Readers’ Advisory: The Ghosts of Christmas Past. Madelynne Ellis

*Parts of this RA post first appeared on my Goodreads page.*
I was pleasantly surprised to find this installment in the series. A Gentleman’s Wager was my first foray into stories about polyamory, and I’ve since been fascinated with well-written, nuanced stories of poly relationships. Phantasmagoria is still one of my favorite books of all time, because it really allowed me a space to be incredibly turned on and incredibly invested in these characters relationship, a style of relationship that I had never encountered before. In fact, I love the entire series. So much so, that I have them both in print and e-book. This story is more of a character study of Vaughan and Lucerne. Of course, Bella features. This story, much like life, wouldn’t be the same without her, which is something both Vaughan and Lucerne come to terms with in this entry.
Bella, Vaughan, and Lucerne still have a lot of growing to do, but I was heartened to see  Vaughan finally admit, out loud, that he loves Bella.  Vaughan has been my favorite character. I’ve been moved by his struggle to express his love for Lucerne, tolerate his and Lucerne’s need for Bella, and walk the ridiculously thin line between being a notorious rakehell but alive and hanging from the gallows for being gay. Since Phantasmagoria, it seems that he’s allowed himself to be softer, recognized those parts of him that were cruel in response to society and not necessarily inherent character traits. He’s insecure and jealous and lashes out because of it, a fact which is very clear in this story.
He loves Lucerne, deeply and desperately so. But it’s only these last two months without him, I think, that have allowed him to see clearly. He was blinded by his obsession with Lucerne, so consumed with pursuing him for eight years, that when he finally got a chance at a relationship with him, he spent the time afraid of losing him. Then, confronted with Bella, and Lucerne’s affection for her, he struggled. He saw her as an obstruction, at first, then as a necessary means to an end. He tolerates her, though enjoys her passion and lust, only because being with Lucerne necessitates being with her. After two years, though, he was not ready to admit that he was falling for Bella, causing all sorts of strife within the relationship, especially after 1789 Christmas, in this story where he admits that he’s afraid (he doesn’t use that word) that Bella is only tolerating his presence and relationship with Lucerne, and if Lucerne marries her, Bella will oust him, at worst, and, at best, only allow ‘supervised’ play time between them. Something that is just not true.
I am more than a little annoyed at Lucerne, but I see where the time away from Bella and Vaughan, especially, has allowed him space to breathe and come to terms with, not only his love for Bella, but his love for Vaughan as well, and how intimately intertwined his feelings for them are. He’s beginning to be more honest with himself. He’s definitely the more bisexual of the two gentlemen, but his clinging to Bella was more a response to society and what he should do as a gentlemen who has ruined the reputation of a lady of good standing than a rejection of everything good he could have with Vaughan, though there is some of that as well. In this story, we learn more of the first incident that led to the action of Phantasmagoria. I feel for Lucerne, truly, but I really need him to step up. I need him, in the last novel, to really commit to advocating for himself. He doesn’t lack confidence in any area but in his dealings with Bella and Vaughan. We see him, in this story, trying to get some of his own back and, ultimately failing because he is still wrestling with the social mores that tell him being gay is unconscionable and marriage is necessary.
There’s some internalized homophobia there as well. It has been clear throughout Lucerne’s development. Lucerne is never quite all in with Vaughan and Bella. Maybe its the fear of death? There’s a moment Vaughan alludes to in this story of the day Lucerne admitted, without faltering, that he had feelings for Vaughan. A fleeting moment, where Lucerne felt brave enough to say it aloud. It’s something he shies away from. You see it all throughout AGW and this story. He loves Vaughan. He wants Vaughan. He fears Vaughan and everything that love and desire entail. The fear, though well founded, has to be overcome. Not to say that he should declare it from Buckingham Palace. I don’t want him dead. But, and this story takes some steps towards this, he shouldn’t be ashamed of loving a man nor afraid to admit it to his partners.
Bella, to her credit, has always been the most honest and communicative of  the three. She has never shied away from what she wants, in the bedroom and in her relationship with the boys. She is brutally honest with herself, recognizing that Vaughan will never love her the way she loves him, the way he loves Lucerne. She is committed to Vaughan, though. She’s all in, unless and until he decides he doesn’t want her. There’s some annoyance with her too. It comes across most especially here. During a scene with Vaughan, and involving a glass dildo, she’s goes on a rant about how he never takes her “as nature intended”, meaning PIV intercourse. She complains that since they are estranged from Lucerne, there is no reason that Vaughan should avoid it. In Phantasmagoria, it is established that that particular brand of sex is Lucerne’s responsibility. Vaughan, though, doesn’t enjoy PIV intercourse nearly as much as anal, so he doesn’t do it. What annoys me, though, is Bella’s use of the phrase “as nature intended.” She has a whole paragraph of internal thought about missing it, despite Vaughan keeping her well satisfied otherwise. WTF, Bella?!
There is hope, though. Lucerne misses them terribly. He dreams of them; cannot truly imagine a fulfilling life without them. Vaughan is, slowly, coming to terms with his feelings for Bella and, vaguely, recognizes the negative effects of his single-minded pursuit of Lucerne. Bella hasn’t really dealt with what it meant to her that Lucerne left them. In fact, she does a fairly good job of not talking or thinking about him, which I hope will become a major part of The Serpent’s Kiss. The three of them really need to talk, not just fall into bed (or the rug or the great hall table or the breakfast room sideboard or the sitting room settee). Lucerne needs to set boundaries, Vaughan needs to be honest about his feelings, and Bella needs to admit that Lucerne walking out on them hurt her.


