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Friday, December 27, 2019

Tina Turner's My Love Story

My Love StoryMy Love Story by Tina Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have I read anything else from this author? Yes, I read I, Tina.

Was this book better than this author's other book? They're both pleasantly hopeful and inspiring. Tina is a mentally strong person who has overcome so much in her life. However, while I, Tina ended on a happy note with Tina reclaiming her life from her ex-husband Ike, this one ends on a sad note.

Was this book enjoyable? Very. Since my husband had a kidney transplant earlier this year and was on dialysis for five years, I found her chapters about her health struggles relatable. I was also glad she has such a rewarding relationship with her husband. He seems great.

Did I learn anything new from this book? I learned that Tina is still the lovely person we met in I, Tina. I also learned she struggled with undiagnosed dyslexia as a child; I don't recall that being mentioned in her previous book. Now I'm extra proud of her that she loves to read and returns to favorite books again and again.

Where did I get this book? I borrowed this ebook from my local library using the Libby app.

Do I recommend this book to other readers? Yes, I would recommend this book to anyone who's interested in celebrity memoirs. The one thing to be aware of is that Tina doesn't narrate the audiobook. It's read by a voice actress.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

'The Valley of Amazement' by Amy Tan

The Valley of AmazementThe Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have I read anything else from this author? Yes, I read The Joy Luck Club in college. Nothing else since.

Was this book better than this author's other book(s)? No, it isn't as good as The Joy Luck Club, but that's a very high standard to live up to.

Was this book enjoyable? Yes, this book is highly enjoyable. I felt a strong, nearly instant bond with the main character, Violet.

Did I learn anything new from this book? I may have incidentally learned a little bit about the timeline of U.S.-China relations, but this book is meant to entertain, not teach history.

Where did I get this book? I bought this book from a library used book sale, originally for my grandma. She read it and I inherited a stack of her books when she passed away.

Do I recommend this book to other readers? Yes, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. If you liked The Invention of Wings or Hemingway's Girl, you might like this one too.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (Nonfiction Book Review)

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and ProgressEnlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have I read anything else from this author? No. I have a copy of How the Mind Works but I've only read pieces, never the whole book.

Was this book enjoyable? Most of it was enjoyable. Its overall tone is hopeful. More than anything, it's informative.

Did I learn anything new from this book? Yes, I learned many facts.

Where did I get this book? I borrowed this audio book from my local library using the Libby app.

Do I recommend this book to other readers? I recommend this book to anyone who's looking for a serious intellectual argument. It's not a fluffy beach read, but if you're looking to dive into the arguments in favor of Enlightenment-era values as opposed to authoritarianism, this is the book for you.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

SnowBaz Carries On: 'Wayward Son' by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son (Simon Snow, #2)Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hello, I'm experimenting with using a standardized set of questions in creating my most recent batch of book reviews. Feel free to tell me in the comments what you think of this format.

Have I read anything else from this author? Many things: Landline, Pumpkinheads, Fangirl, of course Carry On, Eleanor and Park, and some (but not all) of her Marvel's Runaways comic books.

Was this book better than this author's other book(s)? I had more fun reading this than I did the Runaways comics (which I still enjoyed), but not nearly as much fun as I had reading Fangirl and Carry On, some of my all-time favorite YA books.

Was this book enjoyable? Yes, although the stakes didn't seem nearly as high this time as they did in Carry On. Maybe they'll go up again in the third book. Maybe the third book will end with more of a sense of resolution than this one did.

Did I learn anything new from this book? I learned that winged dragon-boys and vampires fit in surprising well at a Renaissance fair.

Where did I get this book? I borrowed the hardcover from my local library.

Do I recommend this book to other readers? I recommend this book to anyone who read Carry On.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Fan Art from 'Holes' by Louis Sachar

https://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/114678687020/holes-onion-lipstick-elya-yelnats-snake

Holes (Holes, #1)Holes by Louis Sachar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this book (in 2003), I wasn't sure that I would like this book very much. But as soon as Kissin' Kate Barlow came up, I got a lot more interested. By the end, I thought it was a pretty darn good story.



Monday, November 25, 2019

A Few Thoughts While Recovering From a Head Cold

https://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/189255743910/ive-been-sick-in-bed-with-a-cold-most-of-the-day




Okay, I wasn't going to post this because I hate N+7 (you'll see why in a moment), but I've changed my mind. I own a little book called Creative Writer's Notebook: 20 Great Authors and 70 Writing Exercises by John Gillard (Metro Books, 2015). One of the great authors is Georges Perec (1936-1982), French avant-garde and existentialist author and member of the writing collective Oulipo. Oulipo is responsible for the writing exercise N+7. Gillard describes it thus:

"...whereby every noun in a sentence is replaced by the noun seven places forward in the dictionary."

Sounds like fun, right? Well, I rewrote my little Tumblr post in N+7, using the dictionary I inherited from my late grandmother, and it came out as this monstrosity:

"I've been sick in bedding with a cold feet most of the dayglow and sleeping, but in my dredges my whole family planning and I took several vaccinias to Croatia. (That Yugoslavia! Think again.) I managed to have an aficionado with Michael Jordan/Dennis Rodman tear Toni Kukoc. But it was a bitstock like having an aficionado with a baby girl, all legalism and axes."

Thanks, I hate it. For one thing, "vaccinias" is a synonym for "cow pox." Ew. Second, it sounds like I'm saying I had an affair with a baby girl, which I do not approve of in any way, shape, or form. Third, axes don't seem very safe for baby girls either. Additionally, as you can tell from my bit of verse, I really liked the mental imagery of the giraffe, which was lost. All of my beautiful nouns other than the proper nouns Croatia and Yugoslavia (which I believe weren't found in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977 edition - the dictionary is as old as I am) were lost. "Teammate" (positive) became "tear" (sad or painful, depending on which way you're pronouncing it).

That's why I didn't add the bit about the N+7 writing exercise until the date of this edit (March 1st, 2020).

So, if you want to sound like a cross between James Joyce on his shit again and a Freudian psychotherapist on their first week at work, by all means, use N+7. In my humble opinion, N+7 needs to be banished to the realm of Cthulhu.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

'Find Me' by André Aciman

Find Me
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit I didn't read Call Me By Your Name, but I did see the movie. When I heard it had a sequel, I had to find out what happened to Oliver and Elio, who fell in love in Italy when Elio was only 17 and Oliver was Elio's father's graduate student. The last Elio heard from Oliver, Oliver was getting married.

15 years have passed, and now Elio is a 32-year-old professional pianist. His father, Sami (Samuel), is taking the train to visit him. Divorced, lonely Sami meets single-but-it's-complicated Miranda. Miranda has daddy issues. Their complicated romance ensues.

Next we get a glimpse into Elio's life in Paris with his could-be second love, Michel. Michel is perhaps 15 to 20 years older than Elio, but not quite Sami's age. Elio has daddy issues, too. As does Michel, who suspects his late father's unspoken secret was an early-adulthood romance with a Jewish musician.

Oliver, too, is a father. He and wife Micol have two sons, but as they get ready to move the family from New York to New Hampshire, Oliver realizes his time with Micol is at its natural end. And then...well, I won't spoil it, but it's lovely.

I read this book in two sittings. It's full of vigils, mysteries, coincidences, and deja vu. The prose is lovely and the emotions are strong. It serves as a fitting ending to the story of Oliver and Elio.

I checked this hardcover book out from my local library and wasn't obligated in any way to review it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Nonfiction: 'Trainwreck' by Sady Doyle

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and WhyTrainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doyle is somewhat preaching to the choir with me - I already love "difficult" women like Courtney Love despite their flaws (i.e. being human beings). Still, I was enthralled by this exploration of what happens when a woman in the public eye is judged to have become the wrong kind of woman in the public eye. It taught me more than I'd ever known before about Charlotte Bronte and Marie Antoinette - we're not good at teaching history and literature from the point of view of the women who experienced them. I highly recommend this book for anyone who participates in American popular culture on any level.

I borrowed this audio book from my local public library using the Libby app. I'm not obligated in any way to review it.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Currently Reading: 'Wayward Son' by Rainbow Rowell

https://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/189134112865

Recently read:

PumpkinheadsPumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Happy Read a Book Day! My pick today was this adorable graphic novel about two friends working on their very last day at the pumpkin patch. I really loved the characters and the art. I'm not sure if I want to be Deja or if I want to date her.

I purchased this book from my local comic book store with my own funds and was not obligated in any way to review it.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Sample of Dorian Gray

https://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/184456984320/get-a-sample-of-dorian-gray-oscar-wilde-is-at-it

The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! That was a great ending. I listened to the public domain audio book and was not required in any way to review this book.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Manga: Moteki - Love Strikes!

https://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/185662100390

Moteki, 1: Love Strikes!Moteki, 1: Love Strikes! by Mitsurou Kubo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the art but I didn't love the story. It's about a man who's about to turn 30 who still hasn't found the love of his life. Frankly, with his personality, I'm not surprised that he doesn't have a woman who wants to be with him. He doesn't really treat women very well. And without a likable protagonist, it was really hard to care about his romantic adventures.

I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program in exchange for a fair, honest review.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Comic Book Shop Haul: Rainbow Rowell's Pumpkinheads, Captain Marvel, Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

https://thatwritererinoriordan.tumblr.com/post/187665739990


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Sunday, October 6, 2019

October Mini-Review: 'Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture' Edited by Roxane Gay


This should be required reading in every U.S. high school. It can be grim and depressing to face just how badly American culture (this is primarily U.S.-focused) handles the issue of consent to sex. Every essay in this collection is chilling.

Still, we can't do very much to address the problem unless we're willing to face it head-on. Men, women, and children all deserve better than this.

Monday, August 26, 2019

'Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11' by Mitchell Zuckoff

Forget the conspiracy theories that have cropped up in the past 18 years. If you want to know what happened on September 11, 2001, stick to factual, journalistic reports like this one. Zuckoff cites extensive notes in his sources, including firsthand interviews with survivors, so this isn't just some person with a YouTube channel talking out of their...imagination.


This is a hard read. It was an awful, brutal, cruel act of terrorism, and this narrative pulls no punches when it comes to graphic descriptions. Content warning for descriptions of violence and bodily injury; sensitive readers may not be able to handle some of the more vivid chapters. (One of the really graphic ones relating to the Shanksville, Pennsylvania plane crash was mentioned in the Washington Post review of this book. If you could handle that review, you'll probably be okay.)

This book does two important things. One, it personalizes the unthinkable tragedy, bringing it back down to human scale. Two, it ends on a hopeful note, reminding us that survivors continue to survive and thrive despite their horrific losses and injuries.

I don't know why I'm drawn to reading such sad things. I guess it's a "hope for the best but prepare for the worst" thing. But I do know that an American is more likely to be killed by a bee sting than by a terrorist. The reality is that we're actually safer than we've ever been. So read this history, but don't get depressed.

I borrowed this audio book from my local library using the Libby app. I wasn't obligated to review it in any way.

Friday, August 9, 2019

'The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation'

Pro of this book: It allowed me to peek inside the intellectual lives of many of the American thinkers I studied in American Literature class many years ago: Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, et al.


Con of this book: This is no fault of the author's, but it's disappointing to see that some of the scientifically inaccurate and misleading arguments against Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, as presented in The Origin of Species, are still around and being used by "intelligent design" advocates now. Guys, if it wasn't scientifically accurate in the mid-to-late 19th century, you definitely have no business dragging it back it up now.

I borrowed the audio version of this book from my local library using the Libby app. I was not obligated in any way to review it.

Monday, June 17, 2019

'Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them' by Jennifer Wright

Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought ThemGet Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If your favorite podcast is Sawbones, this book is for you.

This is the first book I've read by Wright, but I really enjoyed her writing style and authorial voice. She belongs to the Roxane Gay school of feminist scholarship that has a sense of humor but puts up with no bullshit. Beginning with the Antonine Plague (probably of smallpox) that killed between 10 and 18 million ancient Romans during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Wright examines how societies reacted each time a mass illness raged through them.

In a predictable historical pattern, individuals have two reactions to plagues: To take advantage (often by selling bogus cures) and to genuinely try to ease suffering. There's a bit of good news in there: Namely, that there's never been a mass illness without individuals reacting with compassion and trying their best to help, even if the cause of the illness was not yet understood. For every bad reaction (like some of the crap that happened to Typhoid Mary), there were people like Father Damien (of Molokai fame) who risked their own lives in the service of others.

Some of humanity's previous plagues were caused by diseases that are curable now. Tuberculosis was the bane of the 18th and 19th centuries, for example, but can now be eliminated with antibiotics. So, too, can syphilis, although knowing this doesn't do much to help the victims of the infamous Tuskegee experiments whose lives were lost or irreparably altered by their unethical doctors withholding the cure from them. (Shame, America. Shame.)

Other plagues could still kill us today. The bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages is still with us. About a dozen Americans get it every year. We could drive ourselves to anxiety thinking about the "Spanish" (actually American) flu spread by service members quartered close together to wage the Great War. Influenza is still one of our deadliest infections and still has no cure.

But worrying us about plagues that will happen in the future isn't Wright's purpose. She's more interested in documenting the ways we've always reacted when our friends, family members, neighbors, and ourselves fall ill in large numbers. Are children cared for or abandoned? Do we spread deadly misinformation, focus on what facts we can glean, or expend our energy on compassion? This book combines sociology, psychology, and medical history.

The most recent plague examined is that of polio*, which terrified Americans through the middle of the 20th century when it could be cured. Wright chose to focus on those epidemics in which the key players are historical ones. In her epilogue, she mentions the AIDS epidemic of the late 1970s and 1980s. She chose not to write about it because it's still within living memory to a much greater extent than polio. I can appreciate that decision. Having lived through the 1980s, I can understand why it's tough to be objective about the lack of government response to the deaths of so many innocent people. (And all victims of disease are innocent - microbes are not a moral judgment).

If you read this book, you'll learn some interesting historical facts. You'll be impressed by the heroes of history who did their best to respond with compassionate care. You'll be saddened by a few less-than-desirable aspects of human behavior. And hopefully, if you ever find yourself caught in a plague, you'll be a little bit wiser. I'll do my best to try to err on the side of compassion. While also remembering that personal protective gear exists.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library using the Libby app and was not obligated in any way to review it.

*Upon reflection, the encephalitis lethargica epidemic may come after the polio chapter.

Monday, June 3, 2019

'A Stir of Echoes' by Richard Matheson - Mid-Century Spooky Story

Stir of EchoesStir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Mild spoilers, not of major plot points.) Interesting mid-century artifact. The narrator, Tom, is mildly paternalistic and condescending to every woman in his life, including his pregnant wife Anne. That gets annoying, but it's somewhat alleviated by the facts that a) he genuinely loves her and the children and b) nothing horrible happens to her in the furtherance of the plot.

The supernatural element of the story is less of the monster variety that went into the writing of I Am Legend (which I haven't read; I've only seen the film) and subsequently inspired George Romero to make Night of the Living Dead. It's more of the atmospheric/eerie/parapsychology type.

And it's nothing like the 1999 movie that starred Kevin Bacon. The movie took out the casual misogyny and replaced with sexual violence; there isn't a hint of sexual violence in the book. Reading the book does, however, make certain points in the movie make a lot more sense. They're orphaned elements from the novel without the through line.

This book came out in 1958. The Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM) I, modern psychology's text for diagnosing mental illnesses, first appeared in 1952, and psychology was a bit of a "trend" in the '50s. In 1954, The Bad Seed explored psychopathy, and the word "psycho" was cemented in the public mind by 1959 when Robert Bloch released Psycho.

A Stir of Echoes touches on abnormal psychology with one character, but it's more of a fanciful "what if our minds have hidden psychic powers?" novel. It's less muddled and more clear-cut than in the movie, especially when it comes to Tom and Anne's 4-year-old, Richard. What's happening to Richard in the movie doesn't really resemble his little bit of involvement in the book.

Bottom line: Someone should write an updated script based on the book, without the implication that femaleness itself is a mild mental illness.

I borrowed this audiobook from my local library using the Libby app and was not obligated in any way to review it. Richard Matheson doesn't care because he died in 2013. I got the idea to borrow it from listening to Podcast Like It's 1999.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

'Ten Days in a Mad-House' by Nellie Bly

Ten Days in a Mad-HouseTen Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The saddest and scariest part of this journalistic account from the late 19th century (originally published in 1887) is how easy it was for the reporter to be declared "incurable." No one even remotely tried to "cure" her.

By McD - Penn University library, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16890004
In fact, of the women she encountered in the "mad-house," few of them would be considered mentally ill by today's diagnostic standards. No doubt some of them were depressed, but others were grieving. Some of them were just poor. One woman couldn't be evaluated at all because she didn't speak English and none of the four doctors could speak German.


It was shockingly easy for a woman to be locked away forever, mistreated, and deemed incurable just because she had unfortunate life circumstances happen to her.

I listened to this LibriVox audiobook - free public domain books read by volunteers - using the Podcoin app on my phone. Podcoin pays you tiny amounts of money to listen to podcasts and Librivox books. You can donate your pennies to charities or save them up to exchange for gift cards.

To get 300 free podcoins when you sign up, use the referral code NERDY. This benefits the Nerdy Bitches podcast. I'm not affiliated with it in any way other than being a fan. Past episodes have covered Harry Potter books, the Divergent series, Ready Player One, geek crushes, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an entire month of Batman podcasts, and much, much more.

Some of the many LibriVox books you can listen to on Podcoin include:

12 Creepy Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Julius Casear by William Shakespeare
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Saturday, June 1, 2019

'Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer' #nonfiction

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live LongerNatural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer by Barbara Ehrenreich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Something about Barbara Ehrenreich's prose makes me gobble these books down like a snack-sized bag of potato chips.

This book can stand alone, or it could be thought of as a follow-up to her book Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. Reaching back into her training as a cellular biologist, Ehrenreich touches on the "wellness" industry in the U.S., as opposed to the health care system. She mentions Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, but the point of this book is not to take down the "wellness" industry, no matter how woo-woo some of its propositions may be.

Rather, it is to examine the ways in which human beings trick ourselves into thinking our actions can have an effect on how long we'll live and how healthy we'll be in old age. The book focuses on Americans, not because Americans are necessarily more deluded and unhealthy than other peoples, but more to narrow the scope of her investigation. Ehrenreich systematically debunks the things we think we know about healthy aging, such as the necessity of taking calcium supplements to build stronger bodies to ward off osteoporosis. She looks at the way we medicalize aging when some "symptoms" of aging may be an inevitable part of being human.

Death is also discussed in this book. I learned that among the many tiny creatures that may feast on me after I die, there may be butterflies. I find this oddly comforting; I don't think I'll mind being food for butterflies. It also reminds me of an old line from The Simpsons: "Nobody ever suspects the butterfly."

By David Shankbone - David Shankbone (own work), CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1615963
I checked out this book from my local library using the Libby app and was not obligated to review it in any way.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Aladdin XXX Live-action Musical Parody Is Here

THE ALADDIN XXX LIVE-ACTION MUSICAL PARODY IS HERE.
AND IT'S CALLED ALADDICK.


PRESS RELEASE: (Woodland Hills, CA) May 23rd, 2019 – Drop your harem pants and start rubbing your lamp because the most magical musical porn parody of all time is here! Aladdick is the live-action, hardcore, song-singing, blue genie-filled porn parody of Aladdin, and it was created by WoodRocket and Pornhub, the horny folks behind Hamiltoe and Game of Bones 2.

Aladdick premieres Thursday, May 23rd on WoodRocket and Pornhub for Free.

The extra-long Aladdick Extended Version, featuring more sex with a porn parodied Princess, is available exclusively on Pornhub Premium.

When Princess Jizzman goes looking for a prince to satisfy her royal genitals, she comes across Aladdick over and over again. With the help of his Vagenie and flying carpet, he disguises himself as Prince All D. But will evil Jafuck, screw him over? Find out in Aladdick.

Aladdick stars April O'Neil, Donnie Rock, Daisy Ducati, Tommy Pistol, AJ, Nikki Sequoia, and Will Tile as Vagenie. It was written and directed by Lee Roy Myers.

Check out Aladdick for free at WoodRocket and Pornhub (on the WoodRocket Channel).

Watch the SFW trailer of Aladdick on WoodRocket and YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsRNjgg-A3Y.

Check out Aladdick Extended Version at PornhubPremium.com.

WoodRocket mixes porn, comedy, pop culture, and redefines adult entertainment. Creating popular and high-quality content like Ask A Porn StarPorn Stars Reading Hate Mailand porn parodies like Ten Inch Mutant Ninja TurtlesStrokémon, and Laygo, WoodRocket is the future of porn.  WoodRocket’s content has been featured in Buzzfeed, Uproxx, Gizmodo, Maxim, Complex, AV Club, Spin, Rolling Stone, The Howard Stern Show, GQ, Vice, Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, @Midnight, Bon Appetit, and many, many more wonderful places.

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

'Barracoon' by Zora Neale Hurston #AmericanHistory

Barracoon: The Story of the Last Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this short audiobook; it's about a 4-hour listen. This is nonfiction, so be prepared for the very tragic details of the life of Cudjo Lewis. His village was raided by the Dahomey people, his parents were killed, and he was captured to be sold by the Portuguese into slavery. All of those things would be terrible enough for one lifetime, but Cudjo continued to encounter myriad tragedies after the Union soldiers came and told him he wasn't a slave anymore. Very sad.

Cudjo Lewis was a real survivor, though. He hung in there long enough to tell his tale to the brilliant Zora Neale Hurston, a pioneer of recording authentic African-American folklore. Her recording of Lewis's tale is believed to be historically accurate to a high degree, and she also relates it in a literary style that makes it incredibly compelling. But - still very tragic.

By Unknown - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3b10040. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information. Public Domain 
If you are an African-American who's descended from enslaved Africans, you may have to consider whether you really want to hear the gruesome details. This is not a lighthearted or easy read. Definitely all white Americans should read or listen to this book, because we should have our eyes fulled opened about what our ancestors caused.

An appendix to this book is a collection of Cudjo's fictional folk tales, which I highly recommend for anyone who's interested in folklore.

I checked this book out from my local library using the Libby app and I was not obligated in any way to review it.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

All the Wrong Questions #4: Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?

Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? (All the Wrong Questions, #4)Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm glad I read this series but also sad to see it end. I thoroughly enjoyed it but was saddened when one of my favorite (relatively minor) characters died. I hope Lemony Snicket, a.k.a. Daniel Handler, returns to middle grade writing again some day.

Favorite quote from this book: “Villainy can win against one library, but not against an organization of readers.”

I purchased this book with my own funds from my local brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble and I was not obligated in any way to review it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Charlaine Harris's Stand-Alone Mystery 'A Secret Rage'

A Secret RageA Secret Rage by Charlaine Harris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hello, I'm not dead. I did kind of forget that I had a book blog, though! But I have been reading. Here's a brief review of the novel I finished today.

This mystery in which the perpetrator of the murder is also guilty of a number of sexual assaults has characters who express some very problematic ideas about sexual assault in general. Even a generally skillful writer, as I believe Charlaine Harris is, must tread carefully around these issues, and this stand-alone mystery left something of a bad taste in my mouth.

Perhaps I was a bit biased because I'm a Northerner and the Southern-born-and-raised character refers to her New Yorker neighbors as sounding like a bunch of squawking bluejays. (We have bluejays in the North, Charlaine - I know exactly what that sounds like.)

I also felt the writing was a bit more unpolished and clunky than I'm used to in such favorite series as the Southern Vampire Mysteries and Midnight, Texas.

I purchased this book with my own funds from Red Dog Books and was not obligated in any way to review it.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

'The Magician' by Carla Cook #ParanormalRomance

The MagicianThe Magician by Carla Cook

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an older PNR that I found at a used bookshop, and it was surprisingly good. I liked the characters and the way the author took her time with the romance and didn't force the characters into an unrealisticly quick head-over-heels.

I deducted one star because I had issues with the pacing and structure in the second half of the book. The "all is lost" moment hits, the big bad is revealed, and then the resolution seems to come too suddenly and too easily, without the characters having to stake too much to regain equilibrium.

Then, after the big bad is put down permanently and they're safe, the story has one of those J.R. Ward-type "oh no, it's hopeless, they'll never be together" feints when we all know perfectly well, with only 3-5 pages left, that the happily-ever-after is right around the corner. J.R. Ward often does it well, but in this novel, it fell a little flat for me.

But if you happen across this one at your used bookstore, do give it a read. It has a very likable heroine, she has an adorable kiddo, and there are some really interesting paranormal plot elements.

I purchased this book with my own funds and was not obligated in any way to review it.





Saturday, January 12, 2019

Because I Can Never Resist New J.K. Rowling...

Fantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original ScreenplayFantastic Beasts the Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't like this screenplay/movie as much as the first one, because a) Queenie is acting out-of-character stupid in service of the plot :( and b) no real!Percival Graves, who had such great chemistry with Credence in the first one. (This is no knock against Claudia Kim, whom I think did a nice job in the Nagini role she was given. I actually liked her relationship with Credence and I hope she gets a bigger role in the next one.)

The first movie shouldn't have had more homoerotic subtext than the second one given that this screenplay includes scenes with young Dumbledore and young Grindelwald together. I know same-gender romances are frowned upon in some non-U.S., non-U.K. film markets, but if J.K. Rowling let that economic consideration stop her from exploring the Dumbledore-Grindelwald relationship, she shouldn't really have told us that Dumbledore is a gay character. Commit to your characters' background stories or leave them out.

Also, there are continuity issues with what we already know from the Harry Potter books and Pottermore addenda. Minerva McGonagall shouldn't be at Hogwarts yet in 1927, should she? I read somewhere that she shouldn't even have been born yet according to a previously plotted timeline. So I don't love that.

But it does have some nice touches nonetheless, such as the blood troth and the baby Nifflers. Jacob is still his wonderful Jacob self even if Queenie is sacrificed to bad writing, and Newt and Tina still have their adorably awkward spark. "Salamander eyes" is my new favorite compliment.

I purchased this book from my local brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble and was not obligated in any way to review it.