Exciting New Book Releases | Start of 2022

We’re already a month into the year but here we go –

Firmament by Simon Clark

Release date: 27. January 2022

Why I want to read it: The first book by Simon Clark, which is exciting. His explanations of climate change are always great and easy to follow, and I should probably get to reading this soon as motivation before my atmospherical physics and climate change exam this semester :))

This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi

Release date: 1. February 2022

Why I want to read it: I usually like Tahereh Mafi’s writing and would love a Persian mythology inspired fantasy story from her. So I hope this isn’t just another generic ya fantasy series, despite the title and cover.

Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel

Release date: 1. February 2022

Why I want to read it: It’s an unusual pick for me, but I want the promised thriller showcasing the “dangerous intensity of female friendships”, murder and morally gray characters.

Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release date: 8. March 2022

Why I want to read it: I don’t have the best track-record with getting as much into McLemore’s books as I would want to, but both the book’s premises, the magical realism and the writing of them are usually amazing. And I can’t keep away from the promises of “two non-binary teens are pulled into a magical world under a lake in this book either.

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Release date: 5. April 2022

Why I want to read it: a heist novel! Featuring a heist I even deem very acceptable; stealing back pieces of art and people’s belongings displayed in Western museums stolen under war and colonialism. More specifically a group of Chinese American college students (one lesbian, one queer) are stealing back Chinese sculptures and pondering the ethics of it.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Release date: 26. April 2022

Why I want to read it: The protagonist Kaikeyi “transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her”, which sounds like a powerful and interesting story. It’s a Ramayana retelling with an asexual protagonist. I’ve seen some reviews disagreeing to such a prominent villain being retold as anything else, but as someone unfamiliar to Hindu stories that’s hard to assess.

Three Morally-Gray Characters | Short Reviews

Two of three which is queer!

We’re doing a summary post of some books I really liked. They all deserve a full review, but this is what they’re getting.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (The Masquerade #1)

I genuinely loved the morally-gray (maybe even simply wicked) female protagonist. You are on her side because her island is taken over and controlled under an empire that believes heavily in eugenics, ruthlessly changing the society as they see fit and placing the kids in terrifying boarding schools. And Baru plays the waiting game for revenge for her family which they murdered, as the colonizers clothe her and educate her in what they see fitting. There’s lesbians, an island, politics and so much blood spilled. Definitely a brutal fantasy, but more so in the cultural impact and strategies than the wars of high fantasy. It’s very much debating morality of if ends justify means, as Baru gets to find out how far she is willing to bend and betray to get in a position of power. 4 out of 5 stars because it’s a bit long-winded in its writing.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (The Locked Tomb #1)

The tagline for this book seems to be lesbian necromancers in space, which would be correct. It’s very much a love it or hate it type of book, because you’re thrown into the plot and have to start paddling to keep up with the characters. It does a great job turning into an unusual fantasy book even though it’s set in a fairly usual setting of deadly competition. The writing and character personalities are fantastic, as well as the well-hidden system behind the magic – not to forget the enemies to lovers (maybe) of the main characters. I want to reread it already. 4 out 5 stars, because it’s confusing in the beginning and you have to commit, even if it’s well worth it and I adore it.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells (John Cleaver #1)

I was definitely looking for morally-gray characters, and this is a fun take on sociopaths (not that that’s what you call it anymore). It’s about a guy who is obsessed with serial killers and how they think, but doesn’t want to let himself become one. It’s also a paranormal story with demons, of which the protagonist suspects his neighbour is one. This guy’s poor mom, trying to help out, but not being able to. 4 out of 5 stars, yet I have not retained so much of it, I have to admit. It was just an interesting read, which was just horror enough.

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo | Book Review

Look up trigger warnings! There’s a lot around sexual assault and abuse of power.

Genre: thriller, serial killer, dark academia, lgbt; f/f relationships, queer women, two bisexual female protagonists

Pages: 378

Synopsis

Scarlett Clark is an exceptional English professor. But she’s even better at getting away with murder.

