Top Ten Tuesday: Cover Love

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Today’s topic is a cover freebie- so I’m going to go with books I was initially attracted to based on the cover.  I know we all do this sometimes, but I feel particularly guilty of it quite frequently lately.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn – It’s impossible not to notice this cover when you’re walking past it. Look at the bright colors? And why is that shark upside down? Is it dead? I’m about eight chapters into this and loving it so far. A wonderful sort of magical realism story.

Oil and Marble: A novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo by Stephanie Storey – I love that the cover goes along with the title here. I originally thought this would be non-fiction but it turns out it’s historical fiction. I have high hopes but reviews seem mixed.

Creatures by Crissy Van Meter – Truth be told, I’m still unsure on this book. But I adore this cover- it’s busy and my eye keeps catching on something new every time I look at it.

Crossings by Alex Landragin – I snatched this up from NetGalley because I couldn’t say no to this cover. I read the blurb and deflated a little bit but then I looked at the cover and said “oh well.” It’s pretty enough that if I like it I may just buy it to look at (it’s even prettier in person).

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi – This is another book that’s hard not to notice with it’s bright red and pink against a backdrop of gray.  I’ve also heard great things about the author though I’m still unsure if it’s right for me.

The Book of Hidden Wonders by Polly Crosby – This one has been floating around recently and it catches my eye everytime.  Something about the cover just feels mysterious and inviting.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – So this is an interesting one because I actually don’t like this cover. I don’t like the style, I don’t like the feather across the eyes.  It makes me want to squirm in my seat. I’m also weirdly drawn to it because it makes me so uncomfortable.

City of Strife (City of Spires #1) by Claudie Arsenault – I wish this was a picture of a real city in real life so I could really go there.

West by Carys Davies – I like the weird mesh of styles here and the big bold letters.  I think I’ve added this and taken it off several times because I don’t love the blurb but I do love the cover.

Beyond Redemption (Manifest Delusions #1) by Michael R. Fletcher – I love the western feel of this cover and the bold blocky art work. I’m reasonably sure this book is too heavy on the magic for me to ever get around to reading it, but I keep it on the TBR because why not.  

And that’s it from me! Have you read any of these? Do you like any of these covers? 

Book Review: Afterland by Lauren Beukes

afterland-by-lauren-beukes

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Afterland is about the Manpocalypse. How could I not pick up a book about the Manpocalypse? (And yes, they really call it that in the book.)  Anyway, we follow a mother, Cole, and her son, Miles, across the country as they attempt to flee back to their homeland.  They are being chased by Cole’s crazy sister Billy, who wants to sell Miles’s boy-specific-body-fluids on the black market, and the goverment, sort of.  I say sort of because the goverment, disappointingly, doesn’t come much in to play in the present timeline.

Now before I start this review, I want to say that I mostly enjoyed this book.  The writing was hard-hitting and edgy.  The characters were flawed and sympathetic.  The story moves along at a good clip most of the time.  However Beukes’s books always seem to leave me unsatisfied. I feel like they are blurbed and advertised in a way that promises something the books never deliver on.

 In this case, it was the world building.  I wanted to know what the world looked like with most of the men gone. I wanted to know what happened to all those male-dominated fields. Did commercial air travel come to a dead halt?  What about construction?  Was there some sort of emergency training program to get women involved in those fields?  What happened to some of the immune men? Am I to believe they are all under government protection? They didn’t go off on their own and start a cult where they were worshipped by women?  Or worse, abducted and held prisoner? I don’t know. I just wanted to see more. I wanted a tour of what the world looked like post-Manpocalypse and we’re given a frustratingly narrow view.

There is a point, about midway, where Cole and Miles encounter a religious cult.  The plot seems to slow quite a bit here and begins a lot of preaching about God and His plans which grew tiresome for me very quickly.

Otherwise I enjoyed this for the most part. I think if you go into it knowing you won’t be getting to see all those things I was hoping for, you could enjoy it.  The writing was the best part for me and in places reminiscent of The Mere Wife, but unfortunately falls just short of the mark of being a great book.

Afterland can be found on GoodReads and Amazon if you’d like to check it out.

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reads

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s theme is holiday reads, and while I’m sure I could dig you up some Speculative Fiction that happens during holidays (NOS4A2 anyone?) I personally don’t have that many that I know of on my list.  With a two hour delay this morning, and the first real snow of the season falling over New England, I went for books with a winter setting instead.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – This is a favorite from my childhood, and is probably overdue for a re-read.  But I swear the landscape and setting are so well written, you feel the cold when reading.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – This is a Russian fairytale retelling, set in a remote Russian village far in the north, often described as atmospheric by the group I read it with

Early Riser Jasper Fforde

Early Riser by Jasper Fforde – This is a kooky tale about humans who hibernate and a weird urban myth call the Gronk.  There were a few parts that made me chuckle, if you Fforde’s humor is your thing.

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky – This was one of my favorite books of the year – and it definitely fits the winter them, being set in Canada, as far north as the Arctic Circle.

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie – While this book is less about the wintry setting than others, most of it definitely takes place in the freezing cold! Enough to set my teeth a chattering.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin – When I was doing my research for this post, this book popped up repeatedly.  And since the planet’s name is actually Winter, it would be silly to leave it out.

Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather

Cyber Storm by Matthew Mather – A techno-thriller in which a freak blizzard buries New York in snow and cuts them off from the rest of the world. Described as a techno-thriller, I am curious to find out how the blizzard plays into it.

Good Morning Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton – A researcher and astronomer in the Arctic is seemingly abandoned when his radio communication falls silent.  Meanwhile a team of astronauts still in space wonder if they will ever get home after their communications fall silent.  This one seems to have mixed reviews on GoodReads- what do you all think?

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice – An #ownvoices book set in the Yukon on an Anishinaabe reservation.  When the grid crashes, panic sets in as supplies run low, and survivors begin trickling in from nearby communities.

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson – This book is set in the Canadian Yukon after the fall of mankind due to nuclear war and disease.  Other readers have described the setting as “almost a character itself” which is something I love!

I’ll tell you what I was looking for and couldn’t find- post-apocalyptic, Earth is in eternal winter, book about the survivors.  You know, like The Road, with more people.  Does anyone have anything like that?  Which books made your Top Ten Tuesday?

 

 

Month in Review: July 2019

I missed a June in review post, so I’m back with July in review.  I read a lot of shorter books this month, but I also tackled Wanderers which was huge!

Books read: 9 for July, 58 for the year

Pages read: 2,831 out of 18,051

Hours listened to: 5.5

Average rating: 3.78

Female Authors: 4 out of 27 for the year

Favorite Read:

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Review here.  It was close between this and An Illusion of Thieves but this one was so much longer (800 pages total) and was a larger time investment so I’m going with Wanderers.

UPDATE: I finished Inland by Tea Obreht just under the wire for July and after writing this post.  I’ve counted it in my stats but because I haven’t reviewed it yet I’m not counting it here or in any of the categories below.  I don’t want to say I enjoyed Inland far more than Wanderers or An Illusion of Thieves, but of the three, I think Inland will stay with me much longer, and would rank it as the favorite.

AudioBooks Listened To:  

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Review here.  I enjoyed this much more than the last McCarthy I read.

Graphic Novels Read:

Stephen Kings N. by Marc Guggenheim

Review here.  Being that it’s a graphic novel, it only took a couple hours to read, but it’s worth it!

ARCs Read:

 

The Last Astronaut released on July 23.

The Dead Girls Club – I cheated and read this early.  Review is scheduled for sometime in November!

Other reads completed this month:

 

ARCs received:

 

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup – A Nordic Noir thriller that I’m super excited for.

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie – A Don Quixote retelling.  I’ve never read Don Quixote or Salman Rushdie so I’m curious how this one will turn out for me.

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza – An Edelweiss read now download that I was willing to take a chance on because I love the cover and the description sounds like something out of a King novel.

