“A mysterious woman arrives in the floating Arctic city of Qaanaaq, in a future where rising seas have caused dramatic geopolitical changes. She’s accompanied by an orca and a polar bear, on a mission that might be bloody and might be beautiful and might be both.“
Published in 2018, Locus and Nebula Award finalist. The first half is not fast and there is a lot of set-up, but it‘s quite atmospheric. Neuromancer meets The Golden Compass.
There are a several central characters. Fill, who is diagnosed with a deadly illness that is sweeping society from marginalized fringes into mainstream society, reminiscent of HIV. Ankit, who swapped her life as a scaler/parkour athlete for the safety of working as a drone for the local administration. Kaev, a professional fighter with unspecified brain damage, who is nearing the end of his career. Soq, a messenger, young, poor, beyond gender, running errands for the local crime syndicate. Their chapters are interspersed with essays/reports from the „City without a Map“, a sort of underground voice explaining the workings of the floating city they all live on.
I saw people in other reviews complaining about the four POVs, preferring it to be only one or that the author didn‘t pull it off. I am not a massive fan of tales with many POVs, but I liked this. It gave a great overview of the various societies and sub-cultures existing on the city. It made the beginning a slow journey, but when the different POVs come together, it is fun to realize who they all are to each other. And that really was the beauty of the story.
The idea of nanobonding to an animal is a fascinating one. It opens up so many story telling possibilities.
The world they all live in is pretty gruesome. But I guess if or when the apocalypse hits us, this could very well be how we will behave. Genocide, fanatics, power hungry warlords, petty politics and the super rich getting away and setting up their own enclave, eventually getting invaded by refugees clinging to the less prosperous arms of the city; a multi-layered mess of the have and have-not‘s.
The final climax is pretty entertaining, tense and bloody. Anything more would give too much away. I smiled a happy smile. 4 polar bears.
The first story set in this world: Calved, originally published in Asimov’s, September 2015, 5400 words.
This is my current audio. I thought it‘s about time that I read another non-fiction. This one here popped up when I was researching some details about regenerative farming for my job. It sounds like a good grounding on the topic. I‘m about three hours into the audio and already learned a surprising amount of things about Australia. Well, considering how little I really know about Australia, maybe not so surprising after all.
Call of the Reed Warbler shows the way forward for the future of our food supply, our Australian landscape and our planet. This ground-breaking book will change the way we think of, farm and grow food. Author and radical farmer Charles Massy explores transformative and regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. It is a story of how a grassroots revolution – a true underground insurgency – can save the planet, help turn climate change around, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food.
And my current eye reading is a SF novel that was nominated for a bunch of awards.
After the climate wars, a floating city was constructed in the Arctic Circle. Once a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering it is now rife with corruption and the population simmers with unrest.
Into this turmoil comes a strange new visitor – a woman accompanied by an orca and a chained polar bear. She disappears into the crowds looking for someone she lost thirty years ago, followed by whispers of a vanished people who could bond with animals. Her arrival draws together four people and sparks a chain of events that will change Blackfish City forever.
Added this to my shelf in 2016, wanting to explore Manga. Never felt tempted to actually read it whenever I picked it up. I finally made a serious attempt and read the first part of four. DNF after 57 pages and 28%. Too much highschool teenage angst. Aimed at Older Teens Age 16+ apparently is not my thing.
Space pirates, galactic empires, a marriage of convenience, sentient ships, avatars and Vietnamese-inspired culture.
I liked the two main characters, but never really connected with them emotionally or warmed up to the writing style. The story was less exciting than I had hoped and really lacked some pirate action, all things considered. Kinda mellow, with a developing relationship that lacks explanation. I could have done with backstory and intro into the Xuya Universe. The concept of the mindship is an interesting one, but I was lacking context or a touch more hard SF. As a romance this didn‘t convince me either.
I could have easily given up on this book in the first half. The second half had more action and I enjoyed it more. Not enough world building and depth. For example, who are the Ashling? It is never explained. How do the bots look and work? Why are there mind ships, how are they created? Other ship types are mentioned and I have read enough hard SF to figure out what those ships are, but it‘s never even hinted at. How and why are there so many avatars and how do they interact on a physical level? How do people project them? Where does all the tea and food come from? Why are there passengers onboard of Rice Fish? I have so many unanswered questions.
