Late to the Party: #AsianLitBingo

I did this last year and it was so fun that I wanted to do it again…and then life got in the way and I just realized that even though I’ve started reading I haven’t made any posts about it.

So, here’s this year’s Bingo Board. And this challenge is brought to you by Lit Celebrasian. If you haven’t visited their blog, you should. The team there hosts read alongs and twitter chats. They post regular features highlighting new releases by Asian authors.

Like last year, I can almost guarantee that I’ll be finishing my challenge well into the summer. Anyway, if you read this blog, you already know what I’m like.

Review: What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Ben and Arthur have a chance meeting at a post office and they hit it off before Ben disappears in the middle of a commotion caused by someone proposing to their girlfriend. They then go on this epic journey of trying to meet again, in a city of around 8 million people. Can they meet? Will it be as magical as they think it will be? Can they get it right? Should they even bother if Arthur is just a summer intern and is on his way back to Georgia in a couple of months?

Folks, this book was so earnest and touching that it actually physically hurt my cold, cold, cynical soul. Making it to the end of this book was a journey for me; I may be a different person now. A slightly less cynical person. Ladles and Jelly spoons, Friends and Enemies, the power of literature!

Seriously, though, this was a really fun, really touching story written from two different points of view. It is about being open and trying your best in relationships and about saying what you want and admitting when you’re wrong. It was well worth the read. I’ll even forgive it for getting enormously catchy pop tunes stuck in my head.

Once again, shout out to my local library for hooking me up with this audiobook!

Not a Review: What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

So, book club is tonight and thankfully what I’m working on right now can be done with a book in the background…because I am no where near finished with it.

THIS BOOK IS TOO CUTE. It is melting my cold, cold heart. Also, it’s gotten Boy with Luv by BTS stuck in my head WHICH IS ALSO TOO CUTE. I like being a cynic, so I kinda of hate both the book and the song right now.

If I have to live in this twee hell full of adorable humans all googly eyed with love, so does everyone else.

What I’m Listening to Now: What if it’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

I have this audiobook courtesy of one of my local libraries. Huzzah! This is the pick for this month’s teen book group at the local Barnes and Noble (that is attended entirely by adults, many of whom are either employees or former employees, so the discussions are excellent). The meeting is next week, so I have to get a wiggle on with this one. (Which is both exciting and annoying because I’m really into Pachinko right now.)

Quick Review: Lethal White by Robert Galbraith

Lethal White is the fourth Cormoran Strike novel and it begins with Cormoran being visited by a mentally ill young man named Billy who tells him about a murder he believes he witnessed as a child. Before Strike can get into the specifics, Billy flees the office and sends Strike, and his partner Robin Ellacott, on a mission to satisfy his own need to make sure that Billy is okay and that no one is getting away with murder. The tale weaves in and out of London. It ends up at protests (it is set before the London Olympics) and in the Houses of Parliament. It reintroduces characters from Strike’s past. The mystery, in the end, felt a little forced. Or, maybe that Strike just can’t let some things go felt forces. I don’t know. I didn’t love this. In fact, now that it has tied up some story lines relating to Robin and her partner Matthew, I may be done with this book series. We’ll see. I do still very much like both Robin and Cormoran. If you really loved the previous books, I say give this one a go, but if you were only so-so on them, I’d say pick something up you are more interested in.

Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

I’ve really dragged my feet on writing this review because I loved this book so much that I wasn’t quite sure what to say about it. It is the story of Circe, the famous witch from the Odyssey. ONLY SHE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! This book follows Circe’s life from its beginning to its end and through it we are introduced to so many other stories in Greek mythology. I liked the writing. I liked Circe’s voice. I liked that this character, who I knew from someone else’s story as a minor character, is given her own voice and her own agency and is put at the center of her own narrative. I want more of that in stories. Where are these stories? Send me more of these stories please.

This was so good. Just so good. Ugh. I might actually re-read it again soon, that’s how much a liked it.

Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

This was an impulse grab that I picked up at the library wayyyy back in January for 24 in 48. I’d read Junot Díaz before, but this is the book that he seems to be known for so I figured it was time that I read it. It tells the story of Oscar de León, nicknamed Oscar Wao, and his family in the Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo. The novel is really interesting, the narrative is given by two narrators, Yunior is the main narrator and there are some first-person interjections from Lola, Oscar’s sister. I had to look up a little background, I know very little about the Caribbean (or the US’s interventions in the Caribbean…) but I don’t think you necessarily need to do that in order to appreciate the novel. There is a lot of code-switching into Spanish, which I felt really helped you keep a sense of place in the narrative. And, Oscar is so. very. nerdy. So nerdy. There are geeky references aplenty in the story. I really enjoyed that. There was a little misogyny in the narrative that rubbed me the wrong way (but that’s not a problem of the novel but a wider problem. I was particularly troubled by it in the geeky references…but again, I’m particularly bothered by it in geek culture in general.)

I really enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m really happy that I read it.

Review: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (With Recipes) by Lorna Landvik

This is the story of Haze Evans, a columnist at a local paper, who suffers a sudden stroke. Saddened by this tragic event happening to their friend, and unsure about what to do with her column at the paper, the staff decide to go back to the archives and run Haze’s columns (and some of the responses) from when she first started writing for the paper. This novel was a touching look into the town of Granite Rock, Minnesota.

The novel was a little slower than I would have liked. But, the only thing that I have to compare it to recently is Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, and it was definitely faster paced than that. Also, the writing was much tighter, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed meeting all of the characters and watching the different relationships grow and be illuminated. I’m a soppy, kind of water-works sort of person, so I did cry a few times reading this. I think the best part of the story, though, is Sam’s growth through the novel. Sam is an intern (and the son of the editor) who comes to work for the summer and is assigned the task of helping to sort through the columns and responses. Because the columns start in the ’60s and come forward in time to 2016, a lot of ground is covered and a lot of touchy subjects in American history also make an appearance. I felt like the novel treated the subjects it raised humanely and with dignity and that it really touching to read.

If you like stories that take you through a town, then this is a novel for you. It was touching, well-written, and enjoyable.

I got this book as an ARC from edelweiss.

Quick Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

This is an interesting piece of speculative fiction in which humans hibernate in winter. Set in Wales, it follows Charlie Worthing as he joins the Winter Consuls, a group of folks who elect to change their hibernation period so that they can be up during winter to look after the people regularly hibernating. In this world, a company has patented a drug that allows people to hibernate without dreams, which has helped people make it through the hibernation period in greater numbers, which has been great for society. The downside is, a small number of people wake up from hibernation with the drug as nightwalkers, essentially brain dead (and often violent) but sometimes with enough function to be trained to do odd jobs. Charlie has to survive his first winter solving a mystery, facing villains, and avoiding fairy tale WinterVolk.

This was really entertaining. I enjoyed the world that it was set in (and, I’m always here for books set in Wales that implies that all of the community is primarily Welsh speaking). I liked the exploration of what it would be like if humans hibernated. That was really interesting. There were a few conceits that did not work for me, but in general this book was an excellent escape from reality.