I’m back!

Wassup! I’m back! It’s been a rough week. But I’m recovering nicely at last and I’m back to tell you what I read while I rested. Because what else am I gonna do, right? Some of these were read in the days leading up to the surgery when we were in quarantine. We were smart enough to stop by the library first, but then not smart enough to actually READ said books when we had nothing to do. I mean, I read a couple, but then I didn’t fancy most of the books I had actually checked out. Disappointing.

Library (winners to losers)

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei – YA Graphic Novel – Powerful – 5 stars

The Program (Tim Rackley #2) by Gregg Hurwitz, reread – thriller – Trigger Warnings – 4 stars

Cold Copper (Age of Steam #3) by Devon Monk – YA Steampunk – Just left me hanging – 2 stars

Turns out the last book in this series never got published, because the series got dropped. So if you want to read it, I’d just read book 1, Tin Swift, which was amazing, and stop there.

Audiobook

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones – children’s/YA fantasy – 4 stars

I love this author. I was so sad when she passed, but she left a great body of work behind. Here’s a fun book with lots of magic and a cat and absolutely NO ROMANCE.

More Books

The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer. Reread. Needed a happy read after some disappointing ones (see below). This one delivered for sure. 5 stars!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. One of her very best. Great to read it again. I read it for a challenge category – a book made into a movie or TV show. Look for the one with David Suchet. Highly recommended. 5 stars

Sister of the Chosen One by Colleen Oakes & Erin Armknecht. YA Speculative Fiction. This was free from Kindle Unlimited and honestly, that’s why I got it, but it was just so dang good! 4.5 stars. Slow start, I thought, mostly because I didn’t like the characters in the beginning. But give it time and it gets terrific!

Tournament of Ruses, (Ruses #2) by Kate Stradling. Very nice follow up to a debut that needed it. 4.25 stars.

Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life by Len Fisher. Very readable and so enlightening. 4 stars. Recommended.

Lungdon (Book #3) by Edward Carey. Boo. After all the work I did to get a freaking copy of this book, it really let me down. Biggest disappointment of the year so far. It’s not the worst book of the year, but after loving books 1 & 2, I expected so much more. This was just sloppy and disorganized. New characters were just dropped in with no explanation and old characters disappeared with only a sentence. I was in suspense the whole book, but the resolution was absolutely not worth the wait. And what was that ending? I’m just so irritated. If it had been an Audible book, I would get my credit back, but it was just a Kindle download. I really have to take back my recommendation for the whole series now. But maybe the author will write something better next time.


And in other news, I am up to walking, but no lifting, and my cholesterol is down, my weight is down, but sadly, my a1c (diabetes) is up. But I’m still pretty happy with the general trend and I’m going to work on it.

3 writing tips

I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately so I’m going to share 3 tips that have helped me.

  1. When you have something to say, WRITE. If you’re stuck and you don’t have anything so say, so back and edit, fix your spelling and grammar, whatever, but eventually, you still need to WRITE.
  2. Write the kind of stuff you like to read. Don’t plagiarize, that is really uncool, but if you love French historical fiction, don’t write hardboiled noir.
  3. You still have to research. No matter what you’re writing and how much you think you know about it, some research is always necessary. Do it when the writer’s block hits.

So that’s it for today, short and sweet. Happy writing!

TTT: 10 Books I’d Throw in the Ocean

Top 10 Tuesday! 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.

In real life, I would never throw a book in the ocean! But let’s imagine it’s a biodegradable book or a book made out of fish food.

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

10 Books I would Throw in the Ocean if I Could

  • The East End by Jason Allen. Full of shallow people I didn’t care about.
  • Truly, Madly, Guilty, by Liane Moriarty. More shallow people who are are terrible parents in Australia.
  • Mr. Monster by Dan Wells. Too disturbing and violent.
  • Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch. Giant brick of a book and boring.
  • Am I Not A Man? By Mark L. Shurtleff. The writing was truly appalling.
  • The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. So depressing. This world is just too dark for me.
  • The NOOb warriors by Scott Douglas. Are you kidding me with this plot?
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner. The girls are too stupid for me.
  • The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. Ludicrous plot twists.
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Time Added no. So disappointing.

Well, there you have it. My fish food books. So sad. Let me know your thoughts and happy reading.

Stand Alone Sunday: When the Emperor Was Divine

Today I’m featuring a book I read last year and I’ve been thinking about it on and off since then. It’s called When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka.

