Monthly Archives: July 2020

Review of Wild Sky, by Zaya Feli

I received an ARC copy of Wild Sky, by Zaya Feli, through A Novel Take.

Description from Goodreads:

Tauran Darrica has been retired from the Valreus Sky Guard for four years following the Battle of the Broken Wings that resulted in the death of his dragon. Now, all Tauran wants to do is spend his days forgetting the past and gambling his way to an unsteady income.

So when his old general from the Sky Guard hunts Tauran down to request his help with staving off the increasingly aggressive wild dragon population, Tauran refuses. But a fire ruins his rented room and leaves him without a place to stay, and Tauran finds himself on the road to Valreus, after all.

Tauran is determined to stay as far away from dragons as he can get, but a starry-eyed young man from Sharoani, land of the wild dragons, might just ruin his plans.

Kalai Ro-Ani has spent his life watching the stars, knowing he could never reach them. With his wild dragon Arrow, he sets out for the city of Valreus in the hope of building himself a better future than he could have stuck at the foot of the Kel Visal dragon temples.

But nobody told Kalai that only the Sky Guard is allowed to own dragons, so when Arrow kills a guard in Kalai’s defense, it looks like his adventure might be over before it can begin. But a chance encounter at the old Valreus archive offers Kalai the future he’d been hoping for. In the span of a single day, he has a home, a job, and a purpose.

In Valreus, something much bigger falls into his lap – along with a tall and striking Valrean man with a rather strange disposition.

Review:

I generally enjoyed this a lot. I thought the pacing was a little inconsistent, making it feel overly long at times, the plot progression depended on too many coincidences, and that the two main characters were a little too perfect, especially in their dealing with one another. However, outside of that, I loved the dragons; thought the plot engaging, liked the characters and world, and appreciated the slow-burn romance. I’d be more than happy to read more books by Feli, be it in this series or another.

Review of Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Layla F. Saad

I borrowed an e-copy of Layla F. Saad‘s Me and White Supremacy through the library. I read while out doing my solo protest.

Description from Goodreads:

Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of colour, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and over 90,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook.

The updated and expanded Me and White Supremacy takes the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.

Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. The numbers show that readers are ready to do this work – let’s give it to them.

Review:

While reading this book, I had to remind myself of being taught to study (many long years ago) and being told to be judicious with my highlighting. If you highlight too much, it deletes the purpose of marking particular passages to be found again. I thought of this because I’m quite certain I highlighted at least half of this text. There is a lot here to unpack and a lot of it doesn’t lend itself to a single, simple reading.

Having said that, I wasn’t able to engage in the book in quite the manner it suggests. It is intended to be read and engaged in one chapter a day, over 28 days. I only had access to it for about two weeks. (It’s a library book.) So, my reading was perhaps a little more rushed than I’d have liked. But I still got a lot out of the book. I think it will be particularly useful for people who want something that lays out all the definitions and how the ideas of white supremacy, white exceptionalism, tokenism, visual allyship, etc all build on and relate to one another. It would be especially good for someone just starting the anti-racism work to firmly establish that this stuff is real. It’s not soft science or butthurt fealing, it’s real and affects people all day every day.

In the beginning, I admit to being a little wary since the author isn’t American. I won’t pretend we’re the only country in the world with racism. But I felt like a non-American author couldn’t quite do the subject of the American experience justice for an American reader. I was wrong (and there is probably some bullshit national exceptionalism buried in the initial assumption). So much of what is addressed in this book isn’t tied to nationalism. It’s simply anti-black and global. This is actually one of the subtler lessons I took away from reading the book.

All in all, I found this well worth the time.

Review of The Time of Contempt (The Witcher #2), by Andrzej Sapkowski

I borrowed an e-copy of Andrzej Sapowski‘s The Time of Contempt through my local library. (Links to my reviews for The Last Wish and Blood of Elves are below.)

Description from Goodreads:

Geralt is a witcher: guardian of the innocent; protector of those in need; a defender, in dark times, against some of the most frightening creatures of myth and legend. His task, now, is to protect Ciri. A child of prophecy, she will have the power to change the world for good or for ill — but only if she lives to use it.

A coup threatens the Wizard’s Guild.
War breaks out across the lands.
A serious injury leaves Geralt fighting for his life…
… and Ciri, in whose hands the world’s fate rests, has vanished…

Review:

I have to be honest, if I’d started this series here I wouldn’t be continuing. I liked the short stories (The Last Wish) and enjoyed book one (Blood of Elves), but I struggled to finish this book. I found the writing really stiff. I don’t know if that’s the fault of the author or the translator, but it was no fun to read. I struggled to keep the characters and locations straight and there was too little indication of changing POVs. So, I often didn’t know what was happening, since I didn’t know we’d changed characters. Then to top it all off, the last quarter starts in on all the cliched man-writing-fantasy BS. Suddenly it’s wench this and rape that, etc. And it ends on a cliffhanger. I will give this series one more book because I’m interested in the overarching storyline. But if it doesn’t improve (at least to the quality of book one) I’m calling it done.