Friday, April 19, 2024

The Friday Face-Off: Current Read #27

                    Friday Face Off New

 Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme at Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.  You can find a list of upcoming topics at Lynn's Books.


This week's topic is:
Current Read #27

The only book I'm reading right now that has more than one cover edition to check out is Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick, so that is what I'm featuring for this week's Friday Face-Off! Nothing to Envy is a nonfiction book that follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years and really dives into what life was like during this period in North Korea, as well as what we know of the present state (or present at the time this book was written, which was 2009–to me knowledge, there is not an updated version). This book has been translated into so many different languages so there are a lot of different covers to check out–and I didn't even manage to include them all in this post! Let's have a look at some of them. 

2009 US Hardcover | 2011 Chinese | 2023 Arabic

2010 UK Paperback | 2011 Spanish | 2023 Slovak

2015 Persian | 2014 Czech | 2013 German

2011 Icelandic | 2011 Swedish | 2014 Romanian

2017 Polish | 2011 Thai | 2013 Portuguese


My choice(s):
I'm not really sure that I have a "favorite" cover for this book, but I do think the US hardcover really seems to cover the bleakness of the country and the mange challenges the people in these books face. These covers all interpret and convey the messages of what they think of North Korea differently, and I like seeing how different they all are. Which one(s) do you like the most or find the most interesting?

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Blog Tour: Indian Burial Ground by Nick Medina + Excerpt

Today, I'm thrilled to be a stop on the blog tour for Indian Burial Ground by Nick Medina! I read Nick Medina's novel Sisters of the Lost Nation last year and–because of how much I enjoyed it–knew I'd had to check out Indian Burial Ground. This captivating story is full of mystery, intrigue, family, the supernatural, and so much more. Below, you'll find some information about the book, author Nick Medina, and an excerpt from the first chapter to show you why you're going to want to read this book! :) 

 Thanks so much for stopping by, and happy reading!

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Title: INDIAN BURIAL GROUND
Author:  Nick Medina
Pub. Date: April 16th, 2024
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 
384
Find it: Bookshop.org | Amazon | Barnes & Noble 


SYNOPSIS:
"A man lunges in front of a car. An elderly woman silently drowns herself. A corpse sits up in its coffin and speaks. On this reservation, not all is what it seems, in this new spine-chilling mythological horror from the author of Sisters of the Lost Nation.

All Noemi Broussard wanted was a fresh start. With a new boyfriend who actually treats her right and a plan to move from the reservation she grew up on—just like her beloved Uncle Louie before her—things are finally looking up for Noemi. Until the news of her boyfriend’s apparent suicide brings her world crumbling down.

But the facts about Roddy’s death just don’t add up, and Noemi isn’t the only one who suspects that something menacing might be lurking within their tribal lands.

After over a decade away, Uncle Louie has returned to the reservation, bringing with him a past full of secrets, horror, and what might be the key to determining Roddy’s true cause of death. Together, Noemi and Louie set out to find answers...but as they get closer to the truth, Noemi begins to wonder whether it might be best for some secrets to remain buried. Born in"



Excerpt:

Noemi

The bathroom door opened just then, and I'm sure we were both glad it did. From within, black leather boots, skinny jeans, a black tank top with a rainbow heart bedazzled across the chest, shiny lips, and puffed-up hair emerged. Mom.

Her eyes widened. Fear momentarily cracked her made-up face, and a scream of terror in response to the strange man standing in our living room almost rang out, transforming instead into a cry of joy at the last second, right when she recognized him. "Louie!" She did a little hop, her boots thumping against the laminate floor. "Don't do that to me!" A second later, she was in her brother's arms.

"Lula," he cried.

We'd gone years without phone calls, video chats, and greeting cards. Sometimes we'd exchange texts on birthdays and holidays, filled with statements like Hope you're well, rather than questions that might encourage conversation.

Mom looked up at him, taking his face in her hands. "You cut off your hair. It's gray." Even though she was three years older than him, Mom's hair has been chocolate cherry my entire life. "Let me turn back time for you." She laughed. "My god, what are you doing here?"

"Pow wow," he said.

"I wish you'd have told me. Everyone's going to be so surprised to see you. But this is perfect!" She clapped her hands. "We're meeting friends at the Blue Gator tonight. You can meet Noemi's boyfriend. My new guy's gonna come by too."

"No he won't," I interjected from the couch. Mom threw a dismissive wave in my direction.

"Say you'll come," Mom said.

"Sure. Yeah." He seemed to reassure himself again. "I'll meet you there after I check in at the hotel."

"Why not stay here? I know it's a little small for-" Mom paused, finally looking past her brother. "Where's Holly? Jill?"

"Can we-?" he started, but was cut off by a trio of stern knocks against the door.

It wasn't Holly or Jill.

"Chief Fisher," Mom and Uncle Louie said in unison the instant I opened the door.

Luke Fisher wasn't chief of the tribal police anymore, but he had been for so long that most of us still called him that. Most days, he still acted like he was on the job.

"Noemi." His hands reached for mine as his eyes gave Mom an acknowledging glance. They lingered a little longer on Louie, but whatever he'd come to say took precedence over the friendly reunion that might have otherwise occurred.

"What is it?" I said. Luke wasn't the type to just drop in for visits. He wasn't the type to just stroke the back of your hand either.

"Let's sit," he said.

I didn't want to.

"It's Roddy," he uttered. "I know how close the two of you are, so I thought I should tell you before-"

"Tell me what?"

His old hands, veins stretching the thin skin, squeezed mine. "He was hit by a car."

"What?" I shrieked. Mom did too.

Luke glanced at the sofa, but I hadn't changed my mind about sitting. "I'm really sorry."

Sorry. I'd never known how much weight a word could hold until Luke uttered it.

"No!" Tears appeared as if a magician had waved a wand in front of my eyes.

"Tribal PD will figure out what happened."

"You're saying . . . ?" Though I heard what he was saying, I couldn't grasp it. Didn't want to.

"I'm sorry," he said again.

"How?"

"He was out on Grand Nacre Drive. The driver said he came out of nowhere."

That didn't make sense. I'd texted Roddy a couple hours earlier, confirming our plans for the night. He was going to pick me up at eight. I told Luke as much. "He didn't say anything about driving anywhere else."

"He wasn't driving. He was on foot."

That made even less sense. "It's the height of summer. Roddy hates walking in the heat." There were only two reasons to be along Grand Nacre Drive: to get to the casino or to leave it. "Was he at the casino?" I asked, knowing he had no reason to go there.

Luke's shoulders hitched. "There's a lot to figure out."

I pulled my hands away from his and braced myself against the wall. Reality wasn't yet registering, but I knew what I'd lose if I lost Roddy. Hopes, dreams, second chances. Without him, all I'd have were memories, regret, and forty years in the rearview mirror. Mom told me the years would go fast, back in my twenties when $130k-the amount of my trust fund, thanks to years of per capita payments I couldn't touch until I turned twenty-one-seemed like a million bucks. And Mom was right, the years came and went like sparks. And, like the money, I'd wasted them all.

"When?" I asked Luke.

"About an hour ago."

I looked out the window. The sun was below the horizon. All that remained of its light was a fiery orange band like the ring around a lit cigarette. "It must have been light when the accident happened." Anger rose within me. "Was the driver drunk?"

"Noemi . . ." Luke threw his head back and cupped his brow. I'd never seen him so unsettled. "It might not have been the driver's fault."

"He's blaming Roddy?"

"She's saying . . ." Eyes clenched tight, he slowly exhaled and then, finally looking like the authority he'd always been, as his arms fell to his sides and he gave it to me straight. "The driver said Roddy lunged in front of her vehicle. You've already said yourself that Roddy didn't like to walk and that he hadn't mentioned going anywhere today. There's concern"-his voice softened-"that this could have been suicide."

"What?!" I shrieked again. "No fucking way. He wouldn't. He wouldn't. We had plans. We were gonna get out of here. We were gonna get tattoos!"

"There's a lot to figure out," he repeated.

"What exactly did the driver say about Roddy?" Uncle Louie asked, stepping closer to Luke.

"According to her, he jumped in front of-"

"He wouldn't!" I insisted.

"With the way word travels around here, I might as well tell you everything." Luke exhaled another deep breath. "The driver ran for help. When she returned to Roddy, she saw a coyote standing over his body . . . with blood around its mouth."

My stomach churned. I finally sat. Mom plopped beside me, wrapping me in her arms, while Uncle Louie, paler than before, inexplicably locked the door.

Excerpted from Indian Burial Ground by Nick Medina Copyright © 2024 by Nick Medina. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Nick Medina appreciates blues-based music, local folklore, and snowy winters. A member of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, he drew on personal and family experiences, along with research into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) epidemic, to inspire his debut novel, Sisters of the Lost Nation. He has degrees in organizational and multicultural communication, and has worked as a college instructor. He also enjoys playing guitar, listening to classic rock, and exploring haunted cemeteries and all sorts of spooky stuff. Learn more online at nickmedina.net.

Author photo by Ashely Suttor, 2022.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Red Side Story by Jasper Fforde, You Like it Darker by Stephen King, & Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

     

 Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

Red Side Story (Shades of Grey #2) by Jasper Fforde
Publication: May 7th, 2024 (US)/February 6th, 2024 (UK)
Soho Press (US) / Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Hardcover. 480 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"The long-awaited follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Shades of Grey—in an exclusive edition for North American readers, complete with a never-before-published short story

Welcome to Chromatacia, where the societal hierarchy is strictly regulated by one's limited color perception. Civilization has been rebuilt after an unspoken “Something that Happened” five hundred years ago. Society is now color vision-segregated, professions, marriages, and leisure activities all dictated by an individual’s visual ability, and everything run by the shadowy National Color in far-off Emerald City.

Out on the fringes of Red Sector West, twenty-year-old Eddie Russett is being bullied into an arranged marriage with the powerful DeMauve family, purples who hope to redden up their progeny’s color-viewing potential with Eddie’s gene stock. Their obnoxious daughter Violet is confident the marriage won’t hamper her style for too long because Eddie is about to go on trial for a murder he didn’t commit, and he’s pretty sure to be sent on a one-way trip to the Green Room for execution by soporific color exposure. Meanwhile, Eddie is engaged in an illegal relationship with his co-defendant, a Green, the charismatic, unpredictable, and occasionally deadly Jane Grey. Time is running out for Eddie and Jane to figure out how to save themselves. Negotiating the narrow boundaries of the Rules within their society, they search for a loophole—some truth of their world that has been hidden from its hyper-policed citizens.
"

I've been anxiously awaiting a sequel to Fforde's Shades of Grey since I read it years ago and I'm so excited that a sequel is finally here! I still need to get around to re-reading the first book before I dive into this one, but I'm unbelievably excited for it!


You Like it Darker by Stephen King
Publication: May 21st, 2024 
Scribner
Hardcover. 512 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"You like it darker? Fine, so do I,” writes Stephen King in the afterword to this magnificent new collection of twelve stories that delve into the darker part of life—both metaphorical and literal. King has, for half a century, been a master of the form, and these stories, about fate, mortality, luck, and the folds in reality where anything can happen, are as rich and riveting as his novels, both weighty in theme and a huge pleasure to read. King writes to feel “the exhilaration of leaving ordinary day-to-day life behind,” and in You Like It Darker, readers will feel that exhilaration too, again and again.

“Two Talented Bastids” explores the long-hidden secret of how the eponymous gentlemen got their skills. In “Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream,” a brief and unprecedented psychic flash upends dozens of lives, Danny’s most catastrophically. In “Rattlesnakes,” a sequel to Cujo, a grieving widower travels to Florida for respite and instead receives an unexpected inheritance—with major strings attached. In “The Dreamers,” a taciturn Vietnam vet answers a job ad and learns that there are some corners of the universe best left unexplored. “The Answer Man” asks if prescience is good luck or bad and reminds us that a life marked by unbearable tragedy can still be meaningful.

King’s ability to surprise, amaze, and bring us both terror and solace remains unsurpassed. Each of these stories holds its own thrills, joys, and mysteries; each feels iconic. You like it darker? You got it.
"

I love that this sounds like such a challenge to readers from Stephen King. I've actually not read that much Stephen King, but I'm curious about some of his short horror fiction and am looking forward to this one. 


Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung
Publication: April 9th, 2024
Dell
Paperback. 352 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"A propulsive, extraordinary novel about a mother and her daughters’ harrowing escape to Taiwan as the Communist revolution sweeps through China, by debut author Eve J. Chung, based on her family story

Daughters are the Ang family’s curse.

In 1948, civil war ravages the Chinese countryside, but in rural Shandong, the wealthy, landowning Angs are more concerned with their lack of an heir. Hai is the eldest of four girls and spends her days looking after her sisters. Headstrong Di, who is just a year younger, learns to hide in plain sight, and their mother—abused by the family for failing to birth a boy—finds her own small acts of rebellion in the kitchen. As the Communist army closes in on their town, the rest of the prosperous household flees, leaving behind the girls and their mother because they view them as useless mouths to feed.

Without an Ang male to punish, the land-seizing cadres choose Hai, as the eldest child, to stand trial for her family’s crimes. She barely survives their brutality. Realizing the worst is yet to come, the women plan their escape. Starving and penniless but resourceful, they forge travel permits and embark on a thousand-mile journey to confront the family that abandoned them.

From the countryside to the bustling city of Qingdao, and onward to British Hong Kong and eventually Taiwan, they witness the changing tide of a nation and the plight of multitudes caught in the wake of revolution. But with the loss of their home and the life they’ve known also comes new freedom—to take hold of their fate, to shake free of the bonds of their gender, and to claim their own story.
"

This sounds incredibly gripping and informative and I'm looking forward to having a chance to check it out. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

Review: A Short Walk Through A Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke

  

A Short Walk Through A Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke
Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Hardcover. 400 pages.

About A Short Walk Through A Wide World:

"Paris, 1885: Aubry Tourvel, a spoiled and stubborn nine-year-old girl, comes across a wooden puzzle ball on her walk home from school. She tosses it over the fence, only to find it in her backpack that evening. Days later, at the family dinner table, she starts to bleed to death.

When medical treatment only makes her worse, she flees to the outskirts of the city, where she realizes that it is this very act of movement that keeps her alive. So begins her lifelong journey on the run from her condition, which won’t allow her to stay anywhere for longer than a few days nor return to a place where she’s already been.

From the scorched dunes of the Calashino Sand Sea to the snow-packed peaks of the Himalayas; from a bottomless well in a Parisian courtyard, to the shelves of an infinite underground library, we follow Aubry as she learns what it takes to survive and ultimately, to truly live. But the longer Aubry wanders and the more desperate she is to share her life with others, the clearer it becomes that the world she travels through may not be quite the same as everyone else’s...

Fiercely independent and hopeful, yet full of longing, Aubry Tourvel is an unforgettable character fighting her way through a world of wonders to find a place she can call home. A spellbinding and inspiring story about discovering meaning in a life that seems otherwise impossible, A Short Walk Through a Wide World reminds us that it’s not the destination, but rather the journey—no matter how long it lasts—that makes us who we are."

