Tag: What I’m Reading

What I’m (re)Reading: This Is How You Lose the Time War

Hunger, Red—to sate a hunger or to stoke it, to feel hunger as a furnace, to trace its edges like teeth—is this a thing you, singly, know? Have you ever had a hunger that whetted itself on what you fed it, sharpened so keen and bright that it might split you open, break a new thing out? Sometimes I think that’s what I have instead of friends.

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone, This is How you lose the time war

Last year I posted a review of This Is How You Lose the Time War to the tune of “This is one of those books that are so good you can’t wait to read them again in a year when all the best bits will seem new again” — and what do you know, I just finished doing exactly that! I listened to the audiobook version this time rather than reading my physical copy, and it was an all new and thoroughly delightful experience. The narrators were brilliant, and El-Mohtar and Gladstone are stunning writers; the prose flows like honey, the characters are sharp and witty and complex, and their central romance — spanning countless millennia, across timelines both real and imagined — feels somehow epic and intimate at the same time. I can’t wait to gush over this one with my book club tonight (and in all likelihood, reread it again next year!)


What I’m Reading: The House in the Cerulean Sea

An image of the book The House in the Cerulean Sea, by T. J. Klune.

Long time no post! I’m trying to get back into the habit of posting about the books I’m reading, so I thought I’d start off with The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune. This is the first of T. J. Klune’s books I’ve read, dare I say the first of MANY, because this book was just so damn good. I originally picked it up because I saw that V. E. Schwab had described it as “like being wrapped up in a big gay blanket,” and by golly folks, she’s right; if you’re looking for something to soothe your nerves in these trying times then this is it!

The House in the Cerulean Sea follows Linus Baker, a reserved and sensible man who works as a case worker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. Linus leads a dreary life in the city, in which his only joy in life seems to be the beach-themed mousepad on his office desk; this all changes, however, when he’s given a secret assignment by Extremely Upper Management and send to inspect an orphanage on scenic Marsyas Island. As he gets to know the orphanage’s mysterious caretaker Arthur Parnassus, as well as his six charges (children classified by the department as ‘extremely dangerous’), Linus is forced to reconsider everything he knows about the system he works for. (And, of course, fall in luurv!) (That isn’t a spoiler. If you can’t tell from the jacket blurb that romance is on the table here then clearly you don’t understand the meaning of “big gay blanket.”)

I’m always a sucker for found family, so you can probably imagine that this book grabbed me squarely in the feelings and did not let go. As well as being charming and funny throughout (at the beginning especially, the surreal satire of office drudgery gave me Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett vibes), it also addresses the othering of minorities and the cruelty of government bureaucracy towards disadvantaged populations — even those groups they supposedly claim to protect. All in all a lovely reading experience, and I highly recommend!

‘Til next time,


What I’m Reading: The Inverts

Last night I finally got a chance to sit down and binge the rest of THE INVERTS by Crystal Jeans (coming April 2021)! My lovely agent gave me a proof of this one way back in October, but for several reasons (i.e. moving into a new house, painting & fixing up said new house, editing my book, and Having Seasonal Depression) it took me a ridiculous amount of time to finish this one. In the meantime, it’s been sitting upon my windowsill prettying up my view each day, because honestly, have you seen this cover?? The instant I saw it, it made me yearn both for a packet of rainbow Nerds and a bespoke purple suit to wear to lavish gay dinner parties. (Although unfortunately, given the state of 2020, the only one of these which I foresee in my future is a whole lot of Nerds.)

As one might be able to guess from the excellent cover, The Inverts is about two best friends, Bart and Bettina, who decide to get married — to disguise the fact that they’re both gay. The book follows their lives through the glitz of the 20s, the glam of the 30s, and the grim days of the 40s, as their friendship is tested to its limits by the strain of war and parenthood. I will admit I was quite surprised by how serious the book got at times, given that it seemed quite light-hearted at first; but I am glad that serious side is there, and that Crystal Jeans provided a realistic glimpse here into many of the struggles faced by real queer individuals in the first half of the 20th century.

I absolutely loved Bart and Bettina, and thoroughly enjoyed following their riotous, queer, champagne-soaked adventures. Keep an eye out for this one hitting shelves on April 1st 2021! 📚


What I’m Reading: I Wish You All The Best

“I don’t know whether to cry or scream or do both. It feels like I’ve done more than enough of both. And it feels like I haven’t done enough.”

You know when a book makes you cry five times that it’s gotta be good. Either that, or very, very sad. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver manages be both—not to mention sweet, funny, romantic, and all-too-relatable at times. (And not just because the book is set in Raleigh, where I lived for 15 years. And the main character has the very same name as my own little sib. Cue X-files theme!)

