Book Review: Partners in Crime (2021)

Partners in Crime by Rachel Bowdler

I have adored all of Rachel Bowdler’s novellas that I’ve read so far and she’s definitely becoming one of my go-to authors for a lovely romance read. I totally recommend her books!

Firstly, how bloody gorgeous is this cover? I’m absolutely obsessed with it. I picked up the Kindle version of this one with the other cover, but I’m definitely grabbing a copy of the paperback because I am straight up HEART EYES for this cover. Strong noir, graphic novel vibes and I am HERE FOR IT. Secondly, this one is fabulously sapphic.

Partners in Crime features a podcast on true crime, and it’s fitting choice to read this month with the Book Trove book club as I was just watching Only Murders in the Building, which also follows podcasters of true crime. (And is also awesome, FYI.)

Bryce was special, Thea was beginning to realize. She wouldn’t find that same connection anywhere else.

As always, Bowdler manages to pack a wonderful amount into a novella. There’s romance and angst and mystery and suspense. And, like all of Bowdler’s novellas, the characterisation is just wonderful. And Thea and Bryce are impossible not to root for.

Deep down, though, she knew what had really driven Thea here. She knew why her best friend could never let these cases go, knew why she took it upon herself to try to solve them. They rarely covered unsolved mysteries on the podcast anymore. Thea always needed an answer — because she’d never gotten one for herself.

Bowdler really knows how to write characters you feel for and ship from the get go. Coupled with angst and a murder mystery, and you have all the ingredients for a great novella! Can’t wait to read her next one!

Buddy read this book with The Book Trove. We’re hoping to shine some attention on independent books and authors. These books are picked totally at random and selected by vote amongst the group.

Book Review: Along for the Ride (2021)

Along for the Ride by Rachel Bowdler

“Are you sure you want tae do this, Stripes? I’m not bringing you back if you get cold feet halfway to Dover.”

Oh my gosh, this is the perfect summer romance read. Fancy a day at the beach? Bring this book. Going on a hike? Bring this book. Going to the café? Yup, this book is perfect with your iced coffee! If you want escapism, sunshine, romance and sweet joy, this the book to read!

I really loved Rachel Bowdler’s Paint Me Yours, and I’m so happy that Along for the Ride is just as much fun. The story begins when Emmy, a young photographer seeking candid subjects on the streets, runs into Lachlan, a motorcyclist on the run from a grumpy landlord. On a whim, the pair become unintended buddies on a multi-country tour across Europe. As the days pass, their friendship grows, each realising that they are happy to be themselves around the other.

“My mum used to call me Plain Jane because I never really had an interesting face. I take pictures of all these different people, but I never feel like one of them.”

I really liked getting both perspectives and seeing how the romance was developing for both sides. Emmy and Lachlan are such lovely, relatable characters. Bowdler’s descriptions make the characters easy to like and you fall into their lives without effort. I was rooting hard for these two crazy kids from the get go.

He had no answer, no way to evade or deny or explain. Because it was true. He didn’t have a home; hadn’t for a while now. He just kept running, hiding, always looking for something better, something that didn’t exist. A better job. A better city.

Emmy was wonderful, but I do wish Lachlan had said something about his destination choice earlier in the story. He was so clearly smitten with her haha. Still, I thought the resolution was wonderful and original, and I really liked how Bowdler wrapped everything up.

Overall this is a fun, wholesome, sweet book that is definitely worth a read. And now on to my next book by Bowdler (here’s looking at you Partners in Crime)! [I swear, I’m gonna end up reading her entire library before the year is through at this rate. 😉]

EBOOK SALE FOR BBNYA

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Book Review: To Be Taught, If Fortunate (2019)

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

I have no interest in changing other worlds to suit me. I choose the lighter touch: changing myself to suit them.

I got real Lost in Space meets Prometheus vibes from this novella, and I mean that in the best way possible. And oooooh, this story beautifully well written.

I haven’t read Becky Chambers before, although I’ve heard nothing but good things about A Closed and Common Orbit and the others in that series, but I haven’t had a chance to pick them up yet. I was delighted when I got To Be Taught, If Fortunate in a random selection of science fiction books from a local book shop. [Aside: It was super cute, they have an option of a surprise book set and ask you what genre you like and then they send three random ones. I also got The Chocolate War and Scythe, which I still need to read. Both also look great!

Firstly, the writing is fantastic and the philosophical questions posed are very thought provoking. I didn’t always agree with the characters’ choices and conclusions, but I loved how they were presented and argued. This is a book that really makes you think, consider, have patience. And I love books like that. There’s a huge focus on kindness, leaving no trace and seeking knowledge for knowledge’s sake, which I adored. I don’t know how I feel about the ending – but it did make me feel EMOTIONS. It’s the kind of ending that really sticks with you, which, again, I love.

It must also be said that the attention given to the planets and the focus on the different creatures was SO FREAKING GROOVY. Like, lads, the ‘rats’ are going to stay with me. Oh my gosh, the rats. The descriptions of their noises gave me chills. The sea world was intense, goodness. I also have a lot of thoughts on the stationary world. The way Chambers presented everything was brilliant, honestly.

If you’re a space fiction nerd like me, you will love this!

Book Review: Lie With Me by Philippe Besson, Translated by Molly Ringwald (2019)

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson

No matter how much you want to respect someone’s freedom (even when you consider it selfish), you still have your own pain, anger, and melancholy to contend with.

I was not prepared for this story AT ALL.

I first picked up Lie With Me because I love Molly Ringwald – and Molly Ringwald surely has great taste in LGBT French novellas?! And, she totally does. Lie With Me is a beautiful, tragic, raw novella that’s left me quite unsure what to do with myself. I just want to reach into the book and wrap my arms around Thomas, Philippe and Lucas.

He says I’m a boy of books, from somewhere else.

The story follows Philippe and Thomas in a small French village in the 1980s. They start a quiet, hidden away relationship. The story’s quite short (only about 160 pages), so to avoid spoiling anything I’m just going to say that this is a stunning piece of literature. Truly. But be prepared to cry your eyes out.

It’s a curious notion, love: difficult to identify and define. There are so many degrees and variations.

100% recommend. 

Currently Reading [20/09]

I’m going to have so little time to read very soon, so of course I decided to start three awesome books in tandem.

I’m absolutely loving A Discovery of Witches. It follows a historian witch who discovers a magical book in Oxford and is suddenly a target for magical creatures. Matthew, the vampire she ends up dating, is fascinating. The backstories are really interesting and I’m excited to see where it goes. There’s a television show based on the trilogy, but I haven’t seen it yet and I kind of want to read all three books before I watch it.

Lie With Me is one that came to my notice because it’s a French book by Philippe Besson that Molly Ringwald translated into English. I really like Molly Ringwald and was interested to check it out. It’s a short novella set in France and tells the love story of Philippe and Thomas in the 1980s. I’m really liking it so far and the writing is absolutely lovely.

I also just got Wicked Fox, which is a Korean fantasy novel that I’ve been excited to read for months now. It’s about a gumiho, which is a nine-tailed fox in Korean mythology. I’m listening to this one on audible and the narrator’s really good!

Anyone read any of these? ♡

Mini Review Roundup [19/03]

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Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor

When you mix juju with technology, you give up control. You are at the will of something far beyond yourself.

This was a really intriguing tale about witchcraft and technology, and the consequences that come from blending the two. I only wish there’d been a little bit more to the story, but overall I really liked it. Available here.

 

Trial Run (Wild Heritance #0.5) by S. Lynn Helton

She wasn’t trying to prove anything, was she?

Ooooh, this was cool. I haven’t read the Wild Heritance books, but this novella has left me bursting with questions. Such great world building and adventure! I can’t wait to see where the story takes Namid.

 

Migration by Kat Howard

In every life I can remember, which is not all of them, not any more, I have longed to fly.

This was an absolutely beautiful tale of birds and eternity. Read here.

Audio Book Review: Basic Training

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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 ♥

 

The Wonderful World of Sci-Fi Shorts

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I have fallen in love with sci-fi short stories. There’s something quite fun about a short, to the point story with a punchy setting. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to sit down with a big ol’ book of sci-fi even when you’re in the mood, so the short ones are really good for giving you something fun to read that you can finish in under an hour. I started the year with The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin and The Butcher of Anderson Station by James S.A. Corey, and then I was directed to Tor by a friend of mine a month or so ago, and have since I’ve found so many wonderful short stories. I also don’t know why it’s taken me so long to discover the awesomeness that are online science fiction magazines! I feel so behind, honestly. 

Some of my favourites from Tor have been A Kiss With Teeth by Max Gladstone, Skinner Box by Carole Johnstone, The Eighth-Grade History Class Visits the Hebrew Home for the Aging by Harry Turtledove, Into the Gray by Margaret Killjoy, These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw, The City Born Great by N.K. Jemisin, and His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light by Mimi Mondal. They’re all available online and I definitely recommend checking them out. 

After Tor, I found Uncanny Magazine. They often offer audible versions of the stories, too! I haven’t had the chance to read loads, but I really, really liked And All the Trees of the Forest Shall Clap Their Hands by Sharon Hsu and The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander. I’m going to dive more into the stories soon. I can’t wait!

There’s also Clarkesworld Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and Asimov’s Science Fiction. I just listened to the audible version of Her Appetite, His Heart by Dominica Phetteplace. Lots of free stories, lots of audible versions. It’s just a plethora of sci-fi/fantasy goodness. Additionally, a kind-hearted soul on Goodreads created lists for Tor shorts, Lightspeed Magazine shorts, and Clarkesworld Magazine shorts that are really helpful if you want to go back to the beginning. 😉

Does anyone have any short stories magazines they love? Share them with me! I’m on a roll.