Seventeen-year-old Ciardis Vane grew up in a small village on the edge of the realm. Beautiful, destitute, and desperate she is looking to get out anyway she can. She has worked her whole live as a laundress with no hope of escaping her fate anytime soon.
But then her life changes when a strange woman appears with the key to Ciardis' escape. With an offer to take her to the capital and a life she'd never dreamed of, it's hard to resist. There's only one catch.
She wants Ciardis to become a companion: she'll be required to wear expensive dresses, learn to conduct suitable magic, educate herself oncourt proclivities, and - in the end - chain herself to the highestbidder. A Patron for life.
This is a book that I loved until I didn’t.
The beginning of the story drew me in quickly. I loved the writing and the story of a girl who is discovered in the laundry and trained to be a courtesan.
She is the last of a family of powerful mages. She has the ability to amplify the magic of anyone else. This is very attractive in a companion. Companions are chosen for life. The Patron may go through multiple marriages but companions stay by their side as business partners and sometimes as romantic partners. Ciardis peaks the interest of both men and women interested in her powers.
Then, about halfway through the story, it started to lag. It started slipping into too many tropes for my liking. The Prince is in disguise! Ciardis doesn’t realize how powerful she is! There are evil people advising the King! Any of these could be worked into a good story but this book didn’t seem to go deep enough. It was like it was hitting the highlights of what should be in a fantasy book.
I did like the fact that there was no romance in this book. That is a nice change of pace. I have a feeling that it will change in future books but it was nice for now.
I am still intrigued enough in the overall story to give the next book a try. The reviews on Goodreads suggest that it is better than the first one. So far there are nine books in this series. I can’t imagine where this could be going that requires that many but I’m willing to be surprised.
About Terah Edun
Terah’s work has taken her from communities in Morocco to refugee centers in South Sudan. She is both an international development worker and a New York Times bestselling author of young adult novels. Hailing from Atlanta, GA and currently living in Washington, D.C. her favorite place to be is in front of the computer communicating the stories of underprivileged individuals around the world – both fictional and representative.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I can go pick up books that I’ve already requested that come in.
Also, I can only get new books from Amazon if they are free. That’s totally cheating but come on, free books!
The only exception is if I run out of audiobooks which may happen because I have a road trip this month.
How did it go? Here’s a hint. I’m posting the recap a few weeks before March 1.
At first I was great! I listed a bunch of books that I had started and wanted to finish for #DiverseAThon.
I finished those all up. Mission accomplished.
I went on a road trip and listened to a lot of audio books too.
Then the trouble started. I have so many books here that I haven’t read. Some of them I was really excited about at the time. I wandered around not reading any of them. Here’s what I did instead.
I just kept listening to more audiobooks that I had exempted from the ban.
I read books that I was receiving in swaps.
I started rereading books. By the way, let’s celebrate Goodreads adding rereading!
I read two, yep 2, books that I had here that I hadn’t picked up before. I liked them. It is proof that I should read the books I have here. But, I don’t want to.
By the way, here’s all the books that came into my house while following the rules of the ban precisely.
Sent through swaps
I’ve read 2.5 of these so far.
Free on Amazon
I’m halfway through Ingrid Winter.
Came in from a previous request to the library
Yeah, I gained 10 books while actively not getting new books.
So the moral of the story is that I should rehome a lot of unread books I have here, especially all of those I picked up and read a few chapters and put down. Here’s the book that broke me.
I was thinking about #ReadtheResistance and thought that I should reread this one. My current library doesn’t have it. Why did my rural library have this crazy liberal hippie fantasy? Anyway, I decided to order it but I totally wouldn’t read it before March 1. It came in the mail. I gazed at it. I put it aside like a good girl. And then I said to hell with it.
I’m ending the experiment early and going back on the library request website. I also got an Amazon gift card in the mail and went wild.
The Hate U Give and River of Teeth are preorders. I ordered River of Teeth based solely on her Hippo Day tweets and her twitter handle @gaileyfrey that made her my new favorite person in the world.
I’ve started requesting library books too. I’ve added all kinds of shiny things to my Goodreads TBR lists during my ban – both upcoming releases and deep backlist.
I shouldn’t try to fight my nature. If I want to read it, I’ll read it right away and I’ll love it. If I put it aside, let it go no matter how good it might actually be.
Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.
It isn’t just a scenario. A well-designed attack on just one of the nation’s three electric power grids could cripple much of our infrastructure—and in the age of cyberwarfare, a laptop has become the only necessary weapon. Several nations hostile to the United States could launch such an assault at any time. In fact, as a former chief scientist of the NSA reveals, China and Russia have already penetrated the grid. And a cybersecurity advisor to President Obama believes that independent actors—from “hacktivists” to terrorists—have the capability as well. “It’s not a question of if,” says Centcom Commander General Lloyd Austin, “it’s a question of when.”
I was excited to order Lights Out, a book about the possible aftermath of a catastrophic attack on the U.S. power grid, but once it arrived I was reluctant to read it. Why? Possibly for the same reasons as many officials have for not addressing this threat. I want to pretend it can’t happen.
I was pretty sure that if I read this book that I would turn into some type of disaster prepper. I already asked for a generator for Christmas (I didn’t get it). The idea of having electricity fail permanently seems like a horror movie for me. It would be a horror movie for everyone.
The book outlines ways that the grid is vulnerable and ways that it has already been attacked. It also has interviews with several people and groups who are preparing for disasters in varying ways. No one seems to be totally prepared though and the book ends with the acknowledgement that we will never be ready.
I will be rereading the preparation chapters again with some notes about things I can start to do to prepare myself for even minor emergencies like power loss due to blizzards. My goal of off the grid living is far away but this book made me even more serious about wanting to live that way.
I used to live in rural areas where losing power for up to a few days wasn’t an abnormal occurrence. Now I live in the city where it very rarely happens. It happened this week. It was almost bedtime anyway so I just went to bed but as I was lying there I had a few minutes of panic. What if this was it? What if this was the time it was never going to come back on? Would I look back on my thoughts while laying in bed like a movie voiceover – “These were the last few hours of living in the world they knew….” Should I get up and check the internet on my phone to see if there was a catastrophe? Should I save the power on my phone instead? I knew reading this book would mess with my head. (It came back on in less than 2 hours.)
I need a generator and solar panels.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Taylor Cipriano had everything figured out, back when she lived with her single mother in Miami. Now, she's moved upstate for her junior year to live with her mom's boyfriend and her soon-to-be-stepsister and is trying to figure out who she is out of the shadow of her best friend. When she meets Theo—quirky, cute, sensitive Theo—he seems like a great match...except he has a girlfriend. Josey, icy and oh-so-intimidating.
But Theo and Josey aren't like anyone Taylor's met before; Josey grew up in a polyamorous family, and the two of them have a history of letting a third person in to their relationship. It's nothing Taylor's ever considered before...but she really likes Theo.
Her feelings for Josey, though?
That's where it really gets complicated.
I have a few things that I consider to be true about my reading life.
YA books generally annoy me.
I especially don’t like YA contemporary books.
I hate, hate, hate love triangles.
I hate to have to rethink long held beliefs about myself. I’m going to have to though. I’ve been enjoying some YA contemporary books lately.
I loved this book. I loved it even though this is an actual love triangle. Maybe I don’t hate it because no one is choosing who to love and is just agreeing to love everyone. It isn’t a competition.
Taylor is a junior when she moves to a new town. She meets Theo and Josey. She is warned that they are weird but she likes Theo a lot. When they explain to her that they are polyamorous, she doesn’t know what that means. In their relationship that means that they are open to other partners.
Other people misunderstand the intent behind the relationship. They feel that it is unfair for Theo to have two girls that he is using. They think that it means that Taylor is open to sleeping with any one. Taylor is nervous that her involvement will feed into stereotypes of Latinas being The Other Women.
What I found most interesting about this book is that I believed it. I wasn’t mocking the author’s attempts to make it seem like this was a real relationship that wasn’t exploiting anyone because it felt real. I could see how this relationship could work. It worked better than a lot of two person relationships I’ve read about in books. There were no major misunderstandings that could be resolved just by talking to each other. There was no game playing to make someone else jealous or insecure. It felt age appropriate.
“Hannah Moskowitz wrote her first story, about a kitten named Lilly on the run from cat hunters, for a contest when she was seven years old. She was disqualified for violence. Her first book, BREAK, was on the ALA’s 2010 list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, and her book GONE, GONE, GONE won a Stonewall Honor in 2013. She lives in Maryland.“
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Obviously, I needed to write a Valentine’s Day post. That isn’t hard. I was going to write about what romantic books I had read recently. Then I went back through my Goodreads lists. There weren’t many purely romantic books after last September when I read a bunch of Regencies to get ready for NaNoWriMo.
I went to some of my TBR lists and found a few books if I want to up my romantic reading.
