#FridayFavorites | Fantasy Books (That are not Harry Potter)

I started #FridayFavorites 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. If anyone wants to join me, the list for future topics can be found here.

Today’s topic are fantasy books that are not Harry Potter.

Victorian England, demons, magic, and a mysterious girl. The Infernal Devices is probably my favorite series of Clare’s books. I feel such kinship with Tessa. Will and Jem are not only adorable but truly show non-toxic masculinity. Also, I’m obsessed with books set in Victorian England!

I cannot fully describe in words how amazing this book is (I haven’t read the second one, I know I really need to). I just love how it is a fantasy series with Nigerian elements and stars non-white characters!

Such an amazing series and a great way to get kids into mythology. I also love how in each book/series Rick Riordan becomes not only a better writer but a better person by including non-white and LGBTQ characters. The origin of Percy Jackson is amazing as well, as Riordan created the series for his son who has dyslexia and ADHD.

I know vampires have been done and overdone, but I truly enjoyed this one from Renee Ahdieh. I especially love the fact that it’s set in New Orleans!

I mean I couldn’t not include A Song of Ice and Fire (that is the official name of the series). I mean dragons, zombies, political intrigue, there’s something for everyone in this series.

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

TTT | Characters I’d Name a Pet After

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 characters I’d name a pet after, which funny enough I did this for one of my #FridayFavorite posts (you can see here). So, I’m going to come up with 10 names for the future dog(s) I’ll have (I recently got a kitten and then found out I was allergic).

Image from pinterest – Metamorphosis Boheme

Just to see the difference between an Irish Wolfhound and other dogs! I absolutely love these gigantic, mythological dogs (they’re featured in Celtic mythology). I just want an entire horde of them!

Here is the list of names I’d want to use:

  • Khaleesi
  • Arya
  • Sherlock
  • Watson
  • Scout
  • Luna
  • Bronte (yes, not fictional but I’m including it)
  • Darcy
  • Francie (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
  • Aragorn

No matter what, I just want a couple of big dogs…of course, this will have to wait until I have a house with a decent sized yard.

TTT | Book Titles that Would Make Great Song Titles

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 book titles that would make great song titles.

Out of the Easy – I would want this to be a blues/jazz song, something you’d hear in New Orleans

Everything Leads to You – Folklore Taylor Swift type song

Tell the Wolves I’m Home – I could see this as either a Fall Out Boy indie rock song or a Billie Eilish dark pop tune

All the Bright Places – Definitely a pop song, something in the thread of OneRepublic or Maroon5

And We Stay – indie emo song type

Nobody’s Princess – pop song, something along the lines of Demi Lovato’s I Love Me

To Kill a Kingdom – also an alternative rock son, Paramore or Fall Out Boy, maybe even a Panic! At the Disco song

The Chaos of Stars – definitely a pop song from Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez

This is Not a Love Letter – a Halsey song, no question about it

American Gods – I would imagine this as an Imagine Dragon song

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

eARC Review | Tsarina

Title: Tsarina

Author: Ellen Alpsten

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date 10 November 2020

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In St. Petersburg 1725, Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the voice steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendor and opulence of her new life – the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchambers – she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

The first part was amazing! It was wonderful to see Marta as she grew up as a serf. She was sold into another man’s house as a servant by her step-mother. There she sees the cruel world of men and how they operate. Marta manages to get away and finds a preacher’s family to live with before her life is turned upside down by the war between Russia and Sweden. When the town she lives in falls to the Russia she is taken into the camp and manages, by luck mostly, to ingratiate herself into the upper echelons of Russia aristocracy and soon Peter. This is where it went down for me.

I found the second half a bit boring to be honest. There were many pages and pages of sex, pregnancy, and miscarriages. After Marta finds her way into Peter’s bed, there wasn’t much intrigue for me. Later on, when Marta can no longer have children, and Peter takes on a younger mistress there is a small part where we see Marta be ruthless by poisoning the mistress with smallpox. Other than that, there wasn’t much ruthlessness or ambition seen.

Even before she became Peter’s lover and wife, her way of ingratiating herself into the Russia aristocracy was by luck. There was a Russian general who saved her from being raped and then Peter’s right hand man, Menshikov, sees her and likes her. He invites her to his tent with his girlfriend, mistress, whatever the term would be here. Daria and Marta become friends and that’s what helps her with staying in with the higher-ups. I mean she’s sweet and has no intentions of being with Menshikov, which is the reason Daria doesn’t hate her.

While it wasn’t my cup of tea, it would be great for fans of historical romantic fiction.

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

#FridayFavorites | Platonic Relationships

I started #FridayFavorites 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. If anyone wants to join me, the list for future topics can be found here.

Today’s topic covers some of my favorite platonic relationships, and because of how I’m grouping them, I list six instead of five.

