Category: Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity

A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The Marvelwood Magicians” by Diane Zahler, narrated by Sarah Zimmerman; courtesy of #NetGalley

Posted Sunday, 2 May, 2021 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: In late Winter 2020, (February) I joined NetGalley for the first time as they finally announced they were going to be offering full-length audiobooks for reviewers. I was never able to join NetGalley due to having chronic migraines and being unable to read ebooks. I started requesting audiobooks to review as soon as they opened their audiobook catalogue in July, 2020. I am an eclectic reader and thereby, you will see all genres in Fiction explored from both markets of interest: mainstream and INSPY as well as from Major Trade, Indie Publishers & Press and other routes of publication, too. There might be the occasional Non-Fiction title appearing in my NetGalley queue of reviews as well. This marks a new adventure for me seeking stories for review consideration and I look forward to seeing where the stories lead me to venture.

I received a complimentary digital and temporary audiobook copy of “The Marvelwood Magicians” direct from the publisher Live Oak Media via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All audiobooks via NetGalley are able to be heard via the NetGalley Shelf which is why I was thankful to be gifted an android tablet by my parents to celebrate my 7th Blog Birthday on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

NOTE: As a new reviewer on NetGalley, I’m sorting out how to get the Press Materials for each of the audiobooks I’m reviewing when I share them on my blog Jorie Loves A Story. When I contacted NetGalley Support they informed me that if a separate Press Kit is not included on the audiobook’s book page we’re allowed as reviewers to use the book cover and synopsis provided when we go to share our review of that audiobook on our blogs; as long as we give attribution as I have done at the bottom of this review in “Sources”. Those materials are provided with permission of the publishers to be used by reviewers via NetGalley.

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Why I wanted to read &/or listen to “The .Marvelwood Magicians”:

I have had a certain attachment to circuses ever since I was a young girl who attend the Ringing Brothers circuses. This was during the age of Gunther Gebel-Williams. Beyond the excitement of the shows under the big top and the ways in which the circus can ignite the imaginations of anyone who attends them, part of me was concerned about the conditions of the animals and the treatment of them before and after the shows themselves. In time, I came to appreciate zoos more than the circus but only the ones who had the best interest of the animals at the heart of their mission, not the bottom-line when it came to selling tickets and/or earning profit.

Through the years, you might have noticed I RT and support The Australian Zoo – which is one of the zoos and wildlife outreach organisations I’ve come to appreciate as I spent years watching Steve Irwin and his family through their docuseries long before tragedy struck his family.

However, when it comes to ‘fantasy’ side of the ledger in literature – there is just something interesting about how writers are taking our love & excitement for performance art and close encounters with animals to a new heightened level of interest!! You might have first seen this coming across in my readings of the first bits of the Magical Midway series – and it continues this year, as I was unexpected surprised to find my copy of “The Marvelwood Magicians” was still on my NetGalley shelf waiting for me!

It was the best surprise – as it helped me move past the health woes of April (which let’s face it were adversely difficult) and re-settle myself into listening to audiobooks (its been terribly long since I could last listen to a story in full!) as well as finding my JOY again as a book blogger which is something I’ve struggled with since January, 2021. (you might have seen the reduction in posts every month!? the archives tell tales!) This became my segue novel – as much it became the novel my bookish heart wanted to HUG outright for the HAPPINESS it gave me as a reader!

Every night this week, I’ve been pulled into the throes of the Marvelwood’s — bit by bit and eagerly hopeful I might get ‘further’ into the story. Some nights I could barely keep my attention focused past a half hour but on our first day of #WyrdAndWonder *before!* midnight marked the second day, guess what?! I learnt how it ENDS. It was bittersweet for me, too, as I didn’t want to ‘let go’ of the Marvelwood’s!! Who would!? I felt such a kinship with this family!! Now, I can look forward to gathering this on audio & print and adding both to my personal library. Not sure when I can do that — but when I can, you can bet I’ll be tweeting my glee about bring this family HOME!!

The key reasons I wanted to listen to this lovely were due to the setting (ie. circus & travelling performers!) AND the fact this was a story set in a Fantasy world but dearly focused on family & community. Two of my favourite themes across the genres I regularly read. I wish I had a preteen to give this audiobook too – to see if they delight in the joys I had hearing it myself and to talk about it afterwards.

