Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Sunday Post #274

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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 #274





On The Blog Recently






In My Reading Life


Have you ever read the perfect book at the perfect time? That happened to me! I was craving something unsettling and escapist, and I found it!

The novel was The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. I enjoyed the heck out of this story. I guess it’s an Alice in Wonderland retelling? The main character is named Alice, and she ends up in a fantasy world full of vicious characters. If you like Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart A Doorway, you need to check out this book. Alice’s grandmother is an author, and terrible things happen to the people who read her books. When Alice’s mother disappears, she sets out with a friend to confront her grandmother and uncover the mystery of her grandmother’s scary little book. The Hazel Wood is a compelling mystery with tons of twists. Alice is not a likeable character, but she’s a believable teen, and her behavior makes sense when her family secrets are revealed.

My only complaint is the pacing. It takes an eternity for the characters to reach the fantasy world, and then we race through it so quickly that there isn’t time for world building. The fantasy world is superficial and confusing. But, that didn’t stop me from immediately requesting the sequel from the library. This story entertained me so much that I can forgive its problems. Hopefully we’ll get more world building in the sequel.

Unfortunately, my next read was less awesome. I read a historical fiction book called Longbourn by Jo Baker. It’s another retelling. This one retells Pride & Prejudice from the point-of-view of the servants. The Downton Abbey vibes are strong. While Elizabeth Bennet is falling in love with Darcy, the employees at Longbourn are dealing with their own heartbreaks and scandals. It’s Pride & Prejudice, but . . . with more dirty laundry. (Literally and figuratively.) There’s less glittering romance. Fewer posh upper-class people. I love the gritty atmosphere and seeing familiar characters from new perspectives. My problem is that I kept comparing it to Pride & Prejudice. That book is iconic because of the characters. They have memorable personalities. Longbourn is a watered down version of Pride & Prejudice. Even the author’s own original characters are bland. I was entertained by the shocking plot while I was reading it, but unlike Pride & Prejudice, the characters quickly faded from my mind.

Then I read Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I know this book gets mixed reviews, and I was nervous that I’d hate it, but the complete opposite happened. I loved it! It’s a composite novel, so you can’t go in expecting a traditional linear narrative. It’s a collection of linked short stories that start in 1700s Ghana and follow a family up until modern times. Each story focuses on a generation of the family. The book starts with two half-sisters. One stays in Ghana and marries a powerful man. The other is captured by slave traders and shipped to America. The writing is stunning. There are scenes that will stick with me forever, especially the ones set in prisons and mines. They’re very visceral. I like that the book doesn’t solely focus on well-known bits of history. I read a lot of history, but there were a few moments where I went, “Oh, I didn’t know about that.” Then I had to do some Googling.

I guess my only complaint is that it’s too short! I loved the characters so much that I was disappointed when the chapters ended. I wanted to know what happened next instead of jumping forward to a new generation. I will happily read more of Yaa Gyasi’s work. I know she has another book that came out recently. I’ll have to pick it up.


Right now, I’m reading The Night Country by Melissa Albert. It’s the sequel to The Hazel Wood. I’m interested to see where it goes because I don’t think The Hazel Wood needed a sequel. It was (mostly) fine one its own.



In The Rest Of My Life


Five things that made me happy recently:


  1. The Nutrisystem diet is working. I’m losing weight.
  2. I ordered Chinese takeout when I couldn’t stand Nutrisystem food anymore. It was delicious. (Shhh, don’t tell Nutrisystem.)
  3. I unfollowed a bunch of people on social media. That probably shouldn’t make me happy, but my feeds are much less overwhelming now. I’m actually seeing stuff that interests me! (I may have gotten a bit too excited about slapping the “unfollow” button. If you read this blog, and I unfollowed you, please let me know so I can re-follow. It was a mistake, I swear! I had to re-follow a few people who I accidentally unfriended. I blame the insomnia.)
  4. I signed up for Giftmas In July. It’s Secret Santa, but in July! Sign-ups are closed now. I’m stoked to start shopping.
  5. I was too anxious to sleep (that did not make me happy), so I took the dog for a walk in the dark. We saw raccoons! Lots of them! I love raccoons! (Even though they spread disease, kill people’s chickens, and throw trash everywhere. Those are just tiny flaws.) Raccoons are awesome.



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


  1. We don’t have raccoons in Australia, but we do have possums which look cute but are noisy, smelly and messy too. I’m glad you enjoyed Hazelwood, probably not to my taste, but Longbourn is still on my WTR list.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  2. I thought I had read Homegoing but I checked and I haven't, so I may be adding it to my list.

    Sad I missed out on Giftmas In July :(

    I hope you have a good week!

  3. I have become obsessed with raccoons on instagram. But these are domesticated raccoons. They still kind of scare me in the wild. I am happy to hear you are seeing results with your diet. Good for you! (I won't tell NS about the Chinese food either). I hope The Night Country is going as well as The Hazel Wood do. It's great to see you so enthusiastic about the books your reading.

  4. I know exactly what you mean about the perfect book at the perfect time. That has not happened to me lately, but I have high hopes that it will soon. I have a stack of 1001 Children's Books, and I think it is bound to happen.

    I heard Yaa Gyasi speak before I read her book, and I was afraid Homegoing was going to be one of those books that feel too creative-writing-workshopped (if that makes sense). But, no, it felt genuine and heartfelt, and I loved it.

    Raccoons got out of control in the country where my son lives. He counted sixty raccoons next door one night.

  5. I loved Homegoing, too, and would have loved reading an entire novel about any one of those characters!

  6. I'm definitely thinking about doing a purge on social media. I have so little patience lately for nonsense! And yay for Chinese food - you gotta have treat meals once in awhile!

  7. Your not-so-great reading experiences make me wonder if there are any good retellings of famous classics. I really haven't read very many that I liked, though I can think of a few exceptions. I agree with you about being overwhelmed by social media -- ages ago I just simply quit facebook altogether.

    best... mae at

  8. I'm glad the Nutrisystem is working for you. I wish we had a close Chinese takeout which was good. There are places, closer to where we used to live. We just have to try a bunch near this house. We've been here 2 years and still don't know where anything is. Thanks Covid.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  9. We don't have raccoons here but I'd love to see them! And I won't tell Nutrisystem promise!

  10. Ah Tyrion- he has a way with people, no? :) I started The Hazel Wood but haven't finished it yet- not because I didn't like it but just because I got sidetracked. I liked it though, surprised how dark it was. I need to get get it and finish it. I also started Longbourn and didn't get very far... that was a while back though.

    I love Chinese take out. Never a bad choice. Nutrisystem will have to deal. :)

    Raccons are awesome. Did you ever see the Canadian raccoon dude? the guy who feeds like 60,000 coons on his porch?

  11. Lol... your Happy Father's Day pic made me burst out laughing - thank you for that:))). And isn't Chinese takeaway a special food group that dieters follow anyway??? Except for prawn crackers, of course - they're not so good. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was REALLY a bit aggravated by Longbourn, which I expected would be so much better than it turned out to be. That plot had holes you could drive a coach and four through - especially near the end! I hope the coming week is a good one for you!

  12. I was shocked by how dark THE HAZEL WOOD was. Are you planning to read the sequel? My Sunday Salon post is mostly about animals.

  13. I'm glad Nutrisystem is working for you and that you strayed. Straying is important since life is full of food distractions. We cannot avoid them.

    I also loved Homegoing!

  14. I really loved Homegoing too. I picked up a copy of her new book but haven't had a chance to read it yet. I've been hearing good things though so I have high hopes for it.

  15. The perfect book at the perfect time is basically magic. Hazel Wood is on my TBR. I frequently have issues with retelling and I don't think would love Longbourn for the reasons you mention. Yay for Nutrisystems working and for straying a bit. Have a great week!

  16. Ooo, Happy Christmas in July :-)

  17. I didn't have luck with Longbourn either. A few years ago, it was a book club selection (suggested by the person who *always* suggests P&P retellings) and I just couldn't get through it.

  18. I enjoyed The Hazel Wood! It seems to be hit or miss for a lot of people.
    Yay for Nutrisystem working. I am also trying to lose weight, so we'll see what I can find/do that will be helpful. hah


  19. I am curious about The Hazel Wood.

    Raccoons freak me out a little bit, lol.Enjoy those walks, though.

    Have a great week, and thanks for visiting my blog.

  20. That Happy Father's Day pic made me laugh. Lol. Glad to hear Nutrisystem is working!

  21. Interesting assortment of books. I need to get serious about my food choices again. My clothes are getting tight. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  22. Love the choice of Tyrion for Father's Day. LOL The feeling of reading the right book at the right time is unparalleled. I love when the Book Forces come together to make that happen. Hooray for Chinese food (I won't tell Nutrisystem).

  23. I also loved your Tyrion picture for Father's day! I need to get back on some kind of diet, I need to lose weight, and since it has gotten to summer temperatures here already, my goal of walking every morning outside never materialized beyond one day. lol. I was going to sign up for the giftmas in July, but decided I couldn't do it this year unfortunately. I'll try to make up with a bunch of sign ups next year! Have a great week!
    Lisa Loves Literature

  24. I need a holiday with perfect reads at the perfect time. That's all I need at the moment. I've cheated on my diet the last two weeks like crazy, but hey - stress is good for not picking weight up again!

    You had a good reading month so far. I still want to read Every heart a doorway and then I'll try The Hazel Wood too!

    Have a good week AJ!

    Elza Reads

  25. I'm glad you enjoyed The Hazel Wood! I didn't love it because of the pacing issue you mentioned, but I know a lot of people thought it was great! I go on unfollow sprees sometimes too so I totally get how good it feels. XD

  26. I LOVED The Hazel Wood when I first read it. Let me know if you think the sequel/companion is worth reading.

  27. I can't tell if I'm unfollowed or not, ha. I still need to read Homegoing .... so glad you liked it! yay!

  28. Omg! So happy you loved Homegoing! It's one of my favs. And thinking of the chapters as short stories does help. I think part of the reason why other folks didn't like it is because the flow from chapter to chapter otherwise seems choppy.
    Lol about the raccoons. My father swears they play soccer in the backyard at night. They get up to some weird shenanigans out there at that time.

  29. I recently found out that Melissa Albert grew up right near me (her dad posted about her latest book on Nextdoor, a neighborhood group). Confession: I didn't love the first book (I think those pacing issues really got me---and maybe I just wasn't in the right mood for that type of book?), but I think I might give the series another chance at some point.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    Dr. Collette Ara-Honore