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Book Review

Book Reviews

1/5/2022

By Xiran Jay Zhao
Publication date: Sept. 21, 2021
400 pages
$17.99
Penguin Books

‘Iron Widow’ 

The wide world of fantasy novels has so much more diversity these days, and I, for one, cannot be more excited about it. “Iron Widow” is just such a story, taking place in an alternate world in which a culture with Chinese influences is haunted by an alien invasion that threatens all of civilization.

The aliens are battled by hero pilots with powerful technology that comes at a stark cost. Women are often killed in service to the male pilots, sacrifices no one seems to care about. Zetian refuses to accept this misogynistic practice after her sister is killed and decides to enlist to seek revenge. Zetian’s bravery and strength end up putting her into a situation she never could have foreseen, and she’s thrust into battle with a man she doesn’t trust, with one goal: ending the forced sacrifice of these women while still protecting her people. 

A fast-paced plot with a lot of big themes, it’s an interesting, unique fantasy setting with sharp, morally grey characters who leap off the page. It’s like catnip for me, and I can’t wait for the sequel.  n 

— Review by Julie Goodrich

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa

By Sosuke Natsukawa
Publication date: Dec. 7, 2021
208 pages
$24.99
HarperVia

‘The Cat Who Saved Books’ 

Grief, books and a talking cat. If there were ever a recipe for a book guaranteed to catch my attention, I think that would be it. Translated books are often surprising in both story and prose, and this charming tale is no different.

Rintaro Natsuki is a lonely teenager who is sure that no one knows him or cares about him and now he has lost his beloved grandfather, an eccentric who owned a small used bookstore, Rintaro inherits the shop and stops going to school. Alone with his misery, he is stunned to find a talking, green-eyed cat who demands his help. The cat is on a mission to save unread books from careless, thoughtless owners who don’t understand the value of books. 

In the course of his adventures in book-saving, Rintaro finds a way through his grief, and, more significantly, his fear of being alone. This is a heart-warming, simple and beautiful story that hits just the right note of bittersweet humanity. It is absolutely a book for booklovers — and anyone who needs a genuine smile. n 

— Review by Julie Goodrich

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