August 25 2020

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Fifth Season

The Fifth Season, by NK Jemisin

Title: The Fifth Season
Author: NK Jemisin
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Science fantasy. Dystopia.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

 

Well. This book has taken me 2 weeks to read – not because I’ve been a reading slump, or have found it lacking in engagement, but because it’s so deeply complex and intricate that to rush it felt like paying a disservice to the incredible word that NK Jemisin has created.

This book is unlike anything I’ve read. A science fantasy in a completely original style – no comparisons to Tolkien here, a stunning diversity of race but described in its own unique way with descriptions that take some time to get your head around because they don’t rely on comparisons to any racial features or characteristics that we’re used to. Diversity, too, in the depiction of sexual and emotional relationships. The world ends, and this book carries you through one such ending, as we are introduced to “roggas”, a derogatory term for erogenes, who have the genetic ability to literally control the earth, but are feared and often reviled for their difference even though their skill is essential in maintaining and protecting life and civilisations.

This is the first book in the Broken Earth series, and both book 1 and 2 won Hugo awards. I’m not surprised, quite frankly. Jacob had already read this, and I bought him the box set for his birthday, but then cheekily decided to read The Fifth Season before sending them to him. Thank you, Jacob, I’m really looking forward to us reading the rest of the series together. A truly stunning read. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 55/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 25 2020

Stamped from the beginning: the definitive history of racist ideas in America

Stamped from the beginning

Stamped from the beginning, by Ibram X Kendi

Title: Stamped from the beginning
Author: Ibram X Kendi
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Race. Racism. History.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

 

I started this book by Ibram X Kendi months ago – I had ordered the YA version but it’s still not arrived, and in the meantime I found the audiobook available for free on Spotify. I highly recommend it – a thoughtful and comprehensive examination of the history of racist ideas in America, and how and why anti-racist actions and sentiments often fail. It’s taken me a long time to get through it because I found it really thought-provoking, and oftentimes wanted to just let some ideas sit for a bit before I moved on.
Hot tip for listening to the Spotify audiobook version- pay attention to where you’re up to. If you don’t, and then go off and listen to something else, you won’t be able to find your place when you come back to it. Even bigger hot tip – do NOT accidentally bump the shuffle button. It makes things VERY hard to follow.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 54/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

August 7 2020

Snowpiercer, volumes 1 and 2

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer, vol 1 and 2

Title: Snowpiercer Volume 1: The Escape and Snowpiercer Volume 2: The Explorers
Author: Benjamin Legrand
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Climate destruction. Class. Graphic novel.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’ve been working backwards in my journey with Snowpiercer. I started with the TV series, watched the movie, and then tonight I read volume 1 and 2 of the source material, the graphic novel translated from the French. Black and white artwork helps to underscore the stark landscape and even more grim future that humanity survives in, on Snowpiercer, one thousand and one carriages long. If you’re into graphic novels and have enjoyed the series, this is a great read. I think the TV show is still my favourite out of all of the versions of this story so far, but I really enjoyed reading the origin in these two volumes, and am looking forward to the third one arriving soon. For my TL followers, this one probably isn’t a good YA read – it’s mature, adult and graphic in multiple senses of the word.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 50/52 and 51/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 16 2020

The house in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune

Title: The house in the Cerulean Sea
Author: TJ Klune
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Acceptance. Chosen family.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

How many times can I post about “one of the best books I’ve read this year” before that phrase starts to lose all meaning? Well, The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’d venture to say it’ll work its magical way into a future “one of the best books I’ve ever read” list. It’s certainly one of the most whimsically lovely, and the one I’ve shed the most joyful tears over.

Donna Noble is my favourite Doctor Who companion, and one of my very favourite characters from the series, Doctor included. Stay with me here, I know it feels like a tangent. What I love about Donna is that she feels like she’s utterly ordinary and unremarkable, so unimportant that she can’t possibly be special, but she is in fact the whole universe. Linus Baker from The House in the Cerulean Sea reminds me very much of her, and in a book filled with characters of various and wondrous magical abilities, he is the most captivating of them all. Linus is a by-the-book caseworker for the Department in Charge if Magical Youth, and he feels largely invisible in his drab dreary world. A special assignment sees him investigating an orphanage that is home to a special bunch of magical youth, and their equally intriguing House Master. There are secrets to be discovered, but more importantly there are lessons to be learned on the power of the family we choose.

This book is a wonder, a joy, a captivating delight. I don’t know that I would ever have found it if not for some recommendations by a couple of TikTok friends, so I’m grateful to them both for mentioning this one. I’ll be doing the same to anyone who’ll listen – get this book. Read it. It’s powerful and beautiful and I need more people to have read it so I can talk about it with them!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 42/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 12 2020

Love is love: a comic book anthology

Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting

Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting

Title: Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting
Genre/ issues: Comics. Love. Queer fiction. Pulse nightclub shooting.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

Blurb: The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love.

It’s pride month. A year ago, my daughter and I were at Stonewall, the place where a black trans woman threw a brick, and a revolution was sparked. 4 years ago, the Pulse nightclub shooting happened. Today, we are surrounded by Black Lives Matter protests, as black and indigenous people continue to be more likely to suffer institutional and systemic racism, and queer people are more likely to be attacked or discriminated against. If all lives matter, can we as a society start acting like it please?
I read Love is Love today, a comic anthology by a tonne of artists which raised money for the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting. I am so done with racists and bigots, and I’m not the target for any of their hatred, as a fairly privileged white cis-het woman. I can only imagine how the queer community, and BIPOC, are feeling. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 33/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 12 2020

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: Living on Stolen Land
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Indigenous culture. Settler-colonialism. Race.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

I love Ambelin Kwaymullina’s work, and this little book is punching well above its weight. It’s 60 pages of prose about the stolen land we live on, the impact of settler colonialism on indigenous people, and the ways in which we as non-indigenous people interact with the traditional owners of this land. A timely and important book which examines what we need to do if we are serious about decolonising this country. Magabala Books publish some excellent indigenous work, so if you’re after something to read which provides a solid foundation on which to build your understanding of Indigenous culture, or want to read some fab fiction by Indigenous authors and illustrators, check them out.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 32/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

May 23 2020

Scratchman, by Tom Baker

Scratchman, by Tom Baker

Scratchman, by Tom Baker

Title: Scratchman
Author: Tom Baker
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Doctor Who. Audiobook.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

Who could resist a Doctor Who book written and read by their favourite Doctor? Not me! Scratchman was suitably creepy, and explores ideas about the nature of fear – how it manifests in different people, and what I means. Turns out, for me it means I shouldn’t listen to Doctor Who audiobooks late at night. I will say, I found the length of this challenging. I think it’s because I’m used to the length of a normal Doctor Who episode, and after a similar length of time in the audiobook I was starting to wait for it to wrap up. I then realised that I was less than 10% of the way through, and there was still soooo much more to go. That wasn’t a bad thing – it was just a bit of dramatic format shift dissonance for me. I wouldn’t say it was one of the best things I’ve read in ages, but it was a great whovian tale, and with Tom Baker narrating it was a great way to spend a couple of nights of organising and tidying around the house.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 29/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

March 10 2020

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea, by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Starless Sea
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. The power of stories.

“We are all star dust and stories.”
I love stories about stories. Books which honour the role of stories in our lives, that treasure narratives and that unapologetically love words? They’re my favourite types of books. This one, The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, is utterly wonderful. Honouring then stories that have come before it with sweet little references to Narnia, the Potterverae, and a Lev Grossman vibe that’s unmistakeable, but simultaneously creating its own unique fantasy in which a subterranean library of all stories ever told, past present and future, is curated and tended by a secret society … can you see why I love it?

Morgenstern books

Morgenstern books

I’ve read some wholly excellent books this year, and The Starless Sea ranks up there with the best of them. A friend from work loaned it to me, after we’d had a chat about books we loved, and I gave her another of my faves to read. I confessed that I was a dog-earer, but promised to not do so to her book, and she said that she didn’t mind at all as she did the same! It made me happy to find a kindred spirit. As I read, though, and marked pages that touched me deeply, I realised that I wanted to keep this copy with all its folded corners, so I ordered her a fresh new copy – only to find out that she’d done the same thing for the book I had loaned her!

I’m so glad to have added it to my story, to have made a connection with another book soul, and to be a part of the journey of The Starless Sea through the world. If you’ve not read this, do so – and grab The Night Circus while you’re at it, it’s similarly brilliant. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 15/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

March 9 2020

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Hitchhiker's Guide

The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, by Douglas Adams

Title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Travel. The importance of a towel.

I love the way words sound. There’s a magic to a story when it’s read by someone who understands the power of language, who appreciates the rhythm and swell of a passage. It’s one of the reasons I loved to read aloud in class, and also why I love audiobooks so much.

My wonderful partner Jacob lives on the other side of the country to me. When we first met, we bonded quickly over our love of words and stories, and I knew he was my person when the first photo he sent to me was indeed a dic-pic, but one of the stunning vintage dictionary kind. Whilst there are a lot of things I dislike about this long-distance relationship thing we have going on, the frequent opportunities for date nights which involve me curling up and him reading to me are magic. He’s my favourite narrator – his intuitive understanding of the way words and prose are supposed to sound combined with the way he’s not afraid to make a funny voice or adopt a character whilst he is reading make it so easy to get lost in whatever story he is reading to me. It’s my favourite kind of date night, and we’ve been ranging through a lot of different styles of writing. We both love Hitchhiker’s Guide, and I loved listening to him read it to me over the past couple of months. Whilst the sci-fi aspect of it may be a little dated now, the humour and skill in the writing stands the test of time. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 14/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

January 16 2020

Curious: Life hacks through maths, by Lily Serna

Curious, by Lily Serna

Curious, by Lily Serna

Title: Curious: Life hacks through maths
AuthorLily Serna
Genre/ issues: STEM, maths, numbers and patterns in everyday life.

I started Curious by Lily Serna yesterday on the way home, read a few chapters on the couch last night with Minerva overseeing, and have just finished it on the train into the city. What a joy this book is! I know it’s anathema to say, as you’re supposed to either be English or Maths and never the Twain shall meet, but I’ve always been a bit of a number nerd.
Curious is a delightful romp through dinner party maths, monopoly strategy, and how to look smart through quick mental calculation tricks. Any book which dedicates a few pages to working our value for money when ordering pizza has my vote, and the section on the Special Pancake Number had me smiling so hard. Lily’s sheer joy for maths is contagious, and she does that rare and wonderful thing of taking potentially challenging and confronting ideas and breaking them down into supportive and simple components so that those who think they aren’t really maths people can come away with something new.
I love her view that “arithmetic is to maths what words are to English. Words are, of course, the building blocks of language. However the value of a beautiful piece of processor a poem is greater than the sum of the words that form them.” Patterns, processes and predictions in maths are fascinating, and I’d recommend this book for both number nerds and the number challenged alike. It’s a really friendly, funny and supportive romp through maths in your everyday life. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 7/52

Happy reading,

Tamara