As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:
- (★★★★★): Loved it, won’t shut up about it for the foreseeable future
- (★★★★): Really liked it, enjoyable experience
- (★★★): Liked it enough, no strong opinions
- (★★): Didn’t care for it, would actively discourage people reading it
Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.
Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica
GoodReads rating: 3.92 / 5 (28,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library)
PopSugar prompt: A book by a Latinx author
Summary: Marcos used to slaughter animals, but since a virus has rendered all animals poisonous to humans, society has “transitioned” to slaughtering humans for consumption. With his marriage on the rocks since the loss of their son and his father deep in dementia, Marcos must stay at his slaughterhouse job to support them. However, when he is gifted a “pure” female specimen, he starts to rethink his job and this strange new world they inhabit.
Warning: This book contains extreme themes of body horror, violent rape, animal death and cannibalism and mention of suicide.
Thoughts: If it’s not obvious by my warning, this book is deeply disturbing and definitely not for everyone. But if you can stomach the themes, it’s such a speculative read. There were some points where I had to put the book down and really think about what I just read. Since the “transition,” marginalized have disappeared to be sold on the black meat market, debtors offer the option of being hunted to repay loans, all parts of the human is used (leather… that’s all I’ll say) and human trafficking has gone to a new level. The ending is so good and this book was engaging throughout, this one will stick with me for a while.
Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau
Genre: Historical fiction, coming of age
GoodReads rating: 4.17 / 5 (20,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book and audiobook (borrowed from library)
Summary: Mary Jane grew up in a conservative house where cooking, reading and singing in the church choir were acceptable pastimes and they prayed for President Ford every night. When Mary Jane is hired for a summer nanny gig for a doctor and his wife, the household of her employer’s is quite different from her own: takeout for dinner, messes everywhere and love flows freely. The doctor takes a hands-on approach with a needy patient by moving an addict rock star and his equally famous wife into his house for treatment. “Caught between the lifestyle she’s always known and the future she’s only just realized is possible, Mary Jane will arrive at September with a new idea about what she wants out of life, and what kind of person she’s going to be.”
Warning: This book contains mention of racism and anti-Semitism and themes of drug addiction.
Thoughts: I was ready to love this book, but it fell flat in a lot of ways. I did love that the 14-year-old Mary Jane felt real, I loved that she thought she was a sex addict and that the “hippies” explained to her that her curiosity was perfectly normal. The audiobook was amazing, especially the “Mary Jane” song at the end. On the other hand, I was let down by the fact they didn’t even talk about psychedelics and barely touched on free love. An open marriage was mentioned but not really explored and psychedelics were teased (Esalen was mentioned and a “weird smelling tea”) but I was holding out for nothing. I think there would have been a lot of great things to explore in those. I think this book might have just been riding the Daisy Jones and the Six wave into popularity.
The Deep by Rivers Solomon
Genre: Science fiction, fantasy
GoodReads rating: 3.79 / 5 (22,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library)
PopSugar prompt: An #OwnVoices SFF book
Summary: “Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu. Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.”
Warning: This book contains mention of slavery brutality
Thoughts: This short book was enjoyable, but not totally for me. Science fiction and fantasy are two genres I hardly pick up so this book already had that going against it. However, I was ready to enjoy a mermaid story and liked this enough. I had no idea this book was inspired by clipping.’s song with an afterword from frontman Daveed Diggs (if you don’t know who he is, just browse his Wikipedia page). The writing was a bit arduous at times but the story was captivating.
Other adaptations: As mentioned, this book is cannon for a song by clipping. of the same title written for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future”.
Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
Genre: History, nature, food
GoodReads rating: 3.92 / 5 (21,000 ratings)
Medium used: Audiobook and e-book (borrowed from library)
PopSugar prompt: A book with a recipe
Summary: “The Cod. Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been triggered by it, national diets have been based on it, economies and livelihoods have depended on it. To the millions it has sustained, it has been a treasure more precious that gold. This book spans 1,000 years and four continents. From the Vikings to Clarence Birdseye, Mark Kurlansky introduces the explorers, merchants, writers, chefs and fisherman, whose lives have been interwoven with this prolific fish.”
Thoughts: This book most certainly fit the bill of a book with a recipe, with at least one in every chapter then a whole chapter at the end of the book for a complication of six centuries of cod recipes. This book is nearly as old as I am and would love a more updated version with more information on modern management (I worked with Pacific cod and Alaska pollock at some of the biggest fish plants in the world) and the infamous “Codfather” Carlos Rafael who was released from prison last year for false labeling of fish and falsifying federal records. For more of the story, check out the episode on the topic on Netflix’s Rotten. I found this bit so fascinating and would read a whole book on the topic: the famous author of one of my favorite books Graham Greene was thought to be off his rocker when he accused the Nice mayor Jacques Médecin of corruption, only to be vindicated after death when Médecin was convicted and sent to prison. Despite his crimes, Médecin was famous for his Nicoise recipes involving cod and you can even buy his book on Amazon. There is a lot of great information about history but this book wasn’t what I was expecting and probably would have put it down if I wasn’t listening to the audiobook.
Have you read any of these?
Photo by Radu Marcusu.