September TBRs

There are so many books on my list that I’m eagerly awaiting reading and these are just the start! Some great finds, though. Of these four, the first is an ARC to read and review, the second was gifted to me by a friend, the third is a new short from Tor (I really do love their short stories!), and the last is a new nonfiction book on the Korean War that I got pretty much the day it came out. I really respect Charles J. Hanley’s previous work, so I’m definitely going into this one ready to be well informed. If you haven’t read it, definitely check out The Bridge at No Gun Ri.

The Wolf and The Water by Josie Jaffrey

Some secrets are worth killing for

The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.


Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.
Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.


With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.


If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones

Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones is horror story about a day laborer hired to help clean up a flooded creek outside of Boulder, Colorado, who comes across what could be a very valuable find.

Ghost Flames: Life and Death in a Hidden War, Korea 1950-1953 by Charles J. Hanley

A powerful, character-driven narrative of the Korean War from the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who helped uncover some of its longest-held and darkest secrets

The war that broke out in Korea on a Sunday morning 70 years ago has come to be recognized as a critical turning point in modern history, as the first great clash of arms of the Cold War, the last conflict between superpowers, and the root of a nuclear crisis that grips the world to this day.

In this vivid, emotionally compelling and highly original account, Charles J. Hanley tells the story of the Korean War through the eyes of 20 individuals who lived through it–from a North Korean refugee girl to an American nun, a Chinese general to a black American prisoner of war, a British journalist to a US Marine hero.

This is an intimate, deeper kind of history, whose meticulous research and rich detail, drawing on recently unearthed materials and eyewitness accounts, brings the true face of the Korean War, the vastness of its human tragedy, into a sharper focus than ever before. The “Forgotten War” becomes unforgettable.


In decades as an international journalist, Hanley reported from some 100 countries and covered more than a half-dozen conflicts, from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq. 

What’s everyone else looking forwarding to reading this month?

Currently Reading [09/07]

My local bookshop has a great sale section, so I was able to pick up a couple of books recently. I also found out you can bring in books for store credit, which is amazing! Best news ever! I have a pile of books that I’ve been meaning to give away, so the prospect of getting books for them gives me heart eyes. I especially love that the bookshop near me now has such a great LGBT+ selection. Always wonderful to see!

In addition to the new paperbacks, I’m also listening to an audiobook, and have an ARC to finish up and review. So much to read and not enough time!

Has anyone read any of the books listed above? I’d love to know your thoughts!

What’s everyone else currently reading? 🙂

Mini Review Round-Up | LGBT Romance

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When Red Cried Wolf (Happily Ever Asher #1) by Nash Summers | lgbt, short story

His roommate, Morgan, had been like an elusive baby deer, skittering off into the woods at the first sign of human life. Asher usually made sure not to make direct eye contact or any sudden movements around him for fear of scaring him off.

I thought this was a cute start to the trilogy and it definitely left me wanting more, but Asher was a bit too much at times. Dude needed to chill about how much he loves love, haha. Morgan was my favourite and I’m excited to see how their relationship develops in the next two.

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His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light by Mimi Mondal | lgbt, short story

And then there was an arm around my waist, holding me upright again, there was a hand wiping dust, blood, and tears from my eyes. It was Shehzad Marid—ever loving, ever loyal, always on my side in my hour of need.

This was a really good short story about a trapeze master and his jinni. Available online here.

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Lovers (Voyeur #2) by Fiona Cole | lgbt, romance

“I miss you. You won’t touch me, or kiss me, or sit with me, or hold me. Nothing. And I fucking miss you.”

I haven’t read the first one in the series and I’m not sure I’m bothered to read the rest of it, but I did enjoy this one. It follows Jake, Jackson and Carina in a love ménage à trois that becomes increasingly complicated due to Jake and Jackson’s past and their intense friendship.

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Variations on an Apple by Yoon Ha Lee | lgbt, short story

It smelled of diesel hearts and drudgery and overcrowded colonies; of battery acid gone bad and bromides and foundered courtships. Intoxicating, yes, but in the way of verses etched unwanted upon the spirit’s cracked windows. 

The imagery and descriptions in this are gorgeous. Available online here.

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The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu | lgbt, short story

This is the man who seconds ago risked going insane in order to feel soul-rending pain for fun. How can he suddenly look so vulnerable?

This was so random and quite good, if a bit too abrupt. I feel like I needed more information and development on the rain and on the sister. I’ve rarely hated a character so much who appears so briefly, but I wanted that addressed more in depth because she was horrible. Available online here.

