Review: The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

goodreads

(Look at that pretty cover!)

I have to admit I wasn’t too sure of the “suburban Beowulf” premise at first. But after a lot of praise and prodding by Jen of The Fantasy Inn (you were, as always, right – it was up my alley) I had to give it a try. I’m still not quite sure what I read, but I sure enjoyed it.

Listen to me. Listen. In some countries, you kill a monster when it’s born. Other places, you kill it only when it kills someone else. Other places, you let it go, out into the forest or the sea, and it lives there forever, calling for others of its kind. Listen to me, it cries. Maybe it’s just alone.

I have to admit I have only passing familiarity with Beowulf. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story at all, but I am wondering about all the connections I may have missed and the gaps the review might have because of it. So keep that in mind.

Continue reading “Review: The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley”

Review: City of Lies by Sam Hawke (Poison Wars #1)

city of lies.png

goodreads

Great book with one hell of an ending (warning: partial cliffhanger). I have finished it at a complete loss for words. Still, I must try.

Honor. […] How is it you are all so obsessed with one half of our creed and you apply it so strangely? You have twisted it into yet another system of rank, a way of measuring who is more valuable than whom. Honor is not a score in a game, Jovan. It is how you show yourself to other people and the regard in which you hold them, which in turn feeds the regard in which they hold you.

Silasta is a prosperous, safe city, seemingly a haven for artists and craftsmen. But when the chancellor is poisoned and the country’s populace starts besieging the city, they slowly learn that the comfort came at a terrible price. It’s quite rare to have a political intrigue mystery that’s both nuanced and has characters who are genuinely good people trying to do their best, but Hawke manages it wonderfully. Neither side is unsympathetic, the story could have been written from the rebels’ viewpoint just as easily. And the themes of xenophobia, honour, religion, family…it manages to be relevant without feeling preachy.

Continue reading “Review: City of Lies by Sam Hawke (Poison Wars #1)”

Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings #1)

Image result for lady's guide to petticoats and piracy

goodreads

This is so, so far outside of what I usually read. I’m not much for romance, I mostly avoid YA. I’m not averse to historical fiction, but I still don’t read it very often. Yet I’m glad I picked it up because I have enjoyed it immensely.

The great tragic love story of Percy and me is neither great nor truly a love story, and is tragic only for its single-sidedness. It is also not an epic monolith that has plagued me since boyhood, as might be expected. Rather, it is simply the tale of how two people can be important to each other their whole lives, and then, one morning, quite without meaning to, one of them wakes to find that importance has been magnified into a sudden and intense desire to put his tongue in the other’s mouth.

Continue reading “Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (Montague Siblings #1)”

Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow #1)

Image result for sparrow by mary doria russell

goodreads

The Sparrow is a book that left me with a lot of conflicted feelings. I’m glad I read it and I have enjoyed it immensely, as much as one can enjoy a tragedy. But would I recommend it? I’m honestly not so sure.

I have a huge weakness for stories with a mystery at the centre, where we know the ending, but not the how and the why. It intrigued me right from the start. The story is mostly centered on Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest and linguist, the sole survivor of a first contact mission gone horribly wrong. It starts shortly after he’s returned to Earth, physically and psychologically shattered, with some horrible rumours about him circulating. Immediately, there are questions. Why and how did the rest of the crew die? What went wrong? How is it that he survived? The unwrapping of said mystery is careful and unrushed, with two parallel timelines – one in the present, following his slow recovery, the other following the mission to the planet of Rakhat from the beginning to its disastrous end.

“No questions? No argument? No comfort for the afflicted?” he asked with acrid gaiety. “I warned you. I told you that you didn’t want to know. Now it’s in your minds. Now you have to live with knowing. But it was my body. It was my blood,” he said, choking with fury. “And it was my love.”

Continue reading “Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow #1)”

Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #1)

goodreads

I went into this book quite wary because of the combination of the incredible amount of hype and my disappointment with most of the other Sanderson books I read. I’m far from new to the genre. In fact, I did not plan to start the series until at least book 4 came out at all. But my friends insisted and I did not regret it.

Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.

It is, at its core, fairly classic epic fantasy. The protagonists are mostly noble, the antagonists are mostly bad, and the world needs saving. It’s also pretty damn good at what it does.

Continue reading “Review: The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #1)”

Review: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

Image result for unwomanly face of war

goodreads

I want to shove this book at everyone I know.

Can I find the right words? I can tell about how I shot. But about how I wept, I can’t. That will be left untold. I know one thing: in war a human being becomes frightening and incomprehensible. How can one understand him? You’re a writer. Think up something yourself. Something beautiful. Without lice and filth, without vomit…Without the smell of vodka and blood…Not so frightening as life…

This is a collection of accounts of Russian women who went through WWII – soldiers of all kinds, partisan fighters, and medical workers mostly, but also washerwomen, bakers, mechanics, civilians…both about the war and what happened afterwards. All of them women whose stories were forgotten; silenced or forced to keep to a certain, more traditional narrative of glory. It’s hardly a traditional war book. No listings of great battles, victories, losses. Only very human, personal stories from the perspective of those who did not get to tell them until then.

Continue reading “Review: The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich”