QuixotiQ

READ THE WORLD – Bahrain: QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed

Guy Kelton is a young man with a troubled mind. His shattered dream and the relentless mundane life he’s been living, alone and broken away from his family, takes an unexpected toll on him, driving him to violent, reckless extremes. He falls deeper and deeper into a bloody abyss; through extremes that would eventually lead him to the most devastating discovery about his existence. Going through his mid-twenties, Patrick Roymint, lost and confused, still struggles to come to terms with the loss of his whole family many years ago. But soon as he decides to change all that and try to rebuild the future he’s not had, he is dragged into the unseen, disturbing and filthy underworld of the little, diminishing Okay County. As both men go through a series of mysterious and bizarre events, their lives take dramatic turns that lead them to new revelations about their past, present and future. They somehow find their fates connected by some mystic, unfathomable power.

At second time of trying, I managed to read QuixotiQ. I think there’s a few reasons why I struggled with this book even though it’s pretty short at less than 200 pages long. The first is the translation/editing. It’s a self-published novel and I believe the translation was done by the author, or the author wrote it in English but that was their second language. I say that as there were a few instances where it didn’t quite read right to me, a native English speaker. Sentences were phrased awkwardly or adjectives were used which didn’t really fit the context of what was going on.

Then there was the plot itself. It was a bit difficult to figure out what was happening with Guy and Patrick. Guy especially has a lot going on in his head and he has dreams or visions where both he and you as the reader can’t really tell what’s real and what’s not. It makes the story kind of hard to follow and you’re unsure if he’s going mad, just having vivid dreams or if QuixotiQ has some surreal fantasy elements.

The chapters are short and there’s sometimes point of view changes between the chapters and in the chapters, shown by a line break. However, it can sometimes be hard to tell whose point of view your in to begin with as the first three or more paragraphs just use “he” or “she” rather than a character’s name so it can be disorientating. Mandy, Patrick’s girlfriend, and Christina, her friend and former co-worker, also have chapters from their points of view.

All four of the characters are going through tough times and their thoughts and motivations are often jumbled. I supposed it’s a good way at showing how lost these characters are, but it does make things hard to read at times and I didn’t particularly like or connect with any of the characters. Especially as things spiralled out of control for Guy, I just couldn’t comprehend why he was acting that way or see what had tipped him over the edge. The writing style and the story made character motivations unclear to me.

QuixotiQ is the only book I found by a Bahraini author in English. If I wasn’t doing my Read the World Project I would’ve probably DNF’d it as I found it muddled and uninteresting. The bright side was that the chapters were often very short so it was easy to pause and take a break when the strangeness and unclear character motivations got too frustrating.

Asian Readathon 2022 TBR

In May in the United States, it is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in honour of that Cindy from WithCindy on YouTube created a readathon where the main aim is to read books by Asian authors. Her announcement video explains it all really well and she also has a Google Doc with extra info and resources and there’s a Twitter account for the readathon too.

This year’s challenge is loosely themed around the film Everything Everywhere All At Once (which I can’t wait to see) and is meant to be easy, accessible, and open to interpretation. The reading challenges are:

– Read a book written by an Asian author.
– Read a book featuring an Asian character who is a woman and/or older.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a universe you would want to experience or a universe that is totally different from yours.
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a cover worthy of googly eyes (aka a gorgeous cover).
– Read a book by an Asian author that has a high rating OR was highly recommended.

These challenges can be combined if you want to make it even easier! There is a twist though. You can combine challenges and read in any order; however, each book you read should feature a character or author of a different Asian ethnicity. This is to encourage cultural diversity. I’ve made a note of each authors nationality/identity as is available online.

Read a book written by an Asian author (though any of these books meet that challenge)

QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed (Bahraini)
This is a book I’ve already started once but struggled a bit with but as it’s less than 200 pages I know I can get through it if I just knuckle down and focus on it.

Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian, translated by Peter Balakian (Armenian)
A memoir about Grigoris Balakian’s eyewitness account of the Armenian Genocide which happened from 1915-1918.

Written in Black by K.H. Lim (Bruneian)
A coming-of-age novel offering a snapshot of a few days in the life of ten-year-old Jonathan Lee, attending the funeral of his grandfather, and still reeling from the drama of his mother leaving for Australia and his brother getting kicked out of the house and joining a rock band. I got the ebook of this for cheap recently so it’d be good to read it this month.

Read a book featuring an Asian character who is a woman and/or older (most of these books have female leads though)

Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi, translated by Sawad Hussain (Kuwaiti)
Three friends who share neither ethnic origin nor religious denomination, get involved in a protest group and one of their grandmothers, Mama Hissa, warns them against it. This is another ebook.

Read a book by an Asian author that has a universe you would want to experience or a universe that is totally different from yours (a few of these books can fit this challenge)

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (Chinese-Canadian)
While the societal aspects of Iron Widow don’t sound great, the world of giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall sounds very cool. Plus, it’s been a wile since I’ve read a sci-fi novel.

Read a book by an Asian author that has a cover worthy of googly eyes

The Cabinet by Un Su Kim, translated by Sean Lin Halbert (South Korean)
This is one of the books from the 12 Books Recommended by 12 Friends Challenge and I have the audiobook. It sounds like a bit of a weird story and I love the cover.

The Beast Player and The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano (Japanese)
These two are some of the most gorgeous books I own. This is a YA duology about a girl who discovers she can talk to the huge, magical beasts of her world and becomes entangled in politics and war as she tries to keep herself and the beasts safe.

Read a book by an Asian author that has a high rating OR was highly recommended

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (Chinese-American) and She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Chinese-Australian)
I’ve heard nothing but good things about both of these books. They’re both fantasy books that are inspired by Chinese history and it’s been a while since I’ve read an historical fantasy epic.

Are you taking part in the Asian Readathon? Or do you have any books by Asian authors on your TBR in general? I would love to hear about them.

Magical Readathon: Spring Equinox TBR

The Magical Readathon is the brainchild of Gi at BookRoast on YouTube and now we’ve completed the Novice Path, we are in our first year of exams. Previously the Magical Readathon was based on Harry Potter and its exams but Gi has now created her own magical world and university and it’s truly impressive. Like the previous iteration of the Magical Readathon, the aim is to read books that fill the prompts for the subjects you need to pass in order to be able to do the magical career of your choice. Gi’s announcement video explains it all and she has a variety of documents that can guide you. This round of the Magical Readathon, the Spring Equinox exams, is a month-long readathon through the entirety of April. The Autumn Equinox exams/readathon will take place in August.

The career I want to work towards is Moon Warden (though it was so hard to choose) which means in this round of the Magical Readathon I need to read 5 books for the prompts Art of Illusion, Astronomy, Elemental Studies, Restoration and Spells & Incantations. As usual though, I’ve had a look at my TBR and tried to find a book for each of the 14 prompts so I can read as much as possible and then give me more choice when it comes to my magical career path.

TomeTopple hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes is happening in April as well (from 15th-29th and the aim is to read books over 500 pages) so that will be some extra inspiration for at least one of the prompts.

As usual with readathons I try to have a mixture of genres and include as many books for my Read the World Project as possible. One of the only rules with the Magical Readathon is that you can’t double up on prompts so one book = one prompt. However, as you’ll see below, I sometimes have multiple suggestions for a prompt and some books can fit more than one prompt but I promise I won’t use a book for more than one prompt.

Art of Illusion – book with a trope you like
The Ivory Key by Ashaya Raman or The Fortunes of Wangrin by Amadou Hampâté Bâ
The Ivory Key is the first book in a fantasy duology and a book I got in a subscription box. The fact that in the author’s note it said she was a fan of the film National Treasure and was inspired by that is what made me most interested in this book. I love that film and adventure/puzzle stories. On the blurb of The Fortunes of Wangrin it describes the titular character as a “rogue and an operator, hustling both the colonial French and his own people” and I do love a morally grey character.

Astronomy – top of your TBR
Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
I’m using my latest Top Ten Tuesday post as inspiration for this prompt, so really any of the books there could be what I end up reading. Beyond the Rice Fields is set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter.

Elemental Studies – Book under 100 pages
The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
OK I am cheating slightly here as the kindle edition I have is 111 page long but I can not find a book on my TBR that has less than 100 pages. Gi’s always saying it’s fine to tweak prompts to fit (and it’s not like she’d know) so that’s what I’m doing here.

Spells & Incantations – a collection of short stories/essays or an individual short story/essay
From Timor-Leste to Australia: Seven families, Three Generations Tell Their Stories edited by Jan Trezise
I have this on my kindle which is a collection of stories and poems from East Timorese families living in Melbourne whose experiences belong to that long history of human tragedy created where violent conflict of power, land and resources takes place, inevitably visiting on ordinary people, disruption and loss.

Restoration – book featuring healers
Angel Mage by Garth Nix or A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross
I wasn’t sure if any of the books on my shelves featured healers but thanks to recommendations on the Magical Readathon Twitter I discovered I had a couple on my shelves. Out of the two I’m more likely to read Angel Mage as it’s a standalone and I’ve previously read and enjoyed a lot of Garth Nix’s other work.

Alchemy – read a book featuring romance
Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales or Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
I don’t tend to read a lot of romance books but I have a few on my shelves, and to be honest, a lot of books feature some form of romance so this isn’t too hard a prompt to fill.

Animal Studies – a quick read
Chaka by Thomas Mofolo (and probably any of the books for the Alchemy prompt)
Chaka is less than 170 pages so that definitely has the potential of being a quick read. Plus, I tend to find YA contemporary stories pretty quick to get through so they’d work for this prompt too.

Artificery – Earth setting
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas or The Fury and Cries of Women by Angèle Rawiri
This is one that’s pretty easy to fill as the vast majority of my Read the World books are set on Earth. Concrete Rose is the prequel to The Hate U Give which I loved and I’ve been wanting to read it for ages. I believe The Fury and Cries of Women follows Emilienne’s life through her university studies, marriage, children, work, and how she tries to search for what feminism means to her while dealing with cultural expectations and the taboos of sex and motherhood.

Conjuration – source of light on the cover
QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed
This is a book I’ve already started once but struggled a bit with but as it’s less than 200 pages long it’s the perfect time to give it another go for a readathon, and as you can see, it has the sun on the cover.

Demonology – word “shadow” in the book/series title
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
A Gathering of Shadows is the only book I have on my TBR that has “shadow” in the title but it has been six(!) years since I read the first book, A Darker Shade of Magic, so I’d need to reread that in order to carry on with the series. I’m not sure if A Darker Shade of Magic fits into any of these prompts so I may just have to scrap Demonology as a subject/prompt and any careers that need it.

Inscription – an intimidating read
The Golden Horse by Juan David Morgan or Armenian Golgotha: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-198 by Grigoris Balakian
I find both these books intimidating as they are rather chunky and, in the case of Armenian Golgotha, I think it’s going to be a tough read.

Lore – mythology-inspired book
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
This is an Arthurian retelling and as the sequel is out later this year, this is the perfect time to read a it – and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.

Psionics & Divination – book set in the future
This is the one prompt I do not have any books that can fill it. I don’t have any sci-fi books on my shelves, which are usually the most obvious books set in the future, and nothing else I’ve read the blurb of makes it seem it’s set in the future. Looks like any careers that needs Psionics & Divination won’t be in my future.

Shapeshifting – creature with claws on the cover
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan or She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
Both books have a dragon on the front cover which definitely has claws and A Natural History of Dragons would be an audiobook read.

And that’s my Spring Equinox TBR! Are you taking part in the Magical Readathon? If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear what you think of them. As for Tome Topple, of the books mentioned here, Angel Mage, Legendborn and Armenian Golgotha are over 500 pages so I may try and read them when Tome Topple is happening. Also I do have the A-Z in April Challenge next month too. I already have over half the posts scheduled so hopefully that won’t take up too much of my reading time.

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Spring 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, I love doing these seasonal TBR posts even though I hardly ever read more than three of the books featured in the post before the next seasonal TBR come around. In May I’ve booked myself a short holiday in a cottage where all I plan to do is relax and read so some of these books will definitely be part of my reading plans then.

Watch Us Rise by Ellen Hagan and Renee Watson
One of my favourite subgenres of contemporary YA is the teen feminist YA. It makes me feel good and they’re often very quick reads for me. I especially like them as I just like the thought of teen girls (and boys) reading these books and getting inspired and exposed to ideas that I very rarely read about myself when I was that age.

Dangerous Remedy and Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
Recently I learnt the third and final book of this trilogy is being released in June so I thought I should probably read these two for the first time. I’m so bad at reading series nowadays that I only tend to start them when all books are out or the final books is set to be released imminently. My copies are two very pretty Illumicrate editions so I hope I like the actual story.

The Desert and the Drum by Mbarek Ould Beyrouk
My read for Mauritania for my Read the World Project. This is another book where I think I read the first chapter but wasn’t in the right mindset to continue. I did like the writing style and think it’ll be the kind of book that’s very readable.

QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed
This is for Bahrain for my Read the World Project and I started reading it last year and found it a bit of a weird story as the way it was written made me unsure if what characters were experiencing was real or almost some sort of simulation. It’s not a particularly long book so if I just knuckled down, I could probably get my head around it and read it quickly.

The Fury and Cries of Women by Angèle Rawiri
My read for Gabon. I believe The Fury and Cries of Women follows Emilienne’s life through her university studies, marriage, children, work, and how she tries to search for what feminism means to her while dealing with cultural expectations and the taboos of sex and motherhood. I have a fair few ebooks for my Read the World Project that I just haven’t been reading as they’re almost easy to forget about as I don’t have a physical copy. This year I’ve been using my kindle a lot more so I hope to get to this one soon.

City of Devils: The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai by Paul French
This is one of my books for the 12 books recommended by 12 friends thing I’m doing this year – I’m pleasantly surprised by how well I’m doing with that challenge as I’ve already read three of them. This is a true crime book about 1930s Shanghai and the two men who built their own criminal empire there before it came tumbling down.

Jade City by Fonda Lee
As I said, I’m not good with series but now all the books are out and I have the option to binge read the series if I do love it. I think I’m finally ready to give this much-loved series a try. I went to Waterstones on World Book Day and finally picked up a copy, there was a double points offer on so it’d be rude not to.

Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo
This is the first novel from Madagascar to ever be translated into English and it’s set in the nineteenth century and it’s about the relationship between a slave and his master’s daughter. It’s another ebook that I hope to read soon.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
I’ve heard nothing bit great things about Legendborn and as the sequel is out later this year, now feels like a great time to finally read it. Plus, the TV show Merlin was one of my favourite things when I was a teenager so I’m always down for an Arthurian retelling/twist.

What books are you hoping to get to soon?

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to do this tag and to do a check in of my reading this year so far as I have been pretty much in a sixth month reading slump. But this tag is like a booktube/book blogger stapple so thought I’d check in and see just how my reading has been this year.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
I just loved this book a lot. The characters, their relationships, how everything comes together, it’s all so good. I would highly recommend the audiobook too, it was excellent.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
I liked Shadow and Bone well enough but then I loved Siege and Storm. Was everything I’d want in a sequel; adds new and great characters, gives old ones more development, more action and drama – it’s just so good!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
Monstrous Design by Kat Dunn
I did something which I have not done in a long, long time – bought the sequel even though I’ve yet to read the first book. Yes, I’ve not read Dangerous Remedy but I got that in a subscription box last year and then they were doing a special edition of the sequel so I ordered that so then hopefully when I finally read this series, they’ll match and both look pretty.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
I’m so bad at keeping up with new releases and technically this isn’t a new release as it was originally published in 1982 but there’s a new edition being released at the end of July that I already have on preorder. It will be my read for Belize in my Read the World Project.

5. Biggest disappointment
The Good Life Elsewhere by Vladimir Lorchenkov
I haven’t really had any disappointing books so far this year (guess that’s the perks of not reading a lot) but I did find The Good Life Elsewhere very odd. Just it wasn’t what I expected based on how it was described and it was a very odd book with some really dark humour.

6. Biggest surprise
In Praise of Love and Children by Beryl Gilroy
Again, haven’t really read enough to be truly surprised by a book but I did enjoy In Praise of Love and Children more than I thought I would. It was a really engaging immigrant story and it was set in a time of UK history I had vague knowledge of so I found that interesting too.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
Besides Leigh Bardugo (who I had read before this year) I haven’t read multiple books by the same author so far in 2021. I did like Uršuľa Kovalyk’s writing style in The Equestrienne and I was very impressed by how Svetlana Alexievich wrote non-fiction so I wouldn’t be opposed to checking out more of their work.

8. Newest fictional crush and 9. Newest favourite character.
Sturmhond aka Nikolai Lantsov – Grisha’verse by Leigh Bardugo
I’ve not yet read King of Scars and Rule of Wolves but from his first appearance as Sturmhond in Siege and Storm I absolutely loved Nikolai and he became my favourite character in the original trilogy. I don’t know if he is a fiction crush, as I don’t have them often, but he is a new favourite and he’s so charming and funny and a perfect scoundrel while also being a great tactician.

10. Book that made you cry.
The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich
This didn’t make me proper cry or anything but I did feel myself get really say or get a sort of pain in my chest as I listened to the audiobook. It was just really vivid in its descriptions of the brutality and reality of war.

11. Book that made you happy.
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
While Crooked Kingdom does have it’s sad or bittersweet moments, I just really enjoyed how everything came together and the final reveal of the con was exceptional. Having characters from the original Grisha trilogy was a huge bonus too.

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
The Beast Player and The Beast Warrior by Nahoko Uehasi
You’re getting two for this answer. I saw The Beast Warrior when browsing a Waterstone and immediately fell in love with the cover. After realising it was a sequel (book two in a duology I believe) I had to pick up the first book which was also stunning so I came home from Waterstones with these two beautiful books that I’ve yet to read.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
All of them? I’m pretty sure I say that every year I do this tag. I want to focus on my Read the World Project. There are a few books I’ve started but only read a few pages or maybe a chapter or two (told you in a big slump) so they’re probably going to be my priority. There’s  by Ali Al Saeed, How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić and The Madwoman of Serrano by Dina Salústio to name a few.

Now for some reading stats. I want to read 52 books this year and I’m current at 20 so I’m 5 books behind schedule which isn’t terrible and I do think if I actually pick a book up instead of watching a load of TV shows, I’ll soon get back on track.

I think the pandemic reading slump is hitting me now rather than last year like it seemed to hit a lot of people. Maybe now things are starting to open up a bit that’s what’s occupying my brain whereas before when there was very little to do I could focus on reading. Who knows!

Thanks to the Grisha’verse books I’ve read this year my most read genre is fantasy followed by short story collections and historical fiction. I’ve read more books by women than men (just) which I’m happy with but feel that might become more equal as I think I have more books by men on my TBR than women – or at least more books on my Read the World Project TBR are by men.

 

Asian Readathon TBR

In May in the United States it is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in honour of that Cindy from WithCindy on YouTube created a readathon where the main aim is to read books by Asian authors. I think this is the second or third year of the readathon, but this is the first time I’m participating. Her announcement video explains it all really well and she also has a Google Doc with extra info and resources and there’s a Twitter account for the readathon too.

There are five challenges in this readathon and any amount of them can be combined to make things easier for yourself:
– Read any book written by an Asian author.
– Read any book featuring an Asian protagonist.
– Read any book written by an Asian author in your favourite genre.
– Read any nonfiction book written by an Asian author.
– Read any book written by an Asian author that’s not US-centric.

There is a twist to combining the prompts though. You can combine challenges and read in any order; however, each book you read should feature a character or author of a different Asian ethnicity. This is to encourage cultural diversity. Books by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese authors do tend to be more common or popular here in the UK, so I think this is a great way to encourage people to read more diversely. Because like any ethnicity, Asians aren’t one huge monolith.

Thanks to my Read the World Project I’ve already read books from authors from over thirty different Asian countries – in fact I think Asia is the continent I’ve read the most books from. You can check out my Read the World Project masterpost to see all the countries and books I’ve read so far and links to all the reviews.

Like any readathon, my TBR is going to be far too big but I wanted to use this moment to highlight books by authors of different nationalities and backgrounds. I also used this readathon to order some books from both the library and bookshops that I’d been thinking of for a while so some of these haven’t arrived yet and a couple are on my kindle. I’m going to be (hopefully) reading books in all formats for this readathon.

Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems by Amjad Nasser, translated by Khaled Mattawa (Jordan)
This is a poetry collection and is the first English collection of Amjad Nasser’s work. The poems are from various collections originally in Arabic published between 1979 – 2004.

Palestine +100 edited by Basma Ghalayini, translated by Raph Cormack, Mohamed Ghalaieny, Andrew Leber, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Yasmine Seale and Jonathan Wright (Palestine)
A collection of short soties from twelve Palestinian writers imagining what their country might be like in the year 2048. These stories are in a whole range of genres including sci-fi, dystopia and farce.

The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad under Stalin by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov, translated by Jan Butler (Kazakhstan)
This is a memoir from Mukhamet Shayakhmetov, who was born into a family of nomadic herdsman in 1922, about life under Stalin’s rule.

QuixotiQ by Ali Al Saeed (Bahrain)
I’m not even sure what this book is about. It hasn’t arrived yet and all I’ve got from Waterstones and Goodreads is that it’s about two men whose lives take dramatic turns. It’s also the only book I could find in English by an author from Bahrain.

Armenian Golgotha by Grigoris Balakian, translated by Peter Balakian (Armenia)
A memoir about Grigoris Balakian’s eyewitness account of the Armenian Genocide which happened from 1915-1918.

Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi, translated by Sawad Hussain (Kuwait)
Three friends who share neither ethnic origin nor religious denomination, get involved in a protest group and one of their grandmothers, Mama Hissa, warns them against it.

Mother’s Beloved: Stories from Laos by Outhine Bounyavong (Laos)
This collection of short stories is the first collection of Lao short stories to be published in English. I think this collection has both the English translation and the short stories in the original language and I really like when books do this. This is one I’m waiting to pick up from Waterstones.

The Tale of Aypi by Ak Welsapar, translated by W.M. Coulson (Turkmenistan)
The story of a group of Turkmen fishermen who are trying to save their ancestral home from the ruling powers who are attempting to confiscate their land.

Looking at my books here and the challenges, the only one I’m unsure if I’ll complete is “book written by an Asian author in your favourite genre” mainly because I’m not even sure what my favourite genre is anymore, though I do like some hard-hitting non-fiction which is certainly here so those books could count for that.

Are you taking part in the Asian Readathon? Or do you have any books by Asian authors on your TBR in general? I would love to hear about them.