Friday, 30 March 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

From what I can gather, A Wrinkle in Time is a much beloved children's classic in America. I personally hadn't even heard of it before I started reading Book Riot posts. With a few challenge prompts requiring me to read a children's classic, it was a the perfect excuse to pick it up and see what the fuss was about.

We took a time wrinkle as well as a space wrinkle. It’s very easy to do if you just know how.

Meg is a clever but stubborn girl, who exasperates her teachers and lives with her mum and three brothers. The school thinks her dad has left them and she's in denial but Meg has faith in him. Both her parents are scientists and Meg loves science too. I can see this being a breath of fresh air in the 60's, especially if you were a nerdy little girl. There is no gender stereotyping here.

There's a really long build up to the adventure starting, laying out the home situation and quite a lot of characters for such a short book. Eventually Meg travels across space in order to rescue her father and save the Earth, along with her little brother and Mrs Which, Mrs Who and Mrs Whatsit. It does introduce some quite complex ideas, such as the wrinkle of the title, talking about folding space in order to travel, but the characters were a bit simplistic for my taste.

Maybe if you aren’t unhappy sometimes you don’t know how to be happy.

Meg learns that parents are flawed people and you shouldn't judge someone by their appearance. It tries to explain differences in perception by including aliens with no sight but who can perceive so much more than Meg who is limited by her reliance on vision. Oh and love conquers evil, of course. After a slow start, it seemed to be resolved very quickly and the ending was rushed, however it is part of a series.

I struggled with reading IT as it and not as I.T. leading me to keep imagining the great evil was technology. Or a bunch of geeks in the basement. I don't think this term was in regular use until the 90's though, so it's more a modern reader problem. Maybe I would have loved this book as a child, but I was more into ponies than science, and I still think I'd have wanted more complex characters, even back then.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 33. A childhood classic you’ve never read
Read Harder: A children’s classic published before 1980

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Book Source: Purchased

Monday, 26 March 2018

British Bookish Subscription Boxes

Have you been thinking about trying our a bookish subscription box? Fortunately there are a load more options in UK than there used to be, meaning shipping costs won't break the bank. Here are the four I've tried so far.

Illumicrate


Frequency: Quarterly
Price: £29.99 (free UK shipping)
Genres: Usually YA SFF, sometimes contemporary and occasionally adult SFF.



What you can expect:
Often includes two books, the featured title plus an ARC (sometimes with an exclusive cover). The additonal items are usually from Etsy sellers, often with exclusive designs. Past items have included mugs, candles, pouches, cushion cover, coasters and notepads. The box usually has samplers, bookmarks and postcards for recent or upcoming YA titles.

Verdict:
I trust Daphne's choice of books and have found some new favourites among her choices. I like the quarterly frequency too, so it's not one I feel I have to put on hold. In fact, I've received every single standard box so far.

Illumicrate also do one off super boxes for specific fandoms.

@illumicrate

Wildest Dreams


Frequency: Monthly
Price: £18 (free UK shipping)
Genres: YA



What you can expect:
A paperback book, a Geeky Clean product (or occasional candle) and hand-blended tea.

Verdict:
The cheapest on this list and I love that it includes consumables rather than stuff that's likely to get shoved in a box and forgotten about. Again, I've really not had a chance to read the books yet and I'll probably have to take a little break as monthly is just a bit too often for me.

@wdbookbox

Ninja Book Box


Frequency: Quarterly
Price: £29.99 (free UK shipping)
Genres: Varies



What you can expect:
An independently published book plus items from small businesses, often handmade. Each box includes a themed charm which you can add to a bracelet or chain and a recipe card.

Verdict:
Full disclosure, I adore Bex and I love that she's doing so much to promote smaller publishers. I've not managed to get round to reading any of these books yet (although the box I skipped was because I'd already read and enjoyed Dragon's Green). If you want a subscription to help steer you in a different direction, I would recommend this one, even if it's not quite right for me.

Ninja Book Box also offers mini box subscriptions for the book without the additional items.

@ninjabookbox

FairyLoot


Frequency: Monthly
Price: £26 + £3.95 UK shipping
Genres: YA Fantasy



What you can expect:
A recent hardback book, sometimes an exclusive edition, which comes in a FairyLoot book bag and a generous number of items based on a theme. Past items have included jewellery, tea infuser, scarf, hot chocolate, candles, notebooks, magnetic bookmarks and hat. The box also includes some promotional materials from publishers.

Verdict:
One of the most professionally put together boxes with plenty of quality items. I'm pretty bad at reading the books though, and monthly is just a bit too often. They do offer one off purchases though. Sign up for their newsletter for hints on what will be included and then you can decide if you want it.

@fairyloot

So basically, I like all these boxes but just don't have time to read all the books on top of my mahoosive TBR. I am trying to cut back a bit, but out of all of these, I think Illumicrate is my favourite, for book choices, frequency and contents. Do you know of any other British book boxes I should try?

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Obsidio

Obsidio is the final instalment in the Illuminae Files trilogy and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Well the Illuminae Files have been quite a treat, I don’t know why I took so long to start but I have now devoured the entire trilogy. I loved all three books although Gemina was probably the weakest.

Rather than following the same formula, Obsidio sees are intrepid characters find a way home… The only way to return to Kerenza where a mobile jump gate is located. As well as BeiTech forces, occupying the illegal mining colony.

if i never see the inside of another goddamn air vent, i will die happypants

There is a new pair of characters introduced, but this time they are planetside. Asha Grant is Kady’s cousin and she’s been surviving day by day, thinking her entire family is dead. Trained as a pharmacy tech, her skills are in demand and she must treat the men and women responsible for so many deaths. Little does she know, her ex-boyfriend has been onboard BeiTech’s Magellan jump gate and is about to be sent to the surface.

What Obsidio does that the other books don’t is portray the enemy as more human, the lines become more blurred. There are people just doing their jobs, maybe without the full knowledge of what is going on. Soldiers who are told they are managing a criminal outpost versus the people left behind on Kerenza, their friends and families killed, missing or taken hostage.

What happened here on Kerenza is not the story of one corporation against another. It is the story of what happened to those caught in the middle.

On the other hand, war crimes have been committed. It’s not like at any point you think BeiTech are innocent, but maybe not everyone working for them is evil. There are some pretty upsetting scenes, even more when you realise they have been taken from Earth’s history.

And Oh AIDAN. I just can't even. He had some amazingly moving scenes. I think with all the work on driverless cars, we can start to see where AI needs to be very very careful in assessing situations involving human life. Would you kill 1000 to save 1001? Who is more important to save?

My systems still have D-D-Difficulty inteRpReting ceRtain human manneRisms. If you coulD avoiD speech moDes involving false ambivalence anD iRony, that woulD DecRease the Risk of teRminal failuRe of my synaptic netwoRk.

The whole trilogy is so gripping and I read most of the final instalment in one day. I cried, a lot. I’m so happy to hear Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman are working together on a new series, not in this universe but still multiple perspective science-fiction.

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Book Source: Purchased

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Excuse the comparisons for a moment, but I think they might be the only way to describe this book. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a cross between Quantum Leap and Groundhog Day if they were set during a murder mystery party, only it's not a game. Intrigued yet?

Blackheath’s only alive so long as people are in it. Without them, it’s a depressing ruin waiting on the mercy of a wrecking ball.

Aidan wakes up with no knowledge of who or where he is. He is in the woods outside Blackheath House, a place he will soon come to loathe. He assumes his memory loss is medical, but the very next day he awakes in a different body, and the day has been reset.

I think perhaps the joy of this book is not knowing too much about it before you start, so I won't go into too much detail. However Aidan learns he has eight hosts and eight days to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle. I loved the puzzle and how it slowly fits into place. The footman adds an edge of fear to the proceedings. Just as you think you've got everything worked out, you see it from a different angle.

My brother was murdered nineteen years ago tomorrow, Sebastian. I don’t know why, but my parents have decided to mark the occasion by reopening the house where it happened and inviting back the very same guests who were here that day.

The characters are lacking a little depth, though arguably to keep it in the style of older murder mysteries. You've got all the stereotypes present, the butler, the artist, the detective, lord of the manor... the list goes on. Not many of them are particularly likeable either, but it doesn't get in the way of enjoying this book.

I did form a theory on what Blackheath was all about and I was happy to be right about that. I was worried it would never be explained (although, of course I am curious about what the world outside Blackheath is like). If you're looking for something a bit different from a murder mystery, you will certainly find it here.

Finding their soul cut loose from their body would suggest death to some, but deep down I know this isn’t the afterlife. Hell would have fewer servants and better furnishings, and stripping a man of his sins seems a poor way to sit in judgement on him.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 10. A book about death or grief

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Book Source: Purchased

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Top Ten: Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I wonder if I went back through all my Top Ten TBR posts, how many of those books I've actually got round to reading. I guess that's a different blog post! These ten books are either recent acquisitions or upcoming pre-orders, so I've really no excuse not to read them. Other than the fact that there are so many other books to distract me...


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I was originally drawn by that stunning cover, followed by the fact it's Nigerian inspired fantasy. It's since turned into quite a buzzy book.

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

I loved Caraval and its Labyrinth (Bowie, not ancient Greece) vibes. I must admit, I'm a bit nervous that the second book won't have the same magic, but I still want to read it, of course!


Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith

It's about octopuses and the evolution of intelligence and it's been on my wishlist since I first heard about it. The paperback came out and was Waterstones book of the month, so I pounced. Non-fiction always seems to be expensive in hardback, I imagine it's a catch 22 of them not selling many so they have to charge more but they don't sell as many because they charge more.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Another one I was waiting on the paperback for. I did um and ah over the illustrated hardback but in the end went for portability.


All Rivers Run Free by Natasha Carthew

What? An unsolicited review book has made it to this list? Am I feeling OK? I did really like Winter Damage though, so I'll definitely be reading this.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

This has been on my graphic novel wishlist for a while and I gave in and treated myself to a pre-order of the paperback.


I Was Born For This by Alice Oseman

I have loved both of Alice's books so far so even though I'm avoiding contemporary YA at the mo, I couldn't not buy this.

I Still Dream by James Smythe

It's a bit weird waiting for release day for a Smythe as I've been super lucky to get review copies for all his other books, but I am pretty excited to get my hands on the finished beauty that is this book. It will be a naked hardcover on my bookstagram for sure!


The One Who Wrote Destiny by Nikesh Shukla

Nikesh is busy this year with two releases, one YA and this one which is a contemporary British immigration story. I'm also hoping there's a donkey in it...

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

It's unusual for me to pre-order a US publication but how can I resist this Civil War zombie story, where the dead rise and the newly freed must fight them.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Born a Crime

One of the Read Harder prompts I was most dreading was celebrity memoir. Just because I like someone's acting or singing, does not mean I want to read their life story. However, I bought Born a Crime last year without realising who Trevor Noah was and I was interested in learning about life in post-Apartheid South Africa.

One of the most sinister things about apartheid was that it taught colored people that it was black people who were holding them back.

It's a great introduction to Apartheid, a terrible chapter in South Africa's history, but told through the lens of a cheeky boy. When Trevor was born inter-racial sex was a crime. His mother was a no nonsense woman who flouted the rules and lived in the white part of town. There she met a white Swiss man and she asked one day for him to give her a child. I loved the stories of his parents, it wasn't quite what I was expecting from the title. He was born out of a woman's desire to give a child everything she did not have for herself.

She did so much to give Trevor the best possible advantages in life when odds were stacked against him. She was fiercely religious and would hit Trevor but everything was done with love. When his mum meets his stepfather, things go downhill and it was hard to read about the domestic violence.

She would hold my hand or carry me, but if the police showed up she would have to drop me and pretend I wasn’t hers, like I was a bag of weed.

Trevor talks about the genius of how Apartheid turned the majority black population against each other but also the utter lunacy of some of the policies. Chinese people were categorised as black but because South Africa wanted a good trading relationship with Japan, the Japanese were classified as white. Your classification could change too, you could become white if you were pale skinned and acted white but you could also be "downgraded" from white to coloured or coloured to black.

His childhood was one of never quite belonging. He was brought up by a black family yet if he ever ventured out in Soweto he would be called white. They were so separated that many had never really seen a white man and Trevor's paler skin was a novelty. He was educated and spoke many languages, which helped him make friends. If you speak the same language you are familiar and less scary. Yet he didn't feel accepted by coloured communities, he felt black.

Growing up the way I did, I learned how easy it is for white people to get comfortable with a system that awards them all the perks. I knew my cousins were getting beaten for things that I’d done, but I wasn’t interested in changing my grandmother’s perspective, because that would mean I’d get beaten, too. Why would I do that? So that I’d feel better?

I lost a bit of interest reading about his life of petty crime. He started making money selling pirated music, went on to DJing and then started providing loans, albeit much safer than most loan sharks. I tuned back in for the edge of the seat account of what happened to his mother.

