Quick Review: Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

two dark reigns This series was originally planned to be only a duology.  I’m glad that Kendare Blake decided to extended it two more books because it’s truly delightful.  Two Dark Reigns begins a few weeks after the end of of One Dark Crown.  Katherine is crown Queen of Fennbirn.  Mirabella and Arisone escaped the island and trying to fit in on the Mainland. Jules is reeling from the death Joseph and is back and Fennbirn.  The island is shielded by the Mist but the Mist is acting up and turning on the island.  Probably because Katherine became Queen without actually killing her sisters and still possessed by the dead queens of the past.  Her sisters escaped the Island and Jules is being propped up as the symbol of a new revolution.  I still like the original Queens Katherine, Mirabella and Arisnoe and Jules is growing me but she’s still not favorite.  Jules is legion cursed.  Meaning she has two gifts that will make her crazy because her powers are so strong.  This is partly why people think she is also a queen and that the Goddess of the Island is trying to change the bloodline of the Queens and change the course of the island.  Of course the Island has another idea.  Mirabella and Arsione may have escaped the island but the island isn’t finished with them yet.  Arisone is being sent visions about the Blue Queen who created the Mist.  She is haunted by her that forces them back.  Jules and her new warrior friends are in direct conflict with each other.  We still Queens against Queens but the battle lines are drawn and the fate of the island is at stake.  Let’s just say, the last book is going to be a doozy.

Review: WildCard by Marie Lu

img_1381 I read this as an ARC about a month ago.  Thank you to G.P. Putnam for making it available to me to read.  **May contain minor Spoilers**

Where we left off after Warcross, Hideo had betrayed Emika and really everyone else who uses his Nuerolink lenses by releasing his algorithm that effects how people think and makes it impossible to commit crimes.  Zero who was Emika’s original quarry might now be the ally that she needs to stop Hideo but can he be trusted because after all, he did try to kill her.  That would put a damper on any relationship.  Can she ever forgive Hideo for what he is doing? And who is Zero and the blackcoats?  Are their goals really the same as hers?

If that wasn’t enough, her actions in the Warcross championships has made her the hero to some and cheater to others.  Emika has a lot going on but that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is the right thing to do, even if that means going against the man she loves.  A lot has happened to Emika in her short life.  Her father died and she was placed in foster care.  She ran away and lived on the streets only to support herself by becoming a bounty hunter.  She’s an incredible hacker that is what brought her into this to begin with but she’s used to everything on her own.  The greatest growth that she had was learning that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own.  That she has friends who are willing to carry some of the load for her and when things get even more complicated and she doesn’t know who to trust that friendship becomes even more important.  In Wildcard, we finally learn what really happened to Sasuke, Hideo’s younger brother and it’s even more heartbreaking than anyone assumed. More under the cut. Continue reading

Movie Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

to all the boys So I finally got around to seeing To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix and it was delightful.  It was every bit as charming as the book was and the casting was truly spot on.  Lana Candor is the perfect Lara Jean. She’s sweet, shy and romantic.  She’s unassuming and comfortable being in the shadow.  Noah Centineo is the perfect Peter.  He just oozes the big man on campus charisma.  You can’t help but fall in love with him, which it seems like everyone on the internet has.  The story is the same.  Lara Jean is 16 and is about to start her Junior year in high school.  Her big sister is going off to college making her the big sister at home.  Her mother died when she was young so it was just her and her sisters and her dad.  Lara Jean has never had a boyfriend but she’s had a few crushes.  She wrote her crushes a letter that was never meant to be read until they were.  Two of those letters went the Josh, the boy next door who dated her older sister Margot and Peter, her former friend from Middle School.  Peter and Lara Jean decide to fake date to make Peter’s ex girlfriend jealous and help her avoid Josh.  All goes well until of course she starts to have feelings for him.  The movie goes by at a pretty clip.  Establishing both Lara Jean and Peter and their relationship.  As they spend more time with each other we see what a great couple they are for each other.  They allow each other open up to each other and be honest about their feelings that they can’t be with each other.  I also love that while Peter asks Lara Jean to do things outside her comfort zone like go to parties, he never asks her to change who she is.  Obviously in the book we see more development of their relationship then we do in the movie because of time constraints it still comes out.  They relationship may have started as pretend, you can see from the beginning that there was always something there. If there is one thing I wished there was more of was Kitty.  Kitty was always my favorite character in the book and I think she needs her own series.  *cough Jenny Han cough*  I can only hope that Netflix greenlights a sequel so we get more of Kitty, Lara Jean and Peter in the future.  The movie is not earth shattering but it is so cute and charming that i feeling it’s going to be on heavy rotation in my Netflix queue for now on.

Review: Embassytown by China Mieville

9780345524508_p0_v1_s550x406 The last book of my Pop Culture Assignment and I don’t even know where to begin.  There is a lot going on and I think it needed a glossary for all the new terms he made up for this world.  Our Protagonist Avice, is an immerser that knows how to control the immer but it was never really explained what that is but it has to do with space travel.  Her ability allowed her to leave Embassytown and return but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Avice is from a colony in the middle of nowhere.  There lives an mysteries species called the Hosts that have a peculiar way of communication called language.  Only few people know and few can speak it.  The few who can are Ambassadors are two people modified to think as one.  It’s complicated.  Avice has a rare place in language as she was once used as a simile.  The Hosts can not lie.  They can only speak the truth so for something to be said it must has a place in the world so they make people or things a simile to help explain things.  It’s very complicated.  Anyway, Avice leaves Embassytown only to return with a new husband who is a linguist and seems more interested in language than Avice but whatever.  As soon as they return things get crazy.  The end of the world crazy.  The nation that oversee them decides to bring in their own Ambassador and well, things don’t go as planned and all hell breaks loose.

It was an interesting read but it was very confusing.  I felt like so many things that were left unexplained like the immer that we are just expected to understand.  Language too is very complicated that it does take the whole book to understand but that also might have been the point.  It took a while to get into because the world building was immense and once I got past that I really enjoyed it.  I was still left confused on several things but still enjoyed it.

Review: The Last Speakers by K. David Harrison

9781426204616_p0_v2_s550x406 My pop culture assignment from Kate is to delve into her world as a linguist. Linguistics has been referred to as a social science.  What does that mean exactly?  The first book, What Language is by John McWhorter was more of the scientific side of the linguistics, explaining what they look for when they study languages.  How languages are built and how they became to be and continue to develop. The Last Speakers is the social side of linguistics by discussing why the study of languages are important to understanding who we are and the world around us.  Both aspects are important to discover how we communicate to each other.  K. David Harrison set out to study endangered languages because the knowledge of the natural world they contain that we have lost by no longer speaking them.  He learns from indigenous people words that describes the world around us.  How they can speak or sing to animals to get them do what they need them to do.  Plant life that are now extinct.  Medicinal methods that have vanished in the wake of modern medicine.  If we lose these last speakers we lose more than just a language being spoken.  We lose a great deal of our own knowledge of our world that we will never get back.  The book reads like a travel memoir as he details his work around the globe but it’s also a plea to the world to not abandon these languages.  He and his team document these languages and do everything then can to keep these languages alive long after the last speakers pass away but also bring to light new or remembered words of our past.  I like that he isn’t to be the white savior.  He goes to observe and document and help where he can.  He defers to the people in how they want to documented.  Not all people want their languages to be shared with outsiders and he understands their reasoning without judgment.  It’s their language and culture and they should have the final say on who gets to know it and learn it.  It was an interesting book, with some great stories and I’m fully support more documentation of last speakers from all over the world.  We have so much more to learn.

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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This book hurt to read. It is the story of Finch and Violet, who meet on the top of the bell tower at school when one of them saves the other one’s life. From there, its a love story. But, it’s also a story about dealing with tragedy and with things that have happened to you. It is also a book about mental illness and suicide. The writing is great. Finch is charming and Violet is awesome. The romance is precious. I’m glad I read it. Behind the cut is spoiler city.

Continue reading

Review: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

9780441478125_p0_v2_s550x406I’m not sure where to begin because there is so much here and hard to explain.  The assignment is examine how Ursula K. Le Guin uses language to tell her story.  The language is very lush and full of descriptions of the strange world of Winter.  A harsh world that is like living on the Artic in our world.  The people of this world are gender neutral and assexual for most of the life except for when they are in “kemmer” where partner with another person in “kemmer” and could be female or male depending on things went.  They could be the a father to one child and mother to another.  Le Guin uses the “he” pronoun for all the Getheren even though they are not male or female.  I believe it was used more simplistic reasons then insinuated that they are more male most of the time then female. It was hard as the reader to understand that, that when “he” was being used it wasn’t that the character was a male but a Genthen.

Genly Ai is an evnoy for the Ekumen.  He has come to Winter to try to get an alliance with them but things don’t go as planned.  Through out the novel he is mislead , betrayed and betrays himself.  He is lead throughout the novel by the Estrevan, first as Prime Minister and then as friend.  Ai has trouble first trusting him as he doesn’t understand where he is coming from.  Is he a friend or foe?  Ai also had to get over the human thinking of people as only one gender, which he struggles with as much as the reader does, I think.  Over time they become friends and maybe more as they work together to get the alliance done.  This was a beautifully written novel that I’m glad I read it because I don’t think ever read anything like it.

Review: What Language is by John McWhorter

what language is You know when you meet someone who loves what they do so much that when they talk about it they get so excited about it even though you have absolutely no idea what they are talking about but you are so taken in by their enthusiasm that it doesn’t matter.  This is often how I feel when Kate talks about Linguistics.  She gets so excited and her face lights up and it’s just so Kate that I want to know what she’s talking about and be just as excited as she is.  John McWhorter is the same way.  I can feel his excitement on the page as he talked about one language after another.  I’ll admit that there were a few things I still don’t understand but I think I get the gist.  It’s interesting on how languages evolve and change over centuries.  Obviously I knew that the English we speak today is not the English that was spoken in Shakespeare’s day or even Chaucer’s but never really thought about it how we got to where we are now.  Basically, adults needed to be able to communicate but were unable to grasp some on the complexities of the language so they simplified it and taught it to their kids and so forth and so on.  It’s kind of amazing.  I basically learned that the more people who speak a language over centuries, the less complicated it is.  If you speak a language that only a few know and have all learned from childhood it’s going to be more complicated it because adults from the outside have little use to learning it to communicate it.  I’m probably oversimplifying it but that’s fascinating.  He makes arguments for what languages are categorized and how our own biases make us judge languages and what are real languages and what are not. Does it have to be written? Spoken by a certain number of people?  Have it’s own grammar?  Follow certain rules?  All very interesting questions that I really can’t do justice answering but say read the book and get suck into his excitement and enthusiasm while you are at it.

Quick Review: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi

restore me It’s been a couple of years ago that Tahereh Mafi completed her Shatter Me trilogy but I guess she wasn’t finished with it because here we are with book 4.  I feel like I should went back and read the original series because there were so many things I forgot about.  The one thing I didn’t forget about is how the Mafi’s writing style changed as Juliette’s mind because more stable.  As she becomes less isolated and understands her power the writing style because more fluid and less choppy.  In this one, as things start to unravel for Juliette and Warner we start to see a return to the choppy phrasing from earlier books.  I knew as soon as Juliette’s journal appear that things are not going to end well.  Not to get too far ahead, let’s start at the beginning.  Restore Me begins a little more than two weeks after the end of the last novel.  Juliette has taken over as Supreme Commander of North American and soon discovers she is way over her head.  Not only does she know very little about politics but the people she trust have been keeping things from her.  Things start to spiral out of control when the kids of the other Supreme Commanders start showing up.  Juliette learns that as much as she wants to run from her past she can’t because in truth she doesn’t even know her past and what she doesn’t know just might get everyone killed.  I really enjoyed this and I’m glad Tahereh returned this world because clearly there is a lot to explore in Juliette’s story.

Review: Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

img_4946This book was really cute. It is the story of Sara, who comes to America, specifically to Broken Wheel, Iowa, to meet her pen pal only to find out that her pen pal has died. Sara and her pen pal Amy exchanged books and bonded over their mutual love of reading. Sara had worked for a bookstore in her home country of Sweden, but it has permanently closed its doors. So, she has the time to vacation and to decide what is next in her life.

Since Amy isn’t there to meet her, the town steps in. They set her up in Amy’s house (as Amy would have wanted) and get someone to drive her around (a couple of someones, actually, both of whom have their own little subplots). Everyone is so kind and generous to her that she decides she needs to find a way to pay everyone back. She finally lands on opening a bookstore in a store front conveniently owned by Amy and using Amy’s books. This, of course, changes the lives of many people in town. The book is quite long, but it has at least 4 sub-plots that are all resolved in the narrative and that takes time.

 

When I posted about this being my current listen, I said that I picked this book because it is set in Iowa and I was pretty sure it was written by someone not-from-Iowa. I thought that was a wonderful novelty. Having lived in Iowa many years, I’m always interested in hearing what people who haven’t had that experience think about the state. And, I have to say, I found it a little confusing.  First, I was pretty sure that the town was supposed to be in Southern Iowa, but then it mentioned that it could be a bedroom community for Cedar Rapids, which is not in Southern Iowa. (And, is the next town over from where I went to high school). Second, there’s a gay kid who comes to town to investigate the bookstore and then make friends with the gay guys that run the local tavern because he has no other outlet for meeting gay people. But…he has a car and lives near-ish to Cedar Rapids and can’t make it to Iowa City which isn’t that far beyond Cedar Rapids and has an actual gay bar (not just a bar owned and operated by a gay couple) and has had a gay bar since the ’90s? Also, while we’re talking about the bar owned and operated by a gay couple, this book was set around 2011 and there was at least one comment about that couple and marriage, but gay couples could get married in Iowa in 2011. That bothered me a little. I was also a little bothered by some of the representations of Iowans. Like, I love the Iowans I know, but we’re super nosy and will tell people what we think, so I don’t know how its possible that no one knew Sara was coming and that no one made it clear to Amy beforehand that she had to A. tell Sara she was dying and B. make specific arrangements for Sara, should she be dead by the time of her arrival. (I admit it. I am often that person telling someone exactly what I think after I’ve nosed around a little.)

The audio book is read by Fiona Hardingham and Lorelei King and it had me wondering the entire way through, do people outside the US have an understanding that American accents fall into two categories: typical American and Southern? Do people outside the US think that everyone in rural American speaks with a Southern accent? Because, that is not true. There are features of Iowa English that make it unique (as is true of every regional area) but those features don’t really overlap with Southern English. They’re probably closer to Minnesota English (and Canadian English), Wisconsin English, and Indiana, Illinois and Northern Ohio than the South. You’re more likely to hear someone say the word “milk” and have it sound like “melk” then you are to hear someone say “pin” and “pen” the same way.  Also, Iowans have all the r’s. This is something that interests me to no end and I may do a series on accents, language and representation in the things we’ve read here on this blog.

Anyway, it was cute. So, if you’re willing to go on a meandering little walk through a small town that’s allegedly Iowa (but that actual Iowans wouldn’t believe was Iowa) and you don’t mind a bunch of little divergences, then I recommend this. If that sounds irritating to you, then give this a pass.