Goodreads Choice Awards Predictions

I personally don’t vote in the GR Choice Awards because it’s typically the popular books that end up winning. I don’t really talk about it much, but I think it would be a fun blog post if I predicted which book I thought would win and which one I would choose. I think I saw a blogger post something like this recently…I’m sure many have. You can tag them below if you know other people who have. I’d love to see everyone’s predictions. I probably won’t do all the categories since there are many that I don’t read from. I’m just doing the main ones.

Fiction

The final nominees are hard to pick from because I know most of them have been raved about lately. It’s sad that I haven’t read any of them, but most of them are on my TBR.

I’m going to predict that good ol’ Nicholas Sparks will take the cake. The Wish has been pretty popular at my library. Everyone is wanting to read it and there just isn’t enough copies to go around.

If I were to pick one that I wanted to win, it would probably be The Guncle by Steven Rowley. This one just seems like so much fun. I’d say it’s a fantastic book to read in the summer. It has great ratings/reviews. I also love the cover.

Mystery / Thriller

I have read a few good ones in this section. I automatically assume that Billy Summers by Stephen King will win, and I’m sure that’s what everyone else thinks.

I hope that Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby wins. I read that earlier this year and really enjoyed it! It has a lot more violence than I was expecting. There were some parts where I couldn’t really believe, but I recommend it if you can handle that.

Historical Fiction

It won the BOTM Book of the Year, and I’m just assuming it’ll win this category, and that is The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.

I’ve only read one book out of the category and it was The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles. It wasn’t really my cup of tea as far as historical fiction goes. So, if I had to pick one it would probably be The Four Winds. I read The Great Alone by her and really enjoyed it. I think she’s a pretty good writer.

Fantasy

I want T.J. Klune to take the cake for this one, but I know that Sarah J. Maas will beat him. I’m sure she does every year.

I, of course, want Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune to win. I absolutely loved The House in the Cerulean Sea. It was such a loved book when it came out.

Romance

I think my prediction and my choice would be the same judging by all the hype surrounding the book recently. It’s The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. I just ordered this one as an add-on to my BOTM box. I’m super stoked to get to it!

Science Fiction

My assumption is that Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir will be the winner.

I love Becky Chambers and Martha Wells, so these two choices were hard to pick from. They’re both close in ratings too, but I think I’d rather Becky Chambers take the cake. I’ve heard great things about A Psalm for the Wild-Built.

Horror

I’m going to go with The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix as the winner of this category. It’ll probably be Stephen King, but I’m trying to be positive.

I haven’t read any of these in the horror category, but I think it would be cool if My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones won.


I think that’s where I’m going to stop. There are categories after this that I just don’t know anything about. This is just supposed to be fun so don’t take anything seriously or to heart. If you have any predictions, please let me know in the comments. I’d be interested to see different opinions!


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Book Review of How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

336 pages

Published in 6/1/21 by Little, Brown, and Company

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Nonfiction / History / Social Justice

Amazon | B&N

*click on photos to view original source.


Poet and contributor to The Atlantic Clint Smith’s revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave owning nation

Beginning in his own hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader through an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks-those that are honest about the past and those that are not-that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.

It is the story of the Monticello Plantation in Virginia, the estate where Thomas Jefferson wrote letters espousing the urgent need for liberty while enslaving over 400 people on the premises. It is the story of the Whitney Plantation, one of the only former plantations devoted to preserving the experience of the enslaved people whose lives and work sustained it. It is the story of Angola Prison in Louisiana, a former plantation named for the country from which most of its enslaved people arrived and which has since become one of the most gruesome maximum-security prisons in the world. And it is the story of Blandford Cemetery, the final resting place of tens of thousands of Confederate soldiers.

In a deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view-whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods—like downtown Manhattan—on which the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women and children has been deeply imprinted.

Informed by scholarship and brought alive by the story of people living today, Clint Smith’s debut work of nonfiction is a landmark work of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in understanding our country.”



“The sky above the Mississippi River stretched out like a song.”

As the whitest person to exist in America, I feel it is my responsibility to educate myself as much as I can on social justice issues that have taken place in the past and present. The goal, of course, is to prevent future issues from coming up. I like to share what I learn from what I read, and there’s a lot to unpack with this one.

