95bFM's Loose Reads: Messing Up the Paintwork: The Wit and Wisdom of Mark E. Smith by Time Out Bookstore

Kiran nipped into the bFM studio to talk to the wonderful Rach and Tess about Messing Up the Paintwork: The Wit and Wisdom of Mark E. Smith, a book that celebrates the very quotable late Mark E. Smith from iconic group The Fall. A crabby, belligerant codger, Smith was known and loved for his sharp wit, caustic insults and wonderful way with words. You’ll want to read bits of the book out to anyone who’ll listen!

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95bFM's Loose Reads: Maori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison by Time Out Bookstore

Te wiki o te reo Māori! Jenna visited the 95bBM studio to kōrero about Maori Made Easy & Maori Made Easy 2 - Scotty Morrison's reo learning series. If you're thinking about making the step to learning, these books are the place to start!

We also gave away a copy of the brand new Gecko Press book, Paraweta. You'll have to listen to find out what that means. 

Haere mai koutou ki te Time Out toa pukapuka kia tipu ōu reo. Come to Time Out Bookstore to grow your reo. We've got a great selection in stock.

95bFM's Loose Reads: This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman by Time Out Bookstore

Today's 95bFM review is about Dame Fiona Kidman's This Mortal Boy. This is a novel based on the true story of Albert 'Paddy' Black, the second last man to be hanged in New Zealand.

Masterfully crafted, this is a heartbreaking tale. Jenna found it very engaging, very sad and it captures a strong sense of the time. The facts are there, but they are incredibly human.

Listen to the review below! And if you're in Hamilton this week, Kiran will interviewing Dame Fiona Kidman, Catherine Robertson and Julie Thomas for the ‘Fiction Three Ways’ panel discussion this Friday at Hamilton Book Month. It’s at the The Meteor, 6.30pm. It’s FREE and you even get a glass o’ wine. People of Hamilton, roll up!

Nine to Noon: Never Anyone but You by Rupert Thomson by Time Out Bookstore

Never Anyone But You is a straight-up, no nonsense, excellent read. Through the eyes of two inspiring women, we see the glitz of the roaring 20's in Paris to the horrors of the German occupation on Jersey, we are reminded of the value of true love and companionship, whatever form that may take. 

This is one of Wendy's favourite books of the year! Listen to Jenna's review below:

NZ Poetry Day Interview: Sam Te Kani by Time Out Bookstore


Suri sat down with a familiar face from All Tomorrow’s Poets 2016, Samuel Te Kani. Sam is a writer and artist who works with a variety of different mediums. You can find his work on Pantograph Punch, Vice New Zealand, The Wireless and at various art shows in Auckland and Wellington.


Suri: So Sam, what have you been up to these days?
Sam: Well, the Vice show, ‘Sex With Sam’ so that took up quite a bit of time before Owen and I went to Wellington. We’re meant to be filming again this month, but no-ones hit me up, so I’m just going to wait for them to do that. There ends up being a lot of invisible labour around that stuff, like I don’t necessarily have a production credit, but they do expect me to go out and create content with them. That has to be negotiated with them.

Suri: What does the show centre around?
Sam: It’s just me talking to people about sex, so the title’s very self-explanatory. We’ve done three episodes; one at The Basement cruise Lounge. I was talking to Stu, he’s one of the owners, so just talking to him about what the BDSM culture’s like here and what goes on at a cruise lounge. Then we talked to a guy at the University of Auckland who’s looking at porn and porn addictions at a research level; I think his name’s Chris Taylor. Then we talked to Pierre who works at one of the Peaches and Cream [stores] down K Road, the one on the corner that I didn’t realize still has one of the cruise spaces out the back. I thought that once they’d been taken over and franchised, they would have shut those spaces down, but they’re still operating. We did not expect to find that when we went in. At the back of that, in the corner, there’s a porn cinema and you can pay twelve bucks and go out the back, watch some porn, fuck a stranger.

Suri: Did you watch anything there?
Sam: Yeah, we did. They cut that out for the episode, though. I was thinking while they were doing the interviews there, whether they were going to have to subtitle it, blur out the huge queef that was going on behind us, but they just cut it out altogether.

Suri: That’s a shame, that would have been cool to have in there.
Sam: Yes it would have been; very ambient.

Suri: You have your hand in so many different art mediums
Sam: That’s entirely accidental. I’ve just been chugging along, doing little freelance things; the hustle. The sex blog I did ages ago- that provided a bunch of opportunities once that became semi-popular. You know Le Roy by DDMMYY? Through the sex blogs, they were like ‘Woah this is rad, do you want to contribute?’ and I was like ‘sure!’ That was the first time anyone had asked me to write for them. I contributed to three issues and then he went and published the whole blog in a one-off called LR: Stories We Tell Ourselves which was rad. I’ve written for art shows. One of my short erotic sci-fi stories went to this art show with Dan Nash and Tim Webbie down in Christchurch. It was in the show rather than just being part of the publication. Also writing for publications alongside art shows, mostly for Artspace; then was in a an art show for Artspace last year. I’d never done anything in a visual medium before. I made a Lady Gaga sculpture with a black demon sitting in a pink coffin filled with dirt.

Suri: IN-CREDIBLE
Sam: It was amazing, it’s sitting in my room now.

Suri: Do you have a photo? I’d love to see that.
Sam: Yeah I’ll take a photo and send one to you haha. The sculpture itself which is a giant black demon that’s got plastic vines and LED lights on it, is in one corner of my room, and I’ve taken the pink coffin; it obviously doesn’t have dirt in anymore; and used it as a bookshelf in the other corner of my room.

Suri: Multipurpose
Sam: Yes, utilities.

Suri: I feel like Lady Gaga would love that
Sam: I know, I did call it Garden of Failure though, so I don’t know how she’d feel about that. But I love her and the whole idea was that the Artpop album, which was a commercial flop compared to Born This Way which was a huge album for her; after that her career got really weird, and it was almost like that failure gave her an opportunity to be more free. I had Lady Gaga and the album as a visual reference for the work, but then it was also like Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure. Gaga’s career trajectory definitely ties in with that.

Suri: What drew you to poetry?
Sam: I never actually wanted to write poetry and a lot of the readings that I’ve done have been like poetry nights and I’ve either read a piece of fiction or an essay. I don’t even really write poetry but there are aspects of my experimental prose that you could call poetic.

Suri: Are you reading any good poetry books at the moment or have you come across anything recently?
Sam: I’m mostly reading sci-fi at the moment. I’m reading this tome called Helliconia and it’s about this planet called Helliconia and one seasonal year on this planet is like 1800 earth years. There are aspects of it that are very Game of Thrones like the idea that there are long summers and long winters. It pre-dates Game of Thrones by about 20 years. I feel like George R Martin is definitely aware of Helliconia.

Suri: Have there been any poets in the past that you’ve loved or enjoyed?
Sam: The one poetic text where I was like ‘oh, that’s rad’ was The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. Really, really liked that. It’s very prosey but definitely counts as poetry. Also the classics, like The Odyssey, The Aenid. The Aenid’s the one with Dido, right? Dido’s like crying out for her dead lover on a cliff. Oh, I also loved Sylvia Plath in school. Sylvia speaks to the 14 year old in me.

Suri: Same, so moody
Sam: Yeah so fucking moody, oh my god.

Suri: I’m such a sucker for misanthropy, especially in poems
Sam: I’m there right now girl, after my 50 hour week.

Suri: We’ve also been talking to our poets about the irreverence in poetry nowadays. I found that with your last reading at All Tomorrow’s Poets, your ability to be clever and not take yourself so seriously, was really refreshing. Now you have people like Hera and Tayi who write about sex so audaciously.
Sam: I do like that. I love that. I do think poetry itself takes some of the formality of language and exposes its fluidity so it can really disassemble what we might take for granted as formal codes and liberate them. I guess it makes sense then, that in a contemporary form, poetry is a lot more open to talking things like sex and a modern pathos where everything is in flux and there’s a volatility to living in the times that we do right now where institutions that have stood as monoliths post-War are now kind of like dying.

Suri: Jamie (de Jong) wanted to ask our other poets about their writing process. Do you have any advice?
Sam: Muscle memory; I think a lot of writing boils down to muscle memory and getting used to sitting down and writing every day

Suri: Do you have any questions you’d like to ask our other poets?
Sam: If you were microdosing, what would you be microdosing with?

Sam will be performing at Time Out's All Tomorrow's Poets on National Poetry Day. Check out the event details here.

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NZ Poetry Day Interview: Jamie de Jong by Time Out Bookstore


We decided to do things a little differently for the second in our interview series! Join us as poet Jamie de Jong takes the interviewer seat with Jenn and Suri. See the collaborative interview below:


Suri: We’ve decided to reverse the format a little bit- Jamie’s going to take the lead on the questions!

Jamie: What is it like to be a young poet in New Zealand?

Suri: Jamie you can probably answer this better than we can…

Jamie: We talked about this before and we kind of came to a consensus that it feels like an quite exclusive term at the moment. I don’t know many of my friends who I would say are poets; that would be comfortable to claim that they’re poets. For myself, I  write poetry but I wouldn’t say I’m a poet. What about you? Because you write poetry as well Jenn.

Jenn:  I don’t know. Being a poet is in line with being published as well, though. Writing poetry- it feels like anyone can do it. You don’t call yourself a poet because it’s a weird, exclusive term, but writing poetry- anyone can do it. 

Suri: I always just wonder what part of that hesitance is, because I feel like people that write fiction, whether they’ve been published or not, will say they’re an author and a published author will say they’re a ‘published author’. I feel like that hesitance for people to call themselves poets quite interesting. I don’t know if that’s because most poets are multi-disciplinary and will do poetry and other types of writing, or whether it is like Jenn said, ‘Do I have to wait to be published?’

Jenn: I do have a question though- would you be more comfortable calling yourself a writer?

Jamie: Personally, if I said I was a poet, it would ask so many questions that I just can’t be bothered answering, like ‘What do you do on the side?’

Suri: Do you think you have to a particular focus on form when you’re writing poetry?

Jamie: Not personally. I think when I started writing poetry, it was pretty traditional, just pretty ‘boring’, but now I get a lot of inspiration from poetry that I’m reading and I try and ‘copy’- for lack of a better word, their format. I think anthologies are good for that because you can flick through and see a short one or a long one with awkward spacing and where you can use that in one of your poems. 

Jamie: What excites you about the current poetry landscape?

Suri: I love seeing a lot more women being published and women of colour. I think poetry is such an interesting medium that really lends itself to telling these stories in quite a unique way. 

Jenn: Exactly what Suri said, but also people getting out there and writing about the tiny things as well. They don’t have to write about these big, grand ideas like love  and death. They can write about these really small things and connect it to this universal thing that we all feel, you know? I think that’s really cool. 

Jamie: And maybe the shorter nature of poetry means it’s accessible to people who might not have read otherwise maybe? Like it’s accessible for everyone to get these viewpoints. 

Suri: For sure, and for people like Tusiata Avia, being able to put in histographies and mythologies and traditions all into these small poems- just a few lines- being able to put all these ideas so eloquently and interestingly. 

Jamie: With Spirit House, I felt honoured to be let into that book. It was a privilege. 

Suri: I think there’s also something about the intimacy of poetry that I really like. 

Jamie: Who are some of your favourite poets? 

Suri: I love Tusiata Avia, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Hera Lindsay Bird, Courtney Sina Meredith, Tayi Tibble and Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle.

Jamie: I just read that book, ‘Autobiography of a Magueritte’

Suri: What did you think?

Jamie: I loved it, it was so good.

Suri: What about you Jamie? Who are some of your favourites?

Jamie: All the ones you mentioned before, definitely. I also love Ashleigh Young, Emily Berry (a British writer) Alice Oswald and Don Lee Choi. What about you Jenn?

Jenn: You guys have covered it all. I also love Gertrude Stein though. She’s so crazy funny and clever with her sounds. 

Jamie: We should probably mention Lisa Samuels…

Suri: Oh, because you were both taught by Lisa Samuels, right?

Jamie: Yeah that’s a plug for a good grade!

Suri: What class does she take?

Jenn: She takes the Critical Modern Writing and Critical Thinking paper- it’s really cool!

Jamie: She’s really good, you should take her poetry paper!

Jamie: Poetry is always delegated to the bottom of the literary genres- do you think the resurgence of poetry, particularly the poetry of young women, has sparked a change in the way poetry has been received by the literary world? You had something interesting to say about this, in regards to Rupi Kaur. 

Suri: I think, no matter how I feel about her poetry, her ability to touch on these quite universal but also personal ideas, the way women feel in their daily lives, obviously a lot of people really connected to that and I think it made poetry as a genre a lot more accessible. Even at the shop, I think a lot of people who would have never picked up poetry books came in for Rupi Kaur and then kept coming back for recommendations for other young female poets. That grew exponentially after her poetry books. So I think seeing more women write quite personally about their experiences has really evolved the poetry landscape. I love poetry that’s just observant about the things around you, but I think poetry’s shifted away from just being external observations to being really intimate and beautiful and witty and feminist.

