Reaction Post: Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 Longlist (I Did Kind Of Jinx It)

Hello readers!

Yay, we have a longlist for the Women’s Prize this year! I am already a day late with my reaction post, but yesterday I was too busy raging/raving to actually write anything, so today it is. Needless to say, my predictions were off, as is traditional in this blog. I got 3 books right! Considering I only put 9 on my predictions, that’s not too bad.

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Two I have read already:

Luster by Raven Leilani is a messy woman trope kind of book – the writing is sharp and brilliant at times, but the plot left me a bit underwhelmed in the end. It tells the story of young Black woman who gets involved with a white man in an open marriage, and gets entangled with his family – his white wife and Black daughter, to whom she starts to become a role model. You can read my review here. Oh, and I predicted this one!

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan was a gem of a book and I’m happy to see it listed. It tells the story of a young Irish woman living in Hong Kong who is in a relationship with a British man but gets involved with a Chinese lawyer. You can read my review here.

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Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021 Longlist Prediction (Or: Jinxing the Whole Thing)

Hello readers!

It was not that long ago that we saw the winner of the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, and the lukewarm reaction I had to both the longlist and the winner has damped my enthusiasm for this prize. However, I admire what the it stands for, and the choice of Bernadine Evaristo as a judge gives me hope, so I will decide on how much I’ll be following the prize this year depending on the list.

Longlist Prediction

I always suck at these predictions, but here we go:

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Weekly Wrap Up 2-8 March: Reading Backlisted Titles

Hello readers!

This week has been… something. I did not have much time to read, but I did manage to finish a few books and spent the week reading backlisted titles, which is always nice – I like getting out of my shelves the books I’ve owned for YEARS. As you maybe know, I keep a physical shelf with my TBR books and I’m forbidden to buy more books until there is at least SPACE for them. Right now there is a lot of space on my shelf, and since the Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist is announced next week, I will allow myself to do a big shopping for books (which for me means 10-15 books, probably) and then not buy books until Fall or so. I was hoping to end the year with 100 books on my TBR (I’m at 142 at the moment and started the year at around 160), but we will see how doable that is.

Weekly Wrap Up

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling / ongoing

I’m so, so close to finishing this, but after a brilliant start with it I’m really, really bored. The pacing is so slow and there is not enough horror in this for my taste – also there’s a bit of a romance which is pretty unconvincing.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore / 4 stars

After my lukewarm reaction to Long Bright River, I am surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It has everything I love: a slow-paced mystery, a character study, computer science, coding. I really liked The Unseen World (the writing was so good!) and had such a fun time reading it.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman / 3 stars

I did not really enjoy this a lot – I like the concept of this book far more than the actual book. This is my second Neil Gaiman book and at this point I think maybe they’re just not for me. There is something about the predictability of the plot, the stereotypical characters that made me so impatient while reading this, just like for Neverwhere. Plus it’s the second book where women are assigned the role of “magical, unknowable, perhaps a bit evil?” creatures, whereas the main character is a relatable, sweet boy. I don’t know, something about it rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I got a bit unlucky with my choices (I feel like Coraline would be a lot more up my alley), but at this point I don’t particularly want to pick up another book by him.

What have you read this week?

eARC Mini-Review: Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Bestiary by K-Ming Chang

Categories: Literary Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Magical Realism

First Publication Date: February 4th 2021

I received an advance copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bestiary tells the story of three generations of women of the same family, their history of violence, magic, love and queerness. On the surface, Bestiary is everything I love in a book: a family saga, poetic writing, magical realism, and Sapphic main characters are always a plus, but in the end I had mixed feelings about this book. I ended up giving it three stars but that doesn’t mean I thought it was a meh book. Rather, it was beautiful, brilliantly, viscerally written and just whimsical enough to make it unique but not over-the-top… but sometimes I was so annoyed with it. While very lovely, the writing is also very crude and frankly, gross. I have never read a book that mentions farts, anuses and penises /mostly as metaphors) so much before, and it’s the kind of thing I don’t really like reading, I guess it offends my delicate sensibilities. For example:

“When my mother farts in her sleep, I shape the steam with my hands and release it outside as fog.”

If you don’t mind reading quotes like that all the time, then you will probably like this book. The pacing of the book also threw me off a bit, and I felt that this was much longer than 280 pages. I had to force myself to finish reading it and, while I did really like the ending and several aspects of the book, it still felt like a chore to read it. This will be a brilliant read for some readers, but I suspect its writing style will not work for many – Bestiary is more of a feeling than a proper story.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

February Wrap Up & March TBR

Hello readers!

For my reading purposes, February is always too short! I really don’t have the time to work through a long TBR, but still I’m quite happy with the books I managed to read this month!

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February Wrap Up

My planned TBR for this month was (books I actually read were marked in bold:

  1. Illusion by Paula Volsky
  2. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
  3. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (ongoing)
  4. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
  5. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
  6. The Unbroken by C. L. Clark
  7. Bestiary by K-Ming Chang
  8. It is Wood, it is Stone by Gabriella Burnham

I also read these ones which were not on my TBR:

  1. Ain’t I a Woman by bell hooks
  2. Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon
  3. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
  4. Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
  5. The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling (ongoing)
  6. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  7. The Unseen World by Liz Moore (ongoing)

Which means this month I read:

  • 15 books in total (of which 3 are not finished yet)
  • 8/8 books read out of my TBR (although I am not done with Shuggie Bain yet)
  • All in original English
  • 4 eARCs (27 %), 4 recent releases (also 27%) & 7 backlisted (46%)
  • 1 non-fiction (7%) and 14 fiction books (93%)
  • Also a surprising amount of fantasy books this month, with 7 fantasy books and 1 fantasy-adjacent (Bestiary, which is arguably magical realism)
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March TBR

March is a TOUGH month for TBRs, because this is when the Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist AND the International Booker Prize’s Longlist come out, which is definitely going to mess up my entire planning and my until-now-under-control-TBR. So I will add to this list the books leftover from February plus one that has been on my TBR forever and I know I love the fun Steampunk series and I’m going to love this book, I just need to finally read it!

For this month I’d like to read…

  1. Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart (already started)
  2. The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling (already started)
  3. The Unseen World by Liz Moore (already started)
  4. The Custodian of Marvels by Rod Duncan

That’s it! Let’s see how much March will ruin my TBR! Looking forward.