Entry 179: The Last Session Vol. 1: Roll for Initiative

Author: Jasmine Walls, Dozerdraws (illustrations)
Genre: Fiction ; Graphic Novels ; Fantasy ; Contemporary ; LGBTQA+ ; Adventure
Publication: June 29th 2022 by Mad Cave Studios
Pages: 139
Format Read In: Ebook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

Roll for initiative! Jay, Lana, Drew, Walter, and Shen have played Dice & Deathtraps together since high school. Now, on the verge of graduating college and scattering, they’ve decided to finally complete their unfinished first campaign. But when Jay’s partner Cassandra joins as a new player, Lana’s afraid the party won’t ever finish their quest…

Trigger warning: fatphobia, isolation (one character being treated poorly by the group).

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this graphic novel through NetGalley to provide a review.

My Review:

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Entry 178: Clariel (Old Kingdom #4)

Author: Garth Nix
Genre: Fiction ; Young Adult ; Fantasy ; Adventure
Publication: October 14th 2014 by HarperCollins
Pages: 382
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

Trigger warnings: Child neglect, uncontrolled temper, violence, death of a parent, acephobia/arophobia language

My Review [SPOILERS FOR OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES]:

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[Mini Review] Entry 177: Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths [RECOMMENDED]

Author: Helen Morales
Genre: Non-Fiction ; Mythology (Greek) ; Feminism ; History ; Classics ; Writing (Essays) ; Politics ; LGBTQA+
Publication: April 14th 2020 by Bold Type Books
Pages: 224
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

A witty, inspiring reckoning with the ancient Greek and Roman myths and their legacy, from what they can illuminate about #MeToo to the radical imagery of Beyoncé.
The picture of classical antiquity most of us learned in school is framed in certain ways — glossing over misogyny while omitting the seeds of feminist resistance. Many of today’s harmful practices, like school dress codes, exploitation of the environment, and rape culture, have their roots in the ancient world.
But in Antigone Rising, classicist Helen Morales reminds us that the myths have subversive power because they are told — and read — in different ways. Through these stories, whether it’s Antigone’s courageous stand against tyranny or the indestructible Caeneus, who inspires trans and gender queer people today, Morales uncovers hidden truths about solidarity, empowerment, and catharsis.

Antigone Rising offers a fresh understanding of the stories we take for granted, showing how we can reclaim them to challenge the status quo, spark resistance, and rail against unjust regimes.

My Review:

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[Mini Review] Entry 176: Binti (Binti #1)

Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Genre: Young Adult ; Science Fiction (Aliens) ; Fantasy ; Novella
Publication: September 22nd 2015 by Tor.com
Pages: 96
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

For the first time in hardcover, the winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award!

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.

Trigger warnings: Racism (anti-African), non-consensual hair touching, violence (graphic), amputation (non-human, non-graphic, past)

My Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]:

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Entry 174: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)

Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Fantasy ; Young Adult ; Romance ; Historical Fiction ; Mystery ; Retellings ; Fairy Tales
Publication: May 12th 2015 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 404
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

One Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

Trigger warnings: Strangulation, past suicide (graphic), past miscarriage (non-graphic), past domestic neglect (graphic), sexism, violence against women, violence

My Review [MILD SPOILERS AHEAD]:

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Entry 173: The Break

Author: Katherena Vermette
Genre: Adult ; Fiction ; Cultural (Canada) ; Contemporary ; Literary ; Feminism
Publication: September 17th 2016 by House of Anansi Press
Pages: 350
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

2016 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize finalist

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

Trigger warnings: Sexual assault, racism (anti First Nations, anti Metis), slut shaming, classism, rape (past; present, graphic), self-fat shaming, parental neglect, domestic abuse (past), victim blaming, internalized sexism

My Review:

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Entry 172: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)

Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Urban Fantasy ; Young Adult ; Romance ; Historical Fiction ; Mystery
Publication: October 8th 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 448
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Trigger warnings: Blood, violence, attempt at rape (past, no-descriptive), murder

My Review:

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Entry 171: The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #1)

Author: Seth Dickinson
Genre: Fantasy ; Adult ; LGBTQA+ ; Science fiction; Politics
Publication: September 15th 2015 by Tor Books / Tom Doherty Associates
Pages: 399
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

Tomorrow, on the beach, Baru Cormorant will look up from the sand of her home and see red sails on the horizon.

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

In a final test of her loyalty, the Masquerade will send Baru to bring order to distant Aurdwynn, a snakepit of rebels, informants, and seditious dukes. Aurdwynn kills everyone who tries to rule it. To survive, Baru will need to untangle this land’s intricate web of treachery – and conceal her attraction to the dangerously fascinating Duchess Tain Hu.

But Baru is a savant in games of power, as ruthless in her tactics as she is fixated on her goals. In the calculus of her schemes, all ledgers must be balanced, and the price of liberation paid in full.

Trigger warnings: homophobia, racism, eugenics, genocide (physical, cultural), violence, gore, war crimes

My Review [SPOILERS AHEAD]:

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Entry 170: Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1)

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao
Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Romance, LGBTQA+, Retellings, Historical Fiction
Publication: September 21st 2021 by Penguin Teen
Pages: 394
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Trigger warnings: Sexism, graphic description of foot binding practice, death of a family member (off page), familial/spousal abuse (physical, emotional), purity culture, fatphobia, classism, non-graphic sexual scenes, alcohol addiction, slut shaming, forced stripping, racism

My Review:

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Entry 169: The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1)

Author: Rin Chupeco
Genre: Fantasy ; Young Adult ; Romance ; Supernatural
Publication: March 7th 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 432
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

A story of scorned witches, sinister curses, and resurrection, The Bone Witch is the start of a dark fantasy trilogy.

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha—one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

Trigger warnings: necromancy, blood, violence

My Review:

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