Siren Queen By Nghi Vo is set in the 1930’s Hollywood but in a world where the worst monsters are not on screen. Luli Wei is a Chinese-American girl who wants to be in movies but would rather play the monster than the maid. When the studios own everything, Luli is willing to do whatever in takes to become a star. I received an early review copy through NetGalley.
Siren Queen is an amazing critical and magical take on old Hollywood. Luli is one of those characters that you love and want to root for but in many ways she is not a good person. Near the end you have that feeling that things aren’t going to go her way which makes the ending much more satisfyingly. I love the fact that it takes a while for the title to real make since as it is a monster that make Luli famous.
My one criticism of the story is that the magic is never really explained however the writing sucks you in in a way that that doesn’t matter that much. I just would have like to see how everyone knows how the magic works. Also I do wish the book was a little longer just because I love the world that Nigh Vo crated and would love to see more of. This book made me want to read Nigh Vo’s other works even more.
Illumicrate is a UK based fantasy and science fiction book box that has monthly boxes or just a monthly book only subscription. Each box also includes a selection of bookish goodies some more practical, others more decorative set around a monthly theme. November’s theme is Death and Fortune.
The items included in this box are a fabric book jacket, the next Greek Mythology teacup inspired by Nemesis, a Scorpio Races inspired book tin, a She Who Became the Sun metal bookmark, and a hanging ornament.
Illumicrate, like other book boxes, include a new hard cover each month and most months a letter from the author. This months book is Little Thieves by Margaret Owen. This edition of this book has an exclusive cover, a full color printing on the hardback, sprayed and stenciled edges, and a signed bookplate. Little Thieves is a retelling of The Goose Girl where Vanja is the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune who plans to steal back her future by killing the Princess. However, as she leads this double life she crosses the wrong god and could loose not just her freedom but her life as well.
Fairyloot is a Young Adult book subscription box focusing on fantasy based out of the UK. Each month you receive a new Young Adult hardback book and 5-6 bookish goodies. Like most book boxes the hardback are special editions and the items are a combination of both practical things and more decorative items. November’s theme is Vengeance is Yours.
The bookish items included this month are a Book Review notebook, washi tape, a Vicious inspired microfiber cloth, a bamboo travel mug, and the monthly tarot cards inspired by A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. There was also supposed to be a Poppy War enamel pin but it was delayed in shipment and will be included in the next box.
All Fairyloot books come with exclusive covers, signed by the author and include a letter from the author. This month the book is Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan. This edition also has stenciled sprayed edges, art on the reverse of the dust jacket, and foiling on the hardback. Set in an empire on the brink of war Ahn has no family and no past, while Altan in the lost heir who was stolen as a child. When they met Ahn thinks she might be able to unlock her past while Altan sees a path to the throne. But their path will not be easy and there may be a price to pay.
So I haven’t posted in a while, mostly because I work retail during the Holiday season and we were very busy. I read a lot in November but barely anything in December so I decided to combine these wrap ups. As I read seven books in November but only one in December.
The Origins of Wizards, Witches, and Fairies by Simon Webb is a nonfiction book about the historical and cultural origins of wizards, witches, and fairies and how these ideas have changed over time. I received an early copy through the publisher on NetGalley. I was interested in this book because I’ve never read about this aspect of history. It was well written and explored how stories change but at times it did feel like the same information was being repeated. I also would have preferred the images to be in the text instead of just in the back. However, I do feel like any with an interest in folklore and magic would enjoy this book.
The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney is a nonfiction book about Hatshepsut who became one of Ancient Egypt’s few female pharaohs. I’ve read some about Hatshepsut before but this book is much more detailed about her life overall and how she rose to power. I enjoyed this book for how readable it made history especially history at can often feel a little overwhelming with how different Ancient Egypt is to modern audiences. I feel that anyone with an interest in Ancient Egyptian history would enjoy this book.
Sabriel by Garth Nix is the first book in a young adult fantasy series that has ancient magic and dead that won’t stay dead. Sabriel is a reread for me but I still love the series and I have a full review posted as well. The story follows Sabriel who must travel through the Old Kingdom to find her father the Abhorsen who has disappeared and given his title to her. Along the way she must stop the dead from rising with the help of a young man who doesn’t remember his past and a magical talking cat.
Next I read the next two Fazbear Frights books Gumdrop Angel and The Puppet Carver by Scott Cawthon which are short story collections in the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. I don’t have much to say about either of these story collections as I wasn’t a big fan of them. I would say that they do have some very effective body horror but the characters where not very compelling. The best story was What we Found because of how much it connects to the third game. I do plan to finish these short story series but I don’t always enjoy the stories as much as I would like.
I also read two different nonfiction Titanic books, Titanic Destination Disaster: The Legends and the Realty by John P. Eaton and Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those who Survived. Titanic Destination Disaster is an older book but I didn’t realize that when I started it. Because of this most of the information I already knew and I found the structure odd as it started with the sinking and then jumped back to when the ship was being built.
Shadow of the Titanic on the other hand focuses much more on individual survivors and how the sinking of the Titanic impacted the rest of their lives. Many Titanic books touch on what happen to different survivors but this book give an in-depth account of several of the more famous survivors and would be of interest to those who research the Titanic.
The only book that I read in December was The Museum: A Short History of Crisis and Resilience by Samuel J. Redman which is a nonfiction book about the many different crisis and upheavals that museums have faced throughout the history of the United States. I received an early copy from the publisher through Netgalley. As someone who has both studied and worked in the Museum field I appreciated the exploration of the many different crisis and issues museums have faced overtime. I also like that fact that the author tried to see what exactly happen and how that instance is viewed now with the advantage of hindsight. However, as the book discussed more recent issues I did feel like the author’s personal feelings came out more than was necessary.
TV and Movies:
I mostly have been watching Documentaries or Docuseries that I don’t have to focus much on. The ones I’ve watched recently where the second season of Tiger King and Tiger King The Doc Antle Story. I watch these types of show when I’m doing laundry and cleaning just to have something in the background. The only take way I have is that most of the people involved with these situations are awful and most of them probably deserve to be in jail.
The only movie I’ve watched recently was The Dead Don’t Die a zombie comedy movie staring Bill Murray and Adam Drive. I wanted to like this move but it was just okay. I thought it would be funnier but it was mostly slow and boring with many of the jokes just feeling awkward. If you like the cast you might enjoy it but I would keep expectations low.
Owl Crate is a young adult book subscription box where every month you receive one new hardcover book and an assortment of bookish goodies connected to the monthly theme. Some of these items are very practical and some are better suited as décor or for a pin/bulletin board. November’s theme is Dreaming in the Dark.
Each box includes different bookish goodies that fit the theme of the month and are connected to other books. This months items include the last A Darker Shade of Magic book tin, a lip balm inspired by The Bone Season, a full size pillowcase inspired by A Court of Thorns and Roses, and washi tape. The box was also supposed to include the yearly reading planner but it was delayed in shipping and will be sent separately.
Every month Owl Crate has a new young adult hardback book that has an exclusive cover, is signed and comes with a letter from the author. The enamel pin that is in every box is also inspired by that months book. This months book is Dreams Lie Beneath by Rebecca Ross which is a story about vengeance, family, and the power of dreams. This edition also comes with art on the reverse of the dust jacket and foiling on the hardback.
Sabriel is the first book in a young adult fantasy series. Originally know as the Abhorsen trilogy the author has added to the series and it is now know as the Old Kingdom series. This first book follows Sabriel a young woman who is studying at Wyverley College that is close to a wall that separates the Old Kingdom, which is full of magic, from the rest of society in Ancelstierre. The Old Kingdom is more medieval with magic everywhere and often the dead don’t stay dead while Ancelstierre has a more early 20th century feel. When Sabriel’s father the Abhorsen goes missing she knows that she must travel into the Old Kingdom to try and find him as she now holds the title of Abhorsen which means that she is the only one who can keep some of the dead from rising.
Sabriel is a well written young woman who is trust into a situation that she doesn’t want to be in but will still do her best to make sure that evil doesn’t win and the people she cares about are as safe as possible. Thou my favorite character is Mogget a creature of magic that is a servant of the current Abhorsen who has the form of a cat that can talk. He’s one of those characters that helps the main character but is unhappy with his situation and feels like he could turn at any moment.
I originally read this series several years ago and when I saw that new books where coming out I wanted to reread the series and see where the new books went with this world. I loved the series then and so far I still love it. This series has some of my favorite tropes with the death magic/necromancy and while written for a younger audience I feel like this is one of those stories that many people will love.