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!

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 Eleven Books I Never Seem to Finish (Part Two)

I’ve got a currently-reading shelf on goodreads that always contains too many books that I picked up and never really finished or stopped reading. And then I made a post all about my excuses and what I liked or didn’t like about them, which got way to long and this is the second part of that. Here’s part one.

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

When I started reading the book: September 2019

Have I picked it up since? No

I listened to Edward Snowden’s voice in the audiobook go through every aspect of how he turned out a whistle-blower, about mass surveillance, how intelligence agencies work, how his experiences has made him into an expert the last six years. It’s about growing up online, morality and that’s how far I got. I think I found some pieces truly interesting, but was a bit bored by the background of the person that is Edward Snowden (it is part memoir after all) just because I’m less interested in that than what he thinks about the digital now and future. Which I’m sure he would’ve gotten to eventually.

Why am I not reading it? I don’t quite know? But it’s that type of book that you want to dive into and do your own research as well, and it’s a bit thought and time consuming, which I’m not up for right now.

Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

When I started reading the book: December 2019

Have I picked it up since? No

I truly can’t say much about this book as I got 50 pages into a 300 page book and hadn’t made up my mind quite. It’s supposed to be about the science needed to mmake impossible things like death rays or force fields or invisibility cloaks real.

Why am I not reading it? I don’t know why I never got back to it

A collection of norwegian debut poems

When I started reading the book: February 2020

Have I picked it up since? No

Here I am trying to become a better person by reading more norwegian – my first language – which I haven’t done much of the last decade and only because of being forced to through high school.

Why am I not reading it? have you ever borrowed a book from the library and then … left town leaving it there? It’s somewhat of a pain to have to extend the return date for half a year (blaming corona again). I would just get a new copy of this one, the problem being that it’s a bit difficult to get my hands on. Poetry and ebooks aren’t always a thing, I’ve recently come to learn.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

When I started reading the book: February 2020

Have I picked it up since? No

I read Ocean’s poetry and felt a strong need to read his newer fiction as well. It’s as strikingly beautiful and vulnerable, but I picked it up at a highly-anxious time and found that it wasn’t the mindset I wanted to be in reading this book. It’s synopsis explains it truly well actually; “Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.”

Why am I not reading it? too powerful in its pain and violence in a time where I unfortunately wasn’t up for that

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down And Wept by Elizabeth Smart

When I started reading the book: March 2020

Have I picked it up since? No

I truly am mad about not finishing this book because it’s only 128 pages. It’s not that complex, to be real, even if it is a good story. And I was about to finish it in one sitting, as I was literally sitting on the floor in front of the oven waiting for my food to cook. And into the empty kitchen comes one of the many people I live with and comments on it in a way that left a bad taste in my mouth. As if I was sitting there crossed-legged and disheveled reading an old book for the quirky ~aesthetic~ of it, even though no one else was there. I don’t even know now why it made me so suddenly furious, but it was a generally bad time for me, on the verge of deciding whether to leave town because of corona and being very sick from migraines. Simply put, if commenting on what someone is reading, don’t be an asshole about it.

It is a pretty cute, worn edicition though, I picked it up form an Edinburgh used book shop extremely cheap.

Why am I not reading it? I can still feel the ghost of the fury I felt every time I try to finish it

To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

When I started reading the book: June 2020

Have I picked it up since? Yes

Why am I not reading it? Each summer I seem to bring with me one ‘heavy’ physical book absolutely everywhere, and never get to it until my patience runs out and I just sit down and get through it, finding myself enjoying it a lot. I think this is this years book, as I do truly like Woolf’s writing, even if her style is what makes this particular book ‘heavy’, while last year it was the physics of ‘Six Easy Pieces’ by Richard Feynman.

Fav Queer Author: Mary Oliver | #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

I wanted to write a big post claiming all the reasons Mary Oliver is my favourite poet and queer author, but my body is a wreck currently and I finished exams this week and this post is going to be thrown together quickly. I have a full review of one of Oliver’s collections of poems gathered from several periods, which could be a good introduction, but is also a bit confusing without context. Personally my favourite collection and the first I read from her was “A Thousand Mornings” back in 2017. I also truly love her essay collection “Upstream”, which along with beautiful thoughts on using nature gives a bit more insight into her thought-process and background.

In ‘Upstream’ she says: “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” And also: “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” Truly words to live by!

First off, I was a bit into poetry before stumbling upon Mary Oliver, but I’d never read the type of nature focused poetry that she writes. I truly fell instantly in love with it. It’s a type of romanticization that doesn’t shy away from the uncontrollable force that nature is or how it affects humans. It’s spiritual at times, but she’s also a talent at using nature and beautiful phrasing to criticize society. In my head her poetry toes a lot of these balances very-well, it’s constantly questioning intentions and morale. But it’s also very simple at times, and that’s what makes it easy poetry to fall in love with even if it’s your first poetry collection, without losing substance along with that simplicity. There’s something special about life advice from someone you know have been through difficult life events and come out on the other side, especially when she looks like the perfect grandma. She’s truly life goals, and I stand by that as someone who grew up thinking I had few role models, also because the queer component was missing.

Mary Oliver went through many of the queer struggles; she was born in 1935 in suburbs of Ohio, she often went in the woods to escape a dysfunctional family and has talked briefly about experiencing sexual abuse as a child. She used writing to observe her world, but also to create one. And through it she was lucky enough to find other queer friends that would also become her family.

And after falling in love with her poetry I learned that she was an old lady! An older lesbian lady! Who had been living peacefully in nature with her female partner Molly Cook for over forty years, before she passed away. And I started crying when I heard Oliver passed away as well last year, but in the sense of someone having lived their life to completeness, even if it was a tough one.

Mary Oliver may not be very confrontative or ‘loud’ in her poetry, she’s not been extremely radicalizing or political in other means than existing as a queer person. But her story, her views and politics is definitely something you see through her poetry, it’s her medium. And I personally think it’s admirable to never lose a certain softness even as a person deals with massive trauma. But don’t mistake that as there not being a sharpness to Mary Oliver’s poetry as well.

I would suggest looking up Mary Oliver reading some on her poems on youtube and sitting down with a cup of tea or coffee, preferably staring out a window, and listen to her calm reassuring voice. You need good time for it, not in length, but in attention. Even if I also sometimes play them to relax if I can’t sleep.

F/F Magical Book Recs | #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

Today’s prompt is f/f relationships and I’ve tried to gather up some fav f/f romance books of the more magical realism or fantasy genre. Because I’ve been even more into the blend of cottagecore aesthetic, queer girls and magic lately. Ahh, the gay side of tiktok has got me with it’s #wlwcottagecore and my need to be more outside safely after this quarantine.

There’s also Queer Girls YA Book Recommendations #1 if you want more.

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

  • Horror magical realism with queer girls trying to uncover the mystery of the island the main character moves to as more and more girls are killed off. Definitely has enemies-to-lovers trope and folklore coming to life, with living in lighthouse, trying to save your loved ones before it’s too late and an actual cult.
  • Queer girls, including mc, and asexual character.

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

  • More straight-up fantasy, but definitely not straight.
  • The main charcter is an orphan that has magical abilities, something that belongs to the upper classes in the society she lives in. She’s low-key criminal with a fierce spirit that lands her in prison, where she meets a stranger ( ~ a traveller from distant lands who is not bound by conservative customs ~ ) that transforms her life, and also starts a slow-burn of a f/f romance.
  • This one scene of the mc trying to find the place she was supposed to meet up with a stranger, without knowing anything about this outside world, wandering around the woods is burned into my memory. As is her confusion as she’s brought along, breaking into abandoned buildings with no explanation. The inncocent, brave, awkward gay vibes is immaculate.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

  • Witchy found-family type of young adult book
  • Contains fun, dramatic moments, a city of witches, covens arguing and lots of lesbians. Has more strong friendships than relationships. Meaning some f/f relationship, also some lesbian exes trying to get along and not always suceeding.

Similiar books on my TBR

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  • All girls high school put under quarantine (ahh made last year, pre-corona), where they get infected and die one by one and described as more of a horror vibe and survival story following this queer friendgroup.

Magic for liars by Sarah Gailey

  • Urban fantasy/murder mystery standalone with bisexual love interest, a magical witchy school and lots of blood and violence and other questionable things. Also several f/f relationships.

TV recs & more queer books | Bi-Weekly Update

Alternative title; it’s all worse and better at the same time. the irony.

Three things on my mind:

  • So .. my life right now just consists of math, more math, a tiny breakdown where I speak my grievances out loud, to mostly empty air and the occassional puzzled family members walking by, along with playing the mobile version of pocket camp, because I can’t afford a switch. Next week it’s going to be the same, if you replace math with physics. Ahh, this was not how I imagined the second semester of my first year doing a physics bachelor to be, but oh well. Right now it’s wolframalpha all the way.
  • So the situation is less than ideal (also see; bad internet – have to buy 4G when exams, physical health w/ chronic illness worse) and only two of my five exams is done, yet I’ve felt so much better the last three weeks than I have since the beginning of march. Who knows? Nothing much has changed, other than I also now have exams, but it’s a clear goal in front of me to deal with even though my body is in uproar.
  • Things to watch; Outer Banks on Netflix is a great tv series to binge, with a cast of morally grey characters, and some really aesthetic good scenes as well. The Goldfinch movie adaptation got really bad reviews when it came out last year, but I finally watched it (I LOOVE the book) and it wasn’t bad! Actually to the point where I would recommend it, if you go in with quite low expectation. It has the usual problems of a movie trying to fit a big and complex book (so many different settings, spanning over multiple years) into a two hour movie. But the moments it included, it included well. I especially love both the young and the adult Boris.

Also for quarantine feelings;

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • I’ve been listening to first “War on Peace” by Ronan Farrow, as I thought I could fall asleep to his voice narrating the strange world of diplomacy and the importance of it; turns out diplomacy in Afghanistan is quite interesting and the book absolutely fantastic overall. I really enjoyed 11 hours of that to have a break from maths, it was magical.
  • And then I started the audiobook version of “Catch and Kill” by Farrow afterwards, taking care to listen during daylight as it’s the most upsetting story about not only the wave of sexual assaults that was brought into light with the ‘MeeToo wave’, the most focus being on Farrow’s reporting of Harvey Weinstein, but how he wasn’t allowed to publish the story and kept from pursuing it for so many months. It was quite the journey, and I felt so much for each of the victims as we get to hear more about what it took for them to decide to come forward. Ahh, I’ll have to write its own post after I’m done with these exams, because more people need to read this book in particular.
  • I might have cleansed my head after all that by reading the three first books in the very YA “The Selection” series by Kiera Cass. It’s so cheesy, but what made me continue was how it was more ‘The Hunger Games’ vibe than I expected.

Added to TBR:

  • Felix ever after by Kacen Callender (young adult, lgbt: trans mc)
  • The program by Suzanne Young (young adult, dystopia)
  • The last true poets of the sea by Julia Drake (young adult, lgbt)
  • The mermaid, the witch, and the sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (fantasy, lgbt: sapphic romance)
  • Clap when you land by Elizabeth Acevedo(young adult, lgbt): I’ve read & liked “The poet X”
  • The good girl’s guide to murder (mystery): recommended by the author Maureen Johnson on twitter or something
  • Sawkill girls by Claire Legrand (horror-ish, lgbt: f/f romance I think)
  • If I was your girl by Meredith Russo (young adult, lgbt: trans mc)
  • No matter the wreckage by Sarah Kay (poetry)

Was These Books Five Stars? (Predictions Update)

I made a post in June with five star predictions. It started with me believing I would love “Never let me go” by Kazuo Ishiguro because a lot of people compared it to other books I’d loved, and then it being a let-down. And now I’ve finally read all the books!

Heartstopper vol. 1 by Alice Oseman: review! This graphic novel with m/m romance was so precious and I loved it as much as I’ve loved Radio Silence and I Was Born for This by Oseman. The second volume is also definitely a five/five stars. 5/5 stars!!

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson: review! The previous book, Truly Devious, was one of my favourites last year. It’s a good enough sequel, following the same type of mystery boarding-school vibe as the first one. You certainly get further in the story, especially about the old mystery at the school the main character is trying to solve. But it was also lacking the freshness and felt a bit repetitive. 4/5 stars!

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling: review! So many queer witches and a lovely YA mystery witchy book. But it wasn’t without its problems plotwise and not interesting enough to get above four/five stars. Still would recommend! I’m so happy it delivered! 4/5 stars!

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: review! This post was a lot of fun until I had this single book left for months. After the second real try, I DNF’ed it. There’s just something about the writing that didn’t click with me, which is the one thing that makes it nearly impossible for me to care about a book. There was nothing luring me in. So I’m giving up on this, even though it has such good ratings and I can remember nothing from it already. not giving this a rating because I DNF’ed.

Fence vol. 1 by C. S. Pacat: review! I went into this expecting “The Foxhole Court” (by Nora Sakavic) vibes with the sport-focus and gay characters. But it definitely became the biggest let-down on this list, as this graphic novel just never developed its story enough. Far far below a full score. like 1/5, maybe 2/5 stars.

So this wasn’t a great result, but I really liked to do it and especially picking out the books I thought I would love and reading through reviews. Worst part was honestly having that one book left for months, ruining finishing this post. I would’ve just DNF’ed it on the first try if I did it again.

While I gave The Vanishing Stair and These Witches Don’t Burn 4/5 stars I see them as great successes along with Heartstopper.

Mermaid & Siren Book Recommendations

I’ve always loved the ocean and therefore also books about everything in it, but I feel the young adult mermaid books often falls into the trap of being too stuck to The Little Mermaid plot and tropes! There’s other ways to do mermaids folks!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Full review! 3/5 stars. It was an enjoyable book with deadly sirens that had very The Little Mermaid retelling vibes and pirates that had a true Pirates of the Carribean vibe, thrown in with some royalty and princes as well. The main character is fierce and the book promises a killer and general darkness that it doesn’t quite deliver on. Halfway it turns more into slow-burn romance and trying to create a revolution which, funnily enough, was the predictable path. But if you like mermaids and/or pirates, this is definitely a book I would recommend!

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

A norse-inspired little mermaid retelling with f/f relationship, where the main character has to outsmart the God of Lies Loki. Relatively short as it’s just above 200 pages. Stunning cover art.

DNF’ed because I couldn’t like the writing, and that makes it incredibly difficult for me to get into any story.

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

Full review! 4/5 stars. Incredible writing! This is a dream of a fantasy book, the ultimate fairy-filled tale I wanted as a kid, with a main character who’s a brat, but a smart one, and both supportive and tired of his friends. It’s less of a magical school as it’s a magical military academy, hah. So underrated, with gay/bi boys and main character! Mermaids is one of the multiple magical creatures here, so much less focus on them than in the other books on this list.

Lies Beneath by Anna Greenwood Brown

DNF’ed after really giving it a couple good tries. I wanted to like this book. It has evil mermaids!! I mean it starts out with “I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.” Definitely give it a try! And it’s written from a male mermaid … merman? which makes it interesting. It just wasn’t for me.

Wake (Watersong #1) by Amanda Hocking

I really want to reread this book. Because from what I remember it was; good mermaids. boring plot. And a very interesting dynamic between four girls, a trio plus a girl who don’t yet know she’s a mermaid. It’s like H20 book edition, but also the mermaids have evil tendencies?? But I remember it being so interesting and a guilty pleasure. I have to reread it.

Of Poseidon and The Syrena Legacy by Anna Banks

Full review of the first book! 3/5 stars. I’ve only read the second book in the series as well, and it’s pretty much the same and equally as good. It’s just summer vibes with all the mermaids you need. Stubborn and awkward teenagers that tries to figure things out, just in the “you might be a mermaid” format, mixed in with mermaid royalty and some politics. It also has a main character that is quite the fierce girl, and throws a couple punches. A very character driven novel, with a good friendgroup.

Other mermaids book on my TBR (for another time):

Come to the Rocks by Christin Haws

A short story with 66 pages! I know little of it except it has f/f romance with a mermaid, and that’s truly all I need.

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

Another book with mermaid killers, which I really hope won’t let me down. I just hope it’s taken all the way, for once, without being worried about how ‘likeable’ that makes the mermaids. I’ve read it’s supposed to have a fierce female protagonist and a lesbian romance, so that sounds promising.

Do you have any mermaid or siren books to recommend? Preferably not the little mermaid retellings, haha.

Auto-Buy Authors | Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl to bring bookish friends together. A new topic is posted each week.

Reviews are linked (as always)!

Brandon Sanderson: with the amount of books this guy publishes every year I have yet to catch up (Elantris is the next book of his on my shelf) – but I’ll get there! It doesn’t really matter what genre Sanderson writes, because even though I love the high fantasy, his sci-fi-ish Legion series was an interesting read as well. Hopefully the YA books is as good!

Patrick Rothfuss: my favourite fantasy author, even though he’s so different from Sanderson. Having him on this list might seem as a bit of a joke as the third book in the Kingkiller Chronicles has taken a long time, but I think I’ve read everything else from Rothfuss and would continue to – his picture books not for children are fantastic!

Philip Pullman: I read & really fell in love with Lyra and His Dark Materials series when I was a kid Lyra’s age. And then I reread it half a year ago and fell in love even more. The fourth book La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust) proved that I don’t care how many books that continues to be published in this series if they’re all this high quality writing.

Maureen Johnson: Has always seemed like a great, fun, quirky person and Truly Devious is one of my fav YA series, especially as I love mystery.

Nina LaCour: Every queer girl & f/f romance is a delight of a bonus along with amazing writing and story-building in books that are so unique and different from each other, like We Are Okay and Everything Leads to You.

Having watched vlogbrothers for so many years, not to mention scishow and crash course and Dear Hank & John, The Anthropocene Reviewed and Delete This, it should be obvious that I’ll consume any great content from these guys.

Hank Green: he writes with a basis of the knowledge and experiences he has, which makes anything he produces so one of a kind. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing went way above my expectations, which was already set pretty high.

John Green: Paper Towns is my least favorite, but still good, and The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska is battling being my favourite. His newest book Turtles All the Way Down blew my mind as well, showing how he continues to get better at writing and telling difficult stories in an masterful way.

Alice Oseman: it’s obvious when an YA author knows how it is to be a teen or young adult nowadays and I wasn’t surprised when I saw that Solitaire and Radio Silence was written by someone who went through high school and college at the same time. Everything Oseman writes is so true to life, as well as describe difficult and important worse aspects of culture like the fans of I Was Born for This.

Holly Black: Everything she touches I seem to fall in love with. That’s it. She’s in my eyes the best at producing entertaining and not too similiar fae and fairy stories, so here’s both quantity and quality. The one exception is how much I didn’t like the sequel to the Cruel Prince, the Wicked King.

Just a year ago I feel like I would’ve had completely different people on this list. Each photo I picked is my favourite book by the author! Do you have any other books as favourites? Link your list of auto-buy authors below!

Asexual Protagonists #PrideLibrary19 🌈

Heyyy. It’s 2 am and this post is a day late. But I’ve also nearly packed up all my belongings before moving and forgotten which day it was two days in a row. Which means I’m very productive, but also a bit of a scatter head. Let’s just file that as the official excuse.

The Pride Library 2019 Challenge is hosted by Library Looter, Anniek’s Library and Michelle Likes Things. Join in on it anytime or link your post in the comments so I see it! Also all reviews I’ve written will be linked.

The (past) day’s theme is asexual or aromantic main characters, which I have to admit I feel like I’ve read too few book with yet.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman (full review linked): the protagonist is bisexual, as the other main character Aled is demisexual. Would absolutely recommend it!! Alice Oseman writes perfectly about the introverted teenage experience, while also creating characters and problems that are so much their own and alive.

Trigger warnings for this book: suicidal ideation, depression, emotional abuse, animal cruelty. I cried my eyes out at points – it’s one of those books that just succeeds in being too real.

The Foxhole Court (All For the Game #1) by Nora Sakavic: the protagonist is demisexual, which is somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Demisexual is someone who only feels sexual attraction after having already formed a close emotional connection with someone. Also has several gay characters. Queer books for teens (what a great site!!!) also says it’s ownvoices for the ace spectrum.

Trigger warnings for this book: substance use/alcoholism, sexual assault, violence, abuse, suicide/suicidal ideation, murder

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz: I have yet to write a review of this, but it’s such a cute love story set in a tea shop, between a highly-skiled techinician working on AI and a fully autonomous asexual robot. Yes, I also was hesitant to how not all robots are inherently asexual. But it’s set in a sci-fi world where it’s very apparent that there’s what we think of as “robots” and then there’s these high-tech beings that should be considered as intelligent, aware and given the same rights as humans – to the point where they stopped creating them because they were too full of free will.

On My TBR

Let‘s talk about love by Claire Kann: The synopsis really says it all, sounds like a great dramatic summer read –

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood. 

City of strife by Claude Arseneault: high fantasy with several asexual characters, including the main character (who is also aromantic). #ownvoices as it’s written by an asexual&aromantic author. Here’s a cry for help – in general can high fantasy become more diverse?? Like I so want to really dive into high fantasy, but it’s just so … many white straight men among the popular ones. I’m so excited to read this!

Researching this I found Claude has made a database of aromantic and asexual characters! Here’s the link to her website with info about it. I found that so smart and fascinating.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee: Following Felicity, the lovely nerdy sister from the first Montague Siblings book The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue as she tried to become a doctor in 1700s Europe. She’s aromantic & asexual. Excited to see where the piracy plays into all of this.