Tag Archives For: Reading

19 Sep, 2016

How To Read More Diversely

/ posted in: Reading

This week has been #DiverseAThon on Twitter.  If you haven’t seen it, it is worth going back through some of the discussions.

One thing that keeps coming up is,

How Do I Find More Diverse Books To Read?

When you first notice that you are reading primarily (or only) white authors, you get confused.  These are the books that you want to read.  Why should you read anything else?  If other books were available and were any good, you’d know about them, right?

Let me tell you a story

I’m the poster child for whiteness.  I’m straight.  The only minority status I can claim at all is being female and we’re actually the majority.

A few years ago I took part in a challenge to read a book from each of the 50 states in the course of a year.  That was my first experience with reading with intention and picking books on criteria other than just, “That sounds good.”

I enjoyed the challenge so the next year I decided to join a group reading books from other countries.  I started to notice a difference in the tone and richness of books written by, say, an American or British author about Zimbabwe and a Zimbabwean author writing about her country.  (If you ever feel a need to read a book from a specific country, this is the best list on the internet. )

About this time I found #Diversiverse.  This was 2 week readathon every October devoted to authors from backgrounds other than my own.  This was the mantra:

“Reading diversely may require you to change your book finding habits.  It ABSOLUTELY does not require you to change your book reading habits.”  Aarti

Now, even with book recommendations by authors of color making up a lot of my TBR lists, I still end up reading majority white authors.  It is just the way the world is unfortunately.

I got nerdy last year and made charts for the books I read in 2015.

This is the racial make up of Earth.

meta-chart(2)

This is the racial make up of female authors I read.

meta-chart

And male authors

meta-chart(1)

That’s with actively seeking out POC authors.  If you aren’t intentionally seeking out non-white authors, you aren’t likely to stumble across many accidentally.


Steps To Take

Set a Goal and Be Accountable

If you are reading all white authors now, set a goal to read one POC author a month.  Report how you did in your monthly wrap up post.  Something magical will happen if you set this goalYou will notice more diverse books around you.  You know how if you get a certain type of car, suddenly it seems like there are so many more of them on the road?  Same thing.  If you are aware and looking for something, you will see it. You’ll be shocked that you were blind to it before.

Now when I see a book review when I’m scrolling through Twitter or see a book by a POC author on a shelf, my brain gives it a quick second look.  Sometimes that pause that comes from noticing what is around you leads you to take a look at a book that you might have blindly walked or scrolled past before.

Follow People Who Promote All Types of Books

  • Check out the #diversebookbloggers and #weneeddiversebooks tags on Twitter.  There are loads of books discussed here.  Looking for a book in a specific genre?  Ask a question and get loads of recommendations.
  • Book Riot does a good job of incorporating a wide variety of books in their lists

Follow POC authors you like and see who they are reading and recommending

Here’s a few to get you started.

  • Courtney Milan is a Regency romance writer (@courtneymilan)
  • Tananarive Due is a horror writer who also teaches.  DJ Older was one of her students. (@tananarivedue)
  • Margret Helgadottir is a Scandinavian writer who edits anthologies with lots of POC authors. (@mahelgad)
  • Mona Eltahawy writes about feminism in the Middle East (@monaeltahawy)

Don’t Give Up if You Don’t Like a Book

Don’t be like, “See, I knew these books were no good.”  I am the Queen of the DNF.  There are too many books in the world to read to be forcing yourself through one you don’t like.  But, do you like every YA book/mystery/romance you read?  Did you let one boring book turn you off a whole genre or did you try another book to see if you liked it better?  Same thing here.  Not every book is a fit for every reader but when you are trying something new, it is tempting to write it all off as a loss if the first one or two aren’t your favorites.

 

For people who tend to read books that are out of the mainstream, how did you get started?

09 Jan, 2015

The God Who Begat a Jackal by Nega Mezlekia

/ posted in: Reading

Aster is the only child of feudal warlord in Ethiopia.  Her father values her because he spent a lot of money to make all the sacrifices to the gods needed to get her.  Even when she starts being a bit odd like walking through walls and moving things with her mind, she is his pride and joy.  He decides to keep her safe by locking her away from the community.

