The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


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Black History Month 2018: Recommended Reading and Related Works

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For Black History Month, I wanted to share some of my favorite novels, poems and related works that I have read. I really enjoyed reading these and learned so much history from. The words written within are so powerful, moving, raw, and captivating.


“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
— Maya AngelouThe Complete Collected Poems

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

Kindred by Octavia Butler

The Marrow of Tradition by Charles Chesnutt

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave by Frederick Douglass

“We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Gates

Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted by Frances E. W. Harper

I Have A Dream (speech) by Martin Luther King Jr.

“On Being Brought from Africa to America” by Phillis Wheatley


“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” 
 — Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

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Book Review: Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Image via Barnes & Noble

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Slammed, book 1
Rating: 1/5
Recommend to Others?: No

 

Summary (via Barnes & Noble):
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Hopeless and Losing Hope.

Falling in love can feel like poetry. Or it can feel like a slam to the heart.

Colleen Hoover’s romantic, emotion-packed debut novel unforgettably captures all the magic and confusion of first love, as two young people forge an unlikely bond before discovering that fate has other plans for them.

Following the unexpected death of her father, eighteen-year-old Layken becomes the rock for both her mother and younger brother. She appears resilient and tenacious, but inside, she’s losing hope. Then she meets her new neighbor Will, a handsome twenty-one-year-old whose mere presence leaves her flustered and whose passion for poetry slams thrills her.

Not long after a heart-stopping first date during which each recognizes something profound and familiar in the other, they are slammed to the core when a shocking discovery brings their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together and the forces that tear them apart. Only through the poetry they share are they able to speak the truth that is in their hearts and imagine a future where love is cause for celebration, not regret.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
I didn’t like this book as much as I thought I would. The fact that the story incorporated slam poetry was appealing even though I’m not the biggest poetry fan. But this was a real letdown.

The first few chapters were fine. I didn’t mind the insta-love so much because Layken (aka Lake) and Will’s first exchanges were cute and funny. Then came revelation #1 at the end of chapter 3 and I began to feel an inkling of trepidation. I can’t really talk about the discovery without spoiling things, except that it creates several other conflicts throughout the rest of story. This could either continue on into a good or bad way. Unfortunately, the latter prevailed.

Lake. Her character (for me) basically ruined the rest of the story. Too much self-victimization and whining. Too much lack of consideration for Will’s feelings and where he’s coming from. There’s nowhere else to go but inside her head, nothing but her POV. Lake is an 18 year-old high school student who comes across as much younger at times, even immature. My biggest pet peeve was a moment when Lake and her friend were incredibly disrespectful to Will during about a very serious matter. It was insensitive. And it was moments like that that made me want to stop reading the book.

Now Will’s no saint either and there was one particular moment towards the end when he really wasn’t being fair to Lake and her feelings. But he does comes across as more considerate and mature. Both Lake and Will have had to deal with horrible life events I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but only one of the two doesn’t use their past as a crutch or an excuse for irrational thinking and behavior. However, Will’s character was kind of fat. There’s so growth in his character but not much. I wonder if have alternating chapters in his POV would have helped. Also because it doesn’t seem pertinent to the overall story to have it told in just Lake’s POV. But for a character who’s so flat he has admirable strength to carry on for his little brother’s, Caulder, sake.

Lake deep down is a good person. Her character just clouded my enjoyment of the story.

This book does have a few good qualities besides Will’s character. Will’s little brother and Lake’s little brother, Kel, are just too cute for words. Every scene they were in was precious and funny. Lake’s best friend, Eddie, and her boyfriend, Gavin, were awesome. There were pretty good poetry performed. And the writing as a whole is good.

I don’t think I’m going to read the rest of this series. Am I curious about what happens next? Sure. But I don’t think I’ll enjoy it unless Lake’s character stays the same. This book has potential; I wish it had been a better read.


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Suggested Texts for Fiction & Poetry Writers

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In any profession, no matter what level you’re at, it’s always good to have a few texts related to your job that you can refer back to if need be. Sure a quick Google search or asking someone else in your field can provide you the answers you’re looking for, but to have a comprehensive guide on hand is also helpful (just in case).

Below are books that I like particularly and have on my shelf. These books provide clear information on various aspects of writing, along with plenty of examples to support each author’s claims.

 

First off, find a thesaurus/dictionary that you enjoy. Writers we may be but even we aren’t infallible to being at a loss for words.

 

Creative Writing: Four Genres in Brief by David Starkey
© 2009 by Bedford/St. Martin’s

Image via Goodreads

Provides guidance on writing poetry, short-short stories, short creative nonfiction, and ten-minute plays. Includes an anthology of selected works for each genre.


Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway (with Susan Weinberg)
6th Edition © 2003 by Longman

Image via Barnes & Noble

Details narrative fiction from conception of ideas to how to begin to revisions. Includes selected works in each chapter as examples.


Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich
2nd Edition © 2008 by Writer’s Digest Books

Image via Barnes & Noble

Geared towards where to find ideas for fiction, all parts of writing fiction (setting, pov, dialogue, etc.), and suggested practices for revision. Back of text includes selected short stories.


These are just suggestions. If you have any suggestions for texts or better ones, leave them in the comment section below. I’m always looking for more reference material to add to my shelf.

AS ALWAYS, HAPPY WRITING!


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A Poem Without the Letter “A” – A Revision of A Previously Written Poem by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner

Have you ever tried to write something without using a specific letter? It’s kinda hard but quite a fun challenge. So I took a poem I previously wrote/posted to this blog and tried to rewrite without any words that contain the letter “A”.

Original Poem

Poem without the letter “A”

Someday
there’ll be a beautiful castle
not chipped or broken but built strongly to shelter, to protect us
with its soaring indestructible walls that keep at bay
the monsters with yellow teeth and sharp metal objects.

Someday
there’ll be a warm fireplace to keep the blue tinge off our toes
as we wrap ourselves in blankets for comfort for once.
Spacious rooms–one for everyone!–with soft mattresses and pillows,
and see-through water filling tubs to get squeaky-clean in.

Someday
there’ll be tassels and ribbons, shoes that match,
and let’s not forget pretty dresses that fit.
They’ll drag on the floor–but that’s okay–
the floor is clean so they won’t get dirty.

Someday
there’ll be long tables overloaded with food and water–
I fear they’ll topple over before anything reaches our tummies!
We’ll eat like this all the time
instead of once in a while.

And on that someday
The king and queen will be happy and so will their subjects.
No one is sad or crying in this castle
because we’ll be inside the castle, warm and safe,
wearing lovely clothes and eating delicious food.

One day, if not today or the next day, but someday if I make it there.

In the future
there’ll be one pretty house
not chipped or broken but built strongly to shelter, to protect us
with its towering indestructible fence of stones to keep out
the monsters with yellow teeth, holding pointed swords.

In the future
there’ll be one stone hearth to keep the blue tinge off our toes;
we’ll cover ourselves in sheets for comfort for once.
Big rooms-one for everyone!-with soft beds, pillows,
plus tubs to get scrub spotless in.

In the future
there’ll be bows, ribbons, a couple of shoes;
let’s not forget pretty fitted dresses.
They’ll touch the floor-but no problem-
the floor is clean so they won’t get dirty.

In the future
there’ll be long counters with lots of food, drink-
I worry they’ll topple over before getting into our tummies!
We’ll dine like this forever
not once every other time.

Furthermore, in the future
The king with his queen including their subjects will feel much joy.
No one is crying in this house
since we’ll be protected inside,
donned in lovely clothes, consuming delicious food.

In the future, if not now or tomorrow, but in the future if I’m there.

It wasn’t too bad to make changes to this poem without using “A” but I think it worked out alright. Since I couldn’t use “someday” I have no clue what this poem would be called now. The subject and feelings of the poem are still there but the effect of “someday” seems lessened. Overall, this was a fun activity to do.

Have you ever done any writing games/exercised with missing words/letters?


As always, happy writing!


Original Post of “Someday” by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner


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Poem: “Someday” by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner

“Someday” by Christina @ The Bookshelf Corner

Author’s Note: A blast-from-the-past poem I wrote. I hope you enjoy.

Royalty Free Image via pixabay.com

Someday

there’ll be a beautiful castle

not chipped or broken but built strongly to shelter, to protect us

with its soaring indestructible walls that keep at bay

the monsters with yellow teeth and sharp metal objects.

 

Someday

there’ll be a warm fireplace to keep the blue tinge off our toes

as we wrap ourselves in blankets for comfort for once.

Spacious rooms–one for everyone!–with soft mattresses and pillows,

and see-through water filling tubs to get squeaky-clean in.

 

Someday

there’ll be tassels and ribbons, shoes that match,

and let’s not forget pretty dresses that fit.

They’ll drag on the floor–but that’s okay–

the floor is clean so they won’t get dirty.

 

Someday

there’ll be long tables overloaded with food and water–

I fear they’ll topple over before anything reaches our tummies!

We’ll eat like this all the time

instead of once in a while.

 

And on that someday

The king and queen will be happy and so will their subjects.

No one is sad or crying in this castle

because we’ll be inside the castle, warm and safe,

wearing lovely clothes and eating delicious food.

 

One day, if not today or the next day, but someday if I make it there.