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Book Review: The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)

Book Review: The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)


The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Calculating Stars was such a fun, compelling story. But though it was compelling from page 1, it didn’t start out fun. Having an apocalyptic event occur that wipes out your family and the city you call home, and having to come to terms with the fact that your entire planet will become uninhabitable within a matter of decades is understandably a difficult situation for our perspective character, Elma York. She is a mathematics savant and a killer pilot, and is married to a legit rocket scientist. The couple find themselves at the core of the International Aerospace Coalition, earth’s response to the disaster that struck in the book’s early pages. If the planet will soon be inhospitable, then the only option is to find a way to get mankind into space and colonize other heavenly bodies. Elma and her husband, Nathan, are working night and day to make that plan become reality. But Elma wants to do more than compute equations; she wants to become the first female astronaut.

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Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Book Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Standalone

Genre: Literary fiction, Historical fiction

Pages: 567 pages (Kindle edition)

Published: 9th February 2017 by Doubleday (UK) & 22nd August 2017 by Hogarth Press (US)


The Heart’s Invisible Furies is beautiful, heartbreaking, dark, and occasionally humorous.

If you follow my reviews, you should know already that literary fiction isn’t my favorite genre to read; I probably read, at most, one or two literary fiction book per year. But when I finished A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne, which I enjoyed very much, at the end of last year, I knew that I had to give his most highly-praised work, The Heart’s Invisible Furies, a read and I’m glad I did.

“But for all that we had, for all the luxury to which we were accustomed, we were both denied love, and this deficiency would be scorched into our future lives like an ill-considered tattoo inscribed on buttocks after a drunken night out, leading each of us inevitably toward isolation and disaster.”

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Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

TS’ rating: 5 of 5 stars

Haïfa’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Published: September 12th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 10th, 2019 by Redhook (US)


TS’s Review

ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit.

Incredibly lush, exquisite and enchanting, The Ten Thousand Doors of January has all the makings of a classic. One which I’m certain will be well-loved and much-read. And I dare say not only by those who enjoy fantasy, for this novel is pure joy in literary form that is a tribute to almost every reader out there.

Do you love books? This book is for you.

Do you love the written word? This book is for you.

Do you love stories and escapism? This book is for you.

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Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing


Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have very strong feelings regarding Southern fiction. I love Louisiana and the entirety of the American South. In my opinion, there’s something magical and incredibly atmospheric about the South. However, I also see the failings of the area, the poverty and lack of education and propensity to hate whatever is different. It’s the kind of place where people will bend over backwards to help a person in need, but only if said person is an accepted part of the community. People who are different are often met with ignorance, distrust, and judgment, and that’s if people decide to notice you at all. Southerners are old pros at pretending a problem doesn’t exist if they can just ignore it hard enough. Thankfully, my community has grown past this, and it far more accepting of those of different religions and ethnicities and sexualities than we were even a decade ago. Even here in the South, things can change.

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Book Review: The Nickel Boys

Book Review: The Nickel Boys

 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Published: 1st August 2019 (Little, Brown Book Group)

‘Even in death the boys were trouble.’

The Nickel Boys opens with an unearthing of bones. In this physical evidence, held and photographed and catalogued, is an impossibility: denial. Cue shock and horror at this ‘revelation’, a ‘hidden’ past in the form of dead black boys.
Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Stand-alone

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Pages: 384 pages

Published: September 12th, 2019 by Orbit (UK) & September 10th, 2019 by Redhook (US)


Gorgeous and magical; it’s not a stretch to call The Ten Thousand Doors of January a magnificent physical manifestation of a grimoire.

Orbit did it again. The Ten Thousand Doors of January has shot to the top of my TBR since the moment I saw the cover and heard about the premise; I was charmed and can safely say that I don’t think I’ve read many books as beautifully written as this novel. I’ve been saying this over and over again for a while now; when it comes to modern SFF debuts, just read everything that Orbit publishes. SFF books published by Orbit these days has a strong chance to satisfy your reading preferences and this novel amplified that notion. I would also like to give a shout out to Emily Byron, who made sure this book reached me for my review, and Maddie Hall, the one in charge of the design behind the ARC packaging of this book; easily the most beautiful ARC package I’ve ever received.

Picture: My ARC of The Ten Thousand Doors of January

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The Exiled

The Exiled

The Exiled by David Barbaree

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

 

According to Suetonius, Emperor Nero committed suicide on hearing the troop of cavalry who were coming to arrest him arrive at the villa in which he was hiding: ‘Hark to the sound I hear! It is the hooves of galloping horses‘.

Their orders: take him alive.

But it was too late.

A letter, which had arrived moments before the soldiers, informed Nero that he had been declared a public enemy by the Senate and was to be punished in the ‘ancient style’ (stripped naked, head thrust into a wooden fork, flogged to death with sticks). And so, to avoid that dire fate, Nero:

‘with the help of his secretary Epaphroditus, […] stabbed himself in the throat and was already half-dead when a cavalry officer entered […] he died, with eyes glazed and bulging from their sockets, a sight which horrified everybody present’ (Suetonius, Nero, 49).

Now that’s all well and good, perhaps true or perhaps not, but either way David Barbaree is having none of it. His Nero is taken that day, and tortured, but remains alive…

It’s an idea with a long tradition, with men proclaiming themselves ‘Nero’ almost from the moment of the emperor’s death in 68 CE. A rather problematic issue for the new dynasty, as you might imagine. And it’s precisely this that forms the basis of the book. Here, the rise of a False Nero complicates an already dangerous civil war in Parthia, the deadly threads of these plots weaving through the highest echelons of Roman politics.

This is a world of prophesy, conspiracy, and secrets. Danger abounds. But they don’t know what we know, that the real Nero lives… and still has moves to make. Let the games begin.

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A Brightness Long Ago

A Brightness Long Ago

A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received this book electronically via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

“I knew, once, a woman diamond bright and two men I will not forget. I played a part in a story in a fierce, wild, windblown time. I do have that. I always will. I am here and it is mine, for as near to always as we are allowed.”

This is only the second book I’ve read from Guy Gavriel Kay, but I feel secure in stating that I’ve never come across another author who has his way with words. There’s something about his prose that is both breathtakingly lovely and oddly jarring. In A Brightness Long Ago, Kay paints with his words, writing something that is lush and poignant and real enough to touch. This novel is somewhere between historical fiction and low fantasy, and Kay straddles that divide with great finesse.

“Perhaps it is true of every life, that times from our youth remain with us, even when the people are gone, even if many, many events have played out between where we are and what we are remembering.”

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The Troupe

The Troupe

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“What I’m going to do up here, kid, is tell you a story. Like all stories, it’s an attempt to make sense of something larger than itself. And, like most stories, it fails, to a certain degree. It’s a gloss, a rendition, so it’s not exact. But it’ll do.”

I’m going to see Paranormal Cirque this weekend and am insanely excited. In anticipation, I picked up The Troupe. While not about a circus, it is about a vaudevillian troupe, which is similar in feel. And though not exactly in the horror genre, I know from experience with his Divine Cities trilogy that Robert Jackson Bennett often weaves horror elements into his novels, and he does so deftly. I’m so incredibly glad I picked up this book. Because as excited as I am about seeing Paranormal Cirque, I already know that The Troupe will stay with me longer than any performance could. It turned out to be an absolutely beautiful story, and I read the last sixty or so pages through a haze of tears.

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Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones and the Six

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t think this book was going to work for me. I read the first 40 or so pages and just couldn’t get past the awkward formatting. Which made me incredibly sad, because music means the world to me and I was raised on classic rock. Before I wrote it off, I decided to give the audiobook a try. I’m so glad I did, because it’s now among my favorite audiobooks I’ve ever experienced. Because it definitely was an experience. It blows my mind that Daisy Jones isn’t a real icon of the Seventies, that The Six isn’t a real band whose back catalogue I can dig into now that I’ve gotten to know them. How Reid was able to create characters and a band dynamic that felt so real blows my mind. This is a book that was meant to be heard, with an amazingly talented and talented vocal cast.

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