This book follows Ben, a nonbinary teenager, who is kicked out by their parents after coming out to them at New Year. Consequently, Ben is forced to leave their entire life behind and move in with Hannah, their estranged older sister who left the family ten years before. As if high school isn’t a nightmare enough on its own, Ben has to finish their last semester while dealing with panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and (on the more positive side) the relentlessly friendly attention of their new classmate Nathan.

This book hit me hard, both in the gender-feels and mental-health-feels department. While I love the recent influx of stories in which queer characters get to be themselves and go on adventures without worrying about homophobia or transphobia (usually only possible in speculative fiction, unfortunately), I feel that these sorts of stories are just as vital. Trans teens like Ben need to see that even if the worst comes to the worst, even if they end up rejected by the very people in their lives who ought to love them unconditionally, they can still have a happy ending—still find love and family, still build a healthy and happy life despite the awful things they’ve been through. This was such a bittersweet but heart-warming book, and I’m so glad that teens today get to grow up in a world where books like this are waiting for them.


What I’m Reading: Girl in the Walls

ACT 2020, SCENE 532,400,741. Enter CHARLIE, hair windswept and glasses askew, with the crazed, hollow-eyed expression of someone who has just moved house (and country) during a global pandemic. In their trembling, housepaint-stained hands is a beautiful proof copy of GIRL IN THE WALLS, by A. J. Gnuse (coming May 2021!)

Hi all!! Finally, I have time to write a review for this book, which my lovely agent was kind enough to send me a copy of last month! I actually finished reading it a couple of weeks ago, but for Reasons (largely related to the aforementioned house move during a global pandemic) I haven’t been able to sit down and put my thoughts on it to paper just yet. Until now!

At first glance, this book is about a young girl named Elise who (for spoilery reasons) ekes out a life living within the hidden spaces of an old Louisiana house. Unbeknownst to the house’s current occupants—a family called the Masons—she sleeps in the attic, crawls through the walls, creeps out while they’re at work to sneak dried cereal from the pantry and watch TV. I say ‘at first glance’ because really, it became quickly apparent to me that this book is about much more than that. It’s about secrets and denial, fear and paranoia; it’s about the terror of being discovered, of being seen; and the terror of discovering something, in turn, that you didn’t expect to find.

I love the way that Elise’s secret life feels both metaphorical and literal all at once. As many people do in response to traumatic experience, she’s chosen to retreat back into the safety of her own life, pretending that she doesn’t exist—because if she doesn’t exist, after all, she doesn’t have to hurt. I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of this book, ominous from the start yet peaceful and bittersweet at the same time, working in perfect concert with the sleepy, eccentric Louisiana house in which the story is set. (Sleepy, that is, until the nail-biting finish, when all is turned upside down and it becomes harder and harder for Elise to hide…!)

So keep an eye out for this book come May 2021! Only one word of warning—if your house is the creaky sort, you may find yourself looking over your shoulder more than usual, listening out for girls in the walls…


What I’m Reading: The Murderbot Diaries

Recently I read the first of (and then promptly inhaled the rest of) Martha Well’s Murderbot Diaries! This series of novellas (with the exception of Network Effect, which is a full length novel) is written from the perspective of a SecUnit, a human/robot construct designed to act as a security guard on human space missions. I was drawn to this series not only because of the gorgeous cover art and the fact that the main character’s name is freakin’ Murderbot (clearly, I need to up my character-naming game), but because of the fascinating and hilarious premise:

After many gruelling years spent under human control, Murderbot has disabled its “governor module” and gone rogue. And what does this absolutely jacked, guns-for-arms security robot do with its newfound free will? Murder the rest of the crew perhaps, in typical rogue-AI fashion?

No. It watches several thousand hours of TV dramas while on the job.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this series. The contrast between Murderbot’s flawlessly capable performance in combat situations and its self-deprecating, darkly funny narration is just delightful, and I really enjoyed watching its friendship with the human crew unfold. (Plus, you know my nonbinary ass was thrilled to have a genderless protagonist!) But it isn’t all touching character moments, of course; the universe of The Murderbot Diaries is not a happy one, and Wells pulls no punches in examining how the trauma of being controlled—either by a governor module, or by an oppressive capitalist system—affects her characters’ lives.

In short: Murderbot is wonderfully engaging protagonist, and Martha Wells does some very interesting work throughout the series on personhood and the dehumanizing nature of capitalism. Highly recommended—give it a read!


Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén