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Picked up ’s

It’s cute so far. Pick it up if you like YA Queer Fantasy that openly mocks the “powerful chosen one” trope and has themes around the grey areas between “good” and “evil.”

Take a pass if you don’t like both-sidesism

(Possible spoilers for Rainbow Rowell's Carry On) 

Overall, is a good book; and if you're not allergic to the "progressive populists are the real baddies!" trope it relies on then it's probably a great book for you!

If you can get past that, the other theme of "seeking to gain (or preserve!) power over others is a corrupting influence" is pretty good.

I also like the undertone of how class-consciousness doesn't wipe out sexism (or racism).

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(Possible spoilers for Rainbow Rowell's Carry On) 

The way it frames class-consciousness as the significant _root cause_ of tensions in the world feels off to me.

I wish it had taken a more critical look at how the powerful classes gatekeeping of magic was the issue; and not "oh this person decided to fight it and they made things worse." But maybe that's book 2?

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Overall, I would say it's a 4/5 for me; the writing is tight, unpretentious, and colorful.

The perspective jumping between characters makes each character feel like their own person, observing and processing and engaging with the events using their own particular lens.

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Finished by , and the second book basically resolved all the themes I was bummed the first book took “missed.”

Book two in provides thoughtful, believable reflections on self-acceptance as queer characters without making their queerness what is hard for them to accept.

It also deepens the parallels between art, magic and wealth that opens up the conversation for more thoughtful class analysis.

5/5

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In particular, the both sidesism I was annoyed at gets resolved into “magicians are all class-isolated power-hoarders” in a way that felt satisfying.

Also the mage/monster tensions shift into a binocular vision that shows how “good” people perpetuate brutal systems when monocultural or impetuous.

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Picked up (also by ) and read it to get a feel for how she writes less fantastical stories.

This one explores the different ways unhealthy attachment gets in the way of living life, through the lens of a man working through getting hung up a former partner who had different life goals than he did; a woman navigating an impulsive pregnancy with a supportive partner; another woman navigating a LTR with a partner who is an artist

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The themes around mental health, letting go of past trauma; working on yourself; etc are quite lovely.

There’s some eyebrow raisey context (main dude, Lincoln, is paid to read work email?!? That’s the foundation for a romance novel?!) but it holds that creepiness with a degree of care that doesn’t normalize or “accept” it.

Overall, I would say it was fun, thoughtful, and a bit of a tearjerking page turner.

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Lol, so my reading streak continues, this time with (rainbowrowell.com/landline)

The way she portrays love is... disorienting. Like, I _want_ to believe that the form of love she describes exists... or at least _can_ exist.

The "it doesn't matter what's happened, it matters what we choose now and what we work to build together."

But it seems so far-fetched.

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And maybe that's part of my shit to deal with.

I assume that kind of love is completely out of reach and unattainable so I _don't_ work for it.

Which isn't to say I don't work on the relationships I'm in, I just don't work on equipping myself and allocating my resources in a way that I have the capacity to choose to be there for myself; much less someone else.

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So when things start to get hard (and of course they will, that's fucking life) I don't have the emotional/cognitive/social resources/tools to navigate them.

So things... slide out of place... Slowly or quickly, and I see them sliding and think "oh no!" and then they slide all the way apart until they collapse. Often gently, sometimes explosively.

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(MH, rant) 

And then I feel like someone who isn't safe to be around; so I self-isolate; and _maybe_ its to make sure I'm taking care of myself; but there does come a point where isolation isn't self-care, even when everything fucking hurts.

So I have to find a different path than running away or self-isolating; but 2020 + emotional burnout + under-equipped and under-resourced...

I gotta choose to love myself, even when I don't feel like I deserve it.

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Overall, I would say is definitely worth the read.

Especially if you're work-oriented, a bit insecure, and looking for a love story that centers the choices we make.

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I joined a reading club since I was running out of inspiration for what to read next.

This months book is by .

Technically it’s a good book. The writing is gripping, the pacing is a bit loose; but not to the point of distraction.

Thematically, it’s about regret and recovering from loss, as explored through the lens of a multiverse. It’s not as emotionally or narratively resonant as what I have been reading lately, but it’s mechanically satisfying.

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Possible spoilers for #DarkMatter by #BlakeCrouch 

There was a moment where the story was tipping into processing suffering by seeking a healthier relationship with yourself and the world you are in, and I got soooooo excited.

Then it switched into action thriller mode; where the lesson is “you gotta fight for whats yours!”

That’s OK, but for a story about the road not taken; it walks a well trod road. Flight or fight, take back what’s yours. Leave bodies in your wake.

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Overall, if you like multiverses and psychological action thrillers it’s probably worth a read.

If you wanted a story about processing trauma in a healthy way, instead of a way that leans into the cycle of violence... maybe take a pass.

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The other reading group is reading , by ; the first in the series.

This is not a book I would probably have considered reading were it not part of a group. I tend to not “get” the appeal of , and avoid horror.

