Top Ten Tuesday – 17th July

I’m doing the Top Ten Tuesday meme, which is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and the theme for 17th July is…Favourite novellas/short storiesI’m not always a fan of short stories, but there are definitely some that I’ve loved and would recommend.

  1. On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard – I don’t remember where I first read about this book, but this novella, set in de Bodard’s Xuya universe, is about a space station whose mind is starting to fade. It’s a great story, and de Bodard’s worldbuilding is stellar
  2. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang – I loved this whole collection when I read it at the end of last year. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others, but I found it really inspiring and enjoyable
  3. The State of the Art by Iain M Banks – I don’t remember any of the stories in this except for Descendant, which I always recommend to people. I can say nothing else about it without ruining it, but it’s brilliant
  4. The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C Clarke – my nanny told me about this story when I was little, and it’s stuck in my head ever since. It’s simple, but very effective
  5. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – anyone who’s even vaguely interested in feminist literature should read this story. It’s creepy and atmospheric and so very pointed

As someone who’s not a big reader of short stories, there’s just these five that come to mind when I think about it. And these are all stories that I really love.

Have you read any of these? And do you have any recommendations for others you think you might enjoy? And if you’ve got a Top Ten Tuesday this week, pop the link in a comment and I’ll check it out!

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.

Advertisements

Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City

I received a free copy of Jade City by Fonda Lee from NetGalley in return for review consideration. Jade City is a fantasy novel originally published in the UK in November 2017, with the paperback edition due to be published by Orbit, an imprint of Little, Brown, in the UK on 28th June 2018.

Synopsis

Below is the Goodreads synopsis of the book:

Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion. 

Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.

Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.

Review

Jade City had been on my TBR for a while, and then it popped up on NetGalley (as the paperback comes out at the end of June) and I snapped it up. And it is so good!

Jade City is told from a number of different perspectives. The main focuses are the Kaul family – brothers Lan and Hilo, their sister, Shae, and young adopted cousin Anden. All these characters have very different views about their roles in the city of Janloon, and Lee does a great job of making all their voices incredibly distinct and using their differences to round out our picture of life in Janloon. I particularly enjoyed Shae’s and Anden’s chapters, both seeing the clan from the outside and wondering where they belong.

The worldbuilding behind Jade City is wonderfully rich, full of little details that pop up throughout the book and bring Kekon to life. The story behind the No Peaks and the Mountain clans has politics and business and fighting in spades (I love all these things), and we’re offered tantalising glimpses of the world outside Kekon, which Lee has said will be covered in more depth in the next book.

And the story itself is incredibly gripping. I was pulled in from the first chapter, and found myself wanting my train to be delayed on a Friday morning so I would be able to finish the book before I got to work (with a bit of judicious escalator reading in the station, I just about made it). I’d been in a bit of a slump before Jade City came along, but it did a brilliant job of blowing away the cobwebs. As the tension builds between the clans, Lee’s writing really shines, bringing to life the nerves and discomfort of her characters and the rest of Janloon’s population, and ensuring that the climax of the story doesn’t disappoint.

Summary

Jade City is a hugely worthy addition to modern fantasy, blending business and magic, politics and family with great skill and nuance. I really can’t recommend this book enough to anyone who enjoys fantasy with an urban setting, and characters who come to life from the very first page of the book.

Lee has said that the second book in the trilogy is due to be published some time in 2019, so in the meantime, I’m off to find some of her other books and get stuck in!

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.

Top Ten Tuesday – 10th July

I’m doing the Top Ten Tuesday meme, which is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and the theme for 10th July is a TTT throwback, so I’ve picked…Top ten characters you wish would get their own books, and this is an awesome category!

  1. Trillian/Tricia McMillan – always and forever, I will be frustrated by all the possibilities of Trillian from Douglas Adams’ HHGTTG series, and sad that there will never be any more of her story
  2. Norah – in Carol Shields’ Unless, Reta’s daughter, Norah, has taken to sitting on a street corner wearing a sign stating simply ‘Goodness’, and no-one knows why. Though we do find out, I would love to see more of her perspective. That said, it’s a truly wonderful book Shields’ deserves to be better known
  3. Jessamy’s sisters – I loved Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives series when I read it earlier this year, and would definitely read a set of spinoffs from the perspectives of all her sisters (I know there’s a novella about Bettany, but I want all of them!)
  4. Thea – Rilla’s older sister in Sarah Nicole Lemon’s Valley Girls is an intriguing character, and I would love to read more of her story and of how she ended up in Yosemite
  5. Swift – come on, who doesn’t want a spinoff from Emily Skrutskie’s The Abyss Surrounds Us series starring everyone’s favourite potential pirate captain?!
  6. Robyn Ward – the love interest from KE Lane’s And Playing the Role of Herself deserves a book all of her own, so we can explore her neuroses and complicated family a bit better!
  7. Shannon and Natalie – the two main women from Marcus Sakey’s Brilliance Saga more than deserve their own books out there. After all, without them, Nick would have been even more of a mess than he was anyway
  8. Any other character but Stephen – Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness is a classic of queer literature, but so many of Stephen’s actions are based on what she thinks people around her are thinking or feeling. It would be great to know for sure what they actually were thinking!
  9. Kai – I think I probably don’t want entire books, but a novella about Irene’s assistant Kai in Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library series would be awesome
  10. Kaisa – the King’s Huntress in Malinda Lo’s beautiful Ash would be a worth main character in her own book, though I wonder if that would remove too much of the mystery from the original story

This was an awesome topic for throwback week. I would love to read any one of these spinoff books, and am thinking of making my way to AO3 to see if anyone can provide any non-canon options!

Would you read about any of these characters? And what characters do you wish had their own books? Let me know!

 

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.

Code of Conduct by Cheyenne Blue

Code of Conduct

I received a free copy of Code of Conduct by Cheyenne Blue directly from the publisher in return for review consideration. Code of Conduct is a lesbian romance novel, published by Ylva Publishing in the UK on 20th June 2018.

Synopsis

Below is the Goodreads synopsis of the book:

Viva Jones was great once. A top ten tennis player with a grand slam trophy to her name, she had the world at her feet. Then an overzealous lineswoman’s bad call knocked her out of the US Open, and a persistent injury crushed her career. While battling to return to the game she loves, a chance meeting with the lineswoman, Gabriela, forces Viva to rethink the past…and the present.
Away from the court, Gabriela is sexy, athletic, and lives for her career as an umpire. She seems to be falling for Viva as hard and fast as Viva is for her. There’s just one problem: players and officials can’t date.
A lesbian romance about breaking all the rules.

Review

When Ylva sent out their email with upcoming ARCs, I knew I had to request this book – lesbians plus tennis? Sign me up! And the book did not disappoint. Even if you know nothing about tennis, this is a great read.

Of the two main characters, I think Gabriela was my favourite. I could definitely empathise with her concerns about breaking rules, particularly when her job was clearly so important to her. Her determination to do the right thing and dedication to her job, even when it wasn’t seen as being as important, is a great thing to read about. Viva’s a more forceful, outgoing character, struggling with injury and the sense that the career she’s spent so long developing might be coming to an end. There were times when she came across as a little self-centred, but not in an irritating way – more in the way that someone who’s been the centre of everything around them for so long might be.

The secondary characters feel well-drawn and vital to the story. Viva has family with whom she doesn’t always agree, but is very close, as well as her friends and rivals in the tennis world. They help Viva make sense of the way her world is changing, and understand that she’s the only person who can decide what changes she’s happy with and which ones she’s not. Gabriela lives a more isolated existence, and it’s lovely to see her interactions with people around her change as she starts to emerge from her shell .

I really enjoyed how organic the conflict in the story was. There’s none of this ‘oh, if they just talked, it would all be fine’ – this relationship could have serious consequences for Gabriela, and as the story progresses, it seems that Viva isn’t immune to problems resulting from the relationship, though from a different aspect. And the conflict also allows the two characters to grow and develop, both individually and in terms of their relationship. It feels like a realistic situation, and means that as the relationship between the two women develops, that too feels realistic and you feel like you can really root for them.

Summary

Code of Conduct is a hugely enjoyable romance novel with appealing, realistic characters, and a storyline that really pulls you in. It’s the perfect summer read with a sporting storyline, and it gets a big thumbs up from me.

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.

Suicide Club by Rachel Heng

Suicide Club

I received a free e-ARC of Suicide Club by Rachel Heng from NetGalley in return for review consideration. Suicide Club is a dystopian fiction novel, due to be published by Sceptre, an imprint of Hodder and Stoughton, in the UK on 10th July 2018.

Synopsis

Below is the Goodreads synopsis of the book:

Lea Kirino is a “Lifer,” which means that a roll of the genetic dice has given her the potential to live forever—if she does everything right. And Lea is an overachiever. She’s a successful trader on the New York exchange—where instead of stocks, human organs are now bought and sold—she has a beautiful apartment, and a fiancé who rivals her in genetic perfection. And with the right balance of HealthTech™, rigorous juicing, and low-impact exercise, she might never die. 

But Lea’s perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. His return marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality, and instead chose to live—and die—on their own terms. In this future world, death is not only taboo; it’s also highly illegal. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.

Review

This was a book that went very differently to how I was expecting, and sadly, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. Lea and Anja, the main characters, are at very different points in their lives. Following the story through their eyes gives the reader the opportunity to fully experience the world Heng has built. And it’s a fascinating world where, if you’re the ‘right’ kind of person, life can go on for many decades. Lea is supposed to be a perfect ‘Lifer’, with a perfect fiancé, perfect job, and perfect apartment. But as the story progresses, it becomes clear that she’s less perfect than she, and everyone else around her has thought. Anja lives a very different life, and when she and Lea cross paths, it opens Lea’s eyes to some of the inequalities and inconsistencies in the world around her.

The world Heng has created is chilling. The characters around Lea and Anja show us some of the different lives being led in this world – those who are hugely successful, those who aren’t, and those who don’t even want to be. I enjoyed the great variety of characters in the book, and there were definitely some who I would have been interested to read more about. It felt like there was a lot of depth to the world, as Heng showed such a cross-section of the population.

Unfortunately, I struggled to really engage with either of the main characters. Although both of them had interesting storylines and felt like well-drawn characters, I just wasn’t able to connect with either of them, and I’m not really sure why. I think Heng’s writing is very skilled, but I felt like there was a barrier between me and the characters and I couldn’t get through that to truly engage with them and their stories. Also, there were a couple of points where I really struggled with very graphic descriptions of eating meat or meat-related products. This is obviously something that’s quite specific to me, but as a vegetarian, I found those passages quite unpleasant to read, probably in part because Heng’s writing is so good!!

Summary

Suicide Club offers a chilling look at a world where life can be extended far beyond what we might expect now, and with the possibility of immortality hovering in the distance. Although I personally didn’t really enjoy it, I think it’s a fascinating book, and could be an interesting read for anyone interested in how extended life might change society, and what would happy to people living outside those opportunities.

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.

Top Ten Tuesday – 3rd July

I’m doing the Top Ten Tuesday meme, which is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and the theme for 3rd July is…Books with red, white, and blue covers. A lot of this is based on book spines, as that’s what I can see from my sofa!

  1. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  2. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
  3. The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams
  4. The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
  5. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
  6. The Two Houses by Fran Cooper
  7. Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard
  8. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  9. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

I decided to pick nine to do three for each colour.

What are your favourite books with red, white, and blue covers?

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.

June Round Up

June has not been a great reading month at all! In fact, I think it’s my worst (or at least one of my worst) this year. I’m going to blame most of it on a book club book which I was just not enjoying, and which made it hard to pick up other things because I knew I had to finish it. I’d been hoping to reach 100 books by the end of this month (to be on track to hit 200 by the end of the year), but I’m not quite there yet (95 so far). But anywhere, here’s what I’ve read this month.

Read Harder

I really, really have to go through the list and see how I’m doing for this!

Beat the Backlist

Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler – I won this a few months back in a Twitter giveaway and picked it off the shelf wanting something fun to read. It was definitely fun! Heavier going than I was expecting, but in a really good way. Huge rec for anyone into smart, contemporary YA with friendship (rather than romance) at its heart, and which takes on big issues in a clever way

The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter – the aforementioned book club book. I’ve never read any Carter before, as magical realism really isn’t my jam. I don’t think I’d call this magical realism, but it definitely wasn’t my jam! Book club next week is going to be interesting!

Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown – my other book club read this month and again, not what I expected. Really looking forward to talking about this one

Jade City by Fonda Lee – the paperback was out at the end of this month, so it was up on NetGalley for review, and I adored it!! I’ll have a review up soon.

Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford – this is another backlist which has new editions coming out soon, and it made me beyond mad, but I would massively recommend it

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead – every time I write the title of this book, I struggle with the spelling! And the book itself was…interesting. It’s another book club read, so I’m looking forward to discussing it

ARCs

How to be a Grown Up

How to be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan – I received a copy of this memoir/’self-help’ book from the publisher, and it’s a lovely combination of biography and suggestions on how what she’s learned can be used by the reader to help themselves

Reviews

I have at least done okay with getting my reviews up this month:

The City of Brass by SA Chakraborty

Sparks Like Ours by Melissa Brayden

Alias by Cari Hunter

Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Wildrose by Max Ellendale

Rabbit by Max Ellendale

How to be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan

Other

This month, I very excitedly got to interview Claudie Arseneault, author of Baker Thief, which is out now, and which is an awesome superhero fantasy novel focussing on a non-romantic pair! It’s great, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

I also recced some queer SF to celebrate Pride Month. SF is one of my favourite genres, and there are some wonderful queer characters in SF novels that I would highly recommend checking out.

Super excitingly, I also had the opportunity to attend my first publisher showcase, for HQ Stories (an imprint of HarperCollins). I picked up a whole selection of books, some recent releases and some upcoming ones. I’ll be digging into these over the next few months, so look out for those reviews, including quite a few things which are outside my usual wheelhouse.

Currently reading

The Two Houses by Fran Cooper

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Summary

So while May was good for reading and bad for blogging, June has been the other way round! But I’ve finally buffered a couple of weeks of posts, which makes me feel less stressed about the whole process. And I’m excited about the reads I’ve got coming up.

How has your June been for reading? And what are you excited to read in July? And if you’ve got a June round up, please let me know the link so I can check it out!

If you enjoyed this post and want to be notified of future posts, please follow my blog here at WordPress, or at Bloglovin’.