Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Four books down, and one more to go before The Bocas Lit Fest....

Oftentimes when I write a review of a novel, I will put the cover of the book at the beginning of the post so that when a person is in a book store, she may remember the book cover, remember my review, and decide if she should give the book a try. However, with this book, I put the picture of Tiphanie at the beginning of this post, because Tiphanie is a truly, gifted storyteller who should be recognized all over the world.

This book is set in the Virgin Islands. I've never been to the Virgin Islands, but after reading this book, I am adding the Virgin Islands to my list of places that I should visit soon. 

The main characters are Eeona and Anette. However, there are many minor characters that Tiphanie carefully developed as much as she did the main characters, and their development added to the richness of this text.

This stories traces the history of the Virgin Islands and the lives of the sisters Eeona and Anette. I absolutely loved this story, and here are a few reasons why:
  • Character Development: Tiphanie helped me to get to know these characters by telling their stories completely but not in a manner that was confusing. We get to know the characters quite well and you can't help but to love them, even those who aren't likeable, when we understand why they do what they do. 
  • Narration:  Tiphanie uses four different narrators to tell this story: Eeona, Anette, Jacob, and a third person narrator. For each character who spoke, Tiphanie helped us to really hear their voice and understand their perspective. With Anette, she even used a Caribbean dialect that was quite fascinating. However, the narrator who tells most of this story is the third person narrator, and it felt like she was sitting in my house telling me this captivating story: the narrator would actually address the reader and include me in the story by using words such as 'we.' 
By the way, Tiphanie's narration reminds me of the writings of the late and great J. California Cooper. If you have not tried anything by J. California, You Must! A good story to start with by J. California Cooper is In Search of Satisfaction. I can guarantee that you will thoroughly enjoy it, or I refund you the money that you spend on the book. (Just Playing!)

  • Atmosphere or Mood:  An author normally uses atmosphere or mood in order to affect the reader emotionally and psychologically and to provide a feeling for the narrative. And, Tiphanie did a superb job of doing just that. I could clearly envision every scene, and it felt like I was in the book. I was connected to this novel, and found myself pulled to the Virgin Islands over and over again: the characters, the place, the mysticism! Speaking of mysticism, the mysticism was used in this novel in a manner that made me believe that there is something to it. The supernatural was subtle but very present. As a matter of fact, I currently teach a study from St. Croix who stated that most people in the Virgin Islands do believe in the Supernatural, and he stated that almost every person has had at least one experience with the supernatural. Interesting right?
I've listed the three reasons why I absolutely loved this book; however, I could go and on and on about this book and its writer.

I believe that Tiphanie and her storytelling will definitely stand the test of time. I hope that Tiphanie writes, and writes, and writes and not die with one ounce of her talent still inside of her....

I got my fingers crossed for Tiphanie to still be in the lineup for The Bocas Lit Fest; It would be a great treat to meet her.

Get to know Tiphanie and her writings!

My last book to finish before The Bocas Lit Fest is A Brief History of Seven Killings:

So, I downloaded this book, and it is over six-hundred pages, and I thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" So, I read the reviews, and this book is highly acclaimed, and I can't wait to read every single word...

By the way, I just love this picture of Marlon James, the author of A Brief History of Seven Killings:

Marlon Jones

Purposeful reading feels good......

Happy Hump Day, My People!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Racing Season 2 Race #3: All American Road Race

Tina and I after the race!

Race #3 was a forty mile road race that was held in Poolesville, MD...

Wasn’t sure about doing this race, but I checked the weather for Saturday and thought that I might as well race on an 80 degree day in April.

I must really be settling into racing, because when I arrived at the race site, I was not nervous at all. My teammates and I registered, warmed our legs up, went to the start line, talked to the other women, and started the race.

The course was a rolling hill course, and I am comfortable with rolling hills. I stayed with the pack for quite awhile, and it felt very good. I was shifting gears, staying close to the wheel in front of me, and being in the moment.

However, after about forty-minutes of race pace, I sort of lost steam. I was feeling quite exhausted and needed a few minutes to catch my breath. Well, me catching my breathe gave the other racers the opportunity to get quite a lead on me, and I never could quite catch back up.

