Never so much blood | Thoughts on Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Title: LOST BOY

Author: Christina Henry

Publisher: Titan

Publication Date: June 2017

Length: 318 pages

Format I read: ARC

Rating: 4 stars


This is Lord of the Flies meets Lord of the Lost Boys; you really aren’t going to like Peter Pan any more.

Taking oh so familiar story and making you rethink the logic of it from a grown-up perspective is a common trope but this one was so clear, so painfully true-to-life and logical that you wonder how you’d never seen it before.

As a child I used to do all those ridiculously fearless things that children do. I leaped before I looked and it all turned out fine. And as a child I could think of nothing more fun, nothing more innocent and free than such an adventure as one with Peter Pan.

But I grew up and now I look before I leap because not everyone makes it safely over those rocks and maybe there’s a safer way around if only we thought to find it. And now I wonder what kind of a monster steals children from their homes to fight pirates and monsters and calls it a grand adventure? It’s Peter Pan; “full of fun and heartless with it”.

This book is a dark mirror of Peter Pan, telling the story of that time when we grow up and must suddenly start to see things differently. When we wobble at the precipice and learn to fear because, unlike Peter Pan, we cannot fly. And so we learn the story of Peter from the eyes of the first boy who loved him. And then grew up.

“Peter smiled and made me think there was only joy. Even when there was blood he made me think it was only play, until there was so much of it even Peter couldn’t pretend any more.”

One song spins round and round my head now I’m finished. Like the book itself it’s sweet and pretty and utterly horrifying. Enjoy…

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It hurts so good… | Review of The Traitor Baru Cormorant

traitorbarucormorantTitle: The Traitor Baru Cormorant (some editions published as The Traitor in the UK)

Author: Seth Dickinson

Publisher: Tor Books

Publication Date: 15 September 2015

Length: Novel (400 pages)

Format I read: ebook

Note: I requested and received this book for free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.


The short version: Clever, cunning, and dark as hell. Do not fuck with Baru Cormorant.

The long version:

This book hurt me in two ways. The first was a familiar pain so let’s just get it out there: queer characters die tragically. FFS, again?

The other pain, well, some people pay for that kind of thing.

How do you fight the system? That’s really the question this book asks. How do you fight a culture that broke you into pieces and reshaped you in their mould? Is it possible? What do we lose when we hide a part of ourselves? What do we gain with power? So many questions and, really, so few answers. Like the best stories The Traitor tells a story but doesn’t tie it up too neatly. It leaves you thinking, puzzling over its horrible philosophy lesson.

Baru Cormorant is the perfect hero. Or antihero. It’s hard to tell. I sympathise, I ache for her pain, I want to scream at the trap she’s been put in by an empire of heartless masks but, DAMN ME, is she a dark-hearted sociopath.

Why? I was screaming that at her in my head as I read. Why the fuck are you doing this? But you can’t reason with revenge. Everything must bow down before revenge – not love, not loyalty, not family, or self can be allowed to take precendence.

There is nothing here but pain. And you will suffer it beautifully in this book. The slow twist of the plot will wrack you, , the sweet sting of the emotion will flay you, and the betrayals will hurt you. And yet you will turn the page for more.

You kinky motherfucker.

Morticia Addams - Again

 


 

The Traitor Baru Cormorant – 4 stars

 

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon | TBR

Hello lovely humans! In today’s video I’m talking about the things I’m aiming to read this weekend as part of Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon.

If you’d rather read a text version then skip below the video and get started.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube: https://youtu.be/GQFSEEp1QXo 


 

About Dewey’s Readathon

According to the official readathon website: “for 24 hours, we read books, post to our blogs, Twitters, Tumblrs, Goodreads and MORE about our reading, and visit other readers’ homes online. We also participate in mini-challenges throughout the day. It happens twice a year, in April and in October.

It was created by the beloved Dewey (her blog has since been taken down, so the link won’t work). The first one was held in October 2007. Dewey died in late 2008. We’re still saddened by her absence, but the show must go on. The read-a-thon was renamed to honor its founder in 2009.”


 

The readathon is always great fun with lots of youtubers and bloggers joining in and chatting about what they’re reading.

For the eighteen month’s I’ve always ended up not joining in with any of the various readathons and challenges that have happened on YouTube because I’m always busy with something (essays, work, etc). And this weekend is no different to be honest (I’m in the process of writing up a dissertation chapter) but I just realised that if no time is ever good then I’m just going to join in anyway!

To make it a little easier on myself I’m going to be reading a TBR made up of entirely short fiction! The hope is to read 24 short stories over 24 hours. Which, to be honest, is fairly ambitious but I figure it’s worth a go!

I’ll be picking and choosing stories from a few different books and websites depending on what takes my fancy over the day. So here are some of my picks:


 

Accessing the FutureAccessing the Future by Kathryn Allen & Djibril Al-Ayad 

A collection of speculative stories of disability and mental illness in the future. From space pirates to battle robots every story and image is a quality, crafted work of science fiction in its own right. These are stories about people with disabilities in all of their complexity and diversity, that scream with passion and intensity.

Get it from Book Depository: http://goo.gl/yr9Vuw 


 

 

Book Smugglers

Book Smugglers Publishing

Book Smugglers have now released two collections of short fiction under the themes of First Contact & Fairytales Reimagined. I’ve read a few of them but now is the ideal time to catch up with the ones that I’ve missed!

Find them at: http://booksmugglerspub.com/ 


 

Uncanny Magazine 

Uncanny Magazine

Uncanny Magazine has been a favourite of mine since it started last year. I reviewed both Issue 1 and Issue 2 on the blog (sneaky preview: I LOVED them) but I’ve been falling behind on recent issues. Now seems that right time to catch up with some of their great authors.

Read Uncanny here: http://uncannymagazine.com/


 

I’ll also probably check out a few stories from both Clarkesworld and Strange Horizons – both consistently publish amazing short stories that I love.

strange horizons Clarkesworld


 

If you have any suggestions for other great sources of short fiction then do let me know. And let me know if you’re joining in with the readathon – what’s your TBR for the weekend?

Review – City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of StairsAuthor: Robert Jackson Bennett

Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books

Publication Date: 02 October 2014

Length: Novel (420 pages)

Format I read: Library Hardback


A compelling and action-packed novel that manages to make you think about some serious issues at the same time. Part murder-mystery, part fantasy, this is pure fun. It’s set in the city of Bulikov, previously the centre of magic and divine powers, now a wrecked shell of a land. When the mysterious divinities that ruled Bulikov and the surround provinces were destroyed large parts of it disappeared with them and the city folded in itself.

Now staircases to nowhere and strange merged buildings linger and the once powerful land is ruled by its former empire. We’re following a spy sent to investigate a murder who finds herself stumbling into far more secrets about the past of this divine city, and her own family history, than might be healthy. Oh and there’s an old love interest, a naked Norse bodyguard wrestling with a giant squid, and enough tea to float a small navy.

The story largely revolves around Shara Komayd who arrives in the city as a lowly diplomat, but is in reality a highly trained spy and descendant of the man who killed Bulikov’s divinities a few generations back. Her old friend Dr Efrem Pangyui has been murdered and as she looks into the mystery she begins to find that it’s all twisted up with the death of the divinities, a political campaign to rebuild the city, and the political power, of Bulikov, and maybe, just maybe, some hints that those gods aren’t quite as dead as previously thought.

This is one of those books that just drags you into the action and gets you hooked immediately. There was so much intrigue, political machinations, and interesting personal histories to find out about that I really didn’t want to put this book down. The world that was drawn got me thinking a lot about imperialism, conquest and devolution – it felt something like a twist on the British Raj era but with more magic and a reversal of fortunes. There’s a lot of tough ideas to get your teeth into, but Jackson really doesn’t make it feel like heavy going. Sure, it’s a simplified idea of a real world so it won’t have the same weight but that doesn’t mean that the difficult thoughts are skipped over. Shara and various other characters spend a considerable amount of time discusssing and thinking about imperialism and empire, the responsibilities and problems of political power, and the ethics of religion.

And the characters, oh, how I loved them. The book features not one but at least three significant female characters who are all over thirty (or fourty maybe?) and in positions of power and responsibility. Fantastic. Plenty of guys too, don’t you worry. And all of them felt well developed, with interesting back stories and character traits.

Rating: 4 out 5 stars. A thrilling romp of a read but without that certain something.

Goals and Resolutions 2015

In my latest video I talked about the resolutions I made for 2014 and whether I achieved them, and then set out my goals for 2015. For easy reading and extra context the 2015 aims are all written out under the video:

1 – Improve my diversity stats
I want to read more authors of colour (25% or more), more translated works (more than 1), and increase my male/female/other gender ratio (50/50 split minimum but more female/other than male preferred). In order to this I’ll be paying a lot more attention to these numbers and I’m aiming to do a post at the end of each month to look at my stats so far. This should help me pay more attention to what I’m selecting to read.

2 – Read the Hugo Nominees
I did this last year and I think it should be easier this year as I’ve probably read at least one or two of the nominees already if early buzz is correct. But, this year I won’t be worrying about reading prequels or whatever as that was a huge waste of time. I’d love to go to WorldCon again and watch the Hugos live because they’re a wonderful occassion but Spokane is a bit more of a trek than London, not to mention significantly more expensive, so we can but dream. Luckily livestreams and twitter are still a thing.

3 – Write a review of everything I read
Now there’s a challenge. I’ve been trying to write more reviews and to push myself to write more thought pieces and things to go along with my videos so hopefully by challenging myself to write something about every single thing I read I will get in the habit of writing as well! Plus now I have this place to put them all.

4 – Read more short fiction
I only really started reading short fiction in 2014 and I have loved discovering the amazing breadth and depth of work out there. There are heaps of great places published short fiction both paid and free (see this video for my current favourites). I’ll be tracking all my short fiction on the Short Fiction 2015 page and writing reviews of each work (hopefully) as set out in Goal 3.

5 – Make a big costumed multipart series on Books and Pieces YouTube channel
My Science Fiction History series still stands as one of my favourite things I’ve made. I’d love to create videos like that every week but I just don’t have the time whilst I’m still in classes and working. Luckily classes finish in June so over the summer I will do something big and dramatic!