January Wrap-Up 2017

January was *knocks on wood* a kickass month for me, book-wise. Outside of books was not so hot. At all. But books were so good. Here are some review snippets of what I read in January, listed in chronological order. If I have a review on the blog, the title will link to it if you would like to read my extended thoughts.

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A Geisha’s Journey by Komomo – 5/5 stars

Goodreads

This was difficult for me to get ahold of due to its limited print run – I had to wait several weeks for an interlibrary loan to arrive, and it came from the next state over since no library in my state carried it. It was definitely worth the wait! If you are interested in learning about modern geisha, I highly recommend it! The photographs are stunning. According to Mylokoville, which is where I get all of my geisha book recommendations to try and make sure they aren’t problematic (looking at you, Memoirs of a Geisha), it’s a “must read” and I agree! I don’t have a full review and likely won’t since I don’t have too much more to say on the matter.


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A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess – 2/5 stars

Goodreads

Not a big fan of obnoxious love triangles (you know, I-love-my-best-friend-from-childhood-but-only-after-another-boy-loves-me flavor, very Gale/Peeta/Katniss in its annoying factor). I had a lot of issues with this (my review is linked above) and it just wasn’t for me, unfortunately.


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Rat Queens, Vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Šejić , Ed Brisson – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

I don’t tend to have much to say about graphic novels, really. My Goodreads review is basically just “I’m in love with Hannah and Dee,” which is true. If you like kickass girls, a bit of grit, and a lot of sex-positivity with your LGBTQIA+ and POC rep, check Rat Queens out.


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The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

My review for this isn’t out yet and it won’t be for a month. However, I will tell you I loved this. There is very little romance, though it is hinted at in the future. It’s a bit of a slow build, but there are some really interesting parallels between asha (or witches) and geisha that I found really interesting.


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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala – 2/5 stars

Goodreads

My second and final nonfiction read of the month, an autobiography about the author’s experience during the 2004 Sri Lanka tsunami and the aftermath. I listened to the audiobook of this and really didn’t care for the narration. Even at 1.5x speed it was very slow and kept dragging me out of the story. I might pick this up at a later date in paper form because the audiobook was dreadful.


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Gilded Cage by Vic James – 4.5/5 stars

Goodreads

My review for this isn’t out either! However, it is out tomorrow, so stay tuned for that. 😉


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Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins – 2/5 stars

Goodreads

I was spitting mad at this one. I don’t want to talk about it.


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George by Alex Gino – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Some more ownvoices! George was so sweet. Definitely recommended if you like middle grade.


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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

This is the first sci-fi book and the first novella I’ve touched in a long time. And 100% romance free. Yay! Binti is a complex, peaceful heroine and pretty cool to boot.


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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – 5/5 stars

Goodreads

The hype is real. I’m telling you. I am not one to buy into hype due to the number of times I’ve been disappointed, but hot damn did this live up to its promise. I’m counting down the days until my finished copy is here.


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Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor – 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Expands on the first Binti novella and gives her story a lot more context. So, so beautiful. It’s a bit longer than the first and really dives into the worldbuilding more. Definitely recommended if you enjoyed the first.


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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi – 5/5 stars

Goodreads

I am in love with Roshani’s brain. My review is live on the blog on Friday, but my Goodreads review is just this: “Holy shit.” There was kissing. I liked it. I know, I’m shocked too. Plus it’s a standalone, which is even better!


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The Backstagers #1 by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh – 2.5/5 stars

Goodreads

I just didn’t connect with this and I don’t know why. I had the same problem with Lumberjanes. Still trying to puzzle out my thoughts before I put up a review, but expect it soonish.


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The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly – 3/5 stars

Goodreads

Another book I didn’t really connect with, though I did eventually get sucked in at about the two-thirds mark. Just finished this one this morning so my review isn’t quite finished yet, but do expect one!


Next Up

On my immediate TBR for February:

  • Adaptation by Malinda Lo (it’s due back at the library soon with no renewals left!)
  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang (also due soon but I need more Korean lit in my life)
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Feb’s read for #DSFFBookClub on Twitter)
  • The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie (I’m just hype on this series, it’s not out until March)

Upcoming Reviews:

  • Gilded Cage by Vic James (live on February 1)
  • The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (live on February 3)
  • The Backstagers #1 by James Tynion IV, Rian Sygh (live ???, within the next fortnight)
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (also ???, probably within the fortnight as well)

Have you read any of the books I finished this month?

If so, what did you think?

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Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor – eARC review

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

BINTI: HOME
by NNEDI OKORAFOR
Series: Binti (#2)
Published
: January 31st 2017 by Tor.com
Genre: science fiction
Pages: 176p
Source: e-ARC from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she found friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

As may be inferred by the title, this is about Binti’s return home and expands on how her culture relates to her new life at Oomza Uni and as part-Meduse. Learning more about Binti’s home and family was probably my favorite part since there wasn’t much room for it in the first Binti novella. There was definitely more focus on the senses in Home than in Binti, and some really delightful descriptions. Home is full of beautiful imagery. On top of that, what a cover!

If it’s been a while since you read the first Binti novella, you might want to flip through it to refresh yourself before starting Home. I finished it just a few days ago and I was still a little lost for the first dozen pages since it dives straight in. That may be my fault though – I’m not overly familiar with science fiction and some of the things seem lost on me.

I’m also glad that this was longer! I felt like there was really time to explore Binti’s new circumstances and her struggle to maintain balance in her life. Home does end on a cliffhanger, which isn’t something I’m overly fond of, however it was such a satisfying read for all the other questions that are answered. I felt like it sat in a nice middle ground of answering questions while asking others. I’m interested to see how this series wraps up!