However, you know me! I refused to give up and rode my own race, pounding the pavement hard, giving it my all, and I finished.

It felt good to cross the finish line knowing that I had given my all, and I publicly declared that I ain’t giving up yet. Sooooo, I am talking to a cycling coach in order to get help with pushing through the pain and staying with the pack the entire race. Yep, I’m getting help and going back. As a matter fact, I am racing Saturday and Sunday next weekend. (EXCITED!)

Don’t count me out yet!

Until the next time.......

Friday, April 17, 2015

And He Was Loved!

I recently attended a memorial service for a former student who took his life....

I taught not only this student but his older brother as well. They are super bright, military children who moved around a lot, but they seemed to have adjusted just fine to the high school where I currently teach.

The student who committed suicide was quiet, yet funny, and he was active in both his high school and college drama clubs.

Hearing about him taking his life made me think about him and his brother wondering if there were signs that we all missed. Also, wondering if there was any way possible that this entire situation could have ended differently.

However, his pastor reassured everyone present at the memorial service that mental illness is just like any other disease with outcomes that are not always what we may like. The pastor comforted us by lovingly declaring that God is with us all of the time, and this child was not alone when he took his last breathe. He was with God, and God probably shed the very first tear.

The pastor mentioned love a lot, and I have wondered, since hearing about this child’s death, if he was loved enough. However, by looking at his parents, brother, and all of the people who filled that church, it was apparent that He Was LOVED!  Knowing this child, and seeing images of him that his family displayed after the service, I know that he knew that He Was Loved.

When the pastor stated several times that He Was LOVED, I thought about Pilate, from Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, who poignantly made the declaration to every person who was present at the funeral for her beloved granddaughter, Hagar, that She Was LOVED!
"Suddenly, like an elephant who has found his anger and lifts his trunks over the heads of the little men who want his teeth or his hide or his flesh or his strength, Pilate trumpeted for the sky itself to hear, "And she was LOVED!
It was important to Pilate that everyone knew that her dear, Hagar, Was LOVED!

It seems that death always makes people think about love, and many of us wonder if the person who died knew that he/she was loved, and oftentimes we also want everyone to know that the deceased person was loved. 

My people, there is something to this LOVE THING for sure... It is mentioned in The Bible so many times, and it appears that God places high priority on it. It is stated in the word that:
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE."  (1 Corinthians 13:13)
One of the basic human needs seems to be love and it is free and should be given and received freely, all of the time, so that at the end of our lives our families can be comforted by knowing that We Were Loved!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab by Shani Mootoo

Three novels down, and two more to go before the Bocas Lit Fest.

Once I figured out what was going on in this novel, and it did not take me long, I absolutely fell in love with it...

I loosely read the description of this novel, so when the main character, Jonathan went to meet his parent who left him, I assumed that he was going to meet his dad who left he and his mother. When actually, Jonathan was going to find his other mother, he was being raised by a lesbian couple. And, when he finally finds his mother, she has undergone a sex change and was an elderly man. Yes, you read this right. Not what I was expecting at all, but I truly enjoyed putting the pieces together and falling in love with Jonathan and his mother/father Sidney, formerly known as Sid.

Jonathan finds Sydney living in Trinidad, and he visits this elderly, sickly man to try and get the answers to why did he leave him. Through many conversations and letters, Jonathan is able to put the pieces to Sidney's life together and those pieces helped him to lovingly understand why Sydney left him to never return.

Mootoo does a great job of helping the reader to get a feel for Trinidad and its sense of community and traditions. Reading this book, I felt like I was in Trinidad feeling that warm, sticky air taking a close look into the lives of these characters.

Moot would tell a story and tell more stories, leaving me wanting more.....

This is definitely one to add to your list if you want to get a feel for the Trinidadian culture and meet characters that you will remember for a long time.

When I see Mootoo in Trinidad at the Bocas Lit Fest, I will not ask a lot of questions; I just want to hear her speak. Based on this novel, I know that she has some interesting stories to tell.

Shani Mootoo

I am one novel closer to Trinidad......

