Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

• Reading level: Young Adult
• Hardcover: 256 pages
• Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0312649614
• ISBN-13: 978-0312649616

Bibliophilic wyverns, enchanted woods, an evil Marquess, a magical talisman, dwarven customs agents, djinns, velocipedes--and that doesn't even take into account what's in the title of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. A fantastical tale that's somewhere between Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett, Cathrynne Valente's book follows twelve-year-old September, a girl from Omaha, Nebraska, who finds herself whisked away by a fast-talking gentleman called the Green Wind to the world of Fairyland where she has to retrieve a witch's spoon from the fickle Marquess. Still, Cathrynne Valente's imaginative cast of characters and spirited prose turn what could be a standard heroine-on-a-quest story into something on par with the best (and weirdest) classics. --Darryl Campbell

Precocious and bored, 12 year old September – and no smarty, she was not born in September – is whisked off by the Green Wind into Fairyland. She is cleared through customs – whoever heard of customs in Fairyland? – and is left to fend for herself. This charming and whimsical book is full of imagination and sass, making it hard to put down, even if I am 49 years old.

Being a lover of Young Adult fiction, this book will finally take you away from the vampires, werewolves and zombies that seem to be creeping up all around us. September is a vicious child with a wild imagination, but she is not fool-hearty and takes her time in making decisions. She is not a quitter and she never gives up.

Valente’s writing just flows off the page and I was lapping up every luscious word. She has a way of telling a story that puts her in the category with Neil Gaiman, J. K. Rowling, Brandon Mull and James Dasher. I can’t wait until my granddaughter is old enough so she will sit still for chapter book reading. She is going to love it.

I recommend this book highly, especially to the middle-school crowd. Elementary and middle school teachers are going to love this book and librarians are already giving it rave review. The book was written with an obvious sequel in mind, which I can’t wait to read, and I hope it turns into a series and not just a trilogy. September is a girl I want to learn more and more about and Valente will show it to all those who read.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Etcetera's Mistress

Etcetera’s Mistress
Thom Ward

Accents Publishing

Paperback: 60 pages
Publisher: Accents Publishing (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1936628031
ISBN-13: 978-1936628032

Accents Publishing launches its Full-Length World Poetry Series with a daring new collection of poetry by award-winning author Thom Ward, complete with original cover art by acclaimed artist DeLoss McGraw.

From reading the very first poem, the reader realizes Ward has an overabundance of imagination and brilliance. His words rush in and out like the high and low tides slapping against the beach.

In Goldfinch, Cockroach:
Once in a while my soul exits this body,
Goes shopping for another house of flesh.

Reminds me of times when my soul is tired of grieving and goes in search of something more cheery.

In Actually, However:
He fell, and fell hard, like his heart was a mob informant and she was the East River….
This poem brought back visions of The Sopranos, the hit HBO television series.

My favorite part of this book is the section on the Howhatwhywherewhen Bone, a collection of 13 poems all having to do with how, what, why, where, and when. In the Contraband of the Howhatwhywherewhen Bone:
crosses all borders
and disappears
into marrow intelligence

what is to say
bone understands
Thom Ward is sole proprietor of Thom Ward's Poetry Editing and Proofreading Services (thombward@gmail.com). Ward's poetry collections include Small Boat with Oars of Different Size (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000) and Various Orbits (Carnegie Mellon, 2004). Ward's poetry chapbook, Tumblekid, winner of the 1998 Devil's Millhopper poetry contest, was published by the University of South Carolina-Aiken in 2000. His collection of prose poems, The Matter of the Casket, was published by CustomWords in 2007. Ward teaches creative writing workshops at high schools and colleges around the country, tutors individual poetry students, and edits poetry manuscripts. He is a faculty and advisory board member at Wilkes University's Graduate Creative Writing program in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Thom Ward lives in western New York with his girlfriend Jennifer and their cat Phantom.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Deer at Gethsemani: Eclogues

The Deer at Gethsemani: Eclogues by Frederick Smock
Accents Publishing http://www.accents-publishing.com/books.html

"Like Virgil's before him, Frederick Smock's eclogues give us the sense of an earned peace in the clear voice of a man at home in the world. These poems are richly allusive, elemental moments of experience and insight. The Deer at Gethsemani is a well-made house of poetry, and it is a true pleasure to spend time in its rooms." - Greg Pape, Author of American Flamingo

Eclogues are a set of pastoral poems, made most famous by the Roman Virgil, who wrote the Aeneid, one of the greatest epic poems in human history.
In Smock's poem VI Cave Hill, both lyrical and rhyming:
Come to the window, look out and see
the road that leads down to the cemetery …
The swans are lovely and mean.
The peacocks beautiful and vain …
The geese have returned again to campus,
to the roof of the library where they make their nest,
where they can look out over Beargrass Creek
and the elms of Creason Park.
XXII is:
The lamps turned on at four
in the afternoon barely glow,
but as the sun goes down
these rooms slowly fill with light
On the surface, these eclogues may seem simple little poems, but delving into the hidden meanings is a strong and powerful undercurrent of lyrical reality.

Frederick Smock is associate professor of English at Bellarmine University, where he received the 2005 Wyatt Faculty Award. He has published four previous collections of poems with Larkspur Press. He is also the author of Craft-talk: On Writing Poems, and Pax Intrantibus: A Meditation on the Poetry of Thomas Merton. His poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, The Hudson Review, The Louisville Review, The Merton Journal (UK), Poetry East, Trajectory, and other journals.