The Series Series: The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco

We aren’t supposed to judge books by their covers but the cover of The Bone Witch looks like THIS:

The Bone Witch

So…yeah. That’s that.

The Books

The Bone Witch

The Heart Forger

The Shadowglass

The Author

Rin Chupeco began her career as a technical writer who was obsessed with horror and fairytales and now blends them together.

I will be reading everything she’s every written, because I loved this series. Did I give away the end of this blog? Seriously though, this was a delight.

Series Structure

This is a trilogy, three books that tell the story of Tea Pahlahvi, a Bone Witch or Dark Asha, magic users who’s role in society feels like something in between university professors and geisha, in the society of 8 kingdoms in the book. Tea’s power allows her to raise the dead as well as commune and subdue legendary creatures known as daeva that often threaten her world.

The story alternates between Tea’s telling her own story and a bard (who is more than he seems) who she has engaged to tell it for you. Tea has done terrible things and she is ready to reshape the world, if she has the strength to do it.

Themes

Oh there’s a lot at work here, responsibility, accountability, civil inequality, the redeeming properties of true love (and all true love, not just romantic.)

Favorite Book

It’s probably The Heartforger although The Shadow Glass grew on me as it went along. But I devoured The Heartforger which answered a lot of questions and mysteries from the first book and did actually have me thinking that we were watching the birth of a supervillain. (We weren’t, but in the interest of spoilers, I won’t elaborate)

Least Favorite Book

The Bone Witch was lovely and sucked me into the world, but Chupeco has a lot of world building and character introduction to do. This is where the two timelines and narrators came into play as important. I wanted to know how Tea got to where she was in the flash forward sections, so I was willing to get through, “This is how I found out about my powers, this was my training” even when I wasn’t overly invested

Favorite Character

There are, alas, not direct pop culture paralells this time around for me to default into love, but I was deeply fond of Tea’s great True Love, Kalen. He’s a stalwart captain of the guard type…he uh, reminds me of someone…a little…can’t put my finger on it…anyway.

Reread Possibilities

I don’t know that I’ll reread this, but I’m not opposed to it. I very much enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to Chupeco’s other work, but I don’t know that I’d pick up this series again.

Our next series will be Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, I’m already halfway through it. Waiting on Book 5.

Nerd Girl Book Club

If there’s anything that the past two and a half months have made me grateful for it’s my friends.

I miss them like crazy but that’s only because they are some of the greatest people to ever live. I had a huge breakthrough in therapy last year when I realized that unlike most people my intimacy issues do NOT come from my family, but from a series of terrible falling outs with long term friends.

I have trouble trusting people because a good chunk of the people I trusted left me behind. A few didn’t, but most left either when things got tough (more understandable) or it was convenient to move along (less understandable). I won’t get into specifics because those are not my stories to tell for the most part.

But, they’re relevant here because of Aless, who introduced me to her friends and reopened my heart.

Anyway, that’s all old news. I’ve written about them. About my love for them. I’ve also written about the friends that held on to me in the hard transition time. (Juli, Chrissy, Maggie, Katie)

But a month ago, when Jess, Sara and I got on a Zoom call to discuss a book we all read (Bonds Of Brass by Emily Skrutskie) and when we realized we’d come across something special. Our dynamic of intelligent, nerdy, interesting women was worth investigating.

So we put the call out to those who we thought would be interested. And so many answered. I brought Maggie and Kristi into the conversation. Other people brought others. We read All The Stars And Teeth by Adalyn Grace, and we got on a Zoom call and I was reminded all over again of how lucky I was to have never felt the seductive sting of “not like other girls/women”

Because how much I would have missed. I’d have certainly missed this call, where we talked about the book. (Great world building, reasonably interesting characters, lame plot!) And where we got to know each other. Learning our tolerance for love triangles, and Rape As Character Development and our Hogwarts Houses and top fandoms.

We’re going at least one more month and I’m SO PSYCHED to move onto our next one.

After my sister’s bachelorette party, our friend Meghan said to Mary, “Thank you for curating a wonderful group of women.” and Mary and I took it as the greatest compliment.

I was honored to be a part of a curated a wonderful group of women yet again with this book club.

Also, we’ve all pledged to meet in person when we’re allowed, and while I also can’t wait for that, I also was so grateful for our call on Saturday, when I realized, OMG Jess and Maggie could talk about video games together, and Sara and Kristi had kids around the same age and so many other things.

What have we been robbed of by society keeping women apart and in competition with one another?

Not quite the point, but a little bit the point.

Anyway, I’ve been lucky in my life to drift into the orbit of exceptional women, and then to form real bonds with them, and to introduce them to each other.

Nerd Girl Book Club is everything I was hoping it would be. I miss talking about books from college and I miss women talking together, without outside interference from men, something I had growing up with my mom, sister and aunts, and in high school with IHA.

It’s hard to value something you’ve never known so I get why other people don’t value and miss this thing that was a part of my life for so long. But I’m so glad to have it back.

The Series Series: The Six Of Crows Duology By Leigh Bardugo

This was a quicker turnaround than I expected but I love this world so much, I could live in it for all eternity.

Anyway, let’s dive in to this story of thieves and honor and double crossing and heists, shall we?

The Books

Six Of Crows

Crooked Kingdom

The Author

I talked about Leigh Bardugo last time, her biography has not changed much in the past two weeks, as far as I know.

Series Structure

Pretty straightforward here. In the first book we meet Kaz Brekker, the wicked rising crime lord of Ketterdam, another country in the same world as Alina’s Revka. Kaz is putting a team together to break a prisoner out of an ubreakable prison. The team, Inej, a Suli Acrobat from Revka who was sold into a life of prostitution and now works as a spy for Kaz, Nine Kerik, a Heartrender Grisha who left Ravka because of…Matthias Helvar, a Grisha hunter who fell in love with her, Jesper Fahey, a university dropout with a gambling problem and a way with guns, and Wylan Van Eck a wealthy merchants son who’s escaping a pretty rough upbringing.

The chapters rotate points of view between these six characters, with a few others thrown in.

Themes

Y’all know how I love Charles Dickens right? I couldn’t help thinking about Dickens’s unfortunate orphans throughout this series. Kaz is like The Artful Dodger on steroids, far more wicked than even that pick pocket. Kaz has his own code, but it’s obscured by his own belief in his damnation. He’s twisted and dark and difficult. Everyone around him tries to believe the best in him and he keeps swatting them down.

Yes, friends, the theme today is redemption, who deserves it, who wants it, what they’re willing to do to get it, and the bonds formed along the way.

Favorite Book

I mean, there are only two and I loved them both. I might give a slight edge to Six Of Crows because it’s heist is a bit more fun.

Least Favorite Book

Again, only two books, but slight demotion to Crooked Kingdom for having a marginally less fun heist.

Favorite Character

It’s Nina, she’s great. I mean, they’re all great. I also have a soft spot for Jesper, the bisexual dumbass who can’t manage his money. And when Aless pointed out that Kaz reminded her of Jason Todd, it endeared him to me quite a bit. (Kaz does not get beaten to death with a crowbar and return from the dead with a desire for revenge and an unquenchable blood lust, plus a penchant for boning his family member’s exes, but there are striking similarities.) But I adore Nina, and her ability to survive while holding on to her soul.

Reread Possibilities

Oh I will be rereading. My reread bar is Rick Riordan’s Grecco Roman books, which I reread every year. This will also be every year I bet.

Up Next: The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco, which seem cool, and also have cool covers.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse

Remember a few weeks ago when I said I might never love a Star Wars novel because of the mandated third person present tense driving me bonkers?

Such is the power of Poe Dameron my friends because I have found a Star Wars novel I love. Resistance Reborn is fabulous, silly, interested in its characters, tells a rollicking adventure story and even brings back some old favorites. 

Oh, right and it’s basically got three chapters that are just Poe and Finn flirting including a scene where POE TEACHES FINN HOW TO TIE A TIE BECAUSE THEY ARE GOING UNDERCOVER AT A FANCY FIRST ORDER PARTY AND FINN CHOOSES ALIAS’S FOR THEM THAT ARE ACTUALLY THE STAR WARS VERSIONS OF SUPERHEROS AND OMG WHY WASN’T THIS THE OPENING ACT OF THE RISE OF SKYWALKER? (Also they’re in love and Abrams, Kennedy and Iger are cowards. Roanhouse is clearly a Stormpilot shipper because she goes OUT OF HER WAY to have Poe flirt with Finn, Finn grin about it, Finn assure Poe that Rey and Rose are “just his friends” and have Poe be super happy about that.) 

I really very much enjoyed this book, where Poe, and the rest of Black Squadron take Leia’s words of hope and decide to do whatever they need to to rebuild the Resistance. Snap and Kare head to pull Wedge and Norra out of retirement. They are not difficult to sway on this one, although Wedge is allowed a moment of hopelessness when he learns of Luke’s death. Leia and Rey are around in the periphery both knowing something else is coming but unsure what that something else is. Meanwhile, Poe, Suralinda, Finn and a new friend from Ryloth all head to Corellia to get a list of First Order defectors and known critics. (This is where the fancy party and tie tying come in.)

And I love it, y’all, I love it so much. I love the capers and the banter and the Stormpilot of it all. Rebecca Roanhorse’s tone suits my taste almost perfectly and did I mention SO MUCH STORMPILOT, and also more time with Black Squadron.

Just in general it’s great. I liked it a lot. We’ll be touching base next week obviously, with Clone Wars and with Resistance Season 2, which is now on Disney+, and as for Star Wars reading goes, I have the Darth Vader comics from the library and since the library is closed, I’m going to be relying on Kindle & Comixology once I get through my reading pile. I’m not sure what I’m going to read but it will probably be Prequel era. I’ve been eyeing Master & Apprentice, I could use some Obi-Wan in my life right now. 

I also might do an “Anatomy Of A Favorite Post” for Poe. I’ve done these before for Dick Grayson and Ahsoka, started one for Obi-Wan that never got where I wanted and I think Poe has earned it. 

The Series Series: The Space Trilogy By C.S. Lewis

This is a series I’ve put off for a while. In college I hung out with a lot of Philosophy and Theology majors and they all loved Lewis. He liked him well enough but was way too immersed in The Romantics and Shakespeare and avoiding Lewis’s contemporaries to seek him out. I don’t hate the Moderns, exactly, I just hated my British modernism professor and it left a bad taste. But I read the books, Hooray!

The Books

Out Of The Silent Planet

Perelandra

That Hideous Strength

Author

Clive Staples Lewis was a British professor of literature and hobbyist of Christian theology. He wrote a lot about both of these things in his way, most famously in The Chronicles Of Narnia but also in the lovely apologetic book Mere Christianity. He passed away in 1963.

Series Structure

Three books, the first two relating the adventures of Elwin Ransom, a Celtic Lore professor who finds himself transported to Mars (Malacandra) and Venus (Perelandra) and seeing the struggles of a benevelolent but absent God and several angles against a dark force. That Hideous Strength refocuses on what Earth has to do to survive that darkness coming for us, refocusing off of Ransom (though he’s around) to a young married couple of professors, Jane and Mark.

Themes

Oh boy, I love me some religious allegory sci-fi. The series explores the idea of a Christian Cosmology that connects with the Pagan roots of Britain in more than just the aesthetic ways that we’re aware of, the Gods of the ancients are actually the angels of God Almighty. It also deals with the nature of sin, the choice of intellect over spirit that magnifies sin, and gender.

I, probably not shockingly, do not care for Lewis’s takes on gender, but his casual misogyny and gender essentialism is something I’ve gotten used to in his work. It’s an undercurrent in Narnia, teased in Screwtape, largely avoided in Mere Christianity and writ large here. Like, the resolution of how Earth is saved comes because Jane and Mark stop fighting their natures as man and woman, Jane especially, who’s gotten some silly ideas in her head about “equality” and “bodily autonomy” and “being more than a wife.”

Silly woman.

Favorite Book

My god I loved Perelandra, it’s a beautiful work, retelling the Eden myth on a planetary level, providing a terrible vision of Hell, a thoughtful examination of damnation and God’s indifference to human suffering. It’s a fable and a lovingly told one.

Least Favorite Book

That Hideous Strength is a beautiful piece of philosophical writing and kind of a crappy novel. I like the idea that the ideals of Camelot and British connection to the land itself is what should be used to fight Fascism, but this is a book that’s more didactic than the two novels that come before it. I loved Perelandra and wasn’t at all into That Hideous Strength, because I’ve always preferred Lewis in whimsical fable mode to preaching philosophical mode. (I’m more The Horse And His Boy and Voyage Of The Dawn Treader than The Last Battle)

Favorite Character

Ransom’s pretty great, as these kind of self inserts go, especially because he’s not a self insert, exactly. He’s not supposed to be Lewis, I assume Mark is, Ransom is Tolkien! It’s a much more flattering picture of a friend than Tolkien’s of Lewis. (Treebeard in The Lord Of The Rings is allegedly based on Lewis. Treebeard is great, but I think I’d be offended if I learned my friends based a character like that on me.)

