ARC Review: THE FORTRESS by S.A. Jones (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Year Release: March 2020
Source: Physical ARC from Publisher

Received an ARC from the Erewhon Books, the publisher
Trigger warnings: violence, sex, abuse, child sexual assault (not shown, but mentioned), corporal punishment, acid attack

Some stories you read and you enjoy it for the story. Others you read, and you can see the author trying to process things going on the real world. In The Fortress, Jonathon Bridges pledges himself to one year of servitude to the Vaik, an all-women population living on their own land separate from the rest of society. The story follows his year and describes the litany of sins and penance.

What Jones masterfully pulls off is the kind of tale where I found it hard to critique in ways one would normally engage in a story. The prose is sharp. The world-building doesn’t quite fade into the background as immersion, but it’s there enough to contextualized everything happening to Jonathon. I found myself wishing him to get a hold of himself and nigh-yelling about how much of a piece of shit he is, but not in the way of a character in a story, but a person in real life. How he could be so complicit to so many heinous things. It seems that Jones herself is trying to understand men like Jonathon. Instead of going a revenge route—and there were so many opportunities—Jones chooses compassion. The choice of service as opposed to violence left such an impression. Did I read this book or did its thesis just happen?

A unique tale in which the path to anything resembling redemption means letting go of your ego and giving over completely to servitude.

Author to Author with K.M. Szpara (#Docile)

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In an alternate future of the United States, debtors sell their debts to the wealthy and becomes Dociles. Harrowing and seductive, Docile takes its time depicting complexities of power and consent against a glittering, sexy back-drop of the ultra-wealthy. On this release day, author K.M. Szpara stops by to talk a bit about the process of crafting this phenomenal debut. Continue reading

Author to Author with Nino Cipri (#FINNA)

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IKEA can be a scary, overwhelming place. Between too many customers and all that modular furniture, it feels like a different dimension. Now add wormholes and having to work with your ex. FINNA dropped on February 25th and author Nino Cipri returns to the blog to tell us more about how they weaved together this tale of multiverses, queer love, and retail hell.
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Review: CONSPIRACY OF RAVENS by Lila Bowen (2016)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult speculative fiction/fantasy western
Year Release: 2016
Source: Library physical copy

The Wild West reimagined with more monsters and queer folk definitely is having a bit of a moment. Wake of Vultures, the first installment of The Shadow quartet, introduced us to Nettie Lonesome. In this sequel, Nettie fully becomes Rhett Walker, a truth which helps him get better at shifting. This book also introduces other shifters and new characters.

Much like the first installment, this book is so much fun. The monsters are terrifying, the villains are dastardly, and everyone has survival on the mind so no one can really be trusted. Rhett undergoes so many excellent sequences of self-discovery throughout. They range from him spending quality time with his gender identity and having a variety of romps with several characters.

The antagonist of this novel is also so good. A true robber baron stealing blood from magical creatures (seriously, there’s a unicorn). Bowen does a great job outlining the rules of magic, so the twist is both shocking but makes the reader feel smart for figuring it out.

A rootin’, tootin’, shapeshiftin’ time in the weird west with some decent trans rep.

 

ARC Review: UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by Sarah Gailey (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Alternate History/Future (Speculative Fiction)
Year Release: February 4, 2020
Source: The Publisher, Tor.com

Received an ARC from the publisher, Tor.com

The Wild West seems to be a having a very small moment. If you enjoyed Gailey’s first novella, River of TeethUpright Women Wanted will tickle those cowboy needs, albeit with fewer swamps and hippos.

The femmes in this novel are all so complex. Queer librarians actually spying for the resistance on horseback? A tough cinnamon roll who followed all the rules only to run away from there? A non-binary who code-switches when going into towns to protect the mission at large? Casual polyamory? Betrayals? This novel has so many trappings of a great desert adventure on horseback and so much more. The world-building is great and gives context to the work these librarians do without actually having to spell it out for the reader. In addition, it doesn’t flinch away from the mundane nastiness of life on the road, and I found that magical.

It bears repeating: if you liked Gailey’s first two novellas, you’re going to be enamored with this one.

 

Author to Author with Nino Cipri (#Homesick)

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Happy book birthday to Homesick: Stories, a wonderfully queer collection of speculative short stories by Nino Cipri. The collection spans several formats with feelings ranging from nostalgia, sarcastic humor, determination, and, of course, homesickness. Nino stops by the blog to talk about they chose the best format for each story, crafting the collection, and things you should read next.
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