Saturday, August 7, 2021

new location for Snug Shelf!

I have officially made the move to a new URL and blogging platform! Please visit me at

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

review: the ten thousand doors of january by alix harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

by Alix Harrow

Pages: 374
Publisher: Redhook
Publication Date: September 10th, 2019

Cover Comments: 
Pretty cover, but not really indicative of the wonderful story that lies within. The door could be more door-esque for sure.

First Lines: 
"When I was seven, I found a door."
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.


“I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return.”

Started off 2021 with a stunner! Ten Thousand Doors of January centers on January Scaller, a girl who stumbles upon a Door to another world and begins a journey. January is a fantastic protagonist - interesting, smart, and courageous, but in a realistic and relatable way. She’s stubborn, and often makes stupid mistakes, but ultimately grows into her own sense of self in a very satisfying way.

The rest of the characters that populate this world are nuanced and fascinating as well, from January’s wealthy caretaker Mr. Locke, to the companion sent by her father, Jane, to her childhood friend and all around cute boy, Samuel. Last but CERTAINLY not least, the bestest boy ever, her dog Sinbad, is a super sweet loyal companion who bites racists. We love to see it.

The writing style is sort of flowery and breaks the third wall often:

“Companions. See the curve of that C like a pair of outstretched arms? It implied the sort of friends who might slay dragons or go on hopeless quests or swear blood oaths at midnight.”

I quite enjoyed this writing style, though it won’t be for everyone. Harrow does a great job at painting the various settings in a gorgeous way, and I could see them all clearly: the large Locke House where January grows up, the salt-spray smell of the first world she crosses over into, and the vast plains of the farm where we meet another traveler were all vibrant.

It was interesting to read a story that is full of so much possibility, set in a time period where women of color like January and Jane are often constricted by society and the men around them. The portions of the book where January is held back by her “role” in society were the most upsetting. The mythology of the Doors revolves around the idea that Doors allow the passage of ideas and change to go from world to world, and certain characters in the novel would rather keep to the status quo (to no one’s surprise, these are old white men). I loved the idea that the inspirations, inventions, and revolutions in various worlds were born of other worlds.

“The will to be polite, to maintain civility and normalcy, is fearfully strong. I wonder sometimes how much evil is permitted to run unchecked simply because it would be rude to interrupt it.”

I loved this book so much. It gave me a lot of hope and wonder; highly recommend.


Monday, February 1, 2021

February TBR


Another month, another unrealistic TBR! These are the books I'm trying to get to this month (covers link to Goodreads):

Leftovers (to finish from previous months)

1) Ashes (Seeds of America #3) by Laurie Halse Anderson

This was on my 2021 reading list for January, and I didn't quite finish, so we march on! It's great so far.

2) Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

I have a list of places, people, and subjects I want to learn more about, and this year's focus place in New Orleans! I got this book while I was in NOLA last year, so I thought this was a great place to start.

3) Transcendant Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

I'm pretty close to finishing this one, and it's very moving so far. It got bumped up on my list because it was featured in a book club I follow on Goodreads as January's pick, and I'm so glad it was.

4) White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

This was my anti-racism pick for January, and I expect to finish it in the next few days. I wanted to take my time with it, because there's a lot to unpack and think about. Very useful book for me.

5) Lore by Alexandra Bracken

This one hopped up on the list because it's the pick for a book subscription box I subscribe to. I love Greek mythology, so I'm super excited about it! Only about a chapter in so far.

6) The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

I've been reading this book since JULY!! I'm not sure exactly what my roadblock has been; it's just not super engrossing so far. I want to finally finish this month though.

7) A Blade so Black (The Nightmare-Verse #1) by L. L. McKinney

My current library read! The return date is soon, so hopefully that will motivate me! Only a few pages into this one so far.

Books from my 2021 list

I make a list every year that has books from a variety of categories: 1) seasonal reads (reflecting the month or season of the year, i.e. winter or January); 2) back list reads (the oldest books on my to-read list on Goodreads); 3) holiday reads (if a holiday occurs in that month, a book related to it, i.e. romance for Valentine's); 4) series that I can finish by reading one more book; 5) books by or about my focus person, place, or subject (this year, it's Jean Paul Sartre and New Orleans); 6) nonfiction book; 7) nonfiction anti-racism book or fiction by a person of color.

1) Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

My seasonal pick for winter, and also one of the oldest books on my TBR.

2) Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

I thought Sweethearts would be cute for a Valentine's Day read. Somehow, I've never read a book by Sara Zarr, so this will be my first!

3) White Oleander by Janet Fitch

This is the oldest book on my TBR, shelved on Goodreads in January of 2010. I hope it's worth the wait!

4) Escape from Disaster (Antartica #2) by Peter Lerangis

Reading this book finishes a duology that I started when I was smol. It's based on the true story of an early voyage to the South Pole.

5) Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It by Garth Davis

I've been working on reducing my meat intake for the last few years for several reasons. February is my health-focused month as far as 2021 goals go, so I wanted to beef up (ha ha ha) on the research behind the meat industry and health.

6) Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

I'm really interested in the people and ideas behind the 20's/30's era in Paris (Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Picasso, Dali, Ernest Hemingway, surrealism, existentialism,  etc.). Sartre is my 2021 focus pick, so I'm reading his works and biographies written about him. This is the first of the year! I also have a copy of No Exit in French, so I might read that as a French language exercise sometime as well.

7) The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I can't believe I haven't read this book yet. It's my book this month written by a person of color, and I'm excited to finally dig in.


