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: AND THEN I WOKE UP by Malcolm Devlin (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: April 12, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: murder, gore, blood

There’s an emerging subgenre in 2022 where a mysterious contagion makes people fly into a rage. While this is part of the premise of this novella, And Then I Woke Up examines the aftermath and the power of narrative when it comes to trauma. A cure isn’t as simple as dealing with It also looks at the power of narrative as it relates to violence and justification.

Deeply introspective with flashbacks to all the trappings of a zombie apocalypse, this is one of the saddest horror stories I’ve ever read.

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ARC Review: LEECH by Hiron Ennes (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: September 27, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the editor
Content warning: body horror, gore, blood, child sexual abuse (~75% mark), arson, medical experimentation, dysphoria, harm against animals

Gothic horror is great. Gothic horror that’s disguising a science fiction horror? Even better. A physician goes to replace a colleague far in the north in a frozen chateau occupied by a baron, his son, his wife, and their twins. As the doctor from the Institute investigates the cause of death, secrets begin to unravel that can easily spell humanity’s decline.

With dense, precise language weaving a tale of discovery and self-discovery, definitely a must-read for fans of Caitlin Starling in search of more claustrophobic settings and morally gray characters.

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ARC Review: WHERE THE DROWNED GIRLS GO (Wayward Children #7) by Seanan McGuire (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: January 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org| Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from NetGalley
Content warning: fatshaming, fatphobia, bullying

Cora’s door led to a world of Drowned Gods and mermaids. She returns to Eleanor West’s school still haunted by her experience and requests a transfer to the cruel Whitehorn Institute, where normalcy via suppression and repression is the rule of those halls. I found this entry much darker than those that came before it in ways that are less fantastical than eeriness of the worlds behind the doors.

This is an entry in which it is required to have read previous entries, despite how the back cover summary sounds. For the most relevant contextualization, Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3) and Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children #6) are essential.

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ARC Review: A SPINDLE SPLINTERED by Alix E. Harrow (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: October 5 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: chronic illness, rape (implied, not depicted)

Zinnia Gray has a chronic illness which will claim her life before she turns twenty-two. Charm, her best friend, throws a Sleeping Beauty-themed birthday party that accidentally causes a dimensional rift which sends Zinnia to the world of another Sleeping Beauty, Primrose. The two embark on a quest to wrench agency and salvation from their own crappy happy-ever-afters, while encountering a multi-verse of other Beauties.

This book is incredibly sad. There are constant reminders of Zinnia’s countdown, and the relationship between her and Charm is filled with so much angst. The love between them is firmly founded by their friendship, and strengthened by everything that unspools in these brief pages.

It’s wonderfully feminist in the way that the girls want to work together to save each other from their own crappy fates. The hope also comes from a place tinged with a wish these girls didn’t have to be strong in the ways that they are. It balances out the fairy tale fun of the story such that it works, with the constant emotive tension. The bit where they meet the Maleficent character is absolutely heart-breaking, and I’m not going to spoil it here. It just works.

It’s not my lane to speak to, but I do want to highlight that there is a bit of magical cure in which the havoc wreaked on Zinnia’s body is reversed at the end of the adventure, though the illness itself remains. If this is a trope you’d rather avoid, I’m not sure how much the series will work to subvert it, so that’s to be determined.

Author to Author with Neon Yang

The Tensorate quartet are sweeping fantasies with ambitious characters, high stakes, intricate politics, epic sequences, and a rad blend of technology and magic. The omnibus comes out today, and you can read the full series from start to finish in one package. To celebrate, I’m excited to host author Neon Yang to talk about writing process and what they’re working on next.

Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books

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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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May 2021 Reading Recap

May came at me like a freight train. Specifically, Kentaro Miura, creator of Berserk, passed and that has been a sledgehammer to my heart and creative spirit. To get completely too personal, I’ve had to do an inventory of all my things and file them under “survival” and “creativity.” The blog is here to stay, don’t worry about that.

For yet another month, the mind is still a mess, but the reads have been fantastic.

I am so excited to have talked to Rivers Solomon about faer’s latest release, Sorrowland.

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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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April 2021 Reading Recap

Excuse me, but where did April go? This month went by so quickly, I cannot wrap my head around it. And what a roller coaster of a ride it was.

The big thing that happened to me was that my beloved Eclectus parrot, Investor, had to be put to sleep due to poor health. He was in our family for 20 years. I try to smile through the happy memories, but mostly it’s just tears.

In addition, the situation in India hit a close friend of mine in her immediate family, so I wanted to link to this thread of resources and places to donate to.

Honestly, my mind’s been a mess and the fact that I can focus on anything is a miracle.

Nino Cipri stopped by the blog this month to celebrate the release of Defekt, the unexpected sequel to Finna, which came out this month.

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