Review: Knox by K. Arsenault Rivera, Brooke Bolander, Gabino Iglesias, and Sunny Moraine (Knox: Season #1)

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

I accepted this review request for several different reasons. First, the line-up sounded fantastic. Second, the setting – 1930s Manhattan. Awesome. Third, while I have read a few Lovecraft-inspired books, I have never read a noir before and I wanted to see if I can like one. I knew there was a high likelihood that it would be free of unexamined racism and sexism, which seems to be the issue with most noirs I heard of, and I was absolutely correct. It was great – a little too horror for my taste (which is more me being a wimp than any fault of the writing, really), but great.

(I should probably mention I went for the text version, not audio, so I can’t say anything about the narration.)

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Review: The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg (Birdverse)

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ARC received from the published (Tachyon) in exchange for an honest review.

They were birds of bright fire that fell from the sky and cocooned me, until I could see and hear nothing except the warmth and the feathers enveloping me and the threads of the wind singing each to each until my whole skin was ignited by the sun, my body changing and changed by the malleable flame.

I have been familiar with R.B. Lemberg’s works for a while – Geometries of Belonging and Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds (which should preferably be read before reading this book) are two of those short stories that stuck with me long after I read them. So when Erio brought The Four Profound Weaves to my attention, highly recommending it, I knew that sooner or later, I will end up reading it. Queer books with lovely prose are precisely my kind of thing.

As suspected, I adored it.
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Review: Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)

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

Sometimes, you just have a powerful feeling that you’re going to love a book and in my experience, that instinct is never to be ignored. Bonds of Brass first came to my attention randomly, on twitter. Still in the depths of my Star Wars obsession and salty over Rise of Skywalker (oh so salty), I had to request it. It seemed tailor-made for what I wanted and needed.

And it was fantastic. What it promised, it delivered in spades. Fast-paced, yup. Heavily Star Wars inspired, yup. Fun, fanfic-style romantic tropes, yup. More twists than a ship executing a complex maneuver, yup. And that ending. Holy fuck. It’s the kind of book you read popcorn in hand, and then recommend to friends to watch their reactions popcorn in hand too. I’d say it even overdelivered – in places, I could barely manage a few pages at a time because the tension was too high and I was too afraid for the characters.

If a highly entertaining but not necessarily relaxing story is what you’re looking for, this is the perfect book for you.

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Review: The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

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God, this was lovely. It’s short, fluffy, very slice of life – a perfect palate cleanser. Yet another book I wouldn’t have read if not for the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge – short on time, I needed something to knock out the AI Character square quickly – and I’m very, very glad I did.

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Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

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I probably never would have read Central Station at all if not for the fact that this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo had a cyberpunk square. I hate the very thought of cyberpunk. Oppressive high tech societies? No thanks. So in the oldest tradition of Bingo, I went out in search of edge cases. Oddities. This was one of the candidates I couldn’t quite choose between – then I saw it in a bookstore and it was decided. And I couldn’t be more glad I did.

A group of disgruntled house appliances watched the sermon in the virtuality – coffee makers, cooling units, a couple of toilets – appliances, more than anyone else, needed the robots’ guidance, yet they were often wilful, bitter, prone to petty arguments, both with their owners and themselves.

The easiest way to describe it would be “gorgeous sci-fi fever dream.” I have a long-standing love for weird, trippy books and for slice of life, so I could hardly have stumbled upon a more perfect match for my tastes. And before I scare anyone off: it’s strange, yes, but never confusing.

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Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

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

I have first heard of the book on twitter and got curious when I learned it was inspired by a song. At the time, I haven’t read any of Solomon’s books (though my friends have recommended me An Unkindness of Ghosts plenty) nor have I heard of Clipping. But I went and listened to The Deep – it was not my usual type and yet I liked it. I liked it a whole lot.

And the ever-important question: Was the book any good? Hell yes. Though I was a bit unsure at the start, it did pretty much exactly what I expected from the song, and more.

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Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith (A Novel from Hell’s Library #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Ace Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I had such high expectations. A book about books with queer characters and a library of unwritten books sounded wonderful, and there certainly seems to be a trend of meta-books this year (The Ten Thousand Doors of January, anyone?). Unfortunately, while it was not remotely badly written, I just couldn’t connect with it.

Claire lived by the firm moral philosophy that one could never have too many pockets, too many books, or too much tea.

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Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina

Through August and September, I plowed through so many books I accumulated a bit of a review debt. Not reviewing them would, of course, not do, so this is my attempt to catch up and clean out the drafts.

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Review: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #3)

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From the ground, we stand. From our ships, we live. By the stars, we hope.

I’ve been saving this book for when I’d need a pick-me-up. After a very stressful August and an important exam seemed like the perfect time to crack it open. Initially, I was a bit surprised – it starts with a big tragedy and a lot of death. But then it settles in and it’s exactly the kind of optimistic, thoughtful, quiet sci-fi I wanted.

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Review: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle L. Gomez

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I first heard of The Gilda Stories from a Tor article a friend linked. I don’t usually read vampire books as I don’t like vampires as a trope very much (or urban fantasy as a subgenre), but it’s one of this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo squares and the concept seemed interesting enough.

“Each time I thought taking a stand, fighting a war would bring the solution to the demons that haunted us. Each time I thought slavery or fanaticism could be banished from the earth with a law or a battle. Each time I’ve been wrong.”

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