Poetry

All posts tagged Poetry

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.

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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.

 

Milk And Honey – Rupi Kaur

Published December 20, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

What did I think?:

I’m finding this such a tough review to write on so many levels so I do apologise if my thoughts are even less coherent than usual but this book had such an enormous impact on me that to be honest, I’m not quite sure where to start. I’m not particularly well versed in poetry to be fair – I studied some in my English Literature A Level but it was mainly classical poetry rather than anything contemporary. With poetry I think it’s such a personal thing sometimes, what works for one person might not work at all for another but if you do find that style that fits your particular niche, it’s so worthwhile all the searching that you might have done and that’s what I found with Milk And Honey.

I had heard so many great reviews about this collection from other blogs, bookstagram and book tube and although I knew it was going to be quite hard-hitting, I was determined to discover it for myself and form my own opinions. Well, it hit me with a sledge hammer with all its rawness and pure honesty and I found the simplicity of the prose not only beautiful to read but very effective, especially in eliciting such a range of different feelings (bad and good) that I felt quite emotionally drained at the end of it. I posted a couple of the poems that spoke to me personally on my bookstagram as I was reading it and developing those strong feelings, and without going into too much detail (because…DIFFICULT!), I’d just like to share a couple of those now:

it is your blood

in my veins

tell me how i’m

supposed to forget

and:

a daughter should

not have to

beg her father

for a relationship

There are so many more I could show you but these are the two that had the most powerful affect on me. So simple and succinct yet they gave me the most dramatic sentiments that at times, I felt I had to take this book quite slowly for fear of breaking down completely. The collection is divided into four sections namely The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking and The Healing and each short poem slots perfectly into these categories and is so amazingly poignant. They aren’t necessarily always sad, there’s a great amount of positivity, optimism for the future and a strong, feminist message in the poems (which I always appreciate) but it just so happened that the ones that had the biggest impact on me happened to be a little bleaker than others.

This collection isn’t going to be for everyone. I understand the author has received a lot of stick over whether these are genuinely good poems or just great Instagram/Tumblr posts. As I mentioned before, poetry is such an individual thing and if you find an author that speaks to you, like I’m sure she speaks to many others, hang on to that and enjoy it. There’s always going to be people who don’t connect with certain things like others do and that’s absolutely fine, wouldn’t the world be so boring if we all liked the same thing? This is certainly a book for my favourites shelf that I’ll be dipping in and out of again and I’m really looking forward to reading her second collection, The Sun And Her Flowers which I bought recently.

Please note: Be aware, there are trigger warnings in this book for rape and sexual abuse if you are particularly sensitive to these topics.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Mini Pin-It Reviews #11 – Four Author Requests

Published July 29, 2017 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!

Huge thank you to all the authors for providing me with copies of their books – I really appreciate it.

1.) To Sea – Michael LoCurto

What’s it all about?:

The sea is dead—fishless—and Long Island fisherman Jon Brand is to blame. With his greed of overfishing for years—he is surely the cause of the current famine. According to Jon Brand, that is. Elea, Jon’s wife, sees things differently. An oceans-worth of famine cannot be pinned down on one man alone. And she wishes Jon would man-up and find work inland if the sea can no longer provide for the family. But Jon has faith in the sea. His sea. And he cannot simply turn his back on Her. To Sea explores numerous beaches spanning across the Island where Jon seeks the answers of his fate—of his dry ocean—of his God. But the sea is silent. Time after time. Visit after visit. And with each trip to a differing shoreline passing, Jon finds himself closer and closer to a life changing revelation: To land, or, to sea.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

2.) The Little Black Dress – Linda Palund

What’s it all about?:

The brutal murder of a beautiful girl in a little black dress sparks our teenage heroine’s quest to find the killers. But what was the secret of the little black dress? Why did the gorgeous Carmen wear that dress to school every single day?
Her best friend Lucy is determined to solve the riddle of “the little black dress” as well as solve Carmen’s murder. She risks her life and the lives of her friends in her search to find the savage killers.
The setting is West LA, an area of privilege, where wealth rules under sunny skies.
This is a short novel, but it has everything in it, sex, drugs, gruesome murders and even a ghost.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

3.) The Girl With The Blue Umbrella – Heather Awad

What’s it all about?:

This is the author’s first collection of poetry. In her poems, she incites the mind with crisp and prose-like descriptions. She has a craft for peering into the human spirit and capturing it in moving depictions. Along with touching the heart, she will make you smile with just the right amount of whimsy to keep it moving and light. This is a poetry collection for anyone who has been intimidated by poetry. Its uncomplicated, crystal-clear imagery will change your mind about poetry forever. It’s poetry for the poet in us all.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

4.) Necropolis – Guy Portman

What’s it all about?:

Dyson Devereux works in the Burials and Cemeteries department in his local council. Dyson is intelligent, incisive and informed. He is also a sociopath. Dyson’s contempt for the bureaucracy and banality of his workplace provides ample refuge for his mordant wit. But the prevalence of Essex Cherubs adorning the headstones of Newton New Cemetery is starting to get on his nerves.

When an opportunity presents itself will Dyson seize his chance and find freedom, or is his destiny to be a life of toil in Burials and Cemeteries?

Brutal, bleak and darkly comical, Necropolis is a savage indictment of the politically correct, health and safety obsessed world in which we live.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP SOON ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Random Books.

