Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

36516585★★★★★

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone have united to bring one of the most stunning works of speculative fiction I’ve ever read. This epistolary novella chronicles the exchanges between two spies on opposite sides of a war that permeates time and space. What began as elaborate taunts between enemies on the battlefield turns into something more.

I have only one word for this whirlwind tale: breathtaking. I finished This is How You Lose the Time War in a single sitting- not because I wanted to as much as I needed to finish it. The lyrical prose combined with the masterful storytelling results in a story that dares you to put it down, and I did not dare. In just over 200 pages this book will steal your heart, shatter it, and then stitch it back together as you watch.

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Review: Black Crow, White Snow

45440171. sx318 ★☆☆☆☆

To sum this up in the quickest way possible: Black Crow, White Snow started off as an intriguing foray into a world of female pirates but quickly squandered any potential with an intense focus on the world’s matriarchy.

I picked this up on a whim because pirates and it sounded like it would be a welcome distraction from the incessant rush hour traffic. Instead, this story only compounded my frustration as I sat on the interstate. I was initially enthralled by the strong prose and great narration, but was lost soon after. In this story we get a limiting glimpse in what appears to be a very, very large world. We learn that these characters are a part of a matriarchal society that is at war, where magic is standard (albeit deadly to many), and where one’s gender will almost certainly decide what one will be in life. The ship of characters we get to know are on the way to find a mythic power that could help turn the tide of the long-fought war. And that’s about it.

These strong characters that were leading the charge to bring home a weapon that could save their people were instead two-dimensional and boring as hell. Bela is no inspiring leader in these trying times, and her lover was merely a sex object. Her crew were so redundant I could hardly distinguish them from one another no matter how much I went back to re-listen. Their egos and infighting all muddled together in the end. What irked me the most was the way the matriarchy was constantly harped upon. This wasn’t simply a society in which women were considered the stronger, superior sex and held more positions of power. It’s just disgustingly, over-the-top sexist. I was distracted constantly by the way characters in extreme peril at all times could take the time to bash and degrade the only male in the story. This is a well-worn trope that I did not expect to be the focal point of Black Crow, White Snow but was absolutely the downfall of it.

If you’re seeking out a story about strong, queer women of color, this is not it.

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30 Days of Pride Recs | LGBTQ+ Nonfiction

Publication1In celebration of Pride Month I’ll be sharing 30 books with some awesome queer representation. Will these 30 books be representative of all the varied, amazing works by queer authors? Not at all. These recommendations are personal and are heavily influenced by the genres I love and the types of characters I tend to connect with. All books on these lists are ones that I’m reading, that I’ve loved, and that I’m excited to share with you. In this series of recommendations, it is safe to assume that all books listed are Own Voices unless otherwise noted. Instead of inundating your inboxes with a post every day, these recommendations will be coming out every Saturday in June, with a theme tying each list of books together.
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Advance Review: The Need

★★☆☆☆

A mother alone with her two children, settling in for the night as her husband is abroad. An intruder who knows them intimately, lurking in their home. The Need is eerie and gripping from the very first page.

This is the first of Helen Phillips’s books that I’ve read, and I was thrilled with the captivating quality of her writing, especially her raw portrayal of motherhood. The pacing is quick, with frequent changes of scene, bouncing between the present and days earlier. I tore through the first half of the book, but found myself beginning to lose momentum as the plot progressed further. The Need became more dreamlike and ambiguous and ultimately ended this way. The final act of this book was unsatisfying and left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, but this was an interesting read nonetheless. Continue reading “Advance Review: The Need”

Review: Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered

Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide★★★★☆

Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are the hosts of the part-humor-part-true-crime podcast My Favorite Murder. Their podcast is a regular accompaniment to my commute and has made D.C. traffic infinitely more bearable since I’ve become a regular listener. And now, much to my delight, they’ve written a book.

This book is a real reflection of the podcast and community Karen and Georgia have built together, each chapter is framed by one of the iconic quotes that sprouted from the podcast and two essays on the topic, one by each host. That being said, this is not a book for murderinos only. Anyone looking for an extremely candid, often humorous memoir by two kick-ass women will love this. Even if that isn’t what you’re specifically seeking, I’d be willing to be that there’s something in Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: The Definitive How-To Guide for you.

A note on the audiobook: For the first time ever (yep, ever in my life) I sought out an audiobook. I know these to people by their voices, so why not continue in that medium? I’m no expert, but this felt like a truly unique experience. Karen and Georgia are wonderful narrators, portions were recorded live, Paul Giamatti occasionally interjects, and there is even a guest appearance by Georgia’s dad. There’s nothing like holding a physical text and experiencing a book that way, but just this once, opt for the audiobook or you’ll miss out on more of the humor and personality that make Karen and Georgia so wonderful. Continue reading “Review: Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered”