Book Review: Release (2017)

Release by Patrick Ness

As I was reading this, my mind kept likening it to The Wicker King and The Monsters We Deserve, although neither of those is really similar. Maybe just along the same vibe? Release takes place over the course of the day and tells two stories: one is Adam’s, a gay teenager in an Evangelical home with a family he doesn’t feel loved by; the other is the story of a Queen and her faun. I quite liked both stories, for different reasons. I adored Adam and my heart ached for all he went through (and in the course of a freakin’ day, poor lad!). I really enjoyed the Queen’s tale, too, although I think more of a connection between the two stories would have been nice. Maybe just a bit longer, perhaps?

I really liked Angela, Adam’s bestie, and Marty, his brother. Marty was definitely a complicated character with some frustrating moments, but by the end I really liked his character. I wanted a few more scenes with him and Adam, though!

All in all, a very good story and my first one by Patrick Ness. Can’t wait to read more by him!

Indie TBR

Indie books are often where I look for most of my books. Not just because I write indie books myself and want to support fellow writers, but because I find so much diversity and so many hidden gems. So, without further ado, some indie books I’ve added to my list that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into:

Eat the Rich by Andrew Rivas | Jinnik: The Asset by Gideon D. Asche | Goblinprince by Abbigayle Grace | Lord of the Clouds by G.S. Lewis | Annabel Pickering and the Sky Pirates: The Fantastical Contraption by Bretigne Shaffer | Kartega by A.N. Sage

Anyone read any of these? I’d love to know what you thought!

Like indie books? Check out the Indie Authors & Books community on Goodreads! Or check out Reedsy! Or Voracious Readers Only! 😉

(Audio)Book Review: Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry, narrated by Aidan Kelly [lgbt+, historical fiction]

that strange love between us. Like when you fumblin’ about in the darkness and you light a lamp, and the light comes up and rescues things. Objects in a room and the face of the man who seem a dug-up treasure to you. John Cole seems a food; bread of Earth. The lamplight touching his eyes and another light answering.

5 HEARTS-IN-MY-EYES STARS for Thomas McNulty, Handsome John Cole, little Winona, and an epic historical fiction novel whose central cast is a gay couple and their adopted daughter.

A man’s memory might have only a hundred clear days in it and he has lived thousands. Can’t do much about that. We have our store of days and we spend them like forgetful drunkards. I ain’t got no argument with it, just saying it is so.

*faints from prose fangirling*

We knew what to do with nothing. We were at home there.

READ IT. READ IT. READ IT.

Mini Review Roundup [30/05]

I’ve been having trouble with longer fiction novels of late. Being elbow deep in study definitely affects that, as I went through quite a bit non-fiction this week. I do really love reading old newspapers and archives, but I am missing fiction! I combed through two memoirs, this week, though. Both are from the Korean War.

I am really enjoying Days Without End on Audiobook. And Humankind, which is so darn optimistic and upbeat. I totally recommend it given what I’ve listened to so far. Bregman reframes so many moments and shows a different take on the narrative that makes headlines. It’s very hopeful.

mini reviews;

Little Free Library by Naomi Kritzer

If you can bring me more such books, I will leave you every scrap of gold I can find.

Oh my goodness, I really liked this one. A little free library becomes a way to correspond with a mysterious, grateful seeker of books. J’adore!

3 a.m. Blues by Joseph Fulkerson

doing the backstroke in the ocean of other’s opinions, navigating the minefield of could’ve and should’ve

This was quite a good collection of poetry, I only wish it were longer!

When Two Swordsmen Meet by Ellen Kushner

It’s a beautiful fight. They each want the other to win. Not so much duel as duet.

Ooooh, this was goooood. Something very lyrical and fanciful about this one. I definitely recommend it. Available here

What’s everyone reading this week? 🙂

Mini Review Roundup [25/05]

This was an audiobook and poetry weekend, to be sure! After finishing Gold Rush Manliness and Everything You Love Will Burn, I decided to pick up some romance and poetry. I have a lot more nonfiction on my list, but mixing it up definitely keeps things interesting. I’m also enjoying Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky, an epic sci-fi book.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

All she wanted to do was stand there and look. Being by the sea always made Sarah feel small. Insignificant in a way that was comforting somehow.

I’m actually setting this one aside for now. About halfway done, and whilst I really do like O’Neill’s writing and I’m definitely going to try one of her other books, I’m not in the right mood for this one. I think what the book is trying to depict is an important topic to discuss – how bad relationships can become – but I don’t think I’m in the head space for it. As well, Sarah is a character that I’m struggling to connect to. I’ll probably come back to this at some point though. The story certainly does draw you in.

I also picked out a few poems to read this week as I was definitely missing poetry. Uncanny Magazine has a lot of great poetry, so I checked out some of their recent issues

Issue 31 / Issue 32.

I started with ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ by Ada Hoffmann.

Have you ever torn through a forest of books, trawling the half-naked
flotsam
of dream and the tarnish of myth, desperately seeking
a memory?

Pretty, right? I liked this one. What a lovely poem. Available here.

Followed it up with Brandon O’Brien’s ‘Elegy for the Self as Villeneuve’s Belle’, which was brilliant.

Wanting pretty things is hunger, too,
and having is feasting, denied by few.

Available here.

I also read Annie Neugebauer’s ‘The Wooden Box’. Really liked this one!

It’s a wooden box,
ornately carved, beautifully
stained a dark mahogany.

It’s dry as I lift it up
and gently slide out the
tongue-and-groove top.

Gave me chills, to be honest! Read here.

  1. Cage of Souls | science fiction, dystopian
  2. A Small Revolution in Germany | lgbt, fiction
  3. Agnes Grey | classics, fiction
  4. The Curse of the Black Cat | fantasy, lgbt

What’s everyone reading this week?

A Non-Fiction Book Rec Post

nonfiction

I undoubtedly read more fiction than non-fiction, but I’m trying to improve that. I read a lot of non-fiction for my studies, but not enough on other subjects. Sometimes there’s just not enough time to read all the books! I’m currently in the midst of two right now, Gold Rush Manliness: Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope and Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America, which I just started. One I’m reading paperback, the other I’m listening to on audio.

 

Here is a list of the nonfiction books I definitely, definitely recommend everyone check out for themselves.  (This list is not exhaustive.)

*order is random, not a rank of how awesome these are

  1. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham. This book is utterly gut-wrenching but I could not recommend it more. The details still give me chills and I’m in awe of the depth of Higginbotham’s reporting.
  2. Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope by Megan Phelps-Roper. I wrote a review for this book here.
  3. One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse. AMAZING. AMAZING. AMAZING. If you aren’t following Kruse on Twitter, allow me to point the way. He’s constantly giving mini-history lessons online and he’s a wonderful political commentator. This book kept me company on my last archive trip and I thoroughly recommend it.
  4. Columbine by Dave Cullen. Cullen has such a wonderful approach to reporting and truly respects those he interviews. He’s become a frequent commentator on gun control in the States and he also wrote a book on Parkland.
  5. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I quite liked the film when it came out, but wanted to delve more into the topic and understand Christopher McCandless. Krakauer’s writing is wonderful and the story really broke my heart. I think reading the book paints a better picture of McCandless than the film, although Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack remains one of the greatest of all time.
  6. Facing the Rising Sun: African Americans, Japan, and the Rise of Afro-Asian Solidarity by Gerald Horne. This is a topic I didn’t know much about and I’m so glad I picked up this book.
  7. Notes on Nationalism by George Orwell. Orwell’s works are always good and this one can be read in less than an hour, but it’s chock-full of perspective on nationalism.
  8. The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government by David K. Johnson. Too few people know about the Lavender Scare and I cannot recommend this enough.
  9. The Korean War: A History by Bruce Cumings. Cumings is my favourite Korean War historian. I strongly recommend this one.
  10. Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow. I followed Farrow’s reporting for the New Yorker when this story first broke, and hearing him recite the tale in book form added a new level of horror to the topic. I haven’t fully finished it yet, but it’s amazing.

Books I’m looking forward to getting to at some point:

  1. Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill
  2. Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World by David Vine. I’ve read Vine’s reporting, but haven’t yet been able to pick up the book.
  3. History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier by Deborah E. Lipstadt
  4. Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen. His reporting on Columbine absolutely blew my mind, so I’m definitely reading this one.
  5. How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr
  6. No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald. I’ve read Greenwald’s articles and reports on this, but never the full book, so I definitely want to read this at some point.
  7. The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason by Charles Freeman
  8. Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America by Kathleen Belew. I’m partway through this one and really wowed by the amount of research, but I put it aside as the subject matter is quite hard to get through en bulk.
  9. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
  10. Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn
  11. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch
  12. The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. I’ve started this one, but put it on hold temporarily because it’s a very heartbreaking subject matter and I think I need to get through it in smaller doses.
  13. The Deportation Machine: America’s Long History of Expelling Immigrants by Adam Goodman
  14. They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
  15. Unbelievable by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
  16. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Harmony Becker
  17. Permanent Record by Edward Snowden
  18. Fighting Proud: The Untold Story of the Gay Men Who Served in Two World Wars by Stephen Bourne
  19. War on Peace by Ronan Farrow. I’ve started this one and of course got sidetracked, but I want to finish it soon! I adore Farrow’s work and have nothing but the highest respect for him.

 

What’s your favourite nonfiction book? Any subject matter really interest you? Feel free to recommend books in the comments. 🙂

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

My Post (2)

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.

 

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 ♥

 

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.

Mini Review Roundup

book review

I’ve been reading/listening to a good number of shorts this week and have found some lovely ones! All of them are available online, so click the links if you’re curious!

1. Such Thoughts Are Unproductive by Rebecca Campbell, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 159:

It only takes a few words when it’s people like us, the imperfect citizens of this perfectly known world. She told me things I do not wish to know, because they hurt to know, then we both looked instinctively for cameras and drones and microphones.

I got such 1984 vibes from this. Really impressed, definitely recommend. Available here

2. An Arc of Lightning Across the Eye of God by P H Lee, Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 157

I am my father’s name, written by my mother’s vision across time and space.

This was a very interesting short that’s really hard to describe, but definitely worth a read. Available here.

3. Lightspeed Magazine, June 2015: Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue (edited by Seanan McGuire)

I’ve just stumbled upon this collection of LGBT+ stories and I can’t wait to dive into them all. It’s 500+ pages too, like YAAAAS. But also, I do *not* have time for these wonderful distractions. THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I WANT TO READ AND THE LIST IS ONLY GROWING GOOD GRIEF. (This is like the best problem to have, really, but still, the ever-growing TBR is ridic)

So far I’ve only read Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind by Erica L. Satifka, which was brief but hard hitting all the same. It’s a found letter and the content is only 700 words, so I won’t summarise it. Just give it a go! F/F. Available here.

4. Making My Entrance Again With My Usual Flair by Ken Scholes

No one ever asks a clown at the end of his life what he really wanted to be when he grew up. It’s fairly obvious.

I absolutely adored the title and it’s honestly what drew me in. This is a rather funny short story about an ex-clown tasked with driving a monkey to Roswell, New Mexico. Really enjoyed it! Available here.

5. Her Appetite, His Heart by Dominica Phetteplace Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 114

Grief was the price of survival.

Part of the Robot Country series. I definitely should have read the first one first, haha, but I still enjoyed it. Available here.