So yeah, this list is insane and will most likely look very different from what I actually finish, but it's fun to dream! What are you reading this month?

Sunday, January 31, 2021

January Roundup


I haven't quite accomplished my reading goals this month, but I did get a few books finished, which is pretty good for me nowadays! Here are the books I read in January (covers link to Goodreads):

 1) The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

"I hope you will find the cracks in the world and wedge them wider, so the light of other suns shines through; I hope you will keep the world unruly, messy, full of strange magics; I hope you will run through every open Door and tell stories when you return."

We started with a stunner! Ten Thousand Doors of January was such a beautiful and magical book. It centers on January Scaller, a girl who discovers doors between worlds, and learns more about herself and her family in the process. It also includes lots of underdogs fighting against old, evil rich men which I am always here for. I read this book this month because it had the word 'January' in the title, and I loved the section where January's learns why she is named after such a normally dreary month.


2) Little House (Little House, #1) in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“She thought to herself, "This is now." She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”

I recently got the book The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books, so I decided to read the series alongside this book focused on the landscapes, practices, and history behind Wilder's real life. It's been quite a delightful experience, not only to dive back into a childhood favorite, but also to learn more about real frontier life.


3) The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

“The only glory to be had was the glory of surviving.”

This story centers on Carrie McGavock, a woman whose home is taken over as a hospital for Confederate soldiers after the battle of Franklin. Carrie is portrayed in this novel as quite grim, fairly selfish, and taken to fits of violence, it seems. I think this characterization does a disservice to the real Carrie McGavock. I could attribute my dislike for this novel to this or many other factors. For one, I've rarely been a huge fan of novels or nonfiction books set during war time. I picked this one up because it's set in Franklin, TN, and as a native Tennessean, I've been through there before. However, the setting wasn't much of a factor, other than being the place where the real-life story behind this novel took place. The romance in this book was super weird and felt forced. And, it's told from a white, Confederate/indifferent perspective, with the only Black voice in the book being somewhat of the "loyal slave" archetype. The novel seemed to be really pushing the futility and meaningless of war, portraying both sides as the same, and I just couldn't sit with that. I can still say I'm happy I finally read this, as it was the oldest book on my to-read shelf on Goodreads, added in 2010!! 


4) The Burning (Guardians of Ga'Hoole, #6) by Kathryn Lasky

"Set your wings upon the sea wind
Set your eyes upon the stream
Feel the billow of the updraft
And believe in your dream"

Guardians of Ga'Hoole is a series I started many moons ago when I was obsessed with owls and the Warriors series was no longer doing it for me. It's pretty enjoyable, but the ending was abrupt. The confrontation the whole series was building up to happened with little incident. I won't be continuing the series, which I call a big win for myself since I usually have to finish every series I start (it's a sickness). However, the rest of the series follows another arc and a new main character, so I'll allow myself to stop off here. Good series for middle schoolers obsessed with owls.


5) What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller

"Being alone is not the most awful thing in the world. You visit your museums and cultivate your interests and remind yourself how lucky you are not to be one of those spindly Sudanese children with flies beading their mouths. You make out To Do lists - reorganise linen cupboard, learn two sonnets. You dole out little treats to yourself - slices of ice-cream cake, concerts at Wigmore Hall. And then, every once in a while, you wake up and gaze out of the window at another bloody daybreak, and think, I cannot do this anymore. I cannot pull myself together again and spend the next fifteen hours of wakefulness fending off the fact of my own misery."

I think this book breaks the record for most terrible people in one book. I was trying to think of one character that I like, and I haven't been able to come up with one (except maybe Ben, though he was barely in the novel). The word that comes to mind to sum up this book is uncomfortable. Okay, the word I'm really thinking of is squeamy, which is not an actual word but hopefully you get the gist. Every relationship in this novel made me squeamish. Obviously, Sheba's relationship with her student was unsettling, but so was the narrator Barbara's obsession with Sheba, Sheba's abusive relationship with her surly daughter, and the dismissive nature of her husband towards Sheba. I didn't like much about this novel, but I did find Barbara's depiction of her own loneliness as very striking and honest (see passage above). There are some great, thought-provoking reviews for this book that tell me that this might be a case of 'just not for me'.


6) The Clue of the Tapping Heels (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #16) by Carolyn Keene

"What!" Mr. Skank cried out."

^ No notable quotes from this book, just the amusing insertion of this character name.

I've been reading through the Nancy Drew series for a while now, and always find it interesting, and often hilarious. Clue of the Tapping Heels has one of the more ridiculous plots, in which tap dancing in Morse code is a feature. In this one, Nancy is, of course, an expert at tap dancing, Morse code, and catching Persian cats. Very enjoyable. The most enjoyable thing is this cover. The cover designer was like, "yes, cats, tap dancing, understood" = malevolent demon cat forcing Nancy to tap dance for all eternity.


7) The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees

"Training yourself to become more selective is the single most effective thing you can do to upgrade your wardrobe. Try to think of your closet as an exclusive, members-only club. Only pieces that you love and are truly excited to wear get an invite."

I really enjoyed this book! It gave me a lot of ideas for how to build my wardrobe intentionally, avoiding the trap of trends and fast fashion. The steps are concrete and could work for anyone, with any style. I got this from the library, but I might buy it so I can refer back to it. Very fun read.


That's it for this month! I'm hoping a better combination of quality over quantity next month, fingers crossed.