Monday 28 March 2022

For the Wolf

Finished March 22
For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten

This novel is the first in a new series called The Wilderwood. Neverah (Neve) and Redarys (Red) are two sisters, daughter of the Queen of Valleyda. They are fraternal twin sisters, with Neve the older of the two. It's been many years since there has been a Second Daughter in the royal family of their kingdom, and Red has known of her fate as long as she can remember. 
There is some world-building here, but mostly around the one kingdom. There is mention of the other kingdoms and one gets a sense of some elements of how they interact with each other, but nothing deep. I'm curious as to whether the series will bring them in more in future installments. 
Long in the past, the Kingdoms' leaders had asked the Wilderwood to save them from monsters, and in exchange they agreed to give every Second Daughter of the ruling family of Valleyda to the Wolf that guards the wood. So, on their twentieth birthday, these young woman are put through a ceremony dedicating them to the Wolf and then paraded to the edge of the forest at the northern edge of the kingdom and sent in, never to come out. 
Neve and Red are close, and have talked in the past about trying to rebel against this tradition. When they were sixteen they left a celebration and went to the forest to rebellion and something happened. Red was changed by this experience and has been fighting a pull from the trees ever since. She believes that following through with her traditional destiny is the best thing to do, and has stopped fighting to change it. 
Neve doesn't understand why Red has given in, and wants to still fight to keep Red beside her. As Red continues to follow her destiny and enters the forest in her ceremonial clothing, she finds something that she didn't expect, and, as she learns more of the fate of her predecessors, and of the true nature of the Wolf, she finds that her thoughts about the Wilderwood and its nature adjust and become more complex. 
I'm really looking forward to the next book, which there was a taste of at the end of this one. 

The School of Life: An Emotional Education

Finished March 15
The School of Life: An Emotional Education, by The School of Life, introduced by Alain de Botton

This book is a culmination of years of research from The School of Life, which de Botton founded. The aim of the book is "to equip people with the tools to survive and thrive in the modern world." It believes the most important tool is emotional intelligence. 
The book is divided into five sections: Self, Others, Relationships, Work, and Culture. Each one of those sections is also divided.
The introduction was quite interesting, giving some background to the research that went into the book, the patterns of the past and how they became part of the culture of western civilization, and how emotional intelligence can help reset some of those habits to healthier ones. 
For the section on Self, discussions include self-knowledge, awareness of our past and how that influences us, and different therapies that we might experience to become more mentally healthy.
For the section on Others, topics include kindness, charm, and calm. In Relationships, the discussions are getting together, the importance of sex, and dealing with problems.
In Work, which is a shorter section without larger subdivisions, the considerations are: the dangers of the good child, confidence and the inner idiot, imposter syndrome, fame, specialization, artists and supermarket tycoons, consumer society, Maslow's hierarchy, advertising, and artistic sympathy.
Culture looked at romantic versus classical personalities, a very interesting discussion on the concept of value, imperfectionism, the concept of "good enough", and the ideas of gratitude and wisdom.
This is a book that hit home in some ways, that had me skeptical of some ideas, and that made me reflect on larger ideas and concepts. A very interesting read. 

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index

Finished March 2
Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

This teen novel follows title character Juniper during her junior year of high school. A couple of months ago Juniper was in a car accident that also took the life of her older sister Camie. Before Camie died, Juniper was keeping a daily list of things in her life that made her happy, something Camie encouraged her in. Since then, Juniper has adjusted the list for both happy and sad, and numbered them from that day instead of with the date. She keeps them on index cards, and when she is running late one day, she takes the card to school to finish. 
When she gets home the card is missing and this sends her on a hunt for it that takes her to some unusual places and brings her some unexpected companions. 
Juniper's lifelong best friend has been keeping her distance, and Juniper doesn't know how to fix that. She ends up approaching new people and making new friends, but her motives for that don't always come from the right place. 
One unexpected outlet for her ends up being art, and she begins experimenting with her feelings for her sister through this. 
I liked the character of Juniper and felt for her struggling through her grief, as well as with the differing reactions of those around her, from her parents to her friends, teachers, and classmates. 
A good read, that kept me interested throughout. 

Friday 18 March 2022

My List for Classic Spin #29

This list is due by Sunday March 20th, 2022, when the spin will happen and then the book it lands on has to be read by Sunday, April 30th, 2022. That gives those of us participating six weeks to read the book.

As always, the spin is hosted here

Here is my list of 20 books:

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  2. The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder
  3. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  4. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  5. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  6. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  7. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  8. Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
  9. The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
  10. Summer Will Show by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  11. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
  12. Roxana by Daniel Defoe
  13. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
  14. The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
  15. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  16. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  17. The Dead Girls' Class Trip by Anna Seghers
  18. Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor
  19. Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor
  20. Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel

 This includes some short ones, some long ones, and some I've struggled with before.


Monday 14 March 2022

I Found You

Finished February 28
I Found You by Lisa Jewell

Single mom Alice Lake hasn't always made the best decisions when it comes to men. Each of her three children has a different father, none of whom are present in their lives. So when she sees a man on the beach in front of her home in the resort town of Ridinghorse Bay, she resists the urge to see what he's doing there, at least at first. But eventually she approaches him and she ends up taking him under her wing when she discovers his situation. 
Her youngest dubs him Frank, and immediately accepts him, while her older two are more wary. Alice herself isn't sure about what she is doing, but it feels like the right thing to do. 
As small things gradually remind Frank of things from his life, she both hopes he will remember more and is scared of what he will remember, as is he/
Near London Lily waits at home for her husband Carl, but he doesn't arrive. She can't understand it. They've only been married a couple of weeks, and he has been hurrying home from work, eager to be with her, bringing her gifts. But the night before he didn't arrive and Lily knows that something is wrong. She knows little about her new husband, and less about where she now is. They met when he was at a conference in her country of Ukraine, and had a whirlwind romance. She's been continuing her studies online and wanting to meet his friends and family, but he wanted to keep her to himself a while longer, or so he said. 
She knows something is wrong when he doesn't answer his phone, and she isn't sure where he might be, but she is determined to find him. When the police get involved, she learns some disturbing things about him and begins to have questions herself, but it doesn't dissuade her from her search for him. 
As a reader, I sensed early on that these two situations were connected, but was very surprised to find out how. 
This is a tale of suspense, a tale of loss and grief, and a tale of hope for the future. I really liked Alice, and was intrigued by Frank. A book I found hard to put down. 

Wednesday 2 March 2022

The House of Whispers

Finished February 25
The House of Whispers by Laura Purcell

This novel has a touch of gothic and otherworldly. There are two timelines, but we aren't given dates for them. They are forty years apart, and both set at a remote house on the cliffs in Cornwall. 
The later timeline starts the novel, as Esther Stevens, now going by the name of Hester Why sets off on a coach for Cornwall where she has taken a position of nurse for an older woman. We gradually learn what and why she is fleeing, and she has an encounter on her journey that brings attention upon her, which she does not want. 
When she arrives at her destination, she finds the other servants a mix of friendly and taciturn, with one of them seeming a bit odd and unnerving. The woman she is looking after barely speaks, is frail, and seems to be in her own world. There is also a younger woman in the house, who is treated as if she is a child, although she is not one in age. 
Hester is also dealing with her own demons, as we discover quite early. She finds the various members of the household believing in superstitions around fairies, changelings, and God, that she has trouble reconciling with reality.
The earlier timeline takes place as a doctor and her adult daughter arrive at the house where he plans to begin an experimental treatment for consumption. The patients he has to begin this treatment are convicts, all suffering from consumption at a variety of stages. His daughter Louise is his assistant in this experiment, and both are grieving the loss of his wife and other daughters from the disease of consumption. 
Louise worries about her father, grieves the rest of her family, and has resigned herself to dedicating her life to her father's dream at the expense of having a family of her own. The maid that her father has hired is a woman with superstitions and odd behaviours that she isn't entirely comfortable with. 
As we gradually learn the links between these two times at this remote house, we also find ourselves seeing these two women who both care perhaps too much for those they serve and see how they react in their own way to loss. 
This is a book with lots of atmosphere, including the ever present sea and strange music. A very different read.

Tuesday 1 March 2022

March Reviews for 15th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge

 This is the place to post your reviews for books read in March 2022.

Make a comment as well on your book or progress.