I’ll start by discussing my reasoning behind my rating. I’m sure there are people throwing shade my way for not giving this five stars. First, just because someone doesn’t give an important book a five-star rating doesn’t make it any less important. There’s more to a book than the content that makes it a phenomenal read. Second, I shouldn’t have to explain myself. It didn’t hold my attention the entire time, there were naming off fact after fact, and I had to take a break from the book, sadly. If I rated books with decimals, it would be a 4.5. Anyway, let’s get to the review.

There was information I didn’t know about places I’ve learned about before. The Monticello Plantation is the best example. I remember learning about that in school, but not like I learned about it in this book. The tour guides want visitors to understand what kind of person Jefferson was in his entirety, but visitors were offended claiming they were trying to change history. There were also people who didn’t think slavery was a thing. I don’t know if they just deny it completely, really didn’t know, or they’re messing with the tour guides. That’s why educating yourself on the topic is important!

Yes, he contributed great things. Yes, he gave us the Declaration of Independence, and the university where I got my degree, but he also owned people. He owned ancestors of people I know. That’s reality. I think in order to really understand him, and to fully understand him, you have to grapple with slavery. You have to grapple with [physical] violence and psychological violence, and family separation. We would not be doing the story justice if we don’t tell those stories.

Niya Bates – Monticello’s director of African American History.

Smith also visits Angola Prison (Louisiana State Penitentiary). A location I have never heard of, but it’s so interesting (and horrifying) to learn about. The Red Hat Cell Block (restrictive and harsh housing in Angola Prison) holds cells that are 5 x 7 ft. It got extremely hot in there with no air. Prisoners would just lay on the cement floor in misery.

The execution bed was built by PRISONERS. They actually went on strike when they found out.

The guide would often pivot the conversation to bring positive light to the prison while Smith visited there. How could you even see this place in a positive light? It was nothing but horrifying, disgusting, and cruel. I’m happy that Smith discusses what the prison actually did.


There was talk about how women would kill their own children because they didn’t want them to grow up in the same situation. There’s a lot of talk about the Confederacy and the Lost Cause. You really just have to read it yourself to fully enjoy all the things you learn. I definitely won’t do the book justice from doing a WordPress blog review. Go read it for yourself!


About the Author

“Clint Smith is staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. Clint has received fellowships from New America, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. He currently teaches writing and literature at the DC Central Detention Facility. His debut nonfiction book How the Word Is Passed, which explores how different historical sites reckon with—or fail to reckon with—their relationship to the history of slavery, will be published by Little, Brown in June 2021. He received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University.”


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Guess Who’s Back!

Hello, friends! I know it’s been a while, but I finally feel up to the task of writing a blog post. Since I’ve left I haven’t read many books. To let you really know how it’s been going this year, I’ve only read 29 books. Unfortunately, at the end of April / beginning of May, I went through a pretty tough breakup just a week shy of our 5-year anniversary. I don’t want to go into much detail since that is pretty personal, but the two months following that were probably two of the hardest months for me mentally, physically, emotionally, etc. It took everything I had in me to function. I finally feel like myself again, and I’ve been occupying my brain with other positive outlets. I have a few odds-and-ends I’d love to share with you all.

I’ll just start with a little reading update!

I believe I’ve finished six books since I last wrote a blog post. It’s been a lot of non fiction and historical fiction. I think I read one thriller.

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb – two stars

News of the World by Paulette Jiles – five stars

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline – four stars

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Not rated (assume it’s a five-star read.)

Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby – four stars

Maid by Stephanie Land – three stars

I’m honestly happy with the books I have been reading, even though I haven’t read that much. I’m currently in the middle of How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith, and I’m still truckin’ through A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. That’s pretty much my goal for the rest of the year. I’m not going to pressure myself too much.


Now I’ll talk about the other hobbies I’ve picked up since I last spoke to you. As many of you know, I tried to get into digital art, specifically digital planning, and it didn’t go as planned. Etsy wasn’t really the best place to start off with. I pretty much stopped doing that very quickly. I’ve moved to Redbubble just as somewhere to put my art without having the pressure of paying a renewal fee with Etsy every so many months. It’s book-ish art that I want to share with you all, but I’m willing to create other content. I’d love it if you all checked it out. I think if you have any friends who love bookish items, these might be good little stocking gifts!

Redbubble Shop

Books & Coffee
Excellent Library

One other little hobby I’m working on is sugar cookie decorating. I’m very much a newbie, and it’s crazy hard to do. It is fun to learn and I’m hoping to continue making progress. I just wanted to share my very first decorated cookie. It looks silly, but there’s something about it being the first one that makes me smile.


Thank you to everyone who has stuck around even after I basically fell off the face of the Earth for half a year. I can’t guarantee I’ll make steady content, and I’m honestly thinking of changing up my blog to more than just books. Let me know what you think about it. I just appreciate all of you, and I’m hoping you all have a wonderful end to your year!

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles That Give Me Crayola Crayon Vibes

I haven’t participated in TTT in a LONG time, and I thought this prompt was super cute and creative. I had a lot of fun completing this list. I’m excited to see what other bloggers say. I’m sure there are tons of titles that could work. I couldn’t even narrow it down to 10, so I stopped at 15.

Rules:

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

How it works:

I assign each Tuesday a topic and then post my top ten list that fits that topic. You’re more than welcome to join me and create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.) list as well. Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! Please link back to That Artsy Reader Girl in your own post so that others know where to find more information.


I didn’t look up to see if any of these were already names for Crayola crayons or close to it. Some of these pretty much say which color they should be, but I’ll let you think about what the other ones would look like. If you want, you can leave your thoughts / guesses in the comments. I think that would be fun!


Survive The Night by Riley Sager

Summer Frost by Blake Crouch

The Red Lotus by Chris Bohjalian

Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy

Cut to the Bone by Ellison Cooper

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers


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The Recommendations Book Tag

I saw Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books post this, and it looked like so much fun, so I decided to participate. It was originally created by Ally Writes Things (link below). I tag whoever wants to participate!

Rules:

  • Tag Ally @ Ally Writes Things so I can see your recommendations!
  • Give at least one recommendation for each of the prompts below
  • If you don’t have a recommendation, talk about a book you want to read
  • Tag your friends

A book about friendship:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

This is such a charming book about an ultimate friendship between freelance writer in NY and a used-bookshop owner in London. It’s under 100 pages and I highly, highly recommend this one. If you pick any of these books from this list, I suggest you choose this one.

A translated book:

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

I will admit that I haven’t read a lot of translated works—this being one of the only ones—but I really enjoyed this, regardless. It’s heartbreaking. If you don’t like reading about war, I wouldn’t recommend this to you. It gets pretty intense.

A diverse romance:

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

AHH! This one is so cute. If you want an easy, breezy romance, then this one is for you. It’s the second book in The Brown Sisters trilogy, but you don’t really have to read the first one. I think it’s a fun experience to read them all, though.

A fast-paced book:

No Exit by Taylor Adams

This is the craziest, fast-paced book I’ve probably ever read. It’s a little far-fetched, but it was entertaining, to say the least.

A non-fiction that isn’t a memoir:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I’m the quintessential introvert…minus the intelligence. This almost made me feel like I needed to go and get a better education. Not in a pretentious way, though. Anyway, it’s so good. Go read it!

An underrated memoir:

I didn’t have one for this prompt, so I picked one that I wanted to read.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

I looked into memoirs that I should read, and this one popped up and immediately caught my attention. It only has 17,000 ratings on GR. I’m excited to read it.

A book with fewer than 10,000 ratings on Goodreads:

The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl (3,560 ratings)

I picked this one up on a whim a couple years ago, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It really threw me for a loop. I will say that it’s not a fast-paced mystery by any means. I recommend going in blind, too. I found it to be pretty unique, and a mystery I don’t ever read. I’d love to reread it in the future.

A book with an LGBTQ+ Protagonist:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

This book. This book. This book. It’s an all-time favorite forever and always. Linus and Arthur are characters I will protect with my whole being.

A book by a trans or non-binary author:

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

I didn’t expect this one to be so heartbreaking. It was an immediate 5/5 stars, but I don’t think I could haphazardly recommend this. Just know it’s full of content warnings. Look into this before reading, please.

A book with more than 500 pages:

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

This is a long, slow, incredible novel. It’s a commitment, but well worth the time and energy. I loved every second of it. It’s 560 pages, I believe, but it feels much longer—in a good way.

A short story collection:

The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Read this in 24 hours. Weird stories that are pretty important. There’s a lot of weird deaths in this one, which could have been excluded now that I’m looking back, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

A book you want everyone to read:

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

I just thought this was something I’ve never read before. It’s such a refreshing read and beautifully written. I will always recommend this to everyone.


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Book Review of The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles

368 pages

Published: 2/9/21 by Atria Books

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

”Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife. 

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.”


Thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

“Numbers floated round my head like stars.”


If you enjoy books about books, then you’ll absolutely adore this one. It’s all about the American Library in Paris, which is still up and running to this day. I enjoyed the female power and determination that takes place in the story. We love strong female roles. The writing is no doubt beautiful and well done. I believe that the author spends quite a bit of time in Paris, so I’d say it’s pretty accurate, if I had to guess. It’s overall a great novel, but it just didn’t keep my attention. Historical fiction typically captures my attention, but I never wanted to pick this one back up. It was honestly a two-star read up until the last 50-ish pages.

I didn’t really care for any of the characters even though I could recognize how tough they were. There’s a strong community and family dynamic that I think a lot of people would enjoy. It’s more of family by choice type of situation. I can appreciate all of that.

I think the main thing that caused me to give it three stars was that it felt too long. Whenever I thought the story was about to come to a close, there was quite a bit left in the story. I’m sure no one else felt that way, but when you’re already not enjoying a book, that’s something that makes it feel even longer.

I know this author has written one other novel, so I’m interested in seeing if it’s something I’m interested in. I’d definitely give her a second chance. I really thought I’d fall in love with this one. It’s such a wonderful read, but I couldn’t get myself to give it more than a three-star rating. I would still recommend this since it’s a beloved book to many readers out there.


Janet Skeslien Charles divides her time between Paris and Montana. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family. 

The backdrop of her debut novel MOONLIGHT IN ODESSA is the booming business of email-order brides, an industry where love and marriage meet sex and commerce. 

Her second novel THE PARIS LIBRARY is based on the true story of the courageous librarians at the American Library in Paris during World War II. Janet learned about the story when she worked at the Library.

Website: https://www.jskesliencharles.com


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Book Review of Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

336 pages

Publication date: 6/29/21 by Dutton Books

ISBN: 9780593183168

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

“It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.”


Since this isn’t a finished copy, I’m not able to post a first line.


Thank you to Dutton Books and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

I guess I’ll start with what I actually did like about this book.

I enjoyed the uneasiness this made me feel in the beginning. I thought Josh was such an odd character. He definitely served those serial killer vibes. He seemed almost robotic and cold. I actually loved his character when I first started the book.

I can also say that it’s very fast-paced. I probably could have read all of it in one day if I didn’t work all the time.

Okay, that’s about all for the pros.

I don’t want this to be super negative because I respect Sager as an author. He definitely has some great books, but this one just didn’t work for me.

This gave me I’m Thinking of Ending Things vibes when Charlie first got into Josh’s car. Obviously they’re not in a relationship, but it was the uneasy driving scene that made me think of it. This book just didn’t deliver the craziness that is Reid’s book.

I really, really didn’t enjoy the ending of this one. There was so much going on that I just didn’t care. I didn’t predict it, but at one point it all clicked in some weird way.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, so that’s about all I have to say. Even if I did spoil it, there’s not much to the book. It’s mainly one long car ride with some flashbacks and movie-filled daydreams. I just didn’t find the story thrilling in any way. I wouldn’t recommend this to Riley Sager fans or anyone in between.


Riley Sager is the award-winning pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer who previously published mysteries under his real name.

A native of Pennsylvania, Riley now lives in Princeton, New Jersey. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, cooking and going to the movies as much as possible. His favorite film is “Rear Window.” Or maybe “Jaws.” But probably, if he’s being honest, “Mary Poppins.”


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Short Book Review of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

496 pages

Published: 8/4/20 by Random House

ISBN: 9780593230251

Genre: Nonfiction — Social Justice

Rating: 5 out of 5.

