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Books read, late November

Melissa Bashardoust, Girl, Serpent, Thorn. Poisonous girls and Persian mythology. This was captivating and lovely.

Eileen Hunt Botting, Artificial Life After Frankenstein. Discussed elsewhere.

Hayley Chewins, The Sisters of Straygarden Place. This is a middle-grade book about a family in a magical house and the creepy and delightful things the house does and the sisters do and…how they put it all back together.

Danielle Evans, The Office of Historical Corrections. Elegant, insightful, lovely, offbeat short stories. Very excited to discover this author.

R.F. Kuang, The Burning God. The third in its series–do not start here–it is relentless in its follow-through, it is going all sorts of places that are alarming and inevitable.

Darcie Little Badger, Elatsoe. This was so much fun and so engaging. I read it all in one gulp while waiting in the car for a family member to have a medical procedure. The ghost dog is amazing! I love everybody here!

L.M. Montgomery, Emily’s Quest. Reread. This was always my least-reread volume of this trilogy, and I can now see why: it feels more like a summary than a novel. It’s as though Montgomery knew what was to happen in Emily’s life in broad career and romance strokes–and as a child I was thrilled that the career part got as much focus as it did, compared to Anne–there is all sorts of stuff about sending out manuscripts and how it all worked at the time. But the little anecdotes where Emily does something funny or Cousin Jimmy says something weird or whatever (hashtag Team Cousin Jimmy 4eva) are very sparse on the ground here. And the romantic relationships are…well, Dean Priest remains incredibly odious and terrible and I hate him forever, Emily forgave him but I do not. And Teddy Kent…is a Ken doll, basically; he is a label that says “childhood artist friend,” he is not a person. So when Emily achieves publishing success comparatively early in the book and her happy ending is, “hey also you get to be with this potted plant of a man,” well. I hope Ilse and Perry stop by often, is what I’m saying.

Danielle Fuentes Morgan, Laughing to Keep From Dying: African American Satire in the Twenty-First Century. Discussed elsewhere.

Jan Morris, Battleship Yamato: Of War, Beauty, and Irony. I had only read her Hav books, so when I heard the sad news of her death, I went to see what the library had of hers. And it was this: an exceptionally small book of photos and thoughts on the topic of the subtitle. As much as Hav connected for me, this completely did not; Morris had ideas about how “we” respond to war imagery that…I don’t, no, I really totally do not. Still interesting, and I’ll be curious to see how much her other nonfiction is alien in a way that Hav is not, if at all. Maybe this is an outlier.

Trung Le Nguyen, The Magic Fish. Graphic novel with fairy tale retellings tangled up in family stories in a beautiful way. Another one I read in one sitting. Just lovely.

Scott D. Seligman, The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots That Shook New York City. Discussed elsewhere.

Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Future. Sheldrake has that “we are our own best experimental subjects” attitude that you find baked into a lot of mycologists and mycological enthusiasts, but the enthusiasm is in some ways lovely and refreshing, and reading about a lot of nice fungus in the midst of this year is not a terrible life plan. I wanted some of this to be deeper, but not any more so than with most popular science books.

Shveta Thakrar, Star Daughter. I mistook the genre of this completely and thought the girl on the cover was a starship captain. In defense of the lovely people who actually worked on marketing the book, I could not have made that mistake if I’d read any of their copy at all instead of just saying “ooh Shveta’s book!” and sallying forth. Anyway this is a YA fantasy with stars and art and love and friendship, and it was a lot of fun, so go ahead and say, “Ooh, Shveta’s book!” and pick it up anyway.

Django Wexler, Ashes of the Sun. I think this is the best thing Django’s written. Siblings with divergent life paths, sometimes fighting at cross purposes, both stubborn and fierce and committed to their view of the right thing. Such a fun epic fantasy.

Joshua Whitehead, ed., Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. Lots of interesting work here, and the beginning of something good I think. My favorite stories were Kai Minosh Pyle’s “How to Survive the Apocalypse for Native Girls” and Darcie Little Badger’s “Story for a Bottle.”

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