Fall is officially here which means we are smack dab in the middle of the fall book season. I’ve just reached my 50th book mark in my 50 Book Pledge for 2016 (YAS!) which means that my self-imposed book buying ban has ended. (I’ve already purchased some new books and they are currently in transit.) One of my main goals this year was to read more diversely and I’m trying to do so as much as possible. I know I’ve been a little MIA with the book reviews but the last couple of months have been a little hectic, which has made updating a little difficult. Which also means that this is going to be another mega book musing, mega meaning about 15 books. So grab yourself a cup of tea or coffee and settle in.
Here we go!
- The Unquiet Dead – Ausma Zehanat Khan
I had heard a lot of praise for this book and this series well before I picked it up and it did not disappoint. Khan weaves a quiet but incredibly powerful tale, one of love and loss, of survival, of redemption, and justice. You become entangled in the lives of Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak and their investigation into the seemingly simple death of an elderly man. As you work your way through the book you discover that the dead man is not at all whom he seems to be. He is a man with a past, a past that he has desperately tried to hide, a past with possible links to atrocities that occurred in Bosnia over two decades ago. The story immediately attracted me, not only because a large part of my university years was spent studying international human rights, but also how Khan’s gives names and faces to victims and histories to individuals, albeit fictionalized ones, that are often collectivized into a single group. This is not any easy book at points, and it shouldn’t be considering the book examines issues like crimes against humanity and the possibility of justice for such crimes, but one definitely worth reading. It’s also timely considering we are once again witnessing similar events happening in another part of the world. I would highly recommend this book and I’m looking forward to reading the second novel in this series in the near future.
- Neanderthal Seeks Human – Penny Reid
This book was another recommendation that I picked up and was once again not disappointed by. I love romance novels, I think they are awesome and I derive great pleasure from reading them and this novel really ticked a lot of the boxes that I have when it comes to romance novels. I absolutely delighted in reading about Janie. I loved that she’s smart, socially awkward, very straightforward, and very relatable too. (I mean I cannot knit to save my life.) Janie and Quinn’s relationship doesn’t start out smoothly, it’s definitely a journey of seeing two people fall in love and realizing that they are in fact in love with one another despite all the speed bumps that life throws in their way. Worth a read if you’re into contemporary romance.
- Neanderthal Marries Human – Penny Reid
This book is the sequel to Neanderthal Seeks Humans. And I actually enjoyed the sequel even more than I did the original, which doesn’t often happen but I love it when it does. Janie and Quinn get engaged and start planning their life and their wedding together, but like most of their relationship, it’s not smooth sailing. You see the two of them come to terms with what they want in their lives, their marriage, and what they truly mean to each other. It’s beautiful, it’s messy, it’s honest, it gets a little steamy, and it’s a great read. I would definitely pick up this novel if you enjoyed Neanderthal Seeks Human. If you’re a fan of the side characters that you see throughout the two books and want to see more of their story, fear not, both books are the beginning of a series that chronicles the relationships of a number of different characters. The series is called Knitting in the City and worth a look into if you enjoyed Neanderthal Seeks Human and Neanderthal Marries Human.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisin
READ THIS BOOK! Was that too much? I don’t think so. You should read this book. Why? This book and the series that it kicks off (The Inheritance Trilogy) is arguably the best series I’ve read this year, not just this year but the last few years. This is a brilliantly written book and the story Jemisin weaves and the world that she creates in this book is utterly magnificent. The heroine of this story, Yeine Darr is one of the most well written and capable characters that I’ve read this year. She’s amazing not only because she is so capable and strong but also because she’s isn’t afraid to be vulnerable or scared or question those around her. She’s thrown into the fight of her life against members of her own family while errant gods and demigods seeking their own justice and vengeance. This book also does what good science fiction does best and that shines a light on issues plaguing today’s society like racism and sexism, those who have and those who have not; it puts our world into a microcosm for us to truly view what is wrong with ours. It’s a great book and I highly, HIGHLY, recommend reading it!
- Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
I am a Harry Potter fan. Harry Potter, both the books and the movies, were a huge part of my childhood and adolescence and I was definitely apprehensive of this story when the news first broke about its release. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up if I had not been on vacation and desperately needed something to read at the time, to be honest. I am glad that I picked it up, though. It encompasses the whimsy, the magic, and the reality of the wizarding world that Rowling created in the original seven books. It’s a great addition to the world but also separate. It is really it’s own story and I would love to watch the play live if I had the chance. We get to see where the characters we met in the original seven books are in their life and the trial and tribulations they are now going through, through the eyes of their children. It did read a little like fan fiction but I had no issue with that. I would pick it up if you’re a fan and want to know more about Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their lives today.
- Black Panther, Issues #2-4 – Script by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Art by Brian Stelfreeze
Black Panther is arguably one of the best comic book series to have debuted this year. Coates and Stelfreeze continue this amazing story that began in the first issue through brilliant storytelling and gorgeous art. Wakanda faces greater threats from forces within its own borders as T’achalla continues to struggle and learn what it truly takes to be King and all that it encompasses; the honour, the prestige, the burden, the sacrifices, and the responsibilities. I’m really enjoying Black Panther and cannot wait to read the upcoming issues!
- Ms. Marvel, Issues #7-9 – Script by G. Willow Wilson, Art by Adrian Alphona
Kamala Khan may be an Inhuman and an Avenger, but she still is a teenager and she’s still figuring out the world and her place in it. Kamala continues to precarious balance her normal life with her other life as an Avenger and superhero and that gets even more precarious as she is recruited by her idol Captain Marvel and drawn into the Marvel’s second Civil War. (Which, BTW I am not reading but you get the gist of what’s going down in the pages of Ms. Marvel.) Kamala is still discovering her voice, her opinions, her beliefs, and you see a lot of that play out in these issues. We also get a little hint into Kamala’s family background through glimpses into its past in these issues. I’m really enjoying Ms. Marvel and would definitely recommend it.
- Spider-Women, Issues #1-8 – Script by Jason Latour, Dennis Hopeless, & Robbie Thompson, Art by Vanesa Del Rey, Bengal, Tana Ford
Brunch gone wrong would be a great tagline for the 8-part crossover event between Silk, Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman, and what an awesome crossover it was. I’ve never read Spider-Gwen and Spider-Woman but you really got a good sense of who Cindy, Gwen, and Jess are through the entire series event. You get to know them, their motivations, their desires, and their needs. Family, teamwork, communication, trust, loyalty, and identity are all elements that are covered within all 8 issues and it’s done quite well. The entire arc is funny, well paced, a good look into the dynamic of these three amazing superheroes, and even though it crosses through three different comic series it’s all very cohesive. Highly recommend reading it if you are fans of each of these superheroes or are starting to get into comics. Spider-Women is already out in trade if you want to pick it up and give it a read.
- a) Mockingbird, Issue #1 – Script by Chelsea Cain, Art by Joelle Jones
Whenever I’m interested in a new series I always pick up its first issue to get a feel of what to expect and what’s to come. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a single issue for sure but when it’s good, it’s good and Mockingbird was good. I got my first glimpse of Bobbi Morse on Agents of SHIELD and instantly loved her character and her story. The first issue gave me an even more in-depth look and a kind of continuation of Bobbi’s story since she has left Agents of SHIELD for the time being. I’ve already got the first trade on pre-order.
- b) Monstress, Issue #6 – Script by Majorie Liu, Art by Sana Takeda
Monstress continues to be one of my favourite comic series and it just gets better and better with each issue. The last time we saw Maika she was cornered by members of the Arcanic Dusk Court and things are not going well as we re-join her in this issue. Trapped in a deep sleep inside an ancient magical sarcophagus, Maika is entirely unaware of the battle being waged around her. Maika and the monster within her begrudgingly come together in their search through her memories for answers as to why she is being hunted by so many different fractions. This brings some answers but many more questions for Maika, who is once again forced to go on the run. This was an amazing issue and continues this amazing tale that Liu and Takeda are taking us on, it leaves you breathless and hungry for more.
- c) The Amazing Spider-Man & Silk: The Spider (Fly) Effect, Issues 4 – Script by Robbie Thompson, Art by Todd Nauck
The adventures of Spider-man and Silk come to an end with this issue of The Spider (Fly) Effect event. Cindy and Peter continue their fight to stop Hydra agents from gaining a time travel device while also looking for a way to get back to their own timeline without causing irrevocable damage to the past. While this event series had its moments, for me, it was kind of lacklustre as a whole. I enjoyed reading about Silk and Spider-man working together to take down bad guys but that was it really. We get a glimpse into the continuing relationship between Cindy and Peter and the strains that continue to exist between them. If you’re not completely and utterly invested in Spider-man and Silk, I would pass on this event series.