Imaginary Friend by Nick Scorza – I already mentioned this one in a Can’t Wait Wednesday post.  I’m hoping to clear out some of my other ARCs and dive into this one.

Giveaways Won:

 

Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade – I’m so excited to have won this!  It sounds right up my alley.  It’s not due out until November… I’m hoping Tor doesn’t wait months to send it.

Fortuna Sworn by KJ Sutton – The author actually approached me to review this, and it’s been awhile since I read a Fae novel, so I happily agreed.  (Also- I love that cover!)

Salvation Day by Kali Wallace – Thank you to Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy for hosting this giveaway!  It was a total surprise when it showed up in the mail but I’m hoping to start it very soon because it sounds perfect for what I’ve been in the mood to read lately.

Currently reading:

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova – This was a Kindle steal a couple months back for 99 cents.  Currently buddy reading it with some friends on the SFF Book Club at GoodReads!

Planned reads for August:

 

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – An author I keep hearing about and finally have the occasion to read!

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – A translated Japanese dystopian that I’m super excited for!

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden – A YA dystopian about a society that punishes and condemns online trolling, bullying, etc.

How was July for you?

Book Review: The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

This was one of my June buddy reads with the Sci-fi Fantasy Book Club on GoodReads.  (If you enjoy buddy reads, it’s a great community, and there’s almost always someone that is happy to join in with you!)  Instead of including quotes with this review I’ve included some images of surrealist art featured in the book (and I’m giving credit to Nicky Martin’s Graphic Annotations from which I found them).

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

Rating:  ★★★

I think China Mieville is an author whose ideas I’m in love with, and then struggle to connect with.  I also think I’ve picked the wrong books to start with (the first one being Kraken).  The Last Days of New Paris is an alternate history of Paris after France falls to Nazi occupation.  A secret group of resistance fighters called the Main a Plume (I think) has brought to life various things from surrealist paintings (called manifs) to help them fight the Nazis.  We follow MC Thibaut, a member of the main a plume, as he wanders the ruins of New Paris searching for a way out.

I am an amateur of velocipedes by Leonora Carrington

“I am an Amateur of Velocipedes” by Leonora Carrington (1941)

My issue with a lot of this book, is that honestly, I just didn’t understand the narrative.  I understood the overall story arc, what happens to each character, how things came to be, etc. but if I was trying to put together a timeline and location of events for someone else to follow, I wouldn’t make it very far.  I constantly felt like I was missing some key piece of information- asking myself “where are we now?” and “why are we here?” and “who are you again?”.  It’s very frustrating.

The Elephant Celebes by Max Ernst

“The Elephant Celebes” by Max Ernst (1921)

I think I’ve said this before, I don’t mind working a little harder to understand a book, but the pay off needs to be worth it.  I didn’t feel like it was worth it here.  The characters, while they had some cool abilities, just weren’t anything special.  You ever meet someone who speaks, maybe not in monotone, but without a lot of inflection?  Rarely shows enthusiasm or feeling about anything in particular?  Never smiles or laughs? Thibaut felt that way for me (and granted, there probably wasn’t a whole lot to laugh about in Nazi occupied France).  Sam was better, but she’s more of a side character.

Psychological Space by Victor Brauner Wolf Tables

“Psychological Space” by Victor Brauner (1939)

The “magic” system (if it can be called that) is very cool and totally unique and I loved some of the imagery we are given, but magic systems alone have never been enough to sell me and there wasn’t a whole lot explained about this one.  There was a little bit of humor in the book too, which I appreciated.

My favorite part of the book was the afterword, in which Mieville tells a very bizarre story about how he came to write this very bizarre story.  I couldn’t decide if that story was truth or fiction, or if the person he talks about is some kind of dimension hopping hero or someone who suffered dementia, but it was still a cool addition to the book.  I wish Mieville had included it as a foreword, because I think understanding the context in which this was written goes a long way toward understanding the story overall (so if you decide to try this, read that first).

Exquisite Corpse by Andre Breton

an untitled exquisite corpse by André Breton, Man Ray, Max Morise, Yves Tanguy (1927)

Overall- a story worth reading if you are a fan of Mieville, but I don’t think I’d recommend it as a starting point.  I think I’ll give one more book of his a try (I already own The City & The City after all) but if it turns out to be another three star read I think I’m going to have to part ways with Mieville.

The Last Days of New Paris can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Three Quick Book Reviews

I’ve actually finished several quick books the past week or two and I’ve been avoiding reviewing them because they were just the sort of books I didn’t have much to say about afterwards.  So I’m going to just give quick impressions here.

avld_amo

Rating:  ★★

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis (or: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” my tag line, not the book’s.) This is the review I’ve been dreading most because I wanted so badly to like it and just couldn’t connect with it at all.  It’s a collection of bizarre short fiction mostly incorporating some kind of romance and/or alien contact.

With a title like Alien Virus Love Disaster– I was expecting something weird, yes, but also something funny.  Like the Stephanie Plum of alien books.  And it was just dark, depressing, despairing.  There isn’t a single shred of hope in the whole darn book.  Not one tiny story.

I gave it two stars instead of one because on the upside, the stories are unique and inclusive.  I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like them, and I can see how they would be right for someone, just not me.  I wanted to laugh, I wanted to be uplifted, and instead I ended up dragged down in a way I wasn’t prepared for.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Rating:  ★★★★

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (abridged, narrated by: Rupert Degas):  I know what you’re thinking.  “But Sarah, didn’t you just completely rip apart the last book you read by Cormac McCarthy just a few short weeks ago?”

Why yes, blogger friends.  Yes I did.  But I rewrote that review three times because I couldn’t get Blood Meridian out of my head.  And to me, the hallmark of a good book is one you can’t stop thinking about. (It’s the best 2 star book I ever read, lol.)  So I borrowed this on audio on a whim from my library.  Unfortunately all they had was the abridged version, so I can’t tell you what I missed out on, but I can tell you I would give this a go eye reading the full version.

The narrator, Rupert Degas, did a phenomenal job (except for his girly voices, which are weird, but only a small part of the book).  His voice is perfect for this kind of grim, desolate, post-apocalyptic world.  Hearing it instead of reading it solves a lot of McCarthy’s style choices.  The narrator was able to convey dialogue and made the issues I had with a lack of punctuation almost nonexistent.  I think audio is a good way to be introduced to McCarthy.

Anyway- our two MCs are Man and Boy.  They are traveling The Road to get South.  America’s population has been decimated by some kind of sickness.  What’s left are the good guys and the bad guys.  Man and Boy are “good” guys, as good as good can be in this world anyway.

The environment itself is the biggest challenge, lugging around supplies, enduring weather, falling trees (I got the sense the trees were all dying).  And when they encounter bad guys, it gets grim and dark real fast.  The message of the book is that hope and beauty can still be found in even the darkest places, I think, because despite all the many, many low points, there were still some significant high and happy points.

McCarthy’s writing really is beautiful and often reads like poetry.  I wasn’t glowing or gushing when I finished it, but I didn’t find my mind wandering too frequently when I listened, and that’s usually a challenge for me.  I’d definitely recommend this if you enjoy post-apocalyptic fiction.

Trigger content: again, if you have them I sort of must insist that you avoid McCarthy at all costs.  Nothing is off limits for him.

Stephen Kings N. by Marc Guggenheim

Rating:  ★★★★

Stephen King’s N. by Marc Guggenheim, illustrated by Alex Maleev – This is a graphic novel adapted from Stephen King’s novella of the same name found in his collection: Just After Sunset.

I enjoyed this- the art work was great and dynamic, and the mystery sucks you in right from the start.  It starts with a letter from a woman to an old friend talking about her brother’s death.  From there we flash back to where it all started.  The brother was a psychologist working with a patient who developed OCD after visiting Ackerman’s field in Motton, Maine.

It wasn’t quite a full five stars for me because the whole story is pretty ambiguous, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and will definitely check out the novella.  If you decide to pick this up, don’t skip the foreword.  Guggenheim pays a beautiful tribute to a good friend and makes clear his fondness for King and his excitement over this project.  I’d love to see more of King’s short stories adapted into Graphic Novels turned into Graphic Novels.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR 2019

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

TTT-NEW

Since I jumped the gun on this week’s post for childhood favorites, (which can be found here, in case you want to compare and contrast) I figured I’d play catch up a little and talk about my summer TBR.  I don’t know how many of these I’ll get to-  I’m way over committed and feeling totally overwhelmed, but I’m going to give it the good old college try.

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington – I’ve already started this, and am actually mostly enjoying it even though my progress is slow.  Hoping to have a review up before it releases toward the end of the month!

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass – I’ve already started this one too (because when you get hung up on The Queens of Innis Lear, you just read everything else until you beat the slog) and it is such a breath of fresh air!  It feels like the first fantasy I’ve enjoyed all year.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig – I’ve had this on hold at the library for three months (at least).  I wasn’t lucky enough to snag an ARC but it’s okay.  It releases tomorrow and I’m fully expecting it to take precedence over everything else.  I just hope I enjoy it more than I enjoyed its comp title, The Stand, which I read earlier this year and wasn’t a big fan of.  I’m reasonably confident that Wanderers pulls the things I liked about The Stand and leaves out what I didn’t love about it, so my excitement level remains high.

avld_amo

Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – I forget why I added it, but it’s a buddy read for my virtual book club right now so I’m reading a story before bed every night.  The stories themselves are super inventive but also depressing.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville – Buddy read scheduled for July 9th.  I have one week to read 4 books.  This is going well.  (Send. Help.)  I’m finally ready for another Mieville.  The only book of his I’ve read so far is Kraken, and it was really weird (weird is good, I like weird), but I’m hoping this will be easier to digest at 200 something pages.  I think it’s also one of his higher rated books.

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova – This is an odd one for me.  It has a lot of buzz words that usually make me pass: dragons, clockwork, magic, organ market… (what can I say, I guess I prefer low fantasy) but it also has a lot of buzz words that make me scream yes: thief, assassin, lowest rungs of society… It was 99 cents not too long ago on Kindle, the reviews are pretty good, and a buddy read was proposed, so I guess only time will tell.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – I’ve read the first chapter of this.  It looks and sounds like a straightforward fantasy, but it’s actually more like science-fantasy, and I sort of love it.  I’m looking forward to reading more.

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess – This book has probably one of the most intriguing blurbs I’ve ever read.  One world is destroyed and a lucky few are invited to hop into an alternate reality created from a schism circa 1924.  The MC has trouble adjusting to this new New York, where a science fiction author died young and never wrote his masterpiece.  I’m worried that there isn’t enough plot here to keep the book going, but I read the first chapter and it sucked me in right away so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – A translated Japanese classic reminiscent of 1984, I’m really looking forward to this. I just hope the translator is up to snuff.

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden – Another Big Brother-esque novel about the dangers of Social Media.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER.  Since the advent of the selfie and Facebook, I’ve been wondering when someone would get around to writing this.  I absolutely can’t wait to read it.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – A book for book lovers about the magic of books.  Plus the cover is really pretty.

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence – This is the sequel to One Word Kill.  I won it in a GoodReads giveaway but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I’m curious to see where the mystery goes (and also hope the ending is better than the ending I inferred from One Word Kill).

The Institute by Stephen King

The Institute by Stephen King – Happy birthday to me!  I had to end it here.  The Institute comes out on my birthday and is the book I’m most excited about.

This is way more than 10, and still only a fraction of what I’m hoping to get read, but that covers most of the major ones.  Are any of these on your summer TBR?

Book Review: The Need by Helen Phillips

I didn’t mean to go on hiatus- but I actually haven’t done a whole lot of reading this week, and I sort of feel like a fraud.  I am bummed I missed this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, but I’m looking forward to checking out everyone else’s posts, and will probably do a similar post anyway.

Yesterday I received an ARC of The Need in the mail.  I read it all in two different sittings.  While I don’t know that it really had that ‘can’t put it down’ quality we all love, it was a really quick book with super short chapters that made it easy to keep reading.

