hospital stay & new tbr books | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk (non-fiction, metal health)
  • When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll (queer graphic novel)
  • A great, short book in norwegian about magic/shamans in sami culture and especially the “witch trials” in the north of Norway. It’s strange the darker parts we learn of other countries’ history in school, but not so much our own.
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic, author is familiar with Navajo culture through her husband & the protagonist is Navajo)

Added to TBR:

  • Beneath the Dead Oak Tree by Emily Carroll because I read & liked her other graphic novels “When I Arrived at the Castle” and “Through the Woods”
  • Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles because I read & liked Knowles’ other, much more well-known novel “A Separate Peace” and both are set at the same boarding school, so I expect all of the classic & dark academia vibes, maybe even more homosexual undertones. I’m going to enjoy writing my queer take of a review on A Separate Peace, because although the author has denied it, there’s some definite “I’m in love with my bestfriend” moments there. As I mentioned on tumblr as I read this book in one night; “I’m 47 pages in, and had to google it to make sure since the main character is once again remarking on very specific things, like how much this athletic boy’s skin radiates, like you know – boys being boys often do ??”
  • The Magus by John Fowles (classics, mystery) because why not. And the intriguing promise of “a young Englishman who accepts a teaching position on a remote Greek island, where he befriends a local millionaire. The friendship soon evolves into a deadly game, in which reality and fantasy are deliberately manipulated, and Nicholas finds that he must fight not only for his sanity but for his very survival.”
  • Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter) by Thomas Harris (horror, psychological thriller) – yeah, two weeks ago I wondered whether “rewatching two seasons of Hannibal in two days are not what you should do when you’ve been sick” before having to reconnect with society and actual people. I did survive going into society, if barely – like truly, corona made its upswing again where I lived just as I stepped my foot out that door. But now that I’m stuck with myself again, why not read Hannibal as well.
  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is a mystery/thriller I’m sceptical if I’m going to like, I’ve seen reviews that leads me to believe it’s a very hit or miss type of book. But many of them describe it as ‘devilish’ because everyone is unreliable, which I see as a positive and what I’m looking for right now.
  • A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin because I always say I need to read more of her work, which are classics of the fantasy/science fiction genre, but I never seem to get around to it.
  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (fantasy) because while it was released last year, it’s gotten so many good reviews (goodreads average 4.20!!!) and I’m definitely here for the queer necromancers.
  • A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos (YA fantasy, dark academia), recommended to me by a friend.

Posts I’ve loved by other bloggers:

I started reading through more blog posts from others again prior to the hospital visit, but it did give me time to spend and I found some enjoyment through posts like these –

  • ONLINE BOOKSHOPS TO SHOP AT INSTEAD OF AMAZON: BREAKING UP WITH AMAZON (PART I) by arub unwritten: I rarely buy books now and they’re mostly from norwegian bookstores. But I have also automatically bough books from bookdepository for the convenience, before I started to feel bad about that. Then I found this post which gives a pretty neat introduction, especially to other stores to look into. And it includes which places the stores ship too! Should be a requirement, jeez. Hive was pretty empty (for me at least) considering the corona-struggle of shipment, but I’ll definitely check in with them in the future again.
  • Ink-Stained Forest’s Literature Journey where they talk about exactly that, but it was a familiar & beautifully written type of journey, an example of what place and function literature can have in your life, and how it can vary over time. It also made me want to sit down and truly look at if I also have these almost episodic changes to what type of book or genre I read and the function that fills. Even if I switch between reading both for reflection and enjoyment, without always going into a book knowing which one I’ll most likely get more of.
  • Fall Reads by your reading needs by forgot second breakfast (which is a unique & impressive name): a good, short list of fall reads that gives you spooky, adventure, athmosphere & romance and reminds me I want to get to Gideon the Ninth soon.
  • Mathematical science fiction books from Book Riot: I’ve been looking for lists like these for so long! I cannot tell you accurately enough the struggle to find these types of books (or fantasy), then separate the bad mathematics from the badly promoted mathematics, but the part it plays in the book is good enough. I’m not talking about brilliant even, just good enough!! I can vouch for Zero Sum Game being good (I haven’t sat down researching all the math topics mentioned, but it seems legit and has a fun kind-of-supernatural part), although you might have different problems with that one if you’re not ready for a lot of bloodshed and morally gray characters.
  • Favorite Villains by Mary Drover: I’ve been too into villains this autumn and here was a few new ones I’ve yet to put on the never-ending TBR list of them, hahha.

Three things on my mind:

  • I had to start this week off by going to the emergency room at 5 am for major stomach pain, then I was at the hospital for five days. I’ve just been released, but they did not find out what happened even with a lot of tests. So I’ve yet to eat proper food without throwing up, meaning I was let go with a “come back if you don’t get better”. I have crohn’s disease already, which can affect your entire intestine, as well as a gallbladder diagnosis, and lung trouble that we don’t yet know the cause of – so it could be basically anything is what I’m saying. I wrote a mini-post about it just now, surprisingly it’s very reflective on illness, empathy & friendship. If there’s something I’ve done this week it’s spending a lot of time thinking, staring out into nothing. And while very original thoughts doesn’t appear right then, I’ve found it does start up this process and suddenly you find yourself with new insights, ideas and opinions.
  • An extremely specific hospital-college crossover pro-tip; if going to the hospital for closer to a week, send a message to the people you live with or, if you’re like me and extremely drugged on pain killers & pain, have one of them message the others explaining the situation. Because if not you end up with my scenario where one of the people you talk most to just happens to have a strange week where he doesn’t see the others that much and suddenly it’s been three days and he’s like “where are you?” and oops, you realize the mistake. It’s already a funny mistake, but jeez, I feel bad for both of us in this scenario… It took three whole days!
  • My friend & roommate is reading Harry Potter for the first time and discovering book fandoms. Mainly draco tiktok, which my slytherin self had to realize how many good content creators was behind it. So she is talking about wanting to write fanfics. I have to admit I’ve never written fanfiction, but I don’t know how to tell her I genuinely put a lot of effort into writing through high school. I sent the message “what do you think the chance is that I’ve ever written 50k words on a project?” and got “you? never” instantly in reply. For reference my WIP is about four times that (and needs to be cut down considerably to be useful for anything). Mostly because, looking back, you can truly see the quality of my writing progress through which parts are written first and years later, because I write weird (that’s for another time). But oh, how much this made me rethink how much of a book-nerd I seem in real life; even with the amount of books I own, apparently not a big enough one. We’re mostly all nerds here at my uni, but I am truly a book nerd as well and it’s going to be a more difficult time proving it than I thought.

Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler | Book Review

Pages: 352

Genre: young adult fantasy, lgbt; bi morally-gray protagonist, f/f relationships, a lot of queer characters, pirates

Synopsis

In the lower wards of Kahnzoka, the great port city of the Blessed Empire, eighteen-year-old ward boss Isoka comes to collect when there’s money owing. When her ability to access the Well of Combat is discovered by the Empire—an ability she should have declared and placed at His Imperial Majesty’s service—she’s sent on an impossible mission: steal Soliton, a legendary ghost ship—a ship from which no one has ever returned. If she fails, her sister’s life is forfeit. 

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: two stars

I read the book “Ship of Smoke and Steel” by Django Wexler right after this one and I would very much recommend it if you’ve already read & liked this book, because it’s pretty similar in the style of the protagonist’s voice, but I also found them both lacking in the same areas.

The world-building isn’t great, but it truly is interesting as it is pretty much powered by magic, and you get to slowly learn the mechanisms behind the ship and the world as the plot unfolds. It’s obvious the author has experience writing fantasy books and I think it’s more of a choice considering the YA targeting. There is also the constant questioning of which characters to trust and not, while none of them ever claim to truly be ‘the good ones’, there’s just different degrees of selfishness among them. The whole crew of the ship were tributes with magical abilities trapped there forever, meaning Isoka is no longer that special, but at the same time she does seem to have abilities to do things the other never could, so it does feel like there’s some short-cuts taken there.

I don’t care about everyone. Maybe that makes me a monster, but I’ve always known that. o save Tori, to save Meroe, to save my own skin, I’d kill every crew on the ship if I had to. But— There’s more to saving Meroe than just keeping her alive. If I take her with me, and we live when everyone else dies, then she’d never forgive herself. The goodness in her, the part that makes her care, might be snuffed out forever. Then she’d be a monster, too. And I can’t accept that.

– Isoka in Ship of Smoke and Steel

There’s certainly some heart-warming elements to the book as well, they even highlight some of the unreliable narration as there’s a split between how she views herself and her actions; like how Isoka claims that she cares about little other than her sister, but at the same time she’s finding herself saving strangers and wanting other things. Meroe is also an interesting character, having skills that isn’t revealed right away and a good backstory to back them up, but for the most part they’re pretty shallow and stereotypical.

The queer parts (were kind of bad)

I could tell this book is written by a man through the writing of some characters. It’s not as bad as it sometimes can be and there was (thankfully) no explicit scenes, even if it’s obvious when people have sex. There’s a lot of queer characters, so a clap for that I guess. The f/f romance between Isoka & Meroe is nice, their gender has little to do with it in many ways though. It’s a nice touch from the start how Isoka is always thinking about what Meroe might think if she were to kill someone, in a way that social pressure becomes her conscience, not to mention a bit of jealousy.

There’s no book or plot reason Isoka is a girl really in this book at all. I’ll explain – there’s a few extra sentences put in here about both experiencing exchanging sex for favours or power of some sort (which does happen for also the male characters) and being threatened extra for being female, but overall there’s nothing characteristicly making her female. Which I would maybe even have truly liked, weren’t it for the sexist world built up around them and how it never seems to affect Isoka, which is truly weird. Isoka is afraid of certain things, like the fate of her sister, but never for herself. When she’s in a position where she has sex with a guy to get access as part of a plan, she talks herself into how she wants it in a very strange and not empowering way, to be honest.

Being female never holds her back, but the world built up around her should at least bring her to have more thoughts around it, if not feel the consequences directly. For fuck’s sake, she talks about how if she were found to be unwilling to cooperate back in the city, as someone with magical abilities, they would’ve just kidnapped her and bred her. It’s basically mentioned as a one-off comment. There’s also the fact that Isoka is all of a sudden constantly distracted by Meroe & her body, as she’s fighting for her life, in a very fanfic way that does not match her character. Fantasy worlds doesn’t inheritely have to be sexist; either naturally have it affect a female character or just don’t make a sexist world??? They’re very much not a joy to read for your female readers??? At least make a point if you are to create them. The more I think about this, the angrier I get at how it colors this book for me.

I haven’t even mentioned the “beast” of a woman that is a tyrannical leader, somehow to make the woman also evil in this book, without any reason other than pride/humiliation of course as the other leaders gets more complex ones.

For someone truly excited about queer relationships, Jack and Thora (both female) is where it already started to feel sketchy. They’re both kind of one-dimensional characters, which doesn’t help as every time they’re in the room together Jack is all over Thora, who sometimes even reads as if she’s uncomfortable. There’s the fact that Isoka deals with some internalized homophobia in the beginning, before realizing she likes girls as well, that might draw the relationship worse than it is. But it does at times contribute to the feeling that the author wanted to write a good fantasy where the YA parts and the female protagonist, as well as the queer characters, became more of a selling-point than truly a part of the story.

The plot was predictable, but interesting. I went into this book looking for a badass morally-gray protagonist and a cool fantasy world. I finished it being both a bit confused about my feelings around it, a bit excited by the action, very let down about the predictability of plot and lack of explanation about the world. But most of all with the sense that the wrong person wrote the story for all its highlighting of a kickass-female-character & queer cast.

I REPEAT: Fantasy worlds doesn’t inheritely have to be sexist; either naturally have it affect a female character or just don’t make a sexist world???

Reading, Nerdy & College Gifts

Have I scoured etsy for christmas gifts for my nerdy friends? And other literature-related ones for me? Of course, so why not make a lists of them. I’ve gotten so many good-spirited, but ultimately useless book gifts over the years – reading lights are on top of that list as “seems practical, but so many bad designs”.

Pins & Jewellery

  • Fighting invisible battles pin from fairycakes (also available as a charm) for the chronically ill or those otherwise fighting invisible battles. I want this so badly. There’s a similar one with the text “coping admirably” for a cute, heart-warming gift as well. They also have a very cute “feminist killjoy” heart-shaped charm and several trans rights and rainbow ones.
  • This I just bought! It’s space rainbows from ProudScience, and they’re just as lovely as the photo. Great as a physics/stem student, but also if you simply are a space-loving queer person. They also have a very popular rainbow chemistry glass set.

College / university

And finally what’s on top of my wishlist of practical book gifts; a book support for heavy textbooks (and other books of course). Also honestly, if you’re looking for a gift for a college/uni student in particular, I would cry for a gift card for a medium-fancy grocery store at this point, we’re poor and think way to much on how to limit food budget.

Also a reusable flask or thermo cup is likely the most used school item of mine that sometimes need to be switched out. I didn’t think about how much I drank the free coffee at school either, before I had to buy coffee myself, and currently I’m at least thinking about buying a better coffee-setup than my one-cup aeropress (no matter how practical it is to bring with me places), so I think many coffee-lovers would be interested in some kind of gift card there as well; either for equipment for coffee or the actual coffee.

