I'm Alicia and I process the online orders of all your awesome purchases! I always have a book in hand ready to read wherever I am and tend to read a variety of subjects, trying most anything at least once. I tend to gravitate toward sci-fi, urban fantasy, a dash of cozy series (has to have cats and books), and a variety of manga and graphic novels for my fiction reading. Non-fiction, I focus on reproductive justice, LGBT issues and history, 20th century American History, interior design, architectural studies, organizing and cleaning, and humor.
The copy being reviewed was an advanced reader copy thus photographs were not visible and the review focuses mainly on the text and illustrations present. I have not read any previous entries in this natural navigation series and was drawn in by the title and description of the book. I thought it might be helpful to young teens as who are interested in nature and developing their skills at reading the world about them. Needless to say, I found myself hooked in by the topic at hand as I began to read. Each section is clearly labeled with what will be examined, a helpful feature if you are simply looking to learn a specific skill such as reading trees. Knowing which trees might be more helpful to hide under from rainstorms and how the wind might wrap around different types may not seem like something you can fill a chapter with, but Tristen Gooley proves that you can. The addition of each chapter title at the bottom of the page next to the page number is extraordinarily helpful if you are flipping through to find a section you want to learn that day. These techniques may seem like a lost art and something not as needed in this modern age, however, such skills can help you become more connected with the world about you outside of digital tethers. You may even appear to be a hero to someone after you lead them to the correct tree to huddle under from a sudden rainstorm or make your kids think you are magic because you knew what kind of weather was coming without looking at a weather app. I am looking forward to seeing the full version of this book and acquiring a copy for my bookshelves.
Anne Bishop expands The Black Jewels universe even more with this sequel to her previous book in the series, The Queen’s Bargain. The world of Surreal, Daemon, and their daughter Janelle Saetien gets ever more complex as Janelle Saetien begins to grow older and fumble through adolescence as a young witch. This is made even more difficult as an old evil long thought vanquished begins to grow and develop in Kaeleer, threatening to tear the realm asunder and make it like Terreille under Doretha and Hekatah. There had been complaints of previous books in the series that several heated topics were given little space to grow. This seems to be a factor in parts of this book as same sex attraction between The Blood is examined more in depth. While the relationship is not the main focus, it is allowed to grow naturally and shows a different side to the relationships usually presented. Another area that had been seen as weak before, the reality and expectations of what are long lived races (2500 years or more), is also more fully explored in The Queen’s Weapons. All in all, this book is a fantastic entry into a dark fantasy series that is sure to delight and intrigue.
Retellings of mythology are having a moment it seems. The Witches Heart by Genevieve Gornichec appears to be this at first but it is so much more. Gornichec weaves together the loose threads of Norse mythology that have passed down to the present, creating a woven tale as thick as nalbinding (an old technique of knitting with one needle). The Witches Heart tells the story of Norse mythology not from the perspective of the gods but from the perspective of one unexpected—Angrboda, mother to Hel, Fenrir, and Jormungand. A woman who wanted nothing to do with Odin and the gods after being burned thrice and her heart plucked from her chest. It is only when Loki returns her heart rather than eating it, that the long tale of Ragnorak and the Norse gods begins. The rich prose mimics an oral tale, grabbing you at the beginning and carrying you along like a boat on a river. I loved the descriptions of Angrboda and her children with the joy, worries, and sorrow all present. The world may think of them as monsters but in the end, they are her children and she their mother. She feels nothing but unconditional love for them even as the end of the world comes and they play the roles delt and pressed upon them. The Witches Heart presents the rich world of Norse mythology through the eyes and words of a witch mother and it is ever stronger for it. There is little I dislike of this book, having devoured it within two days like the great wolves devour the sun and moon. The tagline of the book is “Men die, gods die, she lives on.” It fulfills it with a twist. The ending is bittersweet bringing tears to the eyes even as one rages at the injustices of death. Why must this one die while this one lives? Why must the end of the world come? Why must one bear children only for them to die? What is the point of life if one is not remembered in some way? Folk tales allow one to live on beyond their mortal death, resonating through time like waves. That is the very purpose of mythology with gods and goddess battling in other planes of existence while mortals worship and believe. The Witches Heart is a grand entry into the genre of mythology retooling and the burgeoning interest in Norse mythology once again. If you liked Circe by Madeline Miller, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, or Natalie Haynes’ The Children of Jocasta, then this is the book for you to choose next.
This copy was an advanced reader’s copy provided by the publisher and thus is not the same as the final product coming out April 2021. I was a bit dismissive of this book at first glance but once I opened it up and began to read, I felt ashamed of my earlier attitude. I felt the gut punch of 2016 once more, a sinking nauseated morass that made me have to think hard about what day and year it really was, the feeling was so intense. The subtitle and description of the book may say that is just a series of illustrated essays, but it is much more than that. It is a journey through what may be from all views, a regular middle age liberal family, but is in reality the choked voice in all of us wondering at the cruelty of the world and what can we do as parents, sisters, brothers, children, humans to combat this cruelty. How does one come to grips with what 2016 illuminated to many? There were two sections that struck me the hardest. One, Nate Powell examined his own upbringing and generation. How the trajectory of America was presented as slowly but surely somehow moving forward in all aspects. How would it do this without input from his small family growing up in the South? That’s not a question that was examined and that he rightly points out, has led to the confusion about how 2016 came about. The second was when he described college towns and their relation to the wider rural areas about them. How one vacillates between hope and despair, how to feel in control of something and how to fight in this day and age, and ultimately how hope can spring eternal and in the most unlikely places. The only way for that hope to spring is through effort and work though. In the end I highly recommend this book if not just for the reminder that the past four years are not something to be forgotten. Protesting the unjust laws and actions of many or few is not something that can be “saved for later.” The urgency is here now. I can’t wait to see the final book!