Mid-month Reading Wrap Up, feat. new favorites and TBR progress | Jan. 2019

Happy Monday, fellow bookworms. It’s time for my first wrap up of the year!

So far I’ve finished 8 books: 4 of which were really short; one of which I know already will be in my favorites of the year; and three of which were from my physical TBR, so so far-so good!

Wrap Up

The Prey of Gods (★★★★☆)

I did a mini review of this one. It’s a multi-perspective science fiction/fantasy set in a futuristic South Africa, in which a demi-goddess is striving to regain power and a new hallucinogenic drug is sweeping the country. This one is weird, y’all. Aspects of this were great and really unique but at times became a mess.

The Best Cook in the World (★★★★☆)

I also have a review up for this one. It’s a memoir-cookbook on the South and southern food and it was delightful to learn about the matriarchs of Rick Bragg’s family and to have a new biscuit recipe to attempt.

The Reckonings (★★★★★)

This one is the one bound for my favorites list. This is an essay collection by Lacy M. Johnson, who manages to weave together broad ideas of justice and mercy and hope through the tellings of tragedies big and small. She tells the stories of 9/11, terminally ill children, Hurricane Harvey, rape victims and more by tugging on the thread that holds them all together (the titular “reckoning”). She lets those stories stand on their own without the need to wax poetic about her “point.”

In An Absent Dream (★★★☆☆)

This is the 4th book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire and I think it has to be the last one I read. These books have such great potential, but just don’t work for me. This one follows a high logic, strict rule Goblin Market, which is incredibly fascinating, but every time we would get inklings of that story, it would cut away to the real world again. And her characters/rest of the story just aren’t developed enough (in my opinion) to stand up to the hints of a much more interesting story.

The Other Side (★★★★★)

Coming off my The Reckoning high, I immediately bought Lacy M. Johnson’s other book, a memoir. Her account of her kidnapping and rape by “the man that she lived with” is harrowing. She is so unflinching in her detailing of the effects of her trauma. The story flickers and fragments just like her own mind must when recounting her past. Her language is spare and tactful, and this brief memoir is all the more powerful for it.

My Sister, the Serial Killer (★★★★☆)

I think this book suffered from my misperceptions going into it. I was expecting a biting dark comedy and didn’t really get that. This is definitely a quiet literary fiction that just so happens to have a lot of murder. I think I’ll reread this next month and see if I get a better feel of what the story was trying to do.

Knife of Dreams (★★★☆☆)

The latest installment in my read through of the Wheel of Times series. If you’ve been following along, you know I don’t enjoy these books, but this wasn’t the worst I’ve read. It’s still needlessly long, but at least the plot is moving now. Still too much casual acceptance of sexual harassment and ridiculous gender stereotypes.

Kindred (★★★★☆)

I finished the classic sci-fi/fantasy this morning so I’m still forming my full opinions about it. This follows a black woman from 1976 as she ends up time traveling to save one of her ancestors in the Antebellum South. It’s definitely more of a historical fiction that explores a lot of interesting dynamics, like inter-race relationships, who’s a villain etc. The language was a bit matter-of-fact for what I was expecting, which on audio created a bit of distance from the characters for me. But overall really “enjoyed” this book and glad that I have more Butler to read on my shelves.

At the moment

So I had put my read of Mists of Avalon on hold to buddy read Knife of Dreams, but I’ll turn back to that now. That’s the only thing I’m in the middle of officially right now, but my next commute read will probably be Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (which I had been on hold for since the HBO came out… I’m not really in the mood any more. Oh well).

As far as a TBR project update goes, I’ve read 3 of my TBR books so far (the last three on the list). But I did go to my monthly library book sale this weekend and added 8 books to my list. So with a random office find and a Book of the Month book, I’m net +7.

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