Reading Round-up: February/March 2023

Whenever I am up against a deadline my reading suffers, and the past couple of months have been no exception. Preparing for the Marquee in Verse project, in which I classically overcommitted (Two public events? A week apart? What was I thinking?), is taking all of my time and emotional energy.

That said, I did get some good reading in, and here’s what I’ve got to report.

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

Friends. If you read one book on this list, read this one.

I actually somehow got an ARC of this book, but between the Harper Collins strike and my increasingly hectic schedule I was barely able to provide any kind of review. Suffice to say that I loved it. It’s everything you want from an adventure novel. There are pirates. There are sea monsters. There are nefarious spirits, malicious men, and some excellent action scenes. It is awesome. But it’s also full of other things I love: mythology from the Islamic world, views of antiquity not commonly shown in media, and a main character who is a mother, a woman, and a huge thorn in the side of her enemies. Amina isn’t perfect. She’s real. She feels like someone who could have existed in an age of legends. Shannon Chakraborty’s writing shines in this book. You can tell how much telling this story means to her. I’m so glad I got to read it. (Fantasy, Adventure, LGBTQ+)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

So I loved this book. I’m a long time getting to it, and I do think the writing style will alienate some readers — it’s evocative of a storytelling style that is not currently as popular, one that is more removed from the viewpoint of the main character, a little dry, a little narrative heavy. But for this story it absolutely works, making the whole tale feel as if it is being told to you around a clay oven. (Fantasy)

Burning Roses by S. L. Huang

I have very mixed feelings about this book. There were parts of it I loved. There were parts of it that…did not really quite work for me. I don’t know if this was my own mood at the time of reading, and the parts of the book that worked really worked, which is why I am reviewing it — it might work for you, too! But I think I have a thing against mash-ups where too much mash-up is happening, and that is certainly something that was going on with a big part of the backstory for this novella. (Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling, LGBTQ+)

Illuminations by T. Kingfisher

I read this on the train back from DC in March and entertained the S.O. by sobbing through the ending in public. (They were sobs of joy and poignancy, fear not!) If that’s the kind of book you love, it should be no surprise that I heartily recommend Kingfisher’s work and this book in particular. I’ve really enjoyed her young adult and middle grade pieces that have not found their original home, and am grateful that this one made its way into the world regardless. (Middle Grade, Fantasy)

And that’s a wrap! Hopefully I’ll be reading a lot more here soon. Until next time!


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