24 May
“Kingfisher” by Patricia McKillip

“Kingfisher” by Patricia McKillip

Patricia McKillip has long been one of my favorite authors, and when I heard about Kingfisher, I knew I had to read it.  McKillip creates ethereal and breathtaking works of art, and I expected Kingfisher to be exquisite.  However, this novel doesn’t live up to her earlier stories.  It’s not that Kingfisher is bad, per se, but rather that it lacks focus. The story begins with Pierce Oliver.  Pierce’s mother is a sorceress, and she’s hidden his sleepy New England-esque town from the rest of the world using a glamour.  Pierce’s father left when he was just a baby, and one day, Pierce feels the need to find him.  He sets off on a soul-seeking quest, leaving his rural abode and traveling to the city of Severluna. Meanwhile, the King has called upon his knights to embark upon a quest to find an ancient vessel.  And so they pull up their motorcycles and begin […]

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22 May
“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

“The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh is a young adult retelling of One Thousand and One Nights.  Each night, Khalid, the mad Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride, who he has killed the next morning.  Becoming Khalid’s bride is a death sentence, but a young woman named Shazi volunteers for the role.  Her best friend had been one of Khalid’s brides, and Shazi sees this as her chance for vengeance.  She will use the opportunity to get close enough to Khalid to kill him. However, Khalid isn’t the monster that Shazi expected.  Instead, she finds a tormented boy king who finds himself caught in a very bad situation and is doing the best that he can under the circumstances.  Khalid is captivated by Shazi, and chooses again and again not to kill her.  And the more time Shazi spends with Khalid, the more she begins to question her desire to kill him. […]

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15 May
#ArmchairBEA Day 4 & 5: Surviving Fictional Worlds and Wrap-Up

#ArmchairBEA Day 4 & 5: Surviving Fictional Worlds and Wrap-Up

I’m a bit late to the party with my last two posts of Armchair BEA, as I’ve been spending my weekend with some good friends from out of town.  Time to play catch-up! Today we’ll talk about surviving fictional worlds. We all know that sometimes, the worlds we love in fiction can be dangerous. Which fictional worlds would you want to live in? Which worlds do you never want to dive into? Which worlds are you content to stay behind the glass, so to speak, rather than wishing to dive through the page? And once you get there, what would you do? There are so many wonderful fictional worlds, some of which I’d like to visit more than others.  I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, and most of the worlds I encounter there are incredibly dangerous.  However, I wouldn’t mind vacationing in the world of Kushiel’s Dart, which […]

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13 May
#ArmchairBEA Day 3 – To infinity, and beyond!

#ArmchairBEA Day 3 – To infinity, and beyond!

Beyond the traditional form of the novel, what are your favorite alternative forms (graphic novels, audiobooks, webcomics, etc)? Do you have any favorite works within these alternate forms? How do you think the changing format affects the reading experience?  So, a couple weekends ago I was feeling super stressed out for no reason whatsoever, to the point that even reading wasn’t working for me.  In an attempt to distract myself, I hopped on the Google Play store and fell into the rabbit hole that is Otome. What are Otome games?  They’re a Japanese form of visual novel, kind of like a cross between a comic book and a choose-your-own adventure story.  Otome specifically are told from a female character’s perspective, and you’re trying to romance at least one guy.  There are multiple different endings, and the choices you make determine whether you get a good ending, or are destined for heartbreak. […]

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12 May
#ArmchairBEA Day 2: Aesthetics

#ArmchairBEA Day 2: Aesthetics

…or in my case, lack thereof. Today’s Armchair BEA discussion is about aesthetics in two different senses of the term. The Books: How often do you judge a book by its cover? How often are you surprised by what you find? Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to) and type? How important is it for the visual art on the outside of the book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside? If I said that I don’t judge books by their covers, I would be lying.  There’s something about a tattered yellowed mass-market paperback found in a hidden corner of a used bookstore that just makes me want to bring it home and add it to my shelves, particularly if the cover art is your stereotypical old-school sci-fi/fantasy look.  And I’ve […]

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11 May
#ArmchairBEA Day 1: Intro & Diversity in Books

#ArmchairBEA Day 1: Intro & Diversity in Books

Hello, Armchair BEA friends, and welcome!  My name is Grace, and I’ve been blogging here at Books Without Any Pictures since 2011.  I started my blog because my friends told me I really should have an outlet for my bookish thoughts other than ranting about books while at the bar.  (Of course, now we have a book club, which pretty much consists of ranting about books while at the bar, so really not much has changed.)  I’ve gone to BEA most of the years that I’ve been blogging, but did ABEA back in 2013 when I couldn’t make it. Do you have a favorite book? If you cannot choose a favorite book of all time, pick your favorite book today – just this second. Remember that favorites are allowed to change if something affects you deeply enough. My absolute favorite is Deathless by Catherynne Valente.  It’s a retelling of a Russian […]

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10 May
“The Doll Collection” edited by Ellen Datlow

“The Doll Collection” edited by Ellen Datlow

Dolls are a staple in horror media, and for good reason.  They’re similar enough to us that we can see ourselves in them, and yet alien enough to be unnerving.  The Doll Collection, edited by anthologist Ellen Datlow, presents seventeen short stories, each of which feature dolls.  But the dolls in this collection are not themselves so horrifying, rather, they serve as a mirror to reflect the darkest parts of human nature. I’m a much slower reader with short stories, as I don’t have the same continued immersion as with longer fiction.  I read this collection slowly over the course of several months, savoring a story here and there, and then pondering what I’d read. Many of the short stories in The Doll Collection were a bit too gruesome for my taste, but others were haunting and thought-provoking.  Here are some brief thoughts about and reactions to each of the short stories in this […]

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09 May
Bout of Books & Armchair BEA

Bout of Books & Armchair BEA

Clearly I’m a crazy person.  The metro in my city is catching on fire on a daily basis, doubling my commute, and my schedule is busy enough as it is.  But I’m going to participate in two concurrent reading events, Bout of Books and Armchair BEA.  And since I want to have some time for actually reading, you can count this as my sign-up/introduction post for both. Let’s start with Bout of Books. The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit […]

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07 May
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New Acquisitions: 5/7/16

Today’s #bookmail is a novel about Marlene Dietrich by CW Gortner. I loved his novel about Coco Chanel! #bookstagram A photo posted by Grace Troxel (@gtroxel) on Apr 11, 2016 at 5:03pm PDT Gortner’s novel Mademoiselle Chanel was fascinating–I hadn’t realized how remarkable Coco Chanel’s life was, nor the societal pressures that she faced.  I don’t know terribly much about Marlene Dietrich, and am excited to dive into her life story.  Many thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy. Raised in genteel poverty after the First World War, Maria Magdalena Dietrich dreams of a life on the stage. When a budding career as a violinist is cut short, the willful teenager vows to become a singer, trading her family’s proper, middle-class society for the free-spirited, louche world of Weimar Berlin’s cabarets and drag balls. With her sultry beauty, smoky voice, seductive silk cocktail dresses, and androgynous tailored suits, Marlene […]

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05 May
“Sabella, or The Bloodstone: A Science Fiction Vampire Novel” by Tanith Lee

“Sabella, or The Bloodstone: A Science Fiction Vampire Novel” by Tanith Lee

Sabella is a science fiction vampire novel written by Tanith Lee.  Sabella is your stereotypical vampire: she drinks blood, is sensitive to sunlight, and is beautiful and seductive.  Much like Anne Rice’s vampires, Sabella struggles with regret because she is a predator by nature.  She doesn’t want to kill people, but finds it difficult to stop herself.  And yet, she’s also motivated by survival, and does what she has to in order to get by. Near the beginning of the novel, Sabella travels to her aunt’s funeral, only to receive a cryptic note from her aunt’s will stating that she knows what Sabella is, and that God will judge her.  Sabella is emotionally thrown off by the note, and as she’s trying to work through her thoughts and feelings, she stumbles upon the handsome Sand Vincent, upon whom she feeds.  She tries and tries to get rid of Sand, but he […]

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