June 2020 Reading Recap

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June was my birthday! I wound up reading a whole bunch of ARCs, a few new favorites, and even interviewed K.A. Doore to celebrate the release of the Chronicles of Ghadid finale, The Unconquered City.

In addition the blog, you will now be able to find my reviews on The StoryGraph, in addition to Goodreads. My handle is JoReadsBooks

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Review: UPROOTED by Naomi Novik (2015)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2015
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning for body horror and parents slapping their children

Uprooted takes place in an Eastern-European world, much like Spinning Silver, but this time focuses on a young woman named Agnieszka who is chosen to live with the Dragon, a one-hundred-year-old magician, while a forest of brutal beauty and magic encroaches on the things she holds dear.

The relationship between Sarkan and Agnieszka rings to me more like Studio Ghibli’s interpretation of Howl and Sophie rather than a Hades and Persephone thing, which made it all the better. The way these reluctant housemates come to care for each other is particularly compelling. Moreover, I really liked how Agnieszka’s personality stayed consistent from start to finish, despite her proving herself a very capable magician herself. She’s still clumsy and loves her friends and family. That, for  me, worked really well.

This world is clearly inspired by Poland and Russia, with international tensions that reminded me a lot of conflicts familiar to fairy tales. The way magic works and rebels against the world shared with both nobles and villagers alike felt particularly compelling to me.

Though much simpler in scope than Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik’s first fairy tale is a must-read for those who like enemies-to-lovers and watching people come together to take down a common enemy.

 

May 2020 Reading Recap

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May featured the Nebulas and continued work on myself during this unemployed time.

No special posts this month, but definitely an interview with K.A. Doore coming your way in June.

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Review: SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik (2018)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2018
Source: Library audiobook

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning for physical abuse and descriptions of antisemitism

Part Rumpelstiltskin, part Persephone and Hades, all Eastern Europe fantasy with its world-building, characterizations, and societies, Spinning Silver is an enchantment from start to finish. We have Miryem who takes her family’s money-lending business from her father, Wanda her assistant, dukes’s daughter Irina, and the cursed prince Minatius.

The way Novik nimbly balances so many POVs throughout needs to be witnessed. Each one had enough voice and their own unique motifs and struggles to be distinct, but all worked together towards a common goal which doesn’t become salient until past the book’s middle. Otherwise, we are fully steeped in their interconnected, but separate struggles, and I found myself interested in how it all comes together as much as I had been interested in the outcomes.

In addition, the world-building and placement is so specific. There are attitudes, biases, etc. that can only be placed in Eastern Europe. The cross-cultural misunderstandings between humans and other-worldly beings were also carefully crafted. Throughout, there necessarily wasn’t a “right” and a “wrong,” only difference and the morality stemmed from reactions to those differences. It was great to read a European fantasy from the perspective of Jewish characters that focused on joys and traditions, rather than oppression (though it isn’t ignored in the text).

If you love resilient female characters, fairy tales, and non-Christian fantasies, definitely pick up Spinning Silver.

 

May 2020 TBR

Shelter-in-place continues through May in Illinois. Halfway through this month, I’m going to slowly start making a plan regarding employment and read these fine reads in the mean time. Things with a * are from last month’s TBR.

Hard Copies

  • The Art of Fiction by John Gardner
  • Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus*
  • The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco*
  • Out of Body by Jeffrey Ford (ARC)
  • Scapegracers by Hannah Abigail Clarke (ARC)*

Kindle

  • The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (ARC)
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender (ARC)
  • Flotsam (Peridot Shift #1) by R.J. Theodore*
  • The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer (ARC)*
  • Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (ARC)*
  • The Fiery Crown by Jeffe Kennedy (ARC)
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (ARC)
  • The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore (ARC)
  • Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin*

Audiobooks

  • Blood Countess by Lana Popovic
  • The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
  • Highfire by Eoin Colfer
  • Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

My own novel is still with alpha readers, so I’m returning the favor and also doing some beta reading this month.

Reading Recap: March 2019

Mar2019RR.pngMarch seemed to zip by. I went to Seattle for a bit, taking a proper vacation from both day job and from writing. It was nice and a much-needed break from the querying grind. But it left much time for some good reads, which I am pleased to share. Continue reading