Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe by Cullen Bunn – A Review

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Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe by Cullen Bunn
Art by Dalibor Talajic
Superheroes | Comic Book
Published by Marvel
Released November 14th, 2011
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

Over the years, Marvel has done a lot of interesting comic book series that take place outside of their normal Earth-616 universe, which is the primary universe for Marvel Comics. Setting their stories outside of the main universe allows them to get away with things that they otherwise wouldn’t, such as killing off big-name characters or destroying the entire world.

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe is one of those stories. Containing four issues, the series focuses on Deadpool as he tries to wipe out all of the world’s superheroes and villains while breaking the fourth wall. Like many Deadpool comics, this one is fairly meta, and it was an enjoyable story to read.

While many comic books are appropriate for all ages, I would say that this one might not be okay for children or people squeamish about blood and violence – there’s a lot of gore. It’s also rather silly though… so I guess just use your discretion.

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Dalibor Talajic did a great job with the art. The style fits well with the story, and it’s the kind of colorful, simple yet detailed art style I prefer in comics.

There are other books in the Deadpool Killogy series, as well as three other Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe volumes. I enjoyed my time with volume one, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read on. The novelty of it was enjoyable, but I have a feeling it’ll get a bit repetitive after a while.

Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe will never be considered one of Marvel’s great series. It’s a fun tale set in the non-dominate Marvel universe that’s enjoyable to read once but probably not over and over again. I definitely recommend it if you like Deadpool, as it’s a decent representation of his character. However, I would not recommend this short series if you’re new to Marvel’s universe or to Deadpool.




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The Truro Bear and Other Adventures by Mary Oliver – A Review

The Truro Bear Mary Oliver

The Truro Bear and Other Adventures by Mary Oliver
Poetry | Nature
Published by Beacon Press
Released 2008
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

As a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, Mary Oliver was a prominent figure in the poetry world until her death in January 2019. It wasn’t until her death, however, that I heard of her. Through the many articles I casually read through in the weeks following her passing, I learned that she was well-known for her poetry regarding nature.

This intrigued me and I added a few of her collections to my TBR. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I started to discover an interest in poetry. I went to my library last week in order to grab several poetry collections, primarily because I’m still learning which poets speak to me the most and which topics I gravitate toward. They had several of Mary Oliver’s collections, and from amongst them, I chose The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays. 

Published in 2008, The Truro Bear is a collection made up of forty-five poems, both new and classic, as well as two essays. Nature, and more specifically the life found in nature, is the theme throughout this collection.

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Some of my fondest memories involve being deep in the woods, surrounded by nature and wildlife, whether it was while hiking, backpacking, camping, or just relaxing somewhere beautiful. Mary Oliver clearly shows the reader how much she appreciates and loves the world around her, and it resonated with me. Anyone that loves spending time outside will find something to love in this collection.

Taken as a whole, The Truro Bear underwhelmed me, despite my strong feelings about nature. Many of the poems were well-crafted but for whatever reason didn’t move me or inspire me in any way. I want to make clear that I enjoyed the collection, it just didn’t change my life in any way.

There are a lot of poems about Mary’s dog Percy, whom she very clearly adored. The poems are adorable and relatable to dog owners all over the world. She weaves memories of the smallest moments with Percy to create a love letter to his companionship and the joy he brought her.

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Mary Oliver

The part of this collection that I loved the most was not one of her poems, but an essay called “Swoon” about the life of a spider over the course of a week or so. In it, Oliver details the smallest parts of this spider’s doings, from spinning a cricket into her web and draining it of its life, to bursting egg sacks full of spiders. I’m not going to act tough and say that spiders don’t freak me the heck out, because they do, but even with my pre-existing squeamishness toward arachnids, I loved every word of this essay. It’s so easy to overlook tiny details like the type of web made by the spider forgotten in a corner, but learning to appreciate moments like this allows us to really notice the world around us and see it in the way it was intended.

There were also two quotes that spoke to me:

“Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”

from “The Summer Day”

 

“We must laugh a little at this rich and unequal world, so they say, so they say.
And let them keep saying it. 

from “News of Percy (Five)”

Reading Oliver’s collection makes me realize that I often fail to notice the tiny elements of life that surround me and constitute the wider world. I need to make more of an effort to notice the birds in the trees or to watch the squirrel hiding away nuts for the winter. It’s not difficult, it just takes noticing.

Although The Truro Bear turned out a little less incredible than I was expecting, I still loved it and can easily see myself going back to this collection repeatedly. A few of the poems will stay with me, and I hope others can find some more appreciation for nature, and the lives of the animals within, through Mary Oliver’s words and legacy.


Have you read any of Mary Oliver’s poetry collections? Share your recommendations for your favorites down in the comments!




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My March 2020 TBR

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It’s finally March (my birthday month!!), and to celebrate I’ve put together an extra-long TBR! I tend to set very, very unrealistic goals for myself, as you can see with this TBR. Will I be able to finish 31 books in 31 days? Probably not, but it’s a goal for me to strive towards!

One of the reasons I like to have huge TBRs is that I’m a mood reader. I like having a pile of books to choose from depending on what type of book I’m in the mood for.

I think I have a decent shot at finishing a lot of these since there are a lot of poetry collections and graphic novels, which tend to take me just an hour or two to finish.

If you’d prefer to watch this TBR, the video is linked below. Scroll down for the written TBR otherwise!


Poetry

Let’s start off with the poetry collections I want to read this month. Reading and enjoying poetry is something very new to me. I hated poetry in school, probably because we always read classic poetry, and I couldn’t stand the flowery metaphors and pages upon pages of repetitiveness.