When I come to think of it, with home-office, I suspect many students have pretty shitty setups for working, so if a family member is currently sitting on a non-office chair, that’s the gift to begin with. Even if it’s used, it’s so worth getting an office chair if you spend any time working from home as a college student.

The book stand in question, the one I hope will save my neck from pain going forward

Witchy Reads for this Autumn (part two)

Here’s part one! It just became a truly too long post.

Books I recommend

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness & the rest of the All Souls Trilogy for the historian protagonist that explores a supernatural world riddled with old artifacts, powerful witches and immortal vampires, featuring time travel and a lot of romance. It’s also got a tv series which is fun, but as these things often do, gives no explanation or coherent plot like the books does. It’s been a while since I read this, and would love to reread it.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling (full review) for the YA with fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches & their families, covens arguing and lots of lesbian/bi girls.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (full review) for the fairytale vibes with wizard (more so than witches) who takes a girl from the village every ten years for mystical reasons, a fierce protagonist that never makes it boring as she creates hell for the wizard and great friendships. It’s more so on the fantasy side, but it has a lot of the village, dark forest and fairytale elements that I look for in the books I put on this list.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman should be a book everyone has heard of, but among the angel, demon, antichrist and a coming apocalypse, there’s also the full title “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” and Agne’s many-great granddaughter Anathema (Practical Occultist and Professional Descendant) who really brings out the essence of this book; there’s a lot of chaos, including being hit by a car, but it all plays into this cosmic order in some way.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (full review) for the breath-taking illustrations and short stories that is fairytale-inspired. It’s more fantasy than a lot others on this list, but at the same time truly delivers on its promise of “midnight tales and dangerous magic”.

Other Witchy Books on my TBR

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik for its school of magically gifted where failure means certain death and you’re not allowed to leave. Also a grumpy loner of a protagonist who has a powerful dark magic that might be strong enough to beat the system, but not without its risks. The promise of dark avademia, magic and monsters, with a lot of bloodshed & slytherin vibes is truly alluring. BTW: since I wrote this post I’ve seen a lot of questions brought up around if this book has racist elements. Of course, I don’t feel qualified to discuss that further. The author has apologized for one of the things pointed out around using a racist stereotype of dreadlocks being dirty, but if it is as bad of a – well in best case it’s a mishap – as it seems, it truly is strange how it got through the editing process of such a famous author.

Enchantée by Gita Trelease for the Paris 1789 setting, smallpox, a witch going from petty theft to trying to rob Marie Antoinette to support her family.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden for its Russian wilderness winter and arctic fairytale-inspired fantasy where the protagonist has special abilities like her mother, but her new stepmother forbids her from practicing and evil starts to seep in. Some focus on the conflict between christianity and older religions. A lot of trigger warnings!

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas for its gay trans boy that tries to prove himself as a brujo to his family by summoning a ghost, but then is stuck with the school’s former handsome bad-boy as he has unfinished business. If he’s not in love with this ghost by the end of it, I’m screeching.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron for the fantasy inspired by West African mythology with a non-magical protagonist born into a family of witchdoctors trying to defeat her powerful sister. Also the love interest is of course of the enemy family. It’s dark and has enough trigger warnings that I’ll give a reminder to search for them before reading it.

Books I disliked, but you might like

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova for the ones who want a powerful latina bi protagonist who don’t want to be a witch (review). She is the most powerful bruja in a long time and also hates magic. Not to mention the responsibility put on her by her family. I didn’t finish the book because I thought the writing was lacking and nothing out of the ordinary, but she’s got an attitude that made me smile. It’s a story about a girl trying to save her family, but in a way that felt very ‘let’s go on an adventure’ and predictable.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore for the trans mc, flowery young adult magical realism, also literary flowery with roses growing from skin (review). It’s another book I didn’t finish, but only because I’ve found out that I don’t match with the authors way of writing (after multiple attempts at other books), which I truly find sad as they use such interesting plots and cast of characters. I mean – the synopsis is so good! And it’s a romance between a Latina girl and Italian-Pakistani trans boy. It focuses on finding yourself, it’s vulnerable and the author is queer, latinx & nonbinary married to a trans man.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa for the graphic novels lovers (review). I didn’t really like this at all as I felt the charm and interesting aspects to Sabrina the teenage witch was completely removed. Would much rather recommend the tv series, as it’s roughly the same story, but with more fun elements as well as dark ones. It’s definitely a teenage soap tv series, but an interesting one. I want to still read Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan, which is a Sabrian novel published last year, but I only have hopes for it because I like that author already. It might be that both of these things were published to create more interest around the tv series, which I find disappointing if they all tell the same story.

Honorary Mentions

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is the book series I look back on having read a long time ago, being like “it was good, but basic”, but if you’re looking for a quick read I wouldn’t be above rereading it.

Kiki’s Delivery Service, the ghibli movie, is something I wanted to watch for a long time, but finally did this summer. It’s so perfectly adorable & worth it!!

Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia is a illustrated book on my TBR, more about the magic of literature than witches, but it’s supposed to draw connection between witches & visionary writers, which I’m just guessing means connection between treatment of visionary women (like writers) who tend towards feminism. If anything I want to own it for the gothic art. “Pick a shelf” has a really good review of this unusual book!

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller | Book Review

Pages: 352

Genre: young adult fantasy, lgbt; gender fluid mc

Synopsis


Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive. 

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: three stars (in doubt)

I very much feel like this is the queer & that way better version of Throne of Glass with its deadly auditions to become the Queen’s new assassin. What was a pleasant surprise was how the main character never was very vicious in their thought-process or tried to defend their actions, their reasoning behind taking lives were very business-like and unapologetic. It was a hard life, the would-be assassins knew partly what they were signing up for and people were going to have to die. The problem this brought with it was that Sallot wasn’t a very likeable main character, I always felt like I never got to see their whole reasoning or that it was just very shallow. They were smart enough to make it somewhat reasonable how they got out of deadly attacks, and without the smaller, cute and helpful moments with their servant Maud none of it would’ve worked towards the end. Otherwise the book is very built on cheesy, typical fantasy plotlines. The queer characters makes it better, especially Sallot using he, she and they pronouns based on how they present, but I would only recommend this book as a Throne of Glass alternative. The YA fantasy part of it was very obvious, in a not good way. I’ve since learned it was a debut, and I’m not very surprised as I felt it was half-finished.

The writing was very mediocre, especially I found myself struggling to care about the fight scenes and plotting scenes for traps, which I usually adore, because of the writing. There’s so much potential in the characters, the magic and them being masked, but it just doesn’t end up somewhere. Even though I’m really not a big Sarah J. Maas fan anymore, she does bring a certain fire to the motivations behind the characters, which was lacking here without anything to replace it with other than shallowness. If Sallot had been a true sociopath I would’ve nearly prefered that, as it would’ve brought an interesting element.

I read this book right after finishing “Ship of Smoke and Steel” by Sjango Wexler, which was extremely similar as far as the protagonist’s voice went. While that book was lacking in many of the same ways, except it handled the queer aspect a lot worse, that book built parts of a truly interesting world powered by magic. Here there were just no world-building except the knowledge that Sallot knew how their entire country had been destroyed and wanted revenge for it. It should not be a surprise when that’s not enough as a reader. But for anyone disliking this book for its protagonist being nothing special except gender-fluid; fuck off.

Witchy Reads for this Autumn (part one)

Witchy books I recommend and a couple I want to get to, along with a few popular ones I disliked. I’ve tried to keep the most fantasy-heavy books out of this list on purpose, and keep it more in the magical realism realm. Also, if you’ve got any recommendations – especially with queer witches – send them my way!

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (full review) for a magical realism story about a small-town by the sea cursed by witches, the protagonist moving to the lighthouse on the island and uncovering the mysteries behind the magic.

Circe by Madeline Miller (full review) for the greek mythology fantasy set around a girl alienated because of her witchcraft and the great journey of self-discovery unlike much I’ve seen in other books. She’s truly going through the process of owning her powers and deciding what she wants in life while she’s in exile. Also greek gods & protecting yourself from pirates, of course.

The Strange & Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (full review) for the peculiar magical realism travelling into the fairytale world while following stories of magic and destinies through generations of witches starting with a girl born with wings.

Witch Child & Sorceress by Celia Rees for the child-friendly witchy book with a historical setting. Actually it was some of the first witchy books I really liked. It’s been a long time since I read them, so I’m not going to vouch for still considering them original enough now, but goodread friends seem to all agree with the child version of me that they’re good. I do think the first book is the best one, told through ‘lost’ journals.

The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney also for the kids, but more scary. It’s about this boy becoming an apprentice, which entails hunting after all kinds of supernatural creatures, including dark witches.As the series continues, we go from a boy getting into a cool, but dangerous job to starting to think about moral questions like ‘are all witches evil?’ as new characters are introduced. Still, this series really manages to incorporate just how terrifying some of the creatures are, becoming lost in the magic. Definitely anti-church in some ways that gives it more negative reviews than it should have. And while it has a lot of supernatural evil, it measures it up against the ‘human’ evil the apprentice & the mentor meet as well in their job. It gives you chills, but also makes you think – at least it did for me as a child.

Other witchy books on my TBR:

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey for its bisexual love interest, magical witchy school and and promise of lots of blood, violence and other questionable things. The protagonist has zero magical skills, but tries to outweigh it by having good detective skills, a drinking problem and when all else fails – a witch sister to help (probably). It’s an urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone, and also contains several f/f relationships.

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter for the protagonist being a secret witch tired of her patriarchal town’s bullshit, and helping a lesbian shapeshifter during a witchhunt. It’s a novella. I found it trough a list of anti-heroine book recommendations, so excited about finding out the reason for that.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor for the fantasy set in Nigeria where the albino protagonist who recently moved from New York gets bullied, but through finding her magical gifts finds a friend-group and her people. Forming a coven, they start tracking child kidnappers.

Sea Witch by Sarah Henning for the small fishing town, mermaids, princes & a witch mourning a dead friend. It might be somewhat of a Ursula origin story.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn for the King Arthur legends retold with a black girl as the main character. The death of her mother leads her to an early college program where she meets a witch. Well, it’s more of a fantasy so technically there’s this whole race of people called Legendborns that use magic, but they’re descendants of King Arthur & his knights – so in my head they’ll be witches. Also contains lots of queer kids, secret society politics and demons.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson for its rebellious feminist biracial main character who is marked as cursed from birth in a dystopian, puritanical society with major abuse of power. It’s a horror story of a fantasy, with promises of being gothic, dark and bloody, set in a secluded village with witches in the forbidden forest & lots of village politics. It’s also a debut novel from an author that seems truly cool.

Winterwood by Shea Ernshaw (same author as The Wicked Deep) for the haunted fairytale-like woods, a boy once lost in a snowstorm with no memories of how and a witch falling in love with him as she tries to uncover his secrets.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco for its sicilian twin witches – streghe – living among humans in the 1800s trying to avoid persecution, until one of them is murdered. A new release with a story of vengeance, sarcastic bad boy demon princes and dark magic.

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft for a short story collection about witches that I’ve only seen praise about, with a diverse cast of characters. I want to read about all the queer witches.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu for the graphic novel about a Chinese-American teen witch who works at her queer grandmother’s bookshop selling spellbooks and investigating supernatural occurrences. Has a non-binary werewolf main character as well. I can’t wait to get my hands on this, I’m expecting a Kiki’s delivery service type of wholesome vibe, only more demons involved.

Books I disliked, but you might like

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins for the teen drama at a witch & supernatural creatures reform school, complete with ancient secret societies and classmates being attacked. You get what you think you get, if in a very predictable package plot-wise and stereotypical characters (not in a bad way, but in a predictable one). It’s fun, the protagonist self-aware & fast-paced. Good for young teenagers looking for a light read.

Half bad by Sally Green is included on this list only as an excuse to link to my old (like five year old) review ranting about how creepy the writing is. It’s a good example of a book being read and liked by people who doesn’t usually read about witches, just because it’s got enough cliches to be avoided by everyone else. There’s little magic, little back-story or any context clues, a lot of running around, a lot of whining about being half-black half-white* kind of witch making life difficult and a lot of angst and torture for some reason. It has an exciting ending. *Not to be confused with skin-color, the protagonist is white, and also describes the love interest what I considered creepily (and in rhymes), including noting her ‘honey’ skin. 16 year old me thought the racial undertones throughout the whole book was problematic, but I can’t remember enough to conclude anything and don’t want to put myself through reading it again.

