Holy Smokes…. I mean, Mango!

Hello readers,

So, just when I thought this book was never going to stop going in the same dry direction, the author threw a loop at me. And so I say,

Holy Mango!

So, when I last left you, Nina had been nearly assaulted outside of her hotel (which I didn’t realize at first…probably because I think I’m having a hard time remaining focused on this novel…) and the proprietor – Esperanza – stepped out and saved her life. Later that evening, Nina and Anna (her female-favoring art dealing best friend) watch Esperanza perform at the hotel and Nina gets a phone call asking her to come to another night spot to get more information on the crime(s) she is there in Misericordia to unravel.

Nina goes to this hotel and is nearly shot in the bathroom by an assassin sent from her family’s killer. After she kicks the crap out of him and emerges victorious, albeit exhausted, a bomb goes off in a building across the street. Mere moments after she sees Luc and a woman she thinks is her sister in law (who was how she got involved in all this nonsense in the first place) getting into a car together. So now, Nina is EXTRA pissed.

Flash forward to bidding adieu to Anna and Esperanza who are going to “look at art” (you guessed it, they’re hot for each other), Nina goes to investigate details on a company that is the primary reason the States are involved in this miserable country and runs into the gal who Luc was smooching in the magazine. Nina learns that this gal and Luc will likely marry to form a political union, which is very difficult for Luc according to the girl…whose name is La Bomba…hehe. Nina is furious and La Bomba insists Nina has to understand the sensitivity of the situation.

That afternoon Luc is murdered on LIVE television. I KID YOU NOT! By his own father! And do you want to know WHY he gets an entire clip put into his skull???? Because he tried to have his father assassinated! For the good of the country! I TOTALLY understand now why Misericordia was chosen to be the name of this fictional country (see details of the meaning of the word here) This place is MESSED UP. I can’t even imagine…sitting at the bar wondering where your friend is (who, by the way, was kidnapped by the very man Nina came down to exact her revenge upon) and having whatever afternoon popular television interrupted by such a violent image. Now the country is in uproar and Nina is headed straight for Peltrano (who murdered her family) and Anna, whose captivity was confirmed at the foot of the steps of General Malmundo’s (Luc’s father) residence, when Peltrano blew the General away as well!

One chapter to go…Needless to say I have NO trouble focusing now. I’m just a little disappointed that all this action is happening in the LAST TWO chapters. Good way to throw a wrench in it though, Mr. Kelley – I had almost forgotten Nina has a knack for having violence follow her and nip off loved ones. And right there in the end, you sucked the last of the life right out of her.

If I were Nina, honestly, I would sit at home, in my room, and not bother anyone. Fewer people would die. But I’m not Nina and I suppose that would make for a much less interesting story.

Just a few pages to go…

I read today!

Go me!

While I let my students work on an independent project, I took the opportunity to read 2 chapters of TBM. See folks, I am sticking to it!

And I would like to know this…..Nina Halligan, what the HECK are you REALLY doing in this country? Other than emulating “hood speak” then dissing Ebonics (ps, did anyone else know that the justification for this course was to teach proper English??? i need to read the report….where did I find this out? In this book. IN THIS BOOK. good grief….), debate whether to get it on with the hot guy (who keeps running off to secret meetings) or go ahead and get your revenge, or give attitude to the local police who don’t give a darn who you are and who have a gun practically up your nose?

I’m also pretty convinced at this point that this book may be some seriously dark attempt at discussing “blackness” with the reader. I wish I had taken better notes while reading. Must buy sticky notes…

to be continued……

Trying to stay focused…

So, it’s been about 10 days now since my last post. Ok, exactly 10 days. And I haven’t read a page of TBM. I’m trying to get focused. I’ve had a lot on my brain, but I’m really, REALLY trying to remain committed. There are about 10 chapters or so left in this book, so really, I have NO excuse. I have been giving some thought to doing some kind of food or craft tie in to every book….and I already have a good idea I’m trying to work with. So stay tuned for that.

Ok. I’m gonna get this thing done by the end of the week. Promise. Pinky promise.

This mango’s been beach side….

Dear, sweet readers –

Please accept my hiatus. I was on vacation at the beach. Ocean City to be exact. The weather was great, the internet was not so, and thus, I was not able to make more frequent posts. But you know how it is right? Sun, sand and fun? Yeah, I thought so.

Love, Curly.

Anyway, on to the book.