This tips Cthulhu on its ear, however, with the protagonist being a “Person of the Water” who survived a state-inflicted genocide in the 1930s.

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I liked the magic system quite a bit, with its emphasis on co-creating ties between people for sharing strength; and the themes of finding harmony between spirituality and science.

It doesn’t shy away from America’s human rights abuses during the mid 20th century, placed at an inflection point following WWII and the rise of McCarthyism. A moment in US history ripe for de-“exceptionalizing.”

Pick it up if you like ensemble fantasy?

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Ok, picked back up on now that the library has it. Reading .

Parts of it are hard to read. It’s a romance, told through the lens of two 16 year-olds; both outcasts in their own degree. It has deep explorations of poverty, domestic abuse, and parents being shitty to kids.

The character writing is outstanding, with the tension of people not understanding one another intertwining with people experiencing and acting from emotional suffering.

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Oof gets super dark. The child abuse gets a lot worse :/.

I finished it, and it’s more raw than her other works. And not in the bleeding hearts romance sense.

I dunno if I can recommend it; especially how it gets even more eyebrow raising around race dynamics.

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Picked up the second book in the , . It’s still got the “build up slowly” kind of vibe that did, and a deeper exploration of how fear and mistrust distorts cognition.

It’s also much more queer forward, which I appreciate.

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I especially like the way draws tensions between groups at a higher abstraction than the small set of people involved in the story.

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Completed .

The themes of bearing responsibility and learning to lead in community are really lovely, and the writing style feels good for instilling a sense of eldritch horror.

The key tension between manipulation and isolation and broader cooperation in spite of mistrust and misunderstanding feels deeply real.

Would recommend for folks who like ensemble stories told from a single perspective and eldritch themes.

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Started by . I am surprised I hadn’t heard of / read it before; as it’s definitely in my sweet spot of magical adventures with realistic people.

I’m up to chapter 14, despite having started it only a few days ago. Much less spoooooooky than /#WinterTide, and significantly less social nuance.

It’s a good romp with a clear objective, which is quite refreshing. A bit too much individual exceptionalism but it’s not a deal breaker for me.

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Finished by last night, overall I think it's a solid YA Fiction novel, especially for folks who have an appreciation for mid-20th century style fantasy/sci-fi.

The writing feels a lot like Lord of the Rings or Chronicles of Narnia, but with a slightly more gritty take. The violence is never glorified, and the sense of "numbness" that the main character develops towards death feels like it's informed by the authors own relationship with pointless loss.

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The magic being a blend between music and words and innate, borderline incomprehensible, power creates opportunities for surprise without feeling like anything goes; which is quite satisfying.

The social dynamics and relationships developed through the story feel warm and genuine without being forced; and the characters inner lives are exposed in a way that feels realistic while showing and not telling.

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I’ve also been listening to by .

It doesn’t pull any punches, telling the story of a brilliant neurodivergent Black woman in a far future setting where religious white supremacists control the social order of a generation ship with a strict social hierarchy.

Definitely worth reading, even (or especially) when it’s hard.

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Ok, I finished on Friday and damn.

First off, for me there’s a lot to navigate and process about white voyeurism of Black pain when it comes to reading this particular book.

The stark illustrations of white supremacy enabled by religious fervor stagnating, debilitating, and eventually collapsing a civilization are incredibly on point.

The white folks enabling and reveling in the abuses and brutality are a mirror that must be gazed upon.

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At the same time, doesn’t let us fixate on the horror, because to do so reduces Black history and present day anti-Blackness to one purely of suffering.

Faer characters are not defined by suffering, but by hope, love, joy, aspirations and brilliance. The setting is brutal, and the toll such brutality takes is high.

But the adept way fae leverages the brutality to humanize rather than dehumanize is brilliant.

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@zee yeah, I read this one last year and really didn't enjoy it for the reasons you laid out. It's weird to me how well-reviewed it is and how many of my friends really loved it...

@hafnia there’s one redeeming moment at the end where one of the Jason’s is like “she chose him back the duck off” and maybe that redeems it?

Spoilers for #BlakeCrouch #DarkMatter 

@hafnia but IMO the real protagonist is Amanda, who looks at someone she’s given up so much for and realizes he isn’t who she needs and simply walks away.

Spoilers for #BlakeCrouch #DarkMatter 

@zee yeah, she was the one in the book I really could understand, heh.

@zee I know that there has been quite a bit of criticism of her details in the portrayal of the Asian character. It's been so long since I read this that I can't really recall.

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@zee I LOVE the Sabriel trilogy! My intro to them was throwing on the audiobook I'd downloaded from the library while on a bit of a drive and I nearly had a pull over from surprise when it started with "Sabriel by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry". He did a wonderful job reading them. (Note: there's a fourth spinoff book that I found to be meh, set in the same world and not necessary to the plot of the trilogy.)

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@zee I read this last year and it blew me away! It is so good!

@Sissas it’s amazing as an audiobook! The code switching is so poignant

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