Every year, she searches for the worst man at Gorman University and plots his well-deserved demise. Thanks to her meticulous planning, she’s avoided drawing attention to herself—but as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts probing into the growing body count on campus. Determined to keep her enemies close, Scarlett insinuates herself into the investigation and charms the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Everything’s going according to her master plan… until she loses control with her latest victim, putting her secret life at risk of exposure.

Meanwhile, Gorman student Carly Schiller is just trying to survive her freshman year. Finally free of her emotionally abusive father, all Carly wants is to focus on her studies and fade into the background. Her new roommate has other ideas. Allison Hadley is cool and confident—everything Carly wishes she could be—and the two girls quickly form an intense friendship. So when Allison is sexually assaulted at a party, Carly becomes obsessed with making the attacker pay… and turning her fantasies about revenge into a reality. 

My thoughts

Sometimes I feel the books with a really interesting plot/synopsis that feels targeted at me, is the ones that let me down the most. It’s got a very good goodreads rating too. I just couldn’t get over how much I didn’t like the writing, as in the language used being cringy and constantly taking me out of the story. There’s two f/f queer friendship (both POVs are bisexual women) that turn sexual at certain points, both ending up very different. It’s all very intense and dramatic, yet it fits into the story. And there’s enough twists to the characters and the plotlines that I did enjoy reading it, even if it was built on somewhat one-dimensional characters.

I first blamed it on the fact that writing a serial killer is difficult, and it still could be, but it’s the same problem with the student Carly. Because in many ways she’s supposed to showcase the start of a girl turning cold and ruthless by the experiences and total lack of support in the systems, like being ridiculed by school administration when trying to help her friend after a sexual assault. It was a nice comparison, even if it was laid on a bit thick with even the professor Scarlett pointing out how she saw a young version of herself.

I have to state that there’s nothing wrong with these “unlikable” female main characters that made me dislike the book, as I often prefer them. In general, the author seems to be known for writing those well. I also want to say I whole-heartedly disagree with some other bad reviews claim that all the rapists weren’t equally bad and so on, it’s showcased all the way why the serial killer chooses her victims and the actions they’ve committed. I had to stop reading those reviews quick to not get sick, as they excuse sexual abuse so blatantly. It’s not meant to be feministic in how you should cheer on a serial killer, that’s up to the reader, but in showing how a culture of abuse and sexual assaults can be protected against those who want to report it. And that’s not far-fetched at all in today’s society, even if it shouldn’t have to defend itself as fiction.

Is it dark academia? Absolutely, it’s a look into a professor/murderer’s mind set on an university campus, trying to avoid persecution. The student’s POV even shows how her experiences and obsessiveness with helping her friend and keeping up with writing leads her into a darker path than she could imagine. It definitely showcases the potentially worst sides of an (academic) institution with abuse of power from everyone in charge.

Exciting New Book Releases Spring 2021

(Idk why some of these books was on my winter list.) I’m still as excited about them! Time is weird, and so is seasons, and that is the best reason I got. But I am really excited for spring to come this year, having had to choose between being completely in quarantine and taking walks in storms or snow-storms lately. Hopefully I can read some of these books in a park or even sitting on a bench somewhere outside. I don’t think that’s too much to ask of spring.

A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan #2) by Arkady Martine

Release date: March 2nd 2021

Why I want to read it: I’ve yet to read the first book in this series, but the beginning of this queer sci-fi series has gotten so good reviews. I mean – Aztec empire in space??

Sweet & Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley

Release date: March 9th 2021

Why I want to read it: honestly I’m unsure about this book, even with the stunning cover. But sapphic witches, a magical plague, dark powers and love bargains might be too good to pass on, especially as the reviews I’ve noticed have been positive.

She’s Too Pretty to Burn

Release date: March 30th 2021

Why I want to read it: queer girls, a rebel art scene and claiming to be a “sexy, psychological thriller”.

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Release date: March 23rd 2021

Why I want to read it: The protagonist is looking for her missing brothers in a town (and woods) that seem haunted ft. mental health and grief, trauma, anxiety and insomnia. A kind of dark & eerie Peter Pan retelling. From the same author as “Cemetery Boys” which I just read & appreciated.

First Person Singulair: Stories by Haruki Murakami

Release date: April 6th 2021

Why I want to read it: Haruki Murakami’s stories are just great, but I need to take a break in between each of them to digest, which is where hopefully short stories would be a great treat. I would rather go into this knowing less than more, I feel.

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Release date: April 20th 2021

Why I want to read it: two enemy witches that create alliance to fight a mutual threat, but power and revenge interferes. Jamaican-inspired fantasy which I’ve seen only good reviews for so far.

Goodbye, Again by Jonny Sun

Release date: April 20th 2021

Why I want to read it: I like Jonny Sun and his “Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too“. This collection of essays, stories and poems promises humor and heartfelt writing covering heavy topics like mental health, happiness, wanting to belong.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuinston

Release date: May 6th 2021

Why I want to read it: I’ve looked forward to this book ever since reading “Red, White & Royal Blue” as the author writes so poignantly with humor and intellect to what could be very cheesy stories. Here a 23-year-old woman is moving to New York, then meets a girl on a train who dazzles her ft. time-travel (idk either hahha). A sapphic romcom type of romance I’m here for.

Heartstopper Vol. 4 by Alice Oseman

Release date: May 13th 2021

Why I want to read it: Heartstopper is like the gay m/m soft teenage romance that makes you sigh of relief in between more dramatic books. I thought vol. 3 went a bit too slow, but overall leaves me with a very nice feeling of hope.

Mister Impossible (Dreamer #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

Release date: May 18th 2021

Why I want to read it: I don’t know what’s going on with this cover, but I love it. Last book followed Ronan (and Adam) from the series “The Raven Boys” and this continues where it left off, I guess. I saw someone ask for Ronan to “live out his gay cottagecore dreams”, but ofc that’s not going to happen. Gay yes; suffering also yes. I just love the magic infused in Stiefvater’s writing with these characters and world.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Release date: May 18th 2021

Why I want to read it: I’ve already pre-ordered it! Not that John Green needs it, but I really wanted one of the many many signed ones. The cover is lovely, the podcast episodes (same name) behind it are truly stunning pieces of work. I expect more of detailed deep-dives in complex, somewhat strange stories and topics that John Green all somehow manage to tie together to explain some of human nature and society.

Pls share any new releases you’re looking forward to!

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.

Anti-heroine & Action in the Cas Russell Series by S. L. Huang

The series so far (2020) consists of Zero Sum Game #1, Null Set #2, Critical Point #3

Pages: 336, 312 and 368

Genre: thriller/mystery type of book with some science fiction aspects, mostly in people with ‘superpowers’ (used for more bad than good)

It’s truly going into the pile (in my head) of favourite books.

Synopsis

For the first book as to not spoil anything;

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she’ll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower…until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone who can reach directly into people’s minds and twist their brains into Moebius strips. Someone intent on becoming the world’s puppet master.

Cas should run, like she usually does, but for once she’s involved. There’s only one problem…
She doesn’t know which of her thoughts are her own anymore.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars, four stars, four stars

I was looking for a character like Cas when I started this series, which I think is the clue to liking it. What you’re dealing with is mob/cartel level of action and bloodbath, where the side characters are everything from cops turned ‘personal investigators’ to trained assassins and sharpshooters. Not to mention the whole ‘evil organization’ thing going on, which turns out to actually have a whole epic scheme going on. The bad reviews I’ve seen has made me angry in that they’re mostly people who hate the cold calculated voice that Cas brings to this, but surely they’re warned that this isn’t some young adult book and that she’s grown up with this level of violence, even as the lack of knowledge of her background becomes a bigger and bigger plot point.

Cas is deadly, supernaturally so, with some question-marks at the end of that remark. The more science fiction and supervillains with powers parts comes through in the second and third book more, but I liked it. The math parts I expected to be bad from the synopsis, but they were an interesting part of her abilities, and plays a good role in the books. As the math lover I am, I would’ve wanted even more of it, but it’s like drizzled in there so that it can be ignored by those who would want to. It adds a bit of magic, almost.

The level of action, the mystery of Cas’ past, the level of gray area of morality (turning completely black at some points), the bad guys with a conscience – it all really made me love this series. The ‘superpowers’ are original, the writing funny in a dry way. It has everything I was looking for in a fast-paced, but exciting read. But then I do love the character of Rio as well, the emotionless being he seems to be. I mean who can’t be interested after a sentence like this –

“Ms. Russell,” said Dawna delicately, “I am not sure you are fully aware of Mr. Sonrio’s skills. His ability to be effective—it borders on the unrealistic. He has destroyed entire governments. Leveled armies. Found and obliterated terrorist cells the intelligence agencies of several continents were chasing their tails trying to pursue. He has altered the course of nations. A lone man.” Her voice was calm, factual, and very serious. Huh. So that was what Rio did in his spare time. I’d had no idea he was that impressive. I’m not going to lie: I was jealous.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch | Review

Pages: 340

Genre: Science fiction, thriller

 

Synopsis

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

 

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four stars

fire

This is a thriller, playing on a scenario that has always haunted me of trying to find your way back home. Still it’s difficult to recommend or talk about this book without spoiling it. So I’m just going to say reading this book is like watching a movie in the way it’s written and even if the book is called “dark matter” the physics parts of it isn’t something you need to know or be interested in to enjoy it. If the synopsis sounds interesting and you are in to read about some kidnapping and weird and absurd, out of the ordinary things, this is a good book. If you are in the mood to question your existence and life, this book didn’t really feel that deep.

 

SPOILERS BELOW

So we have our main character Jason Dessen being kidnapped by famous scientist Jason Dessen who have managed to find a way to send him to his alternative universe, so that they can switch lives and places. Multiple universes exist btw. It’s a really shitty plan, first of all, especially for one who’s supposed to be a genius. It was also obvious pretty early on what had happened, that he was kidnapped by himself.

The visuals I got from this book, of a person running down corridors trying to find his home world and getting nowhere was so satisfying and creepy. The “uncanny valley” feeling of meeting a world that’s similiar to your own, but small details doesn’t match up until you realize it’s not yours is horrifying. My own nightmare would be trying to escape and find that your surroundings are endless and not-changing, you’re stuck in a pattern or world. This book reflects that very well. Another thing that’s taken straight out of my nightmares is the part where Jason Dessen slowly comes to terms with being in another universe in the first place and others trying to get him commited to an psychiatric ward by force. With all the worlds and scenarios Jason meets, like his family dying in front of him in this apocalyptic world of illness, I had to like this book. Even if it’s a bit of every cliche movie thrown in a pot and crossing fingers that it will be fast-paced enough for the reader not to question it.

Still, this book also feels like a smart stupid TV show, that tries to appear brilliant until you dig deeper. To be fair, I am interested in physics, but have never looked deeply into the multiple universe theory. This book is not reality bending, question inducing, it does not make me think deeply about my existence or life like it tries to market itself as. But it’s still fun & horrifying, it’s absurd and action-filled. 

Especially towards the end it becomes apparent that not every question is going to be asked or answered, that the action has taken priority over pondering about what this means about the universe and worlds, even though most of the versions of Jason Dessen are scientists. As Jason Dessen the main character meets the other versions of Jason Dessen, a few moral questions are brought up in who should be able to get back to the wife and if it’s unmoral to kill each other. They have varying views on that. But the time-limit created by the action and the versions hunting each other doesn’t give possiblities to dive into things like who the “real Jason Dessen” is and what that means. Or really the fact that the famous real physics scientist version of him chose to kidnap “our” Jason and why. All the other versions of Jason doesn’t seem as alive and three-dimensional, when at least some of them shouldn’t really be that much different.

I really wanted to know what happened to the nurse after she left. I was happy for her when she found out Jason’s mission wouldn’t get her anywhere safe. So I felt some connection to the characters, even though I found myself liking Jason less and less throughout the book. I felt that all the alternative world-hopping could’ve changed him more and been a good way for character development, but in the end I don’t get what changed and how he found the right universe. The sole focus of getting back to his family is understandable, but also boring after a while.

What I was feeling reading this book: excited about the action and absurd parts, sometimes seeing my own nightmares played out