So, since we last met across the pages of The Big Mango, I have managed to read through over 10 chapters. I have griped about the contents of the story on more than one occasion. My mother has asked me on each occasion why in heaven’s name I am still reading this thing if I don’t like it. Each time, I offer two answers:

  1. I’m writing a blog. What kind of blogger would I be if I abandon this fresh new idea on the FIRST book???
  2. I’m not entirely sure I don’t like it. It has certainly gotten under my skin on more than one occasion, but it has also managed to captivate me.

How so, you ask?

I shall tell you:

  1. The characters, though increasingly questionable in their ability to hold conversation without profanity, insult, or racial or sexual undertones, show blips of depth that I can’t help but want to follow.
  2. Shortly after my previous post, between chapters 4 and 5, the author finally got into the meat of the matter – he killed off Nina’s friend Michael. Upon reading this, I felt certain the plot would finally thicken. I was mostly right.
  3. I find the seemingly endless supply of controversial lingo astounding. For example, in chapter 7, Mr. Kelley describes Nina’s interrupted incognito status as such:

“I stood at the door and listened to the faint voices inside. I was about to pull a listening scope from the small purse that was slung across my shoulder, but the sudden appearance of a pair of young zebras, a black-white couple who were leaving their apartment, prompted me to knock on the door instead.”

I have never heard this phrase – “young zebras”. I admit in fact that I was so surprised by the phrase (which perhaps should not have startled me, having grown up in the generation that was familiar with such terms as oreo, and twinkie in reference to people of color who were “white on the inside”) that I informally surveyed my family at the beach – right there on the sand – inquiring if anyone had heard it. The phrase SOUNDED “retro” enough….in fact, I was expecting that if anyone would have heard it, it may have been the more seasoned in our group (aka, my parents). But the only person who had heard the phrase was my younger brother. <– While drafting, I have since been corrected. My dad had in fact heard the phrase as well, but perhaps he did not hear me clearly (I blame the ocean waves acting as my background music while I posed the question….nevermind the fact that I have a ridiculous tendency – according to my family anyway – to mumble) I still find it interesting that my brother seemed shocked that I hadn’t heard it.

I dunno, it was interesting to me.

And while we’re on the topic of interesting and often controversial phrases…. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a tale in which there were more eye-widening, jaw-dropping catch phrases. After popping back through the last 15 chapters, I determined that the phrases in question fell into one of 3 overall categories: political, racial, and sexual (and, often, combinations of these categories). And let me tell you, some of them are some WHOPPERS. Nina and much of the company she keeps swear like sailors and keep it real about their sexual habits to the point where I almost have to stop and wonder if this is really a political mystery….or if I peel back some tiny corner of the cover what I’ll find what I’ve actually picked up is an espionage porno.

Anyway, Nina has made it to Misericordia….and in the first hour of her arrival she is nearly a kidnapping victim because of her association with the son of the new political figurehead. WHOM, she is very, very hot for. I mean, come on, you’re flying down the road of a foreign country with a radical liberation army chasing after you with a BAZOOKA and pause before firing back to ask what’s up with the hottie and some girl he was kissing in a magazine???? BULLETS AND MISSILES ARE FLYING PAST YOUR HEAD!!! And in what could be only moments after danger is averted, Nina’s gal pal is sent inside the airport (where the drama all started) to face certain grim aftermath while Nina and Luc (her contact in Misericordia) are pulling on each other like middle school kids in a corner stairwell who have skipped class to swap spit.

I mean, does that seem misplaced to anyone else?

Nina traveled to this country with the intent to avenge the deaths of her own loved ones…but has promised Luc she would do no such thing in exchanged for some ‘private time’ (you know, you know…bow chica bow bow!). However, now she is racked with guilt and is trying to decide what exactly her purpose should be. Could it be that hard-ass Nina Halligan may show her vulnerable, emotional feminine side? <– See now…it’s questions like this that keep me reading….

I’ll keep you posted. I’m off to take another bite of this mango

Prologue – Chapter 3: Shout Much!?!?!

So, this weekend I had the privilege of enjoying an extended stay in Beantown – aka Boston – for a family reunion and some fun. The family reunion was great – I met so many new people and even learned I have had cousins living literally right up the road for years! After the reunion, my brother and I stayed with my friend J for an extra two days to explore the city and visit infamous Fenway. I had such a great time, I didn’t want to leave…

And apparently someone must have heard this little wish of mine, because it felt like we almost weren’t going to leave! About 11 this morning, a message came in saying our 5:45 flight was delayed 30 min. By the time we were on the T, another message came in – delayed till 6:30. As if that wasn’t enough, as we passed through security at about 4:30, we noted that the time had been delayed AGAIN – 7:01pm. So there we were, little bro and I, “stranded” for hours in the tiniest, COLDEST airport wing I have ever experienced. Add to this waiting on the tarmac for about 40 minutes and the 1 hour flight home and you have the last 5 hours of my life.

