a trot around the globe {mini reviews}

It's funny how the books I choose to write mini reviews for often have a theme. This time, all three books are set in different countries: Iceland, India, and Russia. I actually wrote full reviews of the first two for OnlineBookClub.org, so click on the titles if you'd like to view those (the third simply links to Goodreads)!

Goodbye Bombay
by Gry Finsnes

I had high hopes for this novel about an expat in India, but unfortunately, it fell short. Although the story was actually very captivating, I disliked the protagonist, Christine, who seemed quite irrational and self-centered. And I'm so very tired of affairs and broken marriages! What about healthy relationships? Can we read about those for a change? To her credit, Fisnes does include vivid, colorful imagery and tantalizing descriptions of food, and Christine has two kind, loyal friends whom I adored. If you like romance, you may enjoy this one more than I did!

3/5 leaves

The Silver Arrow
by Ieda Jonasdottir Herman

When considered as a middle-grade novel (despite the teenaged protagonists), this is an enjoyable read with a fun adventure. I really appreciated the unique Icelandic setting, and I loved the possibility of Hidden Folk and Finna's unwavering belief in them even when others scoffed at her. Unfortunately, the book has quite a few flaws, starting with the rushed first chapter and the unnatural dialogue throughout. And an unexpected twist launches the story into absurd, unrealistic nonsense. The combination of Icelandic folklore, aliens, and Norse gods is an interesting concept, but poorly executed.

2/5 leaves

Egg and Spoon
by Gregory Maguire

Adventure. Mayhem. Magic. This delightful fairytale full of Russian folklore and hilarity falls on the younger end of the young adult spectrum, but it's very fun. It's a beautiful weaving of lives, and each has their own story--there is so much growth and depth in so many different characters! Baba Yaga, of course, is a wonderfully fun character. There is definitely more to her than meets the eye! And what an impossibly beautiful ending. Egg and Spoon includes a good old fashioned "moral of the story," but one of the best I've ever read in a fairytale. In fact, I pulled several nuggets of truth from this book. Among them: "Live your life," spread the wealth, everything is connected (and one missing piece affects the whole puzzle), and family is important.

4/5 leaves


bookish discussions + free books

Sometimes, we bookwyrms say silly things like, "If only I could be paid to read," and the non-reading humans around us nod and smile at our little fantasy, perhaps with a hint of pity in their eyes. We get similar reactions to our sudden outbursts while reading, or our gushing rants after we turn the last page--"That's nice, dear," says the unfortunate, wide-eyed bystander as they slowly back away from the obviously rabid bookwyrm. (this is, perhaps, only a slight exaggeration...)

Unfortunately, they're right--most of us aren't going to make a living reading books, nor are we going to find a cozy neighborhood of fellow bookwyrms to move into. We must find other occupations--editor, librarian, writer, farmer, teacher--and attend parties and family reunions full of people who, for  the most part, don't spend hours of their week in a fictional world. But these things are good! (says the introvert)want to edit and farm, and I enjoy (on occasion) spending time with family and friends!

We are, nonetheless, bookwyrms, and we still do crave reading and bookish discussions regardless of other interests and relationships. So we blog, or join Goodreads, or participate in a book club at the local library.

Where am I going with this absurd post? Bookish discussions and free books. Yes. Here we go.

You can find bookish discussions at the afore-mentioned places, and free books are abundant at the library--if you don't already take advantage of that fabulous public building in your community, you should go visit it this week and check out a pile of books. And perhaps a movie or two.

There are also many books-for-review sites (several of which I've highlighted before), and so I finally get to my point: one such site is OnlineBookClub.org. And though I've only been a member for about a month, I highly recommend it! 

OnlineBookClub.org is a free bookish community with forums, reviews, and yes, free books. In fact, as you collect points and climb the ranks, you can even earn a little pocket money for writing reviews. After only five weeks, I've reached level three (out of six), and recently completed my first paid review. The payout is only five dollars, but as I achieve higher levels I'll have more access to higher-paying reviews.

All reviews are posted in the forums, where you can also discuss everything from what you made for dinner to which classic novel is your favorite. If you're the book club type, there's also a thread for discussing the book of the month. And it won't replace Goodreads, but OnlineBookClub.org does have a bookshelves feature where you can add books you have read, are reading, or want to read. To make things easier, you can even import your shelves from Goodreads!

If you decide to join, please do look up my profile and add me as a friend--or send me your username and I'll find you!

Do you have a bookish website to recommend? What's your favorite way to acquire books or connect with fellow rabid bookwyrms?


create {poetry thursday}

it is natural for us to create for
He who made us also
made infinitely greater things than
we can comprehend
it is only natural that we should feel drawn to
form, mold, sketch, write, and
sing our imperfect melodies
in worshipful imitation
of the one perfect Creator


Hello, friends! In order to boost my own creativity and get more poetry and trees back on this dear blog, I've decided to start posting twice per week. Monday will now be my usual bookish post (instead of Tuesday), and my second post will either be a "wordless wednesday" (photos) or "poetry thursday."

What do you think? Are you looking forward to the new posts, or do you prefer the once-a-week schedule? Did you miss the poems and trees (or maybe you're new and have been wondering why in the world I chose "poetree" as my blog name)?


trees + dragons = unputdownable {book review}

Dragon Haven (Rain Wilds Chronicles #2)
by Robin Hobb

Fifteen dragons have set off on a dangerous trek up the Rain Wild River, in hopes of rediscovering their lost haven, the ancient city of Kelsingra. Accompanying them are a disparate group of rejects from Rain Wild society, including strong and defiant young Thymara; wealthy dragon scholar and Trader's wife Alise; and her companion, the urbane Sedric. These human keepers yearn also to create a new home where they can decide their own fate. But is Kelsingra real or merely a fragment of a glorified past buried deep in the dragons' shared memories? (from the back cover)

In a word (or three): unputdownable. Earthy. Realistic. Robin Hobb is very good at writing about the nitty-gritty details of the messiness that is life in what could otherwise be portrayed as a fantastical adventure. There is no flowery language (except in flattering the dragons, of course) or romanticizing the situation or glossing over the uncomfortable bits.

I love it.

No one has ridiculous abilities (i.e. epic survival skills even though they've only been hunting a few times . . . ), and the day-to-day realities fill almost everyone's minds. Survival is first priority; completing the mission, second. They're not even sure if what they seek, the fabled Kelsingra, still exists. Maybe it never existed to begin with.

Disagreements and squabbles erupt over all sizes of matters. The humans complain and struggle--if only in their minds--as humans do. And no one, human or dragon, is immune to injury, disease, or death. Did I mention that life is messy?

Speaking of messy, Dragon Haven takes place in a rainforest (the Rain Wilds), which is awesome. Lots of BIG trees. But also very, very wet--think marshy, boggy, parasite-infested, acidic . . . ew.

I really enjoyed watching the dragons grow and mature and interact with each other and their keepers. We even get a fascinating glimpse into their minds via Sintara's unique perspective as one of several POV characters. Her keeper, Thymara, is a beautifully independent young woman, simultaneously wanting to be alone and struggling to fit in. She also has a wonderful sense of personal morals and a strong will to stick to them--something that she shares with Alise, the expedition's "dragon expert."

Sedric, who joined the group with Alise and fills the role of aloof city-slicker, also has a fascinating perspective. Though outwardly quite shallow, he has a complicated past and an even more tangled present. I loved watching his character develop.

I could go on and on about the characters, but for brevity's sake (and remaining spoiler-free), I'll end with Rapskal. The keeper of Heeby, he is simultaneously annoying and endearing. Innocent. Loyal. I wanted him to drop off the face of the earth in book one, but I grew to like him in this novel.

Dragon Haven does contain some mature content. There are a lot of romantic subplots--almost too many--and few people on this journey are very subtle or terribly shy when it comes to romantic relationships, nor do they have much self-control. Although several scenes fade out, others continue into the bedroom. Nothing steamy, but possibly more than you really want to read.

The final 20-ish pages feel rushed, and the ending a bit too neatly wrapped up. However, Robin Hobb does leave plenty of questions for future books.

If you haven't read Dragon Keeper, book one in The Rain Wilds Chronicles, check out my review here!

4/5 leaves



How can man be so vile?
How can boots of war tromp down the wildflowers
contentedly nodding their heads in the nourishing sunlight?
Are we so blind?
Do we forget the beauty around us?

Sit at the edge of a pond where
snakes are friends and bullfrogs serenade
and then
your only thoughts will be of peace.

How can man be so vile in the midst of such beauty?
Let us open our eyes and love.


reading the world

I love to travel. I love visiting new places, seeing the landscape, experiencing the culture, eating the food, learning how other people live, and how we're really all the same--if we take the time to recognize each others'  beautiful souls. I even love walking through the airport, and, yes, sitting on an airplane (12-hour flight? bring it on). I love the anticipation, the excitement, the realization that this pressing, rushing crowd is comprised of individuals from a thousand different places and experiences.

But I can't always be traveling! Someday, when I'm rich (ha), I'll pack a small bag of clothes and a suitcase full of books and explore the world. Until then? I can satisfy my immense wanderlust through books. And the beauty of it is, I don't have to limit myself to dry, dense, technical nonfiction--there are some great memoirs and biographies out there, yes, but fiction can also include vivid, beautiful descriptions of very real cultures and places. I can enjoy a made-up story about made-up people and still learn about the world I live in!

I also believe in the importance of reading diverse books--a variety of stories written by and about people of all backgrounds and experiences. My bookshelf is full of books written by white authors and based in American or western European settings, and I want to change that.

Poland (I can't for the life of me remember which city this is. Krakow or Wroclaw, I think.)

So. I'm going to begin documenting the places that I travel to through reading, and you can follow along by checking out that new link in the menu bar at the top of my blog that says "reading the world."

On that page, I've compiled a list of UN-recognized countries (plus a few others) that I can use to organize books by the country in which they are set, marking them with an * if the author has lived in that country and an ** if the author is from that country.

Peruvian highlands

Because I read a lot of books set in the U.S., I won't be including all of them in this list. I'll list them on a case-by-case basis, so if you have any questions about why I included a specific book (U.S. or otherwise), please don't hesitate to contact me! Additionally, a lot of fantasy books are written in settings based on real places, and so those, too, will be included on a case-by-case basis.

You may notice that I listed "Romani people" among the European countries. Romani people do not "belong to" any one country or territory, but their culture is equally as important as anyone else's, and so, because they span an entire continent (and beyond!), I've chosen to list them separately rather than try to box them into a single country.

Want to travel the world with me? Feel free to copy the list of countries I've compiled and begin documenting your own journey. I'd love to see where you visit, so please share a link if you choose to  join in the fun!

Thailand (just outside Chiang Mai)

Do you enjoy traveling? Which countries have you been to? And, tell me, what is your favorite book set outside your own country?