Book Reviews

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Emira is incredibly real. Her and her friends are having fun and enjoying their single twenties. But Emira knows it’s time to figure out her life direction and stop babysitting part time. During her own internal struggle to decide what will be next for her, she becomes a pawn in the strange fight between Alix and Kelley. Both seem to have an agenda in proving they aren’t racist and they both try to persuade Emira to side with them.

The racism and circumstances are nuanced and thought provoking throughout. Should Kelley actually say the N word when telling a story? The use of the hard R catches Emira off guard. Does he fetishize black people like Alix accuses him? Throughout I sided with Kelley because he seemed genuine.

Alix exudes awkwardness and paranoia. She’s constantly concerned about what others think. Initially I thought she was interesting because she tries so hard but then around chapter 4, I realized how awful she is. She thinks she’s better, more hip than everyone. She’s so busy trying to be perfect and to help Emira that she’s an ass. She seems to think she is a white hero that will help her poor, unfortunate sitter.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.7)

This novel is bananas! At first I just thought it was campy, snarky fun and then the storyline went completely sideways. At times I wasn’t sure if there was a vampire or if there would be another explanation for the disappearances and strange happenings.

The female characters are confusing – especially the women in the book club. I liked Patricia and her anxiety. I wanted to throttle her kids and husband. The other husbands all seemed like the same abusive and distant man.

The plot could’ve been shorter. I didn’t think there needed to be so many moves before Patricia dealt with her nemesis, Jim.

The descriptions of living in the south and the summer heat are spot on. The social inequities between the Old Village and Six Mile are disheartening but true.

Because I borrowed this from the library, I had six days to read it. I raced through it in 2 days. It was just a crazy, fun story.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is rounded up to 4 stars. More of a 3.5
This story is a quick and fun read about the three Owens siblings. They grow up in NYC knowing they are different and their suspicions are confirmed when, as teens, they spend the summer with their aunt Isabelle in Massachusetts and meet their distant cousin. All three Owens kids know that for each of them, love will end in catastrophe. .

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

This young adult novel sheds light on some very difficult topics. The three main characters are bonded together through their shared positions as outsiders in their rural Tennessee town. The characters deal with harsh realities that include poverty, physical abuse, emotional abuse, alcoholism, death, depression, religiosity.

Dill, Travis, and Lydia forge a bond that enables them to persevere through the judgement of their small town and through the humiliations heaped on them.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I really enjoyed the story and the characters. It takes place in Lithuania and Siberia during WW2 when Lithuania was occupied by Russia and Stalin was sending “unfavorable” people to work camps. Lina’s family is educated and not in favor of the new regime which makes them target.

It is a YA book and think that middle school or 9th grade is a good age frame. The characters and plot could have been more developed but it was a great read that really illuminated the travesties that occurred in the Russian work camps.

This novel, like Sarah’s Key, shows a different perspective of World War II and the autocratic regimes that sprung up during this time.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The novel effectively and beautifully weaves mythology with Russian history into this medieval take of good versus evil and Christianity versus Paganism. Arden is a fantastic world builder and this world combines origin stories with original characters and intrigue. While reading this book I could not stop thinking that it would make a fantastic I cannot wait to read the sequels. I loved the characters and the plot and this book will possibly be in my top books of the year.

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This novel further builds both the character of Vasya and the mythology and history of medieval Russia. Katherine Arden’s sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale moves from rural Russia to cosmopolitan Moscow.
While Vasya grows in spirit and complexity, the forces around her are equally fierce. Arden weaves in the theme of women’s rights and theIr lack of independence in this society.

There is an increased development of the folklore surrounding the Bear, Morozko, and the horses.

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In this final book if the Winternight Trilogy, one of the primary antagonists, Father Konstantin, takes the lead during the first half of the book in propelling the action forward. Through Konstantin, Vasya is captured and tortured. In the previous books, Konstatin was annoying, a fly. This time around he is a menace and completely turns to the dark side.

Historical events are tied in through the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Tartars. The Tartars are the other major nemesis and prove to be an interesting subplot as Vasya fights to save her family, her country, and the magical creatures, the chyerti, of Russia.

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