#ReadDiverse2017 – A Recommendations List (Part 3)

Here it is, the third and final part of my recommendations for the Read Diverse 2017 challenge. As I mentioned in part 2, these are books and authors on my TBR, so I have no idea if they are any good. But I’ll tell you a little about the books and what made me decide to buy them. Whether it’s a particular buzz word or a setting or a character that drew me in, it may do the same for you.

(even more) diverse authors to read

SILVIA MORENO-GARCÍA

Every book Moreno-García has published so far immediately jumped at me and begged to be read. The reason I still haven’t is that same old tune – too many books, too little time. But I mean, who could resist Mexican noir vampires or a story set in 1980ies Mexico City, involving music and being sold “for fans of Stranger Things”.
Silvia Moreno-García is a Mexican-Canadian writer and she seems to be full of excellent ideas. I’ll definitely be reading Signal to Noise this year and watching out for any new books she publishes.

Books on my TBR: Signal to Noise (I’m including both covers, one of which definitely gives that Stranger Things vibe) and Certain Dark Things.

ROSHANI CHOKSHI

I won’t lie, it’s the covers that drew me in first. But, on closer inspection, it turns out that The Star-Touched Queen is a retelling of the Hades and Persephony myth with a fairy tale flavor. So how could I not buy it? The second book is a companion novel, rather than a sequel which gives Chokshi extra bonus points. Plus, there’s the Book Smugglers story “The Vishakanya’s Choice” which has an Indian setting. Seriously, everything Roshani Chokshi writes sounds up my alley, so I should really get started on reading.
Also, check out her blog – she does make-up based on book covers and characters and it is GORGEOUS!

Books on my TBR: The Star-Touched Queen, its companion A Crown of Wishes and “The Vishakanya’s Choice”.

MIYUKI MIYABE

Miyabe is a Japanese author who writes a lot. In a lot of different genres. And I have actually read one of her books, although it was a novelization of a video game (remember Ico in the Mist, anyone?). Since I really liked the stuff that Miyabe made up, but didn’t like the “retelling” of the game so much, I knew I’d have to try her original fiction. There are gargoyles, sisters saving brothers, and portal fantasies – all things I enjoy. Plus, put a girl with books on the cover and I’m guaranteed to want to read it. I hope that this reading challenge will give me the final nudge to finally pick up one of the books I own and properly discover this author.

Books on my TBR: Brave Story, The Book of Heroes and the recently released The Gate of Sorrows (which is a sequel of sorts so don’t start there).

CORINNE DUYVIS

Much like with Silvia Moreno-García, I have immediately bought Corinne Duyvis’ books when I first discovered them but haven’t read any yet. She is a Dutch author who co-founded and edits Disability in Kidlit (if you don’t know this, definitely check it out) and was herself diagnosed with autism. From what I know of her books, they all feature diverse characters with disabilities and some really original science-fiction/fantasy ideas.
In Otherbound, whenever the main character closes his eyes, he sees through a mute girl’s eyes (and vice versa, I think). On the Edge of Gone sounds darker and more adult with a full-blown apocalypse.

Books on my TBR: Otherbound which features a mute character, and On the Edge of Gone, a post-apocalyptic story with an autustic character.

NICOLA GRIFFITH

Here’s a more established author who I am ashamed to have never read. She has written highly acclaimed novels and a ton of short stories, some of which I own but never seem to get to… My plan is to read Hild this year which not only sounds amazing but also features a bisexual protagonist. Griffith is married to a woman and from the Goodreads tags, I have deduced that pretty much all of her novels feature queer characters.

Books on my TBR: Hild which – from cover to synopsis – pushes all my happy-buttons, Ammonite and Slow River. All standalones. Plus the short story “Cold Wind”.

KAMERON HURLEY

It’s strange because I’ve been reading Hurley’s non-fiction for years now, but I never actually read any of her novels. Most recently, I read her non-fiction collection The Geek Feminist Revolution which exceeded all my expectations and I highly recommend it! But since Hurley always writes interesting female characters, many of whom are queer or bisexual, it’s time I tried one of her novels. I’m unsure whether to start with God’s War, the first of a trilogy, The Mirror Empire (another trilogy starter), or The Stars are Legion, which is a standalone space opera from what Goodreads tells me.

Books on my TBR: The Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy and The Mirror Empire.

And just because it’s always fun to have a list of books to look forward to (read: not yet published), here are some diverse titles on my wishlist that will be published later this year:

  • Mackenzi Lee – The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
    A bisexual young gentleman’s road trip in the 18th century? With magic? Sign me up!!
  • K. Arsenault Rivera – The Tiger’s Daughter
    Interesting setting, queer protagonist, and a seriously gorgeous cover – that’s all it takes to get me interested.
  • Jy Yang – The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of Fortune
    Beautiful covers, non-binary author from Singapore, and published by Tor.com – these books are bound to be amazing!
  • Anna-Marie McLemore – Wild Beauty
    I just have to read this book. It’s tagged as GLBT on Goodreads, but it was cover and synopsis that did it for me.
  • Julie C. Dao – Forest of a Thousand Lanterns
    East Asian setting, Vietnamese-American author, PLUS a retelling of The Evil Queen legend.
  • Tochi Onyebuchi – Beasts Made of Night
    Nigerian-flavored fantasy featuring sin-eaters. Just take my money.
  • Melissa Basherdoust – Girls Made of Snow and Glass
    An LGBT fairy tale retelling sold as “Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber” – that’s all I know but that’s totally enough.
  • Aditi Khorana – The Library of Fates
    An Indian author writing a coming-of-age story steeped in Indian folklore. Yes, please!
  • Leena Likitalo – The Five Daughters of the Moon and The Sisters of the Crescent Empire
    A Finnish author writing a Russian-inspired story about the Romanov sisters. Definitely sounds like not-your-average fantasy duology.

 

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#ReadDiverse2017 – A Recommendations List (Part 2)

I am so happy that my first recommendations post got such positive feedback. Thank you to everyone who commented – you have no idea how much joy it gives me when others pick up the books I love. I do a little happy dance every time somebody says they’re trying a new-to-them author because I recommended them. So because you guys seemed to like it and I have so many more diverse authors that I’d like to recommend, here is part 2 of my Read Diverse 2017 recommendations.

Note that I haven’t read as many books by most of these authors (one exception) which is the reason they didn’t make part 1 of my recommendations series. I’ll add covers to the most well known books by them but my recommended starting points are also based on what other people have recommended.

(More of) mY FAVORITE DIVERSE AUTHORS

SOFIA SAMATAR

I have only read one of Samatar’s short stories and the lovely A Stranger in Olondria which won a lot of awards and was nominated for more. It’s a book that I’d recommend also to people who don’t read or like fantasy all that much. While set in a fictional world, it has very few fantasy elements. Okay, there is a ghost, but the meat of the story is one man’s coming-of-age tale while discovering new places. The protagonist is also an avid reader and a lover of stories and history, so any book lover should feel right at home. Plus, the language is just beautiful and the story is very immersive.
Sofia Samatar has Somali and Swiss parents and taught in Sudan. I’ll try and find the interview where she talks about her travels and all the places she has lived but her interest in different cultures definitely shines through her fiction.

Recommended starting point: A Stranger in Olondria or, for the short story crowd, “Selkie Stories are for Losers” (which you can read for free).

KAZUO ISHIGURO

Here’s another one for those of you who don’t read much fantasy or science fiction but wouldn’t mind a little taste of it. Ishiguro is definitely in the literary camp and of the books I’ve read, only one can be called sfnal in any way. But he is a skilled writer who will definitely make you cry. Just give him 200 pages and get the tissues ready. In The Remains of the Day, he tells the life of a super dedicated butler which sounds boring but – trust me – isn’t. There are revelations in that quite book that left me seriously emotional.
Similarly, in Never Let Me Go, the revelation is kind of obvious from the start but while reading you try and pretend it’s not true. This is the book with a sci-fi bend to it, although the characters are so much front and center that it doesn’t matter what genre you normally read.

Recommended starting pointNever Let Me Go because the slightly larger cast makes it a faster read than The Remains of the Day, although I do recommend reading both (and you can watch the movies afterward) . The Buried Giant is still on my reading list, but as Ishiguro writes only standalones, you can pretty much start anywhere.

ZORAIDA CÓRDOVA

I discovered Córdova because I was actively looking for diverse reads and her wonderful novel Labyrinth Lost didn’t disappoint. It’s about brujas and the underworld and lots of cool stuff, and it features a bisexual heroine. The author was born in Ecuador (as far as I could find out) but grew up in New York – her book is flavored with Latin American mythology which made me like it even more. I look forward to the next Brooklyn Brujas book very much.

Recommended starting point: Labyrinth Lost, or the first in Córdova’s mermaid trilogy, The Vicious Deep.

KARIN LOWACHEE

Lowachee should be way better known than she is. Again, I have only read one of her books so far but after finishing Warchild, I immediately went out to get all her other books. Warchild is a science fiction story that focuses on character rather than space battles (although there are some of those, too). As a young boy, Jos’ ship is attacked, his parents killed and he is kidnapped by a space pirate. He is later trained to be a spy in the intergalactic war that is going on. Mostly, this book is about how war can shape humans. If you’re worried going into the story because the first chapter is written in second person, don’t worry, it’s only one chapter but I found the narrative choice gave it even more impact.
Plus, there will be a new book in that series coming out soon, The Warboy.

Recommended starting point: Warchild, which is part one of a loose trilogy (different characters in all the books), or the standalone fantasy novel The Gaslight Dogs.

KAREN LORD

Of the three books I read by Karen Lord, I adored one, liked another, and really disliked the third. But that may well be a matter of personal taste and I still want to recommend Lord because she is such a fresh voice in today’s SFF publishing. Her debut Redemption in Indigo retells a Senegalese folktale (which is much more interesting than the billionth version of Red Riding Hood) and reads very much like a bit of mythology.
My favorite book of hers was The Best of All Possible Worlds which took me a couple of attempts to read, but once I got into it, I was into it! It’s about the remnant (exclusively male) population of an eviscerated planet, trying to find a culture similar to theirs to so they can find wives and keep their own bloodlines and culture alive. It’s heartbreaking and beautiful and also a little bit of a love story. The book I didn’t like was its sequel, The Galaxy Game.

Recommended starting point: Redemption in Indigo if you like some mythology and a fairy tale feel, or The Best of All Possible Worlds if you prefer a roadtrip of cultural discovery in a science fictional world.

ZEN CHO

I discovered Zen Cho before her wildly popular book Sorcerer to the Crown came out. This Malaysian writer has been publishing shorter fiction for a while now, and I’d say her most standout quality is charm. Her characters, her writing, her stories are just utterly charming. They don’t have the emotional impact I would like but there’s something about them that makes it hard to put her books down. My first read was The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, but I fell absolutely in love with Prunella Gentleman of Sorcerer to the Crown. Practical women for the win, especially if they can do magic!

Recommended starting point: Sorcerer to the Crown or the short story Monkey King, Faerie Queen which you can read for free or even download for your e-reader.

JACQUELINE KOYANAGI

So Koyanage has only published one book so far and I am still waiting for a sequel to that first novel. But I highly recommend it, especially if you’re reading it for the Read Diverse Challenge. Koyanagi writes queer women of color, protagonists with disabilities, and polyamorous relationships. All of that you get in Ascension, a pretty cool space adventure with lots of kick-ass characters and excellent world building. She suffers from chronic illness herself, and I felt that this experience showed in her protagonist, Alana. Alana’s condition doesn’t feel like a “characteristic” to make a character stand out, it feels like it’s part of who she is, a thing she lives with every day. In short, it felt real. Definitely check out this book!

Recommended starting point: Ascension, the first book in the Tangled Axon series. Hopefully, there will be a second book soon.

CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE

You didn’t think I’d write any sort of recommendation list and leave out Cat Valente, did you? As a bisexual author, Cat writes diverse characters in all her books. Here’s a podcast with lots of recommendations of LGBT+ books that made my wishlist grow quite a bit. Valente is incredibly prolific and while I have read most of her books, it’s difficult to recommend where to start. I will give you pointers that may help you pick the right book for your taste. But all of her books feature characters of all shapes and colors (literally! There are blue characters…) and genders and sexualities and physical abilities.

Recommended starting point(s): For the YA/MG lovers out there and those undecided, the best place to start is with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making. It’s the first in a (completed) series, so you can continue reading once you get a taste.
If you want something more grown up, and more difficult to read, you can pick either of these:

  • Deathless: A standalone fairy tale retelling set during WWII in Leningrad. It’s got lovely, lyrical language, beautiful imagery, Russian folklore, and lots of that fairy tale flavor.
  • Palimpsest: A standalone novel about a sexually transmitted city (no typo, that’s really what it is). It’s not exactly fast-paced, but focuses on character and imagery. Beautiful book, but not for everyone’s taste.
  • Radiance: This is AMAZING! The story of a disappeared film maker set in a pulpy version of our solar system. You can live on all the planets, Hollywood is on the moon, etc. But the best is the way it’s told: through interviews, movie script pages, different narration styles. You kind of have to read it to see what I mean. But it is pretty much a perfect book.
  • The Orphan’s Tales: This duology is difficult because of its structure (stories within stories within stories) but it has the most diverse cast I’ve ever read about. It reads like an alternate 1001 Nights and feels very much like folklore and mythology.
  • Six-Gun Snow White/Speak Easy/Silently and Very Fast: Three novellas if you just want a taste. Six-Gun Snow White is a Snow White retelling set in the Wild West with a biracial Snow White. It’s heartbreaking and kick-ass and very poetic.
    Speak Easy is set in a hotel in the Roaring Twenties where every room hides a secret, the basement is a portal to hell (or a really great party, depending on your stance) and there’s a great twist at the end.
    Silently and Very Fast is a more abstract novella about an AI coming to terms with its existence. It has some fairy tale elements to it but less plot than the other two novellas.

That’s it for my second round of recommendations. In the next and final part, I will tell you about the diverse authors on my TBR that I haven’t read yet. I hope this list was helpful and my favorite writers find new readers because then they’ll write more books and that will be great for all of us. Happy reading!

 

 

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#ReadDiverse2017 – A Recommendations List (Part 1)

It’s officially May and I’m still very much enjoying the Read Diverse 2017 Challenge because it helps me discover so many great books. Some people post Diversity Spotlight posts every week and I like those well enough, but they are always too short for my taste and not as useful as I’d like. I want longer lists of recommendations, and not just a list of book titles and the Goodreads synopsis, but a reason to pick those books up. So, although I could collect tons of points for the Read Diverse challenge by recommending only three books at a time, I thought I’d throw my favorites at you in a few longer posts, contaning lots of books.

MY FAVORITE DIVERSE AUTHORS

N. K. JEMISIN

If you haven’t heard about Nora Jemisin, then (1) where have you been these last years and (2) you are so lucky because you’ve got a ton of great books ahead of you. Jemisin writes fantasy, but unlike anything you’ve read before. There are no elves and dwarves, no European mythology, no setting that’s a blatant copy of medieval England. Her characters are usually people of color, and race and gender play a large role in most of her books. But it’s her original ideas that make her books so addictive to me. Humans controling gods, a thing called Dreamblood, people who can feel and alter seismic activity? It sounds wild and it is, but Jemisin also manages to create believable fantasy worlds, peopled with fleshed-out characters who are flawed and beautiful and heartbreaking.

Recommended starting point: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms or, if you feel adventurous and up for something heftier and darker, The Fifth Season.

HELEN OYEYEMI

This is for you if you prefer a more “literary” type of fantasy fiction. Oyeyemi’s writing is gorgeous, no matter what you call it. She plays with fairy tales and folklore, turns tropes on their heads, and above all, writes diverse characters in all her stories. In Boy, Snow, Bird (my favorite of hers) she uses the Snow White fairy tale to examine race and gender during the 1950ies. Her short story collection What is not Yours is not Yours is filled with all sorts of diverse characters. Whether it’s skin color, sexual orientation or gender identity, Oyeyemi tells stories where everybody gets a voice. I found Mr. Fox quite difficult to read so I wouldn’t recommend to start with that. I still have quite a lot of her books to read myself and I look forward to each one of them.

Recommended starting point: Boy, Snow, Bird because the language and structure are easy to get into, or What is Not Yours is Not Yours if you want to try short stories first.

NNEDI OKORAFOR

Okorafor has recently been very successful with her novella series about Binti, a young Himba woman who goes to a renowned space university and accidentally brings peace between two formerly warring alien species. It’s a wonderful novella series and I highly recommend it, but my first book by Okorafor – and the one dearest to my heart – is Who Fears Death, a story so powerful and gut-wrenching I will never forget it. Okorafor also writes short stories and YA novels, so there’s something for every taste.

Recommended starting point: Binti for a quick and wonderful introduction, Who Fears Death if you’re up for dark post-apocalyptic stuff, or Kabu-Kabu for short stories that are much lighter.

NALO HOPKINSON

Hopkinson is one of those authors who effortlessly make two ideas come together and turn into something new and beautiful. Her books are heavily influenced by Caribbean folklore, they are sometimes set in Canada, and they mostly feature women of color as protagonists. But Nalo Hopkinson also does amazing things with language. If you read Midnight Robber and don’t fall in love hard, then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends.

Recommended starting point: You could start with Hopkinson’s debut novel Brown Girl in the Ring which is accessible enough but (comparatively) not that good. I recommend Midnight Robber and if the language puts you off, go for the short story collection Falling in Love With Hominids.

ALAYA DAWN JOHNSON

I admit to having only read one book by Alaya Dawn Johnson so far but that book was so wonderful that I have been buying her other books since then. My recommended starting point is fairly obvious in this case – start where I started, because apparently it gets you hooked. Johnson’s writing in The Summer Prince did so many things on so many levels. On the one hand, it’s a YA romance story, set in future Brazil, featuring a graffiti artist protagonist. But on the other hand, there is so much going on in this world on a politica, world-building, social level. I am still amazed that such a short book could convey this amount of detail.

Recommended starting point: The Summer Prince! Or Love is the Drug, which won the Andre Norton Award.

 

CAITLÍN R. KIERNAN

I read very little horror but when I feel like it, Kiernan is my go-to woman. Her books are beautiful mind-fucks in which you rarely know what’s real and what’s not, sometimes can’t trust your narrator, and will definitely see some crazy shit. But, you know, in the best of ways. Kiernan also writes amazing characters who suffer from mental illness, as she mentioned on her blog she does herself*. Of the books I’ve read, both featured lesbian protagonists and both led me into a beautiful labyrinth of creepy imagery, folklore and myth. It’s like the horror movies you love to watch even as they follow you into your dreams. Also, this woman has written a LOT of books and short stories.

Recommended starting point: The Drowning Girl, definitely. It is plenty weird, but Imp’s voice is one you can follow, I got super involved in her story and that ending is just perfection. For a darker, creepier, less optimistic start, go for The Red Tree. Or (although I have yet to read this myself) try her latest novella, Agents of Dreamland, if you want to start with something shorter.

YOON HA LEE

Okay, so I’ve only read one book by Lee so far but hey, it’s a Hugo finalist this year and for good reason. Lee’s writing is superb, especially when it comes to characters. I have also heard excellent things about the short story collection Conservation of Shadows. Lee is a trans man who doesn’t want to write about trans characters. Read more about him in his own words in this article at The Book Smugglers. But most of all, read Ninefox Gambit.

Recommended starting point: I have no idea, honestly. I started with Ninefox Gambit which took quite a bit of brain power and persistence. But if I can do it, so can you.

MISHELL BAKER

Here’s another author that stole my heart with only one book. I read Borderline not so long ago and, expecting very little from this Urban Fantasy (because no matter how hard I try, I am full of prejudice when it comes to certain sub-genres), I was blown away. With an amputee suicide-surivor, BPD suffering protagonist, you’d think it’s all a bit much. But Millie was a perfect heroine. Perfect not in the sense that she never messed up – quite the opposite. She was perfect because she felt so real, she makes mistakes, she apologises, she tries to make things right. She’s also just a really cool person that I’d want to be friends with.

Recommended starting point: You really don’t have much choice here. Assuming you don’t want to start with the second book in a series, I suggest you start with the brilliant Borderline. Or try one of the author’s short stories (none of which I know yet).

 

That’s it for my first recommendations post. I hope many other challenge participants continue to recommend books as well, especially SFF books. I see lots of contemporary YA out there and I’m thrilled that this genre is getting more and more diverse, but me, I am always on the lookout for new fantasy writers to discover. So throw them at me, people! And happy reading.

 

 

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#ReadDiverse2017 – An Update and a TBR Pile

I am so happy I found the Read Diverse 2017 Challenge! I have been reading and reviewing books for this challenge since January and have discovered so many new authors, books, and bloggers.

Normally, I am super motivated to read all the books for a challenge right away but then I lose interest. Not so with this challenge! Because the goal isn’t to read one type of book or genre but simply to take a closer look at the authors and books you want to read anyway.  Turns out – and I’m sure this is true for most people with a big TBR – I didn’t even have to buy new books for this challenge (although I did anyway) because many of my unread books were written by marginalised authors and featured diverse characters. And because the experience has been so much fun, I wanted to share the books I’ve read for the challenge and the books I have lined up for the next few months with you guys. May your wishlists grow.

What I’ve read so far

I have read a total of 16 books in 2017 so far, five of which were written by LGBTQI authors and/or featured LGBTQI characters. Five books were written by Authors of Color and/or featured POC main characters. Two books had protagonists with a disability, and five were #ownvoices books.
There was oviously quite a bit of overlap and in reality, I read only 10 books for this challenge so far. But 10 out of 16 is a pretty amazing ratio if you ask me.

And for anyone who believes that I am changing my reading habits or forcing myself to read certain books for the sake of diversity, I can only say that all of these books (except for Peter Darling which I discovered through the challenge) were already on my TBR and I would have read them anyway. The Read Diverse 2017 challenge only pushed them a bit further up on my TBR pile, that’s all.

Here are my diverse reads so far, all of which I would recommend. My full reviews can be found behind the links.

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
    A short story collection retelling fairy tales, most of which feature lesbian protagonists, and all of which focus on women.
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost
    This book is a wonderful story about a young girl, dealing with her cultural heritage, her place in her family and witchcraft. After messing things up she tries to fix her dire situation. Incudes a trip to the underworld with a fantastic bisexual protagonist.
  • Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows
    Not so much a heist story as a character study of six amazing, diverse, and absolutely lovable protagonists. Kaz is disabled and walks with a cane, Inej is dark-skinned, and I suspect (though don’t know yet) that at least one character is gay. I loved all of them!
  • Mishell Baker – Borderline
    This is such an amazing book. Millie is a double amputee after her attempted suicide who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. She also starts to work for the secret Arcadia Project which polices the traffic between our world and Fairyland. And it’s set in Hollywood. Everything about this book was perfect.
  • S. L. Huang – The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist
    A retelling of The Little Mermaid that gets really dark and broke my heart into a million pieces. The protagonist is a lesbian who falls in love with a “mermaid” and trades her voice for fins. But trust me, it’s much better and more sinister than I make it sound.
  • Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours
    A story collection by the brilliant Helen Oyeyemi that features a diverse cast of characters, most of all highlighting women. I didn’t love all the stories but the collection overall was solid.
  • Marissa Meyer – Wires and Nerve
    Meyer’s first graphic novel, set after the Lunar Chronicles, finally gives Iko her own story. The protagonist android loves her body (which is a Woman of Color) and she deals with questions of identity, feelings, and friendship. It’s a lovely, quick comfort read and I need the sequel now!
  • Catherynne M. Valente – Palimpsest
    Valente’s characters in this book may not all be bisexual, but pretty much everyone sleeps with everyone in this luscious tale of a sexually transmitted city. There are no graphic or particularly steamy sex scenes here, but instead there are breathtaking descriptions of Palimpsest. The language and imagery are stunning, but you should like flowery prose if you pick this up.
  • Austin Chant – Peter Darling
    What if Peter Pan grew up as Wendy Darling? In this very short novel, Peter is a transgender man who comes back to Neverland as an adult. To my utter delight, he and Hook fall in love. I had some problems with this book (there was just not enough of it) but overall, I enjoyed it.
  • Nnedi Okorafor – Binti: Home
    I adored Okorafor’s Binti and couldn’t wait for this sequel. Binti, who has run away from home to study at a university far away from her home planet, has returned. She has to deal with her own identity, her past, her family’s culture and the life she wants for herself. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it ends on a pretty mean cliffhanger. Review to come.

What’s on my TBR

I have SO MANY BOOKS! Seriously, there is no shortage of diverse books in my home, but I do have a few lined up that I want to read very soon.

  • Yoon Ha Lee – Ninefox Gambit
    I’m already reading this and as much as the beginning tried to break my brain, I am completely in love with it now and can’t wait to find out how the story continues. If you start reading this, please don’t give up. Push through the first chapters and you will be rewarded!
  • S. Jae-Jones – Wintersong
    I am not sure if I will finish this book. I read half of it and it’s a huge disappointment. A whiny heroine who wallows in self-pity, a bland “romance”, and no plot to speak of. Maybe I’ll write something even if I DNF this book… we’ll see. For now, it’s on hiatus.
  • Heidi Heilig – The Girl From Everywhere
    This book just sounds soooo good. Time travel, maps, a biracial protagonist, a romance, and ships! Plus, the sequel is out already (I think), so if I love it I won’t have to wait for the next book.
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate
    I actually saved this book up because I know it will ruin any book that is unfortunate enough to follow it. Jemisin is a phenomenal writer and this world is her most complex and ambitious yet. The cast ist effortlessly diverse and Jemisin’s writing is always stunning.
  • Rhoda Belleza – Empress of a Thousand Skies
    I’m a bit on the fence about this but people have said it has lots of diverse characters and a fast-moving plot. So I hope this book leaves away all the YA tropes and delivers an exciting space adventure.
  • Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles
    I’ve wanted to read this for ages but somehow, every time I choose a new book to read this one slips my mind. Must remember this time.
  • Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett – Dragon Soul
    I love this series so much! The first book told (among other plot lines) a beautiful romance between two very different men, and all the characters are superb. Can’t wait to continue reading about this world of steampunk dragons, and the crazy people who fly them.
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Agents of Dreamland
    I love everything Kiernan writes and most things Tor.com publishes, so this is a book that is practically a guaranteed hit.
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
    I am SO behind on this series. The first book was my favorite the year it came out but then I never caught up with the sequels. It’s time to rectify that situation! If you don’t know this series, it’s about a former space ship AI, now existing in one human body, who uses all-female pronouns because it’s an AI and doesn’t know or care about gender. Also, it’s a super exciting space adventure with amazing characters.

The way I know myself, this reading plan will probably be thrown away pretty fast, especially with the amount of exciting recommendations this reading challenge produces. But then, I read for fun. So I’ll do my best to stick by this TBR but if I stray, so be it. 🙂

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#DiverseAThon Sign-Up Post and TBR

I am so sad that the DA readathon is over because I loved its focus on diverse books and how all my book choices ended up being fantastic reads. So I’m signing right up to the next readathon which is also about diverse books.

The #DiverseAThon lasts for one week – starting on 22nd January – and while I know I won’t be able to read a lot during a work week, I think aiming for three books is doable. And to make it a little more challenging for myself, I’m going to pick three books that all feature a different type of diversity: one book by an Author of Color, one book featuring LGBTQ characters, and one book featuring an autistic character and written by an author with autism.

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My Diverse-a-thon TBR

Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours

I adore Oyeyemi’s writing but so far I’ve only read two of her novels, never any of her short fiction. This short story collection sounds like just my cup of tea and, since I know I love the author’s style, I believe I’m in for a treat.

Playful, ambitious, and exquisitely imagined, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours is cleverly built around the idea of keys, literal and metaphorical. The key to a house, the key to a heart, the key to a secret—Oyeyemi’s keys not only unlock elements of her characters’ lives, they promise further labyrinths on the other side. In “Books and Roses” one special key opens a library, a garden, and clues to at least two lovers’ fates. In “Is Your Blood as Red as This?” an unlikely key opens the heart of a student at a puppeteering school. “‘Sorry’ Doesn’t Sweeten Her Tea” involves a “house of locks,” where doors can be closed only with a key—with surprising, unobservable developments. And in “If a Book Is Locked There’s Probably a Good Reason for That Don’t You Think,” a key keeps a mystical diary locked (for good reason).

Oyeyemi’s creative vision and storytelling are effervescent, wise, and insightful, and her tales span multiple times and landscapes as they tease boundaries between coexisting realities. Is a key a gate, a gift, or an invitation? What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours captivates as it explores the many possible answers.

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Molly Tanzer – Vermilion

The description to this book is so filled with buzzwords that I’ve been wanting to read it since it came out. A gunslinging heroine, the Weird West, ghosts, and (according to some reviews I read), a diverse cast of characters. What’s not to love?

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The Adventures of Lou Merriwether, Psychopomp

Gunslinging, chain smoking, Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal 19-year-old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well… they’re not wrong.

When Lou hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate. Lou fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their spirits than ensure they get home alive, but it’s the right thing to do, and she’s the only one willing to do it.

On the road to a mysterious sanatorium known as Fountain of Youth, Lou will encounter bears, desperate men, a very undead villain, and even stranger challenges. Lou will need every one of her talents and a whole lot of luck to make it home alive…

From British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer comes debut novel Vermilion, a spirited weird Western adventure that puts the punk back into steampunk.

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Corinne Duyvis – On the Edge of Gone

Now this is a big book! It’s a bit daunting to bit this on a readathon TBR but I’ve been wanting to read one of Duyvis’s books for a while now. The author was diagnosed with autism at a young age and this book also features an autistic character. I’m very curious to read it, so although her second novel (Otherbound) is shorter, I’m going with this one.

on-the-edge-of-gone

January 29, 2035.

That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

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I am very much looking forward to the #DiverseAThon, especially since there will be Twitter chats and loads of recommendations. And it’s not like you can ever have too many books.

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#DAreadathon Wrap-Up and Points

The DA Readathon is officially over and I have collected all my points as well as some thoughts about the experience.

da-readathon

The short of it is: I loved everything about this challenge. As a readathon, it was casual enough, it lasted two weeks, and there was very little pressure (unless you count my personal ambition to collect lots of house points for Ravenclaw). My favorite part  was probably the reading prompts which corresponded with spells from the Harry Potter universe, and the fact that this readathon encouraged people to read diverse books.  Not only were these prompts accompanied by lovely graphics, they also give the readathon a bit of structure. They also helped me choose books. If your TBR is as big as mine, picking a handful of books can be quite overwhelming. Most of all, though, every book I read because of this readathon, has been fantastic and I’m so glad I participated.

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First of all, let’s see how many House points I’ve collected for Ravenclaw:

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Points for pages read:  101

  • Kissing the Witch: 228
  • Labyrinth Lost: 336
  • Six of Crows: 285
  • Borderline: 168

As you get one point for every 10 pages read, I added the “left-over” pages up until I reached another 10.
So for Kissing the Witch, I get 22 points, plus 8 left-over pages. For Labyrinth Lost I got 33 points, plus 6 pages. Those 6 added to the 8 pages from Kissing the Witch make 14 pages which got me another point (and 4 left-over pages). And so on. I hope I interpreted the rules correctly here. Otherwise, somebody let me know, please.

Points for books finished:  10

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost

Points for reviews posted: 10

Points for social media: 5

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Now to the books I’ve read, started and didn’t get to:

I finished two books and reviewed both of them. They were both fantastic reads by new-to-me authors.

Emma Donoghue’s Kissing the Witch is a short story collection which retells well-known fairy tales, but with a lesbian twist. The connections between the stories may not have made a lot of sense but the stories themselves were wonderful, sometimes dark reads.

Zoraida Córdova’s Labyrinth Lost was just lovely all around. Lacking a bit in characterisation, the book had great world building, a bisexual protagonist, an intriguing magic system, and a wonderful depiction of family! I really loved it and can’t wait for the sequel.

I almost finished two more books. These are very, very different reads, but I fell in love with them equally.

I don’t think I need to say much about Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows as everybody except for me seems to have read it. I’m in the last third of that book and by now, I know this thieving crew well enough to be quite emotionally invested.

Mishell Baker’s Borderline, on the other hand, is something I usually wouldn’t read. It’s Urban Fantasy set in Hollywood, featuring a disabled, mentally ill protagonist who tried to kill herself. If I hadn’t read a ton of great reviews, I would have said that’s a bit much for one book. But it works beautifully. Millie’s Borderline Personality Disorder is always there, but it never gets “in the way” of the plot, if you know what I mean. This is not an “issue book” like they made you read in school. It’s a great mystery with an unusual Urban Fantasy world – in that I haven’t met any werewolves yet – and the protagonist’s voice is so wonderful, it’s hard to put the book down. I read about half of that book during the readathon.

Unfortunately, because work left me too tired to read on most days, here are the books I didn’t get to. But I am determined to just continue reading them as if the readathon was still going on, I just won’t award myself any House points. 🙂

  • Madeline Miller – Song of Achilles
    This book tells the love story between Achilles and Patroclus and I hear tissues are needed for reading this.
  • Nicola Griffith – Hild
    A historical fantasy featuring a kick-ass heroine? Sign me up. Also, I heard this is a slow, more character-driven book and while some people don’t like those, it’s totally my thing.
  • Siliva Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
    I am so looking forward to this story, set in 80ies Mexico City. I heard it’s magical realism and there’s lots of music (thus the cover), and that sounds like it could be amazing!

Thanks to Read at Midnight for the amazing challenge. I hope you will host this readathon (or a similar one) again next year!

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#DAReadAThon

Hello, New Year! It’s nice to meet you. Let me welcome you by collecting lots of House Points for Ravenclaw during the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon (hosted by Read at Midnight).

Here’s my challenge ID card:

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I particularly look forward to this read-a-thon because it promotes diverse books, it lasts for two whole weeks, and it gives us Potter nerds a chance to show our House pride. I have prepared a list of books to tackle for the challenge – each of them is matched with a spell from the Potter universe. More details about the books I chose to read, what spell they correspond with, and how I like them, below.

Let the reading begin!

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da-readathon-points

There are several ways to collect House points, the most obvious one of which is reading! Per 10 pages read, you gain your house 1 point and if you finish a book, that’s an additional 5 points. A review for the DA Readathon gets you another 5 points. But you can also collect points on social media by tweeting about current reads or giving book recommendations. The same goes for Instagram photos of your TBR or current #DAReadathon book.

Points for pages read:  101

  • Kissing the Witch: 228
  • Labyrinth Lost: 336
  • Six of Crows: 285
  • Borderline: 168

Points for books finished:  10

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost

Points for reviews posted: 10

Points for social media: 5

POINTS EARNED FOR RAVENCLAW: 126

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dareadathon-expecto-patronum

My first book has been chosen and it is Kissing the Witch by Emma Donoghue. This means I’m starting my Dumbledore’s Army readathon with the Patronus charm.

This book retells all the most famous fairy tales with a lesbian twist. Because I have loved fairy tales for as long as I can think, I consider this topic one of personal significance. I’ve never read anything by Emma Donoghue before but, so far, I really like what she’s done with the Grimms’ tales.

kissing the witch

Each short story ends with one character asking a second one about how they came to be where they are. And then they tell their story. In that story, they, in turn, ask someone else about their past, and so it goes on and on. I already have some issues with how everything fits together (because it doesn’t) but the stories themselves are lovely! Sometimes, we read about the princesses, sometimes the villains, but the story, although familiar, is never quite what you’d expect.

January 1st: Because this is rather a short book, I managed to finish it on the first day of the readathon. I hope I’ll have a review up by next week. On to my next spell…

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dareadthon-lumos

My Lumos book is Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova and I cannot wait to get started. A lot of people had this book on their readathon TBR, so I guess we’ll all be sort of buddy reading it, which makes this even more fun.

labyrinth-lost

What convinced me to read this book next was the gorgeous cover and the fantastic map at the beginning. It looks dark and creepy and just like my kind of (under?)world – I just couldn’t resist. At 336 pages, this will take me a bit longer than my first book but I am super motivated to read all 7 books for the readathon.

January 2nd: Okay, so I totally love this! After only one chapter, I already feel at home in this family of brujas. The sisters are adorable and just like sisters should be. Fighting over favorite clothes, who gets to use the bathroom first, but a loving family nonetheless. I cannot wait to find out everything that’s going on here.

January 5th: I couldn’t read very much these last days because work is… well, work. It makes me fall asleep as soon as I see my bed. No time for reading. But tomorrow is a holiday so I’ll have the entire long weekend to catch up. Labyrinth Lost continues to be wonderful. In fact, it’s getting better and better. I love Alejandra, the protagonist (and her family!), and I also really, really enjoy the potential love interests. I see two characters with potential, either of them may become a romantic partner, or neither of them. But the not knowing makes this  a highly refreshing book.

Evening: Aaaaand I’m home from work and have officially started my weekend. I am starting to seriously love this book even though I only read a few pages on the train today.

January 8th: So, I’m almost done with this book (still loving it) but I didn’t have a lot of time to read any other DA readathon books. On the upside, I finally went to see Rogue One on Saturday and it was much better than I expected. Plus, I still have to finish reading Flashfall, which I started very late last year and which, although very exciting at first, has kind of run out of steam by now.
However, I’m pretty sure I’ll have a review of Labyrinth Lost up next week and hopefully finish the rest of my readathon books.

January 10th: I finished this book yesterday and although I saw one part of the ending coming, I loved it to bits. The feeling of family, the warmth of friendship, and watching Alex come of age was just beautiful. My review is now online!

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dareadathon-stupefy

 

I also couldn’t resist any longer and started Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I picked it because of the hype surrounding the duology and again, just two chapters in, I am so hooked I want to just stay home all week and read this book!

six-of-crows

January 2nd: I had only ever read the first Grisha book by Leigh Bardugo before but if Six of Crows continues to be as good as its first chapters, I believe I’ve been missing out. Holy shit, how can I like both Inej and Kaz so much after one short encounter?

January 5th: As much as I adore Labyrinth Lost, I think it’s time to switch it up a bit and continue this amazeballs book! I still don’t know what the plot is really going to be about but I adore the characters so far.

January 11th: This is so much fun. Kaz is gathering a crew for his big job and you’d think the introduction of each character would be boring but it’s not. Bardugo uses the time for world-building as well as showing us who these guys are. I already have trouble picking a favorite (I was just introduced to Matthias) but I adore the names used in this novel. Ketterdam, the Barrel, the Dregs… names and places aren’t just words here – they have meaning and they paint pictures in your head. So even if you don’t get a description of the Dregs, you still get the idea that it’s not a nice place, that it’s a dark underbelly sort of area of the city. Just because of its name. Well done, Leigh Bardugo!

January 14th: OMG, there is so much going on here! While I am excited to see how the group will get the job done, what I find infinitely more interesting is the relationships between the members of the group. First of all – Nina and Inej, the only two girls, are friends. I love it. I love how effortlessy normal they are, how they are nice to each other, care about each other. I just hope they don’t become part of a love triangle, but  so far I trust Leigh Bardugo.
Nina and Matthias also have a… weird thing going on. These two are totally in love, I am sure of it even though it was never stated. But he also wants to kill her? And she got him sent to prison? Talk about baggage. I finally have reading time, and it’s wonderful to dive into this world for an hour or two without interruptions.

January 15th: I’ve read more than half of this book but I don’t think I can finish it in time. Plus, during a Twitter chat, somebody massively spoiled part of the story and now I’m reading certain chapters thinking about nothing else but that spoiler. It’s like a big cloud of doom hanging over the book. However, the book is still fun, and I hope that spoiled one wasn’t the only twist that’s coming up.

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da-readathon-expelliarmus

Because I can’t ever read just one book at a time, I had to start with my next Hogwarts spell right after finishing the last book and while still reading Six of Crows. Because that book is so immersive, I wanted something with a completely different world and tone, where I couldn’t possible mix up the stories in my brain. And here it is:

borderline

From what I’ve heard of this novel – and I have only heard good things – the protagonist has a failed suicide attempt in her past, lost both legs, and has Borderline Personality Disorder. If that doesn’t sound intriguing, I don’t know what does. And after reading the first few pages, I am already in love with the voice. Plus, I read about disabled characters so rarely, it’s about time to expand my horizons. Let’s get our Expelliarmus on, right?

January 11th: I read the first few chapters before bed yesterday and I am so surprised. Urban Fantasy is usually not my thing, because I just can’t read about another snarky, yet super sexy and capable, fighting machine heroine anymore who solves crimes with werewolves and vampires. But this? This is awesome! I can safely say I have never read about a character like Millie and although we have nothing in common, I love reading about her.

January 14th: This is a fantastic book! I only wish I’d had more energy during the last few days to actually read. Now that the weekend is finally here, I’ll need to get my butt in gear and catch up a little. I love Millie’s narration, I find the world fascinating, but I was so exhausted after work every day of the week that I only read a chapter or two before bed.

As much as this is a page-turner, I’ve been spending most of my time with Six of Crows, so I only read about a third of Borderline. Another book I won’t be able to finish during the readathon. But not only do I look forward to reading the rest of it, I am already eyeing the sequel which will come out this year.

January 15th: I’m a bit confused about the rules of the readathon. If today is still included in the challenge, I might just have a shot at finishing another book. Wish me luck!

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Let’s start 2017 with a Read-a-thon – #DAReadAThon Sign-Up Post

I haven’t posted very much lately because all my time is taken up by catching up on all those unread books and, you know, the usual Christmas madness. And while I am pretty sure I’ll have to admit defeat by the end of the month (so many challenges unfinished), I intend to start the new year with a bang and read-a-thon right into 2017!

When I found this awesome challenge hosted by Aentee at Read at Midnight I knew I had to join.

The Dumbledore’s Army Read-a-Thon

Here’s what you need to know:

  • it runs from January 1st through January 15th 2017
  • it gives you great prompts on how to choose your books (more on that below)
    • the prompts are inspired by Harry Potter spells, which is so awesome!
  • it promotes the reading of diverse books
  • you can collect points for your Hogwarts house!!! (gamification works on me, I guess)
    • you get points for reading and for interacting with others on social media

And here’s my official sign-up card and a list of books I’m going to read for the seven prompts.

dina da-readathon

Choosing the books was super difficult because I want to read All The Things but I think I’ve got a pretty good lineup here. In case you’re participating and still looking for a good book to read, I added descriptions from Goodreads.dareadathon-stupefy

I think it’s safe to say that Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows has taken the internet by storm. When people wouldn’t stop posting about it and its sequel, I knew I had to have those books. The duology is sitting on my shelf, looking all pretty, and eagerly awaiting January. As far as I know, it features characters suffering from PTSD.

six-of-crows

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

da-readathon-protego

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book by a Mexicon author or set in Mexico and Siliva Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise has been on my radar ever since it came out. Mexico City, music, the 80ies! What’s not to look forward to? Plus, look at that new cover with its incredible Stranger Things vibe… it’s the font, I know, but it totally makes me want to pick it up right now and read it.

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.
Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

da-readathon-expelliarmus

The marginalised group that I almost never read about is characters with disabilities. I thought about two different books to choose for this prompt (Corinne Duyvis – On the Edge of Gone and Mishell Baker – Borderline) but in the end, I am going with Borderline because my gut tells me to and because I really meant to read this book in 2016 and never got around to it.

borderline

A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.
For her first assignment, Millie is tasked with tracking down a missing movie star who also happens to be a nobleman of the Seelie Court. To find him, she’ll have to smooth-talk Hollywood power players and uncover the surreal and sometimes terrifying truth behind the glamour of Tinseltown. But stronger forces than just her inner demons are sabotaging her progress, and if she fails to unravel the conspiracy behind the noble’s disappearance, not only will she be out on the streets, but the shattering of a centuries-old peace could spark an all-out war between worlds.
No pressure.

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My initial idea was to finally read something by Kameron Hurley but then I decided to go with another book that I’ve owned since it was published and that I desperately want to read. So my pick is Hild by Nicola Griffith.

hild

A brilliant, lush, sweeping historical novel about the rise of the most powerful woman of the Middle Ages: Hild.
Hild is born into a world in transition. In seventh-century Britain, small kingdoms are merging, usually violently. A new religion is coming ashore; the old gods’ priests are worrying. Edwin of Northumbria plots to become overking of the Angles, ruthlessly using every tool at his disposal: blood, bribery, belief.
Hild is the king’s youngest niece. She has the powerful curiosity of a bright child, a will of adamant, and a way of seeing the world—of studying nature, of matching cause with effect, of observing human nature and predicting what will happen next—that can seem uncanny, even supernatural, to those around her. She establishes herself as the king’s seer. And she is indispensable—until she should ever lead the king astray. The stakes are life and death: for Hild, her family, her loved ones, and the increasing numbers who seek the protection of the strange girl who can read the world and see the future.
Hild is a young woman at the heart of the violence, subtlety, and mysticism of the early medieval age—all of it brilliantly and accurately evoked by Nicola Griffith’s luminous prose. Recalling such feats of historical fiction as Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, Hild brings a beautiful, brutal world—and one of its most fascinating, pivotal figures, the girl who would become St. Hilda of Whitby—to vivid, absorbing life.

dareadathon-impedimenta

This prompt is screaming for Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, a book telling the love story between Achilles and Patroclus. I bought this when it was new but even though the book is pretty slim, I always felt a little daunted. Now it’s time to finally read it.

song-of-achilles

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

dareadathon-expecto-patronum

Whew! This is a hard one. Since I don’t want to get too personal here, I chose a book that encompasses my childhood and there is nothing that screams “Dina’s childhood” more than fairy tales. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know about my slight obsession with this type of story. Finding a fairy tale retelling that also features diverse characters is a always worth a little victory dance. To mix things up, I’m going for a story collection instead of a novel: Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch

kissing the witch

Thirteen tales are unspun from the deeply familiar, and woven anew into a collection of fairy tales that wind back through time. Acclaimed Irish author Emma Donoghue reveals heroines young and old in unexpected alliances–sometimes treacherous, sometimes erotic, but always courageous. Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed. Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire. Acclaimed writer Emma Donoghue spins new tales out of old in a magical web of thirteen interconnected stories about power and transformation and choosing one’s own path in the world. In these fairy tales, women young and old tell their own stories of love and hate, honor and revenge, passion and deception. Using the intricate patterns and oral rhythms of traditional fairy tales, Emma Donoghue wraps age-old characters in a dazzling new skin.

dareadthon-lumos

I browsed through other participants’ TBRs for this challenge to find recommendations for books I haven’t thought of myself, and I came across this post. Isabella is going to read Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova and now, so am I. Thanks for helping me pick my last book for the read-a-thon. I am super excited to start reading.

labyrinth-lost

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.
I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.
Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.
The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…
Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.

I can’t wait to get started and dive into all these wonderful books. And if I can win some house points for Ravenclaw in the process, that makes it all the better.

What about you? Are you going to participate? If yes, what house are you reading for. I’ve seen some Slytherin and Hufflepuff sign-ups so far as well as a few fellow Ravenclaws, but surprisingly no Gryffindors yet.

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Top Ten Tuesday – My Fall TBR List

As I’m home sick and need some distraction anyway, I thought I’d do a Top Ten Tuesday again. The Broke and the Bookish have come up with another great topic that will hopefully help me organise my reading a litte. As much as I love making lists, I rarely adhere to them and just end up reading whatever falls into my hands.

top-ten-tuesday

My Fall TBR list

this-savage-song1.Victoria Schwab – This Savage Song

Schwab disappointed me a bit with her sequel A Gathering of Shadows but I am still convinced that she’s got an awesome brain and comes up with great stories and characters. So I want to see what her latest novel – also the first in a series – is all about.

I know it’s about humans and monsters (and how they are not always what they seem) and music, and all of those sound pretty good. Plus, the title is brilliant.

bone swans2. C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans

I was so incredibly excited when I heard this was coming out and then I immediately got it and then… it’s been kind of sitting on my shelf. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to read it, wanting to really savor it. Cooney is still new to me but I have a suspicion that she might become a new favorite author. Everything I’ve heard about her and this collection is so up my alley that I will be majorly disappointed if I don’t fall in love with it hard.

haunting of hill house3. Shirley Jackson – The Haunting of Hill House

I said last year I wouldn’t wait around for another Halloween before I read my next Shirley Jackson book, but as new books came out, I ended up doing just that. The disctractions were too great, you guys. I don’t care, I’m going to read this creepy thing in October because I am still haunted by We Have Always Lived in the Castle and need more Shirley Jackson in my life.

shakespeares-star-wars-trilogy4. Ian Doescher – William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Until this post goes up I may well have finished the trilogy already, but in case there’s still some returning Jedi left over, this goes on my Fall TBR. I mainly like these books for the illustrations and the little nods to Shakespeare. They are quick reads, they make me giggle at the Shakespearean version of famous Star Wars quotes and they are a fun way to revisit the Star Wars trilogy (I will most likely skip the prequels because why would I put myself into the pain of revisiting those stories without the one thing that made it bearable – the visual effects?).

bird-and-the-sword5. Amy Harmon – The Bird and the Sword

I stumbled across this book by accident but it sounds super-intriguing. The cover is mysterious, the synopsis makes me expect all sorts of mysteries, and magic, and myth. It might be totally not my taste but, hell, until I’ll try I won’t know, right?

Swallow, daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heaven or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, daughter. Stay alive.

siege-and-storm6. Leigh Bardugo – Siege and Storm

I actually really, really want to read Six of Crows but because I’m weird and organised in my reading life (if nowhere else), I started the Grisha Trilogy first and intend to finish it before reading Bardugo’s other series. So Siege and Storm is up next and I have high hopes for it. While Shadow and Bone drifted off a little too much into YA-trope-land, I believe there is serious potential here and I quite liked the writing style. So let’s do this and do it quickly, then I can finally get into Six of Crows.

bands-of-mourning7. Brandon Sanderson – The Bands of Mourning

I am waiting for the Graphic Audio adaptations to come out (part one September 28th, part two October 26th) although I’ve had the physical book here since it came out. As my experience with Graphic Audio Sandersons go, I will probably eat this up in one weekend and it will probably be the first weekend after the entire audiobook is published. After that, I can start listening to the first part(s) of Words of Radiance as well, so the rest of 2016 looks very promising.

bryony-and-roses8. T. Kingfisher – Bryony and Roses

I am utterly in love with T. Kingfisher’s writing and the way she turns fairy tales into something new. Her collection Toad Words was lovely, and her novel The Seventh Bride both terrified and delighted me. I need more of that. Plus, the books are usually not very big (that’s a plus because I’ve started a few large series lately and feel quite intimidated by the page count).

three-dark-crowns9. Kendare Blake – Three Dark Crowns

I don’t own this book yet (as of writing this post) and I am on the fence about everything. But throw a cool book trailer at me, a gorgeous cover, and some buzz words in the description and I’m willing to try. So far, this sounds like Royal Hunger Games with magic – and that’s a pretty cool idea.

I know about Blake’s other series (Anna Dressed in Blood and the sequel) but I haven’t read it – don’t think I will either. The problem with these over-hyped books is that lots of people may end up liking them (see Sarah J. Maas) but I just can’t take the clichés and tropes anymore. I’m hoping for the best.

10. EVERYTHING ELSE by EVERYONE

I have SO MANY books on my TBR and I want to read at least half of them right this very moment. I can’t possibly pick only one for my last book, so I’m making a list within a list. That’s allowed, right?

  1. Carolyn Turgeon – Godmother
  2. Foz Meadows – An Accident of Stars
  3. Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
  4. N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate (OMG, I forgot this one, I’m totally reading this, no matter what, this should be number 1!!!)
  5. Laure Eve – The Graces
  6. Indra Das – The Devourers
  7. Sarah J. Maas – A Court of Mist and Fury (started it already but it’s painfully bad, so I’ll read this if I’m in the mood for a ranty review…)
  8. Karin Tidbeck – Jagannath
  9. Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
  10. Roshani Chokshi – The Star-Touched Queen

 

 

 

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Bout of Books 17 – Updates

It’s time for another bout of books. I actually did really well last week with catching up on some books (reviews are coming), but hey, Bout of Books is always a fun challenge. Plus, 2016 has been a very good year with lots of interesting titles coming out and I haven’t even read half the new publications I wanted to.

Bout of Books

As I mentioned in my sign-up post, I will be doing things differently this time. Instead of daily updates I will simply update whenever I have time or something to say.  I’m curious to see how that goes but I think it will take some pressure off and give me more time to concentrate on the books. Speaking of books: I said I’d probably read Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo but I kind of finished that book yesterday. Here’s some books I might be reading this week:


Number of books read: 1
Challenges done:

Books read:

  • Marissa Meyer – Stars Above

Here is the general update area where I will post my thoughts on current reads, challenges, the Twitter chat and anything else to do with Bout of Books. This post will remain a sticky until Bout of Book is over.

Monday

I’m reading Marissa Meyer’s Stars Above and while it’s nothing groundbreaking, this is just a nice world to flee into when reality is too depressing. I am halfway done with this book, but I admit I skipped the stories that I had previously read – some of them were available for free online or in Meyer’s newsletter. If anyone’s interested, I talked about them here.

Tuesday

I was just tired. All day, whenever you asked me, I could have fallen asleep on the spot. So I almost finished Stars Above but there’s still a few pages left. However, I also started another book – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. So far, it was pretty good – a harsh and cruel beginning to what I hope will turn out to be a great story.

Wednesday

I’m really liking An Ember in the Ashes. Maybe since the Hunger Games, YA authors dare to write about darker stuff. The beginning was pretty grimdark. Stars Above continues to be fun and fluffy, just how I expected. A wedding is about to happen and the characters all behave pretty much exactly as they should. If I manage to finish this book today (and as I’m not as tired as yesterday I’m pretty sure I will) then I have to pick a new book. Aaaaaah, exciting!

Friday

I’m so excited!! Okay, first the book stuff. I finished Stars Above and, surprisingly, my favorite new story was the one about young Scarlet and her grandmother. That one actually got to me emotionally. The wedding story (not telling whose wedding) made me giggle, but overall it wasn’t very good. Kind of exactly what I expected and I would have preferred to be surprised. But oh well, it was fun. An Ember in the Ashes is still pretty good, although I didn’t read very much yesterday or today.

In non-bookish info (or only slightly book-related, at least), I got my very first subscription boxes this week. If I have time to take nice pictures, I may write a post or two about them, but in general, I love the idea of surprise boxes. I got The Bookish Box by Appraising pages and Nerdy Bookworm Box – both were filled with excellen things. A T-shirt, a Peter Pan necklace which I adore (it’s a thimble and an acorn that represent the “kisses” Peter Pan and Wendy give each other), a mug, wax melts that smell wonderfully like the outdoors, a Hunger Games themed coffee, adorable magnetic bookmarks… you see, I’m in book-lover heaven.

As it’s finally weekend, I can now properly dive into An Ember in the Ashes and read more than a couple of chapters per day. I have also picked my next/parallel read and, surprising probably nobody, it’s none of the books I planned on reading. It is Vigil by the inimitable, wonderful, original Angela Slatter. More on that tomorrow.

SUNDAY

So okay, An Ember in the Ashes has taken over. I loved the beginning of Vigil, but I need to read that other book first. There is now spying involved. I haven’t done any challenges this week (although I loved the idea of the headlines challenge), because – and I think that’s a good thing – I was reading most of the time.

I will use the rest of this Sunday to finish the second part in An Ember in the Ashes, and then call it a day. Since my goals for this read-a-thon were very modest, I am happy with the way it went. I finished one book, got way into another one, started a third, and I have some reviews in the pipeline. I already look forward to the next Bout of Books and I hope it will happen during a week where I don’t have to work. Then I can really set myself some ambitious goals. 🙂

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