“After an arranged marriage in her native India, Priya moves with her husband to California, where they share a house with his parents. Playing the traditional daughter- in-law role, she’s expected to clean, cook, and because she doesn’t immediately get pregnant find a job as well! But the job, at a glossy Hollywood gossip magazine, isn’t at all what Priya’s in-laws had in mind for a traditional Indian wife. She soon finds herself with a secret life that she must hide from her disapproving new family. All the while, she is growing into a marriage with a man whose loyalty is decidedly torn between his parents and his bride. This is hardly surprising, given that he met his wife only a week before their wedding. The question is, can this fragile new love survive the pull between tradition and ambition?”
“When Los Angeles publicist Sydney Green convinces her boss to let her produce a documentary for the Save the Walrus Foundation, the only thing she is really interested in saving is herself. Sydney sees the walrus as merely a means to improving her career and her love life—and not necessarily in that order. For any other client Sydney would’ve killed the project the second she learned she’d be the one having to spend a month in rural Alaska, but for rising star, and sometimes boyfriend Blake McKinley, no sacrifice is ever too great.
Yet, a funny thing happens on the way to the Arctic. A gregarious walrus pup, a cantankerous scientist, an Australian sex goddess, a Star Wars obsessed six-year-old, and friends and nemeses both past and present rock Sydney Green’s well-ordered world. Soon Sydney is forced to choose between doing what’s easy and doing what’s right.”
“Smite Turner is renowned for his single-minded devotion to his duty as a magistrate. But behind his relentless focus lies not only a determination to do what is right, but the haunting secrets of his past—secrets that he is determined to hide, even if it means keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Until the day an irresistible woman shows up as a witness in his courtroom.”
“Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.”
Ravi Chandra Singh is the last guy you’d expect to become a private detective. A failed religious scholar, he now works for Golden Sentinels, an upmarket London private investigations agency. His colleagues are a band of gleefully amoral and brilliant screw-ups: Ken and Clive, a pair of brutal ex-cops who are also a gay couple; Mark Chapman, a burned-out stoner hiding a great mind; Marcie Holder, a cheerful former publicist; Benjamin Lee, a techie prankster from South London; David Okri, an ambitious lawyer from a well-connected Nigerian immigrant family; and Olivia Wong, an upper-class Hong Kong financial analyst hiding her true skills as one of the most dangerous hackers in the world—all under the watchful eye of Roger Golden, wheeler-dealer extraordinaire, and his mysterious office manager, Cheryl Hughes.
Thrust into a world where the rich, famous, and powerful hire him to solve their problems and wash their dirty laundry, Ravi finds himself in over his head with increasingly gonzo and complex cases – and the recent visions that he’s been having of Hindu gods aren’t helping. As Ravi struggles to stay ahead of danger, he wonders if the things he’s seeing are a delusion – or if he might, in fact, be an unrecognized shaman of the modern world...
I loved this story of a private eye handling high profile cases while the Hindu gods watch him and text on their phones. There are several cases discussed here and they were well done. I want to read more in this series to see what happens with the gods.
The first case in the book is super problematic. It only covers maybe the first 1/3 of the book so discussing it isn’t going to going spoil the whole thing but here’s your warning.
A politician comes to the agency because he says that his dead girlfriend is having sex with him at night. It turns out that the politician takes a lot of sleeping pills at night so he isn’t fully aware of what is going on. His former girlfriend was a transwoman and he didn’t know. She was mid-transition when she got sick and then met him. Instead of talking to him about, you know, her life or anything, she would have her twin sister switch places with her at night. Her sister had sex with him. Then the girlfriend died of her illness and the sister kept sneaking into the house and having sex with the drugged guy because she was a sex addict.
(Go ahead and pick all the nonsense out of that paragraph at your leisure.)
Ok, so no matter how you dress that up, that’s a rape case. But, the word rape is never uttered. I think the closest they get is saying assault. I believe you are meant to feel bad for the woman who might get prosecuted if the politician decides to go public. I didn’t.
But then ….. wait for it…..
The woman who should be in jail for rape not only starts dating the main character but she gets a job in the agency.
I kept listening in hope that something was going to happen to get them to all see that this was wrong. They don’t. The rest of the book is so much better than this. This story could easily have been gotten rid of and not affect the rest of the book. I would love to think that when they adapt this for TV that they will live this case out but these things never work out the way I’d like.
About Adi Tantimedh
Adi Tantimedh has a BA in English Literature from Bennington College and an MFA in Film and Television Production from New York University. He is of Chinese-Thai descent and came of age in Singapore and London. He has written radio plays and television scripts for the BBC and screenplays for various Hollywood companies, as well as graphic novels for DC Comics and Big Head Press, and a weekly column about pop culture for BleedingCool.com. He wrote “Zinky Boys Go Underground,” the first post-Cold War Russian gangster thriller, which won the BAFTA for Best Short Film in 1995.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Alice Mayfair, twelve years old, slips through the world unseen and unnoticed. Ignored by her family and shipped off to her eighth boarding school, Alice would like a friend. And when she rescues Millie Maximus from drowning in a lake one day, she finds one.
But Millie is a Bigfoot, part of a clan who dwells deep in the woods. Most Bigfoots believe that people—NoFurs, as they call them—are dangerous, yet Millie is fascinated with the No-Fur world. She is convinced that humans will appreciate all the things about her that her Bigfoot tribe does not: her fearless nature, her lovely singing voice, and her desire to be a star.
Alice swears to protect Millie’s secret. But a league of Bigfoot hunters is on their trail, led by a lonely kid named Jeremy. And in order to survive, Alice and Millie have to put their trust in each other—and have faith in themselves—above all else.
I picked up this book at BEA last year because I like Jennifer Weiner’s adult fiction. I don’t read a lot of middle grade so I would have missed this one otherwise.
Alice is the neglected child of wealthy New Yorkers who don’t know what to do with her. She doesn’t fit into their vision of what a child of theirs should be. She’s messy and clumsy and too big. For some reason she never fits into the schools she’s attended. Now she is being shipped off to boarding school in upstate New York. The school is populated by other misfits who Alice keeps her distance from. She knows they will eventually reject her too.
Millie is a Yare. They are known as Bigfoot to No-Furs. They are quiet and meek. Millie is not. She wants to meet a No-Fur so much. Eventually Millie and Alice meet which brings the Yare tribe into danger from the local humans.
After I read this I thought that my stepdaughter would enjoy it. She refused to even look at it so we read it out loud during a road trip. She got mad and put her ear buds in so she didn’t have to hear a stupid story. We did notice her listening every so often though.
Alice believes that she is fat and ugly and that her hair is a disaster. She judges herself and everyone around her very harshly. These judgements are presented as facts in the book. She mocks people in her mind over any difference. She learns to bully people to gain acceptance.
Eventually this all backfires on her and she is an outcast again. She learns to accept people for their differences by the end of the book. But I can see people being uncomfortable with the mocking and harsh judging of other characters and viewpoints before this point.
Not all of the issues are resolved at the end so I hope this means that we will be reading more of Alice and Millie.
Ah, the perennial angsty post where we try to convince ourselves that we have purpose in life. Yeah, so I don’t really care about that. I read lots of books and like to talk about them. I don’t need anyone to approve. But, I had a conversation with an editor the other day that got me thinking.
I had reviewed one of her books previously. She had since put out several tweets about needing reviewers for the next book. I ignored it at first because I got a copy of the previous book and didn’t want to be greedy. But after several tweets I responded. Our conversation boiled down to her feeling that I didn’t do enough for the last book to warrant getting a hard copy of the new one. I don’t care about format. I’d rather have an ebook anyway. But I wonder now if people in publishing have any idea what bloggers can do for them.
Obviously the general public isn’t going to be influenced by what bloggers think. That’s easily seen from comparing year-end best of lists from bloggers with what actually sold during the year. I think what we do though, especially for small presses, is help with name recognition.
For the last book I:
Reviewed it on the blog (in my view or wrote an article about it, not a review in her view)
Reviewed it on Goodreads
Reviewed it on Amazon
Featured it in several lists since I liked the book
Did a giveaway of it and now it is living with another blogger who will do a lot of these things too
Put it on instagram in a bookstagram post of just this book and also in at least one group photo
Marked it read on Litsy
Requested that my library purchase it
Tweeted about each of the posts I made that it was in
Tweeted each instagram photo
Retweeted a few of her tweets about the book
That’s about all I can do except for buy each and every one of you a copy of your very own. I’m pretty sure that any of my followers would see that book and think, “I’ve heard of that one.” That’s the limit to what bloggers can do for a book. We can make people aware that the book exists and that we think they should read it.
I have an ebook of the new book. I’m going to be doing most of the same things for it. I’ve already requested that Litsy add it since it wasn’t in their database. I’ve asked the library to buy it. I’ve only read the first few pages and I’m already promoting it.
I know that we are mostly talking to ourselves in the book world but we talk A LOT if we like a book. I don’t think the powers that be recognize it.
Feasting her way through an Italian honeymoon, Jen Lin-Liu was struck by culinary echoes of the delicacies she ate and cooked back in China, where she’d lived for more than a decade. Who really invented the noodle? she wondered, like many before her. But also: How had food and culture moved along the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking Asia to Europe—and what could still be felt of those long-ago migrations?
The journey takes Lin-Liu into the private kitchens where the headscarves come off and women not only knead and simmer but also confess and confide. The thin rounds of dough stuffed with meat that are dumplings in Beijing evolve into manti in Turkey—their tiny size the measure of a bride’s worth—and end as tortellini in Italy. And as she stirs and samples, listening to the women talk about their lives and longings, Lin-Liu gains a new appreciation of her own marriage, learning to savor the sweetness of love freely chosen.
A travel book about noodles? I had to read this book as soon as I heard of it. Add in the fact that in 2017 I’m trying to read more Asian authors and books set in Central Asia and this book was perfect for me. It took me forever to read it though. I think I found this book so soothing that I would fall asleep after a few pages. It wasn’t boring. It just relaxed me.
The author is a Chinese-American journalist who lives in Beijing with her white American husband. She owns a cooking school. While most people in the west think of rice when they think of staple dishes of China, noodles are more common in the cuisine of northern China. She decides to follow the path of the Silk Road to see how noodles spread between China and Italy. Who invented them?
First of all, the old story about Marco Polo discovering noodles in Asia and bringing them to Italy is not true. The true history of noodles turns out to be very difficult to figure out. The author travels from China through central Asia and into Iran and Turkey interviewing chefs and home cooks. She is taught to cook dishes that amaze her and dishes that she learns to dread like plov, a central Asian rice dish that she was fed at every meal. I thought plov sounded really good if you left out all the dead animal parts that she kept being served. For a book that was supposed to be about noodles, it was very heavy on the meat. She had sheep killed in her honor and a lot of time was spent sourcing and waxing poetic over pork in Muslim countries.
There is also a lot of discussion about relationships and the role of women in society. At the time she started this trip, the author was recently married and was considering whether or not to have children. She is very conflicted about what her role should be in her marriage. Both she and her husband travel for work. Can they keep doing that? Should they stay in China? Does being married automatically mean giving up her independence? She spends part of the trip traveling alone and part of it with her husband. She talks to women as they cook about what their relationships are like. She realizes that her love of homemade noodles means that someone has to spend all that time making them. Younger women with jobs outside the house tend not to learn those skills.
This book does have many recipes if you would like to try making different types of noodles and dishes featuring noodles. It even has recipes for plov. It won’t give you the answer though to where the noodle originated. That answer is lost in time.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life--great friends, family, and successful career--aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, quitting her job as an optometrist, and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love.
Georgia’s life is turned around when she finds out that a person she loved in college has died. She decides to get in touch with the men she has loved to tell them that she appreciated them.
I decided to download this book on a whim before a long road trip. It was fun and laugh at loud funny in parts. Georgia is trying to decide what to do with her life. Her children are grown. Her job is boring her. She wants to make a change but isn’t sure what that will look like. In the meantime, she is dealing with her mother’s remarriage, her daughters’ marriages and pregnancies, and her friends deciding that they too will be making big changes. Facing the men from her past feels like too much at times.
The first thing Georgia wants to do in her new life is to take a solo train trip from San Francisco to Vancouver and then across Canada. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do too. I’d love to just look at the scenery and read for a week. It sounds like the perfect introvert trip.
The women in her life are very against her traveling solo. They even imply that she shouldn’t go on her trip unless she can take a man with her, even though Georgia isn’t in a relationship and hasn’t dated in years. That annoyed me.
Bad rep alert:
There is a minor storyline about a man leaving his wife for his boyfriend. This is discussed as the man being gay now. Bisexuality is never discussed. That’s a missed opportunity. The wife doesn’t want him to discuss this with their children until they are older. It seems to imply that homosexuality/bisexuality has to remain an adults-only conversation. This is refuted later when the kids talk about it very matter of factly. They obviously aren’t traumatized at all.
There is a man in Georgia’s life who seems to me to be very smug. He routinely overrides what Georgia says she wants. This is portrayed in the book as romantic and him knowing Georgia better than she knows herself. I found it a bit creepy.
Despite its issues, I really enjoyed this book. The depictions of female friendships are very well done. I love her friend Wanda and her outlook on Georgia’s life. This is a great light read when you want a book that will make you laugh.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Over the course of two decades, John Hargrove worked with 20 different whales on two continents and at two of SeaWorld's U.S. facilities. For Hargrove, becoming an orca trainer fulfilled a childhood dream. However, as his experience with the whales deepened, Hargrove came to doubt that their needs could ever be met in captivity. When two fellow trainers were killed by orcas in marine parks, Hargrove decided that SeaWorld's wildly popular programs were both detrimental to the whales and ultimately unsafe for trainers.
After leaving SeaWorld, Hargrove became one of the stars of the controversial documentary Blackfish. The outcry over the treatment of SeaWorld's orca has now expanded beyond the outlines sketched by the award-winning documentary, with Hargrove contributing his expertise to an advocacy movement that is convincing both federal and state governments to act.
