The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My parents probably wanted a girl who would sit in the pews
wearing pretty florals and a soft smile.
They got combat boots and a mouth silent
until it’s sharp as an island machete

At 15, Xiomara Batista is having trouble figuring out where she fits among the roles everyone seems to want to cast her in. Her mother is a deeply devout Catholic who sacrificed her own dream of becoming a nun to marry and emigrate from the Dominican Republic, and she finds Xio’s questioning of the teachings of the church incomprehensible. Her twin brother, a gentle genius Xio has always protected and defended, is suddenly distancing himself from her. She’s just starting to notice a boy she might actually like, after years of unwanted attention from grown men on the block, and despite her parents’ rules against her dating at all.

Xio is jut on the edge of figuring out who she is and who she wants to be, what kind of life she wants to live, and what she wants to do. She’s asking difficult questions and realizing that, sometimes, the answers just aren’t there.

While that could describe many teens in many different situations, the book grounds itself in the experience of a young woman of color, and a first-generation American, in the early 21st century, caught between cultures and trying to grow into an adult without growing up too fast. Xio deals with casual racism and sexual harassment as everyday occurrences. When someone finally says to her, “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” it’s a revelation.

When has anyone ever told me
I had the right to stop it all
without my knuckles, or my anger
with just some simple words.

The book is written as a novel in poems, reflecting both Xiomara’s development as a poet and Acevedo’s background as a noted slam poet herself. It’s probably really great on audio, and I possibly just don’t get slam poetry, but most of the poems didn’t come across to me as poems so much as prose cut into short phrases and surrounded by white space. Despite my issues with the form, though, this book is a powerful emotional experience and a great addition to contemporary YA literature.

Source: Checked out from my public library

Challenges: Read Harder Task 3: A Book by a Woman and/or Author of Color that Won a Literary Award in 2018 (National Book Award); Reading Women Task 24: A Young Adult Book by a Woman of Color

2018 Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

It’s time to look back at those 2018 Reading Challenges and see how they went!

(Spoiler: They mostly did not go all that well.)

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018)
Goal: 24 books
Result: 8 books (33.3%) – I read a lot of library books this year!

  1. Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon
  2. Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes, #2) by Anthony Horowitz
  3. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  4. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis
  5. A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco
  6. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
  7. Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan
  8. Kindred Spirits: An Anthology of Gay and Lesbian Science Fiction Stories edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot


The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader
Goal: 12 books
Result: 4 books (33.3%)

Read:

  1. Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon – Reviewed: January 3
  2. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson – Reviewed: October 17
  3. A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco – Reviewed: April 12
  4. Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan – Reviewed: December 21

Unread:

  1. The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
  2. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  3. The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy edited by Leonard S. Marcus
  4. Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See – I did start this one, but it was a DNF.
  5. The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan – It turned out this was not actually on my shelves. Oops.
  6. Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices by Leonard S. Marcus – I started this, but then put it aside for so long I think I’m just going to start again.
  7. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould
  8. Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson
  9. Shakespeare: The World as Stage by Bill Bryson (alternate)
  10. A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton and Martha V. Parravano (alternate)


Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves
Goal: Konigsburg (75+ points)

Result: 19 points (25%) – I got a bit sidetracked on this one.

  1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle: 3 points (Newbery Winner, 1963)
  2. Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: 3 points (Newbery Winner, 2018)
  3. Sounder by William Armstrong: 3 points (Newbery winner, 1970)
  4. Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2004)
  5. Grand Canyon by Jason Chin: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  6. A Different Pond by Bao Phi: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  7. Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  8. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)
  9. Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)
  10. Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 2018)
  11. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 1963)

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom
Goal: 12 books
Result: 3 books (25%)

Read:

  1. A Wrinkle in Time (1962) by Madeleine L’Engle
  2. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908) by L. Frank Baum
  3. Sounder (1969) by William Armstrong


Book Riot Read Harder 2018
Result: 21/24 (88%)

