Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays

Here are some fabulous books that come out today, October 19th!! Happy book birthday to these lovelies!

The Marrow Thieves & Hunting the Stars by Cherie Dimaline
Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis
Femlandia by Christina Dalcher

Glimmer by Marjorie B. Kellogg


Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Series: The Marrow Thieves #1
Published by Jacaranda Books on July 31, 2019
Pages: 256
Format:Paperback
Source:Purchased

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but 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.

Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays Hunting by Stars by Cherie Dimaline
Series: The Marrow Thieves #2
Published by Amulet Books on October 19, 2021
Pages: 400
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

From the acclaimed author of The Marrow Thieves comes a thrilling new story about hope and survival that New York Timesbestselling author Angeline Boulley called “a revelatory must-read”

Years ago, when plagues& and natural disasters killed millions of people, much of the world stopped dreaming. Without dreams, people are haunted, sick, mad, unable to rebuild. The government soon finds that the Indigenous people of North America have retained their dreams, an ability rumored to be housed in the very marrow of their bones. Soon, residential schools pop up—or are re-opened—across the land to bring in the dreamers and harvest their dreams.

Seventeen-year-old French lost his family to these schools and has spent the years since heading north with his new found family: a group of other dreamers, who, like him, are trying to build and thrive as a community. But then French wakes up in a pitch-black room, locked in and alone for the first time in years, and he knows immediately where he is—and what it will take to escape.

Meanwhile, in the world, his found family searches for him and dodges new dangers—school Recruiters, a blood cult, even the land itself. When their paths finally collide, French must decide how far he is willing to go—and how many loved ones is he willing to betray—in order to survive. This engrossing, action-packed, deftly-drawn novel expands on the world of Cherie Dimaline’s award-winning The Marrow Thieves, and it will haunt readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

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Okay so this series (well, at first just The Marrow Thieves of course) has been on my radar for ages. Heck, it’s been on my wishlist for ages! And then I saw that there was a sequel happening! So, on a whim, I requested the sequel, bought this gorgeous edition of book one, and here we are with an incredible new series for me to recommend to you!

This is kind of a review of both books, since it seems weird to just skip the first one. Also, since I am trying to keep this as spoiler-free for both books as I can, I will be vague on purpose. The premise initially threw me off a bit, because I didn’t (and I suppose still cannot fully) wrap my head around it: After all kinds of global disasters, there is some kind of new disease that renders most people unable to dream, and I think eventually kills them? Anywho, because white people are historically The Worst™, they decide to grab dreams however they can get them, from the Indigenous folks of Canada and the US. Namely, via their bone marrow. And, you know, stealing it and killing them.

I mean. 

Frenchie has been on the run with his brother for ages, trying to avoid the complete asshats who steal Indigenous people from their homes, the forest, or really wherever they happen to stumble upon them. I cannot even imagine the horror they must have felt every single day, and the author does an amazing job of relaying that terror to the reader. Eventually, they’re found, and Frenchie ends up alone, after his brother lets himself be found to save Frenchie. Eventually, Frenchie meets up with an amazing group of others on the run/hide, and they become quite a family.

The story mainly focuses on Frenchie’s group’s survival quest, and the horrors that will befall them if they happen to get caught. It’s incredibly difficult to trust people in this world, yet they have found in each other a group that they can and do fully trust, and it’s beautiful. They share their own stories of their pasts, their families, how they came to the group. It’s incredibly moving. But when there is action, it’s certainly exciting! I think that both books do a wonderful job of balancing the character development and action, all while still incorporating a lot of worldbuilding.

I loved the first book, and was eager to dive into the second. In fact, I found the second even more compelling and beautifully written. Again, while being vague, it had all of the same strengths as The Marrow Thieves: Strong and likable characters, great pacing, beautiful writing, a lot of adventure, and a ton of emotion. The gray morality and impossible choices are amped up a ton in Hunting the Stars too, which as you all know by now, is kind of my thing. There is more in depth world-building, answering some of the questions I had from the first installment. And I think while the ending is fully satisfying, it sets up more from this world quite nicely.

Bottom Line: This series has pretty much everything you could ask for, so just read it. Read it now.



Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood
Published by Wednesday Books on October 19, 2021
Pages: 336
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley


What the heart desires, the house destroys...

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire.

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

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Within These Wicked Walls has a wonderfully unique premise of a young woman hired to exorcise some evil right out of a rich dude’s mansion. But this will be no easy task, as you might imagine. I mostly enjoyed this one, so let’s break it down!

 What I Liked:

  • Magnus cracked me up! I love when a darker book nails the lighter moments, and this one certainly does! His banter with Andromeda is top notch, and I really enjoyed reading about their developing relationship.
  • It is definitely delightfully dark and atmospheric. The setting of a creepy old mansion obviously hits all the marks, but the author did a fabulous job of making it feel extra rough. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend the night there, frankly! And without giving too much away, some of the twists were just messed up and I love that!
  • Adored Andromeda’s relationship with her father-figure. Ohhh, it’s complicated and messy and delightful! I won’t say too much, again, because of spoilers, but it was a high point for me for sure.
  • A great balance of emotions. Like I said, it is dark at points, and by that virtue, sad at times. But because the author did a stellar job of injecting the lighter moments throughout, the book didn’t feel heavy or depressing, and flowed quite well.

What I Didn’t:

  • I just felt fairly apathetic, tbh. I honestly hate that feeling, because there isn’t any explainable reason behind it, I just felt fairly “meh”. It was fine and interesting and I didn’t dread reading it or anything! I just didn’t feel particularly enthralled either? I also am not sure I completely understood the magic, which may have been a part of said apathy.
  • I wanted to know where/when we were, but I never did find out. There is talk of England at one point, and a few other European countries, but it was clear that is not where we are. Maybe it wasn’t totally necessary to the plot for me to know, but I wanted to nonetheless. I read on Goodreads that it is “Ethiopian-inspired” which is very cool- I see some reviews that say it is set in Ethiopia, but Idk if that is true? If it explicitly said so, I must have missed it, but since most of it takes place in an old mansion, I guess that mansion could technically be anywhere.

Bottom Line: It’s a solid story with enjoyable characters that certainly entertained me, even if it didn’t leave a long-lasting impression.


Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays Truth of the Divine by Lindsay Ellis
Series: Noumena #2
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 19, 2021
Pages: 496
Format:ARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review

Truth of the Divine is the latest alternate-history first-contact novel in the Noumena series from the instant New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestselling author Lindsay Ellis.

The human race is at a crossroads; we know that we are not alone, but details about the alien presence on Earth are still being withheld from the public. As the political climate grows more unstable, the world is forced to consider the ramifications of granting human rights to nonhuman persons. How do you define “person” in the first place?

Cora Sabino not only serves as the full-time communication intermediary between the alien entity Ampersand and his government chaperones but also shares a mysterious bond with him that is both painful and intimate in ways neither of them could have anticipated. Despite this, Ampersand is still keen on keeping secrets, even from Cora, which backfires on them both when investigative journalist Kaveh Mazandarani, a close colleague of Cora’s unscrupulous estranged father, witnesses far more of Ampersand’s machinations than anyone was meant to see.

Since Cora has no choice but to trust Kaveh, the two must work together to prove to a fearful world that intelligent, conscious beings should be considered persons, no matter how horrifying, powerful, or malicious they may seem. Making this case is hard enough when the public doesn’t know what it’s dealing with—and it will only become harder when a mysterious flash illuminates the sky, marking the arrival of an agent of chaos that will light an already-unstable world on fire.

With a voice completely her own and more than a million YouTube subscribers, Lindsay Ellis deepens her realistic exploration of the reality of a planet faced with the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence, probing the essential questions of humanity and decency, and the boundaries of the human mind.

While asking the question of what constitutes a “person,” Ellis also examines what makes a monster.

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I found myself quite enamored with Axiom’s End last year, and was so excited for the sequel! I will say that this one did not go where I expected it to, but in a way that kept me surprised and entertained. Interestingly, much like its predecessor, I had a bit of trouble getting back into this world. It’s definitely complex, and keeping track of the alien names and customs can be hard at times. But, as soon as I was able to catch up, I was back into being enamored with the story once again!

Cora is now far more involved in the way of the alien species, and often finds herself in the middle of both alien and human political debates. I think having a character like Cora as our key viewpoint was a really great decision, because she is so relatable. And because she is not a scientist, not a politician, the layperson terms are both easy to understand and make perfect sense in context.

Even more than the last book, we delve into what “humanity” and “personhood” mean. We also get an even more impressive look into how the events in this alt-2008 compare to that of today’s sociopolitical climate. Both police brutality and the hateful rhetoric of the fanatical right make significant  appearances, and the aliens can even see how poorly women, POC, LGBTQ+, and basically any and all marginalized people are treated.

Without giving much (fine, anything) about the plot itself away, Truth of the Divine was a well-paced, exciting follow up that absolutely took turns I did not see coming, while staying away from some things I was sure would happen. Basically, it kept me on my toes. I also loved that it built upon the character development of Cora and the aliens. There is also a lot of great discussion on mental health, which I appreciated. Overall, a very strong sequel, and I will be eagerly anticipating the next installment!

Bottom Line: Picking up where we left off in unique and exciting ways, this much-anticipated follow up did not disappoint!


Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays Femlandia by Christina Dalcher
Published by Berkley Books/HQ on October 19, 2021
Pages: 336
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

A chilling look into an alternate near future where a woman and her daughter seek refuge in a women-only colony, only to find that the safe haven they were hoping for is the most dangerous place they could be.

Miranda Reynolds always thought she would rather die than live in Femlandia. But that was before the country sank into total economic collapse and her husband walked out in the harshest, most permanent way, leaving her and her sixteen-year-old daughter with nothing. The streets are full of looting, robbing, and killing, and Miranda and Emma no longer have much choice—either starve and risk getting murdered, or find safety. And so they set off to Femlandia, the women-only colony Miranda's mother, Win Somers, established decades ago.

Although Win is no longer in the spotlight, her protégé Jen Jones has taken Femlandia to new heights: The off-grid colonies are secluded, self-sufficient, and thriving—and Emma is instantly enchanted by this idea of a safe haven. But something is not right. There are no men allowed in the colony, but babies are being born—and they're all girls. Miranda discovers just how the all-women community is capable of enduring, and it leads her to question how far her mother went to create this perfect, thriving, horrifying society.

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Femlandia was eerie, dark, yet hopeful, and for me, Christina Dalcher’s best book yet! This world is messed up, but the world within the world is even more bananas! I have seen some reviews that say that this book’s premise is similar to the author’s other books, and yeah, that is true! But for me, that isn’t a bad thing at all, quite the opposite.

Like her prior novels, Femlandia is chock full of strong and complex female characters who are constantly being tested by life. In Miranda, the main character, we find a mother just trying to get by in a really bad situation. She’s trying to keep her daughter and herself safe while the world around them collapses into turmoil. After they’re assaulted and have nowhere else to turn, they are forced to seek refuge in the community (read: cult) that Miranda’s mother Win founded, the titular Femlandia.

Miranda has some serious reservations about going there, as she doesn’t really believe in what they stand for. She doesn’t think that every single man is Satan incarnate, and is worried that there is way more to Femlandia than meets the eye. She’s right, of course, which she finds out basically from the minute they walk in. But again, no good choices.

The book is incredibly thought-provoking, and full of exciting and horrifying twists. I was downright shocked at a lot of what goes on in Femlandia, and was constantly on the edge of my seat, not knowing what kind of madness awaited our characters. Full warning though, it is super dark, and while I couldn’t find an official trigger warning to include, there is a ton of abuse, including child abuse.

I also wanted to briefly address something else I saw a lot of discussion about in reviews, which is that Femlandia (the cult, not the book) seems pretty TERF-y. And it does, it is! But it seemed to me that both the author and the main character were not okay with that concept. Again, this is just my interpretation, but it seemed to me like it was presented as one of the (many, frankly) terrible things about Femlandia.

Bottom Line: Dark and twisty, but with definite glimmers of hope, I found Femlandia compulsively readable and unputdownable.


Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays Glimmer by Marjorie B Kellogg
Published by Daw Books on October 19, 2021
Pages: 496
Format:eARC
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

This new cli-fi epic chronicles a future NYC wracked by climate change and follows the individuals who must make the most of what remains to survive.

It's 2110, the Earth's glaciers have melted, and there's no climate fix in sight. As refugees stream inland from the inundated coasts, social structures and national economies are stressed to the point of fracture. Food production falters. Pandemics rage. Rising sea level and devastating superstorms have flooded much of Manhattan and wrecked its infrastructure. Its residents have mostly fled, but a few die-hards have bet their survival on the hope that digging in and staying local is a safer strategy.

As the weather worsens, can a damaged population of poor folk, artists, misfits, and loners work out their differences in time to create a sustainable long-term society? In a lawless city, where the well-armed rich have appropriated the high ground, can an ex-priest find a middle road between non-violence and all-out war? The lives of his downtown band of leftovers will depend on it.

Sheltering among them, a young girl named Glimmer struggles to regain a past lost to trauma. As her memory returns, she finds she must choose who and how to be, and who and what to believe in, even if it means giving up a love she has only recently found herself able to embrace.

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Okay let me get this out of the way: Glimmer has a slow start. In fact, I complained a little that I needn’t know the details of every post-apocalyptic block of Manhattan.  But if you’re into cli-fi, I promise it is worth pushing through. Now that we’ve gotten that bit out of the way, I will tell you why I was so glad that I kept on reading!

  • Look, if this book doesn’t scare the bejeezus out of you, Idk what will. It is more than plausible, frankly. It’s probable that this mess is where the world is headed. It’s very eerie, because the author does a phenomenal job of showing the evolution, even though the story we are reading takes place quite a few years down the road. And not only does the book showcase the environmental/physical ramifications, it illustrates exactly how humanity would behave. And spoiler, it isn’t pretty. Which leads me to my next point….
  • It is beyond relevant. Remember how people reacted a year ago when we couldn’t find toilet paper? Multiply that by all the things. Turns out, mankind is pretty gross. I mean, even now, people won’t put on some damn cloth to save the lives of others, so. My point is, the way humanity is shown here is on freaking point. Sure, there are some great folks! Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of good in the world (in this fictional world and our own, to be sure). But wow, there are a lot of selfish and bad people. Glimmer does not sugarcoat that at all, which I appreciated. Because at the end of the day, at the end of the world, it turns out it isn’t just the elements you’re battling against. When there aren’t enough resources to go around, things get rough, and fast. Which will again segue into my next bullet point…
  • This is so thought provoking. I mean, not only should you probably be thinking “oh crap we need to get it together in regards to climate change”, but it makes you consider the person you’d be in the shoes of Glimmer or her cohorts at Unca Joe. Or, perhaps, whether you’d even be among them. Maybe you’d be in one of the other groups, for better or for worse. Maybe you’d have ended up on the mainland, or in the rich people neighborhood. But no matter who you were, the facts still stood: there was water everywhere, precious few resources to go around, and a constant struggle to survive.
  • I really enjoyed Glimmer and her group. When we meet Glimmer, she’s not even sure who she is, or really anything before her life at Unca Joe. But we know that she is scrappy and smart and determined to survive. She’s a great friend, and cares about others, but she’s still very aware of the hard choices that constantly face her and the rest of the group. It’s nice to see the concept of “found family” despite all the hardship.
  • The worldbuilding was very well done. Even though we don’t completely know what is happening beyond Manhattan, it’s all certainly acknowledged. The author does an incredible job of painting a desperate, yet hopeful atmosphere, and while I was a little distracted by all the detail at the start, it really served the rest of the story well, as I could absolutely picture where Glimmer and company were, and what obstacles they were facing.

Bottom Line: I love a survival story. I love a “no good choices” story. And I definitely love a thought provoking story with characters you want to root for. This book, it has it all.

Have you read any of these books? Plan to? Let us chat about them!  

Posted October 19, 2021 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in In a Minute, Review / 17 Comments


17 responses to “Reviews in a Minute: October 19th Book Birthdays

  1. “Cora Sabino not only serves as the full-time communication intermediary between the alien entity Ampersand and his government chaperones but also shares a mysterious bond with him that is both painful and intimate in ways neither of them could have anticipated.”
    I really like the sound of this series, especially after your enthusiastic recommendation, but…I smell alien romance? or am I wrong?

    This was a batch of awesome reviews, as usual 👍.

  2. Hahahaha *all of those* are on my list. I’m so glad they’re good-to-great! I also had no idea Axiom’s End was part of a series (or…duology?)- I haven’t read it yet, but I hear good things. Thanks for reviewing these!

    • Um I hated the original cover. HATED. Which is maybe bad of me but. I don’t feel like it fit with the theme so much, you know? It looked like “kid trying to look tough in his sports photo” or something heh. And while I do wish the sequel had an Indigenous person on it like book 1 (and maybe it will in other countries? Idk) it captures the ambience at least! I hope you love it when you do read it!

  3. Wow the premise of that first one is fabulous. Those are the kind that you think- why didn’t I think of that lol? And of course… Mt. Weather is never wrong, so kudos to that.

    Femlandia sounds suitably dark and I totally want to read it now.

    And… Glimmer. Can’t wait for that one.

    • I mean, it is ALWAYS wrong to steal bone marrow from children, Greg. Always. But I think you’d like it, it’s a great premise and a quick read too. Femlandia is great! She nails it, IMO. And you know I loved Glimmer, right after I stopped being bored by Glimmer 😂

      • What is with marrow? Seems popular. but yeah seems ethically challenging to some extent. 🙂

        And Glimmer. I don’t know if I like the term cli- fi (is that a thing??) but I do want climate change catastrophic fiction cause why not?

  4. I cannot say I knew much about The Marrow Thieves (I heard the title before), but I am ecstatic that you finally read it and loved and continued the story — and it was good too! Nothing better!

  5. I will definitely be picking up THE MARROW THIEVES after this! I had no idea about that series so this is my first time hearing about it. It sounds so good! Also I have been eyeing WITHIN THESE WICKED WALLS but it’s been getting many mixed reviews so far 😅 Thanks for all the great reviews, Shannon!

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