Review: To Be Taught if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

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ARC received from the publisher (Harper Voyager) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

And Becky Chambers has done it again. I know that’s a cliché line to use in a review, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few decades she will be remembered as one of the greats. This is the exact kind of thought-provoking, insightful, ultimately deeply human sci-fi that makes up the best the genre has to offer.

However, I went in with entirely the wrong expectations so I will say this: don’t expect another Wayfarers. Expect discussion of the ethics of space exploration. Expect your mind to be blown, perhaps. But heartwarming, character-focused…forget it.

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Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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ARC received from the publisher (Del Rey) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I won’t lie, it was the cover that made me request the ARC (look at it!). 1920s Mexico is not a setting I’ve seen before either, I’m a sucker for mythological fantasy…in short, I was intrigued. And I can now safely say I did not regret it – if you like the idea of it too, it’s definitely worth a read.

Some people are born under a lucky star, while others have their misfortune telegraphed by the position of the planets. Casiopea Tun, named after a constellation, was born under the most rotten star imaginable in the firmament. She was eighteen, penniless, and had grown up in Uukumil, a drab town where mule-drawn railcars stopped twice a week and the sun scorched out dreams.

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Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

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ARC received from the publisher (Saga Press) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Whoa. Just…whoa. Another candidate for “best of 2019” for me. It’s like someone distilled almost everything I like into one book – exquisite prose, a high dose of weirdness, a queer relationship, a more literary feel, experimental structure – and the end result is breathtaking. Brilliant in a way I’m not sure a review can illustrate. It has to be read to be believed.

I feel almost invincible in our battles’ wake: a kind of Achilles, fleet footed and light of touch. Only in this nonexistent place our letters weave do I feel weak. How I love to have no armor here.

Footnote for fans of the romance genre: for the sake of proper expectations, this is a love story but is not romance genre-wise – if anyone rec’d it as such…🤦

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Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

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ARC received from the publisher (Redhook) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Absolutely stunning and a strong candidate for the best book of 2019 for me, Ten Thousand Doors of January combines gorgeous prose with equally compelling characters and story. It’s a book about books, a story about stories that hooked me in the first paragraph. It couldn’t be more my type if it tried.

Reason and rationality reigned supreme, and there was no room for magic or mystery. There was no room, it turned out, for little girls who wandered off the edge of the map and told the truth about the mad, impossible things they found there.

January Scaller is a mixed-race girl growing up in 1900s America. Her father is often absent, so she lives with his employer, the wealthy and influential Mr. Locke, a member of a secretive archeological society. She’s provided for beyond what her father could ever have managed, but horribly lonely and longing for freedom. Then one day her father fails to return…

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Review: The Vela by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon (The Vela: Season #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Serial Box) in exchange for an honest review.

I pounced at the opportunity to read this barely holding back the squeeing. You mean a story written by Yoon Ha Lee, Becky Chambers, S.L. Huang, and Rivers Solomon? YES PLEASE   I haven’t read any serials before (I have been planning to poke into Tremontaine, but, well, Mt. TBR), but just from the line-up, this was bound to be good. And it was! As I hoped, this turned out to be exactly the sort of sci-fi I love the most – character-focused, with a side of social commentary. Honestly, I can’t wait for the sequel.

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Review: Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (Binti #1-3)

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ARC received from the publisher (DAW) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed this series of novellas immensely. I’ve had Binti on my TBR since 2016 and in a way, I’m glad I waited until now – even though this is my first read, they work far, far better as one book.

“I have to try and make it better,” I said. “I can’t just leave here.”

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Review: Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James (The Dark Star Trilogy #1)

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ARC received from the publisher on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

This has been one of the most hyped and anticipated fantasy releases of 2019. Literary fantasy set in Africa? Yes please. I wanted it so much and couldn’t believe my luck getting an early copy. The first few pages were wonderful. But, ultimately, as a long-time fantasy reader, I was left underwhelmed and disappointed.

I saw that I was still a boy. There were men stronger, and women too. There were men wiser, and women too. There were men quicker, and women too. There was always someone or some two or some three who will grab me like a stick and break me, grab me like wet cloth, and wring everything out of me. And that was just the way of the world. That was the way of everybody’s world. I who thought he had his hatchets and his cunning, will one day be grabbed and tossed and thrown in with garbage, and beaten and destroyed. I am the one who will need saving, and it’s not that someone will come and save me, or that nobody will, but that I will need saving, and walking forth in the world in the shape and step of a man meant nothing.

(quote taken from the ARC, subject to change upon publication)

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DNF: The Grass People by Kay Parley

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ARC received from the publisher (Radiant Press) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF 61%

My experience could be summed up as this: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

This has been a pure spur-of-the-moment read, brought to my attention by Keikii (never ask me to convince you out of reading something). You mean there’s what looks like a slice of life book about tiny fae-like people living in the grass? Written by an older woman? Sign me up!

Like way too many books lately, however, it turned out to be an exercise in frustration instead of a chill, enjoyable read it seemed to promise.

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Review: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke (The Coraidic Sagas #1)

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The ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blood of Heirs was a very pleasant surprise. I needed a quick read, something that wouldn’t take me weeks to finish and boy has this book delivered.

He was no different to the rabbit, no different to any game animal pursued through the woods, whether for sustenance or pleasure. He was as hunted as that rabbit, and he’d turned his power on it, despite his already superior strength. What might he do if his pursuer cornered him the way he’d cornered the rabbit? Was it only a matter of time before the walls closed in and the escape routes vanished, only a matter of time before his father’s men tracked him to a dark corner and he too stared at his death without the power to run?

The book follows two characters. Lidan is the heir of a clan chief (or daari, as they’re called) without any sons. She wants nothing more than to be trained as a ranger, ride horses, learn to fight, but her mother won’t let her, saying it’s too dangerous for a heir…then things get a lot more complicated. Ran is the son and heir of a duke. He saves his city from disaster, but in the process, his magic is discovered and he is forced to run for his life.

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Review: The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (The Masquerade #2)

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Thanks to Tor and Netgalley for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes provided may change in the final vesion.

For me, this has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2018. I couldn’t wait to return to the world and see where the story takes Baru next, I pre-ordered in case I wouldn’t get the ARC, and when I did, I was almost wary of reading it, anticipating the emotional punch. The enthusiasm from bloggers who got it earlier was contagious. Sadly, while it was good, it didn’t quite live up to its hype.

Who says you have a duty to a nation? Who says you cannot reject an unjust duty? Who says you can decide which evil is small enough to tolerate, and which is too great to allow? Who says you should allow anyone to hold such power over you, the power to use your work for purposes you do not understand?

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