Friday Fives | Books to Read in February

As per usual, I started Friday Fives back when I started up the blog again and wanted to make sure I kept at least one regular post a week. This was, of course, before I knew there were others out there. But I decided to keep it, especially since I have the whole year planned out. In December, I decided to change it to Friday Fives instead to have more room for topics.

One of my reading goals is to make a significant dent into my owned TBR pile. So in that vein I’m trying to think about what books I’d like to read at the end of each month for the next month. I’m not going to be posting this at the end of each month, but it will be something I write in my journal for myself. Here are some of the books I hope to get to in February.

This is the book club pick for one of the clubs I’m in, and it’s one of the Austen books I haven’t read yet. So I’m really excited to get to read it.

I bought this book last summer, and I’m only now getting to it, seems about right. I’ve been getting into other religious for a few years, and I’m starting to read into paganism (specifically Celtic paganism). This one and others are on my TBR.

I’m kind of glad I didn’t read this one till now, so that way when the second one comes out in May, I hopefully won’t have forgotten what happened.

If you have not seen the book without the book jacket, go find one and look at it. It’s gorgeous! Besides that I’m super happy to start reading this one.

I preordered this! I’m halfway done with Hang the Moon, and I cannot wait to read this one!

Happy Reading Darlings!

TTT | Online Resources for Book Lovers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Today’s topic is on online resources for book lovers, and I’ll probably sneak in some that are more suited to librarians.

  1. The StoryGraph: There are probably many people who’ve talked about how amazing this site is, and I’ll continue with this forever! The StoryGraph truly is created for readers and is leagues better than Goodreads. Also, the site is not owned by Amazon, so plus!
  2. Project Gutenberg: A library of over 60,000 free ebooks! This was created in the 70s to encourage the creation and distribution of ebooks. There is a focus on books that are older and not bound by U.S. copyright laws.
  3. Libby: I mean it’s an app, but that’s still online. I absolutely love Libby for ebooks and audiobooks. All you need to do is connect your library card and you can access thousands of ebook and audiobooks.
  4. Drunk Librarians Podcast: Booze, books, and some library shenanigans, what more could you want!
  5. Bookshop: A way to support independent bookstores. A portion of the profits goes towards independent bookstores, and you can select the specific bookstore it goes to.
  6. ModernMrs.Darcy: Anne Bogel is such a wealth of resources for book lovers. From lists of books, to podcast, to so much more!
  7. ALA: The American Library Association always has some great resources not just for librarians but readers as well.
  8. Your Local Library: While having our shelves filled with our read and TBR read books, not everyone can afford this and that is okay! Libraries are great resources for not just books but for community. (I still checkout books from the library and buy books).

Happy Reading Darlings!

TTT | Favorite Book Settings

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Today’s topic is about favorite settings, so let’s see if I can keep this to only 10.

  1. Boarding Schools: There is something fantastical about boarding schools that just gives me so many great vibes. They can be either magical and wonderous or creepy and terrifying.
  2. Victorian Gothic: I’m doing this term as an umbrella term to cover anything in this genre: houses, schools, the forest, the marsh, London, it doesn’t matter. The Victorian Gothic is just mwah, perfection!
  3. Libraries: I mean I have to have this on my list somewhere right? Why would I call myself The Nonbinary Librarian if I didn’t love libraries?
  4. Haunted Houses: Give me all the good spooky house stories like The Haunting of Hill House or Northanger Abbey any day of the week.
  5. Small Southern Towns: The ones that you think should die off but they hang on just because they can. Where football is religion and you’re in the church pew every Sunday, and time just seems to slow down or completely stop. Those kind of small, southern towns.
  6. Universities: Okay, I was trying to hold back from my love of dark academia but I just can’t! Can anyone say Gaudy Night?
  7. World War I & II: I cry like a baby anytime I read any of these, but I know I need to read them and their stories because they are so important to remember. Plus, the female friendships that were made during this time period where just mwah!
  8. Castles: They’re are just so many nooks and darkness and beauty with castles, that I just love them!
  9. Space/Ocean: Okay, there’s a reason that I’m pairing these two together and that’s for the feelings I have whenever I read (or see) these two ideas/things/universes. I just am overcome with so much awe, but also beauty and a sense of longing, as well as a sense of how small I am. There’s also the sense of contentment in realizing that while I am so small, I’m still here, living in this moment and in this place. I just have a lot of emotions when it comes to space and the ocean that I love when books are set on a spaceship or boat.
  10. Cemeteries (I’d include forests in this as well): The fact that you never know what you’re going to find or come across in either of these places gives me so much tension but also excitement for what’s going to happen.

Happy Reading Darlings!

Friday Fives | Something That Makes You Stop Reading a Book

As per usual, I started Friday Fives back when I started up the blog again and wanted to make sure I kept at least one regular post a week. This was, of course, before I knew there were others out there. But I decided to keep it, especially since I have the whole year planned out. In December, I decided to change it to Friday Fives instead to have more room for topics. If anyone wants to join me, the list for future topics can be found here.

  1. Alienating the audience – This goes for any form of political/social book and for either side. Any book that begins with the other side is “evil,” “destroying America,” “part of a satanic cult.” It doesn’t have to be something that negative either, but something small that paints the other side or sides of the argument as stupid, I’m automatically out.
  2. Slow Pacing – Of course, I’m not expecting an action scene every page! There needs to be a reason why I keep turning the page though.
  3. Overtly Religious – I love the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I cannot stand the Chronicles of Narnia. I get it Lewis it’s an allegory for Christians, but you don’t have to shove it down my throat on every page.
  4. Stereotypes – Yes, there are some stereotypes that are fun and harmless and well, true. Like how the British love their tea. But harmful stereotypes of the LGBTQ+, BIPOC, or other minority groups is where I draw the line.
  5. Convoluted story or world building – For fantasy books, the reader is supposed to be dropped in the middle and is figuring it out (sometimes with the main character). However, if I’m almost done and still confused, there’s a problem

Honorable mention: the whole token LGBTQ+ character in a group of friends. I mention this earlier this week, but if you’re a member of the alphabet mafia you know as well as I do that we travel in packs!

Happy Reading Darlings!

TTT | Freebie

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

As most book people are aware of The Storygraph, I’m going to take this Top Ten Tuesday to discuss books that were recommended to me through the Plus feature (this is in no way sponsored by The Storygraph). The books on the left side are the ones I’ve read, and the books on the right are the ones suggested by the Storygraph Plus feature for the book on the left.

Happy Reading Darlings!

eARC Review | Summer Sons

Title: Summer Sons

Author: Lee Mandelo

Publisher: Tor

Publication Date: 28 September 2021

Trigger Warnings: Cutting, self-harm, homophobia, death, torture

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received an advanced copy of this book through Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor in exchange for an honest review.

Andrew and Eddie were best friends, bonded more deeply than brothers. But Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, a few days before Andrew will join Eddie in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew not only his entire family’s inheritance and estate, but also a roommate he doesn’t want, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

Andrew decides to search for the truth of Eddie’s death, and he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trust most, discovering a family history soaked in blood.

First off, for a debut novel, it was a great and fascinating read. The way Lee Mandelo cleverly weaved together this modern-day, gothic story was creepy and satisfying. It was so great to have it set in the South, and I kept thinking of the painting American Gothic by Grant Wood while reading this. I thought the journey that Andrew had to go on to confront the relationship between him and Eddie, along with his own self-discovery was what kept me reading. However, the story itself was okay.

I’m still not sure if I understand what the curse was for Eddie and his ancestors (the curse was passed down to Andrew when him and Eddie were children). The reveal at the end was kind of a let down as well, I was hoping for something a bit more juicy than what we were left with.

I truly appreciated the wide variety of characters! Andrew and Eddie had this interesting friendship (romantic feelings that were never acknowledged when Eddie was alive), along with many other LGBTQIA+ representations! There was Andrew’s new roommate who is in a throuple with a man and a woman, and then there’s the roommate’s cousin who is also on a journey of his own sexuality it seems.

Overall, it was a fun book to read, and I’m definitely looking forward to what Mandelo writes next!

Happy Reading Darlings!

eARC | The Real Valkyrie

Title: The Real Valkyrie

Author: Nancy Marie Brown

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: 31 August 2021

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I received an advanced ebook from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior in a high-status grave in Birka, Sweden was actually a woman. Nancy Brown weaves together archaeology, history, and literature to imagine this woman’s life and times, showing that women had more power and agency than historians have imagined.

Nancy Brown uses science to link the Birka Warrior, whom she names Hervor, to Viking trading towns and to their great trade route east to Byzantium and beyond. Brown imagines Hervor’s life interesting with larger-than-life but real women, including Queen Gunnhild Mother-of-Kings, the Viking leader known as the Red Girl, and Queen Olga of Kyiv. What Brown reveals in these pages that much of what we have taken as truth about women in the Viking Age is based not on data, but on nineteenth-century Victorian biases.

One of my favorite parts of reading this was that the beginning of each chapter began with a fictionalized account of what Hervor would’ve been doing based on Viking literature and stories. It was able to grab a hold of me before learning about the culture and life of women, men, and society as a whole during this time period.

The way she crafts the story makes a fascinating read, but also is still approachable to those who may not know much about Viking history (this girl here). I was excited to read this and was blown away by how much I learned and how fun it was to read this book. This is definitely an important book not only for historians but for the every day person. We have this preconceived idea (again, largely based on Victorian misconceptions) that women weren’t only regulated to the domestic sphere.

TTT | Fictional Crushes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Ah, who doesn’t spend time wishing their fictional crushes were real? I know I do, and I know these characters give me unreasonable expectations, but I do not care!

Rangi from The Rise of Kyoshi is too adorable for words! She’s so loyal and loving towards Kyoshi and ugh, how can I not love this sweet firebender!

Oh, Gideon! I just want to wrap her up in a blanket and just let her know how amazing she is.

Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter series is so badass, and I just love strong, independent women who know how to stand up for themselves.

Alice Cullen is quirky and weird and I’m all about someone being themselves, so how could I not have a crush on her! I definitely wasn’t reading or watching Twilight for the awesome storytelling!

Again, a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a man! We’re not going to look to hard into this either, okay? Okay!

I specifically had a crush on Celaena Sardothien, not Aelin! I’m not a huge fan of how her character has turned out, but Celaena is a total badass who I also want to wrap in a blanket and give all the cuddles to!

“I am no man!” Need I say more?

Okay, yeah, I may have a type because Verity/Julie is also a total badass! I’m still upset over this novel!

Elle Jones is another quriky character that I just absolutely love! She knows who she is and what she wants to do and goes after it. I also think we’d just have a lot of amazing conversations.

I absolutely love a woman with a brain and Elizabeth Bennet not only has one, but she’s feisty and knows how to use said brain.

Happy Reading Darlings!

eARC | Maiden Voyages: Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel

Title: Maiden Voyages: Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel

Author: Sian Evans

Publisher: Two Roads

Published: 10 August 2021

Pages: 368

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Yes, I am behind on posting this! I’m behind on posting reviews in general. It’s been a rough almost two years, and I, as most everyone, am ready for this pandemic to be done (Get Vaccinated and Wear a Mask)!

Sian Evans explores not only a specific time in history, but also explores the way women used transatlantic travel. Evans tells us the stories from passengers to stewardesses through diaries, letters, and published accounts. She begins in the early twentieth century and goes through to the end of WWII, as we see how these women’s lives are changed as they travel from the Old World to the New.

Maiden Voyages is a wonderful exploration into the lives of these women as they crossed the Atlantic. From the luxary of the upper deck to the cramped conditions of steerage of third class travel, readers are given a first-hand account of how women lived, worked, and socialized on these luxury liners. In first class we meet A-listers like Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson, and Josephine Baker, while second class housed a new generation of professional and independent women, like interior designer Sibyl Colefax. Down in third class, we follow the journey of emigre Maria Riffelmacher as she escapes poverty in Europe. Of course, we cannot forget the women hustling between decks, including Violet “The Unsinkable Stewardess” Jessop, who survived the Titanic disaster.

A wonderful and engaging look into a specific time period where women weren’t bound to just the Old World for a life, nor were they bound to the land alone.

I found this book absolutely lovely. I knew about some of these people, Wallis Simpson, Josephine Baker, and Mary Anne MacLeod (Donald Trump’s mom), but only from how and why they are famous not their personal transatlantic journeys. This made it interesting and eye-opening to see how these women’s lives were affected because of traveling across the Atlantic.

For Mary MacLeod’s case, she was escaping abject poverty in Ireland and a ship across to the New World was a way out. Then, unfortunately, we had to deal with her son many, many years later. Who knows what would’ve happened if Wallis decided to stay in America instead of going abroad? Or if her friend had never introduced Wallis to Edward? The even more fascinating aspect of transatlantic travel was how many doors opened for women in terms of work on ships. It’s definitely a book for someone who is interested in social history or women’s history.

Happy Reading Darlings!

TTT | Books to Read Again for the First Time

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly topic hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week she provide a topic and you are free to use that topic and/or variations of that topic to make your top ten list. A full list of the weekly themes can be found here.

Reading a book for the first time is so special and hits you differently then when you re-read something. So, here are the books I’d love to read again for the first time.

This book will never not break my heart! I wish I could read it again and just absorb every line and action into my being.

Dig is a non-linear story that digs (pun not intended) into a family that used to be potato farmers. It’s about how do we reconcile our past with our future and what is the responsibility of white people in America. Just a beautiful novel with lots of questions to discuss.

I just want to spend more time with this family, and see what happens in the future for them.

In our age of Covid, reading about the AIDS crisis seems fitting. A crisis that no one wanted and one that people didn’t seem to care much about. I’d love to read June’s journey for the first time and her relationship with her uncle, the only person who seems to understand June. To be able to go on the journey of grief with her again and just fully immerse myself in her story.

I first read this in a graduate poetry class, so it was speed read through to finish it in time for class. To get the chance to read it again for the first time and really soak up the poems that Eavan Boland writes would be such a pleasure.

While I love a good mystery/horror book, I sometimes feel like I never really enjoy the story enough cause I’m just wanting to know whodunit or what’s going on. I’m so focused on getting to the end that I miss really getting to know the journey and characters.

Again another mystery book that I rushed through to see what happened. I’d especially love to read this again cause I’m always a sucker for anything Holmes & Watson related.

Another book that raises so many questions about family and what we pass down to the next generation.

I absolutely love retellings, especially if the retelling changes things up like making Jane Eyre a killer. Yes, please! I’d absolutely love to get to read this again for the first time just for the funness of the novel.

I think about this book about once a week, if not more. It ruined me! I’d love to be able to read Verity and Mattie’s friendship anew and get to experience all the many emotions that come with it.

Happy Reading Darlings!