Jackal Enters: A Halloween Poem

Jackal Enters

I say it fast.
Syllables all running together.
Jack-O-Lantern
Jack- A- Lent-Urn.
Jackal Enter.

Faces grin at me.
Carved out eyes.
Spilling out with
pumpkin flesh
and gooey guts
and bony seeds.

They glow at me.
With triangle eyes
and square pupils.
Little flames flickering
suspicious behind them.

“Hello, dear girl”
they whisper secretively.
“Is it Trick or Treat?”
Today they grin at me,
Sharp, toothy grins
illuminated within.

“Treat”, I whisper back.
My pulse skittering,
And my heart hammering
pulsing orange vitality,
and then the black
of deadened winter.

I’m dressed to scare tonight.
And I scare myself,
The neighbours who silently
hand over
nutty bars of chocolte
and red coloured, clear wrapped
boiled cavities.

But not the pumpkins.
I don’t, can’t scare them. The Jackal enters.
Laughing like a hyena.
“We’ll burn you.” They whisper again.

With shaking hands
I accept confectionaries.
With trembling ears
I hear eerie giggles.

When I tiptoe back home.
Pillow sack full of empty sugars.
Fingers sticking together,
numbed by cold.
I turn on the porch lights.
My hands are black not blue.

Black, black, black
like the hissing
fur on an inky cat.
Black, black, black
like the billowing
spider silk of a witches hat.
Black, black, black
like the steaming
of a coffee
no sweetener or cream.
Black, black,black
like the shrilling
ear piercing sound I scream.

“They burned me,” I whisper in
kerosene and smoke shadows.
“They burned me,” I disbelieve
shaking my foggy head.
“Those fucking Jackal enters!”

Running Barefoot: A Book Reivew

“Like a shoe that has lost its mate is never worn again, I had lost my matching part and didn’t know how to run barefoot.”

Book: Running Barefoot
Author: Amy Harmon

Running Barefoot

Blurb:

When Josie Jensen, an awkward 13-year-old musical prodigy, crashes headlong into new kid Samuel Yazzie, an 18-year-old Navajo boy full of anger and confusion, an unlikely friendship blooms. Josie teaches Samuel about words, music, and friendship, and along the way finds a kindred spirit. Upon graduation, Samuel abandons the sleepy, small town in search of a future and a life, leaving his young mentor behind. Many years go by, and Samuel returns to find his old friend in need of the very things she offered him years before. Their roles reversed, Samuel teaches Josie about life, love, and letting go.

Deeply romantic and poignant, ‘Running Barefoot’ is the story of a small town girl and a Native American boy, the ties that bind us to our homes and families, and the love that gives us wings.

My thoughts:

I don’t know why this book surprised me. I mean Making Faces by Amy Harmon was fabulous. But Running Barefoot blew that book out of the water. I expected high-quality from Amy Harmon, but she outdid herself with the profoundity, the beauty and the romance in this book.

Josie (despite her rather horrible name) is a precocious child and a beautiful woman.  She shoulders a stunning amount of responsibility for a 13 year old after her mother dies. But at times, you’re reminded how young she is- her naivete and her self-consciousness. She’s deeply passionate about music- and that makes her pretty relatable. I think this quote is a good example of how Josie’s eloquence and maturity meshes with her age.

Sometimes I think if I could just SEE without my eyes, the way I FEEL without my hands, I would be able to HEAR the music. I don’t use my hands to feel love or joy or heartache – but I still feel them all the same. My eyes let me see incredibly beautiful things, but sometimes I think that what I SEE gets in the way of what’s…what’s just beyond the beauty. Almost like the beauty I can SEE is just a very lovely curtain, distracting me from what’s on the other side…and if I just knew how to push that curtain aside, there the music would be

Samuel as a teenager is the cliched dramatic, angry (maybe for a reason) guy. But he has his own depths and is surprisingly receptive when josie shares  Classic Literature and Music with him. And perhaps the fact that he’s willing to form a deep friendship with a girl whose 5 years younger than him is the biggest indicator of his inherent sweetness.

“Your song…that is the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me.”

As always, Amy Harmon handles the topic of romance sensitively. I’ll be honest, when I heard that there was going to be a 5 year gap between the MC’s (and they’d be teenagers for a good portion of the book)- I was majorly squicked out. I don’t know why I was worried. For a good portion of the book, Josie crushes on Samuel. But it’s one of those mature crushes where you know you can intensely trust someone instead of something physical. First and foremost, Josie and Samuel are friends.
The romance comes later.

