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)

 

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A Study in Lavender by Joseph R. G, DeMarco (ed.)

A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes
A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes
edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is Sherlock Holmes homosexual? Is Watson? Should we even be asking these questions?

DeMarco opens the Introduction to this collection of short stories with these questions. The following stories look at many facets of queer life in Victorian London as they touch on the lives of Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and various original characters. In most of the stories, the (identified) queer characters are people other than Holmes and Watson themselves. Indeed, Holmes and Watson are all but entirely absent in at least two stories.

As with any anthology, the style varies between contributors. Most of the tales are written in traditional pastiche style, modeled on the Canon stories and narrated by Watson. One story is in third-person, one story is narrated by Holmes himself, and one story is a first-person narration by an original character.

I enjoyed the stories overall. There were a few that I just didn’t connect with, and the very first one surprised me with (content warning and spoiler alert!) references to incest. That topic is a Hard Pass for some readers, and I personally find it problematic in context. But that’s my personal engagement with the book, and yours is bound to be different.

If you are looking for Holmes/Watson romance, this is (mostly) not your book. If, however, you are looking for thoughtful, well-written explorations of the challenges faced by queer people in Victorian London, with a little Sherlockian flair, then this is the book for you.

Source: Purchased new

Reading Challenges: Counts for the Official TBR Pile Challenge and Mount TBR.

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2018 Reading Challenge Check-In #3

The first quarter of 2018 has been and gone, so how are those Reading Challenges going?

 

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018)
Goal: 24 books
End of March Progress: 16(ish)% (target pace: 25%)

I did finish A Study in Lavender, but I haven’t yet reviewed it, so it doesn’t count toward the TBR Pile challenge yet, and so I’m not counting it here yet.

February:
None. Whoops.
January:

 


The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader
Goal: 12 books
End of March Progress: 8(ish)% (target pace: 25%)

What I wrote up there under the last challenge? That.

February:
None.
January:

 


Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves
Goal: Konigsburg (75+ points)
End of March Progress: 21% (target pace: 25%)

Falling a bit behind again.

  • Grand Canyon by Jason Chin: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  • Ella Sarah Gets Dressed by Margaret Chodos-Irvine: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2004)
  • Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)
  • Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 2018)
  • A Different Pond by Bao Phi: 1 point (Caldecott Honor, 2018)

February:

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 1963)
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)
  • Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: 3 points (Newbery Winner, 2018)
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)

January:

  • Sounder by William Armstrong: 3 points (Newbery winner, 1970)

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom
Goal: 12 books
End of March Progress: 17% (target pace: 25%)

This one sort of sneaked in.

  • Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum

February:
None.
January:

  • Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969

 


Book Riot Read Harder 2018
End of March Progress: 21% (target pace: 17%)

By the way, my hold on Mother of Black Hollywood finally came in.

  • A comic written or drawn by a person of color: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (Book One), written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze

February:

  • A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author: Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  • A romance novel by or about a person of color: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

January:

  • A children’s classic published before 1980: Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969
  • A one-sitting book: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

 


2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge
Goal: Creative Conversationalist (11-20 posts – aiming for 12)
End of March Progress: 8% (target pace: 25%)

Okay, this month, the blog’s been pretty much TBR stuff, one way or another.

February:
None.
January:

 


2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews

I have still not posted anything about tea this year. I’ve been drinking quite a lot of tea, though.

So, how’s your 2018 reading going?

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2018 Reading Challenge Check-In #2

We’re two months into 2018, so how are those Reading Challenges going?

February flew by. I know it’s a short month, but it felt particularly short this year.

On to the Challenges!

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018)
Goal: 24 books
End of February Progress: 16% (target pace: 17%)

I read a lot of library books in February, but I didn’t finish any books from my own shelves! Whoops.

January:

 


The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader
Goal: 12 books
End of February Progress: 8% (target pace: 17%)

No progress on Mt TBR means there was definitely no progress on this one. I started reading both Listening for Madeleine and A Study in Lavender, so I’m hoping to catch up by the end of this month.

January:

 


Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves
Goal: Konigsburg (75+ points)
End of February Progress: 15% (target pace: 17%)

As predicted, my point total jumped after the YMA announcements on the 19th. And I haven’t even started this year’s Caldecotts.

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 1 point (Caldecott winner, 1963)
  • Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)
  • Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly: 3 points (Newbery Winner, 2018)
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: 2 points (Newbery Honor, 2018)

January:

  • Sounder by William Armstrong: 3 points (Newbery winner, 1970)

 

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom
Goal: 12 books
End of February Progress: 8% (target pace: 17%)

Another neglected challenge! A Wrinkle in Time is due for a re-read before the movie, so that will probably be next.

January:

  • Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969

 


Book Riot Read Harder 2018
End of February Progress: 21% (target pace: 17%)

I thought that “Celebrity Memoir” would be my next category, but my hold on Mother of Black Hollywood has not yet come in. Instead, I curled up with some cozy mysteries for one task and a fantastic historical romance for another. I recently picked up a copy of the first volume (four issues) of the Black Panther comics written by Ta-Nehisi Coates; the “comic written or illustrated by a person of color” task is likely to be next.

  • A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author: Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
  • A romance novel by or about a person of color: An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

January:

  • A children’s classic published before 1980: Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969
  • A one-sitting book: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

 


2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge
Goal: Creative Conversationalist (11-20 posts – aiming for 12)
End of February Progress: 8% (target pace: 17%)

Um, oops?

January:

 


2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews

I have still not posted anything about tea this year.

 

So, how’s your 2018 reading going? I’ve got some room for improvement this month!

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2018 Reading Challenge Check-In #1

We’re one month into 2018, so how are those Reading Challenges going?

I’ve fallen a bit behind, though not as much as I thought before I went and put together this post! I went to New York in early January, then came home and promptly got a massive cold. Which I attempted to ignore while catching up at work.

The cold would not be ignored. So, that went well.

On to the Challenges!

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018)

Goal: 24 books
End of January Progress: 16% (target pace: 8%)

Ahead of schedule, and I even posted reviews of three out of the four. Of course, the one I liked the most, The Dollhouse, is the one that I didn’t get around to actually reviewing.

 


The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader

Goal: 12 books
End of January Progress: 8% (target pace: 8%)

This is the only Challenge that required a list at the beginning of the year. I’m right on target pace-wise, but I’ve discovered that I might have actually gotten rid of one of the books on my list! Oops.

 


Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves

Goal: Konigsburg (75+ points)
End of January Progress: 4% (target pace: 8%)

  • Sounder by William Armstrong: 3 points (Newbery winner, 1970)

A bit behind on this one, but no reason to think I won’t catch up soon – probably later this month, once the 2018 YMAs are announced.

 

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom

Goal: 12 books
End of January Progress: 8% (target pace: 8%)

  • Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969

Right on target with this one. I’m also planning to re-read A Wrinkle in Time, which wasn’t on my original list, but qualifies, since it was published in 1962.


Book Riot Read Harder 2018

End of January Progress: 12.5% (target pace: 8%)

  • A children’s classic published before 1980: Sounder by William Armstrong, published in 1969
  • A one-sitting book: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • The first book in a new-to-you YA or middle grade series: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

My next challenge will probably be the celebrity memoir one, just as soon as my library hold on Jenifer Lewis’s The Mother of Black Hollywood comes through.


2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge

Goal: Creative Conversationalist (11-20 posts – aiming for 12)
End of January Progress: 8% (target pace: 8%)


2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews

I’ve fallen down on this one and not posted about any teas in January. I’ll have to get to work on that!

So, how’s your 2018 reading going?

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Geek Girls Unite by Leslie Simon

Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the WorldGeek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Once upon a time, to be labeled a “geek” was a fate worse than death. It meant you were an outcast. A loser. Destined for a solitary existence where a twelve-sided die would provide you with the only action you’d ever know. However, over the past decade or so, four-eyed social pariahs have been waging a quiet — yet powerful — revolt.

Over the course of this relatively-slim volume, Simon describes the “Fangirl Geek”, “Literary Geek”, “Film Geek”, “Music Geek”, “Funny-Girl Geek”, “Domestic Goddess Geek”, and a handful of others lumped into “Miscellaneous Geek”. For each type that gets a whole chapter, there is a quiz for the reader to test her own category knowledge, a “character sketch” of personality traits, a “Geek Mythology” section recounting relevant historical events and people, a “Geek Goddesses” section of short biographies of celebrities who fit the particular type, a list of “Frenemies” to beware of, and a “Geek Love” section describing the type of guy who would be a perfect match for the girl who identifies herself as a Fangirl/Literary/Film/etc Geek.

It’s a fun idea, and the Mythology and Goddesses portions are the best part of the book. Unfortunately, they’re weighed down by the snarky jabs in both the “Frenemies” lists and the quiz sections, and occasionally in the opening “character sketch”. But it was the “Geek Love” bit in each chapter that really left me mystified. It just seemed completely unnecessary. If the overarching theme of the book is “Hey, Geeky Girl, find yourself in this book and take pride in your quirks!”, then what is the relevance of several pages on What Kind of Guy You Should be Looking For? The idea that the reader might not be looking for a guy at all is never even suggested. Apparently, all girl geeks are heterosexual.

I had such high hopes for this book, which just makes it doubly disappointing. I made it my first read of the new year, thinking that it would help set a tone of empowerment and pride. I finished it mostly because I didn’t want to DNF the very first book I was reading for the TBR Pile Challenge.

Source: This book has been sitting on my shelves for years. I’m honestly not sure if I bought it, was given it as a gift, or picked it up at a conference as a freebie.

View all my reviews

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The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge


The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge is one of two challenges I’m going to work on that focus specifically on books owned but unread. (The other is Mount TBR, which I will post about tomorrow.) I have some books on my shelves that I totally meant to read, but never got around to. Book People know what I’m talking about here.

