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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

The August Reading List by Fran Joyce


For August, I’ve selected four mysteries from four interesting women and in keeping with our poetry theme this month. I’ve also selected books of poetry written by people of ages ranging from their early twenties to an octogenarian. Two poetry collections boast works from classic poets such as William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth to contemporary greats like Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes.

The Lure by S.W. Hubbard has been described as a book for readers who enjoyed the Longmire Series (guilty). This is Book one of the Frank Bennett Adirondack Mountain Mystery Series featuring Frank Bennett, a small town police chief in a town with secrets. The series has received high praise for its outdoor action sequences.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. This is Flynn’s first novel, but if you missed it, August is a great time to read it. Reporter Camille Preakness fresh from a short stay in the psych ward is tapped to cover the murders of two young girls back in her hometown. Back at home with her dysfunctional family, she begins to identify with the victims a little too much. The lines between her past and the lives of these girls seem to blur as she hunts for answers and struggles to stay alive. 

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman (Steadman, an actress and a writer, is known to fans of Downtown Abbey for her role as Mabel Lane Fox) is the story of a dream honeymoon gone incredibly wrong.  An accidental discovery made while honeymooners, Erin and Mark, are snorkeling in Bora Bora permanently alters the course of their lives.  There’s no going back because things just can’t be unseen and people are willing to kill to keep what’s in the water a secret.  

The Girl with the Origami Butterfly by Linda Berry is a Sidney Becker Murder Mystery. Sidney Becker, a burned out homicide detective returns to her sleepy little hometown in Oregon to be the police chief. Just when Becker starts to settle in and come to terms with her memories of former cases, a young woman is found murdered. The details of the crime match a three year old unsolved homicide leading Becker to believe there is a serial killer on the loose. The case brings back nightmares about the victims she couldn’t help. Can she master her own demons in time to stop the killer before he or she strikes again? 

Quarter Life Poetry: poems for the Young, Broke and Hangry by Samantha Jayne – the real life truths about work, money, sex and life for twenty somethings expressed in poems. This might not resonate for you if you aren’t in your 20’s, but the best way to become an old grump is to dismiss the struggles and concerns of the younger generation. Jayne is successful at capturing the frustrations of young people burdened by student loan debt, the rising cost of living, the “cattle call” job interview process of submitting your resume online and hoping someone with a pulse actually reads it. It’s ramen noodles and iPhones in often hilarious verse and we think these poems should have a place on your bookshelf/e-reader.

She Walks in Beauty; A Woman’s Journey through Poems selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy. Kennedy selects poems from various poets which exemplify the joys and challenges of being female. Her selections reflect the ups and downs of being a girl, young woman, wife, mother, grandmother and individual in an often male dominated world. With a selection of poems written by men and women from around the world, this is sure to be a favorite.

Milk and Honey, Rupi Kaur’s first collection of poems and her newest collection, The Sun and Her Keepers are global bestsellers. Common themes of her poem include abuse, femininity, love, self awareness and heartbreak. In honor of her heritage, Kaur writes in the style of the Gurmukhi script using only lower case letters and only periods for punctuation. At 25 years old, Kaur, an Indian born Canadian poet, artist and performer, is being hailed as the voice of her generation and credited with reinventing poetry. Milk and Honey has sold over 3 million copies, been translated into 35 languages and after hitting the #1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list it has remained on the list for 300 consecutive weeks.

They Rule the World by Samuel Hazo. Hazo is one of my favorite poets. In a career spanning more than 50 years his poems have dealt with themes of morality, love, passion, art, courage and grace. I had the honor of interviewing him shortly after the publication of this book. He charmed me with his ability to recite lines from any poem he’d ever written or read and impressed me with his political savvy. I have several of his books. If you visit my home you will find them on my living room coffee table with bookmarks denoting some of my favorite poems.

The Poetry of Jack Kerouac – I treated myself this month to a three book set of Kerouac’s poetry. I started reading his books in high school and fell in love with his style. According to Kerouac, “Reason can never win out, because poetry is not a science. The rhythm of how you ‘rush’ yr statement determines whether it is a poem in verse-separated lines, or an endless one-line poem called prose…”

Classic Poetry: Candlewick Illustrated Classic – poems selected by Michael Rosen with illustrations by Paul Howard. This is a collection of poetry suitable for ages 10 and up meaning it can grow with your family and become part of your treasured library. Enjoy poems from such greats as William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes.





The August Poetry Quiz

What's for Dinner? Ask Linda