Read my review and see if this might fit into your #WyrdAndWonder plans – for this year or next – or any month betwixt and between! I appreciate you visiting with me as I’m just getting started – I’ve planned a whole literary holiday for myself where everyday I’ll be reading and/or listening to Fantasy stories and taking everyone on my readerly journey! Come back and see what I’ve discovered each week. For now,.. let the Marvelwood’s entice you into their world and find the JOY of the circus anew,.. .

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A #WyrdAndWonder Audiobook Review | “The Marvelwood Magicians” by Diane Zahler, narrated by Sarah Zimmerman; courtesy of #NetGalleyThe Marvelwood Magicians
by Diane Zahler
Source: Audiobook Direct from Publisher via NetGalley
Narrator: Sarah Zimmerman

Eleven-year-old Mattie Marvelwood comes from a family of traveling performers. Her dad is an illusionist; her mom is a fortune-teller; her brother has a vanishing act; and she herself is a mind-reader. But the Marvelwoods have a deep secret.

The acts they perform at carnivals, fairs, and circuses are not just acts. Their powers are real. In all their wanderings, the Marvelwoods have never met another performer with gifts like theirs—until they join Master Morogh’s Circus of Wonders! But it turns out that Master Morogh’s true talent is stealing the gifts of others. When he steals Mattie’s brother’s vanishing ability, the family has a big decision to make. Do they run, leaving Bell’s gift behind to save the rest of them, or risk exposure by trying to beat the duplicitous ringmaster at his own game?

Genres: Children's Literature, Middle Grade, Middle Grade Fantasy, Urban Fantasy


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781629797243

ASIN: B0815B761C

on 1st October, 2019

Format: Audiobook | Digital Review Copy (NetGalley)

Length: 5 hours and 19 minutes (unabridged)

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Published By: Live Oak Media (@MediaLiveOak)

Converse via: #KidsLit, #MGLit or #MiddleGrade, #Fantasy and #Magicians OR #Magic
and  #audiobook or #audioreads as well as #TheMarvelwoodMagicians
and especially #WyrdAndWonder !!

Available Formats: Trade paperback, Audiobook and Ebook

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📖✍ Follow the author: @dianezahler

🎧📖 Visit the narrator: Sarah Zimmerman

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #WyrdAndWonder
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Posted Sunday, 2 May, 2021 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #WyrdAndWonder, Audiobook, Book Review (non-blog tour), Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Children's Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Conservation, Content Note, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Fly in the Ointment, Folklore and Mythology, Good vs. Evil, Indie Author, Invisibility, Juvenile Fiction, Middle Grade Novel, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, NetGalley, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Preservation, Siblings, Small Towne USA, Speculative Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Telekinesis, Telepaths & Telepathy, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Urban Fantasy, Writing Style & Voice

Blog Book Tour | My #25PagePreview for “Love and Other Moods” by Crystal Z. Lee featuring an Extract and short Q&A from the author

Posted Monday, 22 March, 2021 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I had to take a leave of absence hosting for this touring company in [2015] whilst I worked towards finding better balance in my blogging and personal life. I returnt to hosting for Lola’s Book Tours in [2018] before having to take a small hiatus from requesting future blog tours for a second time. By [2020] as my health afflictions from 2018/19 started to recede I realised I could start to host for her authors with better confidence in being able to participate on the tours themselves. I am thankful I can continue to host and feature tours by this touring company from 2020-forward.

I received a complimentary copy of “Love and Other Moods” direct from the author Crystal Z. Lee in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Whilst I didn’t get the chance to interview the author directly myself – she happily provided keen insight into her writerly process for this novel through a series of Q&A topical questions revolving round ‘transporting the reader’ into “Love & Other Moods” – which I felt you might benefit from knowing as well.

Love and Other Moods is based in Shanghai,
a city you had once lived and worked inside. What’s your favorite thing about Shanghai?

Lee responds: I love that Shanghai is a city of contrasts. You can see its history and modernity coexisting everywhere in that metropolis. There are ancient temples right alongside skyscrapers, traditional food stalls outside of fancy restaurants. It’s a city that attracts people from every walk of life, from all corners of the globe.

There are many, many delicious Chinese dishes
mentioned in your novel. Do you have a favorite?

Lee responds: In Love and Other Moods, one of the characters is a magazine food editor, one is a restaurant and bar owner, and one cooks as a hobby. Naturally there are many gourmet meal scenes in the book! Here is a sampling of some of the dishes that appear in the novel: Shanghainese truffle-flavored xiao long bao dumplings, Chongqing style liangfen spicy noodles, glutinous zongzi rice stuffed in bamboo leaves, lotus root pork bone broth, sticky niangao rice, Taiwanese oyster pancake, Peking duck and hairy crab. My favorite would be xiao long bao dumplings!

A favorite scene you enjoyed writing?

Lee responds: Chinese New Year is probably the most significant holiday in the Chinese-speaking world. In Love and Other Moods, there is a whole chapter that takes place in Nanjing and Shanghai during Chinese New Year, where some major developments happen to the characters. I relished writing this scene, and not just because it’s full of drama. I also enjoyed sharing all the cultural details of this holiday!

Were the romantic relationships in the book based on people you had known in Shanghai?

Lee responds: Somewhat. Almost every character and situation were inspired by something that had happened in real-life. For example, I had known people in China whose family were opposed to them dating a Japanese person because of what had happened during World War Two. I also knew some Joss and Tay types, where the second generation was loosely connected to the government in some capacity yet decided to date outside of their circle. I also knew many Logans in China—western men who had moved to Shanghai and treated the city as their personal playground. Although many foreigners have left China recently ahead of the pandemic, there is still a sizable expatriate contingent in Shanghai. Many of my friends are still there, and have married or are dating somebody from China.

Why did you decide to write the story in multiple third-person point-of-views?

Lee responds: I struggled whether to write the novel this way, but ultimately I wanted this book to mirror a city, with viewpoints from the multitude of characters you would meet in a sprawling metropolis. Therefore, in Love and Other Moods, there are POVs from the expats, the Shanghainese socialites, the corporate executives, the working class, the entrepreneurs, the doorman, the maid, the millennials, the aging parents. To me, all of their perspectives are essential to the story, and is what makes a city like Shanghai come alive.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading your novel?

Lee responds:Although Love and Other Moods is billed as a Romance read–and there are many romantic moments in the book–there are also the more serious issues which many of us experience, particularly as women of color, such as racism and sexism.

Growing up, I adored reading rom-coms, but often felt I couldn’t relate, because the characters didn’t seem to endure some of the same issues I faced.

In writing this book, one of my greatest hopes is that some of my readers will feel less alone in their struggles, and feel more seen and heard.’

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From the first moment you open the Prologue – she has found a way to knit you inside the city she’s chosen as a setting in such a way as to be provocatively acute in understanding how to connect you to the place as much as the allure of why so many journey to the city in search of what they cannot find elsewhere. It is a powerful start to the story – similar in strength to how Matthew McConaughey gave an evoking spoken word speech at the start of his fundraiser for Texas over the weekend.

Some writers have a way of placing you into the contextual landscape of a specific setting with such acute clarity – it feels as if you’ve been there yourself even if you’ve never physically have spent anytime there at all. Lee captures Shanghai in a way only she could tell similarly to how McConaughey changed your perspective about Texas within only a few minutes of an address as they both share a passion for words and the expressive nature of connecting to their audiences.

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Blog Book Tour | My #25PagePreview for “Love and Other Moods” by Crystal Z. Lee featuring an Extract and short Q&A from the authorLove and Other Moods
by Crystal Z. Lee
Source: Author via Lola's Blog Tours

Love and Other Moods is a coming-of-age story set in contemporary China, about falling in love, learning to adult, finding strength, and discovering one’s place in the world.

Naomi Kita-Fan uproots her life from New York to China when her fiancé’s company transfers him to Shanghai. After a disastrous turn of events, Naomi finds herself with no job, no boyfriend, and nowhere to live in a foreign country.

Amidst the backdrop of Shanghai welcoming millions of workers and visitors to the 2010 World Expo, we meet a tapestry of characters through Naomi: Joss Kong, a Shanghai socialite who leads an enviable life, but must harbor the secrets of her husband, Tay Kai Tang. Logan Hayden, a womanizing restaurateur looking for love in all the wrong places. Pan Jinsung and Ouyang Zhangjie, a silver-aged couple struggling with adapting to the ever-changing faces of their city. Dante Ouyang, who had just returned to China after spending years overseas, must choose between being filial and being in love. All their dreams and aspirations interweave within the sprawling web of Shanghai.

This multilayered novel explores a kaleidoscope of shifting relationships—familial friction, amorous entanglements, volatile friendships—in one of the most dynamic metropolises of the twenty-first century.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Contemporary Romance, New Adult Fiction


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1913891015

Published by Balestier Press

on 8th December, 2020

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 324

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Ahead of reading my reactions to “Love and Other Moods”
ENJOY this short extract of the novel:

Naomi had packed four suitcases from New York, and right now they were stacked unevenly on top of one another in the hallway, forcing the front door to open only halfway, just tight enough for her to slide in sideways. She couldn’t remember the last time she had lived by herself. The lonely apartment was mildly depressing.

She felt like walking aimlessly. She passed by wrinkled men playing a game of Chinese chess, teenage girls in designer sunglasses taking photographs of each other, a woman gesticulating wildly as she yelled into her cell phone, tourists examining a guide book, a cloud of second-hand smoke drifting from outside a cafe, Uighur men selling kebabs, well-heeled shoppers clinging to their purchases, two men in yarmulkes talking heatedly, shrieking children competing with the racket from honking vehicles, and the sea of commuters gushing out of the Huangpi Nan Lu metro stop. Naomi let herself be swept up into the human river, bodies crushing against each other, arms brushing and shoving, no apologies no offense taken. Being in this city meant your senses were constantly accosted.

A man approached her with a flier featuring images of iPhones, Rolexes, LV handbags, and said that their shop was just ahead in an alley. She declined and quickened her pace. She spotted an empty bench by a bus stop and flopped down. Barely noticing as the traffic whizzed by, the racy selfie on Seth’s phone resurfaced in her head. A steady stream of downpour coaxed pedestrians to open a colorful array of umbrellas, or duck into convenience stores, boutique shops, malls entrances. Naomi felt wholly unequipped and unprepared, again, by this city.

Her hair was stuck to her face and her forehead was damp. She was relieved that the inclement weather matched her mood, for tears had started forming and slithering beneath her eyes, blending with the droplets of rain running down her face. She wiped it away with her sleeve. She just wanted to throw up all the fury and regrets that were lodged in her stomach, she wished it could all be flushed out of her head.

It was starting to hit her, the reality of having no boyfriend, no job, and nowhere to live.

She wondered if the sprawling metropolis of Shanghai was too small to co-exist with her ex-fiancé.

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Published by: Balestier Press (@BalestierPress)

Converse on Twitter via: #ContemporaryRomance & #NewAdult
as well as #LoveAndOtherMoods and #CrystalZLee

About Crystal Z. Lee

Crystal Z. Lee

Crystal Z. Lee is a Taiwanese American bilingual writer. She has called many places home, including Taipei, New York, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She was formerly a public relations executive who had worked with brands in the fashion, beauty, technology, and automotive industries. Love and Other Moods is her debut novel. She’s already hard at work on her next novel and a children’s book.

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Posted Monday, 22 March, 2021 by jorielov in 21st Century, Blog Tour Host, China, Contemporary Romance, Equality In Literature, Lola's Blog Tours, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, New Adult Fiction, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Romance Fiction

Blog Book Tour | “Second Sister” by Chan Ho-Kei (an Zeitgeisty Hacker Contemporary Thriller)

Posted Sunday, 22 March, 2020 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I’ve been enjoying hosting blog tours for the UK Indie publisher Head of Zeus as I feel blessed to work with them as a book blogger being that I love celebrating authors from the UK and the stories they are telling through the different genres Head of Zeus is publishing. These blog tours have been encouraging my bookish and readerly wanderings into Crime Dramas, Historical Fiction and Historical Sagas whilst also engaging into my passionate love of Speculative Fiction which encompasses Science Fiction and Fantasy. I am thankful to be hosting tours for the publisher directly and with their publicity team at Midas PR.

I received a complimentary copy of “Second Sister” direct from the publisher Head of Zeus in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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What intrigued me about “Second Sister”:

I have noticed a shift in my reading patterns has brought me back into *Crime Fiction!* recently – even before I announced becoming an influencer for the Crime Fiction Subscription Book Box which is focused on highlighting Canadian Crime Writers and Crime Fiction from around the world. This is a niche of literature I personally LOVE to be reading – from Contemporary Suspense & Thrillers to Cosy Historical Mysteries to dramatic Cosy Crime and police proceduals and amateur sleuths – there is something truly captivating about reading stories which invigorate your mind whilst your attempting to uncover the writer’s vision of how to tell a captivating suspense novel through their own lens of inspiration to leave you gripped inside a novel that might be hard to put down after its read.

