Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler!

Just a reminder that Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler (⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the full review here or grab your own copy from Book Depository here!

Recommended: sure
For a look at spiritual beliefs and the way a life looks lived by them, a story of grief and how a family works through it, a light mystery thrown in

Stunning cover. And even more intriguing because I can juuust make out that the shading lines ARE ALL WORDS. I see some numbers — what does it say?!

Summary:
An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding. Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean’s world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth—no matter how painful—in order to see the full picture.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler

Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler – ⭐⭐⭐
Expected Release: July 7, 2020

Recommended: sure
For a look at spiritual beliefs and the way a life looks lived by them, a story of grief and how a family works through it, a light mystery thrown in

Stunning cover. And even more intriguing because I can juuust make out that the shading lines ARE ALL WORDS. I see some numbers — what does it say?!

Summary:
An exploration in grief, suicide, spiritualism, and Inuit culture, Winter of the Wolf follows Bean, an empathic and spiritually evolved fifteen-year-old, who is determined to unravel the mystery of her brother Sam’s death. Though all evidence points to a suicide, her heart and intuition compel her to dig deeper. With help from her friend Julie, they retrace Sam’s steps, delve into his Inuit beliefs, and reconnect with their spiritual beliefs to uncover clues beyond material understanding. Both tragic and heartwarming, this twisting novel draws you into Bean’s world as she struggles with grief, navigates high school dramas, and learns to open her heart in order to see the true nature of the people around her. Winter of the Wolf is about seeking the truth—no matter how painful—in order to see the full picture.

Thoughts:
I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the spiritual aspects of this book, like the many discussions of beliefs and life after death. I’m not particularly spiritual myself, but this was an accessible and interesting look into Inuit beliefs. Bean seems a bit wise beyond her years, but she does struggle. She feels lost too and is just doing her best.

Continue reading “Review: Winter of the Wolf by Martha Hunt Handler”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Celebrating freedom with banned books!

Thanks for the graphic, @Wilmlibrary!

Yesterday was July 4th in the US, the anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence. I thought I’d celebrate my freedom to read whatever the hell I want! And I also happened to mix up my post scheduling so this is going to be a day after instead of the day — but I can still read whatever I want! 😅

Courtesy of the American Library Association, here’s the top 100 books that were banned or challenged between 2000 and 2009. Those were my formative childhood years, but I think even though I’ve read a chunk of these books, I turned out okay. 🤣 Any books that are highlighted are ones that I have read! Check out the list below and see how many you’ve taken in!

My tally: 27.5/100
(See #88 for the half point!)

Biggest surprises:
#23 – The Giver (this one I really don’t understand)
#8 – His Dark Materials series (haven’t read this series, but wouldn’t expect it to be top 10 most inappropriate books….)
#91 – Julie of the Wolves (the blurb says it’s about a girl who lives with wolves. What’s the issue?? I’d guess it’s something with her eating meat or something similar.)

Really not surprised:
#18 – Go Ask Alice (written as a diary of a girl’s intense spiral into hard drug abuse and all that comes with it)
#78 – The Joy of Gay Sex (I mean frankly I would expect any book explicitly about sex to be on this list, though it IS noteworthy that The Joy of Sex is NOT in here.)


Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

Continue reading “Celebrating freedom with banned books!”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

June 2020 Wrap-Up

But actually… goodbye, June! You were an abrupt entrance to summer

reading~

How many of my planned books did I read:
If I planned eleven, I read six of those. BUT, I did also read a bunch of other books that I just decided to start. As usual. 🤣

The plan

The result

Last month I read a total of eleven books, which is a little under previous months but still way more than my old-usual amount. I attribute this to books that were denser in subject matter and/or longer books at 400+ pages.

I read some books around racial equality and white supremacy that showed me the many issues in the way the country is currently functioning. I am so glad that I did that, and I’ve been working to keep educating myself with further reading and actions I can take to specifically make change. I have a whole series of posts about White Fragility just going over what I learned — partly for my own sake, because there was a lot, and I wanted to help cement it into my brain and heart!

I’ve been working on a dense book recommended to me by a friend. Honestly if she hadn’t been so excited for me to read it, I definitely would have abandoned it by now. But I’m still slogging my way through it! It’ll spill over into July.

You might know that wildly popular A Court of Thorns and Roses series, by Sarah J Maas? Well, I finally read it. And as I had sort of expected… I wasn’t a fan. I know that’s blasphemy to some people, but the magic just wasn’t there for me!

Continue reading “June 2020 Wrap-Up”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Girl, Serpent, Thorn

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I use Fridays to look forward to upcoming releases that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I actually grumbled about to myself a lot before deciding to give Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust a chance.
Expected Release: July 7, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Honestly, I was against this book for a while because there has been so much hype about it — which I hate! I stubbornly didn’t even check out the blurb. I just maintained my saltiness about the title and the cover, neither of which I liked as they felt unorginal. But… then I read the blurb. And I’ll be damned if it didn’t end up sounding pretty good.
  • The element that intrigued me the most was the tease that this might be more of a villain sort of character storyline! I absolutely love antiheroes and villain stories. If this does indeed tilt into darkness, I will be positively gleeful! So I’m willing to give it a chance when I read a description like “she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon.”
  • I’m also curious about the fact that this seems to me like a twist on the sleeping beauty story with the poison spindle — except the princess is the poison. I have no idea if this is accurate or not, but with magic curses where everyone you touch dies, and demons being the only ones have answers…. I’m certainly willing to give it a shot.
  • PS – this book was originally titled She Was and She Was Not

Summary:
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Posted in Reviews

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – ⭐⭐
The fact that so many people rave about this book and list it as a favorite series is absolutely baffling to me. Maybe they’re taking the series as a whole and not just this first book? I’m not sure I see it.

I’m surprised… but also totally not at all surprised.

Recommended: not really
Stay away if you want drama and action and conflict and pressure. If you’re okay with just learning about the daily life of a person learning about a world of fairies then you might like it

Summary:
Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price. Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jeweled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

Thoughts:
This book came out years ago and even then I thought to myself that it didn’t sound quite like something I would like. Despite the fact that I had loved the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Mass, I just had a bad feeling about her sophomore series and, well, I wasn’t wrong.

Continue reading “Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Word origins: how “hype” first started

Pictured: a book with too much hype -_-

One of the main issues I have with newly published books is hype. When it feels like everyone is talking about a book, I end up sick of it before it’s even out. No matter how interested I might otherwise be, I usually end up staying away from it for a while.

So when did “hype” first start? And is it anything related to how we use it today, like when something is said by many people to be outrageously amazing and mind-blowing?

Origins of the word ‘hype’

When did it first get used?
1914

What does it mean?
As a verb: to swindle by overcharging or short-changing
As a noun (1): a no-good dirty swindler
As a noun (2): excessive or misleading publicity or advertising (this is the same for our current-day verb form like my example issue above!)

What did it come from?
This comes from the shady underworld — my favorite! They have words for everything there. It was used in reference to con men who would try to trick people by charging them too much or not giving them enough change in return after payment.

Hyper, as the con men were called (1914). This comes from the prefix hyper-, meaning “in excess”

To hype or hyping is what con men did.

In the sense that we have it today from the 2nd definition above, it’s related to the word hyperbole which is an extreme exaggeration of something. (“I just finished this book and I am literally dying right now.”) Book reviewers are notorious for this… we’re an emotional bunch. 🤣

also related: hype man/men, seen here in droves!

It’s not a new one, though!

This word also took some unexpected left turns of related meanings. Some startlingly delightful and some more dark.

  • 1700s: depressed, termed as “the hyps.” Somewhat annoyingly related to the idea that depression was a fake issue (hypchondria, 1816)
  • 1913: drug user slang for hypodermic needle used to inject drugs. Presumably related in that the result of injecting the drug makes you feel over the top and “hyped up”

and a little bonus:
Ballyhoo: meaning hype, originating from circus term for a sideshow used to draw people in to the main (paid) show (1908)

Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Maas Whiplash: A Surprising, Yet Not, Disappointment

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas came out five years ago. I’ve only just read it. Why is that surprising? Well, I absolutely loved the whole Throne of Glass series, and trusted Maas as a fantastic fantasy writer for my tastes. In particular, I liked her for her envisioning of fae and other magical creatures.

And yet… when this book was published I just had this niggling feeling that it wouldn’t quite work for me. Around this time, I had also had this exchange with a friend:

Mackenzie: How did you like Snow Like Ashes? Did you finish it?
Me: It was okay. It was really unique though, the world was divided into regions that each had only one season, all the time! I’ve never read a story like that.
Mackenzie: *snorts* *pulls out her current book and opens to this map on the front page*

Continue reading “Maas Whiplash: A Surprising, Yet Not, Disappointment”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a look at Japanese internment, for cross-racial relations, for a story about people

Summary:
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family, like thousands of other Japanese Americans are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world. Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Thoughts:
While this was not fervently compelling, it had a quiet dignity that held my attention throughout. It’s a story of people. Impressively, despite having a fairly large cast whom we learn about, across multiple generations, each person feels robust and well-known. Even the seemingly smaller characters are given motivation and pain and importance in their way. I loved seeing that, as I think it’s indicative of a world I want to live in: one where every person is known to be a complex person, and so patience is easier to give.

Continue reading “Review: The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende”