This is the first readathon I have ever joined, and wow, what a jam-packed two weeks! I picked books that I’ve always wanted to read and crammed them all into two weeks. My heart is so tired and full and happy after reading too many intense books in a row, and I’ve had such an unforgettable experience. All love goes to Gerald for hosting this!
The readathon ran from March 29 to April 10, and I apologize for uploading this post waaaaayyy too late. I hope that it’s still okay 🥺👉👈 Here’s what I read!
Sirena (a book written in verse)
The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams
The Half-God of Rainfall combines several elements I do not usually see together into a heart-wrenching novella told in verse: Greek + Yoruba pantheons, demigods, basketball, and women empowerment. It is also a searing commentary on toxic masculinity, maternal love, and the pervasiveness of rape culture. From start to finish, it just tears at you and leaves you screaming in rage and wonder at the various powers at play. I love it so much, and I can’t recommend it enough!
Since part of the readathon is to write a mini-review or even just a screenshot of a star rating, the experience inspired me to write the very first review here on Inkhaven! Check out my review (with spoilers).
Manananggal (a book told from two POVs)
The Unbroken by CL Clark
If you want to read an adult SFF that does not shy away from confronting the main aspects of colonialism while still keeping everyone fed in a queernorm world, then you might love this North African history-inspired The Unbroken. It tells the story in two viewpoints: from the colonizer (Luca) and from the colonized (Touraine). The craft that also went into not just building a totally believable setting but also weaving tightly written scenes together is one that keeps me up at night: How on earth did Clark do that?
This book also marks the first of my current obsession with blog tours! Infinite love goes to Caffeine Book Tours for taking the chance on a baby blogger like me! Read my full review (no spoilers) and my letter to my favorite character, Tibeau.
Malakas at Maganda (a book written by a Filipino author)
Whatever by Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil
Whatever is a collection of newspaper columns and various essays written by renowned Filipino author and historian Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil. I’ve had this book by my bedside for months, but PhilMyth Readathon finally gave me the push I needed to read this! I love learning about forgotten parts in history and reading about Martial Law and post-EDSA revolution from the point of view of someone who had been in privileged positions during this era.
Read my discussion questions and tentative answers here, but it is not updated to include the last third of the book.
Black Lady (a book with a black cover and is written by a woman)
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar
Star Daughter follows the story of half-star, half-Indian American Sheetal as she struggles to find her place on heaven and earth while searching for a cure for her father. The characters, especially my bb Dev, are so lovable and sweet, and it has a great presentation of dealing with parent abandonment, biracial discrimination, and generational trauma.
This book started my ongoing love for all books that include Indian representation! I kept Googling everything and it was so fun. I knew what the food, clothes, and jewelry were like because I grew up in countries heavily influenced by active Indian diaspora communities, but I didn’t have words to describe them. 80% of my Google searches would yield a loud “so that’s what they’re called! Yeah masarap yan or binebenta yan sa grocery!” from me! Oh well, just diaspora things In some ways, it represented part of my childhood in ways that Filipino-authored books had not.
Santelmo (book with fire in the title or cover)
Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard
Fireheart Tiger is set in a precolonial Vietnam-inspired world and follows the efforts of Thanh, princess of Bình Hải and diplomatic hostage, as she wards off the designs of the foreign country of Ephteria on her kingdom and of its princess Eldris on her love and person. It manages to pack in all the drama, the yearning, the political machinations, nuanced discussions on abuse, and the epic fantasy in a short but powerful novella.
Out of all the wonderful books I read during this readathon, Fireheart Tiger is my favorite. It kept me staring up at the ceiling at night and wandering in a haze for WEEKS, which is also why I put off writing this post.
Read my full review here.
Maria Makiling (a book with a beautiful cover)
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Gods of Jade and Shadow follows the story of Casiopeia Tun, who goes on a quest with the Mayan god of death in order to seize back the throne his brother had usurped. The book is so alive with 1920s Mexico, and I find myself immersed in a side of history and mythology that I have never encountered before.
I haven’t fully processed this book, which is why I haven’t yet written a review or gist for it, but it does leave me awestruck and content with not fully understanding the hidden mysteries of the world. In lieu of a review or discussion post–I’m writing this here for accountability–I want to talk about the how Googling all the historical references here makes me more interested and hooked in a culture I am not familiar with and how there are so many assumptions that I have to discard because they do not fit into the cultural context of the book.
This book deserves no less than two rereads. It’s a new comfort read.
Duwende (a mass-market paperback)
Flight from the USSR by Dato Turashvili
Flight from the USSR based on true story that made headlines in Soviet Era Georgia: university students hijacked a plane, presumably for freedom from harsh and corrupt government, but the attempt ended in several deaths and a sensational trial. Although the wonky pacing kept me from fully enjoying the book, its ideas kept me glued until the very last page. In addition to a crash course on Georgian history, it has interesting commentary on justice system vis-a-vis Moscow/Georgia, where government officials are harsher on fellow Georgians to appear good and loyal to Soviet capital Moscow.
I bought this book during a tourist trip to Georgia in 2018, and I was so excited to see familiar names like Shota Rustaveli and places like Metekshi in the book. The monastery scenes were also even more thrilling to read because I could easily picture the dim walls and soaring peaks of the ones we had been to.
It is one of the 21 backlist books I aim to read this 2021, and I’m so happy I can finally cross it off my list. I originally did not include Duwende in my TBR because I didn’t expect to finish all six books in two weeks, but well, I’m glad I did.
I gained the following achievements or badges during this readathon:
- Apolaki – finishing a book on the first day (The Half-God of Rainfall)
- Bathala – finishing 7 books during the readathon period
- Yna Guinid – reading one book per prompt
and all of them were worth the tears, intense feelings, and listless days afterwards!
Although I got a pretty significant chunk of my TBR out of my way during the readathon, I was left really drained. The books were too beautiful and too intense and too smart to be crammed within two weeks, and I realized that these are not the kind of books that should be read in quick succession. I fell into a bit of a reading slump, where I read a string of lighthearted books to regain the energy and heart I need to dive into the other heavy and intense books on my TBR. That’s more of a personal thing, and for the next readathon I joined–Asian Readathon 2021–I made sure I took pacing into account.
The readathon also officially inducted me into this vibrant sphere that is the online Filipino book community! In the FB group, we kept hyping each other’s reads and getting recommendations. I also appreciate Gerald’s Canva skills and challenged me to explore the platform for my own graphics! Here’s the original TBR collage I made:
Because the reading challenge requires us to give a star rating and say a bit about our experience with each book, I was determined to finally put in the effort to write a few things–even just rambling bullet points–and hype up the books I so loved. It inspired me to keep up a steady stream of reviews and turned Inkhaven into what it is today. I won’t trade this experience for any other.
- Did you join the PhilMyth Readathon too? What was your favorite read?
- Have you read any of these books before? Share your thoughts in the comments!