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Review: May Day by Josie Jaffrey

May Day by Josie Jaffrey – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Vampires, murder investigation, competing love interests, dark humour…. Yup. That was a good risk. 😍

Recommended: yes!
For a captivating mystery blended with delicious sensuality, for humor both dark and light, for intense personal introspection from the main character

If the murderer you’re tracking is a vampire, then you want a vampire detective. Just maybe not this one. It’s not that Jack Valentine is bad at her job. The youngest member of Oxford’s Seekers has an impressive track record, but she also has an impressive grudge against the local baron, Killian Drake. When a human turns up dead on May Morning, she’s determined to pin the murder on Drake. The problem is that none of the evidence points to him. Instead, it leads Jack into a web of conspiracy involving the most powerful people in the country, people to whom Jack has no access. But she knows someone who does. To get to the truth, Jack will have to partner up with her worst enemy. As long as she can keep her cool, Drake will point her to the ringleaders, she’ll find the murderer and no one else will have to die. Body bags on standby.

Although I don’t usually read mysteries, the blend of vampires and the offbeat main character made me take a chance on this one. I am so glad I did!

It’s a mystery at heart, and I absolutely did not guess the resolution. That, for me, is a large part of what makes reading a mystery fun: the ah-ha! moment when it all pieces together at the end. However there’s enough puzzle remaining that I’m ready to read the next book already! I want to know how the others fall into these shady dealings.

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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?!

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.

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.

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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

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.

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.

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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

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.

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.

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What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 4

White women: leave the room if you gotta cry

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.

Emmett Till was fourteen.

Continue reading “What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 4”
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What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 3

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…

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Review: K-Pop Idol Diaries by Go Futa!

K-Pop Idol Diaries by Go Futa – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure!!
For a cute quick read, for anyone who’s all about the idol fandom, for a likable but realistic MC.

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?

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.

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Review: The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Yeeeeep, I knew I was excited about this for a good reason 😍

Recommended: yes!
For magic! always for magic! And for characters who all have their complexities examined and everything is in shades of gray. For a story that matches the absolutely brilliant cover and title.

Zahru has long dreamed of leaving the kingdom of Orkena and having the kinds of adventures she’s only ever heard about in stories. But as a lowly Whisperer, her power to commune with animals means that her place is serving in the royal stables until the day her magic runs dry. All that changes when the ailing ruler invokes the Crossing: a death-defying race across the desert, in which the first of his heirs to finish—and take the life of a human sacrifice at the journey’s end—will ascend to the throne and be granted unparalleled abilities. With all of the kingdom abuzz, Zahru leaps at the chance to change her fate if just for a night by sneaking into the palace for a taste of the revelry. But the minor indiscretion turns into a deadly mistake when she gets caught up in a feud between the heirs and is forced to become the Crossing’s human sacrifice. Zahru is left with only one hope for survival: somehow figuring out how to overcome the most dangerous people in the world.

What’s most impressive is how much story was told in this one book, and how quickly I read it. Yes, I’ve been looking forward to this book for months at this point, but it read so easily and I just couldn’t stop! In the rare moments where I did have to put it down, I found myself thinking about it and wondering what would happen next. Absolutely loved that!

“Daydreaming is all fun and games until you’re chosen as a human sacrifice, and having to sneak through a dilapidated town with a deserting prince and the risk of a treason charge.”

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What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — part 2

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.

Pretending race doesn’t exist makes the problem worse

I’m sure I’ve said it myself when I was younger and thought this made sense: that white or black doesn’t matter, I don’t even notice it when talking to or getting to know someone.


stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don’t have them. We do have them, and people of color already know we have them; our efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing.

That really doesn’t help the issue, because it’s essentially pretending that the issues don’t exist, despite the glaringly obvious issue of white supremacy and a system designed to keep Black people in the lowest rungs of society. Saying you’re color-blind or don’t see race ends with you refusing to even partake in a discussion about race, let alone try to take action to change it. This also makes people whose lives are inevitably shaped by racism in the US feel devalued and ignored, because you’re telling them that this exhausting unfair part of their life doesn’t even merit your acknowledgement.

Continue reading “What I Learned From WHITE FRAGILITY — part 2”
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What I Learned from WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 1

I recently picked up a copy of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo from the library when I saw that they had made it an “always available” title, likely due to the recent surge in people working to educate themselves on the institutionalized racism in the United States and what white people can do to change it.

I am so glad I did.

So much of what was written rang true and made so much sense. I feel like I am far better prepared to be an active ally for change than I ever have been in the past. I’m working on moving from non-racist to anti-racist, and learning why the difference is so important. I learned a lot from this book, and I’m going to have to break this into a few posts because there was just so much.

My goal here is not only to reinforce my own learning, but to help anyone else who might not be able to get a copy, or to whom these concepts are also new. Consider this a short primer, and I encourage you to pick up this book or one of the many others being recommended right now.

Racism is not an event, it’s a system

I had always envisioned racism as something one person does to another. Denying services, physical or verbal abuse, using slurs: those things were racist. In my mind, if you didn’t do those things, you were good, because you clearly weren’t racist!


David Wellman succinctly summarizes racism as “a system of advantage based on race.”

This means that it’s not just something that occurs on an individual level, but rather a societal level. The government of the United States and the values supported inherently support white people. Therefore the US is built on a system that advantages whites — the exact definition above.

Continue reading “What I Learned from WHITE FRAGILITY — Part 1”