Bookish/Artsy Stuff

This is a link-up with book blogs Stacking the Shelves and The Caffeinated Reviewer, so will focus on what bookish/artsy stuff I’ve been up to (I know, I know, it’s all book-ish and artsy around here, but still). For general site updates (interesting stuff there too), check out this link.


Today I’ve been reading Valour and Vanity by American author Mary Robinette Kowal, fourth in her British regency era historical fantasy fiction glamourist series. For my reviews of previous books in the series – go visit Shades of Milk and Honey, Glamour in Glass, and Without a Summer. I’m enjoying the adventures of Lady Jane and Lord Vincent, whose skill for weaving images out of the ether and getting in to all kinds of life threatening trouble remains undimmed. They’re currently in Venice which is taking me back to my visit to this city of, as Jane puts it, “long graceful canals, arching bridges, and sun-dappled buildings”.

PossessingEn route to and from the Miami Book Fair (somewhere between three to four hours from Antigua), I started reading Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy (and re-watched the last Avengers film and watched A Quiet Place, since we were delayed on the runway due to engine trouble and then traffic) and it right away began pulling me in (love Alice and can’t recommend enough previous reads The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar, In Search of our Mother’s Gardens, Living by the Word, Her Blue Body Everything We Know). I did re-shelve a book in progress, something I rarely do, but re-shelving at least means I’m open to revisiting it; and moved Evolution by Belizean writer Felene Cayetano, whose poetry and fiction I have enjoyed, what I’ve read of it, off the shelf to the active reading pile – haven’t started reading it though. Since we’re on the subject of books, I do hope you’ll consider adding one of mine to your shopping list.


the-walking-dead-season-9-rick-grimes-final-episodes-comicbookco-1132739-1280x0.jpgI haven’t watched any new films or much television (it’s been a catch-upcatch-upcatch-up sort of week) but I am watching The Walking Dead again (yes, after my whole has it become soulless torture porn post of a couple years ago). I mean, I never stopped 100 percent but the last couple of seasons (in fact the entire Negan arc), it wasn’t appointment TV for me as it had been in the early seasons. With Andrew Lincoln (whom I’ve loved since Love, Actually) set to leave, I tuned in (maybe to say goodbye, I don’t know) and kinda kept tuning in. In discussing with another Dead head, I said, The Walking Dead without Rick is not the same but it’s not trash…his final episode is rough for fans of the Sheriff (as I am) but, as happens, when we lose someone or there is a major disruption in our lives (or favourite TV show), because things are shifting trying to adjust to the change, new and sometimes interesting things happen even as we grieve…plus the time jump helped.

jane fonda

The only other thing I viewed, apart from clips from my favourite satyrists who make the Drumpfocalypse bearable, was Jane Fonda in Five Acts – which pretty much covered the same ground as her book, My Life So Far, which I read and reviewed some time ago. Still interesting; she’s led an interesting life. One of my takeaways, the way women (even seemingly strong, feminist women like Jane) are conditioned to fit and shape themselves to the men in their lives (an element of male privilege), often at cost of their own identity, but if you live long enough and stay open to self-reflection, you can find yourself…hopefully before it’s too late.


Books, some of Mine, some of Others’; An Update

First thing Saturday morning, a rep from the Wadadli Pen team was on local radio chatting up our new #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda initiative to select a readers choice Antiguan and Barbudan book of the year (well, technically, the last two years). As I’ve blogged, this initiative is meant to boost new and new-ish Antiguan and Barbudan lit, and fill the gap brought about by the absence of the Wadadli Pen Challenge, which has been a staple of the project since it launched in 2004. Life is heavy sometimes and I needed to put something down; Wadadli Pen was something.  But because it’s something that brings me an immense sense of purpose, I couldn’t let it go altogether. This project is less time intensive but will hopefully pay off for Antigua and Barbuda lit arts. And hopefully when I feel less like I’m flaying and taking in water (yes, in spite of all the recent good news because, happy and thankful as I am about those developments, none of that is the full story; it never is), I can put the full weight of Wadadli Pen on my back again. But enough about me (just keeping it real for a minute). Check out the books (you don’t have to be Antiguan and Barbudan), read the books (which range from children’s books to romance to deep thoughts), read even one of the books (step outside your usual zone), if you like it, go to the Wadadli Pen #readAntiguaBarbuda #voteAntiguaBarbuda post linked in the article on this blog, and say why. By so doing, you’ll be registering your vote and giving it a boost which is always a gift to a writer.

Poetry readAntiguaBBarbuda 2018
It brings me great pain that I’m such a snail reader these days but periodically I do finish a book. This week’s finish was book three in Mary Robinette Kowal’s historical fantasy Glamourist series which, as I said in the beginning of my review, I have really come to fall in love with. Excerpt from the book and review:

“She looked at the barely contained chaos and turned to Vincent. He was staring at her with the strangest expression on his face. He blushed and looked away, wetting his lips. Still looking across the yard, he leaned down to whisper, ‘I was thinking about what my father would say if he knew that I found you attractive in trousers.’

Her coat seemed too warm, suddenly. She whispered back, ‘I do not care what he would say, if you like them.’

The corner of his eye wrinkled into his small private smile.”

Read the full review of Without a Summer. Now on to book four, Valour and Vanity.

Remember to scroll to the bottom of the Blogger on Books page for recent reviews including most-most recent Lisa Allen-Agostini’s Home Home.

More book talk. Of the I wish I could variety.  Like I wish I could catch up on sleep and then disappear to my own private island and read to my heart’s content. These are some of the books I’d pack.

Some of the good news I mentioned above: I am happy to announce the release of ¡perdida! Una Aventura En El Mar Caribe, a Spanish language edition of my most recent book, the children’s picture book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure which came out last November. I will be presenting both editions November 17th 4 p.m. at the Miami Book Fair. In advance of that, I wanted to share the first page as I do for all my books (click on the book titles). Please let me know if you, or anyone you know, would like to review the Spanish language edition as I try  get the word out.

Here’s the Caribbean Reads Publishing newsletter with these updates and news of Musical Youth being added to the Antigua and Barbuda schools curriculum.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the latest in the CREATIVE SPACE series – one on the service of British West Indians in WW1, one on our Independence art exhibition, and an update about Eileen Hall – who is Eileen Hall? Well, read to find out.

Linking this up to The Sunday Post by Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s been a while. Also linking to It’s Monday, What are You reading?

Haven’t checked out any of my books yet? Children’s picture books to teen/young adult fics to adult novels; read more. If you’ve read my books, please consider posting a review to Amazon or Goodreads if you haven’t already done so. It makes a big difference. Thanks! For information on my writing and editing services, here’s where you go. – blogger, author, mango lover, Joanne C. Hillhouse.

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.

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.’] 


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).


(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.


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).


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


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.