November has well and truly smashed me in the face with a brick. It's been a slow month for pretty much everything: reading, blogging, and bookstagram. I've got some time off for Thanksgiving, which I hope will give me some more time to work on passion projects.
Upcoming reviews include: My Real Name is Hanna, The Ghost Network: Activate, House of Salt and Sorrow, The Grace Year, I'm Not Dying With You Tonight, and Reverie. Honestly, I can't say when I'll be done with all of them, but I wanted to share my plans here to give some air of accountability.
As for my bookstagram, I'm thinking it's time for me to find a space with lots of natural light and just go to town on switching up my style. I've been stuck in a rut for a while, and I think I want to do away with minimalism and flatlays! As much as I love my fairylight stars, they don't really play well with The Algorithm. If you have any ideas, or an aesthetic you'd like to see more of, drop me a line!
I'm back! And I have a fun blog tour post to share today, with my review of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood. You can follow along here to see reviews and features by other bloggers, and scroll to the bottom to read my review and enter a great giveaway as well.
The Book and its Author
The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.
Amy Trueblood grew up in California only ten minutes from Disneyland which sparked an early interest in storytelling. As the youngest of five, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite books. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, she worked in entertainment in Los Angeles before returning to work in Arizona.
Fueled by good coffee and an awesome Spotify playlist, you can often find Amy blogging and writing. Nothing But Sky, a 2018 Junior Library Guild selection, is her first novel.
Thank you to Flux and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
An inspiring historical fiction novel about a girl’s exploration of 1936 San Francisco’s medical community, Across a Broken Shore is a great read for those who, like me, enjoy reading about women in STEM.
This novel was very character driven, and I enjoyed reading from Willa’s perspective. Her curiosity and drive to help her community was so honest and open-hearted. She recognized the prejudices against women in her time, and although she wanted to meet her family’s expectations, she also had no qualms about being ambitious and dedicated. Willa’s large family (four brothers, two parents) were also featured, and they each had distinct personalities and reflections on Willa’s role in the family, something that she considered often: how her family seemed to speak over her and turn her into their perception of who she should be. By meeting and working with Dr. Katherine Winston, Willa finds a place away from her home where she can make whatever she wants of herself.
A central part of the story revolves around the doctor that Willa shadows, Dr. Winston. I loved the development of their relationship, which I felt had a very natural progression. Dr. Winston was so encouraging to Willa, and taught her about the role a doctor plays in the community as well as the details of medical procedures. Women supporting and teaching younger women is a particularly special plot thread to me. I think the importance of generational recognition and sharing of knowledge can be represented in so many ways, and I’m glad that Trueblood made it a key aspect of this novel.
The main conflict for Willa was her struggle to balance her family’s dream that she take her vows as a nun, and her own desire to learn medicine and become a doctor. She values her religion strongly, and cares deeply for her family, but is also feeling massive guilt because many generations of MacCarthy women have become nuns. As the only girl in her family, she is expected to do the same, but her wish for education wars with her sense of familial obligation. Willa is admirably dedicated to her family, but we can see equal joy when she’s learning from Dr. Winston and seeing another path she could take.
I haven’t read many historical fiction books set during the Depression in the US, so the world-building in this novel was interesting for me. I liked that Willa’s story coincided with the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, tying her to a major American landmark. Through the novel, we got to read about the difficulties of building the bridge, and the risks the workers took to earn a living for their families. We also got to see a Hooverville in the city, which emphasized the extreme poverty felt by many during the Great Depression. Willa’s view of the Hooverville was unique in perspective because she didn’t view herself as well off, especially in comparison to some girls she knew, but gained new appreciation for her family's pub and livelihood once she saw how little other families had to live on. This strengthened her desire to aid her community as well, by checking up on families who needed medical attention, and bringing food to a couple of kids she’d met earlier.
There was also a sweet romance in the novel, between Willa and a bridge worker she meets. They were so cute, and I’m glad their relationship developed in the story, but I’m also glad that Willa’s journey didn’t begin to revolve around the boy.
My only problem is that at times, the plot felt repetitive. By this I mean that since most of the conflict in the novel was Willa’s choice between her two possible futures, she tended to go back and forth in her convictions every couple of chapters. There are other events in the novel, but a significant amount of page time is dedicated to Willa changing her opinion about being a doctor or being a nun. I wish her line of thinking had been a bit more linear. There’s definitely a place for indecisive characters, but in other regards Willa did not strike me as such, so I found this aspect confusing.
All in all, 4/5 stars! I am pleased to recommend Across a Broken Shore to any historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoyed The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a notable title (and one that pops up often here!) featuring a girl exploring science in the early 20th century. Calpurnia Tate is a middle-grade novel, so perhaps readers who picked it up a couple of years ago might like to revisit similar themes in Across a Broken Shore.
