not a review

The Lament of the Unfinished Series

It used to be different. When I was a kid, there was a new Nancy Drew every few months. You had to wait but it wasn’t uncomfortable. It was anticipatory and exciting.

And then there was Harry Potter. I am proudly old enough to not only remember the first book coming out but having to wait for the second book (and the third, and so on). The hype, the fun, and the fanfare just increased with each book! It was a joyful thing to read one, read it again, and then wait for the next book. Harry Potter pre-dates the massive use of social media and one-click access to our favorite authors and waiting was still fairly normal. But as we moved from book one, published in 1997, to book seven, published in 2007, use of the internet and social media changed dramatically. Not to mention the binge watching brought to you by streaming video services.

The first time I felt a shift in attitudes was with Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. This book was recommended to me by a friend somewhere around 2012. That meant I was able to zip through both book one in The Kingkiller Chronicle and book two, The Wise Man’s Fear. Then, I knew I would have to wait because the friend had warned me that the series was unfinished. Which is fine by me but apparently untenable to others. Just take a quick peek at the Goodread’s comments for book three. Some of them are hilarious, some are from the author himself, and some are just absolutely ludicrous. The main theme is: you owe us this book. And, man, people have absolutely no problem telling this guy that he is not supposed to go anywhere, write anything, or have any thoughts that are not focused on finishing the third book.

The sentiment is tempting though, isn’t it? I know I have made at least one off-handed comment along the lines of, “please write faster dear author.” In fact, just last week I accidentally fell deeply in love with the Cursebreakers series by Brigid Kemmerer. I read A Curse so Dark and Lonely and immediately headed to my local bookstore for A Heart so Fierce and Broken. One hand closed the cover to the second book as the other hand reached for my phone to find out when the third book was going to be available. Some sources say 2021, others say later. And, you know, I was disappointed. I wanted it now. Which is just ridiculous.

In this day and age of on-demand full access, readers like me often extoll the virtue of books as being one of the last places you can find quiet. In fact, one of my favorite quotes about reading is,

“Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes a place for that.” – John Green

I love that idea. The practice of reading. Of sinking into a favorite chair and becoming immersed in a story or another world. Finding that quiet.

I see a return to the emphasis of patience and anticipation in shows that debut weekly like The Mandalorian or the new Dr. Who series or (my personal favorite Schitt’s Creek). I have friends who are waiting for all the episodes to become available so they can binge watch them but I have re-arranged my schedule so that I can watch them one at a time as they become available.

The waiting is part of the fun. There are loads of other books to keep me company while I wait. Patiently and quietly.


Tell me, please!

How do you feel about reading unfinished series books?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: January 22, 2020

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! My favorite meme was last hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and has found a new home with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. Don’t forget to check all the other participants. It is the #1 way I keep my TBR overflowing!


The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


What am I Currently Reading?

 

I am still sucking down Burnout which seems to be written with my very soul in mind. This book. Oh man. I’m supposed to be reading it chapter by chapter but I sometimes can’t stop.

How to Outline My Novel, Chapter by Chapter is proving to be excellent if formatted a little….weird. I cannot tell if that is because I have an ARC copy of if this is just how it will be presented to the world. It is full to the brim of advice and examples from popular YA of how to outline but it manages to both simultaneously be very organized and slightly scattered.

I started The Philosopher’s Flight yesterday and it is so so good. I am a little distracted by the gender / power flip but I am hopeful that this is a minor detail. I mean, the whole historical fiction with magic woven into it is so fascinating that I find reason upon reason to just squeeze in one more chapter. PS: you can read a lot if you get up an hour earlier than you need to!

Finally, I have The Zookeeper’s Wife playing as an audiobook. I am more than 30% into the story and I just downloaded it Monday. I’m just blown away by how people survived and supported each other through WWII. I can’t help but wonder how I would cope in the same situation.


What did I Recently Finish?

I spent all of last week completely sucking into the world of The Toll and then A Curse so Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken. I actually loved A Curse so much that when I finished it I popped right up and walked a mile through a snowstorm to buy the second book. Now I am bereft because I have to wait until 2021 for book three.

When I wasn’t reading, I was listening to The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. All in all, it was an absolutely stellar week of books.


What Will I Read Next?

I make no plans this week! I have listed the same three or four books for the last month of WWWs so I am just going to admit that I have no plan at all.


Tell me, please!

What’s on Your WWW?


 

SeriousSeriesLove · YA

The Arc of a Scythe Trilogy by Neal Shusterman

I know, I know. This book came out in November of 2019. What took me so long?!? It wasn’t self-control (because we all know I don’t have any when it comes to books). I just didn’t know how it would end and I was stressed about the whole thing. If you haven’t read The Arc of a Scythe Series, there are spoilers for the first two books below. They are minor, but they are there. There are no spoilers for The Toll though!

Scythe

SYNOPSIS


scythe
A figure in a hooded red cape holds a scythe looking like a futuristic grim reaper.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Scythe is the first novel of a thrilling new series by National Book Award–winning author Neal Shusterman in which Citra and Rowan learn that a perfect world comes only with a heavy price. Scythe from Amazon.


REVIEW


Initially, I didn’t really find any of the main characters appealing. Both Citra and Rowan are teenagers in a world that no longer has natural death. Which is why, back when I first tried to read it, I put it down after three chapters. As the story unfolded I began to comprehend the apathy to which these people must have acclimated to in a world where there is no reason to worry, no purpose in hard work, and the ability to die only to be whisked off to a revival center and brought back to life. If there is no threat of old age then do you lose the thirst and hunger of youth? Certainly, when Citra and Rowan are faced with a permanent cessation of their lives their personalities change dramatically into characters that I grew to love.

And there in lies the magic of this story. At first glance I believed this was another annoying futuristic tale and the cautionary story of a world without death. Instead, I became slowly aware, along with the characters, of the importance of death in giving life value and purpose. As I watched Citra and Rowan struggle with that realization and the lengths they would go to in order to continue to live, even if that meant taking lives, I found myself completed immersed in the story. And now, as so frequently happens, a book I thought I wouldn’t enjoy has become a series I could not wait to continue.


Thunderhead

SYNOPSIS


Scythe#2
Two figures, one in black and one in turquoise hold scythes with their backs to each other.

Humans learn from their mistakes. I cannot. I make no mistakes.

The Thunderhead is the perfect ruler of a perfect world, but it has no control over the scythedom. A year has passed since Rowan had gone off grid. Since then, he has become an urban legend, a vigilante snuffing out corrupt scythes in a trial by fire. His story is told in whispers across the continent.

As Scythe Anastasia, Citra gleans with compassion and openly challenges the ideals of the “new order.” But when her life is threatened and her methods questioned, it becomes clear that not everyone is open to the change.

Old foes and new enemies converge, and as corruption within the Scythedom spreads, Rowan and Citra begin to lose hope. Will the Thunderhead intervene?

Or will it simply watch as this perfect world begins to unravel? Thunderhead from Amazon.


REVIEW

At the conclusion of Scythe we see the Thunderhead, the all knowing brain of the world, speaking directly to Citra. Until that moment, the reader has no idea how involved the Thunderhead is with a typical citizen’s day to day existence. Ponder this issue no longer! In this second book we meet Greyson Tolliver. A lonely young man, Greyson has been raised by the benevolent voice of the Thunderhead all his life. When Citra’s life is in danger, the Thunderhead sends Greyson to save her and forever changing Greyson’s life. Meanwhile, old foes continue to threaten the delicate balance of the world. The real question is what role Rowan, Citra and Greyson will play the ensuing chaos.

As with ScytheThunderhead is crafted to keep you entertained. The shifting narratives begin completely disconnected and as they dodge and weave their way towards intersection – the action climbs. The final pages of this book will leave your heart pounding and, if you are anything like me, you will immediately try to figure out when the third installment is being published (no date yet!!).

Unlike ScytheThunderhead has almost no quiet and reflective moments. This second installment is action packed. Furthermore, the second book spends much less time reflecting on life and death and more on the balance we seek and the role we take to achieve that life. The author is not afraid to take you on an adventure. Honestly, that ending….whew!


The Toll

SYNOPSIS


thetoll
Two green cloaked scythes stand on either side of a person wearing a purple robe.

Citra and Rowan have disappeared. Endura is gone. It seems like nothing stands between Scythe Goddard and absolute dominion over the world scythedom. With the silence of the Thunderhead and the reverberations of the Great Resonance still shaking the earth to its core, the question remains: Is there anyone left who can stop him?

