All martyrdoms are difficult.
Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.
So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.
Star Eater’s premise stalled me in my tracks, a pull of curiosity dragging me along like a child that has hold of my sleeve. It sounded, simultaneously, like nothing I’ve ever read and everything I never knew I needed: a story about an order of bureaucratic priestesses who practice cannibalistic magic in service of sisterhood. Also…zombies (with a deliciously hideous twist!). I was viciously intrigued.
Continue reading “Review: Star Eater by Kerstin Hall”
Fire burns bright and has a long memory….
Quiet, thoughtful princess Thanh was sent away as a hostage to the powerful faraway country of Ephteria as a child. Now she’s returned to her mother’s imperial court, haunted not only by memories of her first romance, but by worrying magical echoes of a fire that devastated Ephteria’s royal palace.
Thanh’s new role as a diplomat places her once again in the path of her first love, the powerful and magnetic Eldris of Ephteria, who knows exactly what she wants: romance from Thanh and much more from Thanh’s home. Eldris won’t take no for an answer, on either front. But the fire that burned down one palace is tempting Thanh with the possibility of making her own dangerous decisions.
Can Thanh find the freedom to shape her country’s fate—and her own?
Fireheart Tiger is a sleek and sexy, fierce and fragile spill of a story that unfolds a roving feast of feelings, both beautiful and renewing. Aliette de Bodard deftly mingles subtly cutting court politics with tangled lesbian relationships, and renders both with breathless heat, intense intrigue and a deep, dreadful pang of yearning.
Continue reading “Review: Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard”
Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society―she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.
But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.
When I think back on the experience of reading The Chosen and the Beautiful I think of freshly pressed silk slipping over skin and fingers sliding through hair and delicate cords of bright pearls shimmering on bare throats like sunrise on water. And a glimmer of something else too, something sharp beneath the smooth surface: shards from a mirror that tipped off a shelf and shattered and rivulets of molten blood and faint scratches from a single nail painted slick black. A story of terrors and wonders and ruinous delight.
Continue reading “Terrors, wonders, and ruinous delight: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo”
Gene-edited human clans have scattered throughout the galaxy, adapting themselves to environments as severe as the desert and the sea. Atuale, the daughter of a Sea-Clan lord, sparked a war by choosing her land-dwelling love and rejecting her place among her people. Now her husband and his clan are dying of an incurable plague, and Atuale’s sole hope for finding a cure is to travel off-planet. The one person she can turn to for help is the black-market mercenary known as the World Witch—and Atuale’s former lover. Time, politics, bureaucracy, and her own conflicted desires stand between Atuale and the hope for her adopted clan.
“Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters” was a quiet, queer, and unexpected little thing that affected me like the gentle stroke of a callused palm, and I wanted to lean into it and let it stroke me forever. I consumed this novella in one setting, letting the author’s voice lull me into a half-dream, muffling the world around me into silence, and melting all my troubles like darkness at sunrise. I really hope the author writes more in this world, because I already yearn to return back to it.
Continue reading “Review: Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters by Aimee Ogden”
Ancillary Justice meets Red, White & Royal Blue in Everina Maxwell’s exciting debut.
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
There is truly nothing the restive embrace of a good story cannot fix.
I had the opportunity to read an early copy of Winter’s Orbit a few weeks ago, while caught in the dreary throes of finals and deadlines, and the story was like a rope thrown into a churning sea, mooring me to some semblance of sanity. Those moments when I would step outside myself, and step inside the story were the only moments my mind shut off its rigor, and everything in me settled like silt. I yearned for the escape I knew the story would bring, and for the space of a few hundred pages, I felt weightless, like all the trouble in the world had lifted from my shoulders.
Ironically, trouble finds our characters from the outset of the novel, and quickly begins to pile up like mountains on their shoulders.
Continue reading “Review: Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell”
Me, looking back at 2020: well… that happened.
It feels like this year has happened both very slowly, and very, very fast. Time whirled past me in a blur of images and colors, and sometimes, it fell away like petals from a blown flower, numbingly unhurried. But always, the inexorable tides of time receded into nothingness when I was lost inside a book.
There were many days this year when it seemed like the world was falling down around me, when I felt unmoored, hideously lonely and unsteady as a reflection in boiling water, missing home and my family and feeling sick with it, but stories always dulled the edge of my despair, even if it were only for the space of a few hundred pages. They took my mind out of its iron cage, and let it swim in a pool of make-believe wonders and terrors. They coaxed me from my sulks, and threw my troubles into the air, leaving them to be carried off by the winds. Stories found me sinking beneath the surface of a cavernous gloom, slowly dropping out of sight of heat and light and air, and stretched out to me, offering me a life buoy.
This post is a thank you to the stories that kept me sane and kept me company. Stories that I honestly cannot imagine surviving this year without. So, without further ado, here are my favorite books of 2020.
P.S. Books with LGBTQIA+ representation have a little rainbow flag emoji next to the title! (Disclaimer: it’s like, pretty much all of them.)
Continue reading “The Best Books I Read in 2020”
A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun
In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.
Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.
Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade.
Alright. Here are 5 reasons why you should read “Black Sun”. Buckle up.
Continue reading “Review: 5 Reasons to Read Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse”
The city of Elendhaven sulks on the edge of the ocean. Wracked by plague, abandoned by the South, stripped of industry and left to die. But not everything dies so easily. A thing without a name stalks the city, a thing shaped like a man, with a dark heart and long pale fingers yearning to wrap around throats. A monster who cannot die. His frail master sends him out on errands, twisting him with magic, crafting a plan too cruel to name, while the monster’s heart grows fonder and colder and more cunning.
These monsters of Elendhaven will have their revenge on everyone who wronged the city, even if they have to burn the world to do it.
The Monster of Elendhaven is a story about monsters. And all monsters must have names because “things with names survived.”
Continue reading “Review: The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht”
Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?
Raybearer is nothing less than stunning. The synopsis drew my eyes like a flare, and I knew from reading my friends’ reviews that I was going to be blown away by this novel—I just wasn’t prepared to be catapulted into the stratosphere!
Continue reading “Review: Raybearer (Raybearer #1) by Jordan Ifueko”
In a small Western Queensland town, a reserved young woman receives a note from one of her vanished brothers—a note that makes question her memories of their disappearance and her father’s departure.
A beguiling story that proves that gothic delights and uncanny family horror can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun, Flyaway introduces readers to Bettina Scott, whose search for the truth throws her into tales of eerie dogs, vanished schools, cursed monsters, and enchanted bottles.
In these pages Jennings assures you that gothic delights, uncanny family horror, and strange, unsettling prose can live—and even thrive—under a burning sun.
The experience of reading this book is almost surreal. Flyaway has the quality of a dream that thins into wisps the moment you try to describe it. There’s a strange, almost drunken sense of unreality throughout, as if the world the author created would shift the moment you had your back turned. As if I might jolt awake at any second, lift my head, and find myself in a darkening room, alone, the book still left open on my chest. A part of my mind still thinks I imagined it, pages and spine and all. Maybe it was all a hallucination, however real it seemed in the moment.
Continue reading “Review: Flyaway by Kathleen Jennings”