Library Loot Wednesday

Just two books this week – I finally got my hands on The Poet X by Elizabeth Acavedo, which has gotten lots of amazing reviews, and we checked out the first book in an urban fantasy series, Greywalker, after reading a related short story in an anthology. There’s nine books total in the series, plus a few short stories, so if the first one is good, I’ll be in that world for a while!

TTT – First Ten Books I Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is the First Ten Books I’ve Reviewed, so it’s time to go deep into my archives! There is a linky on her page to find everyone who is participating this week.

I kicked off this blog waaaayyy back in October of 2013 with Brandon Sanderson’s Alloy of Law. We actually just had that book from the library again recently, because my husband never read it!

Three days later I reviewed John Green’s Looking For Alaska, which is still one of my favorite John Green books. (I’ve also reviewed Paper Towns and Turtles All The Way Down. I read four more of his books before I started the blog. I’ve also read his brother’s An Absolutely Remarkable Thing but never could put my thoughts on it together into a cohesive review. It was really good though! I love the Green brothers.)

After that comes my first multi-book review, of First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones, an urban fantasy series.

My fourth review was The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch – originally written in German, it’s the first book in a series of mysteries and they’re fantastic. (It’s also currently free today on Amazon’s Kindle Store, as part of their World Book Day promotion. It’s totally worth grabbing!) I went on to review the next three books in the series later.

I was apparently doing a lot of joint reviews to begin with, because both of the next two reviews cover two books each – Fated and Cursed by Benedict Jacka and Femme and Kinsmen by Bill Pronzini. The first set is urban fantasy, the second set is a kind of nameless-detective mystery series.

Seventh is a children’s classic that my husband grew up loving and I had not read until starting the blog – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I’m glad I finally read it, I see why everyone loved it so, even if it didn’t have the same impact on adult me as it seems to have had on most kids.

My eighth review reminds me that I never did read more of this author’s work and I may have to rectify that! Dark Angels is a historical fiction novel that reminded me of Philippa Gregory. “But more vibrant” according to my review. And I love Philippa Gregory, soooo I need to look up more by Karleen Koen!

Ninth is another urban fantasy, Hellbent by Cherie Priest. Tenth is a steampunk romance called Her Sky Cowboy, by another author I need to look up more of, Beth Ciotta. There was at least one more book in the series published at the time I wrote the review, hopefully there’s more by now!

This was a great topic, and reminded me to go look at some authors I read years ago. I can’t wait to see everyone else’s posts!

Book Review: Above The Timberline

above the timberlineAbove the Timberline
by Gregory Manchess
Adventure/Graphic Novel
240 pages
Published 2017

I call this a graphic novel because that’s really what it is – it’s not a comic, though. Each spread of pages is a mixture of text and oil painting – sometimes just a painting.

If it was just the text, it would be a very lackluster book. There are aspects of the story that are unexplained, and aspects that are explained only by the accompanying paintings. It’s really the paintings that make this book unique. It’s almost like – an adult picture book, I suppose. It actually reads more like someone found the series of paintings and constructed a story to support what they imagined was happening in the pictures.

Regardless, it’s a unique experience. Manchess is a remarkable artist. The paintings are gorgeous, and the book does that thing where the text and art play around each other on the page, creating unique formatting that helps tell the story on its own, like when a full two-page spread of a painting has two lines of text to emphasize them.

Fascinating, beautiful book.

From the cover of Above the Timberline:

A city, buried under the ice. An obsessed explorer, lost in the frozen waste. A son, searching for his father, alone . . . above the timberline.

Galen Singleton, the most renowned explorer of the Polaris Geographic Society, is lost in the Frozen Waste. His estranged son, Wes, is determined to find his father after receiving an encrypted note six months after Galen was last heard from, when his airship, Indomitable, was lost.

But there are others who care only about what Galen – or Wes, if he finds his father – has discovered, and the will take any action necessary to insure Galen and Wes don’t escape the Waste alive.

Exquisitely illustrated and told in more than one hundred and twenty paintings, acclaimed artist Gregory Manchess has created an epic wide-screen adventure that will captivate readers in this future age of exploration set against an ice age that has lasted more than fifteen hundred years.

