User Profile


Joined 3 months ago

I read largely sff, some romance and mystery, very little non-fiction. I'm trying to write at least a little review of everything I'm reading this year, but it's a little bit of an experiment in progress.

I'm elsewhere.

This link opens in a pop-up window

User Activity

The Bone Shard War (Paperback, 2023, Orbit) 3 stars

The Bone Shard War

3 stars

This was a fun conclusion to this trilogy.

I think ultimately, this is a book driven by the principal point of view characters and their actions. Despite that many of them are leaders of empires, islands, or organizations, this fantasy series is less about political maneuvering and more about interpersonal conflicts and shifts. This made a lot of sense in book one, following three or four different characters in different places, none of whom were in real positions of power. However, I think I was a little surprised at how much this style continued through the whole series.

In some ways there's some superhero vibes, where the sides are determined by which heroes are opposing or supporting whom at any moment. I said this about book two, but I appreciated the ongoing shifting allegiances. Characters join up, and then split apart and join opposite sides. Some are forced to be …

Bone Shard Emperor (2021, Little, Brown Book Group Limited) 4 stars

Bone Shard Emperor

4 stars

I'm continuing my reread of this series before I get to the new final book in the trilogy. This book has Lin getting square into politics, avoiding assassination attempts, and trying to wrangle all of the islands and stepping into more mysteries that her father has left her. The climax of the book manages to believably get ~all of the major characters together into the same place for a final battle with some murky sides and shifting loyalties. I definitely appreciated the slow dribble of lore and backstory through journal translations; we learn a lot more about the Sukais, the empire, and the Alanga and I am here for all of it.

That said, I forgot just how uncomfortable this book was for me to read. I think it mostly revolves around the way Jovis is being pulled in multiple directions. I think it's one thing for the first book …

The Bone Shard Daughter (2020, Orbit) 4 stars

The emperor's reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the …

The Bone Shard Daughter

4 stars

The third book in this trilogy came out last month so I took the time to comfort reread the first two books before I read the third one for the first time.

Overall, this book was super enjoyable even on a reread. It has four point of view characters, but each of them had their own unique intrigue and appeal. Unlike some other fantasy series, I never felt impatience to "get back to the good character". There's Lin the secretive emperor's amnesiac daughter, in competition with her foster brother to be heir, trying to learn bone shard magic. There's Sand who lives in a haze on a thinly inhabited island who suddenly regains her memories of other places. There's Phalue the daughter of a corrupt governer, who is trying to woo somebody who challenges her liberal "just world" beliefs. Finally, there's Jovis, a navigator turned smuggler, who tried to get …

Dominion (Paperback, 2020, Aurelia Leo) 4 stars


4 stars

When reading through recent Otherwise award winners, while I was looking for a copy of the novella Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon I asked my library to procure a copy of the anthology it came from. I found and read that novella earlier, but my library came through as they do and so I was excited to read through more from this anthology.

I quite enjoyed Marian Denise Moore's "A Mastery of German". This is a story about a project manager being handed a new project, which turns out to be monetizing human memory by transferring knowledge along genetic lines. It brings in how the narratives of past generations aren't recorded (especially in racially disparate ways) and how this project might rectify that, but also digs into some of the perilous ethics of such a thing. The last line of the story almost feels like the first line of some …

reviewed Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Spoiler Alert (2020, HarperCollins Publishers) 4 stars

Spoiler Alert

4 stars

Content warning minor plot spoilers (pun not intended)

Mexican Gothic (Hardcover, 2020, Del Rey) 4 stars

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes this reimagining of the classic …

Mexican Gothic

4 stars

It was interesting to read this book so soon after reading What Moves the Dead. I can see why Ursula Vernon wrote about it in her afterword as being a similar setup and recommended that everybody go read it immediately.

The book itself is immensely creepy and I found it very compelling. The plot setup is that socialite Noemí is asked by her powerful father to go investigate what's going on with her cousin Catalina's marriage in an isolated rural mansion. The creepy atmosphere is spectacularly well done: a decrepit remote mansion, very little electricity, locked windows, strange dreams, family secrets, suspicious local history, the overly strict housekeeper with too many rules (silence! no hot baths! no coffee!), also the household's obsession with eugenics and "superior races".

The book's pacing was excellent for me. There is a slow build of mystery and unexplainable occurrences. Backstory is slowly revealed, but there's …

If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You (Uncanny Magazine) 4 stars

If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You

4 stars

I read this novelette here:

It takes a lot for me to care about a superhero story, but I quite enjoyed this one in which a Superman-esque character is a queer Asian-American weightlifter. This recasting lets the story reexamine some superhero tropes like monikers, how cops treat superheros, and alter-egos. With this as backdrop, I really enjoyed the foregrounded slow-building relationship, and the superhero/queer closet parallels.

Content warnings: racial slurs, police violence

So You Want to Kiss Your Nemesis (Lightspeed Magazine) 3 stars

So You Want to Kiss Your Nemesis

3 stars

I read this short flash story by John Wiswell here on Lightspeed:

A cute short story about Zsofia shopping for a sword in order to have a duel with her nemesis (and forbidden love). It has big Utena and I Have the High Ground vibes. I love sardonic shopkeeper Robin speaking for the reader and cutting directly to the point through Zsofia's blushes.

If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You (Uncanny Magazine) 4 stars

There's Magic in Bread (EBook, Fantasy Magazine) 4 stars

There's Magic in Bread

4 stars

I read this short story here:

There's also an author interview linked on that page, which I also enjoyed:

This short story has two parallel perspectives centered around baking bread, and about feelings of despair and helplessness; one half about struggling with that helplessness in this covid pandemic with home baking, and the other half running a bakery (and involving a bread golem!) in a more historic setting with antisemitic violence and policing.

I certainly have needed a lot of escapist literature in the past few years.  (Even as I write this my brain pops in to say...ok but what if we reread the entire Vorkosigan or Foreigner or Wayfarers series again????) But it's also deeply refreshing to read a piece that directly addresses the pandemic, as well as addressing my own feelings of helplessness when things are falling apart around me and I don't feel like I …

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (Paperback, 2007, Picador) 3 stars

Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. …

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

3 stars

I read the Beekeeper's Apprentice after seeing it on a list of Malka Older's comfort reads:

It's a mystery book originally published way back in the ancient times of 1994. The plot could be roughly described as: what if Sherlock Holmes was a teenage girl and met up with aging half-retired actual Sherlock Holmes, who trains her until she grows over time to be an equal detective partner while they solve mysteries together.

Overall, this was a fun romp told in a style that felt reminiscent of a Sherlock mystery, and I enjoyed the mysteries large and small. I am a sucker for coming of age stories too. I think it's a more interesting pairing to have Sherlock with an equal in deduction to play off of. I also appreciated here that King deliberately posits in-universe this Holmes as being not the same as Doyle's fictionalized version, and so …

The Grief of Stones (Hardcover, Tor Books) 4 stars

In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin …

The Grief of Stones

4 stars

This is a direct sequel to Witness for the Dead (book two of a trilogy) and is another fantasy mystery set in the world of the Goblin Emperor.

Witness for the Dead feels more like a traditional mystery novel, in that the climax of the story is also the reveal of the mystery. On the other hand, this book's "stereo investigation" (in Disco Elysium terms) is roughly sorted out mid-book, and instead jumps into action and many repercussions from there. I think this works really well, but it gives it a different feel overall.

One thing I really liked about this book is how many story threads from the first book were picked up and were an integral part of this story. On its own, I felt like there were parts of the first book that went a bit far afield (even if they were interesting worldbuilding and character development!), …

Untethered Sky (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Untethered Sky

4 stars

This was a fun novella. It's an "animal companion" story of sorts, where it focuses largely on Ester's relationship with her new roc Zahra. It's about dealing with grief, unrequited love and obsession with animals, and the awkwardness of what it means to "train" and "keep" a giant murderbird who could fly away at any time with your heart (metaphorically or literally).

There was just enough world-building and a hint of politics to keep me intrigued about the rest of the world, and the ending quite neatly brought a number of different story threads together to a satisfying finish.

I also enjoyed this conversation between Fonda Lee and Alex Harrow, including a bunch of details about this novella:

Untethered Sky (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

I bargained with Zahra in my heart. I've already given you everything of myself. I've left my home, I've braved death, I've devoted myself to your care and training. I hunt with you and for you, I deliver all the bloodshed you crave, I worship you with my weak human frailty. In return, you must stay. You must make me worthwhile. You must be leashed to this cadge and kept in this pen and you must never fly free as you were born to do, because I will never be free of you either, and we are partners in our captivity, each perfectly monstrous in our own way.

Untethered Sky by 

Dead Country (2023, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars


Since her village chased her out with pitchforks, …

But this very nonsense had chased her from her home. Poor dead Baker and the others had faced her across an open grave in Edgemont’s cemetery, with a mob behind them, pitchforks and torches in the hands of people she’d known all her life. People she’d only wanted to help.

Admittedly, she’d tried to help by raising the dead to fight on the town’s behalf. In her travels since, she’d learned that certain kinds of people could not accept certain kinds of help. She would make different choices now.

Dead Country by