I went on a tiny bit of an Amazon binge a few days ago. I’d been coming across reviews of NEW stuff that looked really awesome, and since I’ve still been struggling out of my reading rut, I decided to bite the bullet. So here’s some good stuff I’ve read recently:
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I liked The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but found it ultimately forgettable. The premise of Exit West sounded great though! All around the world doors are opening, doors that are portals to other cities. This has a lot of ramifications for immigration, refugeeism, “nativism”. Exit West follows a young Middle-Eastern couple, Saeed and Nadia, who choose to leave their war-torn country for the unknown.
While the portal stuff is speculative, the deeper human story about migration, what we give up when we choose to leave our first home and families, what we gain, grounds the text.
It’s tender, elegiacal, quiet. Well worth a read.
Tom Sawyer Abroad by Mark Twain. I am a big fan of Twain, but I never re-read the Tom Sawyer Huck Finn stuff after school. I love the retelling of Adam and Eve, the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – those, to me, are quintessential Twain, so funny and so American. It’s so funny to me that Twain and Edith Wharton lived in the same time, sort of. Anyway, Tom Sawyer Abroad sees Tom set off on a hot-air balloon around the world, with Jim and Huck by his side. They infuriate him with their small-town narrow-mindedness and arguments, and they end up in the Sahara desert, and then in Egypt, and see the pyramids and “Mohammedans”. Jim is still a problematic figure.
As always with Twain, there’s a vein of heart, and Huck Finn is the perfect narrator for this story, he’s so cute and generous and big-hearted, you just want to cuddle him and say yes, yes, you’re right, different time zones don’t make sense Huck, here’s a corn cob and a lion burger.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik. This was so good! There’s a Dragon in the village, but the Dragon is a wizard and he doesn’t kill girls, he just takes one every ten years and then he frees them. Because it’s bad but not that bad, the villagers turn a blind eye. This year, everyone expects him to take Kasia, who is beautiful and clever and good, but instead he takes Agnieszka…
This was such a fun fantasy! It reminded me of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and The Magicians, in that it was so much more about human relationships, and petty wizards, and flawed people, and people who rise above. Technically this is high fantasy, because it’s set in a secondary world, but it’s not epic and remote, and the world isn’t hard to get to grips with.
Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs. The latest in the Mercy Thompson series, which is about shapeshifters and alliances etc etc. I just really enjoy this series, and I enjoyed this latest addition to it.
No pictures with this post right now, because these were all Kindled (I really need to up my book/Kindle styling/flatlay game!). Lined up I have Robin McKinley’s Deerskin, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Am excited! Have done 6 books so far this month, and finally feel like I’ve crested my reading slump and can see the Valley of Good Things to Read below!