The Need by Helen Phillips

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Blurb (from GoodReads): When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.

But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.

Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.

I was intrigued by the genre here, and before reading I couldn’t decide if it would be more horror, more science fiction or thriller.  It’s not quite science-fiction, more speculative, and more thriller than horror.  It reminds me a lot of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter.

Genre aside- the core of this book is about motherhood, and Phillips nails that part.  In some ways, while reading this, I was relieved to know I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t crazy.  My daughter is six, so a lot of the things Molly is going through I don’t have to cope with as often, but everything she endures is hauntingly, eerily familiar.  I felt like I could have written this book.  Kids will make you crazy, but your love for them will always trump all.

This book starts much stronger than it finishes.  I think, unfortunately the reveal for The Need comes far too early, and the end of the book stretches on a little too long.  I would have liked if there had been more suspense/mystery built into the plot, or if the MC had spent more time investigating what was going on instead of simply accepting what was happening to her.

Phillips does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life on the page.  Especially the kids who come out with some off the wall, nonsensical stuff (like ‘Can I lick your eye?’) that only four year olds can invent.  My one complaint with Molly would be that I really wasn’t sure the decisions she made felt reasonable or logical.  People all react differently to different things, of course, but there were some decisions she made that were mildly rage-inducing and made me want to shout at the page.  It was disappointing considering Phillips gets literally everything else right.

I did enjoy the writing.  The Need is definitely more literary than commercial, and while I wouldn’t describe it as lyrical, Phillips does some things with repetition and structure that feel hard hitting, if that makes any sense.

The ending is ambiguous.  Normally this is something I avoid, I don’t like ambiguous endings ever, but for some reason it works here.  I’m attributing it to the fast build-up of suspense and the slow unraveling of everything else, as well as the allegorical nature of the book.  It’s an ambiguous ending that I somehow understood perfectly, because the allegory makes a lot of sense to me.  

All in all- not a bad little book.  If you’re interested in this because Molly is a paleobotanist I’d skip it, that’s a very small part of the book.  Otherwise it’s a super quick read (258 pages) with fast, punchy chapters, that would make for a great lazy day beach read.

The Need releases in the US on July 9, 2019 from Simon & Schuster.  Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.  It can be found on GoodReads or pre-ordered on Amazon.

UPDATED:  **SPOILERS AHEAD**

This is my most viewed review on my blog, and I think readers are looking for a clarification to the ending.  So here’s my interpretation:

The book is a metaphor for motherhood.  How being a mother can almost split you into two people.  You love your kids.  You’d do anything for them, to help them, give them every opportunity.  Your kids are your life.

And then there are days when you really just think: “What the hell was I thinking becoming a mother?  I could be backpacking in Europe right now!  Drinking margaritas in Mexico!  Getting a full eight hours of sleep… EVERY NIGHT.  Doing pretty much anything aside from constantly cleaning the house, picking up toys, making food and snacks, cleaning up vomit, potty training….”

I am a mother, and I know, those first few years are hard.  So hard, they make you feel like you are losing your mind.  I don’t feel like I will ever get a full eight hours of sleep ever again.

So I took the ending to be the reconciling of those two Mollys, into one Molly.  (The Molly we start with does on occasion say she considered stepping back and letting the other Molly take over, that she was a better mother, etc.)  The time warp closed, the two Mollys became one, she accepted her motherhood-dom… I don’t know.  It doesn’t work if you are looking for a literal answer.

I’m sorry I don’t have a better answer for you.  I am one of the biggest haters of ambiguous endings, and this one is far from satisfactory (like many of you, I think I’d have preferred something less ambiguous).  But for some reason in this single instance, the metaphorical ending worked for me (and it’s probably because, let’s face it, no literal ending could have buttoned up this book nicely).

 

Pride Month: Books on my TBR!