A Short Walk Through a Wide World follows Aubry Tourvel who suffers from a mysterious curse that compels her to constantly be on the move from one place to another. If she revisits or stays in one place for more than a couple days, she begins to suffer severe physical symptoms that could likely kill, but as soon as she starts moving on to another place all of her symptoms disappear. As a result of this curse, Aubry becomes a bit of an involuntary world traveller and wanderer. I completely understand this book’s comparisons to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, but I actually ended up liking this much more and found it to have a much more captivating narrative.

Aubry is a compelling protagonist whose resilience really drives her to keep moving along in her life in hopes of either outrunning her course or possibly even finding a cure. I liked her independence and the way she seemed to build up her confidence from the time her short childhood ended and she was thrust into survival mode. She’s a woman who is forced to live a very lonely existence despite technically interacting with plenty of people throughout her travels, and this has clearly influenced her personality as someone who is generally cautious around others, but still adventurous and willing to take some chances. I know there is often some concern for male authors writing female main characters, but I really think Westerbeke did a great job with Aubry’s characterization and development of her personality.

I very much enjoyed meeting Aubry and observing how she made her way through this world where she is left generally without a home or direct purpose. There are many moments in which Aubry is left to consider the meaning and/or purpose to her life, and I enjoyed these more philosophical thoughts about our own existence in this world. Although most of us are not cursed to constantly move from place to place, I think most of us can relate to those questions of purpose, belonging, and general uncertainty about whether there is more to life or not at times.

Westerbeke’s writing style is elegant and beautifully written. His narrative style was very thoughtful and flowed effortlessly. I will note that there seemed to be a lot of what people would call “telling instead of showing,” and I felt that we as readers were merely being told about a lot of things that had occurred in Aubry’s life in a very passive way rather than as if we were actually there with the action. This is because a lot of Aubry’s story is told as a result of her telling others about it, rather than us experiencing it in realtime with Aubry. I didn’t personally mind this too much and actually felt as though it added to the general atmosphere and worked well with the story’s style, but I can see where this could bother people who don’t enjoy this style as much.

This book does go in some odd directions and I’m still not sure how I feel about some of the choices made by the author, but nonetheless it still made for a very interesting story that kept me turning the pages. It’s one of those where you can sort of tell it’s a debut, but it’s a fantastic debut. I think I wish we had gotten a slightly longer or more in-depth dive into her backstory or a better understand of why she seems to accept and understand the curse so quickly, as some of the reactions felt a little off, but I can tell that this is more of an atmospheric story that relies on a bit of mystery and intrigue. You aren’t really supposed to know solid answers to a lot of things and you’re supposed to enjoy the ride and immerse yourself in the writing. It’s a beautiful story and one that could easily sit with someone long after finishing.

Overall, I’ve given A Short Walk Through A Wide World four stars! I look forward to seeing more from Douglas Westerbeke and would gladly read more of his work.


*I received a copy of A Short Walk Through A Wide World in exchange for an honest review. This has no effect on my rating.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Five Broken Blades by Mai Corland, The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley, & Whale Fall by Elizabeth O'Connor

     

 Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.


Five Broken Blades by Mai Corland
Publication: May 7th, 2024
Red Tower Books
Hardcover. 512 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"It’s the season for treason…

The king of Yusan must die.

The five most dangerous liars in the land have been mysteriously summoned to work together for a single objective: to kill the God King Joon.

He has it coming. Under his merciless immortal hand, the nobles flourish, while the poor and innocent are imprisoned, ruined…or sold.

And now each of the five blades will come for him. Each has tasted bitterness―from the hired hitman seeking atonement, a lovely assassin who seeks freedom, or even the prince banished for his cruel crimes. None can resist the sweet, icy lure of vengeance.

They can agree on murder.

They can agree on treachery.

But for these five killers―each versed in deception, lies, and betrayal―it’s not enough to forge an alliance. To survive, they’ll have to find a way to trust each other…but only one can take the crown.

Let the best liar win."

I've been really looking for some great new SFF to explore and Five Broken Blades has been absolutely everywhere and it sounds so good!



The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley
Publication: May 7th, 2024 (US)
Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster
Hardcover. 352 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"In the near future, a civil servant is offered the salary of her dreams and is, shortly afterward, told what project she’ll be working on. A recently established government ministry is gathering “expats” from across history to establish whether time travel is feasible—for the body, but also for the fabric of space-time.

She is tasked with working as a “bridge”: living with, assisting, and monitoring the expat known as “1847” or Commander Graham Gore. As far as history is concerned, Commander Gore died on Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 expedition to the Arctic, so he’s a little disoriented to be living with an unmarried woman who regularly shows her calves, surrounded by outlandish concepts such as “washing machine,” “Spotify,” and “the collapse of the British Empire.” But he adjusts quickly; he is, after all, an explorer by trade. Soon, what the bridge initially thought would be, at best, a seriously uncomfortable housemate dynamic, evolves into something much more. Over the course of an unprecedented year, Gore and the bridge fall haphazardly, fervently in love, with consequences they never could have imagined.

Supported by a chaotic and charming cast of characters—including a 17th-century cinephile who can’t get enough of Tinder, a painfully shy World War I captain, and a former spy with an ever-changing series of cosmetic surgery alterations and a belligerent attitude to HR—the bridge will be forced to confront the past that shaped her choices, and the choices that will shape the future.

An exquisitely original and feverishly fun fusion of genres and ideas, The Ministry of Time asks the universal What happens if you put a disaffected millennial and a Victorian polar explorer in a house together?
"

I recently finished an ARC of this and was actually surprised at how much I liked it, I really had a lot of fun with it and I can't wait for it to be released!



Whale Fall by Elizabeth O'Connor
Publication: May 7th, 2024
Pantheon
Hardcover. 224 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"In 1938, a dead whale washes up on the shores of remote Welsh island. For Manod, who has spent her whole life on the island, it feels like both a portent of doom and a symbol of what may lie beyond the island's shores. A young woman living with her father and her sister (to whom she has reluctantly but devotedly become a mother following the death of their own mother years prior), Manod can't shake her welling desire to explore life beyond the beautiful yet blisteringly harsh islands that her hardscrabble family has called home for generations.

The arrival of two English ethnographers who hope to study the island culture, then, feels like a boon to her—both a glimpse of life outside her community and a means of escape. The longer the ethnographers stay, the more she feels herself pulled towards them, reckoning with a sensual awakening inside herself, despite her misgivings that her community is being misconstrued and exoticized.

With shimmering prose tempered by sharp wit, Whale Fall tells the story of what happens when one person's ambitions threaten the fabric of a community, and what can happen when they are realized. O'Connor paints a portrait of a community and a woman on the precipice, forced to confront an outside world that seems to be closing in on them.
"

I'm not really sure what to expect from this book, but I'm really drawn to the general premise and what sounds like a promising narrative. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

Month in Review: March 2024

 

Last month I said that February was a busy month, but I now realize that was a very naive statement, as March has complete blown February out of the water with regard to being busy. I felt like I was constantly scheduling some sort of meeting or appointment and then attending said meetings and appointments and all in all, it was just a lot, haha. I'm also getting a little bit tired of all the rain we've had here in Southern California, and as much as "we needed it" and all that, I think we're saturated now. I certainly am, at least. 

That being said, I still managed to read a number of great books! I dove into some more nonfiction this month and learned a lot of fascinating things, which was a great time. I always seem to forget how much I enjoy it when I do read some good nonfiction books, so hopefully I remember that and continue incorporating them here and there–I've found it's really just about making sure they are about topics that are really personally interesting. I also finished a trilogy (Empire of the Wolf) and continued one that I've been loving (Jekua). And most notably (for myself), I read a book that's been on my TBR for years–The Windup Girl–and am so glad I finally got around to it! Overall, I can't complain about this month's reading (except for a thriller I tried to read called You Shouldn't Have Come Here... that one was... not good). 

How was your March?  Let me know how your month was below and what you've been reading!
   

# books read: 13
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi 
Source: Owned | Format: Paperback
Thoughts: This is one of those books that had been on my TBR for so many years it was almost embarrassing. I had started it a few times here and there, but realized I was never in the mood for it at the times I picked it up, so this time I made sure I was ready and dove in. I had a really great time with it and think it explored a lot of really fascinating themes and ideas!

The Trials of Empire (Empire of the Wolf #3) by Richard Swan ★.75
Source: Publisher | Format: Hardcover
Thoughts: I've loved the Empire of the Wolf series immensely, so I was actually really surprised by how.. disappointed (?) I felt with this final book in the trilogy. There were some good moments, but overall this was surprisingly not anywhere close to being as good as the first two. 

The Cloud Roost 
(Jekua #5) by Travis M. Riddle 

Source: Author | Format: eARC
Thoughts: I have just loved this series, and this was another phenomenal installment. I can't wait for the next book, but I also am so sad it'll be over soon.

Nuclear War: A Scenario by Annie Jacobsen 
Source: NetGalley | Format: eARC
Thoughts: This was a pretty horrifying read and I've already written a review for it (you can find a link for that below!). Not for the faint of heart, but certainly a good reminder of the dangers of nuclear war/weapons (as if you needed a reminder. but still). 



The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Choi-hwan Kang 
Source: Library | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: This was a very sobering nonfiction account of a man and his family who were sent to a 'labor camp' in North Korea. 


The Last Yakuza: Life and Death in the Japanese Underworld
 by Jake Adelstein 

Source: Library | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: Apparently this was quite the nonfiction reading month for me, haha. This is a history of the yakuza centered around the life of one member, Makoto Saigo, and it was absolutely packed with information about the yakuza and even elements of Japan's history, culture, and customs. A fascinating read!

 
Baby Bird by Travis M. Riddle
 
Source: Owned | Format: Paperback
Thoughts: This was a really fun little horror novella that I had a great time with. I'd recommend it for any horror fan looking for a small fix. 

Fathomfolk (Drowned World #1) by Eliza Chan 
Source: Publisher | Format: Physical ARC
Thoughts: I had so many mixed feelings about this book! It had so many things going for it, from the world-building to the different types of characters, but unfortunately the execution just didn't work out for me.


A Feather So Black (Fair Folk #1) by Lyra Selene 
Source: Publisher | Format: Physical ARC
Thoughts: This was an interesting fae fantasy read that I liked a lot more than I expected. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it overall, but I'm definitely curious enough to read the sequel.

Mal Goes to War by Edward Ashton 
Source: NetGalley | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: This was an interesting and amusing sci-fi read that I don't think I loved, but that I still had a good time with and appreciated. I listened to an audiobook copy of it and thought it was really well done.

Beyond the Wand by Tom Felton 
Source: Library | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: I've been a fan of Tom Felton since I was a teen so I'd been looking forward to checking this one out! It was a really pleasant read and had a lot of fun stories and anecdotes as well as some moments of thoughtful reflection and poignancy that really added some depth. I listened to the audiobook which Tom Felton narrates and I'd highly recommend that route if you are able!


The End of the World is a Cul de Sac: Stories by Louise Kennedy 
Source: Library | Format: Ebook
Thoughts: I expected to like this a lot more than I did and was a little disappointed by it. Tha tbeing said, there were still some strong stories that were worth the read. 

You Shouldn't Have Come Here by Jeneva Rose 
Source: Library | Format: Audiobook
Thoughts: This was really, really not great. I thought it sounded good, but.. the execution was not there. 

DNF/To-Be-Finished:
None that I can remember! 

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