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review 2017-11-10 12:33
A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus
A Sea of Sorrow: A Novel of Odysseus - Vicky Alvear Shecter

First book for 16 Tasks- Square 2- Bon Om Touk-  Taking place on the Sea


We have all heard of Odysseus' journey and the fanciful tales he brought back while being away for 20 years after the War of Troy. We have heard the stories from Odysseus' point of view, now the H Team brings us the stories from the point of view of those that he told the tales about. Through Penelope, we find out how she ruled singularly as a Queen, through Telemachus, we learn what it was like to grow up without a father and King, we learn the stories behind the Kyklops and Sirens and the witch Circe as well as Calypso. 

I have loved reading the past stories that the H Team has cooked up and couldn't wait to read what they have developed for Odysseus. Seven different stories and points of view woven seamlessly together to tell of Odysseus from the other side. To me, this was an ingenious way of getting to know the real Odysseus, as he was known as a trickster. In this context, the gods and goddesses still existed, however, some of the mythology was dispelled. I enjoyed reading every different story on their own and couldn't wait to see who would give me insight into Odysseus next. The themes of Odysseus' tales stayed true, pride, oath, service, gratitude, survival and perseverance are still strong subjects throughout each tale. While I appreciated each story, there were several that stuck out for me. Penelope and Telemachus' tales were those of survival. I was impressed with Penelope's cunning and skill to stop her people from attacking her home in the absence of a king and her ingenuity to make money for her land. Telemachus was an interesting character for me, I felt his pain at his father's departure and wanted him to grow into a leader as much as Penelope did. Circe's tale also entranced me. Instead of a witch who trapped Odysseus on an island, Circe has been banished to the island with her handmaids and has been making do on her women-led island. When Odysseus arrives, he is a problematic for the women and uses them at his will. Overall, I was amazed at how Odysseus' story changed from the point of view of the other characters and how I was still entranced by the amazing journey and stories that have been created. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 


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review 2017-10-22 20:42
One For Sorrow
One for Sorrow: A Ghost Story - Mary Downing Hahn
I will admit that this is my first Mary Downing Hahn novel that I have ever read. I had been thinking that her novels were too light for my taste but after reading this one, I believe that I might have been wrong. I started this novel right before going to sleep but I ended up staying up way past my bedtime and then I got up way too early so I could finish it. The real obsession I had with this novel is that I dreamt about it. I didn’t dream about the ghostly presence that is inside the novel, I dreamt about the altercations between the individuals in the novel. I was filled with fervor, passion and desire at what was transpiring in the novel.
This novel was fast-paced and I loved it. It began with Elise taking claim to Annie, the new girl, when she arrived at school. Elise becomes obsessed with Annie, not even allowing her to have any other friends besides her. Annie breaks away from the domineering and manipulative Elise after Elise doesn’t come to school for a few days. Annie becomes friends with Elise’s arch enemy Rosie (and her posse) and boy, things get intense quickly. It’s funny how fast Annie turns on Elise, telling her to leave her alone and casting her aside now that she has new friends to hang out with.
Influenza is hitting their town hard, closing down the schools and shops and killing a handful of individuals daily. With their days free, the girls get the notion to attend wakes of individuals in town. I found this idea, twisted and hilarious, at the same time. They have motive for their actions and they begin to enjoy their outings, sometimes attending a couple wakes a day.
Rosie and Elsie have a horrible relationship and as the girls’ spot Elsie one day after a viewing, the In Flew Enza chant which was created by Rosie, shows just how rotten and awful things have progressed to, between these two girls. I found the chant creative when Rosie first came up with it. They’d jump rope to it, singing it as the rope looped over their heads but now as Annie, Rosie and her small group of friends gathered around Elise, holding their hands together chanting the words, the chant sounded horrid. Over and over, the tune going faster and faster, all the while, Elsie is yelling at them to stop as they circled her. The taunting and the traumatizing that was occurring was a memorable visual for me. Bullying, so much bullying between these girls. I’d love to tell you more about the novel but I don’t want to spoil it. I will say, the energy and the intensity does not let up until the very end. I was so happy that I woke up in the middle of the night to finish it. This will not be my last Mary Downing Hahn novel. I highly recommend this novel.
I am using this novel for my Chilling Children square for Halloween Bingo.


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review 2017-09-29 14:45
Interesting mystery, but...
Two for Sorrow - Nicola Upson

I was left feeling somewhat unsatisfied.  


Josephine Tey is investigating the notorious Finchley Baby Farmers episode, interviewing people she knew and trying to get an insight into this terrible crime in order to write a fiction book.  Suddenly one of the seamstresses at Motley dies horribly and there has to be an investigation, the past and present collide and relationships are messy.


Several of the people involved need to talk better to each other.


It's interesting but somehow I felt like the relationships overshadowed the mystery, I have no issues with the relationships but I felt that the sometimes intruded on the murder mystery in ways that made it more complicated than it really needed to be.


It could be argued that the baby-farmers were monsters and some of what is done is monstrous but it doesn't really fit into any of my free slots (it does fill Darkest London, Amateur sleuth, Terrifying women and murder most foul but I've used those) so Raven it is.

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review 2017-08-30 17:52
Interesting book but perhaps needed a different approach.
Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present - Jacqueline Jones

With Labor Day coming up in the US this seemed like a good time to finally pick this up after seeing this on a list a year or two ago. The book looks at the role of black women in the US work force from slavery to the more recent day (this was first published in 1986 and that's the version I read). From the fields to domestic to work to entering the workforce to wartime to the more "modern" era this looks at black women and how their roles changed, how they worked, etc.


It's a huge, ambitious work and I think a review on Goodreads nails it well in that maybe this was too much for one volume. The initial chapters that focused in the colonial times through the Civil War were really interesting (especially when given the lack of source material due to time, the inability to read/write, etc.). But the post-Civil War chapters just sort of dragged and dragged. Sometimes it just felt the author was putting down fact after fact like a very dry textbook. It's an interesting topic but I'm not sure if the author's approach worked for me.


In some ways I found it was much easier to understand via other works. I was reminded of Isabel Wilkerson's 'The Warmth of Other Suns' which addresses the history of black people leaving the South to move North or West or even 'The Help' which has black domestic workers as a major part of the story. To be fair 'The Help' is a book of fiction that has many issues but I was reminded of that story when reading this. 


If this is a topic that interests you then by all means it's worth borrowing from the library or buying as a bargain book. But if it's something you don't know much about (which may be part of my problem) OR you have an interest in a particular time period Jones writes about then you may want to look at the book first before deciding to dive in. Would not be surprised to see this pop up in a class about black people, the history of labor and other related subjects.


It might be better to go for books that focus on more specific aspects/topics. I wholeheartedly recommend 'Warmth' although that book is not about black women specifically. Otherwise this wasn't a bad read (and maybe I should have gone for the updated version instead) but I didn't quite get what I had hoped out of this text. 

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review 2017-08-11 00:00
One for Sorrow: A Ghost Story
One for Sorrow: A Ghost Story - Mary Downing Hahn A ghost story, indeed. Quick, easy read. I wasn't to impressed with the characters in this book but all together it was very well written.
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