Litsy A-to-Z Reading Challenge

Life has been very busy in many excellent (and a few mundane) ways. I should be posting a new life & writing update soon, and I’ll also be slapping some reviews on here, because I have been flooded with arcs. It’s truly hard for me to say no when somebody hands me a book.

Meanwhile, I’ve still been reading. One of the challenges I’m participating in this year is the Litsy A-to-Z challenge. There are a few options for that one, but the one I’m choosing is this: read 26 books, each with an author whose last name starts with a different letter. If you’re on Litsy, follow me: @becky_renner, and click this link to join in the fun.

Here are the books I have read so far: Continue reading

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge 2017

I seem to be a literary glutton for punishment this year. Not only am I writing a novel, I’m planning to read gobs of them as well. (As I should be.) I already have all the books I agreed to review (and I’m SO behind), not to mention my personal reading list for my MFA this semester. (Ha ha ha – I’m dying. No, really. Can I hire a maid?) I am also daring to attempt TWO reading challenges. One of them is Litsy A to Z. The other is Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. Continue reading

Six Oscar-Nominated Movies Based on Books

This year, the Academy Awards will air on February 26th this year. Several of the movies nominated are based on books or stories.

mv5bmtexmzu0odcxndheqtjeqwpwz15bbwu4mde1oti4mzay-_v1_sy1000_cr006401000_al_Arrival (2016) is the story of an alien arrival on planet Earth and the linguistics professor, played by Amy Adams, who endeavors to interpret the language of the alien visitors.

Arrival is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design.

Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s Nebula-winning novella “Story of Your Life.” You can read this and other stories in his collection Stories of Your Life and Others.

Continue reading

Book Giveaway!

Hello lovely people of Internetlandia,

I’m doing my first book giveaway. It’s hosted on rafflecopter, and you can enter to win one of these beautiful books:

It’s going until January 31st. Click here to enter!

Bees and Books: What You Can Do to Protect the Planet

During my recent MFA residency, one of my classmates (a fellow lit mag editor) found out that the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where we were doing our residency, was home to its very own bee colony. Only a few hours later, our professors convinced the resident beekeeper, Doug McGinnis, to give us a tour of his hives and teach us what he knew about beekeeping. What could be more poetic? Continue reading

Why I Write

In my first year of teaching, I gave my seniors the assignment to write about an event in their life that made them who they are. I read them all, surprised at what they’d been through, surprised too at the secrets they would trust me with, at what they’d put on paper. Domestic abuse, poverty, illness, one even witnessed a murder – these are the things that boiled under the surface of these people who I laughed with daily, who decorated my room, who sang me happy birthday, who wore me down to eventually have class outside. I had known them eight months already, or I thought I knew them. It wasn’t until April that we had this turning point, and I saw through to the other side. I realized that we are all a little broken. Every single one of us is on the mend. Continue reading

My Top Five Favorite Novels of 2016

I have read a lot of books this year (124 as of today), some of them amazing, some of them egregiously bad. These are my top five favorite novels I read this year.

vegetarian-coverOn its surface, The Vegetarian by Han Kang is a deeply disturbing story of a woman’s descent into madness. But don’t let the surface fool you. At its core, this novel is about the rules for femininity that confine Korean society. I highly recommend The Vegetarian by Han Kang. It’s astonishing (but tight!) prose and highly significant subject matter would make it the perfect book for readers of literary fiction and maybe even for book clubs that want to push the envelope and spark discussion. Read the rest of my review. Continue reading

Review of The Most Dangerous Place on Earth

Full of turmoil, love, loss, and pain, Lindsey Lee Johnson’s The Most Dangerous Place on Earth is a complex meditation on privilege and the crucible that is adolescence. Set in Mill Valley, California, at the real life Tamalpais High School, the story centers on a fledgling teacher, Molly Nicoll, as she discovers and comes to terms with the complex lives of her students and her role (or absence) in their evolution as people. With perspectives that alternate between Molly and the main group of her students, Johnson weaves a series of interconnected life stories that create a portrait not only of the idyllic Mill Valley, with its towering redwoods and foggy views of San Francisco Bay, she creates a portrait from the inside, from the multifaceted and often breaking hearts of the teenagers who are beginning their lives there. Continue reading

State of the Obra – A Letter from the Founding Editor-in-Chief

obra / artifact

Greetings from the O/A editors!

Six months ago, the adventure called Obra/Artifact began in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Since then, it has grown from a mere idea to a graduate literary magazine. All of this is thanks to our submitters and supporters, especially Juan Carlos Reyes and the MFA of the Americas.

Over the past several months, the editors—Jared Smith, Lucianna Ramos, and I—have been reading, judging, and arguing about your submissions. As of last week, we have made all of our poetry and prose selections for the first digital issue. (But we’re still in the market for visual art. Submit your art today!)

In January, the first issue of Obra will go live on this website. This coincides with our MFA program’s residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL. During the residency, final decisions for the…

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