Gudu is a slave who is in charge of remembering stories and histories.  He is put in charge of entertaining and guarding Aster.  They fall in love which is absolutely not acceptable.  Gudu is banished and starts a rebellion to try to get access to Aster again.

Ok, so that’s the plot and it is totally not the point.  Reading this book is like listening to someone tell a story that gets more and more outrageous to try to make you laugh.  It is also satirical about the tradition of violence in the area.

The Abettors are old men who help people have wars.  They aren’t on any side.  They help anyone who needs it.  If the side they are helping is doing too well, they will also help the other side to make it more interesting.

“A quick study of human nature, the Abettor realized that men may endure without bread and water but not without war, and so he made it his calling to afford them a fair and refreshing combat…

…A few of the people he had so diligently served had conspired to put him out of service in the most hideous ways.  In an ordinary year, he could expect to be stabbed to death twice.  Once, an army of retreating archers shot him with ninety-five arrows.  On three different occasions, he was carved into palm-sized pieces and his remains served to hawks and storks; he was also known to have been buried alive.  But, each time, the old man resurfaced in some remote corner of the kingdom in one piece, invigorated by his ordeal, ready to influence the outcome of another raging war.” page 115

To balance the satire of the story, there is a historical postscript that discusses what Ethiopia was like at the time of the story and discusses the facts that the tale is based on.

This story is unlike anything else that I’ve ever read.  It is a book I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t trying to read books by authors who have lived in the countries that the books are set in.  This author was born in Ethiopia and now lives in Toronto.

28 Dec, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

33

Reviews Posted This Week

I finished up a lot of books this week.  I don’t have all the reviews posted yet.  These are what I have so far.

Citizens Creek by Lalita Tamedy – Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. His talent earned him money–but would it also grant him freedom?

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg – Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock – A journalist and activist who was profiled in a 2011 Marie Claire feature outlines bold perspectives on the realities of being young, multi-racial, economically challenged and transgender in today’s America, recounting her disadvantaged youth and decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery at the age of 18 before pursuing a career and falling in love.

1491 by Charles Mann – Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them.

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South.

Prisoner of Azkaban for the Harry Potter Reread – Now with added eye candy!

Reading This Week

Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the WorldBanana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World

Banana combines a pop-science journey around the globe, a fascinating tale of an iconic American business enterprise, and a look into the alternately tragic and hilarious banana subculture (one does exist) — ultimately taking us to the high-tech labs where new bananas are literally being built in test tubes, in a race to save the world’s most beloved fruit.


I’m also starting a new reading challenge for myself on New Year’s Day that I’m excited about so I’m not going to reveal too much of what I’m reading until then.

 

02 Nov, 2014

How I Read – #BookBlogWriMo

/ posted in: Just for FunReading

 

What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.

 

I read anything that holds still long enough. Most of my books come from the library. I definitely can’t afford to buy all the books that I read.

When I do buy books, I read them on the Kindle app on my iPad. I like instant gratification. The only problem with that is then you can’t read them in the bathtub.

I don’t plan what I’m going to read. I just read what I feel like reading. I have a TBR list that I refer to for ideas but I don’t stick to it. I just browse the library. I check out what looks good and if I change my mind when I bring it home, I don’t worry about it. I probably return 25% of my books unread. Sorry if that makes the planners out there cringe.

Do I have rituals?  Not many.  One thing I absolutely have to know is the date it was published.  I don’t know how that started.  I think it helps me put the books in time.  If it is contemporary but written in 1990 then I treat it mentally as a historical instead of getting twitchy about old technology and wondering why they don’t just call people’s cell phones if they can’t find them.

Bookmarks?  I use anything that is close at hand.  My favorites are folded up paper napkins rings from the Mexican restaurant near my office.  I don’t have actually pretty bookmarks because I would lose them.  You can track my reading through the house by following the trail of abandoned receipts where I set them down and then got up and walked away from them while still reading.

26 Oct, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

33

Recent Reviews

Toby Streams the Universe by Maya Lassiter – What happens when a psychic starts to lose control of his abilities?

Tomlinson Hill by Chris Tomlinson – The history of two families in Texas that share the same name. One family owned a plantation and the other is descended from the slaves who worked on the land.

Oh My Stars by Lorna Landvik – A girl in the Great Depression is in a bus crash in North Dakota and is rescued by people who will change her life.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell – Jesuits set out to make first contact with an alien race on the planet of Rakhat. It is a disaster and the only person who knows what really happened isn’t telling anyone.

Reading now

The Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor's Heroic Search for the World's First Miracle DrugThe Demon Under the Microscope: From Battlefield Hospitals to Nazi Labs, One Doctor’s Heroic Search for the World’s First Miracle Drug by Thomas Hager

Nonfiction

“The Nazis discovered it. The Allies won the war with it. It conquered diseases, changed laws, and single-handedly launched the era of antibiotics. This incredible discovery was sulfa, the first antibiotic. In The Demon Under the Microscope, Thomas Hager chronicles the dramatic history of the drug that shaped modern medicine.” – from Goodreads

07 Oct, 2014

The Heist by Daniel Silva

/ posted in: Reading

The Heist (Gabriel Allon, #14)The Heist by Daniel Silva

Thriller

Gabriel Allon has one year of peace and quiet before he is slated to take over Israel’s intelligence service. He plans to spend it in Italy restoring a painting and spending time with his pregnant wife. But then his friend, English art gallery owner Julian Isherwood, finds a murdered man at a house in Lake Como and needs Gabriel’s help.

This is the 14th book in the Gabriel Allon series and one that probably could stand alone as long as you understood the idea of the series. Allon is a trained art restorer who was recruited by Israeli intelligence after the Munich Olympics killings. He has become a legendary figure and has been pressured into eventually leading the service.

The murdered man that his friend finds is a dealer in stolen artwork and a former spy. Investigating his death leads the Italian art police to link him to the Caravaggio Nativity, one of the most famous stolen paintings of all time.

Michelangelo_Caravaggio_035

The police want Gabriel to use his knowledge of the art world and his abilities as a spy to help find the painting. To do so he’ll need to tap into his network of spies and criminals around Europe to follow the money – wherever it leads.

I love this series and this book was a really good addition. The events in it are up to the minute and I like the character growth that is happening as a spy ages and needs to rely more on his brain than on brawn.

06 Oct, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: General


Reviews Posted Recently

The Unexpected Earl – Regency Romance

Gutenberg’s Apprentice – Historical fiction about the invention of the printing press

My Soul to Keep – What happens when you find out that your husband is actually immortal?

Paradise Lot – Turning a small backyard into a food producing forest

Henna House – Historical fiction about Yemeni Jews in the 1920s and 30s

Listening to Now

Tomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of SlaveholdersTomlinson Hill: Sons of Slaves, Sons of Slaveholders by Chris Tomlinson

Nonfiction

Tomlinson Hill is the stunning story of two families—one white, one black—who trace their roots to a slave plantation that bears their name.

Internationally recognized for his work as a fearless war correspondent, award-winning journalist Chris Tomlinson grew up hearing stories about his family’s abandoned cotton plantation in Falls County, Texas. Most of the tales lionized his white ancestors for pioneering along the Brazos River. His grandfather often said the family’s slaves loved them so much that they also took Tomlinson as their last name.

LaDainian Tomlinson, football great and former running back for the San Diego Chargers, spent part of his childhood playing on the same land that his black ancestors had worked as slaves. As a child, LaDainian believed the Hill was named after his family. Not until he was old enough to read an historical plaque did he realize that the Hill was named for his ancestor’s slaveholders. from Goodreads

Reading This Week

The Heist (Gabriel Allon, #14)The Heist by Daniel Silva

Thriller

Gabriel Allon, art restorer and occasional spy, searches for a stolen masterpiece by Caravaggio in #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva’s latest action-packed tale of high stakes international intrigue.

Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one . . . From Goodreads

07 Sep, 2014

Everywhere else

/ posted in: Reading

TraveltheWorldinBooksblue200

Australia

In a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nonfiction

This is the first Bill Bryson book I listened to on audio and it is my all time favorite. I learned that everything in Australia is actively trying to kill you.

Oceania

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of ThemMoby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the writer Donovan Hohn heard of the mysterious loss of thousands of bath toys at sea, he figured he would interview a few oceanographers, talk to a few beachcombers, and read up on Arctic science and geography. But questions can be like ocean currents: wade in too far, and they carry you away. Hohn’s accidental odyssey pulls him into the secretive world of shipping conglomerates, the daring work of Arctic researchers, the lunatic risks of maverick sailors, and the shadowy world of Chinese toy factories.

Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone BeforeBlue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before by Tony Horwitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two centuries after James Cook’s epic voyages of discovery, Tony Horwitz takes readers on a wild ride across hemispheres and centuries to recapture the Captain’s adventures and explore his embattled legacy in today’s Pacific. Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of Confederates in the Attic, works as a sailor aboard a replica of Cook’s ship, meets island kings and beauty queens, and carouses the South Seas with a hilarious and disgraceful travel companion, an Aussie named Roger.

Antarctica

Antarctica on a PlateAntarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine you are a young woman with a stellar career but an increasing dissatisfaction with life. Imagine that your idea of a remote location is the distance between a taxi rank and a shoe shop. How do you shrug off your growing ennui? Simple. You apply for the position of cook in the coldest place on earth: Antarctica.

Looking for even more recommendations? I belong to the Around the World in 80 Books Goodreads group. They have compiled a list of every book that people have claimed for every country. It is an amazing resource.

24 Aug, 2014

September Read-a-longs

/ posted in: Reading

I don’t normally sign up for read-a-longs. I read what I want and YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!! Anyway, I saw two for September that actually interested me.

TraveltheWorldinBooksblue200

Travel the World in Books runs from September 1-14.  The goal is to read books from countries other that your own.  I already do this but it will be interesting to see what everyone else is doing.  I took a look at Goodreads and found that so far I’ve read 30 books this year from countries other than the U.S.

I’m part of the Around the World in 80 Books group at Goodreads.  Here’s my favorites from this year.

South Africa – The Housemaid’s Daughter by Barbara Mutch

India – The Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley

Sweden – The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

My goal will be to add a few new countries this week.

Sign up here.

 

The next one is Diversiverse.

amdubanner-col2

The goal here is to read and post reviews of books written by people of color.  I figured that I already do that too.  I named off a list of authors that I like in my head but when I went back to Goodreads to check out the list from this year I only had four.  Yeah, four out of 74.  I need to up that total.

Books I read so far this year that I liked:

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor – One of my absolute favorites!  Written by a person of color and starring people of color in a future Sudan full of magic in the midst of a horrible war.
Devotion and Defiance: My Fight for Justice for Women by Humaira Awais Shahid – The memoir of a female Pakistani Member of Parliament.

In the Land of Invisible Women:  A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom by Qanta A. Ahmed

Sign up here.

17 Aug, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Reviews posted recently

Some of My Best Friends are Black by Tanner Colby

Celebrating Chick Lit with Katie Fforde and Shanna Swendson


Dance of the Spirits by Catherine Aerie

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Reading This Week

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French RevolutionMadame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran

The world knows Madame Tussaud as a wax artist extraordinaire . . . but who was this woman who became one of the most famous sculptresses of all time? In these pages, her tumultuous and amazing story comes to life as only Michelle Moran can tell it. The year is 1788, and a revolution is about to begin. (from Goodreads)

I’m on a kick of reading books set in France.  I’m not doing it on purpose but I am studying French so that’s probably influencing the books I pick up.  I’ll have more French book reviews this week.

03 Aug, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Reviews posted this week

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
– One of my very few ever 5 star books for the importance of the issues it presents in a fantasy story based in Africa.

Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America by Jeff Chu
– After a man from a family of pastors comes out as gay, he travels around America to see where he would fit in to Christianity today.

Reading this week

Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in AmericaSome of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby

An incisive and candid look at how America got lost on the way to Dr. King’s Promised Land. Almost fifty years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, equality is the law of the land, but actual integration is still hard to find. Mammoth battles over forced busing, unfair housing practices, and affirmative action have hardly helped. The bleak fact is that black people and white people in the United States don’t spend much time together—at work, school, church, or anywhere. Tanner Colby, himself a child of a white-flight Southern suburb, set out to discover why. (from Goodreads)

Much Ado About Magic (Enchanted, Inc., #5)Much Ado About Magic by Shanna Swendson

