January 10 2021

The colour of magic, by Terry Pratchett

colour of magic

The colour of magic, by Terry Pratchett

Title: The colour of magic
Author: Terry Pratchett
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Friendship. Identity. Mental Health.

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’ve decided to do a Discworld reread this year. Jacob is reading me Lords and Ladies as our current bedtime read, but I’m mostly going to read in publication order (which is NOT how I’d recommend you start if you’re new to Discworld, FYI!)
The Colour of Magic is a delightful romp around the Discworld, and I had remembered enjoying it when I first read it 20-something years ago, but was quite surprised to discover just how little I’d remembered of it. The luggage! Pratchett’s writing is masterful, with a witty control of language that simultaneously creates a unique and fascinating new world whilst cleverly critiquing aspects of our own world that we frequently take for granted. 10/10 would recommend – but if you’ve not read Discworld before, maybe start with Mort instead. You can thank me later

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 5/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 5 2021

A darker shade of magic, by VE Schwab

Darker shade of magic

A darker shade of magic, by WE Schwab

Title: A darker shade of magic
Author: VE Schwab
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Magic. Alternate worlds.

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 read my first book by VE Schwab last year – The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was one of my top 5 books of 2020, and is a beautifully written wonder of an urban fantasy that captured my heart. I went into A Darker Shade of Magic cautiously optimistic, because it’s had such good reviews, and wow- it did not disappoint.
Kell is a traveller – a magician with the rare ability to travel between the parallel universes linked by the common geography of London. But whilst the city itself is the same in each of the worlds, there is nothing else familiar, and Red, Grey and White London are all living under different reigns with wildly varying relationships with magic, freedom and power. And then there’s Lila – a pickpocket trying to forge a better life for herself in Grey London, where magic doesn’t exist. But fate – and a special rock – bring Lila and Kell together.
This book is fantastic. Sharp and elegantly written prose, with a unique take on magic that I can’t wait to learn more about. And luckily, it’s book 1 in a series, so guess who has two thumbs and just ordered the rest of it? I’m usually frustrated by the ending of books that are obviously the first in a series, but I have to say I found this one immensely satisfying – I definitely want to know what happens next, and to hopefully catch a glimpse of Black London, mentioned in this book in hushed tones as being sealed off from all the others after magic got out of control – which immediately makes me want to visit, from the safety of the other side of the page, of course!
Content warnings: abuse, torture, control and compulsion/ loss of bodily autonomy.
My second book for the year, and my second 5 star read.

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 2/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 4 2021

Marvel 1602, by Neil Gaiman

Darker shade of magic

A darker shade of magic, by WE Schwab

Title: Marvel 1602
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Andy Kubert
Illustrator: Richard Isanove
Genre/ issues: Fantasy/ sci-fi. Comics. Alternate history.

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.

My first read of the year, and it’s a doozy. Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman takes the characters we are familiar with from the Marvel Universe, and transposes them into early 17th century Europe. With clever adaptations of character names (pre-spidey Peter Parquagh is servant to the Queen’s intelligencer Sir Nicholas Fury) and subtle but unmistakable costuming that reflects our modern era expectations but contextualises them to the time and place of the comic, this is the Marvel we know, but also something completely different. Whilst the time period means that the United States of America is not yet on the map, Roanoke features as a looming concern, and despite the action being almost completely set in England and Europe, this still manages to be a text which speaks heavily to the concerns of the US, both when the comic was released, and sadly still today. Equality. Discrimination. Fear. Hatred of the other. Power and privilege.
And the artwork. Holy shit, folks, this is next level stunning. With illustrations by Andy Kubert and digital painting by Richard Isanove, every page – no, every frame is like an oil painting. The colour, texture and detail had me feeling like I was browsing a gallery of art from the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
A great first book for the year. Now to decide where to shelve it – both my comic and my Gaiman shelves are packed to overflowing!

#TamaraReads #2021readingchallenge 1/2021

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

January 4 2021

#2020ReadingChallenge wrap up

2020 books readBuckle in, readers, this is going to be a long one!

I started 2020 with the ambitious goal of reading 52 books throughout the year. but ended up more than doubling that. I read some incredible books – in fact, there’s almost nothing on here that I wouldn’t recommend to someone. There were indeed some stand-outs, and I’ve compiled my top 5 books in a few different categories, as well as a top 5 and top 20 books overall – because it was hard to narrow it down! I’ve really enjoyed challenging myself to read new things this year – I read more non-fiction than I normally do, I got back into reading comics again, and most of my books were written by own voices and/or BIPOC authors, and feature diverse and authentic representation of characters and experiences.

My stats:
📚 Total books read: 111
📚 New-to-me authors: 68
📚 Books featuring significant diverse content/ characters: 84
📚 Books by diverse authors: 73
📚 Rereads: 7
📚 Non-fiction: 11
📚 Comics/ graphics: 36
📚 Picture books: 13
📚 Audiobooks: 16
📚 Main genres: Contemporary (46), Fantasy (31), Sci-fi (27)
📚 Most recommended books: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
📚 Most purchased book: Euphoria Kids.

I focused a lot this year on #diversifyingmybookshelf – consciously reading books by authors of colour, and featuring BIPOC characters that were authentically represented. I’ve always read queer literature pretty extensively, and one of my increasing focuses as the year went on was the representation of mental health and disability in my reading, particularly in YA books. I’ve enjoyed some of these #ownvoices reads most of all, and will be seeking out more fiction that presents these types of issues and characters in authentic and meaningful ways.

2020 was a good reading year for me, and I was surprised to see that I’d read more contemporary than anything else – I think of myself as a sci-fi/fantasy girl! I’m using TheStorygraph to track my #2021readingchallenge, so I’m interested to see how those stats come out at the end of this year – the above info is taken from my highly unscientific excel spreadsheet dump, after I realised that GoodReads wasn’t going to give me the goods.

Top 5 books

Top Books Overall

I’ve been debating how to present my top 10 list of reads from 2020, and figured out that whilst I can do a top 5 easily, narrowing the next 5 down was considerably more difficult. So, here are my top 5 reads of last year, along with a top 20.

Every single book in my top 5 I will read again, and have recommended to multiple people. I’ve also purchased multiple copies of them to give as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, and “just because” gifts throughout the year.

In no particular order:

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria “V.E.” Schwab
  • Euphoria Kids by Alison Evans
  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin
top 20 booksThe rest of my top 20 are all excellent reads, and all for different reasons. Some made me laugh. Some made me cry. They all made me think, and feel a whole lot of feelz. They all made me proud to be a reader, and inspired me more to strive to be a writer. At least half of them could have made it into my top 5 if one of the aforementioned authors had done a less-than-perfect job on their books. So here are 6-20 on my top 20, in no particular order:
  • How it feels to float, by Helena Fox
  • Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz
  • Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann
  • The Strangeworlds travel agency by LD Lapinski
  • Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Long way down by Jason Reynolds
  • The poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Anxious people by Fredrik Backman
  • Future Girl by Asphyxia
  • They both die at the end by Adam Silvera
  • Snow, glass, apples, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran
  • Wonder Woman rebirth by Greg Rucka
  • Catch and kill by Ronan Farrow
  • Black enough: stories of being young and black in America, Ed by Ibi Zoboi
  • Peta Lyre’s rating normal by Anna Whateley

top 5 ya

Top 5 YA reads

I read a lot of YA – most than half the books in my 111 total for the year were young adult, and all of them great, so this was hard to narrow down. I didn’t include Euphoria Kids, which was on my top5 best books overall list, and that gave me room for one more on here, which I desperately needed.
I didn’t realise until taking this photo that this collection has a nice spread of issues and characters – queer, neurodivergence, race, mental health, disability – and it probably more fully captures my reading interests than any of my other top5 lists!
In no particular order (well ok – in the order they appear in the photo, but not in any order to assign preference, because they all freaking rock and you should read them all if you haven’t yet):
  •  How it feels to float by Helena Fox
  •  Future girl by Asphyxia
  •  Peta Lyre’s rating normal by Anna Whateley
  •  Children of blood and bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  •  Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
 Reiterating here – read these books. I will say, though, some/ most of them deal with some heavy content at some point. Trigger warnings particularly for mental health issues in HIFTF and PLRN, suicidal ideation in HIFTF, some extreme violence/torture/ racial discrimination in COBAB, dystopian issues around food insecurity in FG, family abandonment in PLRN. I’m not telling you this to discourage you – I just really believe you need to know what you’re getting into sometimes, and if these issues might be particularly triggering for you right now, wait until you’re feeling more able to cope with their fictional representation before you pick up these books. But please, pick them up. Outstanding novels, all.

top 5 poetry

Top 5 Poetry reads

My top 5 poetry reads for 2020 are all verse novels. I love the verse novel form, and I read quite a few last year. My faves, in no particular order, are:
  •  Worse things by @sallymurphyauthor
  •  Long way down by @jasonreynolds83
  •  The poet X by @acevedowrites
  •  Run, Rebel by Manjeet Mann
  •  The crossover by @kwamealexander
A couple of these could also have made their way onto some of my other Top 5 lists – Worse Things is an excellent middle grade/ lower secondary novel, and The Poet X is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year. They’re all excellent reads. If you have slightly reluctant readers, or those who struggle to find the time to read a full-length traditional novel, I highly recommend the verse novel format as a way to help bridge that gap for them.
One of the features I love about verse novels is how the form seems to allow us to connect with characters on a deep emotional level, and after reading a few of these earlier in the year I started dabbling in writing in verse for my NaNoWriMo project. I’m really loving it, both as a reader and a writer. If you’ve not read a verse novel before, any of these would be great places to start.

top 5 picture books

Top 5 picture books

My top 5 picture books are all very different. Ranging from sweet easy read-along books suitable for younger children, to something to inspire deeper thought for middle grade readers, to deep and complex examination of capitalism, exploitation of workers, and human rights.
My top 5, in no particular order, are:
  •  How to make a bird, by @megmckinlay and @mattottleyart
  •  Migrants, by Issa Watanabe
  •  Julian at the wedding, by @jesslovedraws
  •  Diamonds, by Armin Greder
  •  Alphabetical Tashi by Anna and Barbara Fienberg
I love picture books. I believe that they offer incredible opportunities to engage with stories for readers of all ages and skill levels. And yet, when it came to including them on my #2020readingchallenge list, I still kind of felt a bit like I was cheating. They don’t take nearly as long as a full-sized prose novel. Could I really justify including a book with no words on a reading list? Turns out, yes. Yes I can. Because the length of time a book takes to consume doesn’t influence its impact. What matters is that you find a world to immerse yourself in that engages you, that entertains, inspires, challenges or comforts you while you read it, and hopefully beyond that. All of these books did that for me, from the nostalgia of Tashi to the inspiration of How to make a bird to the challenge of Diamonds. If you want to read more, but don’t feel like you have time, head into your library and ask them to point you to their collection of picture books for older readers. They aren’t just for little kids until they’re ready to move onto “real” reading. What was your favourite picture book of 2020?

top 5 comics

Top 5 Comic/ Graphic reads

2020 was the year of rediscovering my love of comics. I used to read them a bit when I was a kid, but stopped when I was around 12 – I don’t remember why. For the past few years I’ve wanted to get back into reading them, but there always seemed to be such a big barrier to entry and I didn’t know where to start. After a discussion with Jacob, though, I did a bit of research, asked some comic nerd friends for advice, and bit the bullet. I’ve read 36 comics and graphic novels this year, and I’ve loved the diversity of the worlds and characters I’ve discovered. One of Jacob’s friends recommended “anything by Greg Rucka”, and that has proven to be useful advice indeed. My top 5 comic/ graphic reads for 2020 are:

  •  Ms Marvel, vol1
  •  Wonder Woman Rebirth, vol1, by @ruckawriter et al
  •  The old guard, another Rucka masterpiece.
  •  Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman
  •  Lumberjanes, by @gingerhazing et al
If you don’t read comics but would like to, here are my tried and true tips for getting started!
Pick a character from pop culture you like and do some googling. Comic fans somewhere will have debated the best entry point to get into their story!
Have you loved a tv show that’s based on a comic or graphic? Get that! You already know you’ll enjoy the story and characters, no matter how weirdly different they may be in comic form (I’m looking at you, Umbrella Academy).
There are plenty of graphic novels adapted from traditional novels – check to see if there are any made of books you like.
If you find the prospect of a whole comic series daunting, try a shorter arc. I’m currently reading Marvel 1602 and I think it’s be a great comic entry point for MCU fans who want to start reading comics (plus, it’s written by @neilhimself!)
And finally, do some research to find your most helpful local comic store. I’ve loved the service at @kingscomics, and they’ve really helped me develop my comics collection this year. I tend to do most of my inquiries online, because whilst they all seem great in person, I still have some “middle aged woman in a comic store” hang ups when it comes to asking for advice in store. The staff are great, though, and know their stuff.

top 5 middle grade reads

Top 5 middle grade reads

One more top5 for today- my fave middle grade reads of my #2020readingchallenge. Some are solid middle grade books, others are transitional middle grade/ YA – all are excellent reads.
  • George, by @alexginoofficial
  • The Strangeworlds Travel Agency, by @ldlapinski
  • Ghost, by @jasonreynolds83
  • Bindi, by @kirli.saunders and @dubleffler
  • Hollowpox: the hunt for Morrigan Crow, by @digressica
There’s some diversity here. An illustrated verse novel about Indigenous family and community. A black kid finding his place on a track team. A trans girl dealing with coming out to her family and friends. And a couple of cracker middle grade/ YAish fantasy books with fantastic complex characters. I think Hollowpox is the pick of the Morrigan Crow series, for what it’s worth, and I have high hopes for what comes next in the Strangeworlds series. Younger readers can deal with deeper and more complex issues than we give them credit for, especially when those issues are presented with such beautiful, sensitive and thoughtful writing as it is by these authors.
Have you read any of these? What do you think?

top 5 non fiction

Top 5 Non-fiction reads

My top 5 non-fiction for 2020 is an eclectic bunch. I don’t tend to read a lot of non-fiction, so the fact that I had enough for a top 5 was a surprise to me – in fact, 10% of my #2020readingchallenge was non-fiction books.
The best of them for me were:
  •  Stamped from the beginning: a history of racist ideas in America, by @ibramxk (YA version pictured – I listened to the audiobook on Spotify)
  •  Dragon Hoops, by @geneluenyang
  •  Astronauts: Women on the final frontier, by @gtlabsrat and @mariswicks
  •  Living on stolen land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina
  •  Catch and Kill: lies, spies, and a conspiracy to protect predators, by @ronanfarrow
It’s an eclectic mix. A detailed historical examination of racist ideas in the US. A graphic novel memoir of the author’s life in parallel with his portrayal of the championship basketball team at his school. A graphic novel history of women’s involvement in the space program. A verse novel manifesto about the importance of acknowledging Indigenous custodianship of the land. And, finally, and expose on one of the key cases of the #metoo movement. I’ve enjoyed consciously reading a bit more non-fiction this year, and will be looking for more, particularly those in non-prose form. I’ve enjoyed the graphic novel format for non-fiction, and it allows for some deeper reflections on the nature of memory and recreating history on the page.
So, that’s my 2020 in books. At the time of posting this, I’m already about 8 books into my 2021 reading challenge – I’ve not set myself a number target this year, but I am hoping read a similar amount of diverse and interesting stories. I’m starting a reread of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which I’m really looking forward to, and I’m going to read more middle grade books – it’s an area that I don’t read widely from. I hope you read something great last year – if you didn’t that’s ok too. Start now! If you want any recommendations, hit me up – it’d be an honour to help you find your next favourite read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 111/111

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

December 28 2020

Love is not enough, by Mark Manson

Love is not enough

Love is not enough, by Mark Manson

Title: Love is not enough
Author: Mark Manson
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Romance. Relationships. Self-help.

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.

When I do housework I tend to listen to non-fiction audiobooks, and yesterday whilst mowing the lawns I started on this one, mostly because it was relatively short (the other option in my audible library was Barrack Obama’s new book at 29 hours long!)
I’ve not read Manson’s Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, and I’m not quite sure why I had this in my library – maybe it was one of those free options one month? I also don’t think this was necessarily the book I needed to listen to right now, as I deal with some sadness over my long distance relationship (the distance part, not the relationship part) and have been reflecting on previous relationships and how they have impacted my almost non-existent social circle right now. This was a slightly challenging read on that score, examining some of the areas that people get trapped in as they try to establish positive relationships. I recognised areas that I struggled with in the past. I identified some aspects of my personality that I deal with currently, and am cognisant of the impact of them on the people around me.
This is a thoughtful and conversational book, which presents almost more like a collection of podcasts, featuring interviews with a number of people with a range of relationship issues and dynamics. It’s an interesting read, and I’m glad I finished it – partly so I can stop dwelling on it for my own sanity, but partly also because it did help provide me with some context and reassurance that decisions I’ve made in relationships have been the right ones … eventually, if not initially. It was gratifying to hear Manson identify so many elements that I value about my relationship with Jacob as being as being key markers in healthy and successful relationships. If you’re into practical, positive and realistic self-help books, and want to do a check-in on your own relationship status, this might be a good option for you.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 107/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

December 28 2020

Simon Stalenhag art books – Tales from the loop

Title: Tales from the loop, Things from the flood, and The Electric State
Author: Simon Stalenhag
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Dystopian fiction. Art 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.

Tales from the loop

Tales from the loop

Tales from the Loop is incredible. This is another Christmas gift from Jacob, as we had watched the TV series made from this book and enjoyed it so much, we were both fascinated with its origins as an art book. It didn’t disappoint. Presented in pseudo-documentary style as the memoirs of a childhood lived in Sweden, the artwork and accompanying narratives tell of a world similar but oh-so-different to ours. The Loop operates outside of town, and creates anomalies in time and space. Abandoned metal spheres and robots litter the landscape, providing opportunities for strange and unusual encounters that just seem like normal experiences growing up around the Loop. Descriptions of magnetic flight and transport seemed so authentic and believable that at times I had to remind myself that this is fiction. And the artwork! Beautifully detailed and evocative of a rural, 80’s childhood not unlike the one I led, albeit with more metal structures, robots and dinosaurs in the surrounding fields. This is a truly fascinating book, highly recommended whether or not you have watched Prime’s Tales from the Loop. If you enjoy Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone, this could be right up your alley,

Things from the flood

Things from the flood

Things From the Flood. Aka, Tales from the Loop , now with 40% added spookiness!

This book follows the experiences of our narrator who shared his life growing up in the 80’s in Tales From the Loop, and shows us his life in the 90’s as the Loop operations are shut down, the neighbourhood floods with strange waters from the Loop, and the robots and machinery begin to exhibit some strange other-worldly traits. I was particularly fascinated by the chapter featuring itinerant robots with malfunctioning AI, one of which graces the cover. The illustrations are crafted with exquisite detail and I found myself getting lost in speculation about what life must be like for them. Whilst Tales from the Loop is serenely sci-fi pastoral, Things From The Flood adds a slightly more looming and sinister tone to the landscape. Equally brilliant but with a tension and suspense that raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I’m sure that was the artist’s aim – and it was a job well done.
The electric state

The Electric State

The Electric State. The third book by Stålenhag, I didn’t think it possible for it to be weirder or my chilling than Things from the Flood – and yet here we are. Set in the US, a young woman and her robot companion are on a journey through the desert to the coast line, whilst around them the landscape and the remaining people become more disturbing. Drones take on a sinister role, engaging with humanity in inexplicable and disturbing ways. The majority of people left in the abandoned towns the girl and robot pass through wear neurocasters – a type of VR headset that resembles a plague doctor’s mask, and bodes just as ill for them. There are scarce few answers in this chilling narrative of an alternate 1990’s American landscape, but a lot of unpleasant questions, and thankfully this one feels slightly more fictional than Stålenhag’s previous two works – a fact for which I’m especially grateful as I’ve been kept up by insomnia and tinnitus, it’s almost 2am, and I don’t think a more realistic portrayal of this chilling story would have done anything to help me sleep when I eventually get back to bed tonight!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 104-106/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

December 26 2020

Snowpiercer the prequel

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer, the prequel

Title: Snowpiercer The prequel: Part 1 Extinction and Part 2, Apocalypse
Author: Matz
Genre/ issues: Sci-fi. Dystopian fiction. Climate change.

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.

Snowpiercer the prequel, Part 1: Extinction and Part 2: Apocalypse. If you’re familiar with any of the other incarnations of Snowpiercer – the Netflix series, the movie, or the graphic novels translated from their original French that started the whole train journey – you’ll know this is not a pleasant story. Snowpiercer, 1001 cars long, is a train circling the earth and maintaining human life, such as it is, after an environmental apocalypse caused a global freeze. These two prequel graphics show the lead up to that apocalypse, and how a number of groups and individuals responded to the increasing environmental and economic issues on the planet.
The prequels are visually different to the main graphic novels, containing a colour and warmth that is fittingly lacking in the stark black and white colouring of life on the train after the world is covered in ice and snow. There are still a lot of questions left for me after reading these, and I was hoping for more background on the train itself, but the logistics and mechanics of that behemoth are left frustratingly vague. Still, all in all, a fascinating read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 102-103/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

December 24 2020

The strange library, by Haruki Murakami

Murakami

The strange library, by Haruki Murakami

Title: The strange library
Author: Haruki Murakami
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.

There are a few sure-fire ways to get me to buy and/or read your book. One of them is to make it set in, or about, a weird library. I cannot resist.
Murakami’s The Strange Library certainly fits that bill, with lovely and creepy library ephemera scattered throughout the pages. This illustrated tale tells the story of a boy who wants to return his books and borrow a volume about tax collection in the Ottoman Empire, but instead finds himself in a cell reading restricted collection volumes to fatten up his brain for his eventual demise at the hands of a creepy librarian who wants to feast on him. A sheep man, a girl who can’t speak and might not actually be a girl at all, and a maze of corridors … will he escape? What does it all mean?
This book has Twin Peaks, Gaiman, Burton, and Orwellian undertones. It’s my first Murakami and it won’t be my last! And with that, I’m at 100 books for the year, after readjusting my goal from 52 when it became obvious I was going to smash through that in July. It’s been a good reading year. I’m not relishing putting together my “best books” list for 2020, but that’s a Future Tamara problem.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 100/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

December 6 2020

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

audio

The midnight library, by Matt Haig

Title: The midnight library
Author: Matt Haig
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Finding your purpose.

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.

When a book has a chapter heading “God and other librarians”, I can’t help but feel it’s been written specifically for me. And in Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, that’s kind of the point. But first, trigger warnings: suicidal ideation/ action. Depression, anxiety, drug & alcohol abuse/ addiction.
Nora is deeply unsatisfied with her life & is filled with regrets – alone, no meaningful relationships, she lost her job and her cat died. She decides she doesn’t want to see tomorrow, and does something about it.
She finds herself in the Midnight Library – existing only in the moment between life and death, as time doesn’t shift past 0:00:00, and curated by her school librarian, the Midnight Library is an inexhaustible collection of possible future lives for Nora, if only one thing had been different. Each potential alternative lives on the shelves in books with covers of varying thicknesses and in varying shades of green.
This novel deals with some complex topics, delving into theories of philosophy which was appropriately Nora’s major at university, as well as deep scientific concepts such as the multiverse and string theory. Despite this, it’s fairly easy to follow, with a linear narrative that carries you through Nora’s explorations of her possible lives if only she’d done something different – she ponders at one point, “Are there any other lives at all, or is it just the furnishings that change?”
There are moments of desperate sadness in this book, and whilst I found the beginning stronger than the end, it was compelling enough that I started listening to the audiobook yesterday morning when mowing the lawn, and laid in bed finishing it last night, reaching the final few words, appropriately, just as the clock hit midnight.
What would your book of regrets contain? I know mine contains a lot of things that I wish I could undo – mostly because of their impact on others than on me. But I hope that, most days, I’m more ok than not with the current volume of my life, depression and anxiety and regrets and all. Whilst I love the concept of The Midnight Library, I’m ok with not visiting it – although I do know without question who the librarian would be.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 94/100

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

November 28 2020

Gaiman graphics love

Gaiman graphics

Likely Stories and Snow, Glass, Apples, by Neil Gaiman

Title: Snow, Glass, Apples
Author:
Neil Gaiman
Illustrator:
Colleen Doran

Title: Likely Stories
Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Mark Buckingham

Genre/ issues: Horror. Illustrated stories. Fairytale retelling. Urban 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 have a secret to tell you. Are you ready? It’s going to be earth-shattering to you all.
*deep breath*
I love @neilhimself.
There, I said it.
It’s Sunday, I’ve just had a Covid test so I’m isolating until I get the results (something new and different for me!) so instead of working on my NaNoWriMo project, I’m working my way some comics and graphics that I’ve collected but not yet gotten around to reading. Holy crapballs, these two are stunning!
Not for children nor the faint of heart, Snow, Glass, Apples is a retelling of the Snow White story completely unlike the Disney fairytale you’re used to. It’s not like any version, really. A chilling reimagining of a familiar tale, with the most breathtaking illustrations by Colleen Doran. I’m feeling a little off-kilter after finishing it, and I guess that’s the point. If you’ve not seen this masterpiece, I’d highly recommend it. Warning – very adult. This is not for the children obsessed with fairytales in your life. It depicts (spoilers ahead – skip to next paragraph if you don’t want to know!) sex, vampirism including a child vampire sucking blood from her father’s nether regions, slaughter and a being burned alive. I told you, chilling. But utterly beautiful and compelling.
Likely Stories  is an anthology of 4 creepy stories, artfully illustrated in traditional comic strip panel style by Mark Buckingham. I’d seen an animated version of Feeders and Eaters once, and had heard Closing Time as an audio story, but the other 2 were new to me. Disturbing and leaving you a bit on edge in that signature Gaiman style, this is a wonderful collection – as long as you’re ok with that lingering wondering following you around for days after you finish reading. I think I need to find something a bit more uplifting to finish off my weekend!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 90-91/100

Happy reading,

Tamara