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? 🙂

Currently Reading [27/05]

Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman [nonfiction, philosophy, history] I’m a huge fan of Bregman’s talks and I’ve been meaning to get into his books for a while now. His recent story on the real Lord of the Flies was just wonderful, too. Really looking forward to this one.

Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky [dystopian, science fiction] This is one BIG book! I’m really enjoying the audiobook, but it is 23 hours (!), so it’s gonna take me a while. The descriptions are great so far.

Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation by Imani Perry [nonfiction, feminism, history] The introduction was absolutely mind-blowing! The author relays the story of the novel Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, which was written in 1688 and is apparently one of the first English novels ever written. It’s about the love between the eponymous hero, and Imoinda, his true love. Perry writes: Behn’s bifurcated tales of fortune and misfortune, The Forc’d Marriage and Oroonoko are, in turn, comedic and tragic. They are twin narratives of the development of modern patriarchy. Another part that struck me was the case of Amanda Dickson that Perry highlights. Dickson was a biracial woman in the late 1800s whose white father sought to bestow his fortune upon. Perry writes, But in [Amanda Dickson] we have a record of a life that surely must have been dizzying, anxiety-rendering, and rife with heartache. In that she wasn’t alone; she certainly was a part of a staggering majority: those who failed to be and were failed by the patriarchs in their midst.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry [historical fiction, lgbt+] Not far into this one yet, but so far the main lads Thomas McNulty and John Cole have spent an enjoyable stretch of time working as dancers and enjoying the dresses they get to wear and the dances they have with the men. Lovely prose as well!

Some great covers for these ones, too:

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?

The Joy of Audiobooks

audiobooks

I’ve loved audiobooks since I was little. I’ve always had terrible insomnia, and audiobooks were how I fell asleep as a child. Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings were all my favourites. My mum and I still laugh about how we can recite Harry Potter thanks to Jim Dale.

For no particular reason, I stopped listening somewhere around my teenage years. Probably because by then I started staying awake writing stories and reading instead, and I sort of drifted away from them. But I’ve rediscovered my love of audiobooks in recent years. GIVE ME ALL THE AUDIOBOOKS. I love listening to books as I walk around or go shopping or clean my flat.

I feel like audiobooks are a wonderful form of storytelling and one that doesn’t get enough love. I mean, stories told are older than stories written, after all. That said, I’m intensely picky about narrators. But the ones that are good are golden.

Current audiobooks I’m listening to:

Does anyone else love audiobooks? Have a favourite narrator?

Indie Book Promo Post

Hi guys! Fancy checking out an indie author?

To date, I’ve published two standalone novels, a novella, one series, and an anthology with several other talented writers. But I’m struggling to get more readers. It’s a tough industry to break into! So I thought I’d make a promo post to try and put a spotlight on my books.

I’d be absolutely grateful to anyone willing to give them a chance. 🙂

Haze [paranormal romance, urban fantasy]

When Eliza Owens gets a phone call in the middle of the night from a girl she’s never met, she doesn’t know what to think. The girl introduces herself as Paige, and says she used to date Erik Stern, Eliza’s fiancé. What’s more, she has something important to discuss.

The only problem? Paige has been dead for years.

Believing it to be a sick prank, Eliza tries to force it from her mind until Sam, Eliza’s older sister, tells her she met Paige only a few weeks before. And, according to Sam, Paige has nothing nice to say about Erik.

The fight which follows shatters the lives of everyone involved, and Erik disappears without a trace.

Five years later, Erik returns to town after his father’s death. Old wounds quickly resurface, and with them several burning questions. None the least of which is: Who spoke to Eliza and Sam if it wasn’t Paige? And why?

Dust & Lightning [science fiction, no romance]

In the near future, humans have gone beyond simple space travel. By the year 4054, multiple solar systems are inhabited, and taking a spaceship is as commonplace as taking an aeroplane.

Unfortunately, not everything about the future is so advanced. The central planets, led by Earth, have risen high at the expense of cheap labour on distant worlds. Dissent is widespread and arrests are common. Sometimes prisoners are released; sometimes they disappear without a trace, sent to labour camps in other solar systems.

When Ames Emerys receives a letter telling him that his brother Callum has died en route to the remote planet of Kilnin, he takes the first ship he can off Earth, desperate for answers. But the secrets Ames uncovers prove far more dangerous than he could have imagined.

And trouble isn’t far behind.

Spellbinding [anthology, fantasy]

Everyone knows magic isn’t real … But what if it was?

Nine tales, each one a snapshot of what happens to those who suddenly find themselves entangled with magic. From the wish that grants one sudden, unimaginable power, to a dark hex upon a wood, to faeries with nefarious intentions and hunters seeking blood, this anthology showcases the intricate web of adventure that comes from messing with magic.

A Touch of Death [science fiction, dystopian, later books LGBT]

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

A Game of Wings and Marks [urban fantasy, romance]

When Octavia Coal goes to the mountains to clear her head, she doesn’t expect to find an angel in trouble.

He tells her his name is Tamiel and he’s one of the Irin – the army of angels tasked with keeping demons from overwhelming humanity. But Tamiel broke a sacred law – he fell in love with a human – and now he’s being hunted by the same angels he once served.

With nowhere else to go, Octavia and Tamiel – along with Jack, the human in question, and her brother Caleb – appeal directly to Zev, the Demon of Games. A trickster of unparalleled power, Zev gives nothing for free, and the gift he offers Octavia to keep Tamiel alive comes with a confusing catch: He makes her the Healer of Raphael, archangel and Commander of the Irin.

Suddenly a target for both angels and demons, Octavia quickly learns that the only way to survive is to play the game better than they do.

The only problem is, she doesn’t know whose game she’s playing … 

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. 🙂

Audiobook Review: Swimming in the Dark (2020)

book review

Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski, narrated by Robert Nairne

When it comes to audiobooks I’m insanely picky about narrators. Storytelling is just as important as writing, after all. Let me just saw that not only is the writing for this book beautiful, so too is the narration. I totally, totally recommend the audiobook. 🙂

I turned my head and looked along the line to find Carolina, but instead my eyes fell on you. I had never seen you before. Not consciously, anyway. Yet my mind felt strangely relieved, as if it had recognised someone.

This book follows Ludwik and Janusz as they fall in love and traverse life in 1980s Poland. The writing style reminds me of The Lessons, which I read at the start of last year. Lush, evocative prose that’s just determined to break your heart.

No matter what happens in the world, however brutal or dystopian a thing, not all is lost if there are people out there risking themselves to document it. Little sparks cause fires, too.

That line absolutely floored me. Fantastic prose and I can’t wait to read more by Jedrowski! I definitely recommend this one!