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What I've Been Reading, July 2021 Edition


Ms. Finch by Dan 2021
Ms. Finch by Dan 2021



Howdy,


Seems like it's been forever since I've written one of these. Well, maybe not, but that's how it feels. Most of it's due to the excitement around my debut #NewRelease Dragons Walk Among Us!!! Combine that with Covid fatigue and...well, I think you know where I'm coming from.


I'm going to try a new format for my mini-reviews. If you like or hate the new format, you can let me know in the comments.


Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse


Synopsis

Monster hunter Maggie Hoskie must overcome past demons to protect her people from monsters created by supernatural entities.


My Thoughts

This is the third novel I've read by Roanhorse and easily my favorite. Maggie is angry, broken, and not particularly nice, but she is a likable and sympathetic character nonetheless. The post-apocalyptic landscape of the former Navajo reservation feels real and foreboding. Roanhorse pulls off some pretty terrific social commentary by essentially having a border wall around the former reservation to keep the roving bands of desperate, violent people displaced by apocalyptic climate change out.


What can the aspiring author learn?

Roanhorse is excellent at world-building. This book is no exception. For the world-building alone, it's worth checking out.


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi


Synopsis

Magic is lost, and those marked by magic with white hair are persecuted. Can a band of young adepts restore magic and protect their people?


My Thoughts

Overall, this is a good book that I have mixed feelings about. The majority of the characters are so darn angry for most of the book that it is exhausting. It's not that the characters don't have good reasons to be angry. They should be angry. They've suffered incredible loss and are persecuted, but still…The characters grow by the end, some in unexpected ways, and their rage wanes just enough to allow other emotions to shine through.


What can the aspiring author learn?

Adeyemi's world-building is top-notch. The ability to use magic is used to comment on systemic racism without the story feeling pedantic. This is really quite well done. Plus, despite exhausting me with their anger throughout most of the story, all the narrative voice characters grow quite nicely as the story progresses, especially in the last third. These aspects of the novel are worth learning from.


Looking for Alaska by John Green


Synopsis

Teenagers at boarding school deal with love and loss in this coming-of-age tale.


My Thoughts

This book is shockingly good. I'm not sure what it is about it. The plot is straightforward, the characters are, for the most part, totally unlikeable, and it's outside the usual genre fiction I enjoy. Having said all that, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Even though I don't know that I liked any of the characters, they were all sympathetic in their own way. It's not at all surprising when something dreadful happens, but it's still a punch to the gut. If nothing else, John Green is a master at wrapping the reader up emotionally in his stories.


What can the aspiring author learn?

John Green is exceptional at foreshadowing. This really raises the stakes in his work. Looking for Alaska is far from being an action-adventure, but the reader is waiting for the shoe to drop almost from the first page. When it does, it's not surprising at all but still heart-wrenching. Currently, I'm reading Paper Towns by John Green. He uses the same techniques in this book as he does in Looking for Alaska to create tension. I can read the words and know exactly what he's doing, but it still works––I'm emotionally invested in the story. Studying how he does this is worthwhile for any aspiring author.

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