FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Call Upon the Water, by Stella Tillyard

Yay, it’s Friday! First Lines Friday is a new feature on my blog that features the first few lines of any book that interests me, new or old! This week I’m featuring Stella Tillyard’s Call Upon the Water. I received this complimentary review copy from Atria (thank you!) and a good historical fiction novel is right up my alley at the moment. Sometimes I want to get lost in the past and see the world through someone else’s lenses, especially ones about the “New World” and the struggles people faced when leaving their home countries and going elsewhere. Without any further adieu, here are the first lines from the book!

Nieuw Amsterdam, Manatus Elyandt.

The 1st day of April, 1664.

I am afloat in the Oost Rivier, rocking on the waves, when I hear a song. Silence covers the city and wraps me in darkness. In front of me it is still night, but behind me, to the east, all the day stands ready to arrive. In a moment the sun will burst above the horizon on Lange Eylandt and the city of Nieuw Amsterdam will wake and stir. By noon we will feel the thin warmth of April; half winter, and half the promise of spring. I am happy to be alive on the water and to smell the salt.

On the sandy shore I find the dry carcass of a horseshoe crab, hollowed out and turned to the sky. A thousand lives will follow this death. In a month the horseshoe crabs will come back. The water will be black with them. Each year they surf the waves, washing back and forth until they can scramble up the beach with their blue-and-orange claws. They do not pause after this struggle, but climb to safety, lay their eggs, in the sand and crawl back to the water. Clouds of seabirds wait for this moment, migrants from the south. They clatter down and gorge themselves on the eggs, fattening for their journey. All nature is on the move, restless and lively.

This is formatted like a journal, and the first few pages remind me of the Dear America/Royal Diaries series that gave you a glimpse into someone’s life in such a personal way. I can’t wait to read the rest of this!

FIRST LINES FRIDAY: Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir

I’m starting a new feature that will post every Friday, and do feel free to do it along with me! It’s an evolution of First Chapter, First Paragraph that I did for a while, but I wanted to start having set posts on certain days to help with my blogging schedule! First Lines Friday will feature the first few lines of any book that interests me, new or old! This week I’m featuring Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth, a book I’m currently reading and still super excited about. I first heard about it last year when it was announced — “lesbian necromancers in space” — and promptly preordered it. Ever since I got it, I’ve been waiting for the right moment to savor it, and I’ve taken my time with it this month. So far, it’s definitely living up to my expectations. Without any further adieu, here are the first lines from the book!

In the myriadic year of our Lord — the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death! — Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

She didn’t run. Gideon never ran unless she had to. In the absolute darkness before dawn she brushed her teeth without concern and splashed her face with water, and even went so far as to sweep the dust off the floor of her cell. She shook out her big black church robe and hung it from the hook. Having done this every day for over a decade, she no longer needed light to do it by. This late in the equinox no light would make it here for months, in any case; you could tell the season by how hard the heating vents were creaking. She dressed herself from head to toe in polymer and synthetic weave. She combed her hair. Then Gideon whistled through her teeth as she unlocked her security cuff, and arranged it and its stolen key considerately on her pillow, like a chocolate in a fancy hotel.

Have you read this? Is it on your to-read list?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books On My TBR That I’m Avoiding Reading and Why

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is “Books On My TBR That I’m Avoiding Reading and Why.” I feel like I have so many books on my TBR, physical and digital, that I’m avoiding reading for a myriad of reasons. I’ve picked out ten books from my physical TBR shelves, and they’re below!

  • Witchmark, by C.L. Polk — I really don’t know why I keep putting this off. It’s magical Edwardian England with queer characters, and it’s everything I’m interested in! I think the reason I keep putting it off is the small bookstagram hype that surrounded its original release, and I’m afraid it won’t live up to it. HOWEVER, this is published by tordotcom, and I have never been disappointed with the works they publish.
  • Vengeful, by V.E. Schwab — I’ve put this one off because Vicious is one of my favorite books, it has SO MUCH hype, and I’m terrible at finishing series.
  • The Silent Companions, by Laura Purcell — This is another one that had some bookstagram hype around its initial release. I don’t know why I’ve been putting it off other than that. It looks like everything I’d enjoy (weird ghosty gothic historical fiction), and it’s on the shorter side…
  • The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings, by Edgar Allan Poe — I am kind of ashamed to put this on here because I’ve featured it for two years in a row now during the spooky months on my Instagram, and I still haven’t read it. Not even the introduction. Why? Because I’m weird. I don’t know. It’s poetry and short stories, many of which I haven’t read before, and I need to get on it.
  • The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe, by D.G. Compton — I’m really terrible about reading any of my NYRB Classics even though I keep buying them. This one caught my eye because it was shelved in the science fiction/fantasy section of my old store, and these rarely get shelved in the genre sections. It also has an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer, who is a favorite of mine.
  • Something Strange and Deadly, by Susan Dennard — I love Susan Dennard’s Truthwitch (but another series I started and haven’t finished even though I’ve bought them on release day ever since), but I’m terrible at starting series, even if they’re set close to where I used to live, are historical YA fiction (which seems more rare these days). Working in a bookstore exposed me to a lot of things I might not have noticed otherwise, and I’m glad I noticed this trilogy. Now to read it.
  • Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant — I’m terrified of the depths of the sea, but I love mermaids. I don’t live near big bodies of water right now and I’m not going near big bodies of water any time soon, so I should be safe to read this now, right?
  • Hild, by Nicola Griffith — I started this ages ago and for some reason set it aside. I don’t remember why, because I loved the first fifty or so pages I got through. I also have a terrible habit of picking up books, reading them for a bit, and then forgetting where I leave them or getting distracted by something else. I’ve heard so many good things about this, and now that I feel a little more knowledgeable about English history, I want to tackle this again.
  • Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn — This one falls under the “I bought it because of the general hype and bookstagram hype and now I’m afraid it won’t live up to the weird expectations I now have about its grandeur” umbrella.
  • Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente — I’ve heard so many people say so many good things about this, and it’s lauded across the board, and I’m worried it’s not going to live up to the hype for me.

