New Books Read
A Magic Steeped in Poison by Judy I. Lin***
The Book of Tea book 1 of 2
I won’t lie, I definitely bought this book for the gorgeous cover. And then I discovered the gorgeous end papers and the adorable teapot under the dust jacket. But I really enjoyed it! What’s not to love about magical tea brewers in a competition to be the court tea magician? I loved the female friendships that developed throughout this book. I thought Lin’s world building was excellent; I got the sense of a great and varied empire with different traditions and regions and customs, without being bogged down by too much information. Looking forward to reading the next one.
3.5/5 magical teas
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
CW: imprisonment of disabled person
I really enjoyed this. Even though I pretty much knew what was going to happen, because this book has been out since 1847, so spoilers, I still felt compelled to keep reading. I liked the character of Jane a lot and I liked that even though she ends up married in the end, a position that ostensibly transferred a woman’s ownership from her father to her husband, Jane manages to do it in a way that subverts male power structures of the time. When she is first affianced to Mr. Rochester, she chafes against him buying her things and exercising the power he has over her because of his social and financial standing. Later, when Mr. Rivers proposes to her, part of the reason she does not want to marry him is the way he tries to force her to play the part of a dutiful missionary’s wife. She retains her own agency and when she eventually does mare Mr. Rochester, it is only after she receives a large inheritance and he loses half his property, putting them on equal footing financially, and he also loses his sight and the use of one of his hands, putting him physically in need of her help and support. In this way Jane keeps her agency and power even in her marriage. Now we have to talk about how Mr. Rochester is literally the worst and in no way should be excused from the fact that he locked up his mentally ill wife in the attic and pretended she didn’t exist, even if he never loved her and she wasn’t a nice person. Brontë signals to the reader that Mr. Rochester is suffering the divine punishment of being disabled (losing his sight and the use of one hand) for these sins. But of course, this is ableist also. Having a disability is not a divine punishment for a moral failing.
3/5 moody walks on the moor
Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
The Dresden Files book 8 of 17
I don’t have much to say about this one. All of the books in this series are pretty good. This one had kind of a lot of soul searching and Harry having serious conversations with other people that are necessary, but aren’t as fun as fighting monsters. I’d also like to point out that Harry does not get any nice guy points for not being a pedophile. Like that’s the bare minimum. You don’t get an award for not being a pedophile. It just seems weird that every time Harry saw a young hot girl, he’d be like “and she had a very womanly figure but she was obviously still a child and I’m not a pedophile even though I am horny” (paraphrased, obviously). Like stop making it weird, dude.
3/5 horror movie monsters
Wally Roux: Quantum Mechanic by Nick Carr
This was another of those free audible original audio plays. It was fine. Definitely better than Life Ever After. I liked the concept of the multiverse and fixing rips in spacetime, but otherwise it was a pretty standard coming of age story.
2.5/5 anti-gravity basketball courts
The Fire Endless by Rebecca Ross
**Book Hangover Alert
The Elements of Cadence book 2 of 2
Stunning. Gorgeous. Amazing. I adored it. I really liked the first book in this series, but I think I liked this one even more. I loved all the characters and the magical world of the faeries. I think the only thing I would have added is one or two more characters from the West who weren’t related to Jack and Adaira and weren’t assholes. I needed some more people from the West to sympathize with and show me that the West was worth saving.
5/5 wind spirits
The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang
This was my Book of the Month for November. It was pretty good. It held my interest, and it was easy to read. It reminded me a lot of Other Birds. I liked meeting all the different characters who had special abilities like Finn and Zadie. But I didn’t feel like I was really satisfied by the answer of why the girls’ mother disappeared. And I guess after they found her Finn was fine???
This Wicked Fate by Kalynn Bayron***
**Book Hangover Alert
This Poison Heart book 2 of 2
I love a good duology. I loved the first book in this series and the second book did not disappoint. I loved that there was not a single white character in the book. It was very refreshing. And I loved that there were so many lesbians. I also always love a mythological retelling, and this one had a really fresh feminist, Black-centric spin on it.
Books I did not finish
Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir***
The Locked Tomb series book 1 of at least 4
Judging by the reviews for this book (the majority are 4+ stars out of 5), I am in the minority because I thought it was awful. I mean lesbian space necromancers really does sound like a win. I made it about 80 pages in. I felt like I didn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t understand the world Muir was trying to create. Every time I thought I was starting to get into the world, the language Muir used pulled me right out again. Her word choice and humor didn’t work at all for me and jarred against the world. There was a lot of gratuitous swearing and sexual jokes that weren’t funny and also weird slang that felt really out of place in the world. This phrase is really in this book: “…which she could not have noped at harder.” I mean seriously. Maybe if this book was set in a high school in 2018. And there were also references to things like pizza and comics and I didn’t understand how those things fit into the world of necromancers in space on a planet that isn’t earth. Also I didn’t find Gideon or Harrow likable or sympathetic at all.
**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 A Magic Steeped in Poison for an Asian inspired fantasy. Read This Wicked Fate for LGBTQ+ and Black representation in mythological fantasy. A lot of people really liked Gideon the Ninth, so read that if you want more LGBTQ+ representation in space fantasy.
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.