This was Otsuka’s first novel and it features a Japanese-American family during World War II. Despite the fact that they have been in the United States for years, the are suddenly seen as a threat. They like other Japanese-Americans are rounded up and taken to internment camps for the duration of the war.


Book Description:

Julie Otsuka’s commanding debut novel paints a portrait of the Japanese internment camps unlike any we have ever seen. With crystalline intensity and precision, Otsuka uses a single family to evoke the deracination “both physical and emotional” of a generation of Japanese Americans.

In five chapters, each flawlessly executed from a different point of view “the mother receiving the order to evacuate; the daughter on the long train ride to the camp; the son in the desert encampment; the family’s return to their home; and the bitter release of the father after more than four years in captivity” she has created a small tour de force, a novel of unrelenting economy and suppressed emotion.

Spare, intimate, arrestingly understated, When the Emperor Was Divine is a haunting evocation of a family in wartime and an unmistakably resonant lesson for our times. It heralds the arrival of a singularly gifted new novelist.


I was drawn to this book because one of the camps than many of these unfortunate people were kept is right in my own state. Topaz is just a few miles away from my home. We planned to go see it, but unfortunately it’s currently closed due to Covid. If you haven’t read anything about the Japanese internment, this is an excellent place to start. George Takei also has a graphic novel out called They Called Us Enemy, which I just got from the library and look forward to reading. With the rise in Asian hate, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that racism is the enemy, not other people.

Happy reading.

Flashback Friday

This is a feature where I share a review that I published a few years ago and see what I think about the book now and let you see what you think about it too.

The Colony: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai by John Tayman

Book description:

In the bestselling tradition of In the Heart of the SeaThe Colony, “an impressively researched” (Rocky Mountain News) account of the history of America’s only leper colony located on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, is “an utterly engrossing look at a heartbreaking chapter” (Booklist) in American history and a moving tale of the extraordinary people who endured it.

Beginning in 1866 and continuing for over a century, more than eight thousand people suspected of having leprosy were forcibly exiled to the Hawaiian island of Molokai — the longest and deadliest instance of medical segregation in American history. Torn from their homes and families, these men, women, and children were loaded into shipboard cattle stalls and abandoned in a lawless place where brutality held sway. Many did not have leprosy, and many who did were not contagious, yet all were ensnared in a shared nightmare.

Here, for the first time, John Tayman reveals the complete history of the Molokai settlement and its unforgettable inhabitants. It’s an epic of ruthless manhunts, thrilling escapes, bizarre medical experiments, and tragic, irreversible error. Carefully researched and masterfully told, The Colony is a searing tale of individual bravery and extraordinary survival, and stands as a testament to the power of faith, compassion, and the human spirit.


My original review:

Leprosy. It’s a horrible disease. It makes your extremities fall off. It’s horribly contagious. It causes nasty oozing sores that spread germs to everyone you pass by. It’s always fatal. And there’s still no cure.

Except that none of this is true. Well, it is a pretty horrible disease, if not treated. But there is a very effective treatment available. It’s not very contagious at all. Only a small portion of the population is susceptible to it in the first place. Even then, only some of them get the worst form. It’s more a matter of nerve damage and swelling. And diagnosis is a matter of minutes, so getting started with the right treatment now takes just days.

What a change from the past. This book is all about the bad old days of leprosy, and in the United States, it didn’t get worse than in Hawaii. Hawaiians were some of those that for some reason were particularly prone to catching leprosy. And back then, there was no treatment available. They could diagnose it, all right. Then they would pack you up and ship you off, without another word, off to Molokai, the leper colony. Good luck to you.

Incredible story, and it’s all true. At least, the author says it’s all true. Apparently there’s some controversy. But it made for great reading. It was shocking stuff. I couldn’t believe how they treated lepers like criminals. It’s not a crime to be sick. (Although in this country, I often wonder.) But they were treated like they had done something wrong by getting a disease. I couldn’t put it down. 4 stars. 


Update:

I do think this was quite a sensationalized book. The actual facts of the story were horrifying enough that the author didn’t need to try and make it more shocking. The story of Father Damian, the Catholic priest who ministered to the sick and dying people of Molokai, was the most incredible part of the story. The story of Molokai is definitely worth learning about, but I’m not sure this book is the best source.

7 Books I’d Love to Visit

Find more here and at http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com.

This week’s prompt was books in places I’d love to live, but most of what I read is speculative fiction or murder mysteries, so I’m switching it around to places I’d love to visit, as a sort of invisible observer just so I could take it all in and see what it’s really like. And because I have so many books that I’ve read, I think I’ll stick to books on my historical fiction shelf. Also as a bonus for Women’s History Month, all my books were written by women and about women!

7 Books I’d Go Back In Time to Visit

  1. A Proud Taste For Scarlet and Miniver by E. L. Konigsburg. I was always curious about Eleanor of Aquitaine. It would be great to be able to “meet” her or observe her and see what she was really like. Such a powerful woman married to two such very different men.
  2. The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis. This one is about the Roman occupation of Britain and the use of slaves to mine silver for coins there. It would be hell to actually live through any of it, but fascinating to watch the process and how people really lived.
  3. Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie. Her only mystery set in Ancient Egypt. It would be so cool to see people living around the pyramids and pharaohs and see what that was really like.
  4. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. This story about the formation of the Women Airforce Service Pilots or the WASPs tells about a critically important part of World War II.
  5. Persuasion by Jane Austen. That is my fave over Pride and Prejudice, but I’d love any of her books. I’d love to see the balls and the courtship and the flirting, but I’d also like to see behind the scenes in the servants’ hall and the kitchens.
  6. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather. Another one of my favorite authors. I’d love to get a look at real pioneer life. How did they deal with living in those dugouts? I can’t even imagine.
  7. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. Mostly because I want to see Sir Percy.

That’s all I have for today. Sorry it’s a little late. But I did get it done by Tuesday so there you go! Happy reading!

What are you Reading?

Happy Monday!

Hey readers! How was your weekend? We had a gorgeous day yesterday to make up for way too much rain all week. My kids came over and we played Apples to Apples and had Chili Mac for dinner and Toffee Apple Pie for dessert. (Storebought, and not very good.)

Oh, and Saturday I got a pedicure and a massage and a migraine. I guess you can’t have it all. So I spend a lot of time in my dark bedroom trying not to cry. Sunday I was still out of it. Migraines suck.

But sick days can be a good time to read, and this weekend was no exception.

FINISHED

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, audio book. I actually finished today. I still love this book! Such an exciting ending!

Tin Swift by Devon Monk, library print book. Airship battles, undead, betrayals, new loves, and evil fae. I read this one a few years ago and it’s hard to believe the finale could be any better. But I have it on hand so I’m going to find out soon.

STILL READING

Lungdon by Edward Carey. Creepy Children’s fantasy. I read the first 2 books so long ago I’m a little lost. I am enjoying it though.

The Rising of the Moon by Gladys Mitchell. Serial killer in the English countryside. I like the boys who are the main characters, but the story is a little slow.

What are you reading? I hope it’s good. I’m also deep in Marvel fan fiction over on Archive of Our Own. Happy Reading!

TTT: 10 Books on my Non-fiction Shelf

Find more here and at http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com.

10 Books on my Non-Fiction TBR Shelf

Ready to do some snooping? I love seeing what’s on other people’s shelves so I’m going to share with you. We’ll go left to right.

  1. A Short History of Byzantium by John Julius Norwich – I started this and the title is very misleading.
  2. -3. can’t tell what they are
  3. The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan
  4. My Name Used to be Muhammed by Tito Mome
  5. Winterdance by Gary Paulsen
  6. Royal Experiment: The Private Life of King George III by Janice Hadlow
  7. Come on Shore and We Will Kill You and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story by Christina Thompson
  8. The Land that Never Was by David Sinclair
  9. The Darkest Summer by Bill Sloan
  10. Henry V As Warlord by Desmond Seward
  11. Conscience: Two Soldiers Two Pacifists, One Family by Louisa Thomas

There’s a bunch more, but I’ll make you figure them out!! Happy Reading!

First Line Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

Cedar Hunt stared down at his blood-covered hands. Glossy and dark, fresh and plentiful, the blood dripped between his fingers, slicking his arms and snicking to the dirt between his boots. More than just covering his hands, the blood tasted sweet and thick on his tongue and coated his throat when he swallowed.

Do you recognize the lines?

Hint: It’s book 2 in a trilogy.

Another hint or two: Cedar is a werewolf (duh) and its a steam punk trilogy by Devon Monk.

That’s right, it’s Tin Swift. I just got it from the library and I need to read it soon! Tell me what you’re reading. Happy weekend!