Entry 149: Other Words for Home

Author: Jasmine Warga
Genre: Middle Grade ; Contemporary ; Realistic ; Poetry ; Family ; Cultural
Publication: May 7th 2019 by Balzer + Bray
Pages: 352
Format Read In: Paperback

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

Trigger warning: Racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, family separation (due to war), discussions of terrorism

My Review:

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Entry 148: The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)

Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fantasy ; Historical Fiction ; Fairy Tales ; Mythology ; Cultural (Russia)
Publication: December 5th 2017 by Del Rey Books
Pages: 360
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel, introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

In The Girl in the Tower, Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, she has only two options left: marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after she prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

Trigger warnings: Violence, sexism, misogyny, woman shamed for being unable to give birth, sexual assault, sexual harassment, birthing a stillborn, difficult pregnancies

My Review:

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Entry 147: The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1)

 

Author: Katherine Arden
Genre: Fantasy ; Historical Fiction ; Fairy Tales ; Mythology ; Cultural (Russia)
Publication: January 10th 2017 by Del Rey Books
Pages: 319
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

The Bear and the Nightingale is a magical debut novel from a gifted and gorgeous voice. It spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent.

Trigger warning: Death of a parent (during childbirth), mental illness, non-consensual actions, child abuse (beating a child as punishment), abuse of women, sexual assault (forced kiss)

My Review:

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Entry 146: Jonny Appleseed [RECOMMENDED]

Author: Joshua Whitehead
Genre: Cultural (Canada) ; LGBTQA+ ; Literary ; Contemporary
Publication: May 15th 2018 by Arsenal Pulp Press
Pages: 224
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

“You’re gonna need a rock and a whole lotta medicine” is a mantra that Jonny Appleseed, a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer, repeats to himself in this vivid and utterly compelling novel. Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages–and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life. Jonny Appleseed is a unique, shattering vision of Indigenous life, full of grit, glitter, and dreams.

Trigger warnings: Racism, explicit sexual content, slurs (racist, homophobia, transphobia), homophobia, transphobia, parental abuse

My Review:

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Entry 145: The Guest List [RECOMMENDED]

Author: Lucy Foley
Genre: Thriller ; Mystery ; Contemporary ; Suspense ; Crime
Publication: June 2nd 2020 by William Morrow
Pages: 330
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Trigger warnings: Creepy guys, ableism (mental illness), parental abuse, self harm, abortion (not explicit), mentions of past revenge porn, mentions of past suicide, suicidal inclinations, sexual harassment

My Review

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Entry 144: What Big Teeth

Author: Rose Szabo
Genre: Horror ; Urban Fantasy ; Mystery ; Gothic
Publication: February 2nd 2021 by FSG
Pages: 394
Format Read In: Ebook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Trigger warnings: Blood, gore, animal death, homophobia, family abuse, family abandonment

My Review

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Entry 143: Alexandra Forever 2291 (Book #1 of The Strange Matter of the Red Dwarf)

Author: D.W. Richards
Genre: Sci-fi ; Short Story ; Humour ; Space Opera
Publication: July 24th 2020 by A4E Project
Pages: 185
Format Read In: Ebook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

A red dwarf system bursts into our universe. Is it merely a star system or is it something else entirely?

This frequently humorous space opera adventure opens on the crest of a gravity tsunami, when a red dwarf star system punches through the fabric of space-time and barrels toward the Milky Way Galaxy. The Early Warning Centre can only watch helplessly as colonized space braces for impact.

The dire situation takes an unforeseen twist in this science fantasy when an SOS transmission from a long-lost experimental starship, The Invictus, is traced to the sole planet orbiting the red dwarf.

Alexandra, Post Office Marshal and living goddess, is in an action-packed race against time when she is conscripted to retrieve either The Invictus itself or, failing that, its top-secret data, before the ship is lost to imminent galactic collision, or worse, falls into the wrong hands.

Trigger warning: Blood, violence, brief mentions of gore, torture (fade to black)

My Review:

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Entry 142: The Henna Wars

Author: Adiba Jaigirdar
Genre: Romance ; Contemporary ; LGBTQA+
Publication: May 12th 2020 by Page Street Kids
Pages: 387
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

Nishat doesn’t want to lose her family, but she also doesn’t want to hide who she is, and it only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life. Flávia is beautiful and charismatic, and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat decide to showcase their talent as henna artists. In a fight to prove who is the best, their lives become more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush, especially since Flávia seems to like her back.

As the competition heats up, Nishat has a decision to make: stay in the closet for her family, or put aside her differences with Flávia and give their relationship a chance.

Trigger warnings: Homophobia, racism, cultural appropriation, non-consensual outing of a lesbian character, parental rejection

My Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]:

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