This felt like an interlude, important to character development, but not the main story, much like Indiscretions. Oh, and it was too short. I would happily read many more stories about these three and their friends, who I’m hoping make a return. It would be really interesting to see Emma, Lyle, and Darleston (of Her Husband’s Lover) interact with Bella, Vaughan, and Lucerne. What would that look like, these six people navigating a society that says their love is unnatural and punishable by death, literally? Would they figure out the dynamics of the other?
I’m still invested in these characters, love Madelynne Ellis to pieces, and I eagerly await The Serpent’s Kiss. 

See you in 2018?

Once upon a time there was a girl. She was assigned a blog, and told to use it for grad school. She used it for many other assignments, and even created a virtual CV (not linked here). But when grad school ended, so did the impetus to blog. She’d always loved blogging, but life happened, time got away from her, her mental health yo-yo’d, and she just didn’t want to do it anymore.

So….that girl is me. I’m thinking, now that life has settled down somewhat, I might pick this back up. I’m giving myself the next two months to decide and make a plan. Until then, there’s like 20 book reviews for you to read, plus some other stuff. Explore as you see fit. And maybe…don’t be shy about leaving a comment?

Readers’ Advisory: Difficult Women. Roxane Gay


Quick Facts

Difficult Women

Author: Roxane Gay

Published 2017 Grove Press 978-0802125392

272 pages $25 US

Available in print and eBook

Short Stories

tl;dr: READ IT!

Why I Read It

I received Difficult Women through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Where do I begin? I first became familiar with Roxane Gay when I read Bad Feminist. I’m not usually a non-fiction reader, but I was going through a time in my life where I knew what feminism was and what it stood for, but I was looking for something or someone who did feminism the way I did feminism. That is to say, someone who saw flaws in the way we talk about feminism, and acknowledges that we are contradictory people. That said, I’d never read Gay’s previous novel An Untamed State. I had to put it down after reading the description, because it was going to be more emotionally taxing than I was ready for at the time. Picking up Difficult Women, though, was a no brainer. I can handle short pieces that can be read in one sitting, even if they are difficult or hard reads.
Here’s What I Think
The women in these stories are people you could meet in your everyday life. Why are they difficult? Technically, they aren’t. They would, however, be labeled as difficult by a society who believes that women should be quiet and docile. These are women who may or may not fit in, who are grieving, who are attached, who have had horrific things happen to them, who are real, whole human beings even in their brokenness. I had visceral reactions to several stories in the collection, including the title story “Difficult Women” and “I Will Follow You”. In fact, my reaction to “I Will Follow You” was so strong that I had to put it down for a few days.
Some of the stories in the middle are a bit forgettable. It definitely seems as though the collection was front loaded. That said, I did enjoy Difficult Women overall, and am happy to have read it. I am anxiously awaiting Hunger, and this collection has solidified Roxane Gay as an auto buy author for me.

