New Books Read
Heaven by Mieko Kawakami
CW: bullying, suicide, suicidal ideation
I really liked Breasts and Eggs by Kawakami so I was excited to read this. I was left with the feeling that I didn’t get it. I mean, I understood the fundamental struggle of humans to try to give meaning to our lives, particularly our strife, the idea that suffering has to mean something. But the whole thing just left me sad and dispirited, and I felt that I suffered with the characters through the novel and then was left with no meaning at the end. Which maybe was the point, that the characters suffer meaninglessly and the reader does too, but it didn’t leave me particularly satisfied. So did I miss something? Have you read it? What did you think?
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin***
**Book Hangover Alert
CW: gun violence, suicide
This book was just so good. We love to see ace characters. We love to see deep friendship given as much consideration as romantic relationships. We love 90s and early 2000s nostalgia. This book had all of that, as well as being thought provoking and literary and haunting. I loved it.
5/5 Donkey Kong machines
Upgrade by Blake Crouch
CW: nonconsensual medical procedures
This book was definitely a page turner. I enjoyed the ethical question of the lengths we should go to if it means saving the human race. I was interested in the examination of gene editing, especially since that is something that might be within reach of current science soon. I wish Crouch had spent more time examining the ethical problem of whether we should edit genes, even if we have the ability to, and if it’s ethical to upgrade people without their consent.
3.5/5 upgraded vigilantes
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah***
**Book Hangover Alert
CW: war, genocide, rape, anti-semitism, torture
I’ve said this about every Kristin Hannah book I’ve read so far, but I love her female characters. I love how distinct they are from one another and how the both develop throughout the narrative. I learned a lot about World War II. I loved how Hannah managed to portray her characters with such empathy, whether they were choosing to keep their heads down to try to survive or whether they were resisting the Nazis in large or small ways.
4.5/5 ration coupons
Agent 355 by Marie Benedict
This was a fun little novella speculating on the identity of a spy instrumental in bringing down Benedict Arnold during the Revolutionary War. It was enjoyable and I liked Elizabeth’s plucky nature. But I could have done with more spying and less falling in love.
House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J Maas
Crescent City book 2
CW: fantasy racism
I do think this was maybe a bit too long and had too much graphic sex in it for my taste. But that being said I did really enjoy it and I will read the next one. I do still kind of think this story is a grown up version of Throne of Glass, but again that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. I won’t explain more, because spoilers.
4/5 comm crystals
Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire***
Wayward Children book 6 of 10
CW: bullying, fantasy racism
This is a stand-alone in the Wayward Children series and it might be one of my favorites from the series. We don’t get to see Eleanor West of the other children from the home for wayward children, which is a shame since I do miss them, but I loved Reagan and her story.
The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford***
**Book Hangover Alert
CW: racism, sexual assault
I adored this one too. I love the idea of epigenetic inheritance and the idea of reincarnation (although that’s not quite what’s happening here). It reminded me a lot of David Mitchell’s work, and he’s one of my favorite authors. It also reminded me a bit of The Bonesetter’s Daughter. I loved the way each woman’s story echoed into the next and how each was wrapped up. It was moving and poignant and just so lovely.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
CW: racism, ableism
Of 20th century dystopian novels, this one is not the best. It’s intriguing and I certainly agree with Huxley’s critique of consumerism and agree with the fundamental right of personal autonomy. But I didn’t love it. I think it was because I didn’t like any of the characters much, and I’m not really sure that you were supposed to. Bernard was shallow and cowardly and Lenina was also shallow, though that may have been a result of the conditioning of the World State. That left me with John, who I felt I was supposed to sympathize more with but I really didn’t much care for him either, even if his view of human nature and the natural order of the world is closer to my own. The caste system was interesting and frightening in its believability.
3/5 soma tabs
Where the Drowned Girls Go by Seanan McGuire
Wayward Children book 7 of 10
CW: fatphobia, bullying
I was glad this installment of the series included both many of our old friends from the home for wayward children, and let us see Reagan again from the last book. I really enjoyed this one and liked that we got to see the Whitehorn Academy which has been mentioned before in the previous books.
**Book Hangover Alert indicates the kind of book that will leave you full up on love. Satisfied, but wishing the book never had to end. You’ll be laying on the floor with no idea what to do with yourself (other friends have called this feeling Good Book Depression or say that certain books necessitate Floor Time). This is the kind of book that gets its teeth in you and won’t let go easily. After the last page you’ll be thinking about this book for a long time. You’ll bother all your friends trying to get them to read it so that you won’t be alone in your Hangover.
***This book is part of my Books for a Social Conscience series! Read Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow for LGBTQIA+, mixed race and immigrant, and female perspectives in the world of video games. Read The Nightingale to learn more about WWII and the suffering Jews and other minorities, as well as French resistance fighters faced, and the everyday struggles of the women of occupied France. Read Across the Green Grass Fields for LGBTQIA+ representation in fantasy. Read The Many Daughters of Afong Moy for a Chinese perspective on the past, present, and future.
Reads marked as part of the Books for a Social Conscience series will regularly address topics like race and racism, colonialism and post-colonialism, LGBTQ+ experience, feminism, BIPOC experience, social and political issues, history, identity, class, disability experience, immigration, gun violence, poverty, colorism, environmentalism, and more! The goal of these books is to diversify the stories we’re reading, grow our empathy for those who are different from us, and amplify voices who are often silenced.