This challenge has stricter rules than most of the ones I’m attempting. There are no levels. There is no setting your own goal. There is one simple goal: read 12 books from your TBR pile within the year. Only books from 2016 and earlier are allowed; books published in 2017 and still unread do not qualify. The list of 12 – plus two alternates, in case a couple of the 12 turn out to be un-finishable – must be specified by January 15th, 2018.

My List:

  1. The Time of Our Singing by Richard Powers
  2. Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks, and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World by Leslie Simon – Reviewed: January 3
  3. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  4. The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson – Reviewed: October 17
  5. The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy edited by Leonard S. Marcus
  6. Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers by Carolyn See
  7. The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table by Tracie McMillan
  8. A Study In Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes edited by Joseph R.G. DeMarco – Reviewed: April 12
  9. Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices Leonard S. Marcus
  10. Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S. Baring-Gould
  11. Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson
  12. Shadows Over Baker Street edited by Michael Reaves and John Pelan

And the two alternates:

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Reading Challenges 2018

You know what I really don’t need to do right now? Sign up for more reading challenges. I do this to myself just about every December, and the challenges fall by the wayside with alarming speed.

But they always sound like so much fun! And there’s something about the new year that just makes me want to set ridiculous goals. The one that first dragged me down the rabbit hole for 2018 was this one:

The Grand World of Books Book Bingo 2018

The challenge: get a BINGO any way you choose. I tend to like to go for “black-out” or “cover-all” when it comes to things like this. I kind of assume I’m going to read at least 24 books over the course of the year anyway.

2018 is the second year of this challenge, but I didn’t hear about it last year, so I’m jumping in now!

One challenge that I did know about in 2017 was Book Riot’s Read Harder. I didn’t do terribly well at it, frankly, but it’s a new year and a new set of tasks. I’ve put all 24 of the tasks for Read Harder 2018 in BINGO card format, because… well, mostly just because I could.

Mount TBR (hosted at My Reader’s Block for 2018) is another challenge I’ve attempted and abandoned in the past. But I’m here again, aiming for the Mount Blanc level (24 books). We’re not going to discuss how very many books are actually in my personal Mount TBR, thanks.

(Much of my TBR on GoodReads consists of books I want to read but do not own, making them ineligible for TBR challenges. So, you know, the hundreds of books marked “to-read” over there don’t really count. Kind of like sock yarn purchases when one pledges to knit from stash. Right? Right.)

 

I figured that while I was at it, I might as well join in The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge at Roof Beam Reader. This is a 12-book challenge, with the requirement that the 12 books (plus two alternate selections, just in case) be specified by January 15th, 2018. I’m working on my list now.

Of course, it won’t be all TBR, all the time around here. I’m also joining in two challenges that speak to my professional as well as personal interests.

The Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge 2018 at Read-at-Home Mom is a very self-directed challenge. Qualifying books must have been “published in the decade of your birth or before.” There are no monthly themes, and you set your own goal. I’m going to aim for 12 books, because one per month seems like a good goal..

Some possible titles:

  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier & Christopher Collier
  • Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth S. Gannett
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  • To Be a Slave by Julius Lester
  • It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
  • The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du Bois
  • Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
  • The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Yes, there is a certain Newbery winner/honor theme going on there. That’s because I’m doubling up with the Newbery Reading Challenge at Smiling Shelves

This is a fun, points-based challenge. You pick a level to aim for (15-75+ points over the year), and books are awarded 3 points (Newbery winner), 2 points (Newbery honor), or 1 point (Caldecott winner or honor).

I’m going to go ahead and aim for the Konigsburg level (75+ points). In addition to the books I’m lining up for Old School Kidlit challenge, I always go back and read the new Youth Media Award books that I didn’t get to before the announcements in January. Caldecott books tend to pop up throughout the year in my Storytime selections, too.

Two challenges that aren’t about quantity of books read also caught my eye.

 

The 2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge at Becky’s Book Reviews seems like a perfect fit for me. There will be a monthly check-in post over at Becky’s site for it. Expect to finally here about some of the new-to-me teas I’ve been trying lately.

 

The 2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge is a new challenge for me, and one I’m hoping will help me perk this place up a bit. It’s been quiet around here for quite some time. My goal is the “Creative Conversationalist” level (11-20, but my personal goal is 12). Who knows: maybe I’ll even pop a new podcast episode in here sometime in 2018!

There is an astounding array of reading challenges out there. I had two or three more I was considering, but I decided that really would be pushing it too far.

One thing I didn’t find: a Sherlock Holmes Challenge. I’d really like to read through the Canon over 2018. My Doubleday single-volume is 1122 pages, which divides into 21-22 pages – about two short stories or a couple of novel chapters – per week. Anybody want to join me on this one?

While you’re thinking about that, I’m going to go sip a cup of honeybush vanilla tea and read something.

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