The first book was just delightful. I can’t wait to meet some Victorian Witches now.
Review: Babel by R.F. Kuang
I’m not sure where to begin with this novel. It was good but it didn’t grab the way The Poppy Wars did. I would have to say this is much more of a slow burner for me. I was almost half way through before I truly got interested in Robin’s story and wanting to know how it would end. From a young age, Robin was taken to England from China under the guardianship of Professor Lovell. Despite the fact his family was poor, they always had a lived in tutor to teach him English. He soon discovers that it Lovell who had been paying for her. When he is brought to England, he is immediately put to work to study languages as the end goal was for him to go to Oxford and join Babel, the translation school that controls all the silver in the world. England has found a way to use language to power silver and to expand their Empire. Robin goes on a journey of discovering who he is and how he has been essentially been weaponized against his own country. It’s not an easy read as Robin questions ourselves we also must question our own culpability. Like in the Poppy Wars, R.F. Kuang is unflinching when she comes to describing the effects of colonization on the world but also to people of color who live with their on colonizers. On the one hand, Robin is very lucky to be taken out of poverty and given the opportunities to be learn at Oxford and live a comfortable life but he was also taken from his family and his homeland without much of a choice and forced to learn what his guardian wanted him to learn. It’s an allusion of freedom. For me one of the most effective characters is Letty. She is in Robin’s cohort at Oxford and the only white student. She is the perfect example of white privilege and not understanding her privilege. She is the daughter of an admiral. Raised on the aristocracy but because she is a woman she has always been looked down or given much thought even though she was always a bright. If she was a boy, she would have been seen as the genius that she was but since she wasn’t she was raised to be the perfect wife and mother one day. She resents the privileges that she saw her brother waste and when she is given the opportunity to take his place in Oxford she grabs it. But even there she has to have a man vouch for her to take out a book at the library. She has to live off campus and has to deal with sexist comments. She felt she finally found people who could relate with her POC classmates but being white she will never truly understand their struggles. So when they start to rebel against the nation that she feels has given so much instead of them being grateful she feels betrayed. As if they have personally offended her. Even though she helps to cover up the same crime she is spared any of the backlash because again she is white and still she doesn’t understand why they have right to be angry. I can see why Letty as a character would upset many readers because we have to confront our own privilege and that’s not a comfortable thing. So If you are looking for a challenging book, give this a try.
What I’m Reading Now: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
After Babel. I think I need something a little lighter and this seems lovely.
What I’m Listening to Now: The Maid by Nita Prose
This is the second knitting book club pick. A few folks have already finished it, so I’ve heard a little bit about it. Im very excited to start it. I am still working on the same pair of socks.
Quick Review: The Sydney Rye mysteries 2
This one leaves off where the first one stops. We meet Joy turned Sydney on a beach in Mexico. Her days are pretty much still the same until Mulberry turns up and offers her and Blue, her dog, a job. She accepts and starts some training. From here, she finds herself in another mystery.
This one was fine, I guess. Sydney has a bit of a temper and she’s not great at planning, so this novel is pretty predictable. There were elements of this story that felt… too easy and stereotypical? There are elements of the Mexican plot that felt a little like they’d come from a fever dream of someone who has never been to Mexico and only read negative headlines. There were no twists in this one that I didn’t see coming. The ending was fine, but meh. I will be listening to the third book, but we’ll see when I get to it.
Quick Review: Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare
This was the last book in the Last Hours trilogy and honestly, it’s a good thing. I don’t think I really connected to any of these characters as much as I have with other characters in Clare’s other Shadowhunter’s novel. It’s not that I think they were not interesting. I appreciate that she continues to populate her books with a diverse set of characters, even in Edwardian London but maybe there are so many times you can save the world. I realize that these books takes places in different eras throughout history but it’s like the later generations have no idea of what happened before them. Which is weird since history since so important to Shadowhunters. So this was fine. It ended as I expected. They saved the world. Mos of them survived. Set up was made for not just the previous books that we already know what will happened and the next series coming out in a couple of years. Maybe I’m ready to move on from series as they are becoming predictable.
Quick Review: Book 1 of the Sydney Rye Mysteries
The tiktok that introduced me to these books promised me a main character who was smart, capable, and interesting. And so far I’m sold. The book opens with Joy Humboldt, barista, at work until a run in with a customer leads her to becoming Joy Humboldt, ex-barista. From here, she gets a new job as a dog-walker and is dropped into a murder investigation when one of her clients turns up dead. She does a little poking around on the side and ends up in the middle of a messy plot that is way above her pay grade. I liked Joy, I liked the mystery. There was at least one twist I didn’t see coming. I definitely will be starting the next of the three novels!
What I’m Listening to Now: Julie Clark
I joined a knitting group last summer and many of us like to listen to audio books while we knit, so now we’re also a book club! Our first book is Julie Clark’s The Last Flight. And my knit right now is a pair of socks.
What I’m Reading Now: Babel by R.F. Kuang
I remember this being big on Booktok last summer and how many men did not like it and and that just made it more interesting to me. After starting this, I feel like this is also up Kate’s alley too.
What I’m Reading Now: Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare
Truth be told I’m actually almost finish with this one. I’ve just been bad at posting.