My Favorite Books!

2021 Reading Review

As the year draws to a close I would like to review my favourite reads of 2021! *Please note these books may not have come out this year, they may have simply been my favourites that I have read within this year.* We will be sticking mostly to fantasy as that is the main genera I read, but who knows, maybe there’ll be a few surprise genres!

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‘The Starless Sea’ by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea is a book that seeks to understand narrative, while also revelling in the power, beauty, and humanness of story. The main protagonist Zachary Ezra Rawlins is enraptured in a hunt for explanations after finding a startling and horrifying account in a book in his university library, of himself. From there the book whirlwinds out to an adventure one filled with books, and meaning, and love, and hope, and story, and pirates, and a library that all lovers of books would want to visit. Reading this book feels like flying in an aeroplane over a city at night and seeing all the golds and silvers of the lamp-lit streets, a feeling of coming home and awe that warms hearts and slowly (normally after the aeroplane has landed) teases the tensions out of muscles for just a moment. This book is utterly gorgeous, its’ enchanting and poetic style adding to the experience and capturing the attention of the reader. Zachary Ezra Rawlins is human and fallible and unbelievably curious, making for a wonderful main protagonist, and the love interest Dorian is interesting, capable, and sweet.

While reading this book I became lost to its depths while remembering exactly what fantasy can be capable of. It is now one of my favourite books and a go-to recommendation, its narrative form may be frustrating to some readers, but it is well worth sticking with, and just might be your favourite read of 2022.

I give this book 3 swords, bees, keys out of three!

‘The Girl in Red’ by Christina Henery

The Girl in Red is a chase in darkened woods. It is Little Red Riding Hood mashed together with zombies and the very real problem of racism in our world today and what that might look like in an apocalyptic situation. We run with Red, as she faces not only the predators residing in the wood but also the worst of man and nature, whilst attempting to get to her safe haven, her grandmothers’ house. It is horrifying and hopeful and while we see the worst of humanity we also see the best. It is also strange to read this book after having experienced the pandemic and seeing some people initial thoughts and reactions reflected back in a work of horror fiction.

While this book is not for the faint of heart it is absolutely a book I would recommend. It has the right vibes for reading under a quilt with a flashlight and jumping at all the noises of the outside and the crash of a shattered plate. I was addicted from this first sentence, and who knows, you just might be too!

I give this book 7 scary rustling noises out of 7!

‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea is a treasure (for the friends we made along the way, of course!). This book explores family while also analysing the bias and privilege within overarching systems, namely ones designed to support children. It is a book about challenging your world views, observing the places you work for, and who you support critically. Linas Baker is a caseworker for the department of magical youth who gets sent to assess the state of the most dangerous of orphanages … at least according to the paperwork and the heads of DICOMY. It’s a hilarious tale that challenges Linaus to accept concepts such as, just because one is the son of Satan does not mean one will burn the world to the ground … or murder Linus. The reader is asked to consider concepts of nature vs nurture and peoples abilities to change (and I’m not talking about the children). It explores the idea that we are not who we work for and that past success or failures do not determine if the future will have the same outcome. It is moving and funny and everything you want when you curl up to read in a hot bubble-filled bath on a rainy night.

I loved this book, and it is my go-to book for comfort after a sad day or simply a relaxing tale when I don’t want to think too much and sometimes for when I do want to have a good think. I couldn’t recommend this book more.

I give this book 9 world-ending events out of 9! A truly fantastic read!

‘The Affair of the Mysterious Letter’ by Alexis Hall

The Affair of the Mysterious Letter is a book for all those who like bazaar world lore full of Doctor Who aesthetic when combined with witchcraft and the 1800s. It is incredibly rapturous and dry-witted, filled with chaos and all the best parts of a Sherlock Holmes novel, which is good because it is. It follows the adventures of John Wyndham a reserved fellow who once served in the elemental war that happened on a different plane of existence, and his roommate Shaharazad Haas a sorceress who sometimes when she wants to, solves crimes. This book travels from tight and curling cities to the ocean floor, woods, and into strange shows and gothic mansions. It has everything you could imagine and then some!

