Book Review: The Spinner’s Child

Those of you active in the Writing WordPress circle have probably seen the announcements about Crispina Kemp’s quintet of books. The Spinner’s Game quintet begins with The Spinner’s Child and I bring you now (at long last) my review of this first book in the series.

The Book

The Spinner's Child Spinner's game read 2020

The Spinner’s Child
Author: Crispina Kemp
Amazon Link

I pre-ordered The Spinner’s Child because I’d enjoyed Crispina’s build-up posts throughout the phases of editing and getting the book all polished. This book has been highly anticipated on blog world for quite some time now, and I’m thrilled to finally be posting this review on my blog.

Also, I was convinced I wanted to read this book when I found out the main character’s name was Kerrid: what a fantastic fantasy name!

Non-Spoiler Review

Just so it’s out of the way: 100%, definitely worth the read. There aren’t many books set in an ancient world, and I’ve never read a created universe with such a detailed set of religious, spiritual, and cultural nuances. The small bits of world info are delivered at such a pace that it never feels bloated, and the information gained can allow the reader to make their own decisions.

That’s what made the twist so delightful – I could see it looking back, once it was revealed, but I didn’t see it coming. Any book that can pull off such a twist is going to get a 5/5 rating from me.

Also, despite being the first in a 5-book series published at once, this book does wrap up a significant plot element and gives a nice, satisfying ending. It doesn’t leave you hanging, doesn’t make you mad for it being unfinished. There are unfinished elements that need tying up, but they feel like part of a larger story that could not have been finished within just this one book.

Now, for some minimal critiques: this book does have a rather gloomy outlook, and the main character suffers from a rare form of loneliness throughout. Literally everyone hates her (for reasons explained, so don’t worry about that), and it’s so pervasive that at times I found it hard to believe. The logic of when/why the clan(s) would kick her out didn’t always feel right to me. Getting past the twist helped significantly, but for a good portion of the book, it felt like there wasn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones


As this book is pretty new, I’m not going to have a big spoilers section. I don’t feel right giving too much away about this book.

However, because the twist showed up about 60% of the way through, I will say things that lead up to that point.

Kerrid’s adventures with Bargli and Sarat were very calming, and I felt like they should have been able to help Kerrid or fight for her more. Kemp did weave in enough honor into the societies to make it reasonable that Kerrid had to leave for Dvar-Usas, but the constant downward trend of Kerrid’s life was very sad. A lot of the feminist messages about the fate of Kerrid depended on her inability to make her own decisions, and this did frustrate me a lot. However, the tone of the book was well-done, and the good messages behind it were clear.

There was a character named Paddlo who I’m sure will show up again later – he’s too terrible not to! I really disliked Paddlo as a person, and I sincerely hope he one day gets his wish to die.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Her Name was Abby, a book I got a review request for! It’s the last indie book of the year for me, too, so make sure to stick around for it!

Book Review: Soul’s Choice

I’ve been on Twitter for a while, and an enterprising woman from Canada caught my eye early on. Funny, nice, and infinitely helpful, Kerri Davidson wrote a words-only novel following three volumes of graphic novels. She doesn’t go through Amazon, either, which was interesting, and also what probably kept me from downloading earlier.

But, seeing as my computer and Kindle are still operable, I can claim I went through her site with zero issues. So, without further adieu…

The Book

52265195._sx318_sy475_Soul’s Choice
Author: Kerri Davidson
Purchase Link

Quick warning before you start: this book can be emotionally intense. If you aren’t in a good place mentally and/or emotionally, you might want to put this off. Kerri is pretty available on twitter, so I’m sure you can get a list of trigger warnings if you want.

I was a little shook, myself.

Non-Spoiler Review

Holy mother of God (or of atheism, if that’s your thing) – this book was an absolute whirlwind. Roller coaster. Emotional disastrophe.

And I mean that in a good way.

From the very beginning, Davidson’s book grips you with a family situation that is difficult to watch. With her mother, Amelia, dead and watching from “heaven”, Amy Clarke must find her own path through the world. Her dad, Jason, is a cop who’s trying his best to make it through. But with Amelia’s death, the two are facing down monumental levels of depression, lack of self-confidence, and other health issues.

The side characters in this book are phenomenal. People like Stacey, who only shows up intermittently as a foil, are still so vivid even without much description. The way everything leads down its path to the end just amazed me.

Small spoiler, though: the end was a cliffhanger, but it was actually something I found not-too-bad. I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings, but the book did wrap up several plot lines and had left off at a point where it was almost complete. The cliffhanger was more one of those little additions to the end where you’re like “Oh snap! There’s got to be another book after this.” So take that into consideration.

But, like I said in the intro, this book is not for the faint of heart. I didn’t quite realize that going in, and not realizing how intense it was is probably my biggest complaint. Perhaps it’s just because I expected something different because Davidson had previously published humorous graphic novels, but I should have known.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones


Oh man. This is a big spoiler, so really hold onto your butts:

This is a bad ending.

Not for the reader – for the characters.

The book is truly a tragedy on the order of Death of a Salesman or some such thing. Just when you think things may be looking up, just when someone picks Amy Clarke up from the depths and it seems things will be ok, they get so, so much worse.

For most of the book, I couldn’t relate with the characters on an experience level. I was never rich growing up, never had rich grandparents, and have very long-lived relatives. At the same time, I’m not used to making such terrible decisions as the characters in this book did. I am familiar, however, with the crippling levels of self-compassion, and I can’t help but feel for Amy as she struggles through things like body image issues and (big spoiler) her dad’s death.

Don’t expect any uppers in this book to last. If you’re like me, you’ll be eagerly awaiting book 2 just to see if these characters get a break.

Next week:

I’ll be reading Crispina Kemp’s The Spinner’s Child!


Reading List – October 2020

This is my final indie book month of 2020!

Soul’s Choice – Kerri Davidson

soul's choice reading 2020I’ve followed Kerri Davidson on Twitter for a while – partly because she’s a social media genius, and partly because she’s very, very funny. She’s long had a few graphic novels (about drunken chickens) for sale, but she recently came up with the first novel for a debut series. A paranormal novel about souls? Death and life? It seems really interesting! For better or worse, Davidson’s book is not available through Amazon, but I did buy it myself and have not yet been a victim of credit card fraud.

Bag of Lettuce Books – Have checked, is legit, but prices are in Canadian dollars

The Spinner’s Child – Crispina Kemp

The Spinner's Child Spinner's game read 2020Crispina Kemp has been updating her blog to give snippits and hints about her 5-book series, The Spinner’s Game. I’ve thus been excited about this one for quite some time! Just a few months ago, she announced her series’ debut. Unfortunately, I just have the first volume in the set ready for review, but perhaps more reviews will be in stock later!

Amazon Link 

Her Name was Abby – Peter Martenuac

31nlju7qpylI have a review request form on my page (which you can check out if you’ve published a book), and Martenuac made use of it. I thought a zombie apocalypse book was right up my alley. I’m a little wary that this is the second book in a series, but you know what? I’ll give a ton of respect to any second book that can hold its own.

Amazon Link

The Leftovers: Something from YOU?

Do you have a published book and a method of purchasing it that isn’t sketch as hell? I’m always willing to entertain indie books for review. I’ll leave reviews on Goodreads and Amazon pretty reliably, and you might even see a review on this blog! Go to my request page here for more.

See my old reviews here

Book Review: Binti: The Night Masquerade

I first saw this book series on Hannah J. Russel’s blog (here’s a page where it’s shown, but she’s talked about enjoying the series elsewhere). The first two weren’t perfect, but they were definitely worth reading.

The Book

9780765393135_custom-c05e841327d3ad168eb2474a1a7bc93d8d5c71fe-s300-c85Binti: The Night Masquerade
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Amazon Link

This book is almost 3x the length of the first book in the series, and the title references something we heard about in the second book! I’m looking forward to seeing how Binti solves the cliffhanger problems from the second installation, and I’m also looking to see if this book gets darker than the rest.

Non-Spoiler Review

Warning: contains spoilers for the first two books in the series.

I thought this was by far the weakest of the trilogy. I think Okorafor was going for something far deeper than the world and tone of the first two books prepared for. The mutation of Binti from something human into something else also continued to get more convoluted, and it felt like too much from a story construction point. The addition of characters like Mwinyi was, in my opinion, too little, too late. Mwinyi also gained a few chapters from his viewpoint 50+% through the third book; as it was the first chapter not in Binti’s perspective, I as well thought this was a weak narrative.

This book obviously wanted to be good, but it just fell short of the first two parts of the series. Simultaneously too much and not enough happened. The messy end left me feeling unfulfilled; it seems the book wanted you to get the message that life doesn’t end, that “messy” is just the way things are, but I didn’t feel like anything had wrapped up. It was entirely unsatisfying.

2/5 Discoball Snowcones

2 Discoball Snowcones


Like the final Harry Potter book, The Night Masquerade took the information from the other two books and synthesized Binti into an obvious Christ figure. This is all well and good, but one of the main points of the series was to explore ethnic and cultural diversity. By allowing the story to slip into a Christ-figure narrative, Okorafor sacrifices (haha, pun) part of her non-Western setting.

The ending, like I mentioned earlier, wasn’t good. It wasn’t just that bad things were still going on (they were), it was that the main character just looked at the situation and decided to go back to school anyway and screw the war she kind of started. It felt like her decision was to abandon the problem she failed to solve. I wasn’t a fan of how this was resolved (or not resolved).

Next week:

I get to start my last Indie Book Month of the year! Come stop by to see what books I’m going to review!

Book Review: Binti: Home

I first saw this book series on Hannah J. Russel’s blog (here’s a page where it’s shown, but she’s talked about enjoying the series elsewhere). I also enjoyed the first book in the series, so I thought I might as well swing through the rest of them.

The Book

41yn582bwytl._sx311_bo1204203200_Binti: Home
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Amazon Link

This book is about twice the length of the first in the series, so I felt like it was a reasonable stand-alone book eligible for one of my reviews. Luckily, my library had all three in the series, so I bought them home!

Non-Spoiler Review

I thought this addition to the series was better than the first. Though I still had major issues with the science fiction premises, Binti’s struggle felt more personal in this book and I could root for her with a bit more emotion.

Something that this book went into that I found missing in the first installation was the intersectionality of Binti being both Himba and female. The first book did focus on Binti’s cultural heritage and unique niceties that made her a good main character, but it didn’t show any complexities or failings of her original society. Here, you get to see a bit more of the dark sides of Himba culture, especially in the differences between how males and females are treated. There’s also the unexpected addition of another tribe, the Enyi Zinariya, that added further complexity that I thought made for great internal tension.

Like with the first book, many of the solutions to the problems felt contrived. Other solutions felt like they shouldn’t have worked at all. The presence of Binti’s artifact, the edan, continued to cause and solve more problems than I felt like it should. Though Binti: Home has some incredible strengths that make it worth reading, it also has some glaring plot weaknesses.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones


The plot, sadly, was the weakest part of the book. With beautiful worldbuilding and delicate appreciation of cultural, racial, and gender issues, this book has a lot going for it.

However, I found Binti’s sudden use of telepathy, her discovery of being connected to an ancient genetic computer that she inherited through her father’s alien DNA, and her seeing the male-exclusive Night Masquerade to be extremely convenient and a little nonsensical. I still don’t understand the concept of ‘mathematical current’ or ‘mathematical sight,’ and I think the author should have just said she’s psychic because of magic.

I also didn’t like how the first book teased you that this was going to be about college, then she just ditches and goes back home at the beginning of the book. Sure, it hints that she’s going back to college, but I was a bit disappointed. The book’s actual story and setting make up for it, but it’s just something to be aware of.

Next week:

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, Binti: The Night Masquerade!

Book Review: Binti

I first saw this book on Hannaconda’s blog (here’s a page where it’s shown, but she’s talked about enjoying the series elsewhere). Because of that, I picked it up when I saw it sitting on the library shelf. It’s the first in a trilogy, and I had some time to binge a short book today.

The Book

Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Amazon Link

This book looked so short, I just plucked it out of the library’s folds. I considered packing all three into a single review, but the next two books are a more reasonable length so I decided to forgive myself with this one.

It won both Hugo and Nebula awards, so I’m looking forward to something interesting and new.

Non-Spoiler Review

This book was interesting. Overall, I’d suggest it to a fan of sci-fi who wants to keep up with the modern classics or for someone looking for a well-done character from a non-American, non-European background. Okorafor does an excellent job making Binti’s culture accessible enough for a western English-speaker to enjoy, but does not dumb things down to the point where the Himba culture doesn’t matter. I found it delightful, but be aware – this book is very soft science fiction and floats right on the boundaries of fantasy. The description of “math” in the book is horrid.

One thing that I did think was an issue, though, were the use of “Macguffins,” wherein Binti just happened to have the materials necessary to solve the problem. Binti herself was clever, and her motivations were well-developed, but there were several overly-convenient plot devices that I wasn’t a big fan of.

I also wasn’t sure exactly what age range it fit, because it had a lot of tropes and feel like a YA novel but touched on some pretty complex issues of race and history that might go over a young reader’s head. I think I lean towards it being YA, but Okorafor insists it is adult.

4/5 Discoball Snowcones

4 Discoball Snowcones


In this book, Binti is the first person from the Himba people group to attend college on the planet Oomza Uni, and she fears some of the racial prejudices that may crop up against her. Some of these appear to be well-founded, and some of these are not. I did think the author focused a whole lot on Binti’s hair, but I realize hair is an important deal for black people and so I don’t have much issue with it.

When she was in the spaceship, the mysterious Meduse aliens took the ship and killed everyone. Then, it just so happened that Binti had an ancient tech item in her pocket that protected her and gave her telepathic powers. I thought Binti just happening to have this magical thing was a bit too coincidental. As well, Binti’s otjize (or scented red clay she puts in her hair – a Himba practice) just happened to heal a murderous Meduse’s wounds, which gave her an enormous leg up. I thought this, as well, seemed a bit coincidental. I understand its significance in a diversity-focused work, but as a plot device it fell flat for me.

Overall, though, Binti’s efforts to befriend the Meduse was interesting and worth the read. Alexander Eliot, if you’re reading this, I think you’d really enjoy this book. It reminded me of Expedition.

Next week:

Stay tuned for the next book in the series, Binti: Home!

Reading List – September 2020

It’s time for another exciting series!

Binti Trilogy – Nnedi Okorafor

I first saw this series on Hannah J. Russel’s blog. It seemed interesting, and many of you know I am making a concerted effort to read more diverse books (especially when I’m also trying to catch up with the classics, which are usually as white-bread as yours truly).

Also, I was just wandering about in the library and happened to read the first book while I was there. These books are pretty short, though they get progressively longer over the course of the series. I think the first one might have been a novella.


Do you write books and sell them in a non-sketchy fashion, such as through Amazon? If so, shoot me a line – I would love to read your book!  If I choose your book, I will always purchase it since I do not want to be beholden to the author when I leave reviews.

See my old reviews here

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

A Southern book about white trash in eastern North Carolina – the only excuse I have for not reading this before is that it came out in 2018.

The Book

36809135._sy475_Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Amazon Link

This book better become a movie or I will scream at every romance movie that has ever come out. I will hate Hollywood forever.

And I have no doubt it’ll happen – it’s too cheap a movie to make with too intense a storyline and a great freaking title.

Non-Spoiler Review

Got to be one of my favorite books I’ve read this year. It’s beautifully written with amazing natural imagery, the best in-prose-fiction poem integration I’ve seen in my life, an intense and amazing set of romantic relationships, and a vivid main character. The story has two parallel plots going on, and they converge near the end of the book in a very fantastic way. Each of the major characters have their own voice, and I was able to discern them all.