  1. A book published posthumously: Maurice by E.M. Forster
  2. A book of true crime: The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson
  3. A classic of genre fiction: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
  4. A comic written and illustrated by the same person: Peter & Ernesto: A Tale of Two Sloths by Graham Annable
  5. A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa): Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew
  6. A book about nature: Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 by Simon Winchester
  7. A western: Holmes on the Range by Steve Hockensmith
  8. A comic written or illustrated by a person of color: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book One by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
  9. A book of colonial or postcolonial literature:
  10. A romance novel by or about a person of color: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
  11. A children’s classic published before 1980: Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  12. A celebrity memoir: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  13. An Oprah Book Club selection: Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  14. A book of social science: The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
  15. A one-sitting book: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  16. The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
  17. A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle
  18. A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image: A Study in Emerald, by Neil Gaiman, Rafael Albuquerque, Rafael Scavone, and Dave Stewart
  19. A book of genre fiction in translation: The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin, translated by Andrew Bromfield
  20. A book with a cover you hate: Kindred Spirits: An Anthology of Gay and Lesbian Science Fiction Stories edited by Jeffrey M. Elliot
  21. A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author: Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  22. An essay anthology:
  23. A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60: Getting Old is Murder by Rita Lakin
  24. An assigned book you hated (or never finished):

Of all the challenges I signed up for, I did the best on Read Harder. I actually had books selected for the 3 tasks that were left unfinished, but I didn’t get to them soon enough. I am definitely in for Read Harder 2019, as well as a bunch of other challenges. The beginning of the year is always filled with so much promise, isn’t it?

Reading Challenges 2019

low angle photo of tower of books
Photo by Ajda Berzin on Unsplash

I’m still working on a 2018 Reading Challenge wrap-up, but I’m already looking forward to these new challenges. This year, I’ve created separated pages to keep track of most of the challenges, all linked up there in the menu bar.

Children’s Literature Challenges

Genre- and Period-Based Challenges

Expanding My Reading Horizons Challenges

  • Read Harder comes from the fab folks at Book Riot. Some of the 24 tasks are going to be more challenging than others, but I’ve got #14 covered.
  • The Reading Women challenge comes from the Reading Women podcast. It also has 24 tasks, and some of these will definitely be challenging.
  • The Official TBR Pile Challenge is hosted by Roof Beam Reader. I’ve already picked out my list of 12 books (plus 2 alternates). I completely forgot about the check-in posts in 2018: another thing to improve on in the new year!

Outside Category Challenges

  • Blogger Shame Challenge: Hosted at Herding Cats & Burning Soup, this is a challenge meant to nudge those of us who read advance review copies to actually, well, review the books. I’m hoping to improve my NetGalley feedback rating a lot.
  • Reading Challenge Addict Challenge: If you’ve made it this far down the list, you already know why I’ve signed up for this one. My goal is “On the Roof” (6-10 challenges entered and completed.
  • Classics Club: I’ve put this in “Outside Category” because it’s a multi-year challenge. I have a list of 50 books that I plan to read before the end of 2023.

How about you? Are you doing any of these challenges? Or different ones?

Shadows over Baker Street

Shadows Over Baker Street

Shadows Over Baker Street
Edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan
My rating: 5 of 5 star

According to the receipt tucked in the back of the book, I bought this in 2013, not long after I fell headlong into the Sherlockian world. I’m pretty sure I bought it solely because of the Gaiman story. I’ve never actually read any Lovecraft; while I read a lot of Stephen King and Dean Koontz as a teenager, I moved away from horror over the years. This made for an interesting reading experience, as I picked up bits and pieces of a through-line from story to story.

I really enjoyed “A Study in Emerald”, the opening story in the collection, written by Neil Gaiman. It’s a very clever twist on A Study in Scarlet. I’m glad I read it before reading the graphic novel adaptation, which was also very, very good, but the ending packed a little more punch for me without the visuals. As with any anthology, there were stories that really appealed to me, and there were others that didn’t. Some of the stories have awfully tenuous claims to Sherlockiana, too, at least as far as I could tell. Perhaps I would have enjoyed those more if I were familiar with the other source material.

Source: Purchased at my local used bookshop.

Challenges: Counts for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge and the Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge. (And R.I.P. XIII (Readers Imbibing Peril), but I didn’t manage to post about it in October!)


Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in January

Time once again to add to the TBR, now with books publishing in 2019!

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi (January 8)

Black Enough is a star-studded anthology edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi that will delve into the closeted thoughts, hidden experiences, and daily struggles of black teens across the country. From a spectrum of backgrounds—urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—Black Enough showcases diversity within diversity.

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden (January 8)

When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can’t refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole (January 8)

While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye (January 8)

Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom DuBois seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?

A Cathedral of Myth and Bone by Kat Howard (January 8)

In these sixteen exquisite stories Kat Howard deftly weaves in and out of the countries of myth and hagiography to write the lives of women untold and unexplored.

The Longest Line on the Map: The United States, the Pan-American Highway, and the Quest to Link the Americas by Eric Rutkow (January 8)

It represents a dream of friendship, commerce, mobility, of the Americas united. Our collective imaginations have been forged along its path: Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the iconic Argentine revolutionary, traveled it northward in The Motorcycle Diaries; Jack Kerouac, the voice of the beat generation, followed it southward in On the Road. Many adventurers have journeyed the highway’s distance, but the road itself still remains shrouded in mystery. Why was it built? And why does it remain unfinished, with a sixty-mile long break, the famed Darien Gap, enduring between Panama and Colombia?

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro (January 15)

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history—the life she had lived—crumbled beneath her.

The Elephant in the Room: One Fat Man’s Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America by Tommy Tomlinson (January 15)

Intimate and insightful, The Elephant in the Room is Tomlinson’s chronicle of meeting those people, taking the first steps towards health, and trying to understand how, as a nation, we got to this point. From buying a FitBit and setting an exercise goal to contemplating the Heart Attack Grill, America’s “capital of food porn,” and modifying his own diet, Tomlinson brings us along on an unforgettable journey of self-discovery that is a candid and sometimes brutal look at the everyday experience of being constantly aware of your size.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land (January 22)

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

All the Lives We Ever Lived: Seeking Solace in Virginia Woolf by Katharine Smyth (January 22)

Smyth’s story moves between the New England of her childhood and Woolf’s Cornish shores and Bloomsbury squares, exploring universal questions about family, loss, and homecoming. Through her inventive, highly personal reading of To the Lighthouse, and her artful adaptation of its groundbreaking structure, Smyth guides us toward a new vision of Woolf’s most demanding and rewarding novel–and crafts an elegant reminder of literature’s ability to clarify and console.

Looking Ahead: 2019 Challenges

It’s getting to be that time of year. The time when we (I) look at our valiantly attempted reading challenges, shrug off the incompletes, and look ahead to a fresh new year with fresh new challenges. Finding them really couldn’t be easier, since Feed Your Fiction Addiction has already done the work and compiled a Master List of 2019 Reading Challenges.

low angle photo of tower of books
Photo by Ajda Berzin on Unsplash

I’m a big fan of list-based challenges (Read Harder, anyone?), so I’m intrigued by Around the World in 52 Books and the Reading Women Challenge.

The Victorian and Georgian Challenges would combine nicely with my personal Classics Club list. And I’m just tickled by having the option of a list or a BINGO card for the Victorian one. That’s a nice touch right there.

I love a cozy mystery, and both Craving for Cozies and Cruisin’ through the Cozies look like fun.

12 Children’s Classics is a book-club style challenge with a set sequence of books assigned to months. February is Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare, which happens to be on my Classics Club list.

Speaking of children’s books, there are challenges for both middle grade and picture books hosted at Becky’s Book Reviews.

I may feel a tiny bit called out by the Blogger Shame Challenge. My NetGalley feedback rating says I should do this challenge.

And then there is the Reading Challenge Addict Challenge, wherein one takes a challenge to complete a number of challenges. Wonderfully meta!

Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to in November

Time once again to add to the TBR!

Born to Be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery (Nov 6)

He published over a hundred books and illustrated works by Samuel Beckett, T.S. Eliot, Edward Lear, John Updike, Charles Dickens, Hilaire Belloc, Muriel Spark, Bram Stoker, Gilbert & Sullivan, and others. At the same time, he was a deeply complicated and conflicted individual, a man whose art reflected his obsessions with the disquieting and the darkly hilarious.
Based on newly uncovered correspondence and interviews with personalities as diverse as John Ashbery, Donald Hall, Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Anna Sui, BORN TO BE POSTHUMOUS draws back the curtain on the eccentric genius and mysterious life of Edward Gorey.

 

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan (Nov 6)

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.

 

A Dangerous Duet by Karen Odden (Nov 6)

Nineteen-year-old Nell Hallam lives in a modest corner of Mayfair with her brother Matthew, an inspector at Scotland Yard. An exceptionally talented pianist, she aspires to attend the Royal Academy; but with tuition beyond their means, Nell sets out to earn the money herself—by playing piano in a popular Soho music hall. And the fact that she will have to disguise herself as a man and slip out at night to do it doesn’t deter her.