What’s your favorite sci-fi novella?

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – eARC review

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

THE HATE U GIVE
by ANGIE THOMAS
Published: February 28th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: contemporary, young adult, ownvoices
Pages: 464p
Source: review copy received from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★★★

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

I don’t know if I’ll be able to put my thoughts on this in a concise way, so here goes: This is the best contemporary novel I have ever read. If The Hate U Give isn’t being taught in schools within the next ten years max, I’ll eat my hat.

This novel really put me through the wringer. I laughed, I ugly cried, and more than once I had to put it down and just sit with it. By no means is this a lighthearted read (and if you think it will be, maybe read the synopsis again). I’m always a fan of books that are an emotional punch to the face, and THUG is no exception. There is hope, but it will definitely hurt.

The Hate U Give is incredibly well-crafted. Starr is a complex, inspiring girl. A lot of the time my issue with contemporary novels, particularly in YA, the teenagers don’t speak or text or think like teens; they think how adults think ‘the youth’ acts ‘these days’. Not so with THUG. Every character has a unique voice and personality and they just feel so real that I found myself forgetting that this is fiction and not a girl’s diary being published.

Honestly, I can’t wait for my preorder to arrive so I have an excuse to read this again. Don’t miss this. Starr’s voice is important now more than ever.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this novel from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Love Vol. 4 – The Dinosaur

Love Volume 4 - The Dinosaur by Frédéric Brrémaud, Federico Bertolucci

LOVE VOL. 4 – THE DINOSAUR
by Frédéric Brrémaud and Federico Bertolucci
Series: Love (#4)
Published
: February 7th 2017 by Magnetic Press
Originally Published: as Les Dinosaures (Love #4) by Ankama November 6 2015
Genre: graphic novel, dinosaurs
Pages: 80p
Source: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★☆

Life in the primordial swamps of prehistoric Earth was a daily trial of survival, especially for the smaller dinosaurs just trying to get by without being trampled, attacked, or eaten. Not even the biggest beasts were safe, as there always seemed to be an even bigger threat looming on the horizon. This exciting tale, written by Frederic Brremaud, is told without narration or dialogue, conveyed entirely through the beautiful illustrations of Federico Bertolucci. A beautiful, powerful tale of survival in the animal kingdom that explores the all-too-identifiable, universal concepts of Life, Courage, Aging, and ultimately Love.

The fourth volume in the lavishly illustrated series of wildlife graphic novels, each following a single central animal through an adventurous day in their natural environment. Each tale depicts genuine natural behavior through the dramatic lens of Disney-esque storytelling, like a nature documentary in illustration.

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Continue reading

Waiting on Wednesday #2

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“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating. It is hosted at Breaking the Spine.

The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

the-enemies-of-versailles-9781501103025_hrNow this is something I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I haven’t really been a big follower of series in the I-need-to-have-this way in years but this is certainly an exception. Historical fiction is probably my favorite genre after fantasy, and Sally Christie made me fall in love with 18th century Versailles. I love me a good mistress novel, and The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy is one of my favorites!

Pub date: March 21st 2017 by Atria Books

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From Amazon:

In the final installment of Sally Christie’s “tantalizing” (New York Daily News) Mistresses of Versailles trilogy, Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer. Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress.

“That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute is quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades of suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress. But as tensions rise and the French Revolution draws closer, a prostitute in the palace soon becomes the least of the nobility’s concerns.

Told in Christie’s witty and engaging style, the final book in The Mistresses of Versailles trilogy will delight and entrance fans as it once again brings to life the sumptuous and cruel world of eighteenth century Versailles, and France as it approaches irrevocable change.

What are you waiting on this week?

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BINTI by Nnedi Okorafor – review

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

BINTI
by NNEDI OKORAFOR
Series: Binti (#1)
Published
: September 22nd 2015 by Tor.com
Genre: science fiction
Pages: 96p
Source: purchased for Kindle
Rating: ★★★★☆

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Binti is such an interesting, complex character that I’m a little surprised. In my experience with novellas and short stories, I don’t tend to connect with the characters much as they often seem more like a vessel to serve the plot than fully realized people. Thankfully, this was lightyears away from my experience with this novella!

Even more exciting is that Binti is a badass through the sheer strength (and vulnerability) of her character, not by going around and stabbing everyone. I appreciate that in a heroine. Murder and violence has its place, but it was refreshing to have a female protagonist that’s peaceful.

I was left wanting more, and wishing it was longer. I would’ve appreciated a little more detail to some scenes, like the one in the dining hall. Being a bit of a sci-fi newbie, some of the tech I didn’t understand at first – and some of it I’m still not certain if I’m meant to know exactly what’s going on or not. Nevertheless, Binti and her world were very intriguing. I trust her.

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George by Alex Gino – review

George by Alex Gino

GEORGE
by ALEX GINO
Published: August 25th 2015 by Scholastic Press
Genre: contemporary, middle grade
Pages: 195p
Source: library borrow
Rating: ★★★★☆

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.

George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.

With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

My heart hurts. I read a chapter of this too late at night and had to set it down for the morning because I knew, something about the first chapter told me that I would feel far too many feelings for 3 in the morning. That something was absolutely right.

George’s story is one that is both heartwarming and sweetly heart-aching in the span of fewer than two hundred pages. She is brilliant and glittering and this book definitely deserves a read. If you are making an active choice to read more diversely, this is an #ownvoices book you cannot miss. Doubly so if you have tender feelings towards Charlotte’s Web.

“My point is, it takes a special person to cry over a book. It shows compassion as well as imagination…Don’t ever lose that.”

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