Review: Ice Massacre, by Tiana Warner

This book had been on my TBR for years – I believe since I was on tumblr and it was in one of those “read more queer books” rec lists. So… at least 4-5 years. I’d never gotten around to it, and I can’t even remember when/how I got it since it’s pretty hard to get indie books in paper here normally… But I made it part of my “read mermaid books for Mermay” self challenge. Granted, I read like 3 mermaid books and I finished 2 in June instead, so the experiment itself was a failure, but I still made a dent in my pile so… no complaints.

The Synopsis

A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.

The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.

Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.

For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.

The Review

TWs for the book (and this review to some extent): child abuse, child death, gore

Someone said horror mermaids? I gotta say it’s a concept I enjoyed since I read Into the Deep by Mira Grant, and so mermaids+horror themes+queer stuff attracts me like bees to honey. This one is more on the YA side but Warner didn’t shy away from depicting some gruesome scenes anyways. It’s a massacre, after all.

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Life Updates: How I Got Myself A Cane

If you follow me on twitter, you might have seen that I had some trouble getting the cane I’d ordered to arrive to me – least of all in a timely manner for the trip out of town that I’d planned.

This will not be about that.

As annoying as it was, the main hurdle to getting a cane was… me. So my hopes writing about it today is that if you find yourself in a similar situation, that this might help you.

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ARC Review: The Future Second by Second, by Meridel Newton

The Synopsis

In a new America where civilization as we know it has ended, every hour counts. Everything is ticking along perfectly in the sanctuary community of Osto until a band of raiders arrives intent on violence. Vasha has led her people through the worst the world has to offer for years, but this new threat could destroy her hope for the future. She’s forced to strike a bargain with the leader of the raiders as tensions rise among the survivors and refugees who call Osto home. Old rivalries and prejudices put everything they’ve worked for at risk. But if Vasha plays this right, she just might forge a new future for Osto.

The Future Second by Second is the first in a series of novellas showcasing a different kind of post-apocalyptic world—one dependent on community and cooperative living. Flipping the genre of dystopia on its head, Newton understands the power of hope and collaboration in the face of an uncertain future. 

The Review

I was given this eARC by the publisher, Interstellar Flight Press, through Netgalley in exchange for a fair review. Thanks for the opportunity!

Over the long weekend I was looking for something short enough that I could get through it quickly on the train, and I happened to have this sitting on my TBR shelf. I’m also not an avid ebook reader, as regulars on my blog know, but I found myself turning page after page until there was no more left to read! It’s very short, and I finished it in an afternoon, which is more than I can generally say for ebooks…

I’m also not a big dystopia, or post-apo fan, but the blurb had me intrigued: what I do enjoy quite a lot are stories of hope. And I think this delivered pretty well!

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ARC review: Siren Queen, by Nghi Vo

I’ve enjoyed every Nghi Vo story I’ve read so far, so I was very excited for this novel! Thank you to Tor Dot Com and Netgalley for giving me this free eARC in exchange for a fair review!

The Synopsis

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.

The Review

So far what I’d read from Vo were her two Asia-inspired novellas, which were a lot like fairy tales, so I wasn’t sure what to expect here. I’d say Siren Queen is more of a cross between The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Last Night at the Telegraph Club, with added magical realism.

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So what happened to (mer)May?

Just a quick update this time.

As usual, life got away from me. I had Big Plans for May, which included reading all the mermaid books I’ve accumulated, and more. I read about one and a half of that, and the only one I finished was a comicbook from the library. Dent made in my TBR? 0.

Part of it is that, as of the last post, I was still recovering from Covid. I was better, but still exhausted, and I found it hard to read any paper books, so I just gravitated towards rereading audiobooks. I finished my Murderbot reread, and read a few other novellas on Scribd, and left my paper books to collect dust – including some library books I’ve actually started.

I also was in no mood for ebooks (as usual) and quite busy with both work, and a bunch of medical appointments to reschedule and medical tests to do, and that has basically taken all my energy. As a result, I’ve read a few short books and comics, and that’s it. I did read 11 books in total, but 7 of those were in audio, and 6 were under 200 pages. 2 were comics.

And even then, I’m actually surprised I read this much.

For June, I’m actually cutting myself a break. I made a list for myself with like 3 ARCs I do need to read, and the rest is just “stuff I should finish, probably” and there’s no official TBR. Just taking things as they go. My hope is that I read some nice books that way, and I can focus on getting more posts and reviews out as well, and get the blog back to being active.

I’ve also got a week of holidays planned, which could be either great for my reading, or a disaster. And I’m officially taking part in Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA), as a panelist, so this will keep me busy reading too!

April Wrap-up and May Plans

Teal title card reading "April Wrap-Up" with flower ornaments around it.

Another late post, and the reason is… I caught covid and spent the last week being useless, doing nothing but blowing my nose, sleeping, and having insomnia (the irony, I know!) and brain fog. Even listening to an audiobook was hard, let alone write anything…

I’m on the mend though, and I want to get this out ASAP so I can focus on my May plans.

April was a pretty good month as things go, I read 14 books and close to 3500 pages! As always, a lot of audiobooks – and I cleared some old books from my TBR, that I own in ebook but found the audiobook for instead, so that really helped!

That said… I also blew up my budget by buying so many paper books, so while ebooks went down, paper and overall TBR went up… ah well, the curse of the book enthusiast I suppose!

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Review: Last Night at the Telegraph Club, by Malinda Lo

Finally got around to reading Last Night at the Telegraph Club, after months of wanting to! 1950s historical novels aren’t my main interest, but I do like queer romances, especially historical ones (though I veer closer to the 1800s) so I was intrigued. It’s kinda hard to get around here, but the library is well-stocked so I took advantage!

The Synopsis

A story of love and duty set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

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Review: Good Neighbors, by Stephanie Burgis

Blue title card with a book cover on the left, and the title of the post on the right. 
The book cover on the left is pink-purple with the shadow of a castle and a dead tree in the background. There is a black line for the ground. Above, the word GOOD in Black capital letters with an ornate gate on the first O and a spiderweb on the second O. A man with a hat and a cane stands on the left, a woman in a dress stands on the left, all in black shadows. A raven is perched on the D. Below ground, the word "neighbor" in ornate black letters. 

The title  on the right of the card reads: Review: Good Neighbors by Stephanie Burgis. There are flowery decorations in purple and green tones above and below.

Whoo, it’s been a while since I’ve posted an actual review! One reason is that I’ve read decent stuff, but nothing that truly sparked joy. This book, though! For context, Stephanie ran a giveaway back in… February maybe? Some time ago anyways, for her newsletter subscribers. So I nabbed this for free, and it’s been at the back of my mind since then.

Then over the weekend, I was in the mood for a short and sweet romance, and I thought, let’s do it! Readers, I was not disappointed. My sleep schedule took a hit though, as I absolutely had to finish it, even if it took me to 3am… that’s what bank holidays are for, though, right?

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Doing the r/fantasy 2022 bingo… the easy way

Last year I put a lot of pressure on myself to do the bingo. I printed out the grid, I had little star stickers to put on it, I wrote down all the prompts in my journal with what book I read for it… I also noticed that as the year went on, I read more books by the same authors that fit different prompts and I wanted to shuffle things around and it was a bit messy.

I also read what I’m in the mood for and rarely stick to a specific TBR for a specific month so it was kind of hard to finish it… and I’m struggling to read paper books let alone ebooks at the moment, which puts limits on what I can do.

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Let’s talk about the chronic health thing

I keep mentioning it a bit in my recaps but I want to talk a bit more about it. I’m having chronic health issues. Chronic pain. Just calling it that is a new development for me, because I feel a bit of an imposter doing that. It’s only transient, right? it’s gonna go away and then I won’t be in pain anymore? well… not so far. And as it’s sucking more and more of my energy, and to be honest, mental health, I’m trying to embrace the label.

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