I’m glad this isn’t a trilogy: Our Dark Duet

Our Dark Duet, the follow up to Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song, is, well, fine? Decent? Not particularly inspiring, except inspiring me to rage about the weird perspective-in-verse. Which I hated. I just. Please spare me. My internal monologue during this book was just I don’t care on repeat.

The plot was fine: people are still terrible and commit acts of violence and monsters still rise up from said acts. Kate and August can’t hide from what they are, but they also can’t become monsters while doing so. Blah blah blah, character growth, minor relationship development, oops someone dies. I really can’t remember if I was this blase about Savage Song, but I don’t think I was. Did turning twenty-seven break my spirit or something?

But, well, I know that Schwab writes for a younger audience under Victoria Schwab and an older audience with V.E. Schwab, and wow I can tell. And clearly have my preference.

 

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this is spookier than a werewolf bar mitzvah: White Is for Witching

Helen Oyeyemi’s books are so hard to review. They depend so much on atmosphere, on the slow build up of tension. And, in the case of White Is for Witching, a nightmare house that kind of eats people. (I hardly call that a spoiler since the sales copy gives it away.) I’ve seen the word haunting used a lot in regards to this book and I can’t disagree.

The prose is lyrical, intentional, and a bit strange in places. This is a beautifully crafted book, with the narration sometimes changing midsentence (which I think is accomplished in quite a clever way), and sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s speaking until a paragraph or so in. I have yet to digest the racial tension into cogent thoughts, though, or the importance of Miranda and Eliot being twins (although that felt less imperative to the plot than twins did in Icarus Girl). And I’m reminded of Turn of the Screw, but perhaps in atmosphere only and that edge of What is real? But something about the ghosts from that speaks to the idea of ghosts in the Silver house, and how it seems that Miranda herself has been consumed by the ghosts of Lily and Jennifer and Anna, and above all, the house.

I finished this just before I went to sleep and let me tell you, I don’t recommend that. I woke up several times in the night in quiet terror of the shifting half-light from my window.

It’s like the end of an era: Goldenhand, The Old Kingdom series

As someone who LOVED Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series as a youth (seriously, Sabriel was my hero), I’m a bit surprised that I don’t really have that many thoughts about Goldenhand. Maybe it’s because I’m older and this read a bit young, but I just wasn’t as into it. The last thirty pages or so felt, well, rushed, for a book of this length and then it ends a bit abruptly. Also, Lirael isn’t really my favorite, although by the end of this I definitely liked her more! The romance between Lirael and Nicholas was kind of cute and they’re both pretty awkward turtles. They were just never a pairing I had a lot of feelings about. And I guess I’m glad we got a bit of Sabriel and Touchstone, even if they really weren’t the focus.

One thing I really did enjoy, though, was the format of short chapters of alternative perspectives. You don’t get that a lot with newer YA fantasy (or at least, not that I’ve been reading!). It kept the pace moving and the timeline linear, and kind of eased me into liking Lirael more.
Overall, this felt like a good conclusion to the series, for me. Not sure if Nix plans on writing more!

This series will go on forever won’t it?: Court of Wings and Ruin

Well, this was another really solid installment in Sarah J. Maas’ series A Court of Thorns and Roses. I definitely enjoyed it (wasn’t quite as surprising as Court of Mist and Fury), although I have some quibbles. I guess spoiler warning, pretty much for the rest of this post.

1. I was super into the first part with Feyre being manipulative in the Spring Court. Yes, I can work with that.

2. TOTALLY not mad that Elain wasn’t really interested in Lucien. Am mad that by the end she seemed to be coming around to this whole ~~mates~~ thing, because girl no, take some time for yourself and cultivate that friendship with Azriel.

3.  LOVE Nesta. LOVE HER. Please let me read 800 pages of her being bitter and emotionally repressed and badass and willing to cut EVERYONE for Elain. I’m so here for it. But . . .

4. WHY MUST EVERYONE PAIR UP? Like, Nesta and Cassian doesn’t make me angry in and of itself, I just hate the trend it further entrenches. But, yay, at least Nesta doesn’t start the book being open to relationships and it takes all 600 goddamn  pages for things to really get started on that front. I am glad, too, that it puts a nail in the coffin of the sad love triangle of Azriel-Mor-Cassian. So, lots to appreciate with Nesta and Cassian, but single people are not the devil, alright? (Also, add another tally to the heterosexual column, which brings me to my next point…)

5. Mor being bi/gay was a nice surprise, although I wasn’t expecting it to have about the same weight as the implied xenophobia of this series. But, I guess they really push the reproduction angle in this society? Like, as long as you push out a kid, fuck whoever else you want? IDK. Just wanna say, though: Thank GOD Mor wasn’t immediately given a girlfriend after telling Feyre. Fingers crossed the next book is less aggressively heterosexual.

6. Rhys dies? And all the high lords brought him back? OH, WHY DOES THAT SOUND SO FAMILIAR??? Like, come on, Maas. You already did that and whatever symmetry/parallelism you were going for wasn’t necessary.

7. I guess I could talk about some plot points, but eh. Lots happened and Feyre feels pretty infallible, as she collects a mirror that drives everyone else mad and makes successful bargains with old gods that terrify people. I’m sure that winning streak is going to start feeling old sooner rather than later.

8. Somehow there’s more to this series and I’m already exhausted.

I’ve never heard of a “voidwitch” before, but you have my attention.

Corey J. White’s novella, Killing Gravity, may not win any prizes for consistent internal logic or seamless pacing, but it does have voidwitches, which are basically River Song on steroids. And, let me tell you, I am so into that. Like, ten thousand percent into that. (TBF the cover blurb does say that fans of Firefly will enjoy this. I–for the most part–do enjoy Firefly and I didn’t hate this.)

Sure, I don’t understand why the big bad company only tried to use it’s subliminal programming lines once or twice on Mariam Xi. Sure, I definitely don’t get all the science and am pretty sure you can’t actually throw giant-ass spaceships around with your mind without some sort of external space issues (migraines and nose bleeds aside). But goddamn if this wasn’t a lot of action and fun packed into 176 pages, with a female protagonist struggling to keep her shit together.

 

I’ve decided I like myself too much to keep reading what I’m not enjoying.

When I first read about You’re the Only One I Can Tell by Deborah Tannen, I was hella excited. I LOVE reading about women friendships and the unique role they can play in women’s lives. As someone with a bestie from college that I still talk to every goddamn day (and see several times a year) and a group of friends that tries to get together every year for a girls’ trip, I was so ready to love this and read about women empowering and supporting each other through communication and friendship.

Instead, what I got was really boring? And vague? And just really surface level in terms of exploring these relationships. Granted, some of this loosely resonated with me (appreciating same/similar experiences in friends, the interruptions that are not interruptions, talking about problems that don’t need immediate solutions presented), but for the most . . . snooze. I don’t know what exactly I expected to get out of it, but I did expect something less formulaic and cold.

I think the broad idea to take away from this is: don’t let shit fester; communicate with your friends if something is bothering you. Which, frankly, is not fucking limited to women communicating with other women. And also not a message that needs close to 300 pages to get across.

OK, well, I cried for this book.

I picked We Are Okay by Nina LaCour for my pool read yesterday because it was on the shorter side, but I wasn’t really expecting the emotional weight of it. This was such a beautiful, quiet book about grief and sadness. More emotion driven than plot driven, this feel light, effortless, even as Marin is drowning. I don’t want to give away any emotional reveals, but this book is so much more than the grief of losing a family member.

And can I gush about the book design for a moment? The cover is GORGEOUS. The  printed endsheets are a campus scene and are stunning. The title page art is also perfect. I just, this is such a beautiful book, both text and design.