Review: The Untamed State

Hey friends.

I just finished The Untamed State by Roxane Gay, and I’d love to share my thoughts with you if you’d let me. I have a feeling this is going to be a hard review to write, given that it was a hard book to read.

I found The Untamed State after having “Anything/Everything by Roxane Gay” on my reading list for a while. One of my friends is a big fan of hers, and I’ve been meaning to check out Bad Feminism for a while (and thanks to my husband, I finally have it!). But a couple of weeks ago, this book was on the shelf at my most frequented library like it was just sitting there waiting for me to check it out.

So I did.

Like I said earlier, this was a hard read, friends. Not writing-wise, mind you. It was Gay, An Untamed State jacket art 9780802122513beautifully and powerfully written, sucking you in from the very first sentence and leaving you feeling like you’re holding your breath until the last page.   But the subject matter, the emotions, the pain that are in its pages made my heart ache; I cried often.

The Untamed State follows the kidnapping, imprisonment, and torture of a Haitian-American woman in Port-au-Prince. While there visiting family, she’s taken by a group of men hoping her father will pay a steep ransom.

The first half of the book details her thirteen days of captivity, interwoven with flashbacks of her life – mostly falling in love with her husband.   The second half of the book deals with “the after” – Mirielle and her family trying to heal and make sense of what just happened. The character development in each of the characters is truly a work of art.

This book is heart-breaking and painful, but it’s also hopeful at times and always beautiful. Gay’s writing is phenomenal, poetic, and raw – so necessary for a book like this. She does the subject justice.

While The Untamed State is definitely not for the faint of heart, I’d encourage you to consider reading it. It puts so many different types of privilege into perspective – which is something we all need.

 

Up next for Summer Reading 2017:

  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K Jemisin
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
  • Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah
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Review: The Fifth Season

Hello, everyone who’s reading this.

I am so incredibly thrilled to finally kick off my Summer Reading 2017 reviews!  I know there’s been a lot of hype around this, and you’ve all had to wait a long time to FINALLY hear about what books by people of color I’ve been reading – sorry to take so long.  I’ve been writing so much lately – creating new stuff, revising old stuff, submitting short stories – and my reading and blogging have suffered a bit.

But never fear, the Summer Reading reviews are finally here.

And dear friends, let me tell you: I have a new obsession.

I kicked off this year’s reading list with some double-dipping – this one is also a Hugo Award winner.  And I could definitely see why from the beginning.

N.K Jemisin’s The Fifth Season is an amazing work of fiction.  The world that Jemisin creates sucks you in right away; it’s so unique and mysterious and compelling.  Seriously, I love the world of The Fifth Season – even now that I’ve finished the book, I still think about it nearly every day.

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Y’all, this cover is gorgeous.  So much so that I went out and bought a copy for myself before I had even finished reading the library’s.

The characters, too – I don’t know if there was a single character that I really liked.  Maybe one.  But oh, were there some characters that I loved to hate.  Jemisin did a great job of giving each character intense flaws, while making you feel sorry for most of them even when they were intentionally making poor choices.  I often found myself frustrated that I was feeling sympathetic toward them – which I loved.  Her characters were deep, complex, and moving.

The Fifth Season is a book that you can easily get caught up in; I definitely did.  There were twists I didn’t see coming, and I could hardly contain myself after reading the last page – left hanging there, needing to know what would happen next.  So I got on my library’s website, put The Obelisk Gate on hold, and will be reading it VERY soon.  Very.

If you’re looking for a dark, magical, fascinating book, get your hands on The Fifth Season – and be prepared to seek out its sequel right away.

Next up on my Summer Reading list:

  • The Untamed State by Roxane Gay
  • The Obelisk Gate by N.K Jemisin (surprise, surprise)
  • The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

 

Review: Gray Widow’s Web

Hey all.

I know it’s technically Summer Reading 2017, but I’ve got something exciting to share before I dive into reviews of the amazing books I’ve been reading from that list.