If I had a complaint about this book- it’s the Navajo myths. Though they were beautifully retold and emphasized just how proud Samuel was of his heritage, I felt that they detracted from the main story, from Josie’s and Samuel’s story.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It moved me with it’s beautiful writing and simple, honest characters. I’ve reread this book twice and I cried each time.

If  you’re looking for a quiet, profound and beautiful romance; If you’re looking for a good story; If you’re looking for something that will move you- this is the book for you.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Fair Warning: NaNoWriMo

nanoprepOne more book review. One more poem. Then after Halloween you won’t see me for a while. No, I don’t plan to say “Bloody Mary” thrice in front of a mirror. However, I do plan to do something as arguably crazy and dangerous.

Yes! I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. (It’s item number 17 on my bucket list)  50,000 words in 30 days? I am so pumped!
…Also a little bit intimidated. Just a little bit. 🙂
[I’m scared to do the math and calculate how much I’ll need to write every day.]

So you understand why I’ll disappear. All my free time will be funneled into writing. It will be intense. I don’t know yet if it will be intense-awesome or intense-awful.
You’ll probably hear nothing from me except an occasional status report to prove I’m not dead and to brag about my word count!

The goal is to complete a novel by the end on November. I’m planning to do a dark re-take on Snow White. I want to do something from the step-mother’s point of view where Snow White is the vain and evil one. Yes, there will be romance (with the Hunter), grisly descriptions and familial relationships. I’m tentatively calling it Blood, Bone and Ashes (for now) and it will be full of betrayal. It should be fun to write- and hopefully even funner (I know, I know- not a word) to read.

Clearly I’ve put a lot of thought into this…

Send me encouragement and love. Positive waves and whatnot.

If the idea of a writing marathon sounds fun to anyone else, you can go to the official website here. I’d be glad to have a writing buddy <hint, hint>. Message me.

Rose Society: A Book Review

Right now, what I want is the throne. Enzo’s power. A perfect revenge. And all the Inquisitors, queens, and Daggers in the world won’t be able to stop me.

Book: Rose Society (Young Elites #2)

Author: Marie Lu

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)

Blurb:

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she and her sister flee Kenettra to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good, when her very existence depends on darkness?

My thoughts:

Initially when I read this book, I loved it. I gasped in all the right places, cried when I needed to and I smirked where I was supposed to. I fell in love with one character and out of love with another (fickle, fickle me and fickle, fickle MC) but when I sat down to write this review, I rethought everything.

If Young Elites was supposed to be the birth of a villain, then Rose Society is about the life of a villain. Marie Lu promised!

Don’t get me wrong there was thievery, manipulation, murder; it was all part of Adelina’s routine.  But honestly, it got sort of boring.
Yes Adelina, we know you want power. Yes Adelina, we know you want revenge. Yes Adelina, we understand that somehow your plots make perfect sense inside your head-wait do we?

For once- just once I want to read about a sane villain. Someone in total control of their mental faculties, someone playing with a full deck of cards. Someone who can’t blame their evil, evil deeds on hallucinations and delusions. I want to read about a villain who truly works for the “greater good”. I want  arguments which make perfect logical sense (if not moral sense) and a villain whose deeds become gradually darker over time.
Adelina is not that villain. Rose Society is not that book.

In Rose Society, we explore the depraved and vengeful hot mess that is Adelina’s mind. In Young Elites, Adelina was cynical. In this book, she’s graduated into full-blown paranoia. Everyone hates her. Everyone is plotting against her. She can trust no one. Wah. Wah. Wah.
This book is a study in insanity. But goddamnit, I wanted a study on evil!

Doesn’t mean this book doesn’t have it’s strong points.
Magiano for the win! Yes he’s a kleptomaniac thief who has the compulsion to steal things. Also, he’s good looking, plays a musical instrument and is the perfect mixture of skeptical and happy.
Raffaele has become awesome. I detested him in the last book- he is so freaking perfect (until he’s not). But as he does his share of nefarious things, sacrificing his body and soul for the benefit of his “people”, to my disgust, I found myself admiring him.
Sisterly support is strong in this book, but then I sort of expected it after the last great reveal in the first book.

If you plan to read this book, keep in mind that Adelina is mentally unstable and so she is violent. If you were looking for a book about a sane villain, this is not it.
If she was tried in modern day courts, she’d probably be sent for intense psychiateric treatment instead of a jail.

