A More Diverse Universe!

August 20, 2014 Reading Challenges 3

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Earlier in the week, I mentioned Aarti’s fantastic annual event, A More Diverse Universe. Today, I’m back with my reading list! Need to know about A More Diverse Universe?

For those who have not heard about #Diversiverse before, it’s a very simple challenge.  For those of you who have participated in the past, it’s even easier this year.  The criteria are as follows:
  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the last two weeks of September (September 14th – 27th) 

Yay! More Diversiverse and more Diversity! Here are the books I hope to read:

16171272From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.

Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.

Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

 

170436One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose. 

A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published – perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a reread for me. It’s probably been 10 years or more since I first read it and my life experiences have changed me immeasurably since then. I want to see how I experience now, as a MORE grownup person than I was then.

I was thinking of throwing in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I read the first few pages in the bookstore the other day and WHOA.) if I can get it from the library.

I also have other books I’m thinking of throwing in, but these are the two I definitely want to get to (cause I own them!). Do you have any books you’d recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

August 18, 2014 Books, Meme 2

HAPPY MONDAY!!!!!!

Do I sound excited? For a Monday? Yeah, I thought so. I don’t get to start today like planned, dang HR department and their forms, so I get a couple days off before starting my job. It’s okay, I’ll take them.

Bout of Books starts today!!!! I’ll be reading the day away, while doing some neglected chores. Bah.

Exciting news!

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A More Diverse Universe

One of my most favorite things in the blogging world and Aarti just made it even better because it is longer!

Info:

It’s time to sign up to participate in A More Diverse Universe!  Thanks to the glorious talents of Sandstone78, we have loads of buttons and banners for you to use wherever you would like.  Use any of the ones you see on this post and go crazy!

For those who have not heard about #Diversiverse before, it’s a very simple challenge.  For those of you who have participated in the past, it’s even easier this year.  The criteria are as follows:

  • Read and review one book

  • Written by a person of color

  • During the last two weeks of September (September 14th – 27th) 

I’m going to be going through my shelves to find a few books to read.  A few have already come to mind. Come on, click the link above and join in!

Happy reading!

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Bout of Books 11

August 14, 2014 Books, Reading Challenges 8

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Y’all! It’s that time again! You know I can’t miss a good readathon. Assuming I’m of sound mind to read next week, here’s my pool. Plus maybe a couple others. You know how I roll.

I’ve already started Gutenberg’s Apprentice, so that will probably be my main book, but, as I do when I’m reading loooooong books (and yo, this book is SUPER LONG), I’ll be going back and forth between it and another. I’m already reading Tiny Beautiful Things as well, so that will be my starting go-between. I definitely want to hit up Sweet Tooth, to get Andi OFF MY BACK ALREADY, and figure Sweetness #9 will be a good followup to that. I’m still digging the nonfic, so I threw It Looked Different on the Model to stir things up a bit. Lastly, RIP starts NEXT WEEK, so I threw in something that looks a wee bit spooky; The Supernatural Enhancements. All in all, I think this is a good mix of books and dude. I CANNOT WAIT. Join me?

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The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – To Read or Not to Read?

August 12, 2014 Meme 15

August 12: Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read (books you may have bought but aren’t sure if you are into it anymore, books you wanted to read but heard mixed things about, hyped books you aren’t sure about — basically any book that has you going, “TO READ OR NOT TO READ?”

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World War Z by Max Brooks – One of the few books my husband has actually read, and I can’t seem to make myself read it. No matter how many times he tells me I should.

The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser – I took an Olde English class in college and the professor I had read some of the Faerie Queene. In the olde English. It was so gorgeous. And I wanted to read it because it sounded so gorgeous! And then I looked at the text.

The Martian by Andy Weir – So many reviews had me dying to read it that I bought it right away. And now I can’t seem to pick it up!

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – I know, I know. But I’ve TRIED. I just can’t get into it. I will try again. I promise…..

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield – I love love LOVE The Thirteenth Tale. I wanted to love this one just as much, but dude. I just can’t get into it.

Anything else by Gillian Flynn – I seem to be one of the few who did NOT love Gone Girl. Thanks to that book, I never want to read anything by her again.

