The Books I Read This Month When I Should Have Been Writing

There’s a lot of things I should have been doing this month. Probably. Instead, I’ve been participating in the grand tradition known as NaNoWriMo in which writers around the world furious write as many words as they can for a novel with the goal being 50k. Or, if you’re absurd like me, you aim to go well past 50k and write the entire damn novel in the month and slowly lose your sanity with each passing day.

I really miss video games, y’all.
(That is partially a lie. I’ve still been taking occasional Dragon Age Inquisition breaks. Don’t judge me.)
The point is: I should have been just focused on writing this month and yet! My to read piles have continued to grow to the point where I fear they may soon become sentient. So yes. That means I’ve also been reading while trying to write. Sleep has been sacrificed. Because I don’t want to sacrifice any more sleep, I’m trying something new here and just write up some quick thoughts on some of the recently published/forthcoming books that are in my review piles.

What, you might ask, was in that pile? The Never Tilting World, The Vine Witch, and Anyone.

The Never Tilting World
There are two ways to make me immediately interested in reading a book: racially diverse cast that features bad ass ladies and also it’s queer. The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco (October 15, 2019) has both of those. The whole “Frozen meets Mad Max” pitch definitely also intrigued me although I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate even though I can certainly see why they picked those as comps. The book takes place in a world that has been ruled by generations by twin goddesses. Odessa and Haidee are the next generation of these goddess but know nothing about each other as their mothers have raised them separately from each other on opposite sides of the broken world. The story is told from four points of view: Odessa, Lan (her bodyguard who’s in love with her), Haidee, and Arjun (her somewhat accidental ally). While I liked all four of the main characters, I did struggle at times with distinguishing between the points of view as they were all via first person and I didn’t always remember to check the chapter header. (And you should definitely read the headers because Chupeco does something rather clever with them.) I enjoyed the world created here and found myself completely drawn in by the end especially as all of the pieces fell together. There’s also something really neat that happens with Odessa that I want to talk about how deftly handled it was but that would be a huge spoiler. While I wouldn’t say that this is a book that rocked my world, it’s definitely one that I enjoyed reading and was reluctant to set down once my lunch break ended. I’ll also definitely read the sequel because I’m dying to know what happens to these four kids who are doing their best despite being in a mess of a world.
P.S: I just saw Tara Sim’s quote on the book saying the book is “what happens when Garth Nix meets Mad Max: Fury Road” and oh my god that’s so perfect. If you liked Nix’s recent Angel Mage, I think you’ll like this book too.
The Vine Witch
Admittedly, this really wasn’t my kind of book so maybe take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Sure, I’m a sucker for fantasy and I’ve been known to read a romance book or two but the latter isn’t something I actively seek out. The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (October 1, 2019) is the story of Elena, the titular vine witch, who finally frees herself from a curse that turned her into a toad and returns home to find everything is changed. The vineyard is no longer owned by her adoptive grandparents but instead by a man who wants to hear nothing of magic. Oh. And there’s also the issue of her former fiance who she’s fairly sure is responsible for those seven years a toad. Overall, the most interesting thing about the book is the magic. I like the idea of a world that’s like our but magic is just a part of it and there being magic users who specialize in things like making wine and beer is neat. Aside from that, I was never really pulled in by the story. It was somewhat predictable minus the total WTF last few chapters and the romance was bland. Overall, the book is fine and again, maybe it’s just not my cup of tea but I can’t say I’ll be reading the sequel whenever it’s released.
Anyone
I really dig a lot of Charles Soule’s comic book work which makes his novels something that automatically grab my attention. Anyone (December 3, 2019) is Soule’s second book and it’s definitely noticeable that he learned a lot from his first novel, The Oracle Year, and applied it to this book. So yes: to put it bluntly, this book is better than his first one. It’s very much the kind of book you might expect from Soule and he does some neat things with the parallel stories from different points of time. I figured out most of the twist fairly early on but the second part of it was excellent enough to make me mutter a few swears under my breath as I read. For the most part, I did enjoy the book and I appreciate a lot of the things that he was trying to saying about human beings and how we tend to view and treat each other based upon visible characteristics. I’m just not entirely sure that Soule is the right person to tackle some of them. That said, the science part of this science fiction book is well thought through and a neat concept to consider and hopefully something that doesn’t actually become a part of our lives any time soon. The human race definitely isn’t ready for us to switch around and rent out our bodies. Stories about it? Totally way more fun to read.
In addition to these new books, I also reread X-Wing: Mercy Kill and Inferno Squad for two different podcasts that I host. Shocker: I still love both of those books a lot even if they rip my heart out. I also finally got to An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir which has been in my to read pile for an embarrassingly long time and I feel silly for not having read it before now especially since a friend handed it to me and told me to read it because he knew I’d like it.
Also… *looks around furtively* I am about halfway through Harrow the Ninth and I can already tell that this is the sort of book where I’m going to read the last page and IMMEDIATELY want to go grab Gideon the Ninth so I can reread that and then Harrow the Ninth again. My space necromancer lesbian darlings ❤
Now if you’ll excuse me… I need to get back to NaNo.
Thank you to Wunderkind PR for providing copies of The Never Tilting World, The Vine Witch, and Anyone for review purposes.

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