The Fiction Fox
Despite the extra day this year, February flew by like nobody’s business again, leaving me with 5 (and a half) books to wrap up this time. As like the previous months: I’ll go through them shortly in order of lowest-to-highest-rated, and I will link any in depth review or additional sources with them.
The God Jar – Phill Featherstone Starting off with my least favourite book of the month, we have a 2019 ARC that took me the longest time to get to. The God Jar follows a newlywed couple who discover a mysterious jar on the ocean floor during their scuba diving trip. From there the narrative switches between past and present as we find out more of the history of this artefact. Unfortunately I didn’t connect to the story, in particular the writing style, as much as I wanted to. A full review can be found here. Rating: 2/5 stars
Escape Routes – Naomi Ishiguro Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an early copy of Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro, which was on my most anticipated releases list for 2020. I tried to temper my expectations, as sharing a last name and half your DNA with the great Kazuo doesn’t equal a recipe for success per se, yet when I read the description and words “magical realism short stories” on the backflap, I couldn’t contain myself. I had mixed but overall positive feelings about this collection. You can find my full review here, but in short: this was a well-executed debut collection of an author I’d love to read more from in the future. Rating: 3/5 stars
Perfectly Preventable Deaths – Deidre Sullivan
Perfectly Preventable Death is a 2019 YA-fantasy that was briefly on my radar around its releasedate, yet slipped my mind for some reason. When I saw it at my library however, I decided to give it a go. We follow twins Madeline and Catlin, growing up in a small town where girls go missing and mysterious vibes are in the air at all times. Whilst Catlin explores her sexuality and feelings for a local boy, Madeline discovers an inner power she didn’t know she possessed. Perfectly Preventable Deaths was a very atmospheric and enjoyable read that I feel would be a perfect autumnal or Halloween read for those looking for something darker, and more “witchy” in tone, yet not full on supernatural horror. The book definitely focusses more on the development of the main characters and their sisterly bond, than the supernatural elements, which I personally love in my witchy books. I loved the way the atmosphere and setting were described, to where I could vividly picture the town and surrounding mountains. I didn’t particularly enjoy Catlin as a character, which did hinder my enjoyment of the novel to some extent. Additionally, although it was a very enjoyable read, it did little to “wow” me. I have read stories like it before in the works of Moira Fowley-Doyle, which this reminded me a lot of, The Lost Coast and Other Words for Smoke. For those reasons, I landed on a final rating of 3.5 stars. Extra credits go to the stunning cover design however. Let’s face it: that thing will always remain a 5-star in my book. Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Even the Darkest Stars – Heather Fawcett Due to the mild winter we’ve been having in the Netherlands, I almost keep forgetting that this is the time to read the polar fantasy’s that I’ve been putting off “until winter” over the past year. For that reason, I picked up the start of this YA fantasy duology about an expedition to the highest peak of a Himalayan-inspired mountain range. This has been one of the longest residents on my virtual TBR-pile, as the idea of a YA fantasy surrounding mountaineering sounded perfect to me, yet I was unable to get a hold of a copy of this book here sooner. I’m very happy I didn’t lose interest over time however, because this was worth the wait! I liked how this had some unique elements that elevated it above your average YA fantasy. I also enjoyed Kamzin as a flawed but likable protagonist. I was a bit worried by the dynamic between the two male protagonists, fearing that this would develop into the dreaded lovetriangle. Fortunately, the author subverted that cliché in a way that I appreciated. Although I did see the twist coming from miles away, I still was invested until the final page and I can’t wait to continue this duology straight away. Rating: 4/5 stars
Cage of Souls – Adrian Tchaikovsky My favourite book of the month was one that had been on my 5-star prediction list for a while, but I never got around to reading it on account of being intimidated by the sheer size of this sci-fi fantasy novel. Having started however, I wish I had done so sooner, as this was great. In a post-apocalyptic world, where the sun has reached the end of its lifecycle, the majority of humanity is extinct and nature takes back the land with hostile force, our narrator Stefan documents his personal tale of survival, as he is imprisoned and forced on a journey through this diseased land. Stefan is a scholar with quite a particular character and a very distinct voice. He is a complete misfit in the rough environment he finds himself in, and narrates his ordeals in a way that switches quickly between almost snobbish and filled with self-deprecating humor. I loved reading from his perspective, and I have to say that the amazing performance of the audiobook narrator did a great deal to help with that. Additionally: fantastic worldbuilding and a colourful cast of characters that kept me engaged till the end. I will absolutely be picking up more by Adrian Tchaikovsky in the future. Rating: 4.5/5 stars
I have quite big readingplans for the month of March, mostly because I have a two week break in which I hope to get a lot of reading time in. I have 7 books, of which I hope to get to as many as possible.
- All the Wandering Light – Heather Fawcett After finishing Even The Darkest Stars I immediately picked up the second and final book in the duology. I’m very excited to see how it compares to the first and hope to enjoy it as much.
- A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World – C.A. Fletcher I started this novel during the final days of February and have about 100 pages to go. In this post-apocalyptic story we follow (you guessed it based on the title) a boy and his dog on a quest through the wreckage of our world in order to find his second dog that has been stolen away from them.
- Wilder Girls – Rory Power Next is one I have to prioritize soon, as by library copy is due for return in two weeks. I’ve been keeping an eye on this YA horror about a boarding school, quarantined after a mysterious illness breaks out, ever since its release. I have the creeping feeling that this will be either a big hit or a huge miss for me, so I’m really hoping for the former.
- Ninth House - Leigh Bardugo Sticking with the darker academic setting, I really hope to finally get to Leigh Bardugo’s first venture into adult fantasy. I honestly know little about it other than: - it’s dark academia with a hint of occultism - it gives me vibes of Middlegame, which was one of my favourite books of last year - it’s by Leigh Bardugo Basically: that’s three strikes and I’m out. I need to read this!
The last three books on my list I’ll categorize together, as they all fit a similar theme. During my vacations I love nothing more than to get lost in a high fantasy of sci-fi novel, especially if it’s one I’ve been intimidated by. For that reason I hope to get to at least one of the following three books.
- Daughter from the Dark by Sergey- & Mariana Dyachenko
- Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
- Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
That concludes my monthly update for February: I wish you all an amazing March and happy reading. I hope to see you back in my next post!
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