Hello, long time no see. I’ve been away for a while since my last review. Things continue to be hectic and crazy but I have gotten in some reading through all of that. I have completely surpassed my 50th mark in my 50 Book Pledge for 2016 and it feels so good. I celebrated by buying, even more, books, which has now landed me back into a book-buying ban until the New Year. One of my main goals this year for my reading was to read more diversely and I think I’m managing to do an all right job. I could definitely do better, though. This is also going to be another massive book musing, meaning a review of 15 books. I’m sorry. Grab yourself a cup of tea and/or coffee and settle in.
Here we go!
- The Awakened Kingdom – N. K. Jemisin
This novella is a continuation of Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy and takes places after the events of the last book in the series, The Kingdom of Gods. The story follows the character of Shill, the newly birthed godling to have graced the universes in thousands of years. Shill is trying to find her place in the world. Many believed, herself included, that she would take the vacancy that Sieh left behind, but it’s a spot that doesn’t truly mould to her so she goes in search for one that does and ends up sneaking into the mortal realm to do so. I really enjoyed this novella and how Jemisin perfectly captures the voice of a child, which is essentially what Shill is at the beginning of the story and her growth through it. It’s a great addition to the universe that Jemisin created within the Inheritance Trilogy. Definitely, recommend if you’ve picked up the trilogy.
- Shades in Shadow – N. K. Jemisin
Shades in Shadow takes place in the world that Jemisin created in the Inheritance Trilogy and is a short story collection containing three all new stories relating to the characters that we saw throughout the trilogy. My favourite of the three short stories is the one that revolves around the character of Glee who we got a glimpse of in The Broken Kingdoms and saw more of in The Kingdom of Gods. Glee has a very interesting lineage and we get to explore more of that and her story, which I was very, very interested in after reading The Broken Kingdoms. Definite must read if you’ve fallen in love with the Inheritance Trilogy as much as I have.
- Silk, Issues 9 -11 – Script by Robbie Thompson, Art by Tana Ford
Silk is currently one of my favourite comic series and Cindy Moon is definitely one of my favourite masked superheroes of all time. I love the fact that as strong and as powerful as Cindy is, she’s still Cindy, she’s still human and has doubts and fears and triumphs and failures just like the rest of us. It’s great seeing that in a heroine, especially one that is a woman of colour, who gets that kind of room to breathe and explore along with all the high flying action of being a superhero. We get to follow Cindy after the events of the Spider-Women arc in these three issues. Cindy continues her work as a double agent for SHIELD with Bobbi Morse as her handler to take down Black Cat. Things come to a head as Cindy faces Black Cat in an ultimate showdown and makes a very unexpected discovery at the end of it.
- Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho
I had heard a lot about this book before I began reading it (thank you Book Riot), which made me both excited and a bit wary, but mostly excited. And the excitement was definitely met having finished reading it. It took me a bit to map everything in my head at the beginning of the book, all the characters, the setting, and the magic society within England, but after that initial hump I totally zoomed through it. I’ve never really read anything like Sorcerer to the Crown. Most fantasy novels that I’ve read, especially ones set in Regency England, rarely have a person of colour as the protagonist; this book had two, one male and one female, both on an equal footing. While the push against racism and sexism isn’t overt in the novel, it is there and it’s loud and clear. It’s definitely one of my favourite novels that I’ve read this year and I cannot wait for the sequel due out sometime in 2017.
- Beautiful – Christina Lauren
Beautiful brings to an end the stories that Christina and Lauren began in the first book Beautiful Bastards. I’ve been a fan of the series from the very first book and I’ve enjoyed all the characters that have inhabited the series since. Jensen and Pippa, the two main characters that this book surrounds, fall directly into that category. Jensen and Pippa are two very different people, at two different points in their lives, who just happen to meet one another on a flight across the Atlantic. They kind of fall into each other’s lives and as the story progresses you see these two start to get to know one another, their respective pasts, their wants and desires, and see them fall in love. The ending gives us not only a glimpse into the future that awaits Jensen and Pippa but all the characters from the series which really caps off the series nicely. I definitely recommend the series and this book if you’re looking good for a contemporary romance.
- For Love of the Duke – Christi Caldwell
Regency romances are one of my guilty reading pleasures and I have no problem admitting that. I’ve read many of them and this was my first time coming across Christi Caldwell’s novels and For Love of the Duke is actually the first book in her The Heart of a Duke series. I personally really enjoyed the novel. It contained a lot of the tropes that I do enjoy in a Regency romance novel, a strong, opinionated heroine, a brooding hero, a second chance, a meet-cute in a bookshop, a well-written letter, and a bit of Christmas tidings thrown in. Neither Katherine nor Jasper intended to fall in love with one another. The romance between the two of them was a slow burning one, Jasper actually intentionally tried to suppress his feelings towards Katherine but he ultimately failed. Definitely one of my favourite romance novels I’ve read this year.
- More than a Duke – Christi Caldwell
More than a Duke is the second novel in Caldwell’s The Heart of a Duke series and follows the romance between Anne and Harry, whom we met in For Love of the Duke. Lady Anne Adamson is in need of a husband, one that’s honourable, respectable, nothing like the wastrel that was her father, and preferably one with a title too. She enlists the help of Harry, the 6th Earl of Stanhope and resident rogue, to help her in her pursuit. What starts out as lessons on seduction masked under the guise of a courtship grows into a romance that is very real and very unexpected for the both of them. Anne and Harry eventually do put their hearts out on the line when it comes to one another and finds their happily ever after. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as the first one in the series but it definitely has its attractive attributes. I would recommend picking this one up as a “companion” piece to For Love of the Duke.
- Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
I had not read any pieces of poetry at all this year until Milk and Honey but it’s honestly one of the best collections of poetry I’ve read, period. I can completely understand why this book became such a runaway hit this year. The collection is a beautiful one, from how each piece of poetry is laid out, to the illustrations, to how the collection is sectioned off, there is a cohesiveness to it all, there’s a path in which it takes you and that made reading it so much more impactful. Kaur’s words are searing. They evoke so many different emotions, so many thoughts and thinking, and images in your head as you read it. It strikes you right to your core and you can feel what she’s trying to say through each piece. It’s mesmerizing and heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. It acknowledges that yes, there is darkness is the world, and yes, evil and pain exist as well, but that there is also hope and love and redemption. What’s even more powerful is witness the journey of a young woman, finding herself and her way in the world after an immense trauma. I highly recommend picking up this book if you already haven’t. It’s just tremendous.
- Mockingbird, Volume 1 + Issues #6- 8 – Script by Chelsea Cain, Art by Kate Niemczyk (#1-4, 6-8) & Ibrahim Moustafa (#5)
The Mockingbird series from Marvel only contains eight issues but it’s an absolutely terrific eight issues and one of the best comic series I’ve read this year. Chelsea Cain came into the comic book world as a novelist who really wanted to tell the tale of Bobbi Morse and she did it wonderfully alongside artist, Kate Niemczyk. I didn’t know much about Bobbie Morse, aka. Mockingbird, only what I had seen on Agents of SHIELD and read in Silk and that didn’t really hinder my reading of the series. Learning that Bobbi was once married to Clint Barton, aka. Hawkeye, was a surprise though. All of the issues work pieces of a puzzle that you fit together as you read each issue and with each issue get a greater sense of the story that Cain is telling. It’s definitely one worth reading and one that I am sad to see leave the Marvel comic book universe. Also, the cover of the last single issue is definitely worth picking up and framing, which is what I’ve done.
- Ms. Marvel, Issues #10 – 12 – Script by G. Willow Wilson, Art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona
Ms. Marvel continues to be one the best comic series in print at the moment. Issues #10 and #11 close off Kamala’s participation in the Civil War II that swept through the majority of the comic series within the Marvel comic book universe. Kamala ultimately takes a stand against Captain Marvel and her cause and sides with Iron Man in Civil War II. I didn’t read any of the other comic series that were being affected by Marvel’s Civil War II and that didn’t obstruct the story that I was following in Ms. Marvel in any way, Wilson does a wonderful job of explaining the events of Civil War II within the context of Ms. Marvel. Kamala doesn’t come out of Civil War II unscathed though, she loses a lot by the end of the conflict; she loses her idol and her best friend and learns all actions have consequences and sometimes that price is one that you never expected to pay. Issue #12 starts off as Kamala heads to Karachi on a journey of trying to figure out who she is once again and what she’s fighting for ultimately. I’ve really enjoyed that journey that the entire Ms. Marvel team has taken me on so far and I can’t wait to continue it. If you haven’t picked up Ms. Marvel you should, it’s also a great series for all ages and a good one to pick up if you’re looking to get into comics.
11. Black Panther, Issues 5-7 – Script by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Art by Chris Sprouse
The ongoing unrest among the citizens of Wakanda continues to plague T’challa, as the rebel group “The People” continue to conspire against him with the help of international criminal Ezekiel Stane. The faith of the Wakandan people in their King has been greatly shaken and it’s up to T’challa to restore that faith and keep it aflame in his people and in himself and he is beginning to do so. His mind is starting to clear and he’s becoming certain of himself and his position as Wakanda’s King and Black Panther. With the help some very famous Marvel heroes, T’challa is able to turn the tables against “The People” and Ezekiel Stane and expose their true intentions and ties to the Wakandan people and the world. Alongside T’challa’s journey of discovery we also get to see that of his sister’s Shuri who is trapped in stasis state. Shuri is journeying through the spiritual plane of The Djalia, guided by a spirit in the form of her mother, learning about Wakanda’s past, it’s people, and where it’s going next. I’m excited to see where Coates continues to take T’challa and his journey of discovery.
- The Wicked + The Divine: Rising Action, Vol. 4 – Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
The fourth volume of The Wicked + The Divine picks up right after the cliffhanger in volume three. Laura, aka Persephone, who was believed to have been murdered by Ananke, was actually alive and well and planning on taking down the immortal that had driven her underground. The battle begins for the ultimate victor and it is fast-moving and action-packed. So much colour, so many vivid graphics, and such an inventive storyline are packed into this volume. It’s Gillen and McKelvie in top form and it’s really good. I’m going to continue to read this series in trade form since I don’t think I could take the wait between each single issue.
- Prisoner of Tehran – Marina Nemat
Powerful, chilling, and heartbreaking are just some of the words that can be used to describe this memoir. It’s a formidable memoir and a look into Iran’s history, landscape, and revolution that I knew absolutely nothing about when I began reading it. The horrors that Marina and thousands of unnamed individuals faced in the notorious prison of Evin are brought into the light for the world to see and it should be seen and heard. This book memoir proves that silence can be just as imprisoning as a physical facility and one that we all must not become enchained in. I highly, highly recommend reading this book.
- Ru – Kim Thuy
Ru was a book that I was looking forward to reading for a long time. The words, the cadence of this book is lyrical and so visceral. I don’t know how to truly describe it. It evokes all these images, all these thoughts, and questions that I want to ask and that I want answers to. This book speaks to me on a personal level as well. I share a similar family history with the author. I’m the daughter of one of the thousands of Vietnamese refugees sponsored to come to Canada in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A must read in my opinion.
- Crash and Burn – James Rollins
Crash and Burn is a novella that is part of Rollins Sigma series and takes place prior to the newest novel in the series, The Seventh Plague. It pits together two of the most unconventional members of the Sigma team, Seichan and Kowalski, who are also two of my favourite characters in the series. A crash landing leads Seichan and Kowalski to a mysterious island where they must keep their wits and work together as they uncover the danger lurking on the island. It’s a really fun, action-packed novella that pumps you up for The Seventh Plague. I really enjoyed it and I loved seeing two characters that don’t always work well together team up and take down the bad guys.