Monday, 27 February 2012

Books for Black History Month

As Black History Month draws to a close, I thought I'd highlight a few of the books from my own shelves that I feel are must-haves for anyone wanting to learn more about us, about our diversity.  Since I'm from the Caribbean, most of the books are also from the region. 

Engendering History is edited by three of the leading feminist researchers into Caribbean history and is an invaluable guide to understanding the history of the region's women.

Africa:  Altered States, Ordinary Miracles was written by a journalist and is an insightful look at various issues and challenges affecting the huge continent.

Editors Verene Shepherd and Hilary M. Beckles, both professors at the University of the West Indies, present a comprehensive review of the region's history in Caribbean Slavery in the Atlantic World.

Decolonising the Mind is not the only one of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's works that I've read or possess but when I first read it, I was like 'yes!'  'exactly!'  Much of what he said applies to us in the Caribbean. 

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Bus Art in the British Virgin Islands!

It's Snapshot Saturday! This fun meme is sponsored by Alyce of At Home With Books!  Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

Tourism is a big deal in the British Virgin Islands and many of the safari bus drivers who take cruise-ship tourists around on tours have their buses painted in whimsical designs. The buses are only used when cruise ships are in so I took these when I was out very early one morning for a walk near the pier. 

This is one of my favorites!

The driver's name is at the bottom.

This one is among the most colorful -

Sunflowers and Pooh, too!

The driver has had portraits of his parents and his own wedding day painted on the back.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Giveaway Continues!

Tara Chevrestt's giveaway of her Young Adult Historical, Ride for Rights, continues until Sunday!  To enter the giveaway, scroll down to the original entry below to read more.

You can read more about Tara here and here.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mockingbird Manual

It's Cat Thursday again.  Visit The True Book Addict to learn more about this fun meme devoted to our feline friends.  Usually I post pix of Romulus but I saw the pix below and cracked up!  Enjoy!

"Nothing yet about killing mockingbirds!"

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I'm Delaney Diamond's Guest Today!

Hello everyone!  I'm so excited because I've done my first blog interview ever!!!  Please come visit at Delaney Diamond's blog and let me have your thoughts and comments.  There's another chance to win a copy of Dido's Prize so do come visit.  (I'm a bit late with this notice but the power was out for hours - yes, I live on a small island where electricity and other utilities can't be taken for granted.  Sigh.)

Delaney was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She's been an avid reader for as long as she can remember, and, like me, she reads a little bit of everything.

Delaney wrote her first romance novel at the age of 14 and, as she puts it, she received rave reviews from her friends :) .  In 2008 she started freelance writing, and in 2009 she gave fiction writing a try again, which resulted in her debut novel, The Arrangement.  Since then she's written several other much-loved books.  Find out more about her on her blog.

Guest Blogger Tara Chevrestt Hosts a Giveaway!

Today I've got something special lined up.  The sense of place can be so important in a novel that I thought it would be a great idea to invite authors over to Eugenia Writes! to talk about the locations that inspire them and about their newest or upcoming releases.  My first guest is Tara Chevrestt!  Tara is an avid reader and also has several published books to her credit.  Besides being a writer, she worked for 11 years as a mechanic!  How awesome is that!  She'll be giving away an ecopy of one of her books so read below for more details!

Places of Inspiration - Tara Chevrestt

Me with my beloved canine friends!

There are a couple of places that inspire me and I put one of them in my young adult historical, Ride for Rights.

It's called Glen Eyrie, and it's a real castle in Colorado of all places! I went there AFTER I wrote the book, but seeing a place that until then, I'd only seen on the internet and visualized in my head was beyond cool.

Glen Eyrie!
When I visited the castle, I was in awe over it. It's lovely and with 67-rooms built by General William Jackson Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. His wife was from England and so he built this for her, to mimic an English castle. It contains 24 fireplaces, all them brought over from England.

And the coolest thing for me, was seeing the real-life Elsie's room.

Elsie's Room!

