The Gaia in You

1.

You count the raindrops
long after they stop falling,
losing count when you reach
two-hundred and seven.

Time means nothing to you
because nothing fills it.

Light once split between your fingers,
but now you see grey,
not every day but most days—
it feels like staring at smudged charcoal
or weeds as they wither and die
or wet cement without a memory.

2.

Something shadows you
like the mountains you dream
of screaming from,
where you’d lose your voice
and break your lungs,
but you’d embrace release,
no matter how much it shreds you,
because you want to feel it.

3.

Sometimes you won’t reach those heights,
so instead you pluck petals from flowers,
tearing and splintering,
thorns slithering beneath skin.

Noise howls past your skull like silence,
and you wonder
how long it will last.

4.

It hushes,
and it is like music.

You wish for the melody to linger.

5.

When it does, you watch the ocean
as the moon reflects its face
on the water—
it looks like blurry stars in a rippling galaxy.

Peace makes you think,
and you think about
cracking open your ribs,
peeling back skin and bones.

Will you find only mangled flesh and darkness?

You find other things,
like roots dancing over your heart,
buried beneath soil and blood,
warmed and fed by your breaths.

You glimpse something close to a garden,
and you hope that soon
flowers will bloom.

6.

And bloom they will.


Yet another poem that was sitting in a file, waiting to be seen.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid came to my attention due to the hype of its brilliance. Usually, with those types of novels—at least, in the past—the result, compared to the build-up, ended up being lukewarm at best and disappointing at worst. In my experience, titles of the latter included A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, (though, to be fair, as the series continues, what was once excitement has started to dwindle) and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which could have been because it was likened to Gone Girl at the time, rather than respected on its own merits.

Of course, believing into those comparisons and approaching the novels with high expectations was the first mistake. Hence why, when it comes to reading now, I adopt the mindset of expecting nothing.

Hence why The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was that much more stunning.

In short, it follows journalist, Monique Grant, interviewing adored actress, Evelyn Hugo, after being asked to write her biography. She tells her story, about climbing the ladder of Hollywood, marrying seven men, and the secrets of her life.

The first aspect was the diversity, shown within the first few pages. Our two narrators are women of colour, Monique is biracial (with a black father and white mother), and Evelyn Hugo is Cuban and born to immigrants. Much more comes to light, including gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters, which became appreciated further when you think of how many Hollywood stars were too. While I cannot speak for how well race and ethnicity was portrayed, the elements of queerness and sexuality were welcomed.

Because of these things (and because of the timeline of the story, from the mid-50s to present) sensitive and triggering topics were addressed, and, at times, called out. Although not heavy enough to overwhelm the substance, the way in which they were discussed felt thoughtful. Those topics included sexism, whitewashing, white male privilege, bisexual erasure, homophobia, and domestic violence. It did, at times, feel borderline too tragic, but when taking circumstances into consideration, it felt more raw in its realism than unnecessary.

“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is ‘you’re safe with me’- that’s intimacy.”

Because, at its core, it focuses on a woman’s identity, the choices she makes, the regrets and not-so-regrets, the emotional and heart-wrenching (or heartwarming) events that happened in her seventy-nine years, impacting not only those within her past but those in her future, including Monique. There were scattered moments that felt far-fetched, but everything else, such as the complex and in-depth relationships, conflict between personal and professional life, between truth and lies, outweighed those moments, guiding the focus back to the gritty and honest heart of the book.

Which, at face value, I thought would be what it says on the tin. A woman falls for seven men. In hindsight, it was naïve to assume it would be as simple as that, instead reading something far more complicated and tangled, something that has left a lasting effect on me two days after finishing it. Because, to me, what I found most interesting was this: marriage is not always done out of love, until, sometimes, it is.

Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? What did you think?

Shades of Magic by V. E. Schwab

The Shades of Magic series is the second work by V. E. Schwab that I’ve read, This Savage Song being the first (you can read an old review of mine here), since attempting and failing to read Vicious—which, in hindsight, was due to a slump rather than disappointment. Even though slightly apprehensive about approaching a new series, the diversity and gay author encouraged me to crack on.

First in the series, A Darker Shade of Magic, unexpectedly sealed the deal.

I say unexpectedly because, as someone who reads a few chapters a day or takes months to finish, sometimes my attention sways enough that my interest is lost, leaving yet another unfinished/abandoned book. In this instance, I was rooted to the story until the end, even if it did take a while to finish anyway, because the content was that interesting and compelling.

To me, the drive came from the characters and setting. Characters included various types, whether flawed protagonists or developing anti-heroes (the latter, without question, being my favourite kind, with angst and conflict), which you’d think would be a downside, but they held the story. The world-building of four versions of London also created an interesting and vivid structure, and, without either of these detailed aspects, the story wouldn’t have been as captivating.

It also wouldn’t have been if Schwab herself hadn’t fancasted Holland as Mads Mikkelson—and that is enough for me to fall in love with anything.

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.”

A Gathering of Shadows could have been shortened, dipping in the middle every so often, but the books on either side of it compensated for what lacked. Such as the raw and enthralling completion of the trilogy with A Conjuring of Light, bringing together three instalments with its beautiful and emotional conclusion, which one might be saddened by, until you find out that another series for the universe is coming, not only with new characters but the existing ones as well.

So, if you enjoy stories with magic and friendships, romance and action, then this trilogy should be right up your street.

Short Fiction Reads July 2018

It was about time short fiction became regular reading, and that those stories be shared with others. Without furtherado, here are some worthy of mentioning (and, yes, understandably it isn’t a huge selection, but I’m a slow reader):

Worth Her Weight in Gold by Sarah Gailey, Tor Publishing

Winslow Remington Houndstooth, creator of the best and rarest breed of hippo in the United States of America, notorious outlaw, handsomest heartbreaker in the American South—

Although the ideas and characters are part of Gailey’s novellas (River of Teeth and Taste of Marrow), you needn’t rely on reading them beforehand before approaching this short fiction piece—though, like me, you’re likely to read them afterwards, because it is a heartwarmning story of Winslow (a man who is queer and Korean-British) and his hippo, showing how much she means to him in an odd yet endearing way.


Three Dandelion Stars by Jordan Kurella, Beneath Ceaseless Skies

“I wish,” Shai said, “I wish that we could be married.”

What a lovely and emotional tale, full of both happy and sad moments, but, ultimately, depicts the beauty of love and what lengths a woman would take to be with the woman she loves.


The Sweetness of Honey and Rot by A. Merc Rustad, Beneath Ceaseless Skies

It’s the last day of autumn, and Jiteh’s twin brother is dead.

Rustad brings a creepy concept to life with vivid imagery and raw themes of humanity vs nature (but also has a nice touch of the main character having two mothers). Despite coming across Rustad’s works only recently, their storytelling is sure to become one of my favourites, and, I’m sure, it would be the same for anyone who gives their fiction a read. You can find dozens of their works via their bilbiography.


The Gentleman of Chaos by A. Merc Rustad (again), Apex Magazine

The Gentleman of Chaos has been painted, illegally, in a thousand different ways: as a winged shadow descending like a hawk against the moon; as a tall, thin wraith cloaked in starlight; as a man with knives for hands and eyes like an owl. He wears armor, or he is naked. He dances across rooftops or rises from the cobbled streets like mist. He smiles or he is faceless.

As you can see, I’m following up on the opinion that Rustad writes fantastic stories. This one (which many have recommended) is an enthralling tale with savagery, dynamics between siblings, and growth of one’s identity. A brilliant addition to the LGBT+ genre.

So, there you have it, a whole four stories. I’ll most definitely be recommending far more come the next post.

If you’ve any recommendations of yours own, don’t hesitate to say!