Sunday Spotlight: “Bregalad’s Song”

O Orofarnë, Lassemista, Carnimírië!
O rowan fair, upon your hair how white the blossom lay!
O rowan mine, I saw you shine upon a summer’s day,
Your rind so bright, your leaves so light, your voice so cool and soft:
Upon your head how golden-red the crown you bore aloft!
O rowan dead, upon your head your hair is dry and grey;
Your crown is spilled, your voice is stilled for ever and a day.
O Orofarnë, Lassemista, Carnimírië!

–Bregalad the ent to Merry and Pippin, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (explanation, performance)

Birthday Book Haul

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T H E   H A U L

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Stardust and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman |I found these absolutely stunning covers on Book Outlet and knew I had to have them. I haven’t read any Gaiman since high school, but Stardust is still one of my favorite books/movies of all time. This is one of the few movies that I can rewatch constantly and I am, in fact, watching it right now. I don’t quite remember Neverwhere, but these covers are still fantastic. They’re very 70’s mass-market fantasy cover and I’m living for it. Here is some more info from Gaiman’s blog.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones | This book/movie was one of my favorites as a kid and I remember loving the whimsical, fantastical writing style. I’ve been re-reading all my old favorites lately (Harry Potter, the Tortall series, etc.) and this one has made the list, so I can see how it’s held up since it is another movie that I can rewatch constantly and never get bored. Also, my cat’s name is Calcifer. I may eventually purchase the last two books in the series, but again, this one happened to be super cheap on Book Outlet.

Geisha, A Life by Mineko Iwasaki | The trend so far is books that remind me of young Sarah, and this one is not an exception. In high school, I was obsessed with Memoirs of a Geisha, the book, and the movie. I even did a major project in my history class about the history of geisha as a result. Since then, I learned about some inaccuracies and fabrications and have been wanting to pick this up for a while. Mineko Iwasaki is the woman that Arthur Golden interviewed for his book, but she was upset with his portrayal and so this book was produced. I’m super excited to read it.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore |If you like/are interested in magical realism in YA, this is your girl. I read her book When the Moon Was Ours last year, then promptly read her first book, then ordered this one. She weaves beautiful stories about family and love and growth with diverse characters and poetic imagery.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe | I was looking up road trip books one day (I had a craving) and stumbled upon this recommendation, then eventually realized the title of this book was in the lyrics of this song:

If I have to be honest, that’s the main reason I bought this book when I saw it in my favorite used bookstore. I may read it this October when my husband and I rent a van in California to road trip to a couple music festivals.

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A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle | My most amazing, beautiful, wonderful, generous best friend in the whole wide world gifted this copy to me for my birthday. We’ve fallen in love with the Folio Society editions of books, but they’re pretty pricey so I haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Of course my best blob came through.

Legendary Ladies by Ann Shen | My other bestie gifted this one to me. It’s a collection of goddesses in different cultures and contains the most beautiful art. I’m pretty pumped to see what’s in it.

Let Them Eat Chaos by Kate Tempest | Kate Tempest is an amazing poet/musician/writer/artist in general. This collection is paired with her album of the same name and the song above is one of the tracks. It’s definitely worth a listen, but beware because you’ll become super jaded.

erotic poems by e. e. cummings | This one I bought for the story. My husband was with me at my favorite bookstore and asked me if the author’s name was a joke. The title combined with the poet does seem made up, I’ll give him that.

The Pleasures of the Damned by Charles Bukowski | Lastly, I broke down and bought a Bukowski poetry collection. I know, I know, he’s a misogynistic asshole. I liked his poetry in college and hey, he’s not alive to take my money so at least I’m not supporting a total asswipe of a human being. Thanks, Book Outlet!

I N   C O N C L U S I O N

I had a very successful birthday month! Only two of these were actual gifts, the rest were gifts to myself because I’m worth it.

June TBR

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PSA: This TBR list is subject to change drastically. This is my first month setting a TBR for myself and who knows how it will go.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne | (ebook, not pictured) This one I have already read and will review it in my wrap up later this month! I read it because of Chelsea from Chelseadollingreads on BookTube, check her out.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | I started this one a few days ago. I’m not a big fan of YA comtemporary novels, but thought I would make an exception for the new John Green. I was a huge vlogbrothers fan back in the day, and loved his books in high school. I bought it right when it came out, so I need to read it before it’s no longer relevant.

The Diviners by Libba Bray | I started this one last month on audiobook, I just happen to have a physical copy as well. It’s absolutely fantastic, it just takes me a while to finish audiobooks sometimes. Last I checked, I have 4 hours left and I need to just finish it and get to the next one.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett | This one may be replaced with any fantasy book, I’ve been in a fantasy mood lately. This one in particular is part of the Tiffany Aching series, which is Pratchett’s YA Discworld books. This is the book I read in high school that started my interested in Pratchett.

Pansy by Andrea Gibson | I bought this book a few months ago when Andrea Gibson was going to be in my city, but I never got to make it to her book signing. I’m familiar with her spoken word on Youtube, but I’ve never picked up any of her collections before and I’ve been in a poetry mood lately.

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore | I just bought this book as a birthday gift to myself last month (haul blog post coming soon). I’m obsessed with McLemore and am so excited to read this one. I need more magical realism recommendations because I can’t get enough. I know it’s not for everyone, but flowery words are my jam. McLemore writes a lot about family and love and lgbtq+ characters and it’s always beautiful. I actually don’t know what this one is about, but that’s not a big deal to me.

Deadly Class (#1-4) by Rick Remender | Honestly, I don’t know much about this series. My best friend let me borrow all her Rick Remender graphic novels and I’ve only read Strange Girl so far. I know this one is about an assassin high school, so we’ll see how it goes.

I N   C O N C L U S I O N

Let’s see how this month goes! After all that, I’m already thinking I may DNF Turtles and skip to something I’m more excited about reading. After my Tamora Pierce month I just want to read more fantasy.

May Wrap Up

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May review pie chart

I had a pretty decent reading month in May, all things considering. I’m recovering from a major reading slump and after slowly getting though Misery, I decided to continue my read-through of Tamora Pierce, which was basically nostalgia-juice and got me back on track.

Misery by Stephen King | ★★★☆☆ | Ehhhhhhhh. I keep going back and forth on my opinion about Stephen King. Yes, this book was suspenseful and made me feel many emotions. Around the second half of the book, I couldn’t put this down. On the other hand, every King book I’ve ever read has pacing issues and I struggle to stay focused and actually read at certain points. Also weird sex stuff. I probably would have loved this a hell of a lot more when I was in high school and adored King, so I rate this 3 out of 5 severed appendages for nostalgia.

Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4) by Tamora Pierce | ★★★★★ | This was a lovely conclusion to the Song of the Lioness series, Pierce’s first series in the Tortall universe. As a kid, I was only able to read the Tortall books that my library had available, and I had never finished this particular set of books before. Even though some things are spoiled in later books, I loved reading about Alanna and felt really empowered throughout her journeys. The third and fourth books have some adult themes, so that may have been why I couldn’t find them back then. Regardless, even now I feel like I could learn to sword fight the patriarchy.

Wild Magic and Wolf-Speaker (Immortals #1 & 2) by Tamora Pierce | ★★★★★ & ★★★★☆ | Right after finishing Lioness Rampant, I went straight to the Immortals series. This was the series I re-read constantly when I was young. Daine was my goddamn hero. As a kid, I definitely wrote what I now know is fanfiction about Daine and her animal friends. However, I totally get why some people don’t like this particular series in the Tortall universe. I can see the pacing issues and the characters weren’t as relatable and real as I remember. At some points, Daine is treated much older or much younger than she really is and there is definitely one icky moment where (as a 12-year-old) she is sexualized by one of the teenage boys. It was taken care of in the story, but it’s definitely an unecessary moment that probably wouldn’t have been published if it came out in 2018. Despite that, I still love this series and Tamora Pierce for shaping my childhood and fueling my love for fantasy. Eventually, I will do a full review when I have finished re-reading (and reading some books for the first time) the entire series as it stands.

The Humans by Matt Haig | ★★★★★ | This is a new favorite for me and deserved its own blog post. See my full review here.

Fables: The Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 by Bill Willingham | ★★★★☆ | Surprisingly, I only read one graphic novel all month. Fables is my comic crack, though. I’m slowly collecting all the volumes in the Deluxe Edition and volume 4 is waiting for me. I can’t review this without spoiling the entire series, but I read these when I was in high school and have been enjoying going back through. This is one that was obviously written by a man, though. As a childfree and pro-choice woman, this scene came off as condescending and forced as Dr. Swineheart is trying to talk to Snow about alternative options when she is clearly not okay mentally or physically with her pregnancy:

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I N   C O N C L U S I O N

It was a very productive month, even if it was flooded with Tamora Pierce books. I re-read a lot of books, but sometimes when you’re slumping or having a bad time you just need to re-read old favorites. Next month I may take a break from Tamora Pierce and continue my read/re-read of Terry Pratchett instead. Let me know your thoughts on the books I read this month!

“The Humans” Review

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“I know that some of you reading this are convinced humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don’t know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small, waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.”

 

S U M M A R Y

The Humans by Matt Haig is an interesting blend of science fiction and contemporary, about an alien that takes over a human’s identity to stop a mathematical principle called the Riemann Hypothesis from being solved. This hypothesis is essentially the solution to the pattern at which prime numbers occur, and according to the aliens, it would lead to catastrophe in human hands. Our main protagonist takes over the life of Professor Andrew Martin, an extraordinarily intelligent mathematician with a very poor relationship with his wife and son.

R E V I E W

★★★★★

This book is quirky, tongue-in-cheek, deep, and entrancing. It’s an interesting blend of sci-fi and contemporary. It deals with aliens and strange powers, but reads like a contemporary and has many themes commonly found in contemporary novels.

I have to say while reading the first few chapters, I almost put this down and didn’t pick it back up again. Reading about an alien with no previous knowledge of humanity trying to live as a human, I could barely deal with the secondhand embarrassment. Just keep that in mind if you decide to read this (which you should). It only takes a few chapters and it gets there. I ended up using so many tabs, I had to restrain myself from marking every single page.

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The writing is beautiful and incorporates math concepts and imagery to connect and compare the alien race to humanity. Haig expertly transitions from more calculated, scientific language to a more poetic and “human” language as the story progresses and as our main character begins to understand humanity.

Towards the beginning, he listens to Holst’s The Planets (an album I was tickled to realize I owned) and his interaction with music and art are important turning points for his character.

“Listening to music, I realized, was simply the pleasure of counting without realizing you were counting. As the electrical impulses were transported from the neurons in my ear through my body, I felt–I don’t know–calm.”

One of the joys I experienced while reading was listening to the music our main character mentioned.

“There was a Talking Heads song called ‘This Must Be the Place,’ which I played over and over again, even though doing so made me feel melancholy and crave to hear her voice again, or to hear Gulliver’s footsteps on the stairs.”

In conclusion, read this book. It’s a story about love and loss, repairing relationships, and familial bonds. It will make you cry and laugh and think about stuff. If you’re just done with humanity and its bullshit, this book may or may not change your mind.

Teach Me How To Make Internet Friends

Growing up I was a voracious reader, I would have to convince my mom to take me to the library so I could stock up on a stack of books to take with me everywhere. Thankfully she was easily convinced. I would read constantly, and I vividly remember my young self racing through tests so I could turn in my work and read about dragons and interesting ladies with swords. I performed decently in school because I had a good motivaotr.

Then, one day, I went to college. I bought my first laptop, then my first smart phone. It became so easy to distract myself with screens and social media and streaming services. I did worse in school because it was so easy to find another cheap distraction. Even now I keep opening a new tab to check Reddit or whatever. Technology is amazing, but also… fuck fast media. Re-learning how to sit and read the same story for hours at a time is so difficult when you’ve been trained to rapidly consume snippets of information.

This recent realization has cemented my resolve to take things slow and revisit old ideals. Last year around August I discovered BookTube and decided to start reading again. I discovered the analog film community and fell down the rabbit hole of analog photography. I have my collection of records and tapes and physical media that force me to slow down and enjoy an album (and pay artists for their work). I started ordering things on Amazon at the slowest shipping rate and also slowed my online ordering so I started buying things in store instead. It’s 2018 and I love being able to Google the number of children Angelina Jolie has on a device that lives in my pocket, but sometimes you have to relearn how to have patience.

All that to say this: I never learned how to make friends on the internet. I regularly visit online communities, but barely participate. Early 2000’s Sarah was a timid little nerd that still knew how to chat on Neopets forums about Harry Potter theories and favorite Pokemon, but 2018 Sarahjane is clueless. I have created and deactivated my personal Twitter account more times than I can count. How does it even work? You just…reply to Tweets? You talk to people? Yikes. These things have legitimately terrified me, but no longer! This is my blog post about making an effort. Do you have a blog (or a Twitter account)? What do you do with these platforms?