Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an incredibly entertaining and beautiful story set in African mythology (West African, I believe). I love mythology, but I had never really been exposed to mythology from this part of the world, so it was a real treat. Besides that aspect, the story itself is an epic quest adventure within a vibrant world with an amazing cast of characters.
The writing is told from three perspectives. Zelie, a diviner. Amari, a princess. And Inan, a prince, and brother to Amari. Diviners are known for their white hair and silver eyes. They would have inherited magic if it did not mysteriously disappear from this world. When magic disappeared, all of those who had already had magic when it disappeared were rounded up and killed – including Zelie’s mother – in the Raid. Amari and Inan grew up in the palace. Their father was the one who initiated the Raid and taught them that magic was evil.
The story begins when the magic starts to resurface, and the king is bent on snuffing magic out again, no matter the cost. There are themes of how power and strength are defined. As well as what is truly evil or not.
The characters in the story are so diverse and flawed. They each face their own cowardice and don’t always make the right choices, which can affect outcomes beyond themselves. Even when motivations and intentions are pure, decisions can still be wrong.
One aspect of the writing that I really enjoyed was the use of chapter lengths. The author would write longer chapters when deeper issues and themes or descriptions of worlds were being discussed. But, when the plot picked up or there were fight or action scenes, the chapters would get shorter. It felt like you were rushing with the characters themselves.
There wasn’t a lot of profanity as we know it. A diviner was referred to as a maggot which was a slur. They also had blasphemous words, like Skies or Oh my gods, which would be different words in our culture, but used the same way.
There was one sex scene toward the last third of the book, but it wasn’t graphic. A lot of it was implied, but it would not be hard to know what was implied.
There is a lot of violence in the book. Lots of people are killed, by sword or magic, and some of those deaths and fight scenes are pretty detailed. There is a lot of talk about scars that different characters had.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book. You don’t have to be knowledgeable in West African culture to understand what’s going on, what’s important, and what’s impactful. I can see some glimpses, some foreshadowing into the next book, which I’m not sure when that would come out, but I’m definitely going to put it on my list!
So, my computer might be kaput, but I am determined to get out these videos, especially since we are so close to the end!
I ended up using my little credit from my first foray into this meal delivery service to try another week of Hello Fresh. Actually, I did this last month, but I didn’t actually have time to write about it then.
This time I had no problem with food allergy contaminants, so these meals were rated based on my actual impression of them.
The first was a Carolina Barbecue chicken with mac n’ cheese and green beans. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. The chicken was okay. The mac n’ cheese was spicy. And the green beans were pretty standard. Although, one tip I got from this meal was to boil the pasta and throw the green beans in while it was cooking. It didn’t affect the taste pasta, and it was nice to not use an extra pot! I think boiling the green beans in the pasta water did add a bit of something extra which was nice.
The second meal was the Tuscan-spiced Shrimp and Orzo, which I rated 3 out of 5 stars. And this is one of the reasons I really like using the Hello Fresh delivery. Turns out, I don’t really like orzo. I’m not a fan of the texture. The shrimp and tomatoes were okay, but it just really wasn’t my preference. I’m glad I learned this through Hello Fresh so I don’t still have a bag of Orzo in my pantry.
But the last meal was a 5 out of 5 home run! It was Caprese Steak with Roasted Potatoes. In fact, I made this meal again, purchasing the ingredients on my own. I never thought to put a Caprese salad on a steak, though I have eaten feta on steak before, which is delish! Really, anything Caprese will probably be a win for me.
I’m not really planning on ordering again until maybe some time in mid to late summer. Since the baby is coming, I just don’t know how that will fit into the crazy chaos and transitions that are coming. But I will be interested to know how it would work with a baby around. One of the first people I watched on YouTube that did Hello Fresh videos had the toddler and baby chaos and still managed not to burn or overcook things. This gives me a bit of hope. I guess we shall see!
By the way, I do have code that can get you $40 off your first box if you want to try it for yourself.
Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book for Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 12, 2018). The story takes place mostly in Poland from the perspective of a girl named Anna. At the beginning of the story, she is 7 years old when her father, an academic professor, leaves for work one day and is taken by the Nazis to an internment camp. The friend that he leaves Anna with is unable to care for her, so she finds herself on the streets where she meets a mysterious man she calls the Swallow Man. She follows him outside of the city and that’s where the adventure begins.
It’s written in the 3rd person, though it is all from the perspective of this little girl. There are only a few times that the author breaks that fourth wall to explain something, such as the fate of her father early in the story. Other than that, we are only privy to her knowledge of the world around her, which is limited by what she understands.
The story covers several years of the travels of Anna and the Swallow Man, so she does grow up throughout the story. The writing doesn’t change, really, to reflect that, though the conversations and interactions with others do as she physically matures. Also, her perspective of the Swallow Man changes throughout the story as she grows up, and we do see some transformation that both of these characters go through on this adventure.
The plot is pretty fast moving. They interact with various parts of the war and witness several of the well-known Holocaust events, but a lot of it is again taken from the perspective of a young girl. She refers to these factories and encampments that keep popping up that the Swallow Man tends to avoid, but concentration camps are never really named that in their travels. So, having some basic knowledge of the Holocaust can help pick up on a few of these clues.
There wasn’t really any profanity that stood out, but the book did have some adult themes. As Anna’s body matures, there are implications from some of the men they encounter that suggest how womanly she had become. Also, there is a scene towards the end where she has to undress in front of a man in order to obtain something she needs. While there was no touching, the whole scene made me feel uncomfortable.
Also, there is a lot of violence and death. None of it was particularly graphic, most of the violence was done off screen, but there is a lot of death, which considering it was World War II and the Holocaust in Poland, it’s too be expected. It was interesting how Anna interprets the death that is happening around her.
I think, overall, it’s an excellent but hard read. It’s the kind of story that starts out quite light and calm and evolves into quite a dark story by the end. Not normally a book I would pick up, but definitely a good read for this particular time of the year.
I know that I’ve been anxious through most of this pregnancy, but this week just seemed to hit a peak. The place I struggle with it the most, which I mention a little bit in my video is putting this nursery together. There are so many memories I have of working on registries and the nursery in my other pregnancies, and I think that kind of tipped the scale this week. I can literally walk into the nursery, look at everything in there, and experience a complete creativity block having no idea what I want it to look like. I know it will come together eventually, so I’m just taking it one step at a time.