Another quick post today!
Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and now I’m into my busiest time of year at work. I’ll be working six days a week from now until Christmas unless this snowstorm forces us to close for the day. I will find out soon…
In other news, I made it to my parents’ house and back again with no problems. The weather was positively spring-like, and the roads were not terribly crowded. I was able to make the 2.5+ hour drive with minimal frustration going both ways. Score! Thanks to the short trip, I didn’t get to see my family as much as I would have liked, but I’ll have two days off for Christmas, so assuming the weather isn’t terrible then, I will see them in a matter of weeks.
In the meantime, I’ve already finished most of my Christmas shopping! Thanks to Barnes & Noble and their Black Friday sales, I was able to get most of what I was looking for fairly quickly. I am thrilled to be mostly done already since it means I won’t have to be out shopping in the crowds on my one day off each week. I just need to wrap everything, and I’ll be ready to go!
Thanks to a busy and tiring week, I didn’t get much reading done. I finished two books:
- The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
- The Black Tides of Heaven by J.Y. Yang
The Unquiet Dead is Khan’s debut novel, the first in a series about a Canadian Muslim detective named Esa Khattak and his partner, Rachel Getty. Khattak calls Getty in to look into the death of a wealthy local man who fell to his death from a hiking trail. The further they look into the man’s death, the more they suspect he was an infamous war criminal who directed the genocide of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. I gave this book three stars. It deals with important issues of justice and hatred and war, but the characters often seemed flat and their dialogue was unrealistic. I thought the ending was as satisfying as it could be, but I wasn’t impressed enough to continue on with the next couple of books in the series.
The Black Tides of Heaven is a novella about two twins, Mokoya and Akeha, who are the children of the tyrannical Protector who sold them to the Grand Monastery when they were very young. As they grow up, they seek to undermine their mother’s tyranny in whatever way they can, but their paths take them farther and farther from each other. This was another three-star read. The world is quite interesting, as the people are born without a gender, and live without a gender until they choose to become either male or female. The thought of how their society developed a genderless power structure is intriguing, but I felt that Yang didn’t go far enough in developing the world and its characters. I wanted more about Akehu’s journey after reaching adulthood and more about his relationship with Mokoya, but it just wasn’t there. The Black Tides of Heaven would have benefitted from being a novel instead of a novella, where Yang could have devoted more pages to the characters’ development.
I’m still listening to the audiobook of Tana French’s Broken Harbor, and it continues to be fantastic. French’s writing is gorgeous, and she picks up on the nuances of human emotion and relationships so beautifully. Her characters are all flawed in some achingly familiar way and they don’t always make the best decisions. They screw up and make mistakes, and not everything is resolved with a neat little bow at the end. It’s difficult to compare them to other mystery novels, as there are few I’ve found that showcase such an incredible depth of understanding when it comes to the human condition.
I started reading Extravagaria, a collection of poems by Pablo Neruda, the other night. I’m planning to read at least a few poems every night before bed, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s a bilingual edition, with the original Spanish poem on one page and the English translation on the next, so it’s only half as long as it seems. There are some great lines, but I haven’t been swept away by them yet. I’m sure that will change.
I didn’t get any baking done since I was either gearing up for the holidays at work, traveling, or spending time with my family (none of whom are keen on baking or cooking). I’m planning to start on Seth Dickinson’s The Monster Baru Cormorant this week during my lunch hours. I hope I can get through it relatively quickly, as I can’t renew it from the library again since someone else has it on hold. I have it for another couple of weeks, though, so I should be able to finish it before then.
So that’s it for now. Have a great week!