Weekly Reads – February 26, 2023

Oh my, what a week!

I knew this week was going to be weird (for reasons described in the video below…my mother would be shocked to know that I talked about this on video, but I would never be forgiven for writing about such a thing!), but it ended up being weird in a completely different way.

You see, while I was over here and waiting for Spring, Mother Nature decided to dump about 6 inches of snow on us! That happened on Wednesday night/Thursday morning and then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were so cold that the snow couldn’t melt. Things are warming up today, but Pat and I had to spend some time shoveling and salting the sidewalk in front of our church this morning.

Because of all this, the kids unexpectedly had Thursday and Friday off from school. While I will never turn my nose up at opportunities to sleep in (and I’d like to take this moment to thank Hillsboro School District for calling snow days the night before!), our house has been crazy! Fortunately, the roads are now clear and most of the snow should be gone by tomorrow morning so they will be back in school!

Needless to say, nothing I had planned this week happened (which was is neither and both good and bad…see the video below!). Basically, it was playing in the snow and watching TV for us. I didn’t even get as much reading done as I would have liked because I had to, you know, parent my children–however, I will not begrudge my time spent with the kids.

And now, onto the books!

As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.

Last week, I finished reading:

Better the Blood (Hana Westerman #1) by Michael Bennett
Date finished: February 20, 2023
Rating: A ⭐⭐⭐⭐

It’s been a while since I read a strong, true Thriller and this book quenched that thirst perfectly.

I was drawn to this book by the Māori point of view. Hana Westerman is an Auckland detective who straddles both the white world and her native Māori world. Not only did I find her inner conflict believable, but I appreciated how Bennett revealed it to the reader. While Hana may fall under the umbrella of a “hardened detective with their own baggage,” it is easy to understand and even sympathize with her baggage.

Around Hana, we have some more strong characters. Her boss just happens to be her ex-husband. While they are on amicable terms, they can never quite get away from their relationship. Then there is their 17-year-old daughter, who is–a 17-year-old with her own sense of how the world should be. Finally, there is Stan, Hana’s young and sweet professional partner for whom she serves as a mentor. I found all the relationships Hana has with these characters appropriately interesting and they all played into the plot. There were a few times when these characters made some predictable steps, but that is my only quibble with this book.

This book is a thriller, not a mystery. The point of this book is not to figure out who the culprit is, but to stop the culprit. And the culprit here is entrancing. This person is a product of events that stretch back a century and is concocted by running tradition up against generational trauma. They are fascinating and, in my opinion, on the same plane as the likes of Hannibal Lector (while there are some trigger warnings here, I can assure you that cannibalism is not one of them).

It appears that this is the start of a new series and I will jump on the next book as soon as it is released. Better the Blood has the best of the thriller genre and a unique voice of its own.

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi
Rating: B ⭐⭐⭐
Date finished: February 25, 2023

I am sure of one thing about this book: Akwaeke Emezi is a literary powerhouse with an exciting and vibrant future.

Also, this book was very hard for me to process. There are things about this book that blew my mind, but there is also one element that I found irritating and another that bothered me so much that it greatly impacted my enjoyment of this novel. I had to use the CAWPILE system to create a rating for this book because I was so torn.

Let me start with what I loved. The writing was evocative and enthralling. I had previously read The Death of Vivek Oji, so I was not surprised by this. What I think this book has over that one is that Emezi seems to be more skilled here in creating distinct voices for the characters. The dialogue here is quite amazing–it’s completely believable, and Emezi captures so much of each character’s essence in their own words. There is also a fair amount of food writing here. My mouth watered through all of these descriptions, even though the foods described were foods that probably would not appeal to me if it was served to me on a plate.

This book is messy, and that is its shining moment. Emezi captures grief and emotions, unlike any other writer I’ve read. I don’t mind messy if it is done well, and Emezi could lead a masterclass on it. I found Feyi annoying at times, but annoying in a way I could sympathize with.

Ironically, while I found the dialogue to be so strong, it was also sometimes a source of irritation for me. A few times, Emezi takes it just a bit too far. A conversation may happen, but then one character develops a strong sense of self-awareness (which, really, none of these characters would have), and the conversation begins to fall into the “The More You Know” category. Not only did this not fit in with the characters, but it started to come off as preachy.

However, my biggest issue was with the character of Alim. He is portrayed as being not just perfect, but almost other-worldly. He is introduced as “a fixed point” in the sun. Everything about him is described as superlative. Now, I realize that we are getting all of this through Feyi’s point of view. This character treatment would be effective if this story had gone in a different direction. Here, though, it actively works against the book. Alim never comes across as exactly human. Even when Emezi seems to try to bring him down to Earth, it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, Alim is a major player in this novel, and this treatment seems to pull the rug out from under the whole thing.

As much as admired so many elements of this book, that one thing made it fall short for me. There is much to recommend in this book, and it may be that my issue with one character is mine alone. In any case, I do recommend Akwaeke Emezi as an author, even if this book did not entirely work for me.

Right now, I’m reading:

As I said, a fuller explanation of my week is in the video below. I also finished one additional book which I didn’t include in this post, but I do talk about it in this video.

7 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – February 26, 2023

  1. Well just as well your procedure was cancelled in good time. I heard there was lots of snow in California, not sure where you are but anyway you had snow. The middle grade book sounds a bit weird.


  2. The weather seems to have been weird everywhere this week. I got snow in So Cal, which only happens where I live once a decade or so. Glad you were able to enjoy it.


  3. We received ten inches of snow this past week. Unfortunately, ours will be sticking around for a while yet. We still have December snow hanging around. Nice assortment of books. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  4. Your reading sounds good! I do hope to get back to the Ruth Galloway series.

    Your snowy weather is much like parts of California. My son who lives on the beach sent some snow pictures.

    I didn’t enjoy having my colonoscopy a few years ago, lol. The prep was awful, although I’ve heard that it’s better now.

    Have a great week.


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About Melinda