My next novel in preparation for the Bocas Lit Fest is Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique.

I can’t wait to start this one!

My people, it feels good to be reading for a purpose.....

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Racing Season Two, Race #2: Carl Dolan - A Circuit Race

My second race was called the Carl Dolan race, and it was held in Columbia, Maryland. This race was a circuit race. A circuit is shorter than a road race but longer than a crit race.....

This race was incredibly fun: the weather was perfect, the crowd exuded great energy, and I absolutely loved the course, but it did have an incline. The incline was not to steep, but it was long.

Now, on the way to the race, I was telling my teammate, Tina, that I was not going to road race anymore, I prefer CX racing...blah, blah, blah!

At the start of the race, I was leading the pack. My people, it felt sooo good to be in the front. I felt like my very own hero. However, we got to a turn, and I slowed down, and I was not longer leading the pack, but I was still in a good position.

We got to that incline, I did ok, but I lost steam quickly. I made it to the top exhausted, but the other girls kept on moving at race pace, and I just couldn't hold the speed.

Several times I wanted to give up, but this awesome crowd would not let me; they were yelling for me to keep pedaling, and I did.

Being that this is my second season racing, and I cycle a lot in the community, the love that I felt after the race was completely liberating. I just love the sense of community of cycling.

So, I asked myself "If I had a daughter and she loved racing, but needed to put in a lot of work to see the results that she wanted, would I encourage her to quit, or would I encourage her to keep racing and training knowing that she will get better?"

Well, of course I would tell my daughter to stick with whatever she loves and work to get better, and that is exactly what I am going to do. All that talk that I was doing before the race about not road racing anymore went out the window as soon as I got on that race course....

My people, I LOVE ROAD RACING!!!

In the meantime, I will be training, training, training, getting ready for the next race....

I'll keep you posted!!

Find a hobby that you love and become its slave.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bocas Lit Fest: Children of Paradise by Fred D'Aguiar

Two books down, three more to go before The Bocas Lit Fest.....

I absolutely love authors who takes a time period or an incident and tells fictional stories that can help the reader to better understand the time period or the incident.

For instance, Lawrence Hill, with The Book of Negroes, did an excellent job of helping me to better understand and visualize what may have happened during the time in history when humans were made into slaves. He gave those precious people names and identities, and that is exactly what Fred does with The Children of Paradise; he gives the people, who were involved in the Jamestown tragedy, names and identities and helped me to better understand why people would fanatically follow, Jim Jones, and take their own lives.

In the early 70s, Jim Jones, a religious leader, established a church called The People's Temple. He convinced over 900 people to move to Guyana and eventually convinced them to take their own lives by drinking poison. Read a Jamestown survivor's story here.

This happened in 1978, and I was only eight years old, and for some reason, I can vividly remember this incident.

With Children of Paradise, Fred takes us to Jamestown, and we are able to see how Jim Jones may have use beatings, torture, mind games, scare tactics, in order to convince people to be loyal to him and eventually take their own lives.

The main characters, Joyce and her children Trinia, Ryan, and Rose, are basically held captive by Jim Jones and were afraid to even think about leaving. Reading this story, I could feel their distress once they came to the realization that needed to get out, but there just seem to be no way out. I bonded with these characters and wanted them to get out, but I already knew how their story would end.

The story of Jamestown is one of many stories that need to be told over and over again. The people who died need to be given names and identities so that people will remember them as humans who were blindly taking a chance to live in a utopian society.

When I see Fred at The Bocas Lit Fest, I am going to thank him for honoring the people of the Jamestown tragedy by telling their stories.....

Read this incredible story and learn!

Guess what came in the mail?

So, I'll be reading Moving Forward Sideways Like A Crab next!

Only a few more weeks before the Lit Fest..... EXCITED!

Pushing Each Other To Be Our Best!



I am going to keep this in my mind before, during, and long after my cycling race on Sunday; We Are Pushing Each Other to Be Our Best.

Send me some love and positive energy Sunday around 10:45am.....

By the way, I got this quote from my co-worker, Erika, an ex-college athlete.

It's Friday!!!
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