Honestly, I have very little I can complain about with this book. It was beautiful, well constructed, thoughtful, empowering – my goodness, I couldn’t believe it. I could believe the author wasn’t actually from North Carolina when I read it, though, because of some misrepresentation of region and accent (found out after that she was born in Georgia, and I do believe you’d have to be Southern in some capacity to write this book). There were some issues with slang and lingo being modern instead of from the 50’s and 60’s, which is when the story takes place. But I can forgive these details easily because white trash lit is so hard to find, because the overall trajectory of the story is beyond amazing.

If you’re Southern white trash or have been at any point in your life, get off your freaking butt and read this book. If you’re looking for a book about a fantastic female character who kicks butt without being “a man with boobs,” this is a great book to look into. If you’re a naturalist or enjoy vivid imagery and chats about animals and plants, you can’t miss this one. If you enjoy romance that’s not terribly steamy (just a wee bit), this book is for you.

But, if you’re none of the above, you might not want to read this. My spouse, for instance, would never be able to “get” this book. My best friend probably would never “get” this book. But my God – my God – if you do get this book, it’s amazing. I’ve looked at several 1-star reviews since writing this one, and those people who “don’t” get it often look at minutia and call it a day. They often claim to have skipped most of it (which I don’t blame them for if they didn’t like it) due to what they considered “purple prose”. So yes, there are those who hate it. You may be one.

Perhaps being able to associate with poor Southern whites gives me the ability to love this book. Perhaps not. But for real, give this one a chance if you think it may even slightly be relevant to you.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones


Like I said in the non-spoiler review, this book had 2 converging plotlines. One takes place entirely in 1969, and the other zooms from 1952 until it catches up with the 1969 plot. It was a great decision to do so.

Why? The 1969 plotline reveals a murder case: the killing of quarterback and small-town-hero, Chase Andrews. As the sheriff and deputy investigate and find evidence implicating the main character, Kya, the other plot reveals information about who Kya is and gives both corroborating and confounding additions for the reader to consider. By the time of the trial, I was in desperate need of knowing who – if anyone – really killed Chase Andrews. Was it Kya, who resented Chase for attempted rape? Was it Tate, who resented Chase for being mean to Kya? Was it Jumpin’, Kya’s surrogate dad who would have also hated Chase for the same reason? Was it Chase’s mom or wife, who were both so ashamed that Chase had affiliated himself with white trash? Or did Chase just commit suicide?

The book does reveal all by the end, but I think even I won’t spoil that here – you’ll have to seek that out yourself. 😉

Next week:

I begin September with a batch of shorter books – books you may want to read yourself if you want to start off with something easy and fun!

Book Review: Outlander

Way back in 2018, back when I was young and fresh, I read The Time Traveler’s Wife. I was disappointed because Outlander had been checked out at my library by other people and the wait list was so long that I was convinced I’d never get it.

Well, it finally became available, at long last!

And then it turned into the first book I’ve absolutely refused to finish since Thoreau’s Walden in high school.

The Book

Author: Diana Gabaldon
Amazon Link

Before you wonder why I even started this novel, I want you to realize that I thought it was about a time traveling WWII nurse who went back to 18th century Scotland and re-invented and produced antibiotics. I was excited for a novel to include details about bioprocessing and medical knowledge.


A Crappy Review

The book started alright. I thought it was a little weird that there was a sex scene with Frank, husband of Claire, but that wasn’t too bad. I knew there was a significant romance portion of this book.

But then she went back in time and got humped by Frank’s ancestor. There were lots of times when Claire was threatened, nearly killed, imprisoned, etc. because she was a single woman in a terrible situation, but the juxtaposed insistence that she was “strong and independent” and her absolute melting whenever anything she wanted crossed paths with a man just felt so wrong. It made me wonder what the point of the novel was.

Then Claire was forced to suddenly marry the main love interest, Jamie, and it just turned into a massive pile of smut. I kept going, thinking maybe it would be done soon, but then the love interest raped her while they were at a camp with other men. I was like “WAAAT” because I get furious at rape scenes. But I was like, “Well, perhaps this was a one-off thing, and she did start saying she liked it after he went too far. Let’s give it some… fuck, 1990’s slack? It’s just an awful book. Push through it.”

Then the next scene, Jamie punishes Claire for “making him look bad,” when what actually happened was she saved his life. He spanks and rapes her, definitely against her will. At this point I thought, “Maybe he wasn’t the main love interest, and in the next chapter she kills him.”

When the next chapter had Claire melt into thinking it was her fault and she had to do what Jamie and the other men said, I was like, “No. No, if you don’t slice him to pieces and run back to the standing stones, this book is stupid and I refuse to read further.”

And so I quit. I have no idea who this book is written for, and I can’t make any suggestions. I think the messages contained within the book are terrible for anyone, male or female, and it was definitely not about producing sulfa drugs like I’d wanted it to be.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones, But only because 0 isn’t an option

1 Discoball Snowcones


I didn’t finish the book, so I can’t really give spoilers. However, I looked up the rest of the plot before I finally decided that I could never finish it.

After the aforementioned rape and beating scene, I looked through the plot and found out there was definitely a male-male rape scene. I was like, “What the eff, this book is straight up erotica and smut the whole way through.”

How didn’t I know this beforehand? How did I get led so astray?

Next week:

First, in about an hour another book review will be popping up on my site: Where the Crawdads Sing. Stay tuned for that – it’s fantastic!

Book Review: Purple Hibiscus

This month, I’m reading some modern classics with focuses on non-American, non-British cultures. This book popped up when I went on a search for African fiction. The author is Nigerian and American (or at least has places to live in both countries), so I’m excited to see what this book has in store.

The Book

PurpleHibiscusPurple Hibiscus
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Amazon Link

Like the other books this month, this one isn’t in my usual speculative genres. However, what interests me about this book especially is the memory of a book I read a long time ago set in a similar time period in Nigerian history. The backdrop of the unstable postcolonial Nigeria is intriguing, and I can’t wait to see how this plays out.

As a note, the book is supposed to be YA, but it is of considerable enough length.

Non-Spoiler Review


This book was beautifully written. It was quiet, and the story didn’t really have a plot so much as this slowly revealed situation and character, but it was done in such a manner that I read this in 2 sittings (rare for me). Though this was definitely YA and touched on common YA themes like abuse (yeah, don’t read if parental abuse bothers you) and coming of age, Adichie does it in such a truthful, detailed manner that the feeling of the characters just pervades your senses.

The characters are brilliant. The main character – Kambili – is richly created, and her silence speaks volumes. Papa, who was a terrible father and abusive, was built from a very deep background and was so complex that you had to feel sorry for him, too. Aunty Ifeoma’s strength and Father Amadi’s encouragement are beautifully incorporated.

I don’t even know if I can describe the setting adequately, but the cultural mishmash of Western, Nigerian, and even Eastern (there was a vase with women wearing Kimonos on it – I was so astounded at this detail!) cultures blended in the most impressive way. The book wasn’t racist, either, but you could feel this oozing racial bias. The black characters even had this awful, infernal feeling of inferiority due to some of the lingering colonial oppression and ideas which were so effectively yet quietly stated in the book.

100% recommend to anyone looking to expand their international pallete.

5/5 Discoball Snowcones

5 Discoball Snowcones


In this book, Kambili and her brother Jaja suffer through some horrible things at the hands of their father, but they believe God wants their suffering in order that they might improve. The material wealth of the family is also presented as a reason God has blessed them, that they are moving on the right path. It’s a dastardly method of gaslighting that I thought Adichie portrayed in a breathtakingly real fashion.

This contrasts with the relative freedom of Aunty Ifeoma’s house, where there is no finger breaking or standing in bathtubs while boiling water is poured on your feet. Kambili and her brother grow to enjoy this freedom, and their desire for it leads to bravery which their large, overbearing father punishes them too far for.


The whole time, the mom was like “oh, he pays for us, he’s great,” but then she finally grows a spine when Papa nearly kills Kambili for owning a painting of her “heathen” grandfather. It was a magnificent twist and a great way to end an otherwise rather reserved book.

Next week:

Are there a lot of months with a 5th Monday this year? I feel like there are.

Unlike back in June, I can guarantee I won’t be reviewing the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie. So don’t expect it.