Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Certain Dark Things (2016/2021)

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Certain Dark Things

Format: E-book

Pages: 272

Series: –

I’m recently jumping through Moreno-Garcia’s books: one new, one old – and let me tell you: there is a difference. Certain Dark Things is Moreno-Garcia’s second book, and it shows. It boasts of lots of great ideas, a skillfully created, moody and thick atmosphere, and an interesting plot. But the prose is clunky at times and nowhere near as polished or subtle in her later novels, and the characters, while engaging, remain early blueprints of protagonists from her other books: a sensitive, naive boy and a headstrong, wilful girl meet again and again in Moreno-Garcia’s stories, and Certain Dark Things is no exception.

Continue reading “Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Certain Dark Things (2016/2021)”

Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019)

Author: Alix E. Harrow

Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January

Format: Paperback

Pages: 374

Series: –

Alix E. Harrow’s debut novel, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, has made its rounds around the blogosphere over the last two years, with predominantly – almost exclusively, in fact – positive reviews. And that’s what I remembered about them: they were all positive, sometimes even raving, and all praising the author’s imagination and poetic language. I should’ve paid more attention to the elements that weren’t complimented, I think, armed as I am now with hindsight. 

You see, there are indeed many things that The Ten Thousand Doors of January should be praised for, particularly a highly inventive use of the symbolism and meaning of portals, thresholds and doors, successfully employing plenty of references to various myths and folktales I’m a sucker for. It is an entertaining, character-focused book, with languorously meandering action and an interesting cast of secondary characters. It’s also incredibly earnest, in that endearing puppy way, all big eyes and enthusiasm.

Continue reading “Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January (2019)”

Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Z (1989-1995)

All right! So, after my review of the original Dragon Ball series I promised I’ll make one (well, two, actually, otherwise this post would’ve been waaaay to long) for Dragon Ball Z. And here it is! 😀

It was a delightful ride, and I loved every minute of it (eeh, maybe not every minute of the Androids/Cell arc, but whatever ;)). While Toriyama’s manga was my first foray into the genre, after reading a few more shonen titles (such as Naruto, One Punch Man [bleeeh!], Fullmetal Alchemist) and other non-shonen mangas like Yotsuba&! I can say with certainty that the whole 42-volume run of original Dragon Ball (i.e. containing both Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z) will forever remain one of my absolute favorites.

What can I say that I haven’t already said in my previous review? Only two things: one, Dragon Ball opened up for me a whole new cultural experience, and I jumped into it with willful, joyous abandon. I traced the origins of the Monkey King to Hindu Hanuman, linked his exploits to other tricksters around the world, and generally immersed myself in the Japanese culture and history. And I’m far from finished ;). And the second, that DB rekindled my interest in martial arts and its philosophy, and that i’s also a thoroughly fascinating topic.

Now, ad rem.

Below, you can read the first part of my highly emotional, whimsical reviews of Dragon Ball Z, as they appeared on GR. Beware, lots of exclamation marks! 😉

Continue reading “Akira Toriyama, Dragon Ball Z (1989-1995)”

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Velvet Was the Night (2021)

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Velvet Was the Night

Format: E-book

Pages: 304

Series: –

The newest Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s book is a historical noir mystery/crime, set in the simmering danger of 1970s Mexico, when both the people and the country seemed inescapably gripped in a continuous, dispiriting turmoil. Whatever else you’ve read by this author, Velvet Was the Night might still surprise you. There’s not a whiff of supernatural anywhere; well, except for the very real horror that humans are capable of. There’s also not much of a romance, or beauty. Indeed, Velvet Was the Night is a surprisingly political book, depicting violent actions of increasingly more desperate, more ruthless factions of an internal conflict fueled by ideology, economy, and foreign interests. While its scope and stakes seem small – no grand assassinations or rebellions, no dramatic political shifts, just common people caught between a rock and a hard place – the ultimate price is still paid in the most valuable currency: human life and decency. 

Continue reading “Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Velvet Was the Night (2021)”

Jo Walton, Or What You Will (2020)

Author: Jo Walton

Title: Or What You Will 

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 320

Series: –

Or What You Will, marketed as “writer’s book,” was my first Jo Walton’s novel – and I reached for it thanks to the infallible Bookforager, who is guilty of burdening my TBR with kilograms of books – just ask her, I’m sure she’ll gleefully admit to it and be proud! 😉

It’s a tough book to review, and quite tough to read, to be honest. At least at the beginning, where the writer seems so focused on actively dissuading readers from reading that at some point it became quite irking. But don’t take my word for it, just read the quote below:

“I will ask you to do nothing but read, and remember, and care. If you refuse to care? If reading this so far has made you shudder and recoil? If you have no least curiosity about that apophatic pool by the rose garden, not even whether it’s a swimming pool or a pool full of waterlilies, if you don’t want to at least glance at those books on the windowsill and scan their titles? Then you are not my reader, not any of my imagined readers. Stop now, while you are ahead. Take your embodied self off to read something else, feeling grateful for your solidity, your reality, and that of the world you inhabit, go read something you’ll enjoy more, or deal with the pipes and boilers banging and hissing in your own life, and leave the rest of us here. We will do well enough without you, I dare say.” 

Continue reading “Jo Walton, Or What You Will (2020)”