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What Rachel Read Over Christmas
Blog , What We're Reading / January 10, 2022

Well booklovers, it’s been a year! I have struggled with the attention span for reading during the pandemic, and I haven’t read nearly as many books this year as I usually do. I ended up cancelling my travel plans for Christmas, and used some of that free time to catch up on some of the books at the top of my TBR list, and they did not disappoint – they were all excellent reads. The first book I read was The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop (I was lucky enough to get my hands on a preview copy), and it was fantastic – it was a great book to pull me out of my slump, as the way Caroline writes is incredibly engaging. I finished the whole book in two days, and it would have been less if I hadn’t needed to do some Christmas meal prepping! This book is out of my regular Sci-Fi/Fantasy genres, and it was a fantastic read about female friendship and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone! 1957, France. Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a…

Rachel Recommends: A Deadly Education
Blog , Featured , What We're Reading / October 25, 2021

Genre: Fantasy I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I love magic school type books, and I think this one might be my favourite yet. A school with no teachers, where the school is trying to kill you, and the protagonist has a talent for destruction? Yes please! Well okay, not the school exactly, so much as the creatures that reside within it, but still. I tend to love everything written by Naomi Novik, but this is definitely my favourite (so far).  Enter a school of magic unlike any you have ever encountered. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die. El Higgins is uniquely prepared for the school’s many dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out untold millions – never mind easily destroy the countless monsters that prowl the school. Except, she might accidentally kill all the other students, too. So El is trying her hardest not to use it… that is, unless she has no other choice.  This is book 1…

Rachel Recommends
Blog , What We're Reading / February 16, 2021

Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi   Well booklovers, following my posts about my top unread books of last year, it made me really want to dive right in, so I started with The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda Hall. It was a beautiful book (not to mention a gorgeous cover!) and felt like a fairy tale. It’s classed as YA, but I whole-heartedly recommend it, no matter what your age. Sometimes YA books can feel a bit too… YA, but this one didn’t at all – it was just a wonderful story. It’s also LGBTQ+ friendly! This is a standalone book.   In a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic, a desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial lady find a connection on the high seas. Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is headed to an arranged marriage she dreads. Flora…

What Rachel’s Reading
Blog , What We're Reading / December 9, 2020

Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Superhero   Well booklovers, I finally got my most-anticipated book of 2020 this month, Brandon Sanderson’s Rhythm of War, book 4 of the Stormlight Archive. This is my favourite epic book series, and this volume didn’t disappoint! I’ve been restraining myself from rereading it again immediately – I’m saving that for Christmas! If you like epic fantasy and haven’t heard of Brandon Sanderson, you probably haven’t ever talked to me about books (I may be known to recommend his books often). I opted for the US cover, with the beautiful commissioned Michael Whelan cover. Email us if you’d like to order in a copy – they take around a week to arrive.   After forming a coalition of human resistance against the enemy invasion, Dalinar Kholin and his Knights Radiant have spent a year fighting a protracted, brutal war. Neither side has gained an advantage, and the threat of a betrayal by Dalinar’s crafty ally Taravangian looms over every strategic move. Now, as new technological discoveries by Navani Kholin’s scholars begin to change the face of the war, the enemy prepares a bold and dangerous operation. The arms race that follows will challenge the very core of…

Rachel Recommends: YA
Blog , What We're Reading / November 18, 2020

Genres: Fantasy/alt history, Sci-fi   I haven’t been reading very much Young Adult lately, but two of the titles that I have read recently have really been standouts. The first, Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, just sounded cool.   Trained at Miss Preston’s School of Combat for Negro Girls in both weaponry and etiquette, Jane McKeene is poised for a successful career protecting the wealthy from the encroaching plague of walking dead. But when families begin to go missing, Jane uncovers a conspiracy that pits her against some powerful enemies. Sent far from home, Jane will need all her resourcefulness, wit and strength of character to survive.   I mean, I loved Gail Carriger’s Finishing School Series, and this one sounded similar – weapons and etiquette? Yes, please! It’s a fantastic zombie book, set in a post-Civil War alternative history, that deftly explores racial oppression throughout the action and tension of the story. This was a fun, engaging read that kept me hooked and interested the whole way through, and I highly recommend it. There’s also an excellent review of the book over at Tor. The sequel, Deathless Divide, is also out.      The other YA book that really…

What Rachel’s Reading: Sci-Fi Trilogies
Blog , What We're Reading / October 19, 2020

Genres: science-fantasy, science fiction    Well booklovers, it’s been quite some time since I posted some recommendations, and I’ve read a number of very good books in the past few months! It had been awhile since I read much new science fiction, so I set about ticking a few of the books off of that list – although most of them were more science-fantasy than strictly science fiction.   One of the books that had been on my list for ages was Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsin Muir, as it was nominated for a bunch of awards. This was a very fun read (exploring a haunted gothic castle in space? yes please!), and was adjective-tastic. Gideon is a great snarky protagonist, and I highly recommend this quirky science fantasy book. This is the first in a trilogy, the first two of which are out. The Emperor needs necromancers. The Ninth Necromancer needs a swordswoman. Gideon has a sword, some dirty magazines, and no more time for undead nonsense. The first in The Locked Tomb Trilogy, this book unveils a solar system of swordplay, cut-throat politics, and lesbian necromancers. Her characters leap off the page, as skillfully animated as arcane revenants….

Children’s Picture Book Picks
Blog , What We're Reading / January 27, 2020

Well booklovers, in the past few years I (Rachel) have become an aunt several times over, which means I get to buy picture books! Here are some of my top picks from the past year or two:   I am Bat by Morag Hood   Bat does not like mornings, but he loves cherries – and his cherries start going missing! This book is aimed at the preschool/toddler age, and is one of my favourite new children’s books. have I also read it aloud to friends? I sure have. I also love Morag Hood’s Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea, which celebrates the differences between friends.     Dave the Lonely Monster by Anna Kemp   This is a fun story about a lonely monster called Dave, who lives all alone in his retirement cave. It’s a story about friendship, and treating others the way you’d like to be treated, and the rhyming story will definitely appeal to young listeners!     Mini Rabbit Not Lost by John Bond   The illustrations in this book are absolutely beautiful, and the story will definitely appeal to kids who like cake! Mini Rabbit and his mother are making a cake, but he…

What Rachel Read
Blog , What We're Reading / January 9, 2020

Genres: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Alternate History    It’s been awhile since I’ve recommended multiple books, and it’s mainly because I’ve been stuck into series for the past few months (Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, Neal Asher’s Agent Cormac series, and others), which are less interesting to hear about! For the Christmas break, I decided to pick some of the books that have been on my TBR list for a very long time, and are supposed to be very good. As it happened, all three of the books I chose were pretty fantastic – and they all had great female protagonists!   I started with Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars, which is an alternate history of spaceflight that won the 2019 Nebula, Locus, and Hugo awards (and has also been very highly recommended by Brandon Sanderson, of whom I am also a huge fan).   It’s 1952, and the world as we know it is gone. A meteorite has destroyed Washington DC, triggering extinction-level global warming. To save humanity, the world unites to form the International Aerospace Coalition. Its mission: to colonise first the Moon, then Mars. Elma York, World War Two pilot and mathematician, dreams of becoming an astronaut – but…

Rachel Recommends: The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Blog , What We're Reading / November 12, 2019

Genre: Dystopia, YA Just when you think you have nothing left to lose, they come for your dreams. Humanity has nearly destroyed the world through global warming and now an even greater evil lurks. The Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden – but what they don’t know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.  I picked up this award-winning novel by Cherie Dimaline because we had a few copies in the shop and it looked interesting, as I tend to like dystopias, but it is so much more than your typical YA dystopia. It draws parallels between a fictional dystopian future and the true horrors of the Canadian residential school system, a legacy of Canada’s colonialism which significantly harmed the Indigenous children forcibly sent there, whose repercussions continue today. This is a powerful book by a Métis writer, and it’s…

Rachel Recommends: Octavia E. Butler
Blog , What We're Reading / October 18, 2019

Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia   I’d been hearing about Octavia Butler for awhile, not least because a few years back there was a university course where students were coming into the bookshop to order her book Dawn, the first in her Xenogenesis series.  Octavia E. Butler was one of the first female African-American science-fiction writers, and her work is highly acclaimed. Her work has received the Hugo and Nebula awards, and in 1995, she was the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship (“Genius Grant”).  “I was attracted to science fiction because it was so wide open,” Butler once said in an interview with The Indypendent. “I was able to do anything and there were no walls to hem you in and there was no human condition that you were stopped from examining.” However, it wasn’t until I discovered that she had a vampire book, Fledgling, that I started reading her work. In her books, Butler explores the politics of race, gender, power, sexuality, and community; often the characters in her books form alternative communities. She also often entwines these politics with a critique of hierarchical thinking and behaviour.    Fledgling is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac…