Mini Review Roundup [15/03]

review3

 

Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat

I knew Pacat from the Captive Prince series and was curious about her new comics. I really liked this first one! Super cute illustrations and a great start to the storyline.

Dune Song by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Each time, the sand advances on Isiuwa, moving with a morose, flutelike song, the only sound to plant tears in their chest that does not come from a living being. A shrill, underlined by wind rushing through a tube. The Chief calls it the whistle of the gods and says it is the sound of an errant person being taken.

I’ve never read Apex magazine before and alas I’ve only found them with the publication of their final issue. But I loved Dune Song and I’m really curious about the rest.

A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow

What would I be, cut off from the orderly world of words and their readers, from the peaceful Ouroboran cycle of story-telling and story-eating?

This was AMAZING. AMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZING. As a lover of libraries, I felt this story in my bones. Go read now.

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

I don’t want October to be over.

This is such a perfect autumn read and the artwork in this is absolutely adorable!

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? 

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. ❤