Today I’m back with another Algonquin book tour for A House is A Body by Shruti Swamy. Thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This book is out 11 August 2020!
Goodreads: A House is a Body Publisher: Algonquin Books Release Date: 11 August 2020 Genre: Literary Fiction, Short Stories Panda Rating:
In two-time O. Henry-prize winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories, dreams collide with reality, modernity collides with antiquity, myth with true identity, and women grapple with desire, with ego, with motherhood and mortality. In “Earthly Pleasures,” Radika, a young painter living alone in San Francisco, begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s moment of crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy and the sense of a new beginning. In the title story, an exhausted mother watches, distracted and paralyzed, as a California wildfire approaches her home. With a knife blade’s edge and precision, the stories of A House Is a Body travel from India to America and back again to reveal the small moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.
Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighbourhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her – feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.
Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up. When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?
If Vietnamese pho’s healing powers, physical and psychic, make traditional chicken noodle soup seem like dishwater—and they do—then this spicy soup, in turn, dishwatered pho. It was an elixir. The sandwich was spicier still, thin-sliced vegetables slathered with a fluorescent red sauce, the burn buffered by thick slabs of bread artfully toasted.
I really enjoyed this book! Sourdough is full of quirky and endearing characters and situations that make you laugh and fill your mind with wonder. It also made me insanely hungry(2020 edit: reading that quote above already has me salivating!) and brought to life a craving for sourdough – although I’m sure the loaf that I dug into is nothing like the legendary Mazg one (unfortunately). What I liked about this book is that you can take it as lightly as you want to, but if you want to give it a bit more thought, there’s also some meat for you to chew on. It doesn’t go into very fine details, which I didn’t mind because in a book like this, you can easily over-describe situations, events and processes until you bore your reader to death. Robin Sloan definitely doesn’t do that!
I have come to believe that food is history of the deepest kind. Everything we eat tells a tale of ingenuity and creation, domination and injustice—and does so more vividly than any other artifact, any other medium.
Lois, the main character, is so full of life and energy. I could really relate to her thoughts in terms of wondering at being a part of something more; something significant and important. I think that’s what we all go through in our 20s, 30s (and well, some even longer), especially as we finish university and start looking for a job and try to find more meaning in our lives. To find that purpose and to chase after what makes us tick – what gives us life. Lois is so passionate and just dives into situations that come at her – which is the complete opposite of me and probably why I find people who can do that so admirable.That energy of hers was palpable and as I read the book, I happily soaked up her enthusiasm for everything that she was doing. It made me think about what I’m currently doing and whether I am just living in my own version of “General Dexterity”? It’s a big Maybe.
Here’s a thing I believe about people my age: we are the children of Hogwarts, and more than anything, we just want to be sorted.
Of course, there’s also some magical realism sprinkled throughout the book, especially as you come towards the end when you’re kind of doused in it all at once. As someone who is very picky when it comes to magical realism, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it but I absolutely loved it! It’s another element of Robin Sloan’s writing that I loved because it’s not entirely out of place or unbelievable in stories where the characters and events are so full of quirkyness.
I read someone’s comment about his books that summarised them in a really simple but accurate way – just as Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was about a secret society for book lovers, Sourdough is about a secret society for food lovers. And who doesn’t love food (and books and secret societies)?! After reading this, it’s pretty safe to say that I thoroughly enjoy the way Robin Sloan writes and he has got a fan in me! Can’t wait to read more from him 🙂
We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)!
OK, I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this one because a lot of the books I loved/enjoyed I DO talk about quite often? I feel like maybe I talk about all of them too much? Admittedly these books are more “recent” reads over the last few years because my memory is truly terrible. It’s weird and (I know) doesn’t make sense but it is what it is! So I went digging through Goodreads and found some reads that I think qualify (sorry if I end up cheating just a little bit)! I don’t talk about these books much because there’ve never really been any prompts in tags, award questions, or TTT topics that necessarily fit it!
We’re back with another Top 5 Saturday! I might’ve missed last week’s topic but I will come back to it at some point 🙂 Just in case you don’t know Top 5 Saturday is a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s where we list the top five books (they can be books on your TBR, favourite books, books you loved/hated) based on the week’s topic. You can see the upcoming schedule at the end of my post 🙂 This week’s topic is: magical realism!
I have a very love/hate relationship with magical realism! A lot of the time they’re misses for me and I find it weird because of how much I love fantasy. But in reality magical realism tends to overwhelm and confuse me, and I focus so much on trying to understand what’s happening that I stop enjoying it. That said, there are some definite winners such as The Shadow of the Wind, The Astonishing Colour of After, andSourdough, which are some of my favourite books. I guess I’m just picky with magical realism? Here are five books from my TBR that have magical realism elements:
Born at the stroke of midnight at the exact moment of India’s independence, Saleem Sinai is a special child. However, this coincidence of birth has consequences he is not prepared for: telepathic powers connect him with 1,000 other ‘midnight’s children’ all of whom are endowed with unusual gifts. Inextricably linked to his nation, Saleem’s story is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirrors the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.
I’ve wanted to read Midnight’s Children for a long time but a friend bought me a copy a few weeks ago! This book (or should I say its author) intimidates me. I’m scared it’ll go over my head!
It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is:spring TBRpossibility pile!
To say that I’ve got a ton of eARCs that need to be read over the next few months would really be a mild understatement. Why do I keep requesting more books and why do I keep signing up for more blog tours after telling myself I’d take a nice long break from it for a while? *shrugs* I got problems. As fun as it’d be to list all those books here, there are a few others that have been sitting on my TBR that I’d like to get to soon as well, so this is my possibility pile for those reads!
