Queer TBR Pile Review: When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain, by Nghi Vo

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Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 8th 2020 by Tordotcom
ISBN:1250786134 (ISBN13: 9781250786135)
The Singing Hills Cycle #2

“Dangerous, subtle, unexpected and familiar, angry and ferocious and hopeful. . . . The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a remarkable accomplishment of storytelling.”—NPR

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.

My Review 

In The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Chih hears the stories of the Empresses life and that of her loyal companion. In this, Chih is up in the mountains, riding mammoths and being chased by tigers. Tigers who are able to turn into humans.

In order to save their life, and that of their human and mammoth companions, Chih tells a story about an earlier human Scholar who meets a tiger who can become a human. The tiger queen interrupts and corrects the story repeatedly.

This is another story within a story, although more accurately it’s two stories in a story as the tigers tell their version of events and the humans write it down for ‘correction’. And to save their lives. As Scheherazade tells stories to save her life, so Chih tells the story and listens to the tigers’ story in the hopes that the sun will rise and help will come with it.

I should have finished this a month ago but stuff got in the way and really, I rushed from reading the first book to reading this one and it was a bit too much of a change in pace and setting for me. However, this afternoon, after I walked Ezzie, had teas and then waited for the shopping delivery, I picked up this book. The last two thirds flew by in an hour. It was most inconvenient for the shopping to arrive early for a change, but I went back to the remaining pages, gripped with anticipation. How would Chih save them?

Obviously, I’m not going to tell you how, but Chih and the rest are saved, and the tigers leave. There’s a love story in the story within the story, and seeing things through the eyes of the tigers was fun, because they obviously have different priorities to humans.

I enjoyed the evocative descriptions, and the cultures and mythology of the civilisation of the books, which are clearly based on broadly east Asian, possibly more specifically Chinese and Mongolian, history, culture and mythology. I can’t wait to see what Chih gets up to next.

Non-Fiction TBR Pile Review: The Dark Fantastic – Race and the imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games

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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published May 21st 2019 by
New York University Press
ISBN:1479800651 (ISBN13: 9781479800650)

Reveals the diversity crisis in children’s and young adult media as not only a lack of representation, but a lack of imagination

Stories provide portals into other worlds, both real and imagined. The promise of escape draws people from all backgrounds to speculative fiction, but when people of color seek passageways into the fantastic, the doors are often barred. This problem lies not only with children’s publishing, but also with the television and film executives tasked with adapting these stories into a visual world. When characters of color do appear, they are often marginalized or subjected to violence, reinforcing for audiences that not all lives matter.

The Dark Fantastic is an engaging and provocative exploration of race in popular youth and young adult speculative fiction. Grounded in her experiences as YA novelist, fanfiction writer, and scholar of education, Thomas considers four black girl protagonists from some of the most popular stories of the early 21st century: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Analyzing their narratives and audience reactions to them reveals how these characters mirror the violence against black and brown people in our own world.

In response, Thomas uncovers and builds upon a tradition of fantasy and radical imagination in Black feminism and Afrofuturism to reveal new possibilities. Through fanfiction and other modes of counter-storytelling, young people of color have reinvisioned fantastic worlds that reflect their own experiences, their own lives. As Thomas powerfully asserts, “we dark girls deserve more, because we are more.”

Continue reading “Non-Fiction TBR Pile Review: The Dark Fantastic – Race and the imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games”

Autism TBR Pile Review: Stim – An Autistic Anthology, edited by Lizzie Huxley-Jones

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Hardcover, First Edition, 216 pages
Published 2020 by Unbound
ISBN13: 9781783529025

Around one in one hundred people in the UK are autistic, yet there remains a fundamental misunderstanding of what autism is. It is rare that autistic people get to share their own experiences, show how creative and talented and passionate they are, how different they are from media stereotypes.

This insightful and eye-opening collection of essays, fiction and visual art showcases the immense talents of some of the UK’s most exciting writers and artists – who just happen to be on the spectrum. Here they reclaim the power to speak for themselves and redefine what it means to be autistic.

Stim invites the reader into the lives, experiences, minds of the eighteen contributors, and asks them to recognise the hurdles of being autistic in a non-autistic world and to uncover the empathy and understanding necessary to continue to champion brilliant yet unheard voices. 

My review

When Lizzie was hawking this book around Twitter, trying to get enough backers on Unbound, I asked to be put on the list for a gifted copy – that is, I was too poor at the time to support the book but if someone paid for an extra copy for someone without funds then I would be in with a chance of getting one.

I did, and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while, but blog tours and my job got in the way. But in the last few days I’ve managed to get up to date with the blog tours for March and have some breathing room so I read Stim.

I laughed, I cried, a lot, I enjoyed the stories and the art work, it was so refreshing to read other peoples’ experiences of life and see my own reflected back. People from many places and with different support needs. The only thing they had in common was a diagnosis of autism/Asperger’s Syndrome/ASC/ASC/whatever we’re being labelled as these days.

This is a weighty little book, nice texture to the pages, right size for carrying around. I love the cover, it’s not overwhelming or too bright. The resources at the end might be useful for a reader who isn’t autistic.

Autistic people are quite capable of telling their own stories, whether in words, pictures or gestures, and this book shares some of them.

Cover Reveal: A Chance Encounter, by Rae Shaw

A Chance Encounter

Julianna Baptiste, a feisty bodyguard, finds her new job tedious, that is until her boss, the evasive Jackson Haynes, spikes her curiosity. Who is behind the vicious threats to his beautiful wife and why is he interested in two estranged siblings?

Mark works for Haynes’s vast company. He’s hiding from ruthless money launderers.

His teenage sister Ellen has an online friend whom she has never met. Ellen guards a terrible secret.

For eight years their duplicitous father has languished in prison, claiming he is innocent of murder. The evidence against him is overwhelming, so why does Mark persist with an appeal?

Keen to prove her potential as an investigator, Julianna forces Mark to confront his mistakes. The consequences will put all their lives in danger.

Pre-order Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08X1PN4VH

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08X1PN4VH

Continue reading “Cover Reveal: A Chance Encounter, by Rae Shaw”

Review: The Domestic Revolution, by Ruth Goodman @omarabooks @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Blurb 

A large black cast iron range glowing hot, the kettle steaming on top, provider of everything from bath water and clean socks to morning tea: it’s a nostalgic icon of a Victorian way of life. But it is far more than that. In this book, social historian and TV presenter Ruth Goodman tells the story of how the development of the coal-fired domestic range fundamentally changed not just our domestic comforts, but our world.

The revolution began as far back as the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when London began the switch from wood to coal as its domestic fuel – a full 200 years before any other city. It would be this domestic demand for more coal that would lead to the expansion of mining, engineering, construction and industry: the Domestic Revolution kick-started, pushed and fuelled the Industrial Revolution.

There were other radical shifts. Coal cooking was to change not just how we cooked but what we cooked (causing major swings in diet), how we washed (first our laundry and then our bodies) and how we decorated (spurring the wallpaper industry). It also defined the nature of women’s and men’s working lives, pushing women more firmly into the domestic sphere. It transformed our landscape and environment (by the time of Elizabeth’s death in 1603, London’s air was as polluted as that of modern Beijing). Even tea drinking can be brought back to coal in the home, with all its ramifications for the shape of the empire and modern world economics.

Taken together, these shifts in our day-to-day practices started something big, something unprecedented, something that was exported across the globe and helped create the world we live in today.

Continue reading “Review: The Domestic Revolution, by Ruth Goodman @omarabooks @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours”

Review: 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, Vol. II, by Marielle S Smith

‘With this book by your side, anything feels possible.’ Jacqueline Brown

Tired of not having a sustainable writing practice? You, too, can get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be!

52 Weeks of Writing:

  • makes you plan, track, reflect on, and improve your progress and goals for an entire year;
  • helps you unravel the truth about why you aren’t where you want to be; and
  • keeps you writing through weekly thought-provoking quotes and prompts.

With this second volume of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, writing coach and writer Mariëlle S. Smith brings you the same successful strategies to craft the perfect writing practice as she did in the first journal. The only difference? Fifty-three different writing quotes and prompts and a brand-new look!

Purchase Links

A printable PDF is available through: https://payhip.com/b/0YgJ Get 50% off until 31 March 2021 by using the coupon code 52WOW during checkout.

Continue reading “Review: 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner, Vol. II, by Marielle S Smith”

The BFS Awards 2020: My reviews of the books in the Best Anthology category

I’ve been keeping fairly quiet about this, even after the British Fantasy Society announced the shortlist and jurors; I’m one of the jurors for the Best Anthology category. The Awards ceremony was yesterday (Monday 22nd February 2021) and was streamed on YouTube and Facebook.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsAgzty3SeNzHV3canzycwA

Originally the following were the shortlist:

·      New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction for People of Colour, ed. Nisi Shawl

·      Once Upon a Parsec: The Book of Alien Fairy Tales, ed. David Gullen

·      Wonderland, ed. Marie O’Regan & Paul Kane

·      The Woods, ed. Phil Sloman

Other jurors added:

  • A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods, ed. by Jennifer Brozek
  • The Big Book of Classic Fantasy, ed. Jeff and Anne VanderMeer

You can find the short lists for the other categories here.

Now that the winners (add link to winners list)have been announced, I can safely share my thoughts on the books I read for the awards.

Continue reading “The BFS Awards 2020: My reviews of the books in the Best Anthology category”

Book Blitz: Tsalix Silverthorn and the Desert of Desolation by Richard Siddoway

Blurb 

Having retrieved the first talisman from the top of Mount Jinee, Tsalix and his friends are faced with another daunting task.  They must cross Shayeksten, the Desert of Desolation to reach Mount Tsood and find the second talisman.

Shayeksten is formidable, dry, hot, and covered with drifting sand.  Compounding their problem is their nemesis, Captain Nash Doitsoh and his band of soldiers, who are patrolling the desert and are determined to capture Tsalix and bring him to Prince Abadon. If they are successful in crossing Shayeksten and reaching Mount Tsood they must find where the talisman is hidden and then return to Mount Deschee to deliver it to the King.