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 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – Uh uh. Nope. Just can’t do it. I’ve tried and it’s just too bleak and depressing.

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust – These books just scare the crap out of me.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman – With all the hype over the show, I entertained the idea of reading this, then watching it, but then I figured out; I just don’t care.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – I read the first of the three books in this series, and enjoyed it, but somehow have never picked up the other two. 

How about you? Are there any books you just can’t seem to bring yourself to read? 
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Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. More HERE.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

August 11, 2014 Books, Meme 8

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OMG Y’all. I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. I’m so excited; I CAN’T EVEN READ.

I start a new job next Monday. At a university. I’m so excited. Seriously.

I AM SO EXCITED.

I did manage to finish The Paper Magician last week. I enjoyed it very much. This week, I’ve been puttering through East of Eden (THAT CATHY! GRRR.) and I started Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga, the last in Jasper Dent trilogy. When I sit down and read it, it holds my attention, but then my mind wanders and it’s all over. I just can’t concentrate for long.

I’m so nervous and excited and worried and, well, just being typical Heather. Hopefully I’ll settle down soon, but I doubt it.

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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The Fever by Megan Abbott

August 8, 2014 Book Reviews, Books 10 ★★★★

The Fever by Megan AbbottThe Fever
by megan abbott
Published by Little Brown and Company
on June 17th 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
four-stars
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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As we read in Ms. Abbott’s guest post yesterday, The Fever deals with hysteria and how it is a “woman’s disease.”

There’s no easy answer to that question and no easy way to talk about the long and twisty history of hysteria and women.  On the most basic level, how many women out there have been told, when expressing anger, or even a firmly held opinion, has been told they are being “hysterical”? It’s a loaded term, and it always will be.

The Fever, set in a small town high school, is the perfect place to breed rumors and panic. When Deenie Nash’s best friend Lise collapses in the middle of class, no one knows what to think. The hospital won’t release any information. No one is allowed to see Lise. Then Deenie’s friend Gabby has a similar episode. Then another girl. Then another. Before the fever is spreading like wildfire among the girls at the school and parents are panicking. Could it be the nasty local lake? Is it the HPV vaccine? Is it a virus? ARE THEY ALL GOING TO DIE?

I read The Fever on my vacation and it was the perfect time to do so. As soon as I picked it up, I didn’t want to put it down. From the beginning of the book, there are questions that I couldn’t wait to have answered. What happened to Lise? The other girls? Is there a disease spreading amongst the school and why is it only the girls? And why is Deenie the only girl NOT getting sick? Abbott keeps the narrative tight and twisty. It was a delight for me, a reader who likes the occasional dark plot line and has a morbid sense of humor. This pretty much made The Fever a delight for me and Megan Abbott is now officially on my watch list.

Would you like to win a copy of The Fever? The publisher was kind enough to give me an extra copy of the book, so I’m giving away BOTH. Fill out the Rafflecopter and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Guest Post: Megan Abbott, author of The Fever

August 7, 2014 Books 4

Guest Post: Megan Abbott, author of The Fever
The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community.

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

Please join me in welcoming Megan Abbott, author of The Fever! She gracious provided me with this amazing guest post with her thoughts on hysteria and women.


In recent weeks, since The Fever has come out, more than once someone has started to ask me a question about hysteria, then stopped him or herself and rephrased the question, or put the word in “air quotes.” One asked me, cautiously, when I myself used the word, “Isn’t that a sexist term?

There’s no easy answer to that question and no easy way to talk about the long and twisty history of hysteria and women.  On the most basic level, how many women out there have been told, when expressing anger, or even a firmly held opinion, has been told they are being “hysterical”? It’s a loaded term, and it always will be.

The preferred medical terms for the kind of hysteria I write about in The Fever are conversion disorder, which refers to uncontrollable and very real physical symptoms deriving from a psychological cause, and mass psychogenic illness for instances when these symptoms then spread to multiple individuals. (Conversion disorder is the individual diagnosis; when it spreads, it’s called mass psychogenic illness). In many ways, both are much more sophisticated and serious versions of conditions we all understand: you’re nervous about public speaking and you lose your voice. You’re under stress at work and you become nauseated. And, in terms of the mass variation, someone sneezes or yawns, and so do you. Or, in a more extreme form, someone smells a strange odor at the office and becomes ill. Soon enough, others smell it too. Become dizzy. Become sick. Hysteria, right?

