currently reading;

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns – I’m loving this so far. It’s about the rise of an evil queen and she’s honestly so enjoyably unlikeable, haha. The main character, Xifeng, has been told all her life that she’s going to be the Empress one day. Her aunt’s abusive, but can access dark magic that involves blood and sacrifice. Her boyfriend, Wei, adores her, hates her aunt, and wants a simple life with a wife and a good living. Xifeng wants more, though. She wants what her aunt says she deserves. She wants to be the Empress. She wants magic and power. I’m about 1/3 of the way through it and find her intriguing, though deeply troubled.

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Adrift – This one is awesome, I just need to actually spend more time with it. I keep getting distracted by other books that I’m going through this one slower than I otherwise would. But it’s great. The premise is a tour group in outer space are left stranded after an unknown attacker destroys every other ship in the area. The who or why isn’t clear yet, but it reminds me of Firefly and The Expanse. Can’t wait to see how this ends.

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The White City – Set in a dystopian London besieged by endless winter, this story follows Hera after her brother is arrested. I only just started it, but it’s really intriguing and I’m curious to see where it goes.

 

What’s everyone else reading?

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. 😉

A Trio of Book Reviews

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Horatio by T.J. Klune: lgbt, 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.” He waved his hand dismissively, almost hitting me in the face. “It doesn’t matter. Here you are. Here I am. And there’s no other place I’d rather be. You intrigue me.”

“You don’t know me.”

“I will.”’

I picked this one up at random tonight and put off cooking dinner until I’d read the entire thing. It was so quietly beautiful and haunting. It tells the story of two men facing the possible end of the world. The writing style is so lush and draws you in effortlessly. It’s definitely a story that will stick in your head for long after you read it.

I thoroughly recommend it to everyone! Lovely story.

 

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts: fiction

‘I don’t know what frightens me more, the power that crushes us, or our endless ability to endure it.’

This is a belated review of a favourite book, actually. I mentioned it to someone the other day and it stuck in my head that I ought to actually review it. I’m actually a little shocked I never did, because it’s hands down one of my favourite books of all time, but I read it long before I joined Goodreads and started a blog, and sometimes finding ways to review your favourite book is impossible. How do you describe something that irrevocably moved you? A book that crawled into your mind and heart and soul. Even now, years later, when people ask me my favourite book, I can spew a monologue about this one. Funnily enough, it took me four tries to actually get past chapter one, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. The same thing happened with one of my favourite shows, Black Sails. A bit of a rough opener and then perfection.

After reading this book, I tracked down the newspaper article that documents his prison escape, just to see that it was actually real. It was. True, a good bit of the book is embellished, but the essence is real. And you know what? Even if it wasn’t based on a true story, this book would still blow me out of the water. It’s the kind of book that blends philosophy, adventure, action, crime and love into one intricate web of beauty.

Recommended for everyone.

 

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff: philosophy

‘The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.’

This is another one I haven’t reread recently, but felt like just writing a review for. I read this book on a lunchbreak when I was 13/14. I remember being in a truly horrible headspace at the time. Being a teenager is just so fun, right? /s

But then I found this book on a shelf at home and figured, hey, Winnie the Pooh, sounds groovy. And I can safely say that reading this book changed my entire perspective. I remember walking out of the library and feeling better, feeling less like a blackhole of doom and far more capable. I dunno. Maybe it wouldn’t have the same effect on me now, but back then, this book seriously helped me. I honestly think it philosophically kicked me in the butt and made me re-evaluate my perspective, which is fairly impressive for a book to do.

‘Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they’re part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They’re not only the ending, but the beginning as well.’

I never fell in love with the sequel (I actually had to set it aside to keep from throwing it at the wall), but this one? This one was beautiful and something I very much needed at the time.

I recommend it for anyone who’s struggling through life and needs a new perspective.

November-December Book Reviews

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Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow: non-fiction, investigation

‘In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out. And stories – the big ones, the true ones – can be caught but never killed.’

If you haven’t picked up Catch and Kill yet a) why not? and b) you totes should. I’ve admired Ronan Farrow for a while now and was delighted when he released War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence, a study on diplomacy and foreign policy. But more than that, I’ve always admired how he stood by his sister. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here and here. Catch and Kill is Ronan’s investigation into the Harvey Weinstein allegations and it is worthy of everyone’s attention.

Never Change by Shari Sakurai: short story, fantasy, lgbt, historical setting

‘They were not healers; this was a lesson that Taku had learned the hard way.’

I was sent this book by the author and found it to be an intriguing short story about two vampires in the late 1800s in Japan. Definitely curious to check out the other books in the Demon’s Blood universe now!

Locked In by Iris Darshi: short story, romance

‘But love shouldn’t be suffocating or draining.’

This is another one that was sent to me by the author! It centres upon a young couple on the verge of divorce who are forced to spend a night discussing what led them to where they are. The dialogue is so good and the chemistry between the characters was apparent from the start. They were quite likeable and I could understand both sides and their perspectives well. My only wish was that it had been longer and we got a bit more detail. But overall very enjoyable!

 

Currently reading: Adrift by Rob Boffard, Kaidyn’s Courage (Wild Magics #2) by Diana Waters, and Gold Rush Manliness: Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope by Christopher Herbert.

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. ❤