Looking Forward: Big Titles

looking-forward

There has been some cool book news recently, so I thought I would link it up in case you hadn’t heard of these yet. It’s certainly going to be an exciting year for readers, and it’s only just beginning! Here are some big titles I’m really anticipating.

On May 4th, Beren and Lúthien will be found at a bookstore near you. When I first heard about this, I assumed that it would be a complete narrative with new material from Tolkien’s notes. Understandably, I was pretty thrilled. While that isn’t quite what this book will contain, it’s close enough that I’ll pick up a copy anyway.

From the publisher:

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In this book Christopher Tolkien has attempted to extract the story of Beren and Lúthien from the comprehensive work in which it was embedded; but that story was itself changing as it developed new associations within the larger history. To show something of the process whereby this legend of Middle-earth evolved over the years, he has told the story in his father’s own words by giving, first, its original form, and then passages in prose and verse from later texts that illustrate the narrative as it changed. Presented together for the first time, they reveal aspects of the story, both in event and in narrative immediacy, that were afterwards lost.

I’m currently reading The Silmarillion, so I may try a complete read of Middle-Earth titles before I tackle this new book.

Next!

If you haven’t heard about The Book of Dust – well, I’m about to fix that.

Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials was an absolute dream of a trilogy. Kid me read my copies until they were ragged, and as an adult I gained even more insight when I went back for a re-read. If you haven’t yet explored worlds with Lyra and Pantalaimon, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of The Golden Compass and dive in. (But disregard the terrible film of the same title. Please.)

For those of you who read and enjoyed HDM – rejoice! On October 19th of this year, the first of The Book of Dust trilogy will be released.

From Pullman’s website:

So, second: is it a prequel? Is it a sequel? It’s neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is… an equel. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognise, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy (a boy we have seen in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention) who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.

I will definitely be doing a His Dark Materials re-read later in the year to prepare for this release! It will be really cool to see an older Lyra, and learn more about Dust as well.

Are you looking forward to these new releases? Will you be pre-ordering, or biding your time for a library copy? What other 2017 releases are you waiting for? Let me know in the comments below!

The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories

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Anthologies are tricky things. You may miraculously jive with all of the authors contained within, and find that their myriad of voices washes over you like a cool breeze. You may pick and choose your favourites, skimming some tales and immersing yourself deeply in others. Even still, you may find that none of the voices are ones you’d care to hear, and regret the whole experience entirely.

When I saw this title on NetGalley, I admit that I requested it solely for the story by Nnedi Okorafor. I thought that if she had a story here, then that would act as a quality barometer and I would surely love the others as well.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

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The Djinn Falls in Love is a collection of stories about – you guessed it – Djinn. More widely known to the western world as genies, most people unfamiliar with their origins associate them with Disney’s Aladdin; a rather gregarious blue entity who lives in a lamp and grants wishes.

Well, I don’t think I have to tell you that Disney often grossly misrepresents things from other cultures.

I rarely quote book summaries in my reviews, but in this case I think it really says it best.

“Imagine a world filled with fierce, fiery beings, hiding in our shadows, in our dreams, under our skins. Eavesdropping and exploring; savaging our bodies, saving our souls. They are monsters, saviours, victims, childhood friends. Some have called them genies: these are the Djinn.

And they are everywhere. On street corners, behind the wheel of a taxi, in the chorus, between the pages of books. Every language has a word for them. Every culture knows their traditions. Every religion, every history has them hiding in their dark places.”

My interest was undeniably piqued by that fantastic description of this anthology, and of the Djinn. I tucked into this book with relish, and found that I wasn’t as wowed as I expected to be. Perhaps my expectations were simply too high, considering that most of these authors were award winners.

For the most part my reaction to this collection was ‘meh’. I wasn’t able to engage with most of these stories emotionally, and that’s a huge part of enjoyment for me. Sometimes it was the characters, sometimes the writing style, and sometimes there just wasn’t a satisfying payoff by the end of the tale.

Still, there were a few stories that I really enjoyed. Those were: History (Nnedi Okorafor), The Congregation (Kamila Shamsie), Black Powder (Maria Dahvana Headley), The Jinn Hunter’s Apprentice (E.J. Swift), Bring Your Own Spoon (Saad Z. Hossain), and The Spite House (Kirsty Logan).

Apart from those stories I found this book to be more of a slog than I anticipated. It got to the point where I would be reluctant to pick it up because I knew I’d have to read through many stories I wasn’t into to get to one that I would enjoy. Still, an anthology is always going to be a mixed bag, so I knew what I was getting into.

I don’t regret reading this, though had I not been required to write a review I probably would have skimmed most of this instead of reading.

I would recommend it those who already enjoy one or many of the authors contained within, or those who are supremely curious about Djinn.

Are you anticipating the release of this anthology? Let me know in the comments below!

Update: Winter Bookish Bingo

We’re about halfway through Winter Bookish Bingo right now, so I thought I would post a quick update on how I’m doing. Bookish Bingo is hosted by Bekka at Pretty Deadly Blog, and there’s still time to participate if you’d like.

Categories with a snowflake are ones that I’ve read for so far. The book read are listed below!

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Alternative Format: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – audiobook (review to come)

Banned Book: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

2017 Debut: Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff

Pink Cover: Down the Rabbit Hole by Julia Crane

Not YA: The Hungry Years by William Leith

White Cover: A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas

Science Fiction: While We Dream by Mark Le Dain

Dec, Jan, Feb Release: Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

Super Hyped: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (review to come)

Unreliable Narrator: Nostalgia by M.G. Vassanji (review to come)

So that makes for 1 Bingo so far! My intent was to try and fill up the whole card, but I have other responsibilities that take up my time. I’m still hoping to be able to do it, but we’ll see.

Are you participating in Winter Bookish Bingo? How are you doing so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Down the Rabbit Hole

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I don’t request very many books on NetGalley – maybe one or two that catch my eye every three weeks or so, or books from authors that I love.

Often, however, I’ll “wish for” a title that’s not available to request. In the last few days I somehow seem to have been approved for everything I’ve requested! Down the Rabbit Hole is one of those titles. While it’s put me in a bit of a reading frenzy, I’m thrilled to have been given the chance and want to thank NetGalley and the publisher for granting my wish.

I only wish this book had lived up to my expectations.

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I love Alice in Wonderland retellings, most especially darker ones. I’m always eager to see what a new author can bring to an existing tale to re-invigorate the characters or setting. This author brought a sibling – the idea that Alice had a twin sister, Lacie.

The Alice that Crane introduces us to is unrecognizable. I rather think that was the point, but I don’t think she’s a well thought out character. Raised by the Red Queen, she’s become just as mad as her adoptive mother. She’s also become just as cruel – meting out the same types of punishments that their citizens have come to fear.

That doesn’t seem so bad, right? Wrong. When the book is narrated from Alice’s perspective, the only thoughts she has are about her forbidden love for a stable-hand, Landon, and constant thoughts about a very badly worded prophecy that involves the twins themselves.

This prophecy manages to drive the narrative forward at what feels like a snail’s pace while somehow almost never managing to address it directly. Then, when it is addressed, it was such an eye-rolling scene that I thought my eyes were going to stay stuck in the back of my head.

The idea of Alice being a twin is interesting, but Lacie’s voice is not much better than Alice’s. Before she falls into Wonderhills, her voice seems like any teenager. Believable. But afterwards, her character devolves into simply questioning everything around her without ever receiving or thinking of any answers. She also (surprise!) gets a love interest who she’s completely smitten with as soon as they lock eyes for the first time.

He’s also the man her sister is instructed to marry. Because love triangles improve everything. Yikes.

Honestly, I found the narrative confusing and pretty boring. Throughout the entire book, I wondered how much longer I had to be reading it. Though it was a short read, coming to the end was as much a relief as finishing an epic novel in old English. The writing was pretty messy, concepts jumbled, and characters uninteresting. Even the tease of a cool concept (Earth is a dreamland) was mentioned a few times but ultimately lost in the mess that was this book.

I wondered if the novel was supposed to be confusing, considering the story, but if that was the case it was just a bad decision as I got absolutely no enjoyment from it.

The secondary characters are one-dimensional and boring, and even when they had slight backstories I didn’t give them a second thought. Oh, Red Queen and White Queen had bad stuff happen to them? Mad Hatter is even crazier than assumed? Did. Not. Care.

If you’re looking for a stellar (or even vaguely good) Alice retelling, this is not the book for you.

Can you recommend a great Alice retelling? Let me know in the comments below!

2016 Wrap-Up

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The year is ending, and as it comes to a close a look back at the year seems only natural. I really tried to blog regularly this year, but I feel that I fell a bit short of my own goals.

Lets take a look at this years blogging stats!

My favourite new (to me) books read in 2016:

I read 36 books this year! The longest was my re-read of Lirael (706 pages), and the shortest was my read of Poet Robot (111 pages).

My most popular posts this year were Akata Witch and Star Wars: The Force Awakens – tied in first place.

I got the most visitors from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

My top referrers were the WordPress Reader, Facebook, and Search Engines.

My top search terms were daniella writes, opal koboi a villain we love to hate,  and bone gap literacy.

Coming in 2017:

  • Reviews of fanfiction, both quick and in-depth
  • More discussion posts
  • Some of my own original fiction
  • Art, film, game, and comic features
  • More organized blogging! (A schedule even?)

In the new year, I want to strive to be more organized. I want to include more original content and give you an idea of what I’m doing when I’m not reading a novel. Narratives are a huge part of my life – but in various commendable formats that I’d like to write more about. I’ll still be active with NetGalley picks, but I’m also going to try to read all of the books that I already own and have neglected for too long. Be on the lookout for some of my original short fiction as well!

My Favourite Bookish Blogs of 2016:

(I was inspired to do this post by all the wrap up blog posts I’ve seen, but especially the ones at Pages Unbound, and Nut-Free Nerd.)

How was your bookish 2016? Have you made any blogging or reading goals for 2017? Feel free to share in the comments below, and have a Happy New Year!

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TTT: Books I’d Love to See Under the Tree

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Hey y’all. It’s Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday! TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m currently suffering either a nasty stomach bug or food poisoning, so this post will be rather shorter than usual and possibly a little incoherent.

Still, I want to try my best to keep things going!

The theme this week is ‘Top Ten Books I’d Love to See Under the Christmas Tree’. I don’t actually have a tree this year, which I’m sad about as I love the smell of fresh pine. In any case, here are ten books that I would love to receive as gifts! Honestly, any book as a gift is wonderful, especially when you’re gifting a personal favourite to someone.

But sometimes you just want to get your hands on something specific!

In no particular order, here’s my wishlist:

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– Goldenhand, by Garth Nix

– The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

– Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel

– The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman

– Luna: New Moon, by Ian McDonald

– The Paper Menagerie, by Ken Liu

– Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

– Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente

– And I Darken, by Kiersten White

– The Trees, by Ali Shaw

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So there they are, books that I was unable to pick up myself for one reason or another, but that I’ve really wanted to read. Getting them as gifts would be really cool.

Gifts aren’t everything during the holidays – seeing your family and friends is the best part of the season. But there’s no denying that presents are a delight!

I hope you all have a great end of the year, and receive some cool books as well!

What are some books you’d love to receive as gifts? Have you read any of my wishlist – and how were they? Let me know in the comments below!

Dumbledore’s Army Readathon!

I believe I’ve mentioned before how cool it is to be a part of the book blogging community, but though I’ve done book memes galore and comment when I can, I haven’t quite done a true group activity.

That’s changing from January 1st to 15th, when I’ll be taking part in the Dumbledore’s Army readathon, hosted by Read At Midnight! Sign ups are open during December, so head over there and check out the details if you’re interested.

So, the #DAReadAThon is a Harry Potter themed readathon, focusing on diverse books (especially #ownvoices books). Books read and activities participated in earn you points for the house you sign up with!

Here’s my sign up card:

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And here’s my to-read list for the readathon:

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the-bell-jar

The Bell Jar has been on my to-read list for ages, and it’s definitely an #ownvoices book. I don’t recall ever reading a book in which the main character’s depression is centred upon, and I’m eager to do so.

 

 

 

 

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if-i-was-your-girl

 

I haven’t ever read a book with a transgender main character, but this one is an #ownvoices pick – and its supposed to be really good. Looking forward to picking it up!

 

 

 

 

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in-search-of-april-raintree

I’ve had this on my shelf for a while, but haven’t yet read it. Another #ownvoices book, there’s no better time to tackle it than during this readathon!

 

 

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we-should-all-be-feminists

This short ebook is based on my favourite Ted Talk of all time, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it expanded upon.

 

 

 

 

dareadathon-impedimentathe-jade-peony

A former Canada Reads selection, this canlit pick has been sitting on my shelf for far too long! Another #ownvoices pick as well.

 

 

 

 

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the-absolutey-true-diary

I’ve had my eye on this award winner for a very long time. Another #ownvoices pick, this time also a YA title. Right up my alley!

 

 

 

 

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Now it’s time for you to help me out! Comment below to recommend a great #ownvoices pick for me to check out during this readathon!