It‘s getting weird in the woods

The Woods Vol. 5
by James Tynion IV,  Michael Dialynas

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Over a year has passed since Bay Point Preparatory High School found themselves countless light years away in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Now the crew finds themselves divided, choosing sides in a war that has been raging for hundreds of years.

More backstories. The plot becomes more complex and weirder. Several revelations, some expected and others not so much. Monsters, drugs, bodily harm and death. After reading five volumes more or less back to back, I ran out of steam a little though. I need a break. I might continue at a later point.

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Danger in the woods

The Woods Vol. 4
by James Tynion IV,  Michael Dialynas (Illustrator)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

One year later. After the climax of the last issue, we jump ahead and see how everybody fared in the year since. Somehow I had thought that the events in the last volume would lead up to a climax in this one here, but apparently I blinked and the climax has happened already… Anyway… I like how this story is developing and the artwork stepped up in quality as well.

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Still lost in the woods

The Woods, Vol. 2: The Swarm
by James Tynion IV,  Michael Dialynas (Illustrator) 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We get backstories for several of the main characters, right up to the moment the main storyline starts at the beginning of volume one. Nicely done. I am fond of Calder‘s story, although the other parts are well done as well.

Friend drama, love, coming out, alien possession, Shakespeare, kissing in dire circumstances, ravenous monsters, feelings, vikings… I like the monsters and the artwork is starting to grow on me.

Six degrees, from Scotland in the past to a dystopian England of the future

Welcome to #6Degrees. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I am using this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. How the meme works and how you can join is explained here. The initial blog post about this month‘s choice is here.


This month‘s starting book is yet again one I haven‘t read…

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, about a 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow. I don‘t want to follow the same trodden path and the amount of books dealing with unhappy childhoods on my shelf is pretty limited, let‘s go with the author‘s last name. Bizarre, but it worked out in the end and my six degrees settled on children, birth and growing pains in different settings…

The Future Is Nigh (Mass Market Paperback) by C. Stuart Hardwick
A collection of previously published short stories of winners of the Writers of the Future Contest. Length varies from 6 to 32 pages. Pretty decent collection. Three really excellent stories, one that didn‘t really do it for me and the rest was ok to fairly good. 4 stars overall.

My favourites: Martin L. Shoemaker, Today I Am Paul: My emotional winner. I want to hug this android so hard. / Marina J. Lostetter, Rats will Run: Great world building, imaginative flora and fauna. / William Ledbetter, Last House, Lost House: Great post-apocalyptic story with a nice twist.

Thinking about short stories, mothers and unhappy childhood led me to The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu. Read the titular story, if you have the opportunity.

“A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.“

Lovely, truly lovely. And terribly bittersweet and sad. Can be read for free here: https://io9.gizmodo.com/read-ken-lius…

Ken Liu leads me to Ted Chiang almost without pause. And to another mother and child and what effects their shared history has on the world at large…

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. Again, look at the titular story, if you can. It was the basis for the SF movie Arrival with Amy Adams in the lead role.

“Your father is about to ask me the question. This is the most important moment in our lives, and I want to pay attention, note every detail.“

I liked the story and the characters. I have seen the movie several times and like it a lot. The most interesting for me were the differences from the story to the film. Would I have liked the story more or less, if I hadn‘t seen the movie? Did I like it more, because I like the movie? Despite the differences? Probably. Would I have understood the story as well without knowing the movie? Maybe. Did the story add layers to the movie? Possibly.

Another books about mothers and children, at least peripherally, is The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere #1) by Meg Elison. Loved the stroy, although it depressed the hell out of me at times. The audiobook was extremely well done as well. The main character waking up in a hospital and figuring out that the world has ended is a pretty tired idea by now. Nonetheless, the book started on full throttle and was great from the get-go. And horrific. By chapter three I had goosebumps allover and was close to crying. The story had an episodic feel to it, as it follows the midwife on her trip across the country, chronicling her encounters with various other survivors. Very graphic, with a realistic feel to it. 

My final book is yet again about children in a fairly horrific, post-apocalyptic setting. And it brings us back to the island we started this journey on. England though, instead if Scotland… The Girl with All the Gifts (The Girl with All the Gifts, #1) by M.R. Carey. Here children end up in a very different world.


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…

Romance, mystery, court intrigue, space and then some

Winter’s Orbit
by Everina Maxwell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A quarter into it the book it felt like this: potential m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera.

As the mystery unfolded at a snail’s pace, the author didn‘t offer many details. Elaborate explanations were given to other characters in the off, without engaging the reader very much. Which made that part of the narrative pretty superficial.

The romance was mostly nonexistent in the first half of the book. Kiem and Jainan didn‘t have any meaningful conversations. I know this is pretty typical in many romances — bad communication, misunderstandings, etc. But there wasn’t a lot of internal dialogue either and little to no character development. Not very satisfying.

I can understand why people abandon this book in the first half of it. It felt a bit as if the author wasn‘t sure where she was going with it. Is it a mystery? Is it a court intrigue? A romance? Definitely not space opera in the typical sense. I decided to just go with the flow and wait out the glacial pace of it all. The writing was good, the story just took its sweet time.

Then something happened in the middle and the story became interesting. Suspense, romance, scenery, space station, the lot. I was enjoying myself. There was even something truly inventive towards the end. Good stuff. I was much happier with the character development in the second part of the book as well.

Besides Kiem and Jainan I liked Bel and Rakal the most. The humour was good throughout the book. I liked the rest so much, that I would even pick up a sequel.

So, if you don‘t expect elaborate SF, but like your brain candy with some suspense, this might be for you. Just be patient with the beginning.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

First Line Friday: Romance in Space

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.


I started reading Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell this week. I am a quarter into it now. Quick summary of what it feels like so far: m/m romance in an SF setting, marriage of convenience, potentially a murder mystery and court intrigue, hints of space opera. It‘s also one of my overdue NetGalleys.

Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue in Everina Maxwell’s exciting debut.

from the book blurb

Both of those are excellent books. I recommend the audioversion of Ancillary Justice. Adjoa Andoh does an excellent job. She seems to be Leckie‘s standard audiobook narrator. I also listened to her narration of The Raven Tower — or was that Provenance? — not sure which right now. And she plays a role in Bridgerton — one more reason to finally check that out.

Anyway, I am rambling, back to First Line Friday…

“Well, someone has to marry the man,“ the Emperor said.

First line of the book

As first lines go, that is a pretty good one! I also like the cover.


I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

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?

Nice f/f rom-com to start off the year

Written in the Stars
by Alexandria Bellefleur

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I do not believe in horoscopes or that the stars determine my fate. So Elle does not have an easy start with me in this queer rom-com debut. A social media astrologer? Give me a break! And Darcy, an actuary, her terrible blind date, is a total bitch (at first). Gorgeous though. Anyway, here we are. Circumstances get in the way. Or maybe the stars? And we are off into a fake relationship, to get the annoying relations of each other‘s backs. My favourite romance trope! We all know where this is headed! The question is, will the trip be fun. Or will there be much overwrought and pointless angst between adults too stupid to talk to each other?

This actually developed quite nicely and was very readable. It was well written, I liked the style, it was relatable. I liked both characters well enough. From a personality standpoint I am more like Darcy, so the slightly chaotic Elle made me roll my eyes a few times. 

Brendon was nice and will come around again with his own story in the sequel. I would have wished for a more in-depth resolution of Elle‘s family situation, but that would probably have transcended the scope of this rom-com. 

The sex scenes were pretty graphic and also well-written.

We got the required drama and faulty communication towards the end, which I could have done without. I did not actually like this part (more than usual) and knocked off a star for it. I can‘t quite put my finger on it. It didn‘t match the tone of the rest of the book and was too rushed. I actually skimmed a little on the last few pages, because I just wanted this stupid part of every romance to be over with and get to the HEA. Which was very short, aka we were lacking a proper ending IMO. Pity, that we never got to the magic date of New Year’s Eve, the termination date those two had originally planned for the end of their fake relationship. That would have been a nice epilogue. Besides that this was a good one.

Oh, this is supposed to be a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I didn‘t see it, to be honest. Ok, one of the main characters is called Darcy and is opposed to romance, other than that… *shrugs*

Will I read the sequel? Maybe, if I am in the right mood. Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes, pretty likely.

Author interview on Goodreads