ARC Review: BEING SEEN: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson (2021)

Genre: Adult Memoir
Year Release: October 26, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: ableism, depression, suicidal ideation, medically-assisted suicide, assault (sexual and physical, mentioned), child abuse, spousal abuse, eugenics, Nazis

Elsa Sjunneson is an award-winning writer, professor, and media critic. She is also Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids. This memoir takes the reader through her personal history while also seamlessly incorporating critique of popular works featuring disabled characters and dispelling myths about the disabled experience through a combination of lived experience, history, sociology, and pop culture.

Infused with intersectionality, dry humor, and passion for the media critiqued, this is not one to miss.

The author Elsa Sjunneson will be featured on the blog tomorrow, October 26th, release date.

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ARC Review: LOOK TO THE SUN by Emmie Mears (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: October 28, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: fascism, suicide (depicted), domestic abuse, homophobia

The National People’s Voice have ruled over Kael for the last 15 years, and our story begins when things escalate in city-wide protests in Sanmarian, the capital. Beo and Rose are strangers drawn together by one novel that the fascist regime seems determined to destroy. Amidst incredible reveals, deep tragedies, tender moments of human connection, and more, this book does a phenomenal job of depicting survival despite insidious oppression.

A dystopian wonder that is difficult to read at times, but the hopeful ending is so, so, so earned.

The author Emmie Mears will be featured on the blog on October 28th, release date.

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ARC Review: THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE by Caitlin Starling (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: October 5th, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gore, blood, old-timey surgery, miscarriage, vivisection, drug abuse, gaslighting, war, PTSD

Jane Shoringfield thinks she has it all figured out when she gets into a marriage of convenience with the handsome Doctor Augustine Lawrence. She gets to continue being an accountant without the other trappings of marriage. Things aren’t as they seem, however, when she spends the night at Lindridge Hall. Things go bump in the night, red-eyed ghosts visit, and Doctor Lawrence has friends with more occult interests. Next comes a whirlwind of chaos magic, unfinished rituals, intricate mathematics, and scares perfect for fans of Crimson Peak and Penny Dreadful.

The author Caitlin Starling will be featured on the blog on October 4th, the eve of release date.

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ARC Review: SUMMER SONS by Lee Mandelo (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: September 28, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: blood, gore, suicide, drug use and abuse, car accidents, emesis, homophobia

Andrew Blur lost his best friend Eddie in what looks like a suicide. But the ghoul haunting him suggests that there is something more at play and he’s determined to find answers, whether the academic establishment and newfound friend group Eddie found like it or not. This spooky read has a bit of everything: conspiracies, dark family histories, a mystery at its center, the full messiness of coming-of-age, and so much more. An absolute treat for those who enjoy hauntings and disaster gays.

The author Lee Mandelo will be featured on the blog in an interview on release day, September 28th, 2021.

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ARC Review: PLAGUE BIRDS by Jason Sanford (2021)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: September 21, 2021
Buy Links: Apex Book Company | Bookshop

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author
Content warning: blood, gore, body horror, self-harm for the purposes of magic, gaslighting, violence

You’ve heard of plague doctors, get ready for plague birds. Plague birds are people bonded with blood AI who exact justice by killing the wrong doer. They are very powerful and very feared. Crista bonds herself to one named Red Day and embarks on a journey to attempt to save her village from a rogue faction called the Veil. There are twists and turns and memory manipulation galore, while the real danger might be coming from inside the metaphorical house.

Deftly toeing the line between dark fantasy and science fiction, this book is perfect for those wanting to read compelling characters with science and technology that feels like magic.

The author Jason Sanford will be featured on the blog in an interview on September 14th, 2021.

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ARC Review: THE WOLF AMONG THE WILD HUNT by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor & Andrew Garin (ill.) (2021)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: September 14, 2021
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author
Content warning: blood, gore, body horror

Skythulf is a scythewulf, neither a man nor a beast, who must serve the Wild Hunt in order to regain his honor after killing an impostor nun. Told in flashbacks in a world where myths come to life, this dark fantasy light novel is not one to miss.

The author Merc Fenn Wolfmoor will be featured on the blog in an interview on September 9th, 2021.

There is so much packed into this neat little horror package. The worldbuilding comes at you hard and fast, unfolding in vivid detail. Myths get introduced, stories told with folkloric prose, only to show up as character and plot events page later. It’s riveting and makes for a quick read, even with the short page count. The illustrations also lend a mythologic air to this story.

I also really enjoyed the relationships. There’s definitely a bit of a nature versus nurture when it comes to Skythulf and his thorniness. He has tenderness and honor in Brennus, and I loved the contrast in that relationship. One is very much of the world, while the other has been shunned by it. It’s beautiful amid the gory, violence pulled straight out of the aesthetics of Northern European folklore. I think what also helps is that the world is gentle towards those who are queer, and this bit of kindness doesn’t conflict with the otherwise intense story and world Wolfmoor presents.

ARC Review: NO GODS, NO MONSTERS (The Convergence Saga #1) by Cadwell Turnbull (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: September 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: death by police officer, discrimination-based violence, guns, drug abuse, drug addiction, cannibalism, suicide

This book has everything. It’s got shifters, conspiracy theories, communities coming together, families falling apart, time skips, parallel universes, and the meaning of truth in light of things incomprehensible. Turnbull delivers another genre masterwork that this time blends literary fiction with urban fantasy, where werewolves and weredogs exist alongside humans, some of which want to ascend to godhood.

With heart-wrenching prose and deft navigation of several POVs, No Gods, No Monsters is a wild ride that I didn’t want to end.

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ARC Review: BUTCHERBIRD by Cassie Hart (2021)

Genre: Adult Supernatural Horror
Year Release: August 2021
Buy Links: Huia Site | Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Content warning: Arson, cancer, death of immediate family, self-disembowelment, alcoholism, murder, violence against birds

Jena Benedict returns to her family’s farm twenty years after a tragic fire which claimed the lives of her parents and her siblings. Her grandmother, her last familial connection to the property and tragedy, is dying of cancer and Rose knows more than she leads on. Will, Rose’s live-in caretaker, has a penchant for the supernatural and follows Jena down the rabbit hole of darkness that surrounds that fateful night.

Māori/Pākehā author Cassie Hart weaves a ghost story full of eerie birds, cursed jewelry, family secrets, and chills to keep the reader up at night from start to finish.

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ARC Review: SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN (The Radiant Emperor #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: July 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC from the publisher
Content warning: Famine, poverty, flaying, plague, war, queerphobia, misogyny, immolation, dismemberment

A girl’s family dies in a famine-stricken village at the hands of despair and bandits. Instead of succumbing to her nothing fate, so takes on her brother’s name, Zhu Chongba, and takes on his destiny of greatness. She joins a monastery, gets enlisted in the army, and seeks greatness at every turn. On the opposite side of war, there is Ouyang, the eunuch general, whose everything was taken from him by the family he serves.

My official review is one long joyous screech of hype. This book has so many things I love, such as character archetypes and depictions of betrayal. The balance between political intrigue and epic battles is masterful, as are the parallels between Ouyang and Zhu.

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ARC Review: THE BURNING DAY AND OTHER STRANGE STORIES by Charles Payseur (2021)

Genre: Adult Speculative Fiction Short Story Collection
Year Release: July 2021
Buy Links: Unabridged Books | Amazon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author

Short story writer Charles Payseur is prolific in both his reviews and his short story career. This collection is a compact, but mighty sample. There is something for everyone, from stories taking place down on earth, to space exploration, to tales about black holes and space ships full of cats.

They’re queer, they’re speculative, with lovely imagery and relationships that feel all-too human throughout. Some stories are also chilling, in more ways than one. There is a breadth here of speculative experience that is a wonder to behold.

Author Charles Payseur will be featured as this blog’s next interview guest on July 18th, 2021.

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