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bookish posts reviews

What I read: week 6

Phew! I did manage to read a lot more last week than the week before.

Last year, I really loved the first Aru Shah book by Roshani Chokshi. While I found Aru Shah and the Song of Death to be very delightful, it also felt overly long–my major complaint with the Rick Riordan Presents books so far. The story adds in a few new characters and shades in the world of the Pandevas a bit. This aspect was my favorite, maybe unsurprisingly as I generally love how a second book in a series can really deepen the world that was set up in the first one. I’m definitely here for the next book, though I hope there’s a little more Boo and a little less questing. [read for the first time 8/3]

I found The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling engaging; in particular, the combination of a very, very character-driven story and a real respect for the limits of technology made for a slightly different slant on a scifi story. Though I suppose Suzanne Palmer’s Finder might also fit in that category. Anyway, you know how that division between “soft” scifi and “hard” scifi is largely rubbish and used to devalue books written by women? Yeah. This story is all about Gyre and Em, but it also takes the mechanics of the situation very seriously. If you’re a reader who likes a bunch of action and plot, this isn’t necessarily one I’d recommend. If you’re a reader who likes an atmospheric and tense story that’s largely about trust and grit, read on.

At the same time, the relationship between the two women was–look, I don’t think anyone in this story is getting a lot of points for emotional healthiness. The shifting landscape of Gyre and Em’s time together is by turns gripping and troubling. I found the end hopeful, and yet I don’t know if I exactly what that hope to be fulfilled. If anyone has read this and wants to talk spoilers with me, please do. [read for the first time 8/5]

The latest book in the great E.L. Konigsburg reread, A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver, proved to be slightly less exciting than I had remembered. I’m not sure whether I’m just over books about monarchs, or if this just hit me at a bad moment. I don’t think it’s Konigsburg at her strongest, though. From the B’Nai Bagels to Claudia, she’s at her best when she shows this marvelous insight into childhood, and here that’s totally absent. [reread, 8/5]

Bone Black by bell hooks has been on my TBR list for quite some time, but I finally got around to reading it. I’m so glad I did; it’s now on the list of my favorite memoirs. I love the way hooks uses memory as a shifting perspective and a way to return to images and moments again and again. Of course much of the book is centered around Black girlhood, and it’s framed within a tradition of Black women writers. There are other moments that felt more universal to the experience of growing up as a girl, and I appreciated those as well. I shared a few quotes on Twitter just after reading; this is one I can definitely see returning to in the future. [read for the first time 8/6]

I read Restart by Gordon Korman for a work book club, and I have to admit that I doubt I would have finished it just under my own steam. The themes and ideas here are interesting: what do you do when you have a chance at a fresh start? Can someone ever really change? But the treatment of those themes didn’t take into account any big systemic things like racism, sexism, and so on. And the sentence level writing was often clunky and repetitive. Restart is a 2019-2020 Young Hoosier Book Award nominee so clearly other readers have valued it more than I did. [read for the first time 8/8]

I don’t remember exactly why I decided to read Sincerely, Harriet by Sarah W. Searle. I’m glad I did, as it’s a thoughtful graphic novel with an intimate look at invisible disabilities. I appreciated the way the story draws connections with older generations and experiences. It is a sad story though, in many ways, and I wasn’t quite expecting that tone going in. While it wraps up nicely in the end and I’m glad I read it, I wish I had known that going in. [read for the first time 8/8]

 

Categories
bookish posts

Currently reading: 4-23

 

My current stack of books:

Not Free, Not for All: Public Libraries in the Age of Jim Crow by Cheryl Knott

Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (reread)

Blood Road by Amanda McCrina

A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between books recently, but last night I sat down and read most of Cuckoo Song in one gulp, so it might be time for some more focused attention again.

Categories
bookish posts

Currently reading: 10-5

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds: I’m trying to catch up with the Reynolds books I haven’t read yet which is hard because he has several being published a year at the moment. This one is middle grade and a family story. I’m definitely hooked and am curious to see how the relationships and secrets play out.

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones: I started this after finishing the Tiptree biography, thinking that there would be fewer emotions about English history. And then Eleanor of Aquitaine showed up on page 40, so now I’m just resigned to having my heart mangled all the time. Jones is a good historian and manages (at least so far) to give a sense of the people involved which is hard in such a broad overview.

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi: This one was nominated for the Cybils, and I’ve heard great things about it, and I actually had it checked out already, so here we are! I’m on about page five, so I can’t say much about it yet.

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar: Still reading this one, more because I’ve prioritized other books than because it’s actually taking me long when I sit down with it. I’ll be interested to see how this one resolves; at the moment I’m a little concerned about a couple of things, but I’m willing to see if that changes.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal: WWI, but with ghosts, which is an interesting concept. I have been really excited for this one, but so far I’m feeling that it fizzed out a bit. Liz Bourke mentioned in her review that this is more Rupert Brooke than Wilfred Owen, and I think that’s a fair point. Anyway, we’ll see.