Fortunately, I recently discovered that I do like poetry. Mostly modern poetry, but I want to experiment a bit more with classic as well. If you have any recommendations, let me know!

  • Live Oak, With Moss by Walt Whitman – I haven’t read this poem before, but the main reason I picked it up at my local library is that this edition is actually the poem told through illustrations! It’s a really unique format and I love the idea of it. The actual poem is included as well, of course!
  • The Truro Bear and Other Adventures by Mary Oliver – Mary Oliver is a name that I’ve continuously heard since her death last year. I wanted to give one of her collections a try, and out of the selection at my library, this one sounded the most promising since it’s about animals and nature.
  • The Tradition by Jericho Brown – I discovered Jericho Brown through this article at Garden & Gun. I was so impressed by the interview that I watched several of his readings on YouTube, and loved all of the poems that I heard. I’m really excited to read this full collection!
  • So Far So Good by Ursula K. Le Guin – This is Le Guin’s final poetry collection before her death in 2018, so I have a feeling it’s going to be a bit melancholy. I don’t know too much about it aside from it being about her life, the people she’s known along the way, and her experiences. I really enjoyed The Left Hand of Darkness, especially her writing style, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this too.
  • Dear Darkness by Kevin Young – The only thing I know about this collection is that it was inspired by the sudden death of Kevin Young’s father. Another melancholy collection, but one that I think I might be able to relate to, having lost my mother.
  • The Flame by Leonard Cohen – Did you know that musician Leonard Cohen wrote poetry? Because I didn’t! I have no idea what to expect from this, but I picked it up because I absolutely love his music.

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  • Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly – I found this tiny book tucked into the poetry section at my library, but it isn’t poetry. It’s fifty-two micro-memoirs about her life. The length of these micro-memoirs range from a few sentences to a few pages. I’m really intrigued by the format of this memoir.

Graphic Novels

I only picked up three graphic novels, but I’m really excited about all three of these!


Fiction

  • Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski – This is the second book (chronologically) in The Witcher series, but the most recent to be published. The Last Wish was the very last book I read in 2019, and one of my favorites. Just like The Last Wish, Sword of Destiny is a collection of short stories.
  • The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams – You’ve probably seen this romance novel everywhere in the book community. I love the idea of a group of guys reading smutty romance novels to learn to be better spouses. I’m expecting plenty of humor.
  • The Bear by Andrew Krivak – This short novel was released earlier this year, but I just didn’t find time to get it prior to publication. I’m still really excited, however, as it’s a post-apocalyptic tale about the last two humans left alive and a girl’s journey home with a bear.
  • The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams – First of all, I want to mention how much I love the faux-embroidery of this cover. It’s so beautiful. This historical fiction novel takes place after a mysterious flock of red birds descends over a girls’ school. It follows a number of symptoms the girls all experience afterward.
  • No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez – In this thriller/mystery novel, a woman has to deal with a stalker that knows too much about her family’s history. I’m still trying to get into thrillers, and this sounds like a great next step.
  • 142 Ostriches by April Davila – I’m so thankful for the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel! It’s set on an ostrich farm in California, and honestly, that’s all I needed to intrigue me.
  • A Bond Undone (Legends of the Condor Heroes #2) by Jin Yong – Last year I read the first novel in this Kung Fu fantasy series, and it ended up being one of my favorite books of the year. I’m really, really excited to find out what happens next!
  • Providence by Max Barry – I really like the cover of this science fiction novel. I’m purposefully keeping myself ignorant of the plot because I want to go into it a little bit blind. However, I do know that it has to do with a war against an alien race.
  • The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James – This gothic novel is told in dual timelines. First, we have a governess at an English estate; then, we meet the heir to that estate – a woman living in modern-day New York City.
  • The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan – Dealing with the heavy topic of suicide, this definitely isn’t going to be a light, fun read. In it, we meet people trying to figure out why Miwako killed herself. It reminds me a little of a grown-up version of 13 Reasons Why.
  • The Last Human by Zack Jordan – Here are the reasons I requested this book from the publisher and did a little happy dance when I received it earlier this week: Space opera, a ball of fluff with an IQ in the thousands, and “an android death enthusiast.” I’m ready.
  • Thunderhead and The Toll by Neal Shusterman – I’m buddy-reading this series with my friend Tawni, and it’s so freaking good! This might be one of the best young adult series I’ve read in ages. I’m constantly finding myself shocked by what happens, and I’m intrigued by all of the characters.
  • 88 Names by Matt Ruff – Matt Ruff is the author of Lovecraft Country, which is how I know of him. This novel is “part cyberthriller, part twisted romantic comedy.” It sounds wonderful.

Non-Fiction

  • Pisgah National Forest: A History by Marci Spencer – If you’ve been subscribed to this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard me mention that I lived in Asheville, NC for all of my twenties and that I’m constantly homesick for the mountains of Western North Carolina. This book is a history of Pisgah National Forest, an area that I am very familiar with.
  • Midnight in Siberia by David Greene – This book drew me in for two reasons – the remoteness of Siberia, and a long train ride. I’ve always wanted to take a long, scenic train ride, plus I love remote areas, so I’m really excited to be able to live vicariously through NPR’s David Greene.
  • Stateway’s Garden by Jasmon Drain – I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher, and I’m looking forward to reading it. It’s a collection of real-life stories from people living on the Southside of Chicago.
  • Death is But a Dream by Christopher Kerr – I’m starting to notice that I chose some really dark topics for March’s TBR. This is a book written by a doctor about his experience working in hospice with dying patients.
  • Lost Feast by Lenore Newman – Many of the foods we love are threatened by climate change, pollution, and overpopulation. Lost Feast is about these foods and the extinction of culinary treats that we’ve come to take for granted.
  • Footprints by David Farrier – This book reminds me a little of The World Without Us, which is one of my favorite non-fiction books. Farrier examines what traces of humanity are going to be left long after we’re gone.
  • Grain Brain by David Perlmutter – I’m guessing you’re probably somewhat familiar with this non-fiction book about the effect that gluten has on our brains. It’s been a best-seller for many years. I was recommended this book twice in one week, for both my polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and bipolar disorder. I had no idea that diet could possibly influence bipolar disorder, so, at my doctor’s recommendation, I’m currently doing 45 days of a gluten-free diet to see if it helps.

Whew! I know that was a long list! Have you read any of these books? If you have, let me know what you thought down in the comments!

What are you planning on reading in March?




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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa – A Review

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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
Fantasy | Young Adult | Japanese-Inspired
Published by Harlequin Teen
Released October 2nd, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

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I’m very, very behind on reviews. I decided to re-read Shadow of the Fox during FantasyAThon Round 2 back in December. One of the prompts for the readathon was to finish a fantasy that you started but didn’t finish. I had attempted to read this book initially after receiving it in an OwlCrate around the time that it was released. I didn’t get that far into it that first time and eventually DNF-ed it. It wasn’t that the book was bad, I think I just wasn’t in the mood for a fantasy novel at the time.

I am so glad that I picked Shadow of the Fox up again because the second time around, I loved it. I just got the sequel, Soul of the Sword, from the library. The third and final book, Night of the Dragon, is coming out at the end of March 2020.

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Julie Kagawa

Shadow of the Fox is the first book in a Japanese-inspired young adult fantasy trilogy. Our heroine is Yumeko, a teenager who is half human and half kitsune (the Japanese word for fox). She has fox magic and is being raised at the Silent Winds temple by a group of monks.

The Silent Winds temple holds a secret that Yumeko is unaware of, until one day they’re attacked by a horde of demons and the head Monk sends her away with a scroll that she has to save, or else the world will be plunged into darkness and evil.

As Yumeko flees, she meets a samurai named Kage Tatsumi, and they form a pact to travel together. Kage has secrets of his own, however, and Yumeko slowly learns that he’s more than she at first expected.

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A 19th-Century painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi depicting a kitsune

The plot as a whole is simple, as it’s a group of people going on a quest together to prevent the end of the world. Yes, it’s been done a thousand times, but I personally adore quest and adventure fantasies (there’s a reason that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are my favorite books).

The whole story was engaging and I fell in love with Yumeko’s character. Her growth as a character was extraordinary, beginning as a mischievous girl with fox magic to a warrior in her own right. She’s initially just thrust into an important position that she was in no way prepared for, and despite the fear she felt, she did what she had to in order to protect the scroll. I’m very excited to see how Yumeko continues to grow in the second and third books in the trilogy.

I also enjoyed Kage’s character, in a different way. He’s mysterious, and also has an interesting character arc. I’m hesitant to say too much about his arc because of the spoilers involved in the story, but his tale is just as fascinating as Yumeko’s.

The most intriguing part of the entire book for me was the elements of Japanese folklore that Julie Kagawa wove throughout the story. The demons, hungry ghosts, and other creatures fascinated me, mainly because I haven’t read many Japanese-inspired fantasy novels. I loved it so much that it certainly won’t be the last that I read.

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The slow-burn friendship and romance of Yumeko and Kage were very well-done. In a lot of young adult fantasies, there’s a tendency for the author to write insta-love type romances, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. Kagawa crafted their relationship so artfully that the reader really gets drawn into it.

Within the first fifty pages, one aspect of the novel that got on my nerves was that the chapters are told from multiple perspectives, but you’re not told who is narrating. You have to just figure it out. As the novel progressed, it became much easier to pick out who the narrator was right away, but for the first several chapters it was incredibly confusing.

Although Shadow of the Fox has some basic and common elements of young adult fantasy that might wear on people, overall I recommend the novel to people who want to explore a fantasy world not based on European aesthetics. I’m eagerly looking forward to finishing the trilogy this year.


Have you read Shadow of the Fox? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace – A Review

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Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace
Poetry | Feminist | Retellings
Published by Andrews McNeel Publishing
Release Date: March 17th, 2020
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Note: I received an electronic arc of this collection from NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions.

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I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry, despite often trying to love it. Classic poetry tends to either go right over my head or it’s so flowery that I struggle to enjoy it, and modern poetry’s “edginess” tends to annoy me.

Browsing Netgalley this morning, I came across Amanda Lovelace’s newest poetry collection, Break Your Glass Slippers, and thought I’d give it a shot. I’d heard from friends and the online book community that Lovelace’s works are really good.

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Amanda Lovelace

Break Your Glass Slippers is a modern, feminist collection of poetry inspired by the classic fairytale, Cinderella. Lovelace uses the classic story to show the reader that changing who you are in order to please your “prince” is not a requirement of deserving love. Learning how to love yourself first, being supportive of other women rather than feeling jealousy at what they have and you don’t, going after your own dreams… all are topics that Lovelace touches upon, as well as many others.

The layout of this collection was beautiful. Since I read an ARC of the collection rather than the finished copy, which is scheduled to be released mid-March, I’m not sure how much things will stay the same. In between sections in the collection, there were pages of a beautiful, illustrated moonscape, and some of the poems had cute illustrations. I hope these features will remain in the final version.

A lot of the poems resonated with me on a personal level, and I feel that many women will feel the same. I can see myself gifting Break Your Glass Slippers to my female friends. When it’s finally released, I hope so many other people will pick it up and fall in love with it just as I did.


Have you read any of Amanda Lovelace’s other collections? What did you think of them?




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The Worst Books I Read in 2019

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While I wish that every book I read was amazing, that’s an unrealistic goal. Unfortunately, I read some books this year that I hated. I also DNFed a good number of books, which you can read about here.

Let’s get to it. Here are the worst books that I read in 2019.

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10. (TIE) Let’s Call It a Doomsday by Katie Henry & A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher

When I was putting this list together, I couldn’t decide which of these two books I liked less, so a tie it is. The reason I didn’t enjoy Let’s Call It a Doomsday was primarily due to feeling like the synopsis was misleading. I thought I was going to be reading a post-apocalyptic novel, but it wasn’t that at all.

As for A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, my feelings changed over and over while reading it. There were times when I enjoyed it, but more often than not the story didn’t work for me.


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9. The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson

This was a very recent read for me, and one that I actually requested from the publisher. The story and dueling timelines were not laid out in a way that made sense, and I found myself confused and frustrated during much of the book.


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8. Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Oh my gosh, this book. I’m not even sure why I read it, as I’m not a fan of YA or new adult contemporary literature, but the only way I can think to describe this book is with a cringe. There are characters with names like Pilot Penn and Babe Lozenge, and the main character, Shane, is most definitely based on Christine. While I enjoyed reading this book in a guilty pleasure sort of way, it was in no way good literature.


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7. The Municipalists by Seth Fried

I kept forgetting the name of this novel’s main character while reading it. Everything about this story was forgettable, and, even though I read this in July, I would have trouble describing the plot to you. It was disappointing considering how cool the cover is.


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6. Binti by Nnedi

I really wanted to enjoy this novella, but I don’t think Nnedi Okorafor’s writing is for me. While there were things I enjoyed, like the main character’s development, there was just no real story here. I struggle with novellas in general because I’m a huge fan of elaborate world-building in my fantasy and science fiction. This story definitely could have used more of a buildup.


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5. If We Had Known by Elise Juska

This novel is about a mass shooter, told from the point of view of one of his old teachers. There was quite a bit I struggled with in this novel. The main character, Maggie, makes a lot of bad decisions and has a bit of an ego problem. It also frustrated me that none of the characters (the story is told from multiple perspectives, Maggie’s being the main one) actually knew the shooter personally, making the story feel irrelevant. The plot was convoluted and there was no real theme to the story that I could determine. I definitely would not recommend this novel.


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4. The Protector (Men of the North #1) by Elin Peer

This novel receives my award for the most disgustingly sexist book of the year! Yay? I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, and I found this book via Kindle Unlimited. I felt like trying out romance, and since this was a romance story combined with a post-apocalyptic setting, I thought it would be a great choice! As you can guess from its inclusion on this list, it wasn’t. The world-building was weak, the story and plot are offensively sexist (which I think was intentional to be edgy, but it didn’t work), the main characters all act like spoiled children, and it was horribly predictable.


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3. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

It’s such a shame when beautiful books have such terrible plots. My issue with this book, and the reason I gave it a low rating, is that the main character has an extremely problematic relationship with the love interest. He treats her poorly and she’s his prisoner, and yet, of course, she still falls for him. He literally takes everything from her. It’s such a terrible message to put in a young adult novel.


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2. Infected by Scott Sigler

If you’re a fan of this novel or of the author, Scott Sigler, then ignore what I’m about to say: I thought this book was garbage. It was so terrible. I’m not even sure how to classify the genre of this novel. Comedic body horror sci-fi, maybe? The plot of this story felt ridiculous to me. There are blue triangle alien rashes on people, that talk to the victims in their heads and then burst out of their bodies when they’re grown. Yeah, I know. Also, the story was boring, the characters were bland, and the writing was bad.


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1. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

This might be a controversial opinion, I’m not sure. I think there are people who really enjoy this book and the film based on it. I have a fundamental problem with this book that prevented me from enjoying any of it – its representation of mental illness is offensive. The two main characters, one of which has a brain injury and the other having depression, talk and act like children. Guess what? People with mental illnesses or brain injuries can still act and think like adults. Especially for the character with depression, her character and issues were written off overly-simplistically and her depression was displayed as just a “quirky” personality trait. I recommend clicking on the title to read my full review if you want to know more about why this is my least favorite book of 2019.


What were your least favorite books of 2019? Let me know in the comments!




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Emotional Detox for Anxiety by Sherianna Boyle – A Review

Emotional Detox

Emotional Detox for Anxiety: 7 Steps to Release Anxiety and Energize Joy by Sherianna Boyle
Nonfiction | Mental Health | Self-Help
Published by Adams Media
Expected Publication: December 24th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinions.

I read a lot of self-help and mental health books because it helps me stay on track in my own life. Managing bipolar disorder and anxiety is difficult, and I’ll take all the help I can get. Which is why I jumped on the opportunity to read and review Sherianna Boyle’s Emotional Detox for Anxiety.

This book is the follow-up to Boyle’s Emotional Detox, but specifically targeting people with anxiety. She proposes that by using the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. method people can treat the underlying causes of “painful emotions in general and anxiety in particular.” C.L.E.A.N.S.E. stands for:

  • Clear Reactivity
  • Look Inward
  • Emit
  • Activate Joy
  • Nourish
  • Surrender
  • Ease

I can’t say that this is the book that has helped me the most, but there’s a lot of great advice for people suffering from anxiety.

Sherianna Boyle is very thorough in breaking down anxiety, starting with describing what anxiety is and what the underlying causes often are, and ending with step-by-step instructions for following the C.L.E.A.N.S.E. method. I appreciated that she delved a bit into the science of anxiety, such as when she discusses the connection between inflammation in the body and anxiety in the mind.

Some of Boyle’s advice is expected, such as meditations and creating a healthier environment for yourself. However, some people might find the advice in the book a little hippy-ish or “woo-woo,” so keep in mind that if you try to avoid that sort of thing, this book might not be the best option for you. Think humming, visualization practices and manifesting, and opening your third eye.

None of the information in this book is necessarily revolutionary, and most of the components of Boyle’s C.L.E.A.N.S.E. method is also incorporated in other forms of anxiety treatment, but if you’re someone who hasn’t found a way to handle your anxiety and you want to try something new, it won’t hurt to read this book and give Boyle’s method a shot. It didn’t help me personally, as I’ve found that sound therapy/meditation and manifesting do nothing for me, but everybody is different.

One slightly-weird aspect of this book that I feel the need to mention is that the author seems to bring some of her own baggage into it. I have no idea how often Boyle brings up the fact that her husband had an affair and it caused her pain, but it’s a lot. It was enough that I started to get annoyed with it. There’s nothing wrong with writing about your own experiences; in fact, it’s good to do so! She just overdid it and left me wondering if she shouldn’t practice her C.L.E.A.N.S.E. method a bit more herself.

While I did discover a lot of information in this book, it’s not going to be one that I find myself coming back to in the future. I made the effort to internalize the new-to-me information, and I feel that I have nothing more to get out of this book. As I mentioned before, however, everyone is different and copes in their own way. If Emotional Detox for Anxiety sounds like a book that might help you, grab a copy and give it a shot!




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Harry Potter Christmas Book Tag

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a book tag, so when I came across the Harry Potter Christmas Book Tag over at A Court of Coffee and Books, I knew I had to participate!

This tag was created by Charleigh over at Charleigh Writes. Her rules are simple:

  • Please link me back so I can read your answers.
  • You can’t choose a Harry Potter book for any of your answers.
  • Tag however many people you wish.
  • Most importantly, have fun!

Let’s get right to it!

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It’s your first Christmas at Hogwarts. What’s one book you’ve asked for this year?

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is one of my favorite books, and I still haven’t been able to read The Starless Sea.

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You spot Hagrid hauling the Christmas tree through the grounds. What is the longest (or heaviest!) book you own?

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Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

All of the three books in The Stormlight Archive series are over 1,000 pages, and this is the longest. It’s like hauling a brick around in my bag, but so, so, so worth it.

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It’s time for the famous Great Hall feast. What’s one book you can’t read without snacks?

With the Fire on High

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I don’t usually snack while I read, but this novel about inspiring chef and teenage mother Emoni never fails to make me hungry.

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Well done, you’ve brewed your first Polyjuice potion. What’s one book you’d change the cover of?

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An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Any book with a movie or T.V. tie in cover. Seriously. My real answer for this, however, is is the Ember in the Ashes series. I’ve never cared for people on the cover of books, and I feel as though this series could have much more beautiful covers (to match how beautiful the story is!).

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You receive a brand new Firebolt for Christmas. What’s one book you read super quickly?

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This book is only 181 pages, but it packs in an amazing amount of storytelling. This is one of my favorite Neil Gaiman novels, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read it. I can usually finish it in just an hour or two.

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You join Harry for his first proper Christmas. What’s one book you’d love to receive this year?

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A Hero Born by Jin Yong

Any of the special editions published by The Folio Society, particularly this copy of A Hero Born, one of my favorite books of 2019.

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You get hit by one of Fred and George’s flying snowballs. What’s a book you wanted to throw across the room?

Echo North

Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer

I had high hopes for this book going into it, but by the end of it, I really did want to throw it at something. If you want to know all the details about why I thought this book was terrible, read my full review. To summarize, though, the main character falls for an abusive love interest who frequently lies to her and manipulates her.

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You’ve just visited Hogsmeade for the first time. What’s one popular book you haven’t read yet?

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I’ve had this book on my shelf since it came out and I still haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I definitely will be in 2020 though!

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Congratulations, you’ve been invited to the Yule Ball. What book about Christmas do you love?

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I honestly haven’t read very many Christmas books, so I’m going with this tried-and-true classic.

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You find Ron’s deluminator. What’s one book that’s helped you through some dark times?

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that The Hobbit is my favorite book, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face. I have so many memories associated with this classic fantasy novel, and it’s been my favorite since I was a child.



If you want to do this tag, consider yourself tagged! If you do, leave your links below so I can see your answers!




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Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters – A Review

Would Like to Meet Rachel Winters

Would Like to Meet by Rachel Winters
Romance | Contemporary
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Released December 3rd, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion.

The biggest surprise of 2019 for me has been my sudden love of contemporary romance novels. It was never something that I was interested in before, but, starting with Christina Lauren’s The Unhoneymooners and K.A. Tucker’s The Simple Wild, it’s a genre that I’m really starting to appreciate.

Would Like to Meet is the debut novel of Gonnancz editor Rachel Winters. That’s actually something I was surprised to learn because I never would have guessed that this was a debut novel. It’s incredibly polished, the flow of the story is perfect, the characters are fully fleshed out, and it reads like a novel from a seasoned author.

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Rachel Winters

The novel is about Evie Summers, an assistant at a film agency. In order to help an arrogant screenwriter meet his deadlines for a rom-com that he’s signed on to write, Evie tries to prove to him that meet-cutes can happen in real life. Evie agrees to send him updates of her attempts at romance in exchange for him finishing his script on time.

Evie takes advice from years of romantic comedy films and tries out all the classic meet-cutes on strangers – often with humiliating and hilarious results. It’s all here – accidentally spilling a drink on someone, a road trip, leaving numbers in books, and so much more.

While all of this is going on, Evie also befriends a father and daughter duo, Ben and Anette, who are often witnesses to her attempts.

