It’s been months since my last book post.
(All posting has been pretty sporadic around here, in case you hadn’t noticed the gaping void in your blog reading lately. /sarcasm)
That in itself isn’t a problem, but I’ve read pretty much nonstop this summer, which means I’ve got book reviews a-plenty piling up. We’ll start with the sets + series, since they’ve been a good chunk of my list. As always, links are affiliates; clicks earn me a penny or two.
You may remember I loved Six of Crows. It’s sequel, Crooked Kingdom, was also excellent, although I think SoC was better. Naturally I had to read the other trilogy set in the “Grishaverse.” Again, SoC is still my favorite, but Leigh Bardugo has created quite a fascinating world, including mythology + politics + history + more. High quality YA fantasy, if that’s what you’re into. (I am. No shame.)
Then there’s the Song of Ice and Fire series. At this point I’m committed to finishing…but I’m not sure Mr. Martin is. Supposedly there are still two books coming? At any rate, A Feast for Crows was great: a handful of new characters, fleshing out some of my old favorites, and OH MY GOODNESS IS CERSEI THE WORST HUMAN EVER? Yes. She truly is. No wonder Joff turned out so awful.
Then there was A Dance With Dragons. I suddenly understand why everyone wants to strangle GRRM. He finished the book on like 65 different cliffhangers, and hasn’t published the next yet. IT HAS BEEN SIX YEARS. Why did this man’s editor never rein him in? There’s plenty in there that could be slashed, but noooo. Gotta keep every intricate battle and feast and describe all the heraldry that has ever existed in this pretend world. I’m hooked but I’m not happy about it anymore.
Back to YA but away from magic, I reeeeeally enjoyed And I Darken. Historical fiction featuring a female version of a young Vlad the Impaler, set mostly in the Ottoman Empire? Yes please. Can’t wait to read Now I Rise to find out what happens next!
Not shown above is Who Fears Death, which isn’t part of a series but probably fits best with this grouping in subject matter. I’ll tell you up front, it’s a strange one. Totally different from any other book I can recall. But since it’s a post-apocalyptic African magical realism story, that’s hardly surprising. It’s definitely not a light read, either. For example, the main character—Onyesonwu, whose names means “who fears death?”—was born as a result of violent rape, and that features prominently in her identity and motivation. It’s such a good story, and really well told. I recommend it, but only if you’re up for grappling with culture that is far from Westernized and a bad guy who is legitimately evil. And shape-shifting. Definitely some of that.
For something that covers race issues in a less intense (and non-paranormal) way, Their Eyes Were Watching God is a good alternative. No, not alternative. It should be required reading, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Now that I’m looking at this list, I realize I’ve read a fair number of intensely thought-provoking books this summer. Not exactly the “beach lit” people tend to favor this time of year, but when have I ever cared about what most people prefer? Something Other Than God, When Breath Becomes Air, and The Art of Asking were all memoirs of one sort or another, and they’re deep.
The first tells Jennifer Fulwiler’s slow conversion from athiest to devout Catholic. The second is Paul Kalanathi’s story of becoming a neurosurgeon then being diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer. (Spoiler: he dies. I was good through the whole book but the epilogue broke me.) The last (not pictured) is Amanda Palmer’s experience as a street performer then musician, and what her very nontraditional career path has taught her about the relationship between asking, giving, and receiving. (Note: her book is NSFW in language + content, but man, does she share some wisdom in her own weird way.)
For what it’s worth, I took notes on all three.
More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting was interesting but not quite as good as I’d hoped. Lots of anecdotes + generalization; not much evidence-based research to back up her conclusions, which started to grate on me about halfway through. There’s some solid parenting advice in there, don’t get me wrong, but maybe I have more in common with the Amish mindset than I expected, because most of it seemed pretty common sense.
I’ve yet to start in on A Woman’s Place. The only reason I checked it out was for an online book club I was invited to join…and it looks like nobody else has started reading it either. I’m intrigued by the premise—it’s a novel about several women navigating their new roles + figuring out their purposes during WW2—so we’ll see how it goes.
All right friends, it’s your turn. What have you been reading lately?