Yes, and no. The word hysteria has in fact out of favor among health/mental health professionals. Perhaps because of its complicated history and definitely because it’s a term that has been used to describe so many different nervous conditions and it’s so culturally laden that it’s become meaningless. The primary reason for rejecting the term “hysteria” is due to its complicated history during which, for centuries, it was used to punish and pathologize women.

Hysteria as a term dates back at least as far as 1900 B.C., when “hysteria”— a nervous disorder with symptoms including seizures and a feeling of suffocation— was believed to be caused by the movement of the uterus from its normal place within the body (the word itself derives from hystera, the Latin word for womb). In ancient Egypt, cures were proffered:  perfumes could fumigate the woman’s body to draw the uterus back up into position, or potions could be taken orally to drive the uterus back down into position. Plato even writes of the displaced uterus as caused by women’s lack of sexual activity. The remedy? Marriage and pregnancy

Over the centuries it has taken many forms, but hysteria has consistently been considered a “women’s disease” and each era’s interpretation seem to reflect that era’s own anxieties about women. In the Middle Ages, hysteria was blamed on witchcraft and demonic possession. In the 17th century, hysteria was thought to be a brain disorder: women easily “catch” hysteria because they have more delicate constitutions. In the Victorian era, in many ways the “heyday” of hysteria and a time of particularly conservative gender ideals, the condition took on moral overtones with many doctors blaming hysteria’s prevalence on troubling female sexual behavior and the woman’s innate capacity to deceive.

At the end of the nineteenth-century and into the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud intervened and offered a different interpretation, seeing hysteria as the result of emotional crisis. He believed “hysterics” had suffered some kind unresolved trauma or intense conflict that then took physical form: nervous tics, losing one’s voice, etc. Working with patients, he strove to trace hysteria back to its first onset as a means of cure. Uncover the trauma and begin to work towards healing. Much of Freud’s work with “hysterics” still suffered from the prejudices of the era and Freud’s own strict notions of sexual development, but he did free hysteria from past associations with immorality or degeneracy. He believed so-called hysterics were normal people who suffered from a blocked or fragmented thinking caused by trauma. And women were more likely to suffer because they suffered greater social repression.

In The Fever, the role trauma may play in the condition “seizing” the girls—including Deenie’s close friends—emerges slowly. But in terms of the way the condition spreads, I was very compelled by theories suggesting why conversion disorder and mass psychogenic illness are in fact more common among women and girls (even if it’s not exclusive to them). There are many theories, including that these conditions are more common in repressive or restrictive environments and women, historically, have been placed more commonly in these environments. Or that mass cases occur among girls and women because they are more likely to empathize with one another. Or that it’s not necessarily more common among females; it’s just that women may be more likely to seek help for their conditions. Sociologist Robert Bartholomew, an expert in mass psychogenic illness, told me that at least part of it has to do with “how females are socialized to internalize stress.” Further, pointing to the dramatically high prevalence of mass psychogenic illness cases in Malaysia, he notes that females there are “taught to obey authorities, and believe they are mentally inferior to males … They are also at the bottom of the power hierarchy.” Ironically, the outbreak becomes a way for females with no voice to have a voice. During an outbreak, suddenly everyone begins listening to them.

(One sidenote: one must also consider the role of gender bias in diagnosis. There have been many studies about conversion disorder in men, particularly veterans. Further, cases of MPI have been known to occur among men in the military, further suggesting gender has nothing to do with it, but repressive/restrictive atmospheres and individuals under stress and in close proximity may be the real culprits.)

I’m barely scratching the surface here in terms of the complicated relationship between women and hysteria, and The Fever only considers a corner of it, but it’s fascinating to think more about it and I’d love to hear what you all think.

Thank you, Heather!