Whoop! I made it through my tech week! I had so much fun and so much stress at the same time, and now I'm trying to get my life back on track. This week's theme is crushing guilt! I've been putting off reviews for MONTHS of several ARCs I've been lucky to receive, and between now and Thanksgiving my goal is to review all of them. This will probably require rereads, but I'm committing. How's your week going? What are you reading?
As it turns out, my tech week has incapacitated me more than I originally thought it would! Yay! I'm having the longest days, and then I've got tons of work on top of that. Luckily for me, I read so much in September and early October that my Goodreads challenge (to which i am strictly adherent) won't suffer. I'm currently ahead 6 books, which makes up for my week of non-reading.
That being said, when I can steal a few minutes I plan to start reading Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo, which I've heard is an adorable contemporary romance centering a K-pop star and a journalist. I read her first book, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, and found it "funny, lighthearted, and romantic" according to my Goodreads review. I'm hoping this new novel proves to be more of the same.
Next week, when I have more time, my goal is to finish Ninth House. I want to give myself time to sink into the novel, because I've been talking about it pretty much since September. Every night, I stare longingly at its spine, but I've promised myself not to open it again until I can properly dedicate a few hours to the New Haven landscape.
That's all for now, but I promise to return next week with my review of The Ghost Network, and a new blog tour post & review! I haven't forgotten!
Hey y'all, it's... Tech Week! I'm going to be a little absent this week because I'm currently involved in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. I'm working costumes, so lots and lots of wig work as well as garments. It's a lot of fun seeing the production come together, but it means so many long nights.
I have one review for you this week, and it's long long overdue. The wonderful folks at Andrews McMeel sent me a copy of The Ghost Network: Activate this past spring, and I've been terrible at getting down to it and writing my reviews. So that's on deck, but other than that I'm gone until next week. Hope you all have happy Tuesdays and good weeks!
If you've seen my recent blog tour post for Penguin Teen, you know that I've been catching up on spooky books for the Halloween season! Here are some perennial favorites in honor of the holiday.
I can't stop thinking about The Silvered Serpents. It's pretty much my only news--I finished reading on Sunday night and immediately dissolved into a puddle of tears and heart. Y'all need to keep this book on your mind! Next September is not that far away, and I promise it's worth the wait. I am so lucky to have received an early copy, although I think waiting for the final installment might actually destroy me. This is your first of MANY reminders to pick up The Gilded Wolves and get lost in 1789 Paris with Séverin's crew.
In other news, I'm partly through Ninth House and I love it! I think this is the only horror novel that I will actually tolerate, because I do not do jump scares, but I do like twisted, humorous, psychological thrills. I'm reading a bit every day, and it's a balm for my soul. I probably should be reading the books I have out from the library, but New Haven calls to me! I need it! Regardless, I expect to be done mid-November. I'm taking the time to savor Bardugo's prose and world, which I think is warranted for this novel. It's so different from her YA books, and I love that. What are you reading?
It's....... SPOOKY SEASON! I'm back today with a Blog Tour post for Penguin Teen's Wicked Reads campaign, sharing the stories that go bump in the night. My book is The Haunted by Danielle Vega, and a massive thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me a copy! Below the summary, I'm sharing costume designs for the main characters! I hope you pick up this spooky ghost story in celebration of Halloween.
Hi all, I'm so excited to share this post with you for the Beyond the Black Door Blog Tour! I've got an exciting feature, along with a summary of the book and information about a fun giveaway. Follow along on the tour to see reviews and other content from FFBC bloggers!
The Book and its Author
Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn't listen ...
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people's souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland's imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai's own soul, but the entire kingdom...
AdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of SHADOW RUN and SHADOW CALL (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR (Imprint/Macmillan).
10 Historical Figures with Fascinating Soul Houses
Sappho – As one of the earliest known lady poets, and most famous of lesbians, I just want to get to know her better.
Siddhārtha Gautama – I have some questions about enlightenment.
Plato – Would everything be in perfect form inside or would it be a junk show?
Cleopatra VII Philopator – I mean, her soul house just has to be cool.
Leonardo DaVinci – I want his soul house to be a flying machine and I’ll be disappointed if it’s not.
Ching Shih – I have to get pirates in here somehow, and who better than the infamous pirate queen who commanded tens of thousands? Four words: PIRATE SHIP SOUL HOUSE.
Edgar Allan Poe – I’m practically obligated to say this, as a writer of dark stuff. Maybe it would be like a house of horror.
Oscar Wilde – Because I love him, and his soul would somehow be witty and charming and sad and fabulous and gay all at the same time.
Salvador Dali – I feel like this is self-explanatory … as in, I want to see some melting clocks on the walls.
Katherine Johnson – Because holy crap, this woman’s mind. Her soul must be a stunner as well.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.