Recommended: yup! For a detailed narrative nonfiction about those crazy Merovingians, for insight into history not often taught that you have to intentionally seek out, for an impressively well-researched piece of writing
Brunhild was a Spanish princess, raised to be married off for the sake of alliance-building. Her sister-in-law Fredegund started out as a lowly palace slave. And yet—in the 6th-century Merovingian Empire, where women were excluded from noble succession and royal politics was a blood sport—these two iron-willed strategists reigned over vast realms for decades, changing the face of Europe.
The two queens commanded armies and negotiated with kings and popes. They formed coalitions and broke them, mothered children and lost them. They fought a years-long civil war—against each other. With ingenuity and skill, they battled to stay alive in the game of statecraft, and in the process laid the foundations of what would one day be Charlemagne’s empire. Yet after Brunhild and Fredegund’s deaths—one gentle, the other horrific—their stories were rewritten, their names consigned to slander and legend.
In The Dark Queens, award-winning writer Shelley Puhak sets the record straight. She resurrects two very real women in all their complexity, painting a richly detailed portrait of an unfamiliar time and striking at the roots of some of our culture’s stubbornest myths about female power. The Dark Queens offers proof that the relationships between women can transform the world.
Y’all this book is impressive as shit. It is so incredibly annotated and footnoted and it’s like every other sentence has a point of reference. That doesn’t distract or take away from the reading, and you can look at them after if you want and just sink into the narrative without pulling away to check out the notes, but boy was I impressed every time I saw the density of them on the page. The author and their cohort really did their work on this and it shows. Brunhild and Fredegund are absolutely incredible to read about and every new scene was compelling.
Recommended: sure for a sweet story of figuring out what’s right for you, for healthy and balanced looks at teen / first-time sexuality, for really lovely friendships that are important as well
Cameron Carson has a secret. A secret with the power to break apart his friend group.
Cameron Carson, member of the Geeks and Nerds United (GANU) club, has been secretly hooking up with student council president, cheerleader, theater enthusiast, and all-around queen bee Karla Ortega since the summer. The one problem—what was meant to be a summer fling between coffee shop coworkers has now evolved into a clandestine senior-year entanglement, where Karla isn’t intending on blending their friend groups anytime soon, or at all.
Enter Mackenzie Briggs, who isn’t afraid to be herself or wear her heart on her sleeve. When Cameron finds himself unexpectedly bonding with Mackenzie and repeatedly snubbed in public by Karla, he starts to wonder who he can truly consider a friend and who might have the potential to become more…
Maybe we weren’t all into the same shit, but we were all geeks about something, so maybe we were all idiots for acting like we were so different from each other just because the object of our geekery was different.
The Wrong Kind of Weird by James Ramos (arc copy text)
What stands out to me most in this book is that there’s a boy who is hesitant about having sex because he’s unsure he’s emotionally ready for it, and a girl who enjoys sex and appreciates a partner who ensures she’s satisfied and taken care of as well. Both of these are SO IMPORTANT AND HEALTHY! I feel like these are almost complete opposites of the usual tropes, where boys are portrayed as having no emotional involvement in sex and just want sex with anyone anytime, and women are not enjoying it (or at least not supposed to talk about enjoying it) and not empowered to do anything to change that.
Recommended: absolutely for people who do or do not want to get married, for people who are already married, for people who are interested in people, for good advice on creating healthy and loving long term relationships of any kind, for a really lovely read about love around the world and from different people
At age thirty-four, Jo Piazza got her romantic-comedy ending when she met the man of her dreams on a boat in the Galapagos Islands and was engaged three months later. But before long, Jo found herself riddled with questions. How do you make a marriage work in a world where you no longer need to be married? How does an independent, strong-willed feminist become someone’s partner–all the time?
In the tradition of writers such as Nora Ephron and Elizabeth Gilbert, award-winning journalist and nationally bestselling author Jo Piazza writes a provocative memoir of a real first year of marriage that will forever change the way we look at matrimony.
A travel editor constantly on the move, Jo journeys to twenty countries on five continents to figure out what modern marriage means. Throughout this stunning, funny, warm, and wise personal narrative, she gleans wisdom from matrilineal tribeswomen, French ladies who lunch, Orthodox Jewish moms, Swedish stay-at-home dads, polygamous warriors, and Dutch prostitutes.
