I really loved this book. It’s the story of a remote village in the Armenian mountains, Maran, and the people who live there through famine, war, and heartbreak. When we first step into the village there are only a handful of elderly residents left. It’s through the tales of their lives that we learn that Maran had once been a thriving village filled with wealthy farmers. The main character, if there is one, is Anatolia, who at 58 is the youngest person left in the village. Her life has been one of hardship and pain, but through the bonds of the village people, her remaining years may yet be her happiest. The story of the village is, overall, terribly sad, but the ending is warm, wonderful, and full of hope.
White Smoke, by Tiffany D. Jackson
A YA horror-like mystery about a young black woman who moves with her mixed-race family from liberal California to a nameless racist midwestern town. Marigold, a troubled young woman, finds her new home creepy. But maybe not as creepy as the unbridled racism she finds in her new town. In her home, things disappear, lights and the TV turn on and off by themselves, and she sees things that can't really be there. In her town, she finds that the black neighborhood she lives in has been decimated by arbitrary laws that have incarcerated too many people. This nexus of terrifying home and racial tensions will spark something terrible. Yes, this was a really good book. Nothing at all what I expected it to be, in the the best way possible.
Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor, by Xiran Jay Zhao
A middle grade novel about a young Chinese Muslim-American boy who has a video game connection to his distant ancestor, the first emperor of China. A lot like Rick Riordian’s Percy Jackson books, this one makes the genre all its own through a great combination of history, mythology, and current pop culture. I wanted to read this one as I loved Zhao’s The Iron Widow. While not as edgy as that YA novel, this book has a lot of charm and Zach was a great character.
House Number 12 Block Number 3, by Sana Balagamwala
This is a gorgeous story of a house and its family from the 1960s to the 1980s in Karachi, Pakistan. Nadia, the daughter of the house, has been stricken by a mysterious illness, and soon after her father dies. As political unrest charges the country, the Rahmat family is distraught. But through the narration of the house, we come to know the reasons behind Nadia’s illness and she her resolve it. This is a very personal story set against the turmoil of Pakistan post-Partition. I really loved this book.
Book Boyfriend, by Kris Ripper
This book was adorable. While the premise is fun and well-plotted, I think I liked it so much because I listened to the audio and the voice actor brought SO MUCH to the story. PK has been in love with his best friend Art since college. When Art comes to stay with him after a messy break-up, PK wants to tell him, but can’t. Instead, he writes a romance novel about his love, and, when it gets picked up by the publisher he works for, he decides to make it into a grand gesture by revealing it to Art in public. Things go very wrong. This was a delightful story, and much needed after some heavy (but great!) books.
Prison of Sleep, by Tim Pratt
I wouldn’t usually start a series with the second book, but I read this for a committee that I’m participating in. I have read short stories by Pratt, but never one of his novels. It was good fun. In style, he’s similar to John Scalzi. The plot was great, the world-building was fascinating, but the people were a little two dimensional. Maybe this was because they were more developed in the first book? It was a fun read and I enjoyed Pratt’s easygoing style.
The Hunt Is On (Seekers of the Aweto #1),by Nie Jun
So this is a bummer. I had picked up this graphic novel awhile ago and finally got to read it only to find out that this is the only volume that has been translated from Chinese. It was really good! Like really! A great set-up for the bigger story … which now I won’t be able to read. *sigh* I’d recommend it if you can find it.
The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
This was a reread/listen. I really loved this book when I read it last year and found so much more to love in the audio version. While action-packed and full of twists, it is really a story about sisterhood and protecting the ones you love.