Yesterday I checked out 15 books from my local library; after a few conversations on Twitter I thought it might be a fun idea to write a blog post about all of the books & why I’ve chosen to read them. The books include some fantasy YA & some historical fiction (as those of you who follow my blog probably guessed); most of the books are ones that have been on my to-read list for months & months, & I’m glad that I’ll finally be crossing them off, but there’s also a couple of new additions to my to-read list; ones that I wanted to read straight away.
I won’t be reading the books in any specific order, but I will be reading the ones that have other people waiting for them first. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get through them in a month to six weeks (unfortunately I have to revise as well). I’m also going to try to get through the last two A Song of Fire & Ice books, but I’ll only be reading them on Mondays, & I have some ARCs I have to read as well… basically, I have a lot of reading to get done in a fairly short amount of time!!
A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison
An unforgettable journey into the underworld of modern-day slavery, A Walk Across the Sun begins on December 26, 2004, as seventeen-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her younger sister, Sita, are walking on the beach outside their home in Chennai, India. Suddenly, the unimaginable happens: a devastating tsunami hits the shore, tearing their family apart instantly and leaving them orphaned and alone. As they attempt to travel toward safety inland, they are kidnapped and delivered to a Mumbai brothel, to begin new lives as captive prostitutes.
In Washington, DC, a young lawyer, Thomas Clarke, is forced to take a sabbatical from his prestigious law firm. He chooses to serve his time with a non-profit group working in the red-light areas of Mumbai, where his wife, Priya, has returned to live with her family following the tragic loss of their child. Little does he know that his reluctant penance will soon turn into an international quest for the woman he has lost and a child he has never met.
Though separated by half a world, the destinies of Thomas and the Ghai sisters become intertwined as Sita is trafficked to Paris and then New York. Before long, Thomas is navigating the brutal system of international human trafficking in an effort to reunite the sisters and save Sita’ s life. Unflinchingly gritty yet ultimately hopeful, A Walk Across the Sun is an eye-opening tale of family and survival.
Human Trafficking is a disgusting industry that makes my stomach turn – so why have I chosen to read this book? For the same reason I read war novels – books like this, stories like this, need to be read & heard. This book is going to break my heart, I am 100% sure of that, but this is a story I have to read & this is something I have to learn more about – it’s something everyone should learn about.
Who Runs The World? by Virginia Bergin
Welcome to the Matriarchy.
Sixty years after a virus has wiped out almost all the men on the planet, things are pretty much just as you would imagine a world run by women might be: war has ended; greed is not tolerated; the ecological needs of the planet are always put first. In two generations, the female population has grieved, pulled together and moved on, and life really is pretty good – if you’re a girl. It’s not so great if you’re a boy, but fourteen-year-old River wouldn’t know that. Until she met Mason, she thought they were extinct.
A world without men? Sounds pretty good to me (especially considering the current state of this planet!) I mean, come on – who wouldn’t want to read this book?! I love the idea behind the story & I love that I don’t actually know much about the plot from the synopsis. I feel like this book is going to highlight issues with sexism, from both ends of the spectrum; hopefully it’ll be a good, fun read!
The Moon in the Palace (Empress of Bright Moon book one) by Weina Dai Randel
A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.
Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.
I read a lot of books set in historical China but I’m deliberately trying to read more by Asian authors as well, & The Moon in the Palace sounded super interesting to me. I like that this is the start of a series as a lot of the Asian books I read are standalone novels; it means that I’ll really be able to get into this particular version of historical China & will be able to develop an emotional connection to Mei. I’ve not read much that surrounds Chinese royal history so I’m setting myself up to learn a lot about the customs of palace life; and I’ve definitely not read any books about concubines so I’m expecting a lot of tears.
Elijah’s Mermaid by Essie Fox
In this bewitching, sensual novel, Essie Fox has written another tale of obsessive love and betrayal, moving from the respectable worlds of Victorian art and literature, and into the shadowy demi-monde of brothels, asylums and freakshow tents – a world in which nothing and no-one is quite what they seem to be.
The main reason I became interested in this book is the fact that the title has the word mermaid in it; I’ve always been obsessed with mermaids, okay? Don’t judge me. But then I read the synopsis & was like yassss this is my kinda’ book! Y’all should know by now that I love historical fiction & love learning about the past but brothels, asylums & freakshows aren’t usually written about so of course this one had to on my list. Elijah’s Mermaid has been on my to-read list for as long as I can remember so I’m so excited to finally get my hands on a copy (it’ll probably end up being one of the many books I put back on my to-buy list at the end of this summer reading challenge).
Vixen by Rosie Garland
Devon, 1349. In Brauntone, where seagulls screech across the fields and the wind has a mind to change, Father Thomas arrives as the new priest. Determined to impress his congregation, he quells fears of the coming pestilence with promises of protection.
For Anne, the priest’s arrival is an opportunity that at sixteen, she feels all too ready for. Convinced a grand fate awaits, she moves in as Thomas’s housekeeper, though hopeful of something more. But his home is a place without love or kindness. So when a strange, mute Maid is discovered, washed up in the marshes, and taken in, Anne is grateful for the company. Their friendship is to give Anne the chance of a happiness she thought she’d never know.
But soon the plague strikes Brauntone, spreading panic. And as the villagers’ fear turns to anger, Thomas must sacrifice anything to restore their faith in him.
I was first attracted to this book because of the stunning cover! Anyone who knows me knows I can’t resist a book with a fox on the cover! Plus, this book is also set in the past – actually even earlier than I’ve studied, so that got me really excited. I’m really interested to know how religion & the plague will interact & how Thomas the priest will cope with his town becoming perilously unwell. This isn’t my usual kind of read but, come on, just look at the cover!
Chains (Seeds of America book one) by Laurie Halse Anderson
As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom.
This is another book on this list that has been on my to-read for ages. I’ve recently read a fair amount of books set in America, but they were set during The Second World War & from the perspective of Asian women/families so this will be a new one for me. I, shamefully, don’t know much about this particular time period so I’m really hoping to learn something from this read. I predict it’s going to be a very emotional book.
Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War
The photographs of three young men had stood in his grandmother’s house for as long as he could remember, beheld but never fully noticed. They had all fought in the Second World War, a fact that surprised him. Indians had never figured in his idea of the war, nor the war in his idea of India. One of them, Bobby, even looked a bit like him, but Raghu Karnad had not noticed until he was the same age as they were in their photo frames. Then he learned about the Parsi boy from the sleepy south Indian coast, so eager to follow his brothers-in-law into the colonial forces and onto the front line. Manek, dashing and confident, was a pilot with India’s fledgling air force; gentle Ganny became an army doctor in the arid North-West Frontier. Bobby’s pursuit would carry him as far as the deserts of Iraq and the green hell of the Burma battlefront.
The years 1939–45 might be the most revered, deplored, and replayed in modern history. Yet India’s extraordinary role has been concealed, from itself and from the world. In riveting prose, Karnad retrieves the story of a single family—a story of love, rebellion, loyalty, and uncertainty—and with it, the greater revelation that is India’s Second World War.
A lot of people seem to forget that Asia played a key part in the Second World War; an unending amount of Asian lives were lost during that time & it’s really important to me that I learn more about it so that those lives are remembered. This book may not be fully fact, but it will rip my heart in two & it will help me understand the war from the point of view of the people in India, who suffered just as much as the white people that everyone focuses on.
Beyond the Wall by Tanya Landman
After maiming her master, Cassia has no choice but to run. Beyond the river, fair to the north, stands Hadrian’s Wall – the furthest limit of the mighty Roman Empire. And beyond the wall? Freedom. With dogs on her trail and a bounty on her head, the journey seems impossible. But then Cassia meets Marcus – slick, slippery, silver-tongued – a true and perfect son of Rome. And her only hope.
This is a book set in the past, but again it is one set during a time that I don’t know much about; although, due to the plot of this book I’m not sure how much actual history I’ll learn… I’ve decided to read it anyway though, as I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book so hopefully I’ll enjoy it. I’ve not read any of Tanya Landman’s work but there’s a couple of her books that I’d like to read so hopefully I’ll have a good experience with this one!
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Nature is out of balance in the human world. The sun hasn’t shone in years, and crops are failing. Worse yet, strange and hostile creatures have begun to appear. The people’s survival hangs in the balance.
To solve the crisis, the oracle stones are cast, and Kaede and Taisin, two seventeen-year-old girls, are picked to go on a dangerous and unheard-of journey to Tanlili, the city of the Fairy Queen. Taisin is a sage, thrumming with magic, and Kaede is of the earth, without a speck of the otherworldly. And yet the two girls’ destinies are drawn together during the mission. As members of their party succumb to unearthly attacks and fairy tricks, the two come to rely on each other and even begin to fall in love. But the Kingdom needs only one huntress to save it, and what it takes could tear Kaede and Taisin apart forever.
Although this book is a prequel to Ash, I haven’t actually read Ash yet, but I wanted to read Huntress because I really want to know what the hostile creatures are! I love that this book revolves around two strong female leads & magic that has been influenced by Chinese mythology. Asian mythology is sooo interesting to me because it’s quite different from English mythology, & because a lot of it is unknown to me it can never be predictable. I’m 100% going to read Ash as well, I’m just waiting to find out which order I should read them in!
The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace
A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.
Okay so I don’t usually read poetry, but, I thought I would give this collection a chance because the book has been set out so that the poems tell a story. The title also really intrigues me & the themes of the book sound incredibly interesting. I’ve only heard good things about The Princess Saves Herself so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it too.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
I had absolutely no interest in reading this book until I watched the film with my boyfriend a couple of weekends ago – I loved the way the film was made & adored the very honest relationship between Piscine & the Bengal tiger. I decided to read the book because I want to know what parts of the plot were missed out when the film was made; I want the whole story, not the edited version.
Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill
In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.
For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim. Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year. But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight… And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known…
Normally, a title like Only Ever Yours would totally put me off – I do not read soppy romances where a woman is convinced there’s only happiness with one man… but then I read the synopsis & realised I really need to stop judging books by their covers & titles. As I read a lot of historical books I don’t tend to venture into the future much, but I’m really trying to work on that, so here I am with a copy of Only Ever Yours in my house. I’m desperately hoping that this book will be a hugely feminist book, but there is a fair chance it could end up being a very sexist book – it’ll be a real shame if that is the case because this world sounds super interesting to me.
Pax by Sara Pennypacker (Illustrations by Jon Klassen)
Pax was only a kit when his family was killed, and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax.
Another book with a fox on the cover… I told you! I can’t resist them. But this story also sounds heartbreakingly wonderful & I cannot wait to read it. Pax has been on my to-buy list for longer than most of the others & it’ll definitely be one that I buy my own copy of eventually.
The Ables by Jeremy Scott
I did have fantastic hearing, mostly by virtue of being blind. But that couldn’t actually mean that he’s trying to tell me I have super powers, right? Because that would be ridiculous
It wasn’t the “sex talk” he expected. Phillip Sallinger’s dad has told him he’s a custodian—a guardian—and his genetically inherited power is telekinesis. He’ll learn to move objects with his mind. Excited to begin superhero high school until he discovers he’s assigned to a “special ed” class for disabled empowered kids, he suddenly feels like an outsider. Bullied, threatened, and betrayed, Phillip struggles, even as he and his friends—calling themselves the Ables—find ways to maximize their powers to overcome their disabilities, and are the first to identify the growing evil threatening humanity. As vital custodians disappear and the custodian leadership is mired in indecision, a mysterious and powerful figure taunts Phillip, and the enemy is poised to strike. But what if the next “one who does all,” the multi-gifted custodian predicted to come, is one of the Ables?
Sooo, I’ll be honest – I’m nervous about this read. I don’t read a lot of books about disability because there just isn’t much out there, so I asked Twitter to give me some disabled rep recommendations & The Ables was suggested more than once. I am desperately hoping that the disability rep in this book is good rep & that it isn’t going to make me want to curl up in a ball & cry over my broken body. Hope!fully this book will show disabled people in a greatly positive light & I’ll finish this book with a huge smile on my face.
Crimson China by Betsy Tobin
On a freezing night in February, a woman wades into the waters of Morecambe Bay in a drunken bid to commit suicide. Braced for death, she finds herself instead saving a man’s life – a young Chinese cockle picker, one of the only survivors of a tragic mass drowning.
Suicide is unfortunately something close to my heart, so I usually try to avoid books that involve it, but I also have a very passionate interest in PTSD – I even hope to someday work with PTSD sufferers – so I wanted to read this book for the story of the young Chinese cockle picker.
So there it is – my summer library reading list! Things are pretty diverse & I feel like I’ve got a good mix of books ahead of me; I’m not expecting to love all of them but I’m really hoping I’m not going to have to write an awful review like I did for Touch No One; I never want to read another book that bad ever again!
I’ll post reviews for each book as I go along but, for now; have any of you read any of these book? Did you love them or loathe them? Do you fancy joining me in reading one or more of these books this summer? Let me know in the comments or via Twitter!