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton (full review), same author as Ava Lavender, for its witches living on an island where their magical abilities seem to fade with each generation. My problems came with not being able to know enough to buy into the setting of the island or connect with the cast of characters, I felt they lacked depth.

the return of autumn and corona, i guess | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel A. van der Kolk
  • Paper Girls vol. 1 – 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

Added to TBR:

  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (urban fantasy with anti-heroine)
  • Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant (horror with mermaids, f/f)
  • Merchants of Doubt by Oreskes and Conway (science, climate change)
  • Enchantée by Gita Trelease (set in Paris 1789, historical, witches)
  • Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth, same as the author of “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” (horror, boarding all girls school, sapphic dark academia)
  • Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft (short stories, witches, queer characters)
  • Kingdom of Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (young adult fantasy with witches)
  • Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, same author as Mexican Gothic which I would like to read as well (horror with vampires, set in Mexico City)

Three things on my mind:

  • Maybe rewatching two seasons of Hannibal in two days are not what you should do when you’ve been sick (with a sinus infection, not corona, I’ve done two tests) the whole week and only just gotten good enough to walk out of the house for food, but it did feel worth it at the time. I’m going to have to reconnect with the outside world and actual people again now, so wish me luck there.
  • I have since starting writing this rejoined society and I wasn’t aware of how much I was missing (of course my friends but more specifically) older students and the motivation they bring by just existing and being passionate about their degree or certain physics fields. This semester I’ve found myself constantly questioning why I’m doing this and not just taking a year off, because the constant struggle between hospital visits, bad health and trying to complete my second year during a pandemic is tearing me down. I feel I’ve reached some kind of personal conclusion now, but I do think we need to remind each other than no matter what one person is going through right now they’re also going through a pandemic. It’s difficult to support one another when we’re not supposed to socialize outside of friendgroups, but I think it’s something we need to find creative solutions for fast.
  • Speaking of it; Corona has made a comeback here this week. I’m so deeply tired of it, as we all are of course. We’re again stuck in the middle of not knowing how bad this outbreak is right now before it’s been another ten days or so. Motivation is sinking among the student body, or at least my friends. I have a whole lot of hospital appointments for chronic illness this fall and I’m worried that they’re going to be postponed, but at the same time I’m passed the point of worry for much of this. I’ve lived in such a heightened state of awareness as a young person in the risk group that I don’t know how I’m going to react this time around if (at least partly) lockdown happens, but it will definitely be different, because it’s become our new normal to such a degree.

Graphic Novels: dark fairytale, dystopian & fluffy gay romance | Short Reviews

I’m having a bit of a hard time reading as I’m busy with studying (2nd year physics student) as well as ill at the moment (no worries, thankfully not corona, I’ve been tested twice). So it’s the perfect time to again read as many graphic novels that I could get my hands on! Here’s some of my other graphic novels reviews.

Through the Woods by Emily Carrol

As I begun reading I was sceptical because the illustrations were breath-taking from the start, giving all the dark fairytale vibes, but I didn’t know how much of a substance the plots would have. A few pages in it truly got much better, as the fairytale twists got mysterious, exciting and dark. It’s made up from several different “short stories”, some more red riding hood inspired and some that reminded me some of Coraline and some of the podcast The Magnus Archive. Reading this felt like playing a game where you know every decision is a bad one. I also immediately ordered the author’s other graphic novel «When I arrived at the castle»! 5/5 stars.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1

Plus points for being dark, but that’s the only positive in my eyes. I was excited for this as I truly liked the new TV series made from Sabrina the teenage witch. But this graphic novel drains any personality Sabrina is known for out of the character. I get that setting up somewhat the same plot as the TV series does in multiple episodes is difficult in one volume, but it just isn’t done with any charm at all. I won’t be reading the rest of the series as I felt it has little potential. 2/5 stars.

Paper Girls vol. 1 & 2

First impression of volume 1 was that I liked the retro apocalyptic stranger things vibe featuring a teen girl squad. It didn’t really get further into the plot or explanation than unexplained aliens, but it was also a lot to set up. It’s about a group of girls out delivering newspapers when they get caught up in this mystery of disappearing people and frightening strangers hunting after them. 3/5 stars.

Volume 2 had a higher chance of keeping the suspense up without as much of the confusion, which made the time-travel, sci-fi aspects much more enjoyable as well as delving into an interesting cast. Not to forget how monster tardigrades was a thing I didn’t know I needed in my life before now. I yelped out loud from surprise and happiness – I can’t explain it either. It’s just a good mix of chaos & the unexpected. Like the looming, flying ships that came into the picture suddenly. The color scheme is also truly lovely.

If I would criticize something it’s the ‘feminism’ branding push that seems a bit ‘off’, not that I’ve looked further into reasons behind it. It’s a similar feeling that lingers as from the casual homophobia that makes an appearance in volume 1, as if that was something that just belongs with the retro vibes. It was called out by other characters, so I just mentally noted it down as strange for now and makes me second-guess the future dynamic of the friendgroup somewhat. 4/5 stars.

Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman

Review of vol. 1! To sum up I really like the author’s writing in general and that it was a truly cute, important gay coming of age story. And I love the illustration style. And this is true for the second and third volume as well. My only critique is a somewhat big one; a lot doesn’t happen in each volume. It feels like the story told could’ve been cut down in some ways, but at the same time I realize it’s aimed at a younger audience for the most part and I’m so happy it just exists. 3/5 stars for both.

somewhat living in a movie | Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Just one post this time. I’m trying to manage my health & catching up to this semester’s workload … seeing as I’m 1/4 into the semester and was so behind bc of reasons outside my control, but I’m truly starting to catch up with my readings & weekly sheets of problems to work through.

Other books I’ve been reading:

One goal this year is to spend less money on books by using the library a lot more. I’ve figured out how to “order” books to my local one now and also which one’s they have semi-regularly in stock, so I just got the Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman and I’m so excited, having just begun to read them.

Added to TBR:

  • This Is Where the World Ends by Amy Zhang (young adult): I truly can’t remember how this book got on my radar, it’s baffling, it just suddenly was on my TBR and I’ve lost all thoughts around why
  • The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami (magical realism): I’d never heard about this Murakami book before, seems promising.
  • The Legend of Korra Turf Wars Part One (graphic novel, lgbt f/f): from the creators of the Avatar Last Airbender spin-off about Korra, this continues where the animated tv series stops and hopefully will motivate me to actually finish the tv series.
  • Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction by David C. Catling: I also am on physics/stem tiktok and someone recommended the oxford’s very short introduction series to people who want to get into something and Astrobiology is definitely one of those things I would really really want to know more about. It’s also like 160 pages.
  • Kant: A Very Short Introduction by Roger Scruton. I’m forced to take philosophy (science-related) as an obligatory class next semester and hopefully over the christmas I can read myself up, so I can actually focus on something else instead. I like diving into philosophy ocassionally, but not this “obligatory” aspect.
  • Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace by Ronald J. Deibert (nonfiction about tech and safety): either Edward Snowden recommended this book or I found it while reasearching more around one of the themes he talks about.

Three things on my mind:

  • We’re all struggling in this mid-corona university daily life, even though my friends in other cities are struggling with a lot more cases. Fortunately my city have barely any at the moment, meaning we’re starting to find an altered normal to get back to. But Thursday was a strange day. So many things went wrong this day that you’re just going to have to take my word for it, but let me explain that until dinner time I had been on campus for the first time in a while getting nothing done because anxiety, taken three annoying calls, half-hour bike ride to an important appointment that got cancelled, was nearly blown off the road with the bike as a storm was passing nearby, got lost on the small roads trying to get home through an unfamiliar, safer way. Oh, I forgot the part where a half-naked very nice man opened his curtains to find me tearing up my fingers trying to remove a baggage strap from my gears as I was running late and lending me his scissors. And then we’re back to the truly interesting part where three roommates found an unopened, old, 200 kg safe being given away and decided to get it. I sat there, truly exhausted and cold, as they discussed it. I had yet to eat anything but a piece of cake because I was supposed to have gotten home a long time ago. Still, I quickly grabbed something to eat and joined several long walks as it’s not every day old & new roommates bond together to get equipment to carry that safe up a staircase and home, through multiple busy roads. It got opened over the weekend, it wasn’t an easy task. It was empty in the end, but the adventure felt worth it. I love living where I do, a year later it is as exciting as ever, even if we also had a frying pan thrown against our very sturdy door yesterday. I’m suspecting the floor above us, and that we have to prepare for a more long-running war. We might have showed up at their door last week investigating the loud noises that had been increasing tenfold lately.
  • I’m finally committing to actually read the books of my small uni book club now that we’re not spending way too much time on Lolita, meaning I have to re-read “The Trial” by Kafka and read “Dune” by Frank Herbert. Yeah, I know I already should’ve read Dune as the fantasy geek that occassionally goes into sci-fi territory that I am.
  • I’m stressed. We’re all stressed. Go buy an more expensive or interesting coffee type than usual and watch the autumn leaves fall like raindrops from the trees if the wind is blowing. It is what I did today, as my hospital visits won’t get less stressful in the near future and I need to decompress afterwards. It’s gotten so difficult to divide what is free time and not as a student during corona, especially if you like me have hospital appoinments (or equivalent) randomly during the day that keep you from having a schedule that looks anything similar every week. I do need to learn to see this type of activity as of the same value (because it’s actually more valuable) as studying or schoolwork, especially as it’s more taxing. It truly isn’t that easy to be kind to oneself.