Seriously, Boston, if you’re going to keep me hostage, at least keep me hostage at say, Union Oyster House or Public Garden or something. Sheesh.

On a positive note, this gave me some time to get started on The Big Mango.

I’ll begin with the Prologue. I’ll be honest, I usually skip this section in most books, coming back to read it at the end, if I do at all. However, this time I only felt it right to read from first page to last, thus, I started here. It was really helpful information – the author provided a lot of background on the state of Misericordia and its state of disarray. I can honestly say if I hadn’t read it, I would still know this was a troubled country, but the detail was worth the extra few minutes of digestion.

Misericordia, by the way, is not a country. I looked it up. My search results delivered a residential community for persons with developmental disabilities, a university in Pennsylvania, and a band. In addition, Wiktionary informed me the word as a noun is 1. pity, mercy and 2. a medieval dagger. There’s also a reference to a figurative meaning of wretchedness and misery.

This last figurative meaning seems to fit the fictional location in The Big Mango to a “T”. The country is portrayed as being in a violent, political “hot mess”. But, perhaps the author meant to use a word that would also literally mean just what the author wants the reader (and some of the characters I learned later) to feel for this country – pity. A country with hands open for mercy from tyranny, but also willing to spill blood if one only speak the word…

Chapter 1-3:
As clear as the prologue was, there was some information that got a little muddy for me in the first few chapters. This may be attributable to being mid-transit, but even when I was focused, I found I had to read back a bit in places. Not so many times that I’m discouraged, but enough that I noticed.

The author really throws some curve balls at you in these first few chapter! I think it would be beneficial for me to look up some of Kelley’s other work – articles and what not – so I can get a taste of his opinions and writing style away from works of fiction. I went into this book knowing it was a political mystery, but I wasn’t prepared for the strong opinions of the characters from the get go (I have a feeling I will be reading most of this book with my computer or an encyclopedia open nearby – there are a lot of references that go over my head).

Which brings me to the point I’d really like to make – I have NEVER read so much SHOUTING in a book in my LIFE! It appears as though these characters are always hot hot HOT about something – someone is shouting or cursing or walking downstairs in black leather cracking a whip and shocking the heck out of someone on just about every other page. Out of all the dialogue, I counted 2, maybe 3 “inside voice” conversations. These people are HEATED!

And how do I know they’re shouting? Because every other sentence has one of these: !!!!!!!!!!!! I recently read a post in Blah Blah Blog about over using this handy punctuation. Visit the blog and read I’m Hungry! The Proper Use of Exclamations , pick up The Big Mango, read a few chapters, and tell me I’m not crazy.

Anyway…. where I’ve left off, Nina has gone to Washington, something she didn’t want to do, and has just convinced her leather-wearing, whip-cracking friend to change so they can have a normal dinner over wine while the friend’s hubby (soon to die – not a spoiler, they say it on the back cover!) must work late at the White House. My prediction? Classic murder mystery – wrong place, wrong time, you heard too much, now die. Stay tuned…

The Big Mango

So, one must blog more than one time in order to actually have a blog. This isn’t some college assignment – “start a blog for 10 points.” This is the real deal. That said, sorry for my delay.

Tuesday afternoon, after an unfortunate fender bender and sweating till I thought there was no more sweat to be sweated in the 100 degree heat (YUCK) and a doctor’s appointment, I returned to the lovely little book store where my idea was born to retrieve my mango literature. After a moment or two of trying to remember where everything came from, I arrived at the counter with all 3 fruity titles currently in stock, the Naked book, and a devious delight for K that was all about how to become a villain (I don’t know who comes up with these things…lol).

But, you say, why not just go to the library?

I could do that – in fact I will do that. But I wanted to honor this project by purchasing the first 3 that were the inspiration. And I love supporting local business, so this was $28 well spent.

Moving on…to….

