The better to see you, my dear
Reading progress update: I've read 32 out of 307 pages.
Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Words fail me. The tension is through the roofs. Can we address the deep, deep hypocrisy on this man condemning the militaristic coups?

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
3 Stars
A lot could be improved without slapstick romance
Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey

I'm too old for these slap-you-kiss-you-romances. I just... well, the fact that I wanted to bonk their heads (preferable against each others, because there could be nothing equally stubborn hard) whenever they turned that one-upmanship fest they had going with the world towards winning over the other, instead of pooling knowledge and resources, influenced my rating a lot. It's is a personal thing (I just want people to love each other and be tender), and a big caveat if you are looking at those stars, so heads up there. I'm very aware that their stubborn pride is exactly in character, and a failing that brings them many problems as well as the quality that makes them succeed. It just made me want to yeet the book and howl.

 

Also, the fact that I can quote Lessa's worry about coming back as "He'll shake me again". NOT FUNNY. No one would take that lightly if you put "punch" there.

 

Now, that out of my chest... Dragons: yeap, good, exactly why I'm here. Timetravel: huh... that was not expected, and suddenly this is a lot more interestingly unique (even if much was a foregone conclusion).

 

I'm likely to read the next install of this series because I can see the problems coming with that other queen, but I want to forget a bit these two logger-heads before that.

Games are good for passing time

 

1. Author is a woman: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey  04/01 Review

 

6. Title has a color word in it: Off the top of my head, I have Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson on hand. Oh, No! Never mind! Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie!

Review
4 Stars
Time travelling tales
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate - Ted Chiang

Very 1001 Nights style with a matrioshka element. Revisits a bit the determinism theme of "Story of your life", but the final message is somewhat kinder.

Review
4 Stars
How do you talk to an ocean
Solaris - Stanisław Lem, Steve Cox, Joanna Kilmartin

(but maybe, we should worry more about how the ocean would try to talk to us)

 

It's a very disturbing read from the start, and you can feel the disquiet grip you into the pages immediately, but it's pretty dense and it can get dry.

 

Know what this reminded me off a lot? "Moby Dick". It's those essays, and the way everyone keeps approaching that ocean from a description of the components because the whole is unfathomable. Also quite a bit of "Arrival", and the inherent difficulties of communications.

 

Around the middle, I found that I started to like Snaut because he was saying everything that Kalving wouldn't even admit in his own internal narrative. Snaut was a ruthless bastard that angered Kalvin, but there was this sense that the reason Kalvin got angry all the time was because he was voicing what he did not want to see.

 

I did not expect it to end where it did, though that is likely the fault of my vague memories of the last movie made. There is so much that it leaves you speculating on, the concepts of a god that evolves and a god cradle in that final conversation specially, with Snaut wishing to stay, and that we never see anyone else's visitor but Kalvin's (oh, and the fact that Kalvin is the only one that does not obsessively hide his, the things that says).

 

There a lot more odds and ends that keep running around my mind for such a short novel, so I'll likely be chewing on my book hangover for a while.

Reading progress update: I've read 90 out of 204 pages.
Solaris - Stanisław Lem, Steve Cox, Joanna Kilmartin

The way everything is totally fucked up from the beginning is amazing, even knowing how the plot will get even more so. The horror and mindscrew of this is perfect.

Review
4 Stars
Comforting Space Opera
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers

That was such a cute comforting read.

 

At first, I was a bit "meh", but it grew on me as I read. There is nothing groundbreaking or uniquely though provoking here, but more of a hodgepodge-crew-as-family gone on a long job, told in chapters of a more or less episodic nature. It's a bit like watching a half-season series in book form.

 

I liked that it was kinda corny, that there were a lot of different types of relationships and love forms, and that on the whole, it was positive and hopeful. A bit naive, a bit anvilicious, but exactly the cheery soup that you need sometimes.

Review
5 Stars
That was pretty perfect
Emergency Skin - N.K. Jemisin

I loved the concept, I found the way we never read the protagonist's thoughts or words, yet we can perfectly infer them, very interesting, but most of all I loved how the full journey includes coming back to free the rest. That's putting the example he's been shown into it's final implementation, and it tied a knot into my throat. Beautiful.

Review
3 Stars
I expected better
City of Illusions - Ursula K. Le Guin

It might just be that I have my bar for Le Guin right up there.

 

It was vivid in it's descriptions, and a lot happens and it's explored inside these few pages, but I felt like things spin and spin and spin once they reach the city, and then the resolution comes abruptly, as if the author had just tired of exploring this set up and just blew the way to the fastest exit.

 

Also, the women were done dirty, specially the way Parth was just forgotten. Which was a nasty surprise because I always expect better from Le Guin.

Review
5 Stars
That's one hell of a ghost
Beloved - Toni Morrison

I don't really know what to say about this book, literature-wise. What I know is that it touched me. I left a comment over halfway through, about crying to the beat of the lifting bits, and negative spaces, and I don't know if I'm capable of doing it more justice.

 

There was a lot that kept crashing over and over, in the echoes of lines and themes through the ages, and stays with me: Freedom as owning yourself. Freedom being necessary to be able to love. What can't be borne, what breaks you, the sequels, the need sometimes to leave the past buried. This idea:

 

“You your best thing, Sethe. You are.”

 

And this idea:

 

For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner had raised into men. And it was that that made them run off. Now, plagued by the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really was between before schoolteacher and after. Garner called and announced them men—but only on Sweet Home, and by his leave. Was he naming what he saw or creating what he did not? That was the wonder of Sixo, and even Halle; it was always clear to Paul D that those two were men whether Garner said so or not.

 

But over all, this:

 

“Here,” she said, “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it. They don’t love your eyes; they’d just as soon pick em out. No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them. Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ’cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed. What you scream from it they do not hear. What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give you leavins instead. No, they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it. This is flesh I’m talking about here. Flesh that needs to be loved. Feet that need to rest and to dance; backs that need support; shoulders that need arms, strong arms I’m telling you. And O my people, out yonder, hear me, they do not love your neck unnoosed and straight. So love your neck; put a hand on it, grace it, stroke it and hold it up. And all your inside parts that they’d just as soon slop for hogs, you got to love them. The dark, dark liver—love it, love it, and the beat and beating heart, love that too. More than eyes or feet. More than lungs that have yet to draw free air. More than your life-holding womb and your life-giving private parts, hear me now, love your heart. For this is the prize.”

Reading progress update: I've read 225 out of 324 pages.
Beloved - Toni Morrison

It's making me cry at the oddests things.

 

Like, there is the brutality (mostly inferred, none explicit so far), and the tragedy, and the whole landscape itself. And, OK, I'm not unmoved, but mostly wincing in horror more that tearing up.

 

And then there is that "mass" at the clearing, and a page about being able to love, and suddenly I'm sobbing like mad because...

 

Well, maybe it's not so odd. Because this book is functioning by negative space. What's there shows you what's absent very powerfully. And what's absent is a void that sucks attention to itself, and demands to be acknowledged, and holy molly, this is turning into me writing the review...

Reading progress update: I've read 120 out of 324 pages.
Beloved - Toni Morrison

This is a heavy weight puncher.

Reading progress update: I've read 110 out of 209 pages.
Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe

So far, what I keep thinking is that some things are simply universal. The words and the flavour may be different, and it's interesting to read, absorbing, and at the same time, vaguely recognizable.

Review
4 Stars
Angsty, rosy and funny dialogues
A Wicked Kind of Husband (Longhope Abbey #1) - Mia Vincy

This came to my attention from some feed or other, recced as an entertaining romance, and it hit right the spot. Since I'm a picky bitch when it comes to my romantic reads, to say this was a nice and serviceable way to kill a reading slump, and a fairly enjoyable one at that, is no small praise. I might not be claiming it as perfect or touting it's brilliance to all and sunder (because I'm a bitch), but I will certainly read more of the author.

Review
4 Stars
“Poo-tee-weet?”
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

Took some pages for the book to grab me. If I'm honest, I'm pretty sure it was the chat with his war-buddy's wife, and as it happens, it is something of a key for the whole book. There was a promise there

 

If I ever do finish it, though, I give you my word of honor: there won’t be a part for Frank Sinatra or John Wayne.
“I tell you what,” I said, “I’ll call it ‘The Children’s Crusade.’”

 

It was kept, in sub-title and spirit.

 

There is nothing that could ever come close to glorifying war inside these pages. The theme is how absurd a beast it is, the little and big tragedies, how far in time the damages travel (and who was that said that wars die only with the last soldier that fought in it dies?). Hell, the whole way it's constructed is thoroughly trafalmadorian, which we would call hell of a PTSD outside any sci-fi bent mind.

 

It's also so bittersweet and human. There was also this other bit near the beginning that caught me

 

And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

 

Because... well, I guess because it kind of encapsulates the thing, and how it feels. It's horrible, and terrible, and pretty disgusting, and so are almost every character in one aspect or another, but you are compelled to look. The dead demand to be witnessed and acknowledged and war sucks.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 185 out of 275 pages.
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut

The blue fairy god mother rocks.

 

This is... wow, is this a book about war that delivers on what promised in the beginning.

 

currently reading

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Outcasts Three Stories - Vonda N. McIntyre