Also, I am back on the Sarah J. Maas train. Choo, choo.
Remember in my last newsletter when I said I hoped to get in some reading while I was in Japan? Yeah, that didn’t happen. I might have actually accomplished my longest NON-reading streak of the year at a whopping 12 days. I was just too busy! I was having too much fun eating sushi and ramen! So — please don’t judge me — when I finally cracked open my Kindle on the long flight home, I didn’t choose one of the many (I had high hopes, okay?) books by Japanese authors I downloaded. No, I started the first Crescent City book. And, dear reader, I liked it. Mostly.
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House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
I was reading Maas before it was cool, as in catching up on the Throne of Glass series in realtime. Her writing has always been shaky for me; she excels at character development and steamy romance, but I often find she loses me with the plot. The first Crescent City book was no exception — I’d say I liked it as much as I liked the first ACOTAR book. This is a standalone series, set in a more modern feeling world and following a half-Fae, half-human woman as she solves her best friend’s murder. I loved the mystery element of it (very different than her other books), but I didn’t find the romances to be as compelling. It also felt sooo long and by the end I was kind of skimming to get it over with. That being said, will I still read the next one? Obviously. It was extremely fun to read and sometimes that’s all you need.
Good for people who like: Literally anything else by SJM, fantasy that doesn’t feel like fantasy, Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
All Night-Pharmacy by Ruth Madievsky
This debut had some kinks, but was an overall stunner for me. We meet our unnamed narrator and her sister Debbie as they fall into a toxic whirlpool of drugs, sex, and lies, but it isn’t until an act of violence tears them apart that the story really begins, as the narrator grapples with Debbie’s disappearance. I think if I had gone into this book expecting a mystery, I’d be disappointed, because it’s not really about Debbie going missing. It’s more about the narrator tackling her deepest fears, attachments, and traumas. This is a dark book, fully of content warnings, but ultimately it’s a fascinating take on having the strength to stare down the unknowns of life and live to see another day.
Good for people who like: Exalted by Anna Dorn, books about sisterhood, dark humor
Tomb Sweeping by Alexandra Chang
To be honest, part of the reason I wanted to read this book was the cover. I mean, come on! But thankfully the stories inside delivered, with some packing a bigger punch than others. They all center around Asian and/or Asian-American identities, although they vary vastly, from a spooky tale about a cryptic notebook to a touching story of a woman who spies on her aging parents through nanny-cam-like cameras (it’s not as creepy as it sounds, I promise). Most of the stories didn’t leave a lasting impact on me through, mostly because the endings tended to feel incomplete. But I did still enjoy the collection — and Chang’s writing — and recommend if you’re into short stories.
Good for people who like: Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, short stories, interesting insights on parents/children
Since I haven’t done much reading lately, I figured I’d use this space to talk about what I *have* been busy doing: starting a book club! Once a month, I’m holding court at a local queer bar in my neighborhood and forcing others to read the queer books I love. We had our first meeting last week, where we read The Adult, which I gushed about here a while ago.
We were a small, but mighty group and I’m so excited to see where the book club goes. Next up is Carmen Maria Machado's In the Dream House which I’ve been dying to read. Until next time!