What does it mean to grow up?

post finals deschanel

I’ve been feeling reflective lately. It’s probably a product of my being almost finished with grad school and getting ready to embark on the main course of my life. But I’ve been thinking about life, about relationships, about what it means to grow up, about what it means to make it. Is there a point in life where you think, “Yes. This is it. This is what I’ve been waiting for. This feeling. This moment”? For some people, I think this is a very tangible thing. I think they can look back at their life and pinpoint that exact moment where this thought, or a version of it, resided in their mind. I haven’t reached that point, but I imagine, I hope, that one day I will get to experience this. Until then, I sit and wonder. What does it mean to grow up? And, how do you know when it’s happened?

I can’t remember where I heard or saw the quote “Be gentle with your friends.” It’s probably something I made up or adapted from quote about being gentle with one’s parents, but still. It’s been on my mind. The other day, I’d intended to talk to my best friend about something important that happened to me. She was busy, as happens, so I told her we could talk later. Perfectly reasonable, right? Two days later, she asks if I still want to talk or if everything was ok. I told her, sure everything was fine. We’ve been friends for almost ten years, she knows when I’m lying. She asked if I was sure, and I said yes in that text tone that means drop it or this will end badly. Because by then, I didn’t want to talk about the thing anymore. It had made me mad, and I was not in the mood to retell the story again. I was still mad about it, but I was done talking about it. She made one more attempt to get me to talk, and I had to physically walk away from my phone for a while before I could answer. I dislike it when she continues after I’ve made it clear that we’re not discussing whatever it is.

In my time away from the phone, though, I started to think. I’m annoyed. Why? Because I wanted to talk to her and she was busy? That happens. That’s life. Deal. I’m annoyed. Why? Because I’m still pissed about the thing that happened? There’s nothing I can do about it now, and talking about it just pisses me off more. I’m annoyed. Why? Because I’ve had no interaction with a human who wasn’t a virtual stranger in over a week? Living alone, even temporarily sucks. I need meaningful interactions with people I care about and who care about me. I realize this, and not having this makes me cranky. It’s not her fault I’ve been alone for almost ten days. There was literally no reason to be so pissed at her.

Eventually, I calmed down enough to express myself in a way that wouldn’t punish her for trying to be a good friend, that wouldn’t push us into a fight, but that did make clear that I would not be discussing the thing at all and that I would get over it or not eventually. Is that growth? Is that a marker of being an adult, knowing when to engage? Knowing when you’re experiencing heightened emotions that may or may not have anything to do with the current situation and acting according to the situation rather than the emotion? Recognizing that ignoring the problem does not make it go away. I was tempted, seriously, to ignore her and not talk to her until the next time I had something to say/share/ask or she texted me for whatever reason. But that’s petty, and I knew I couldn’t do that to her. I kept thinking about the phrase “Be gentle with your friends.”

Someone once said that I am incapable of self-reflection. I beg to differ. Just having this blog is an exercise in self-reflection. That moment, though, when I stepped away from the phone and chose not to engage was also an exercise in self-reflection. I knew I wasn’t actually mad at her, because there was no reason to be mad at her. She hadn’t done a thing to me. I was experiencing my own problems, and she just happened to be there. A few days later, I got caught off guard by Mother Nature, and recognized why I’d been more peeved that usual.

However, that brings me back to my original question, “What does it mean to grow up and how do you know when it’s happened?” I recognized in that moment that I’d done something very adult. I was frustrated. I took a step back. I reflected. I responded. How often do we actually do this and recognize that it has happened? In that moment, I realized that I had become an adult. More than turning 18, more than turning 21, more than being able to vote, drive a car, get an apartment, plan a wedding, interact with disgruntled patrons. More than anything, I recognized in that moment that I could be, that I was an adult. I’ve had other moments that have made me question, realize, and come to terms with my adulthood, and I may talk about them, but this moment was profound.newgirl adult

What was the moment you realized you were an adult?

Ai Medo Blid Au

Ok. I’m in mourning. I am mourning fictional characters for the hundredth millionth time in my life. When Opie died on Sons of Anarchy, I couldn’t even get through the next episode. That happens in Season 4. I haven’t watched a full episode of SOA since. I did catch the last ten minutes of the series finale, though.

Now, though, I’m mourning my favorite minor character, Zoe Monroe, and my favorite recurring major character, Lexa kom Triku, Heda of the 13 clans.

I totally understand why Lexa died, even the way it happened. Why? Because we saw her fight. She’ll fight dirty if she has to, because as unafraid of death as she was, she was not about to welcome it without a fight if she had anything to do with it. An accidental bullet wound to the gut, though, is something she couldn’t predict, couldn’t guard against, couldn’t fight. I’m heartbroken by the death of this character, but I’m willing to see where the story goes because of it. There was a reason the writers agreed to let the character die. I’m sure we all can guess what it is, but I’ve been seeing a lot of hate from the Clexakru. I know we’re in mourning, but this wasn’t a case of the actor wanted out, so death was only option. (See McDreamy. I’m still mad, Shonda! I’m still mad about Lexi and Mark and Calzona, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.) This was a case of plot and character development. Several characters are about to be devastated, and have to find a way to move past Lexa’s death and the consequences. Clarke already is. Octavia’s trust in Clarke is hanging on a very thin thread, and I would love to see the conversation or understanding that occurs when Clarke announces the death of Lexa as the reason she wasn’t where she’d planned to be. Indra was already feeling sorry for herself, feeling as though she’d put her trust in the wrong sky person, again. Lexa was of her clan. How long have they, Lexa and Indra, been together? How much do you want to bet that Indra trained Anya, who trained Lexa? Now, they’re both dead. What must that feel like? Kane and Abby, how will they react when they find out? Pike? I don’t give two shits about Pike, but he is currently still the Chancellor. Will he whoop with joy and use it as further fuel for his hatred? Lexa herself. We know where she is, even as her physical body is dead. ALIE 2 is the source of their “death is not the end” rhetoric, so she’s most likely in the City of Light. (Pause. Seriously?! Virtual fucking reality? I’m actually very interested to see how this plays out. Are the place ALIE calls the City of Light and the place Lexa is the same place? Does ALIE2 have a different version of the City of Light since that code is the upgrade/better version of ALIE for which ALIE searches?) But I digress. How will she feel, wherever she is? (That’s an existential question if ever there was one about life after death) I wonder if we’ll get to see Lexa wherever she is. I’ve seen spoiler photos on tumblr, so it will happen, but still. Will it be only in that episode or will she pop up again at some point before that? Even better question: How the eff does Clarke get there?!

If you can’t already tell, I have a lot of feelings about Lexa, in particular, and the Ladies of The 100, in general. There is so much there, all the actors are amazing at conveying so much in so little screen time. Which leads me to Monroe. Oh, Monroe. From my first time seeing her French braid to the look of pure pain on her face as she died, I have wanted to know more about Zoe Monroe. How did she get into the Sky Box? Why was she so comfortable with a gun? I think the grand total of her screen time can’t be more than an hour. Katie Stuart must have put so much thought into who Monroe was and what made her tick, that she had a huge impact on the show and the fandom. I am pissed at Bellamy, for many reasons, but mainly for being the reason Monroe is dead. Yes, Monroe is grown and made her own choices, but think about it. Monroe would do anything for the remaining hundred. These are people she lived with and fought beside for longer than we know. They were her family. She willingly stood against Bellamy at first. She knew it was wrong to slaughter innocent people, but he convinced her somehow that it was for their own good. He was her general, and she couldn’t stand against him…or his warped logic. (Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK, BELLAMY?! Ugh, I have so many thoughts about him, even as I know that talk he had with Clarke had to happen the way it did, I am angry that he allowed Pike to prey on his insecurities and untreated trauma. He’s not back to “Whatever the hell we want”…he’s worse. But this is not about Bellamy. I’ll get to him whenever Octavia beats the shit out of him.)

I think I’m done…for now. I just really needed to get that out.

In peace may you leave this shore.

In love may you find the next.

Safe passage on your travels, until our final journey on the ground.

May we meet again, Monroe.

Yu gonplei ste odon, Lexa kom Trikru. Reshwe.

Photos from The 100 wiki.

Librarian in Training 9

Well, this semester has been a roller coaster. So much is happening and as happened, and I’m positive that my collection development class grade will suffer for it. But I’m glad it’s this semester and not next semester. Next semester is the last 5k in a marathon, the hardest, most heart pounding, please-let-me-finish, don’t-give-up-you’re-so-close part. Next semester is my last semester of grad school. Next May, I will graduate with a Masters in Library and Information Sciences, if all goes according to plan. But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. This post is about this semester.

In a fit of pique…nothing. Nothing happened, I’ve just always wanted to use that phrase. Don’t judge me.

My cataloguing class is going well. I’m only required to post in 12 of the 16 topics at any point in the semester. I think I’m up to 8 or 10. I haven’t checked today. That’s for tonight when I log on to complete the assignment that’s due on Tuesday and post some responses. I’m not super worried about this class. There is one adjustment I need to make in the grand scheme of things, but that won’t be hard. I do have to print and go through my lectures and my textbook

My collection development class, on the other hand, suffered the most during the dark days of September and the twilight days of October. So much of that class depends on discussion, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I spent most of my energy on being a good group member to my policy group and getting up every day for work. I’ve been posting regularly since about mid-October, but that’s probably not enough to save that grade. Then there’s my first half of my reading log. We’re supposed to read 250 pages outside of homework. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I turned in a little less than a hundred pages for the first part of the log. Again, I just couldn’t do it. I could barely finish a book for fun from my favorite author, do you think I was going to read 125 pages of utterly boring yet useful research? I did the bare minimum to be informed for my policy group. That’s it. Can you sense a theme? I’m willing to let myself down. I have let myself down many times over this semester, but a portion of four other people’s grades depends on me getting my ass in gear, so I did what I could for them. They are an awesome group, the best group I’ve had since Tricia and Eliza, and I am not going to disappoint them. To make up for the utter disaster that was that assignment, I’ve created a schedule for the next half of the reading log. I will be finished by next Wednesday, if I stick to it. I don’t really have a choice, as the assignment is due on the 30th, along with a presentation, a final copy of my group’s policy manual (for which I have to do style corrections), and reflection paper, on top of the final discussions and comments. I’m going to try to recoup some of that grade since none of the discussions are closed. So yeah, the reading log needs to be done ASAP.

In work news, I am an official member of the social media committee! I’m still in charge of Twitter! I need to develop a strategy for our YA account. I’ve left it for too long sitting and wasting away while I focus on the main account. I have news that I’m really excited about, but I’m not sure I can post it widely just yet. But I get to go shopping for warm winter clothes, a coat, and new boots for a trip to Boston in January! I have so many more responsibilities at work, and I’ve only just realized that I was supposed to do something two weeks ago that I haven’t done yet.

So. That’s where we are. Not super fun or really detailed, but I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things. Sorry about the lack of Readers’ Advisory posts. I haven’t been finishing books. Sorry about the lack of Author Highlights and Lush Adventures and Thoughts&Musings. Sorry about the general lack of everything at this point. Now, it is time for coffee and collection development reading and notes.

Hello November

Forgive me, Internet, for I have sinned. It has been one month since my last post.

Ok, so one month isn’t the longest I’ve gone without posting, but it still felt weird. I’ve thought about posting for a while now. If only to come back and I say that I’m ok. I’ve worked through my downswing. I took care of business. I’m doing alright now. I’m caught up in my classes, though I know it will not be a stellar showing at the end of the semester. I’m ok with that. I had a bad semester. It is not the end of the world. I work full-time. I go to school full-time. It was bound to happen at some point. I’m just glad it was now and now next semester. Next semester is graduation semester. Next semester is e-port semester. Next semester is the graduate equivalent of senior thesis. I cannot afford to have this happen next semester.

But this was just a short one to say that I’m thinking about you, little blog and blog followers. Next post will be much more substantial.


The Struggle is REAL

Six years ago, I would not have been able to write this in public. I live with, fight with, argue with, suffer from depression, and sometimes a bit of anxiety.


I haven’t been able to write, really write, in three weeks. I haven’t really been able to do much of anything, homework included, for a month. The day I wrote the Mouthful of Forevers review was the day I got some really not great news. It hit me in the chest, put me on the ground, and I’ve been struggling to get back up again ever since. I live with, fight with, argue with, suffer from depression, and sometimes a bit of anxiety. In 2009, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, complicated by a bit of PTSD. Six years later, I’ve been downgraded from BPD to Unspecified Depressive Disorder. I’m depressed a lot. It doesn’t take much. Procrastinating, being overwhelmed and wanting the world to slow down so that I can catch up. Getting really bad news. Having to attend a surprise funeral. All of these things have happened in the past year, and when I think I’m over them or recovering from them, something else happens.

On that day in late August, I was called self-centered. I was called manipulative. I was called infantile. I was told that I have no coping mechanisms, that things that would normally not affect a mentally healthy/stable human would send me on a spiral into depression and suicidal ideation. I was called a lot of things, none of them positive.On top of that, I was said to be incapable of introspection and self-examination. Even worse, it was said that my choice of career, librarian, was a manifestation of my pathological need to be isolated, yet accepted. [Someone doesn’t know a thing about 21st century libraries.]

Already, I’d recognized that I was beginning to feel lower than normal, that I was becoming overwhelmed with my responsibilities, that I needed and was ready to go back to therapy and get my life in order again. I was setting plans in motion. Then this happened.

Six fucking years of work almost destroyed. Six years of getting up everyday, going to work everyday, going to school every day. Six years, off and on, of journaling when I felt extremely low. Six years of talking myself out of depression. Six years of self-realization, self-actualization. Six years of making attempts to talk to strangers in the hopes of making new friends, which I hate doing. Six years of going after things that terrify me, like grad school and a library job and a promotion. Six fucking years of trying to better than I was at 18 years old. I was shaking. I was angry. I was near tears. I wanted to lay down and not get up again. I wanted to crawl into a whole and never come out. I wanted to drink every bottle of wine in my house, and I have a lot of it.

Instead, I told my mom. Instead, I grabbed three bottles of water and drained the first one in ~45 seconds. Instead, I texted my best friends, one who knew me before, one who knew me after, and two I see on a regular basis. I read off all the traits, and asked them. Because I don’t think that I am any of those things above. I recognize that I have the capacity to be. I’m human, dammit. But I work, actively, at not being those things. I work at being an adult every fucking day. Then again, I am incapable of self-examination, so they said.

Every answer came back, “Uhm…no. Where is this coming from? Are you ok?” In that moment, I wasn’t. I was not ok. I was barely safe. I was hanging on by strength of will alone. It was a long night and even longer day after, because I went to work. My entire world had been rocked, but I went to work the next day. I have been going to work every day.

I am actually really proud of myself, because six years ago, I would not have been able to write this in public. I would not have recognized that I was on a downswing. I would not have reached out for help. I would not have had emergency triage with four friends on three different sets of text messages simultaneously. I would not have recognized so soon that I was letting these words rule my life and ruin my self-perception.