Girl/Girl

Lydia and Piper – these two girls have grown up together and when Piper goes missing, Lydia will do anything to find her friend. I love women/girl friendships since media represents so much cat fights among women. It’s a refreshing change of pace!

Yes, we don’t get much interaction between the two in the books. But I like to think Hermione and Ginny are really great friends!

Boy/Girl

Harry and Luna’s friendship is probably one of my favorite friendships in the Harry Potter series! They’re both so adorable and their friendship is so sure and pure.

Jamie is the descendant of John Watson and Charlotte is the descendant of Sherlock Holmes. Jamie is determined to not be friends with Charlotte, but circumstances at their school throw them together. I truly love the fact that their friendship is platonic and not romantic in anyway (so far, I haven’t read the latest book, so don’t quote me).

Boy/Boy

I cannot get over the beauty and love and wonderfulness aspect of Will and Jem’s friendship. They love each other so much and so purely, it’s beautiful!

Oh Samwise Gamgee!! One of the greatest friendships in literary history. Sam and Frodo’s friendship is the reason they make it to Mordor, and more importantly, it’s Sam’s love for Frodo that gets them there and through the end.

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

TTT | Non-Bookish Hobbies

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 covers some of my non-bookish hobbies (I’m hoping I can come up with 10).

  1. Yoga – such a great workout and I love the focus on breathing and meditation.
  2. Wine – I’m counting this as a hobby. I’m not a sommelier (nor do I think they’re any better at knowing wine than I am), but I find it interesting to find and try new wines and looking into the winery itself.
  3. Hiking/Walking – this is a new one for me. I’m trying to get out and get fresh air, so I’ve been going on trails on the outskirts of my hometown.
  4. Learning (re-learning) Arabic – One of my minors in college was Arabic, but sense being out of college, I’ve lost almost all of it. So, I’ve been re-teaching myself. Unfortunately, I live in a small, middle of nowhere, town and surprisingly, there are no Arabic speaking peoples here.
  5. Houseplants/Gardening – this is not going well. The plant I have is dying….so we’ll see what happens.
  6. Card/Board games – Hanging out with friends, enjoying a glass of wine, laughing and having fun while playing a card or board game are some of my favorite nights.
  7. Drawing/Painting – It’s bad! Downright horrible, but I still enjoy it.
  8. Letter writing – I truly think this is a lost art form and should definitely come back into fashion (also, let’s all do our part and help out the U.S. post office as much as we can).
  9. Proofreading and editing – I love doing this and students look at me weirdly when I say this (I work at a university).
  10. Movies – similar to books, anything that has a good story or where I can learn something, I’m there with bells on.

I’m surprised I managed that! Tell me some of your non-bookish hobbies in the comments below!

#FridayFavorites | Short Stories

I started #FridayFavorites 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. If anyone wants to join me, the list for future topics can be found here.

Today’s topic is on some of my favorite short stories.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

This one messed me up when I first read it; I think it was around late middle school. I love Shirley Jackson but in this one, the way she conveys the fear and horror of the story in only a few short pages is magnificent.

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

Such a classic tale, and also one I read in middle school. The way guilt eats at us and how it causes us to react is so fascinating.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Okay, finally one that I didn’t read until….high school…maybe college. I’m totally blanking now on when I first read it. Either way, one of the first blatant feminist texts I read. Ah, the patriarchy!

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s titles do not mean what you think they’re going to mean. I did not know this when I first read O’Connor, so I was not expecting the ending to this one either.

Good Country People by Flannery O’Connor

As O’Connor did with “A Good Man is Hard to Find” she does with “Good Country People” by using irony and finely controlled comic sense to reveal the world as it is – with no vision or knowledge. She uses both her stories to show how misconceptions, prejudices, and stereotypes ultimately harm those around us.

By complete accident, all of these do fall into a Halloween theme.

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

TTT | Halloween 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.

Today’s topic is a Halloween freebie, so here are my top ten favorite Halloween reads or Halloween inspired-ish.

Witches, vampires, magic, and a book that only appears to one Diana Bishop. Definitely a fun, witchy, and romantic Halloween read.

You can find my review for this book here! Haunted Houses are par for Halloween and High Place doesn’t disappoint. Also, be careful of any mushrooms.

I mean, you can’t go wrong with a Neil Gaiman book for Halloween. This one is equal parts haunting and tragic!

1600s, and the devil seems to be coming after the people on the voyage to Amsterdam. A detective based on Sherlock Holmes and a mystery on the high seas is sure to be a great Halloween read.

A young boy picks up a book by Julian Carax and is pulled into a mystery. Set after the war in Barcelona, Spain, this is definitely a mystery to dive into during Halloween.

“Reader, I murdered him.” So begins Jane Steele, the reimagined tale of Jane Eyre, if she was a serial killer. And anyways, is it really Halloween if no deaths occur?

