Sunday Sentence 1/19/2020


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My weekly contribution to David Abrams’ “Sunday Sentence” project in which participants share the best sentence read during the past week “out of context and without commentary.”

All the time he had ever squandered in his life seemed to be clinging to his footsteps, dragging him down.


SOURCE:Sweet Bean Paste (One World, 2017), a novel by Durian Sukegawa



NonFiction November Recap


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November was a tumultuous month. Thanksgiving and the weeks before and after were spent going back and forth to the veterinary hospital, while my dog recovered from various ear problems that resulted in surgery.  My family was disappointed in missing my gumbo and deep dish apple pie, but I was just too tired to cook. On the actual holiday, I found myself driving with sick doggo to the next town for additional pills and stronger antibiotic cream.  All I wanted was sleep!

Needless to say, my TBR for #NonFictionNovember mostly sat untouched up until this week. It’s only two weeks into December, so that still counts for November reads, right?  Y’all better be nodding your heads.

Anyway, the four books that I picked up were great.  I was highly entertained by the antics of naturalist Sy Montgomery‘s Christopher Hogwood, the Good, Good Pig that started out little and turned into a big pain in the rear.  Well, he was more like the Liz Minelli or pigs–high maintenance in all the right ways. If you are following the four-word challenge, this one falls under ‘voice’.

I was late to the party on Lara Prior-Palmer‘s Rough Magic.  I wasn’t convinced someone so young had anything interesting to say.  A few pages in, I realized that I had grossly underestimated the writer.  Thank you to abookOlive for the recommendation. Category: ‘sport’.

For ‘design’, I chose Stoned: Jewelry, Obsession, and How Desire Shapes the World.  This is an inside look into the machinations of the jewelry world, that left me pretty sour on diamonds, more appreciative of pearls and lustful of emeralds.

And last, but not least is The Good Neighbor.  Reading this book felt like reuniting with a long lost friend.  I absolutely adored Mr. Rogers.  Still adore Mr. Rogers.  He was a unique and greatly missed human.  I did not realize how much the creator of Blues Clues was influenced by him, but appreciate that programming all the more. This one falls under the ‘true’ category.







Read This With That


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Last month, I ran across a BookPage blurb about Joshilyn Jackson‘s new novel Never Have I Ever. I was surprised, but happy to see that she had finally jumped into the suspense genre.  I, of course, scooped up a copy and enjoyed it immensely.  Besides the twisty action going on regarding Amy Whey’s mysterious past, diving surfaces as a type of mind-clearing lifeline for the character.

It reminded me so much of poet Adrienne Rich’s collection,  Diving Into the Wreck that I dug out my well-worn copy.  You can read the book’s titular poem over on (I’ll wait for you) .

See what I mean? So gorgeous! Perfect pair.

Then a short while later, I found another fun surprise: Dr. Richard Smith‘s super sleek The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs, which is a frickin’ eye-gasm of deep ocean photography.  Seriously, do yourself a favor and buy this book, or at the very least follow Smith’s Insta like right damn now.


Hidden Treasures of Booktube


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Real Talk: Booktube is not my favorite thing. It tends to be overloaded with YA and is lacking in diversity in just about every category. That said, there are four  channels that are pure gold.


 Jean BookishThoughts is produced by a Scottish academic, who reads across genres and always manages to surprise me with her recommendations.  It was because of her that I fell in love with Martha Wells’ Murder Bot Diaries series.

Currently, there are four, killer novellas about a rogue sec unit thrown by its human side. Start reading now because a full- length “sequel” is due out in 2020.





Mara of bookslikewhoa describes her reading tastes as “omnivorous” and it certainly shows. After her mini-review, I devoured Emily Croy Barker’s  The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic. 

It is comparable in size to one of Gabaldon’s Outlander tomes and is about a grad student who walks into an alternate world full of medieval-ish magical beings. Really absorbing and also due for a sequel.




Ink and Paper Blog (owner of awesome bookshelves) is the place to go for mainstream and indie reads.  Recent favorites from his channel are Karen Walker Thompson’s The Dreamers, Kira Jane Buxton’s  Hollow Kingdom and Sarah Elaine Smith’s Marilou is Everywhere.



abookolive has fantastic non-fiction picks and is not too shabby in the other categories either. Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars and Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums were gems I found because of her channel.

Any booktubers you love? Let me know in the comments.

(Belated) Sunday Sentence 7/14/19


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My weekly contribution to David Abrams’ “Sunday Sentence” project in which participants share the best sentence read during the past week “out of context and without commentary.”

She pulled her head back into the kitchen like an annoyed turtle.

SOURCE: Paper Son (Pegasus, 2019), a novel by S.J. Rozan



Birthday Cakes (#2sdayPoems)


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Poets Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib and Barbara Crooker have wildly different takes on the celebration of passing years.



by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

rarely is it a good idea to tell someone when they have appeared
in a dream that came to you during a long and hot

week. You know, the kind of week where you do not sleep
much, and instead drag your fingertip along the fluorescent

graves. The kind of week where you say how or oh,
not again. This week, the politician on television says that we are fighting

a different kind of war and I wonder if this means
the kind where everyone returns to their homes unburied, a candle

pushed into a sheet of sugar for every year they’ve missed.
I think I’m saying that a different kind of war is maybe not a war

at all, but then what here would keep us up at night.
I shake my worry for the born and unborn alike out

of a pill box and swallow it with a glass of water. And I hesitate
to say this, friends. But when I finally let go and closed my eyes…

FULL TEXT HERE (Pinwheel Journal)




by Barbara Crooker

the body, as it ages, its mystery and majesty,
the scars, the lines, the silver threads
unwinding. I no longer care about air-brushed
perfect people in glossy magazines. I want to celebrate
the real: weak ankles courtesy of afternoons
chasing a puck on a frozen pond. Thighs, more Venus
of Willendorf than Kate Moss or Twiggy. Upper arms
that wobble like jello no matter how many reps
I do at the gym. Belly that stretched big as a watermelon,
then spit out (how did that happen?) sweet pink babies.
Breasts that fed them, rivers of thin blue milk.
Yes, I’ve made the turn onto the unpaved road,
where fat yellow leaves hang overhead. Things…


FULL TEXT HERE (Whale Road Review)


Enchanting Ladies (#2sdayPoems)


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Today’s #2sdayPoems brings together selections from Maya Jewell Zeller’s  “little spells” at
Empty Mirror and Aimee Nezhukumatahil’s Hao Fenglas poem from the Green Issue of Fairytale Review. Scroll to the end for a little bonus podcast.



by Maya Jewell Zeller

sweet girl made of dust & water/ please leave
jewelry at home/ wear open, loose clothing/
this will not hurt a bit/ possibly we will ask you
to don this gown/ you are going to experience
a small dose of ionizing radiation/ you will not
feel it at all/ but possibly you will see the way…



from Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts (Entre Rios, 2017)




by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

What can the unfortunate insect do
if it is found wanting in weight?
A pill-bug rolls into a bead of silent news.
The damselfly can bend a petal

back without leaving her mark. Trickster.
There is a woman named Hao Fenglas
who cupped soil to her lips
for over seventy years. In the hem

of her blouse, in the roll of her pant leg,
she brings back a crumble of earth.
Knives stripe a feathered neck
in the kitchen for a thin broth so no one

hears her first….



forthcoming collection: Oceanic (Copper Canyon)

BONUS: Aimee Nez Live Stream replay at Copper Canyon

Week Four #readNDN #2sDayPoems


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So sad to be wrapping up this special Native American Heritage Month series of #2sDayPoems. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have, but even more importantly, I hope that you have found some NDN poets you really love. Feel free to write a guest blog post if you did!!

I love to hear from you fabulous readers. The poetry community is more fun as it grows!

Ok, enough on that tangent.  Here’s today’s poets:

Deborah Miranda (Esselen/Chumash) has written a fascinating “tribal memoir” about her own Esselen family group and California Indians in general, titled Bad Indians that I recommended in another post. She also has several collections of poetry out.  The one that I find myself returning to is Indian Cartography (Greenfield Review Press, 1998).

Stories I Tell my Daughter” is one of my favorite poems from the book. She also blogs at–you guessed it –Bad NDNS on blogspot.


Poet and critic Gloria Bird (Spokane) released a powerful collection of prose poems called The River of History (Trask House Press) in the late nineties. Today’s poem  “What We Owe” is from that work.

Another interesting read is Reinventing the Enemy’s Language: Contemporary Native Women’s Writings of North of America, which she co-edited with Joy Harjo.







Week Three #readNDN #2sDayPoems


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I am so impressed by Natalie Diaz (Mojave). Not only does her poetry make me feel like I’m falling off a cliff–in a good way, of course–but her work in preserving the Mojave language gives me hope for other endangered Native tongues.

If you don’t have her first collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon, 2012),get it. And be anticipating the release of her second collection, also with with Copper Canyon, that she teased in this late 2015 interview at DiveDapper. You’ll find links to several of her new poems there.

But the one I wanted to share with you today is “Catching Cooper“. You won’t be the same after you read it.


Okay, if you’ve spent any time on this blog, you’ve seen this woman. Joy Harjo (Mvskoke) opened the door to Native American poetry for me and continues to be my poet-hero. Get all her books immediately, seriously, like right now.

The poem I’m sharing today is from Secrets From the Center of the World (Univ. of AZ press), which pairs her poems with the photography of Stephen Strom.

This is “Patterns in Mudhills“.

OMG! So beautiful. Check out her interview at NPR about finding her voice and her memoir Crazy Brave. Oh yeah, she reads a few poems there too.



Week Two #readNDN #2sDayPoems


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Award-winning poet and activist Allison Adelle Hedge Coke (Huron/Metis/mixed Cherokee, SE Native) writes the type of poetry that  is seared into the mind like a daguerreotype at the shortest  exposure. Fittingly, her latest collection is titled Burn (MadHat Press, 2017) and is an illustrated poetic endeavor. How cool is that?

Haven’t actually got my hands on it yet, but I hope to love it as much as Dog Road Woman (Coffee House Press, 1997), or Off-Season City Pipe (Coffee House, 2005).

Trust me, you’ll love her work. Here’s  “The Change,” straight outta Dog Road Woman, hosted at the Poetry Foundation archives.


So you’ve heard me talk about Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe) before.  ICYMI, I highly recommend her 2012 collection Cell Traffic (Univ. of AZ Press). The jury is still out on her latest Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum of Archaic Media (Michigan State Univ Press). It’s kinda trippy, what with its fairies, QR codes that link to film poems and other weird, but good, shit.

Before you dive into that book, try some of her more earthy work, like “Stung,” from the anthology If Bees Were Few: A Hive of Bee Poems. You’lll want Santa to bring you that one.

And while you’re out there floating in cyberspace, check out this Pen Ten interview with Heid E. and her sister, fellow writer Louise Erdrich, where the ladies answer questions (presented by Natalie Diaz) on writing in general and space for the voices of indigenous women.