Image

THE BIG MANGO

This is the “holy mango” book I had mentioned before. A glance at the back and we learn that this is part of a series about Nina Halligan, an African American private eye who is headstrong and street savvy but sophisticated. She also has a knack for finding corruption, as well as pulling those she cares about into dangerous situations. In this particular adventure, Nina has been hired by Father Pierre-Pierre Bernard, the latest in popular-but-not-so-well-equipped leaders of the tropical island-nation Misericordia whose history is riddled with violence and many a terror of a dictator. Father Bernard has convinced her to travel to Washington to help him regain his government. But when Nina’s friend’s husband – a presidential administration insider – has been murdered, she travels to le Mis to find the killer.

First Impressions

OK, so it’s a political mystery novel. That’s pretty exciting. I’m a little nervous because depending on the strength of the writer, the storyline could thus go one of two ways, in my opinion:

* Thrilling storyline with relevant historical and political information that helps to drive the action.

* A textbook. With some action.

The author’s first novel in the series, “Black Heat” received some pretty nice reviews from the Washington Post and New York Press, which is promising. NYP describes Nina in BH as “ass-kicking”. Anything getting a review that uses the words “ass-kicking”, which is a pretty strong description, deserves, I think, a go. Even its little sister sequel.

Mysteries are my favorite fiction genre, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this novel has to offer.

stay tuned…

And suddenly, it hit me…

For several months now, I have thought to myself, “Self – you should start a blog. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

But what should I blog about?

If you know me, you know that I like to dabble in a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I sew. I cook/bake/make jam. I travel when I can. I am musically inclined. There were so many options it became overwhelming. And so, I kept sitting on the big blog egg, waiting for just the right idea to wiggle and start to hatch.

And then, today, all of a sudden, it hit me.

This morning, my sister, some friends  and I went rental hunting. It was early and we’d all had a late night the evening before, so after our first viewing, we stopped by a bagel shop for a bite and some coffee. After refueling and laughing entirely too loud for a tiny shop at 11:30 in the morning, we cleaned up the table and went outside. While one of our friends made a restroom stop, us gals stood outside and admired some of the books in the window of the second hand book shop next door. After oohing and ahh-ing the teasers on that shelf behind the glass we decided, ‘what the heck – let’s pop on in’.

Again, if you know me, you are aware that I enjoy a good book. I have never been one to shy away from the written word, nor a mom and pop shop, so finding the two so delightfully married was like walking into a little corner of heaven. But I digress…or do I?

Upon entering the shop, I noticed several titles I have already collected including Three Cups of Tea, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and several I haven’t, including a mint copy of #60 Nancy Drew that made me salivate as though my lox bagel of 20 minutes before had never happened. And then my eye caught an interesting cover with a mango riddled with bulletholes.

“Hey, look at this guys – a hole-y mango.” I know, I know. Cheesy.

I wandered through the shop some more and eventually landed over in the mystery section  where I noticed another book that included mango in the title. I had a quick giggle and moved on.

Finally, wrapped up in the travel section, I discovered the memoir (memoirs being my favorite of non-fiction genres) Naked in Dangerous Places by Cash Peters, which sounded delightfully risque to be carrying around. Tucked up next to this book I was surprised to find, yet again, another mango book – The Embarrassment of Mangoes. I called out to my entourage that this was officially becoming a little ridiculous – how many books could there be with mango in the title?

And suddenly, it hit me.

Why wonder about it when I could find out?

We left the store, me without books in hand but with an idea blossoming at the speed of sound.

Just how many books ARE there with mango in the title? If I can stroll into a bookshop and find 3 in a matter of minutes, there must be more. Here’s a nerdy but interesting idea – why not blog about this new discovery???

We headed over to the library to use the internet to look up more rental properties and after our search, I asked to use the last 2 minutes of our session to settle my question and see if this new idea was worth a shot. I typed mango into the library catalog title search. I clicked enter. I waited.

There were 36 entries.

36!!

Now – some titles repeated and some did NOT in fact have mango in the title. And some were in languages I just don’t speak, so sorry authors unknown, someone else who shares your native tongue will have to develop this strange interest in reading mango books. I did a quick amazon search and found a few more titles. All in all, I left the library with 24 titles.

So that brings us to where we are. You, traveler of the internet, here either by intent because you know me or enjoy reading, or by some happy accident (I’m sorry if you were looking for a recipe for mango chutney, but I’m sure glad you came and have read this far!). I, your *clearly* nerdy host, ready to take you on a tasty literary journey. In time, this blog may expand and investigate all manner of deliciously named works of fiction and non.

But for now, we begin with mango.