errantreads's reviews
171 reviews

The Hollow Places, by T. Kingfisher

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adventurous lighthearted mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

The writing conveys a very creepy Lovecraftian vibe, but set in modern times. Really very unique and otherworldly.

My only criticism (a quibble, really) is that the characters were So. Very. Sarcastic. All of the time. Distracting and it made the tone a bit juvenile. Still, it's an excellent read. Recommend.

P.S. You'll find plenty of antlions in North Carolina, and really most temperate and warmer parts of the world. ... You'll understand when you read the book. Heh.
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

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adventurous reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

Pachinko is a sprawling examination of a family and a place and a time over several generations. More specifically, it is an examination of one family's experience as Koreans navigating the unbending world of the Japanese people and culture and their status as second-class unacknowledged citizens. Sometimes happy, often tragic, always fascinating, the author—from my limited knowledge of this history—does a tremendous job humanizing this period in time and the lives orbiting it.

Here comes the criticism . . .

The storyline is too ambitious for one volume. This book should have been either edited down or split into two or three volumes and fleshed out a bit more. I would have voted for editing it down.

Also, it's written in omniscient POV. This is terribly distracting. There is so much unnecessary exposition and individual backstory thrown in and then sometimes a significant event or subplot is tied off with a single phrase or sentence.

I have no idea how this became a National Book Award finalist other than as acknowledgment of the depth of research and breadth of storyline. BUT! I still recommend this book. Maybe a change of POV and two more editing passes and this book would have been elevated from very good to excellent. This year, I suspect I  will be recommending this book to every reader I know.
Great Possessions : An Amish Farmer's Journal, by David Kline, Wendell Berry

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hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

4.0

Excellent set of essays exploring the natural world (emphasis, birds) of the author's local region within walking distance. Beautifully written, this book is bound to become a classic of the genre. Loved it.
Bound by Blood, by Rick Nelson

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adventurous dark mysterious tense medium-paced

3.25

What a fun read. A great mystery. Really well developed, three-dimensional characters, and a nice twisty plot that winds its way around the New Orleans region and the Louisiana bayou. If you like a good modern gumshoe mystery, you have come to the right place. Recommend.
In the Garden with the Pruning Shears, by Donna Campbell Smith

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adventurous lighthearted mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot

5.0

Portents: A Collection of Cainsville Tales, by Kelley Armstrong

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adventurous lighthearted mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A

3.0

Well written. For whatever reason, I felt this had a similar vibe as Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber.
Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner

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emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced

3.0

The Transmigration of Bodies, by Yuri Herrera

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adventurous dark reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

A Mexican noir(ish) novella set in the time of pandemic. A day in the life of a fixer who is tasked with negotiating the exchange of two youths each captured by rival criminal gang lords.

The writing (via translation) is tremendous. This author is clearly influenced by Cormac McCarthy. Recommend.
Signs Preceding the End of the World, by Yuri Herrera

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adventurous hopeful inspiring reflective tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.0

A haunting novella. In some ways at least. A story of empowerment and yet disempowerment. A look into the world of human trafficking (the immigration kind), motivations driven by poverty, and cultural tenacity. A linear story of a young woman traveling alone from Mexico to the US in search of her brother. I wasn't a fan of some of the choices made in the translation, but this is a great story that will stick with me for awhile.
Fox & I, by Catherine Raven

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adventurous hopeful informative lighthearted reflective medium-paced

4.0

Fox and I is a tale of a woman—a woman as modern human and as human animal—and her introspective engagement with the natural world that surrounds her. It's a tale of participation and not mere observation and what that means to her and what that may mean to the rest of us.

This memoir is utterly unique and her writing is stupendous. I was also quite impressed with her ability to seamlessly weave a tale of both fiction and memoir. Fox and I deserves all the awards it is bound to win and is one of those rare books that will be read and reread for decades to come. Quite an achievement.