Tag Archives: gottakeepreading

To Add To Your TBR: The Unspoken Name

I was lucky enough to get my grubby little hands on an advance copy of A.K. Larkwood’s The Unspoken Name, and if you like epic fantasy, kick-ass protagonists, strange worlds, amazing characters and a story that’s effortlessly readable, add this to your TBR and pre-order it, because it’s fabulous. No further spoilers than that!

(And I’m only slightly biased;  A.K. isn’t one of our authors! I’m not telling you what favours I had to promise to get an ARC, though… (hint: they possibly involved cake.))

Does she owe her life to those planning her death . . .

Csorwe was raised by a death cult steeped in old magic. And on her fourteenth birthday, she’ll be sacrificed to their god. But as she waits for the end, she’s offered a chance to escape her fate. A sorcerer wants her as his assistant, sword-hand and assassin. As this involves her not dying that day, she accepts.

Csorwe spends years living on a knife-edge, helping her master hunt an artefact which could change many worlds. Then comes the day she’s been dreading. They encounter Csorwe’s old cult – seeking the same magical object – and Csorwe is forced to reckon with her past. She also meets Shuthmili, the war-mage who’ll change her future.

If she’s to survive, Csorwe must evade her enemies, claim the artefact and stop the death cult once and for all. As she plunges from one danger to the next, the hunt is on . . .

My TBR pile: September 2019

Why do I even bother picking up print books?! (I mean, I know why I bother picking them up. They’re pretttttty. But I never get round to reading them…)

I still have Moon’s Artifice, Jonathan Strange, The Prince Thief, Truthwitch, Dreamwalker, Stranger Tempest and Autodrome on there, but I have added The Bone Season and I’m a chapter into The Book Thief. Plus I did get a rather snazzy proof copy of Jessie Burton’s The Confession, which I plan to read… sometime…

On Kindle, I’ve mostly got a stack of submissions; however, I did get a copy of Distaff (a science fiction anthology that came highly recommended),  A Big Ship At The Edge of the Universe, and Any Way The Wind Blows, a short from Seanan McGuire (which actually I have read, so shouldn’t really be on the list; it’s short and cute.) I’m part-way through The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin, three chapters into The Poppy War by RF Kuang, 30% through Everless by Sara Holland (not getting on with it, so that may be a “not for me” one) and still attempting Sorcerer To The Crown and The Tethered Mage. I’ve still got Ben Galley’s The Written, Lucy Hounsom’s Starborn, The Ninth Rain, The Unwrapped Sky and Shattermoon that I haven’t yet started…

I need to finish some books!*

 

*Actually, I need to finish some home-reading books. In terms of work, I’m slowly getting through them!

Poetry: Stephanie Bennett-Henry

I have discovered Stephanie Bennett-Henry’s poetry, and it’s beautiful. You know when you find something you just want to have already read and devoured and keep inside somehow despite the fact it keeps just slipping out (because human and brain and memory) and it’s just…argh?

That.

“Whatever happens, wherever you go, whatever you do, remember this: No one can take the fire out of your soul, the stars from your eyes, or the passion in your heart. Those are yours forever.” Stephanie Bennett-Henry ©2013

2 People + 1 House = Not Enough Bookshelves

I mean, there are NEVER enough bookshelves. We all know this.

But this is a bit more of a specific “not enough bookshelves”, because my partner invited me to move in with them (EEEEEEEH *Kermit flail*), and their second question (after “really? You really want to?” with a huge smile) was “are we going to have enough shelf space?”

And, uh…no.

It’s a small flat. There’s limited wall space. Other things have to go on those walls (pianos, guitars, desks, paintings, a kitchen. Y’know, minor stuff.) There are a lot of shelves for such a small flat, yes, but…

Not enough.

Or at least, not enough for a pair of people who, between then, work in publishing AND love books AND hoard books AND have had sixty years to collect A LOT OF BOOKS.

Tsundoku - "buying books and not reading them"

I actually lucked out at this stage. I’ve had three house moves in five years, and each time, my book collection has been slowly whittled down – books that I’ve read and don’t want to read again; books that I hated; books that I once loved and now don’t feel I need to keep; books that I picked up and never will get round to reading. (I’m horribly realistic when it comes to my time.)

Basically, I now keep books with two criteria:

  • will I NEED it again? And this is from the classical studies scholar in me; I do pick up books for reference.
  • do I LOVE it? Do I want to keep reading and re-reading and have it because I will take it off the shelf again?

I have no time for “but I should have a copy.” I have no time for “but it’s a classic!” I have no time for “someone gave it to me and I feel guilty…”

Nope. If I don’t value it, then it’s gone.

(That’s not to say I don’t have a TBR pile and a pile of “ok, I’d like to read these” and a pile of “I have read this and enjoyed it but haven’t yet got round to making a decision on keeping it” but if someone gives me War And Peace (Extended Edition With Extra Notes) I will smile politely and thank them and give it to charity, because ain’t nobody got time for that.)

And that means that my books only fill one-and-a-half bookcases, unlike my partner’s, which fill most of the flat – and they haven’t quite finished bringing all their books from storage yet.

So… something gotta give. And it ain’t my books.

(Mutual decision, thankfully. I don’t want a relationship to end on THAT argument!)

Grant Sneider: my bookshelf

My partner has never had to be ruthless with their collection. It’s actually a heart-breaking process to see someone have to learn how to choose: to decide what to keep, and realise that they physically can’t keep all the books they’d like to. But it’s also freeing – to realise that even if a book came with obligation and guilt and anxiety, to be able to say, “I don’t want this book on my shelf” or “not today” or “I’d love to, but I don’t have time” – it’s a curious kind of liberty.

To have to say to non-fiction: “If I need this subject again, will I come here? Or will I go on the internet/talk to someone/go to the library if, for whatever unexpected reason, I do need this topic?”

To have to say to fiction: “Am I seriously, honestly, going to prioritise this over the hundred other books that I actually WANT to read? Am I really going to pick this up over the one next to it? And if, at whatever future point I do decide I actually want to read it, could I just go to a bookshop/charity shop/the library for it?”

And it’s working! It’s been tough, but slowly – surely – the book collection is being whittled down to books that really need to stay; books that are loved, and wanted, and needed.

And the others: pre-loved, but they’re now off to better homes.

(P.s. if anyone wants some books… Oxford’s charity shops might have additions to their shelves soon!)

(P.p.s If anyone needs my new address, ping me a message on the usual channels – I can still get mail from my old address, so no worries if you’ve sent me anything. And Peter is staying with Jodie; I couldn’t split those two troublemakers up! My housemate is taking good care of them, by which I mean “catering to their every whim, as is proper when you are owned by two cats.”)

Review: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Mary Jekyll, alone and penniless following her parents’ death, is curious about the secrets of her father’s mysterious past. One clue in particular hints that Edward Hyde, her father’s former friend and a murderer, may be nearby, and there is a reward for information leading to his capture…a reward that would solve all of her immediate financial woes.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a feral child left to be raised by nuns. With the assistance of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary continues her search for the elusive Hyde, and soon befriends more women, all of whom have been created through terrifying experimentation: Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherin Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein.

When their investigations lead them to the discovery of a secret society of immoral and power-crazed scientists, the horrors of their past return. Now it is up to the monsters to finally triumph over the monstrous.

This is ridiculous amounts of fun! If you like The Invisible Library, Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series, Phil & Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius series, or any of the Sherlock Holmes adaptions… you’ll love this.

The story starts with Mary Jekyll having to lay off the servants: her mother having just died, the money has run out, and she’s not sure what to do next… until she gets an intriguing message about money being paid to a charitable fund, and discovers that she has a sister whose surname is Hyde…

And that’s just the start. Mary and Diana start collecting allies – and friends. The Poisonous Woman, The Puma Turned Human, and the Giantess – humans created by scientists trying to push the boundaries of knowledge, and possibly working for a mysterious society. But pushing the boundaries of knowledge can lead to people getting hurt – and creations that cause harm. Aided by Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, the Athena Club – as they name themselves – are on the trail of those who don’t consider the human cost of their experiments…

The book is a lot of fun; the interactions between the members are easy and amusing, and I love the little asides in the text as they tell the stories, each interjecting some detail or argument. It’s a wonderful piece of character building that adds to the story, and is great fun as you read more and are introduced to the characters! I also loved the literary details that get tugged in. The story is fast-paced, rattling onwards – it never takes itself too seriously, and it’s an action-filled romp with some seriously kick-ass – and thoughtful – heroines who display a wonderful range of character and a heart-warming rapport.

The series continues with European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman, which sees the Athena Club tracking down van Helsing’s daughter and meeting some old friends… as well as some old – and new – enemies!