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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

From promising to abrupt, bizarre and tiresome

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

Reviewed: 2020-03-23

Performance:
Nothing bad to say about Peter Kenny. I think he did a great job voicing this series!

Story: **spoilers!!**
Like many, I'm sure, I was drawn to this series due to how much I loved it's adaptation on Netflix. I'm much more a book person than a TV series/movie person, so naturally I immediately looked up the books and bought the first one.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this book series. The aspects that had me binge-watching the episodes on Netflix were all intact in the books: strong characters (both male and female), interesting world-building, love/romance, a complex fight against opposing forces, dynamic political structures, humour etc. I found the writing quite good, full of description, though not too much to bog down the pace of the storytelling. Everything was going swimmingly until later in the series when I found that Gerralt's quests seemed more and more pointless, the troupe of Gerralt supporters ever-charming, but the only real progress that happened from them all gallivanting across the countryside was that additional pages were added to the book but no real plot...

The endless search for Ciri, and then the coveting of her womb for breeding purposes became uncomfortable and then bizarre and then old. Until suddenly that master plot was just finished and swiftly followed by many beloved characters dying, and at that point I was honestly only trying to finish the book to just have it over with.

At the end of it, I'm disappointed by the strange turn the story took, and how things happened without really having any reason, forethought, practicality or logic. There were certainly things that surprised me, of which I was happy about, like the connection between the Emperor of Nilfguard and Ciri, or the story swooping back to Ciri telling her story to Galahad, but more than anything I found the story abrupt, bizarre and tiresome by the time I finished book five.

2 people found this helpful

Loved it & love this series

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

Reviewed: 2020-03-23

I love these books, I've loved this series for a decade now and adore any opportunity to be immersed back into Mercy's world.

Mercy is one of my all-time favourite, kick-ass heroes. Briggs' storytelling is technical enough to keep me satisfied with details, but not too much to over-do it. One thing I was surprised by in this book was the added curse words, that's new! I like that Briggs' has let a few f-bombs fly, I think it adds a realness to the characters. Briggs' world and character building, as in her other works, are on-point, immersive, funny and interesting.

I loved the action, the other-world descriptions that added a fresher element to the story line and, as always, Mercy's humour, cunning and relationship managing with those she loves was excellent.

I'm so happy to know that this series will continue!

SO INTERESTING, SO FUNNY, SO SCARY

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

Reviewed: 2020-03-13

Okay. This book scared the CRAP out of me...but it was INCREDIBLE. It scared the crap out of me because Taylor did such a good job of logically laying out the eruption of Yellowstone that I was immediately convinced it's possible, and likely, and maybe going to happen within my lifetime, and I'm really hoping that I can sneak off to another dimension with my family to escape the death and destruction from an angry super volcano.

BUT, it was INCREDIBLE for many reasons, one of which being that I love love love books that are descriptive, but don't go over the top. Where the author goes into enough detail to make things realistic and fully-formed, but doesn't beat you over the head with it. Taylor's descriptions of the science behind Yellowstone, the geology, the political maneuvering, the reality of what happens when a super volcano erupts was so interesting to me.

Beyond that, which kept my mind playing out "what if" scenarios for days after finishing the book, there is so much more to this book than just the geek-satisfying bits. It's FUNNY! Taylor's character development is awesome, the snarky remarks are consistent and the sarcasm HEAVY and I adored all of it, even going as far as laughing on a quiet airplane.

I haven't been able to shut up about how cool and brain stimulating I found this book to be. I can't wait until the next one comes out.

Enlightening and heart-wrenching

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

Reviewed: 2020-03-13

*some vague spoilers*

I was initially drawn to this book for its cover (I'm a sunset junkie) but then was blown away by how INTERESTING this historical tale was. I hadn't known much about the civilian point-of-view from within Italy during WWII, or what it would have been like to oppose Mussolini and Hitler, yet have to live within the climate of a country allied with the Germans, watching train cars of Jewish people disappear, the bombings, yet the sense of relative distance from the brunt of the ugliness that defines that dark stain on human history. A strange middle ground on the spectrum of complete distance from the war, and being in the thick of it, yet still terrible in its own ways.

And goodness, this book was heart wrenching. Pino is so genuine and innocent, until he isn't. You hope for stories where perhaps the heroes of the story are bruised and battered and a little haunted by the end, but that love in the end will triumph...but that's not the full case here and Pino's sorrow and helplessness to intervene had tears in my eyes. Especially because it's suffering of the non-fiction kind. The translated humanity at times is overwhelming.

Despite the sadness and injustices, I was completely engrossed in this story of bravery, compassion and a determination to do what's right in the face of utter brutality and evil. I came away from the story with a sense of awe for the perseverance that exists within the human race, and was thankful to have learned such a unique story of defiance.

Cliché and bizarre

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

Reviewed: 2019-09-03

Opened this one up because I was interested in a simple listen, and because I’m helpless to the tease of a good romance plot line in a fantasy/action packed book.
What was delivered was a strange mix of carnival magic (good most of the time) and very painful, cliché coming of age plot happenings that lacked originality and wanted for more feminist-oriented views.
There were definitely times where the story was good, however I felt the storyline generally strayed from what the reality would have been with characters faced with trauma, which mostly means the ending was just so bizarre.
The ideas were interesting, and there was a lot of potential, but I felt things fell a little flat.