Reading this book reminds me of those scenes in movies where everything is wavey swirling colours and blinking lights. It is stunning and enjoyable and the perfect companion for recliners and thoughtful expressions!

I give this book 5 impossibly dangerous spells that should not be attempted, out of 5!

‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls is a haunting and tragic exploration of grief from the perspective of a child, whilst also being the best parts of bedtime stories from when I was a child. A Monster Calls explores grief and family and fear. It is a book that will pull tears from the depths of your soul. This is the story of Conor who through the help of the monster outside his window learns to cope with the idea and reality of death as he is forced to understand his mother in the context of someone who is dying with cancer. It is melancholically beautiful while also being fantasy and a story of hope. Reading this book feels like walking down a laneway in autumn after reading sad poetry while staring at the colour changing leaves. It is an experience in humanity.

I loved reading this book even when I cried, and as with all the other books on this list, I couldn’t recommend it more.

I give this book 1 giant tree monster out of 1!

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this list and maybe found something useful tucked away in all the words! These books were a pleasure to read and each one of them gave me something special and I can only hope they do the same for you. I wish you happy reading for 2022 and all the best!

WRITTEN BY ASHLEY THOMPSON

Poetry for Poets

Inspiration to Try Something New!

Chances are if you’re reading this you fall into one of four categorise. 1) Your a poet! Keep going! You’re doing a fantastic job! And I hope this blog post inspires you to try some new forms of poetry! 2) You’re thinking about trying poetry! Congratulations! I’ve found poetry to be a rewarding pastime that allows me to reflect on my life, how I’m feeling, and what’s important to me, as well as being a lot of fun! 3) You follow my blog and this just happened to appear, in which case I hope you find this as interesting as I did while researching it, and maybe it might inspire you to get your writing hat on! And finally, 4) you don’t know why you’re here, but you are. I hope you keep reading and maybe even give writing poetry a shot!

This blog post aims to explore three uncommon types of poems, why you should consider writing them, and how to write them! When we find our poetry style, at least in my case, we tend to stick to it, continuing to rewrite the same form every time, and while there’s nothing wrong with this, sometimes it can be nice to try something new, to get our brains thinking, and inspire us in ways we don’t expect! So without further ado, let us begin!

Ekphratic Poetry

Ekphrastic poetry, pronounced ek-FRA-stick (https://forvo.com/word/ekphrastic/), is poetry that describes a piece of art (such as visual art like a painting, or it could pertain to another form of art such as prose), it can be a way of showing appreciation, or critique of the other artwork, of finding hidden meaning, or exploring a work of art further. While it has no set rules, it can be fun to look at the work of someone else and examine what it means to you or relate that artwork to overarching ideas about humanity, death, or other such themes (https://www.tckpublishing.com/types-of-poems/; https://www.thoughtco.com/ekphrastic-poetry-definition-examples-4174699). For example, if you absolutely love ‘Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carrol you, might write something simple like this:

‘Alice fell into a world of wonder,

of caucus` races,

of adventure,

of lost heads and stolen hearts,

and as I tuned the final page I found my heart too was stolen,

left trapped in the book,

but not by a queen of hearts,

but by the magic of fiction and a place I will never see.’

~Down the Rabbit hole

This poem is both a reflection on ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and my own response to reading the novel when I was younger. Or you can write a more complex poem such as:

‘The silly girl in a dress so blue, thought I,

I sat upon the branch,

Or not,

Or not,

My head swivelling on my absence of neck,

My great yellow eyes watched,

A silly girl indeed,

Don’t you know you shouldn’t talk to strangers?

Such strange strangers such as I?

For directions no less,

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” says I,

Such a silly girl.’

~Cheshire Cat

This poem is a reflection of both the moment in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ where Alice meets the Cheshire Cat but also a reflection on the innate trust of youth and the dangers of such trust, from the perspective of one who sees the folly in Alice’s behaviour that she herself may not see (https://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/resources/analysis/themes-and-motifs/). I deeply enjoy this kind of poem as it asks me to consider another’s work and what I take from it.

Epigram Poetry

Epigram poetry are short poems that feel reminiscent of the comedic talking parrots in comedies with pirates, and that important moment in speeches where the presenter makes a grand bold statement that just so happens to rhyme. This poetry challenges the poet to use minimal words to communicate serious, satirical, or even another message, as you only get 2 – 4 lines following an A, A, B, B, rhyming style, (the last word of the first line rhymes with the last word of the second line, the last word of the third line rhymes with the last word of the fourth.) (https://www.tckpublishing.com/types-of-poems/; https://poets.org/glossary/epigram)

For example:

‘Once I saw my cat fall flat,

Laughing, I did not think myself a brat,

But then one autumn night last June,

I fell, and so I changed my tune.’

~Lessons in Courtesy

In this poem, I reflect on both myself and societies tendency to watch funny videos of cats falling off of tables and slipping on polished floors, all while laughing, and then the irony of falling over in front of my own cat and seeing the amusement in her eyes (whether its imaged amusement or not). I found this to be an entertaining subject, while also reflecting on empathy and connection. All in all, it’s a fun poem to write, it’s quick and easy, and it’s a brilliant way to get ideas stuck both in your head and others’ heads!

Nonsense Poetry

Nonsense poetry is one of my favorite forms of poetry, as it embraces the absurd and often makes no or little sense. It’s the art of playing with words to make them sound good without necessarily being constrained by meaning and invites an exploration into vocabulary that otherwise can be difficult to find cause to engage in. One of my favorite nonsense poems, (falling into that category of a Ballard of impossibility, as the words individually make sense but not the poem as a whole (http://folklore.bc.ca/one-fine-day-in-the-middle-of-the-night/)) has no agreed-upon title but is sometimes known as ‘Two dead boys’ or ‘One Fine Day (in the Middle of the Night) (https://itseemsamyis.wordpress.com/tag/ballad-of-impossibilities/). It is a poem of contradictions that stumbles the brain and intrigues the reader. This type of poetry has no set structure but often rhymes with the express purpose of making no or little sense. It can be a fun activity to get your mind working (https://thanetwriters.com/essay/style/how-to-write-a-nonsense-poem/; https://www.britannica.com/art/nonsense-verse).

For example:

‘We sat and talked of hours,

The silence of ours was flowers,

Our garden gorgeous,

For the lack of thesaurus,

As we finished that walk of ours.’

~The Impossible Garden

But your nonsense poem doesn’t have to be a ballad of impossibility, it can simply make no sense. Your poem can be nonsensical by having contradictions, and things that don’t exist, even in folklore and myth, or you can write such poems by making up new words that have no meaning but feel as if they have meaning. A good example of this is Lewis Carrol’s famous poem, ‘Beware the Jabberwocky’. Below I have written two more nonsense poems with varying degrees of nonsense:

‘There was an old cat called Crumbs,

who often forgot he had thumbs,

He grabbed the milk,

It suddenly spilt,

So he sighed, and cried, and moaned out why,

for that night he had to do sums!’

~Cat Called Crumbs


‘It was a snarqutic night,

The air was fill with smite,

It zagred and jakbird and ciumbered, and clotherd,

Though nary a person was unduly bothered,

It still didn’t feel like a show.

He didn’t hear it,

And neither did she,

A song and a lorning, something of a warning,

So the silly man lost his head.

Though in the morning,

The moon bright and calling,

He still breathed,

His mustache unseized.

and thus he went to bed.’

~It was a Snarqutic Night

I find the creation of these poems to be fun and a way to make my brain think outside the box, which I find can then help with my other projects, but sometimes I write them as they can be just a lot of fun!

Conclusion

This post covered three uncommon types of poetry to hopefully inspire long-time poets to try some new forms of poetry and inspire new poets to write poetry in the first place! I hope you found either something interesting, to challenge your brain, and/or something fun to do to pass time. I wish you all the best with your creation!

WRITTEN BY ASHLEY THOMPSON

(The following poems were also written by Ashley Thompson: Down the Rabbit hole, The Cheshire Cat, The Impossible Garden, a Cat Called Crumbs, and It was a Snarqutic Night)