Five Most Recent Reads | May 12th

Hello, it’s time for my next round of mini-reviews. This one is all Eurovisionathon reads as we come to the end of the readathon on Saturday. But before we get into those reviews, I just want to quickly apologise for the lack of posts this week—WordPress has been messing me around and it’s been taking me ages to get posts together because of it, but they are slowly coming together and hopefully, I’ll have some things up in a few days.

Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena

This was my seventh read for Eurovisionathon and my pick for Latvia. This is the story of a mother and daughter living in Soviet-era Lativa and focuses mostly on their strange relationship. I’m not usually that interested in stories like that, but this one was really interesting and beautiful. It’s hard to explain in that it feels like both a simple story and an extremely complex one at the same time—there’s a lot in here that is quite serious but it’s mostly about the relationship between the two of them. Some of it is quite weird as well, but it was a really interesting and quick read. I believe Ikstena has quite a few novels—I don’t know how many have been translated into English, but I’ll definitely be looking into it more closely and picking up any of hers I can find.

The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye #1) by Joseph Elliott

This was my eighth read for Eurovisionathon and my pick for Norway. This was actually a reread for me and scarily enough, it was almost two years to the day since I read it for the first time—isn’t it creepy when things work out like that? Anyway, this is set in a sort of historical/fantastical world and we follow two characters, Agatha and Jaime. Agatha is meant to have down syndrome, though of course, it’s never labelled as such. I wrote a full review of this last time, but in that, I mentioned that she faces a lot of ableism that is challenged both by her and a number of other characters around her. I found it incredibly painful to read this time, in the sense that it feels so real so I just want to throw out a trigger warning for that. As I said, it’s challenged by the characters but it’s still tough to read. Despite that, I still really enjoyed this. I’d honestly forgotten how creepy this is in places, but I loved rediscovering this world.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

This was my ninth read for Eurovisionathon and my pick for the UK. I’d been desperately wanting this book for ages but the library waitlist was very long so I eventually just caved and bought it and I’m really glad I did. This is just a really fun historical romance with a couple of fantastical elements to it. It’s honestly the definition of a fun romp—it’s filled with adventure and humour as well as several literary references. It feels a bit like a mix between Howl’s Moving Castle and a historical romance. I can definitely see why people wouldn’t like it—this definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously and pokes a little bit of fun at the romance genre but in a good way. If you aren’t someone who enjoys a bit of dark humour and a little bit of ridiculousness, then this is definitely not the book for you. But for me, this was absolutely fantastic and exactly the kind of read I needed this week after some pretty intense and upsetting books lately.

Devotion by Hannah Kent

This is my tenth read for Eurovisionathon and my pick for Germany. Hannah Kent’s debut novel, Burial Rites, is one of my absolute favourite books of all time so I was extremely excited to get to this. So it might’ve taken me a few months to get to it, but I’m glad I did. I really loved the first half of this story—Kent has a very atmospheric writing style so it’s easy to get sucked in. The second half took a very unexpected turn and I struggled to connect with the story after that point. Kent’s writing is incredible the whole way through, but it was just such a huge shift in the story that it felt quite jarring and it lost me a little. Had I known about the shift going before going into this, I think I would’ve been a little more hesitant to read but by the time I reached it, I wanted to know how the story progressed. All in all, this didn’t quite live up to my excitement but I still enjoyed it.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

This was my eleventh (and possibly last) read for Eurovisionathon and my pick for Portugal. I know very little about Portugal, in fact, I’m pretty sure this is the first book I’ve read that is set there. So from that perspective, I enjoyed learning a little about Portuguese history as this (loosely) follows Saint Queen Isabella. In fact, I really enjoyed the character of Yzabel—she was really interesting and I’ll definitely be taking some time to learn more about the real woman. I could really feel the interest and respect that Pinguicha has for Yzabel coming through the pages. Unfortunately, I was less interested in the other characters—at times they felt a little flat to me. On the whole, I did enjoy this but there is a lot of religious self-harm and hatred that undoubtedly fit into the story but was quite graphic and upsetting at times—Pinguicha does give a trigger warning at the start of the book, but it was still very intense.

And that’s it for today. Have you read any of these?

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