Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: Songs of Nature by Sarojini Naidu

Songs of Nature by Sarojini Naidu

2 Sentence Summary

Sarojini Naidu’s collection of poems about nature from the early 1900s focus on her life and experiences in India, embracing a lush and wild feeling. Her work as a poet includes both children’s poems and others with more mature themes including patriotism, romance, and tragedy, earning her the sobriquet “Nightingale of India”.

Thoughts

I was hoping to find some poetry I could sink into recently, and I failed — until I found this. It’s a very classical style, with common rhyming patterns stuck to faithfully, and language like “Lo!” and “but soft, the willow wind sings” and the like. Probably unsurprising, the focus was entirely on nature, and predominantly that of India at the urging of the writer of the forward. There are some that touch on the gods, some focus on foods, and some mirror the animals and forests and streams.

Honestly, it was just so comforting and gentle and carried me along. They made me not worry about anything. I relaxed into the lilt of the language as the rhythms and patterns carried me along, like I was drifting along one of the warm rivers lit gold that she speaks of. My favorite was “To My Fairy Fancies” as a whole, but there were countless lines and images from others that had me dreaming.

It’s gorgeous, y’all.

PS – there are a lot of references to champak blossoms in there, so here’s a pic of them to get you in the mood of the poems ^.^

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2 Second Review: The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

2 Sentence Summary

A collection of short stories and a novella with a focus on being black in America and the way race affects interactions large and small. With an incisive focus on relationships and the essence of a person, Evans examines truths of American history.

Thoughts:

The message and style are solid, but man, I just struggle with short stories. Took a risk, struggled through it. Not for me, but maybe for you.

The collection is absolutely a focus on people, in a way that is so close it made me uncomfortable and damn were these hard to read. They felt so true and accurate. I could imagine any one of these as moments happening right now somewhere, and goddamn is that just so depressing.

The effect and message in here are strong; that’s not in question. But my experience of reading this was strained simply due to the format. I know I personally don’t enjoy short stories very much, but I wanted to give this a shot. I had a hard time with, well, how short they were. I just wanted more. Combined with the fact that I felt like I did need time between reading each one for it to settle, and this took a long time to get through. By the end, I’d forgotten most of what was from the earlier sections.

Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: When The Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson

2 sentence summary

Three women face their own fears and secrets in Baghdad as they navigate their lives under control of others. They become tied together, and must decide if they will choose the path of betrayal or trust when neither will come without sacrifice and pain.

Thoughts

This is a very slow pace of book, and I actually kind of loved it. It feels so perfectly fitting for the life the three women have in Baghdad. The dull slog through every day for Ally. The intolerable passing of time for Rania and Huda. The burn building just under the surface, while the face must remain impassive. Or more colloquially, like that saying about how a serenely gliding duck is paddling madly just under the surface of the water.

This brushed with some of the most painful things in life. It mentioned them, and moved on, because that’s the way the women must be if they want to keep their lives. The brusque attitude towards horrors, the horrified casualness in dismissing them… it sinks in deep.

Plot was solid. Progression was slow and steady, and then the last third of the book absolutely flew by for me. No romance, just pain and love of a different kind.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Living With Mochi by Gemma Gene

Living With Mochi by Gemma Gene
Recommended: sure!
For comic lovers, for dog lovers, for pug lovers, for those kids who always wanted a dog and were never allowed to have one….
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Summary

When architect-turned-cartoonist Gemma Gené first met her pet pug, Mochi, she felt as if time stopped. This dramatic moment and her adoring relationship with the rambunctious pug led her to begin chronicling her adventures with Mochi in a series of incredibly cute webcomics that have gained a social media following of half a million loyal readers. The comics chronicle Mochi’s life from puppyhood to adulthood, featuring Mochi’s unrequited dog friendships, his jealousy of his two dog-brothers, and his love of food. Readers and dog parents will love this humorous tale of a sincerely loyal friendship between one grumpy pug and his adoring owner.

Thoughts

I’ve never had a life with a pug, but I have known several pugs and pug-people. And a lot of these ring true for what I’ve seen from them and from their stories. 🤣 Some of these comics are definitely pug-specific quirks, though a lot are also universal-dog-owner moments. Honestly I picked this up because I haven’t had a pet dog since I was a child and I am finally, FINALLY about to be able to have one again soon. I was hoping desperately for a reminder/primer/preview of what I can look forward to (and brace myself for). This definitely fulfills all those boxes

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ARC Review: The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Recommended: eh, I guess
Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions….
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

Thoughts:

What I liked about this book is probably what everyone who reads this is drawn to: the interesting premise of a human-designed AI taking over the human afterlife. WHAT. AN AMAZING. IDEA. And probably a new fear for a lot of people. This premise is so unique and cool that I can see a lot of similar content sprouting up after people get wind of this idea. And I liked the end, and that may be it’s saving grace to keep me reading this series. I’ll probably give it a second chance to improve.

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ARC Review: The Fox & Little Tanuki, Volume 3 by Mi Tagawa

The Fox & Little Tanuki, Volume 3 by Mi Tagawa
Verdict: a fun continuation of the series that’s a little less strong than the previous installations, but still full of humour and heartwarming moments

Recommended: always
If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, if you’re looking for a lovely lighthearted story, if you’re interested in Japanese bakemono-animals, if you like to have a little laugh 🙂
Expected Release: March 23, 2021

Summary

Legends say that Senzou the Black Fox is one of the most vicious and powerful supernatural beasts to ever roam the land. At least, he used to be. Now, 300 years after he was imprisoned by the Sun Goddess for his bad behavior, Senzou is back — in the form of a small black fox with no powers! Tasked with protecting a young tanuki called Manpachi as he fulfills various tasks for the gods, Senzou must earn his powers back by learning how to be a good guardian to the energetic little pup. Though Senzou is a grumpy and reluctant companion at first, even a hard-hearted fox can be tamed by cuteness… and the little tanuki quickly learns there are some family ties that aren’t decided by blood.

In the third volume, Senzou, Manpachi, and the wolf clan are among humans and investigating a string of missing bakemono. The wolf Hagiri takes this chance to find a small cat spirit he has a bond with, but he can’t ask his clan for help looking for a cat! Hagiri and Senzou make an unlikely duo, but they collide in the search as they discover everything may be more connected than they realized.

Thoughts

This is a strong continuation of the series for sure. In the first installation, we met Manpachi and Senzou and saw their relationship develop. In the second, we learned more about some of the other bakemono they deal with, particularly the wolves. In this one, they’re out of the forest and stuck dealing with some problems around humans. Every book has had a unique plot or element to it, and I hope to see that continue as the world grows more robust.

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Review: If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

Recommended: yup
For an intersectional story, for a well done blend of poetry and prose, for a fictional-but-way-too-real look at how sexual assault affects not only the person attacked but so many others around them

Summary

Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.

Thoughts:
I didn’t expect this to begin with Kiran as a kiddo, but that’s just what happened. What we get is a quite robust look at a life, from young Kiran to young adult Kiran to older Kiran as a mother. It switches to her daughter, Sahaara, as she grows up as well. I particularly loved the way Sahaara’s sections grew in stylistic complexity as she grew in age. In her early poetry entries, it’s simple rhyming couplets. It grows more complex, utilized different techniques and the abstract, and eventually turns to lengthier prose entries as well.

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2 Second Review: Librarian Tales by William Ottens

2 Sentence Summary

A guy who found his way into being a librarian shares his path there and some of the joys and pains of the job. Disclaimer for those who think otherwise: it’s not all reading quietly during work. 😂

Thoughts

A cute little read about one guy’s journey to being a library person. I super appreciated all the points he makes about the misconceptions people have about working in a library, or about librarian science. There’s a crap ton that goes into managing all of that information, and good luck to anyone who thinks they can just walk in and do it. Or the poor misguided fools who think they can just read all day if they work at a library. 😂 It is, essentially, a service job in many ways. And I think it’s widely known that service jobs tend to really suck sometimes. This is more of his story than it is a collection of anecdotes. I expected the latter, but wasn’t disappointed to get the former. There are a lot of disclaimers and lessons learned throughout, which I appreciated as a way to see how he’s grown.
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2 Second Review: A Wife in Bangkok

2 Sentence Summary:

Crystal obediently follows her husband Brian to his new job in Thailand, but she is sick of taking care of everything he decides without input. In Thailand, the kids settle in but Brian is rarely home and Crystal’s isolation and exhaustion push her to the brink

Thoughts?

This book is all plot. The writing is somewhat stiff and formal, even in moments of extreme emotion. Because of that, I didn’t connect very much with the characters. I was primarily interested in the view of Thailand in the 1970s given, and that is what I ended up focusing on and enjoying the most. It’s amazing how many of the problems Crystal faces would be pretty much non-existent now due to advances like mobile phones and the internet.

One thing I appreciated was the deep dive into Crystal’s mental health and the options she had. I didn’t think mental health care was really a thing then, so that surprised me a bit. Overall the book was one I was able to get through, and fairly quickly, but it didn’t stand out to me for much besides the setting. The way characters spoke to each other felt unrealistic, and prevented me from getting a sense of reality at any point.

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(DNF’d) Review: The Part About the Dragon Was Mostly True

The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True by Sean Gibson
Verdict: way too many digressions; the crude / poop jokes didn’t really do it for me either; and the characters felt flat and singularly defined by one characteristic.

Recommended: there’s definitely people who will love this (just…not me)
If you love crude humor and poop jokes; if you can follow along a whiplash ride and don’t mind constant diversions; if you’re looking more for humour than a story or developed characters; if you’ve never read an “epic adventure” parody book (because this one wasn’t great, so if you’ve read and enjoyed another you’ll probably be disappointed)

Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure. But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children. Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight. See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager. Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story—for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.

DNF @ ~80%. My, oh my. The digressions were just way too much for me. Heloise must have a touch of ADD. What a shame because this was one of my Fast Forward Friday features! But, look, even the BLURB is enormously long and wordy.

My overall feeling:

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