The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - Becky Chambers - 2015 - Hodder and Stoughton

*Reading Copy kindly provided by the Publishers for Review*

"'I cannot pretend the war never happened, but I stopped fighting it long ago. I did not start that war. It should never have been mine to fight.' He sank down so that he could look Rosemary square in the eye. 'We cannot blame ourselves for the wars our parents start. Sometimes the very best thing we can do is walk away.'"

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is a masterful blend of sci - fi and literary fiction. It centers around a rag tag cast of characters that make up the crew aboard a ship as they complete their tasks of punching wormholes through space for intergalactic travel between worlds.

The sheer scope of the worlds created by Chambers was incredible. Our main focus is the crew of the Wayfarer but through their journey together, as their personal stories are unfolded we get glimpses into this enormous expanse of worlds full of diverse cultures, religions and moral values. Chambers does a beautiful job of painting each different species as diverse within itself, just as humans are, as opposed to the planets of hive minded beings often found in sci-fi. The depth of imagination that Chambers has is incredibly impressive and it was a delight to find out about each different planet and it's inhabitants.

The individual characters are the standout point for me. The Wayfarer's crew are all incredibly rich, interesting people, and come together to make a unit that is as much a family as it is a crew. They may butt heads and disagree, some of them straight up dislike each other but reading about the ways in which they share each others lives and look after one another is actually quite beautiful. The side characters are also incredibly fun and I want to throw this book at all sci-fi and fantasy writers who recycle the same character tropes for women over and over again because Chambers creates a multitude of complex female characters seen constantly throughout the novel and I fucking love it.

Ultimately, although this is without doubt a sci - fi book, it is so much deeper than your average pulpy action packed space mission. This book is, at it's core, about what it means to be alive. What it means to be a person and how a group, whether it's the crew of one pokey little space ship or the entire Galactic Commons, can come together as a family or break apart into chaos.

I feel like if you loved The Martian by Andy Weir, I feel like this is a natural next step. Sci - Fi written in a witty and unpretentious style but incredibly memorable and full of depth. This was my first five star review for 2016 and it's going to take something very special to meet the standard this has set. 

Thank you for reading! 


Review | The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet


My first graphic novel of the year, and of course it had to be a Batman one. The Long Halloween is a quintessential Batman story, doing a really solid job of blending  'Batman: Kickass Superhero' with 'Batman: World's Greatest Detective'. 

 In TLH Batman's crime fighting career is still in it's relatively early days, and Gotham's wackier antagonists like Joker are small time weirdos, as opposed to big bad super-villains. Batman's main fight is with the various gangs of Gotham, and a mystery killer who, beginning on Halloween, carries out a series of murders on public holidays. There are also elements of this story line that can be seen reflected in the second installment of the Dark Knight trilogy, and it's a lot of fun to see how the story and ideas were picked apart and reshuffled and translated into the movie for a different genre and audience.

One of my favourite things about the Batman franchise is seeing how different characters are portrayed in different stories; their outfits, abilities, personality etc. TLH features most of Batman's adversaries including The Joker, Catwoman, Poison Ivy (who is particularly interesting,) and Riddler and it's always a nice surprise when a character is dressed differently or taken in a different direction from what you're used to. 

My favourite thing about this story is that Batman gets it wrong, and at a serious cost. All too often Batman and other heroes like him become basically invincible, Any trap they fall into was all part of a bigger plan, everything ends with some incredible victory. In The Long Halloween Batman has to come to terms with his own failings, and deal with the guilt that comes with the hurt he causes. 

The artwork is pulpy and scratchy and to be honest not my favourite. It reminds me of the sheer crock of shit that was Batman Gothic (0/10 do not recommend). It's not terrible but Selena Kyle looks a little bit like Michael Jackson dressed up as a creepy fortune teller and Joker's teeth look like baleen. I've seen versions of Bruce Wayne I liked much better too. Boy doesn't suit a widow's peak.

Batman The Long Halloween isn't my favourite graphic novel by any means, but I enjoyed it and it's definitely a classic must-read for any fans of the Bat. 

I'm hoping to get another two book reviews in by the end of January! Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading 



Review | Batman, The Long Halloween


How do we reconcile the imperfections of feminism with all the good it can do? In truth, feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed.

Bad Feminist was the second book I read this year, the first being Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and the two in succession kicked off my reading year beautifully. Bad Feminist is a collection of essays in which Gay talks about a range of social issues, centering around gender and race. 

I think this is what How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran was trying to be. It covers feminism in all it's complexity, in a broad and accessible way, drawing on examples from pop culture, such as movies like Django and The Help and of course Robin Thicke's infamous Blurred Lines, to show the ways in which social inequality of both sex and race still exist in a world that many claim treats everybody as equal. The majority of the ideas in essays focusing on inequality between the sexes were familiar to me, though it was very interesting and somewhat horrifying to learn more about the Southern states of America and the political struggles over rights to contraception and terminations. I didn't realise it was so damn terrible.

What I really enjoyed was the insight I got into the black experience, which is something I hadn't been expecting to be included to the degree it was. A major flaw in 'liberal white feminism' is the tendency to ignore racial inequality as interwoven with gender inequality. The two come from the same place, the same set of cultural priorities, and it is a huge failing of anyone who advocates for one, to disregard the other.

I was also really happy to see her discuss 'feminism' as a term for a very broad ideology, which can be applied to a wide range of different ways of thinking. Often feminism is thought of as this hive of borg queens all working to topple men into the dust. *eye roll*. Instead Gay argues that feminism is simply the desire for equality and freedom between the sexes, and that freedom and equality mean different things for different people.

Roxanne Gay is fun and engaging and has a real gift for discussing ideas and building arguments with passion and personal experience, without sacrificing intelligent, critical thought. It's not exactly the magnum opus of the current fight for equality, nor is it going to spark massive debates and create some kind of new wave of feminism, but it's an excellent place to start

Review | Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay


I had a pretty good reading year. I finished only twenty two books overall but of what I read I absolutely loved a ot of it, and think I'm really starting to cultivate my reading tastes and learn what I love. (Mostly women's literary fiction, fantasy and graphic novels.) I thought I'd share my most loved books of 2015. I've seen some people listing 10-15 but as I read far fewer books than most of them I just picked my top five: 

5. Nimona - Noelle Stevenson 
The only graphic novel to make it to my list. A lovely story about friendship and how hard it is to feel alone. This story started out a whole heap of fun and cuteness and ended up ripping my heart out and throwing it on the floor. The art is also the cutest thing ever.

4. The Magic Toyshop - Angela Carter
A beautiful dark fairy tale-like story of a young woman coming of age. I've never been so captivated by imagery, and Carter's characters are strange hall-of-mirror figures: human but distorted into odd mythical creatures.The whole thing was like something out of a captivating dream. 

3. A Room of One's Own -Virgina Woolf
A teeny tiny little essay that calmly and quietly asserts that women do not get enough opportunity to achieve their ambitions, and that the life of women is one of restriction and compromise for the ideals of men. Clever, gentle and charming, much like Woolf herself. 

2. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
The one book I read this year that made me think 'yes, this is the kind of novel I want to write'. Eugenides' sprawling novel follows Calliope and her parents and grandparents, exploring gender, sexuality, identity, and how past secrets will always have consequences. Masterfully crafted and told with skill and beauty, Middlesex rekindled my love of reading mid-way through the year and the story stays with me still.

1. The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison
It was a tough decision between the two but Morrison came out as my favourite book of the year. Read in a day, this short novel tells the devastating story of Percola, a young black girl living in 1940's Ohio, who longs for blue eyes. The novels follows her and her family through the reality of the black experience in the Southern states at the time, and the fact that the events of the novel were simply a reflection on reality made it even more heartbreaking. Morrison's book is one that I would urge anybody to read. Short and powerful, and will stay with me forever. 

Thank you for reading! 


Top Five Books of 2015


Hey hey! long time no see! It's officially 2016 and I've decided to come back to blogging. This blog is now Folded Paper Foxes, and is all spruced up with a new theme and header and will now be more or less solely a book blog. 

Kicking off 2016 I've made some reading resolutions, just to help expand my reading and broaden my palette a little. 

. Read More Non-Fiction - I've been slowly dipping into non-fiction in the last six months and really want to get into the habit of reading at least one piece of non-fiction every month. I'm growing up now, and starting to form opinions on things like politics, social debates and science and want to make sure that my knowledge is as rounded and solid as it can be, because there's nothing worse than an opinionated person who hasn't got a fucking clue what they're talking about. I will not be that person. 

.Reread Harry Potter - I read each Harry Potter book, all the way through, once, when I was younger. Well I actually had Stephen Fry read me quite a few of them, on brightly coloured cassettes! I remember loving them at the time, and having the fourth and fifth on pre-order to make sure I got my copy, but for some reason the love and warmth I had for the Harry Potter universe hasn't stuck with me the way that it has for a lot of my friends, so this year I've decided I want to reread the series and rediscover the magic of my childhood. Plus I'd be very interested to read them as an adult, with a more critical, analytical brain. I'm hoping it doesn't spoil it for me. 

.Read More Graphic Novels - This doesn't have any particular backstory. Essentially I really enjoy graphic novels, but keep putting off reading them in favour of novels. I want to try out some new, different graphic novels such as Saga and Sex Criminals, and also expand my collection of titles from the DC Universe.

.Reduce my TBR books to under 10 - So for a few months I've been working for Waterstones... and that means 50% staff discounts... and proof copies... and that means that I've bought a ridiculous amount of books and the busy Christmas period has meant that I've had no time to read much at all! This has all culminated in a shamefully large amount of books hanging around on my shelves as yet unread. This is not ok. So essentially my next year of reading needs to be geared towards working through this backlog and stopping buying armfuls of books after work. 

So with some goals in mind I'm kicking off this year as I mean to go on and have a stack of books to help me get started on my reading goals:

January TBR

The Awakening ~ Kate Chopin
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K Rowling
Unspeakable Things - Laurie Penny 
Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay
Batman: The Long Halloween - Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

Five books is a pretty good number for me to read in a month. I'm not the sort of person who races through books but as graphic novels don't take too long maybe I'll end up getting through a few more. 

That's all from me for the moment! Thank you for reading, I'll be back soon with my top books of 2015. 

 Isabelle xx
2016 Reading Resolutions and January TBR



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