Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Reading Envy Podcast 124: Mush Creatures with Lindy Pratch

Lindy, avid reader and bookclub member, is back in the Reading Envy pub to chat poetry and more!

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 124: Mush Creatures

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Books Discussed:

Motherhood by Sheila Heti
Home to Woefield by Susan Juby
Walking Through Turquoise by Laurie MacFayden
By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente
The Flower Can Always Be Changing by Shawna Lemay
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Other Mentions: 

Bear by Marian Engel
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti
Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti et al
Girls (HBO show)
Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby (Canadian title for Home to Woefield)
Pecking Order (documentary)
Alice, I Think by Susan Juby
You Fit Into Me by Margaret Atwood (poem)
Goldie Awards - Golden Crown Literary Awards
Lambda Literary Awards
Trouble Came to the Turnip by Caroline Bird
Dylan Thomas Prize
Watering Can by Caroline Bird (what Jenny meant when she said something about a birdcage)
A Family Outing by Ruby Remenda Swanson
Mortified Podcast
Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down by Anne Valente
Rumi and the Red Handbag by Shawna Lemay
Clarice Lispector
Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh

Related Episodes:

Episode 095 - Lose the Outside World with Lindy Pratch
Episode 107 - Reading Goals 2018

Stalk us online:

Lindy Reads and Reviews (blog)
Lindy on Twitter
Lindy is @Lindy on Litsy
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Review: Record of a Spaceborn Few

Record of a Spaceborn Few Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the first two Wayfarers books, each for different reasons. This one follows several stories inside the Exodus Fleet, the people who left Earth but weren't rich enough to move places like Mars. They've continued living and building upon the ships they left in, and have slowly created a sustaining colony. The book starts with a disaster that sets a few stories in motion.

Like all Chambers books, I appreciate the focus on people and relationships, interesting aliens and their places in the universe, and seeing the "civilization" perspective of the salvage crew that shows up.

One character is an Archivist, keeping a video record of events. Another is a caretaker, welcoming those newly born to the community and aiding those who pass to contribute in other ways. One is a teenager looking for a purpose, and another is an exile from another place, looking for a home. The alternating narratives make for a quick and pleasurable read.

View all my reviews

Review: Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I downloaded this book in Audible after hearing about it a bunch, but didn't decide to read it until it was selected as the Tonight Show Summer Reads. I love that a late-night show would get people reading, and wanted to support that idea and join in. I do think I should say that this book is not my usual thing - YA fantasy series don't typically appeal to me for multiple reasons - they tend to include too much questing and I get tired of reading this kind of story, particularly because often questing fantasy tends to wait until the end to have the exciting events. YA fantasy tends to focus a lot of time on world building and magic systems, neither of which appeal to me all that much. Those are my biases, but even so, I have read books that do these things well and books that do not. I went into the read knowing I'd probably like the diverse elements of the setting and characters, and with a familiarity of East African mythology and gods, landscape and history.

The author is clear in her note that she wrote this book as a reaction to young black bodies killed and devalued..she begs the reader, if you can see the humanity in the characters killed without reason in the novel, surely you can see it in reality too. Magic then becomes a metaphor for blackness and identity even within a story where all characters are dark skinned. Color is used as a signifier of latent magical potential in a different way (hair color) and interpreted as dangerous. The king who rid the world of magic believes he is keeping everyone safe by staying in power and killing those who threaten to return to other ways. The violence is seen as necessary by one side and senseless by the other. It doesn't matter that people are killed, because keeping magic out is priority #1. The author may have written this in response to one issue; in the current political climate I was also seeing an easy connection to the border and immigration issues that are ongoing, particularly the devaluing of the personhood of people who are given negative labels instead of names. Adeyemi is the child of immigrants, but the internet says that they shielded her from her Nigerian culture as a child, trying to help her be "more American." In some ways the cultural elements of this novel are an extension of her exploration of her own background and cultural history.

The YA nature of the novel shows in the characters having to learn skills and come into their own, form their own opinions and chart their own actions, and make mistakes they can learn from. The stakes are high but the adults aren't trustworthy. There is also attraction and romance, but not to the extended focus that many dystopian YA books end up with. In this book, the romance ties in to the stakes of what the characters are trying to do, so that worked better for me than the other way around.

Some of the fantastical elements are a bit confusing. There is a lot of world to learn, and sometimes the information is dumped on the reader rather than slowly being discovered, making it even harder to absorb. I found this readers guide of sorts on EW.com that is helpful; I only wish I'd had it as I listened. Some plot elements that are introduced don't come back around, while other world-building elements seem to be used for their cool factor rather than their importance to the storytelling, and this adds noise that doesn't need to be there. The author is young, writing takes practice, I imagine she will get better and better at pacing and detail decisions.

I would have liked less redundancy and a tighter narrative; almost 18 hours definitely felt too long in audiobook form. I've read other books with Nigerian cultural elements combined with magic, so if you like that part of it I would also recommend Nnedi Okorafor, specifically Akata Witch.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Reading Envy 123: Godlets and Forests

Lauren and Jenny discover they have both read the same book recently, and discuss it among others, including translated works and prize winners. Pull up a chair, and enjoy this very conversational episode.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 123: Godlets and Forests

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Listen via Stitcher

Books Discussed:

Spring by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Mad Country by Samrat Upadhyay
Circe by Madeleine Miller
And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Other Mentions: 

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard
My Struggle, Book VI by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Mama Day by Gloria Naylor
Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami
Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
The Natural Order of Things by António Lobo Antunes
Alaska by James Michener

Related Episodes:

Episode 073 - Buried Under the Beets with Jason Roland
Episode 097 - Blank Spaces with Lauren Weinhold

Stalk us online:

Lauren at Goodreads
Lauren is @lw.flora on Instagram
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Books Read June 2018: 143-173

Pictured: This month's five-star reads

143. By Light We Knew Our Names by Anne Valente ***** (Hoopla library eBook; my review)
144. Sisters' Entrance by Mahmoud Emtithal **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
145. American Hookup by Lisa Wade **** (library book; my review)
146. Go Home! ed. by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan *** (Hoopla library eBook; my review)
147. Sexographies by Gabriela Weiner **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
148. Home to Woefield by Susan Juby **** (personal copy; my review)
149. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf **** (Audible audiobook; my review)
150. My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh **** (book swap; my review)
151. Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
152. Tonight I'm Someone Else by Chelsea Hodson *** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
153. The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant **** (library book; my review)
154. StoryCorps: Outloud ed. by Ari Shapiro **** (Hoopla library audiobook; my review)
155. Dietland by Sarai Walker **** (library ebook; my review)
156. Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
157. Many Love by Sophie Johnson Lucido **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
158. School of Velocity by Eric Beck Rubin **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
159. Brother by David Chariandy **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
160. The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
161. The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye *** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
162. Attrib. and Other Stories by Eley Williams ***** (personal copy; my review)
163. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett **** (personal ebook copy; my review)
164. Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban **** (personal copy; my review)
165. The Republic of Dirt by Susan Juby **** (personal ebook copy; my review)
166. The Writer by D.W. Ulsterman ** (personal ebook copy; my review)
167. Listen to the Marriage by Jay Osborn ** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
168. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles *** (personal copy; my review)
169. The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty **** (library ebook; my review)
170. The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy ***** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
171. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey ***** (personal copy; my review)
172. The Late Bloomers' Club by Louise Miller **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
173. Running Wild by J.G. Ballard *** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)