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Joined 1 year, 5 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.

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Cascade Failure (2024, Doherty Associates, LLC, Tom) 4 stars

Cascade Failure

3 stars

LM Sagas's Cascade Failure is a debut sf novel about found family on a scrappy spaceship working against the evils of capitalism. You love to see it. I don't know why this trope is such catnip for me, but I could really read so much of this.

It's full of snappy dialogue, fun relationships, and action-filled set pieces. Honestly, so much of the book felt visual that I could easily imagine a comic or film adaptation. The relationships between the characters, especially Jal and Saint, had a lot of depth.

I wish there was a little bit more heft to the worldbuilding. It's a space corporations vs unions situation (although it gets at some good nuance about how these can work too closely together), with a guild that sits sort of outside that. I didn't really get much sense of what guild hierarchy Captain Eoan existed in, as it seemed …

Someone You Can Build a Nest In (2024, DAW) 5 stars

Discover this creepy, charming monster-slaying fantasy romance—from the perspective of the monster—by Nebula Award-winning debut …

Someone You Can Build a Nest In

5 stars

This book was fantastic. The setup is that shapeshifting, people-eating, amorphous blob Shesheshen is rescued by overly kind Homily, believing Shesheshen to be a person. Ironically, Homily comes from a monstrously toxic family of wyrm hunters, who are all out to kill Shesheshen specifically, while not realizing that Shesheshen is said monster. (Hijinks ensue.)

It's a story that deals with passing and masking--Shesheshen works really hard at trying to be a person, physically and socially assembled from what she can scavenge. She's got a wry non-human perspective that's especially biology-focused, like how to form legs and have a humanish shape, the tricky mechanics of eating with your mouth closed, and the overwhelmingness of smells and noises.

This book also deals with physically and emotionally abusive family, and how hard it is to struggle through trauma, no matter how much you are being hurt Also, as you might expect, this …

Someone You Can Build a Nest In (2024, DAW) 5 stars

Discover this creepy, charming monster-slaying fantasy romance—from the perspective of the monster—by Nebula Award-winning debut …

This was the same mistake so many humans made: believing someone would leap over trauma when it hurt them badly enough. That wasn't how it worked, and the monster knew it. All Shesheshen could do for Homily was be patient with her, and make space for her, and, eventually, one day behind her back, eat her mother.

Someone You Can Build a Nest In by  (Page 173)

replied to enne📚's status

Content warning spoilers for Like Thunder

Like Thunder : The Desert Magician's Duology (2023, DAW) 4 stars

Like Thunder

3 stars

This second book in the duology worked better narratively for me than the first, and I felt like it was more of a conclusion to everything the first set up. Structurally, the frame story and missing time (along Dikéogu's separation from Ejii) paid off for me narratively in how they created a lot of expectation holes to fill in later.

(A few extra spoilery thoughts here:

I feel a little bit bad here because my overall conclusion for both of these books feels a bit like I kind of just "didn't get it", but maybe this is just an older work by an author whose newer work I've enjoyed quite a bit more.

The Shadow Speaker (2007, Hyperion) 3 stars

In West Africa in 2070, after fifteen-year-old "shadow speaker" Ejii witnesses her father's beheading, she …

Shadow Speaker

3 stars

Shadow Speaker is the first book in a YA duology set in a future Africa where "peace bombs" have given people magic powers and changed the world in unexpected ways. Forests grow spontaneously, some tech has stopped working, other worlds are slowly merging into earth, plants are carnivorous, sentient whirlwinds attack people in the desert, and travelling alone has become especially dangerous.

I enjoyed reading this especially for the worldbuilding ideas, but it is also a YA travel romp--new places and people were constantly being introduced and I lost any greater sense of foreshadowing or closure as everything new and shiny shallowly whirled by. I'm interested to see where the second book's different perspective goes and if it can build a story that I find more satisfying on the grounds that the first one established.

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles (Tordotcom) 4 stars

Investigator Mossa and Scholar Pleiti reunite to solve a brand-new mystery in the follow-up to …

Was separation necessary for a romance? Were obstacles, real or illusory, a requirement? Was that why I could not feel satisfied when we were easy together (even if I was happier that way than when we were apart)?

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles by  (Page 84)

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles (Tordotcom) 4 stars

Investigator Mossa and Scholar Pleiti reunite to solve a brand-new mystery in the follow-up to …

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles

3 stars

The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles is the second book in the Mossa & Pleiti series, set on in a future steampunk Jupiter.

It may just be because I have read some great mysteries this year (hi, Tainted Cup!) and so I'm coming in with a high bar, but the mystery of this book feels quite thin. Compared to the last book, this mystery is more telegraphed for the reader to be able to solve it themselves; however, the mystery unspools slowly with little tension, Pleiti solves too many puzzles off page, and the final confrontation is underwhelming.

I think this sounds more negative than I feel about this book. I thought it was fun, I continued to really dig the worldbuilding and the setting, and it was cozy to get back into it; I think my expectations were high and the parts I enjoyed weren't quite enough to satisfy this …

reviewed Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Siren Queen (Hardcover, 2022, Tordotcom) 3 stars

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic. "No maids, no …

Siren Queen

5 stars

I suggested this for #SFFBookClub, and so I gave this a reread so I could enjoy it again. I love the way this novel takes Hollywood and its obsession with stars and all of its racism and homophobia, and mixes it with fey magical realism. Overall, it's definitely a book whose strengths are in its setting and its writing, rather than in a tight plot, but I still love the characters.

In particular, probably my favorite part of this book are the constant turns of phrase that bring in fey elements at unexpected times. You're just reading along and then you get hit with a line like "The cameras were better now, I told myself. They had tamed them down, fed them better." Silent movies steal people's voices. Film stars are (ambiguously but also maybe literally) stars in the sky and wield their star power. Names are sacrificed, or …

Subtle Blood (Paperback, 2021, KJC Books) 3 stars

Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit …

Subtle Blood

4 stars

Subtle Blood is the final book in this KJ Charles romance trilogy, and this one is my favorite of all three.

I appreciate that this book deals more with Will's emotional issues, and how easily understood his inability to do anything but take one day at a time is a wartime coping mechanism. In the previous books, Kim took up a lot of space with his own emotional friction within their relationship, and it's nice to see that once Kim is in a place where he can trust more, that it creates space for Will to grow as well. There's just some excellent conversations in this book.

I said after I finished the first book that I really hoped to get more into the mysteries of Kim's professional and personal life; satisfyingly, I feel like book two got into the details of the former and book three is very involved …