Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Wrap-Up-ish

Oh what a day it has been! I set my alarm so I could be awake and bundled up on the couch with my book stack and a fresh cup of coffee by the time this kicked off this morning. My children however, had other plans for me. One of the twins woke up at 5 to go to the bathroom, and in the process woke up everyone. Needless to say, I was up long before go time. Ah, motherhood.

If the beginning was rough, it was nothing compared to the next few hours where I read a total of 7 pages. I knew it would be tough to participate this round because we had other stuff going on today so I just made the best of it and laughed at the chaos. I was finally able to get some good reading time in after our morning commitments were finished and I dropped my children off with their grandparents for the rest of the day. I had some housework that had to get done today, so I spent that time listening to the audio version of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. I read A Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue last year and absolutely loved it and this one is proving to be just as enjoyable so far.

Later in the afternoon I was able to settle in again with Fruit of the Drunken Tree, which I’ve just finished in hour 18. This was a very heavy read for a readathon, but I needed to finish it for book club this week so I powered through. Contreras writes really beautifully and I flew through it despite the dark subject matter. It’s one of several books I’ve read this year based on true people and events. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the next book she writes.

It’s a little after midnight where I am, but I’m going to try to read for a couple more hours to make up for the lost time of this morning. Next up is the newest installment of Lumberjanes and then if I’m still awake after that I’ll be starting Little Panic by Amanda Stern. Despite the craziness of mom life and the less than stellar planning this round, I still really enjoyed today and I made some new book friends too. I typically post all of my updates here on the blog, but decided to stick mostly to instagram this time. You can find me there @whatsjennareading. Did any of you participate? What did you read?

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Hag – Kathleen Kaufman

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Publisher: Turner

Publication Date: October 2nd, 2018

Page Count: 336 (Hardcover)

From the Jacket:

At this, the Cailleach would release a single drop of indigo dye onto the topmost layer. See, she would tell her daughter. See? It bleeds through the topmost path and onto the next. In this way, so many things from the next world touch ours, and our world touches the layer beneath.

High above the sea, hidden in the rocky Scottish cliffs, something stirs. An ancient matriarchal power has set the wheels in motion for a long line of descendants. But to what end?

Spanning centuries of human history, these daughters of the lowland hag, the Cailleach, must navigate a world filled with superstition, hatred, violence, pestilence, and death to find their purpose. With pasts half remembered and destinies denied, the daughters of Cailleach are women with uncanny, and often feared, abilities to heal, to see the future and to cause great destruction and pain when threatened. With each passing generation, the waves crash against the shore, and the Cailleach awaits a homecoming that will bring everything full circle.

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Confession. I did not even finish reading the synopsis for this one before pressing the request button in Edelweiss. The blurb above checks a lot of boxes for me–the occult, Scottland, multigenerational, women–I was in before I even turned the first page, and was left feeling anything disappointed at the last. Hag is an engrossing and atmospheric tale of magic and family connection. Kaufman moves effortlessly between past, present, and future to weave the story of the Cailleach and her powerful daughters.  The opening chapter pulled me in, and the rest of the story had me reading in every spare moment.

In Hag, Kaufman uses alternating chapters to switch between the story of the Cailleach and each generation of her daughters leading up to Alice Grace Kyles. The other chapters are dedicated to Alice and her family, and the two story lines move forward together before finally meeting in time for an explosive ending. The chapters written from the perspective of the Cailleach were my favorite–magical and enchanting–they reminded me why I love magical realism so much. It was a complete coincidence that I read this book while the Kavanaugh trial was going on, but so many of the scenes ended up being such a balm. The daughters of the Cailleach are incredibly powerful and are able to defend themselves against the violence put against them. Reading Hag during this political climate in our country felt like discovering  a girl power anthem in book form.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I finished, and Hag has stayed with me. I find myself thinking about it often, lost in the otherworldly landscape Kaufman created. This is an absolutely perfect book to read in the fall, especially during the month of October. Put on your comfiest sweats, get a soft blanket and some warm tea, settle in, and prepare to be spellbound by this beautiful and powerful story.

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The biggest thanks goes to Edelweiss and Turner Publishing for the advanced review copy in exchange for my honest review.