Thank you Megan! Come back tomorrow for my review of The Fever AND a giveaway!

 

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Audiobook: Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, read by Amanda Ronconi

August 5, 2014 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 5 ★★★★

Audiobook: Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, read by Amanda RonconiThirteenth Child
by Patricia C. Wrede
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi
Length: 9 hours, 32 minutes
Series: Frontier Magic #1
on 06-05-13
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Goodreads
Buy the Book
four-stars
Eff was born a thirteenth child. Her twin brother, Lan, is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means he's supposed to possess amazing talent -- and she's supposed to bring only bad things to her family and her town. Undeterred, her family moves to the frontier, where her father will be a professor of magic at a school perilously close to the magical divide that separates settlers from the beasts of the wild.

If I could tell you about this book in a mathematical sentence, it would be:

Harry Potter + Laura Ingalls Wilder = Thirteeth Child.

OR, if you listen to the audiobook:

Harry Potter + Laura Ingalls Wilder + Firefly = Thirteeth Child.

To my tired and angsty ridden summer induced coma of a brain, this book was a breath of fresh air. The magical aspects aren’t really as IN YOUR FACE as they are in Harry Potter and the frontier life isn’t as IN YOUR FACE as Laura Ingalls Wilder. They come together in a brilliant way that I found highly enjoyable though.

Eff comes from a large family. So large in fact, that she is a thirteenth child and her twin, Lan, is a fourteeth child. If you know your magic, you’ll know that seventh sons are typically a powerful bunch. Lan, is a seventh son. He’s also the seventh son OF a seventh son. This makes him extra special powerful in the eyes of all the magicians around him. Also, if you know anything about the number thirteen, you’ll know it’s typically considered unlucky.

Eff is considered unlucky. Very, very unlucky.

The prejudice surrounding Eff in the town and her own aunts, uncles, and cousins, who are certain she will “go bad”, aids in prompting her parents to move out to the frontier with the children who haven’t left the family home. Here is where “Laura” meets “Harry”; Eff’s father takes a job as a professor of magic, at a frontier school. For magic. So the family heads off to the wild frontier where mammoths roam, steam dragons soar, and where Eff will learn just who she is and what she will become. I loved the way Wrede played with prejudice and preconceived notions and how the ideas of others can interfere with the idea one has of oneself. Poor Eff. She’s called unlucky, evil, and even told that her parents should have killed her as a baby before she can barely talk. She has no confidence in herself or in her abilities. She’s terrified to let anyone know what she really is. What happens in the course of the story, which is basically a coming-of-age-story for Eff, is, well, I can’t exactly tell you that, can I? Do you want to know if Eff finds the courage to accept herself and to see if she tries to find out what she can become?

You know the drill. Read it!

Or better yet, listen to it! Amanda Ronconi was the PERFECT choice for reading this novel. Her voice had the perfect amount of midwest twang. I swear, she reminded me so much of Kaylee from Firefly, which, yeah, made me love it more. Just a fantastic read and I can’t wait to listen to the next one.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

August 4, 2014 Books, Meme 8

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Goooooooooooooooooood morning friends! It’s Monday! And I had a fantastic reading weekend! It’s like, all I did. Really. And laid on the couch complaining about wicked things like gluten.

Yes, I ate something I shouldn’t have. Remind me to never do that again.

So, to the good parts of the weekened. I read almost two books. One, Spoiled Brats, was freaking hilarious. The other, The Paper Magician, is, so far, pretty dang awesome. I’m still listening to East of Eden, and will be for awhile (!), but don’t let that bit of snark fool you – I’m pretty much loving it.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder fell to the wayside a bit. Probably a mood thing, but I’ll get back to it.

Next, I’m not sure what I’m reading. These next few weeks are going to be a little turbulent for me, nothing to worry about and more news on that later, but I’m going to be a bit scatterbrained. Er…well, moreso than usual. Reading will definitely be whatever grabs me by the hair and won’t let go because I’m pretty sure I’ll have the attention span of a sugar crazed 5-year-old in the candy store.

What are you reading this week? What has GRABBED YOU BY THE HAIR? I may need ideas.

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Hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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