A costumer’s thoughts upon the recent appropriation of Safety Pins:

safety_pinSafety pins are not meant to be passive—a furtive steel prick of conscience—hidden on a lapel like a secret handshake. They are tools of healing, kinetic kindness given to strangers, a means to spring into action.

They are to be freely offered in the name of Girl-Code:
To secure a hijab slipping from grace, and pull up restaurant restroom zippers on skinny jeans stressed to self-destruction, to raise the brim higher on an Easter Sunday crown, and bridge that third button gap in every blouse designed by man.

A pin in stasis rusts closed.

Reattach a ruffle of a neighbor’s quinceañera gown, tend to a yarmulke where the satin has slid from the seam, extend the strap on the stiletto of a size fourteen queen.

Wear them with responsibility, with a woman’s vigilance, a first-aid-kit used long before the shine is noticed on a collar. Safety pins are not a dormant decoration to define your clandestine tolerance—they are a conscious means to a mend.

Elie Wiesel and a child’s fear

elieWhen I was little my father took me everywhere with him. I was a reasonably well behaved kid, and could be tucked in a corner with a book while he conducted a rehearsal or gave a voice lesson. Once, as we went to a meeting with someone about a concert his orchestra was playing, he gave me the usual spiel: please and thank you, sit still, don’t say fuck or shit, and if I was offered sweets, accept if I wanted it or not and say I’d save it for after dinner.
Fundraising is tricky. It is important to say yes, to welcome all gifts, no matter how small.

The man was thin and taller than my dad, with bushy gray hair and pale skin and an accent like a vampire movie. I thought he looked like a ghost, but the room was full of books, wall to wall to ceiling, and ghosts didn’t read.

When their meeting was over, the man offered me a doll.
I panicked–dolls had always scared me, with their dead eyes and lax limbs–and I misbehaved. “Daddy, I don’t want it!”
My father was embarrassed, and told him I had always been a little afraid of dolls, and the man smiled and said, “That is a good fear for a child to have.”

I never saw him again, or even thought about him, until high school and my English teacher passed out NIGHT, and there was his photo on the back cover, looking exactly the same. It was only after I read the book that I understood how lucky I was, that my kid fears were only of ghosts and dolls.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” -Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)



Uncommonly Good

51wKigKPT8L._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_From Amazon:

Finishing school taught Amelia Wheeler how to put on a well-mannered performance—when she’s not bored and looking for trouble. Lady Grantham’s is behind her and now it’s time for Amelia to keep her promise to her dying mother: marry a title and leave her wild days behind.

That promise would be much easier to keep if Nate Smythe hadn’t just reappeared in a London ballroom. The son of an impoverished sailor, Nate—Natty, as he used to be called—has grown up to become handsome, rich and polished. He claims to be looking for a proper bride who can advance his business interests, but that doesn’t stop him from seeking out Amelia every chance he gets. Challenging her. Kissing her.

Suddenly, struggling against her simmering passion is the least of Amelia’s problems—one of her titled suitors is hiding a desperate secret that could stop Amelia from pleasing her parents or finding happiness with Nate. As a weeklong house party threatens to derail her hard-won future, Amelia must decide: fight against disaster or act like the lady she’s promised to become?

I love Amanda Weaver’s writing, but especially her historical romances. This follow up to A DUCHESS IN NAME is even better than the first.  Amelia is a blast to read, and reminds me of some Amanda Quick’s heroines: intelligent, rebellious and fun. And Nate is handsome and dashing and earnest, in all the ways he should be. The marvelous Genevieve Grantham returns, as well as shrewish Kitty Ponsoy.

What sets this book above many others in the Regency genre is the acknowledgement of how difficult and unfair women had it during the time period, when men decided the fate of their daughters and wives and appearances were everything–not everything is ribbons and bows–but how Amelia foils the Society “system” with its own rules is so fun to read.
Weaver’s books are also hotter than most; the bedroom (or carriage) door is left wide open, letting us in to some sexy scenes and hilarious and intimate conversations.

I can’t wait for the third, and I hope the series goes on for many more.


Dagged Roses

indexFrom Amazon:
“I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.”
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever.

The follow up to the Wrath and the Dawn was a more satisfying read for me, though not as riveting. While I found the story and the characters much more intriguing with less of the blatant Twilight structure, I missed the marvelous tension between Shazi and Khalid.
A lovely new addition to the story was the character of Artan, who might be a djinn, or perhaps an ifreet. He’s cantankerous and challenges Shazi at every opportunity. Their interaction brings back what Ahdieh writes best-and what I missed while Shazi and Khalid were separated-the banter and antagonism that leaves you grinning and rooting for both sides.
Irsa stole the story. Her characterization and conflict was fresh and realistic and heartfelt-the little sister’s struggle to understand the drama swirling around her. I hope we get a book with her own story, set in this marvelous world.

Call Her by Her Name

51aU0vgefaLFrom Amazon:

In Call Her by Her Name, the poet and performance artist Bianca Lynne Spriggs creates a twenty-first-century feminist manifesto suffused with metaphoric depth. This collection is a call-and-response of women—divine and domestic, legend and literal—who shape-shift and traverse generations. Through these narratives and cinematic poems, a chorus emerges of stories and lives rarely told.
Call Her by Her Name seeks to give voice to the voiceless, including lynched black women, the biblical “Potiphar’s wife,” and women who tread the rims of phenomenal worlds—the goddess, the bird-woman, the oracle. While these poems reflect an array of women and women’s experiences, each piece could be considered a hue of the same woman, whether home-wrecker, Madonna, or midwife. The woman who sees dragons was perhaps once the roller-skating girl-child. The aging geisha may also be the roots woman next door. The woman who did not speak for ten years could have ended up sinking to the ocean floor. Spriggs gives each one life and limb, breath and voice, in a collection that adds up unequivocally to a poetic celebration of women.

Bianca Lynne Spriggs is an amazing creative voice in the Bluegrass community-an Affrilachian poet, an incredible visual artist and a stellar actress. Every few years we meet in the throws of theater and have marvelous talks about writing, race, self-image and magic.
She’s a vortex of expression and art. With a few sentences she can make me feel like a naive white girl who doesn’t listen enough, and the next moment she’ll kindle me to roar with glamour and color and words and soul.

I was so excited to see she’d had another book of poems out. It came in the mail yesterday, too impersonally.
I gobbled this poetry collection like a teenager running through her first art museum. I have to remind myself not to read so fast.
I’m lucky, I’ve heard Bianca’s voice in person. I can catch her smile in some words, heavy thunder in others, a mystic’s question, a-not-so-subtle pointed glance.
(All those sentences started with I.)
(The words pull me inside myself, turn me inside out.)

They’re all women, these poems, and they shine, and have a flavor. Sometimes they’re rough. Sometimes they’re sharp. Some are sex and guts and glory and longing. They all tell stories. The deepest and most haunting are those of The Lynched Woman.
My favorites are the witchy ones, like “Alchemist,” though the pieces all have a touch of that, the woman-magic-power.
The book sits on top of the stack by my bed; a folded page corner on “Recess: A Bop,” because Mami Wati makes me grin, and I will go back and read her for comfort when I need it.

Reader seeks Audibles

41MPL2YEqzL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_In my ever-quest to get fit–no body self shaming here, I’m big-big boned Scandi gal with a Viking ass, but I’ve got bad knees and the more weight I lose the better they feel–I’ve started walking again.
I subscribed to Audible, so that I could conquer my Goodreads challenge of a book a week, and hopefully get excited about trudging through my neighborhood while avoiding all the goose poo on the sidewalk.

My first narrated book might have been the wrong choice. NEANDERTHAL SEEKS HUMAN was cute, and there were things I loved, like the knitting group that drinks wine more than they cast on. Janey and Quinn are frustrating and oblivious to their obvious affections, which is a theme I enjoy, but the narration really grated on me.
I think this book was written to be a tongue-in-cheek contemporary romance, with a sarcastic stream of consciousness PoV. I might have enjoyed reading it, but the inner snarkiness was lost in the sweet-voiced vocal translation, especially with no variance with the repetition. (The blinking. So much blinking. And I began to count how many times the phrase SirMcHotPants was used during my lap around the block.) I also wish the narrator had not tried so hard with the accents–after living in both Appalachia and New England–I was wincing at the Boston and the Tennessee affectations.

I’ll recommend this book (the e-book or the hardcopy) to my college-aged daughter and her friends.

Maybe I just need to get used to narrated stories. Anybody got any suggestions for Audible books?