Category: Books


Review: We Need New Stories

Posted 9 June, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

We Need New Stories: Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent
By: Nesrine Malik
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

It is becoming clear that the old frames of reference are not working, that the narratives used for decades to stave off progressive causes are being exposed as falsehoods. Six myths have taken hold, ones which are at odds with our lived experience and in urgent need of revision.

Has freedom of speech become a cover for promoting prejudice? Has the concept of political correctness been weaponised to avoid ceding space to those excluded from power? Does white identity politics pose an urgent danger? These are some of the questions at the centre of Nesrine Malik’s radical and compelling analysis that challenges us to find new narrators whose stories can fill the void and unite us behind a shared vision.

I first heard about this book from the Guardian books podcast. It sounded really interesting so I decided to check it out last year.

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Review: Truthwitch

Posted 5 June, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1)
By: Susan Dennard
Format/Source: eBook; courtesy of Tor.com reading club

In a continent on the edge of war, two witches hold its fate in their hands.

Young witches Safiya and Iseult have a habit of finding trouble. After clashing with a powerful Guildmaster and his ruthless Bloodwitch bodyguard, the friends are forced to flee their home.

Safi must avoid capture at all costs as she’s a rare Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Many would kill for her magic, so Safi must keep it hidden – lest she be used in the struggle between empires. And Iseult’s true powers are hidden even from herself.

In a chance encounter at Court, Safi meets Prince Merik and makes him a reluctant ally. However, his help may not slow down the Bloodwitch now hot on the girls’ heels. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but danger lies ahead. With war coming, treaties breaking and a magical contagion sweeping the land, the friends will have to fight emperors and mercenaries alike. For some will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

I downloaded this book as part of Tor.com’s First Reads Book Club a few months ago. I had seen this book in passing in the past but reading the premise of the book this time around I was curious and decided to check it out.

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Review: The City in the Middle of the Night

Posted 1 June, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The City in the Middle of the Night
By: Charlie Jane Anders
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

“If you control our sleep, then you can own our dreams…And from there, it’s easy to control our entire lives.”

From the brilliant mind of Charlie Jane Anders (“A master absurdist”—New York Times; “Virtuoso”—NPR) comes a new novel of Kafkaesque futurism. Set on a planet that has fully definitive, never-changing zones of day and night, with ensuing extreme climates of endless, frigid darkness and blinding, relentless light, humankind has somehow continued apace—though the perils outside the built cities are rife with danger as much as the streets below.

But in a world where time means only what the ruling government proclaims, and the levels of light available are artificially imposed to great consequence, lost souls and disappeared bodies are shadow-bound and savage, and as common as grains of sand. And one such pariah, sacrificed to the night, but borne up by time and a mysterious bond with an enigmatic beast, will rise to take on the entire planet–before it can crumble beneath the weight of human existence.

The premise of the novel sounded really interesting and I had All the Birds in the Sky (review) lined up to read at the time so yeah, I picked this book up too. I read this book right after her debut novel.

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Review: All the Birds in the Sky

Posted 27 May, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

All the Birds in the Sky
By: Charlie Jane Anders
Format/Source: eBook; courtesy of Tor.com reading club

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

I’ve long been following io9.com back when Charlie Jane Anders was editor of the site. So naturally I was curious when I heard she had written a book and was stepping down from that site to write full time.

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Review: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Posted 25 May, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
By: John M. Barry
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease.

Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research and now revised to reflect the growing danger of the avian flu, The Great Influenza is ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, which provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon.

People told me this might not be the best time to read this book given what’s going on around the world with COVID-19 but I thought there was no better time than now to read this book. There’s a lot of similarities mentioned between the two pandemics and it was something I didn’t read as much when I was in school, having always focused on the wider geopolitics.

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