Yaa Gyasi: Transcendent Kingdom

Gifty (and what an appropriate name for this gentle soul) appears in different stages of her life: as a young child with memories of her wonderful Ghanaian family living in Alabama; as an eleven-year-old living with her depressed and anhedonia mother and her older brother whom she adores. Then, if having her father return to Ghana wasn’t enough another type of tragedy strikes and we see Gifty doing research in a university lab in Southern California on the addictive behavior of rats while she is confronted with her brother fighting his own addiction as she documents what it is like to live with an addict and a depressed mother.

There is no mystery regarding the plot. One has simply to read the jacket cover to know the entire plot. Rather, this is a character driven novel and a mixture of fiction versus non-fiction – a cross between storytelling and neurological research on addiction. 

Gifty offers the readers the rawness of her truth that we find sometimes difficult to accept about ourselves.

For example, her thoughts about her brother’s addiction to heroin:


“Forget for a moment what he looked like on paper, and instead see him as he was in all of his glory, in all of his beauty. It’s true that for years before he died, I would look at his face and think, What a pity, what a waste. But the waste was my own, the waste was what I missed out on whenever I looked at him and saw just his addiction.”

The book is full of such insights be they about race, immigration, mother/daughter relationship, religion versus science, and grief.

It also contains some beautifully written sentences:

I, too, have spent years creating my little moat of good deeds in an attempt to protect the castle of myself.

A beautifully literary novel that made me understand a bit more what it is like to be Black in America and a sneak look into Ghanaian culture. A book that, I think, is bound to transcend you.

Pantone’s Color of the Year 2022

I’m always excited to learn about the color of the year. Last year’s color contained two colors: yellow and grey with (A) message of happiness supported by fortitude, the combination of PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating is aspirational and gives us hope. We need to feel that everything is going to get brighter – this is essential to the human spirit.

This year’s color is meant to “open us up to new visions as we rewrite our lives.”

To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s color experts at the Pantone Color Institute™ comb the world looking for new color influences. These can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention. For 23 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product packaging and graphic design.

For more on Pantone’s color of the year: https://www.pantone.com/color-of-the-year-2022

Happy 2022

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Here’s a wonderful New Years’ message that I read from https://cherrylsblog.com/ I couldn’t have said it better than her.

“Wishing all my lovely readers a very healthy year ahead, filled with everything you need to achieve any goals you’ve set, and of course – may we all be showered with lots of fabulous blogging inspiration to keep the fingers typing and the blog posts flowing.” 

Why I Like Suspense Novels

I recently read Joan Hall Hovey’s novel Chill Waters and it made me think of what it is about suspense novels that I like.

Why do I enjoy this stressful, sitting on the edge of my seat, my heart pumping with fear activity?  

Ok. Chill Waters, to be fair, is not all suspense. There’s the intriguing plot, and interesting smart female protagonist. There’s romance as well. But there’s a murderer to discover which I find stimulating – like intellectual exercise for my brain. I want to figure out the ending of the novel before I read it. There’s a great satisfaction when that happens.

Also, suspense novels, in particular, deal with a sense of justice. Rationally, I know that good will prevail. That’s the way these novels work. Yet, on a visceral level the concern is not so much that good will prevail but how. And, it is in Chill Waters protagonist’s chilling situation that the thrill took over and I found my heart rate rising casting rationality aside. Joan Hall Hovey has the skill to play on the readers’ emotions with her Hitchcockian imagination.

I have to admit that I had not figured out the true identity of the murderer but that no longer mattered as I’d already taken the thrilling, satisfying ride.

Bau: Back to Work

Things are starting to move again and so last Saturday I had another volunteer gig. It took place at the McConnell Student Residence at McGill.

Lots of students took time off their studies to come and see me.

It was a lot of fun being petted by so many different hands.

Some even took out their phones and showed pictures of their dogs in different parts of the world. They all missed their dogs whether they came from Iran, Boston, Dubai, Libya, Germany or anywhere else.

Goes to show how popular dogs are!

Having so much fun!
Ah, this feels sooo good!
 
Here I am showing off one of my tricks!
So many people to visit. I’s all overwhelming!
Volunteering is exhausting!

Sara Nisha Adams: The Reading List

Reading this stunning debut novel made me think of friends in my past whom I hadn’t thought of in years. It made me think of places I had visited; trips I had taken and experiences I’d had that I’d forgotten about. The novel brought me back to many of the books on the list that I had read giving me a glimpse into my past and a dream of my future.

A mysterious person has left Just in case you need it a list of eight books to read in: library books, at the bus stop, at the yoga studio, in the supermarket, the community garden and other places. The novel centers around two main characters. Seventeen-year-old, Aleisha who has a summer job working in a library and who lives with her older brother and her mother who suffers from severe depression. The other main character is Mukesh, a man in his seventies who is grieving the death of his loving wife and trying to cope with his loss. A friendship evolves between these two characters as Aleisha recommends books (from a list left in a novel) to Mukesh. As they discuss these novels their reflections comfort them on their grief.  

This is a novel about how books have the power to heal. It is a novel about the injustices in the world, about terror, guilt and regret. It is about the magic of books to enhance lives and bring a community together.

The Reading List is a vivid and beautifully written story with unforgettable characters that will crush your heart.

 As an added bonus to this book, I would recommend it to anyone who must write a synopsis of their own novel for it succinctly illustrates how the author captures the essence of each of the novels on the list.    

Ellie Marrandette: A Place to Belong

Most of us at one point in our lives struggle to find our purpose in life. A Place to Belong is Katerine LeVay Cunningham’s (Kate) personal battle in search for her purpose in her life.

It is not enough that she is married to a wealthy movie producer who adores her and that her marriage is one full of romance and tenderness. Following her husband on his movie shoots does not satisfy her personal needs for fulfillment.  

A Place to Belong is the third of a trilogy (although it can also standalone) and when we meet Kate she is in NYC with her loving British husband, Robert, who is directing a movie on the American Revolution. Throughout the novel the relationship between Kate and Robert is a romantic, tender one.

However, Kate is haunted by her past and until she puts to rest the secret, perfect crime which she has committed there will be no peace for Kate.

But before Kate gets to this peaceful place the novel veers towards her newly found relationship with Casey, her daughter, a pro golfer champion who was abducted when she was five. There is also the discovery of a brother Kate did not know she had.

The novel has revenge, success, Christian values, a wedding in a hospital, close friendships, adultery, courage, an entertaining wake and a surprising explanation for her deceitful and womanizing first husband’s death.  

There are several settings which the author does an excellent job taking us through such interesting places as: Boston, NYC, Charleston, Sorrento, Italy and Ayrshire, Scotland.

The prose is smooth and the dialogue is authentic while the entire novel flows at a fast pace.

I was a Beta reader for this novel and when I read it again in its final version, I was even more captivated by the story and marveled at Ellie’s strong story telling talent.

There are several memorable characters in the novel. It is refreshing to read a novel filled with good people with strong family values.

Carrie Rubin: The Bone Elixir

Are you looking to get in the mood for a really scary, macabre novel to read this Halloween season? A novel that, although it will frighten you, you won’t be able to stop reading it.

Carrie Rubin’s rational minded orthopedic surgery resident Benjamin Oris (and the protagonist of her last two novels) has just inherited an inn in Massachusetts. Trouble is that the inn is haunted and Benjamin doesn’t believe all that hocus-pocus stuff. Until he visits the inn and stays in it alone for a week as he waits for his girlfriend Laurette along with her sixth sense to join him.

In the meantime, Ben is confronted with secret passages, doors that creek open in the middle of the night, lights that turn on and off and a basement pit that raises the hair on his neck.

Benjamin is designated to become the heir of the inn by taking part in one of the spookiest ceremonies I’ve ever read. He must drive away the evil spirits inhabiting the house along with its promise of immortality and eternally free from sickness – which, by the way, is pretty enticing for a medical doctor.

Once Laurette arrives, there are Ouija boards, crystals, levitations, a manuscript describing people disappearing after visiting the inn, remnants of an insane asylum, people murdered, ghosts and lingering spirits.

This is not the genre of book that I usually read but Carrie’s usage of suspense kept me turning the pages wanting to know the next thing that Ben would be confronted with and how he would handle it.

Besides the spooky part of the novel there is lots of very interesting writing. For example. “Come morning, he (Benjamin) felt about as rested as a squirrel on crack.”

If you’re thinking of getting into the Halloween mood of haunted houses, gravestones and divinations this is certainly the book for you.

Well done, Carrie!