Overall, I know there’s a theme here: I get excited and interested in stuff I see on Instagram, go out and buy it, and then hoard it away until I’m forced to reconcile with TBRs, moving, and posts like these. I’m putting these in my book cart so they’re present and in my face, and maybe I’ll get to them by the end of the year… Let’s recap on December 31, shall we?

What’s on your TBR that you’re avoiding reading? Which of these have you read? Which would you recommend over the others?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Books From My Netgalley Queue

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly discussion hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl (and formerly hosted by The Broke and the Bookish), and this week’s topic is a free-for-all! Today I’m going to be featuring ten books in my Netgalley queue that I want to read ASAP because either 1) I’ve been really excited about them forever and 2) some I’ve had on this list for a while and need to get to reading and reviewing in a timely manner. I want to get back to that 80% mark by the end of the year, I want to clear out some of those titles that have been in my Netgalley queue for literal years, and I want to read the fun new stuff instead of feeling guilty that I’ve had these things waiting for reviews for so long.

I read a lot on my Kindle on my vacation this month and reading that much on it made me realize how much I enjoyed the ease and convenience of it, especially while in bed! Plus I can take my Kindle with me everywhere in my purse and I was able to sneak in some good reading in the downtime between stops. Anyway, let’s get on with that list! I’m hoping that choosing ten books to read from my queue will help serve as a Netgalley TBR as well!

  • The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso :: I think this entire trilogy has been released by now, and some bookstagram friends have enjoyed it!
  • In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle :: I love what I’ve read of his so far (and I’m a new Beagle reader), so I definitely need to finish this.
  • The Red-Stained Wings by Elizabeth Bear :: I loved the first book of this series, and I really want to know where she takes the story in the sequel.
  • The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas :: I love anything about time travel.
  • The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin :: Berkley puts out some amazing historical fiction, and I’ve never been disappointed.
  • Bethlehem by Karen Kelly :: I love the Gilded Era, and this is set close to where I used to live!
  • Burn by James Patrick Kelly :: I read and taught a short story of his for my science fiction course, and I’ve been wanting to read more of his work!
  • Meet Me in the Future by Kameron Hurley :: Hurley is an auto-buy/-read author for me, and I’ve loved everything I’ve read of hers.
  • The Grace Year by Kim Liggett :: It’s touted as something in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, and it sounds weirdly interesting to me.
  • The Duke is but a Dream by Anna Bennett :: I’m enjoying more and more of my forays into romance, especially regency romance.

Are any of these on your TBR/Netgalley queue? Which have you read so far and have enjoyed?

Waiting on Wednesday, SFF edition!

Oof, the last time I did a post like this was back in October! Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme originally hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine (though it seems as though it’s been a while since she updated that particular blog, so if you know of the current host, if there is one, please let me know) that highlights upcoming releases that we’re impatiently waiting for. This week I’m highlighting some new/upcoming fantasy books that I can’t wait to read!

GIDEON THE NINTH – TAMSYN MUIR

Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth “unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as necromantic skeletons. The result is a heart-pounding epic science fantasy.” Rebecca Roanhorse calls it the “Gothic space fantasy” she didn’t know she needed. Um. GIVE IT TO ME. September is TOO FAR AWAY. It releases September 10, 2019!

AN ILLUSION OF THIEVES – CATE GLASS

Being a sorcerer is a death sentence. But “when a plot to overthrow the Shadow Lord and incite civil war is uncovered, only Romy knows how to stop it. To do so, she’ll have to rely on newfound allies—a swordmaster, a silversmith, and her own thieving brother. And they’ll need the very thing that could condemn them all: magic.” Magic and politics and an amazing cover? Yesss. I actually preordered this one, and I’m going to read it soon! It released May 21, 2019.

THE GODS OF JADE AND SHADOW – SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

The “Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore” and it’s set in the Jazz Age? Give me those fairy tales, and give me them set in the Jazz Age because I think it’s a perfect setting for some “modern” fairy tales. Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Gods of Jade and Shadow comes out July 23, 2019.

SEVEN BLADES IN BLACK – SAM SYKES

I’ve followed Sam for a long time on Twitter and I think he’s hilarious, and I still haven’t read any of his books. I bought The City Stained Red forever ago, but something about Seven Blades in Black is calling to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for stories told by people after the fact and I like somewhat unreliable narrators. She was “betrayed by those she trusted most, her magic torn from her and awaiting execution, Sal the Cacophony has one last tale to tell before they take her head. All she has left is her name, her story and the weapon she used to carved both.” It came out April 9, 2019!

THE HARP OF KINGS – JULIET MARILLIER

I read Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest ages ago as part of my “must read all the fairy tale retellings” (and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m due for a reread of some of those books), and I remember really falling in love with the world she created. When I saw that she was coming out with a new series about a WARRIOR BARD who needs to find and retrieve a “precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing” AND “if the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom.” As soon as I read that, I WAS LIKE SIGN ME UP.

Are any of these on your radar? What are you looking forward to reading in the upcoming months?