Book Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday! This is a collaborative series started by That Artsy Reader Girl, which has a new prompt for discussion and review each week. Today, we’re chatting about books written before I was born. These can be books I’ve read, books I mean to read, or just some books that I think are interesting.

Given that my reading tends to heavily skew towards the new, this prompt is especially interesting – these are books I rarely have a chance to look at or discuss. I’m excited to highlight a few books outside my usual here! It was also a very fun exercise in finding out that I’ve read a ridiculous amount of books from the year right after I was born – those, alas, will have to wait for another time. 🙂 … More Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born

The Apothecary & The Carpenter’s Son by Johannes T. Evans

This particular microfiction is a short, sweet love story between a talkative, caring carpenter’s son and a nonverbal apothecary. Each day, the carpenter’s son visits the taciturn apothecary to pick up ointments and remedies for his father. Each day, he grows slightly more attached to the friendly, hardworking man. … More The Apothecary & The Carpenter’s Son by Johannes T. Evans

On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu, Drowned Country by Emily Tesh, and The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polanksy

Welcome to Book Bites! This is a series focused on highlighting multiple titles in a more concise format. Rather than looking at a book in depth, I’ll be focusing on the most important thing: why you should read it! Today, we have three miniature reviews – On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu, Drowned Country by Emily Tesh, and The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polanksy! I enjoyed all three of these, and The Seventh Perfect was particularly interesting and experimental. … More On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu, Drowned Country by Emily Tesh, and The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polanksy

Finding What Was Meaningful – a 2020 Retrospective

I started a “Best of 2020” list. Then, I started over. I scrapped it. Started again. I looked through my books, ran my fingers down their spines, and tried once more. I threw together a spreadsheet from Goodreads, sorted it by date, then by rating, then by author. Deleted it in frustration when the books didn’t feel the way I needed them to. I couldn’t do it. … More Finding What Was Meaningful – a 2020 Retrospective

Dragon Tamer by Ophelia Silk

Dragon Tamer is irreverent, light-hearted, and a joy to read. It’s everything I want from a cute fantasy romance. It even has puns in it! Really dumb ones! The BEST ones. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and the whole book is better for it. The main pairing is a bookish dragon prince devoted to pacifism and an extremely fighty Viking-esque himbo lady who’s got some really impressive muscles. AND THEY ADOPT A MAGIC PUPPY TOGETHER. … More Dragon Tamer by Ophelia Silk

Does The Player of Games by Ian M. Banks Hold Up to a Modern Reading?

Within the context of its time, The Player of Games is a shockingly progressive novel. Given that it was written at the height of the AIDS epidemic, I’m impressed that Ian M. Banks chose to deliberately and consciously include queer themes and explicitly endorse homosexuality as something that is not just okay, but also a perfectly normal part of a healthy utopian society.  … More Does The Player of Games by Ian M. Banks Hold Up to a Modern Reading?

My Country Is a Ghost by Eugenia Triantafyllou

When Niovi tried to smuggle her mother’s ghost into the new country, she found herself being passed from one security officer to another, detailing her mother’s place and date of death over and over again.

“Are you carrying a ghost with you, ma’am?” asked the woman in the security vest. Her nametag read Stella. Her lips were pressed in a tight line as she pointed at the ghost during the screening, tucked inside a necklace. She took away Niovi’s necklace and left only her phone. … More My Country Is a Ghost by Eugenia Triantafyllou

Chaos Vector by Megan O’Keefe – Punchy & Character-Driven in the Best Ways

Chaos Vector was an excellent follow up to Velocity Weapon! O’Keefe has dramatically improved as a writer; the pacing was much, much better in this sequel. The twists are just as punchy as you could hope, though I’m not sure ANYTHING can top the one in Velocity Weapon. I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through. Plotlines connect, merge, and shift when you least expect. … More Chaos Vector by Megan O’Keefe – Punchy & Character-Driven in the Best Ways

The Salt Witch by Martha Wells

In The Salt Witch, Martha Wells explores the intersection between heritage and individuality within a patriarchal culture steeped in gendered expectations. Juana, a witch attempting to traverse the sea in a broken sailboat, instead finds herself washed ashore a ghost island filled with the victims of a hurricane and held captive by a malevolent force residing in its center. … More The Salt Witch by Martha Wells

Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders by Aliette de Bodard

This is a fast-paced novella chock full of intrigue, murder, and the fantastic. De Bodard thrusts the reader into her Dominion of the Fallen universe head-first and expects them to sink or swim to keep up. Personally, I found it to be an energetic experience; as this was my first introduction to her world, there was something new on each page to keep me eagerly flipping the page for more. An underwater Vietnamese dragon city below Paris? Crab shifters? Possible poisonings? I was here for it at every turn. … More Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murders by Aliette de Bodard

Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker – A Lush, Nautical Epic Fantasy

The stakes have been raised, and the winds are changing. Joron will find himself flensed to the bone, losing everything he holds dear. He will be hammered and tempered into steel before he can live out his destiny… or reject it entirely and shape a different future from what has been foretold. … More Call of the Bone Ships by RJ Barker – A Lush, Nautical Epic Fantasy

The Three Musketeers – retold with a diverse range of queer characters in a seventeenth-century France where colonialism just somehow never existed.

I was flattered when I was invited to join the project as a sensitivity reader. It was a joy and a pleasure working with Scott, and I can say in my opinion he’s done a stellar job at balancing the different representations of gender and sexuality within the text. d’Artagnan has become a hotheaded young woman while Aramis identifies as nonbinary. Athos is a wise, older woman, and Porthos remains a distinctly flamboyant monsieur. The diversity of the new cast is astounding, and brings so much more interest to a story that otherwise might not have quite as much to offer a modern audience. … More The Three Musketeers – retold with a diverse range of queer characters in a seventeenth-century France where colonialism just somehow never existed.

The Rape of Galadriel: A Deadly Education’s Mishandled Treatment of Sexual Assault

A Deadly Education is an oddly niche book given how widely it has been marketed. While on the surface it appears to be a bit more on the YA side, the tone and content of the novel is more akin to a dark adult fantasy. We’ve seen a great deal of controversy surrounding it these past few weeks, specifically regarding its multicultural cast. Yet amidst the discussions of dreadlocks, Asian rep, and whether the main character is Indian enough, it seems we’ve collectively managed to gloss over Novik’s mishandling of rape and sexual assault in an academic setting. … More The Rape of Galadriel: A Deadly Education’s Mishandled Treatment of Sexual Assault

The Impact of R.B. Lemberg’s Birdverse: A Second Look at ‘The Four Profound Weaves’

While I’ve already waxed poetic previously on this novella’s merits in a full review back in March, a small reprise is called for as we near its release date. The prediction I made back then still holds true; I don’t think I’ve stopped recommending this book any time it’s even slightly relevant to someone’s interests. … More The Impact of R.B. Lemberg’s Birdverse: A Second Look at ‘The Four Profound Weaves’

The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

I had a few frustrations with The Ranger of Marzanna. There were many things I ought to have enjoyed more than I did – I love the idea of magic coming at a price of your own humanity, for example. Unfortunately, I struggled to connect with the characters and found the prose to be mediocre at best. The dialogue in particular tended to take me out of the narrative.  … More The Ranger of Marzanna by Jon Skovron

Driftwood by Marie Brennan

In order to get the most out of Driftwood, a reader must arm themselves ahead of time.  Archeologists’ tools – brushes, trowels, and picks – are recommended. This, you see, is not merely a book… but an artefact of another world. Driftwood immerses the reader within its ever-shifting borders. It demands that the reader explore and discover, content in its own ergodicity without crossing the line into onanism. The constant press of the new and novel, the erasure of history and culture, and the preservation of individual identity within that atmosphere is explored with a subtle, deft hand. This is less a novel than it is a glimpse into a distant, alien future that might have been. … More Driftwood by Marie Brennan

NĂ© Ĺ‚e! by Darcie Little Badger

NĂ© Ĺ‚e! was originally published in Love Beyond Body, Space and Time, an anthology forcused on indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. It’s a beautiful little f/f love story that showcases indigenous women in STEM. Further, it does a great job at representing the differences between two women of different indigenous backgrounds. While they have similarities, their cultures are not presented as identical.  … More NĂ© Ĺ‚e! by Darcie Little Badger

The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

After having read and loved The Goblin Emperor, I was incredibly excited to see that Katherine Addison had a new book out! I cannot express how quickly I smashed “request” on NetGalley. Unfortunately, I regret to say that this book was a bit of a hot mess. Admittedly, I came into it with slightly incorrect expectations: when I heard that this novel had begun as a Sherlock Holmes wingfic, I instantly made the assumption that I would see some of my favorite tropes from that particular subgenre of fanfic. However, even outside of this mismatch of expectations, I felt that the book had major issues with pacing, character development, worldbuilding, and queer representation. It did not grab my attention at any juncture. Every time I thought it was going to do something interesting, it went nowhere. I felt set adrift and overall dissatisfied.  … More The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison

Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, Fake Out & Trick Play by Eden Finley, Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie, and The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

In the spirit of being kind to myself…. I’ve accepted that trying to do my full, lengthy reviews of every books I’ve read but not reviewed so far is just too much to ask right now. Maybe one of these days I’ll revisit these books and do them justice, but right now I need to get them done and stop worrying about them.  … More Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett, Fake Out & Trick Play by Eden Finley, Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie, and The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

The Once and Future Witches is possibly the angriest book I have ever read in my life, which is very much something I can relate to. I, too, am angry – I’m angry that womanhood is a threat dangling over my head, I’m angry that it’s the source of trauma for me. I’m angry that I’ve been denied power, agency, and even basic respect. Often, I’m diminished for even implying that I’ve been denied these things. I’m told I’m imagining things, that sexism doesn’t exist even though I see its effects in my day to day life. It’s a man opening a training session with “Good morning, gentlemen!” and the abuse I went through when I was a mere child. Although Harrow’s prose is poetic and gorgeous as always, sheer fury seethes from the pages. This is a book about righteous, feminine anger. It is a book about tearing down the establishment that controls you and burning the fences they’ve built to cage you in. I don’t know if I am a woman, really, but perhaps I have the anger of one. I don’t know if I want my gender to be wrapped up in anger, but I can’t deny that it’s at the core of what womanhood has meant for me. It’s been fear, trauma, and, yes, a great deal of anger. … More The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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