Book Review: The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

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The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Genevieve Gornichec’s debut novel, The Witch’s Heart, takes the Norse characters and myths we are familiar with and gives them a new voice. Instead of the usual suspects, Odin and Thor, we are introduced to a minor character: the witch Angrboda, Loki’s first wife and the mother of his three children.

The Witch’s Heart begins with a heartbreaking scene in which Angrboda is being burned at the stake for the third time and her heart has been removed. She possesses the gift of seid, a kind of prophetic magic, which allows her to see into the future. Odin punishes her because she will not help him to see the future. She survives the burnings and finds herself stripped of her powers. Angrboda is now at the edge of the world, her body is slowly healing and she is reduced to foraging for roots just trying to survive.

Loki, the frost giant trickster god finds her and returns her heart to her. It’s at this point, where as a Marvel fan I can’t help but hear Tom Hiddleston, the actor who portrays Loki in the Marvel movies. “You’re a difficult woman to find.” See…I bet you just imagined the same thing!

Unlike the Loki we are accustomed to in the movies, this Loki is angsty, bored, and lacking in charisma. Angrboda is distrustful, as she should be, but Loki is persistent, he continues to insinuate himself into her life. She is content to live a solitary life in a cave. Despite Loki’s many antics and their frequent arguments, they fall in love and have three ill-fated children: the wolf Fenir, the Midgard serpent Jormungandr, and the half-dead girl and future Queen of the dead Hel.

Angrboda’s friend, the huntress giant Skadi, helps her to hide her family from the all-seeing eye of Odin. The threat that her unique family poses to the gods in Asgard will not go unnoticed for long. Angrboda’s prophetic visions of Ragnarok, or the apocalypse, and the role her children will play in the fall of the gods are a constant threat to her family’s safety. Angrboda must choose between letting the prophecy play out or somehow find a way to change the outcome.

The Witch’s Heart can be a bit slow-paced at times. This is a character-driven story of a woman who eventually learns to embrace her power. Angrboda makes the argument that the experiences of love and motherhood are equal to any epic battle waged by the gods. We get a glimpse into the complicated relationship with her “children” and the lengths she will go for love and vengeance.

Throughout the book, we are reminded that in Norse mythology, Ragnarok is inevitable. Angrboda, like all the others, is bound by fate. The author offers us a new perspective: instead of trying to alter the ending, focus on the small moments in your life, be present in your own life.

If you enjoyed Circe by Madeline Miller, you will love this book.

Review by Angela, Circulation Librarian

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National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month

I do not read very much poetry, but I make an effort each April.  If you are looking to broaden your horizons and read some poetry, Joy Harjo’s work is a good place to start.  Harjo is a recent Poet Laureate of the United States.  She lives nearby in the Mvskoke Nation of Oklahoma.

American Sunrise

Her latest work is An American Sunrise.  My favorite poem is The Fight

How we became human
How We Became Human, a previous collection, is both touching and thought provoking.  My favorite poem is The Last Song.

poems live life

I’ve enjoyed Chris Riddell’s art for some time now.  He paired 46 poems with original art.  Poems to Live Your Life By is worth a look.

 

Tom Taylor
Library Director

 

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Book Review: The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

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The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

As an avid reader, I think it is safe to say that I think about books 24/7. One of those books was The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee. The cover of the book kept appearing in my mind and I knew that I had to read it.

The Downstairs Girl is a young adult historical fiction that takes place during the women’s suffragist movement in Atlanta, Georgia. The story focuses on seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan who becomes a lady’s maid for the daughter in the Payne household after being fired from her old job as a hat maker. As she does her duties as a lady’s maid, she becomes the new advice columnist for the newspaper under the pseudonym of Miss Sweetie. However, she was not expecting her advice to become the talk of the town when she challenges society’s rules about race and gender. While Jo faces her professional challenges, she has personal challenges of her own that sets her on the path of finding the identity of her parents who abandoned her long ago. Jo faces trouble when her search for her parents put her in danger when she faces the notorious criminal of Atlanta. Jo faces the decision to stand up for what’s right or will she have to back down?

I enjoyed reading Stacey Lee’s book. She did a wonderful job portraying a strong female character who is smart and witty. I appreciated how Miss Sweetie’s advice was placed at the beginning of different chapters throughout the book. Each piece of advice written tied in with the storyline of the chapters. If you like reading historical fiction with a strong character, I would highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading her other books especially her soon-to-be-released book of spring 2021: Luck of the Titanic.

Other books by Stacey Lee
The Secret of a Heart Note
Under a Painted Sky
Outrun the Moon

If you liked this review, try these great books
Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden
The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

 

Book review by Kendra, Lead Circulation Librarian and Young Adult Consultant.

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Book Review – I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

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I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn is an underrated coming-of-age young adult book that has a hint of a sweet romantic comedy. I’ll admit seeing the word “mochi” in the title caught my interest because it is one of my favorite desserts to have. Who can turn down a book title that mentions one of your favorite things!

Kimi Nakamura loves fashion so much that she creates original designs for friends and for herself but her mother disapproves of her love for fashion. Kimi’s mother expects her to become a well-known painter. Kimi does not feel the same way about painting as her mother does. Her mother questions what Kimi wants to do with her future? A question that Kimi could not answer herself.

A letter arrives unexpectedly from her estranged grandparents who live in Kyoto, Japan. They invite Kimi to visit them for spring break. She decides to embrace the opportunity to escape the pressure she faces from her mom. When she arrives in Kyoto for the first time she experiences different parts of Japan’s culture that is both familiar and unfamiliar to her. As she absorbs the beauty and joy of this city, she meets Akira. Akira is an aspiring med student who is helping his uncle to promote his business by being a mochi mascot. Little did they know that both of them would inspire each other.

This trip for Kimi turns into so much more than an escape. She begins to discover more about herself through her mom’s past and what her mom left behind in Japan. Everything that she discovers in Kyoto, meeting Akira and spending time with her grandparents. She will soon understand what lies within her heart.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes reading a romantic comedy or is a fan of self-discovery. It is a kind of book that could be finished within a day. The pace does move quickly. However, I took my time reading this book because I wanted to enjoy every minute.

Enjoy these read-alikes:
Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali
Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
American Panda by Gloria Chao
This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

 

Review by Kendra Ellison, Lead Circulation Librarian and Young Adult Consultant

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