Sunday Stuff (and a new book list)

So. Climate Change is happening. There are maps showing the zone hardiness maps (zones across the country to help gardeners know what grows in their climates) changing over the next ten years as the country gets warmer. There are people talking about the twelve years number, and how climate change is actually probably going to happen faster than that. Articles on sea level rise, and temperature rise, and projected food shortages and mass extinctions.

quarter acre farmAnd my low-grade general anxiety is sitting over here making me research permaculture and edible gardening. Because I like to eat. And we just bought this house, with almost half an acre of good, south-facing land. So I’m learning. I’m reading about swales and rain gardens and water collection, and food forests and tree guilds and helpful species. I’m paying attention to what species will continue to be hardy in this area as the climate changes, and how to provide shelter and food for beneficial insects and animals.

I feel a little bit like a Doomsday prepper. Which is…uncomfortable. But like – I’m not planning on building a bomb shelter, or having shelves upon shelves of food in cans and crates of MREs. I’d just like to be a little more self-sustaining. I’m really sad we don’t have the roof space to put in solar power; Baltimore County laws mandate setting the panels in three feet from any edge, and we have several small sections of roof so there’s nowhere big enough to put more than a couple of panels. Baltimore County laws are also preventing me from getting chickens – no chickens on less than an acre of land. People are lobbying to get that changed, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

All this is to say, I’m reading a lot about permaculture, native plants, and edible gardening, so I’ve made a new book list to keep track of Homesteading books. I’ll try to get more reviews up of the ones I own, since I’ve only reviewed a few of those here on the blog. If anyone has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Even going by the original twelve-year number – I’m going to be 49 in twelve years. And the science says our whole world is about to go to shit. We’re already seeing effects in the number and severity of storms. I’m lucky to be in the position I am – in a fairly well-off country, owning enough land to grow food on. Being chronically ill could really suck, if my medicine supply gets disturbed, but other than that, I’m not in a bad situation to be facing this. A lot of people are going to be a lot worse off. It’d sure be nice if our government took steps to help instead of actively making things worse….

Book Review: Once & Future

once and futureOnce & Future
by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Young Adult/Retelling
354 pages
Published March 2019

This was March’s Illumicrate book, and it’s fantastic! I’d had my eye on it prior to finding out it was the pick for March, and was super happy when that was announced. It’s an exclusive cover, so I’m including a picture of my book too! I actually like the pink better, so I’m slightly saddened by that, but the content is far more important.

20190419_104939790720406498931650.jpgAnd the content is a riot! Ari is our main character, and she’s King Arthur reborn, as these stories always go. Merlin is aging backwards, as he often is, and he wakes up this time as a teenager and groans. It’s pretty hilarious. Arthur’s knights are various characters, of various ethnicities and sexualities. This is a HELLA queer book, and it’s great. We get bi, lesbian, gay, pan, omni – honestly it seems that in this future, people have just accepted that you’ll love who you will love, gender be damned. One of the knights is even ace!

There is going to be a sequel, though I’m not sure when it’s scheduled to be released. Not soon enough, is the real answer, in my opinion!

I realize I haven’t said much about the actual plot, but – really. It’s King Arthur and her knights, as queer teenagers, in space, fighting a giant corporation. That’s really all you need to know. Go read it!

From the cover of Once & Future:


Coming to terms with your identity is always difficult. But for Ari, as the reincarnation of King Arthur, it just got a lot more complicated. What on Earth (or anywhere in space) can she hope to achieve with a rusty spaceship and an adolescent wizard called Merlin?

Gender-bending royalty, caustic wit and a galaxy-wide fight for peace and equality all collide in this brilliant reinvention of the Arthurian legend.

Friday 56 – Once & Future

once and futureThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

Today’s quote is from Once & Future, a queer retelling of the King Arthur story in space by two non-binary authors. It’s fantastic. I got my copy through Illumicrate, so it’s a different color cover with gorgeous sprayed edges; it’s green, where the official cover is pink. I’ll have a picture on my review. (I actually think I like the pink better, but I do love me some sprayed edges!)

They wove around women who sold things to the incoming crowds. Corsets pushed their bosoms halfway to their chins, roses and daggers tucked into significant cleavage. “Nice robes,” one said in a husky tone, and Merlin perked with delight. “You order those special?”

“They were made by the enchanted spiders of the Near Woods,” Merlin said.

“Good for you,” the woman said, tossing him a free map and a package of nuts. Merlin didn’t recognize the half-moon shape, but they were browned and buttery. He ate them in handfuls as they reached a market lines with open-faced shops. The wind whipped from a new direction, bringing the tantalizing aromas of roasting meat, tangy mead, and spiced stews.