Book Reviews: The Sigil (2020) & The Sycamore and the Sybil (2020)

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The Sigil by Shakeil Kanish & Larissa Mandeville: LGBT, fantasy

Everything that happened led you to this place […] and a boy who lost his voice and didn’t care if he’d ever get it back now wishes every day that he could just open his mouth and tell you all of this.

I really enjoyed this début novel from Shakeil Kanish and Larissa Mandeville! The main characters of Lake and Nova are great, and the bro angst really brought the FEELS. Brotherly love is something I adore in books, so of course this one tugged at my heart. ;_;

I want him to choose what he wants to be, not be stuck in a magical destiny like I seem to be. He deserves the world. I MEAN.

The twists at the end were great, and I loved the artwork inside the book, too! Can’t wait to see where it goes next!

 

*I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Sycamore and the Sybil by Alix E. Harrow in Uncanny Magazine Issue 33: March/April 2020: Fantasy, feminism

It’s like each woman doing what she can until one day, somehow, it is enough.

WELL, GOSH. I’m shook, to be quite honest. I have found a new author to adore. Alix E. Harrow’s The Sycamore and the Sybil is utterly captivating. You can feel the sisterhood and solidarity running through every word and the prose is simply lush.

Totally, totally recommend.

 

March Music Recs

music recs

The Decemberists – Rox In The Box
Foals – Mountain At My Gates
TV on the Radio – Wolf Like Me
Barns Country – Glitter & Gold
Thom Yorke – Hearing Damage
Zayde Wølf – No Mercy
Sam Tinnesz – Run with the Giants
Yarn – Don’t Break My Heart Again
Of Monsters & Men – Wars
The Revivalists – Wish I Knew You
Anaïs Mitchell – Wilderland

March 2020 TBRs

currently reading

I have no ability to read one book at a time, and I’ve found myself reading several at the moment. Clearly I have the attention span of a napkin 😉 I’m hoping to get all of these read and reviewed this month, in addition to more short stories!

Demon’s Blood by Shari Sakurai:

Immortal blood is precious and Kokawa Taku’s makes him especially unique.

After vampire hunters force them to flee Tokyo, Taku and his lover, Thane, try to make a new life for themselves in England. But three months later Thane is still tormented by nightmares of the fire that almost cost them their lives. This leads to carelessness and the discovery of one of his victims.

When faced with threats from all sides Taku tries his best to protect them although his actions are met with disapproval and anger from Thane. Unknown to his lover, Taku is also struggling to keep hidden the truth of what really happened three months ago.

However, it is only a matter of time before Taku’s past and bloodline catches up with him.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease:

Love. Magic. Revolution. Enchantée is Gita Trelease’s lush and imaginative debut fantasy about an impoverished girl who must use magic to impersonate an aristocrat in Versailles to provide for her sister as her own political awakening forces her to choose sides in the French Revolution.

Paris is a labryinth of twisted streets filled with beggars and thieves, revolutionaries and magicians. Camille Durbonne is one of them. She wishes she weren’t…

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille must find a way to provide for her younger sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on magic, Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille pursues a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Using dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into a baroness and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for magic. As she struggles to reconcile her resentment of the rich with the allure of glamour and excess, Camille meets a handsome young inventor, and begins to believe that love and liberty may both be possible.

But magic has its costs, and soon Camille loses control of her secrets. And when revolution erupts, Camille must choose — love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, reality of magic — before Paris burns.

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

There is a Wild Man who lives in the deep quiet of Greenhollow, and he listens to the wood. Tobias, tethered to the forest, does not dwell on his past life, but he lives a perfectly unremarkable existence with his cottage, his cat, and his dryads.

When Greenhollow Hall acquires a handsome, intensely curious new owner in Henry Silver, everything changes. Old secrets better left buried are dug up, and Tobias is forced to reckon with his troubled past — both the green magic of the woods, and the dark things that rest in its heart.

Enigma Variations by André Aciman

From a youthful infatuation with a cabinet maker in a small Italian fishing village, to a passionate yet sporadic affair with a woman in New York, to an obsession with a man he meets at a tennis court, Enigma Variations charts one man’s path through the great loves of his life. Paul’s intense desires, losses and longings draw him closer, not to a defined orientation, but to an understanding that ‘heartache, like love, like low-grade fevers, like the longing to reach out and touch a hand across the table, is easy enough to live down’.

André Aciman casts a shimmering light over each facet of desire, to probe how we ache, want and waver, and ultimately how we sometimes falter and let go of the very ones we want the most. We may not know what we want. We may remain enigmas to ourselves and to others. But sooner or later we discover who we’ve always known we were.

Firefly: Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove

The Battle of Serenity Valley was the turning point that led the Independents to their defeat at the hands of the Alliance. Yet the Browncoats had held the valley for weeks against all odds, before being ordered to lay down their arms. Command stated they refused to send in airpower because the ground war was “too hot.” But the soldiers who were there insist that was not true…

While picking up a new cargo on Persephone, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is kidnapped by a bunch of embittered veteran Browncoats who suspect him of sabotaging the Independents during the war. As the rest of the crew struggle to locate him, Mal is placed on trial for his life, fighting compelling evidence that someone did indeed betray them to the Alliance all those years ago. As old comrades and old rivals crawl out of the woodwork, Mal must prove his innocence, but his captors are desperate and destitute, and will settle for nothing less than the culprit’s blood.

The Sigil by Shakeil Kanish & Larissa Mandeville

A tragic death.
A dangerous obsession.
A desperate mission.

After losing the person most important to him, Lake Smithson stumbles across a letter he cannot explain. A single brush of his finger and he is thrust into the heart of a mystery only to slowly realize that his obsession to be more, will unleash an evil that threatens all he has left.

Faceless creatures, terrifying magic, unlikely friendships, and broken promises lead Lake and his friends to walk a tight line between the mage realm, on the brink of extinction, and the human realm, on the precipice of revelation. Will Lake become the first human to wield magic or will he be the last?

 

What’s everyone else reading this month? 

Audio Book Review: Basic Training

book review

Basic Training by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., narrated by Colin Hanks

He searched his conscience in vain for a grain of remorse to justify the desolating punishment the general had promised. When you punish somebody, you take away from them what they want, he reasoned. All I had in the whole wide world was my music, so that’s what I lost: everything.

A new old Vonnegut. I’m not sure you can go wrong with a novella by Kurt Vonnegut that’s narrated by Colin Hanks! This is one of Vonnegut’s unpublished stories, likely written in the 1940s, it seems. I haven’t come across it before today and was in the mood for a Vonnegut story. It’s a good novella, and follows a teenager named Haley Brandon when he comes to stay with a man who insists upon calling himself the General. I saw a few Salinger comparisons and I can see it. If you’ve read Salinger’s shorts, I totally get the same vibe.

I recommend the audiobook for sure! Colin Hanks is a great narrator and really brings Vonnegut’s words to life ♥

 

Film Review: All the Bright Places (2020)

show_film review

All the Bright Places (2020)

‘Even the ugliest of places can be beautiful as long as you take the time to look.’ 

 

Netflix’s new movie, All the Bright Places, is the story of Theodore Finch (played by Justice Smith) and Violet Markey (played by Elle Fanning).

One morning, Theodore’s out for a run when he happens upon Violet, standing alone on a bridge ledge. He quietly intervenes and refuses to leave when she tells him to go, and talks her down. Theodore’s quickly drawn to Violet, determined to help her and bring her out of the darkness that’s consumed her since her sister died. But Theodore’s got his own problems and in addition to his internal struggles, is dealing with a variety of problems at school and at home. When the pair are tasked with a school project, they slowly grow closer, but both are dealing with a lot and things quickly become intense.

I had no idea this was based on a book going in, so the plot took me completely by surprise. One of my favourite moments in the movie is when Theodore and Violet start communicating in Virginia Woolf quotes. I just found it so adorable. That said, the bulk of their interactions are cute and/or touching. But the storyline’s going to tug at your heart-strings, so fair warning.

All the Bright Places kind of reminds me of Before I Fall, another Netflix favourite of mine. (Netflix is such a gift to us introverts so that we can get good movies without having to leave the house.) I like quiet stories that feel genuine and I can usually only find them in indie films, so I’m loving these new releases on Netflix. ^_^ Elle Fanning is as lovely as ever and I was really surprised by Justice Smith. They are the heart and soul of the movie and played well off each other.

I definitely recommend this one!

Mini Review Roundup

book review

My love of sci-fi/fantasy shorts continues and I’ve read a few more this week: Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson in Lightspeed Magazine, and Blue Morphos in the Garden by Lis Mitchell and Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn on Tor.

Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson

Extinction can be as global as all, or as personal as me.

I listened to the audiobook version of Noah’s Raven by Kij Johnson, which was definitely unexpected. It’s a take on Noah’s Ark that, for me, brought to mind Snowpiercer (for reasons I won’t spoil, though I’m still like WHAT ). Johnson’s writing is undeniably captivating and there were several lines in the story that really stood out for me.

Will be coming back to this issue to check out the rest of the stories, for sure.

Blue Morphos in the Garden by Lis Mitchell

“I know,” I say to him, taking his hand. “Butterflies aren’t the same.”

The premise of this story is so interesting and tackles the question of choice and death in a really unique way. I read it on a whim and ended up quite liking it! Available here.

Sinew and Steel and What They Told by Carrie Vaughn

We go out into the galaxy and collect stories, and then we bring them home.

I really liked this one. Graff is injured on the job and when he’s brought in and doesn’t die from what would otherwise be life-threatening injuries, everyone on his ship has a lot of questions, including his boyfriend, Doctor Ell. Definitely recommend! Available here.