Hedwig’s World of TBR: Update

Welcome back guys! Hope you like the little logo up above. So I’ve not been having the best of reading the last month or so and that really ran into September I am sad to say. I did read 2 books this weekend gone but I am looking to get back on the horse this week and at least catch up on the four books that I am behind on for my GR goal.

That being said it is insane to think it’s been two months since I made the first post for this little project I set myself. Today I’m updating the list since I’ve finally completed one of the series I set on the original list! I’m glad to have made a dent however small and to be honest, it couldn’t have been a better one since it’s now one of my favourite series.

That is of course the Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K Le Guin. I have reviewed each of the books in the series now and I will link them below but I will say, regardless of it taking me longer than I anticipated, I loved this series. It was everything I needed right now for many reasons, one being the rise of She Who Will Not be Named.

So now I’m done one series, am I left with only 3? No, that would be sensible and I’m a glutton for punishment. I am going to add another 2 series to the list since I’ve felt a real need to finally finish that one in particular so without further rambling, the below is the updated list. Again, Those highlighted in bold have been read and those with a * are going to be a reread.

Books and series read:

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin:
– A Wizard of Earthsea
– The Tombs of Atuan
– The Farthest Shore
– Tehanu

Series left to read and finish:

The Wormwood Trilogy by Tade Thompson:
– Rosewater
– The Rosewater Insurrection
– The Rosewater Redemption

The Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E Schwab:
A Darker Shade of Magic*
– A of Shadows
– A Conjuring of Light

The Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb:
– Assassins Apprentice*
– Royal Assassin
– Assassins Quest

The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman:
-The Magicians
-The Magician King
-The Magician’s Land

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K Jemisin:
-The Fifth Season
-The Obelisk Gate
-The Stone Sky

So two more trilogies! Both by extremely excellent authors and both having been in both my possession and unfinished for a while. I would like to get at least a chunk of these read before the end of this year but that might be pushing it and I am a very mood reader. I shall be updating here on the occasions that I have a new one completed (or DNFd??) so we shall see.

Thank you so much to everyone for reading my disaster post and my very minimal attempt to hold myself in check for the amount of uncompleted series I have. If you have read or finished any of the above that you think I would like, do let me know. Happy reading to you all!

Review: Rosewater by Tade Thompson

I can read minds but I still don’t understand women. Or men. Humans. I don’t understand humans.

This book has been sitting on my TBR forever. I bought a Kindle copy ast year and never got around to it between starting this blog and various life things. I picked up a physical copy back in February (forgetting the Kindle copy clearly) and have finally read it. Definitely the kind of scifi I need in my life right now.

Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless—people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again—but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future

I really enjoyed this. I have found that my taste in scifi is leaning far more towards ‘new weird’ or just generally narratives that focus more on far more diverse stories in the last year. Lagoon was a huge favourite of mine from last year and Rosewater definitely captured some similar aspects of an alternative Nigeria but manages to keep you at arms length to maintain the mystery of both Rosewater and Kaaro.

The prospect of a city like Rosewater is so completely fascinating and terrifying to me. This city exists due the the third appearance of an alien known as Wormwood as it manifests as a biodome in Nigeria. Once a year, this dome opens and people flock to it to be healed and changed by entering the dome. Thompson explains this so well, I had no problem entering the story whenever I had put it down. What I really liked as well was the description of how psychic powers work and how they are tied into the existence of the biodome. It added an extra layer to the world building that I found impressive.

Kaaro is a protagonist I would usually find it hard to gel with. When I said that we are kept at arms length, it is mostly from Kaaro. He is a powerful psychic, if not the best, who has not always used his powers for totally honorable reasons. He is narrating this story and since we get this story in different time jumps, for example the plot as it’s happening now to events that happened before Kaaro became a government agent and how he became one. The book lets you get right to that part of his past that will answer a question that you have and then the chapter will end. However far we are kept from Kaaro, he does have a fantastic characters arc and the various time jumps across his life do give him a sense of growth that I don’t see often with male characters. He is flawed yet sympathetic and I find it very interesting how his masculinity in particular is challenged and discussed at various points of the story.

The time jumps in the story are work very well with this story, There is the perfect blend of scifi meets mystery here, with the mystery kept in the dark for all the right reasons. The pieces of the plot do come together perfectly and it becomes clear that Kaaro is more involved with various events than even he realises and how his powers are at risk as well as his life. It’s also a big difference to rad a science fiction story where America isn’t a huge factor in the plot. American in 2066 having shut down after Wormwood hit is a very different and welcome direction for the plot to take. I’d also like to thank Tade Thompson for mentioning the fate of my own home of Ireland and how it shaped up!

All in all, I did thoroughly enjoy this book, my only very mild criticism that the antagonist of the plot (or at least the main source of conflict) was dealt with very cleanly. Other than that, I am really looking forward to reading the other two books in this trilogy and discovering what is to come from Rosewater next.

Thanks for checking in guys, let me know if you have read this! Happy reading!

★★★★.5/5

Review: The Fireman by Joe hill

“There are no unselfish acts. When people do something for someone else, it’s always for their own personal psychological reasons.”

I don’t think a book has taken me this long to finish in a while and it has nothing to do with the length of it either. I started this book on audio the week that I was sent to work from home due to the current pandemic. And this is a book that concerns a pandemic style event. Bad timing?

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

So poor timing aside, this is definitely up there with Horns for me as one of Joe Hill’s best works (outside of his work in comics). I think he has a true gift with novels that he sometimes lacks with the shorter stories and here it really shines through.

Here we have a world ravaged by a spore that manifests on peoples skin and can cause them to abruptly burst into flames. There is a phenomenal amount of detail put into how the spore infects and progresses. Dragon Scale is a deadly and fascinating disease, with as much detail as Hill was liable to give. Within the world of this book there is many theories that seem plausible for how the Scale works but within a world that is also falling apart and turning into a full scale apocalypse there is very little science to distinctly ground them. I found it reminding me of watching ‘The Walking Dead’ that way (when it was good) and it worked super well for the world building since it somehow made everything that little bit more real.

There is no way that I was getting through this review without talking about Harper. The book is very cleverly structured and timed around Harper’s pregnancy and within the 9 months it is fair to say that she achieves a very emotional character arc. Joe Hill writes wonderful mother figures and Harper is no exception. She is cheerful even in the face of danger but she is far from stupid, with an inner strength that never wains no matter who she is facing down. Although this is a global event, this is very much her story more than the actual story of the total apocalypse and it is handled very well.

There are several other wonderful characters I grew deeply attached to such as the Fireman himself or Nick, a young deaf boy Harper meets at Camp Wyndham. Something I found endlessly interesting was some of the antagonists, like Jakob (Harpers husband) or Carol Storey, another character from Camp Wyndam. Without giving much away, both are very real. Too real, especially Carol.

Hill is truly a master storyteller, no surprise with his parentage but he stands on his own two feet here and not for the first time. I can’t give away any other details about the story without spoiling it but this story is captivating, tragic, optimistic while being realistic and bleak all in one. The book wraps up so well and I can’t praise it enough. I went between the audio and the physical book here again and you are in for a treat with Kate Mulgrew narrating.

This should be a five star book but I had to take off a star for how long this took me and my poor choice for reading it during a pandemic. I will probably come back and change it but don’t let it put you off reading this great story. Thanks for tuning in guys! Happy Reading!

★★★★.5/5

Blog Tour: Goldilocks by Laura Lam

Hello dear readers and welcome back to my last blog tour this week! I’ve had some really good books to review recently ans this is no exception. Today is my stop on the Random Things Tours blog tour for Goldilocks by Laura Lam!

The Earth is in environmental collapse. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. But a team of women are preparing to save it. Even if they’ll need to steal a spaceship to do it.

Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.

The team is humanity’s last hope for survival, and Valerie has gathered the best women for the mission: an ace pilot who is one of the only astronauts ever to have gone to Mars; a brilliant engineer tasked with keeping the ship fully operational; and an experienced doctor to keep the crew alive. And then there’s Naomi Lovelace, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, who has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity to step out of Valerie’s shadow and make a difference.

The problem is that they’re not the authorized crew, even if Valerie was the one to fully plan the voyage. When their mission is stolen from them, they steal the ship bound for the new planet.

But when things start going wrong on board, Naomi begins to suspect that someone is concealing a terrible secret — and realizes time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared . . .

The women were stealing a planet. They were stealing a future.

I’ve been reading science fiction for as long as I can remember and I really love space. Like I REALLY love space. I have no interest in the science but I would sooner go to space than into the ocean. Imagine my disgust when I learned historically, women were good enough to test for space but not good enough to go there. It’s clear Laura Lam discovered the same and she gave us Goldilocks.

This is definitely a stand out in a line of the resurgence in the space exploration genre of scifi stories but this is the first one that I have been deeply moved by. There is no denying the strength of these women and what they are trying to achieve here. It’s one thing to take back jobs and protest for equality, but these bad ass people literally stole a space mission.

I truly enjoyed the characters but their relationships and how they work together were truly the standout here. I think my favourite was Valerie and Naomi with their surrogate mother/daughter dynamic. I love a good found family story and this one I thought was probably the most accurate and interesting I had ever seen. There is even an early on instance where both of them had a fight and they are trying to recoup after a year of the fall out from it.

Can I just comment as well on the excellent writing and how well Laura Lam tells this wonderful story of discovery, pain and the very possible changes that could happen with a government started to restrict women further and further. I also loved the cheeky nod to the best known dystopic story about women losing their rights.

Thank you to Anne for having me on the tour and Wildfire for a copy for this amazing book in exchange for a review. Goldilocks is available now!

★★★★★/5

Laura Lam is the author of several science fiction books, including Radio 2 Book
Club selection False Hearts. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in
anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History,
Scotland in Space, and more. Originally from California, she now lives in Scotland with her husband, and teaches Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.

Review: The Book of Koli by M.R Carey

‘A door in the forest was a thing out of story, and in the story there would be an elf or an ogre on the other side, but I did not think twice.’

So, every read a book synopsis, or even just convinced yourself without reading one, what a book is about and it turns out to be something totally different? This was me with The Book of Koli. What I thought was a new entry to the genre of the New Weird turned out to be a totally relevant tale of a world lost that might be saved. Other readers of M.R Carey’s novels will find themselves in familiar territory here. If like me you just read his comics, then yo are still in for a treat.

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will. Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls. What he doesn’t know is – what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

This caught my attention just before Christmas when this was announced, and like I said I was totally convinced this was the beginning of a New Weird trilogy where nature has turned on us in a world that has well and truly changed. Not quite, what we have here is a book that is very much dystopian setting but this is a story of man much like Earthsea or the Dark Tower, on a journey to bring a world back.

The world itself we do come to realise is what we would know as the U.K but in a cruel state of post apocalyptic conditions. I found the world building very hard at times to maneuver and I am still unsure of certain parts of where exactly is in the novel. I think this was down to the fact the Koli, as a protagonist has only ever known this world and is telling his story from living there. It was a little frustrating but I got over it very quickly once the story kicks off.

Koli is a great central characters to experience this world through. This is the first book in a trilogy due to come out over one year and this is such a solid start Koli’s story. As I usually find with young protagonists in any apocalyptic novel, Koli did irritate me mildly with his naivety that comes usually with these stories. However he very quickly shows a resilience with a warm and tender heart. Koli is very unlike a lot of male protagonists where he is very aware of his emotions and frequently will cry or admit his feelings without fear.

I do want to talk about one particular aspect of this books and it is how the people of Mythen Rood and beyond treat the LGBTQ+ members of this world . Koli has no toxic masculine hang ups from what I could notice, even being openly honest about exploring his sexuality. There seems to be none of that macho boy bullshit I am usually used to coming across in this genre. There are trans characters (not a huge amount I will say) living in this world, many of them being able to identify themselves openly in their communities and accepted. Again, no hang ups here where someone has spoken out about their true identity and that made this a far more realistic read.

The Book of Koli is a story of many strengths but it is the perfect beginning to this trilogy, I can’t stress that enough. I love the structure of the book and how the story gradually picks up pace to become a sudden ending to a novel but the beginning of a story and the start of Koli’s journey which I anticipate will be thought provoking while also heart breaking.

Thank you to both Nazia and Orbit books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review. The Book of Koli comes out on the 16th of April!

★★★★.5/5

Review: The City We Became by N.K Jemisin

‘Every battle is a dance. She was always a good dancer at the pow wows, and these days? The steel toed boots dwell permanently in her soul.’

In the year of our lord, 2020, N.K Jemisin has declared ware on H.P Lovecraft and my word it’s about time someone did at last. Over the past few years I have seen some wonderful groups that would have been otherwise targeted by the stories of Lovecraft and re imagine his stories for a world that includes them. They shove themselves into these worlds reminding this dude everyone loves that they exist too in all worlds. Then N.K Jemisin showed up to the party and smashed his knee in.

Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six. But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all

This is book has been one of the most anticipated SFF titles of the year and I was lucky enough to receive this for review and oh my word did it deliver. Jemisin will definitely be an author you would have heard of it you are any way in touch with SFF books, the Hugo’s or just any form of online book spaces for fantasy readers. This is a bit of a step back for Jemisin since this is a book set in our world. Her previous works have been set in far more distant worlds and this one is truly a shining star.

The beginning of a new trilogy, this journey actually began with her Tor.com short story, The City Born Great. I have never been to New York myself but I felt every single twist and turn of the city as it moved off the page. Each and every street and person felt as real and genuine as the book itself. Its hard to write imaginary worlds like the Dreaming, Discworld and Hogwarts but its hard to make a real place live on a page. The impact of the otherworldly dangers felt even more surreal as a result.

Where the book really shines here is through each and every character. Like with many of the author’s books, most characters are PoC along with not being any shape or form of hetero normative. The majority of the book is focused on the characters since they are the city itself and does as a result take a bit longer to assemble them all for the final act but I really liked that part of it. This felt very true to the struggle of meeting people that are supposed to be ‘on your side’ but when you finally meet them they are just a regular idiot like you.

The play off of certain boroughs of New York against was very entertaining but was woven within one of the main themes of the plot. That of course being breaking the mold society has made for you and throwing the plaster dust back in their faces. Noone does confronting bias and bigotry like Jemisin but something I really loved was that despite 90% of the characters being not white, each has to confront some form of bias they have or even in cases, a type of privilege.

I mentioned this already but I challenge anyone to find fault with the writing. This book did take me a bit longer than I thought it would to finish but every time I picked this up I was hooked on every sentence, every word and the flow of the plot is so seamless that I never even realised the end was coming. Jemisin jumps between 3 different persons, from first right up to third , and it is done so well that it will not break the engagement of the story. Every city has a soul and N.K Jemisin has captured it here as a testament to everyone who grew up in one both loving and hating it at the same time.

I want to thank Nazia from Orbit so much for sending me a finished copy of this book to review. This will not disappoint and is definitely one of my favourite books of the year. Thank you for reading this and do tell me if you are going to read this! Happy reading everyone!

★★★★★/5

Review: Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

‘I was alive, and from past experience I knew in time I would forget enough to again pretend that we could someday be free’

I recently put out a Tweet asking the wonderful hive to give me science fiction recommendations. I know I have mentioned endlessly how many books are sitting on my TBR but since this year I seem to be leaning heavily on the SF part of SFF, I felt the need to build up a list. But then I took no recs, and started listening to Borne by Jeff Vandermeer because I was stressed and needed some New Weird. Sound like me eh?

In a nameless City, ruled by a flying bear called Mord, Rachel is a scavenger and a survivor. One day while scavenging Mord’s fur she finds something that she and her partner, Wick, may be able to eat or even sell. But when Rachel brings this thing home and discovers it can talk, grow and think, she names it Borne. Paired with the ever looming threat of their sanctuary being rumbled, Rachel and Wick begin to navigate a new type of family life around Borne. But what is he? And what does he want?

The looming world of the City and it’s sheer decrepit squalor was hard to not fear as Rachel described it from her daily life. This isn’t quite a post apocalyptic world but it’s damn near close. Everything from children to foxes have been forever warped and changed by the biotech the City brought with them. I could definitely feel the danger looming at any second.

I really loved Rachel as a character and her little found family. She was resilient in a world that is otherwise stripped of humanity but is not without compassion. Her and Wick have an interesting,complex relationship that only complicates as the story goes on. However, the true stand out moments are those with Rachel and Borne. Rachel openly calls herself a mother to Borne in many places but as Borne grows and becomes more intelligent, the reader does get the sense that he (gender term assigned by Rachel) is of unknown origin and purpose. Then things become a little more sinister and you do genuinely feel like Rachel is consulting you on those decisions as the story goes on.

I will say my connection to any of the characters waned a bit as the story went and I became more fascinated with the biotech within this world, especially the Magician as she is called. I feel the Magicians story could have been more rounded but that is just a small criticism. The plot itself delivers fantastically and without giving you too many answers, Vandermeer does follow up with reasons why Rachel, Borne and Wick have been so mysterious the entire book.

One of my main motivators for finally reading this was that Vandermeer’s new release, Dead Astronauts, is actually a companion story to Borne. So naturally I read this first and I really enjoyed it. So that will hopefully be soon on the blog, but regardless I highly recommend this book on audio.

★★★★.5/5

Blog Tour: The Blood Dimmed Tide by Michael R. Johnston

Hello fellow readers and welcome to my stop on the Random Things Tours blog tour for The Blood Dimmed Tide by Michael R. Johnston!

The sequel to The Widening Gyre, praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal and more!
Tajen’s mission to seek aid from the Kelvaki Assembly is cut short when the Zhen invade Earth. Now he, Liam,and Kiri must return to Earth and liberate the colony from brutal occupation. When Tajen learns the Zhen plan todestroy a human fleet amassing in preparation to help Earth, he and his crew must escape the planet once more and warn them.

I only realised after I received this book in the post that it was a sequel. So naturally, I had to read the first one. Which I did and I loved it. ‘The Widening Gyre’ introduces us to Tajen and his crew with ‘The Blood-Dimmed Tide’ taking place a few months after the conclusion.

I really enjoyed reading both these books back to back but I am obviously focusing on ‘The Blood-Dimmed Tide’ for this review. We are thrown head first into a battle, with Tajen and Liam’s wedding being brutally interrupted with a Zhen attack. What follows is an expansive race across space with Tajen and his family to seek aid while also trying to maintain the upper hand on the Zhen’s attacks.

There was some great character development here, especially for Tajen. He has already been through so much in the first book but Johnston manages to develop what he built even further. What I really like about him is he embraces his own flaws while also trying to work on himself. Tajen and Liam’s relationship is an absolute breath of fresh air too. There is a strong sense of equality here and it is great to see such a healthy m/m romance in an SFF book.

I was very intrigued to learn as well that the author based some of the Zhen/human struggles on accounts of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I feel he did a wonderful job here with this but there is also a moment where one of the characters is broadcast a declaration from Earth citing independence from the Zhen. Another nice nod to Irish history here I couldn’t help but spot and delight in.

If you are a fan of Mass Effect, Firefly or Becky Chambers, this should be next on your radar. This book and the previous are two fantastically paced books with a wonderful found family dynamic and great potential to build on for future books.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Flame Tree Press for sending me a copy of ‘The Blood-Dimmed Tide’ in exchange for a review! ‘The Blood-Dimmed Tide’ is published on the 20th of Februrary, and ‘The Widening Gyre’ is available now!

About the author:

Born in the San Francisco Bay Area and raised in Napa,California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy. In the early 90s, he took a“break” from college that went from being one semester to ten years. In that time, he had several jobs, from
serving subpoenas to making sandwiches, before he became the Data Processing Manager of a small research company. Eventually he decided he’d had enough of the corporate world and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento. In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher,a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had. Michael currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays
video games and tabletop RPGs,and reads. He blogs at MJohnstonBooks.com,and can be found on Twitteras @MREJohnston.

Review: Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

‘That is a truth I feel deep in my bones. Bones that plead for me to turn around, that I don’t belong here,that this place has no love for a child of Dinetah. But I do my best to ignore the cold dread that warns me to turn back.’

Good evening fellow readers. I feel this is a very interesting way to bookend the reading year. The first book I read in 2019 was Trail of Lightning and the last book I have now read in 2019 is the sequel., Storm of Locusts. And honestly, this is one of the best series I have read this year.

Four weeks after the deadly incident at Black Mesa, Maggie is trying to gather the scattered strands of her life while learning how to move on. But things are far from over as the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, goes missing with Kai, a mission with the Thirsty Boys goes horribly wrong and a cult leader has emerged known only as the White Locust. Maggie will be led outside the walls of Dinetah and beyond in order to keep what small family she has left and possibly save the world from ending again.

This was one of the bunch of sequels I was determined to read by the end of 2019 and I am so glad I got to it. This is possibly the best sequel I read all year if not one of the best sequels I have ever read. Roanhorse again displays a unique approach to the Urban Fantasy genre and brings Native culture to the forefront once again.

Without spoiling the first book in the series, Trail of Lightning, this world is already established very well especially for the sprawling journey we take across it. This book expands the world further adding to the world that lives outside Dinetah. Life beyond the wall is just as unpredictable and dangerous, if not more violent than the world of Dinetah.

We see the return of many characters, one of my favourites being the return of the Gods that now freely roam the earth. We do meet those that were present in Trail of Lightning along with some newer, trickier Gods. One particular scene involving one of my favourite tropes, a game between a mortal and a God where the human has to win a game to succeed against the God.

Urban fantasy is not a genre best known for character development but Roanhorse honestly writes the best developed characters I have seen in the past decade. Maggie undergoes such a wonderful change,both processing her feelings as a result of the previous books finale while also trying to learn and grow among her friends. The introduction of Ben, Hastiin’s niece, and her sudden presence in Maggie’s life allows for some very touching moments and a strong emphasis on growth and family in the book.

Ben is a wonderful addition to the story. There is no shortage of strong women in the story for Maggie to bounce off, especially in her more hostile moments. Ben is a young woman that is on top of being openly queer, trying to find her own place within this lawless world. Like Maggie, Ben has clan powers that gift her with being a supernatural tracker but also like Maggie, the clan powers are received as a result of a traumatic experience. There is such a strong mentor/mentee development while also learning the lesson that being hard in a world like Dinetah can sometimes kill you faster.

Honestly this plot never releases you from it’s grasp. Just like the first one the book delivers a high octane plot with a seamless set of characters within a mythology we never really get tot see in SFF. The exposure to Native American culture is something I am very grateful for and actively want to seek out after reading this. Roanhorse has crafted a ruthless world that has been handed back to the Gods and people who lived in it first and in the end, were the only ones who were ready for it.

There are very little details available at the moment for the next sequel in the series but you can be guaranteed that when it is confirmed and released it will move straight to the top of my TBR. I can’t recommend this series enough especially for fans of Buffy. Have you read this series yet? Do tell me if you have. Happy reading!

★★★★★/

The Testaments- Margaret Atwood Review

‘All things come to she who waits. Time wounds all heels. Patience is a virtue. Vengeance is mine.’

Good evening all and welcome back to my world of books! Understandably, I have been busy over the festive period and I am currently changing jobs which is very exciting. But in the middle of it all, I did find time to read my most anticipated sequel of 2019.

After Offred, and the discovery of her tale, there were still women in Gilead. These women continued to survive and struggle within this world. Here is the most dangerous thing to come out of Gilead, it is the accounts of 3 women and how some saw it rise, how some kept it alive, and how they all watched it fall.

I did mention in an earlier blog post that this was one of the sequels I had to get to before the year ended (I’m currently reading another) and I’m glad I picked it up when I did. Atwood has long been a writer I admire and enjoy reading but her writing is certainly the kind you need to be in a humor to seek out. I also find with her work, especially one that is a fairly bleak setting from a previous story, you do have to suspend all hope at the door. This also historically the first ever joint winner of the Man Booker Prize, the other winner being ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernardine Evaristo (the first black woman to win the award). This book is also on my current TBR.

Gilead has already been laid out and outlined in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, both novel and TV show, so we already have a certain idea of what to expect in this book. We actually get further expansion of the world, the size of it and the experience of living within the world. We get to see a type of mundane, whatever that is, in Gilead this time.

This story, like many of Atwood’s previous works, is powered by the characters. We get the perspective of 3 characters as previously mentioned. I am going to refuse to tell you the names of some of them since I think it will kill the experience a little of reading this and it’s technically a spoiler. We get the POV of an Aunt and 2 witness testimonies from younger characters, one who has grown up in Gilead and one that is outside of Gilead.

I know this is pretty vague compared to how I usually review but I really think this will help anyone’s reading experience. Something that I really enjoyed about this book is how it answers questions that I think everyone had after ‘The Handmaids Tale’. The answering of them don’t affect the plot or the pacing in any way which I think really is a bonus for any sequel. There is no time to linger on this fact and process anything, this world is dangerous and we need to move.

This was impossible to put down and I flew through it when I was able to read it over the Christmas period. Atwood has managed to write a sequel that is just as compelling as the previous work it follows. My mildest criticism is that I did find it hard to emotionally connect with the characters. Any of them. Whenever I have read her other books, I have always worried about a certain character (whether a handmaid or a cat) off the page when I put the book down. Offred especially is a character I have often thought of. I didn’t find this with The Testaments and it felt a little bit like I missed out a little.

Overall though this did not disappoint. This book was exactly what I was in the mood for and there is nothing more satisfying than that. I also recently rediscovered my love for literary fiction so this was a good read too to get back into this for the new year.

Do you read Margaret Atwood’s books? Have you read this? Tell me all in the comments. Thank as always for stopping by and Happy New Year everyone!

★★★★/5