Fiction By Authors of Color #ReadPOC2021

Ok, my March #ReadPOC challenge was a total fail, aka I didn‘t get to it… what can I say, I was overbooked and struggling a bit to concentrate on my reading commitments. The March prompt was „A Work of Fiction“ and after some deliberation I picked David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa.

Nigerian God-Punk – a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

New attempt in April! I hope… which brings along the April prompt: Written by a Queer or Trans Author of Color.

And to my surprise, I found two books on the suggested reading lists, that ring a bell:

1) Dawn (Lilith’s Brood, #1) by Octavia E. Butler — this one is on my kindle-unlimited want-to-read list. I will try to read it in April. After the above and all the other stuff. I am an optimist.

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation and begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet.

2) The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1) by J.Y. Yang — read in January 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is fantasy novella with a strong chinese flavour. The author identifies as non-binary and the main characters as well, at least until they reach their teenage years…

“Sonami had just turned fifteen, yet still wore the genderfree tunic of a child, their hair cropped to a small square at the top of their head and gathered into a bun.“

It is strange at first, then becomes normal and when eventually gendered pronouns crop up, they seem just as strange. Well done! I wasn‘t sure I would like this, because my track record with fantasy has been poor in the past few years. But once the story picked up speed, I found it hard to put down. The writing and plot were also a lot more accessible than I had expected. I really need to read the companion novellas. Plan B, if I shouldn‘t feel like Octavia Butler or want to read something shorter!

Author‘s website with info about the whole Tensorate series is here

Main Challenge page: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

Walking uphill…

The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Outside, scavenging for food, meeting Jesus… Rick is a little psychotic in this one, at least in the beginning. Something good happens and the ending is very upbeat. Oh boy, the next issue is going to be really horrible, right? Because of you-know-who….

Normally my next comics read would be The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear (Comics), especially now, with Negan on the horizon. But I think I need a breather from The Walking Dead. I watched Alita Battle Angel on TV last night — well, I watched bits of it and missed the ending, because I got distracted. Still, it looked good and it turns out that some of the comic is available on Kindle Unlimited. At least I won‘t have gotten the free KU trial for naught! So, next:

Battle Angel Alita Vol. 1 (Gunnm, #1) by Yukito Kishiro

Or option number 2… I just got the Netgalley of this one:

Dark One by Brandon Sanderson

I finally bit the bullet and re-activated my Adobe ID, got the Adobe Digital Editions App and unpacked this comic there… reading app number 4, me thinks? Argh.

Chugging away…

I am slowly making my way through my current reads.

In The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World (Comics) I finally reached a spot in the narrative that is new to me. I never got this far in the TV series. New territory from here on out! And tonight I took a trip down memory lane and rewatched the first episode of the TV series. It was fun!

I reached the last 100 pages of The Prefect (Prefect Dreyfus Emergency, #1). I like the book, but I am looking forward to finally finishing it. My motivation is flagging…

The Queen’s English: And How to Use It is turning out to be a drag. Useful, but the tone of the book is… patronizing?

So, what‘s on my plate for March? First of all I started the next Expanse audiobook.

Abaddon’s Gate (Expanse, #3)
by James S.A. Corey

I read this for the first time in October 2017. Here is what I had to say about it back then:

I wonder if our writing team follows a how-to-list for their books, something like….
1. boy or girl disappears / is kidnapped / dies and introduced a main plotline for the book doing so,
2. Holden shows up and contemplates his life,
3. Several new, possibly major characters show up, never to be seen again in the next book

I liked Anna, Clarissa, Bull, Sam, Serge…. Corey is good at making characters come to life. But, OMG, did Corey take writing hints from GRR Martin? I also liked the slightly time shifted chapters with alternating POVs, that made it very lively. The plot was more straight forward than in the previous two books, which makes it simpler, but dragged me along much faster, too.

Very good, really liked this book, looking forward to the next installment!


In print I have these three beauties planned:

Winter’s Orbit and A Desolation Called Peace are both slightly overdue Netgalleys that I plan to buddy read this month. For my #ReadPOC2021 challenge I will most likely read another very overdue Netgalley, David Mogo, Godhunter.

I haven‘t made up my mind yet, which of them I will pick up first, once I have finished The Prefect. Do you have any reading plans for March?

Fiction By Authors of Color #ReadPOC2021

New month, new choices… The March prompt is „A Work of Fiction“. These books are on my want-to-read shelf and fit the prompt, in no particular order:

Do you have a preference, which book you want me to read and review? Raise of hands, please! 🤚

UPDATE:

  1. David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, UF — 2 votes (1 here, 1 offsite)
  2. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Fantasy/SF — 1 vote

Challenge: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

January: Bloodchild — Becoming — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…
February: The Story of Human Language — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…

We find our souls, strife and zombies…

The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator) 

Cleaning up Atlanta… moving from day-to-day survival to re-building civilization. The next catastrophe has to be just around the corner, right? Instead we mostly get Rick searching his soul and contemplating Carl (the little, creepy twat). Internal strife is brewing, on more than one front. 

Atlantic is starting feel boring after several installments. It‘s time for a new story arc. Which makes me a little apprehensive, considering what comes next…

And while we are talking zombies, I watched this movie last night:

The Dead Don’t Die is a 2019 American comedy horror film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It features an ensemble cast including Bill MurrayAdam DriverChloë SevignySteve BuscemiTilda SwintonTom WaitsDanny GloverCaleb Landry JonesRosie PerezIggy PopCarol Kane, and Selena Gomez and follows a small town’s police force as they combat a sudden zombie invasion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dead_Don%27t_Die_(2019_film)

Nuts! I haven‘t decided yet, if this movie is just absurd or if it‘s genius…

Wowza! Excellent volume of The Walking Dead! No way out?

The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard (Illustrator),  Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Still in Alexandria, the one with The Herd. And Winter Is Coming! 

The last volume with our motley crew settling into life in Alexandria was pretty meh for me. I could not work up any real interest in the storyline of that volume.

In this and the previous one I occasionally had a hard time recognizing Rick. Sometimes he seemed to look different on every page. Or, in some cases, it was someone different and I just didn‘t get it.

Well, Vol. 14 has a lot more suspense and action than Vol. 13, simply because of the added danger of the herd surrounding Alexandria.

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The tension just ramps up and up and up. In the last third something shocking happens and the action really explodes. Holy crayola! Unputdownable! Nail-biting! I was screaming inside throughout the whole thing! Flipping heck.

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Hulk Smash! Belief in humanity restored. There is hope! Well, in fiction anyway. What a ride. Some great two-page spreads! All the stars!

My favourite character in this: Abraham
Most annoying character: Morgan

Wow! Onwards to Vol. 15…

TopTenTuesday – Top Ten Books Published Before I was Born

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This Week’s Topic: Books Written Before I Was Born

Oh boy. That will be some seriously old tomes! Let‘s see… As usual, I‘ll skip those books I posted here before.

Der kleine Wassermann (The Little Water Sprite), published in 1956
by Otfried Preußler,  Winnie Gayler (Illustrator) 

My favourite Otfried Preußler book as a child, loved it even more than „The Little Witch“. Loved it, loved, loved it! My fascination with books set under water obviously started early. Maybe this book is why? Huh, never thought of that before!

Die kleine Hexe (The Little Witch), published in 1957
by Otfried Preußler

How I loved this book as a child! I read it over and over and over again! Great stuff.

Now to some grown-up stuff… no particular order!

Orlando, published in 1928
by Virginia Woolf

I read this twice, first as a teenager and then again in 2008, as a gropwn-up. It’s a strange book. I fluctuated between being in love with the writing and being bored. Great idea. I liked the movie adaptation with Tilda Swinton, it captures the feel of the book pretty well. And I definitely understood the book much better the second time around. As a teenager I was mostly confused by the mysterious sex change.

King Rat (Asia Saga, #4), published in 1962
by James Clavell

I read this a very long time ago, so my memory is very, very faint. I remember one scene, where the protagonist is hunting rats underneath his prison hut. The rest is pretty much gone. Maybe it’s time for a re-read. I can‘t remember if I read Tai-Pan, but I most definitely read Shogun, several times…

Dracula, published in 1897
by Bram Stoker

I read this For the first time in my late teens, probably. That is when my lifelong obsession with vampires started. This should be required reading for any vampire fan. Followed by mandatory watching of all of Christoper Lee’s Dracula impersonations, rounded off by Gary Oldman as the famous count.

The creepiness of this book has stayed with me through the years. The description of Dracula’s look—his hairy palms where always especially off-putting—the weirdness of his brides, the atmospheric setting….

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, published 1901
by Thomas Mann

A trip down memory lane. When I started German Lit in highschool, our teacher gave us this scary list of books we had to read or else. This was on it and the size of it made it scarier still. I read this in the late 80s, so memories are very dim. But to this day I remember how great this book was, how I loved to read about the lives of some of these characters. I never touched this book again and I don’t think I ever will. I am too scared I wouldn’t like it anymore and I don’t want to destroy my feel-good-vibe.

Der Tod in Venedig, published in 1911
by Thomas Mann

This novella is not an easy text for casual reading. I had to slow down my usual speed a lot to understand what I was reading. And to give justice to the beautiful language. Ultimately, this novel was a mixture of beautiful language and boredom. Since this novella is one of Mann’s most important works, I would say that the issue is mine! The subject of the novella was also way outside of my comfort zone. Aschenbach’s obsessive fascination with the boy Tazio was of no value to me. I was uncomfortable with the sexual undertones. From now on I will always see Thomas Mann as a tragic person. I didn’t really like this one.

Der Untertan, published in 1918
by Heinrich Mann

“Man of Straw” is a sharp indictment of the Wilhelmine regime and a chilling warning against the joint elevation of militarism and commercial values.

From the English book blurb

This is Thomas Mann‘s older brother. I fully expected to be bored silly, but I ended up liking it. Very good writing — in German. Can‘t say anything about the translation.

Brave New World, published in 1932
by Aldous Huxley

I read this about 30 years ago, give or take. I struggled with understanding it and remember that I found it hard to get into it. But I liked the concept of the story and ultimately liked the book quite a bit. I think it should be recommended reading for anybody interested in SF that predicts how our society could develop in the not to far away future. Especially nowadays, with the advances being made in cloning, I think this book gains even more importance.

Nackt unter Wölfen, published in 1958
by Bruno Apitz

I read this as a teenager, working my way through my parent’s bookshelf. A pretty gruesome read, when you are that age. Apitz was a prisoner in Buchenwald himself and the story is inspired by a child that was hidden there by the prisoners, so I would assume it has a fair bit of authenticity.

So, that‘s it for this Top Ten Tuesday. I am surprised that I found this many books that I liked (Mostly).

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This Week’s Topic: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020. Create your own top ten (or 2, 5, 20, etc.)… Feel free to put a unique spin on the topic to make it work for you! 

Well, I am done with looking at my reading from 2020 and generally try to use memes to find a more interesting way of posting my backlog to this blog. So, how about new-to-me authors that got 5 stars from me, regardless of the year I read them in (and with reviews that I haven‘t posted here yet…).

  1. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, read in 2003

Framboise is running a creperie in a small village in rural France. She spent her childhood years during WWII in this village, but nobody knows that. She now lives under another name, to protect a dark secret in her past. One day her nephew and his wife appear at her doorstep, to ask for the use of her name and recipes. When she refuses – to protect her true identity – she quickly realises that they will stop at nothing to get those recipes. But she is not easily defeated. And while she struggles against her nephew, she tells us her story…..
Very good book, recommended! Great storytelling. This, by the way, is the author of “Chocolat“.

2. Married with Zombies (Living with the Dead, #1) by Jesse Petersen, read in 2012

Great fun. Don’t let the zombies get your brains. If you liked the film Zombieland, this is for you. I already read the second book of the series and it was so-so. This time around I liked two main characters much better. Classic plot — outbreat, lots of gore, shooting, biting, brains and running. Don’t expext any deep thoughts.

3. iZombie, Vol. 1: Dead to the World by Chris Roberson (Author),  Mike Allred (Illustrator),  Laura Allred (Colorist),  Todd Klein (Letterer), read in 2018

I really like the artwork. No, I love it. The further I got into this, the more I liked it. I could just stop myself from getting the next volume, while I was still reading this one. I compromised, it’s on my wishlist. It didn‘t help that there were some teasers at the end of this volume. Grrrr.

The characters are spot-on anatomically and consistent, the women (mostly) don‘t look like bimbos, the guys (mostly) look like nerds, I really like the colour work as well… it‘s refreshing.

On top of that there is a good plot with a decent set-up, excellent humour and nice world building somewhere in the middle. I was sucked into the story right away. And I want to continue so much. But first I need to read a ton of other comics… I joined up at comiXology. I am so doomed! Who mentioned this website anyway? You are fired!

Did I mention that I really like the artwork? 5 stars with brains on top.

4. Regeneration (Regeneration, #1) by Pat Barker, read in 1995

The Regeneration Trilogy: I read these books in the late ’90s, after Ghost Road was first published. I was in love with the British war poets of WWI at the time and this fit right in. I don’t remember many details, but these books were great reads. Very athmospheric, accessible and captivating main characters, I suffered with them every step of the way.

P.S.: The movie is also very good.

5. First Contact (In Her Name: The Last War, #1) by Michael R. Hicks, read in 2012

Great space opera with epic battles. Great pacing, a lot of suspense, very graphic, believable, hard to put down. 

A little confusing at times: The multitude of characters. Sometimes I had to go back a page or so to remind myself from whose perspective the story is being told. But eventually, as I got deeper into the plot, it stopped being an issue.

The characters are well drawn and believable. They are also interesting and not one-dimensional at all. I wouldn’t mind meeting some of them in real life. Even the aliens aren’t just the big, evil monsters, but actual personalities.

6. Three Days to Dead (Dreg City, #1) by Kelly Meding, read in 2010

My reason for choosing this book: The blurp recommending it on the front cover was by Patricia Briggs.

Geat fun! I almost read it in a day. The next one of the series is out already and I will definitely get it. Our heroine is a bounty hunter for all things that go bump in the night. There are shapeshifters, vampires, bridge trolls, the fey…

Nothing really unusual or terribly new, but an entertaining read nonetheless, if you like Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs or Carrie Vaughn.

7. All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1) by Martha Wells, read in 2017

This was fun, especially the inner monologue of our Murderbot. 

In just 160 pages the author managed to build a believable world with lively and varied characters and an entertaining plot. This is a winner!

And in their corner all they had was Murderbot, who just wanted everyone to shut up and leave it alone so it could watch the entertainment feed all day.

That could be me on any given day. 

Lots of potential. Is Murderbot a real person or not? The awkwardness of the crew, trying to figure out the correct way of interacting with Murderbot, once they realized that perhaps there is a person behind that opaque faceplate, was pretty priceless. 

And Murderbot’s horror at their attempts to interact! Talking to the humans! And feelings, oh no! 

I tried not to assign a gender to Murderbot. I don’t want to use “it” as a personal pronoun and I am not a fan of “they”. Tricky. I am leaning towards using “him”, not quite sure why. Well, actually, because I pictured him as the android in the Prometheus movies, aka Michael Fassbender.

8. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, read in the early 1980s

I read this in my early teens, several times. And then I read a ton of other horse-related YA novels. I guess it is a phase all reading girls go through, same as playing with Barbie dolls. I loved it very much.

9. Dragonclaw (The Witches of Eileanan, # 1) by Kate Forsyth, read in 2005

Well drawn characters, good story telling, started the second book immediately after putting this one down. The only thing that annoyed me – the characters speak with a Scottish accent. I found that very distracting, but got used to it eventually. I had one of my Scottish work colleagues read out some passages to me one day, which was pretty funny….


Pretty eclectic list of the ages, from my teens to now…

My favourite books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. The current Top Ten is MY TOP TEN FAVORITE READS OF 2020, predictably so. Let‘s see, how many 5-star reviews I can scare up for this year… no particular order, I listed them as they popped up.

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)
by Patricia Briggs

I re-read the whole series, plus Alpha & Omega spin-off, at the beginning of this year. Still good and still one of my favourite UF series of all time. I am looking forward to the new Alpha & Omega in March 2021.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard,  Cliff Rathburn

I am slowly working my way through The Walking Dead, the ultimate zombie graphic novel, that spawned an ever increasing horde of books and TV series… this volume was a very good ones. I am still at it, currently reading Volume 13.

To The Center Of The Earth
by Greig Beck

As pure escapism goes, this was an excellent choice. Cavers go down to find the centre of the Earth. And things they did not bargain for. Reminding you of Jules Verne? Yes, indeed.

Paper Girls #1
by Brian K. Vaughan,  Cliff Chiang (Illustrator)

Paper Girls is another excellent graphic novel by Vaughan, that I really should continue. Good story, great colouring, fun!

Dune (Dune, #1)
by Frank Herbert

Another re-read, in a pretty Deluxe hardback edition. The book shows its age and author‘s bias in the treatment of women and LGTBQ representation, but if you can look past that it is still one of the best SF novels out there.

The White Dragon (Pern, #3)
by Anne McCaffrey

This seems to be my year of re-reading old favourites, because I also read the first Dragonriders of Pern trilogy again. And I still like it a lot, phew. The treatment of women in this one is even more problematic than in Dune though. Odder still, the author is a woman. However, if dragons are your thing, this series should be on your list.

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild
by Marjorie M. Liu,  Sana Takeda (Artist)

Another graphic novel series that is still going strong. The plot thickens though in this horror/fantasy story full of demons and gorgeous artwork.

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

My winner in the romance genre for this year. Good sense of humour, believable and not cringe-worthy amounts of drama and angst, blessed lack of the most stupid romance tropes. 

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1)
by M.C.A. Hogarth

Finally I picked up something by Hogarth again, after a longer break. Very chilled, very relaxing, a nice amble through her unusual universe. Let’s call it Pastoral Science Fiction. A slow book with mellow drama and a slowly building asexual romance. Uplifting. Another reviewer called it a cozy, finding-one’s-place story and that sums it up nicely.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)
by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews, well… I would rate their shopping list with five stars.


Not a very sophisticated list with a lot of literary merit, but I had fun. I could list a few more graphic novels. In terms of novels there were no massive highlights this year. Plus the longer I review books, the stricter I seem to get with my ratings.