December 3 2021

The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin

Obelisk gate

The Obelisk Gate, by NK Jemisin

Title: The Obelisk Gate
Author: NK Jemisin
Genre/ issues: Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

This has been the book that Jacob has been reading to me over the past month and a half. If you’ve read any NK Jemisin, you’ll know just what an impressive feat that is – for him, I mean. I got to lay in bed and listen to him expertly navigate the narration of Jemisin’s complex, detailed fantasy creation.
Anyway, The Obelisk Gate. It’s hard to adequately review this in terms of content, because you run the risk of either underselling it, or completely overshooting the bounds of the text allowed by Instagram. This is book 2 in the Broken Earth trilogy, a wholly unique, captivating, and mind-blowing fantasy series. I read a comment recently that this book forces you to become a smarter reader, and I wholly endorse that sentiment. It’s not an easy read, but it’s fascinating and wonderful, both for the complexity of the world building and the depth of the characters. Book 1 blew my mind last year. This is equally as good. I’d say I can’t wait for book 3, but I think we are going to, because our brains are the best kind of mush right now. Brilliant. Thanks for being my favourite narrator, #JacobReads.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 190/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

November 28 2021

Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett

Reaper man

Reaper man, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Reaper man
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Discworld.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Was that what it was really like to be alive? The feeling of darkness dragging you forward?
How could they live with it? And yet they did, and even seemed to find enjoyment in it, when surely the only sensible course would be to despair. Amazing. To feel you were a tiny living thing, sandwiched between two cliffs of darkness. How could they stand to be alive?”
Death isn’t alive. He’s an anthropomorphic manifestation of one of the two inescapable realities of life. (The other is taxes, which is way worse, because it harasses you every year, whereas Death only comes once.) Death, however, appears to be developing a personality, and this just won’t do. So, he’s given a life timer, and the sand is running out.
Meanwhile, with no one to reap them, when people die they just, kind of, don’t. This is most inconvenient, especially for Windle Poons, who as a Wizard had expected Death to show up to reap him personally. He now finds himself not alive, not really undead, and trying to solve the mystery of the globe-like eggs that are appearing around Ankh Morkpork with his new friends from the Fresh Start Club (an undead-rights activists group who I love with every fiber of my being).
This is book 11 of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, and has been one I’d been looking forward to revisiting. Clever, funny, and profoundly insightful.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 189/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

November 14 2021

This is how you lose the time war, by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This is how you lose the time war

This is how you lose the time war, by Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Title: This is how you lose the time war
Author: Amal El Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Romance. Timeslip.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“I keep turning away from speaking of your letter. I feel to speak of it would be to contain what it did to me, to make it small. I don’t want to do that.”
This quote completely encapsulates how I’m feeling after reading this piece of utter perfection on paper, This is How You Lose the Time War, by @amalelmohtar and @max.gladstone.
Red travels through time, visiting threads of alternate realities to carry out the orders of the Commandant, at war to secure the best possible future for their technological Agency. Her rival agent Blue does the same, working to ensure that the Garden wins this war. But when Red finds a letter, which says “Burn before reading”, these rivals strike up an unlikely correspondence. At first taunting, their letters move through an exchange of ideas and experiences, and become something greater – epic, romantic, and threatening to change both the past and the future. If either of them are discovered, it will mean their deaths – and the war is still going on. So, someone has to win – right?
Dual perspectives. Breathtaking love letters. Time travel and sci-fi, with a focus on deeply personal relationships. This novella is short (around 200 pages) but had probably impacted me more than anything I’ve read in a long time. Sending it directly to my love because I need him to read and experience it asap so we can talk about it. The fact that we fell in love over emails and messages, separated by time and distance, makes this book even more perfect and powerful. Warning, Jacob: if you don’t love this book, I’ll be very sad. But I know you will.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 188/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

November 12 2021

Moving pictures, by Terry Pratchett

Moving pictures

Moving pictures, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Moving pictures
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Film industry. Comedy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“The whole of life is just like watching a film. Only it’s as though you always get in ten minutes after the big picture has started, and no-one will tell you the plot, so you have to work it out all yourself from the clues.”
Sir Terry Pratchett was a genius, and this is particularly evident in his Discworld books which more closely parody our real life. Moving Pictures examines the development of the “clicks” in Ankh-Morpork. The alchemists have figured out how to harness the power of tiny demons painting a series of pictures to make movies. They set up their industry on Holy Wood, an abandoned area outside the city with the perfect climate. But, in true Discworld style, Magic gets involved where it shouldn’t be, and things quickly get out of control. What follows is a barrage of both subtle and in-your-face Hollywood film, character and trope references, including my favourite – when a giant celluloid woman carries the orangutan librarian up the side of a building. It’s a hilarious and insanely clever examination of the rise of the film industry, and the way it is viewed, idolised and idealised in society. So much fun, and the audiobook was brilliantly narrated as always by Nigel Planer.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 187/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

November 9 2021

The Cat Who Saved Books, by Sosuke Natsukawa

The cat who saved books

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

Title: The cat who saved books
Author: Sosuke Natsukawa
Genre/ issues: Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“I think the power of books is that – that they teach us to care about others. It’s a power that gives people courage and also supports them in turn.”
When you have a ginger cat, and a book cover like this, you’re obligated to take a photo of them together, right? If only Sweeney was more cooperative!
The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa is a lovely quick read about finding courage, friendship, and the power of books. Rintaro lived with his grandfather, and spent his free time in the tiny second-hand book store his grandfather ran. But when his grandfather dies, Rintaro is alone, and may have to close Natsuki Books.
But then, a cat appears. A talking tabby named Tiger needs the help of a booklover, to help rescue books from people who have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Rintaro discovers much about himself and the books around him after these magical journeys, and then finally has to face one more rescue alone.
A beautiful allegory for book lovers, especially those who hold a special place in their hearts for second hand books, and for rereading old favourites.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 186/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 31 2021

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula Le Guin

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The Earthsea Quartet, by Ursula Le Guin

Title: A Wizard of Earthsea
Author: Ursula Le Guin
Genre/ issues: Fantasy

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“But need alone is not enough to set power free: there must be knowledge.”

I don’t know why I’d not read any Ursula Le Guin before now, and delving into A Wizard of Earthsea this week has been a pure delight. We follow the life of Sparrowhawk, whose true name in the Old Language is Ged, and in the magic world of Earthsea true names have power. By knowing the true name of a creature or a thing you can enchant it, or control it.
As we follow Ged from childhood through troublesome adolescence, to his apprenticeship with the Wizard Ogion and his tutelage at the School of Wizards on Roke, he finds himself on a quest to defeat the shadow that has plagued him since an I’ll-advised magical pissing contest with a fellow student unleashed it into the world. And the shadow knows Ged’s name.
This book is wonderful. A short read at just 161 pages in length, it has deceptively simple linear narrative, and magnificent world building that sucks you in to Earthsea, with its archipelago of islands, complex and highly functioning trade routes, and deep respect for magic and the role of wizards. Whilst we see many villages as we travel with Ged, the inhabitants are largely left to do their own thing in the background, and our protagonist is one of only 3 characters that are given the space to grow in this right and deftly written masterpiece.
And, speaking of the writing … woah. Much of the action takes place on a boat, as you would expect from a land of tiny islands amidst an expansive ocean. This felt appropriate, as there’s a flow and a lilt to Le Guin’s prose that carries you along with it, occasionally caught in a rip as you get pulled in unexpected directions … wherever her words took me, I was happy to go.
I borrowed this book from @penrithcitylibrary, and I’ll be buying myself a copy to add to my collection, because once I’ve read the rest of the Earthsea quartet this is definitely a world I’m going to want to revisit.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 183/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 16 2021

Eric, by Terry Pratchett

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Eric, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Eric
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Fantasy.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Hell, it has been suggested, is other people.
This has always come as a bit of a surprise to working demons, who had always thought that Hell was sticking sharp things into people and pushing them into lakes of blood and so on.”
Eric is book 9 and one of the shorter books in the #Discworld series, and it was just the dose of delight I needed today to keep me company on a drive up the coast and an afternoon on the couch.
Eric is a Faustian parody, in which the 13-year-old demonologist, Eric Thursley, summons a demon to get his three wishes – he wants the mastery of all kingdoms, to meet the most beautiful woman who ever existed, and to live forever. Unfortunately the demon he summons is not actually a demon at all, but Rincewind, who became trapped in the Dungeon Dimension after the events of Sourcery (book 5). Eric at first doesn’t believe Rincewind, but they then end up on an adventure which results in his wishes being granted … kind of, sort of, in true Pratchett style.
I had hoped to get through all of the Discworld series this year, and given that I’m less than a quarter of the way there I don’t think that’s likely to happen, but I am very much enjoying this journey. I’m discovering books that I thought I’d read but I hadn’t, and rediscovering old favourites – and through all of that, I’m reminded just what a genius Terry Pratchett was. I miss him.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 174/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 15 2021

Horrostör, by Grady Hendrix

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Horrostör, by Grady Hendrix

Title: Horrostör
Author: Grady Hendrix
Genre/ issues: Horror.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’m not generally a horror genre fan, but the concept and design of this book was just too appealing to pass up. Horrostör by Grady Hendrix may remind you of a certain furniture and homewares store that specialises in flat pack furniture and an iconic Scandinavian aesthetic, but Orsk is definitely NOT IKEA. It is, according to Amy, a low-rent IKEA knock-off. And working here is not how she envisaged her life would pan out. But now, in an effort to keep her boss happy so he’ll approve her transfer, she finds herself on a clandestine overnight watch shift with 2 other employees, tasked with making regular inspections of the store and making sure that nothing weird happens. What they’re expecting is to hopefully find whoever has been trashing the store overnight. What they find is far more chilling.
This is a quick, engaging read. It takes place largely over the course of one night, and is a pretty simple read, without a lot of complexity in its backstory or world building. For those who are true horror aficionados, this may be horror-lite for you. For me, who deliberately read this in daylight hours, and will be rethinking any future IKEA trips, it was just creepy enough, thank you very much. The real highlight of this book is the design, from the iconic cover art, to the incorporation of furniture story advertisements to mark the beginning of chapters. The narrative itself also critiques the consumerist philosophy of major corporations as they attempt to force customers to follow the path of least resistance. If you need a good read for Halloween, but don’t want to be too scared out of your wits, this could be the book for you!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 172/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 14 2021

Sandman volume 6, by Neil Gaiman

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Sandman, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Sandman
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre/ issues: Comics. Audiobook. Fantasy/ horror.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Never trust the storyteller. Only trust the story.”
Volume 6 of #Sandman by @neilhimself is one of my favourites. Fables and Reflections aptly conveys what you’ll find in these pages – myths, histories, and religious tales from the Garden of Eden to Ramadan, all woven with the unique magic of the Dreaming and Morpheus. It’s truly a celebration of the power of stories throughout time, culture, and personal experience.
Finishing this volume also brought me to the end of the Sandman audiobook volume 2, which has been breathtaking, and worth every second of the 17 minute long credits that were required to acknowledge all the incredible voice actors who brought it to life.
I mentioned in my last post about this how impressed I was with the changes to the audio script with regards to trans representation, and I was similarly impressed with some of the minor changes made in this section, particularly in Ramadan. There were a few small but significant omissions which made this chapter much more sensitive in terms of racial representation. Did I mention I think that both the audiobook and the comics are incredible? I did? Good.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 170-171/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

October 11 2021

Locke & Key, by Joe Hill

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Locke & Key, by Joe Hill

Title: Locke & Key
Author: Joe Hill
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Horror. Comic books.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, you can find this book on Booktopia, or support your local independent bookstore. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“Books are no more than dreams manifested on the page, after all.”
It’s no secret that I love Neil Gaiman’s work, and I’m a big fan of Sandman. When I heard that there was a Locke & Key/ Sandman universe crossover coming, I was a little unsure. I’d not read Locke & Key, and had enjoyed the Netflix series of it, but didn’t quite see it as on the same level of intensity as what I’ve enjoyed so much about the world of Morpheus and the Dreaming. So ordered it anyway, because – well, Sandman.
Yesterday, I finally started reading Locke & Key, and you know what they say – the book is always better. Holy crapballs, are the books better. A breathtaking mix of horror, family history and compelling personal narratives, one page you’re rushing through weeks, months of mind blowing action, and the next you’re sitting with a soul as they reflect on their relationships, their traumas and their life. A fantastic story, brilliantly written and illustrated, and I’m so glad I decided to visit the source material after watching the show.
Today, my crossover volumes arrived, just in time for me to jump straight into them. Yeah, I can see why Sandman and Locke & Key are the perfect crossover now. I’m sorry I doubted you, @neilhimself and @joehill.

6 trade paperbacks, 3 comics, 2 days. Not a bad way to finish lockdown and ignore MY anxiety from everything opening up again here in NSW. I’m sure there’s a clever key metaphor in their somewhere!

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Locke & Key / Sandman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 159-167/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara