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Hannah

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Uuugh....

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-01-04

This book was recommended to me as a simple, fluffy read. Sure, it fits that description but it's also just silly. The main character, Sydney, is very Bella Swan-esque. So essentially useless. She requires being saved and cared for nearly the entire book. She's supposed to be clever yet walks straight into obvious danger consistently. Overall, the trope of sexually inexperienced girl who doesn't recognize her worth and beauty clumsily hopes she'll be loved but when all evidence says that her very sexually experienced male counterpart DOES love her, she's consumed with self-doubt...is overdone.

One of the best books I’ve ever read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-01-04

“There is a defiance in being a dreamer” I was told by many many many reviews that this book would wound me. That it would most likely make me cry. Yep. But in with those promises that came to fruition, there is a gorgeously written, poetic, heart-rending story of an incredible woman, a wonderful protagonist, and how she remains defiant in the most crushing of circumstances. This book is an epic page turner and made me immensely thoughtful about what it means to be human, what it means to leave a legacy, the importance of the simple act of being remembered, being able to make a space for yourself. The importance of a name, of being complete and seen by those around you. The reverence for art and artists in this book is fantastic, the characters are bright and dark and flawed and perfect. The words are phenomenal. I was consistently thinking to myself “that was a beautiful sentence”. What a powerful, beautiful story of a woman learning to stand on the soles of her own feet, no matter what the darkness throws her way.

So much to admire

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-25

I’ve been looking forward to listening to this book for some time. (I got the audiobook version as I felt the narration by the author adds so much to the telling). Like I thought would be the case, I was thoroughly impressed. The Obama family is a true inspiration, and it was intensely interesting to me to be swept into the more intimate goings on and decision making that took place during the Obama administration and in his pre-presidency years. There’s just so much to admire in these pages. And there’s so much that’s left wanting when you compare the deliberation, generosity and intentionality behind Obama’s years in the White House, and the hate-spewing, divisive, dumpster fire that’s been the Trump campaign and administration. Yikes. Such an astonishing difference that was clear before but is hugely highlighted here. This excerpt from the beginning stages of the book delivered exactly on what I was expecting and looking forward to: “Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of self government and individual freedom, equality of opportunity and equality before the law, apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed, in practice if not in statue, to reserving those things for a privileged few?” “I recognize that there are those who believe that it’s time to discard the myth. That an examination of America’s past and an even cursory glance at today’s headlines show that the nation’s ideals have always been secondary to conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism and that to pretend otherwise is to be complicit in a game that was rigged from the start. And I confess, that there have been times during the course of writing this book, as I’ve reflected on my presidency and all that’s happened since, when I’ve had to ask myself whether I was too tempered in speaking the truth as I saw it, too cautious in either word or deed, convinced as I was that by appealing to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” I stood a better chance of leading us in the direction of the America we’ve been promised. I don’t know. What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America. Not just for the sake of future generations of Americans, but for all of human kind.” He’s just so great. From minutes into the book, I was assured I was in for an entertaining, enlightening read, with compassionate and deep commentaries on the state of America, from its politics to its people, the goodness and absurd cruelty entangled within.

7 people found this helpful

Spicy, intriguing...and what was that ending???

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-20

LOL. That ending caught me off guard. Not in a bad way, but goodness cliff hanger endings sure are a piss off at times!

Stunning, powerful, eloquent and dynamic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-11

4.5 stars This is a truly stunning, beautifully described story of three sisters, gorgeous magic, lovely relationships and, while a fictional tale, it makes a profound statement on the past and present treatment of women, the wrongs and horrors and cruelties we endure. This is a story of resilience, rebellion and restitution. The magic system in this book is unique, dynamic and incredibly interesting. The characters are unique, dynamic and incredibly interesting. I didn’t feel caught up in a story I’d heard before, or reading scenes I’ve read a hundred times in fantasy books on witches and folklore. I was constantly struck by the simplistic, yet eloquent way scenes were constructed with words. I loved the author’s word choices, many sentences had me pondering them afterwards with their cleverness. Example: “She sways on the platform, buffeted and jostled by folk who have plenty of some places to go. Steam hisses and swirls from the engine, curling cat-like around her skirts.” I highly recommend this book if you want a story of powerful, dynamic women, feminist energy, exciting magic, many great love stories, the sweet bond between sisters and a mothers love for her daughter. Also, if you love action, twisting outcomes, and endings that aren’t unrealistic fairytale happy endings, but still deeply satisfying and complete.

Super well done...and therefore, very disturbing

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-08-03

Poison Orchids kept me guessing the entire time, up until the very end when I was left with a lingering feeling of unease. This book seriously creeped me out. Truly. I enjoyed the constant guessing and plot twists. The ending and storyline were impossible to predict for sure due to the psychological aspects to the story. I found this to be a very well written and disturbing read where I didn’t feel like anything was safe or could be counted on. If you’re looking for a story that’ll keep you constantly trying to pinpoint the true series of events that have happened, one that feels like you’re reading/listening to a truly strange, thriller episode of Criminal Minds or some CSI episode, I recommend this book!

Absolute fire, essential and horizon-broadening

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-08-02

** spoiler alert ** This book is nearly everything I needed to hear right now. I'm unsure what remains on the "need to hear" list that this book didn't deliver, but there's likely still lesson-nuggets remaining for me to be confronted with, learn from and implement...but this book is pretty damn close to perfect. I'm always an immediate sucker for honest writing. The sort that's raw, yet eloquent, unapologetic, yet kind. Powerful, yet soft. World-rocking. Doyle brings this to the table, and more. I listened to this as an audiobook, the fact that it's read by the author adds that much more to the words. When I was done with the introduction, the "you're a goddamn cheetah" part, and the quiet connection highlighting between caged, wild animals and women, I listened to it again, then had my mom listen to it, then a friend. Before writing this review I listened to it again. Absolute fire. I love the sass, the sarcasm, the grit, the metaphors and the return of key phrases, like the "you're a goddamn cheetah" that continue strongly throughout the whole book. So much of this was vital to hear. Here are just three parts (in a list of many bookmarks I made) that struck me deeply: "I was wild, until I was tamed by shame. Until I started hiding and numbing my feelings for fear of being too much. Until I started deferring to others' advice instead of trusting my own intuition. Until I became convinced that my imagination was ridiculous and my desires were selfish. Until I surrendered myself to the cages of others' expectations, cultural mandates and institutional allegiances. I lost myself, when I learned how to please." "We are alive only to the degree to which we are willing to be annihilated. Our next life will always cost us this one. If we are truly alive we are constantly losing who we just were, what we just built, what we just believed, what we just knew to be true." "Listen, every time you're given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else. Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as necessary in order to avoid disappointing yourself." When I finished the book, I went and listened to entire sections of it again. Then I convinced my mum that she had to read it and downloaded the audiobook for her as well. About a half hour into her listening to it, I walked by and she was a little misty-eyed. The goddamn cheetah part got her like it got me, as well as a part where Doyle says that her mother admitted that it had been 30 years since she'd seen daughter as as vibrant as she was at 40, about to be engaged to her soon-to-be-wife. I adored this book, its words, its honesty, its magnifying glass on things that I never took time to consider before, like the misogyny-laced air that boys and girls and others breathe deeply into our lungs from birth. I will read this again, and again. I am grateful to Glennon Doyle for her writing and the permission and encouragement this book gives to stop worrying about taking up space in this world, for dreaming about a life that could be lived more truly and more beautifully, and for taking the steps to make that happen.

Struck me to the core. Eloquent. Raw. Powerful.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-07-14

"From the ages of 18 to 22, I learned more about what someone like me brought out in other people than who I was. I didn't even get the chance to know myself before I had to fight for myself." This is a beautiful book. Beautiful for its words, its strength, its lessons, its truths. To say that I adored this book makes it sound like I enjoyed every moment of it, and it's hard to say that because so much of this book is about ugly, terrible, real things. However, Martis eloquently and unapologetically pulls together her experience at Western University and as a visibly Black girl then woman in Canada so that when she's speaking of things like violence, racism, harassment, and rape, her language (and her storytelling through the audiobook version) is intensely attention-keeping. I audiobooked this memoir, and listened to the epilogue four times. It made me want to leave my bed, hoist a cardboard sign for revolution and run into the street. I went back to sections that struck me to the core with either intense empathy, rage or moments of recognition as she put to words experiences I've had with harassment and assault. "I knew I didn't miss you, I missed the idea of who you could be, the lost opportunities for us to be healthy and functional." Bam! Straight. To. My. Soul. I'm not a Black woman, so I'm grateful for Martis's willingness to share such a raw story so that I could learn more about the province I come from, Ontario, and discover more about the insidiousness of racism in Canada, of which we white Canadians do such a good job of remaining ignorant to, or eschewing responsibility. I started up a purposeful path to diminish my ignorance, recognize my privilege as a visibly white woman, and broaden my understanding of the society I'm a part of a little while back, at the tumult from the murder of George Floyd. I should have started long before. I've been working my way through memoirs and more text-book style works on the BLM movement, racism, white supremacy and the governments, societies, bigotry and policies that keep incredible inequality in place between white people and people of colour. Of the books, content and videos I've consumed thus far, Martis's memoir has struck closest to home for me not just geographically, but also for her intimate story of finding her way in university, bravely battling through the attacks on her, her love of writing, her pursuit of journalism, and creating herself. Martis's memoir, true to the journalist who wrote it, is full of figures, facts, studies, examples and references to the racist world we live in, the racist, problematic Canada we live in. I was consistently filled with rage, grief and disgust at the evidence Martis sprinkled liberally through her telling of her own experiences. Evidence for things like violence against Black men and women, especially women, in Canada, the endemic rates of sexual violence on Canadian university campuses, the rates of intimate partner violence in Canada, the rise of white supremacy in Canada. The list goes on. There's so many other, incredible aspects to this book. Its honesty, its powerful messages, its rebellion-laced paragraphs that have the ability to storm castles and enact change in hearts. I hope Ontarians read this, I hope Canadians read this, I hope white women and men and people with minds in need of broadening read this. I will read this again and again to remind myself that I've faced harm, I've faced violence, but the colour of my skin has likely never been on someone's checklist for reasons behind why I may have "deserved it." "Our voices can join a legacy of stories that have changed the world, that create quiet revolutions and roaring revelations." "We did not put ourselves in this current cultural climate, but we are responsible for getting each other out." "We are glowing with rage, the kind that can shatter glass ceilings and scorch the earth. We are emotional with grief, with tears that can flood oceans and put out blazing fires. We are soft with compassion yet powerful enough to dissolve borders. Our words are cutting, deep enough to slash through the pages of history and write it anew." I'll leave the rest for you to read on your own. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Dynamic, refreshing and epic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-06-27

What an incredible read. Evan Winter has put together a story that hits all my key points to classify this book (and likely the rest of the oncoming series) an instant favourite of mine. Dynamic characters, complicated relationships, people who live life where failures and mistakes happen and where real, devastating consequences threaten and take place. The pacing of the story is intense, the battle scenes kept me at the edge of my seat, the magic of Winter’s world of the Chosen is unique and incredibly interesting. There’s deep friendships, revenge, romance, heartbreak and a graceful unfurling of so many characters throughout the book that had me constantly adding to my “please don’t kill this character” list. Men and women are both strong and weak, people are fallible, believable. The political structure is complex, with a layer of mystery so that you’re wondering to what extent the devastation and stakes will go. There is no real, defined “good” and “evil” side amongst the peoples, both sides are kind, both sides are monstrous. It was also so refreshing to read a fantasy book that gets away from the over-saturation of white book characters. Being able to read about an entirely Black society was a breath of fresh air. I loved this book and cannot wait for the next one in the series.

What I needed to hear

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-06-07

Reading this was the first, conscious step for me in confronting my inherent racism and I’m so SO glad I started with this book. I’m a white woman in my 20s. I’ve never considered myself a bigot, a racist, or anything of the sort. If/when I’ve been confronted for causing harm to someone for something I’ve said or done, I’ve been horrified and deeply embarrassed. So naturally, I went into this going: “I’m not a racist, I don’t acknowledge differences between people who are white, or coloured, so this will just be a good exercise on how to talk with other people about them being racist.” And then Rabin DiAngelo got me HARD with this paragraph, right in the introduction: “I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of colour. I define a white progressive as a white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the choir, or already gets it. White progressives can be the most difficult for people of colour because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual anti-racist practice. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.” Wow. Had I not read this book at the beginning of my self-education on the Black Lives Matter movement, racism, and black culture, I would have spent the whole time not having confronted my own racism, my own unavoidable, socialized state of assumption and classification against people “other” than me. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend time, and continue to do so moving forward, questioning my own privilege and what that actually means. What an eye opener of a book. Full of examples of how we perpetuate racism daily, how we exhaust our friends and loved ones and fellow humans of colour all the time with our professed goodness...how, in spending our energy yelling from mountaintops that we’re not racist, we scoop water into our own boat and call it allyship, love, anti-racism. But it’s just us trying desperately to save face and it doesn’t help people of colour, or us. I’ll be re-reading this one for sure. And cannot recommend this more for my fellow white people. Do yourself, and the people around you, a favour and take the time to read this book.

8 people found this helpful