 

The Prophet Calls by Melanie Sumrow (Nov 6)

On her thirteenth birthday, Gentry receives a new violin from her father and, more than anything, she wants to play at the Santa Fe Music Festival with her brother, Tanner. But then the Prophet calls from prison and announces he has outlawed music in their community and now forbids women to leave.

 

In Peppermint Peril (A Tea and a Read Mystery, #1) by Joy Avon (Nov 13)

Catering to people who each have their own agenda isn’t easy for the Book Tea crew, especially once the valuable engagement ring goes missing and a dead body turns up in the conservatory. Can Callie and her great aunt use their love of clues to dig into the crimes and show their unhappy hostess and squabbling guests the true Christmas spirit?

 

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany (Nov 13)

Gemma has no intention of getting involved in the investigation, but when fellow shopkeeper Maureen finds herself the prime suspect she begs Gemma for her help. Ryan knows Gemma’s methods and he isn’t happy when she gets entangled in another mystery. But with so many suspects and so few clues, her deductive prowess will prove invaluable in A Scandal in Scarlet, Vicki Delany’s shrewdly plotted fourth Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mystery.

 

Thanks A Thousand: A Gratitude Journey by A.J. Jacobs (Nov 13)

The idea was deceptively simple: New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs decided to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The resulting journey takes him across the globe, transforms his life, and reveals secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous, and more connected.

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama (Nov 13)

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms.

 

Sherlock’s World: Fan Fiction and the Reimagining of BBC’s Sherlock by Ann K. McClellan (Nov 15)

Interweaving fan fiction studies, world-building, and genre studies, Ann McClellan examines the hit series and the fan fiction it inspires. Using Sherlock to trace the changing face of fan fiction studies, McClellan’s book explores how far fans are willing to go to change the Sherlockian canon while still reinforcing its power and status as the source text. What makes Sherlock fanfic Sherlockian? How does it stay within the canon even while engaging in the wildest reimaginings? Sherlock’s World explores the boundaries between canon, genre, character, and reality through the lenses of fan fiction and world-building. This book promises to be a valuable resource for fan studies scholars, those who write fan fiction, and Sherlock fans alike.

 

Barking with the Big Dogs: On Writing and Reading Books for Children by Natalie Babbitt (Nov 20)

In this collection of essays and speeches written over the course of four decades, beloved storyteller Natalie Babbitt explores what it was like to be a “little dog” in the literary world, continually being forced to justify her choice to write books for children–instead of doing something more serious. Babbitt offers incisive commentary on classic children’s books as well as contemporary works, and reveals colorful insights into her own personal creative life. Filled with a voice that rings with truth, wisdom, and humor across the years, the essays gathered in Barking with the Big Dogs exemplify on every page true reverence for children and an endless engagement with the challenge to write the books that shape them

Down the TBR Hole #17

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Visit my to-read shelf to see how very far I still have to go!

Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children’s Literature by Leonard S. Marcus
Published: May 1, 2008
On TBR Since: January 4, 2013

Professional Reading that I have been meaning to read forever.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of FantasyThe Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy by Leonard S. Marcus
Published: February 14, 2006
On TBR Since: January 4, 2013

This is part of my TBR Pile Challenge list, so I should probably get cracking on it.

Stay or Go: Stay

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom edited by Leonard S. Marcus
Published: March 31, 2000
On TBR Since: January 4, 2013

I was clearly on a Leonard Marcus kick of some sort.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal
Published: December 29, 2011
On TBR Since: January 4, 2013

I’m pretty sure I’ve read books that cite this book, and that’s why it ended up on my TBR.

Stay or Go: Go

Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison
Published: January 8, 2013
On TBR Since: January 9, 2013

Not feeling this one anymore.

Stay or Go: Go

Jews and WordsJews and Words by Amos Oz
Published: November 20, 2012
On TBR Since: January 9, 2013

This one does still sound interesting.

Stay or Go: Stay

Mindfulness in Plain English Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana
Published: January 25, 1992
On TBR Since: January 9, 2013

Kind of a classic on meditation.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling The Great Work of Your Life: A Guide for the Journey to Your True Calling by Stephen Cope
Published: September 25, 2012
On TBR Since: January 11, 2013

This is another one I suspect might make its way back onto the TBR at some point, but it’s going for now.

Stay or Go: Go

The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age The Parent App: Understanding Families in the Digital Age by Lynn Schofield Clark
Published: October 9, 2012
On TBR Since: January 31, 2013

This hits topics on both the personal and the professional side.

Stay or Go: Stay

Prairie Silence: A Memoir Prairie Silence: A Memoir by Melanie Hoffert
Published: January 8, 2013
On TBR Since: January 31, 2013

I never got around to this memoir when it was new, and I don’t think I’m going to.

Stay or Go: Go

Four going, and six staying. Chip, chip, chip.

Down the TBR Hole #16

Down the TBR Hole was originally created over at Lost in a Story.

Most of you probably know this feeling, your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10, if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
  • Keep track of where you left off so you can pick up there next week!

Visit my to-read shelf to see how very far I still have to go!

The Violin: A Social History of the World's Most Versatile Instrument The Violin: A Social History of the World’s Most Versatile Instrument by David Schoenbaum
Published: December 10, 2012
On TBR Since: December 26, 2012

Fun fact: I played violin from fourth grade through my first year of college. Every now and again, I still take it out of the closet and give it a go.

Stay or Go: Stay

Generosity: An Enhancement Generosity: An Enhancement by Richard Powers
Published: September 29, 2009
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

Powers is an automatic add to my TBR. And it seems I went on an adding spree at the beginning of 2013.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Echo Maker The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
Published: November 1, 2006
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

Same as above.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Time of Our Singing The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
Published: Jan 22, 2003
On TBR Since: January 03, 2013

This is part of my TBR Pile Challenge list.

Stay or Go: Stay

Genie Genie by Richard Powers
Published: November 8, 2012
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

Stay or Go: Stay

The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 2 The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 2 by Neil Gaiman
Published: October 1, 2012
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

Neil Gaiman is a favorite author, and Sandman is where it all started for me.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1 The Annotated Sandman, Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman
Published: January 27, 2011
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

Stay or Go: Stay

The Battle Of The Sun The Battle Of The Sun Jeanette Winterson
Published: November 2, 2009
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

Another favorite author.

Stay or Go: Stay

Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson
Published: October 5, 2005
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

This one is also on my TBR Pile Challenge list.

Stay or Go: Stay

The Theory of EverythingThe Theory of Everything by J. J. Johnson
Published: October 1, 2012
On TBR Since: January 3, 2013

I’ve enjoyed the other books of Johnson’s I’ve read, but I’m not drawn to this one.

Stay or Go: Go

Only one book going this week. Some weeks are like that, I guess.

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson

The Daylight Gate

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The north of England is untamed. It can be subdued but it cannot be tamed. Lancashire is the wild part of the untamed.

In this novella, published on the 400th anniversary of the 1612 trial of the Pendle Witches, Winterson draws on those events in crafting a work of historical fantasy, a tale of horrifying events, beautifully told.

The historical facts are these: in 1612, a group including Alice Nutter, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alizon Device, Katherine Hewitt (“Mould-Heeles”), Elizabeth Southerns, and others were arrested under charges of witchcraft. A key witness was Elizabeth Device’s nine-year-old daughter, Jennet.

Winterson takes these facts and creates a new dark and magical story around them. She draws in other historical figures, including local magistrate Roger Nowell, William Shakespeare, John Dee, and court clerk Thomas Potts, whose account of The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster was published in 1613. The 1605 Gunpowder Plot and the fate of the convicted conspirators is also woven in; there is little difference, in some minds, between Witches and Catholics. “Popery witchery, witchery popery,” Thomas Potts says more than once.

The writing is lovely, spare but rich in imagery. It is an atmospheric book, focused on people and emotions, how human beings can love and betray each other. There are truly horrific scenes, especially toward the end, that pass by in such a small section of narrative that it sometimes took my brain a few pages to realize what I had just read and be struck not only by the terrible violence, but by the casual way torture is inflicted on one person by another. It feels so very wrong, but true.

Trigger warnings for rape, torture, and child abuse.

Source: I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while. I think I picked it up at my local used bookshop, where I regularly check to see if they have anything new (to me) by Winterson and a couple of other authors.

Challenges: Counts for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge, the Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge, and R.I.P. XIII (Readers Imbibing Peril)