Thumbs up for When I’m Gone, Look for Me in the East by Quan Barry. Literature.
A young monk-to-be is sent on a quest across Mongolia to look for the reincarnation of a previous religious master. With him is his twin brother, who was himself named as a reincarnated master as a child, but dropped out of religious life in favor of women and cigarettes.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Belle of Belgrave Square by Mimi Matthews. Historical romance.
The ostensible one-line description: A young lady with severe social anxiety and a military hero with a secret enter into a marriage of convenience. The thing is, though, this book is not just better than most other historical romances, it is better than most other books regardless of genre.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty. Fantasy.
Lady pirate is dragged out of retirement for one last adventure. What I really liked: the setting is wonderfully researched and vivid; the side characters are fun; Amina’s love for her daughter (there aren’t enough good mothers in fiction, period); Amina’s devout but, er, flexible relationship with God; and the plot had unexpected developments that elevated it beyond what I thought it was going to be.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Way of the Househusband Volumes 1-9 by Oono Kousuke. Comedy.
A Yakuza retires from the business in order to become a househusband, a job which he takes Oh So Seriously, right down to the Instagram account for the bento boxes he makes his wife for lunch. Although all of the episodes are essentially variations on the same joke – there’s no “story” here – it’s still exceedingly delightful.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Jade City by Fonda Lee. Fantasy.
A mobster family drama with jade-magic fueled martial arts. It is about four siblings with wildly different personalities, disagreeing with each other about how to do the right thing in the context of an absolutely believable island mob economy. This book has some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever read. (Kekon is described as a place of “casual brutality” and let that be your content warning.)… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi. Fantasy.
A nameless scholar of fairytales is seduced by a mysterious woman named Indigo, who may not be human. And she may have killed her best friend, Azure? Those “maybes” are the drivers of this book, which is a gothic mystery at heart. A bit slow to start, but around page 50 we start getting alternating chapters from Azure’s point of view—back in her childhood, as she falls into an obsessive friendship with the mesmerizing Indigo.… >> Read more
A hesitant thumbs up for Trying Not to Try: The Science and Art of Spontaneity by Edward Slingerland. History/philosophy.
Well…huh. I didn’t read this book that long ago, but I must have read it too late at night, because I remember nothing about it except the fact that it is about the concept of wu-wei, “non-doing,” and that it contains a pretty good overview of the differences and similarities between ancient Chinese philosophers.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Matrix by Lauren Groff. Historical fiction.
A fictionalized biography of Marie de France—king’s bastard daughter, abbess, mystic, writer. (She may have been two different Maries in actuality, a fact which I think would amuse the character.) Marie is a badass. A physical giant among women, with an ambition to match. She loves, she fights, she builds, she prays, she outwits her enemies, she plots and plans and often succeeds.… >> Read more