Blood Debts is a Black queer YA fantasy steeped in magic and the type of family feuds that would make Game of Thrones proud. Despite having opposite relationships with their generational legacy, Cris and Clem come together to solve a thirty years’ old mystery while the other powerful families have no limits on the things they’ll do to stop them from inheriting a throne upon which they belong.
I am so honored to have author Terry J, Benton-Walker on my blog to talk about the origins and evolution of this debut which will delight fans of epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, and young adult books in equal measure.
Once again, I’m sorry that I had to take a break in February. March got me mostly back on track, aside from a mental health episode that’s stalled a whole bunch of things. But, in the best news, I’m done with my novella, Ice Upon a Pier, and it’s coming out with a paperback edition for those who don’t want to read it on a Kindle or in digital. All links have been updated in the press kit, including some indie bookstores for those who want to support those venues.
Read an eARC from NetGalley Content warning: necromancy, drinking, drug use, dead parent (father), classism, colonialism, blood, body horror, vomiting, torture, violence against animals (cats, dogs)
Ren Monroe is top of her class at Balmerick University, but in terms of family status, she’s towards the bottom. Hoping to elevate her prospects, she’s interviewing with the city’s top families for a job. Her plans get put on hold, however, when an argument in one of the waxways, travel portals, sends her and a handful of her classmates on an adventure trying to get back to Kathor, despite the deadly magic and fantastic beasts interrupting their journey.
A fun magic system with something to say about class differences between students for whom success is guaranteed by family connections and those who claw their way to the top, this dark academia has all the trappings of a fantasy adventure including kobolds & wyverns as well as an exploration of the opportunities and privileges unevenly doled out
Read a NetGalley eARC Content warning: gun violence, weather disasters, blood, explosions, loss of parents, colonialism, implied nonconsensual medical experimentation, mentions of torture. There is a wolf. The wolf experiences some peril, but the wolf does not die or suffer permanent injury
Once again, Meg Long takes the reader on a journey that is full of feeling, fun worldbuilding, and the complexity of friendship and surviving trauma. Sena and her wolf, Iska, are side characters in this adventure told from Remy’s point of view. It takes them to Maraas, a lush, jungle planet plagued by a hellstorm which rests the landscape every two weeks and the corporations at war with the syndicates. Remy searches for a good friend who she lost several years ago, and that might mean teaming up with the boy who betrayed their partnership at the same time.
Excellently paced, intriguing, and healing, I really enjoyed this return to Long’s slice of the cosmos, this time in stormy jungle rather than in a frozen tundra.
November might have been the month that took me out. Though I did not do NaNoWriMo, I wrote a lot and, more importantly for a post coming later this week, I read a lot. So much. So many things. I also wound up watching a lot of Japanese horror films (classics like Ringu and Ju-On, so if you have recommendations, I’d love them).
Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC Content warning: intergenerational trauma, domestic violence, divorce, blood, vehicular manslaughter
Fifteen-year-old Sara is really going through it between her parents’ impending divorce, her Bibi Jan’s dementia, and the house her mother is flipping that is unequivocally haunted by a ghost which may be a part of Sara’s past. Family secrets and a truth hidden for generations come together in this contemporary fiction that’s as much about community within an immigrant family as it is about Sara’s personal coming of age.
If you’re looking for a YA book with a younger protagonist and no romance arc that’s as heart-wrenching as it is spooky, you are in for a treat. Definitely among the best books I’ve read this year.
October was my first month without my main WIP. Because I’ve been in such an intense state of revision, I took October off to tap into things I’ve wanted to watch and read for a while, and honestly, it’s been quite restorative. 10/10 highly recommend. I might have a new project in the works, but it’s all joy and no stress. Book-shaped, but without all the other intensity.
Which, speaking of, it’s November. Am I doing NaNoWriMo? Who knows.
Read an advanced copy on NetGalley Content warning: kidnapping, murder, queerphobia, parental abuse, drug use, attempted school shooting, school lockdown, eating an eyeball, arson Gentle spoilers for The Scapegracers
The queer witch gang is back in the second installment of The Scapegracers trilogy. It picks up where the previous book left off, with Sideways without her specter, and the only clues anyone has are Sideways’ mental connection with Madeline, the girl who stole it. The Chantry boys remain a threat, on top of the typical teenage foibles of finals and catching up on one’s studies.
Intense in its magic and its love for queer women and teen friendships, this second entry is a triumph, and I have several fears for Sideways and gang in book three.
Somehow, September also saw me in New York City. We can thank the CDC for letting me reunite with my best friend from my childhood in Poland, along with several others who I haven’t seen in years even before the pandemic. This is also a reminder for folks to get the bivalent booster if you are 18 and haven’t had COVID within the last 3 months.
I finished my revision and resubmitted it, which is my big project completion that robbed me lots of reading time. Now, I’m resting an embarking on a reading adventure to learn how to write a horny goth book. Hopefully, I’ll be able recapping that in October’s post. But we’ll see.
Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC Content warning: body & bug horror, death, on-page violence, racial microaggressions, vomiting
Aja’s perfect sister Fiona goes missing and strange things start happening: blood rain, a mysterious fog, blood-sucking grubs, all precursors to the arrival of a vampire. She strikes a bargain with Padraic and tries to free the kids in his thrall, including her ex-friend Mary.
Gross, goth, and steeped in 90’s vampire aesthetic, a fun read for folks constantly searching for new vampire content.