Jenn: I read an essay recently where the author was like, when I started reading the books of people who were the same ethnicity as me, I realised that I existed as well, and that I was part of their existence. When you read poetry that’s just white guys, you’re like ‘Does my voice really exist? Can I really say things that I want to?’ And I think getting women’s voices out there, and women of colour, provides this representation and people think ‘Yeah I can say this! I’m contributing to the world as well’. I thought that was so cool, it really spoke to me. People feel like they’re not themselves, or they’re not part of a thing, just because they’re not being represented. 

Jamie: I think going back to the first question, the term poet really has to catch up with this rising movement of women and women of colour especially, because the term’s so outdated. I think that’s part of why people are so uncomfortable using it. 

Jamie: What drew you to poetry over other literary genres? 

Jamie: I don’t discriminate one form over the other.

Jenn: Different forms fit different thoughts.

Jamie: Or even different days.

Jenn: It’s like a different colour.

Jamie: I guess different situations call for different forms. I think there was a good quote from a [University] paper, that the form informs the content. Sometimes I’ll start writing a poem- like I started writing a poem about mice in our house, and half-way through I realised that was an essay. There was so much else connected to it

Jamie will be performing at Time Out's All Tomorrow's Poets on National Poetry Day. Check out the event details here.

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95bFM's Loose Reads: Paul Simon: The Life by Robert Hillburn by Time Out Bookstore

In preparation for Father's Day, Jenna reviewed the ultimate DAD ROCK biography of Paul Simon. This is the only authorised biography of this notoriously difficult musician's life.

Jenna, Sarah & Mikey discuss poor Art Garfunkel, the muppets and Graceland.

Jenna also mentions this excellent documentary about Graceland, Under African Skies. You can watch it here. 

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NZ Poetry Day Interview: Janna Tay by Time Out Bookstore


Time Out staff Surinam Reddy and Jenn Cheuk sat down with Janna Tay to talk shifting poetry landscapes and platforms for youth.

Janna studies law, politics, and philosophy at the University of Auckland. She is the author of a micro-chapbook Late Summer (Ghost City Press). Her poetry has appeared in Starling, Polyphony H.S., and -Ology Journal, and she won second prize in Landfall’s 2018 Charles Brasch Young Writers’ Essay Competition. In her spare time, she runs Oscen Magazine, a platform aimed at uplifting marginalised voices (http://oscen.co)


Suri: So Janna, what is it like to be a young poet in New Zealand?
Janna: It’s strange because I don’t really think of myself as a poet. It’s like when you give a name to something, it suddenly becomes real. It’s just been this thing I’ve done in my spare time, like reading and writing. I think I have talked about this with friends; you feel a sense of being an impostor to call yourself a poet or a writer.

More and more, I’m thinking of it as a way of being, like an attitude- that to be a poet is to look at the world in a certain way. There was an interview that I was reading with Ocean Vuong looking at the meaning of the word poet and he was like “to remember is to be a poet” and it’s just the idea that the way you’re wired makes you a poet.

Jenn: How would you define being a poet?
Janna: It would definitely be an attitude and a way of seeing the world because I’ve really been thinking about the idea of wonder at the world and just what happens when you switch a perspective to start looking at and noticing certain details and certain things. It’s actually shifted my whole attitude towards life. I’m finding joy or beauty in really mundane things that you might not notice because you’re in your daily grind.


Suri: You have these really beautiful moments in your poetry and some of it feels like really interesting universal ideas or feelings but making them quite specific and intimate, like in all of those little descriptions. They’re just so good.
Janna: I’ve definitely been inspired by different writers, just learning how to pull that all together.

Suri: Who are some of your inspirations?
Janna: This came a bit later, but one of the most important ones to me is Michael Ondaatje. He writes poetry and prose as well, but I started out with his prose and he’s such a poetic prose writer but such a prosaic poet; it’s almost genre-less for him. The way he writes, he builds characters from memory and certain moments, like the way they’ll move or certain aspects of the character related to a piece of clothing and he’ll take that thing and take you all through their history and it comes full-circle through this collection of details. Someone’s called him a memory artist, which I really love.

Recently I went to the Writers Festival to see Durga Chew-Bose and she described herself, and I really resonate with this, as a writer of periphery, so she doesn’t care about plot and neither do I. If you’ve got a book and it’s got explorations of character- that’s my favourite kind. I struggle to follow plot and find the logical consistencies, I just don’t really care about it. She said that it’s less about the plot- if you’ve got someone putting on make-up on public transport, that is the plot.

Jenn: What excites you about the current poetry landscape?
Janna: I think the fact that it’s becoming more and more accessible and so many new ideas are coming in. The danger I think, when you only have a certain group of people writing poetry, is that they start bouncing ideas off each other and it just becomes very insular. What’s exciting to see is almost anyone pick up poetry and be like ‘Hey I’m bringing my perspective to it’ and it might be something we’ve never seen before. Like I would also get inspiration from a different point of view and it’s just a learning experience from a whole lot of different people.

Jenn: Do you think people are becoming more open-minded to poetry, because there is this stigma around it being elitist or pretentious, do you feel like that’s changed?
Janna: I think there definitely is, especially around slam poetry. People I would never have talked to about my poetry, or page poetry (the kind of thing you’d study at an English Literature class and people are like, ‘I don’t get it’) they’re going along to slam poetry events and they’re like ‘Oh this is actually resonating with me in a language I understand’. That’s exciting to see and I hope it boosts support for the arts.

Suri: There are a lot of young New Zealand poets who are writing really exciting poetry, and I wonder if that change in the landscape has made it more accessible?
Janna: Yeah, you’re starting to see it a lot more in general media rather than just the people you know who’d interact with it.
Jenn: It’s become ageless now; like it’s transcending. It’s cool to see that change.
Suri: I guess there’s more of an irreverence and playfulness in the way poetry is told too.

Suri: Are there any contemporary poets whose work you’ve been enjoying recently?
Janna: I’ve just been reading ‘Bright Dead Things’ by Ada Limon and that was amazing. The way she writes poetry is, I feel, very different from mine and I really admire the way she does it. It seems very descriptive and kind of casual, but by the end, she takes this starting image and flips it on its head and there’s a moment of clarity when the whole preceding part of the poem is shown in a different light. I think I write quite obscurely- I just move from image to image, whereas for her, it’s just so tightly bound up that you don’t feel it until the end, the amount of talent she has.

Suri: Do you find there’s things you can draw from people like that whose poetry is quite different from your own? Do you think it impacts the way you write your own poetry?
Janna: Definitely. Like I’ll try and see how I can bring it into my own and put my own take on it. Also just as a technique, as a way to push myself to write in a different way.

Suri: I remember a while ago, in reference to a poetry book that had become very popular,  we had a big discussion around instagram poets and what makes poetry and what isn’t poetry. How would you define poetry?
Janna:  I guess, in relation to the instagram poets, they feel a bit more like thoughts to me- thoughts you dash off quickly. That’s not to discount it for what value it does have.

For me, when I write poetry, it requires a lot more design. You write down your thoughts but you go back and you think about the line and the rhythm, and the way that you break the line and what that does to the meaning- how you convey what you want to express, rather than just dashing it down on a piece of paper. At the same time, it feels a bit arbitrary to say that you have to spend work and time on it in order for it to become poetry. It’s a little bit dangerous to put one definition on it.

Suri: What drew you to poetry over other writing forms?
Janna: At first it comes across as something that’s very visceral. I’ve talked about this with friends before- like the thing that draws us to poetry:  you’ve got feelings and you’ve got to put them down somewhere and there’s not necessarily a story from it or you don’t have to devise characters for a novel. When I was little, I used to love writing stories because I used to love creating characters, but I’d never get further than characters because I just don’t care about plot apparently. I’ve never really cared about plot. To come to poetry- it was an easier form at first, but then you realise how hard it is to make it good and that became like a puzzle and I just kept writing.

Suri: Was it exciting to have your work published in Starling?
Janna: Yeah it was really exciting and Starling are amazing. Frances and Louise keep in touch in the sense that if they see you published anywhere, they’ll instantly repost it on social media.  They’re really supporting the community that they’ve built, and I really appreciate that from them. I’ve recently with friends, started my own platform called Oscen and we’ve gotten young writers as well and Starling jumped on board and started promoting us too. I never even mentioned it to them so it’s amazing to see their support in the community.

Suri: It’s really cool to see young New Zealand women being the ones pushing the change in poetry.
Janna: The contrast from what we studied, which was dead white European guys, to see the landscape now is really exciting. It’s the stories that get told and published that get remembered, and we haven’t had the ability to remember in that way for so long.

Janna will be performing at Time Out's All Tomorrow's Poets on National Poetry Day. Check out the event details here.

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Staff Blog: Taylor's Top YA Fantasy Picks by Time Out Bookstore

 Taylor with Laini Taylor in 2014.

Taylor with Laini Taylor in 2014.

I wrote a review recently which listed my top picks for adult fantasy books (you can read it here). Now it’s time to list my top picks for young adult fantasy! I’m going to attempt to write three young adult pick posts, because I can’t separate out my favourite authors from each other unless I do so by separating out their subgenres. My goal is to write one for fantasy (well done me, I’m already a third of the way there), dystopian and contemporary. Now there are plenty of other sub genres, but let’s just say those are my favourite three.

Today we start with fantasy. What I love about YA fantasy at the moment is that it is doing things that other people, other genres, can’t or don’t dare to do. There are so many layers of subtext and cultural critique in YA fantasy right now, and it works because it doesn't offend anyone, because the cultures and the powers -that-be are fictional. So, here are my top five:


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Throne of Glass - Sarah J. Maas

This is a bit of a sprawling epic (weighing in at 8 volumes, including a collection of prequel novellas, with the last book to be released later this year). These were the books that made me fall in love with ready fantasy again. These were the books that inspired me to write my own. The series begins with Celaena - an assassin who has been captured and in serving time in a prison camp. She is enlisted by the prince to compete to become his father’s champion. If she wins the competition she is to serve the king for four years and will then be granted her freedom. The problem is, she hates the king with every fibre of her being.

It’s difficult to do this series justice in a short summary, and to do so without giving major spoilers away is impossible. Let’s just say this series includes badass assassins, magic, Fae, love, heartbreak, grief, friendship, demons and a WHOLE lot of sass.


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Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Karou is a blue-hair art student, living in Prague. By day, she goes to school, sketches and hangs out with her best friend Zuanna. By night, she collects teeth for monsters in exchange for wishes. But when devastation comes to those she loves, she is forced to face her past and take up the mantle of her future. This trilogy is about love and discrimination, about forgiveness and revenge. It’s Romeo and Juliet, but with monsters and angels. Laini Taylor is one of my all time favourite linguistic writers, her words and sentences and paragraphs are beautiful perfection - evoking emotions, imagery and drawing you into this exceptional world she has created. She is also releasing the final installment in her duology (Strange the Dreamer) later this year.


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Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo

This duology is Ocean’s 11 meets Avatar the Last Airbender. Kaz Brekker is tasked with breaking a man out of a prison no one has ever escaped from. This man is the creator of a drug that could mean the undoing of the world Kaz knows. He puts together a team of 6 individuals, all who bring their own unique talents to the mission. “A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.”

Leigh Bardugo is the queen of plot twists, and this book will keep you twisting and guessing and gasping just like a good heist novel should. There is another trilogy that technically comes before this series, set in the same world just a few decades earlier. It is not necessary to read that series first (I didn’t) but if you love this one you might just want to read Shadow and Bone too.


An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

What I loved most about this series when I first heard about it, is that it is a fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome rather than medieval britain. It is a quartet and the third book (A Reaper at the Gates) has just been released in July. The story follows two protagonists; Laia and Elias. Laia is a Scholar who has grown up in the slums, witnessing the oppression of her people. Elias is a Martial, training at one of the empire's finest military schools despite detesting the very tyranny he’s being taught to enforce. When a mission for the Scholar Resistance sends Laia uncover into the school, she uncovers that there is more going on than the endless war against the Scholar and the Martials, and her life and Elais’ are changed forever.

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Ink and Bone - Rachel Caine

This world revolves around the questions: What if the Great Library of Alexandria had never burnt down? With a little bit of magic thrown in for good measure. In this world, the Library is the ultimate power; higher than law, higher than religion. The Library controls the flow of knowledge to the masses —but it is illegal to own a book. Jess has grown up in a family of book smugglers, but he believes in the values of the Library. When he is sent to train as a scholar of the Library by his father, to work as a double agent and steal books for the family to sell, Jess is confronted with a choice: The Library or his family. What he doesn’t yet know is that the library has been repressing the invention of a device that would make books easy to create and distribute to the masses, the revelation of which sets Jess and his friends on a dangerous path.

The world building in this series is fantastic, it has the perfect mix of real world, what could of been, and fantasy elements. The plot moves slowly, but keeps you hooked in and wanting to know more. This series is also a quartet, and the last in the series was just released last month.

95bFM's Loose Reads: All Gates Open: The Story of Can by Rob Young & Irmin Schmidt by Time Out Bookstore

Kiran talked about All Gates Open: The Story of Can by Rob Young and Irmin Schmidt, a definitive biography of the legendary, important and influential German group Can who were an exciting mix of jazz, improvised music, electronic music, avant garde and classical music. Kiran spent five months reading this hefty book, and highly recommends it!

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Staff Blog: Taylor's Top Fantasy Picks by Time Out Bookstore

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Hello again. It is no small secret that one of my favourite genres is fantasy. Anyone who follows me on Goodreads will easily see that my fantasy shelf is twice the size of any other. It makes me sad that there are lots of people who look down on this genre, but I also know there are plenty of fantasy nerds out there like me. Well, this one’s for you guys.

Here are my favourite adult fantasy series, as opposed to my favourite young adult series which is a whole other blog post:


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Nevernight - Jay Kristoff


If you’ve been in the shop in the last six months you might know that this has been my ‘pick’ off and on all year. This is a fantastic series (number two is out - Godsgrave - and number three will be out next year!) about a girl called Mia, who is determined to avenge her family who were murdered in front of her when she was a child. It is dark (like, really dark), full of murder and betrayal and set in an amazing world. Kristoff’s catch phrase for this book on social media is ‘stab, stab, stab. (if you loved this series you might also enjoy Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister.)

 

 


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A Darker Shade of Magic - V. E. Schwab


From one of my favourite authors of all time, this series is packed full of magic, action and fantastic characters. Imagine there are three Londons: Grey London, the world we know, Red London, a world rich with magic, and White London, a world of savage bloodshed. There are a few who have the power to walk between worlds, the Antari, and Kell is one of them. When he accidentally brings a piece of the long lost Black London into his world he unleashes hell, with deadly consequences. (The whole series is out now and Schwab is also writing a new series set in the same world for any fans of the original books)

 


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Uprooted - Naomi Nivok


t is rare to find a really good fantasy stand alone story. There is a real talent in being able to take a reader through a satisfying story arch in just one book when following the rules of the fantasy genre, and Nivok does this seamlessly. The story follows Agnieszka, a simple girl from a simple village that stands near the border of the corrupted Wood. Her people rely on the protection of a wizard known only as the Dragon, who takes a young woman to serve him every ten years. What I loved most about this story was the incredibly creepy forest and the way in which a place stood in the role of evil antagonist to the story. (Novik has also just released Spinning Silver, another stand alone which is next on my TBR pile!)


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The Name of The Wind - Patrick Rothfuss


It surprises me how many fantasy lovers who come into the shop haven’t heard of or read this series. For fans of more traditional ‘epic’ fantasy, like The Lord of the Rings, Robin Hobb or Game of Thrones, Rothfuss presents a very detailed world and scope of story. The series follows the life of Kvothe, a legend known as the Kingkiller. The story is told in two time periods, the first is of Kvothe as a grown man telling his life story to a scribe, and the second is that retelling of his life. Book two is out - The Wise Man’s Fear - and we are all eagerly awaiting book three…

 

 


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The Golem and the Djinni - Helene Wecker


This is the only urban fantasy on this list, meaning that it is set in our world but with magical elements included. The story is of two creatures, a Golem created by a disgraced rabbi who is relocating to New York, and a Djinni who is awoken from his lamp by an unwitting tinsmith living in Little Syria. The two find each other and become friends, figuring out what it means to be in this new country and in their new lives of freedom, but not freedom. This story draws many parallels to immigration and has great subtextual observations about ‘otherness’.


 

95bFM's Loose Reads: The Pisces by Melissa Broder by Time Out Bookstore

Today, Jenna reviewed The Pisces...a merman erotica by Melissa Broder, author of @sosadtoday.
This book tells the tale (or tail) of Lucy, an anxious student who moves to Venice Beach for the summer to dog sit for her sister.

She soon meets Theo the merman, with a tail that starts below his bum.

A rather bonkers read, which is funny and well written, as well as a poignant observation of despression. Listen below for more!