Monday, October 15, 2018

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

I read a lot of new releases this past month! That's unusual for me, but there were so many that I wanted to read this time around.

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman: Like the first book, this is a good story, suspenseful and action-packed, with plot twists and character deaths. Unfortunately it's much more difficult to keep track of all the characters, the different worlds, and who's where when. I liked it overall, but it's quite dark and I wouldn't give it to kids younger than middle school.

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler: This was a reread, which I liked a lot better on audio than in print. This time around I noticed more of the ways the author used Dana and Kevin's relationship to parallel how white people can never really understand what it's like to be the target of racism.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: This book was... interesting. Unlike many, I didn't find it that scary, probably because I was too baffled by the characters' actions to relate to them. I'm impressed by the amount of work Danielewski put into this book, but in the end I found it too much work to read with not enough payoff to make it worth it.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon: This book is written in six parts, and each one has its own plot arc; I found it challenging to stay motivated through the whole 650+ pages, even though the characters are well written. I also found that the bloated vocabulary, predictable plot, and now-obscure 1940s pop culture references made it hard to get through.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith: I genuinely enjoyed this fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series, everything from the engaging mystery itself to the subplots around mental health, sexual harassment, manipulative exes, and community activism, plus the slowest of slow-burn romances, which I am enjoying despite myself.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green: I was very impressed by how well this turned out! It's fast-paced and engaging, but also grapples with questions of fame and power in a way I can't remember seeing in another book. Recommended for fans of YouTube stars or Ready Player One; just be ready for an ending that sets up the sequel.

The Secret Place by Tana French: This was very different from the previous Dublin Murder Squad mysteries. The resolution of the crime itself was more satisfying than usual, but everything else — from the half-hearted attempt to contrast the high schoolers' tight-knit friendship with the detective's lack of friends, to the incorporation of actual supernatural elements that were ultimately irrelevant — I did not like.

The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman: I don't know what happened with this last book, but it was very disappointing. The characters stopped having a strong purpose for what they were doing and the plot seemed randomly thrown together and then interspersed with lectures about why secular humanism is better than religion. The sentence-level writing is still great, but it didn't hang together as a book.

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera: This was the delightful YA gay romance I expected, although Silvera's realism definitely tempered what would usually be an Albertalli happily-ever-after. It was a bit too predictable and I wanted to shake Arthur for his inability to shut up, but I still liked it overall.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung: This ended up having less than I expected to do with the downsides of transracial adoption (through there are definitely elements highlighting how it can be done poorly) and more to do with the benefits of open adoption in general. Chung's own experience becoming a parent prompted her to seek out her biological family as an adult, and this informed her sense of identity and reshaped how she thought about her adoption.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok: This was a painfully real look at the experience of some immigrants who are exploited without the capability or resources to advocate for themselves. Kimberly's rescue from this life via education is a bit simplistic but not entirely far-fetched, though the book's double-twist ending seemed unnecessary and left me scratching my head over what the moral was supposed to be.

What have you been reading this month? Share over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Midwives
Five years ago I was reading: The Big Sleep and Roots
Ten years ago I was reading: The Sound and the Fury

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