JJ Reads

Memo Pad: October Wrap up

October is down. Which means I’m officially allowed to listen to Christmas music now. And I know, I can hear people screening NO!!!! But I’ve always been someone who hates winter. It’s cold and dark and if I need pretty lights and music to make me happy then I will….. Only. That’s not actually the case this year because we moved to warmer climates and now it’s still 25 degrees outside and sunny everyday. This is going to be the strangest Christmas EVER. People are scraping ice off their cars in the morning in London. What?!?

Anyway enough of things that aren’t happening here, what is happening still is a lot of paperwork. I feel like my life is paperwork. Okay I’m exaggerating and I feel sorry for my dad who is actually dealing with it all BUT I’ve been having to go out every other week (sometimes once a week!) just to get something else done. I’m housebound for those of you who aren’t aware and I’m living in a constant struggle of recovery right now trying to get this all done. The good news is that a large chunk of it is done and the other good news is that with a brexit delay we’ve got a little while longer to get the rest of it done. I’m hoping by Christmas I’ll get some rest!

it has led me to being pretty sick this week which meant I fell behind on my writing and blogging a little. But I’m here now. Writing wise I’m drafting more of my contemporary fantasy story and am about 60% in. I’m hoping to get a large chunk of what’s left done this month. I’m not officially doing NaNoWriMo but that’s the plan. Although I do have to go out for that paperwork again so….. Cross your fingers I don’t get too sick again please!

The pretty amazing news I have to share is that I’m going to make my reading goal of 100 books this year. There was a point a few years ago where 52 felt impossible so this is amazing. It is going to be a one off though. I’ve read so many amazing books but I don’t like the pressure it’s put on my reading. Reading is meant to be enjoyable and at times I’ve been picking books for speed rather than joy.

I have got two freaking amazing books to review below. They were my favourites this month and I really hope you’ll stick around to read the reviews! I’m quite proud of them!

Book Wrap Up:

All links go to goodreads, my mini reviews for each can be found here

Space Carrier Avalon by Glynn Stewart ***** Battlestar galatica-esque space opera about an old ship full of exciting space battles

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P Djeli Clark ***** Novella set in an alternate history Cairo in 1912 with Djinn mixing with technology and an official investigation

Wilder Girls by Rory Power ***** YA horror about an isolated all girls school during a virus outbreak that is slowly turning them into monsters

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht *****Adult novella about a monster that crawls out of the ocean to join a human monster

An Offering of Plums by J Emery *****Super short adult fantasy about a boy betrayed by his boyfriend to be a demon sacrifice

Favourite Books of the Month:

DeepLight by Frances Hardinge***** (Review copy)

This is an amazing lower YA fantasy about deep-sea diving, sea monster gods and toxic friendships. I loved everything about this book.

The setting was so vivid and real. I could taste the salt on the air. I LOVE island settings so much and when they’re written this well they just fill me with wanderlust. I want to be calves deep in the sea pushing out a boat with the characters. I want to be climbing the hills with sea air buffeting and trying to catch me. I want to be standing in the harbour with the crowds cheering as the submarines surface. I felt like I was THERE. This is why I read books. But that’s only the surface. The gods are mighty and tentacled sea monsters lurking in the deep. The submarines have manual sacks of air, old fashioned diving bells are winched into place, chunky metal helmets with air lines are the only thing between you and drowning.

I really loved the way being Deaf was built into the world. A lot of people were Deaf from diving accidents and nearly everyone knew sign language. It was a part of life on the islands and I loved how it was so intrinsically woven into the world and how people acted. I wish so many more fantasy books wove disability into the world like this. Disabled people exist. We should get to see ourselves in books and going on adventures and being heroes. It was SO nice to see it play such a big part in the world (disclaimer here that I am not Deaf so this is just my opinion as a disabled person. others will have more relevant opinions you should listen to more).

But enough about the amazing world. Hark is brilliant main character to follow through it all. I loved how much he loved the sea, it was in his bones. He’s used to scavenging from it to survive. He’s trapped between his old life and a new one. Loyalty and hope. Desperately trying to grasp onto a future for himself that doesn’t end with him laying face down in the surf. He’s afraid but faces it. Jelt, on the other hand, was completely different. Reckless, brash, and wanting more from everything. Harks best friend and only family. The toxic friendship he has with Jelt was emotional and twisted, constantly throwing Hark off course from anything he wanted. I simultaneously wanted Hark to walk away and wanted everything to work out. But the deeper the story got and more danger they got into the more complicated and painful their relationship became. It is such a powerful relationship. I also loved Selphin, a Deaf girl who plays a large part in the adventure with Hark. She has her own point of view chapters though much fewer than Hark. She’s clever and angry and brave and is DONE with how reckless and silly people around her act about the sea. I loved both her and Harks growth as people. And ALL the people around them. Seriously there are too many to name. ALL of them were such deep fully formed people that made the world around Hark feel real and infinite.

I haven’t even talked about the adventure but the danger is always looming. Between the mysterious gods, the law and the gangs that trap Hark, there is always something to survive. All while the absolute power of the sea never lets you forget how dangerous it is no matter how enticing the waves get.

Overall Deeplight is a brilliant escape into a vivid fantastical world of sea monster gods with amazing characters and relationships that one review will never do justice.

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna *****

THIS BOOK. It was one of my MOST anticipated books for 2018 but like always I take ages to get around to things. It’s a YA Scifi based on an Indian myth which sounded perfect for me. Anyway I finally read it and OH MY GOD. WHY did it take me so long to get to it? It’s SO GOOD. I read it over the course of two days (and seriously only because sleep and food are things I need to take breaks for). It reminded me so much of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves those books. Yes it is scifi but please don’t let that put you off. It’s basically a brilliant YA fantasy but in space. It’s got kingdoms and monarchs and families fighting for who should be heir to the throne. It’s got gods playing favourites (which by the way is MY FAVOURITE trope), prophesies and curses. And it focuses on a female MC who is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. And has a slow burn romance that was SO GOOD and believable that even my romance hating heart loved it (bonus points for the fact the romance never overtook the plot). There are even laws against which types of battles are moral so we have bows and arrows and sword fighting all while climbing on the wings of ships. It’s all of the best things about a YA fantasy but in space. I loved the unique twist it gave the story. I love how it affected how things played out.

Okay wait let me actually try to explain things properly.

The man character is Esmae, she’s grown up as an orphan on a world on the back of a space ship but she’s not actually one. Her mother sent her away as a baby to protect the family and now she’s finally got a chance to return. All she has to do is win the most powerful spaceship in a competition that will help her brothers regain the throne that was stolen from them by their cousin. I love Esmae so much. She’s stubborn and vulnerable, and a brilliant fighter in her own right but she craves family. Which brings me onto the family. Ah, complicated family. I love the dynamics of all the players here. When it’s introduced you think oh I know how this is going to play but NO. Every person we meet has their own story and goals and none of them are black and white. They’re all twisted into a big ball of complicated family feels. And it’s AWESOME. I would tell you more about who and how I loved them but that would be spoilers so you should find out yourself. But then to make matters more complicated, we have the gods. I mentioned above that gods playing favourites is my favourite trope and it is done so well here. They have all their fingers in all the pies. But they’re not all powerful or all seeing which means they frequently just mess things up. I loved their backstories, their reasons. They were all as real and present in the story as the players for the throne. I love how the author always have the reader enough to figure things out just before he characters did. I loved the twists in the story and it pulled me forward and made me need to see what happened next.

The ONLY thing that left me feeling iffy was the way disability was treated. One of the characters is blind and while I loved that Esmae was shown agreeing it shouldn’t have stopped them from being heir I did feel the way the character developed as frightened and easily led as well as the way other characters and the gods treated disability to be problematic. I’m not sure how much of this is taken straight from the original myths the book is based on. But for example, an abled wife wearing a blindfold for ten years to be like her husband and a God deciding that it was such an impressive feat to undergo that they reward them for it is….. I mean that’s pretty ableist. I wish the couple of moments like this would have been brought up in the text because the rest of this book is freaking amazing. it’s still an easy five stars for me and I can’t wait to read the next book (I have hope the blind rep gets better in the sequels).

Favourite Quote:

It is easy to love power, because power tells you it is majesty and beauty and greatness. But the gods were monsters. Do not even love their memory.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge

I would love to know what you think of any of these books, and what is the best book you’ve read lately? Are you keeping up with any reading goals you set yourself?

3 thoughts on “Memo Pad: October Wrap up”

  1. So after being MIA for over a year I’ve started reading blogs again and I was so excited to read your reviews for this month, Deeplight sounds like my kind of book and I have to get my hands on it. I’ve read quite a few books this year and I really enjoyed Furyborn by Claire Legrand, and the Misborn series by Brandon Sanderson. Have you read either? xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I hope you love Deeplight if you do read it. I haven’t read furyborn but I have read Sawkill girls by clare legrand and enjoyed it a lot. I’ve also read the first book in the Mistborn series which I loved but I don’t tend to stick around when they kill my favourite character lol!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was pretty devastated that Kelsier died too but I actually liked that you wouldn’t know if any other main character would die in the rest of the books!


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