It's well written with a good balance of history, humour and personal hardship. I laughed at Trevor's fear of flies going up his bum when he went to the outhouse and the dawning horror of what he does to resolve this.

Forget the gold standard—the hood operated on the cheese standard. Cheese on anything was money.

Thankfully it isn't at all about his time as a comedian or how he got there. I usually have little interest in reading the childhood portions of memoirs but this was the opposite. It was all childhood and a fascinating look at race from the perspective of a country that's not the US or UK.

Read Harder: A celebrity memoir
POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

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Book Source: Purchased

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Sal

13-year-old Sal has been planning their escape for a year. Sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend, she needs to stop the same happening to her younger sister Peppa. After taking care of Robert, Sal and Peppa go on the run, living in the Galloway Forest, armed with stolen goods and a whole lot of survival tips from YouTube.

Whilst I love survival stories and reading about rural Scotland (which takes me back to my childhood), Sal just wasn't for me. I can see that it was trying to mimic how a child would explain stuff, you know how they just have run on sentences and use "and" a lot? Then this happened and then I said this to her and then I did this. It might be realistic, but I found it irritating to read in large portions.

A lot of survival is planning, stopping, thinking and planning and trying to see what can go wrong and thinking about what will happen if things change.

The fact that Sal recites what she has learned from the internet makes it feel like there are a lot of info dumps. I like reading about living off the land, but she just reeled off lots of tasks rather than setting the scene. The girls like to describe things by their brand names and oh god, I hate the idea of Belvita biscuits...they are just biscuits, that some marketing department has convinced people it's OK to eat for breakfast. Just eat some blimmin' digestives! They are mentioned so much in this book I wondered if there was a product placement deal going on.

I am far too practical but I kept thinking they're going to run out of money if they carry on like they were. I don't actually think Sal was that good at survival, despite all the information she had absorbed. Lucky for her, the Galloway Forest is hardly an isolated wilderness, and she can get the bus into town. Sal is smart in some ways but not others. She's managed to research the law on murder in Scotland, yet fails to realise a child is not going to prison for life for killing her abuser.

Early on Sal reveals that she killed Robert, and throughout the book her mind goes back to what happened before. I was more engaged with these parts even though they are troubling. You discover about her mother's alcoholism and how she planned the whole thing. There were people in their lives who cared about them and I was happy with the ending.

I couldn't tell her anything about the flat or Maw or Robert so I used to say I felt fine and I was happy and sometimes I made up things I was worried about because she seemed to want me to feel worried about something. I once told her I was worried about climate change and I am a bit.

It's a short book and otherwise I think it would have gone in the DNF pile, but I was already half way when the mysterious old women appears out the forest and magically provides just what they need. I didn't see the relevance of the old woman's tales of living in East Germany. Is Sal supposed to relate her troubled life with living under Soviet rule? Is it just an adventure story to distract them from reality?

I dunno, maybe it's one of those books if I was a kid from Glasgow with an unstable background, I would love this story of escaping your life and living somewhere where no one can touch you. Perhaps I am just completely the wrong audience.

Monday, 12 March 2018

The Stone Sky

The Stone Sky is the final book in the Broken Earth trilogy and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.

Yet because you are essential, you cannot be permitted to have a choice in the matter. You must be tools - and tools cannot be people.

Honestly, I've never read a trilogy where each book has been just as strong the the others and all blindingly fabulous. How I'm meant to review the final book in the Broken Earth trilogy, I don't know, but I'd urge everyone to read it. If you shy away from epic fantasy because you think it's all like Game of Thrones, fear not, please just give Jemisin's books a try.

With Castrima destroyed, the surviving members of the comm must move and find somewhere new to settle. Do they blame Essun for their predicament? How much of herself did she sacrifice envoking the Obelisk Gate? Nassun is also on the move, her youthful innocence gone now that she sees the true evil of the world. Will mother and daughter meet again before the world ends for the final time?

An apocalypse is a relative thing, isn't it? When the earth shatters, it is a disaster to the life that depends on it - but nothing much to Father Earth. When a man dies, it should be devastating to a girl who once called him Father, but this becomes as nothing when she has been called monster so many times that she embraces the label. When a slave rebels, it is nothing much to the people who read about it later. Just thin words on thinner paper worn finer by the friction of history.

The narrative structure completely makes sense by the end of this book. The second person narrative wasn't just a stylistic choice, I just loved getting to that moment. The story of the stone eaters is also played out and how the world got to the state it's in. There is even a bucketful of sympathy for the Wardens, as much victims of circumstance as anyone else. It's so emotional, sad and uplifting at the same time.

It is more explicit about slavery than the other books, although it was always there to see reading between the lines; the forced obedience of the orogenes, breeding programmes and how the Stills didn't consider orogenes human. If the world had enslaved you, and people like you, would you seek revenge rather than save it? It is hard not to think of the terrible things that have been done by humans, to other humans and the earth alike.

The undercurrent of climate change has run throughout the books, it's hard to ignore with all the natural disasters kicking off seasons, however I think the message was strongest here. Father Earth may not be a sentient being in our world but we should respect him and know our limits. The Earth is not just one massive resource to be mined until its gone.

There's nothing we did to provoke their fear, other than exist. There's nothing we can do to earn their approval, except stop existing - so we can either die like they want, or laugh at their cowardice and go on with our lives.

Sometimes it's bittersweet getting to the end of a beloved series, but this time I'm excited because I know there's more of Jemisin's work out there already, just waiting for me to discover it. I also think these books are contenders for re-reading, the world is so complex and I'm sure there's more to absorb.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: An allegory
Science Fiction vs Fantasy Bingo: It's the End of the World As We Know It

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Read the World: Japan


I'm not sure why I picked up The Travelling Cat Chronicles, it's not my usual thing and I'm not even a cat person, but I have been wanting to read more translated work, so there is that. I found it a charming and moving tale about saying goodbye, partly narrated by a cat.

We cats get all limp and squishy when we have catnip; for humans, wine seems to do the trick.

Nana is a stray, sleeping on the streets (or on top of Satoru's silver van) when he is involved in a road accident. Kind Satoru takes him in and tends him back to health. When given the choice, Nana decided not to go back to his old life, despite his fierce independence. Fast forward an undisclosed number of years, and Satoru is seeking a new home for his beloved cat. He's not able to take him where he is going.


When an animal’s life is over, it rests where it falls, and it often seems to me that humans are such worriers, to think of preparing a place for people to sleep when they are dead. If you have to consider what’s going to happen after you die, life becomes doubly troublesome.

Nana's voice is typical cat, he's a bit sarcastic and doesn't suffer fools gladly. He doesn't seem impressed by the people Satoru's considering for his new home. Part road trip, the story goes from one old friend to another, each time coming to the conclusion that it's not quite right for Nana. It's almost as if neither human or cat want to part.

The non-cat-narration tells the stories of how Sartoru got to know each person, their childhood history. This tales also shed light on the person Sartoru is today, and unfailingly kind and lovely individual, loved by all who knew him. It's not hard to guess what is happening but it's all about the interactions, and the smart arse cat.

My story will be over soon. But it’s not something to be sad about. As we count up the memories from one journey, we head off on another. Remembering those who went ahead. Remembering those who will follow after. And someday, we will meet all those people again, out beyond the horizon.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

River of Teeth

When I heard that River of Teeth was a western with hippos, I knew I had to read it. It's set in an alternate history where hippos were introduced to America as an alternate meat source. Apparently, this was an actual thing that the US government considered, and sensibly rejected.

It’s not a caper; it’s an operation.

However Sarah Gailey reimagines the Louisana swamps as home to these unpredictable beasts, and the people who wrangle them. The hippos replace both cows and horses in this "western" which isn't set in the west but it certainly has many hallmarks of the genre.

Winslow Houndstooth is rounding up a team to take on a job, to clear out the feral hippos from the area and send them on their way down the Mississippi. Houndstooth also has a spot of revenge to take care of too and it all fits nicely together. The feral hippos lurk in the shadow of a floating casino, waiting for cheats and other unlucky fellas to be thrown overboard. As one can imagine, the owner of the casino isn't exactly a nice chap.

It's fun, how could it not be? I did find it a bit unsubstantial though, like it didn't quite suit being a novella. There are quite a few characters and as soon as I felt I'd just got to know them all it was all over a bit too quickly. There's a sequel so I wonder if reading them back-to-back would help solve this.

The idea was this: import hippos and raise them in Louisiana’s bayous. The hippos would eat the ruinously invasive water hyacinth; the American people would eat the hippos; everyone would go home happy. Well, except the hippos. They’d go home eaten.

