Sunday, February 25, 2024

The Sunday Post #359

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The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #359 

On The Blog Recently

In My Reading Life

I finished two books last week.

The first was Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman. It was fine. It's a young adult dystopia that takes place in a settlement on the Canadian plains (I think?). I love the setting and the culture of the characters because I haven't seen them in a dystopia before. The dystopias I've read have mostly felt like USA hellscapes. It's nice to see a different country's hellscape.

Unfortunately, the setting is the only thing I liked. Everything else follows a stereotypical YA dystopia script. If I read this book in 2010, I might have been obsessed, but in 2024? Not so much. That's probably my fault more than the book's. I went through a very intense dystopia phase in the early 2000s and read way too many of them.

Like most dystopias, Winterkill has Very Important Capitalized Words. There's a love triangle. There's an outcast teenage girl who seems to be the only person with a semi-functional brain. There are many moments of *Gasp* "The leaders lied to us? Who could have seen this coming?" There are forbidden woods where the leaders (very obviously) keep their secrets. There are prophetic dreams about the secrets in the forbidden woods.

I know I'm ragging on the book, but I didn't hate it! It has a few excellent plot twists, and you're never sure which characters to trust. You might like it if you want an extra dose of The Village, The Hunger Games, or The Forest Of Hands And Teeth.

Then I reread A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E. Schwab. I've lost track of how many times I've read this book over the years. I think this might be my fourth or fifth reread. The logical part of my brain always says, “I have some issues with this book.” The other part of my brain just fangirls over the adventures and Kell’s fabulous coat. Seriously, I want that coat.

A Darker Shade of Magic is about a magician, Kell, who has the ability to travel between parallel Londons. When he comes into possession of a dangerous magical stone from Black London, he teams up with a thief named Lila to destroy it.

The characters have so much personality, and it’s easy to fall in love with them. The dialogue is sharp, smart, and funny. The humor feels very organic and true to the characters. 

I was happy for the mood-lightening dialogue because a few of the Londons are depressing places. The world-building is impressive. The Londons each have their own unique culture, language, history, and architecture. It’s fascinating to read about. I think White London is my favorite because it’s creepy.

Like all of V.E. Schwab's books, I wish the magic system had been explained better and earlier in the story. It took me a long time to figure out how the magic works.

The problem with rereading the first book in a series is that I now want to reread the other two. This is terrible news for my TBR shelf and library books.

In The Rest Of My Life

Let's talk skunks! (I know you're only here for the skunk update.)

Last week, I discovered that there are a distressing number of skunks living under my house. After I wrote about them on the blog, the comments were like, "We need videos of the skunks!"

A perk of working in the wilderness conservation field is knowing experts on the local wildlife. I sent a group text that said, "I'd like to observe a cuddle puddle of skunks in the dead of winter. How?" I got back essay-length replies that started with, "First, you must spend your life savings on special camera batteries because mere mortal batteries won't survive the mission."

Long story short: I now have trail cameras. And winterized batteries. And no money.

It was worth it because I'm having fun with these cameras. I feel like I'm making a nature documentary. Except, it's all skunks. It's a skunk-umentary.

If the skunks didn't smell like Uncle Lester's foot fungus literally all the time, I'd let them stay under the house. The house smells absolutely foul. It gives me headaches. I have to drench my clothes in skunk odor neutralizer so I don't go to the grocery store smelling like a crime against humanity.

I have tried multiple skunk deterrents to make them leave. The best part of the cameras is watching the skunks briefly consider the deterrents before deciding they don't care.

Here's what I've tried:

Removing all food and water sources. I haven't seen the skunks eat anything. I also haven't seen them order delivery. I suspect they're dining out every night, which is financially irresponsible, but I can't judge because I bought skunk cameras.

Spotlights and strobe lights. At first, these mildly startled the skunks. Then they got used to them. Now the yard is a skunk disco with fabulous lighting.

Piling heavy stuff on top of their hole. This caused them to dig a new and much-improved hole. It just shows that challenges spark innovation.

Skunk powder, cups of ammonia, rags soaked in ammonia, all the ammonia. The skunks sniffed them and decided that ammonia smells better than skunks.

Leaving a radio next to their hole. It was my dad's radio, so it was tuned to a scary, shouty, conservative talk station. The skunks might be #MAGA now, but they're still in the yard.

Since I can't get rid of the skunks, I did the next logical thing and made them a YouTube channel. Here's Part 1 of their Skunkumentary. Like and subscribe! (I can't believe I just typed that. Gross.)

My DMs Are Open If The BBC Wants My Sweet Nature Footage

Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!


  1. Your skunk stories are amusing, but I imagine they might not be that fun to live with. I'm jumping over to watch them on YouTube.

    A Darker Shade of Magic sounds like something I'd like. I tend to like anything about London, even if it's alternate versions.

  2. MAGA skunks? I thought skunks were nice sweet creatures that had.a lovely temperament because nobody bothered them. In fact, your skunks do sound very sweet except for the odor. Good luck convincing them to move on.
    best, mae at

  3. A Darker Shade of Magic is probably my favorite V.E Schwab. The skunk cam is amazing! :D
    Have a lovely week, AJ!

    Her Weathered Pages

  4. MAGA skunks... seems redundant. (couldn't resist - sorrynotsorry lol)

  5. What could possibly deter skunks from living under your home? Good luck.

    I haven't read A Darker Shade of Magic or any books by that author. I have a habit of only wanting to read the first book in a series, so I tend to stay away from series.

  6. MAGA skunks? Yikes! Good luck with them!

  7. I've just shown the footage of your skunks to Himself who suggested claymore mines. They are absolutely beautiful and I love their loping gait - but then, I'm not smelling them! What about ultrasonic sounds - the type that dogs and teenagers hate?? I'm so sorry they are being so persistent. And I hope the coming week finds a solution to your problem.

  8. Well. They are cute, but what a nuisance and I am so sorry you are dealing with 24/7 skunk smell. Any chance that animal control could come and take them away?

  9. That meme about the food truck make me laugh. Those skunks look cute, but that smell sounds terrible especially when you smell it every day constantly. I don't think I could deal with that.

  10. Love your pics, but I know the reality is much harsher. I can't even. I would be ready to move!! I hope you find a solution, but I did watch them all 4 minutes and 44 seconds, LOL! I am so sorry and hopefully someone will have a great solution. Cindy

  11. Thanks AJ, you always make me laugh. I love the VE Schwab books. You know the next trilogy has started after that one? It's all awesome. I don't think I would be a fan of MAGA skunks. They may be cute on camera but that's because it is not near my house. I hope you get a solution before they have babies or invite friends for St. Patrick's Day.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  12. I am glad you recognized my need for a skunk update and provide one with so much detail. Thank you! This is a fantastic post which had me in stitches. Thank you, again.

  13. I have yet to read VE Schwab. I want to. Other books just keep grabbing my attention instead. Sorry the magic isn't explained very well. That's something to remember when I do finally get around to reading her books.

    Okay. I'm sorry you're dealing with the skunks, but I laughed so much reading your update. Also, if skunks didn't smell so bad, I'd have a whole group of them as pets. They're so cute! Thanks for the videos! Anyway, I hope you can find a way to make them leave so your house and belongings stop smelling like them.

  14. I read A Darker Shade of Magic four years ago but I never continued the series, I don't remember why but now I have to reread the first book in order to read the rest of the series. I don't remember a thing! Thank you for all the skunk pictures, I love that you had to point out the butt hole along with the other holes! LOL!

  15. The holes picture is CLASSIC and should be everywhere. Also, The Darker Shade of Magic sounds very good - adding it to my tbr, if only for the coat ;)

  16. Oh! I hope the skunks situation gets taken care of soon! Hope you have a great week!

    Here’s my Sunday Post

    Rabbit Ears Book Blog: WORLD’S WEIRDEST BOOK BLOG!

  17. One year, we also had skunks under our house. The only way to have them leave is throw a rag full of ammonia or something super strong smelling. They don't like the competition and will leave. Then when you are sure they are out, you block the entrance.
    But then, you hear neighbors complaining that a family of skunks have just moved in under their house. This is really what happened!!

  18. Oh my gosh, the skunk update is hysterical! There must be something they love about your house. I'm not sure what I would do, but I know they would drive my dog crazy!

  19. You sound like you are seeing the amusing side of your skunk issue but I know it must be dreadful. I’m surprised animal control or a wildlife group can’t help you get rid of them. I hope a solution lands in your lap soon.

  20. I love that you can laugh about this. When a raccoon destroyed my roof a decade ago I was not laughing. Have a great week!

  21. This whole post is so funny. But wow those skunks are determined to stay! I had no idea they just smelled in general, I thought it was just their spray. But yeah, might as well at least get a YT channel out of it, they owe you that much lol.

  22. OMG, yuck yuck yuck! I hope you get rid of the skunks soon!

  23. My brother just told me about a traffic jam he recently took part in when a mama skunk and her babies decided to cross the road and two of the babies stopped in the middle of the road to wrestle. Sorry to hear that you are being invaded. I've tried to read A Darker Shade of Magic a couple of time but bounced off it. It's on my Kindle and I'll have to try again. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  24. You are a riot, Aj. Sorry about the skunks. Hope you get a chance to read some good books to distract you.

  25. Sorry about the skunks.
    I have been meaning to read V.E. Schwab books for sometimes now. I have Vicious sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. The Winterkill book cover is great, so menacing.

  26. Thanks for letting us know how your skunks are doing. As for MAGA skunks, they should fit right in. I hope you find a way to relocate them.

  27. I burst out laughing and when my husband asked was so funny and I replied #MAGAskunks he looked at me like I was crazy! Conservative radio would sure make me relocate quickly. Thanks for the update.

    Wishing you a great reading week, with less skunks.

  28. I am roaring with laughter AJ! Sorry I know your situation is not funny but I so adore your sense of humor!

  29. I am loving the skunk content! LOL. I need to check out your YT. You should Kildee House, a kids book. I just read it and I thought of your situation last week while I was reading it. Lol.