Vampires have taken over the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1872. Yet, young girls are murdered in gruesome ways and who is to blame? The vampires. Or is there a serial killer trolling the streets of New Orleans?

Any Shirley Jackson book or short story are perfect for Halloween. The Haunting of Hill House is a classic one with a haunted house, things that go bump in the night, and a possession or two.

Of course, The Queen of Mystery had to make one appearance on the list. Reading a good mystery by Agatha Christie is a great way to spend Halloween (or any fall day).

Another classic novel: Frankenstein delves into the idea of acting like God and trying to create your own person. We are left to wonder, what is man and who is truly the monster?

Happy Reading, Lovelies!

e-ARC Review | Hamilton and the Law

Title: Hamilton and the Law

Editor: Lisa A. Tucker

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Publication Date: 15 October 2020

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Cornell University Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (Yes, it is passed the date of publication but moving got in the way).

Edited by Lisa A. Tucker, comprising of 33 essays by leading legal minds. From two former U.S. solicitors general to leading commentators on culture and society, they all contribute wonderful, coherent essays.

I absolutely love reading books that combine two of my favorite things. In this case, it was Hamilton: An American Musical and the law/political science. The book is divided into 8 sections, that cover areas from the constitution to race to women to dueling, copyright, and legacy. The first two sections were a bit repetitive for me since learned most of what they said in my undergrad political science classes.

The essays on race and women were especially interesting to me since those are topics I care deeply about. I loved the essays on “When Your Job is to Marry Rich: Marriage as a Market in Hamilton” and “‘Love’ Triangles: Romance and Domestic Violence.” Both of these looked at the difficulties of being a woman during the time of revolution.

I also loved the essays “Race, Nation, and Patrimony, or, the Stakes of Diversity in Hamilton” and “Hamilton and the Power of Racial Fables in Examining the U.S. Constitution.” There’s a dived among POC about having a diverse cast play historical figures who were slave owners, but also the idea that through this POC can reclaim a part of America and its founding that never belonged to them before.

In Hamilton: The Revolution, Daveed Diggs (who originated the roles of Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson) remarks about how Hamilton affected his relationship to America despite having “always felt at odds with this country. . . . You can only get pulled over by police for no reason so many times before you say, ‘Fuck this.’ (Chapter 10). Similarly, Leslie Odom Jr. (the original Aaron Burr) reflected on how the portrayal of these historical figures as people of color affected him: “In the first two minutes of the show, Lin [Manuel Miranda] steps forward and introduces himself as Alexander Hamilton, and Chris steps forward and says he’s George Washington, and you never question it again. When I think about what it would mean to me as a 13-, 14-year old kid, to get this album or see this show-it makes me very emotional” (Chapter 10).

It’s fascinating how many people this musical has touched and made think about America and myths and legacies and race and women in different ways or re-think about them. It’s also amazing that this younger generation gets to grow up with the idea that they can make their own story, legacies, and take their own shots. They are knowledgeable in the idea that Hamilton, Washington, Burr, and the other founding fathers are not myths or legends or unattainable ideals. They were human, they made mistakes, and they did the best they could with what they had. They made mistakes and yes, they were slave owners. No one is denying that they were great men, the best we can do is acknowledge that they were men. They were fallible. I think this text will help people place what Lin-Manuel Miranda did with Hamilton in the context of American law and policy.

#FridayFavorites | Character or Author Names

I started #FridayFavorites 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. If anyone wants to join me, the list for future topics can be found here.

Today’s topic features some of my favorite characters names. For today, these character names are ones that I’m considering for a future pet! It’s normal to have a list of names for future pets, right?

Manon Blackbeak – for those who don’t know about Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series, Manon Blackbeak is one of the characters that arrives in the 3rd book of the series. She is a half Ironteeth, half Crochan witch and she is a freakin badass! I love her and think having a kitty named after her would just be perfect.

Everyone has at least one Lord of the Rings name in their pocket for future pet or child’s name, right? I mean a loyal puppy named Gandalf would be just adorable.

I’ve wanted to own an orange cat and name her Crookshanks since reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Cliche? Probably. Do I care? Nope. This one has been super constant!

Bronte – I think this one could go for either a cat or dog! But the dog would have to be one who’s really calm, not a hyperactive puppy.

Sherlock (or Moriarty) – Also names that I would use for either a kitty or puppy. I just would find it adorable…although, if I did get a pet named Sherlock, I feel like I’d have to get another one named Watson.

Honorable Mention: Ada Lovelace, okay, yes Ada is not a character or author, so I’m breaking my own rules. But, she is the daughter of Lord Byron who is a writer, which is why she’s getting an honorable mention. I’d love to name a little gray and feisty kitty Ada Lovelace.

High-five, Ada!