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!
Title: The English Wife by Lauren Willig
Published by St. Martin's Press
Published: January 9th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Format: Hardcover, ARC
Source: Purchased, Netgalley
From the New York Times bestselling author, Lauren Willig, comes this scandalous New York Gilded Age novel full of family secrets, affairs, and even murder.
Annabelle and Bayard Van Duyvil live a charmed life: he’s the scion of an old Knickerbocker family, she grew up in a Tudor manor in England, they had a whirlwind romance in London, they have three year old twins on whom they dote, and he’s recreated her family home on the banks of the Hudson and renamed it Illyria. Yes, there are rumors that she’s having an affair with the architect, but rumors are rumors and people will gossip. But then Bayard is found dead with a knife in his chest on the night of their Twelfth Night Ball, Annabelle goes missing, presumed drowned, and the papers go mad. Bay’s sister, Janie, forms an unlikely alliance with a reporter to uncover the truth, convinced that Bay would never have killed his wife, that it must be a third party, but the more she learns about her brother and his wife, the more everything she thought she knew about them starts to unravel. Who were her brother and his wife, really? And why did her brother die with the name George on his lips?
I was looking through my Netgalley queue deciding on my next read, and Lauren Willig’s The English Wife
caught my eye. It was one of those I started reading a long time ago, set it aside for whatever reason, and ended up purchasing a copy of the book for myself because look at that cover? It’s gorgeous. So with it being October and with me being in the mood for some historical fiction, I decided to pick this up again. This took a little bit of time to get into, but by the time I got through the first quarter of the book, I was hooked and I needed to know how the story got to its end. There’s nothing entirely new about the plot or the types of characters and once I was clued into a certain character’s behaviors, I did begin to put together the pieces of the narrative and very nearly guess whodunit
, and that’s completely fine
. It felt both familiar and new, I was entertained, and I loved the insights to and development of each of the four main characters.
One of the things I loved the most about The English Wife was the Gilded Age setting. I’m such a sucker for it, especially when it’s done well, and this novel felt incredibly atmospheric in just the right ways. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Willig before, but this certainly makes me want to go back and see what I’ve missed! After being in a reading slump for a while, Willig’s novel was exactly what I needed. Something a little familiar, something a little new, something that reminded me how fun reading could be. I absolutely devoured this within a twenty-four hour period, and it felt like it had been a while since a book was able to captivate me like that from the get-go.
This was a perfect mid-October read, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. If you like historical fiction with a heavier lean on romance, do look into this!
Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the digital galley! All opinions are my own.
Title: The New Voices of Science Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi, Jacob Weisman, Kelly Robson, Alice Sola Kim, Rich Larson, Sam J. Miller, Suzanne Palmer, Sarah Pinkser, E. Lily Yu, Rebecca Roanhorse, Alexander Weinstein, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, S. Qiouyi Lu, Nino Cipri, Jamie Wahls, Darcie Little Badger, Samantha Mills, David Erik Nelson, Jason Sanford, Amman Sabet, Lettie Prell, Amal El-Mohtar
Published by Tachyon Publications
Published: November 5th 2019
Genres: Science Fiction
The New Voices of Science Fiction
What would you do if your collective of tiny bots suddenly decide to mutiny? Would you find bioprinted steak delicious, even after it was signed by the artist? Is an 11 second attention-span long enough to bond with a cryogenically-revived tourist? Would you sell your native language to send your daughter to college?
The avant garde of science fiction has appeared, arriving via time machines and portals that may (or may not) work properly. In this space-age sequel to award-winning anthology, The New Voices of Fantasy, The New Voices of Science Fiction has launched the rising stars of the last five years of science fiction, including Rebecca Roanhorse, Amal El-Mohtar, Alice Sola Kim, Sam J. Miller, E. Lily Yu, Rich Larson, Vina Jie-Min Prasad, Sarah Pinsker, Darcie Little Badger, S. Qiouyi Lu, Kelly Robson, Suzanne Palmer, Nino Cipri, and more. Their wide-ranging tales were hand-selected by cutting-edge author Hannu Rajaniemi (The Quantum Thief) and genre expert Jacob Weisman (Invaders).
So go ahead, join the starship revolution. The new kids hotwired the AI.
is an excellent companion to The New Voices of Fantasy
published by Tachyon in 2017. So often genre is lumped together, especially science fiction and fantasy, but, just like me, if you enjoyed The New Voices of Fantasy
, you will almost certainly enjoy The New Voices of Science Fiction
. All of the stories included in this anthology were originally published or written within the last five or so years? Some of the names are unfamiliar to me, but a lot of these names have come to critical acclaim within those last five years, so it’s an excellent introduction if you’re also wondering where to begin with the genre. Yes, the entire SF genre
. A lot of the older “classic” science fiction feels dated in tone, terminology, and technology and can at times feel intimidating for someone who may be unfamiliar with the genre, and this anthology elevates the newer voices we should be paying attention to. And yes, there are foundational genre works that act as cornerstones, but sometimes we have to smash the past and build something new.
My favorite stories in this anthology were Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” Amal El-Mohtar’s “Madeleine,” and Suzanne Palmer’s “Madeleine,” but all of them have something to consider and were all enjoyable to read. One of the things I loved most about this was that the writers included in this collection are so diverse, elevating a lot of different cultures, ideas, ways of looking at the world, and storytelling styles, and that is exactly what I hope for when I read any anthology, and this one ticked all of the boxes for me. This collection also made me want to go read the longer works by the authors included, and I realized I’ve had several books on my shelves already!
Thank you to Tachyon Publications and Netgalley for a complimentary review copy! All opinions are my own.
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?
Hello, friends! I can’t believe it’s October already. September seemed to fly by while also dragging along? I only read five books this month. My average for the month is usually around 9-10 books, so part of me is just like ??? where did the time go? I started working for a temp agency halfway through the month and that’s exactly when my reading tapered off. Everything tapered off – reading, blogging, social media usage. I started reading a lot of things halfway through the month and later, but I never stuck with it long enough to finish. Now I have about eight books that I’m working my way through (physical and digital), and I’m going to use October to finish those off and get some spooky reads in.
In September, I read:
- Three Flames, by Alan Lightman
- The Widow of Pale Harbor, by Hester Fox
- Mysteries of the Middle Ages, by Thomas Cahill
- Embers of War, by Gareth L. Powell
- The Silent Companions, by Laura Purcell
I am decently pleased with what I read for the month, and I caught up with everything that I had started in the summer because I was determined at one point to “start fresh” for the season. I enjoyed Embers of War even though I kept misplacing the book, and The Silent Companions is a title from my earlier Top Ten Tuesday list of books I’ve avoided reading (I’m currently reading two more from that list, and this list is serving as my TBR for October!).
I haven’t bought many books due to not having consistent work and needing to save money (and not being at a bookstore once a week for work also helps), but I did get the following with some gift cards as well as a publisher gift:
- Call Upon the Water, by Stella Tillyard (thank you, Atria!)
- Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir (preordered last year?!)
- Bringing Down the Duke, by Evie Dunmore
- Flamecaster, by Cinda Williams Chima
- Nocturna, by Maya Motayne
- Roar, by Cora Carmack
What did you read in September? What was your favorite read of the month?