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*
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.
This one rang pretty true for me, because I cry easily and know that I would absolutely be the one to fall into this category without realizing the issues it carries. It might seem strange to hear this. You might think that being moved to tears by the plight of black people is a positive thing, as it shows your compassion and horror; who could hold that against you?
White women’s tears in cross-racial interactions are problematic for several reasons connected to how they impact others. For example, there is a long historical backdrop of black men being tortured and murdered because of a white woman’s distress, and we white women bring these histories with us.
Emmett Till was a name I had never heard (whiteness showing clearly here.) For any others who haven’t heard it, a brief history lesson: a white women told her husband a black man had been flirting with her in their store, so the white man got a bunch of friends together and brutally killed the black man. They were tried and let go without any punishment. The woman later confessed that she had made it up.
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast Forward Fridays to look ahead to a release I’m excited about! Today’s is Craigslist Confessional by Helena Dea Bala, and I am anticipating a book full of fascinating and emotional stories.
Expected Release: July 7, 2020
Why wait on this one?
I think this can be a sign of goodness in the world. This lady opens herself up for anyone who needs to talk, confess, get something off their chest. That’s generous, as you don’t know what you might get.
Other people’s stories are juicy stuff. Even for myself, a fairly not-interested-in-drama lady, can appreciate a good story of life. The idea of her being a repository for people with something weighing on them is a delight! I can’t wait!
Craigslist is a trove of interesting stuff. There are so many bizarre, sweet, and terrifying posts. You never totally know what you’re going to get, and that’s part of the fun of it (when you’re being careful). I just love things that are crowdsourced and anonymous!
Summary: After graduating from law school, Helena Dea Bala was a lobbyist in Washington, DC, struggling to pay off her student loans. She felt lonely and unfulfilled but, after a chance conversation with a homeless man she often saw on her commute, she felt…better. Talking with a stranger, listening to his problems, and sharing her own made her feel connected and engaged in a way she hadn’t in a long time. Inspired, she posted an ad on Craigslist promising to listen, anonymously and for free, to whatever the speaker felt he or she couldn’t tell anyone else. The response was huge—thousands of emails flooded her inbox. People were desperate for the opportunity to speak without being judged, to tell a story without worrying it would get back to friends, family, or coworkers—and so Craigslist Confessional was born.
I got this book months ago in March and was so excited about it! I’ve finally got the chance to pick it up. I am currently reading City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson. Here’s how it’s going so far!
Why did I start reading it?
I’ve been trying to purchase a load of books from my favorite nonprofit bookshop in the past few months since they are trying to stay afloat during COVID shutdowns. I don’t typically purchase physical books because I don’t have a lot of space, but this is a worthy cause! I browsed what they had online and found this one, which sounded fantastic and I had never heard of it before.
I’ve been blogging for over a year now, which is a big exciting accomplishment for me! And yet, it wasn’t until this week that I stopped and thought about how weird the word blog is. It doesn’t sound very nice; in fact it sounds more like a sound you might make while throwing up. 😶
So let’s take a look and find out exactly why there’s a whole community built around this bizarre word and wonderful hobby. ^.^
Origins of the word ‘blog’
When did it first get used? 1998
What does it mean? In this sense, it’s defined as an online journal
What did it come from? This was a shortened and tweaked version of “web log,” which was originally a record of server requests.
Web, from World Wide Web. Not sure how many of y’all are old enough / young enough to remember that URLs used to begin with www, but that’s what it came from!
Log, in the sense of a record of observations, thoughts, etc. Think old sea captains, or Star Trek.
It’s not a new one, though!
Even though blogging in the sense we use it for writing online is still new, the word blog itself has been used in many other ways through the years. The etymology stretches back:
1750: to look sullen or sulky
1860: a servant-boy at a college (related to the British bloke)
1860: to beat or defeat someone (schoolboy slang)
1898: used of anything resembling a block or log of wood
1969: a generic term for any random person as in “Joe Bloggs,” a default anonymous name
I recently finished reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and have been working through my major learnings from it. The book focuses on the issues white people have with understanding and talking about race issues in the US, and the way the country socializes people into racism. If you haven’t already, check out my first post about this! Here are a few more key points that DiAngelo discusses, and that struck home for me.
White people “carry” race, too
This is building on the idea from Part 2 about white people asking black people to tell them about race. I’ll come back to this quote:
The expectation that people of color should teach white people about racism is another aspect of white racial innocence that reinforces several problematic racial assumptions. First, it implies that racism is something that happens to people of color and has nothing to do with us and that we consequently cannot be expected to have any knowledge of it.
White people experience race even if they are never around non-white people in their whole lives. The very fact that that might happen is a consequence of race: ask yourself why there are no non-white people living in the area you live in. Why aren’t you living in an area where there are more black people than white people? What differences between those two places would you imagine to exist? Portraying black people as the only ones with a race is ridiculous; there can’t be one without the other. If black is a race, why wouldn’t white be? Which leads us to the next issue…
Recommended: sure!! For a cute quick read, for anyone who’s all about the idol fandom, for a likable but realistic MC.
Summary: Gigi is a 16-year-old from South Korea, who dreams of becoming an idol for the famed talent agency, One-Shot Entertainment. As fate would have it, Gigi is recruited as their newest trainee, but winds up in a situation far from what she ever dreamed of when she’s placed in an experimental unit group project code-named “SKS.” From there, Gigi’s new life as a K-Pop idol begins to unfold more like a K-Drama after she’s assigned to the newly defined co-ed unit SKS-7, and must adjust to working with 6 male bandmates who aren’t very thrilled by her placement in their group. Will Gigi be able to survive in SKS-7 and the world of Korean idol life, or will her dreams go up in flames as quickly as they were ignited?
Thoughts: Oh man, this was so fun to read! Gigi is too edgy for her girl group, so gets shifted into a (previously) all-boy group where her rapping style will have a bigger impact. That’s definitely unusual, which is openly acknowledged in the book. Typically idol groups are gender exclusive: all female or all male. KARD is one of the few real-life mixed-gender groups I’m aware of, and even in their interviews they’ve shyly acknowledged that it can feel pretty awkward doing some of the dances and such together. Just a part of the culture.
As a voracious reader, I am always looking for ideas of what to read next even when my list is already hundreds of books long. 🤣 Today I chose a random word — wind — and searched it in Goodreads’ database to see what the top 5 recommended books related to the word wind would be. Most of them include the word wind as the force of nature, but one included it as a sense of a twisting or turning motion. Here’s a quick look at what the top 5 were!
1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Top 5 genre tags for this title: Classics, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Historical
2 Sentence Summary: Scarlett O’Hara, the beautiful, spoiled daughter of a well-to-do Georgia plantation owner, must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea. (Goodreads itself only had one sentence so that’s all I’ve got!)
Have I heard of / read this before? Yessss, I have heard of this one! Although I’m aware of the movie, I’m not totally sure I knew there was a book.
Do I like the cover? Not really! 😂 Since this is an older book, it really shows. It looks like something I would borrow from my grandma when I would run out of books to read while visiting when I was younger.
Will I read it? Probably not. Western-based stories with cowboys and train heists don’t usually interest me much.