As I listened to this book written by a former orca trainer at Sea World, the analogy that kept coming to mind was alien abduction. Humans have taken orcas out of their natural environment by force. They are made to live in cells with others of their species with whom they do not share a language. Several died before the exact requirements for keeping them were figured out. Humans control when they eat, when they play, and when they are bred. Humans separate them from their offspring even though we know orcas have complex matriarchal families.
This is a fitting analogy because eventually the author discusses it too. Seen in this light, it is impossible to justify the practice of using whales and dolphins for entertainment.
The author started as a true believer in Sea World. From the age of 6 he dedicated his life to becoming an orca trainer. He loved the whales. He believed that some of the whales cared for him too. But he came to realize that no matter how close the relationship between whale and trainer was, at the end of the day he was still their prison guard. It is only natural that an intelligent creature kept under these conditions will try to fight back.
The book opens with the detailed account of his attack by a whale. He is clear that the whale chose to let him live. His break with Sea World came after the 2009 and 2010 deaths of trainers. In each instance Sea World’s public statements blamed the trainers for making mistakes. After studying the incidents it was clear to him that they did not and that Sea World was lying to hide the fact that this aggression was a result of psychological stress to the whales.
He discusses many types of aggression and health problems that result from captivity. One telling story concerns the baby whales. They swim nonstop for several months after birth. This is because in the wild orcas never stop moving. They have to learn to stop and float still in the tiny Sea World pools.
Since the animals are not able to released, he discusses options for how to care for the current whales in a more humane way.
Even if you’ve seen Blackfish, I’d recommend this book to get a better idea about the lives of the whales from someone who has lived on both sides of the issue.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Six Degrees of Separation is a meme run by Books are my Favorite and Best. You are given a starting book and then you link it to six others using whatever stream of consciousness reasoning that pops into your brain.
“Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.”
I had never heard of this book. My first thought was “That’s a really blue cover.”
“Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father left behind, something she comes to realize is a book.”
The Reader was fantasy written by an East Asian author.
“At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…”
This has magic and British people and class, race, and gender politics.
“A sixteen-year-old governess becomes a spy in this alternative U.S. history where the British control with magic and the colonists rebel by inventing.”
As I was looking at this, I realized that there is a sequel out. I can’t rush to read it right now because I put myself on a library ban until March 1. The sequel will be on the library request list on March 1.
“There couldn’t be a fire along the Jorgmund Pipe. It was the last thing the world needed. But there it was, burning bright on national television. The Pipe was what kept the Livable Zone safe from the bandits, monsters and nightmares the Go Away War had left in its wake. The fire was a very big problem.
Enter Gonzo Lubitsch and his friends, the Haulage & HazMat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company, a team of master troubleshooters who roll into action when things get particularly hot. They helped build the Pipe. Now they have to preserve it—and save humanity yet again. But this job is not all it seems. It will touch more closely on Gonzo’s life, and that of his best friend, than either of them can imagine. And it will decide the fate of the Gone-Away World.”
I don’t remember anything about this book. I only remember that I absolutely loved it. I should reread it.
“Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…”
I read this a long time ago. It freaked me out. It was one of the most influential books I’ve ever read and I don’t remember much about it at all. I should reread it. I have a copy of it. I’ve never been able to make myself re-read it. Now it is way too close to reality. I need to make myself reread it.
Whenever there are discussions about diversity in books there are always people who wonder what the big deal about bad representation is. They wonder why people from marginalized backgrounds get so angry about authors getting things wrong. These (usually) white folk say things like, “Calm down, it’s just a story.”
Ok, people, I have an exercise for you to start to get some understanding.
Think of something that you know about. It could be a hobby or a job or where you live. Now think about an author writing about it and getting it all wrong.
I have examples of things that have made me a bit stabby while reading.
Once upon a time I opened a book and started reading. I found out that this book was set in my hometown. That stopped me in my tracks. I came from a literal one-stoplight town. There are no books set there. But there it was – town name and state. Then the author started describing the town in detail. It seems like a nice place but it wasn’t my town. It was also specifically set about 200 miles east of my town. It was weird and disorienting. It didn’t stop me from reading the very long series but it was unsettling every time name was mentioned.
I just read a book that I absolutely loved. One of the characters was applying to veterinary school. She didn’t get in. That didn’t surprise me since she was doing it all wrong.
She forgot to go to college first. You don’t just apply to vet school when you are in high school.
She didn’t apply to the right school. Vet schools are weird. They are geographically locked. You are supposed to go to the school in your state or the school that your state contracts with to allow their residents to enter. There are some exceptions (I was one) but this person never mentioned the name of the vet school in her state in her discussions.
Bless her heart, she thought going to a big name vet school mattered more than anything. Nope, see geographically locked. Vets don’t consider where you go to be of any importance at all. Location of internships and residencies if you choose to do that are different but where you went to vet school is irrelevant.
She had all kinds of volunteer work and AP classes and extracurricular activities but none of it had anything to do with animals. She also didn’t appear to have any pets. Not vet school material.
This was a minor point in the overall story but it bothered me every time it came up. It bothered me enough to write that all out. With a little bit of Googling, the author could have figured a lot of that out.
I try not to read fiction with horses in it. If there are horses in a book I want to read, it will reassure me greatly to see an author photo with a horse in it. People get horses all wrong in books. They are constantly jumping off the horse and just letting it wander about. That’s a sure way to end up walking back home.
The hero is always riding a huge stallion. Please. Stallions can be a total pain to work with. Most people don’t ride them routinely, especially in books where horses are used as a major mode of transportation.
I really hate it when someone shows women being all liberated because she refuses to ride sidesaddle. You can ride however you want but don’t talk about sidesaddle being unsafe or unstable. Modern sidesaddles were developed to let women jump fences or work cattle while wearing dresses. Once I got used to it, I felt more secure sidesaddle than astride.
Not me but I don’t have any of my sidesaddle photos uploaded. I took this one in Portugal. The skirt hides a very secure system for staying on a horse.
The grandson of slaves, born into poverty in 1892 in the Deep South, A. G. Gaston died more than a century later with a fortune worth well over $130 million and a business empire spanning communications, real estate, and insurance. Gaston was, by any measure, a heroic figure whose wealth and influence bore comparison to J. P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie. Here, for the first time, is the story of the life of this extraordinary pioneer, told by his niece and grandniece, the award-winning television journalist Carol Jenkins and her daughter Elizabeth Gardner Hines.
I had never heard of A.G. Gaston before this book showed up on Book Bub last year. I’m glad I found out about him. He had a remarkable life.
A.G. Gaston’s grandparents were slaves. His grandfather worked with horses and his grandmother was an accomplished cook. These were considered “privileged” positions. When slavery ended they stayed on working for the family that previously owned them. His grandmother taught his mother to cook and she also earned a living working for wealthy white families as a live-in cook and as a sought after caterer. This put A.G. in contact with wealth at a young age.
When he was young there were two broad schools of thought about black advancement. Booker T. Washington believed that black people should stay where they were and work hard to advance economically before looking for social equality. W.E.B. DuBois believed in fighting for social equality and letting the “talented tenth” of black elites raise up the rest of the community. A.G. Gaston spent his life firmly in Booker T. Washington’s camp.
After serving in WWI, he returned to Alabama and couldn’t find a good job. He had to take work in the mines. He saw widows begging for money to pay for their miner husbands’ funerals. He started a burial insurance business. From there he bought funeral homes. Eventually he started a bank for black people and a business training school.
He was in his seventies and wealthy when the civil rights movement game to Birmingham. He owned the only black hotel so Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference set up shop there. I got the impression that he thought they were young radical whippersnappers. He argued for moderation. He wanted to negotiate instead of marching. But, he was the person that repeatedly bailed them out of jail – whether they wanted bailed out or not. He also argued vehemently against involving children in the marches and then secured the bond for the release of all the children jailed. People spoke of him as being too deferential to the white businessmen, especially if they didn’t know that he was bankrolling a lot of the protests.
His hotel was bombed. His house was bombed. (He said he couldn’t be sure if it was white or black people who wanted to bomb his house.) Bombs were set at other of his properties but were found before they went off. He let the marchers on the way to Selma camp on one of farms one night. He was even kidnapped.
After the protests moved away from Birmingham, he stayed and continued to serve the community. He was a philanthropist. Eventually he sold his business empire to his employees for a tenth of its worth to maintain local black control.
A.G. Gaston died at the age of 103. His story is amazing. He should definitely be better known.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I didn’t know at the time that I downloaded this that the author was a gay man. He talks a little bit about needing to remain closeted at the time of his hiring because of homophobic bosses. It is just a brief mention and the rest of the book deals with whales. Amazing book though. I don’t give out 5 stars easily. Review to come.
Betty Draper meets Hannibal!
Josie Schuller is a picture-perfect homemaker, wife, and mother—but she’s also a ruthless, efficient killer for hire! A brand-new original comedy series that combines the wholesome imagery of early 1960s domestic bliss with a tightening web of murder, paranoia, and cold-blooded survival.
* New original series by Joëlle Jones!
* Dark comedy, gritty action, and killer laughs!
I’m not a huge graphic novel fan because they are over too quickly. I don’t like a book that is done in 20 minutes. Occasionally though I pick some up because I love the look of the art.
How can you not love the cover of Lady Killer? Each book ends with a fake advertisement aimed at 1960s housewives who are also assassins. Think of this book as Mr and Mrs Smith set in the 60s if Mr Smith wasn’t a spy.
Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
The art in Monstress is beautiful. I wasn’t that big of a fan of the story. I’m definitely in the minority with that opinion. Every other review I read is raving about this book.
I did like the two tailed cats who are obviously the smartest beings around – as cats should be.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Once there was, and one day there will be. This is the beginning of every story.
Sefia lives her life on the run. After her father is viciously murdered, she flees to the forest with her aunt Nin, the only person left she can trust. They survive in the wilderness together, hunting and stealing what they need, forever looking over their shoulders for new threats. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is suddenly on her own, with no way to know who’s taken Nin or where she is. Her only clue is a strange rectangular object that once belonged to her father, something she comes to realize is a book.
Though reading is unheard of in Sefia’s world, she slowly learns, unearthing the book’s closely guarded secrets, which may be the key to Nin’s disappearance and discovering what really happened the day her father was killed.
Looking at reviews of this book it seems like this is either a book you adore or one that you don’t understand at all. I’m in the don’t understand category.
The premise seems good. A girl’s family is killed and she goes on the run with the thing that they were guarding – a book. No one reads in this time so she doesn’t know why the book is important.
Ok, that seems like a good start. But it starts to break down quickly.
She vaguely remembers her mother playing with blocks with letters on them with her until her father tells them that it is too dangerous. From that vague memory of a few letters, she somehow teaches herself to read. Not buying it. She starts reading a story in the book about pirates. Then she rescues a boy who is being held to fight other boys to the death. They chase after people who captured him and took her aunt away. Eventually, the pirates from the book show up in real life. Yeah. But then she can’t find the story about the pirates in the book anymore. Is the book gigantic or does it change or what? Suddenly, it supposedly contains the stories of everyone but the only story that we see from it is the pirates. Then there are people chasing the girl because she has magic but it isn’t clear whether they want her or the book or what. Then they get captured but they run away. The end.
What we don’t know:
Why is she magic?
Why do some people have magic of various kinds and others don’t?
Why are books outlawed?
What or who made this book so powerful?
Is Archer (the guy she rescued) the embodiment of a prophecy or just some guy?
I kept reading this book because I was certain it had to go somewhere and have everything tie together eventually. I was wrong. It wasted a great premise. This is supposedly the first book in a series so maybe it will all make sense eventually but I don’t want to slog through more books to find out.
About Traci Chee
“Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens. An all-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts, though she also dabbles at piano playing, egg painting, and hosting potluck game nights for family and friends. She studied literature and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“Trouble is brewing between the Council of the Dead and the ghostly, half-dead, spiritual, and supernatural community they claim to represent. One too many shady deals have gone down in New York City’s streets, and those caught in the crossfire have had enough. It’s time for the Council to be brought down—this time for good. Carlos Delacruz is used to being caught in the middle of things: both as an inbetweener, trapped somewhere between life and death, and as a double agent for the Council. But as his friends begin preparing for an unnatural war against the ghouls in charge, he realizes that more is on the line than ever before—not only for the people he cares about, but for every single soul in Brooklyn, alive or otherwise…”
This is the third and final book in the Bone Street Rumba series.
It started with:
I love the world that Older created. This is a diverse and exciting Brooklyn. There are people of all different races and sexual orientations. There are American Santeria priests working alongside Haitian doctors. The women in these books are amazing. They defy stereotypes and each is a distinct individual.
I’m not a person who tends to drool over book covers but seriously, look at this cover. That is amazing. I want it on a T shirt.
Unfortunately, Older creates all these wonderful characters and then doesn’t seem to fully know what to do with them. I’ve had this complaint about a lot of his books. The plots are forgettable. He writes a better sense of danger here than in Shadowshaper but it is still ultimately disappointing. I would be interested to see if that is the case if this were read back to back instead of waiting months in between.
I think this might be a series that is best binge-read. I found myself losing details of what happened before. Minor characters that I barely remembered become important as the series progresses. There is a list of characters in the front of the book but reminders of who they were weren’t worked into the story. I prefer being reminded in the text instead of having to refer to a glossary of characters.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Urban Fantasy and great characterizations.
About Daniel José Older
“Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper(Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.com, Salon, BuzzFeed, Fireside Fiction, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs around New York and he teaches workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis.” – from his website
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: