Late July Reviews (2021)
Upcoming events: The monthly livestream is on the last Saturday of every month, which means this month it’s on August 28th at 6PM Pacific / 8PM Central / 9PM Eastern. You can watch it on Twitch or Youtube. We’ll play games with friends and guests, and answer your questions.
When I want something I won’t need to review afterwards I read manga (sometimes graphic novels), so right now I’m halfway through DEATH NOTE VOL. 5 by Tsugumi Ohba (illustrated by Takeshi Obata).
As for things in the review queue, I’m just shy of halfway through SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN by Shelley Parker-Chan. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and so far it more than lives up to the hype. It’s a queer reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and it looks like it’ll be the first in a series (The Radiant Emperor). I’m also a little ways into THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller. It’s a retelling of Achilles and Patroclus (some of you may know them from playing Hades by SuperGiant Games). I also started THE WITCH KING by H.E. Edgmon. I like it, but it also makes me very dysphoric (due to accuracy) so I’m taking it slow.
I finished my re-read of the YA superhero dystopia NOT YOUR SIDEKICK by C.B. Lee (Link to my original review). I enjoyed it and I’m planning on reading the whole series since the fourth book comes out in a few weeks. I also re-read the speculative fiction YA novel EARLY DEPARTURES by justin a. reynolds. I first read it as an ARC last year and I like how the final version turned out. It’s about death, grief, and second chances.
I loved THE ALL-CONSUMING WORLD by Cassandra Khaw, but it was an advanced copy so I can’t post the review until within thirty days of release, so you’ll have to wait until next time for that link. It did inspire me to make a StoryGraph list of books that have a similar feeling (sci-fi/fantasy, sapphic, lots of intricate sentences stuffed full of adjectives), so you can peruse that in the meantime.
DEATHLESS DIVIDE (2020) by Justina Ireland is a good finish to a great duology. Like many zombie books the point isn’t actually the zombies, in this case it’s the very intense friendship between Jane and Katherine, and Jane’s quest for bloody revenge on the person she blames for this series’s very high body count.
This was a fortnight for thrillers and horror, I’ve started actually finding thrillers I like and it’s going pretty well so far.
I read something pretty terrible in order to better appreciate something great, i.e., I read PETER PAN (1904) by J.M. Barrie so you don’t have to. The core story is pretty good but it’s chock full of racism. I read it because DARLING (2021) by K. Ancrum is a chapter-by-chapter retelling that’s also an excellent YA Thriller. It completely makes sense even if you haven’t read the original, it’s Peter Pan but where Peter is a serial killer in Chicago.
I read an ARC of HOW WE FALL APART (2021) by Katie Zhao, where four Asian-American high school students try to stop a mysterious someone from revealing their secrets one by one after a classmate dies. It has a morally gray protagonist and a really great portrayal of a toxic friendship. It has superficial similarities to ACE OF SPADES, which I read a few weeks ago, just enough that I recommend waiting longer than I did between reading the two of them, but once you get past the early pages they’re very different books.
I love everything I’ve read so far by Sarah Gailey, and this time I picked up their book, THE ECHO WIFE (2021). It’s a sci-fi thriller about a woman finding out that her husband cheated on her with her… clone, that he made. It has a deliberate feeling, the emotional control of a narrator who will describe every single thing out of place in a room before even mentioning [Redacted].
THE HOLLOW PLACES (2020) by T. Kingfisher is a fantasy thriller that made the taxidermy muesum feel safe, and the grove of willows into a horrifying spectre. A young woman stays with her uncle after her divorce, then strange things start happening once she finds a mysterious hole in the wall.
As for the podcast, hopefully you’re enjoying our most recent episode, SOUL OF THE FIRE by Terry Goodkind, as well as the first half of our interview with author Sara Codair, released back in June. If you’d like to receive the second (spoiler-filled) half of the interview, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Patrons receive this newsletter one week early, as well as a list of upcoming podcast episodes for the next three months.
Thanks for reading, the next roundup will be in two weeks!
Co-host of Books That Burn
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