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There was so much to enjoy about this book. Evie was delightful, and while many of her decisions were definitely not choices that I would have made, it was fun to watch her handle some truly ridiculous situations. Anette, Ben’s daughter, may have been my favorite character. She’s spunky and full of life, and her personality breathed a lot of life into the story.

One minor character in the novel that I wish we’d gotten so much more of was Evie’s roommate Jane, whose sexual exploits and dating life warrants it’s own book. There’s one point in the novel where Jane and her partner take an eggplant and spiralizer into the bedroom, and I must know why.

There’s no way that I can talk about the story’s characters and not mention Ezra, the arrogant, annoying screenwriter. I was anti-Ezra from the very beginning, as he is the worst kind of a self-absorbed asshole. This early note I made in the book shows just how much I hated him:

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I’ve found that a lot of romcoms are highly unbelievable and cheesy, but this novel wasn’t. While not many people would willingly try out meet-cutes from movies, Rachel Winters did a great job of making the story and characters relatable. Yes, there were plenty of cliches and the outcome wasn’t exactly a surprise, but the book was done very well. I will most certainly be reading any other books that Rachel Winters writes.

Would Like to Meet came out earlier this month, and if you want to finish 2019 off with an adorably sweet meet-cute romance, this book is for you!


Have you ever had a meet-cute? If so, tell me about it in the comments!




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FantasyAThon Round 2 TBR

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There’s nothing like a fun readathon to finish the year with!

Many of you know that fantasy is my favorite genre, so as soon as I heard about the second round of FantasyAThon, I started working on my TBR!

FantasyAThon was started by Madi at The Book Pusher, and this year is being co-hosted by Ali from Ali Corvere Books and Julie from Pages and Pens. If you’re interested in their TBR videos, here they are:

The readathon will be starting on December 13 and finishing up on December 22. This means that participants will have two full weekends to get reading done, which I’m thankful for.

Here are the challenges:

  • Read a diverse fantasy
  • Read a debut or backlist title
  • Start a new series or read on in a series
  • Read a hype train fantasy
  • Finish a fantasy you started but didn’t finish
  • Read a fantasy in a format you don’t normally read
  • Read one of the hosts’ favorite fantasies
  • BONUS: read Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

My official TBR for the FantasyAThon contains four books, including Winterwood, but if I have time, I’ll try to read more. 


Here is my official FantasyAThon TBR: 

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Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Completes the following challenges:

  • Read a hype train fantasy
  • Read a hosts’ favorite (Ali Corvere’s)
  • Start a new series

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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Completes the following challenges:

  • Read a diverse fantasy
  • Finish a fantasy you started but didn’t finish
  • Read a backlist title

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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Completes the following challenge:

  • Read a fantasy in a format you don’t normally read

I very rarely listen to audiobooks, although I want to learn to love them. I’ll be listening to the audiobook version of this novel.


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Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw

Completes the following challenge:

  • BONUS: read Winterwood by Shea Earnshaw

For Winterwood, I would like to read it, but it all depends on whether or not I get it from my library or not. I’m currently on a book-buying ban for financial reasons, and it’s currently on-order at my library with two holds ahead of me. I doubt I’ll get to it, but hopefully, it’ll work out.


Are you planning on participating in FantasyAThon? If so, what books are you planning on reading?




 

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December 2019 TBR

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I recently accepted that there’s no way in hell that I’m getting to my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal this year (I’m at 149 of 225 currently), and as a result, I’m feeling a little more relaxed about my reading goals this last month of the year.

There are three books that I’m currently in the process of finishing:

I’m also participating in FantasyAThon Round 2, from December 13th-22. These are the books that I know for sure that I’ll be reading for it:

There are also some December releases that I need to get to:

Finally, the rest are a mix of wintery books, books sent by publishers that I haven’t gotten to yet, and a couple books that I really want to get to this month:


What books are on your December TBR? Let me know in the comments!




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After the Flood by Kassandra Montag – A Review

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After the Flood by Kassandra Montag
Post-Apocalyptic | Adult Fiction
Published by William Morrow
Released September 3rd, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

Note: I received an unsolicited ARC of this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.

I’m a bit obsessed with post-apocalyptic literature, so I was thrilled when I received a copy of After the Flood in the mail. Apparently not excited enough to read it until a couple of months after its release date, but excited.

After the Flood takes place in the future, when most of the world is covered by water, and the few remaining communities are dangerous and found on mountaintops that are tall enough to still be above water. There’s no more government or social structure, and raiders are mainly controlling the seas. It’s a world where people struggle to survive through fishing and trade and have to fend for themselves when things get dangerous.

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Kassandra Montag

We follow Myra and her daughter Pearl as they travel between trading posts on a small boat they named Bird. Life is far from easy for them, but they’ve managed to survive. Myra, however, still mourns the absence of her oldest daughter, Row, who was taken from her by her husband, Jacob. It’s been seven years since he took her away, and finding Row has always been on the back of her mind.

Finding Row becomes Myra’s main goal, however, after hearing that she might be alive in a colony in what’s left of Greenland. From that point on, Myra does whatever is necessary to get to Row, even if that means using people who are trying to help her.

This novel was really enjoyable to read. Again, I love post-apocalyptic fiction, so the setting of a mostly-water covered world was really interesting to me, and I loved the realistic, simplistic world-building that Montag created. Mainly, I loved the lack of world-building, because in a world where there are so few people and resources left, creating any kind of structured society would be difficult. While I’m not positive that a completely water-covered world is realistic, the way the author portrayed a broken-down society was definitely plausible.