B&N

*Click on photos to view original source.

The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of The Warmth of Other Suns examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

“As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power—which groups have it and which do not.”

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.”


“There is a famous black-and-white photograph from the era of the Third Reich.”

I was hesitant going into this because I don’t know anything about the Caste system. I knew what it was from school, but anything past that was new. I shouldn’t have hesitated at all because this was so helpful. Wilkerson pretty much walks you through everything, and she even discusses this ranking system in Nazi Germany and India. There are a lot of different stories pertaining to the Caste system, ones you’d never think were part of it. I’m just amazed at how well it’s written, and if you like audiobooks, this has a good one! The narrator has a relaxing voice and is easy to understand and listen to.

There are a lot of events that have happened in my lifetime that Wilkerson brings up, which I found super interesting because it seems like a lot of authors will only discuss events before my time. There’s talk about the Ebola outbreak, the United Airlines incident in 2017, recent politics, her own experiences, etc.

If I’m being honest, I don’t have a ton to say about this one. It’s all factual and the writing is very accessible. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. There are stories about exploding packages, a man hiring his brother to kill his wife for “insurance” purposes, when it was really so he could blame a black man, dog training, and many, many more. I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested. It’s quite long and dense, but worth every second.

“Americans are loath to talk about enslavement in part because what little we know about it goes against our perception of our country as a just and enlightened nation, a beacon of democracy for the world. Slavery is commonly dismissed as a “sad, dark chapter” in the country’s history. It is as if the greater the distance we can create between slavery and ourselves, the better to stave off the guilt or shame it induces.”

“Isabel Wilkerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Humanities Medal, has become a leading figure in narrative nonfiction, an interpreter of the human condition, and an impassioned voice for demonstrating how history can help us understand ourselves, our country, and our current era of upheaval.” Source: https://www.isabelwilkerson.com/


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Book Review of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

464 pages

Published 2/6/18 by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN: 9781250165619

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

*Click on photos to view source.

“Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.”


“That spring, rain fell in great sweeping gusts that rattled the rooftops.”


Content warning: PTSD, Abuse (physical, verbal, emotional), murder, death, grieving (loss of loved one / parent), cancer, description of broken bones / wounds, toxic family relationships.

As a first time reader of Kristin Hannah, I can safely say that this won’t be the last book I read from her. She seems like a good fiction author and storyteller. This was hard-hitting, but it wasn’t anything I haven’t read before in other books. Just be cautious going into it, and make sure to read the content warnings if you’re unsure.

Meet the Allbrights: Ernt, Cora, and Lenora “Leni”

Ernt, the father of this story, is a Vietnam veteran with PTSD. He watched a lot of bad things happen, and in return they’re impacting his present day life. He has moved his family five times in four years because he just wants the next best thing. The problem, he’s a toxic man who is feared by his wife and daughter. They’re afraid to speak up.

He receives a letter from the father of the man he watched die, and it states that his son wanted him to have his land in Alaska. Ernt doesn’t hesitate and drags his family to “The Great Alone.”

“Alaska isn’t about who you were when you headed this way. It’s about who you become.”

Even before they moved to Alaska, you can tell that Ernt isn’t a nice man. He’s very finicky and becomes upset easily. His actions in this book are very inexcusable regardless of his condition. I absolutely hated him. I almost put the book down because of how he treats people. I’m not sure of another way to tell you I hate him lol.

ANYWAY.

Leni and Matthew Walker’s relationship is honestly goals. They both have traumatic things going on in their lives, but they never judge one another. They help each other through it. They’re precious gems that should be protected at all times! They are also very smart kids. They can see the reality of any situation they’re in.

Cora. Cora, Cora, Cora. I know she is married to an abusive man, and hindsight is 20/20, but I just wanted to shake her! I wanted to tell her that she needs to get her and her daughter out of there. All she did was smoke and agree with Ernt. The occasional motherly scold came from her mouth, but nothing that would change Ernt’s mind. I know I shouldn’t hate her for anything, but her daughter should have been the first person she protected in their situation. I guess it’s one of those “easier said than done” situations.

The only problem I had with this was the transitions between events. Most of the time there was no warning, things just happened. I’m not going to spoil what made me drop the star rating, but I’m sure you probably have some inkling of what I’m talking about. Maybe I’m the only one with the problem. Either way, it wasn’t a five-star read for me. It was good but not that good.

I will definitely continue on reading Hannah’s other novels. I think if you read the content warnings about this one and are still interested, then go ahead and give it a go. It’s not perfect, but it’s fast-paced, action-packed, and the characters are well done. If you do pick it up or have already read it, let me know your thoughts.

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. Her novel, The Great Alone, was also voted as Goodreads best historical novel of the year in 2018.”


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6 Books Written by Women About Women: Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! I thought I’d write about women writing about other empowering women, whether they’re based on facts or fiction. Are there any books you’re specifically reading this month for Women’s History Month? Are there any you’ve read and would suggest to other curious readers? This list is curated from my TBR shelf on Goodreads.


Circe by Madeline Miller

If you’re unsure of who Circe was, I’ll go ahead and briefly summarize her. She was the daughter of Helios. She can turn mortals into animals, and is banned to a secluded island for turning a nymph into a sea monster. She was described as walking to the beat of her own drum. Circe was a free spirit, and didn’t really care whether what she was doing was good or bad.

This book is about her having to rise up and fight for what she loves most. She also has to choose if she belongs with the Gods or with mortals. I’ve heard so many great things about this one, and I’m hoping it’s just as good as The Song of Achilles by the same author.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

This book follows Beryl Markham, a Kenyan aviatrix, who flew solo over the Atlantic Ocean. She didn’t stop there, though. She trained racehorses and wrote her own memoir. She was raised by her father and was a wild child, throwing her into many disastrous relationships. She attracts a community called the Happy Valley who also live by their own rules, and amidst the community is a man who changes her life . . . Denys Finch Hatton.

You’ll see that I have another Paula McLain book on this list, and that’s because I love her writing. I’m so excited to see how she writes about an aviatrix rather than someone who’s dealing with war. Beryl just seemed like a tough woman who chased her dreams when it seemed impossible. I’m all about that!

Euphoria by Lily King

This is loosely based on the famous Anthropologist, Margaret Mead. It follows three anthropologists (a married couple and another random man) in the jungles of New Guinea. They begin to create their best work, but it doesn’t come without fierce love and jealousy, threatening everything they have.

I recently finished King’s newest novel, Writers & Lovers, and I really enjoyed it. I know the writing style isn’t for everyone, but Lily King does such a great job at creating flawed, passionate characters. I’m hoping that this is no different! Beyond further research, I’m not entirely sure that this is 100% about empowered/empowering women, but it’s based off a famous, powerful figure, so I thought I’d add it.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

This novel is about Janie Crawford, a fictional character, who is determined to become her own woman during the ’30s. It takes her through a journey of three marriages and going back to her roots.

I read this in high school, and as a book that I was forced to read, I really enjoyed this one. I definitely want to reread in sometime soon. I guess this month would be as good a time as any. I just think Janie is a strong woman, and I highly recommend you give this a read.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Martha Gellhorn, one of the many wives of Hemingway, also happened to be a journalist and travel writer. This book follows her relationship with Hemingway and how it impacts her own dreams and aspirations during the Spanish-Civil War. Although, she does become one of the greatest war correspondents.

I loved this book when I read it back in mid-2018. I’d love to reread it and see if my thoughts have changed. I do remember her going through such turbulent times with Hemingway while also being an independent woman.

Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter

This novel is based on Leonora Carrington, a famous surrealist artist during the ’30s. She actually just died in 2011, which I had no idea she lived to see the 2000s. The novel also includes other artists of that era. She creates work that is based on her own life, and is recognized by her real name. Unfortunately, war looms over her and impacts her life greatly. The love of her life is taken away from her, and they have to find a way to reunite. They stumble upon an art collector who helps artists escape to America.

This just sounds so good, and it’s right up my alley. It’s historical fiction involving art. I don’t think I’ve read one that has let me down, yet. Leonora just seems like a strong woman who can handle anything, at least I hope so! This one actually isn’t out until April 6th, but I definitely want to read it. I’ll let you all know what I think when I do.


That’s it for this post. I hope you all are lifting each other up! Let me know if you have read any good books that would work well for this month! Thanks for reading.


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