August Reading Wrap Up

Baby Teeth – 4 stars
This book is disturbing. Alternating chapters show Hanna, 7 years old, and Suzette, mommy, points of view. Suzette was an interior designer working alongside her husband, an acclaimed architect. They both decide Suzette will be a stay at home mom until Hanna starts school but motherhood doesn’t go as Suzette planned. Suzette has self-image issues and it’s clear still has PTSD since the birth of Hanna but some of the things she says to Hanna made me cringe. While on the flip side of that, Hanna wants to get rid of mommy so she can be with daddy forever. And this isn’t a cute fantasy where daughter wants to marry daddy. Hanna deliberately messes with Suzette’s meds (she has Crohn’s disease) and later things turn violent. Give this one a read, it’s excellent.

Grass Kings Vol 1 – 4 stars
Matt Kindt can do no wrong. Grass Kings is the ultimate “from the wrong side of the tracks” story. The trailer park town of Grass Kings is filled with undesirables who live by their own laws and look out for one another. The neighboring towns sheriff wants control of Grass Kings and pledges war when one of his own crosses their boarder. The artwork alone makes this one worth reading.

House of Salt and Sorrow – 3 stars
Marketing for this book kept harping on these elaborate and magical dances the sister of Highmoor manor attend in the middle of the might. Yes, there are dances but it didn’t fill up the book like I was led to believe. The story is essentially a murder mystery that turns demonic towards the end, which was a fun surprise I wasn’t expecting.

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday – 3 stars
If you’re not a fan of blended genres, steer clear of this little book. This is a blend of science-fiction and fantasy with myth and satire throughout. The characters are truly great, but the Lord of Tuesday will stick with me for a while. He is Robert Baratheon-esk with a better humor and the powers of a God.

Scalped Vol 1 – 3 stars
I love Jason Aaron. Scalped was published so long ago that the description in Goodreads calls Aaron “up-and-coming.” I would say he’s done just that in the years that have passed. This is a crime drama with gritty writing to match R.M. Guerra’s gritty artwork.

Red Skies Falling – 4 stars
This is the second book in the Skybound series and continued to set up a solid premise. It gave us a couple of surprises which should make book 3 pretty fun.

The Monster of Elendhaven – 4 stars
The city of Elendhaven is deliciously dark and twisted. The monster who stalks the alleys and ports was born of the sea and learns the quickest way of survival is murder. When he meets Felix, he learns partnership and dare I say love. It’s a power-hungry sort of love and not wholly needed for the story but I didn’t hate it. The setting of Elendhaven felt like a conscious character and sometimes a strong enough setting can overcome any faults in the plots. (And don’t forget to search Spodify for the playlist put together for this novel. It’s so eerie and beautiful!)

Scalped Vol 2 – 3 stars
Volume 2 expands on the rez’s residents and their troubled pasts while leaving us with a murder to solve as the cliff hanger.

Black Rabbit Hall – 4 stars
Novels that are about family secrets always keep me enraptured. A childhood friend of mine confessed the same love of novels revolving around family secrets and attributed it to growing up in a small town. Gossip is impossible to escape from in a small town and even years of living far removed from my hometown, phone calls home are always sprinkled with gossip. Black Rabbit Hall is the best sort of family secrets story, following two generations of family and the sort of secrets that flow from one generation into the next. Secrets that are devastating but also have the ability to heal.

Aurora Rising – 4 stars
Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman can write a damn good book. This time they take on space with a group of misfits who need to learn each other idiosyncrasies so they don’t die. But it’s a Kristoff/Kaufman book and if you’re not expecting death, you’re fooling yourself. Not to go off on a tangent (but I’m going to) I appreciate how hard hitting these authors are with their stories. It’s the worst when an author kills a characters just to bring them back to life. The death doesn’t hold any weight and feels like a cheap trick to get an emotional rise out of the reader. (This was my biggest complaint with House of Salt and Sorrows. The ending was good until it wasn’t.) You know it’s going to be a real death when Kristoff/Kaufman write it and that’s always a good death in my opinion.

The Golden Yarn – 3 stars
Jacob and Will Reckless are still traversing through Mirrorworld but the board is starting to blur with our own world.


What’s Coming Next?

Makiia Lucier might be following the Tamora Pierce method and I’m so excited. Lucier has the bones of a compelling world and if she chooses, could grow that into something great. Isle of Blood and Stone and Song of the Abyss reside in the same kingdom but remain standalones. The main characters of Blood and Stone become secondary characters in Abyss, and a secondary character in Blood and Stone became the main character in Abyss. And it was absolutely the character I wanted to follow.

Tamora Pierce has been a lifelong favorite author of mine but I haven’t encountered another author who’s created a world of grandeur and been able to write stores throughout all aspects of that world while keeping the characters so connected that we never felt lost. (If you know of any others like this, please share in the comments!) Lucier is tapping into that potential with the Tower of Winds duology. She has confirmed on Goodreads that both books are standalones in the same world, and I find that inspiring. I love a good series, but where is my next Tamora Pierce? Who next will give me a world I can sink into while showing me everything that world has to offer through different characters eyes? I hope Lucier will do just that.

If she ends her world building here, I also wouldn’t be mad. She’s done enough that I’ve been satisfied with what she’s shared. Both books wrap up nicely enough that you aren’t particularly left wanting more. Just selfishly wanting more of the characters.

Becoming Gods

This is my admission, I’ve never read Seanan McGuire until Middle Game. I know her name from her Tor publications, but this is the first time I’ve opened any of her books. This fact saddens me and I plan to put more effort into opening more of her books. With this one book, she’s proved herself a worthy adversary to all worldbuilding geniuses out there. We’re not always lucky to get immersive world building with developed and compelling characters, or vise versa, but my expectations of McGuire from this one standalone novel has consumed my reality.

First things first, this novel will not be for everyone. Science fiction isn’t for everyone and I respect that. Abstract storytelling and I don’t usually get along, no matter the caliber of author, so when people talk of being frustrated or confused by novels that push our personal reality just too far over the edge I sympathize with. There is a certain amount of confusion with Middle Game because the main characters, Roger and Dodger, are kept in the dark about so much of what is happening around them and to them that as the reader, we are left out as well. And readers don’t like being left out. We want to be in the know even when the MC’s aren’t, and I hear the most backlash about a book when the writer won’t give that to us. There is a fine line of a writer not filling us in but keeping us satisfied. Most writers cross that line and lose us as readers. The best compliment I can give those writers is not being able to describe the story but still raving the book to anyone who will listen (and thrusting the book at my half-asleep husband at 2am, exclaiming he needs to read it NOW after I had just finished).

This isn’t much of a book review, I know. I didn’t actually tell you anything about it. That’s because I can’t. The scenes and images are in my head but I’m having a hard time putting them into coherent sentences without give anything away. You’ll just have to trust me that I loved everything about it and highly encourage you to give it a try.

Getting More Than You Signed Up For

It’s sad how little horror novels make it into my reading rotation, but I hope to change that with a subscription to Night Worms. They are a book box that focuses on the horror genre and elevating those indie publishers and authors. Their mission statement as a subscription box is what drew me to them in the first place. They aren’t as concerned with bookish merch as they are about sharing books with other book lovers.

“The very most important thing we want people to know is that we are not a subscription box in the same way people think about a subscription box.”

Not only are they using their platform to showcase worthy authors and publishers, but they expect each of their subscribers to review and share the books they receive each month. And that’s just what I’ll do.

Tribesmen was published by Deadite Press in 2014 and recently re-homed at Black T-Shirt Books in 2019. Set in the reign of 80s Italian cannibal craze in cinema, Tribesmen revolves around Tito Bronze and a small group of actors and crew when they spend 3 days at a remote Caribbean island making use of the setting local natives at no extra cost to the production. When being left on the island, the cast and crew don’t find locals but rather an empty village. Ever the improviser, Tito Bronze makes do with what resources they have and keeps the camera rolling through the mayhem that ensues.

The book shifts points of view through each of the characters as their minds are broken and madness descends. This gives us a 360˚ view and an insight into each character as they lose their sense of self, all in the name of cinema art, and defend themselves against the others. Adam Cesare’s writing gives us a glimpse into grindhouse filmmaking in literature style. Cesare doesn’t fluff out the dialogue or action with unnecessary scenes. It’s happening to us as it is happening to the characters and every page is filled with heart pounding action. I couldn’t put it down until the end.

April Reading Wrap Up

Other Words for Smoke – 3 stars
A neat premise but Sarah Maria Griffin could have pushed the creepiness a bit more, regardless it being young adult.

Scott Pilgrim Vol 4 – 4 stars
Scott gets a job!

The Binding – 4 stars
As a reader, I love a book about books being more than what they appear to be. Reading stories turn into our memories and our memories can turn into stories.

Scott Pilgrim Vol 5 – 4 stars
Scott moves in with Ramona!

Tunnel of Bones – 5 stars
Cassidy Blake and her adventures with Jacob only get more interesting.

To Hold the Bridge – 3 stars
Not only does Garth Nix take us back to the Old Kingdom, he gives us a plethora of stories spanning several genres.

Ragged Alice – 3 stars
Seeing evil in people’s souls makes it difficult to build relationships with people but it sure makes you a good detective.

Scott Pilgrim Vol 6 – 4 stars
And finally, the finale!

The Emperor’s Soul – 5 stars
Brandon Sanderson creates the best magic systems.

Song of the Abyss – 4 stars
Makiia Lucier brings us back to St. John del Mar to give us an adventure from Reyna’s point of view.

February Reading Wrap Up

Punk Rock Jesus – 5 stars
This is a hard core, action packed commentary on religious zealots and reality tv.

Two Dark Reigns – 4 stars

This series keeps the twists and turns coming!

A Book of Delights – 4 stars
A collection of flash fiction reminding us that everyday life is worth marveling at.

The Sculptor – 5 stars
An honest look at the trails of creating art and the extremes many will take for those creations to come to life.

We Set the Dark on Fire – 3 stars
When the lower class continues to be oppressed, can you sit idly by in your life of luxury and do nothing?

Alice Payne Rides – 3 stars
Alice and her motley group continue to trek through time, mucking up a few things along the way.

Binti – 3 stars
Traveling outside your pre-destined path can be challenging, especially without your family’s support. But the pursuit of knowledge is often worth it.

Nimona – 4 stars
This is a fun young adult graphic novel that proves not everything is what it seems on the outside.

January 2019 Reading Wrap Up

The Gilded Wolves – 4 stars
A decadent historical fantasy dripping in mystery and danger with a diverse cast of characters.

White Stag – 4 stars

Living with goblins is never a pleasant experience and Jenneke has been condemned to a century in their service. She battles her inner demons to remain human and resist the urge to turn into a monster.

Rosalynd – 4 stars
Rosalynd Van Helsing picks up the mantel of her family history and battles vampires in a snowy wasteland.

North Echo – 3 stars

A retelling of a Norwegian fairytale with elements from the Scottish ballad Tam Lin, Echo North is a whimsical adventure story steeped in love.

Paper Girls Vol 5 – 5 stars
Always full of adventure.

Outcast Vol 5 – 4 stars
This volume showcases new characters with exciting twists and new adventures.

Plumdog – 3 stars
Seeing daily life through the eyes of Plum the dog leads to a heartwarming journey with this love-filled family.

Watersnakes – 4 stars
Gorgeously illustrated story with mysterious ghosts and warriors and a battle to save the king.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles – 4 stars
To win his wife back, Toru will end up in the bottom of a well in the dream-like folds of reality.

A Land More Kind Than Home – 3 stars
The religious south often feels like a medieval fantasy world and Wiley Cash doesn’t shy away from making us uncomfortable.

Soundless – 3 stars
These villagers have lived decades in silence until one villager suddenly finds she can hear. Now she must find out what’s happened to her village to save them from continued misfortune.