Banned Books 2016 – JULY READ – A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Published July 25, 2016 by bibliobeth

bannedbooks

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What’s it all about?:

Josie, Nicolette, and Aviva all get mixed up with a senior boy-a cool, slick, sexy boy who can talk them into doing almost anything he wants. In a blur of high school hormones and personal doubt, each girl struggles with how much to give up and what ultimately to keep for herself. How do girls handle themselves? How much can a boy get away with? And in the end, who comes out on top? A bad boy may always be a bad boy. But this bad boy is about to meet three girls who won’t back down.

bannedbooks

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to our seventh banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2016…

AUGUST – Bless Me Ultima- Rudolfo Anaya

SEPTEMBER – Bone- Jeff Smith

OCTOBER – The Glass Castle- Jeanette Walls

NOVEMBER- Gossip Girl- Cecily Von Ziegesar

DECEMBER – My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult

But back to this month….

A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

First published: 2006

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2013 (source)

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Like many of the other novels in our series of frequently challenged/banned books this year, this is a fairly recent release and I don’t believe too much has changed in our attitudes to books (either for the worse or the better) in the past ten years. This is one of those books where I can see why people may have had problems with it, mainly due to the sexual content. In that way, I can’t really see it being taught in schools (I can imagine a few red faces, including the teachers!) but I see no reason why it can’t be stocked in a school library for teenagers to read on their own time as I do feel it has some important messages.

CHRISSI: I was surprised at how recent this book was. I don’t know why, but I thought it had an ‘older’ feel to it. As I was reading the book, I realised that it wouldn’t be a great classroom read. It is indeed, sexually explicit. That’s not to say that I don’t think it should be available to teens. I do. As Beth says, it would be great to be stocked in the library. Sadly, I don’t see that likely to happen in many school libraries due to its content.

How about now?

BETH: See previous answer! I probably don’t agree with ALL of the reasons for challenging this book to be honest and as I mentioned, I do believe it’s important for teenagers to have access to it but I can’t remember any instances of offensive language or references to drugs. Everything mentioned in this novel I feel is part of a normal, curious adolescence and will be things that teenagers are likely to come across during this period in their lives. Wrapping them up in cotton wool and shielding them from the cold, hard facts of life I feel will do more damage than good in the long run.

CHRISSI:  As I said, I can see why this book wouldn’t be used in the classroom. However, I think it’s an accurate representation of adolescence and certainly think it should be available for teenagers. I think all too often teenagers are shielded from this kind of read and there’s no reason for that!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: There were lots of things to like about this book. Firstly, it’s a very quick read, partially because the entirety of the novel is written in prose which makes it both interesting and easy to whizz through – I think I finished it in about an hour? We get to hear three teenage girls points of view when they meet, date and in some cases sleep with the notorious “bad boy” of the school and how this affects them emotionally as a result when he gets the only thing he really wants from their relationships – sex. I think it’s really important for teenage girls struggling with new, very adult emotions and who may be feeling particularly vulnerable to reassure them that they are not alone and that they don’t have to do anything that they may not feel ready for.

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t expect to whizz through it as much as I did. It helps that the book is in prose as it really picks up the pace of the book. It’s one of those where I kept thinking ‘just one more snippet’ and before I knew it I was finished. I don’t think it’s an overly memorable read, but I think it’ll be relatable to so many teens!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!
CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Join us again on the last Monday of August when we will be discussing Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya.

 

 

Short Stories Challenge – Paranoid: A Chant by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Published April 28, 2016 by bibliobeth

8144104What’s Paranoid: A Chant all about?:

In Paranoid: A Chant we get a frightening look into the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic as they tell us all the reasons why they don’t go outside the house any more.

What did I think?:

When I first had a quick look at this, the next story in Skeleton Crew and in my Short Stories Challenge I have to admit to feeling a bit of trepidation. I could see that it was a bit of a departure from Stephen King’s usual style, being a poem rather than a short story/novel and I have to be honest, when I first read it, I didn’t really find much to shout from the rooftops about. As a result it took a few readings before I began to appreciate the point that King was trying to get across.

The poem itself is one hundred lines long and one of the most interesting things about it is that it ends in a very similar vein to the way it begins:

“I can’t go out no more, There’s a man by the door, in a raincoat, smoking a cigarette.”

From the very start, the reader is propelled into the paranoid thoughts and delusions of someone who appears to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. We play the role of confidant as our narrator explains all the reasons (perfectly logical to them, of course) why they believe that someone is after them and wants them dead. The voice is in fact so convincing that you wouldn’t be a complete fool for thinking that this person might actually be speaking the truth! They have kept a very extensive log of events that have happened which convinces them that they are being targeted and it is only because some instances appear so ridiculous that we then understand we are in the mind of someone who is clearly mentally unwell.

For example, the woman upstairs who shoots rays down through her lights by means of an electric suction cup attached to her floor, the dog that is sent to the house with a radio cobweb in its nose, the waitress in the local diner who is planting arsenic and cyanide in the food and finally the man who climbs up through the toilet to spy – the giveaway being his big muddy hand prints all over the porcelain of course! All of these things and much more besides means that our narrator must now write down her findings in the cover of darkness and become a virtual recluse in her own home.

This is a really intriguing look at mental illness and a rather unexpected change in direction for Stephen King that once I got my head around, I did thoroughly enjoy. The author uses staccato sentences which are packed full of descriptive language to get the message of a very disturbed person across in a very effective way. As the poem reaches its finale, the madness of our narrator’s delusions only increase in intensity whilst becoming quite incoherent. For me, the reading experience was almost like watching a scary film as the music gets louder (and you just know something’s going to jump out!) or anticipating a car crash just before it happens and it was a roller-coaster ride that I whole-heartedly appreciated. For another experience of this quirky and unique little poem, I also recommend the short film that I happened to come across HERE where the poem is told in its entirety. I’d love to know your thoughts!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Still Life by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears