grandma’s fern pressed
between the pages
Photo: Grandma’s Fern, c.b.w. 2020
Words: haiku, c.b.w 2020
grandma’s fern pressed
between the pages
Photo: Grandma’s Fern, c.b.w. 2020
Words: haiku, c.b.w 2020
The November Poem A Day Challenge (Poetic Asides via Writers Digest) is off to a strong start – so far I’ve managed to keep up despite some pretty tough prompts. This week’s Two-For-Tuesday was particularly challenging:
As a haiku poet I had one thing going for me in terms of writing in a particular form, but everything else about this prompt duo had my head spinning. Then, I spotted something on my bookshelf that made everything come into focus: a vintage volume of Shakespeare’s Love Poems and Sonnets that belonged to my grandmother.
Suddenly, it hit me: Combine the sonnet with haiku. I wrote a series of four contemporary 3-line haiku and one 2-line anti-haiku to create a grand total of 14 lines to reflect the traditional number of lines in a sonnet while also being about sonnets. In addition I pulled two lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet V and reconfigured them into the haiku format in stanza 3.
I love it when a prompt inspires me to do something I never would have considered!
– – –
unopened since she passed
left to me
she read Shakespeare’s
sonnets each night
her voice sounds …
‘never resting time
leads summer on
to hideous winter’
a pressed fern
marks her favorite
the oak leaf
– – –
I hope your November is full of writing, whether its NaNoWriMo, the PAD Challenge, or anything else!
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Some summers are all about travel, while others are all about relaxing. For me, this was the summer of reading. I plowed through my To Read pile and even found myself having to make bookstore runs to get more books to read.
From May 26 to August 1, I read a total of 15 books. Not only is this a new summer record, but it made a huge dent in my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. There’s only six more books to go until I reach my goal of 35.
Here’s a rundown of the first half of the stack, along with short reviews. Overall, I enjoyed some really great reads, but nothing could top Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series. If you haven’t read it, you simply must!
Lord of Shadows (Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare
One of the things that always amazes me about Cassandra Clare’s work is her ability to make the Shadow World mirror the real world. In Lord of Shadows, the arrival of The Cohort and it’s desire to return Shadowhunters to a position of power at the expense of Downworlders has so many parallels to our world today, I’m eternally grateful that so many young people will be reading it, (and will hopefully take it’s message to heart. Social commentary aside, the sequel to Lady Midnight does not disappoint as it delivers heavy doses of love in every way possible -forbidden, brotherly, heartbreaking, old and new – while also continuing the story of how one warlock’s fascination with necromancy leads to the search for The Black Volume. So begins the race to find it before all hell breaks loose (quite literally). The search for the Black Volume leads to the Unseelie and Seelie courts, Malcolm Fade’s enchanted cottage, London, and to Idris itself. In true Clare fashion, the last 30 pages of the book are emotionally traumatizing in every way imaginable. I’ve gotten into the habit of listening to John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” whenever I finish one of Clare’s books. It’s the only way to remind myself why I keep coming back for more.
Shadowhunters and Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Reader Ed. Cassandra Clare
An interesting read for any fan of the The Mortal Instruments series, but in particular for those who love to overanalyze every single element of the books and the characters. Simply put, this is a book for hardcore fans that want to hear what other YA authors have to say about the series. My favorite essays in the collection include Diana Peterfreund’s “Sharper Than A Seraph Blade (which offers unique insight into Jace’s humor as a weapon), Michelle Hodkin’s “Simon Lewis: Jewish Vampire, Hero” (an enlightening piece that parallels Judaism and Vampirism), Gwenda Bond’s “Asking For A Friend” (digs deeply into the importance of friendship), and Sara Ryan’s “The Importance of Being Malec” (anyone who doesn’t understand why Malec matters so much needs to read this and you’ll never look at Magnus’s wardrobe the same way again). I would not recommend this for casual fans as it goes into sharp detail – you need to know your stuff for these essays to have maximum impact.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
(Not in the stack as I already traded it in)
It’s a new world where the color of your blood determines your status. Silver bloods have special gifts and hold the highest ranks. Red bloods are nobodies relegated to servitude, conscription, and poverty. Mare Barrow is a Red who finds herself swept into Silver court life thanks to a chance meeting with one of the crown princes. When its discovered she possesses the ability to do something no Red blood should be able to do, palace intrigue and rebellions abound. The resounding theme of betrayal from every direction makes it hard to know which characters to trust and root for. However, the last quarter of the book is action packed and finally draws the line between good and evil – sort of. As a commentary on social classes, discrimination, and subjugation the story is a bit heavy handed and relies on blatant violence to make a point, yet it’s a point well made.
Spellcaster by Claudia Gray
Captive’s Sound is slowly dying thanks to old, dark magic. When Nadia arrives, she has no idea that she could be the witch that can actually save this small town. Nadia is not a fully trained witch, but she is powerful thanks to inadvertently finding her Steadfast, (an individual that amplifies her power when in close proximity). This comes in handy when she faces off with the witch who is responsible for the dark magic strangling the life out of Captive’s Sound. As always, Claudia Gray weaves a tale filled with magic, intrigue, and the power of friendship.
Steadfast (Spellcaster #2) by Claudia Gray
Nadia only thought she defeated a powerful witch from bringing death and destruction upon Captive’s Sound, but evil rarely goes down so easily. It turns out there is something far more sinister on the horizon and it’s trying to break free from the depths of hell. Nadia finds herself in the middle of a tug of war between sticking with white magic or making the ultimate sacrifice to dark magic in order to save those she loves. The bonds of friendship and love reach their breaking point in a tale that only Claudia Gray can spin.
Sorceress (Spellcaster #3) by Claudia Gray
The One Beneath is one step closer to entering our realm thanks to generations of spells from an evil sorceress. Saving Captive’s Sound (and the world) falls on the shoulders of Nadia and her friends, Verlaine, Mateo, and the lovelorn demon servant, Asa. We have nothing to worry about, right? Book 3 of the Spellcaster series is a fantastic conclusion to what has been an enjoyable series overall. In Gray’s world witchcraft is fueled by emotions and memories, which makes Nadia’s battle with The One Beneath all the more meaningful. In addition, Gray explores the concept of hate, stereotyping, and discrimination with a gentle, yet firm hand as a reminder that we all deserve to be seen for who we are on the inside.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Rachel Chu has no idea what she’s in for when she travels to Asia with her boyfriend. To her, Nick is a fellow professor and just an ordinary guy. It turns out he’s the furthest thing from ordinary as he is the chosen heir of one of the wealthiest and prestigious families in Singapore. What should have been a fun summer trip through Nick’s hometown turns into an outrageous introduction into the catty world of Singapore’s elitist culture. At the center of it all is Nick’s often pretentious and judgmental family.
Kwan’s satire slices right into an utterly preposterous world that is far removed from the reality where most of us reside, which makes it all the more irresistible and hilarious. In many ways it’s reminiscent of Wuthering Heights; a world filled with detestable characters that bring disaster upon themselves and you just can’t look away. Kwan, however, turns the detestable into a hysterical spectacle that perfectly blends dry British humor with spot on commentary of Chinese culture. This combination is particularly strong in Kwan’s sometimes snarky, but brilliant footnotes. A great beach read, while also inviting deeper contemplation of social norms and class society.
China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians #2) by Kevin Kwan
The crazy is back with China Rich Girlfriend, only this time the spotlight is more on the Mainland than Singapore. Rachel and her husband Nick are headed back to Asia to meet her newly discovered family, which ushers them into the crazy rich world of Shanghai. Singapore may have been all about old money and family lineage, but Shanghai is all about the glitz of new money. Spur of the moment shopping trips in Paris, super fast sports cars, and ostentatious interior decor fill the days and nights of the Shanghai’s elites. Rachel once again charms everyone, but she refuses to be fully swept up in the unreality that surrounds her, (which is why she is so likable and our guide through this largely unrelatable world).
Scandal hits from all angles as marriages fall apart, reputations disintegrate, and family squabbles turn wildly public. It’s all about image or lack thereof and Kwan’s biting satire once again cuts right into all the ridiculous behavior. At the same time, Kwan explores the family dynamic and Chinese culture with a tender hand and ruthless (and hysterical) commentary. This volume moves a bit slower than Crazy Rich Asians, but it’s still a highly enjoyable read.
Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan
Alamak, this can’t really be the end! The third book in Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series gives a fitting conclusion to what has been a highly enjoyable jaunt into Asia’s elitist culture. Characters who deserved it got their happily ever afters (for now) and those who needed a slap in the face got what they had coming. The funeral of the century sends everyone into wild speculation on how much money is up for grabs and who will inherit what. Somewhere beneath all the flash is a story of family and forgiveness. Kwan’s usual hilarious satirical edge is still in play and he aims it squarely at the concept of “saving face,” (as long as it looks good, that’s all that matters). When all the money and social standing is stripped away, these otherwise unrelatable characters suddenly become very human. Everything we’ve been assuming since the beginning is called into question as not everyone and everything is as it seems. It makes for a surprising, hilarious, and heartwarming final chapter.
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Reviews for the second half will go up next week. 🙂
Did you read anything good this summer?
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I’ve been a fangirl for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid it was The Black Stallion books, Star Trek, Star Wars, Spider-man, country music and Barbie, (weirdly most of these things are still in play!). In my 20s and 30s it was and continues to be The Office, Twilight, Marvel Comics (Daredevil in particular), YA urban fantasy books (various series), Arrow, and the Big Bang Theory. At the moment, I’m fangirling pretty hard for Shadowhunters (Malec!) and The Mortal Instruments book series its based on from author Cassandra Clare.
I’ve recently given some thought on what fangirling has meant in my life and what it has taught me. Some may view fandom as irrational behavior based in fantasy (and in some ways it is), but for many like myself I can see how some of the ridiculous things fangirls do actually carries over into reality.
Fangirls are made of some pretty tough stuff. I’ve survived some of the most heartbreaking and heart-pounding situations ever through my favorite books and movies. For example:
That means we can survive just about anything real life can throw at us. For instance, there’s nothing my students can throw at me that I can’t handle. Any time they challenge me I smirk while thinking, “Oh, please. I survived Picard getting kidnapped and turned into a Borg.”
Fangirls are incredibly empathetic. Part of the reason we get so emotionally involved and obsessed is because of our high capacity to internalize what others are feeling.
Empathy, IMHO, is one of the most important traits anyone can have. It gives us the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, no matter how different they are from us. Fangirls are extraordinary practitioners of empathy!
Fangirls always have something to look forward to. This is especially true if you’re a fangirl with multiple fandoms. Let’s face it – day to day life can get monotonous. Even boring! Fangirls don’t get bored because we’re always waiting for:
Fangirling makes you tech savvy. This is very true if you’re fangirling via social media. Over the years, a lot of my computer skills have come from fangirling.
There’s so much more, so I may have to do another volume of my sociological analysis of being a fangirl. It’s not just for fifteen-year-olds or so-called nerds stuck in a fantasy world. It’s for anyone who loves something with everything they have and it truly does translate to real life.
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There’s nothing more a bibliophile loves more than a HUGE used book sale. Every year, I get to bask in the largest book sale in the state and it never gets old.
I arrived with empty bags and a lot of hope that I’d find something good. However, I had to somewhat behave this year given the fact that I just decluttered my bookshelves. I didn’t want to just fill them right back up again and undo all of my decluttering progress!
My first stop was the craft section. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come home with some amazing finds in knitting patterns – especially vintage. This year was no different. I found a great array of knitting magazines, but also a sweater pattern book and needlecraft how-to guide from 1945. The patterns in these books are pure gold as they are simple and timeless.
The selection of knitting books was a little more sparse this year, but I still found a few good ones. My favorite is, Knit Your Own Dog. I’ve seen this book before and always wanted it.
While I was combing through the rest of the craft section, my mom was in the collectibles section. She spotted this great visual reference guide for collectible Barbie and held onto it for me. It is beyond amazing!
I hit the fiction section next. This is where I really had to control my inner urge to snap up any book that looks remotely interesting. That’s tough to do when most are only $3 or less! I decided to only pick up books that are on my to-read list or can pass the first page test (i.e. I can’t fight the urge to turn the page and keep reading). I ended up with small, yet intriguing group of books.
Last, but not least, I hit the poetry section. My goal is always the same: haiku anthologies. They are tough to find! At the same time, I was looking to find anything inspiring or interesting in short verse poetry. Two of the books I found are pictured above with my fiction finds. Art and Wonder pairs poetry with famous works of art – I can’t wait to read it!
In the haiku realm, I managed to find two anthologies and a couple of interesting takes on modern Japanese poetry. Flipping through them, I can see they are inspired by haiku, but other forms as well. I’m looking forward to exploring them.
The grand total for my treasures? $24.25. All in all, it was a great day at the book sale!
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