The answer lies in the Tone, the Toll, and the Thunder.

The Toll from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW


At over 600 action packed pages this was a marathon read. But, much like a long workout, I felt nothing but satisfaction when I finally finished.

But satisfaction isn’t quite the same as gasping with delight and clapping my hands. The trilogy answered all my questions but The Toll also provided me even more that had to be resolved in book three. There were whole sections that felt a little long and drawn out and there was a significant imbalance between the amount of time we spent with Greyson and Citra compared to the parts of the story dedicated to Rowan. This didn’t bother me at all since Greyson Tolliver is my favorite character in the series but if you are coming to this third book for a huge helping of Rowan you are going to be disappointed.

There were also numerous new characters, some good and other evil, that bogged down the storyline a bit. While it was totally worth it for Jeri, the ship captain who swiftly became my favorite new character of book three, other people felt superfluous. Similarly, there were plot points that only made the story take longer (not last longer).

Still, the magic of the Sythe trilogy was present even with these flaws. Book three will answer all your questions, wrap up all the issues, and bring you the closure you have been seeking since landing on Endura in Thunderhead. All in all, it was an excellent trilogy.


Tell me, please!

Have you read the Arc of a Sycthe Triology?


 

Social Saturday

Social Saturday: January 18, 2020

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to more fully participate in my challenges and to be more social. So, Saturday I try to sit down and think about my challenges and socialize. You are always welcome to join and I have made it as simple as possible. My challenges are still too new to really have an update so instead I will focus on the social this week. So, tell me;

What are some of your favorite posts from this week?


This week I am highlighting people being BRAVE! All of these posts are bloggers stepping out of their comfort zone for 2020!

Nikki @ The Night is Dark and Full of Books is going to try reading series books. Check out her choices! I can’t imagine not reading series books but I can imagine why other people don’t like them.

Laurie @ Relevant Obscurity has made it her goal to read like a snail this year and I cannot applaud it enough. I mean, how many of us has met a challenge requirement by picking the shortest book or the quickest read? I certainly have done that before! And that isn’t what reading is all about is it?

Sofi @ A Book. A Thought is diving into Science Fiction this year. Sofi should totally start with Illuminae Files am I right?


It is a short but sweet list this week but since I missed last week I wanted to just keep trying to become more social. Always moving forward right?


Tell me, please!

What are your favorite posts from this week? How are you being brave in 2020?


 

 

 

 

Audio Book · FrighteninglyGoodRead · nonfiction · Over 18

NonFiction Friday: Me by Elton John

Elton John has been a major star my entire life. I remember him singing at Princess Diana’s funeral and I have always been impressed by the work his AIDS foundation does for the world. I love all of his popular songs and I was aware of his struggle with addiction. But I wouldn’t have considered myself an Elton John fan. That is, until I read Me, his new autobiography. All of the things that knew or liked about Elton John have been transformed into full blown admiration.

me
cover of Elton John book “”Me” featuring Elton wearing rainbow sunglasses

Here are the Top Ten things I learned and love about Elton John.

10. Elton John was born Reginald Dwight in Pinner, Middlesex. Pinner sounds like every small town everywhere in the developed world. His talent in music was evident from an early age and he quickly went from playing his grandmother’s piano to winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music.

9. Elton John only met his long time writing partner Bernie Taupin when he was rejected for a job with Ray Williams. Even though Elton had been in Bluesology and working as a studio musician for years, he was really going nowhere until he met Bernie. Rejection + Happen Chance meeting = the success we know today. The mega-star Elton John we know today is a direct result of a failure.

8. Elton John was a late bloomer and didn’t understand sex or that he was gay until he was 21.

7. Elton John has a terrible temper and he knows it. I know a lot of people with terrible tempers but the ones that are aware of this defect in their nature have always been near and dear to my heart since I myself fly off the handle like a cartoon character on occasion.

6. Elton John is always looking for a new challenge and this desire for self improvement has led him to say yes to numerous opportunities he intially thought were outside of his comfort zone. The Lion King is just one of those projects. I can only hope that one day my growth mindset leads me to such an opportunity.

5. He maintains a strong connection with all the performers that inspired him and believes that artists should support the next generation of performers. Lady Gaga has changed his children’s diapers and he is Eminem’s sobriety sponsor. He found artists that inspired him and recorded with them, performed with them, or found them jobs when their jobs ran out. This open door policy didn’t always mean that he got along with everyone (ahem, Tina Turner), but it does mean that his mind is always open to the possibility of collaborating. This open door policy also applies to people who hold different ideals than Elton.

4. Even though Elton John is a gay man who lived through the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s and 90’s and he sang on, “That’s What Friends are For,” in 1986, he didn’t become the fundraiser and humanitarian for AIDS that I always thought he was until the 1990s. His inspiration for getting involved was after the death of Ryan White in 1990 and Freddie Mercury’s subsequent death in 1991. In 1992 he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation and, to date, it has raised over $450 Million dollars. It is never to late to get involved and make a difference.

3. Elton John loves his hometown football team of Watford. At one point he was a chairman for the team and he still takes his boys to games.

2. He knows that the surest way to failure is to surround yourself with people who always agree with you.

1. “There’s really no point in wondering ‘what if?’ but instead to focus on ‘what’s next'” is the quote Elton puts at the end of his autobiography. This sums up his life so perfectly.


I had the pleasure of listening to this as an audiobook and Taron Egerton is absolutely perfect as the narrator. I haven’t seen the biopic of Elton’s life starring Taron but it is clear that he really understands Elton John at his core. If I was going to make one criticism it is that now I am having a difficult time not picturing Taron Egerton as the real Elton John.

This will definitely be one of my top audiobooks of 2020.


Tell me, please!

Which autobiography is your favorite?


 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: January 8, 2020

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! My favorite meme was last hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and has found a new home with Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. Don’t forget to check all the other participants. It is the #1 way I keep my TBR overflowing!


The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


WHAT AM I CURRENTLY READING?

I have five books on my currently reading list. This would normally be one more than I find works for me but Burnout, The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amber Nagoski is a chapter-a-week buddy read. I have to say though: I am obsessed with this book. From the first chapter I felt like this was going to be an incredible useful and wonderful book and each chapter has me nodding my head and marking sections like mad.

Atomic Habits is similarly stress-less because it is a re-read. It was one of my favorite books of 2019 and it is my January book club pick. It is having a huge impact on again as I go back and refresh my memory on the different ways to build and break habits. This book was great for building habits last year. This year I hope it can help me break a few.

I am a third of the way through my audiobook of The Alchemyst and enjoying it tremendously. Denis O’Hare is the narrator and he is doing an impressive job with the huge cast of characters and all their different regional and historic accents.

I am also loving my way through an ARC copy of How to Outline Your Novel Chapter by Chapter by Sussu Leclerc. I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo 2019 somewhere on the evening of October 31st and, suffice to say, I could have used an outline. While I did technically “win” by finishing, the book I wrote is a big old stinker. Reading this book has given me loads of organizational ideas.

Finally, I could resist no longer and I cracked into The Toll. I love this series and I am so happy to finally have the third book in my hands!

WHAT DID I RECENTLY FINISH READING?


I just finished Me by Elton John and, you guys, it is so good. I have always enjoyed Elton John’s popular music but I don’t own a single album. I was more intrigued by him as a person. Much as Mercury made me an enormous fan of Freddie Mercury, Me has made me a die-hard Elton John fan. His world view and growth mindset are a thing of envy and listening to the history that he lived through was jaw-dropping interesting. I listened to the audiobook and Taron Egerton was as delightful to listen to as you would suspect. My full review is here for NonFiction Friday.

Denton’s Little Deathdate by Lance Rubin was a spontaneous purchase and an enormously enjoyable YA book. If you think gallows humor is funny, this book is for you. You can read my full review here.

I also read Red, WhiteRoyal Blue by Casey McQuiston. This was Goodreads Best Romance of 2019 and I found that I just couldn’t resist it. I am pretty desperate to chat about this book because I have a LOT of thoughts. Short comments: I really enjoyed it as a young adult book. If you want to know what that means to me, check out my full review here.

WHAT WILL I READ NEXT?


The same three books are still just waiting for their turn this week. I did start Hearing Happiness but not enough to move it from “next” to “currently reading.” Am I the only person that does this?


Tell me, please!

What’s on your WWW?


 

humor · YA

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Tomorrow is the day I’m going to die.

I don’t mean to get all dramatic about it.

I saw this book while Christmas shopping and I just couldn’t resist buying it for myself. I love gallows humor and this book certainly didn’t disappoint. Of course, the fact that Denton Little’s Still Not Dead was shelved right next to it reassured me how the first book would end.

dentonlittle's

SYNOPSIS


Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day on which they will die. For Denton, that’s in just two days—the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle—as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. (Though he’s not totally sure—see, first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters. . . . Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Denton Little’s Deathdate from Amazon.

REVIEW


Poor Denton. Imagine trying to fit so many firsts into a time period that means they will also be your lasts. But Denton doesn’t have time to feel sorry for himself. When he wakes up hung over (on Schnappes no less, barf) and alone in a bed that isn’t his just two days before his Death Day does he lay there dwelling on it? No. He pulls himself together in a way only a person who understands that time is truly limited can.

As Denton tries to replay the prior evening he gets more and more confused. Watching him try to piece everything back together with his best friend Paolo are some of the funniest moments in the book. I mean, who amongst us has been either hung over, confused about what has happened to their life, or both? But Denton doesn’t have time to ponder or leave these things unresolved. He only has two days.

Certainly, with the discussion of death there must be some poignancy. Even though in Denton’s world nearly everyone knows their Death Day from an early age, there is still uncertainty as to how it will happen and exactly when during the day your death will occur. That small amount of unknown creates the panic that we all feel when we contemplate death – how do we want to be remembered? How will we spend those last precious few moments?

And I must mention that watching his step-mother deal with loosing her son was difficult for me. This changed the book from a straight humor book to something with more depth and I was frequently sad for her (after all, she doesn’t know about the second book!). What kept it from being too maudlin was my excitement in seeing her reaction when Denton survived.

There was romance, mystery, intrigue and humor. But the best part was the pure loveliness that is Denton. As a character I just really liked him. He loved his family, was connected to his friends and community, and at such a young age was a genuinely good person. I can hardly wait to see how his adventure will continue in the next book.


Tell me, please!

Do you enjoy Gallows Humor?


 

fiction · New Adult · Over 18

Red White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston was voted the Winner of Goodread’s Best Romance for 2019. I saw this book everywhere lately and found that I couldn’t resist diving into it myself.

redwhiteroyalblue

SYNOPSIS


What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston’s Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn’t always diplomatic. Red White & Royal Blue from Amazon.

REVIEW


When I started reading this book I was immediately sucked into the story. Alex and his sister June are the children of the first female President of the United States. Along with Nora, the daughter of the Vice-President, the three are a power trio of influence in Washington, D.C. They are the first children of the President and Vice-President to stay actively in the political eye and, for the first one-hundred pages, I was completely enamored.

It was in the middle of the book that I had two major issues. The first is that I just didn’t like Alex. In this middle section of the book he fills his days with denial and a schedule specifically designed to keep him too busy to think. That kind of running for the sake of running always drives me insane. I found myself checking the back of the book to make sure the last fifty pages weren’t advertisements or special bonus chapters for another book. And, honestly, for about a hundred more pages I wished the book would just end already.

It was in this section I found one other major problem. Both Alex and Henry found ways to be together secretly all of the time and most of it was by ditching their security details. I don’t know much about having a security guard but I could not accept this as a realistic possibility. So, every time they were alone my brain was screaming, “error!”

Still, I wanted to continue reading. People love this book. It was around two-hundred and fifty pages that I realized that this wasn’t a romance book as much as it was a Young Adult book. The romance is what people are talking about but what made me like the book was what the characters were going through in order to make the romance happen.

Alex begins this book driven by specific, expiration date, marked goals. He is exhausting. His sister June and his best friend Nora try to balance him but Alex is so determined to make deadlines and fulfill goals that he made up in his early youth that he often ignores them. Did I mention exhausting? He is exhausting. He is twenty-one years old and a senior in college but he reeks of “If I don’t fulfill (blank) goal by (blank) date then I have failed and my life is over.

And then he falls for Henry. And someone in his life betrayed him. Alex messes up and fails professionally. And the world kept spinning and his life didn’t combust. This is important.

Young Adult books are specifically targeting for the ages between 18 and 30. If there is one thing that I could impart on this group it is that failure is a necessary part of life. Everyone fails. How we get up, who we look to for support and what we do afterwards –  all of those things matter.

And this book does all of that. Some people never learn how to look inside themselves and change. But Alex does. For that reason alone, this book is a great read. Additionally, there are countless women in power, parents who are supportive and part of their children’s lives, and friends who have your back and this was an excellent book. I just had to stop thinking of it as a romance book to fall in love with it.


Tell me, please!

What are your favorite Young Adult books?


 

Social Saturday

Social Saturday: January 4, 2020

One of my resolutions for 2020 was to more fully participate in my challenges and to be more social. Which is why Saturdays will be dedicated to socializing. You are always welcome to join and I have made it as simple as possible. You can either comment below or link up a post of your own answering two big questions.

How are your reading challenges this week? 

What are some of your favorite posts from this week?

READING CHALLENGES


It is so early in the year. Later, when I have more accomplished (fingers crossed!), I would like to head over to the hosting sites and enter my progress and see what else is going on. But, this week is really more about checking in on 2020 intentions.

Start on Your Shelfathon from The Quiet Pond.

startonyourshelfathon

CW @ The Quiet Pond is so incredibly nice! In the one brief interaction we’ve had (me asking to join the challenge late) CW made me feel welcome. Also: its turns out you can join this one anytime throughout the year so don’t despair! You can view details of the challenge and join here.

For this challenge I put together a list of my Stunning Stack which will be stuck to the top of my page here. And, I made a Stunning Shelf Jar! That way I can take a color coded slip of paper out when I need a new book.

59953234845__76C49B1F-A152-448D-95CB-04DB534E82B2

So far, I haven’t needed to take anything out of the jar or off my shelf because I am still wrapping up ARCs and books I started in 2019. Soon though. Soon.

 


Challenge: Beat the Backlist from Novel Knight

BeatTheBacklist2020_Banner-scaled

I’m in it to win it this year! I joined the Borrowers team and my plan is to work through my Goodreads TBR list by borrowing books instead of buying them. This should work (in theory) together with my Start On Your Shelf Challenge. Only time will tell. You can still join the challenge here.


Challenge: Audiobook Challenge – Caffeinated Reader & Hot Listens

Audiobook-Challenge-2020

Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer co-host this challenge. I’m hoping to reach Binge Listener (more than 20 audiobooks!). Or maybe My Precious (more than 30). I LOVE this challenge! I always (always) have something cued up to listen to and this week I am half way through Me by Elton John and a quarter into The Alchemyst by Michael Scott.

There are a ton of wonderful blog participating in this challenge so if you head over to sign up make sure and check out some of the participants. Here are some of my favorites I found this week.

Maybe it is because the name looks similar to my own or because of the beautiful yellow but I just love the bright and cheerful look of Sunny Buzzy Books.

Lola’s Reviews which lead me to another social post called Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @ The Caffeinated Reviewer. #SundayPost has a different purpose than my Social Saturday but it might just be perfect for you.


MY FAVORITE POSTS FROM THIS WEEK

I blog-bumped into Elizabeth @ ComplexChaos somehow this week and our 2020 reading goals are nearly identical. Elizabeth is also a Ravenclaw and Netflix addict so I started to worry that I might actually have a clone out there. But then I saw her post about her TBR. I’m too much of a mood reader to even put one together! Whew! Not a clone after all just an awesome blogger. You can check out her Jan – Mar TBR here.

Have you all ever seen the meme Six Degrees of Separation? It is a monthly link up hosted by Kate at  Books Are My Favourite and Best. Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain.

Every month I sit in awe of the participants because I just can’t seem to get my chain organized past the third degree of separation. Fine. Sometimes it’s the second link that stumps me. But, this week the link up took me to Margaret @ Books Please.  I’m pretty much in awe of her post this week and I love her blog so everyone should absolutely check it out. It’s masterful.

Finally, in 2019 I found this fantastic blog Captain’s Quarters. On it, The Pirate Captain has hilarious and insightful reviews. Really, the whole blog is a true delight. Today happens to be the fourth anniversary of the blog so head over there to check it out and say Happy Blogiversary (Blog-a-versary? BlogAversary?)


Tell me, please!

How are you being social today?


 

 

nonfiction

NonFiction Friday: January 3, 2020 The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss


This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure.

I first read The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas in high school during a period of time when I fantasized almost constantly about revenge. I complained one too many times to my Dad who recommended I read what he called, “the ultimate book of revenge,” and I have been a fan of The Count since. I re-read it every five years or so and I am always struck by the sheer power and fortitude of Edmond Dantes. 

In 2018’s NonFiction November I saw The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. It was recommended for all fans of Dumas’ fiction work and I knew I had to read it. Sadly, it joined my shelf for more than a year until I pulled it off for 2019’s NonFiction November. But I must say, if you enjoyed the tale Dumas wove in The Count you will love the true story of his grandfather and the unbelievable life he lead that inspired so many of the author’s larger than life characters.

blackcount


Synopsis

WINNER OF THE 2013 PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY

“General Alex Dumas is a man almost unknown today, yet his story is strikingly familiarbecause his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used his larger-than-life feats as inspiration for such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.

But, hidden behind General Dumas’s swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: he was the son of a black slavewho rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas made his way to Paris, where he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolutionuntil he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.

The Black Count is simultaneously a riveting adventure story, a lushly textured evocation of 18th-century France, and a window into the modern world’s first multi-racial society. TIME magazine called The Black Count “one of those quintessentially human stories of strength and courage that sheds light on the historical moment that made it possible.” But it is also a heartbreaking story of the enduring bonds of love between a father and son.” The Black Count from Amazon.


Review

I had the pleasure of listening to this book as an audiobook and reading it in tandem. If you, like me, love a good accent, the narrator of the audiobook does the most glamorous and beautiful French pronunciation of all the individual’s names and geographical locations. Meanwhile, my brain reads everything like, “Alex-an-der Doo-maah.” For that reason alone, the audiobook is worth a listen.

I loved the characters that Dumas created but the deep and profound respect I have for his grandfather, Alex Dumas, cannot really be described. A man of honor and romance is hard to find but a powerfully built one who is a master sword fighter and dedicated family man? This is the stuff of legends. Apparently, his grandson agreed because between GeorgesThe Three Muskateers, and The Count of Monte Cristo, the author Dumas retolded his grandfather’s heroic feats again and again using him as inspiration for a range of characters.

Honestly, I assumed before reading The Black Count that many of Dumas’ tales and deeds had become wildly exaggerated. But the meticulous research done by Tom Reiss proved that there was more fact than familial fiction in these stories. The want-to-be historian in me was wildly applauding the length that Mr. Reiss went to in order to get his hands on the Dumas family documents. Listening to how he managed to get those documents out of the locked safe had me applauding as I walked down the street.

But, The Black Count didn’t just provide me with a well researched history of the Dumas family, it also gave me a real understanding of French revolutionary history. Balancing the economics, the wildly swinging social changes, and the general upheaval of the era Reiss brings the day to day craziness of the period alive. And, while economics are my least favorite part of history, the author brings bouts of humor in to break up any monotony. The confusion in France as to who were the ‘brigands’ was especially memorable and had me laughing every time the narrator said “brigand’ again for the remainder of the book.

Another aspect of The Black Count that will stay with me forever are the powerful letters Alex Dumas wrote to his wife. The loving way he addresses her, “my beloved,” and “to the only person I care about in the whole world,” is matched only by the manner of his signature, “your friend for life,” and “your best friend.” It set my romantic heart aflame. Just picturing this larger than life figure writing such beautiful things gave real depth to the character Dumas the author later created and renewed my adolescent crush on Edmond Dantes.

All of this aside, it should not be ignored that much like the Lone Ranger, this iconic character’s ancestry has been (white) washed away. General Dumas was born in present day Haiti and, as the son of a black slave, his rise to his own personal military history is fraught at every turn by changing social acceptance of black people. The range of thinking about the children of slaves or individuals with any black ancestry seemed to change on a whim during that time. The fact that General Dumas was able to rise so far with the addition of Napoleon and the social racism of the day just makes this individual even more unbelievable.

In deed, General Alex Dumas’ life and his place in historical is so audacious and fantastical that there were many times I could not believe I was reading a book of nonfiction. But not matter the fantasy feel, Reiss’ The Black Count is a masterfully researched historical piece that will now live alongside my copy of The Count of Monte Cristo.


Tell me, please!

Who Would You Cast as Edmond Dantes in a Remake of The Count of Monte Cristo?