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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Author to Author with Charles Payseur

The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories is a queer short story collection from across the full spectrum of speculative fiction, from heart-felt fantasies, to wrenching science fiction, to creepy horror. There is something here for everyone, and I found myself drawn to the lovely imagery and all-too down-to-earth stories found within.

On this summery Sunday, I’m excited to celebrate this collection’s release with author Charles Payseur as he talks about putting The Burning Day together, short story crafting process, and more.

Buy Links: Unabridged Books | Amazon

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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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ARC Review: A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT (Monk & Robot #1) by Becky Chambers (2021)

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: Welts, pus, blisters

Centuries ago, the robots walked off their jobs and let the wilds take over. In the current day, Sibling Dex decides they’ve had enough of their duties and decides to fuck off into the wilderness to become a tea monk. After several years, they set off on the road and run into a robot named Mosscap. The two begin a strange friendship built on attempts at understanding that leads to deep conversations about identity, purpose, and the meaning of life.

Kind, philosophical, and full of awareness, this book reads like drinking a cup of tea for self-care.

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Author to Author with Ryan Douglass

The Taking of Jake Livingston tells the story of the eponymous medium, hunted by the ghost of a teen who committed a mass shooting years before. This book is the kind of scary where I read bits of it through splayed fingers. Jake is one of my new favorite horror protagonists, and all I wanted for him was a happy ending and some peace. The prose is atmospheric and horrifying while also touching on less supernatural fears like being a bit of an outcast and the only Black kid in a private school.

Today, I’m thrilled to celebrate author Ryan Douglass’s debut day with an interview about the process of crafting this spooky read. XOXO, Sierra also put together a debut box with a finished copy of the book and related goodies. Check it out here.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

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ARC Review: THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON by Ryan Douglass (2021)

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: Gore, school shooting, revenge porn, attempted rape, bullying, homophobia, abuse by parents

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black student at St. Claire’s Prep. The ghosts reliving their deaths and ghouls following him don’t make high school any easier. When a mass shooter from the town’s recent past decides to pick Jake as his next target, it’s a race against escalating violence as Jake comes into his powers as a medium to banish the spirit once and for all.

An atmospherically horrifying new voice in horror that had me reading this book through splayed fingers from start to finish, while clinging onto the hope for a happy-for-now ending for Jake.

Author Ryan Douglass will be featured on the blog on release day, July 13.

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Author to Author with Jen Karner (#CindersofYesterday)

Cinders of Yesterday is a worthy entry into the collection of “let’s explore family trauma through magic and girls kissing.” The town of Dawson, Maryland is haunted by not only a necromancer named Spectre, but the sealed-away magic of Emilie Lockgrove’s family. Dani Black seeks revenge for her partner and a way to put the villain down for good. With a common goal and mutually beneficial abilities, the two team up for some supernatural hunting and perhaps more.

Author Jen Karner swings by on her debut day to talk about this spooky, queer debut featuring necromancy, bisexual disasters, a cute medium, and your new knife wife.

Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

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ARC Review: MEET CUTE DIARY by Emery Lee (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Year Release: May 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: Vomiting, panic attack

Noah Ramirez runs a blog called Meet Cute Diary, a collection of short stories about trans people meeting the love of their lives in increasingly adorable ways. He writes most of the stories and an online troll calls it out in online-public ways. Noah’s also spending the summer in Denver with his brother as his parents move from Florida to California. To save the blog, he strikes up a fake relationship with a local while trying to balance the blog situation and a new job at a summer camp.

This book is adorable and refreshingly young as far as young adult protagonists go. Meet Cute Diary is a delightful light-hearted summer romp.

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ARC Review: THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL by Nghi Vo (2021)

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: homophobia, racism, abortion, domestic violence, car accidents, alcoholism

In this queer reimagining of The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker is a queer, Vietnamese adoptee and socialite with all the beautiful sharp edges of stained glass. It’s deeply sensual and takes full advantage of almost a century of historical contextualizing. There’s glitz, glamour, and paper craft magic that fully immerses the reader in its time period and aesthetic.

I’m not saying this book is perfect, but it’s pretty damn close. The Chosen and the Beautiful perfectly captures the horniness of a summer fling with all the yearning horror of watching your best friend make increasingly ill-advised decisions when it comes to the men in her life.

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