Monday, 18 March 2019

A Naked Giant and Other Stories...

IMWAYR is hosted by The Book Date.

This is two weeks of round-up again... Last weekend we went camping in Dorset, the first time we've slept in the tent with Scully. Once she got her creature comforts (she's a blankie fiend) she seemed to enjoy it.

Cerne Abbas Giant

Otherwise we nearly blew off the cliff at West Bay (not far from the place where it broke off last week) and walked across the hills to see a big naked man with an erection. That'd be the Cerne Abbas Giant, thought to be from the 18th century. We took a bit of a wrong turn and ended up at the top of Giant Hill, where my glasses blew off. I can just imagine the people at the bottom looking up at the giant and seeing us floundering about in the wind. Haha!

Anyway, it was nice to get out the house for a weekend. The garden now has green sprouts appearing and the peach tree has three blossoms. If they all pollinate, I'll have one more peach than last year!

On the blog, I compiled a list of a whopping 27 April releases that I'm interested in. I've also signed up for the next Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon on the 6th April.


This Fortnight I Finished:


The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty ☆☆☆☆
Read my full review.

ATY: 18. A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table

Do You Dream of Terra Two? by Temi Oh ☆☆☆☆
Set in an alternate 2012 where Britain has its own space programme, this is a character driven story about a group of young astronauts on their way to a new planet. It's very much about coming to terms with their decisions to leave their lives behind as well as dealing with living in close quarters with others for the first time.

POPSUGAR: 16. A book with a question in the title

The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson ☆☆☆☆
Lots of new characters thrown into the mix in the second book in the Wormwood trilogy. The alien dome is in trouble and I loved finding out a bit more about the Homians as well as continued life in independence-seeking Rosewater. I should be reviewing it properly this week.

ATY: 17. A speculative fiction


The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab + Andrea Olimpieri ☆☆☆
A prequel comic to the Shades of Magic books. It was great to visit Maxim's past but this story seemed a little simple. The colouring was on the murky side, not sure if that was just the printing of my edition, but I would have liked it to be more vibrant.

Eat Up by Ruby Tandoh ☆☆☆☆
Common sense from the former GBBO contestant on our relationships with food and how we should follow our appetites not the latest fad diets.

ATY: 47. A book related to food

Sunday, 17 March 2019

On My Radar: April

So... many... books! As always, these are forthcoming releases that have struck my fancy and inclusion is not an endorsement, because I haven't read them yet. In the interest of full disclosure, where I have received a free review copy, I have marked it as [GIFTED].


1st

When the Sky Fell on Splendor by Emily Henry
The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum (US)
Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan
The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams



2nd

Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin
The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston
The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley



4th

The Dollmaker by Nina Allan
Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver [GIFTED]
You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr
We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young (US)
Opposite of Always by Justin Reynolds
A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob




16th

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman [GIFTED]
Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst + Paula Garner (US)



18th

If, Then by Kate Hope Day
Sunfall by Jim Al-Khalili
Atlas Alone by Emma Newman
Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan
Losing Earth: The Decade We Could Have Stopped Climate Change by Nathaniel Rich



23rd

Emily Eternal by M. G. Wheaton
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala (US)



25th

A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher [GIFTED]

30th

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan (US)
Exorsisters Volume 1 by Ian Boothby + Gisele Lagace


Books marked as (US) aren't officially available in the UK and may be hard to find in UK bookshops (but you should still be able to get your paws on them online).

Saturday, 16 March 2019

The Kingdom of Copper

The Kingdom of Copper is the sequel to The City of Brass and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous book.

Nahri's new life in Daevabad is far from easy. Now married to the emir, she must tread carefully around King Ghassan who hasn't shown any more interest in uniting their people. But Nahri has a dream to help people, and the discovery of a ruined Nahid hospital gives her an idea.

Because a lost little girl from Cairo thought she was living in some sort of fairy tale. And because for all her supposed cleverness, she couldn't see that the dashing hero who saved her was its monster.

The Kingdom of Copper takes up the story around five years after the final events of The City of Brass. Things have got worse for the shafit, the mixed blood offspring of Daeva and humans. It seems more than one group of djinn would like to rid the city of them, and they are often the scapegoats for any unrest. Nahri has a dream of treating both djinn and shafit patients, no matter the taboo surrounding it.

Ali has been banished to the desert but survives thanks to a worrying new ability. Did the Marid leave something behind after their possession?

In Daevabad, everyone believes Dara is dead. He has been brought back to the mortal world by Nahri's mother (also thought to be dead) and he is to be used to rally an army against the King.

Whilst the three main characters are separated at the beginning, their paths will cross again. I loved how this world isn't morally black and white. It reflects many of the problems suffered in West Asia around religious conflicts and lands divided where people want to reclaim their homelands. Daevabad was a city created for the Daeva, but the land was taken by force from the Marid.

Daevabad had crushed everyone in it, from its tyrant king to the shafit laborer scurrying through her garden. Fear and hate ruled the city-built up by centuries of spilled blood and the resulting grievances. It was a place where everyone was so busy trying to survive and ensure their loved ones survived that there was no room to build new trust.

There is so much prejudice reflected in the pages, so much injustice that Nahri must fight against. But even she isn't immune to thinking the worst of people. She is basically imprisoned by the Qahtanis, and blames Ali for the actions on the lake without finding out what happened to him. Some people think Ali is a hero, others worship at the shrine of Dara, their martyr.

I don't know why this took me so long to read. Like the first book, it gets off to a slow start, but I just love the setting and being back in this world. Once I got to the final third, I was hooked once again. And that ending! I cannot wait for the final book to see what happens next.

ATY: 18. A book related to one of the elements on the periodic table

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

The Salt Path

After losing their home and business, Raynor and Moth receive more bad news. Moth is diagnosed with CBD. There's nothing they can do for him. When hiding out from the bailiffs, Raynor spots a guide to walking to South West Coastal Path. What if they just walk? Leave what's left of their life behind, and live in a tent.

Why does nature writing have to come with a helping of personal tragedy these days? I felt thoroughly depressed reading the introductory paragraphs. Sometimes the tragedy is just an aside but it really is dominant throughout their whole walk. An anecdote can't go by without reminding the reader of their lack of money, homelessness or Moth's failing health.

I can't deny that life struck some hard blows one after another. Going on a long distance walk is one way of not dealing with it. Raynor uses this book to talk about the unfairness of legal aid reforms and the state of homelessness in Britain. She does come across a bit like she thinks she's better than other homeless people, but maybe that's just how you feel when it first happens.

It's all from Raynor's perspective, and it would have been good to know a bit more about what Moth thought about it all. He's the one with a degenerative disease after all, and it's all about Raynor's feelings. What about the trip made his symptoms better? Was it the exercise he was told to avoid? Ceasing his prescription medicine? Or simply the removal of stress?

Had I seen enough things? When I could no longer see them, would I remember them, and would just the memory be enough to fill me up and make me whole?... Could anyone ever have enough memories?

I picked this up because I'd quite like to walk the South West Coastal Path one day, I've walked bits of it and it ends not too far from where I live. This book did not really inspire me. The bits about the culture or history were brief and felt inserted into the narrative.

I got a bit irritated with their attitude to money. I'm assuming they went from comfortable to nothing overnight, but there's a lack of self-awareness in the writing. £48 a week isn't a lot for two people to live off, but it will go a lot further if you don't buy lunch in tourist cafes. I appreciate the need for some high calorie food and occasional indulgences, but they had cooking equipment, they could have made cheese toasties instead of buying fancy paninis.

A lot of people will find this book inspirational, but I was more in the mood for a book about escape to the natural world, not the struggles of the real world, so it missed its mark with me at this time.

Listening Notes

The author is 50 at the time of their walk, but for some reason they chose an 80-something narrator. OK, the reason probably being that Anne Reid was on Coronation Street, but she just sounded frail and a bit pitiful to me, making Raynor seem much older than she was. It improved with a faster speed, but I think she made Raynor come across as a bit whiny.

ATY: 50. A book that includes a journey

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Book Source: Purchased

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

The River

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Best friends Jack and Wynn are canoeing down the Maskwa River, a big adventure into the Canadian wilderness, when a wildfire starts licking at their heels. They go back to warn others, only to find the fire isn't their greatest threat.

The earth stripped to its geography did not feel like home.

The River was one of those books where I liked the sound of it before realising I'd read the author before. The Dog Stars made my top ten list in 2012 and I wasn't disappointed with Peter Heller's latest. I thought the fire might be a bigger part, but it's always in the background, herding them into the human danger ahead.

Jack lost his mother in a riding accident, but he never turned his back on the wilderness that took her. He recollects his loss and grief throughout the journey. Wynn is much simpler, kind and gentle, never wanting to assume the worst of people.

If you've not got much interest in the minutiae of wild camping and long-distance canoeing, this might not be the book for you. It reminded me of a YouTuber my partner's recently started watching and I think there's something in that desire to escape to the wild and live a simpler life for a few weeks.

It smelled like a river, like moving water, a colder, cleaner scent, and he pulled it into his lungs, from where it seemed to run through every capillary of his body, and he felt happy.

The fire and the potential killer adds tension to the story, but it still takes time to take in the landscape. It isn't a fast-paced book, they go at the pace of the river, but that's fine. It spends time describing the landscape, and the experience of being in it.