Katie Chandler is back in New York and at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc. – and just in time. The city’s in the grip of a magical crime wave from spells that wizarding whiz Owen Palmer thinks look awfully familiar, and the rogue firm Spellworks is raising its profile in the magical world by selling protective amulets. It’s Katie’s job as the new director of marketing for MSI to fight this battle of public perception while Owen and the other wizards try to uncover what’s really going on.(from Goodreads)

Listening to this week on a roadtrip

Diamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South AfricaDiamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South Africa by Martin Meredith

Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced first upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds, and then upon its richest deposits of gold. What followed was a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land, culminating in the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and in the devastation of the Boer republics. (from Goodreads)

Calling Me HomeCalling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is a soaring debut interweaving the story of a heartbreaking, forbidden love in 1930s Kentucky with an unlikely modern-day friendship.

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a favor to ask her hairdresser Dorrie Curtis. It’s a big one. Isabelle wants Dorrie, a black single mom in her thirties, to drop everything to drive her from her home in Arlington, Texas, to a funeral in Cincinnati. With no clear explanation why. Tomorrow. (from Goodreads)

31 Jul, 2014

Does Jesus Really Love Me by Jeff Chu

/ posted in: Reading

Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in AmericaDoes Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage in Search of God in America by Jeff Chu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jeff Chu comes from a family of Chinese Baptist pastors. When he came out as gay to his family his mother cried and cried. He no longer felt welcome in his church so he set off to find out what it means to be gay and Christian in America.

His story is told through interviews with people on all branches of the Protestant faith from the most liberal to the conservative. He visited Westboro Baptist Church to understand why they hate gay people so much. He met with gay students at the very conservative Harding University after they decided to publish the Harding University Queer Press.

After visiting ex-gay ministries and talking to former leaders of the movement who have left, he talked to a heterosexual woman who knowlingly married a homosexual man so they are able to be in Christian ministry. He interviewed gay people who have chosen celibacy and those who are active in ministry but closeted from their congregations.

I found the discussion of a church that was removed from its denomination interesting. They were removed for ordaining a gay person. Now their denomination has approved ordination of gay people and they are invited back. Should they go back or stay independent?

He finishes the book with stories of churches who are incorporating gay people into their congregations. From the gay-centered Metropolitan Community Churches to Highland Church in Denver, these churches don’t look down on people for their sexuality. But he wonders if sometimes they go too far.

If you are interested in religion and culture then this is a very enlightening read.  He questions why a faith that says that all sins are equal always lists homosexuality as one of the very worst sins that can be committed.

27 Jul, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Reviews posted this week

Once Upon Stilettos and Damsel Under Stress by Shanna Swendson

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

Reading this week

Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

In a far future, post-nuclear-holocaust Africa, genocide plagues one region. The aggressors, the Nuru, have decided to follow the Great Book and exterminate the Okeke. But when the only surviving member of a slain Okeke village is brutally raped, she manages to escape, wandering farther into the desert. She gives birth to a baby girl with hair and skin the color of sand and instinctively knows that her daughter is different. She names her daughter Onyesonwu, which means “Who Fears Death?” in an ancient African tongue.

Reared under the tutelage of a mysterious and traditional shaman, Onyesonwu discovers her magical destiny-to end the genocide of her people. The journey to fulfill her destiny will force her to grapple with nature, tradition, history, true love, the spiritual mysteries of her culture-and eventually death itself. (from Goodreads)

Listening to this week

Diamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South AfricaDiamonds, Gold, and War: The Making of South Africa by Martin Meredith

Southern Africa was once regarded as a worthless jumble of British colonies, Boer republics, and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. But then prospectors chanced first upon the world’s richest deposits of diamonds, and then upon its richest deposits of gold. What followed was a titanic struggle between the British and the Boers for control of the land, culminating in the costliest, bloodiest, and most humiliating war that Britain had waged in nearly a century, and in the devastation of the Boer republics. (from Goodreads)

20 Jul, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Reviews posted this week

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

 

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fiction

This is the last book of the All Souls Trilogy.  (Some spoilers for the first two books). I have reread the first two books several times so I had this one pre-ordered.

In book 1, A Discovery of Witches, Harkness lays out a world where witches, vampires, and daemons secretly live alongside humans.  There are ancient rules governing their behavior because if too many of them gather together humans start to notice.  Diana Bishop is a witch but she never developed any powers.  She studied the history of alchemy instead. One day when she is researching in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, she is magically presented with a damaged and unreadable book that has been missing for years.  She doesn’t know what it is and sends to back but the power unleashed by the opening of the book does not go unnoticed.  Now she has the attention of all kinds of magical creatures who think she knows the secrets of the book that witches and vampires think describe their origins.

She meets vampire Matthew Clairmont and as they are drawn together the powers of the non-human species are alarmed.  Diana finds out that she is actually a very powerful witch who has been magically altered so her powers did not develop.  With some of her powers starting to develop she is able to time walk to 1590s London with Matthew to try to find out from some of the most powerful witches in English history who she is.

Book 2 is called Shadow of Night.  Matthew and Diana are in 1590s London with two purposes.  Diana needs to study with powerful witches to find out why witches in the present are losing so much ability.  They also want to find the magical book before it is damaged to see what it says about the origins of their species.  While there, Diana becomes pregnant.  Cross-species mating should be impossible which adds another mystery.

Now in book 3, The Book of Life, it is time for answers.  Diana and Matthew are back in the present.  Pages are collected from the book for analysis of the origins of all the species.  There is a lot of political maneuvering in the vampire families to determine whether to protect or to kill the offspring of a witch and a vampire.

It is hard for me to say why I’ve liked this series so much.  I think it is the small details of the worlds of the witches, vampires, and daemons.  The daemons are hyper, smart, but easily distracted geniuses.  The vampires are long lived and control empires both political and business.  They are also alpha predators and very, very possessive.  The witches want to find out why their powers are fading when they used to be so powerful.  Mixing these creatures up and making them deal with each other makes a volatile mix.
Reading this week

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)Ink by Amanda Sun

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they’ll both be targets. (Goodreads)

13 Jul, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Reviews Posted This Week

Waking Up White by Debby Irving


The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Reading Now

The Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship–one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self–even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.  (From Goodreads)

I had started reading this and was going to put it aside because it was slow moving but then I heard that it had been banned from a summer reading list in one school district.  Interestingly, the objection to the book was that there was profanity in it, not that it is about teenage lesbianism.  Is this progress in a warped way?

Still Listening To:

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern TimesServants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

I’m at the part in this book where (SPOILER ALERT) women are getting uppity and don’t want to go into service for their betters anymore.  It is such a tragedy.  How will the aristocracy survive?

06 Jul, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Review posted this week:

Enchanted, Inc by Shanna Swendson

When Katie announced her intention to move from small time Texas to New York City, everyone warned her that it was a weird place. Katie was determined not to gawk at every unusual thing she saw. So she’s spent the last year making a point not to stare at the college girls wearing wings or at the gargoyles that occasionally move around on the buildings. After all, real New Yorkers don’t bat an eye.

Reading Now

The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1)The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. (Goodreads)

 

Listening to now

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern TimesServants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

From the immense staff running a lavish Edwardian estate and the lonely maid-of-all-work cooking in a cramped middle-class house to the poor child doing chores in a slightly less poor household, servants were essential to the British way of life. They were hired not only for their skills but also to demonstrate the social standing of their employers—even as they were required to tread softly and blend into the background. More than simply the laboring class serving the upper crust—as popular culture would have us believe—they were a diverse group that shaped and witnessed major changes in the modern home, family, and social order. (Goodreads)

22 Jun, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Listening to:

I actually returned my first Audible book. I couldn’t listen to it because the narration was so bad. One of the characters in a series I love suddenly sounded like it was being read by a drunk Jerry Lewis. Nope, wasn’t happening. I like that Audible will give you credit back if you aren’t happy.

I replaced it with:

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the FreeIdiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce

I’m loving this so far. It opens with a section on the Creation Museum, which I visited when it opened. I was in tears at the end of my visit because of the vast number of lies that the people around me were taking in. The author has a much more humorous take on it.
What I Thought I’d Be Reading

Raising Steam (Discworld, #40)Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

I can’t quite make myself read this. I love Terry Pratchett. Love, love, love. I reread the books all the time. But, he has Alzheimer’s. What if this is it? What if this is the very last Terry Pratchett book? I don’t want to finish the very last Terry Pratchett book ever. I didn’t think this would bother me but I keep picking up other books instead of this one.

For example, I read the most gloriously awful Danielle Steel book ever yesterday. Review of Winners here.

16 Jun, 2014

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading


Reviews posted this week:

The Spymistress by Jennifer ChiaveriniWhen Virginia seceded from the Union and Richmond became the capitol of the Confederate States of America, not everyone in Richmond celebrated. The Van Lew family were staunch Unionists. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy spinster in her 40s, decided to show Christian charity to the Union soldiers being held in Libby Prison. This led to her building and running a large Union spy network in Virginia.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor is just starting school again. She was kicked out of her house for a year for talking back to her stepfather. She wears whatever clothes she can find that sort of fit. Now she needs to find someone who will let her sit down on the bus.

Park has a seat to himself and doesn’t want to share it with the weird looking new girl but the bus driver is yelling so he tells her to sit there. Great, now he’s going to be stuck with her.

Currently Reading

Dangerous WomenDangerous Women by George R.R. Martin

One of my main hangups with reading short story collections is feeling like I need to read it all. I’m giving myself permission to skip at will here. So far I’ve read the George RR Martin and the Jim Butcher and I’m in the process of reading the Diana Gabaldon. I’ve only read a few more of the authors in here so I’ll skip about.

Listening To

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15)Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Wizard Harry Dresden has spent a year recuperating on a magic island in Lake Erie.  He has a mystical parasite in his head that is causing him extreme pain that is only held at bay by the guardian of the island.  Now Mab, the Queen of Winter, is offering him a cure.  All he had to do is one little job for her first.

14 Jun, 2014

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

/ posted in: Reading

Eleanor & ParkEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

YA Contemporary Fiction

Eleanor is just starting school again. She was kicked out of her house for a year for talking back to her stepfather. She wears whatever clothes she can find that sort of fit. Now she needs to find someone who will let her sit down on the bus.

Park has a seat to himself and doesn’t want to share it with the weird looking new girl but the bus driver is yelling so he tells her to sit there.  Great, now he’s going to be stuck with her.

They ignore each other for months until Park realizes that Eleanor is reading along in the comic books that he reads on the bus.  This is the start of a friendship that changes the world for both of them.

This book explores the relationship between characters that aren’t often heard.  Eleanor is the daughter of a woman in a series of abusive relationships that means that her many kids are neglected.  Eleanor is just trying to get by.  She bathes when her stepfather is gone because there is no door on the bathroom.  She tries to get up the nerve to ask her guidance counselor to get her a toothbrush.  She is being bullied at school for being different but no one knows why she is.

Park is a kid who is on the edges of the popular crowd so he can slip through pretty much unnoticed until he befriends the outcast Eleanor.  Now he has to deal with the fallout.

The author did a good job with capturing the complexities of high school relationships between friends, enemies, and family members.  Portions of this book will stay with you because they are heartbreaking and hopefully will make people take a moment to think before ostracizing others for their differences.

12 Jun, 2014

The Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

/ posted in: Reading

The SpymistressThe Spymistress by Jennifer Chiaverini

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historical Fiction

When Virginia seceded from the Union and Richmond became the capitol of the Confederate States of America, not everyone in Richmond celebrated. The Van Lew family were staunch Unionists. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy spinster in her 40s, decided to show Christian charity to the Union soldiers being held in Libby Prison. This led to her building and running a large Union spy network in Virginia.

VanLew

Her spying started when she smuggled out a list of all the Union prisoners in a book that she had lent to an officer.  From then on she brought food, blankets, and paper for letters home to the prisoners and took out everything they knew.  She was even able to place a Unionist clerk in the prison to gain intelligence when she wasn’t able to get in.  She bribed Confederate officials with gifts of food and money to let her gain access to prisons.  Her neighbors knew of her Unionist sympathies but not of her treasonous activities.  A woman was not suspected of such things.

In this book Jennifer Chiaverini tells the fictionalized story of Elizabeth Van Lew.  It is a nice counterpoint to her other Civil War stories –  Mrs Lincoln’s Dressmaker (review) and Mrs Lincoln’s Rival (review). Her historical fiction introduces us to women who have been mostly forgotten by history but who made huge contributions at the time.

 

 

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