Top Books of 2019

type

The Lessons by Naomi Alderman | 5/5 | LGBT, Fiction

‘A man made of smoke.’

Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham | 5/5 | Nonfiction

‘If we survive until the morning, we’ll live forever.’

The Fever King (Feverwake #1) by Victoria Lee | 5/5 | LGBT, Fantasy, Dystopian

‘He didn’t plan anything. There was nothing to plan – he didn’t have contingencies, no connections in clandestine places who knew how to make a man disappear. All he had was impulse and the flash-fire certainty that yes, yes, this was the right thing to do.’

The City Always Wins by Omar Robert Hamilton | 5/5 | Nonfiction

‘We are surrounded by the conversations we didn’t have.’

Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle | 5/5 | LGBT, Magical Realism

‘Maybe it’s more about firsts. Maybe every first is a loss.’

If We Could Go Back (Camassia Cove #6) by Cara Dee | 4/5 | LGBT

‘Everything was black-and-white until you grew up and saw gray everywhere. There were millions of rights and wrongs in our lives, and blame could be placed with all of us.’

One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse | 5/5 | Nonfiction, US History, Politics, Religion

‘In 1954, Congress followed Eisenhower’s lead, adding the phrase “under God” to the previously secular Pledge of Allegiance. A similar phrase, “In God We Trust,” was added to a postage stamp for the first time in 1954 and then to paper money the next year; in 1956, it became the nation’s first official motto. During the Eisenhower era Americans were told, time and time again, that the nation not only should be a Christian nation but also that it had always been one. They soon came to believe that the United States of America was “one nation under God.” And they’ve believed it ever since.’

The Monsters We Deserve by Marcus Sedgwick | 5/5 | Gothic Fantasy

‘Yet every writer worth a good-god damn knows this too, for it is graven into each of us: no one cares for beauty. Not in fiction. Not on its own, not pure, untroubled beauty; not in fiction. It’s what we crave in the real world, of course; beauty, and you know I mean that in its broadest sense: the sense of kindness and wisdom and peace and joy: all the things in the world that are beautiful, and all the things we crave in real life, but which are not sufficient to count, on their own, for anything in the world of stories.’

Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell | 5/5 | Political Essays

‘The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also.’

We Will Not Be Strangers: Korean War Letters between a M.A.S.H Surgeon and His Wife
by Dorothy G. Horwitz (Editor) & Mel Horwitz | 5/5 | Nonfiction, Military History, Letters, Korean War

‘Men killing, destroying, sitting in cold and mud and filth. Do they really hate each other? I doubt it.’

Rule Breaker (Mixed Messages #1) by Lily Morton | 4.5/5 | LGBT Romance

‘Tradition comes from something being so brilliant and such a good memory, that you try to recreate it every time that you can.’

Deal Maker (Mixed Messages #2) by Lily Morton | 4.5/5 | LGBT Romance, Comedy

‘Thank you for enquiring whether I do my own stunts. The simple answer is no. They tell me jumping a puddle is safe, but what would they know? I could slip and damage my face, and then where would the world be?’

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow | 5/5 | Nonfiction, Politics, Feminism

‘In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out.’

Horatio by T.J. Klune | 4/5 | LGBT Romance, Short Story | **freely available at the author’s site**

‘“What happened to free will?”

He snorted inelegantly. “Who knows? It’s one of the great secrets of the universe. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was destiny, or maybe it was nothing at all and we’re just two people in the middle of cosmic nonsense clinging to each other because we can.”’

The one I am currently reading looks like it will make a top list, too, so I’m adding it below. It’s giving me serious Firefly vibes so far which is always a good thing!

Adrift by Rob Boffard | Science Fiction, Outer Space

‘He really, really doesn’t want to die. Not by freezing, not by suffocating, not by anything, not ever. If he dies now, he’ll never fly a ship, never go to flight school […] He’ll never be able to help Mom and Dad stay together, and he’ll never get to tell Mal that he’s a giant dick for filming him while he was in trouble.’

There were so many good books this year! And my TBR pile remains taller than myself. 😉

Books Read in September 2019

juggling books

I read quite a few books this month and I’m trying to be better about writing up reviews! (These are cross-posted to Goodreads.) 😉

1. The Monsters We Deserve (Fantasy, Gothic) —

I AM SHOOK.

About two pages into this book, I came across a quote that I wanted to leave in my review and put a post-it on the page; about five pages later, I put another post-it. This kept happening and now my book is full of bright orange post-it notes of wonderful quotes and I want to use them all. But alas, I’d probably end up quoting the whole bloody book.

But this is definitely one of my favourites:

Yet every writer worth a good-god damn knows this too, for it is graven into each of us: no one cares for beauty. Not in fiction. Not on its own, not pure, untroubled beauty; not in fiction. It’s what we crave in the real world, of course; beauty, and you know I mean that in its broadest sense: the sense of kindness and wisdom and peace and joy: all the things in the world that are beautiful, and all the things we crave in real life, but which are not sufficient to count, on their own, for anything in the world of stories.

There are so many fantastic questions and curiosities in this book. It’s also eerie and Gothic and beautiful. It’s got ATMOSPHERE. And the author’s unending quarrel with himself over hating Frankenstein is in equal parts funny, interesting and thought-provoking.

Almost everyone has an inborn need to create; in most people this is thwarted and forgotten, and the drive is pushed into other actives that are less threatening, less difficult, and less rewarding. In some people, the need to create is transmuted into the need to destroy.

I actually had no idea what this book was going to be about and I feel like that almost made it better. I didn’t see any of the twists and was just along for the ride and totally loved it. There are so many gorgeous paragraphs and I read the whole thing in an afternoon. It full on distracted me from my Buffy rewatch, so you know it’s gotta be good.

I 100% recommend this to everyone.

2. Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat (Children’s Books) —

The drawings in this are utterly adorable and the rhymes are cute. I did notice that the font on a few pages was hard to read in places due to the colour, but that’s only a minor thing. Definitely recommend it for kids. 🙂

3. 1984 (Dystopian, Science Fiction, Classics) 

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.

1984, along with V for Vendetta, Children of Men, Brave New World and Harrison Bergeron (and many others), is amongst my favourite dystopian tales. If you haven’t read it yet, get cracking!

4. Starting New (LGBT, Romance) —

Everyone is born into something, and from the moment of birth our paths are somewhat influenced by who and what is around us.

This book was a total random read and I ended up enjoying it more than I anticipated!

5. Happy for You (LGBT, Romance) —

He was like family and she asked him to leave.

I really liked the previous book, Made for You, but this one didn’t work quite as well for me. The romance was good (and the author’s writing is always wonderful!) but the background plot was a bit confusing and I was just left wanting more. The main guy was definitely the best.

6. Last Bus to Everland (Fantasy, LGBT) —

There’s bravery in surviving this world when your mind can only focus on the bad in it.

This was a lot more … real than I expected. Like, I felt quite melancholy whilst reading it. Overall I did really like it, but I was holding out for a different ending. 😦

7. The Time Machine (Science Fiction, Classics)

From the edge of the sea came a ripple and whisper. Beyond these lifeless sounds the world was silent. Silent? It would be hard to convey the stillness of it.

At last! I’ve been meaning to read an HG Wells book for ages. Glad I started with this one. The ending was fantastic.

8. Thoughts from the Borderline (Poetry and Prose) —

Ask me of life, and I’ll struggle
to pen a sentence.
Ask me of death,
And I’ll spit the alphabet without intention.

This collection of mixed poetry and prose was wonderful and reminded me why I fell in love with writing and poems to being with. Honestly, this book left me desperate to read poetry for hours, which says a lot. (I’m picky with my poetry.) King’s words are raw and real, and flow together so well. There’s also a great visual layout to the poems that changes up the rhythm of how you read it, which was a really cool effect. I don’t want to give too much away, because I think the poems unfold beautifully without spoilers, but I thoroughly recommend it.

9. Notes on Nationalism (Essays, Politics, Classics) —

The point is that as soon as fear, hatred, jealousy and power worship are involved, the sense of reality becomes unhinged. And, as I have pointed out already, the sense of right and wrong becomes unhinged also.

I can’t believe I haven’t read this before now, but I’m so glad I found it in the bookshop the other day. Written in 1945, many of the quotes and observations about nationalism and hatred continue – depressingly – to be applicable to today. I thoroughly recommend this to everyone, not just those interested in politics and history.

10. The Other Boy (Children’s Books, LGBT) —

‘And the reality is that life sucks?’

‘Not always.’ She sat back down and crossed her legs. ‘You got to take the bad with the good, you know? It’s all about figuring out what your choices are, and trying to make the right ones. The ones that don’t hurt people.’

I devoured this book in one sitting. The main character, Shane, is so lovable and relatable. We share a love of Firefly and I loved the references!

And I ADORED Josh, the best friend, Alejandra, the new friend, and Shane’s mum. She was wonderful and such a shining star throughout the novel. The comics between the chapters were an adorable addition, too! Loved them! I’d totally read Shane’s comic.

I recommend this for anyone looking for an uplifting read. Great representation and message. ❤