In Ride for Rights, two sisters, Angeline and Adelaide, just happen to come across the castle on their quest across the United States (on motorbikes! In 1916!). They think it's a hotel at first, but are surprised to meet Elsie, a young woman alone residing in it.

This is the blurb:
In the summer of 1916 women do not have the right to vote, let alone be motorcycle dispatch riders. Two sisters, Angeline and Adelaide Hanson are determined to prove to the world that not only are women capable of riding motorbikes, but they can ride motorbikes across the United States. Alone.
From a dance hall in Chicago to a jail cell in Dodge City, love and trouble follow Angeline and Adelaide on the dirt roads across the United States. The sisters shout their triumph from Pike’s Peak only to end up lost in the Salt Lake desert.
Will they make it to their goal of Los Angeles or will too many mishaps prevent them from reaching their destination and thus, hinder their desire to prove that women can do it?

Ride for Rights on Facebook:

Find My Author Page on FB:

My website:

Thanks for joining me today, Tara!  For a chance to win an electronic copy of Ride for Rights, please leave a comment and your email address below.  Tara will contact the lucky winner.  Good luck!

Monday, 20 February 2012

New World


These things have no need of Conquests.  Why wasn't this enough?  An Emperor on his knees offered them a universe.  They could have lived here as gods, as angels in the flesh.
As ordinary men.
Conquistadors you should have been the ones to kneel!  Kneel on blackrot gangrene knees.  Kneel on your iron greaves.  Ever onward Christian soldiers you all died broke -- didn't you.  Bleeding gold shitting piles of dysenteric gold -- dying poor, dreaming still.  Deliverer!  goldshackled dragonslayer -merchant's dupe - they made fortunes off you, the bankers' burros.  You traded your own blood for promissory notes. only had to accept the world to save your soul.  The world as it was offered.  But all you saw was gold.  Coins laid flat on the clench of your lids."
                                                                                        Hunger's Brides by Paul Anderson

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Crazy Tree!

It's another Snapshot Saturday!  Snapshot Saturday is hosted by At Home With Books and I must say I'm having a ball getting out there and using my photographer's eye again.  Today, I've got something a little different - more in the line of Believe It Or Not. 

And here it is from another angle -

Yep, there you have it. A tree growing out of one of our street signs! The tree is our national tree - the White Cedar which has those small papery seeds that will germinate anywhere. I think this may be a metaphor of some kind but I don't really want to go there. lol!  Oh, and if you look closely, you can see that it's actually flowering!

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and leave your linky at At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

No, Romulus!

It's Cat Thursday once again.  Cat Thursday is hosted by The True Book Addict and is a fun meme for all cat lovers.

Today my pix is of Romulus contemplating a potential snack - the lizard high up on the lattice.  Thankfully, he didn't catch it.  'Thankfully' because he likes to bring his prizes in the house which places us at odds for a few hairy but wildly entertaining minutes!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Dido Elizabeth Belle - black girl in a white world

My aunt, Linda, and one of my cousins are the artists in the family but I've always loved art so today I'm blogging about one of my favorite paintings.

The girls in this painting are Dido Elizabeth Belle (left) and her cousin, Elizabeth Murray.  They were the grandnieces of the Earl of Mansfield who was the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales from 1756 to 1788.

Dido (1761 - 1804) was the child of John Lyndsay who met her mother, Maria Belle, while he was a captain in the Royal Navy and serving in the Caribbean.  Little is known about Maria Belle or about why she and her daughter were separated.  Lyndsay sent Dido to England to be raised by his Uncle, the Earl and she became a companion to his other niece who was also his ward.  What is extraordinary about the painting is how Dido is depicted.  In most European paintings, blacks usually appeared in a subservient position - their heads are at a lower level than that of the whites in the painting and/or they are usually offering something to the white person who is really the subject of the painting.  As per this example below - (I took this at a French castle but can't remember which one.)

It was the tradition to paint blacks looking reverentially up at whites
and offering them flowers, fruit or something of the like.

In the first painting, however, though Dido has been given a turban and made to look exotic she is positioned slighly higher than her cousin who holds her arm out to her. The two are pictured as friends, companions who are easy in each other's company. Significantly, Dido does not offer Elizabeth the fruit and is looking directly out at the viewer, not adoringly at her cousin.

What is even more interesting is, that Dido's uncle went on to write a judgement that sounded the death knell for slavery. When the case of a runaway slave was brought to him, Lord Mansfield declared that slavery was illegal in England and that the state of slavery was "odious" and "of such a nature, that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political...." The fact that Dido's father was confident that his uncle would take Dido into his household and make sure she was well cared for says much about that family and its open-mindedness and it is quite possible that his interactions with Dido influenced the Earl's views on slavery.
For more about Dido, watch this film -

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Snapshot Saturday!

It's Saturday which means it's Snapshot time!  Saturday Snapshot is a fun meme hosted by At Home With Books where you can find links to people posting pix from all over this little globe we call home so check them out.

Main Street, Tortola
I like to take photos of patterns and colours and this is one of the shots I took recently.  In one of the other pix I left out the blue shop so all you see is the pink and you're not really quite sure what you're looking at.  These are a couple shops on Main Street, Road Town which have preserved one of the traditional building styles.  In Barbados these are called chattel houses because they can be picked up and moved on the back of trailer to another location. 

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link at At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all to see.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Cat Thursday!

Today I'm joining in another fun meme - Cat Thursday. This meme is sponsored by The True Book Addict where you can check out some great pix of our feline bosses. 

Romulus, below, is mine.  Don't judge this kitty by the length of his whiskers!  I am considering renaming him, Naughtylus.  More anon!

Romulus I

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Black History Month Blog Hop Giveaway Winner

It's a beautiful day here in the Virgin Islands and I'm pleased as punch to announce the winner of my Black History Month Blog Hop Giveaway!  Joy of Joy's Book Blog, you're the lucky winner of a paperback copy of Dido's Prize.  I've posted a comment on your blog asking you for address details so please look out for the message.  I didn't use Rafflecopter to choose the winner - my daughter is so excited about this blog that I thought letting her work the raffle would be a great way of involving her.  Below is a video of what she did....

I have to admit, however, that only one entrant, Wadadli Pen, submitted the right date - 1st August, 1834.  So how come you saw all those names go into the paper bag?  Well, like I said, I didn't mean for it to be a trick question and I still wanted to reward everyone who took the time out to read up on Caribbean history so Wadadli Pen will get her book but everyone who answered either 1833 or 1838 was entered in the raffle.  You see, the British did pass the law in 1833 but emancipation was to become effective on 1st August, 1834, a year later.  Of course, as Miki pointed out, most local legislatures opted to create an apprenticeship period of a further four years, until 1838, which was designed, not so much to prepare the former slaves for freedom as to keep them on the estates for a further four years.  The planters were very worried and, in most colonies, rightly so, that the former slaves would move off the estates to work on their own lands or to find better paying jobs on other islands. 

These issues and more are explored in my upcoming novel, Jessamine, where the impact of the decline of the huge sugar plantations, the exodus of labour from the estates, and the continuing injustices by planters desperate to survive in the new society all conspire to bring an island to its knees.

Another winner today is Vannie Ryanes who became my 25th follower over the weekend.  I'd said I'd give a book to my 25th follower so, Vannie, please email your mailing address to eugeniaoneal [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll get that right out to you!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Pelican at Long Bay

Today, just for fun, I'm joining the Saturday Snapshot meme hosted by At Home With Books where you can see an lovely shot of the moon in all its mystery.  Years ago, I used to be very much into photography and had all the accoutrements - a Canon Elan, different lenses, a small collection of filters, etc. but then it got a bit taxing to fit the hobby in among all the other demands of life.  I think I'm going to use this meme to ease back into it.

 My photo was taken at Long Bay, East End on Tortola and if you squint real good you can see the pelican on the rock there.  The pelicans were diving around trying to meet their daily dietary requirements and this one took a break for a minute.  My next pelican picture will be much closer but I'm not quite sure exactly how I'm going to manage that with my little point and shoot!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Bonnett's Books Store - Read All About It!

As a child I loved walking down Main Street to Collins, the only bookstore on the island at the time (as far as I can remember), to browse through the books and pick up a copy of something that would take me to a world far away.  Mrs.  Collins, the owner, introduced me to the Bobsey twins, Nancy Drew, and the Narnia books which eventually led to the Lord of the Rings.  Collins closed down years ago but my love for bookstores continues so I'm introducing an irregular feature where I focus on a particular bookstore.  First up, Bonnett's Bookstore!!!  Thanks so much for participating!

So tell us, where are you located?
Bonnett's Book Store was opened in 1939 by our grandparents, Harold and Ruth Bonnett, at 502 East Fifth Street in Dayton, OH. We've been conducting trade in used magazines and comic books ever since. During the Great Depression people took that "waste not, want not" idea pretty seriously. Reading and radio were the primary entertainment options in those days. Used comics and magazines were the cheapest entertainment there was, even cheaper if you traded-in what you had already finished reading.

What do you like best about selling books?
Honestly, I don't like selling; the books do that on their own. I enjoy the connections between books and culture. I don't mean the dust-layers and cobwebs, rather, the esoteric connections. I've titled our blog "Penciled Margins" to reflect the idea that there's much more to a book than the sum of the words on it's pages.

What genres are reallying flying off the shelf right now?
Classics and non-fiction are perennial movers. Though, lately, books of eccentric, niche non-fiction (UFOs and tales the weird or unexplained) have been more popular than standard fare like cooking, biography, history, self-help, and references.

Which book are you recommending to customers?
This depends entirely on the customer! We get a lot of folks who say, "I'm just looking for something to read." I try to find out what they like and we go from there.

If I get a non-commital reader I'll always ask if they've read Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay". It primarily takes place during the genesis of modern pop culture - the birth of the comic book industry in pre-WWII New York City. This novel covers a lot of bases. It's appeal is vast, which is not to say it's lowest common denominator stuff - far from it. It's a Pulitzer Prize winner! One of the best written tales I've ever read.

Science Fiction and Fantasy readers will get a lot of mileage with my recommendations, as I am a fan of the same. William Gibson is my personal favorite. His style is economical yet luxurious - "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (Neuromancer - (c)1984). I'm currently recommending his book "Pattern Recognition." Like "Kavalier and Clay", "Pattern Recognition" has extraordinarily broad-based appeal. It isn't necessarily a genre novel, it's simply marketed that way due to Gibson's history with the genre. Genre be damned!

So, folks, there you have it!  If you're ever in Dayton, do make sure to stop in and check them out!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Black History Month Giveaway

Today is the first day of Black History Month and I'm taking part in the Giveaway being sponsored by Reflections of a Bookaholic and Mocha Girls Read.  I don't know how many other Caribbean islands recognize, Black History Month, which was originally a US observation but, in the British Virgin Islands, one group will host a ceremony this month to remember the thousands who died on the infamous Middle Passage between Africa and the New World.  Most ceremonies to recognize our ancestors actually take place during our Emancipation Festival in August which is when we have parades and other events but I'll tell you more about that later on.

I am going to give away a copy of Dido's Prize along with a couple of extras and my rules for this Giveaway are very simple:  In the comment thread below, please give the year in which slavery was abolished by the British.  That's it!  That's all I want to know.  And yes, I will ship anywhere!

NOTE:  I am realizing from the answers that perhaps I need to word the question more carefully so -  In what year did the abolition of slavery take effect in the British colonies?  (Not the year that the act was passed and not the year the apprenticeship period ended but the actual year that the act abolishing slavery came into effect.  I hope this helps and I'm truly very sorry for the confusion.)

I'll put the names of all who got the correct answer in a hat on the 8th when the Giveaway ends and choose one.

Do take the time to visit the other participating blogs too, as I'm sure there'll be a slew of great books on offer.

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