First Impressions

Okay, so the book meme I’m participating in today is Road City Reader’s Book Beginning in which you share the first sentence of a book you’re reading and your first impressions.

“I am the shade
Through the dolent city, I flee
Through the eternal woe, I take flight”

So, yeah, this book – Inferno by Dan Brown – begins with a quote and I am 26 chapters in and I still don’t know what’s really going on. I have read two Dan Brown Books – Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons before – so I know this is his strategy – clues, misdirection, oblique, artsy references. The problem is I’m not really into it this time – it’s been diminishing returns to me; like with Da Vinci Code I was hooked and trying to decipher the clues as I went and boning up on my art history and halfway buying in to the book’s crazy(?) conspiracy theory; with Angels and Demons, I cared a bit less. The movies may have had an impact here – they just weren’t as dense or as intriguing as the books themselves…or maybe after you’ve read the books you’re spoiled for the movies…I don’t know. This time I am confused as ever but I’m also ambivalent, reading on without really feeling inspired to but because I don’t like to abandon books and it isn’t so bad as to be abandoned, I’m hanging in there. Maybe it’ll pick up; maybe I’ll care more – main character from Code and Angels and here again Robert Langdon is reading like one of those impossible Dans, like the male version of a Mary Sue.. Even with amnesia he’s perfectly sharp and unpuzzling things, and there’s a girl sidekick/love interest (it’s made clear that’s her role here) who you suspect might be kind of interesting if the writer would just shade her in a bit more – maybe he does as the story goes on. But that’s where I am; first impressions.

Because I don’t read a book at a time, I’ll mention that I have also been reading this week in order of levels of enjoyment/interest/engagement (most to least):

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
An unpublished thesis about Antiguan and Barbudan literature
An unpublished thesis about Barbuda
Fire and Fury by Michael Wolf

Inferno is somewhere between the Wolf book and the Barbuda thesis, depending on the day. But it has to its credit being an easy read, like junk food – which is not a diss, I like junk food, but it can leave you starved for real nutrients.

While you’re here, updates to the blog since my last meme participation include:

Moving CREATIVE SPACE 3 – Final Arrival (about people taking the Atlantic Row challenge that ends in Antigua and Barbuda and the history making Antigua and Barbuda team that completed the row) to make space for
CREATIVE SPACE 4 – on the Wallings Nature Reserve in Antigua.

Moving some of the Blogger on Books quick takes (for when I don’t have a full review but I still got something to say) to their own page and moving out the Blogger on Books on Tanarive Due’s The Black Rose to make room for a new Blogger on Books review, The Masquerade Dance.

The Masquerade Dance

Just This and Business Notes, musings and shares related to the writing and freelancing journey; a share on Buju Banton’s comeback concert in Jamaica (his first since lockdown) – wish I could’ve been there for that as he’s easily my favourite dancehall DJ ever (the lead-off video to this post is one of my favourites from his extensive catalogue), and another share inspired by my girl Dena Simmons’ newsletter – with a bit of Langston Hughes peppered in. laughterLangston Hughes is someone you should read at least once in your life, if you haven’t already by the way; him and others from the Harlem Renaissance period (like Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes were watching God, Claude McKay – Home to Harlem, etc) – dope stuff.

 

The Final Book Count of 2018

I’m doing this post for the Saturday Review of Books: End of the Year Book List Round-up, 2018 and especially so that I can share my final review of the year. the latest in my Blogger on Books series, ValourMary Robinette Kowal’s Valour and Vanity.

ETA: Also just posted, a review of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House which I read earlier this year.

I never thought about counting books (nor am I entirely convinced of the value of that – much like counting words while writing) before becoming aware of the book blogging community but that’s my 20th book this year (one more than last year for whatever that’s worth). If it matters, 4 of those were audio books (which is a first for me), 2 of those were children’s picture books (which totally counts), 3 were comic books (actually comic book novelizations, so thicker than your average comic), and 2 were picture books (of the adult coffee table variety), which leaves 7 actual books of fiction and 1 book of non-fiction and 1 poetry collection read cover to cover (turning the pages and all). I quit 2 books this year and put 1 back on the shelf to return to later (the latter is not unusual but not finishing a book at all is rare, but there you have it).

I’m probably behind on everything that’s contemporary since I determined to remain true to my pledge to only buy 1 new book for every 10 finished as part of my strategy to empty my shelf of unread books – that doesn’t quite keep your stock from growing, what with there being book faeries and all (not to be confused with the mango tree faerie in one of my own books, With Grace). The TBR and the wish lists have grown is what I’m saying.

with-grace

But I will say this I was reminded recently that reading is a quiet in the storm for me, it de-stresses me, it calms my mind, it stimulates new writing, and it’s something I love, so so be it. This life isn’t easy so find your happy place and go there as often as you need to; books is one of my happy places – I’m not about counting how many I’ve read but immersing myself in the different spaces they give me access to.

Since you’re here, I invite you to check out these other recent posts of possible interest from my blogs:

The Top Posts of the Year over at Wadadli Pen
The Top Posts of the Year here on Jhohadli
Parts 1 and 2 of my new #womancrushWednesday #wcw series

Oh, one  last time, here’s what I’m currently reading  – Evolution: Weaving in and out of Consciousness while the Truth is Somewhere in the Middle (a poetry collection) by Felene Cayetano, Inner City Girl (fiction) by Colleen Smith-Dennis, The Secret (not sure what this is) by Rhonda Byrne, The Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books Volume 11 Number 1 Summer 2018, The Black Rose (biography) by Tananarive Due, Possessing the Secret of Joy (fiction) by Alice Walker, PEN America In Transit #18, and London Rocks (fiction) by Brenda Lee Browne – this last is a re-read of sorts as I was one of the editors of this book and I wrote about the launch of it in my CREATIVE SPACE series.

Anyway, this post is my final book count of 2018 since I don’t anticipate finishing any other books until the clock counts down to 2019…though, never say never.

New on the Blog

ParadiseThe latest Blogger on Books update (Take Time for Paradise) is less a review, actually a throwback review, and more a memory with my niece whom I used to let practice her reading by reading aloud to me in the car…and apparently while watching cricket.

The previous review, also a throwback review, because reading-what-reading, is archived here.

#BookChat

 

Rick as Cotton on Dr WhoThe latest CREATIVE SPACE, CREATIVE SPACE 12, spotlights the art of the recently departed George Rick James. Here’s an excerpt:

Theatre on the Road and on the Stage: Rick James

With the passing of playwright, actor, and mas builder George ‘Rick’ James this September, I find myself moved to reflect on his contribution to the creative arts – as much has and will be said about his contribution to electoral reform and transparency through his Free and Fair Election League. Also on the need for us to archive our arts. And publish our plays! A question on my mind is what will become of his papers (i.e. his plays and any creative side work). Such items, depending on the artist’s impact, have been donated to or acquired by libraries, educational institutions, archives, governments (see the Caribbean Literary Heritage Project for more on the archiving of artists papers). In Antigua and Barbuda, though, who knows? So consider this, CREATIVE SPACE’s first obituary, a recording of sorts.

Read the whole thing.

The previous CREATIVE SPACE, CREATIVE SPACE 11, Musical Harmony, can now be found here.

The CREATIVE SPACE series remains an opportunity for businesses in Antigua and Barbuda to boost their brand while boosting local art and culture.

  1.  Sponsored posts – Your logo or other company image featured prominently on the post you’re sponsoring (your sponsorship supporting coverage of Antiguan and Barbudan arts and culture) with a link back to your web page or social media (your brand linked to that post as it’s syndicated on Antigua Nice, promoted on social media, and archived here on the Jhohadli site). For a fee.
  2. Brand partnership – for companies that have a creative/cultural product they want me to sample and/or cover and/or participate in, and write about. For a fee. I decide if the product is a good fit for the series and I retain editorial control of the content (I’ll be honest and fair).

October 2018

The Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series continues. New sessions begin in October as soon as the sessions started in September wrap. We’re going BACK TO BASICS.

Lost! first copies

Finally,  Lost! the Caribbean Sea Adventure and I will be in Miami in November for the Miami Book Fair. Details of that appearance here.

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Haven’t checked out any of my books yet? Children’s picture book to teen/young adult fic to adult novels? Read more. If you’ve read any of my books, please consider posting a review to amazon, goodreads, or other online space if you haven’t already done so. It makes a big difference. Keep in mind…

help writers.jpgThanks!

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One more thing. Here’s a link re my services as writer, editor, writing coach, and course/workshop facilitator if you should ever need them.

Site Updates

FROM The latest in the CREATIVE SPACE series – Watch Night: “My personal highlights of Watch Night 2018 include Dr. Lightfoot’s speech, singing along to Rivers of Babylon with the Nyabinghi Drummers, King Frank I calling out the names of the martyred heroes of the aborted 1736 revolt in Antigua as he does every year, King Zacari’s performance of his classic hit calypso Guilty of Being Black, and Kiyode Erasto rap-singing the reggae-tinged Strength and Power which, to my mind, has become the official theme song of Watch Night.”

Need to know: This series is an opportunity for businesses operating in Antigua and Barbuda to boost their brand while boosting local art and culture. Contact me about sponsoring a future post.

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FROM The latest update to the Blogger on Books series – The Hate U Give: ‘When the main character and her boy-friend are pulled over on their way home from a party (“get on the ground, hands behind your back”), if you’re a Black reader, you know what’s going to happen even as you hope you’re wrong, and there’s a part of you that is as frustrated with and worried about her boy-friend for not acting right as Starr is because you know he’s going to get himself killed because ‘not acting right’ has different consequences if you’re a black teen boy.  Of course, even this instinctive way of thinking about it is wrong as he didn’t get himself killed. He was killed due to someone else’s implicit bias and escalation of a situation that didn’t need to be a situation at all. It’s a moment that challenges you to challenge the way you think about these situations, and maybe think differently.’

Need to know: I’m still reading Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal, The Black Rose by Tananarive Due, Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman, Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri, and The Nakedness of New by Althea Romeo-Mark. Just started reading Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini. Will let you know how it turns out.

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FYI: The Jhohadli Writing Project continues on August 4th 2018 and registration is open for the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project which begins August 13th 2018 in Antigua.

Need to know: Both are creative writing programmes JWP for adults and JSYWP for teens and pre-teens. Contact information is jhohadli at gmail dot com

JSYWP promotional flyer

 

Site Updates

This is an update re site updates.

Jhohadli

In the pages section there are two new reads in the CREATIVE SPACE series.

“The National Tennis Centre was abuzz with activity on Labour Day weekend 2018 –  the squeak-squeak of sneakers, the chatter of onlookers, the smell of barbeque (there must always be food right?), the exclamation of a player who has managed to one up another, the thwack of ball hitting court in the back and forth of a match engaged. Amidst the rituals of the game, the fist pumps and the tears, because there must be winners and losers and where passions run high there may be tears, I couldn’t help but reflect for a moment on the impressive transformation of the courts located at the area known as Campsite. It was my first time attending an event there since the 2016 opening. What a transformation!” – from CREATIVE SPACE #4 of 2018 (uploaded May 12th 2018) – It’s Game, Set, and…Win for Tennis Antigua-Barbuda

“The vibe at open mics varies – the venue and the host have something to do with this. Heads up, Barbara, the host of the Tannins open mic, dubbed Rhythm and Rhyme is big on audience participation. So amidst the planned readings by special guest London Rocks author Brenda Lee Browne and another scheduled performance – more on that in a minute – Barbara was prompting people hanging out to participate. A couple of jokes from one, impromptu speaking by another, a group chain writing exercise – by which I mean random strangers stringing a story together just because.  The story went something like this. Carnival, a churchy but rebellious teen, the revelry and excitement, an angry dad, and just when things were about to come to a head – or, literally, blows – Carnival worked its magic…and the gathered laughed their belly full. That is to say there was a fairly loose, near weekend, after work vibe about the whole affair.” – from CREATIVE SPACE #5 of 2018 (uploaded May 12th 2018) Opening the Mic

As a reminder to local businesses, the CREATIVE SPACE series which is also syndicated on Antigua Nice – one of Antigua and Barbuda’s earliest and biggest online platforms – for wider reach, features sponsored posts; an opportunity to boost your brand while boosting local arts and culture.

I also did some tweaking to the Blogger on Books pages – I hadn’t realized that all weren’t open for comments, which discourages engagement; that’s been fixed so feel free to engage at Blogger on Books lV, Blogger on Books V, and Blogger on Books Vl.

Blogger on Books Vl has a new book review. Yes, I’ve finished Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (whew!). Here’s an excerpt:

“The immersive nature of the novel – plus the fact that it jumps around in time, between its multitude upon multitude of characters, vivid action to quiet contemplation, shocking violence to quiet beauty, straight up reportage to dreamlike effect… forever keeping the reader off guard – can have a disorienting effect. When it was intense it was powerfully so, but, if I’m being honest, there are times when I felt like I was slogging through seaweed. But it is overall an impressive literary feat and I completely understand how it copped the Man Booker prize and many other major literary prizes.” And go here to read the whole thing.

Finally, a reminder about the Barbara Arrindell & Associates new workshops starting next week. I’ll be doing the written communication sessions. Still time to register.