Top Ten ‘Fall’

This is the Top Ten Tuesday which, this week, is about your fall TBR. There’s a question mark around the whole thing because my TBR (i.e. books I wish to read) are the books I have been reading…and because I’m in the Caribbean and we don’t have fall here. But I’m doing this anyway; call it stress relief.

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – I’m actually listening to the audio book while I work and do other things so as you can imagine I get distracted and have to go back and that slows the reading; but when I am able to focus on it, it’s quite spooky and interesting.

black rose2. The Black Rose by Tananarive Due – why oh why can’t I finish this book …I mean, I know why, and it’s definitely not the book; it’s me, it’s time.

WithoutSummer-rough-rev-500x7473. Without a Summer by Mary Robinette Kowal – this book is in an even worse way – it feels slower than other installments in the series so that’s part of it – but still.

kellerman4. Straight into Darkness by Faye Kellerman – this has been my most active read of the TBR…so much so I feel like I should be done with it already…but I’m no closer to having a clue whodunit.

agostini5.  Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini – I’ve started it and when I paused it had started to pick up; that’s all I’ve got so far.

6. Beneath the Lion’s Wings by Marie Ohanesian Nardin – This is set in Venice and the imagery – the gondolas, the water taxis, is making me nostalgic to go back.

on a water taxi venice travels throwback photoI have struggled to find time to read this though, part of that might have to do with the fact that the author sent me an electronic copy instead of a physical copy; my work has me on the computer a lot and when I’m taking a break, I don’t want to be looking at the screen. So I’m inching along even more than normal.

7. The Storm limited series written by Eric Jerome Dickey – glad to be finally reading this; though my teenage self wishes she could just put everything down and lose herself in it.

8. Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin – listening to the audio book – might need to start it over (see my problem ‘reading’ audio books in this and every post where they’re mentioned)

9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – someone in my social media timeline mentioned this recently as a personal fave and it stoked my interest; I started listening to it this week.

10. Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri – I’m not in to this vivid as the imagery is but I’m not one to give up on a book (shelve for another time sure but give up altogether is rare); we’ll see.

beowulf2Bonus: Author: the Portraits of Beowulf Sheehan got it just before the weekend and almost finished…I mean, it is a picture book of so many authors I love (plus I’m in it) which is what made me so soup to start flipping through it.

There are other things but this is as close to a top 10 as I can get.

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Monday Meme (September 10th 2018)

The It’s Monday, What are You Reading? meme is a space to share what you have been, are, and are about to read.

hiddenDidn’t get much reading done this week but did finish and post a review of Hidden Secrets of St. Croix by Clarice C. Clarke, and start listening to The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I am still struggling with the audio book format – I miss stuff and have to go back because it doesn’t hold my concentration the way turning the pages does. That said, like the World War Z audio book (my second successful go of an audio book this year or ever after Born a Crime), it is the type of book that lends itself to the format with all of its unsettling atmospheric spookiness. We’ll see how I get through. The only other reading I did this week was the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books. Not finished but the last couple of articles were interesting and there was an article on my books of which I am deeply appreciative. Finally, in bookish news, I didn’t read these books but I did revisit them, my contributions to the 7 days 7 covers facebook challenge.

Also feel free to check out another of my throwback reviews; this one for Vegas Bites.

What am I reading…today, well, Sunday, I did plan to clear my head by reading (it’s a stressful time and I thought it was just what the doctor ordered) but the day didn’t work out that way. So I suppose the only reading I’ve gotten done today was one or two articles on the women’s finals of the US Open – like this one (Of Course, Serena was Fined $17,000. Of Course) at The Root and this one (Billie Jean King: Serena is Still Treated Differently than Male Athletes) at the Washington Post:

(from the latter)
“Women are taught to be perfect. We aren’t perfect, of course, and so we shouldn’t be held to that standard. We have a voice. We have emotions. When we react adversely to a heated professional situation, far too often, we’re labeled hysterical. That must stop. Tennis is a game, but for (Serena) Williams and (Naomi) Osaka, it’s also their job, their life’s work. Yes, Williams was heated during the match because she felt Ramos wasn’t just penalizing her, but also attacking her character and professionalism. Her true leadership and character were revealed after the match, in the trophy presentation, when she shifted the spotlight to Osaka. She didn’t have to, but she did. I know her — that’s who she really is, and she knew it was the right thing to do.”

I actually agree with King (another tennis legend’s) take. Not here to debate it, just sharing what I was reading and won’t tolerate any Williams sisters hate on my blog (FYI). Disagreement is one thing but I’ve seen some really hateful language lobbed at her and willful obliviousness to the realities King articulates. Besides this is Naomi Osaka’s moment (so charmed by her), kudos to her for a match well played. If I’m annoyed at anyone its the media which insists on erasing the Haitian half of her heritage; get it right – this is the first US Open win for someone who by her own words was born in Japan, and raised in America by a Japanese mother and a Haitian father and a Haitian grandmother in a Haitian household.

Champions both.

both champions

“She played well and this is her first grand slam and I know you guys were here rooting and I was rooting too but let’s make this the best moment we can…let’s not boo anymore….congratulations, Naomi.” – Serena Williams during the 2018 US Open awards ceremony.

As for what I hope to read, anything sitting in the active reading pile by my bedside would do. Plus I’ll be reading up on and prepping the stories I’ve selected for my Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series which has been pushed back one week and begins September 15th 2018.

JWP Sept 2018

Shout out to Britain-based Jamaica-born writer Leone Ross on the publication of her story Meat Kind (still tickled to see such a Caribbeanism making it in to the literary lexicon) in The Mechanics’ Institute Review 2018: 15: Short Stories

Check out the music in the current edition of my CREATIVE SPACE series (singer Joss Stone with local Antiguan and Barbudan artist Asher Otto) and… happy reading.

 

 

JWP #CantStop #WontStop

Riding the momentum of the fourth Jhohadli Writing Project Creative Writing Workshop Series since the start of 2018, we will be moving in to Series 5 later this month. Yes, we will be overlapping with Carnival when life as we know it typically pauses in Antigua and Barbuda BUT a pause is not a full stop. That said, if you’re a Carnival lover like me, you know I won’t be doing anything to interrupt the Carnival. I’ve checked the schedule and we can do this. We will do this. Onward.Promo July August 2018

Read more JWP and other workshops here.
Read about other services here.
Read Performance reviews here.

Read CREATIVE SPACE – an opportunity for Antiguan and Barbudan businesses and businesses operating in Antigua and Barbuda to boost their brand while boosting local art and culture.

Read about my books.
Read reviews of my books.

Lots more to discover on this site; like I said, can’t stop, won’t stop.

 

 

Linking up

I’m linking this post up to Talk of the Town at Jera’s Jamboree.

ETA: Post name change as I’m also linking this one up with the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Sunday Post which gives me the opportunity to remind you to check out my last posted review – Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers
– [review excerpt: ‘ Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers is a damn good read…glad I stuck with it.’] 

Outliers

Got some story writing done today (finished one story, did some plotting on another) and made little little progress on other reads, namely Elaine Spires’ Singles Holiday and Tananarive Due’s Black Rose (been reading the former way too long but finish line in sight, and the latter I’m into it’s just time, man). Final update of the update, the post after this is a bookish one – a share re one of my childhood favourites Charlotte’s Web (check it out).

CharlotteWeb

(end ETA)

It’s been a weird week, the week of catchup  and trying to catch the rhythm of life, in as much as the freelancing life has any steady rhythm, after even a short trip usually is. Balls were dropped. But also writing was done (I do give thanks to the workshop I recently blogged for stimulating new writing and new focus); and overall the dance between being productive and being had its moments (even if I was somewhat very scattered).

Here’s a moment. A new review, this one from the Caffeinated Reviewer’s Nonna’s Corner which called my picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure (audio book version) “a charming, honest narrative about friendship and adventure.” Thanks, Kimberly! Read the full review at the Caffeinated Reviewer and this and other reviews of this particular book here on Jhohadli.

NFF2018_Kids zone_Danielle Boodoo Fortune_Lost_2

Here’s another moment. An interview I did with the Caribbean Literary Heritage website has gone live. Among other things I was asked about books. Here’s a sample: in response to the question about what writers I wish I knew more of (which I interpreted as which Caribbean writers I wish I knew more of), I answered: “No single writer in particular; just continuing to ‘discover’ the canon – classic and contemporary – in general. I’ve recently read or re-read, I’m not sure which, and reviewed Wide Sargasso Sea* and given that I’ve liked the other two Jean Rhys books I’ve read, and find her life interesting and mysterious, and her writing in some ways very modern and feminist for its time, I’m game to read more. I think Caryl Philips has a new biography of her, A View of the Empire at Sunset. I’d be interested in reading that.” Read the full interview.

rhys

New book-ish announcements (Talk of the Town being a book blogging meme and me doing next to no new reading this week – only a little peek in to one of my reads in progress, Faye Kellerman’s Straight into Darkness) on my other blog included announcements re Marlon James’ new book Black Leopard Red Wolf (which, okay, take my money!), awards for Edwidge Dandicat and Earl Lovelace (two writers I love; read everything!), and Zomo: the Rabbit (it’s not a review but the children’s book features  in one of my week’s experiences and this blog)… oh and a reading buddy teased the new (or new to me) Lestat/Anne Rice (so add that one to the TBR).

lestat

I have had to make peace as far as TBRs go with the fact that the journey not the destination is the thing – I will never finish every book (as a conversation just last night, reminding of all the Chimamanda Ngozie Adichies I haven’t yet read, reminded me) but I will savour every book I finish. Hope readers have the same relationship with my books.

And finally, congrats to the comic book duo Gambit and Rogue. couple

I haven’t read this one (as far as X-Men goes, I still have to get to the Storm collections I recently acquired first) but you can read my review of GamRog’s Ring of Fire mini-series here.

It’s weird, whenever I start one of these book meme posts, I’m sure I have nothing new to report (I just don’t read as fast as the rest of the community seems to – I mean my deepest read this week was a participant submission to the Jhohadli Writing Workshop Creative Writing Workshop Series, which I facilitate) but there you have it, looks like I had a word after all. Now hopefully more words will spill unto the page (not here, off line) as I keep writing.

The Sunday Post (March 25th 2018)

This is my Sunday Post, shout out to the Caffeinated Reviewer. The Sunday Post is weekly which provides the opportunity to recap and look ahead, re books, blogging, and life. ETA: Also making this my post for the meme It’s Monday, What are You Reading?

This Sunday I’ve mostly been reading through submissions to the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize’s annual writing challenge, which is part of its mandate to nurture and showcase the literary arts in Antigua and Barbuda. I’m not the main judge – she’s at work, but several members of the team, including me, spent some time over the past month or more benched by the flu and other illnesses – but I will be singling out some submissions for mention/encouragement, it being a winner-take-all year (normally, the prize breaks down in to categories along age lines and then a top three overall). We’re doing this in part because we just couldn’t cope with taking on the full scale challenge this year but didn’t want to shelve it and have it lose momentum. We’re behind our usual schedule but in addition to the late start re planning and illness, there’s work, life, and growing pains…there’s probably even some election hangover (it was election week in Antigua and Barbuda); but we’re working toward having the results out as soon as possible (Wadadli Pen not election, those results are already out). We’ve already started to receive follow-up queries.

As I write this, I’ve got to get ready to leave shortly for an event. More about that another time…maybe. ETA: Read about that event on my other blog.

And that’s my Sunday.

Last week on the blog

I did the 50 Questions you’ve never been asked Tag

The Boy from Willow Bend - COVER.p65

A Study Guide (Author Edition) for my book The Boy from Willow Bend (which is read by students in the Caribbean)

Speaking Intention (which I described in my reply to a comment as the scariest post I’ve done in my blogging life)

And though written a year ago, a poem that fits right with my mood, post-election, Antigua

I also added some throwback reviews from my My Space days (now back online) to my Blogger on Books series – most recently With Silent Tread by Frieda Cassin

Cassin

Around the Blogosphere

The posts by other bloggers that caught my interest (well, there were a few but especially) were:

The Merchant of Venice as a Once Upon a Time Book set in Venice at Definitely Lorna

Zeezee with Books post on The Demon Lover by Juliet Dark

Art Exhibition: Jacqueline Bishop’s “By the Rivers of Babylon” at Repeating Islands

And *shameless plug* Protest magazine published my article Where’s Storm’s Movie?

Other stuff

Be sure to check out my services, my books, my media page, and other things.

I’m still reading all the books I’ve been reading, most actively this week A Brief History of Seven Killings, All the Joy You can Stand, Outliers, and Nobody owns the Rainbow. Fingers crossed I finish one soon.

Lost! Now Available as an Audio Book

Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure has become my first book available in audio format. In fact, it’s available in more formats than any of my books to this point –

books 2018

The Boy from Willow Bend (published with UK independent with Caribbean roots, Hansib) is paperback only

Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings (published with Canadian press, Insomniac) is available in kindle and paperback

Oh Gad! (published with Strebor an imprint within Simon & Schuster in the US) is available in kindle, paperback, and mass market paperback

Musical Youth (published by independent Caribbean press CaribbeanReads publishing, also the publisher of Lost!) is available in paperback and kindle

With Grace (published by US based independent with Caribbean roots, Little Bell Caribbean) is available in hardcover (not counting the special paperback edition done for the 2017 USVI Governor’s Summer Read Challenge)

Lost! meanwhile is available in paperback, hardcover, kindle, and audio.

Go here to listen to a sample and hopefully buy, read, review, share.

Go here for information on all my books #onthehustle #TheWritingLife

 

A Book Back

books 2018My novel Oh Gad! will be six years published this year. If a book was a child, she’d be a first grader. Damn. I had high hopes when it came out too. It was my second act and my first full length novel after two earlier releases. My first to crack the US market. Hell, yeah I had high hopes. You would think I’ve since learned to manage my expectations, right? Nah, son, I still have high hopes. Against the odds. I’m hard-headed like that. #TheWritingLife ETA: Shortly after I wrote this, this happened (the author specifically referencing Oh Gad!) – 10 Female Caribbean Authors You Should Know And Add To Your American Lit Syllabus – life (and publishing) is full of suprrises.

Here’s an excerpt:

Before Nikki was a motley crew – curious expats mixed in with home-grown Rastafarians, academics mixed in with area farmers, grey heads and chinee bumps, and the odd politician. It was not only a larger, but a more diverse crowd than she had anticipated.

A part of her dared hope, as she glimpsed some of the Blackman’s Ridge project’s staunchest opponents in the crowd, that this could be the bridge between the warring factions. That was the goal, anyway. She’d tried to get Cam to come, but he’d scoffed at the very idea. “Make mosquito nyam me up all night,” he’d laughed. “For what? I don’t hold to all that ancestors crap.  Black people hang on to slavery too much, if you ask me. Is that keeping them down. I’m a practical man. I live in today. Anybody who know me, know that. For me to go up there would be a bold faced lie; and I never lie.”

The night’s programme consisted of a drum call and dub poetry. At midnight, the dawning of Emancipation Day, August Monday, when Antigua’s enslaved Africans got their first taste of freedom back in 1834, plastic cups were passed around, and libations sipped and poured out ritualistically in honour of these survivors and the many more non-survivors. Tanty had insisted on that and mixed up the “bebbridge” herself.

Everyone got a chance to enter the dungeon, in pairs and threes; some emerged quickly and unscathed, others were visibly moved by the experience of being stooped and confined in the small space.

As Sadie began her oral history of the dungeon, of slaves imprisoned for infractions, imagined or real, a reporter from one of the local stations, ignoring the mean look she shot him, stuck a recorder in her face.

“…many died here sick with their own fear as it come through their skin and full up the air ‘round them ‘til they were breathing their own stink,” Sadie said. “Not a lot of new air could get in ‘round the heavy door they had barring the entrance. Only tiny cracks leave back for insects to crawl through and torment them to the last. As for them that survive, there was madness or relief, relief that sucked at their fight and spirit…”

Nikki found herself seduced by Sadie’s words and her voice, as she spoke with previously unheard serenity and authority.

A noise cut through the night: A bone deep, belly full moan. It was Tanty, swaying, eyes tightly shut. Nikki reached an arm toward her, then hesitated.

Tanty’s moan cut through her. Not like a knife. Like waves, curling beautifully in and into her, relentlessly. Nikki sighed and even cried a little; the moment, the long moments, overwhelming her, filling her with both sadness and joy. She felt like she was being filled and emptied at the same time, like she’d eaten too much and yet not enough.

The scent of roasting cashews, which Tanty had insisted on, perfumed the night air.

Nikki had been concerned about fire spreading but then Audrey had, unexpectedly, donated a couple of coal pots which allowed them to contain the fire. And as the scent now wafted out, the moaning swelled, continuing to fill the gaps; a chorus for Sadie’s chronicle which ended with a roll call of Antiguan martyrs and heroes from King Court to V.C. Bird. Here and there, there were tears. As Sadie’s voice, hoarse now, faded, the drums once again took over, taking on the timbre of Tanty’s unabashed moaning.  The drum talk took them into fore day morning, as the Antiguans called those hours just before day break. It was then, in that in-between time, that Nikki came back to herself as if from a blissful dream. She caught snatches of it, of being inside the dungeon, of not being afraid, though shadows and light, ancestral spirits, danced across the jewel-like stones along the cave wall, Tanty’s voice reminding her that she was from their blood and they wouldn’t do her no harm. As even memory faded, Nikki opened her eyes to the sight of pale light now spreading across the sky, and discovered that she was leaning against Belle’s shoulder as her sister sat still as a rock.

*

Related Oh Gad! posts

Launch gallery
First pages
What the Antigua and Barbuda Review of Books had to say about Oh Gad!
Oh Gad! Presents a Compelling Slice of Island Life (NPR)
Reviews
Antigua and Barbuda historical spaces in Oh Gad!
(Another) Oh Gad! excerpt
All Joanne C. Hillhouse Books