First Line Friday #8

Still on a roll with participating in this post! Today has been kinda rough, for various reasons, but it was bearable, and posting has honestly made me feel a little better. On with the post!

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers (formerly) hosted by Wandering Words, but I saw it over at One Book More.

What if instead of judging a book by the cover, author or most everything else, we judged it by its content? Its first lines?

If you want to join in, all you gotta do is:

📚 Take a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open it to the first page
📝 Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
📙 Finally… reveal the book!

Here are the first lines:

The island of Gont, A single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.

Any guesses? Here’s some books to admire while you consider…

Annnd the book is 🥁🥁… A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin!

(Did you guess it??)

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Series: The Earthsea Cycle (Book #1)

Length: 264 pages

Genres: Fantasy, YA, Fiction

Publisher: Clarion Books; Reissue edition

Release Date: 11 September 2012


Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.

This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

With stories as perennial and universally beloved as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of The Rings—but also unlike anything but themselves—Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature. They have received accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike.

Thanks so much for reading, and have an awesome day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Timekeeper” by Tara Sim: A World Where Clocks Control the Flow of Time [Book Review]

It’s been about a week or so, but I decided that it was time for another retrospective book review.

Retrospective Book Reviews (previously Reading Retrospectives), for those who don’t know, are basically book reviews, but they’re on books that I read before I started this blog. So, in order for them to get their day in the sun, I go back through them and see if my opinion when I originally read them holds up.

This week, I’m re-reviewing a book I read a couple of years ago. It’s Timekeeper by Tara Sim.

The Greeks love the idea of fate — in a completely morbid way, of course. Most of the stories of how people are trying to change or avoid their fate. But everything they do just brings them that much closer to it.

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Timekeeper by Tara Sim

THEN: ★★★★★ • 5 / 5 stars

NOW: ★★★★☆ • 4 / 5 stars

Series: Timekeeper Trilogy (Book #1)

Length: 414 pages

Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, YA, Fiction

Publishing: November 8, 2016 (Sky Pony Press)


I was in an accident. I got out. I’m safe now.

An alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, where a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

A prodigy mechanic who can repair not only clockwork but time itself, determined to rescue his father from a Stopped town.

A series of mysterious bombings that could jeopardize all of England.

A boy who would give anything to relive his past, and one who would give anything to live at all.

A romance that will shake the very foundations of time.

As my first deliberate foray into reading a queer novel, this was an excellent. Even though I don’t like it as much as when I first read it, I definitely still stand by this. And there are so many wonderful things inside this book that I also loved, that I can’t wait to talk about.

There’s a lot that I want to gush about (and a few things I want to complain about), so let’s get into it.

Stuff I Liked

“You’re the mechanic. I’m just the clock.”

I absolutely and completely adored the setting and world building here. A world where clocks – actual freaking clocks! – are the only thing standing between Earth and an apocalypse where time stops moving forever, are the clock towers scattered around the world.

And it’s strange to say, but Sim’s writing is amazing in the way that she makes the people in the novel seem so naturally desensitized to this part of their existence. Because this society is so used to the world being like this at this point that this is completely normal for them. And I love it.

I also enjoyed the characters a lot. Danny was a pretty good protagonist. I liked that even though he was a clock mechanic prodigy, there were plenty of other qualities about him that balanced this out, like his insecurities and shyness.

Colton was also a very intriguing and likeable dueteragonist, though he didn’t appear until later in the book. He was the most fascinating character to me in Timekeeper, and if I ever decide to continue with this series, finding out more about him and his past would be one of the main reasons.

“Where would you most like to go?”

“I don’t know. I know nothing about the world. Enfield is my world.”

It was the saddest thing Dany had ever heard.

“How about this: when I come next time, I’ll bring the world to you.”

Though he didn’t understand, Colton looked interested. “Is that possible?”

“Anything is possible.”

Danny and Colton’s romance was also beautiful. A lot of it felt very insta-lovey (especially at first), and a lot of it seemed purely based on physical attraction (especially at first). But closer to the end they started to have more development as a couple, and I started to understand how they fit together.

The other characters were pretty good too, though I didn’t find them nearly as memorable.

Concerning other things that I enjoyed about Timekeeper, I really loved the plot. Besides the setting, this was probably my favorite thing about the book. It melded with the world building and setting extraordinarily well, and kept me reading. It was extremely engaging, especially after the first 100 or so pages.

Stuff I Didn’t Like

He was the architect of their suffering.

There honestly wasn’t that much that I didn’t actually like about this book. I actually pretty much like everything here, to some degree.

The reason why I only rated this novel four stars, was because I only liked everything to a certain degree. I just didn’t like this book nearly as much as I liked other five star books I’ve read, and it’s something that I realized about it after combing through it a second time.

Final Thoughts

Timekeeper is a fun, unique, alternate history fantasy, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Tara Sim has a wonderful and very palatable writing style. I don’t know if I’ll ever decide to continue this trilogy, but I definitely liked this one.

I definitely recommend it to people who enjoy fantasy and historical fantasy, as well as fans of LGBTQIA fiction. It has an interesting setting and world building, it had a great story and characters.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day/night!

See ya ~Mar

“Deeplight” by Frances Hardinge: Book Review

They say many things of the Myriad, and all of them are true.

Subnautica Meets Frankenstein Meets Lovecraft | Deeplight by Frances Hardinge [A Book Review]

Star Rating: ★★★✭☆ • 3.75 / 5 stars

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea meets Frankenstein in Frances Hardinge’s latest fantasy adventure

The gods are dead. Decades ago, they turned on one another and tore each other apart. Nobody knows why. But are they really gone forever?

When 15-year-old Hark finds the still-beating heart of a terrifying deity, he risks everything to keep it out of the hands of smugglers, military scientists, and a secret fanatical cult so that he can use it to save the life of his best friend, Jelt. But with the heart, Jelt gradually and eerily transforms. How long should Hark stay loyal to his friend when he’s becoming a monster–and what is Hark willing to sacrifice to save him?

The Plot Summary (is… Meh)

This book was insanely unsettling at times. To me at least. Like, it’s just labelled as a fantasy, YA book, but the horror genre felt strong with this one.

Deeplight is a stand-alone novel by Frances Hardinge published on April 14, 2020 by Amulet Books. (Well, technically it has a short story set in the same universe, but that’s it.) It centers on Hark, a young fifteen year old orphan boy, who discovers a mysterious porous stone from under the sea, that appears to have a heartbeat.

He then shoves it into the cold, dead hands of the abuser that his childhood best friend, because he’s a normal functioning teenager, and they do be like that.

Then said best friend slowly begins to evolve into a vaguely Cthulhu-looking, deep-sea monstrosity with an even worse personality. And things just get worse from there.

And that’s pretty much what the book description decides to sum up. What it doesn’t tell is, that before the whole resurrection by magical pulsating rock, he’s a thief on the streets who is forced to become a servant after being caught. (The alternative is death, so you can imagine he’s actually really into the first choice.)

This is how he gets involved with the scientists. Or scientist as it were. Dr. Vyne is the one who decides to pick him up as her servant at the prisoner auction (yes, really), and she’s pretty much the only scientists in this book. She and Hark have a fun dynamic, because she knows his BS and likes it, and he’s interested in some of her science-y stuff. Yeah, the summary is a bit vague and slightly inaccurate in my opinion. (Unraveller had the same problem now that I think about it.)

The Characters (are Great)

I actually really liked the main characters in the book. It’s too bad the summary basically only treated Hark and Jelt as the MCs, cuz that’s wrong.

Hark is the main character, it got that much right. He’s insecure, sassy, and has a very kind heart. He’s also the victim of emotional abuse, as implied above. A major part of his character arc is learning that being himself and not what someone else wants you to be is okay, and to learn to function without Jelt. He’s also the source of much of the humor in the book, which is nice after the darker, weirder parts. He’s a pretty great character.

Somehow Hark couldn’t slip or shoot off sideways and still pretend he was doing what Jelt wanted, the way he could with anyone else. I don’t want to anyway, he told himself firmly. Jelt is family. He knew better than to trust anything he told himself, though.

Jelt sucks. Also, he’s not much of a main character with how much he appears in the book. Still a major character, but on the spectrum closer to the “supporting characters” section. Anyway, he sucks and is a very not good person, who fully deserves everything that happens to him. His relationship with Hark is very sad, but as someone who has experience from Hark’s end, I feel it’s an accurate representation of an emotionally abusive one.

The REAL other main characters are Quest, an old priest who used to commune with the gods and is a veritable treasure trove of knowledge, and Selphin, the deaf daughter of a gang leader who’s probably the smartest person around. (The rep is great in here by the way.)

“You are still young,” Quest said phlegmatically. “You will find out who you are when your choices will test you. In the end, we are what we do and what we allow to be done.”

I absolutely loved Hark’s relationship with Quest. It really feels like a grandpa telling his grandson stories, and is probably the most wholesome thing in the novel. Hark and Selphin are also interesting in that they’re both very stubborn and butt heads quite often, but their hearts are usually in the right place.

The Setting (is Seriously Unique)

Hardinge really outdoes herself with the setting. I’m not surprised at all, after reading Unraveller, but you can really see that the way she does world building started here.

Like Unraveller, the setting here is truly unique, but instead of a weird, ambivalent forest, there’s a weird, ambivalent ocean. They both are unsettling, and they both do really weird things to people.

I think that Deeplight’s evil ocean (or “the undersea,” as the characters call it) is more disturbing, personally, but I won’t really get into why, cuz I would hate to spoil that for people.

The Story (is Compelling but Strange)

“Most things can be mended in time. Sometimes they are not quite the same as they were before they were broken, but nothing and nobody stays unchanged, anyway.”

Unlike Hardinge’s other work that I’ve read, I was immediately weirded out by Deeplight. I actually almost considered DNF-ing it, because of how off putting it made me feel, but ultimately decided to continue with it. And I’m glad I did. Even though it didn’t quite get four stars from me, it was still a very good book and I’m glad I read it.

Though the plot is strong, I would still say that it’s a more character driven story. The character evolution is also the most compelling part of the book. Though it didn’t make me emotional, it did make me feel things, so that’s a win to me.

The Deep-Sea Descriptions (are Creepy)

Okay, so the Lovecraftian-Subnautica devilspawn sea gods were disturbing. The unnatural descriptions and prose whenever Hardinge had a character describe them… very unsettling.

The way the undersea was described was also not-quite-right feeling. There was an uncanny-ness to the “godware” (the remains of the gods), and how it was repurposed to boost human technology kind of freaked me out.

Final Thoughts

There is always hope. There are always chances.

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge was an engaging, but unsettling, dark fantasy novel. I recommend it to everyone, except for those who hate/have a phobia of the deep ocean and deep sea creatures. Also, those who don’t like horror would probably not like this either. But otherwise… yeah.

Thanks for reading, and have a fabulous day/night! Join me next post for more bookish things!

See ya! ~ Mar