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.

Book cover for Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. Yellow background with illustrations of two young people with their backs to each other and peering over their shoulders at each other. On the left is a young woman with long hair, wearing a purple witch hat and dress and holding a steaming plate of baked goods. On the right is a person with wolf ears wearing a red hoodie and jeans and holding a bowl of batter with the spoon in their mouth.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, illustrated by Wendy Xu
Genre: Graphic Novel | Romance | Fantasy

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods.

This was a very sweet graphic novel, very different from the one above but another I’ve seen shared many times. I really enjoyed all the relationships in it, both those among family and this budding romance. It moves quickly in this format but it felt like a nice slice of life and a pleasant town to wander into, even though they do have to tackle difficult enemies and family drama.

All that said, from the title and this cover, I was expecting more baking! I didn’t even see the cover image in the actual story, the most these characters do is cook together but I didn’t find any baking. There is one mention of mooncakes for a family dinner but I didn’t actually see illustrations of them, just the textual mention. So it was a little disappointing that this wasn’t featured more but still an enjoyable story.

Book cover for Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata. Black background with a sketch illustration of a person falling down with their arms stretched above them. Square and circular lines surround them and wrap around their arms.

Mis(h)adra by Iasmin Omar Ata
Genre: Graphic Novel | Fiction

An Arab-American college student struggles to live with epilepsy in this starkly colored and deeply-cutting graphic novel.

Someone from the Pondathon had recommended this book for a previous round and I’m very glad they did because I had never heard of it before, and I’ve read so few books that look at experiences with epilepsy.

As you may be able to tell from the cover, the author has a really interesting art style, relying on a few colours and a lot of these more abstract lines or eyes or knives to represent their epilepsy. The story is based on their own personal experiences and this book doesn’t shy away from the dark moments (including some suicidal thoughts) but I really appreciated having this perspective on something I know very little about.

Book cover for No Time Like the Future by Michael J. Fox. Black and white photo of Michael J. Fox sitting on a chair. He wears a leather jacket, white tee, and jeans and looks at the camera with one arm draped over the back of the chair.

No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox
Genre: Memoir

A moving account of resilience, hope, fear and mortality, and how these things resonate in our lives, by actor and advocate Michael J. Fox.

I’ve read a lot of memoirs so far this year, not necessarily intentionally, but this is the first by someone I knew before I read their book! I really like Michael J. Fox as an actor and person so I was excited about this release.

I haven’t read any of Fox’s other books (so many memoirs) so I don’t know how this one fits into his memoir series thus far. This one mostly focuses on his medical experiences in 2018 following a fall, with lots of flashbacks to his diagnosis with Parkinson’s, his acting career, life with his family, and more recent experiences as an activist to provide context.

Sometimes celebrity books don’t work out so well but this was really funny and flowed well. From these pages, Fox is very clearly an optimist. I will say that this is very much his story – his experiences with disability and the access to care that he’s had in his life. In some parts he does recognize the privilege he has in being able to retain top doctors across the country but many won’t have access to these kinds of hospitals and rehab that he describes in much detail.

What kind of books have you been reading lately?

Cover images and blurbs from Goodreads.

3 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: An Assortment

  1. Thanks for introducing me to Michael J. Fox’s book! I respect this author immensely and knew about his battle and campaign around Parkinson’s disease. I am now going to add this book to my TBR. I am intrigued that you describe this book as “funny”. I still have to gather some courage before attempting it – at one point in my life Back to the Future was almost my whole world.

    Liked by 1 person

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