Cottage Cheese with Sour Cream / Riga: Atena, 2004), Burtinu zupa (Alphabet Soup, for children, 2007), and Es (I / Riga: Neputns, 2008), all to a great critical and popular acclaim and fetching top literary awards. Verdins has also written librettos and song lyrics and has published translations of American Modernist poetry (T. S. Eliot, W. C. Williams, H.D., et al). His most recent collection is Pieaugušie (Adults, 2015). His own poetry has been translated in many languages, including collections in Russian and Polish.

The poetry anthology Come to Me by Karlis Verdinš (Bilingual English / Latvian edition) is published by Arc Publications, translated & introduced by Ieva Lesinska

The Baltic countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – will be the Market Focus for the London Book Fair 2018 (10th – 12th April).

A big thank you to Hannah McMillan at Midas PR for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Karlis Verdinš for allowing his poem, Come To Me to be featured here today.

The 10th Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize – Shortlist Announced!

Published March 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to a bit of a different post here on bibliobeth today. I’d like to talk to you about the Dylan Thomas Prize which has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. It is the world’s largest literary prize open to young writers of 39 and under from all nations who are writing in English with a grand prize of £30,000 and this year, will also commemorate sixty-five years since the death of Welsh writer Dylan Thomas.

This prize really appealed to me as it celebrates all forms of literature, not just novels – including poetry, plays and short stories. But without further ado – let’s get on to the shortlist. I’ll be introducing the six authors, the book and synopsis, and why I might be interested in reading the book.

What’s it all about?:

A heartstopping, beautifully written debut, telling the story of one girl’s search for freedom.

“You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall; That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it; That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school; Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see; Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done. And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Gabriel was born in New Mexico and raised on the Mendocino coast by two mothers. He received his B.A. from Willamette University in 2010, and after graduation spent two seasons leading youth trail crews in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest. Tallent lives in Salt Lake City. My Absolute Darling was called “the year’s must-read novel” by The Times and “a masterpiece” by Stephen King.

Am I excited?:

You bet I am! This novel has been one of my most anticipated reads for this year and I just haven’t got around to it yet. The fact it’s on this short-list however has just pushed me to want to read it quicker.

What’s it all about?:

One hot August day a family drives to a mountain clearing to collect birch wood. Jenny, the mother, is in charge of lopping any small limbs off the logs with a hatchet. Wade, the father, does the stacking. The two daughters, June and May, aged nine and six, drink lemonade, swat away horseflies, bicker, and sing snatches of songs as they while away the time.

But then something unimaginably shocking happens, an act so extreme it will scatter the family in every different direction.

In a story told from multiple perspectives and in razor-sharp prose, we gradually learn more about this act, and the way its violence, love and memory reverberate through the life of every character in Idaho.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Emily grew up in the Idaho Panhandle, on Hoodoo mountain. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope, One Story and the Virginia Quarterly Review. A winner of a 2015 O. Henry Award and a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, she now teaches creative writing at the University of Colorado, Denver. Idaho is her first novel.      

Am I excited?:

I’ve actually already read Idaho, you can read my review HERE. I loved parts of it and was confused by other parts but you can’t deny the writing is absolutely incredible.

What’s it all about?:

A sharply intelligent novel about two college students and the strange, unexpected connection they forge with a married couple.

Frances is twenty-one years old, cool-headed, and darkly observant. A college student and aspiring writer, she devotes herself to a life of the mind–and to the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi, her best friend and comrade-in-arms. Lovers at school, the two young women now perform spoken-word poetry together in Dublin, where a journalist named Melissa spots their potential. Drawn into Melissa’s orbit, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband. Private property, Frances believes, is a cultural evil–and Nick, a bored actor who never quite lived up to his potential, looks like patriarchy made flesh. But however amusing their flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy neither of them expect.As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally even with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile herself to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment.

Written with gem-like precision and probing intelligence, Conversations With Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth.”

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Sally was born in 1991 and lives in Dublin, where she graduated from an MA at Trinity College in 2013. Her work has appeared in GrantaThe White Review, The Dublin ReviewThe Stinging Fly, Kevin Barry’s Stonecutter and The Winter Pages anthology. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award for ‘Mr Salary’. Conversations with Friends is her first novel.

Am I excited?:

I’m definitely intrigued. I’ve heard a couple of mixed reviews about Conversations With Friends but the majority of reviews I’ve read have been overwhelmingly positive. I’m curious to see if I’m going to enjoy it as much as others clearly have.

What’s it all about?:

From “one of Britain’s most original young writers” (The Observer), a blistering account of a marriage in crisis and a portrait of a woman caught between withdrawal and self-assertion, depression and rage.

Neve, the novel’s acutely intelligent narrator, is beset by financial anxiety and isolation, but can’t quite manage to extricate herself from her volatile partner, Edwyn. Told with emotional remove and bracing clarity, First Love is an account of the relationship between two catastrophically ill-suited people walking a precarious line between relative calm and explosive confrontation.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Gwendoline was born in London in 1979. She is the author of the novels Cold Water (winner of a Betty Trask Award), Sick Notes, Joshua Spassky (winner of the 2008 Somerset Maugham Award, shortlisted for the 2007 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Opposed Positions and First Love, which was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Gordon Burn Prize and the Goldsmith’s Prize.

Am I excited?:

I have to be honest and say this is the one book out of the short-list I’m the least sure about. It first came to my attention when it was short-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction last year and I was interested then but heard mixed opinions. However, I do like to make up my own mind about a book so I still might give it a shot!

What’s it all about?:

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women’s lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Carmen is a fiction writer, critic, and essayist whose work has appeared in the New YorkerGrantaGuernicaTin House, VICE, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, and elsewhere. Her Body and Other Parties was a finalist for the National Book Award and Kirkus Prize. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, the Speculative Literature Foundation, the University of Iowa and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Artist in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.

Am I excited?:

Yes, yes, yes. I already own this book and am just awaiting a spot in my Short Stories Challenge to slot it in. I’ve heard wonderful things and everything about that synopsis is my cup of tea. Can’t wait!

What’s it all about?:

*Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize 2017*

*Selected as a 2017 Book of the Year in the Guardian and Daily Telegraph*

‘Urban and urbane, it’s a magnificent debut’ Daily Telegraph

‘A brilliant debut – a tender, nostalgic and at times darkly hilarious exploration of black boyhood, masculinity and grief – from one of my favourite writers’ – Warsan Shire 

Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. The poems of Kayo Chingonyi’s remarkable debut explore this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived.

Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, here is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Kayo was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. He is the author of two pamphlets, and a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015.

Am I excited?:

I’ve heard great things about this collection so yes, I am. I’m a bit of a poetry novice but am trying my best to get acquainted with more poetry and this seems the perfect collection to do that with. It was also short-listed for the Costa Poetry Prize last year so I’m certain it’s going to be incredible.

Professor Dai Smith CBE of Swansea University, chair of the judges said: “The shortlist of the 2018 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize is an amazing showcase of young writing talent from across the globe. There are two startling and searing novels from contemporary America; two other novels which engage in a forensic examination of love and loathing, from England  and Ireland; an inventively original collection of short stories from the USA and a challenging, poised work of poetry which takes us to the core of a divided Britain. The judges will have a difficult job over the next two months to find a winner from what is already a list of winners.”
 
Personally, I think this is a fantastic, really strong short-list from a diverse group of authors. I love that it’s quite female-heavy, with four of the short-listed authors being female, and the literature selected covers such a wide range of topics that are all hugely relevant in our world today. With everything I’ve heard about each one of the works, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won and I’m excited to find out which one the judges will eventually select to be the winner.
The winner is in fact announced on Thursday 10th May, just before International Dylan Thomas Day on 14th May. However, if you love this short-list and fancy going to a very special event at the British Library where there will be readings from all the short-listed authors, tickets should be available soon so keep an eye out!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the short-list? Have you read any and if so, what did you think? Or, if you happen to have read them all, which one do you think should win?
Good luck to all the authors on this short-list and a huge thank you to Rachel Kennedy at Midas PR for providing me with all the information about this prize and the authors.

Mini Pin-It Reviews #19 – Four Author Requests

Published March 25, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four author requests for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) The Spirit Guide – Elizabeth Davies

What’s it all about?:

Seren has an unusual gift – she sees spirits, the shades of the dead.
Terrified of being accused of witchcraft, a very real possibility in twelfth century Britain, she keeps her secret close, not even confiding in her husband.

But when she gives her heart and soul to a man who guides spirits in the world beyond the living, she risks her secret and her life for their love.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

2.) I Once Knew A Poem Who Wore A Hat – Emma Purshouse, Catherine Pascall-Moore (illustrator)

What’s it all about?:

Looking for a book packed with begging-to-be-read-out-loud poems and joyful pictures? Look no further! Come inside and meet Figment (of the Imagination). Discover poems about a grandad with big ears, an invention for recycling belly button fluff, Jeevan’s quest to find his Opal, teeth, dinosaurs, cats, dogs, dragons and lots, lots more!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

3.) Return To Glow: A Pilgrimage Of Transformation In Italy – Chandi Wyant

What’s it all about?:

In her early forties, Chandi Wyant’s world implodes in the wake of a divorce and traumatic illness. Determined to embrace life by following her heart, she sets out on Italy’s historic pilgrimage route, the Via Francigena, to walk for forty days to Rome.

Weakened by her recent illness, she walks over the Apennines, through the valleys of Tuscany, and beside busy highways on her 425-kilometer trek equipped with a nineteen-pound pack, two journals, and three pens.

Return to Glow chronicles this journey that is both profoundly spiritual and ruggedly adventuresome. As Chandi traverses this ancient pilgrim’s route, she rediscovers awe in the splendor of the Italian countryside and finds sustenance and comfort from surprising sources. Drawing on her profession as a college history instructor, she gracefully weaves in relevant anecdotes, melding past and present in this odyssey toward her soul.

This delightful, transporting tale awakens the senses while inviting readers to discover their own inner glow by letting go of fixed expectations, choosing courage over comfort, and following their heart.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

4.) Trudge On: The Poetic Works Of Shawn Worth

What’s it all about?:

American Poet Shawn Worth explores themes of nature, class, depression, technology, and human interaction though the use of free verse and structured poetry.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four YA Books.