The cast is diverse; there's a point where they need someone to collect some explosives but it's revealed no one is suitable because they are expecting a white man. I think that's the first point race is mentioned, which challenges how you imagine the characters. There is also a non-binary character, described using the singular they, whose appearance is never described.

Read Harder: A western

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Book Source: Purchased

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

From Rabbit Holes to Rifts: On portal fantasy, and why it matters (to me)

A guest post by Lisa @ Over The Effing Rainbow.

This will sound familiar enough to avid readers that it may even seem ordinary, but my earliest and fondest memories of childhood are of going into my local library and just wandering around, from one row of bookshelves to another, usually browsing for something interesting but often, also, just going there for the simple pleasure of being somewhere quiet, and comfortable. For a kid like me, it was better than the world outside, sometimes. And that quiet little world of its (and my) own often led me, by way of the books I picked up, to other worlds that were better than mine. Wilder, more magical, more fantastic. And it started with one book in particular that you might have heard of.

'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.
'You must be,' said the Cat, 'or you wouldn't have come here.'

Ever since the first time I fell down that rabbit hole with Alice, I’ve been a sucker for portal fantasy. My tastes may have broadened as I grew up, but secretly I’ve always looked at old wardrobes and wondered about the worlds that might lie beyond their doors. I’ve always watched my feet when walking along woodland paths, though never quite for the reasons most people do. Wonderland was never weird to me. It was always just wonderful. Dangerous to Alice, for sure, but a refuge for me. (The tea party helped. Don’t look at me like that; it did.)

My fondness for Alice and her bevy of strange and unusual acquaintances became a fierce sort of kinship with Lyra Belacqua, the heroine of His Dark Materials, who told wild stories of her own and didn’t wait around for a rabbit hole to come along underfoot; she sought out her own adventures, fearless and foolish and fighting to be free. No passive acceptance of whatever fate life handed out, for her. It was inspiring, and I fell thoroughly in love with all of it.

Then along came adulthood, and if I’d thought the real world was harsh and hard to bear as a child … well. You know how that one goes, I’m sure. My favourite source of fascination became more of a comfort than ever, even as it became more of a reflection on the world I didn’t like to hang out in. What became fantastical wasn’t so much magical creatures or wicked queens and the epic quests they were part of; it was the realm of possibility where this world was concerned. I stopped wanting to escape from the real world, and started wanting it to be a better place.


Enter Foz Meadows, and the Manifold Worlds duology. These books are openly and unapologetically diverse in their representation; they are political as hell, and they showcase a deeply, richly wonderful world, flaws and all, that’s worth fighting for - even when those who stand up to fight have already done so … and lost. I’d never come across a story that takes place after the epic quest has been undertaken, and to read one about the people who continue to fight after they’ve been beaten was both eye-opening, heartbreaking and yet soul-soothing, in the end. The world - any world - can be a hard place, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting for, or being a part of.

That said, it’s always easier to bear up under the pressures of growing up and finding your place in the world when you don’t have to do it alone. Society will always be hard on people who don’t obviously ‘fit in’, but when you know that you aren’t the only one who doesn’t, it can change everything, whether you decide to try to belong or not. Which brings me to the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire, because ye gods and little fishes, if any recent works of fantasy speak more clearly and candidly of the hardships faced by young people in a world that doesn’t care about them (regardless of which world that might be, and Seanan has come up with a dizzying array of them, I’m sure) than these novellas, I’ve yet to find them. The setting of the very first book is a boarding school for the wayward children of the series title, the ones who have been to other lands and come back, who weren’t able to stay or weren’t permitted to, and don’t know how to fit back into the world they live in now.

And what kid can’t relate to that idea, in some way, shape or form? I was hit hard in the feels when I first read Every Heart A Doorway, let me tell you. We might be “weird”, we might be “difficult”, we might wish we could live somewhere completely different, but we aren’t the only ones.

Stories that show us better worlds than these, and ways to keep improving them? Stories that centre our misfit qualities and say “there’s nothing wrong with you” instead of belittling or even demonising us? Stories that tell us we aren’t the only ones who struggle to find our feet, that we can do so much more together? Of course I love them. Anyone who doesn’t is not to be trusted.

(Especially not if they offer you Turkish Delight.)



This is the first in a series of posts exploring the themes from the Science Fiction versus Fantasy Bingo challenge. A huge thanks to Lisa for this heartfelt post and do swing by her blog or follow @EffingRainbow on Twitter. If you'd like to write about one of the other squares, get in touch!