A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie || Book Review

β€œπ•Žπ•™π•–π•Ÿ π• π•Ÿπ•– π•žπ•’π•Ÿ π•œπ•Ÿπ• π•¨π•šπ•Ÿπ•˜π•π•ͺ π•œπ•šπ•π•π•€ π•’π•Ÿπ• π•₯𝕙𝕖𝕣, π•₯𝕙𝕖π•ͺ 𝕔𝕒𝕝𝕝 π•šπ•₯ π•žπ•¦π•£π••π•–π•£! π•Žπ•™π•–π•Ÿ π•€π• π•”π•šπ•–π•₯π•ͺ 𝕔𝕒𝕦𝕀𝕖𝕀 π•₯𝕙𝕖 𝕕𝕖𝕒π•₯𝕙𝕀 𝕠𝕗 π•₯π•™π• π•¦π•€π•’π•Ÿπ••π•€, π•₯𝕙𝕖π•ͺ π•€π•™π•£π•¦π•˜ π•’π•Ÿπ•• 𝕔𝕒𝕝𝕝 π•šπ•₯ 𝕒 𝕗𝕒𝕔π•₯ 𝕠𝕗 π•π•šπ•—π•–β€

Lord grimdark, ladies and gentlemen. It’s been a while since I posted a fantasy review, and boy did I decide to come back with a good one.

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie is the latest book in his First Law series, the beginning of The Age of Madness trilogy. Let me start off by saying, even if I make this book sound as amazing as it is, you have to at least start with the original trilogy, if not all the standalone novels too (which I did skip). But I’ll try to keep this mostly spoiler free.

This book picks up 30 years after the Last Argument of Kings, and we’re seeing the next generation pick up the mantle as they deal with problems both old (war, money, power) and new (industry, class revolt). While society had β€œprogressed” with its technology, evil is still evil, the poor will still suffer, and power still corrupts.

But not once in my reading did the suffering and bloodshed seem gratuitous. That’s Abercrombie’s skill. Sure, you might disagree about the conclusion’s he’s made about the nature of humanity, but at least he’s consistent. If you have hope, it will be crushed. If a character doesn’t look out for themselves, they’ll be worse for wear.

β€œπ™΅πšžπš—πš—πš’ πš‘πš˜πš , πš πš‘πšŽπš—πšŽπšŸπšŽπš› πš–πšŽπš— πšπšŠπš•πš”πšŽπš πšŠπš‹πš˜πšžπš πšπš›πšŽπšŽπšπš˜πš–, πšπš‘πšŽπš’ πš—πšŽπšŸπšŽπš› πš›πšŽπšŠπš•πš•πš’ πš–πšŽπšŠπš—πš πšπš˜πš› πšπš‘πšŽ πš πš˜πš–πšŽπš—.”

Which brings me to the characters β€” you need a bright light to get you through a story that can at times get bleak. I feel hook line and sinker for these characters, both ones connected to the ones we are familiar with in the original books and those new. Without spoilers, I’ll just say the apples didn’t fall very far from the familial trees with these new kids. And it’s honestly refreshing to say my two favorite characters were the women, Savine and Rikke. It’s not every fantasy book where you can have female characters each with their own personalities and struggles and motivations that are completely separate from how they relate to the men in their lives. I Stan Savine so much, and can’t wait for more from her in the future books.

And it’s with these great characters (Orso and Clover included, to not neglect the fellas) that I’m able to push through this grim tale, because it’s the humor they bring to the table to that makes this fantasy (without much magic) such an enjoyable read.

Mary Roach Collection: Complete

I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a completist. I’m fine to give up on series I’m not enjoying or DNF books I’m not feeling. But sometimes finishing something is just so satisfying πŸ’—

I read my last unread traditional Mary Roach book last year, with Packing For Mars. I was going to call that done. But then my boyfriend happened to find My Planet, a collection of her humor columns that ran in Readers Digest starting in 2002, at this month’s library book sale. I of course snatched it right up πŸ“š

Now, would I say this addition to the Mary Roach bibliography is necessary for fans to read? Absolutely not. If you’re familiar with her style in her β€œcurious science” books, you’ll know she loves a good aside or side joke. This collection is like 200 pages of extended jokes and asides. Being short magazine columns, it’s to be expected that she can’t go into much depth. You get a fair bit of fun tidbits about life with her husband and her thoughts of things she finds funny or strange, but for the most part this collection is pretty forgettable.

So glad I can finally, truly say I’ve read every Mary Roach book, but as far as My Planet goes, don’t go rushing out to find yourself a copy! My favorites of hers remains Stiff and Grunt (her first and last books), the curious science of cadavers and the military respectively.

So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo | Nonfiction book review

β€œOur humanity is worth a little discomfort, it’s actually worth a lot of discomfort.”

I come to this book as a white woman from the poor South (πŸ™‹πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Hi nice to me you) So it should come as no surprise that I’ve found myself struggle-busing my way through a lot of difficult conversations with various friends/family members β€”both β€œwell meaning” and those definitely not.

So when Ijeoma Oluo opens this book with an argument that I’ve had at least a dozen times, I ~knew~ this was a book I needed and will shove into even more hands. She tackles everything from the β€œbut what about poor white people/can’t we just solve poverty first?” in those first pages and goes on to intersectionality, privilege, microaggressions, the model minority, being called racist and so much more.

Oluo tackles everything in ways that are so personal to her. You hear her exasperation dealing with her white mother; her care in raising her son; her frustration when she struggles to be heard as a black woman writer. And at the same time explains things in a way so useful to a wider audience, in a memoir-guidebook mashup. She delivers her arguments passionately with a straightforward humor as if she was a friend grabbing your hand and saying β€œYea, this if f*cked up but you can do this.”

These are conversations we should all be having, as we examine our privilege and blindspots and work on anti-racism efforts. And whether you start with the basics with this book, or pick up one like it (White Fragility, How To Be An Antiracist, My Time Among the Whites among others (I’ll be picking more of these up myself soon)), it’s worth sitting in our discomfort to try to make the world better one conversation at a time.

January in Japan | Readathon Wrap-Up

Those of you following along in my stories last weekend will have seen I spur of the moment decided to join in on the #januaryinjapan 10-in-4 readathon hosted on Bookstagram. So I figured I’d go over how my reading/listening went!

First up, I listened to Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated by Ginny Talley Takemori), which follows a woman who has worked this part-time job her entire adult life. The book absolutely skewers the societal norms that won’t let Keiko just live her life without trying to β€œcure her” with marriage or a career. I definitely hope for more of this author’s quirky work gets translated (one coming this year I believe)

Next I picked up my first ever manga with My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame (translated by Anne Ishii). This is a slice of life story that follows a single dad who gets a surprise visitor after his estranged twin brother dies: his husband. You see Yaichi confront engrained homophobia but also see his daughter Kana welcome Mike with open arms. My only β€œcomplaint” is that the story didn’t seem to have much of an arc from chapter to chapter or even in this first volume. I found out later it was a serialized story, so that probably attributes to the kind of flat storytelling. Not a fault of the book, just not what I’m used to. Still highly recommend, and I have the next volume on hold.

Next up, I listened to If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura (translated by Eric Sellend). It follows a man who makes a deal with the devil to extend his life by one day in exchange for removing one thing from the world. This one had similar quirks as CSW, like the devil being a doppelgΓ€nger of our narrator in a Hawaiian shirt and a talking cat, but in the end was a bit too saccharine for my tastes. But its fable-like qualities are bound to be a hit for a non-cynic unlike myself.

And finally, I finished the weekend with short-story collection The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya (translated by Asa Yoneda). Like most collections, there were hits and misses here. But a few of these stories were just the right mix of speculative and cultural critique that were phenomenal!

Overall, I really enjoyed my weekend of packed with Japanese fiction in translation. It has just solidified my goal to prioritize more non-western writing through the year (and not isolated to readathons) Last year I only read a handful of works in translation (and those were from Swedish and Spanish), so there’s much more out there just waiting for me to seek it out and enjoy!

N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon | TBR

Let the NEWTs commence!

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently, but there’s nothing better than a readathon and challenges to kick me into gear. Enter Book Roast’s NEWTS readathon.

So, my soft goal is to go for Hogwarts Professor, with will mean reading 7 books. That’s super manageable if I’m in a normal mood, but on par for my reading recently. I’ll focus on Transfiguration exams, but also include Potions and Charms exams. (For the full list of challenges and other details, check out Book Roast’s list here.

But if I get my ~groove~ back soon, I’ll shoot for the stars 🌌 and attempt earning enough NEWTs to be an Alchemist (aka reading 19 books).

But for this TBR’s purposes, I’m going with the Hogwarts Professor path:

Into the TBR!

Transfiguration

Book with Queer Rep: Dreadnought by April Daniels

Book in a Series: The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

Book over 500 pages: The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

Potions

Book that’s a friend’s favorite: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Defense Against the Dark Arts

Book that’s black under the dust jacket: Packing For Mars by Mary Roach

Book that First Comes to Mind: TBD

Charms

Book with a Beautiful Cover: Rosewater by Tade Thompson


So, let the reading begin! Are you participating in the NEWTs readathon? What career are you working toward?

Friday reads | Footnotes No. 1

I was feeling the Friday afternoon slump at work today, so I snuck in some audio while waiting for my next meeting 🀫

What are you reading this weekend? I’m hoping to finish The Prey of Gods, which is a sci-fi/fantasy story set in a future South Africa that I’m really enjoying so far. You follow a bunch of different characters from a young girl coming into new abilities, a delightfully ruthless demi goddess trying to reclaim power, and several characters who experience a new hallucinogen sweeping the country. I’m eager to see how all of these storylines come together!

PS: I’m trying out a new posting format. Sometimes I find that posting during the week can be stressful to manage with work etc., so I thought quick thoughts and photos would be a great way to connect with you all more often. Let me know what you think! Like it/hate it/that’s what Bookstagram is for/ anything at all!