Mini Reviews: Inspired by Real Events

Each of today’s books are inspired by real events or the author’s own experiences, but I could just as easily have titled these ‘books about trauma’.

Take care when reading, friends! I’ve included some content warnings for the below as well (and a reminder that StoryGraph has a great collection of reader-source CWs for many books).

Book cover for Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. Black background with ripped scraps of paper. Each scrap has an illustration of a body part - eye, ear, or mouth, or a piece of the title or author text.

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright
Genre: Literary Fiction | Horror
Own voices: Iraqi
Content warnings: death, violence, body horror, suicide, war, murder

From the rubble-strewn streets of U.S.-occupied Baghdad, Hadi–a scavenger and an oddball fixture at a local café–collects human body parts and stitches them together to create a corpse. His goal, he claims, is for the government to recognize the parts as people and to give them proper burial. But when the corpse goes missing, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, and reports stream in of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed.

Frankenstein is one of my favourite classics so I was very intrigued by this retelling. CWs for my review here (as well as the book) as I get into some of the graphic detail and heavier content in setting up this story.

This book follows the original classic with a murderous creature formed out of multiple corpses. However in Saadawi’s story, these corpses are victims of suicide bombings, the story set in Iran following the USA’s invasion, and the creature sets out to seek justice for these parts of it’s self.

While the author doesn’t directly comment on foreign conflicts and warring governments, we see the horrific impacts of this violence on each character in the book and the larger implications and realizations are subtly pushed forward throughout the story for the reader to come to on their own.

Because of this more subtle undertone, it does feel that the descriptions of death and destruction are at times callous or impartial but I think the author’s intentions and style work beautifully in getting his point across.

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Challenges: #PondathonII Round 6 Wrap-Up

That’s a wrap on Pondathon!

It ended earlier than expected but I had such a great time with this readathon, talking with other readers about books and seeing all the detailed work that CW has put into this. Big, big thanks to CW for creating such a wonderful world and your joy, patience, and dedication in putting this on each year. Best wishes for your next adventures!

I’m planning to have one big Pondathon wrap-up once I’ve figured out how to fit all these flowers in one garden, but for now here’s a wrap-up of our final round!

In case you missed it, Pondathon II was a story-driven and gardening-themed readathon hosted and run by CW from The Quiet Pond. You can see all of Spud’s Pondathon adventures through the link in the sidebar!

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Mini Reviews: An Assortment

I have a bunch of books to review but they’re a rather random collection, hence the title today!

Whether you’re into fantasy and romance, or heavy books that address trauma, or some enlightening ones on lived experiences with disabilities, you should find something to love here!

Book cover for The Deep by Rivers Solomon. Illustration of a fish-like mermaid swimming in the water alongside whales.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Genre: Fantasy

The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’ rap group Clipping.

I had heard a lot of praise for this one so I’m glad I finally picked it up. I love inspired fantasy tales and this one is such a powerful tale mixing real historical trauma with fantastical creatures. I had no idea that this is, in a way, part of a series – the author has taken inspiration from a song about this idea by a band who were themselves inspired by another band! It’s a great collaborative work in the end.

It’s a heavy book as the blurb above suggests but while it dives into that trauma (a pun to lighten the mood), it does so in a balanced way and it’s a beautiful reflection on what it means to be human at the same time.

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