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There really aren’t any heroes in this story, and I appreciated that. Myra, our main character, is manipulative, selfish, and judgemental, but despite that, she’s still an intriguing character. As the reader, you understand her motivations so deeply that, even if you can’t praise her actions, at least you know why she is acting the way she does.

Such a quality is visible in many of the characters, and one of the themes of this novel that I encountered over and over again was that people have complex reasons for their actions. Two of the side characters, Daniel and Abran, are so multifaceted that my opinions of them shifted up and down many times. I like this in a book – characters that are perfect are often boring. People are infinitely complex, and I appreciate authors that reflect that in their characters.

The ARC that I received stated this on its cover: “Life is about more than surviving.”  That’s another big theme of this book. For the first portion of the novel, Myra’s only goal is surviving and/or finding Row. It’s only after she enters a larger community and learns to appreciate them as individuals and their shared goals that she realizes that surviving isn’t the same thing as living.

Lastly, through Myra, Kassandra Montag shares how difficult parenting can be. Myra adores both of her daughters but oftentimes is overwhelmed by their presence or her responsibility towards them. Despite not being a mother myself, I can appreciate the difficulty of having and raising children, and it’s refreshing to read an account of how difficult it can be, rather than following many books that regurgitate endlessly how much of a joy it is.

I’m rating this book 3.5 stars because I generally enjoyed it, but it wasn’t in any way mind-provoking or unique. It’s worth a read, especially if you enjoy post-apocalyptic settings or unlikeable/untrustworthy main characters. However, I’m not sure if it’s a book that I can see myself re-reading.


Pair with a candle!

Frozen Lake

White Barn Frozen Lake 3-Wick Candle

This candle is one that I’ve burned quite a bit in my house, and it’s perfect to pair with this novel. The scents here include juniper berries and glacier, which reminded me of the endless ocean and scavenged wood common throughout the novel.


Have you read After the Flood? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!





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The (Other) F Word edited by Angie Manfredi – A Review

The Other F Word Angie Manfredi

The (Other) F Word: A Celebration of the Fat and Fierce
Edited by Angie Manfredi
Nonfiction | Essay Collection | Body Positivity | Young Adult
Published by Amulet Books
Released September 24th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Note: I received a free, unsolicited edition from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion.

 The (Other) F Word is the type of book that I wish I had discovered in high school. It would have given me more confidence and shown me that it’s okay to love your body, regardless of its size.

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S. Qiouyi Lu

I’m fat. For most of my life, I’ve been overweight. I was the fat kid in school, and I’ve always had an unhealthy relationship with food and my weight. It’s been worse in the past few years, as I lost a drastic amount of weight in my early twenties (over a hundred pounds) and then gained it all back. That experience caused a great deal of discomfort with my body, as I felt like it betrayed me. I viewed it as a win when I lost the weight (which happened during a bipolar manic episode where I literally became obsessed with exercise in a shockingly unhealthy way), and as I gained it back (starting with a depressive episode) I felt like an absolute failure.

It’s only relatively recently that I’ve started learning how to love my body again and this collection of essays helped to give my confidence a boost. While The Other (F) Word is technically meant for teenagers, everyone struggling with their weight or who identify as fat will get some benefit from reading it.

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Saucyé West

While I’m not going to make a full list of each writer included in the collection, some prominent names include Julie Murphy, Alex Gino, P.S. Kaguya, Lily Anderson, S. Qiouyi Lu, Virgie TovarSaucyé West, and Ady Del Valle. Their contributions range from essays to poetry to illustrations and art.

It would take too long to review each essay, but suffice it to say that I gained a lot from reading through this entire collection. There’s advice for where to find clothes that actually fit well, self-care information, powerful motivators, and so much more. There is a wonderfully great amount of inclusivity here in terms of race, gender, sexuality, size, and ability, which is incredible to see.

I’m so glad that many of the essays brought up the fact that doctors and health professionals aren’t always welcoming to fat people. While I’ve been fortunate enough to find a doctor that doesn’t treat my weight as something bad, I have friends who have gone through absolute hell to receive treatment for serious medical conditions. In one case, the doctors automatically assumed that the pain she was experiencing was a result of her weight, and she had to fight to get them to take her seriously. It’s atrocious to me that people have to deal with that kind of treatment from a medical community that is supposed to be there to help, and I’m glad that it’s something that received attention in some of these essays.

If you’re anything like me, it’s inspiring to know that there’s a community of people who look like you who are living their best life and loving their bodies. They know they don’t have to conform to what society and the media believe to be beautiful because they already know that they’re beautiful and wonderful. This collection is one that I can see myself coming back to over and over again when I have any negative thoughts about body image or just when I want to be inspired. I would recommend The (Other) F Word to everyone.


Pair with a candle for maximum relaxation!

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Champagne Toast White Barn 3-Wick Scented Candle


Have you read The (Other) F Word? If so, what did you think?

Who are your favorite body-positive influencers? Let us know in the comments!




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Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer – A Review

Mary Toft Dexter Palmer

Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer
Historical Fiction
Published by Pantheon Books
Released November 19th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Note: I received a free finished copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion.

I feel like I’ve been having an incredible reading month. First, I finally read Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a book that’s been on my radar for years, and that I ended up loving. Next, I read Reincarnation Blues, a novel unlike anything I’d ever read before. And now, we have Dexter Palmer’s superb novel, Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen, which questions the nature of truth, reality, and belief.

It wasn’t until a week or so before the release of this novel that I came across a synopsis of it on Edelweiss and immediately reached out to Pantheon Books regarding a review copy. I love absurdity in literature, and when I read that this book was about a woman who baffles the medical community after giving birth to mangled rabbits, I knew right away that I wanted to read this.

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Author Dexter Palmer

Set in early-18th century England, the story begins innocently enough, with a doctor and his young apprentice taking care of the needs of their small country town of Godalming. A man named Joshua Toft asks them to accompany him to his home, where his wife is experiencing an imminent and unexpected birth.

The doctor, John Howard, is a bit suspicious at first, as he’s the only doctor in the area and wasn’t aware of Mary Toft being pregnant, but he and his apprentice grab their tools and head over to help.

That’s when things take a bizarre turn, however, as it’s not a human child that Mary Toft births, but the decapitated corpse of a rabbit. At that point, Dr. Howard and his apprentice, Zachary, are left to puzzle over how such a thing could happen, eventually writing to prominent physicians in London. These well-known doctors, who are so important as to have the ear of the King himself, along with Dr. Howard, try to uncover the truth of the apparent miracle that is happening in Mary Toft’s body.

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The real Mary Toft

Something I didn’t realize until I finished the book and discovered a bibliography in the back is that Palmer’s novel is based on a real event. I was fascinated by the subject’s Wikipedia page, although due to the novel following the real events closely, I would not advise you to do so until after reading Palmer’s book in order to avoid spoilers.

While the plot of Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen is interesting enough to warrant reading it, the themes of the novel ended up being the quality that impressed me the most.

Palmer does a wonderful job of displaying so many innate qualities of humanity. One of the most obvious is how people react to the unknown, specifically in terms of science and religion. Obviously, birthing rabbits is unusual, and once word spreads of Mary Toft’s “ability,” nobility and common folk alike are eager to term it a miracle, a show of proof of God’s existence.

“I find myself asking, in my darker moments: what matter is the unproven nature of an assertion if enough people become convinced of its truth?”

On a darker note, the novel also portrays the depravity of many people. There’s a horrendous scene in the book involving members of London’s high society going to an underground “event” in order to watch acts of extreme animal cruelty and human humiliation. The author makes it clear that it’s easy for people to fall into their lust for darker forms of entertainment and to take pleasure in the misery of others. As an example, at one point Zachary has a conversation with a “gentleman” known to us only as Lord M—- regarding why he participates in such cruelty:

“Humanity, Zachary. At any time in the history of the earth there is exactly enough humanity to go around for each human on earth to have one full share of it, to entitle himself to say he is better than an animal because he walks on two legs, and sings, and invents money…  But if I am very, very rich, and you are not so rich: well, then can take some of yours. This is the last thing that money is good for, once you have as much as I do – to make myself more human, which regrettably but necessarily entails making you less human, by  contrast. 

What I want, Zachary, and what I have yet to see thus far, is to witness a human not merely humiliating himself but doing a thing that he knows only an animal would do, not a human. A final depth of debasement from which one could not return.”

Another aspect of the novel that sets the reader in the patriarchal society of the 1700s, yet still has relevance today, is how women’s bodies are portrayed as curiosities or tools rather than as distinctly human. For most of the ordeal that Mary Toft goes through, she’s not asked by the physicians how she feels or what her opinion in the matter is. The men make all of the decisions regarding her care. It’s not until the end of the novel that we learn more of her internal dialogue and thoughts.

This is a book that will both entertain you and make you ponder questions vital to the human condition. It’s a strange book, to be sure, and knowing that it’s based on a real event makes it stranger still. Dexter Palmer shows his gift of narrative in this novel that will make you proud to have read it.


Pair with a Candle for Maximum Relaxation

Gin Candle

Makers of Wax Goods Rich & Bold #2 Gin Wood-Wick Candle

 


Have you read Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen?

Which bizarre or strange historical story would you like to see novelized?

Let me know in the comments!




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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – A Review

Illuminae Kaufman Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Science Fiction | Mixed Media | Young Adult
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released October 20th, 2015
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

For most of my twenties, science fiction was my favorite genre. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it made up roughly 80% of everything I read. A few years ago, however, my tastes shifted and I transitioned to reading more fantasy, literary fiction, and historical fiction and put science fiction on the back burner. I just haven’t been feeling it as much.

Then I read Illuminae, and it reawakened my love of science fiction.

The Illuminae Files is a young adult science fiction trilogy told in mixed media format. This means that rather than traditional chapters, the story is told through maps, emails, interviews, military documents, etc. It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a mixed media book, and it was a lot of fun to read through this novel.

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Amie Kaufman

Illuminae takes place in the year 2575 as Ezra and Kady’s planet is invaded by a greedy corporation. They escape but are being pursued by the corporation’s warships. Things are so much worse than that, however, as a deadly plague breaks out on one of the three starships that escaped, and the artificial intelligence on the lead ship, named AIDAN, isn’t working quite right. Making things even worse is that the leaders/government officials on the main ship are not telling everyone the truth about what’s going on.

Kady is a fantastic and snarky character who uses her crazy-good hacking skills to discover what secrets are being held back from the community. Ezra, Kady’s kind-of ex-boyfriend, is on a different ship than she is, and they try to grow their relationship while Kady uses him to try to save everyone.

This book flows so easily that I managed to finish all 602 pages in a single day. There’s so much wonderful suspense and conflict to keep you hooked through every single page of it. True, there are plenty of science fiction tropes here, but they’re written in such a way that it doesn’t feel like it’s been done a thousand times before.

Jay Kristoff.jpg
Jay Kristoff

All of the characters are wonderful, including the side characters. The settings are fascinating and I loved that this was set so far into the future that the writers had the artistic liberties to be incredibly creative with the technology used in the story.

I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the next books in this series. I’ve also heard from many people that the audiobooks are incredible and done with a full cast, so I might give those a chance.

If you want a fun-to-read, exciting science fiction series to get hooked on, Illuminae should be on your reading list.


Have you read The Illuminae Files? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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