Reread Possibilities

Probably just Perelandra, I can’t see myself revisiting the others.

So, my COVID-19 relates anxiety is shaking up my reading schedule. I’m trying to avoid stress in my consumption, and this was a pretty heavy set of books. Which means I’m going to skip my planned next read Caught In The Revolution by Helen Rapparport, something tells me reading about Moscow, 1917 would not make me feel particularly good at the moment. So, I’m going to read Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhouse next, and then we’ll go from there. Next series is The Shadow And Bone trilogy by Leigh Bardugo.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Bloodlines by Claudia Gray

Princess Leia Organa doesn’t know what her legacy to the Galaxy will be and that’s so very complicated for her and also it turns out the New Republic is a big wet fart (which she suspected allllll the way back after The Battle Of Jakku) so that’s not helping things, also it turns out there’s a bunch of young people who don’t remember the Empire and think it was super rad like AESTHETICALLY MAN and she’s tearing her hair out trying to explain that NO THE EMPIRE WAS BAD ACTUALLY, and she misses Han and hasn’t talked to Luke and Ben in a while, and she’s having kind of a rough time.

This is largely the emotional tenor of Bloodlines which I liked quite a bit. As I said after Aftermath, I’m so alienated by the “Third Person Present Tense” convention of these books that I don’t know that I’ll ever love any of them, I really really dislike it. That’s neither Claudia Gray nor Chuck Wendig’s fault though and I manage to enjoy some of the writing despite my real serious dislike of this stylistic mandate. (I’m less annoyed by First Person Present Tense, though I still don’t love it.)

Anyway, Leia’s at the end of her political career here, sure she’s just too burnt out and cynical to make a difference anymore, and due to some rising First Order shenanigans, her decision to retire is expedited when her lineage as the Daughter of Darth Vader is revealed.

Like I said, Leia is having a bit of a time in this book. She’s got a fun crew of younger pilots, mercenaries and interns on her side, and also, Ransolm Casterfo, a young senator who is one of said Empire Obsessives. He hates Vader and Palpatine though…just likes order? I don’t know, he and Leia eventually become friends but he was very, “I just like Lynyrd Skynyrd MAAAAANNNNN,” on the will wear a Confederate Flag shirt scale, but he still kind of sucks. Also, he dies, so who gives a shit. Anyway, they solve a mystery that reveals bits about the way the First Order rose, where their money and power came from.

I very much enjoyed the book, which among other things gives us some real warm feels Han/Leia content, they are adorable in this book, and very on point, you can hear Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher’s inflections in their dialog. I also appreciated a bit of insight into the rise of The First Order from those Imperial Remnants of Aftermath, the two factions of the New Republic and Leia running around being a badass. It’s a fun book.

Obviously, on Tuesday we continue with Clone Wars and our next book is Resistance Rising which I’m very excited about because Jess tells me it’s got Stormpilot GALORE. (You know, no smooching because everyone are a bunch of COWARDS but otherwise.) Looking forward to that one.

The Series Series: The Old Kingdom Series By Garth Nix

“Does the walker choose the path?” Well, I chose this one and I’m pretty sure that I regret it. This is the first time I’ve pushed through a series I really didn’t care for except in fits and starts. I’m bad about putting down books I don’t particularly care for, but I usually don’t go for the sequels of something that I had to push through. Anyway, let’s dig deeper.

The Books

Sabriel

Lirael

Abhorsen

Clariel

Goldenhand

Author

Garth Nix is an Australian author. He studied literature at University and then worked in the publishing industry before writing Sabriel. He claims inspiration from classical fantasy as well as Middle Eastern and Asian mysticism. And despite my overall dislike of this series it is a nice blend of those traditions as I understand them. He lives in Sydney with his wife and two sons.

Series Structure

This is five books, the first three a pretty solid trilogy, with a prequel and then a sequel following. The initial trilogy actually reminds me a lot of Dune, telling the story of Sabriel and Prince Touchstone, an epic story in it’s own right, that leads to a huge shift in status quo for the world, the restoration of a great royal house, and a return to magic, (in Dune the restoration of an imperial house and a return to tech.) followed by two stories of what that means for their children and the next generation, which is what Lirael and Abhorsen deal with, Sabriel finding her new true apprentice and reaching a detante with the forces of “Free Magic.” Then we get Clariel which tells a largely free standing story about The Old Kingdom before the fall of the royal house, until we learn who it’s lead becomes. Goldenhand wraps a few things up but does end on a cliff hanger and apparently a sixth book is coming next year.

I will not be reading it.

Themes

I think legacy is a big theme here, it’s what I seize on the most. Which, again, it’s so weird that I didn’t like this series much. I love legacy as a theme, the curses and mistakes and triumphs of the past irepparably damaging the future. But it’s all in the execution, Nix’s characters don’t feel like they’re moving in the tides of destiny as so many heroes in these types of stories are, they feel bound by them and not in a fun, I’m gonna subvert that expectation way, just in a resigned shrug their shoulders way. It makes for dull reading.

Also the magic system is practically impenetrable and I was bored every time something got explained. I think I just don’t care for Nix’s writing.

Favorite Book

I liked Lirael best because I liked Lirael best. She seemed do be the only character who was active, who wanted something different than what life was giving her. She eventually swam with the tide, but she at least fought it and swam, didn’t let herself be carried.

Least Favorite Book

Clariel is a real slog. I don’t care how important Chlorr Of The Mask is to Lirael’s development, this book was not fun. Even though it has a DRAGON and a MAGIC SCHOOL and COURT POLITICS all tings that I usually love.

Favorite Character

You’d like Lirael after what I said above, but it’s actually Mogget, a free magic creature bound in the form of a cat who serves the Abhorsens. He rules, he’s surly, sarcastic, annoyed and bent on revenge on the family that bound him, even though he likes them well enough individually. I like cat guides, which is odd, since in life I’m much more of a dog person. But I liked Mogget, he felt in tradition with Faithful from The Song Of The Lioness and Luna and Artemis from Sailor Moon.

Reread Possibilities

I’m not rereading this, I had so much trouble getting into it.

The next Series Series will be on The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis, but there’s some stuff in between. (I’m rereading PS I Still Love You and doing an “In The Shadow Of Adaptation” as well as one for Jane Austen’s Emma.) 

60 Books In 2019 #60: Merrick By Anne Rice

I don’t often get scared while reading, it’s why I’ve always been able to read horror when watching it was out of the question.

Anne Rice’s novels are the exception, at least the best ones, and I think that Merrick is on of the best ones. There’s always at least one chapter in the ones I love that terrifies me, my heartrate up and sends shivers down my spine. (Obviously, the sillier ones, Memnoch, Lasher and Taltos didn’t do that.) In Merrick, it’s the scene where Merrick Mayfair, from a cut off slave raped branched of the Mayfair family uses voodoo, Santeria and other unknown magics to raise the spirit of Claudia for Louis and David Talbot.

The ghosts tortured conversation with Louis is scary on an existential level, but the scene of the raising, through David’s disbelieving and terrified eyes is perfect.

The novel around that scene is good too. David recounts his relationship with Merrick, who he and Aaron Lightner adopted into the Talamasca at 10, became his lover many years later and then who he and Louis seek out in New Orleans many years later to put Claudia to rest.

Lestat is in his Memnoch and God induced coma at this point. He wakes up at the end though and is perfectly exasperated with both his boyfriends, don’t you worry.

There are paralells a plenty between Merrick and Claudia, and David and Aaron and Louis and Lestat, which I think is an interesting choice on Rice’s part. While I’m deeply over her whole “erotic beautiful child” thing. (I’ve been since Lasher) I do think the fact that all of her characters are so deeply obsessed with one another is an interesting facet of her work that deserves a deeper look than I can give it right now.

But this finishes my reading goal for 2019! HOORAY! And transitions right into my next project, which is all, fantasy and sci-fi series based. I’m putting together a list, but we’re starting off a few weeks early, with finishing out The Vampire Chronicles and The Tales Of The New Vampires. (So, I’ve got, Blood And Gold, Blackwood Farm, Blood Canticle, Prince Lestat, Prince Lestat And The Realms Of Atlantis and Blood Communion left, plus Pandor and Vittorio: The Vampire.) My Goodreads goal is going to be lower (maybe 40?) and I’m not going to be reporting it, as I’m going to read straight through the series.

