Reading Recs

Fall 2019 Reading Recs
Fall Book Recs

Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants by Anna Hui (Non-Fiction)

This was one of my favorite reads this year. What starts out as an effort to discover the roots of Canadian-Chinese cuisine, turns out to be both a story about the author’s family and a celebration of immigrant resilience.

I will never turn my nose at the thought of anything being inauthentic again. Americanized Chinese food is it’s own thing, and so many of the dishes in the book are a part the comfort food I still eat. Going on road trips and stopping at the one Chinese restaurant in the tiny towns we drove through them was also something my family used to do all the way up and down the West Coast and I always wondered about how those places survived. Even if you are American I think the stories here would still apply.

Now… I really have a craving for ginger beef…

Circe by Madeline Miller (Historical Fantasy/Mythological)

It lives up to the buzz. This story was both beautiful and devastating.

The story is centered around Circe, a nymph and witch. She slowly discovers her powers, and comes to understand humanity over the millennia, while facing crippling loneliness, and being treated terribly by almost everyone she cares for. It’s a beautifully written survivor story. If it were a movie, it would have golden dappled light, white sand beaches, and wide frame shots like you’d see in an Ang Lee film.

It’s also a refresher in Greek mythology, that makes the mythology feel so painfully relevant. The ending was spectacular.

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (Contemporary Romance)

It’s a foodie romance! The love interest is a chef and oh my God I wish I could just eat everything that was described. There’s even a recipe in the back!

But it wasn’t an easy book to read. The train wreck begins right from the start, and I wasn’t sure how either Trisha or DJ could ever redeem themselves. Trisha takes a long journey to change and unpack the privilege she had growing up. There were times I didn’t sympathize with her and I didn’t think she could ever turn around her life, yet she did. By the end I was rooting for her happy ending. It’s testament to brilliant writing craft.

Yes it’s another pride and prejudice retelling, but Austen is more inspiration than a beat for beat guide in this story. It deals with class, and privilege, and family drama along with standing up for yourself and what you want.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (YA Fantasy)

This is a silk road story about a young tailor who has to create three magical dresses after winning a competition against the best tailors in the country. There’s a slow burning central romance which I also really enjoyed, and there’s a cool quest to find the most impossible materials: thread of sunlight, moonlight, and starlight. This whole book is a sewist’s dream and I would love to see fan art of the dresses that the main character created. I’m looking forward to the sequel!

Like a Mother – A feminist journey through the science and culture of pregnancy by Angela Garbes (Non-Fiction)

I wish this book existed when I was pregnant with my first child. I had so many questions about the science behind what was going on with my body, and very confused about what was normal and what was not.

This book is part autobiography, part anthropology text, and part science journal. I appreciated the perspectives, as well the information about what to expect both physically and emotionally not only during pregnancy but aftewards.

The emotional fallout, body changes, and relationship challenges post baby were things I did not expect, did not handle well, and I haven’t seen covered in depth in other pregnancy books. If you have a friend going through their first pregnancy, or you’re thinking about having children, I highly recommend this one.

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Reading Recs

Summer 2019 Reading Recs

It’s summer, it’s hot out, and my brain is melting. I’m a bit late with the book recommendations, but here are some books I enjoyed reading over the last few months!

Summer 2019 Reading. Book cover images.

Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri (Fantasy)

This book is so well written. It is brutal at times, and does not shy away from death or abuse, but the story is still packed with beauty. Suri has a way of humanizing her characters and making you understand their complexity. I particularly appreciated how Suri portrays a culture that doesn’t allow for rebellion, yet the main character asserts her autonomy while respecting cultural expectations. This book is packed with South Asian influenced world building, but this is fantasy, not a historical. There is magic, there is romance, and there are monsters (some good and some not).

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (Contemporary Romance)

The follow up to The Kiss Quotient does not disappoint. It follows Khai and Esme, a woman his mother has brought to America from Vietnam in the hopes he will marry. This novel is gently humorous, but also full of compassion for two people trying to understand one another as they deal with cultural differences and Khai’s autism. Family is big and messy, and Esme’s immigrant story is just as important as the romance. I finished reading it with a smile on my face.

The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad (YA Fantasy)

Another gorgeously written book. There is so much love and caring in this book, for Fatima’s found family (she is an orphan), and between other family groups. Even when characters struggled and had their differences, there was still an undercurrent of caring between characters. It never slid into “girl competition” even when two of them were crushing on the same boy, and all of the female characters evolved over the course of the story.

Noor, the city where it takes place is a character all on its own, and I liked how it was a diverse silk road city, even when it was dominated by a certain segment of the population. There is violence in this book, but it’s not a book about violence, but more about recovering from trauma. This story was far more quiet than I expected, but in a good way.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson (YA Fantasy)

I have a soft spot for faerie stories, and this novel hit me squarely in my favourite tropes. There’s magic, and a trip to faerie, but while beautiful, the world is also super creepy. There’s not just beauty, but rot and monsters ( Faeries included). The main character, Isobel, is an artist through whom you get the perspective of the world, one that feels like a painting and indulges the senses. She is not a fighter, but she still ends up saving the day with her art, and quick thinking.

An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole (Historical Romance)

I will read just about anything Cole writes, but I particularly enjoy her historical fiction. This is the third book in the Loyal League series and takes place during the American Civil War, but you don’t need to read the other books to read this one. The two main characters here have learned the truth about the world in different ways, both initially coming from more privileged backgrounds, and then being thrown into the war. I’m a sucker for a grumpy hero, and Daniel is just that, a foil to Janeta’s warmth and naivete. As always, Cold treats her subject matter with care, and the romance is deliciously hot.

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