Even now, I’m struggling. My participation in class is slipping. My dedication to my job is fading. But I will not be that girl anymore. I have wallowed in this trench of self-loathing for a month. I have given this process, this person, entirely too much power over my life. I have had enough. I love being a librarian. I love learning and I love the 3.9 GPA that comes with it. I have coping mechanisms, including coloring, going to the gym, reading, journaling, and web-surfing. I recognize that I have the capacity for a whole host of negative emotions and traits, yet I work at not giving in to them. It’s not easy. I lean, heavily at times, on outside support. But I am determined to be better, always and in all ways, than I was at 18 years old.

Thanks for listening. Until next time

BookRiot Round-Up

On 9/21/2015, BookRiot participated in #BlackOutDay by running articles by black writers. I took a moment to round-up the books and authors mentioned in these posts. The books run the gamut from fiction to nonfiction, kid lit to adult, and straight and queer. There are classics and award-winners alongside more popular and genre titles. Take a look, then head out to your local library or bookstore!




Nnedi Okorafor
N.K. Jemisin
Alaya Dawn Johnson
Colson Whitehead
Tobias Buckell
Bill Campbell
Amy Tan
Alice Walker
Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie
Zora Neale Hurston
Octavia Butler
Jason Reynolds
Beverly Jenkins
Susana Fraser
Pema Donyo
Jennifer Roberson
K.J. Charles
Mineko Iwasaki
Cindy Pon
Meg Medina
Nicola Yoon
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Margo Jefferson
Toni Morrison
Jacqueline Woodson
Janet Mock
Justin Simien
Baratunde Thurston
Kehinde Wiley
Saeed Jones
ZZ Packer
Sharon M. Draper
Jeff Hobbs
Jesmyn Ward
James McBride
Mary Hoffman
Victor Sejour
Martin Delany
Pauline Hopkins
W.E.B. DuBois
Frances E.W. Harper
Samuel Delany
Sheree Renee Thomas
Walidah Imarisha
Daniel Jose Older
Tananarive Due
Sofia Samatar
Andrea Hairston
Nisi Shawl
Steven Barnes
​Ayize Jama-Everett
Jennifer Marie Brissett​


I couldn’t resist adding these last two 🙂




Readers’ Advisory: Mouthful of Forevers. Clementine von Radics

Quick Facts

Author: Clementine von Radics

Published 2015 Andrews McMeel Publishing 9781449470791

112 pages $16.99US, $19.99CAN

Available in print and eBook


Why I Read It

During my end of fiscal year shopping spree at my library earlier in the summer, I asked my friends what they thought a library needed. One thing mentioned was more and diverse poetry. I went through our poetry collection, and while it is not sparse by any means, it did need some updating and retrofitting. I bought all the poetry that looked good, and even some that didn’t look good, because who am I to decide what someone will like or not like. I bought African poets, African-American poets, white poets, celebrity poets, former sex worker poets, tumblr poets, Asian poets, and many others. As a lover of poetry, I couldn’t resist trying to read all of this new poetry I bought for the library.

TLL’s Tag

Love and life are the strangest things.

The Rundown

A collection of poems chronicling the life, loves, and heartbreak of one woman.

Here’s what I think

It usually takes me a day, one sitting even, to read a book of poetry. As much as I can, I try not to stop too often to reflect on each individual poem, because I would rather examine my feelings to the piece as a whole first, then go back and choose my favorites. I couldn’t do that with Mouthful of Forevers. Every poem felt real in a visceral way, and I could not casually go on to the next as if my life had not just shifted a bit at the reading. I should not have started reading this at work, because I was in tears. I was completely and utterly destroyed in ways that I’m not sure I can describe right now. In 112 pages, and though I cannot relate to everything von Radics writes about, it felt as if my life had been mined to fuel someone else’ creative genius.

I have some favorite poems from this  collection. One of them is the most famous titular poem. I can see why it has inspired wedding vows and tattoos. It, like all of von Radics’ poems, is powerful.

Final decision

Prepare to be completely destroyed.


Links to the Author, Interviews, and Reviews

Author tumblr:

tongue tied magazine review & interview:

hooligan magazine interview, page 16: