Coffee Time Tuesdays: Mermaids, Poetry, and Music

Hello, dear readers, happy Tuesday, and happy April! In what has become my classic chaotic style, I’ve not written this column in the past few weeks. This is because my day job has been kicking my butt, and I’ve also been on holiday for some of that time. I’ve missed our weekly catch-ups.

In mid-March, I spent a week in Paris with my partner. It was pretty, sunny, kind of overwhelming in the best way, but also slightly disappointing. 

When you grow up enamoured with the French language and culture, and you’re also an avid writer and reader who always romanticises their life, there is little in reality that doesn’t disappoint.

As a child, I took private French lessons for most of my school years. I was going to go to a private French school, and move to France for university. I was incredibly passionate about French and so was my tutor, who spent almost every lesson showing me maps, travel guides, journals, and pictures of Paris, and explaining the beauty of the French capital. So when I finally got to see it this year, of course I was a little disappointed. I grew up thinking of Paris as this fantasy land, which of course it isn’t. 

But the weather was nice, the museums were elite, and I achieved my goal of eating my body weight in carbs so I’d call that a success.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, I travelled to Romania to spend Easter with my family. I’m flying back to the UK tomorrow. It’s been a very packed spring so far. Add to that some really exciting and exhausting events I had at work, and you’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for burnout.

This is all a very long-winded way to explain why I haven’t had the mental capacity to write the Coffee Time Tuesdays column. But I’m back today, and I have some updates, plus a book release, as always.

What We’re Reading

I’ve been a little more proactive with my reading since I last wrote to you. My highlight so far this year (yes, you read that right) is a book I finished at the beginning of April, which absolutely broke my heart, blew my mind, and inspired me to make some significant edits to my two novel drafts.

Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield is a tiny novel that packs a punch. When Miri’s wife, Leah, returns from an underwater research mission that ended in terror for the three-person crew, she is completely changed. What was supposed to be a standard three-week trip turned into a six-month-long ordeal, in which Leah and her two colleagues were trapped in a submarine deep under the ocean. Now back at home, Leah is acting strange, refusing to communicate, and displaying some strange physical changes.

We follow both Miri and Leah’s perspectives as we watch the mystery, as well as their relationship, unravel. The book is incredibly concentrated, with intense, convoluted emotions and a complex study on love, marriage, friendships, and nature that fascinated me page after page. If the motif of the sea with all its eerie and undiscovered depths intrigues you, this is a book you can’t miss.

In other updates, I’ve been getting into poetry more and more lately. I recently started Ocean Vuong’s debut collection, Night Sky With Exit Wounds, and I’m in love. Here’s a snippet that rocked my world completely:

I remember it. His voice — 

it filled me to the core

like a skeleton. Even my name

knelt down inside me, asking

to be spared. — Ocean Vuong, THRESHOLD

New Book Release

This week’s new book recommendation hot off the press is a weird one for me. Brendan Slocumb’s Symphony of Secrets sounds like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s mystery, history, racial justice, and music, coming together to create what sounds like a gripping and culturally significant book.

Music professor Bern Hendricks discovers a shocking secret about the most famous American composer of all time — his music may have been stolen from a Black Jazz Age prodigy named Josephine Reed. Determined to uncover the truth that a powerful organization wants to keep hidden, Bern will stop at nothing to right history’s wrongs and give Josephine the recognition she deserves. — The Publisher

Symphony of Secrets just came out last week, and I’m excited to dive in. It sounds like the perfect late spring read — which for me is prime time for books that deliver way more than meets the eye.

And that’s it for today’s Coffee Time Tuesday! Have you moved on to iced coffee yet? And what are you reading with your drink of choice this Tuesday? Let me know in the comments!

Published by Eliza Lita

Founder and editor-in-chief: Coffee Time Reviews. Freelance writer and Higher Ed comms person.

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