book reviews, Graphic Novels

Finding Home Vol. Two by Hari Conner

Book Review

45876539._SY475_Finding Home Vol. Two By Hari Conner

Rating: XXXXX

Published September 1st 2019 by Hari Draws Books.

“You always say ‘I’m fine’ when you look like you’re falling apart.”

Torn between the fae and human worlds, Chepi got used to being alone – that is, until he met Janek. Janek is unguarded, straightforward, and longs to return home to his friends and family – but there may not be a place for Chepi in Janek’s old life.
As they grow closer on their long journey together, Chepi struggles with anxiety, past trauma, and now his complicated new feelings for Janek. Janek doesn’t understand his new friend’s hesitance and is unsure if the spark he feels between them is even real. With time running out before their journey ends and dangers lurking on the path before them, can they make it home at all?

You may have seen that I reviewed Volume One: The Traveller of the Graphic Novel “Finding Home” last week (spoiler-free review here) and at the weekend I finally got time to sit down and read Volume Two: The Healer in two sittings and oh my. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer because although I did very much enjoy the first book, its sequel absolutely blew it out of the water.

Like Volume One, The Healer is almost purely character-driven. As Janek and Chepi continue their long journey together we begin to learn more about each of them and we see their relationship grow as they become more comfortable with each other and begin to open up about their pasts. There is a little story to it in places, much like The Traveller but it is very much not the main focus and it does a fantastic job of moving the plot along when it needs to without feeling convenient

Everything feels totally stepped up in this volume including the number of pages, it’s larger at 196 pages to volume ones 149. The Traveller had some funny moments but there were just so many moments where I honestly laughed out loud in this book. One particular moment when Janek is pretty exasperated (see below) had me in fits and I actually had to put the book down for a few moments to compose myself. The facial expression and mannerisms were just spot on. As our pair of protagonists have become more at ease around each other they have also begun to tease each other a lot more, there are in-jokes and the snark is honestly priceless.

There are some beautiful, sweet and close moments with others being so thick with tension you could cut it with a knife. There’s some serious longing going on in Volume Two and I’m very much here for it. Speaking of which, as before each chapter preface showcases a type of fauna that sprouts from Chepi throughout the course of the story and I’m glad we finally see what the little yellow primroses are (scroll past next picture if you don’t want to know yet!).

Alongside all the wholesome good feelings we delve further into Chepi’s bad memories and emotionally abusive past relationship. These are some hard moments for those who have experienced anything similar but I feel that Hari has really done these parts and Chepi’s panic attacks justice in the way they are portrayed.

This was a fun, gorgeous, sweet and deeply emotional book. I think while reading this may have been the first time I’ve ever cried at a graphic novel. I’m desperate for the third and final volume in the series but also apprehensive because I don’t want it to end!

If you like the sound of Finding Home you can purchase Volume One and Volume Two at Hari’s Etsy store. They also have a Patreon here where you can receive sketchbook updates, AU comics, sneak peeks and can read NEW pages and chapters up to 100 pages in advance. I’ve just signed up and there is SO much great content.

 

 

book reviews, Graphic Novels, spoiler free

Finding Home Vol. 1: The Traveller by Hari Conner

Book Review

40922848._SY475_Finding Home Vol. 1: The Traveller by Hari Conner

Rating: XXXXX

Published June 2018 by Hari Draws Books

“It’s like there’s things that haunt you. Ghosts of feelings that follow you around. Echos of memories you can’t get rid of. A wall between you and the world.”

Finding Home is a slow-burn romance/drama comic set in a fantasy world, with a focus on nature, emotion and the small moments that change how you feel about someone.

Having abandoned his wood nymph family and spent a disastrous few years failing to fit in among humans, Chepi now travels alone, avoiding making friends or staying anywhere too long. That is, until he ends up on the road with someone he can’t seem to keep his distance from – Janek.

As the story begins, Janek just wants to get home and is happy to have a travelling companion on the way. But the closer they become, the more he’s drawn to Chepi, and the more he finds out about his nightmares, magic and troubling past…

I’ve been captivated by Hari’s art whenever I’ve come across them at MCM London and I kept seeing mentions of their graphic novel “Finding Home” and although it was on my list of things to get I often found that it had been so popular over the convention weekend that it was sold out when I went to get a copy on my breaks etc. When the Kickstarter for Vol.2 went live I backed it immediately and ordered myself a copy of Vol. 1 as well at last! I’ve been rammed with book reviews and other things the past few months since I received them but I finally made room for them a few weeks ago and took to spending a little time each night reading Vol. 1 and speedily falling in love with Janek and Chepi.

The artwork throughout is incredible, the landscapes and forests especially are my favourites, they honestly feel magical. The colours used throughout, those used to illustrate past memories, in particular, were done exceedingly well and added such an extra layer and feel to them. The only artwork issue I had at all was that I’m not great at reading some forms of cursive and had to spend a good amount of time trying to decipher a couple of parts that were written in letter form as although the handwriting looks beautiful it did take a few goes to get any good at reading it.

The story is a slow one and it could be said not a great deal happens but this isn’t an action-filled book. This is a soft narrative, slow burn of a tale and the pace itself just feels like it flows so naturally along with Chepi and Janek’s personalities. Time is taken to lay seeds, to ask questions, to hint at things and elaborate little by little as the characters get to know each other. One particular detail I absolutely adored was the fact that when Chepi feels different emotions strongly it seems to manifest in the form of different blooms throughout his hair, it’s just such a perfect little touch.  Although in a magical land, Chepi’s emotions feel so real and raw I was utterly transfixed, not to mention Janek’s caring, calm nature. Even when he’s a little flustered, nervous or worried Janek honestly feels like such a soothing presence and without giving too much away, his actions later in the book made me want to weep with joy because he’s honestly the sweetest soul I’ve ever encountered in fiction and I adore him with my whole heart.

The first and second volumes of Finding Home are available via Hari’s Etsy which you can find right here. Don’t forget to check out their other books and items too!

There have been hints of something brewing in the narrative past the characters and I feel like we might get some answers in the second book as well as hopefully Janek and Chepi opening up to each other a bit more, I’ll report back next week with my review for volume two!

 

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

Wastelands: The New Apocolypse Anthology

Book Review

42774046._SY475_Wastelands: The New Apocolypse by over thirty authors, edited by John Joseph Adams

Rating: XXXX

Published June 4th by Titan Books

“I know it was the perils of the sea making me think this way, and my old age, my time running out. But it shouldn’t have to run out to want to spend it more wisely. The world shouldn’t have to end to think of all that might be.”

The brilliant new post-apocalyptic collection by master anthologist John Joseph Adams, for the first time including new stories by the edgiest modern writers.

New short fiction by many of the edgiest modern authors, offering tales of life after the apocalyptic event or events that end society as we know it today. In addition to a selection of newly reprinted works, WASTELANDS 3 will feature original, never-before-published stories by a group of writers hand-picked by master editor John Joseph Adams. Original stories by Veronica Roth, Hugh Howet, Elizabeth Bear, Seanan McGuire, Tananarive Due, Wendy N. Wagner and many more. Reprints will include works by Carmen Maria Machado, Charlie Jane Anders, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ken Liu and Cat Valente amongst others. 

Dystopia novels are not very often my thing, before now anthologies were not something I read very much of either, especially if they weighed in at over five hundred pages but when I heard there was a new instalment of an anthology of dystopian tales including new Divergent material by Veronica Roth I weighed my options and decided I would give it a go, who knows, I might even like it?

and you know what?

I really did. It turned out that some wires had been crossed and the Veronica Roth story was actually not part of the Divergent universe (although still enjoyable) but I’m glad that made me pick it up because this anthology has introduced me to some fantastic short stories and I’m so glad I had to the opportunity to read it. I’ve given the book a rating above as a whole but there are over 30 separate tales so instead of a normal review I’ve written a few words or sentences about each short story and a separate rating for each one (see here for my rating/classification system).

Bullet Point by Elizabeth Bear – XX
Not a great start for me. I found it a little disjointed and unsatisfying but enjoyed the writing style mostly.

The Red Thread by Sofia Samatar – XXX
Done in a letter type format which I really liked but found a little too repetitive. Got me curious about the state of humanity in this story though.

Expedition 83 by Wendy N Wagner – XXXXX
Okay, so this was perfect. Information was explained in an easy, non-bogged down way, leaving room for the lovely, sad, little story to play out. I loved it.

The Last to Matter by Adam Troy Castro – DNF
So the first sentence featured the word orgynisim (yes you read that right) and I thought maybe it’s a typo or I had read it wrong but nope. This was (from what I can gather) a floating ball of people having sex with multiple sets of genitalia and this guy gets ejected from it. He then goes through a series of “multiple male and female castrations” to be presentable for the outside world. I like to think I’m fairly open and non-judgmental about other peoples kinks but this just felt like a bit much for a dystopian short story for me. I made the mistake of carrying on in spite of it and discovered a woman constantly giving birth and then swallowing her baby, said baby then stopped to have a conversation with the main character. I decided to skip at this point.

Not this war, not this world by Johnathan Mayberry – XXXX
A good solid read with an interesting explanation about the start of a zombie-like outbreak and it turns out according to the author’s notes it was written at the request of George A. Romero to officially connect the author’s previous books to Romero’s movies which I found interesting!

Where would you be now by Carrie Vaughn – XXXXX
A favourite, not too much detail given other than the world seems to have gone to hell and things are dire. This story follows a group of people, including doctors who are based at a clinic, which they still operate and help others to the best of their abilities. The question is asked of some of those living there “where would you be now?” Throughout, it was interesting and a little heartwarming in a strange way. My only complaint is that I wish there had been more.

The Elephants Crematorium by Timothy Mudie – XXXXX
Another surprisingly heartwarming tale. A really interesting post-apocalyptic world where reality has become warped and an expecting mother finding out what has been happening to elephants that have begun self-combusting. Sounds a little weird but honestly really good and made me well up a bit.

Bones of Gossamer by Hugh Howey – XXXX
An interesting tale about a man who lives in a tribe like situation in a hard to reach island who has no idea what has happened to the rest of the world until survivors start appearing on their shores. Very enjoyable.

As Good as New by Charlie Jane Anders – XXX
The world ends and a woman finds a genie. Brilliant premise and a great first half but I found the second half a little boring as the woman writes a play.

One day only by Tananarive Due – XX
Found it a little boring and characters very unlikable for me so found I was very uninvested in the story but the ending was kind of nice.

Black, their regalia by Darcie little – XXXX
Found it a little hard to keep track of at times but overall very good and another interesting take on the curing of the plague.

The Plague by Ken Liu – XXXX
Short, sweet, enjoyable but a little confusing with two points of view.

Four Kittens by Jeremiah Tolbert – XXXXX
Man nearly gets himself killed repeatedly protecting kittens. HELL YES. Best story.

The Eyes of the Flood by Susan Jane Bigelow – XXXXX
Written in an incredibly interesting style and with lovely prose and a good twist in such a very short piece.

The Last Garden by Jack Skillingstead – XXXX
I love the AI in this, I just wished there was more to it.

Through Sparks in the Mornings Dawn by Tobias S. Buckell – XXXXX
Really good, really solid read. It was written fantastically, we got great information that wasn’t too bulky. It was interesting and it had a great message of hope and rebuilding. Defintley a top ten story.

Cannibal acts by Maureen F. Mchugh – XXX
Not bad, not great. Really good story idea but just didn’t grab me.

Echo by Veronica Roth – XXX
Ehhh. Probably not helped by the fact that I went into this thinking it was related to Divergent but turns out it has nothing to do with it. The story just felt a little flat, the idea was a really good one but it just felt boring.

Shooting the Apocolypse by Paolo Bacigalupi – X
Utterly boring, super crappy sexist main character. Did not enjoy.

The Hungry Earth by Carmen Maria Machado -XXXXX
Brief but really interesting and intriguing, haunting even. Loved it.

Last Chance by Nicole Kornher-Stace – XXXX
I think it went on a little long for what it was but still good, felt like it could easily have been a part of something bigger.

A Series of Images from a Ruined City at the End of the World by Violet Allen – XXXX
This one was a little strange but I enjoyed it. It felt quiet and intimate but also powerful.

Come on Down by Meg Elison – XXX
Interesting idea but I found it hard to follow.

Don’t Pack Hope by Emma Osbourne – XXXXX
Written well, interesting story with a trans MC ❤

Polly Wanna Cracker by Greg Van Eekhout – XXXXX
Another interesting take, this one about a group of parrots living in the apocalypse. Things get dark.

Otherwise by Nisi Shawl – XXXX
A little long-winded but over-all a good one. I would have been interested to know more about Otherwise.

And the rest of us wait by Corinne Duyvis – XXXX
I like the message of this story that being equal is more than just treating everyone the same and the premise was interesting, I just found I didn’t really connect to the main character very much.

The Last Child by Scott Sigler – XXXX
A good read. Left me wanting more and defintley thinking about checking out the trilogy this is set during (The Generations Trilogy).

So sharp, so bright, so final by Sean McGuire – XXXXX
Brilliant story! Well written, interesting with good world-building and a fantastic twist. Loved it.

Burn 3 by Kami Garcia  – XXXXX
A great read, easily immersive and well rounded. A good amount of story packed in.

Snow by Dale Bailey – XXX
Good tension building but a little underwhelming and I found I kept getting confused about who’s point of view the story was actually from.

The Air is Chalk by Richard Kadrey – XXX
This was a tough one to rate, the “monsters” in it were creepy and brilliant and I did like the ending as well as the way the story was told but I knocked the rating down because I didn’t enjoy reading it from the main character who I cannot eloquently describe without the aid of curse words. I mean he’s obviously not meant to be likeable but urgh just his every move made me so mad.

The Future is Blue by Catherynne M. Valente – XXXX
A strange one but really quite good. It reminded me a lot of LifeL1k3 by Jay Kristoff. Some parts made me angry and sad because people are cruel and that’s the way it is, even now.

Francisca Montoya’s Almanac of Things that can Kill You by Shaenon K. Garrity – XXXXX
Fantastic! Informative, funny and written beautifully. Hard to explain but it tells a story while masquerading as a guidebook. Loved it to pieces, another one of my favourites and a great end to the anthology.

There were a few stories that flopped for me or that didn’t interest me but these were defintley outweighed by the stories that I did like and even love. Out of the 34 stories, ten received an XXXXX rating, 11 had an XXXX rating, 7 had a XXX rating and just two received a XX rating, one with an X rating and one did not finish. This is one of the first anthologies I’ve read in a long while and I already have two more lined up from Titan Books thanks to enjoying this one so much! If you like Alice in Wonderland or Witchy tales keep your eyes peeled!

 

 

book reviews, spoiler free

The Starlight Watchmaker review

44097002The Starlight Watchmaker by Lauren James

Rating: XXXXX

Published July 15th by Barrington Stoke

“Doesn’t it get tiring being judged for who you are all the time?” Ada asked, “and treated like you’re less than other people?”

Wealthy students from across the galaxy come to learn at the prestigious academy where Hugo toils as a watchmaker. But he is one of the lucky ones. Many androids like him are jobless and homeless. Someone like Dorian could never understand their struggle – or so Hugo thinks when the pompous duke comes banging at his door. But when Dorian’s broken time-travel watch leads them to discover a sinister scheme, the pair must reconcile their differences if they are to find the culprit in time.

A wildly imaginative sci-fi adventure from YA star Lauren James, particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 13+

At the Quiet at the End of the World event a few months back Lauren announced that she would be releasing a novella with Barrington Stoke later this year and as time went on we got a title, a cover reveal and synopsis for The Starlight Watchmaker which I’ve been excited for ever since.

I don’t normally go into much detail about publishers but I really wanted to rave about Barrington Stoke for a moment. They are a fantastic publisher who have been helping dyslexic and reluctant readers for over twenty years by working with writers and illustrators to publish super readable books as well as adding little adjustments like using a unique, dyslexia-friendly font specially created to make reading easier, Accessible layouts and spacing stop the page from becoming overcrowded and even Heavier paper with a gentle tint helps reduce visual stresses, their motto is every child can be a reader and I think reading can be so daunting for young children today that we need to do everything we can to create a space and opportunity for all readers, including those who might be reluctant or have difficulty reading for pleasure. I had read a couple of Non Pratt’s books published by Barrington Stoke previously and loved the shorter book format and just how effortless they felt to read which can be really motivating and confidence building.

I reached out to Barrington Stoke about Lauren’s new title and the lovely Kirstin sent me a proof to review in exchange for an honest review. At just 128 pages it is an extremely short read but oh the wonders Lauren can work with 128 pages. The Starlight Watchmaker is set in a universe that feels like magic and science, the academy that Dorian attends and Hugo works at is incredibly diverse, full of all kinds of sentient creatures from across the galaxy. It was absolutely refreshing to read all of these fantastic descriptions of different races and species, I was fascinated in particular with one of my favourite characters, a student like Dorian called Ada (Lady Ada de Winters – short for Adedeneumdora) who is essentially a mountain that can walk around and will eventually become a planet all of her own just like her mother, the planet Zumia. She’s well spoken, smart and fantastically quirky as well as being a brilliant departure from the usual humanoid looking alien lifeforms we usually see.

Hugo is an android and an absolute sweetheart who I love, he’s a hard worker making the best of a bad situation who enjoys what he does and is mostly content but finds himself yearning for more, things like friendship and freedom, not to mention he really likes plants. Our other main character, Dorian is a fifth-year student but also a Duke who comes to Hugo for help but comes across a little brusque at first and perhaps a bit to forward which could be misconstrued negatively but I think he really grows and learns over the course of the story and you learn more about him as well as Hugo and see how they react to each other.

Somehow, even in under 200 pages Lauren managed to fit a nice little twist into the story, the plot is simple but honestly all the more enjoyable for it, the narrative is fast flowing and straight forward but conveys every detail and emotion needed. This entire book is akin to a nice chilled glass of juice on a hot day or that feeling when you step out of your morning shower, it’s refreshing and soothing and the moment I finished it after reading it the first time I managed to put it down for five minutes before I decided to pick it back up and read it all over again. The story is well rounded and unlike with some short-form works where I find myself  wanting more in an unsatisfied way, I found The Starlight Watchmaker to be the perfect bite-size piece of cake, it felt complete and whole and I felt like I’d been on a journey after reading it which is why I read, to be whisked away on adventures and feel a better person at the other end. This is a beautiful tale of friendship and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Starlight Watchmaker will be available on July 15th, don’t let it’s smaller size fool you, it’s a fantastic little read and one that can definitely be enjoyed by a variety of ages.

book reviews

Queen of Air and Darkness

40696414Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Rating: XXXX

Published December 4th 2018 Simon & Schuster Ltd

“Every choice has a long afterlife of consequences. No one can know the eventual outcome of any decision. All you can do is make the best choice you can make in the moment.” 

What if damnation is the price of true love?

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love.

So let me get started by saying I love the Shadowhunters books, it took me longer to come around to reading them than I would have liked but once I did I was hooked, Jace is my ultimate book boyfriend and I love so many of the characters with a fierce passion. I fell in love with The Mortal Instruments, The Infernal Devices broke my heart and now I’ve finally finished the concluding book in the third series of shadowhunter books, The Dark Artifices and…I don’t really know how that makes me feel.

I have to say, actually, that, among other things, I do feel a little relieved, I started reading Queen of Air and Darkness on the day it released in December and I only finished it maybe a week ago. Six months. This book took me six months to read. Don’t get me wrong it’s an absolute tome so I didn’t expect it to be a quick read but this third book in the series just really didn’t grab me like any of the others across the whole of the range of shadowhunter books have, it was easy to put down and forget about. Because of its size, I also found it incredibly uncomfortable to read so decided to purchase the audiobook petty early on which I did for Lady Midnight and Lord of Shadows as well. James Masters is a brilliant narrator for it and definitely made it a lot easier to get through, I’m sure it would have taken much longer without.

Despite it taking me six months to read I’ve still given Queen of Air and Darkness an XXXX rating because although it certainly had problems, especially with pacing etc there were just so many parts I liked about it as well I think there was just too much crammed in for one book and that maybe some cuts should have been made or the book split into two, I feel like this could have been done fairly easy as it did feel like two halves of a story put together and I do wonder if maybe the Dark Artifices was meant to be another longer shadow hunter series like The Mortal Instruments but trilogies are popular and it was decided everything needed to be shoved into this last book?

There are a lot of moments in QoAaD that feel a little like fan service but I suppose when you have so many characters all existing in one world and close timelines it makes sense that they interact with each other but it did make this instalment feel like another book in the Mortal Instruments series as much as it’s own trilogy. I can’t deny that some of these moments, however, were some of my favourite parts, partially for the nostalgia and in part because some of the older characters feel almost like dear friends after eleven or so books.

A large part of QoAaD is the romance, mainly the relationship and swirl of emotions between Jules and Emma but honestly I still couldn’t summon up much of any kind of emotion past mild irritation for their relationship which felt like a shame as I love Emma but Julian has just really gotten on my nerves for all three books. I did like the other relationships throughout this book and this trilogy in general, especially the polyamorous relationship between Kieran, Mark and Christina which was a huge highlight for me, it felt like it was done exceptionally well and it was lovely to see a lovely, healthy polyam relationship in YA. We, of course, had Alec and Magnus too and I honestly fell back in love with the two of them in this book which is perfectly timed for me as The Red Scrolls of Magic is likely to be my next Shadowhunter read.

Even with the horrid pacing, I do have to say that balancing SO many characters is no mean feat especially with so many of them having pretty good arcs, I actually liked Alec’s entire arc in the Dark Artifices more than I did throughout most of TMI. We have at least eight main characters and over thirty other characters that I would say are still relatively important and I feel like we get some pretty good content for all of them. Overall I loved the story we got but as I’ve said I would have much preferred it had perhaps been spread over two smaller and better-paced books.

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I want to talk a lot more about this book but there are just many spoilers that I would need to go into so I’m considering making a spoiler-filled book talk video like I’ve done in the past for Lord of Shadows.

Have you read any of the Shadowhunter books? If so do you have a favourite? I’m not sure I could pick one!!

book reviews, spoiler free, Uncategorized

The Devouring Gray

Devouring Gray.pngThe Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

Rating: XXXXX

“Being invisible when you used to be seen…it’s like being dead, but no one mourns you.” 

Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

After hearing about this book going around Twitter I became quickly intrigued by the creepy aesthetic and almost political intrigue based in a small town where four founding families are primarily in power, respected and revered. A lot of people referred to it as a mix of Riverdale and Stranger things, of which I have seen neither but had heard good things about. I was gifted this book by Titan in exchange for an honest review and I was so excited when it arrived, the UK paperback as a chilling cover design alongside hot pink sprayed edge pages! Not to mention as an extra spooky treat there were four tarot cards including at important parts to do with each card already placed inside the book which I kept in place and collected as I read through to give the book an extra dimension.

The Devouring Gray is aptly named because I absolutely devoured this book. I was slowed down a little by the fact I didn’t read it much at night because it was mega spooky in places but I found any spare time I could to read it during the day. There were just so many great aspects to this book I had trouble putting it down.

One thing I got excited about early on is all the fantastic rep in this book. There were not one but two bisexual characters who both mention attractions to same and different genders with one such character not having even experienced an actual relationship with anyone before and all of this is an absolute breath of fresh air in my queer lungs because both happen so rarely in books, let alone together and it is a GIFT. Speaking of gifts, arguably my favourite character, Harper Carlisle is also representing with some disability rep by being amazing with a sword and still managing to kick butt all while being her awesome self and missing one arm from the elbow down. I could honestly talk about her forever.

I don’t say this a lot but, I LOVED all of the romance spread throughout the book too. It’s not super obvious and although it’s threaded through the plot in places it doesn’t take it over and I find all the different dynamics interesting enough that I’m always interested in more and I enjoy the little moments we get here and there whereas often in a lot of books I can’t wait for said moments to end. I’m fully invested enough now that I would read a sequel to find out what happens with who for that alone at this point (although I am looking forward to the second book for other reasons as well of course).

The plot is twisty and I found myself constantly second-guessing myself and being unsure who to trust and/or believe thanks to four different POV’s not all of which are clued up on events or what I could call, particularly reliable narrators and that all just adds a whole other twisty angle to it that really got me turning pages like my life depended on it. The Devouring Gray is a familiar kind of story but author Christine makes it her own. This will be a book I don’t think I’ll be shutting up about for a while and now desperately await its sequel!

 

 

 

 

book reviews, book talk, spoiler free

Adrift – Spoiler Free Review

35959734Adrift by Rob Boffard

Published: June 5th 2018 by Orbit

Rating: XXXXX

“Sorry.” Stop saying sorry. She tries again, still failing to bring up the main menu. “It’s my first day.”

In the far reaches of space, a group of tourists board a small vessel for what will be the trip of a lifetime – in more ways than one…
They are embarking on a tour around Sigma Station – a remote mining facility and luxury hotel with stunning views of the Horsehead Nebula.


During the course of the trip, a mysterious ship with devastating advanced technology attacks the Station. Their pilot’s quick evasive action means that the tour group escape with their lives – but as the dust settles, they realize they may be the only survivors . . .

Adrift in outer space, out of contact with civilization, and on a vastly under-equipped ship, these passengers are out of their depth. Their chances of getting home are close to none, and with the threat of another attack looming they must act soon – or risk perishing in the endless void of space.

So I have a really bad habbit of spending a lot of time browsing Net Galley when I have other books to read and then something catches my eye and I need to have it, Adrift was one such book. I had just finished The Illuminae files and I was hungry for more SF, this was a little different to the hordes of YA I’ve been reading lately as it’s an adult book (with a lot of varried aged characters) but it peaked my interest and I requested it. A little while later my request was accepted and I dove right in and I’m so glad this book caught my eye.

This is such a well balanced book, the writing was interesting and engaging, chapters were perfect snappy beats with a few longer ones slotted in when neccesary and the language not only helped move events along, create tension and evoke emotion when needed but also helped world building elements to feel natural and organic.

The story itself is mysterious and is covered pretty well in the blurb above, I love a book where you don’t really know who you can trust and at some point you end up suspecting pretty much everyone and this is no exception. I like to learn things piece by piece and enjoy stepping back and looking back at the big picture at the end and thinking “oh yeah!”

There are multiple narrative points of view which I found really interesting as they were all very different from each other. We had Corey a ten year old boy, Hannah a teenager on her first day working as a tour guide, Jack, a hotel reviewer with some baggage, Lorinda an eldery widowed ex miner and the mysterious Roman. Each character has a distinctive voice and style to them making the POV swaps very easy and not jarring at all. In addtion to the events they witness on board we also get insightful glimpses into each ones backstory and things that have helped shaped who they are now and how they react and deal with situations. In some circumstances the past events would probbaly feel like filler but they helped to develop a bond and understaning with each character and I found them to be a great addtion.

Overall although the story is great I think its the characters that really made this for me. It was nice to see (as we seem to more often in SF – possibly why I love it so much) a couple of same sex relationships featured in a normal off hand way as well! Without going into spoiler territory I would like to say also that I was fairly happy with the ending, especially for a stand alone which I’m begining to love more and more. We do have a a small part that is missing however and although I assume this was done for effect I was a little confused and dissapointed at first and wrote it off as lazy writing, it doens’t detract from the over all enjoyment of the book and is something I’ve seen happen in films and the occasional book before, I just hadn’t anticpated it at the time.

Adrift by Rob Boffard is available today and well worth checking out if you love SF and like a little mystery/thriller. Thank you to Orion books and Net Galley for my digital advance copy.