Be prepared to cry at the end. I was not expecting to be moved by this, expecting more of an adventure story. Whilst the woman in the story is a victim, the two men are kind to her, treat her with the compassion one would want if your husband had just tried to kill you. They have zero patience with anyone wanting to harm her, not something you can take for granted in fictional survival scenarios.

Whatever malevolence the couple had ignited they had brought with them. That puzzled him. Why come so far if you were doing so badly? As people, as husband and wife? Why come the hell up here?

The River is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and is available in ebook now, with the hardback released on 16th May 2019. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 8. A book about a hobby

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Monday, 4 March 2019

Sneezing Into Spring

IMWAYR is hosted by The Book Date.

Apparently all this unseasonal weather has triggered the hayfever season early. Where I live there are a lot of birch trees and so there has been sneezing from me and Scully. Well, at least it means spring is here and we have seedlings popping up for tomatoes and beans already. I sowed some sweet peas and sunflowers at the weekend, to add some flowers amongst the crops.


I'm taking part in the relaxed Around the Year readathon on Goodreads this week, although I don't feel I'm being that helpful to my team by reading a slow paced, fantasy brick. I am enjoying The Kingdom of Copper, I'm just being slow for some reason.

I rounded up all my new books for February *gulp* and, if you're in Europe, make sure you check out this week's giveaway. It will be my 8 year blogoversary this month, so I'll be thinking of something to do for that too.

This Week I Finished:


The Salt Path by Raynor Winn ☆☆☆
This focused a lot on the couple's personal tragedy and less on the beauty of the South West Coastal Path. I don't think I was in the right mood for it.

ATY: 50. A book that includes a journey

Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North ☆☆☆
A bit of silly fun, definitely aimed at younger readers. I followed two paths with happy endings and then read through the original plot (which really wasn't that fun).

POPSUGAR: 42. A "choose-your-own-adventure" book

The Siren by Kiera Cass ☆☆☆
Cheesy romance but just what I needed.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

February Book Haul!

February was a big month for new releases, so I had a lot of pre-orders come in and I also used up my Waterstones loyalty points on a few books. I don't feel like I'm reading fast enough right now to justify this many new books, but hey, let's just call it stockpiling.



Physical Books Purchased:

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders
The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty
Enchantée by Gita Trelease
The Burning by Laura Bates
Dry by Neal + Jarrod Shusterman
Happy Girl Lucky by Holly Smale
The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan (Illumicrate)

For Review:

The Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman (Titan)
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells (Penguin)

Ebooks Purchased:

Slayer by Kiersten White
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Romeo and/or Juliet by Ryan North
The Gender Games by Juno Dawson
Educated by Tara Westover
The Curses by Laure Eve
The Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Audiobooks Purchased:

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
The Happy Brain by Dean Burnett

Library Audiobooks:

The Wicked King by Holly Black
The Siren by Kiera Cass

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Win A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World!

I was gifted a spare proof of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World from Orbit Books so I'd love to pass it on to one of you lovely people. The proof package comes with postcards and is tied up with a compass as pictured below.


Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Migration

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Sophie's little sister Kira was one of the first to become ill. A simple case of the chicken pox, then complications, leaving her with what was to become known as Juvenile Idiopathic Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The family travels to Oxford in the hope the research being done there can help Kira's new condition.

There's a point where protection just becomes another kind of imprisonment.

The Migration ticked all my boxes, I love stories about climate and diseases, plus it was beautifully written with a very human story at the heart.
Helen Marshall specialises in the study of the Black Death, and that does feel like the basis for this story. The period of the plague coincided with extreme weather, some think that the storms pushed the black rats north into Britain. In her novel, she explores the connection between climate change and disease, and ponders if our very DNA will adapt to survive these threats.

This is how nature works. Progression, change, destruction or self-preservation. One thing changes and another responds, again and again and again.

It also explores the generational divide to a lesser extent. It's only children getting ill, and in one scene and adult confronts Sophie, telling her she is to blame. Just as many people like to blame younger generations for matters out of their control.

I wonder if reading Origins earlier in the year put me in the right frame of mind for this. Life has always found a way to survive through apocalypse, species adapt, evolve, become something new. Even if the ages of humans is coming to an end, the Earth will cleanse itself and start again.

You told me not to trust despair and I don't. But the flip side of immersing yourself in history is false nostalgia, thinking things were better before when they weren't. The planet was in a tailspin before my diagnosis. There isn't safety in the way things were.

A lot of these types of books can leave you with a feeling of despair but The Migration served up a portion of hope. I loved this book so much, and I have highlighted a huge amount of quotes. I highly recommend you read this if like cli-fi or thoughtful stories.

The Migration is published by Titan Books and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from 5th March 2018. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.