Written with refreshing candor, elegant prose, astute reporting, and hilarious insight into the human psyche, How to Be Married offers an honest portrait of an utterly charming couple. When life throws more at them than they ever expected–a terrifying health diagnosis, sick parents to care for, unemployment–they ultimately create a fresh understanding of what it means to be equal partners during the good and bad times.
For perspective, I don’t want to get married. I’m in a long term relationship and plan to stay with this person, but as for marriage? I’m not interested, and I’d say I’m even somewhat against it (for myself). One of the biggest reasons for that was always a bit hard for me to express properly, but this book put it into simple concise words for me:
There was something appealing about actively choosing your partner again and again.
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow. This improbable story of Christopher’s quest to investigate the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog makes for one of the most captivating, unusual, and widely heralded novels in recent years.
Note: this is actually a review I wrote wayyy back in 2014 when I read this book, but I wanted to share it because I do remember this being quite a remarkable read for me at the time. Also it’s Christmas and I’m tired but still want to fulfill my goal this month of posting a review a day, so here it is, courtest of past me. Thanks, past me! 👋
The narrative voice of the main character is fantastic! It really captures the mind of someone with autism, and the plot itself was clever and unexpected.
I saw this book in my advisors office on her big shelf of young adult novels. I’ve seen it before, and been intrigued by the name even though I had no idea what it was about. I seem to have been on a kick of reading books that I have no idea what they are about lately. Anyway, I started this one, and I really love it. It’s written from the perspective of a boy with autism, and it’s definitively an interesting read. The language is straightforward in an incredibly refreshing way, and the character is cleverly developed to for the story.
I have to say, this book got me. I did not see the twists coming. The first one wasn’t too surprising; you could kind of infer it from earlier hints and suggestions that the narrator couldn’t figure out because of his difficulty with understanding others’ emotions. But the second one? The resolution of who killed the dog? WHOA! Didn’t see that coming!! So well done. The whole journey to London was intriguing as well, and the ending was perfectly done: it didn’t answer every question, and I had to wonder what would become of the characters. Very good!
A whole, beautiful life is only made possible by the wide spectrum of feelings that exist between joy and sorrow. In this insightful and warm book, writer and illustrator Mari Andrew explores all the emotions that make up a life, in the process offering insights about trauma and healing, the meaning of home and the challenges of loneliness, finding love in the most unexpected of places–from birds nesting on a sculpture to a ride on the subway–and a resounding case for why sometimes you have to put yourself in the path of magic.
My Inner Sky empowers us to transform everything that’s happened to us into something meaningful, reassurance that even in our darkest times, there’s light and beauty to be found.
Made me feel a lot of feels. Inspired, energetic, depressed, cautious, pessimistic, hopeful, grateful, touched. Possibly my favorite element of this was the beauty of the physical book itself. It’s truly so gorgeous to look at. Since I found Mari Andrew through her art originally, then her writing after, I love seeing that she found a way to incorporate both into a printed version. Even the page numbers change color for each section to match the theme, and it’s touches like that in the printed hardback that I loved. Of course the inside content matched. I feel like this could be useful to have on hand any time I need a dose of determination, or gratitude, or a reminder of the goodness of humanity. This will probably be a purchase soon because I always need good books on hand for the dark days of winter.
The blurb gives a good impression of the emotions and mood of the book, but not the concrete content. Mari talks about her travels and mental health as she is in her young adulthood. She also focuses on her healing journey after a life-changing physical injury, which is the sort of triggering point and framework for a lot of this.
Recommended: yep! For a cute little love story about love, for characters who are mostly lovable and only ocassionally idiots, for a personal tour of the island 🙂
Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.
The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she’d find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents’ footsteps. And if beneath Ted’s gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura’s long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find–and as she realizes that the love story she’s held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect–she’ll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants.
It has now been several months since I finished this, and I still am remembering it fondly, which really could be my entire view in one sentence. However, I am verbose, and will add more. 😁
The overall premise and plot of the book are excellently done and play with tropes and expectations in a really fun way. I think fun is honestly the perfect word to sum up this book. With it you get a lot of smiles and silliness, but also maybe some things that could have been done better (which were sacrificed in the same of more fun). Looking back at my highlights, there are a lot that I had highlighted just because they made me smile. In the whip played with the tropes and expectations, I was somehow surprised in little moments along the way but not at the overall turnout. Granted when you read a rom-com, you kind of know what to expect at the ending most of the time.
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him-at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.
Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl-she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.
This is an unusual book because it’s a romance that is painful and difficult and maybe a little toxic. Despite being love, it forces the characters to take a hard look at how they feel and what they have and recognize that it’s not always good, to be in love the way they are. It’s a love that hurts as much as it elevates. One where the highs feel so good, but the lows are nigh unbearable. The expectations they put on each other and the way they struggle under the weight of them frankly just hurt to read about. This was one where it felt like there was never going to be an easy answer.
Recommended: YES! For a world of magic and wonder, for a story that warms your heart, for an intriguing and exciting plot rife with mystery, for extraordinarily unique and lovable characters
On the edge of the town of Kottow stands the tallest (and oddest) Tree in the land. It’s a staid and solid arbour — until the Tree picks up its mighty old roots and wanders off, taking its resident band of misfits away with it. Whither goes the Tree? Not even the wizard can say.
‘There is something mighty fey about all this, or my name ain’t Diggory Stokey.’
Far away from Kottow, a forest lies lost in the mists of a dream. There’s much to mend in this hoary old wood, for the Summer’s been swept from the glittering skies, and no one’s keeping an eye on the Winter…
‘Enchanted forests,’ Mudleaf spat. ‘Bah. Like it’s been raining magic this long age through.’
The good folk of Kottow aren’t used to so wayward a magic — not even Maut Fey, the one with the sunlight behind her eyes. But magic will have its way with them, whether they will or no.
Summertide’s waiting. Can the folk of the Tree bring it back, or will the wild magic wash them away?
Are you feeling a bit burnt out? Does it feel like there’s endless stress and pain in the world and you just want somewhere to take a break? Are you hoping to find a world of sunshine and compassion that is still exciting and compelling?
Y’all, this book is exactly what I needed and exactly what you might need too. Apparently the author also thought that, because in the notes at the end they mentioned writing it during COVID lockdowns and how they really need something happy and lovely to carry them through. The result is this wonderful gift for us all.
When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.
But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.
After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.
This book is a slow burn. We know from the start exactly how it ends, so it’s the epitome of “it’s about the journey.” While it might sound like it’s about romantic love, it is much more about friendship. It’s also not a light and happy story. This is painful and emotional the whole way through.
Recommended: yep! for a cute story with parallels to a classic lit story, for an adventure story, for a story about taking risks and finding yourself, for lots of teaching pedagogy and moments that teachers will fully resonate with, for career and friendship and romance decisions
Having led a safe (admittedly boring) life until now, Eliza Britt wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity to work in Antalya, Turkey. With the Mediterranean calling, she was excited to help lead the university’s English department and to finally have a little adventure in her life.
On arrival Eliza soon realizes that her new posting won’t be all cerulean waters and exploring a new culture. Instead she’s faced with Deniz Aydem. Forced to work together, Eliza isn’t sure she will be able to ignore his arrogance or the unexpected attraction she feels for him.
Eliza and Deniz differ in every way. She’s American, he’s Turkish. She embraces her sense of humor, whereas Deniz has a serious disposition. But regardless of all their differences, something is simmering beneath the surface of their interactions. Whether it’s love or just an intense dislike for each other remains to be seen.
The title alone makes it clear that this is meant to be a bit of a parallel to pride and prejudice, but it definitely can stand on its own. There are certainly parallels to Austin’s story, but they are more like little fun bonuses if you know what to look for. For anyone not interested or not familiar with pride and prejudice, this will still be a fun read.
As a former teacher, I enjoyed the realism with which the profession was portrayed. There are so many struggles faced, and I would say that the struggles of from the admin side are not usually the perspective we see. It’s clear for teachers how administration can make daily life harder, but rarely is there a story where the admin making life harder is the protagonist. I appreciated the sensitive insight here and the learning that the main character does in regards of her career and how her decisions affected her teams and teachers and ultimately her students.