ARC Review: INHERITORS by Asako Serizawa (2020)

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Year Release: July 14th, 2020*
Buy Links: Barnes & Noble | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: Murder, war crimes, sexual assault (not depicted), comfort women, gore, PTSD, terminal illness

A historical fiction journey following one family spanning several generations and centuries. Starting with colonial Japan and a murder, going all the way to post-the-current-year (2035 to be precise) to a V.R. utopia masking future-type horrors unfolding. It’s about cycles of imperialism, violence, and generational trauma, some of which isn’t necessarily dealt with, but very much explored.

Told in a wide range of styles, from interviews to more straightforward narratives to diary entries, I found myself having a hard time believing that this was fiction and not something like a Svetlana Alexievich collection of accounts.

*In an effort to get my reading list under control, I will be finishing up a few ARCs that I should have finished, in some cases, years ago.
Yes, I am embarrassed.

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Manga Review: COLORLESS Vol. 1 by KENT (2022)

Genre: Science Fiction Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gun violence, kidnapping, body horror

This science fiction requires much suspension of disbelief in order to work. Basically, the premise is that a solar flare knocked out all the color on Earth, and all humans are monsters now. A bunch of technology got wiped out as well. So, when hitman are going after a café waitress, it’s up to a rogue Professor to get her back, until everyone realizes she has a pre-solar flare human visage. Mysteries unfold, but Chie’s life is still very much in danger.

I really like the art in this one. The lines are crisp and the monster designs are unique. The city designs are also rad, the urban landscape feels very much lived in with its own sets of rules and curfews that really fit where the story kicks off. But, most importantly, I’m a sucker for the trope of a character who only knows her name and not much else, so I’m super invested in how she fits in among the different groups at war.

Like, there’s a color-worshipping cult that I want more insight about and, more generally, how Earth adapted and evolved into the world as established in this manga.

Review: THE MEMORY LIBRARIAN: And Other Stories of Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe (2022)

Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: gendered violence, parental death, brain washing, gun violence, state-sanctioned violence

This collection takes place in a world where memories can be hard encoded and people essentially function like computers. New Dawn has strict ideas of what being a functioning member of society means. Though there’s echoes of a utopia, it’s a full on surveillance state. Each of the five stories found within the collection takes on a different angle in how New Dawn poses a danger both for those within the system and those beyond it.

Thoughtfully woven together with rad stories and characters, incredible world-building, this was a delight to read, and I’m excited to dive into the source material (Dirty Computer, 2018) in the near future.

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Review: THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2022
Source: Book of the Month Club

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warning: arson, murder, gore, rape (mentioned, not depicted), vomiting, financial abuse

Beatriz lost everything when her father was executed during the Mexican War of Independence. She and her mother go to live with reluctant relatives, until Beatriz sees an opportunity to return to some form of personal security in marrying Don Rodolfo Solórzano. It takes her to his family estate in the countryside, Hacienda San Isidro. But the promised security is quickly dashed when things start going bump in the night and there is more truth to the rumors surrounding Rodolfo than initially ignored.

This book has everything: 1800’s Mexican history, political tensions, a haunted house, a restless spirit, and a priest who’s also a witch. An incredible blend of historical fiction and gothic horror, I simply could not put this one down until the very last page.

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Review: THE RESTING PLACE by Camilla Sten (2022)

Genre: Adult Thriller
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: murder, miscarriage, vomiting, gore, suicide, child abuse, child neglect

Eleanor has prosopagnosia – face blindness, which is very convenient when an unknown assailant leaves her grandmother, Vivianne, dead before a routine weekly dinner. She learns from a lawyer that her grandmother left an estate, but the stay turns deadly when accidents start taking place and it’s a race against something to unearth all of Vivianne’s secrets.

This thriller has a tightly knit mystery alternating between past and present within an ancestral manor.

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ARC Review: SIREN QUEEN by Nghi Vo (2022)

Genre: Adult Historical Fantasy
Year Release: May 10th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: Homophobia, anti-Asian racism, murder, sexism, violence

In an magical alternate history of old Hollywood, magic is very real and the studio heads are literal monsters. All Luli Wei is to be a star, under three conditions: no maids, no funny accidents, and no fainting, in order to carve out her own career. She will stop at nothing to get the recognition she thinks she deserves, no matter the cost.

A world of magic and fey wrapped up in the glamour of the 1920’s, an immersive, sensual experience that’s equal parts dark and fabulous.

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ARC Review: DEAD END GIRLS by Wendy Heard (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Year Release: May 10th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a physical ARC
Content warning: Murder, drug overdose, homophobic bullying, bullying, blackmail, attempted murder

In Dead End Girls, Maude wants to quit her life, but not in a way that prevents her from further participating. She has a plan to fake her death, but when her step-cousin, Frankie, catches onto the plan, she wants in. What then starts is a journey of being gay, doing crime and self-discovery as the two girls sprint away from their families and towards something else.

Exciting, unexpectedly tender, and a wild ride from start to finish.

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Manga Review: MADE IN ABYSS Vol. 10 by Akihito Tsukushi (2022)

Genre: Dark Fantasy Seinen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, gore, suicidal ideation
There may be spoilers for Volumes 1 through 3, 4 and 5, and 6 through 9.

We’re at the end of another arc in Made in Abyss and all I can say is: glad Riko made another friend, but holy shit at what cost.

The Hollow Village’s upset is definitely more philosophical than strictly bad bodily shit happens to the characters (though there is plenty of that). So, seeing all the emotional threads come together made me glued to each chapter.

I have a theory that what makes dark fantasy and grimdark slap so hard is the promise of cool stuff to look at amidst all the distress and duress. The battle between Faputa and the Turbinid-Dragon is absolutely incredible. It’s so easy to follow, but what really shines here is the culmination of the themes and stakes. I love how Tsukushi ties together the entire concept of value, but more importantly, how it ties into humanity, especially as the bends in this level of the abyss lead to loss of said humanity.

They’re at the literal bottom of the barrel, and I’m so nervous about what’s to come.

Manga Review: CAN’T STOP CURSING YOU Vol. 3 by Kensuke Koba & Natsuko Uruma (2022)

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2022
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Self-harm, gore, murder
See my reviews of Volume 1 and Volume 2 for more thoughts on this series

This series is end-to-end edgy nonsense and I love it. In Volume 3, the school is under attack by a Curse-God Contractor (yes, again), this time featuring a deadly game of tag where every 666 seconds, the “It” person dies.

I really liked the twists in this one! The villain isn’t who you think it is, and it’s such a great vehicle for the world’s further rules and building. We actually find out how a person becomes a Curse-Breaker, and I think that’s neat.

What I’m enjoying the most, however, is with every peek into Saeyama’s moral compass, there’s a few steps back. He’s powerful, he’s seen some shit, and I hope we get more of his backstory in the upcoming volumes

Review: UNMASKED: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes (2022)

Genre: Adult Nonfiction
Year Release: 2022
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: panic attacks, suicide, rape, sexual assault, drug abuse, alcoholism, murder, gore, PTSD

Paul Holes is perhaps best known as the detective who found the Golden State Killer. In this book, he details his life, from how he became obsessed with investigative work through his career solving murders. It’s insightful and deeply empathetic not only of the victims, but of those lives Paul touched, yet ultimately left behind.

A memoir about solving cold cases that outlines both the personal and interpersonal costs associated with trying to get closure for some of the worst that humanity has to offer.

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