Reviews

Small reviews: Mermaids edition

If you remember, back in late April I decided to do a Mermay-challenge where I’d read the mermaid related books I owned. It did not go very well, I read maybe 1 of the books on my TBR and then 1 from the library. But I’ve also read a bit more since then and thought I’d give them a bit of a spotlight.

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Small Reviews: all the good stuff from the past month(s)

I have read so many good books since… June? July? That I didn’t find the time or energy to review. Ideally I’d want to give each of them a big, long, gushing post, but as I keep postponing that and my memory becomes wobbly on the details, I figured it’s better to write SOME review than none at all!

I read upwards of 20 books in July, and I did kind of burn myself out in the process – and then lots of personal, health, and work related things happened so I’ve been putting the blog on an involuntary hiatus, but reading remains my primary hobby and I want to share with you all the good stuff I read in the meantime! I will likely do a few of these instead of cramming them all in the same post.

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ARC review: The Book Eaters, by Sunyi Dean

I received an audio ARC of the Book Eaters, but I didn’t have much time to listen to audiobooks the last two weeks, as I was with family most of the time. So I started this audio a while back now and very slowly. But as the story picked up (and I was back home) I just couldn’t stop listening and actually read most of it over 2-3 days!

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Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence

I was first exposed to this book in highschool English class, when I was still at a pretty low level of English, and had no clue there were even Indigenous people in Australia. I did not even really understand the concept of a rabbit proof fence, it always seemed so wild to me it had to be fictional. We read extracts (I understood maybe a word in ten), watched a scene or two of the movie, and bits of a documentary about Indigenous Australians and the tough conditions they had to live in due to systemic racism. I

It stayed with me, but how hard it had been to read compared to other book extracts we read that year, also stuck with me, so I never really looked into it more. I assumed it was beyond my level, written to be very obscure, as some nonfiction books can be.

Fast forward to this year, I’ve been living in Ireland for about 4 years and I don’t remember how it came to mind but I decided I had to read it again and see if I still found it hard.

I got it from the library and, my friends, it is so short? About 150 pages. And yet it’s one of the most impactful books I read this year.

I wanted to talk about this book, but at the same time I don’t want to do a straightforward review. I’m a white woman, living in Europe, and approaching this topic from a willing-to-learn perspective* but this is not my lived experience at all and I don’t want to be over here trying to pass a judgement on what I’ve read. Instead, let me just tell you about it (or tell you about the topic through this book).

What is Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence?

tw: colonialism, racism, prison, kidnapping, child abuse, mentions of rape

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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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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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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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ARC review: Spelunking through Hell, by Seanan Mcguire

So as some of you might know, I’m a big fan of Seanan McGuire. I’ve made it one of my goals this year to reread all of the October Daye series (I’m at the start of book 6 now, thanks largely to audiobooks), but I also enjoyed what I’ve read of the InCryptid series quite a lot, so I jumped on the chance to grab this review copy from netgalley. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy in exchange for an honest review!

The Story

Now in trade paperback, the eleventh book in the fast-paced InCryptid urban fantasy series returns to the mishaps of the Price family, eccentric cryptozoologists who safeguard the world of magical creatures living in secret among humans.

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