Today, I get the absolute privilege of helping kick off Dan Jolley’s blog tour for his newest release, Gray Widow’s Web.  You guys might remember last summer when I had the joy of sharing Gray Widow’s Walk with you.  Well, let me just start out this review by saying the sequel is amazing and somehow better than the first book.

If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you know I’m pretty skeptical of sequels.  Ever since I started the Gray Widow series, I’ve been eager and patiently (most of the time) waiting for the next book – and it did not disappoint.

[Also, I feel obliged to say that there will be some SPOILERS in this review.  I’ll keep them to a minimum, but I get really sensitive of the fact that even mentioning a character’s name from a sequel means they didn’t die in the first book…  So if you haven’t read Gray Widow’s Walk, and you want to read it completely cold, stop reading this review RIGHT. NOW.]

Ok, now that that’s out of the way:

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Gray Widow’s Web takes the world and foundation that Jolley built in book one and wonderfully expands it.  We get to meet some new characters – most of whom I love – and we get to learn much more about Janey and other familiar faces.  Which mostly involved me rolling my eyes at Nathan and swooning over Tim.  Oh, Tim.  So swoon-worthy in a guy-next-door kind of way (the best kind).  (Also, I was just going to type an apology to my husband for the swooning and realized that Tim kind of reminds me of my husband… a lot… that’s too weird to think about right now.  Moving on.)

In this sequel, Mr. Jolley REALLY ups the ante.  Book one dealt with a fairly small cast, and events had relatively small consequences.  Not so for book two.  At all.  Things got really big, really quickly, and it was amazing.  He zooms out, giving an exciting view of the bigger picture, paving the way for what I’m sure will be an awesome book three.  Not only that, Jolley somehow managed to out-creep the ultra-creepy Simon Grove from book one with a new villain who is somehow even more horrible and fear-inducing.  Aphrodite Lupo, you are the stuff of nightmares.

Side note: there was also a scene where I felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest.  After finishing the book, I’m sad to report that my heart is not mended and apparently won’t be until book three because certain things between certain people that I care a lot about are not neatly wrapped up in a nice little package.  I’m not bitter; I promise.

While I obviously am quite attached to the characters of Gray Widow’s Web, the thing that really struck me while reading this book was the story.  The plot is fast and tight and kept me on the edge of my seat.  There was no fluff, no wasted words, no unnecessary scenes.  It was clean, cohesive, easy, and enjoyable to read.

Bottom line, friends: Dan Jolley can freaking write.

And the best part?  He writes the kind of stuff that I absolutely love to read.

If you haven’t had a chance to read Gray Widow’s Walk, do it.  Book one is amazing, and book two is even more so.  You’ll be rooting for the hero, hissing at the villain, and slightly drawn to but also afraid to look up at the stars.  Don’t worry – you won’t regret it.

 

Here’s a little more info about Dan if you’re interested:

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Dan Jolley started writing professionally at age nineteen. Beginning in comic books, he soon branched out into original novels, licensed-property novels, children’s books, and video games. His twenty-six-year career includes the YA sci-fi/espionage trilogy Alex Unlimited; the award-winning comic book mini-series Obergeist; the Eisner Award-nominated comic book mini-series JSA: The Liberty Files; and the Transformers video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. Dan was co-writer of the world-wide-bestselling zombie/parkour game Dying Light, and is the author of the Middle Grade Urban Fantasy novel series Five Elements. Dan lives somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills with his wife Tracy and a handful of largely inert cats.

Learn more about Dan by visiting his website, http://www.danjolley.com, and follow him on Twitter @_DanJolley.

 

Want to check out more stops on the blog tour:

7/19/17            I Smell Sheep – Top Ten’s List

7/20/17            SpecMusicMuse – Author’s Interview

7/21/17            Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – Top Ten’s List

7/22/17            http://bookishlyme.blogspot.com/ – Review

7/22/17            The Seventh Star Blog  – Author’s Interview

7/22/17            StoreyBook Reviews  – Guest Post

7/23/17            Sheila’s Guests and Reviews – Guest Post

7/24/17            Infamous Scribbler  – Author’s Interview

7/25/17            Beauty in Ruins  – Guest Post

7/26/17            Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery and More! –  Author Interview

7/26/17            Jeni’s Bookshelf, Reviews, Swag, and More! – Review

 

**This eBook was provided to me in exchange for an honest review; no compensation was provided.

Happy 100!

Oh my word.

Something amazing is happening as we (I) speak (type).

This is my 100th blog post!

Friends, I wasn’t sure that I’d ever make it here, but I did.  It took a while due to blogging less in 2017 to focus on other writing endeavors.  But here we are!

To celebrate, I’d love to look back at some big milestones that have happened in this blog.  Let the nostalgia begin:

Book Review Highlights

  • Speaker for the Dead
    • Where I discovered my new favorite book of all time.
  • The Warrior’s Apprentice
    • My first Vorkosigan experience.  Seriously, I’m still head over heels for these books.
  • A Monster Calls
    • Where I ugly cried the hardest and had a heart-breaking and healing read.
  • Eight Skilled Gentlemen
    • The biggest surprise.  Who knew I would love this so much that I’d write my first ever fan letter? (My friend, Stella, knew.  That’s who.)

 

Book Tours

 

Writing

 

Life Stuff

Since starting this blog I’ve:

  • Gotten married
  • Moved
  • Lost 3 loved ones
  • Gained 2 new nieces and 1 new nephew

 

That’s crazy if you ask me.  So much life has been lived since in my first 100 posts, and I’m excited to see what happens to in the next 100!

 

 

Review: Within the Sanctuary of Wings

Hey, friends!

So you know how I was planning on being all caught up and posting regularly again?  Welp, I obviously haven’t been.  But there’s exciting reason for that:

I’M WRITING AGAIN.

As you might remember, I’ve been in a bit of a slump since November, but I’ve suddenly got ideas and motivation galore.  But more on that in my next post…

Because right now, we’re here to talk about the fifth and last book in the Natural History of Dragons series by Marie Brennan.

If you remember from a previous post, I’ve been looking forward to this book FOR A LONG TIME.  I fell hard for the series a few years ago when a friend lent me book one, and with much sadness, the series is now over for me.

But let me tell you about book 5.

Within the Sanctuary of Wings starts out similarly to books 1-4.  Lady Trent hears of a new dragon-related thing to investigate and has to figure out how to do so.  After a few chapters, I was settling in nice and cozy for another adventure.

And then, things got crazy.  I was sitting in bed reading, looked over to my husband, and said, “I did not see that coming.  At all.”  For real.

Obviously, this is the last book in the series, so something big had to happen.  But still.  THIS.  WAS.  BIG.

Anyway, the rest of the book is kind of typical style-wise, with Lady Trent doing her naturalist thing in the awesomest of ways.  The writing is engaging and consistent, the characters are lovable and diverse, the pace is REALLY good (which I couldn’t say for the… second book, I think it was?), and the dragons are cool – this coming from a person who doesn’t really like dragons all that much…  I know, I know, they ARE cool, but I’m more of a science person than a fantasy person…  whatever.  I like the dragons in these books.  A lot.

When I finished the last chapter, I gotta admit: I cried.  I was so sad that the series was over.  This unexpected wonderful thing in my life, this series full of science and feminism and relationships and growth.  It’s over, and I’m sad that there aren’t more stories to tell.

However, the ending is satisfying.  The story is over, and Brennan did a great job of wrapping it, of not stringing things out, of ending it where it should be ended.  I appreciate that so much.

So… A Natural History of Dragons series is over for me.  But I really, REALLY hope that it isn’t for you yet.  Go check out book one!  It’s fun, accessible, light fantasy that will make you laugh and cry and want to go out and observe every living creature you come across.  And maybe look for dragons while you’re at it.