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Reading time: can’t get enough of the books, baby, edition

Blightborn by Chuck Wendig

Alert readers will probably already know that I’m a big fan of El Wendigo. I’ve been following his blog, Terribleminds, for ages, and started reading his novels last year. Blightborn is the second in the Heartland trilogy (YA novels). The first, Under the Empyrean Sky, was an awesome kapow-pow adventure of a book, and I have been hankering for more of the Heartland since I read it. Blightborn came out earlier this year and I’ve been spinning it out, slowly enjoying it in trickles, until I couldn’t take it anymore and read the last three-quarters in the space of a few days. Goddamn, but it’s good. The mythos, the world, the characters: I loved all of it. The characters are flawed but doing their best, and everyone’s got something to fight and die for. Blightborn picks up immediately where Under the Empyrean Sky left off. (I should point out: while I think you could pick up Blightborn and read it as a standalone novel, but I think the character and plot development that takes place in the first book means that reading them in order is a vastly more satisfying experience. Just my opinion, of course, but that’s kinda the whole point of this review.) Cael, Lane and Rigo are on the run; Gwennie and her family and in a very dark place; Boyland and his posse are in pursuit. I can’t say too much because, well, there’s isn’t much room for me to frame the happenings of this book without giving away too much of the first, so close are their plots. One of the central tenets of Chuck’s writing—one of the things I love most about it, I think, but just one—is starting the story as close to the end as possible. The reader gets just enough worldbuilding, just enough exposition, to allow them to grow enough understanding to appreciate where the characters are coming from, and not a paragraph more. And it makes for exciting, fast-paced, dynamic reading that is gripping and addictive, fun, and wonderful.

God’s War by Kameron Hurley

I waited too goddamn long to read this excellent book. If you love other-world fantasy, Hurley’s got your jam right here. It’s fantastic: ever get sick of vaguely European fantasy worlds? Ever get sick of white dudes being in charge of the story? Ever get sick of the lack of insect-based technology overlapping with righteous warfare wrapped around a complex and insightful plot? Hurley’s got your jam. The book follows Nyx, a once bel dame (government assassin), whose black market shenanigans have put her on the wrong side of the rest of the bel dames one time too many; now she and her rogue team are working one of the most lucrative and complicated jobs she’s ever faced, and there’s something working below the surface. God’s War is the first in the Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy, and it is spectacularly enjoyable. Bold, occasionally violent, sometimes sexy, clever, interesting, and with a heroine both damaged and powerful, I’m damned excited that there’s another two books waiting for me.

Meaty by Samantha Irby

I have much to thank the Bloggess for, but I’ll get to that another time. Right now, I want to thank her for introducing me to Samantha Irby, of bitches gotta eat fame. (And I seriously just lost, like, an hour of writing time to reading her archives because she’s funny and sharp and a goddamn hoot.) Meaty is a collection of Samantha Irby’s essays about, well everything. She covers the profound and personal, including details about her childhood and the need to be her mother’s prime carer from an astonishingly young age; her Chron’s disease; fantastic stories that discuss her life, dating, parents — look, I don’t want to list the whole damn table of contents. Everything she writes about, she writes with humour, kindness, boldness and an infallible eye for the core of a situation. Read the blog, love it, and then move onto the book. She’s bloody funny, smart, and a top-shelf writer. She writes with realness and strength and it’s beautiful.

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