Overall Rating: 3/5

Books Similar to this: A Court of Thorn and Roses

Quotables:

We are drawn to stories,” he says in a soft voice, “and every scar carries one.”

“When you’re all alone in a world that hates and fears you, you want to find others like yourself. New friends. Elite friends

Woman: A Poem

I

am a woman.

So I must have

slender bones

and tender flesh

That snap and give way

under duress.

I should be

straight sweeping lines

A compact mass

of softer curves.

 

I

am young.

So my virtue

is my

only worth.

Passed

from father

to husband

to son.

From one owner

and then

to another.

 

I

must bear loss.

So

I must weep .

At times of hardship.  

I must cry

Validate

with liquid tears.

Assure them

Of my Aches

My Sorrows

My Many Fears.

I must cry.

Someone must be strong

to comfort me.

 

I

am angry.

So I will be humored then outright

laughed at

Like a spiky kitten

who thinks

it has claws.

Silently vowing

they will declaw me,

Find some way to make me doubt

and

pause.

 

I

I yearn

to protect.

But they’ll only let me protect

my children.

Fine.

I’ll protect them

and I’ll keep yours

safe too.

Let them grow

into fearless men

and women.

 

I

am powerful.

So I must be a witch,

A bitch

A sneaking snitch.

Because no

real woman

is powerful.

What strange charlatan

am I

to hold both-

this shape

and this power?

 

I

am human.

So I aspire

and I conspire

to be more.

Who says ambition

is the domain

of men?

And men only?

They’ll call me

what they want

As long as they want.


Just know

that all

‘female’ means

is

not-male,

not

less-than-male.

Break Up (I’m a different person today than I was 3 years ago- and that’s okay)

A week ago, I opened a Rick Riordan book (Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer) and waited for the magic to happen. I waited to be carried away to another world where myth and modern-day reality inter-twined and teenagers could be badass. I flipped through first one page, and then another, anticipating the moment I would be hooked, addicted.

But I made my way to page 20, to page 50, page 103 and I felt…nothing.  For the first time,Rick Riordan’s books didn’t completely captivate me.  I felt that the humor was trying too hard (and failing even harder). Instead of suppressing snorts and giggles, I was trying not to roll my eyes. Instead of  empathizing with the main character, I wanted to shake him. I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and tell him to make up his mind: “Do you want to have a pity party or do you want to be glib?”  By the time the love interest arrived on the scene, I was frustrated by the cliches. Sure, let’s have the beautiful girl be violent for no reason- teenage girls everywhere will finally have a positive role-model to emulate and teen-boys will learn to fantasize about “real” women.

I closed the book. I got to a point where I had to say stop.

And do you know how that made me feel? I felt terrible. Disloyal- like a shitty friend.
I felt old and out of touch, like I couldn’t empathize with teenagers any more. This despite the fact that I’m sixTEEN! (and think nothing of randomly capitalising words).

I stewed over it for a while. Was I moving out of my childhood, to become ‘mature’? Was I becoming elitist and snobby? Becoming choosy with my books?

Today I finally managed to kick myself out of my funk. I read books for enjoyment, I told myself. I do it because I love being sucked into new worlds and caring about characters.
There’s nothing to be ashamed about.
So, I shouldn’t feel guilty for failing to be sucked in. It’s not my fault and I’m not hurting anyone by doing it. If nobody’s blaming me, I don’t need to blame myself.

I don’t care if I sound like a cliche: I’m growing up and I’m moving on. I’m not the same person today that I was three years ago when I opened up the Lightning Thief and devoured it instantly. I’m not even the same person I was a couple of months back when I cried when Blood of Olympus was released.

Does that mean I think Rick Riordan is an idiot and his ideas are pond scum? Definitely not. Uncle Rick got me interested in Greek Mythology. His books were an instrumental part of my early teens as I bonded with friends over them and secretly wrote PJO fanfiction. In fact, it’s because I respect him and his writing style so much that I will probably never open another Rick Riordan book.
I don’t want to remember slogging through his books, forcing myself to like them and hating myself when I didn’t. I’d rather have the happy nostalgia of fond memories from his first few books.

It sounds like the end of a relationship, doesn’t it? With lame excuses on one side and heartbreak on the other. But it’s not like that. It’s not like that at all. Uncle Rick’s franchise is stronger than it has ever been before. If the PJO fandom is sad about my departure, it’s secure in the knowledge that there are a million teens and pre-teens out there willing to love it.  And I’m not hesitant about my decision. I can’t afford to be because there are a million books out there waiting for my love.

I could hang around, trying to ‘make things work’. But it wouldn’t be good for me, and I respect myself. I’m in a more insightful place today than I was a week ago, and I can finally appreciate this quote:

“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of loyalty to who I am as a person, based solely on who I was as a person. To be loyal to myself is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think. The only thing I am for sure is unsure, and this means I’m growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.”

-Jarod Kintz

Six of Crows: A Book Review

“You love trickery.”
“I love puzzles. Trickery is just my native tongue.”

Book: Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Blurb:

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

My thoughts:

I knew this was going to be awesome.  But I failed to aniticipate exactly how awesome this was going to be….

Initially I was a bit skeptical about the multiple POV’s (We all know how often that turns out well-never).
6 characters? I was afraid I was going to have to take notes to remember who was who. I even got all prepared with a notebook and a pen.  Turns out it was unnecessary. Totally unnecessary.

All 6 characters had very distinct personalities with very different voices and backgrounds. Not once did I confuse Jesper (the sharp-shooter) with Kaz (the master-thief). Nina (the ex-soldier) was very different from Ingrid (the ex-prostitute).

I might go as far as to say: Six of Crows is the best multiple POV book I’ve seen. Part of it is the names. Very diverse names which make it clear the characters come from seperate countries.  I mean, obviously there were some people who’s point of view I was looking forward to (Oh My God! Ingrid! and Kaz!). But there was no one I wanted to skip over and I count that a huge success.

The characters in this book are so screwed up, I’m lost for words.  Despite that (or maybe because of it), I related with them so well. I know, I know- wouldn’t it be hard to relate to a compulsive gambler, an ex-prostitute, a member of a rebel army, a traitor, a con-man and a rich boy who ran away from home? (Hint: The answer is no.) In fact they were so unique, I did not expect them to work so well together. I expected rivalries, tension, arguments, fist-fights- and those did happen. But some very strong, realistic bonds of friendship evolved. 

Favorite character? Hands-down, it has to be Ingrid. She was a powerful character who packs a punch. With a nickname like Wraith, an affinity for parkour and skill with knives- admit it, you expected a cocky bitch.

She was the Wraith-the only law that applied to her was gravity, and some days she defied that, too.

And maybe she would have been an awesome as a cocky bitch, but I loved her for her vulnerability. Kidnapped by slavers, forced into prostitution -and still she is so strong. If you provoke her, she will probably cut you into tiny pieces. but at the same time, she’s extremely  and just wholesomely good (if you can be that while stabbing someone in the chest). 

Characters I crush on? Kaz just moved to the top of my list. In real life, he would probably drive me to tears of frusturation with the way he holds his cards close to his chest (also, he’s a bastard- and takes pride in calling himself that). But as a book character, his intensity appealed to me. 

“He’d broken his leg dropping down from the rooftop. The bone didn’t set right, and he’d limped ever after. So he’d found himself a Fabrikator and had his cane made. It became a declaration. There was no part of him that was no broken, that had not healed wrong, and there was no part of him that was not stronger for having been broken.”

His reckless ability to stay three steps ahead of everyone else was…sexy.

If we’re still talking about romance, know that I am on the fence with MatthiasXNina.  Very violent, very intense love affair. Breathlessly passionate one moment and vengeful the next. They hate each other’s people and sometimes they hate the fact that they love each other.  I think this sums it up:

“And what did you do, Matthias? What did you do to me in you dreams?”
“Everything,” he said, as he turned to go, “Everything.”

I thought I would dislike Jesper and Wayne. Turns out that’s impossible.

Wylan drew himself up. “I may not have had your … education, but I’m sure I know plenty of words that you don’t.”
“Also the proper way to fold a napkin and dance a minuet. Oh, and you can play the flute. Marketable skills, merchling. Marketable skills.”
“No one dances the minuet any more,” grumbled Wylan.

This book is dark. The writing is poetic.  It’s character-centric. It has a heist! Honestly, the worst thing about this book is that it’s sequel, Empire of Crows, comes out next year.
September 22nd 2016. I’ve already marked my calendar.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Quotables:

“Shame holds more value than coin ever can.”

“We are all someone’s monster.”

When they took everything from you, you found a way to make something from nothing.

She wouldn’t wish love on anyone. It was the guest you welcomed and then couldn’t be rid of.

“I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.