Tag: Books

Quick Review – Nona the Ninth

Tamsyn Muir
Big Thick Book of I Don’t Know
(CWs Below)

Nona in the center of a sandy, perhaps desert location, dark blue heavenly light above her. She has two braids, and a silly hamburger shirt beneath a loosely tied jacket. There is a white six legged dog to her left, she is holding a mask in her left hand and there is a skeleton rising on the right, with more bones at her feet. In the night sky are a couple of planet like objects.


I do like Muir’s writing. Gideon the Ninth is a romp, Harrow the Ninth starts out confusing but is also a romp – containing the best revenge killing ever, really – while at the same time being a study in deep grief.

Nona the Ninth is also confusing. It’s a good read, fun, lots of jokes, but the story really does not get rocking until two thirds of the way through and this is a LONG book. In the same exasperating way you can’t really step into a Marvel universe movie without having seen a bunch of others, you’re going to do yourself a great disservice if this is the first of The Locked Tomb books you’ve read. I’ve read all of them, but I did not go back and reread the first two before reading Nona, and that was a big mistake. I struggled to recall things that Muir takes for granted that you’d remember, so there are lots of cameos and callouts I missed out on. Also, while I appreciate Muir’s gothic, heady, backwards first writing style, the end lacked a great deal of emotional punch, mostly because I am not an uber fan totally up on my Locked Tomb mythos. Even if you’ve read all of the books and remember All the Things, I suspect the ending might be a bit of a flat landing for you. At least it was for me.


Quick Review – The Drift

C.J. Tudor
Flawed but Fast Apocalyptic Thriller
(CWs Below)

Book cover for The Drift by C.J. Tudor. White background with flying birds that may be ravens or the like. Stylized snow drift to the front, partially occluding a view of snowy pine trees. Red lettering on the title.

Recognizing I’ve posted a lot in a little bit of time, and a lot of book reviews at that, I’m just gonna make this one quick. This is my first CJ Tudor novel, and my first thriller in absolutely ages. I tend to shy away from them because I just zoom through them, and there’s only so much time to read. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a thriller, but to me, personally, they feel like literary empty calories.

Anyway, I read The Drift recently, as it was on an Esquire magazine list of The 13 Best Horror Books of 2023. As I had quick access to it via my Libby App, I decided to download it and give it a try. It’s fine. There are three timelines with three main characters. Eventually these timelines intersect. Some of the connections were interesting and clever, other’s involved quick tricks with hidden information. It’s fast paced and for the most part it kept me engaged, although there were a few plot points that were far fetched. I would not, however, term it horror. I may be in a minority in this, but (small spoiler here) I don’t think zombie stories at this point are necessarily horror, even-post-apocalyptic ones. This was … just a thriller. Does that make sense? I think if it qualifies as “horror” writing, per se, it’s body horror most of all, although a mild version of it.

Content Warnings – violent death, blood and gore, mutilation, death, vehicular crashes, falling from heights, gun violence, emotional and verbal abuse, dead bodies

Review – The Annual Migration of Clouds

Premee Mohamed
Tense, Pared Down “Cli-Fi
(CWs Below)

Cover of The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed. It is white with a green trim, featuring a magpie (dead, perhaps?) with day-glo green fungal strands coming out of various parts of its body

Author’s Note – Y’all, I had a hard time getting this review written, for whatever its worth. Apologies if it starts out a little unwieldy.

The world is changing, twisting into a shape unrecognizable. There are many authors stepping into that unknown and exploring what it means to live in a broken-down, drastically changing/changed environment and community. The Annual Migration of Clouds is the first work of Premee Mohamed that I’ve had a chance to read, probably among the best I’ve read in “Cli-Fi.”


Review – The Sullivan Sisters

Kathryn Ormsbee
Better Than I Initially Expected
(CWs Below)

Here’s a title I’ve held onto for ages. I started it, and it was edging towards a DNF (Did Not Finish), but something about it made me want to keep going. I’ve been considering what that might be in the time between finishing this book and writing this review. I think that it comes down to the genuineness of the journey of these sisters. There are aspects of all three sisters that I deeply identify with, and I get the mom’s experience too. (Single Moms Unite…) Regardless, I struggled to really get moving on this book. Here are my thoughts on why, and why it may still be a good book for you to pick up.


Review – The Hidden Palace

Helene Wecker
Satisfying Product of 2020
(CWs Below)

So I’ve finally gotten around to sorting out the Libby app for my county’s library system and WOW was I missing out. I’ve moved from a smaller town to one of the country’s largest and the differences in terms of available resources are mindblowing. Unless you are looking for a job. Then this new town is awful. Super hard to find anything, even fast food jobs. But I digress….Anyway, let’s talk books! I have been having a grand old time digging through what’s available.


Review – Bitter & Pet

Akwaeke Emezi
Satisfying Quick Read Prequel
(CWs below)

Hope is a discipline. — Aloe
The cover of Bitter, by Akwaeke Emezi.  There is a young woman of African decent with close-cropped hair and elegant eyebrows. She has dark mauve lipstain and has a silver lip piercing on the lower left. She is dressed in striped Liberty-type overalls with a paint-bespattered pale yellow sweatshirt underneath. In her left hand she holds a purple paintbrush tipped in gold paint, raised up, pointing out of the top of the image. The backdrop she stands in front of is colored in bright swaths of paint - dark green and light, splotches of white and bright pink.

I’ve had Bitter for quite some time, living on my chest of drawers since last Independent Bookstore Day, as a matter of fact. I read Pet a few years ago, pre-pandemic and was quite taken with it. It is a breathtaking book, and I remember how excited I was to hand-sell it when it came out, but the details had faded somewhat, with everything that had come and gone since then.


Review – Empire of Wild

Cherie Dimaline
A First Nation’s Rogarou tale of lost love and salvation.
(CWs below)

You know, I wish I had picked a different title to start with here. I read Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild over the course of several months. That ARC *lived* in my backpack, just waiting to be picked up again. It took a while. To be honest, I struggled with reading for much of the lockdown, and after it, just because I was too overworked to think much outside of what’s for dinner, and what thing do I need to do next for the kids or pets or house.

Anyway, once I got back into it, this was a quick read, and one I’ve thought about extensively. I think if I had been reading this book outside of a writer’s perspective, I would have enjoyed it more. It’s a good story, and it addresses a lot of First Nations issues head on – struggles with racism, pressures for development, and balancing tradition with the need to provide, for starters. It is woman-centered, and as Dimaline says, the women have agency and authority in their lives. This is to be celebrated.

On the other hand, a lot of that agency seems focused on sex. Actually, most of the adult characters – male and female – are focused on sex. It’s a frequently recalled or longed for activity, and I think while it is a driving force of the story, it does little more than providing character motivation, avoiding any serious thematic exploration of desire or power. And as such, I think it distracted from the story.

There are points of great luminosity in the prose itself. Sometimes the book just sings along, painting bright images, places and scenes you feel you could almost immerse yourself in. Other times, however, the book is very self conscious, and I think it ultimately loses itself to this along the way. The plot and character development seem a little perfunctory, and the ending is not a great challenge to predict. Perhaps this is borne out of the author’s previous work in YA, but regardless, I found the story slipping away from me, and the ending a little pat and abrupt, its resolution emotionally detached. On a personal level, I found the ending particularly frustrating – [mild spoiler alert] – that perhaps the betrayal was not the youth’s, but his mother’s – an idea alluded to by the author herself earlier in the text.

Dimaline is a “young author” and you can see that in her prose, where it falters. She sets a good story, however, and I wouldn’t mind reading another book by her in the future.

CW – animal abuse, parental abandonment, drug use, alcohol use, violence

Adventures in Reviewland

2020 is certainly a year for the books, but for me, not one for books. One of my greatest frustrations this year as a bookseller has been a lack of time or energy for reading and reviewing books. Real life was hard, somehow reading was also hard.

One of the perks of being a book buyer is ARCs, or Advanced Reader’s Copies. They tend to slowly collect around booksellers, like dust woolies. I’m half convinced they breed in the dark. Because I have tons of them. Absolutely oodles. That image to the left is not my bookshelves, but somedays it feels like it could be.

One of my plans this fall is to dive back in, see what I can discover. Most of what I’ll be reading will be books for children and young adults – young readers’ literature is a passion of mine, and has been a professional focus. Not all of it will be, however. I have a few books I’m reading now – you’re welcome to check out my Goodreads to see what I have on the burner currently, but my next book will come from these stacks. I think I’m going to just start with what’s on my rolling cart (I have one of those, too, also full of books.) and on my bookshelf, and use a RNG to pick my next book, counting from the top left of my main to read bookshelf. I might just call this whole project “RNG Reviews.” ^_^ What do you think?

I also have a lot of F&Gs to catch up on – Fold and Gathers. These are picture books that have not been bound, but do contain finished art or mostly finished art. I was thinking I could do those too, on Fridays as I can. Since I’m coming up with corny names – “F&G Fridays” sounds good to me. (Side note – I once got accused of being profane when talking about F&Gs. Interesting conversation, for sure. XD)