Welcome back to another Friday Favourites, dear friends! Last year this weekly meme was hosted by the wonderful Kibby @ Something of the Book! However, this year Kibby has passed the torch on to Lorraine @ Geeky Galaxy. This week’s topic is: bookish quotes.
Something I don’t often do is keep track of the quotes that I come across while reading but that’s especially the case with physical copies. One of the best things about having a Kindle is the ease with which I can highlight quotes and make notes. Lucky for me (most of the time), Goodreads also has a section for quotes that I often take a peek at, in case one of the quotes I like was also highlighted by someone else. My memory is notoriously bad so my answers for these types of prompts are always pretty short! Here are a choice few quotes thanks to Goodreads, Google
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.”
Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
The Diary of A Young Girl, Anne Frank
“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads: The Immortalists Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Family Saga, Magical Realism Panda Rating:
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
“Our language is our strength. Thoughts have wings.”
It was difficult for me to write this review so apologies if it’s more nonsensical blabber than anything. I really enjoyed this touching novel about family and death. It sounds morose and it certainly isn’t the most fast paced storytelling, but as the story dove deeper into each characters’ life, I found that I couldn’t put the book down and very quickly sped through the pages. The Immortalists is a family saga that explores faith and the idea of destiny/fate. It asks readers the timeless question: if you could learn when/how you die, would you do it?
I was waffling on whether I wanted to join this challenge but then I finally caved because #FOMO and I really just want to read more of the Asian authors that exist on my shelves. Seeing as one of my main bookish goals this year is to also read diversely I thought it’d be perfect to join The Year of the Asian 2020 Reading Challenge to hold myself accountable! #YARC is hosted by CW @ The Quiet Pond, Vicky @ Vicky Who Reads, Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea and Lily @ Sprinkles of Dreams and the idea of it is pretty simple: read as many books written by Asian authors as you can! These books can be backlist titles (i.e. released in 2019 or earlier), new releases, and ARCs, and they can be books of any genre, format, and length. You can find out more information and sign up here.
There are quite a few levels that you can aim for (including a panda!) and I’ve decided to aim for the Indian Cobra(11-20 books). I have a surprising amount of books written by Asian authors just sitting on my shelves and I don’t really have a reason for why I haven’t read them yet, so I’m more than happy to have a great reason to prioritise them now. Here’s what I got:
I know I have other books by Asian authors sitting on my book shelf but I can’t recall them off the top of my head right now. But I think this is a pretty solid list of 20 to start with. I hope that I’ll be able to get my ass in gear and read all of these–I know some have been languishing on my shelves for way. too. long.#forshame. On that note, I’ll post my progress on my monthly Reading Challenge Updates post that I’ve literally just this second decided to schedule. Hopefully I’ll already have something to update by the end of this month!
Are you participating in the Year of the Asian 2020 Reading Challenge too? Do we have any of the same books to read? What’s on your list?
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.
Ever since picking up Neverwhere two years ago, Gaiman quickly climbed to the top of my favorite authors list. So when I picked this up and really struggled to get into it, I felt just a little bit disappointed. But then I saw it on Audible as narrated by Gaiman himself, and with a credit to spare, decided to try it out—after all, who wouldn’t love to have him read to them? His voice is so soothing!If you tried or try to read this and can’t seem to get into it, I’d highly recommend giving the audiobook a chance. But with that said, this was truly one of the stranger and more horrifying tales that I’ve readand while it was…an interesting journey, it’s safe to say that it’s not my favourite book by Gaiman.
“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”
It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: books on my Autumn Possibility Pile! I recently did a similar-ish post for my Friday Favorites, where I listed some TBR reads that suited the Autumn mood! As you’ll know by now, I’m a mood reader so I’m not much for TBRs or seasonal reading. That said, I usually do like to think about books I wanna read over the course of a month if the mood strikes, and I like to think of it as my ‘possibility pile‘! I think of Autumn as going from September – November but I could also be completely wrong as I’ve lived in the tropics basically my whole life (and Australia saw six years of opposite seasons, plus I experienced two extremely warm fall seasons living in the UK so ‘autumn’ only showed towards mid-November/early Dec). A lot of what I’m thinking to read leans to the darker/spookier reads (for me anyway!), sprinkled with some lighter contemporaries and SFF!
The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones. Even though I’m the biggest chicken and really can’t handle much ghosty-paranormal shtuff, I went out and immediately pre-ordered the book after reading Kibby’s review. It’s outside of my norm but it sounds so good and perfect for October!
Darkdawn (The Nevernight Chronicle #3) by Jay Kristoff. I’m not ready for this series to end but I also don’t think that I can put it off for longer. Kristoff’s going to crush my soul either way, so I might as well get the #stabstabstab over with, right?! This series full of darkness, blood and gore has really grown on me and I’m TERRIFIED for how this’ll end. I actually haven’t seen any reviews yet 🤔
Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin. I’ve really only heard amazing things about this book and it honestly sounds really good. Also, apparently there’s no cliffhanger?! I’m definitely looking forward to reading this and not putting it off forever 🙂
Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson. The second book in this series comes out on 26 November, and I’ve been telling myself that I haven’t been neglecting this book on my shelf, I’ve just been waiting for the perfect moment to read it 😜 The time has come!
Wicked Saints (Something Dark & Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan. This was one of the more hyped YA releases earlier this year and I’ve heard so many mixed reviews for it. I’m getting the impression that you either loved/hated it, with little in between. I just got approved for the e-ARC of Ruthless Gods last week though, so I’m VERY EXCITED for this perfectly dark, possibly wicked, Autumn read!
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. The colors of this cover match perfectly with the season! But in between all of these darker reads I know I’ll need something lighter to make me a little less melancholy. I think this book will give me the warm fuzzies, and I love books with cooking/food!