If I was going to title these posts with something other than the date, I think this one would be called something along the lines of ‘five recent reads way out of my comfort zone’ because these five are definitely unusual for me. I have a picture book, a dystopian YA, some crime and a poetry collection which are all things I don’t often read but I have been in a slump lately and I think it was good for me to do something different.
This post is also a bit delayed because WordPress decided to not save the last two reviews, multiple times, so I had to redo them. Third time’s the charm though, right?
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
Because I’ve been in such a slump lately, I’ve been kind of stressed about my owned TBR not going down as much as I was hoping it would this month. So I decided it was time to bring out this one so I could at least mark something off. This a picture book so it was only about 20 pages, but Shaun Tan is my favourite artist and this is the last of his books I have so I’d been holding off for something. This is a really stunning book—Shaun Tan always creates these incredible little creatures and detailed backgrounds and this was no different. There’s even a sweet little message in this one. But ultimately, it’s not one of my favourites of his—like I said, it’s reasonably short and beautifully illustrated but it just fell flat in comparison to the other things I’ve read from Shaun Tan. I believe this is one of his earlier works, so it makes sense that I didn’t enjoy as much as his longer form stuff. Still, it felt real good to get something off my TBR.
The Interrogation of Ahala Wolf (The Tribe #1) by Ambelin Kwaymullina
This one was apart of a book swap/challenge thing I did with my friend, Mel, last year. This was the last of the three books from that which I had left to read. While I really enjoyed the other two Mel picked, I really struggled with this one and ended up deciding to DNF it. It’s not really the book’s fault—there wasn’t anything I hated about it, but I just found it really uncomfortable and stressful to read to the point that it was playing with my anxiety. My mental health hasn’t been great lately and I didn’t want to risk feeling even worse by continuing this at this stage—it felt like a disservice to both myself and the book. Obviously I can make very limited comments on the book itself having only read about 120 pages, but what I will say it’s that Kwaymullina created a very interesting and unsettling world in this book but with a beautiful glimpse into community and found family. I’m planning to keep my copy of this one to maybe come back to at a later date when I’m feeling a little more ready to read something that will mess with my head a little bit. As always, I don’t leave star ratings on the books I DNF.
Glory In Death (In Death #2) by J.D Robb
It’s been more than a year since I read book one in the In Death series, yet coming back to this was much easier than I thought. I definitely forgot some details from the first one, but Robb really just throws you into the story from page one and slips in references and reminders to the previous story as she goes along—though I’m reading this series in order, I can see how she’s made it possible to pick them up from whatever point and still enjoy them. I’m honestly not a crime reader beyond a few authors from the Golden Age (Christie, Sayers & Marsh primarily) because modern crime usually causes me a lot of anxiety. Maybe it’s because these are set slightly in the future (2058) that makes me feel a little removed and easier for me to read. Whatever it is, I find some really engaging about these books. I like Eve—I feel like I can understand her, and she feels real enough. There’s obviously still a lot more to discover about her, especially since it’s such a large and ongoing series. I think I remember liking Roarke in the last book, but I was less fussed about him in this one—I think maybe because this was written in 1995 that he feels very much like a product of that time, and that’s not necessarily the kind of male characters I really care about. He has some really dodgy moments, but he also has some sweet ones—I feel very conflicted. I also hope we might move away into some different kinds of murders because otherwise, this might get repetitive really quick. All in all, it was really nice to get back to this series and now you’re about to hear about book three.
Immortal In Death (In Death #3) by J.D Robb
I think this is my least favourite of the three so far. It had some really good points. For one, it was good to see some different victims—I know that sounds terrible to say, but I was worried this entire series would just be about women being brutalised and murdered and that’s not something I enjoy reading about overly much. But I was also worried that it would get a bit repetitive reading about the same crime again and again. There’s still a female victim at the centre of this story, but there’s more to it as well. I really love Eve as a character—she’s really likable and I want good things for her, and in this one we get to see her have some relationships outside of just Roarke. I particularly love the friendship and working relationship building between Eve and Peabody. In fact, I just love Peabody in general—I’d read a whole book of them just driving around and chatting shit with each other. I’m still on the fence about Roarke himself—sometimes he says really sweet stuff and other times I just don’t trust or like him at all, but we’ll see what happens with that. I think the only thing I didn’t really like about this one was the big reveal. I don’t know, it just felt like a bit of a cop-out to me—it was also so dramatic and intense up until that point and when it clicked where it was going to go with that, I was really disappointed that it wasn’t something more interesting.
Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble
I came across this one because of the Goodreads Choice Awards, where it’s nominated for Best Poetry this year. I hadn’t read any poetry so far this year, but this one (as well as another nominated one) caught my eye, and my library happened to have a copy of it. Tibble is a Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou poet, and this was her debut collection—it was published in the US this year, but from what I can tell was published in AU/NZ in 2019. The covers for both editions are absolutely gorgeous, but I think this AU/NZ cover takes the cake for me. As for the actual collection, I always find it really hard to review poetry because it’s such a personal thing. I think there were some really beautiful poems and lines in here, and I can see why Tibble has been nominated (and won) literary/poetry awards in the past, but I didn’t feel any deep connection to these poems myself. I think had I read this a few years ago when I was reading a poetry collection a week, I would’ve really liked this because I was just more in the poetry mindset than I am right now. I saw someone’s review on Goodreads refer to Tibble’s poetry style as ‘raw and chaotic’, and I completely agree, if that’s your style then this definitely a collection worth picking up.
And that’s it. Finally, I hope! ave you read any of these? What have you been reading lately?