Last week in celebration of Pride Month I talked about some of my favorite queer characters in fiction.  This week I want to talk about some of the books on my TBR featuring more LGBTQIA+ characters.  I’m going to start with a few that have already been released and I’m hoping to catch up on, but I also have some exciting future releases too.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (and the rest of The Machineries of Empire series):  I am really scared to start this because I feel really confident that I’m going to love it and it will end up a new favorite read.  I am also scared to start this because I have a tendency to form expectations and then let myself down.  It’s supposed to be super complex and I’m hoping to see some elements that remind me of another favorite series, Terra Ignota.

tld_cs

The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling:  My favorite genre mashup of all time is always going to be Science Fiction and Horror, and The Luminous Dead looks like the perfect combo of both.  I think space lends itself so very well to all kinds of horror situations.  Whether you’re just trying to survive the freezing desolate landscape of an undiscovered planet, being chased by alien creatures, or you’re adrift in a derelict space ship with no one to call for help, chances are, things will end badly.  I already have a buddy read planned for this one in September and I can’t wait!

Annex by Rich Larson

Annex (The Violet Wars #1) by Rich Larson:  This is a YA book about an alien invasion that somehow or other, leaves the world without adults.  At first, Violet and her friends think it’s pretty great to have so much freedom… but then the invaders come back.  One of my regular buddy readers enjoyed it and said it has trans rep (and that the character was one of her favorites), so I’m very excited to check it out. (PSA: this is currently $1.99 in the US Kindle Store as of 6/13.)

Love beyond body, space & time anthology

Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time Anthology edited by Hope Nicholson: This is a collection of indigenous short fiction all featuring LGBTQ+ characters.  It’s a pretty quick read (125 pages according to GoodReads) and I picked it up on sale awhile back.  Indigenous authors seem to be severely underrepresented in not only speculative fiction but fiction in general, so that makes this doubly exciting.

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne: Meena lives in futuristic Mumbai, but feels she must return to Ethiopia, her birthplace.  She’s not sure what’s waiting for her there, but she decides to cross using a forbidden energy bridge that spans the Arabian Sea.  Mariama, a girl from another time, is fleeing to Ethiopia from across the Saharan Africa in hopes of finding a better life.  It’s described as melding the influences of Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Erin Morgenstern, and it’s been on my TBR for way too long.

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch

The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch:  This is a Joan of Arc retelling in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic landscape.  Do I really need to say more?

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht (releases September 24, 2019): I talked about this one not too long ago, but I love the idea of lovers being villains together.    This is quickly becoming one of my most anticipated fall releases.

Overthrow by Caleb Crain

Overthrow by Caleb Crain (releases August 27, 2019): I stumbled across this on Edelweiss, and everything about the description had me falling in love.  The blurb is too long to summarize here, but buzzwords that caught my attention: telepathy, tarot cards, poets, the 1%, and utopian spirit, all featuring a m/m relationship that will be put to the test in a dystopian world that sounds similar to Orwell’s 1984.  Viking denied me the ARC, but luckily, August isn’t that far away.

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim (releases January 7, 2020):  A gender flipped Count of Monte Christo retelling with Ace and Bisexual rep in space.  I have a feeling this will be huge when it finally hits shelves.  Right now, January feels very, very far away.

The Seep by Chana Porter

The Seep by Chana Porter (releases January 21, 2020): The Seep is about an alien invasion that brings new technologies, dismantles hierarchies, destroys capitalism, and introduces utopia.  The story follows a trans woman after her wife, seduced by Seep-tech, leaves her.  I really wish utopian stories had the same popularity as dystopians.  Mostly because I’m curious what others imagine utopia to be and how human society could ever get there.  I’m super excited for this, but have been holding off reading it until closer to release day.

Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton (releases January 7, 2020):  I am reading The Queens of Innis Lear now, sheerly in preparation for this book, which I added entirely for the title without realizing that Hotspur is a character in Shakespeare’s Henry IV.  Fiery lady knight falls in love with a female military commander known as the Wolf of Aremoria?  I need this in my hands like, yesterday.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (releases September 10, 2019):  From GoodReads: “Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead bullshit.”  To that I say, sold!  I’m already in love with the personality of Gideon from that one line alone.  Necromancy is usually not my thing, but if a character is well written I’ll read just about anything.  It’s already getting rave reviews and thank goodness I don’t have to wait until 2020 for this one!

That’s it!  I’ve already seen a few Pride Month TBRs floating around in the blogosphere, but please let me know if you have any additional recs- I’d love to hear them!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books of the past decade

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

First- a belated Happy Memorial Day weekend to all my American friends!  I hope you enjoyed it!  I’m sorry to kick this week off with a T10T when I haven’t posted a single review in weeks, but it was a hectic weekend for my family, filled with grilling, guacamole, sunshine and sprinklers.  My huge library book haul seems to be doing the trick as I will have a couple reviews for you all later this week.

Anyway, I’m looking at this topic and relieved because it seems easier than some of the last topics we’ve had this month, but I’m also wondering if I have a favorite for each year of the past ten.  I guess we’ll find out!

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

2019: The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  I’ve read significantly less 2019 releases than probably most other book bloggers- but I don’t foresee this changing.  I read this all in mostly one sitting. Not bad for a 500+ page novel! Honorable mentions to: The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, and Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

2018: The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley.  I also haven’t read that many 2018 releases apparently.  In my review, I only gave this 4.5 stars because the ending disappointed me, but months later I find myself craving more fierce, unapologetic fiction like this book, and wishing for ANYTHING with a similar voice. It really does deserve five stars. Honorable mentions: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, and The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark.

tmato_jk

2017: The Moon and the Other by John Kessel.  I think this is another that I gave 4.5 stars to instead of 5.  My reason for including this and The Mere Wife (above), is that in the end, I’ve held these novels to a higher standard.  If we’re going by literary accomplishment, I have more respect for them than I do for some of my 5 star reads for 2017.  The Moon and the Other is beautifully written, metaphoric, entertaining, and manages to give lots of food for thought. Honorable mentions: The Will to Battle and Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer, and Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell.

TLtL

2016: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer.  This is a weird one for me.  I absolutely will not recommend it to anyone to read, but it remains as a favorite.  I think if you can read it with buddies who can help you understand the intricacies of the plot and the world building, you’ll get more out of it.  If you are patient, this is one of the most rewarding books I’ve ever read. Honorable Mentions: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo and The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

2015: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  I suspect I’m not the only person to slot this for their 2015 favorite.  SoC is the reason I will still occasionally pick up a YA novel despite being disappointed with most other YA offerings (it’s not them, it’s me).  It’s dark and gritty with just the right touch of romance. Honorable mentions: The Just City by Jo Walton and Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell.

tb_sdc

2014: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. These books are fast paced and the characters and their banter are fabulous.  There’s not a lot of magic- but a little, and I’m more than okay with that.  Fun fact: the author is an actual fencer, and his dueling scenes are better for it. Honorable mentions: Revival and Mr. Mercedes both by Stephen King.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

2013: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.  This is about a vampire from Christmasland.  I know that’s odd.  Don’t question it.  Just go with it.  Honorable mention: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I know Amy Dunne is a sociopath, but she’s a disciplined and brilliant sociopath.  For some reason- along the with The Mere Wife, I’ve been thinking a lot about Gone Girl and wishing there were more stories like this available.  Honorable Mention: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson and The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

PoT_ML

2011: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Much like Amy Dunne, I find Jorg to be a very compelling as a character.  Also- this is just a delightfully wicked book. Honorable mention: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.

Sh*t my dad says by Justin Halpern

2010: Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern.  So this is a weird place to end up.  Anyway- apparently I didn’t read much and definitely wasn’t tracking my reading in 2010.  Don’t let that stop you from checking out this hilarious book. Justin’s dad is definitely a guy I wouldn’t mind drinking a beer with.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“On [Justin’s] Response to Having [His] Tires Slashed ‘Oh, don’t go to the goddamned cops. They’re busy with real shit. I don’t want my tax dollars going to figuring out who thinks you’re an asshole.'”

And that’s it!  What about you?  What are your favorite books of the past ten years?