The Week in Books #42

I think I might be addicted to reading, haha. I feel like it’s one of the better things to be addicted to though! I’ve made it through a few good books this week, and also added some more to my bookshelves.

I took a solo day trip down to Victoria to have a couple socially distanced hang outs with friends (Outdoor tacos! Graveyard chats!) and only went into one place; value village. We’ve done a few shops to VV in Nanaimo and found it to be pretty quiet, with customers being respectful of mask wearing and social distancing. The Victoria location is like quadruple the size and in a way bigger city but I was still surprised to see how super busy it was 😞 I was inside for less than 10 minutes before I felt too crowded and left, but in that time I scanned the bookshelves and found something I’ve been hunting for for ages; a copy of The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson. I’m not sure if it’s OOP or what, but no bookstores carry it and used copies online start at about $100. I got it for $4! Definitely one of those moments when you find something so cool that it feels like a dream (like the time I found a copy of Octavia Butler’s long OOP Survivor for just $1… used copies online are in the thousand dollar range!!) Looking forward you adding Salt Roads to my TBR pile.

Stack in Progress 4/10 down

Here’s what I got through this week:

1. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi. I was very into this sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, though not quite as much as the first one. There was tons of action and major magic but I felt like the characters could have been developed more, I would have liked to spend more time with them in between the battle sequences. Spoiler alert, a character dies around the mid point and Zélie is dEvAsTaTeD but I was kind of like, but we barely knew them? So it was a missed opportunity to make the reader really empathize with Zélie and her ongoing sulky mood. Overall I wish it felt a little less rushed but still very solid. The ending was the perfect cliffhanger!

After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.

Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But with civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.

Google Books

2. Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. This is a fantastic read. Jonny is a two-spirit Ojibway-Cree NDN (their words) sex worker in Winnipeg and this novel is a thin slice of life. The writing is stunning, sexy and strong. Hard to review a book like this, it just has to be experienced.

Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s life is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages—and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life.

Google Books

3. Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil. This novel was long listed for the Booker in 2012, though it was the cover that initially grabbed my attention. It’s about opium/heroin users in 1970’s Bombay including an old Chinese man, a eunuch, an Indian man running an opium den, a famous artist, and an American tourist, and feels a bit like an Indian trainspotting (something noted right there on the cover). It was an interesting read, one thing that really jumped out at me was that it maybe predicted COVID coming out of Wuhan? 🧐 “Eventually Tung turned to Lee. Wuhan is a test case, he said. Everything happens here: the plague, riots, surplus, productivity, famine, tremendous industrial output, the end of everything.” Pretty spooky!

Narcopolis opens in Bombay in the late 1970s, as its narrator first arrives from New York to find himself entranced with the city’s underworld, in particular an opium den and attached brothel. A cast of unforgettably degenerate and magnetic characters works and patronizes the venue, including Dimple, the eunuch who makes pipes in the den; Rumi, the salaryman and husband whose addiction is violence; Newton Xavier, the celebrated painter who both rejects and craves adulation; Mr. Lee, the Chinese refugee and businessman; and a cast of poets, prostitutes, pimps, and gangsters.

Book hauls this week include the Nalo Hopkinson score along with In the Unlikely Event by Judy Bloom and The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy.

My Mom visited this week and surprised me with a stack of books she was passing on (the best kind of surprise!) including Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, The Last High by Daniel Kalla, A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs, Green Grass Running Water by Thomas King, Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese, Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, The Daughters Tale by Armando Lucas Correa, and The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Thanks Mom!

I’ve started The Water Dancer this weekend which puts me halfway through my stack in progress already, and past my goal of reading 50 books this year! This is 51! Go me!

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