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Book Review: The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancockthe mermaid and mrs hancock
Imogen Hermes Gowar

Harper, 2018
★★★★☆

I think the best way to describe The Mermaid & Mrs Hancock would be: uneven, meandering, and unbalanced, in terms of both pacing and genre. It’s almost as though it can’t quite decide what it wants to be. Somehow, it is too long and yet not long enough.

Oddly enough, a book with this kind of pacing normally wouldn’t be able to hold my attention, but I was never once bored! I think that is to do with two factors. One is my own personal interest in Georgian London as well as the history of prostitution. Harlots is one of my favorite shows. The amount of historical detail Gowar displays here is simply astonishing. It stops just shy of being too much, but because of this detail I could picture everything so, so clearly; I felt like I was inhabiting this time period. Continue reading “Book Review: The Mermaid & Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar”

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The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

We’re halfway through the year already. Incredible. It feels like it’s gone by in the blink of an eye, but it’s also felt like approximately three thousand years. Anyway.

My reading this year has been pretty steady; I’ve read 56 books thus far. At the beginning of, you know *gestures at everything* I was still reading a ton of books, but now I seem to be falling into a reading and writing slump, so there’s that. Alas. Continue reading “The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020”

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Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Loved That Others Didn’t

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the fantastic Bionic Bookworm. This week’s topic:

APRIL 10TH – Top 5 Books I Loved That Others Didn’t

I am super late to the party as usual, but I really wanted to do this one, so here I am! Not all of the books below are universally hated; in fact, most of them are just unknown or obscure. It’s actually made me wonder about what I might be missing out on now that I tend to read newer and buzzier books. I am super influenced by Goodreads ratings whether I want to be or not, but of course those ratings are not always going to be an accurate predictor of my own enjoyment of a book. I don’t know! I’m not really saying anything in particular here, just that I’m glad I picked up these books when I did!


the girl in the roadThe Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne. I’m not gonna lie, this book is hella weird. It takes place in an ambiguous future where India is connected to Africa via a weird energy bridge called The Trail. One woman decides to embark on this dangerous journey.  In the other perspective, a girl from a different time is on her own journey in Africa, with a beautiful and enigmatic woman named Yemaya, after the Nigerian sea goddess.  The two women have a surprising and harrowing connection. This is not usually the type of book I read, but I was very intrigued by the concept and the setting! It’s not often futuristic books like this are set in Africa. I don’t even know if I truly understood everything here, but I found it very thought-provoking and moving.


dreams of shreds and tattersDreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum. I am honestly surprised this book has such a low rating! This is a super, super creepy story influenced by Robert W. Chambers’ The King in Yellow, a collection of weird short stories that influenced the Cthulu mythos. Downum’s book has the sort of Lovecraftian cosmic horror that many of us are familiar with, but it’s not Lovecraftian at all! This book freaked me out and is everything I aspire to be as a horror writer. True, it’s a little slow, but it’s super diverse and really unsettling and beautifully written.

 


when the sea is rising redWhen the Sea is Rising Red by Cat Hellisen. When I finished this book I remember being stunned by how much I loved it and how refreshing it was. Though YA fantasy, it seemed apart from other YA fantasy books, playing with and subverting families tropes. The main character runs away from her wealthy family and becomes attached to a boy who is a street lord. She also meets a vampire and it feels like a love triangle. It sounds suuuuper lame and tropey, but somehow it’s not? Everything is subverted? It’s got this really mature and engaging tone and it’s literally the most atmospheric book I’ve ever read.  Oh, and the sequel? Incredible.

 


the drowning cityThe Drowning City by Amanda Downum. Yes, Amanda Downum again! She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I think she is ridiculously underappreciated. The Drowning City is an adult high fantasy about a political spy, but it’s set in a world that’s completely gender neutral. As in, men and women are completely equal; sexism is not a thing. I didn’t even know I needed that until I read it; it was so unbelievably refreshing to see female characters in so many roles usually reserved for men and to not have anyone comment on it one way or another. The setting is rich (inspired by the author’s time in Southeast Asia!) and the writing atmospheric. Yes, it’s a bit slow, but I loved it, and her second book in this series is even better.


the beautiful onesThe Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book has a decent Goodreads rating, but not nearly enough love and recognition, in my opinion. Basically, this book is a better written Jane Austen novel with a touch of fantasy. Moreno-Garcia writes beautifully, with elegantly crafted sentences that hearken to the 19th century (which is when the book is set) without overwhelming or mystifying you with period language. This is a character-driven romance, which is usually the type of story I run far, far away from, but it actually ended up being one of my favorite books of 2017, if not a contender for absolute favorite. This is the sort of book I can see myself curling up with and reading again and again just for the pleasure of it.

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Wrap-Up: December

  • The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (★★★★★)
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie (★★★☆☆)
  • The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan (★☆☆☆☆)
  • Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (★★★☆☆)
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee (★★★☆☆)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (★★☆☆☆)

MONTHLY TOTAL: 6
YEARLY SO FAR: 75

Okay, so first of all, hats off to me for finishing off a whopping six books this month! I know for a lot of folks here in the book blogging sphere that doesn’t seem like much, but I haven’t accomplished this in a long time! I definitely tried to dedicate more time to reading than I usually do this month, and because I read so many books I didn’t love, I was in a hurry to finish them and get on to something better.  Funny how that works.

So let’s talk about that, huh? This was…not a great month! It started off amazing with The Dark Days Pact, but it very steadily went downhill from there. I finally finished off The Bloodprint, which was as terrible as the first chapter promised; I’m actually surprised and proud I managed not to DNF it.  Then I wanted to try some Kate Elliot, and though Court of Fives wasn’t as terrible as some reviewers make it out to be, I didn’t love it.  The Abyss Surrounds us, a f/f sci-fi that everyone purports is the greatest thing ever, was only just okay.  Jade City, a highly anticipated fantasy, was not for me. And finally, my classic read of the month, Northanger Abbey, was dreadful.

I’m really hoping I start off the new year with better books! Currently I’m reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’m only one chapter in, so I don’t have too much of an opinion yet, but it seems entertaining.  And…that’s it! It’s been so long since I was only reading one book at a time. I’m sure that won’t last long, though.  I’m meant to be starting a buddy read of The Lymond Chronicles, beginning with The Game of Kings.  I’m also thinking to read Jane Eyre, but I’m not 100% on that yet; I think I might need a break from classics for a bit! Other than that, I don’t think I have any specific plans!

We’ve come to the end of the year, however, so stay tuned for a) a best books of the year post and b) a more reflective end of the year post including some bookish resolutions.