Halfway through September is a good time to do an August wrap up, yes? Time is such a weird thing with the pandemic, and I’m also still struggling about how I want to do this blog, but the more I think about it, the more I just need to do what I want, when I want, and if there’s a week of posts every month, then that’s the case! I know I wanted to do some writing for blog posts and otherwise last week, but with how things lined up at work, I ended up working nine days in a row with little to no time to myself, so that threw me off. I want to try to do three or four posts a week, and if I can schedule/write out a post or two a night, I can keep things on track.
Lately with the weather here in Colorado getting colder, I find myself more interested in keeping up this blog (but who knows how long that enthusiasm will last??), but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m writing for me and really no one else, because I like looking back on what I’ve read and how I thought about the things I read. I think ultimately I’m struggling with social media and Instagram in particular, because while that’s easier in a sense, I don’t feel like I’m getting much out of it anymore. I know I like buying books and collecting books, but I need to actually read them too. I also am making plans to clear out my shelves, reorganize, and weed out everything so that I feel motivated to read what I haven’t read and get rid of what I know I won’t read any time soon. With the library and places to buy used books, I know that if I ever want to read what I’ve let go of I know there will be opportunities to read them again in the future.
I’m also in the process of planning out my 2021 book bullet journal and tying in a book thoughts journal to go with it. I read a lot of books I don’t end up reviewing for one reason or another, but I would like to keep a personal book journal to have a physical thing to refer to in the future if anything happens to the internet!
I haven’t made much progress on any of my challenges and have been reading what I’ve been drawn to, and in August, that was a lot of shorter, easier reads because August felt more stressful with more full days than other months.
In August, I read:
- The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
- Letter From Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The A.I. Who Loved Me, by Alyssa Cole
- The Binding, by Bridget Collins
- The Duke’s Stolen Bride, by Sophie Jordan
- Television Was a Baby Crawling Toward that Deathchamber, by Allen Ginsberg
- Sisters of the Vast Black, by Lina Rather
- The Times I Knew I Was Gay, by Eleanor Crewes
- Sex and Vanity, by Kevin Kwan
- The Scandal of It All, by Sophie Jordan
Title: Fable by Adrienne Young
Series: Fable #1
Published by Wednesday Books
Published: September 1st 2020
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn't who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they're going to stay alive.
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.
You weren’t made for this world, Fable.
I have a weakness for pirate and pirate-related stories, especially when they’re female character centered. Adrienne Young’s Fable is the first book in a duology that follows a young woman named Fable who has been left on an island by her father with the directive to get off that island. Once she gets off the island by spending the last of her coin, Fable begins to realize there is so much more to the world in which she lives and to which she discovers she belongs than she had ever imagined.
As a dredger, Fable dives to collect stones in the sea, and she keeps to herself that she has a knack for discerning the truth about stones and gems. During her voyage on The Marigold, the crew learns that Fable’s stone-scrying ability isn’t just a hunch or a knack; she could be a stone sage, one who intuitively knows everything about a particular stone and its value. Her abilities as a stone sage tie into her family, and the more she learns about her father who left her on the island and her mother who died in a wreck the more she learns about herself and who she is – and who she’s meant to be.
To Fable, nobody is who they present themselves to be. Everyone, including her, carries secrets that are only revealed in time. The book itself is slow to open and slow to make these revelations, and once they are revealed I was left both satisfied and wanting more. By the time the action picked up and carried me through the last third of the novel, it was over and left on a cliffhanger that made me glad the sequel is releasing in only a few months! Each of the characters lean more toward the morally grey area that seems relatively popular in YA fantasy these days, and this leans into the grimdark style of fantasy too. It’s a harsh world, and you can only survive if you keep the soft, quiet things close to your heart.
Even though the world-building takes up quite a chunk of this first installment of a duology, it never felt unnecessary. The tension created from the first line ties all of this story together (and hopefully through the sequel!), and the tension kept me turning the pages to see where and how it would all tie together. I was not disappointed, and I can’t wait to see how all of this ends. If you like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Princess Bride, I think this one will be right up your alley.
Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for an advance copy to read and review! All opinions are my own.
Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). I was looking for a book to fit the 1840s decade, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories caught my eye. I’ve been in the mood for more ‘spooky’ reads, and this seemed perfect. This selection is from ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.’
In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappaan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail, and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley, or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose, and the occasional whistle of quail, or tapping of a woodpecker, is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon uniform tranquility.
What have you read by Washington Irving? How often do you pick seasonal/mood reads?
Title: Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks
Published by Angry Robot
Published: September 8th 2020
Genres: Historical, Fantasy, Fiction
Format: Mass Market
Buy: Bookshop(afflilate link)
An ex-Spitfire pilot is dragged into a race against a shadowy government agency to unlock the secrets of the lost empire of Atlantis...
In post-war 1952, the good guys are supposed to have won. But not everything is as it seems when ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley is dragged into a fight against the shadowy US government agency she used to work for. Now, with former Nazis and otherworldly monsters on her trail, Captain Moxley is forced into protecting her archaeologist sister in a race to retrieve two ancient keys that will unlock the secrets of a long-lost empire - to ensure a civilisation-destroying weapon doesn't fall into the wrong hands. But what will she have to sacrifice to save the world?
It felt like those in the west had a talent for skipping straight out of one war and into another, as though they had a lust for it, while the locals would be left to clean it up when they had gone. More and more, the glorious ideas of “Empire” were revealed to be nothing more than fancy dressing when you saw the realities of those who came to suffer beneath its polished boots, blinkered ambition, and secret agendas.
Dan Hanks’s Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire is a action-packed adventure that reminded me a lot of a cross between Marvel’s Captain America and the Indiana Jones universe with a dash of The Mummy and National Treasure. Captain Moxley is a take-no-shit heroine who races to protect her sister from a shady section of the United States government involving Nazis, genetically modified beings, and aliens? Yes, this novel is incredibly pulpy and uses a lot of familiar tropes to the genre, but it’s a page-turner with a lot of heart and a lot of insight that made me want to see where Captain Moxley was headed.
One of the things I liked the most about this was that Hanks does explore colonialism and the “empire” in archeological history and what that means for everyone involved. It’s an important conversation to have when we consider how many, if not all, of the artifacts of our museums come from colonialist “exploration.” I loved the dynamic between Samantha and her sister Jessica, and I thought the balance of being a protective sibling while also learning to let the other make choices because she’s her own person was well done. I also loved the genderbent characters and how those flips toyed with the genre’s tropes and expectations. Even though I took my time reading it (thirty minutes for lunch only leaves for bite-sized reading sprints), I found it easy to follow and compulsively readable with a lot of fun surprises throughout. It’s pulp fiction at its best and pulls in so much of what I like reading in genre fiction and making it new, too.
This book feels like an action-adventure film or even a video game, and once you’ve strapped yourself in, you’re in for a ride. There are a few anachronisms, mostly in the use of language, but in the scope of the novel, it’s not entirely noticeable at all in the midst of it all. Because it’s so cinematic, I think these anachronisms are to be expected. But if that sort of thing bothers you, then it’s something to be aware of!
I really hope to see more from Hanks and this world he’s created with Captain Moxley, and this ends with a set-up for a sequel, so I hope there’s one coming out in the future! I’d love to see how Captain Moxley continues to handle her relationship with her sister and the discovery/exploration of Atlantis and everything else that has come with finding those amulets and the Hall of Records.
Thank you to Angry Robot for sending me a complimentary copy of this book to review and feature! All opinions are my own.
Hello, Friday! First Lines Friday is a feature on my blog in which I post the first lines from a book I am interested in reading, either a new release or a backlist title! For the next several Fridays, I will be featuring titles I am going to hopefully read as part of my 12 Decades/12 Months/12 Books challenge (#12decades12books). After watching the adaptation of Parade’s End and reading one of the books in the quartet, I’ve been slowly acquiring Ford Madox Ford’s works. The Good Soldier caught my eye with a phrase on the back: ‘This is the saddest story I have ever heard.’
This is the saddest story I have ever heard. We had known the Ashburnhams for nine seasons of town of Nauheim with an extreme intimacy — or, rather, with an acquaintanceship as loose and easy and yet as close as a good glove’s with your hand. My wife and I knew Captain and Mrs. Ashburnham as well as it was possible to know anybody, and yet, in another sense, we knew nothing at all about them. This is, I believe, a state of things only possible with English people of whom, till today, when I sit down to puzzle out what I know of this sad affair, I knew nothing whatever. Six months ago I had never been to England, and, certainly, I had never sounded the depths of an English heart. I had known the shallows.
I don’t mean to say that we were not acquainted with many English people. Living, as we perforce lived, in Europe, and being, as we perforce were, leisured Americans, which is as much as to say that we were un-American, we were thrown very much into the society of the nicer English. Paris, you see, was our home. Somewhere between Nice and Bordighera provided yearly winter quarters for us, and Nauheim always received us from July to September. You will gather from this statement that one of us had, as the saying is, a ‘heart’, and, from the statement that my wife is dead, that she was the sufferer.
What do you think? What have you read of Ford Madox Ford?