- Wicked Designs – Lauren Smith
If you already didn’t know, I’m a fan of the romance genre and my favourite sub-genre within it is regency romance. I have honestly no idea why I do, but I do love regency romances and this novel falls into that genre. Wicked Designs has a lot of characteristics of your run of the mill regency romance. You’ve got a roughish Duke with a dark past, this time, the Duke of Essex, and a feisty, smart, and independent female protagonist, Miss Emily Parr and you’ve got a widely unconventional situation that throws these two together, that situation being the kidnapping of Emily by the Duke of Essex. It’s not a great way to meet the potential love of your life as the two of them find out. But slowly, these two come to terms with each other and begin developing feelings for one another as they slowly learn more about one another but it all nearly unravels near the end. While there were some good parts of the book, I’ve read better regency romance novels and that didn’t start off with a kidnapping. It’s the first in the League of Rouge series but I won’t be continuing with it after having read the first one.
- The Broken Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisin
The Broken Kingdom is the second novel in the Inheritance Trilogy and my favourite book of the entire series. I had tears in my eyes as I finished reading this book. I love the tale the Jemisin weaves throughout this novel and it’s an extraordinarily beautiful one. It’s one about friendship and love and loyalty, one about betrayal, loss and forgiveness, and one about a discovery of the world and one’s self. The world that Jemisin paints in this novel is not black and white but made of so many varying and vivid colours about those who have power, those who want power, and those who are powerless. The main protagonist is Oree Shoth and I absolutely fell in love with her just as I did Yeine Darr in the first novel of this series. She’s strong, brave, and kind, loyal and patient and utterly magnificent in everything that she is. I 100% recommend this book and this series. (READ IT!)
- The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act, Vol. 1 – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
For two years of your life, you are a god, a god with immense power, you are adored, desired, loved, exalted and hated by thousands all across the globe. You have everything that you could possibly want or desire with a flick of a wrist. The thing is you really don’t. Every 90 years, 12 human beings become gods on Earth, and two years later they all die. That’s the premise of The Wicked + The Divine and it’s an explosion of art and colour and this weird but amazing story about these individuals, teenagers really, who have become instantaneous gods and given death sentences in one fell swoop. I really enjoyed it. Each panel is gorgeous and the story that is being told is really unique, not only because it’s in graphic novel form but its reflection of the world we live in today.
- The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium, Vol. 2 – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
Fandemonium picks up after the shocking and explosive events of The Faust Act and it just keeps rolling on in this twisty tale of gods and mortals. There are so many twists and turns throughout this trade that have you at the edge of your seats the entire time. It’s definitely a wild and brilliant ride. I’m so glad that I read this in trade rather than single issue because I could not have waited patiently for each issue to arrive individually. The twists, the turns, the revelations, and that ending blew my mind. Fandemonium may be my favourite trade of the series so far.
- The Wicked + The Divine: Commercial Suicide, Vol. 3 – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
Commercial Suicide really delves into the nitty-gritty of the lives and the identities of the gods and goddesses that have appeared on the previous pages of this story that Gillen and McKelvie are telling. All of these beings are flawed, some dastardlier than others. They are all informed by their pasts, no matter how much they try to disguise it. Becoming these exalted beings does not change the personality of the person but magnifies it and imparts untold powers upon them. The overall arc of the story as a whole is really starting to take shapes in these pages. You’re discovering more and more with each page which makes you more rabid for more. McKelvie, the main artist and co-creator for The Wicked + The Divine took a break from a number of issues this; so the art isn’t as consistent with each issue within this trade as the previous two.
- The Kingdom of Gods – N. K. Jemisin
The Kingdom of Gods is the last full-length novel in the Inheritance Trilogy and we get to explore the life of the oldest and most mischievous godling in existence, Sieh. Seih is the god of childhood and most often presents himself in the form of a child. He has lived for millenniums, the child of Enefa and Nahadoth. Forced into perpetual and brutal slavery under the Arameri after the Gods War, he was freed in the first novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. A freak incident leaves Seih in partly mortal and ageing, a predicament that leaves him more vulnerable than he has ever been. Seih’s story is one of discovery, of love, of forgiveness, and realization of what he truly is. Jemisin has really weaved this multifaceted and world in this trilogy of novels; a very human world filled with mortals, magic, and gods. This has been my favourite series that I’ve read so far this year and The Kingdom of Gods caps it off brilliantly.