And if this is romance, it lacks chemistry between the main characters. And I don‘t get the timeline. The characters behave as if longer time passes, but the story telling doesn‘t give any indication of that. There are scenes that hint at connections made over time between characters, but you never actually experience those developments. So how can I care?
This was a buddy read and a Netgalley, which compelled me to continue reading, but I did not feel an urge to do so. Which is a shame, because I like the plot idea. But the execution felt so… lacking? Not a satisfying read. Pretty frustrating, actually.
Would I read further short stories or novellas by the author? Yes, probably. Full-length novels? Not so much. Talking of that, there is a follow-up to this book, A Fire Born of Exile. The ebook contains what looks like the first chapter. I skimmed, but will not get it. Different characters to Red Scholar.
Welcome to #6degrees. I haven’t done one of these memes in a year!. On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. I mostly use this meme to work on my backlog, aka reviews that I haven‘t yet posted to my blog here. Or to give myself a reminder of the books on my TBR pile or want-to-read-shelf.
So, as usual, this month starts the chain link with a book I haven‘t read or ever heard about.
They’re both broke. They’ve got crippling writer’s block. They need to write bestsellers before the end of the summer.
The result? A bet to see who can get their book published first. The catch? They have to swap genres. The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…
From the book blurb
It sounds mildly interesting. When I pick romcoms, which I very occasionally do, it usually involves marriage-of-convenience or some other fake-relationship thing. Or sourdough or… It‘s a mood thing. For example something like this:
So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.
That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend.
From the book blurb
I haven‘t actually read this one, but it sounds like the kind of romance I enjoy. Fake boyfriend takes me to a book that I definitely want to read at some point. Some of my reading buddies liked it:
To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.
From the book blurb
Right down my alley! Links # 3, 4 and 5 are three other LGBTQ+ romcoms that I did actually read:
All hard edges with a soft smile and swoopy hair and saving August’s day when she needed it most. The person August looks forward to seeing on the train every day. The one who makes her forget about the cities she lived in that never seemed to fit, and her fear of what happens when she finally graduates, and even her cold-case obsessed mother who won’t quite let her go. And when August realizes her subway crush is impossible in more ways than one—namely, displaced in time from the 1970s—she thinks maybe it’s time to start believing.
This one I read in the summer of 2021. Or rather, I attempted to read… The blurb reminded me of Kate & Leopold, the movie that put Hugh Jackman on my radar as an actor. After reading the first three chapters, I put the book away. Not bad, but I couldn‘t work up much interest. August (Kate) mets Jane (Leopold) in the subway and eventually realizes that something fishy is going on, namely that Jane is from the 1970s. Nice idea, I just wasn’t feeling it. DNF at 19% and 70-odd pages. It was probably me.
Same author, read in January 2020 (my review) and much better. I really liked this one. It was a lot of fun.
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations. The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince.
From the book blurb
That leaves me with Link #6… four of the above book have been with LGBTQIA couples. So I can‘t possibly leave out this big hit from last year — printed as well as the Netflix adaptation for the little screen. I have neither read or watched it yet though, so no idea if it is as good as everybody says. Too YA for my taste.
Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?
Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…
This is a comic, btw… maybe I will pick it up at my local bookshop after all one of these days…
So, the title has a lamb and a lion and the cover has a deer. What‘s up with that, you ask? I had no idea, but the cover reminded me of The Only Good Indians (my review).
Highlights of the book blurb: “… a queer punk rock traveller, … best friend’s mysterious and sudden suicide, … utopian town of Freedom, Iowa. … town’s residents summoned a protector spirit to serve as their judge and executioner. … a blood-red, three-antlered deer—turn on its summoners. … save the town—or get out alive.“
Ok, then… I liked the story, although the supernatural element was not explored much. There is the summoned deer, the zombie animals and mentioning of some magic, but not much introspection into any of them. The creepiness was there, but it was pretty bloodless. Some poetry.
In terms of world building I got more out of the representation of the squatters and anarchists. I am not sure if this story truly knew what it wanted to be about. However, I would probably pick up the sequel, if it came my way.
3.5 heartless birds, rounded down for now.
Locus Award Nominee for Best Novella (2018), Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Best Novella (2018)
A magical detective dives into the affairs of Chicago’s divine monsters to secure a future with the love of her life. This sapphic period piece will dazzle anyone looking for mystery, intrigue, romance, magic, or all of the above.
Think Crime Noir à la Dashiell Hammett and add some demons, angels and a sapphic romance. Throw in a murder in a dark alley and a disgraced private eye with shady connections. Stir and voilà! One queer Gumshoe with a dash of magic coming right up.
I picked this up, because I read Witchmark (my review here) by Polk and liked it. Not enough to continue with the sequel—the setting didn‘t interest me—but enough to pick up this short Crime Noir offering.
Took me a while to unterstand the meaning of the title. Pretty obvious, once the coin drops. Potential for a sequel and a spin-off! I would read them…
Good audiobook narration by January LaVoy.
I received an advanced audiobook copy of this book from the publisher or author through NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a positive review. Thank you!
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time – threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
I picked up this book a year ago, probably triggered by the Bonnie Raitt title. I love that song! And then there is the accidental relationship and a pretty cover. Sold. Pity it took me so long to read this, because it means I missed the Netgalley of Wilsner‘s next book as well.
Believable story and characters, well developed side characters, fun story. A little extra with a me-too subplot in the middle. Blessed absence of unnecessary silliness. I would have liked to see more of Emma‘s family and would have loved a „meet the parents“ scene.
The drama between Jo and Emma in the second half took the fun out of it all just a little bit, hence only 4 stars instead of 5. I am getting a little tired of romance drama due to people not talking to each other like adults.
Bottomline, solid contemporary LGBTQ+ romance novel with a nice amount of humor. I would definitely pick up something else by the author. Recommended.
I really want potato pancakes now.
People are talking, talking ’bout people I hear them whisper, you won’t believe it They think we’re lovers kept under cover I’ll just ignore it, but they keep saying We laugh just a little too loud Stand just a little too close We stare just a little too long Maybe they’re seeing something we don’t, darlin’
Sibling Dex, a monk, searches for a new vocation and finds it in becoming a tea monk, caring for others. One day, when this somehow isn‘t enough anymore for Dex, they take off into the wilderness, where they meet Mosscap, a robot. Mosscap wants to find out what people need and more importantly, what Dex needs. They both go on a road trip of self-discovery, looking for meaning in life and comfort. A little philosphical, inspiring, relaxing.
“You keep asking why your work is not enough, and I don’t know how to answer that, because it is enough to exist in the world and marvel at it. You don’t need to justify that, or earn it. You are allowed to just live.”
Oh, this was so pretty. Feel good story, some drama, some action, some love, a witch and some werewolves. Lots of dialogue and inner monologue that made me feel good. What a joy to read. What a great take on werewolves and found family. Ok, yes, also some violence, cruelty, blood, murder…. It is a story with werewolves after all. And some really bad guys.
“And it was true. I was not cursed with an overabundance of brains.“
The plot was almost irrelevant, it was the relationships and the development that Ox went through that made the book for me. Such a lovable character…
The book has a nice amount of my type of humour. Definitely for mature readers though, there is plenty of swearing and some graphic sex.
I was not a massive fan of adult Joe or the romance between Ox and adult Joe. It was not bad, but for me it was the only weak part of the book. Still 5 stars though, because I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time I read this. I had a hard time putting this down for any length of time.
“Mom! Mom. You have to smell him! It’s like… like… I don’t even know what it’s like! I was walking in the woods to scope out our territory so I could be like Dad and then it was like… whoa. And then he was all standing there and he didn’t see me at first because I’m getting so good at hunting. I was all like rawr and grr but then I smelled it again and it was him and it was all kaboom! I don’t even know! I don’t even know! You gotta smell him and then tell me why it’s all candy canes and pinecones and epic and awesome.”