The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker is a YA fantasy novel inspired by Japanese folklore that hooked me from the very first page.

Synopsis

Ren Scarborough is half British Reaper and half Japanese Shinigami. For most of her life, Ren has, at best, felt like she hasn’t belonged, and at worst, hated because of her mixed heritage.

One fateful night, Ren loses control over her powers and accidentally injures three High Reapers. Rather than suffer severe punishment, Ren decides to flee to Japan with her brother Neven, where Ren hopes to find her identity. In Japan, things do not come as naturally as Ren had hoped, and she ends up going on a quest to carve a place for herself among the Shinigami of her birth country.

Thoughts on The Keeper of Night

This novel incorporates plenty of dark and fantastical elements of Japanese folklore, including Shinigami (death spirits), yōkai (supernatural spirits), Yomi (the Underworld), the nine-tailed fox, and much more. Before reading this, I knew relatively little about Japanese folklore and mythology, but now I am very excited to learn more.

This novel is set in the late 1800s and due to that fact, Ren endures a lot of racism and Othering. There are discussions on belonging, white fragility, identity, and family.

As I mentioned, this book hooked me from the first page. My one critique would be the insta-love relationship, although I will say that it goes to very unexpected places, places that were shocking and wickedly delightful.

I cannot wait for book two in this incredible duology.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publication Date: October 12, 2021

Thank you to Inkyard Press for the ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett

A Weekend Escape on a secluded island. What could go wrong?

A group of six friends who haven’t been close since school decide to go on a weekend trip to a remote island. They have the whole weekend planned with climbing, coasteering, and other outdoorsy activities. But since this is a thriller, their plans go up in flames almost as soon as they arrive. As things start going wrong, these once close-knit friends begin turning on each other, suspicious that someone among them is sabotaging their weekend escape.

The last quarter of the book is when I began to feel the tension spike. The group’s unlikely theories about who the saboteur was and their half-baked plans had me rolling my eyes more than a few times. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose. None of the characters were that likeable either, which I don’t usually mind. But if they are unlikeable, then they must be interesting, which these characters were not. The constant snapping at each other and frequently throwing around accusations ended up being tiresome to me.

I will say that this is very atmospheric. I could feel the cold and sense of isolation through the pages. It was also great to read a thriller with some LGBTQIA representation. And, while I correctly predicted who was behind it all, I was still compelled to find out how everything would turn out.

3/5 Stars

Publication Date: October 8, 2021

Thank you to One More Chapter for inviting me to read this arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

The Death of Jane Lawrence both delighted and terrified me, in equal measure. A marriage of convenience trope? An old, crumbling and isolated manor? Yes, please. 

Synopsis:

Jane Shorefield wants to marry, and as quick as she can, to maintain her independence. She chooses Augustine Lawrence, the beloved and mysterious town doctor. Augustine hesitatingly agrees on the condition that Jane should never set foot in his family home. But, of course, that plan falls apart as soon as the pair wed. Jane soon discovers inexplicable horrors within the walls of Lindridge Hall and the reason why her new husband wanted to hide it from her. 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Books don’t usually scare me, but this one did. I’ve never watched Crimson Peak, so I don’t know if it compares to that, but I can say I noticed Bluebeard similarities. I loved Jane; she’s a smart, practical woman who goes on a journey in this book, facing things that she never would have considered possible before meeting Augustine. 

I will have to check out Caitlin Starling’s other works post-haste. 

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Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The Trouble With White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism by Kyla Schuller

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

The Trouble With White Women: A Counterhistory of Feminism is an important read for anyone interested in the history of feminism.

Feminism vs. Intersectional Feminism

Kyla Schuller traces the beginnings of white feminism along with its counterhistory of intersectional feminism, something which has been around for as long as white feminism. Each chapter examines a white feminist, as well as an intersectional feminist. Schuller begins with the original white feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and goes all the way to Sheryl Sandberg. Some intersectional feminists discussed are Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a leading abolitionist-feminist, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, politician and activist.

Schuller explains how white feminism tends to prioritize white women’s needs and concerns, while neglecting the struggles that women of colour face. While white feminism is self-serving, intersectional feminism supports racial, economic, disability, and sexual justice, in addition to gender justice.

Thoughts on The Trouble with White Women

White feminism is not something that needs to be made more inclusive, but rather it needs to be trashed and begun anew.

I am a huge fan of AOC, but before reading this, I did not consider how much pressure she is under to represent her constituents around the clock, to fight for equality, and to look good while doing it all. It’s a lot for just one person.

For regular reading updates, see Goodreads.

Thank you to Bold Type Books/ Perseus Books for providing me with an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

This is a hard book to read, but it is an important one that realistically renders the current divisions in society.

Jen is six months pregnant and is sitting at a bar waiting for her best friend Riley to show up so the pair can catch up on each other’s lives. As the two friends are chatting, Jen gets a string of urgent texts from her husband Kevin, a police officer, that instantly alarms her and causes her to gather her belongings and leave, only telling Riley that “something happened. To Kevin.”

Riley, a news reporter, learns very quickly that Kevin and his partner shot an unarmed Black teenager named Justin Dwyer. Riley is put on the case and struggles to compartmentalize between doing her job, feeling the anguish of another Black member of her community harmed by police, and balancing her now rocky friendship with Jen.

Before all this happened Riley and Jen never spoke about race, but now the subject is unavoidable, and the stark differences of their life experiences put them at odds with each other. As a Black woman, Riley feels the hurt of another Black man suffering because of lethal police brutality. Meanwhile, Jen struggles to balance between supporting her husband and dealing with the horrible knowledge of his actions. Jen frequently fails to comprehend that the problem lies in racism and too often makes it about herself.

This novel sadly plays out true-to-life. It echoes what happened in the aftermath of when Derek Chauvin and his accomplices murdered George Floyd and everyone before and after him. It is a heartbreaking story of one too many BIPOC who suffer at the hands of police brutality.

We Are Not Like Them is a brilliantly written novel. This author duo did a superb job of getting to the heart of each character. Usually I’m iffy about co-authored books, but I cannot imagine this book written any other way. It highlights the obvious need for change, for police reform.

Thank you to Atria Books/Simon and Schuster Canada for providing me with an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5

Publication Date: October 5, 2021

This is a fun start to a new fantasy series about a young introverted nun who gets pushed out of her comfort zone and must take down an unknown force.

Since the age of ten, Artemisia has been a Gray Sister, tending to dead bodies lest they become corrupted and a danger to the living. Artemisia understands the dead, the living, not so much. When it’s time for her class of nuns to be tested to determine their futures, Artemisia plans to fail in order to remain at the convent and continue looking after the dead and avoid human interaction. However, when the convent suddenly comes under attack, Artemisia becomes half-possessed by an ancient revenant and has to contend with sharing her headspace with the snarky spirit. Together, they must unravel a mystery involving saints, nuns, Old Magic, and deception.

I’ve read and loved Margaret Rogerson’s past novels, so I thought this would be no different. While I enjoyed this, I didn’t love it as much as the previous two standalone books; it was still a solid read.

There’s the right amount of atmospheric writing with a couple of heart-pounding action scenes. I took off 1.5 stars because the narration was a tad slow and aimless at times (I read somewhere that the author started another round of editing after e-galleys became available, so the final copy might be less rambling). Overall, I felt that the author introduced the world in easily digestible amounts.

The revenant and Artemisia are the dynamic duo I didn’t know I needed. Their endless banter had me chuckling more than a few times.

I am excited for the sequel.

Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster Canada for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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ABOUT ME

I’ve been a book lover since the moment I learned to read. I typically read 100 books per year, give or take. I read across a broad range of genres, including Fantasy, Literary, Thrillers, Mystery/Suspense, Own Voices, LGBTQIA2S+, Horror, Historical Fiction, YA, Nonfiction (preferably social issues), Women’s Fiction, and the occasional Romance or Sci-Fi. 

I will inhale anything to do with the Classical World. My undergrad was in Classical Languages, and I am still obsessed. 

I began reviewing books in March 2021 and have built a sizeable community of book friends in that short period. I have an addiction to Netgalley.

When I’m not reading, I’m travelling, not right now, of course. See The Globe on Wheels for wheelchair-accessible travel content.