spoiler free, tbr thursday

October TBR 2019

tbr Thursday
It is somehow October already and although I’m wondering where on earth the time went I’m also SO READY for Autumn. Give me cardigans and hot chocolate and darker nights, chilly air and crispy leaves. I love Autumn so on that note I am glad to see October, it just arrived sooner than I had expected. I had an absolutely terrible reading month in September and only actually got two books read all month after Darkdawn took me so long. BUT I think I’m back in the swing of things (hopefully) and this month my TBR will look a little familiar as it will include a lot of the books from last month with one extra which I am super grateful to be on the blog tour for at the end of October!

Angel Mage by Garth Nix
I loved reading Sabriel when I was younger and something described as The Three Muskateers x Joan of Arc with MAGIC. Yes please, thank you, I’ll be over here reading. This is the blog tour I’m on this month (despite me telling myself I wouldn’t be accepting any more reviews or blog tours last month – I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity). I’ve already read a small bit and have already enjoyed what I’ve seen so far so fingers crossed the rest of the book is just as good!

Hex Life Anthology by Kelly Armstrong, Rachel Caine and many more
After just writing up my review for a different anthology I’m super excited to finally FINALLY get around to reading this collection of witchy stories at last.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky
The new novel by the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower promises to be different, unnerving and spooky from what I’ve read of the sample I’ve already read,

The Boneships by RJ Barker
I had really hoped to read this last month and would have been what I read after Darkdawn but my copy seems to have got lost in the post somewhere *cries* I have thankfully managed to get a copy via NetGalley which I’m still looking forward to reading, just a little later than I expected.

NPC Tea: Issue Seven by Sarah Milman
I AM NOT READY. Issue seven is the penultimate issue and I’m excited, scared and sad. I love all of the characters and I’m not ready for it to end! That being said, some things went down in issue six that need to be addressed and ahhhhh I just can’t. I backed the issue on Kickstarter and I think they’ll probably be sent out soon!

I feel like having all of these books on my list might be a little overconfident as a good few of them are pretty chunky books. It’s also Intokber month and I’m planning to take part in the writer’s version as well as prepping for NaNoWriMo next month and you know, raising a four-year-old, running a house (haha), etc.  Either way, wish me luck and may your TBR be ever fruitful but not so much that it falls over and crushes you to your death!

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 Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

Book Review

42867937
The Girl the Sea Gave Back 
by Adrienne Young

Rating: XXXX

Published September 3rd 2019 by Titan Books

“He knew that I’d bring death since the moment he first laid eyes on me. And he was right.”

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

I was gifted an early finished copy of The Girl the Sea Gave Back by publisher Titan Books in exchange for an honest review, despite not being blown away by Sky in the Deep, the debut book by the same author I decided to give this second book a go as there defintley felt like potential and the cover and name of the book completely won me over.

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You might remember back in April I reviewed Sky in the Deep (you can find my review here) and I found it really predictable and didn’t hugely enjoy it too much as a result but I am pleased to report the sequel of sorts/companion story The Girl the Sea Gave Back felt like a vast improvement. If you haven’t read Sky in the Deep however do not despair as they can be read as separate books and you do not have to have read Sky in the Deep to understand and follow TGTSGB. I would say, however, that it is beneficial and gives the story much more depth. It is certainly a good story in its own right but I found I was already attached to other characters because of their involvement in the first book, especially Halvard who is a main character this time around and I had already decided I would lay my life down for him in Sky in the Deep.

The Girl the Sea Gave Back, for me at least, defintley benefited from having a little more of a fantasy element to it. The main character, Tova, is a truth tongue, she can communicate (in a way) with the spinners who carve fate into the tree of Udur and thus she can cast runes and use them to determine futures and outcomes. This really gave it a more interesting depth and the fact that Tova from a Kyrr, (a member of a mysterious clan from the headlands who keep to themselves) living among another clan called the Svell made for some brilliant narrative and conflict within as she tried to find her place. I really like that although Tova is young and relatively inexperienced she made smart choices and was an easy character to mesh with and see the world through her eyes.

Halvard is all grown up ten years after the events of Sky in the Deep and he is almost impossible not to love, he’s grown up to be honourable and thoughtful but as one of the first generations to have not seen battle in the fighting seasons, instead being taught merely to fish and hunt instead of fight he sometimes feels he is lesser and not worthy of responsibility placed on him by those around him. He is as wholesome as ever in this companion story and the love I already had for him only grew as he makes hard decisions and proves himself to be who his family and his village already know him to be.

The plot was paced fairly well, with sprinklings of battle here and there which were written very well, being both exciting and easy to follow. There is the smallest sprinkling of romance involved and I was worried that it would be very predictable and irritate me but honestly, it was okay and not made a huge deal of which I think was for the best. I found moments surprised me and I became quite invested in the outcome of all involved, The Girl the Sea Gave Back is a solid and enjoyable read.

 

book reviews

The Girl in Red

43550676.jpgThe Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Rating: XXXXX

Published June 18th by Titan Books

“She was just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that didn’t look anything like the one she’d grown up in, the one that had been perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.”

It’s not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn’t look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there’s something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined. 

Red doesn’t like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn’t about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods…

You know that author you keep putting off reading? Not in an unkind way, but in an “I WILL get around to reading one of their books” muttered every time you see them because you just know they’re going to be great and you then something comes up and you for whatever reason the thought slips your mind again and again and again. This is Christina Henry for me so when the lovely Julia from Titan Books asked if I wanted to review The Girl in Red by Henry and take part in the Instagram book tour in I jumped at the chance! I love retellings at the best of times but this sounded like a really interesting inspiring take on the Red Riding Hood Story.

I found The Girl in Red to be slightly terrifying, absolutely creepy as heck and wholly addictive. It reminds me a lot of the human element to the earlier episodes of the Walking Dead when you begin to realise it’s not the zombies, or in this case, the cough that are the things you have to watch your back for it’s the survivors, most of who have become desperate or cruel (if they weren’t already) since the crisis. It’s not a unique tale by any means and is a little repetitive and predictable in some places but forgivably so because the real star of this book for me (other than main character Red herself) was the amazing way Henry builds tension. I found I was holding my breath, clenching my teeth and I had trouble reading it in my house alone, at one point my phone rang (a rare occurrence) while I was reading and it was during such a tense moment in the book that I screamed so loudly I woke up my four year old. On the slightly negative side, I did personally find the ending very rushed and a little unsatisfying but the book, even on reflection was no less enjoyable for it.

Red has possibly become one of my favourite fictional characters. She is a fantastic mix of badassery and compassion, she will kill and make tough choices to survive but she doesn’t let herself become dehumanised for it which I found a really refreshing balance, when she has to fatally defend herself she doesn’t relish it, when she has to take supplies she takes what she needs and likes to make sure that there is enough left if someone else needs them etc. Red often overthinks things, often to a fault and often thinks herself round in circles to inaction which is a habit I am also extraordinarily guilty of, so seeing it portrayed in this fantastic character who acknowledged that her obsessive and sometimes paranoid thinking could be debilitating like that felt incredibly eye-opening and has really helped to keep my own obsessive thinking in check by being able to identify it.

Main character Red is also an amputee and obviously, I can’t speak to the accuracy of her experience or identify with it but I found it really enlightening and I hope it helped people who find themselves with prosthetics feel seen and represented as well as hopefully helping to educate others. There is a line that is said in relation to someone question how much Red is capable of due to her amputation and Red replies with “Stop treating me like half a person…I am missing my leg below the knee. My brain is still functioning. I know what I can do and what I can’t.” and this feels SO important and relatable for anyone who is judged, babied and looked down on because they’re differently abled.

The Girl in Red is out in stores and online today!

 

book reviews, book talk, spoiler free

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga

42423832X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Stuart Moore

Rating: XXXX

Published May 14th by Titan Books

“Within her, the power surged. Fiery, unstoppable; ancient and new all at the same time, all barely contained by her desperate will. Fueled by rage, bound for vengence, burning with the primal energies of the universe.”

Piloting a shuttle through a deadly solar flare, Jean Grey saves the X-Men, but is possessed by one of the universe’s most powerful forces–the Phoenix. As she adapts to her new powers, the mutant team launches an assault against the clandestine organization known as the Hellfire Club. Once inside, however, Jean is tricked by the villain Mastermind into betraying her teammates. She becomes first the Hellfire Club’s Black Queen and then Dark Phoenix, as the power to destroy worlds bursts forth uncontrolled. Shooting into deep space, Jean destroys an entire star system, then encounters a cruiser piloted by the spacefaring race the Shi’ar. When the cruiser is obliterated, the Shi’ar queen decrees that the Phoenix must die. But only the X-Men can hope to stop Dark Phoenix, and save Jean Grey.

Growing up one of my favourite things to do was the watch the ever-loving heck out of the animated X-Men show. This was my first real introduction into superheroes, this and the animated Spiderman show, mainly because they both had EPIC openings and are tunes that are basically wired into my DNA at this point. ANYWAY, not only did the animated X-Men show have people with superpowers, it had women and girls with superpowers, (and I was a girl so obviously this meant I could also have superpowers), it had some sweet beautiful angst, amazing romances, hilarious one-liners and some of the most 90’s costumes I have ever seen in my life (and I grew up in the ’90s). This show stole my heart and rocked my world, even more so when The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix story arcs started. I loved that Jean became so incredibly powerful and when she became the Dark Phoenix I have to say it made me feel incredibly empowered and the Dark Phoenix became my first villain/anti-hero obsession and I think very possibly where my love for seriously angsty stories came from.

Years later I had devoured the Phoenix story again in comic form when I was finally old enough to buy and source them myself (my mum didn’t approve back then) and then we got X-Men: The Last Stand and everyone hated it but I ADORED it and although it obviously has some problems I still love the version of the Dark Phoenix we got. Skip ahead and now not only do we have the Dark Phoenix film that just came out (that’s a WHOLE other post trust me) we have also been treated to another Marvel prose story, this one by highly decorated author Stuart Moore and it’s all about Jean and the Phoenix force. To say I was excited is an understatement and thanks to the lovely folks at Titan Books I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Not only was this my favourite X-Men story, Stuart Moore’s X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga is an updated retelling as well. I find comic stories can be very subjective, especially the older ones and absolutely the origin stories, they change so much over the years and I think this was a tale that was definitely due an upgrade and when comparing it to the comic version and honestly, it was brought forward perfectly. I had another look through the comics after finishing this book (it’s been a while since my last readthrough) and it’s such a faithful adaption in that we still get all the key moments and beats, even some of the iconic lines are the same they’re just enhanced by being able to look beyond each frame and into the minds of these characters and really get a read on their thoughts and feelings which is fast becoming my favourite thing about these Marvel novelisations.

With a more in-depth look into each character, we also got to see a lot more character development as the story progressed from Scott finally beginning to understand Jean, Jean accepting herself, Xavier owning his mistakes (a rare find) and Logan actually being pretty damn amazing. For me, other than Jean, Logan was one of my favourite characters, he’s somehow rough and animalistic while also being a sweetheart who just respectfully loves this woman so much and he doesn’t make a fuss that she’s with someone else, he just loves her in his own, unobtrusive way and gets on with things while also understanding the hard truths and being able to deal with them and know his own limitations. I’m really glad we got to see this side of the Wolverine in this novel.

Another character I hadn’t expected to have enjoyed so much was also Emma Frost, she always seems to get the eye candy treatment so it was nice to see what her game plan is, how she feels about Shaw and the others as well as the way it seems she feels towards Scott and one of the big differences I noticed was Emma aiding the X-Men briefly for her own reasons but I won’t go into details for fear of spoilers, I just wanted to mention it because I felt it really helped to build a real personality for Emma.

There were some characters who did appear in the Dark Phoenix Saga novelisation that I hadn’t expected to see and that were brief cameos by Peter Parker and Doctor Strange as well as a small chapter featuring a group fo the Avengers. Although they seemed a little out of place and didn’t have any impact on the story at all I did enjoy them turning up, however briefly. In the original comics, we have one frame each for the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer as well as Spiderman, Doctor Strange and X-Man turned Avenger Hank Mccoy (Beast). In the true spirit of this being an updated retelling the Avengers we see in the book are the ones we have come to know via the popular films set in the MCU at present and I’m curious if including them was a prerequisite by Marvel themselves to tie it into the success of the MCU at the moment or some personal wish fulfilment by the author in seeing these heroes all truly occupying the same space like we should have seen in the films if it hadn’t been for the rights to the characters being all over the place. Either way, I loved the inclusion, I wanted to be miffed they had no bearing on the story but I honestly couldn’t bring myself to be more than slightly annoyed by it and even that didn’t last long.

I didn’t find much that surprised me but in a faithful retelling that’s to be expected and sometimes welcomed, one thing I did have trouble with was keeping track of some of the action, there would be times when I think I’m following okay and then someone is on the opposite side of the room to where I thought they were or fighting someone completely different, it made sense enough when I stopped and reread the text again but I think some of it was just lost on me.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I feel it’s a fantastic and faithful revival of my favourite story arc. I enjoyed the personal look we got into the characters and I am excited to read more novelisations like this as there are quite a few Marvel storylines, even bigger ones I didn’t get into due to my late-coming to the medium as well as being perplexed by all the different titles, X-Men especially. Another X-Men title, X-Men: Days of Future Past penned by Alex Irvine (he’s written for Blizzard I’m VERY excited) which is out June 25th and you can bet I’ll be reviewing it so keep an eye out.

Is there a comic, tv show or other media you’d like to see get a faithful novelisation or retelling?

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!

 

 

 

 

spoiler free, tbr thursday

April TBR

After March taking forever I’m somehow still in denial we’re now into April, it’s crazy. This was meant to go up yesterday on the first Thursday of the month like usual but it didn’t occur to me what day it was until it was over half gone so although a TBR Friday doesn’t have quite the same ring to it you get the idea!

Some people on Twitter etc have dubbed this month ARC April and although I’m not officially taking part in anything for that I am using April to try and get through my ever growing backlog or ARCs and early finished copies to help give me a nice clean slate, clear some physical shelf space and hopefully improve my currently terrible NetGalley rating! So these are the books I’m planning to read!

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
This is my current read and feels very Vikings meets Game of Thrones so far, I’m enjoying it but it does feel a little predictable at this point, not quite done yet though so we shall see. Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
It may look gorgeous with it’s pink sprayed edges but this book sounds seriously spooky and I’m kind of looking forward to it freaking me out a little.  Gifted to me by Titan books in exchange for an honest review.

No Way by SJ Morden
I read and reviewed One Way last year and the ending was left wide open but I had no idea until about two weeks before publication last month when my review schedule was already full to the brim so I’m so glad to finally be able to get around to it at last. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton
Much like the situation with No Way, I read the first book The Belles last year and was swamped during its publication date this year. Although I’ve been a little reserved about reviewing the second one I definitely want to get it read and see how the sequel pans out. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Empress of all Seasons by Emiko Jean
One of the problems of being a mood reader is when you get books like this one that sound totally up your street, look gorgeous etc but when you get them you just can’t get yourself into the right frame of mind to read them and that can really ruin the experience so I’m hoping that now the time is finally right. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
A bit of an older book but with the sequel, Shadow Captain having recently been released I was sent a finished copy of this first book in the series to try out as it sounds like a great fit for me and would love to get in the sci-fi mood ready for Aurora Rising in early May. Gifted to me by Gollancz in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been a bit behind with my reading of late so I’m really hoping April is a good reading month! What are you reading right now and how are you enjoying it?