From the moment I first read the premise of “Second Sister” – I just had this murmuring of interest as this was my first takeaway having read the synopsis:

It isn’t often I find a Thriller like this one which intrigues me to read the story. The author reminds me of what I enjoyed about reading J.S. Monroe’s “Forget My Name” and why I am dearly eager to read his new release “The Other You” – which I hosted an Author Q&A for earlier in January of this year.

It isn’t often I find Crime Fiction in translation – the first novel of I read of this nature was The Swimmer which happily took me by surprise and was a wicked good read. This is the other reason “Second Sister” appealled to me as a reader – not to mention the premise was a gutting one – how it effectively was about the lives and choices of two sisters and would take me to Hong Kong to hear their story. I’ll admit the tagline attached to this novel was quite alluring in its own right –  an Zeitgeisty Hacker Contemporary Thriller!

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Blog Book Tour | “Second Sister” by Chan Ho-Kei (an Zeitgeisty Hacker Contemporary Thriller)Second Sister
by (Translator) Jeremy Tiang, Chan Ho-Kei
Source: Direct from Publicist

Upon discovering her fifteen-year-old sister’s body sprawled in a pool of blood at the bottom of their apartment block, Nga-Yee vows to serve justice to the internet troll she blames for her sister’s suicide.

Hiring an anti-establishment, maverick tech-savvy detective, Nga-Yee discovers the dark side of social media, the smokescreen of online privacy and the inner workings of the hacker’s mind.

Determined to find out the truth about why her sister Siu-Man killed herself, Nga-Yee cannot rest until she finds out whose inflammatory social media post went viral and pushed her sister to her death. Along the way, Nga-Yee makes unsavoury discoveries about her sister’s life and the dark underbelly of the digital world.

Perfect for fans of hacker thrillers such as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, Second Sister is part detective novel, part revenge thriller. It explores timely themes of sexual harassment, online trolling, victim blaming, fake news and data privacy scandals , vividly capturing the zeitgeist of Hong Kong and the world today.

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Crime Fiction, Hard-Boiled Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller


Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1788547116

Setting: Hong Kong


Published by Head of Zeus

on 18th February, 2020

Format: Hardcover Edition

Pages: 496

Published By: Head of Zeus (@HoZ_Books)

Converse via: #SecondSister, #Thriller

as well as #Contemporary and #TechnoThriller

Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook

About (Translator) Jeremy Tiang

Jeremy Tiang

Jeremy Tiang's short story collection It Never Rains on National Day was published by Epigram Books in 2015. His writing has also appeared in The Guardian, Esquire, Asia Literary Review, Brooklyn Rail, Drunken Boat, Meanjin, Ambit and Best New Singaporean Short Stories.

He has translated more than ten books from Chinese, including work by Yeng Pway Ngon, You Jin, Wong Yoon Wah, Yan Geling, Yu Qiuyu, Su Wei-chen and Zhang Yueran. Shorter translations have appeared in Two Lines, the Iowa Review, Asymptote and The Stinging Fly.

He is a 2016 NEA Literary Translation Fellow, and has received grants from PEN/ Heim and the National Museum of Taiwanese Literature. Jeremy also writes and translates plays, including Floating Bones (The Arts House, Singapore), A Dream of Red Pavilions (adapted from the novel Hong Lou Meng; Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre, NYC) and The Last Days of Limehouse (Yellow Earth Theatre, London).

About Chan Ho-Kei

Chan Ho-Kei

Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. He was graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong with a B.Sc. degree in 1997. He has worked as software engineer, game designer, manga editor, and lecturer. Chan made his debut as writer in 2008, with short story The Murder Case of Jack and the Beanstalk which was shortlisted for the 6th Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award. Chan reentered and won this award in the next year with The Locked Room of Bluebeard.

After receiving a couple more of awards, Chan reached the first milestone of his writing career in 2011. Chan's novel, The Man who Sold the World won the biggest mystery award in the Chinese speaking world, the Soji Shimada Award. The book has been published in Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Korea.

 In 2014, Chan's work The Borrowed was published in Taiwan and has been well acclaimed. It has sold rights in eight countries, and the film rights sold to director Wong Kar-Wai.

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Posted Sunday, 22 March, 2020 by jorielov in 21st Century, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Contemporary Thriller, Crime Fiction, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Head of Zeus, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Siblings, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Vulgarity in Literature