The Sunday Salon (Nov. 6): Tiny reviews no. 1

The Sunday I’ve been worrying about how I’m going to keep up with reviewing, what with my goal of reading one book a day and still having a buttload of reviews from last month to do. I don’t want to carry any reviews over from this year into the next! So I’ve decided to try this. I’ll do really short reviews of the books I read each week. If I feel the need to expand a tiny review into a properly-sized review, I can do that later.

Tiny reviews will be five sentences or less. Here goes!

138. The Hottest Dishes in the Tartar Cuisine – Alina Bronsky | Contest win.
This is a funny book, but more in a horrifying, “omg is this really happening” sort of way. I love unreliable narrators, especially ones who are obviously unreliable, and Rosa is one of the most unreliable narrators I’ve ever read. The story gets way less enjoyable when the German pedophile shows up, however, and though the (happy?) ending sort of saves the book from being completely unbearable, the second half was still miserable reading. When Rosa goes insane (more insane?) and the writing turns dreamy and surreal– that’s the best part, I think.

139. The Eye of the Warlock – P.W. Catanese | Library book sale.
This book desperately needs a new cover! The story is fun, though, it being a fairy tale retelling/extension/etc.– of Hansel and Gretel, to boot (I don’t think they get a lot of retellings, do they?). Loved the lesson about not letting your anger control you; very Jedi-like, actually. Marusch is the best character: she’s strong and kick-butt without being stereotypical. The writing reminds me a bit of R.L. Stine’s, only fantasy instead of horror and focused more on middle school than elementary school.

140. Bright Young Things – Anna Godbersen e | Freebie.
I feel like this is a guilty pleasure sort of book, and I don’t know why. There’s nothing wrong with it! It’s got great characters, a fun/exciting story, a setting in one of my favorite eras, and decent-to-really-good writing. The repetition of “oh she was naïve and new and didn’t know how to live in NYC/the 1920s without getting screwed over” was somewhat annoying, and so was how Letty’s petiteness was associated with her naïveté/innocence/etc. (and how her small hands/mouth/stature/so on was mentioned every single time she was in the scene), but it wasn’t SO annoying that I wanted to put the book down. The ending was fantastic, too! I can’t wait to read the next book.

141. Ashes – Ilsa J. Bick e | Library.
Like basically everyone else who’s read this book, I didn’t like the disconnect/discord between the first half (survival in the woods) and the second half (Rule). I also didn’t like how the writing switched sometimes between “sounds like an adult” and “sounds like a teenager” (“That was sucky,” etc.)– in the SAME paragraph. But what I DID like, I liked a lot: the characters, the story, the zombies (who are smart!), the survival stuff, the end of the world/apocalypse stuff. It ended on a cliffhanger, btw, which made me want to scream. I want to read the next book NOW!

142. Bird – Rita Murphy e | Library.
This book has people who are carried about on the wind like dandelion fluff (or birds, hence the title), and so it’s got that magical realism/fairy tale quality to it that I adore. It’s a short book, with little action or thrills. The best part is the psychological horror of the house that may or may not be alive and that may or may not eat people when they try to leave. I think this would be a good book to read during a cold winter’s evening, preferably in front of a fire (or at least a space heater).

143. The Battle of the Sun – Jeanette Winterson e | Library.
I don’t know why, but JW’s books always make me feel sleepy after I finish reading them. I think they have something to do with having to concentrate so much harder on the story in order to understand it than I do with other books. This one is connected to Tanglewreck, mainly through the characters, and though I don’t think you have to read that one first I would guess it’d help with the understanding part. This one’s got all my favorite JW’s bits in: excellent kid characters, some fairy tale/sci-fi/fantasy stuff that only makes sense if you squint at it sideways, and lots of excitement/adventure/etc. It ends on a kind of cliffhanger, though, so I wonder if there’s a third book now in the Tanglewreck universe.

144. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness e | Library.
I was NOT expecting this book to make me cry. I figured, you know, it’d be scary and horrifying and maybe I’d have trouble sleeping. I wasn’t expecting it to be scary in the way that real life is scary, that the horrifying part came from something that, really, happens every day to someone somewhere. Still, for all that I was temporarily traumatized, it’s a wonderful book and a great story.

Weekly Book Stats

Books read this week:
136. There’s Treasure Everywhere – Bill Watterson *
137. The Time Travelers – Linda Buckley-Archer
138. The Hottest Dishes in the Tartar Cuisine – Alina Bronsky
139. The Eye of the Warlock – P.W. Catanese
140. Bright Young Things – Anna Godbersen e
141. Ashes – Ilsa J. Bick e
142. Bird – Rita Murphy e
143. The Battle of the Sun – Jeanette Winterson e
144. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness e

Books reviewed this week:
127. The Boneshaker – Kate Milford
128. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making – Catherynne M. Valente
130. Murder at the Vicarage – Agatha Christie e

Books acquired this week:
None. 🙁

Currently reading:
I’m currently in the early bits of Bone Rattler: A Mystery of Colonial America, and I hope to finish it today. So far it’s REALLY good; it’s the sort of historical fiction that works hard to be realistic about the downsides of living in non-modern times, so there’s lots of mention of beatings/violence/class differences (and rats and diseases and so on). There’s a lot of anti-Scottish stuff from the English characters as well (the protagonist is Scottish). Almost all of my knowledge about colonial America is centered on white American stuff, so being able to learn more about the British/Scottish/Native American (I think they show up later) things is great. Plus the mystery is very intriguing!

10 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon (Nov. 6): Tiny reviews no. 1”

  1. I like the idea of five sentence reviews. When I start feeling overwhelmed with too many books, I just tell myself I need to write two paragraphs about each (one summary, one review). Often I’ll end up writing more once I get started, but picking a small goal first helps me figure out what I want to write about and what I don’t.

    Also, I love the new header with the scarf. Adorable! I’m not sure if I told you that yet.

    1. Thank you! And yup! Smaller reviews are less intimidating than big ones. With big ones, all I can see is that I have to write this many more words for it to be “good.” (And then I get tired and give up, lol.) With little ones, the fun’s in trying to contain myself to only a certain amount of sentences/words.

    1. Ugh, some reviews have taken me DAYS to write! That’s why I’m so fond of shortie reviews. Less intimidating, fewer time spent trying to find the right words, and I don’t procrastinate as much like I do with big ones, haha!

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