Review: The Steampunk Tarot

The Steampunk Tarot
The Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book #10 for 2017
PopSugar Challenge Prompts:
– A book with career advice
– A book involving a mythical creature
– A book with pictures
– A book you bought on a trip
– A book based on mythology
Book Bingo Square: A Book with Pictures
Personal Challenge Task: A book with a woman on the cover
Better World Books: A book by a female writer
The Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book with pictures
Abandoned Book Rescue: Abandoned more than once

This is a great resource for tarot in general, not just this particular deck. And it’s a gorgeous deck, with some unusual detail work and fascinating imagery. Moore’s commentary draws out some amazing insights from Fell’s artwork, and I love how she weaves so much together meaningfully yet leaves so much open to interpretation.

You really don’t have to be into tarot or divination to appreciate a lot of things in this book. There are discussions of art history, myths and legends, the steampunk aesthetic, and subconscious associations. But if you are into tarot (or looking to get into it), you will find a wealth of information here. I enjoyed Moore’s suggestions for spreads, especially the “Difference Engine” spread, which also keeps to the steampunk theme of the book and the deck.

This book is normally packaged with the deck, but if one were to have only the book, they might be a little disappointed that the book’s illustrations are not in color. Of course, the expense for color illustrations is a little hard to justify when the intent is for the book to be a companion to the deck. But if you do find yourself with a deck-less book, never fear, this is well worth the read on its own merits.

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Review: The Wonder

The Wonder
The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book #9 for 2017
GenreLand Game: Romance
Possible Book Bingo Squares:
– A 2016 Bestseller
– A Book with a Female Heroine
PopSugar Reading Challenge Prompts:
– A book with career advice (nursing, science in general)
– A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
– A bestseller from 2016
– A book with an eccentric character
Better World Books Task: A book by a female writer
Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book with career advice

I can’t say a whole lot without being spoilery, so I will make only a few observations here:
1. With some careful editing, this could have been a kick-ass novella instead of a so-so novel. The pacing was awkward and full of repetition about Lib’s sense of irony and the clash of science and religion.
2. It was surprising how dense Lib was at times. I occasionally wanted to smack her.
3. I was also surprised that I rather liked the romance storyline.
4. I liked the ending, but I think the story would have been much stronger if it had ended in a way I probably wouldn’t like nearly as much.

Would I recommend it? To some readers, sure, but it’s definitely not for everybody. If you aren’t much interested in Catholic tradition (or, conversely, you are heavily invested in Catholic tradition), you probably won’t enjoy this book.

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Review: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book #8 for 2017
Better World Books Challenge Task: A book by a person of color
Personal Reading Challenge: The first book you see in a bookstore
Legendary Book Club of Habitica’s Ultimate Reading Challenge: A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge Prompts:
– A book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative
– A book set more than 5000 miles from your location
Possible Book Bingo Squares:
– A 2016 Bestseller
– An Author’s Debut
– An Audiobook
– A Book Written by a Celebrity
– A Book by an Author of Color
PopSugar Challenge Prompts:
– An audiobook
– A book by a person of color
– A book with a subtitle
– A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited
– A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
– A book written by someone you admire
– A bestseller from 2016
– A book about an immigrant or refugee
– A book about a difficult topic

I started this book with the thought of using it for the humor challenge as well, but this turned out to be a surprisingly serious book. Sure, there were some episodes of Noah’s childhood that he presented with his trademark comic delivery, and picturing little Trevor in my mind made me smile, but the humor was quite dark. Even when it was funny, I found I had a hard time actually laughing. I mean, the book is about growing up colored during apartheid in South Africa. How grim is that?

It’s flat-out amazing that Noah was able to survive and escape such a dangerous environment, and then he went on to thrive. But his personal history certainly explains the cynicism that drives his humor, and I can see why Steward picked him to take over The Daily Show. The man has real depth, and he has witnessed firsthand the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man, so he knows the importance of calling them out and exposing them to the light of day, pointing out how ridiculous they are. He’s our Professor Lupin, teaching us with a cabinet full of boggarts.

If you can possibly listen to the audiobook version of this, do so. Noah dedicated this book to his mother, and his love for her comes out beautifully in the warmth of his voice. He skips around enough that the story line can be hard to follow at times, but everything ultimately revolves around his mother, and he always comes back to her as he tells his own story. Fans of The Daily Show will enjoy this book, of course, but I would also recommend this to anybody wanting to learn more about South African apartheid or with an interest in family dynamics or stories of dealing with adversity.

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