But first I’m rereading Little Women for In The Shadow Of Adaptation. I won’t write it up until I see Greta Gerwig’s new film. (Mary and I have plans to see it together if at all possible, so it could be a while.) And The Lord Of The Rings because I rewatched the Extended Editions this weekend and I miss Middle Earth.

The other aspect of the project is going to be non fiction. I’m going to read one non fiction book (memoir or otherwise) for each fantasy series I finish. The first of those is going to be The Race To Save The Romanovs by Helen Rappaport which I borrowed from my mom maybe 6 months ago?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this project. Hope you all will enjoy it too, deeper dives will be fun, I think, and committing to finishing series that I start will also feel good.

60 Books in 2019 #59: The Memoir Club By Laura Kalpakian

I’m no good at contemporary literary fiction. Not writing it, I’ve never tried, God help me, I once got reamed out by a professor in a fiction writing class for being to fanciful and frivolous. (He was not interested in my coming of age story about two preppy teen sisters wandering NYC on the day of their grandmother’s death or my Gothic story of a teen girl who when visiting relatives for a summer fell in love with a ghost. What a loser!) But even reading it, I never learned properly.

This is partially by circumstance, there just wasn’t much opportunity at Scranton for serious contemporary lit. It’s also partly preference, what little there was was taught by professors I disliked. I liked the Romantics and Renaissance and Victorian and Non Fiction professors, so my serious work stayed with them. (I can explicate on a Victorian Novel for days even a shitty one I don’t like very much. Same with Romantic Poetry, or Memoir)

As I try to self teach reading contemporary literary fiction I find myself alienated by fluid story structures and unlikable narrators and prosaic detached characters who refuse to speak to one another like human beings. The Memoir Club is like that, except that it also has a bunch of hallmarks of shitty contemporary fiction, like nonsensical plot twists and serendipity and a character who might have been a ghost or an angel or something.

I don’t mind those kinds of things, I really like them in fact, but when they’re in a book by an author with all kinds of fancy grants in her bio and blurbs from The New Yorker  on the back cover, I have to roll my eyes at the overwrought-ness of it all.

The Memoir Club is about a group of women who join a memoir writing class and when the class ends decide to continue meeting. Nell and Caryn are long time friends who are now doctors together at a women’s clinic. Nell has given her life to Caryn who lost her ex husband and children in a plane crash five years earlier. Francine is an older wife to a celebrated academic tyring to find life after her died. Jill is a thirty three year old who wants to start a business with her partner (I think?), Sarah Jane actually wants to be a writer, to fulfill a promise to her father and Rusty is a divorcee who is processing a traumatic adolescence. Their teacher and leader is Penny. (Spoiler Penny’s the one who might have been a ghost.)

Kalapakian’s women don’t feel real. They feel like bundles of neurosis and secrets and traumas, who smash into one another but don’t connect. As their secrets are exhumed they scream and shout and alienate and reconnect to love ones, but none of it seems to mean anything to any of them. They don’t talk like people, they don’t react like people.

I didn’t like this book. Luckily it was brief but it also wasn’t good.

Up next, we finish where we began. Merrick by Anne Rice. I’ve missed my witches and vampires and silliness. This book in particular reminded me why I like them in the first place.

60 Books in 2019 #58: Soysauce For Beginners by Kirsten Chen

Reading about Asian families and food have both become pet topics for me in the past few years, so obviously Soy Sauce For Beginners was a no brainer.

It’s a fun book, which my love for Crazy Rich Asians primed me for. Gretchen Lin grew up in her family’s soy sauce factory in Singapore but followed her mother’s plan to move to move to the States and pursue academia instead. This lead to a marriage that has recently fallen apart, and a feeling of disconnection and frustration.

So Gretchen comes home and starts to work for the family bussiness. She brings a college friend in too, she forms a rivalry with a cousin, she has a bad for her no strings attached relationship, she meditates on her parents’ marriage, it’s happiness and unhappiness, she revitalizes the business.

It’s a good book, quick, easy to read and lovely. Not much to analyze, it’s straightforward fun and breezy. I’d read more about this world if Chen wrote more, or another world she felt like inventing.

Up next is The Memoir Club by Laura Kalpakian, because that’s the kind of reading club I’d want to be in.