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: Some Choose Darkness

41735371★★☆☆☆

Some Choose Darkness has stolen the title previously held by Andy Weir’s Artemis: Most Disappointing Read of 2019.

Throughout the story we follow Rory Moore, a forensic reconstructionist at the top of her field. In the midst of a personal hiatus her father suddenly passes, leaving to her all of the clients of his one-man law firm. As she sorts out his affairs Rory discovers that for years her father has been handling the assets of the notorious serial killer known as The Thief. Unable to pass his case off to anyone else, Rory is forced to see a convicted him through his parole, struggling to unpack why her father remained so close with a vicious killer as she pieces together the mysterious death of the woman who brought The Thief down.

I was incredibly excited to begin this book, but I was never hooked in. Instead, I pushed on with hopes that the story ended strong, but I was ultimately let down. 

From the beginning, this story drags. For several short prologues and a whole chapter the author plays the pronoun game before finally introducing us to the protagonist. From there, it doesn’t get much better. More than anything, this book felt like the victim of poor editing. For the first 100 pages very little happens, I assumed these little threads would eventually come together in the end, but unfortunately most only contributed to small epiphanies or twists that failed to shock. Donlea’s writing style only made this a greater burden. In these introductory chapters, he has a strange habit of breaking up action or dialogue with huge paragraphs reminding the reader how special and smart Rory Moore is. I feel like I was unable to connect with her because more often Donlea tells the reader about how incredible Rory Moore is as opposed to showing the incredible things she is capable of. So many of these writing quirks grated on my nerves throughout the entire story, but that wasn’t enough to ruin the experience. On top of it all, the resolution was rushed and Rory’s final actions felt completely out of character. Seeing other reviewers rave about this book, I’m left wondering what I missed.

Die-hard thriller fans, this book probably isn’t for you. I dip into the genre on occasion and even I could see the twists coming from a mile away. But don’t leave disappointed just yet, let me instead point you in the direction of one of my favorite books of all time: The Crow Girl. Continue reading “Review: Some Choose Darkness”

This Post Couldn’t Wait: The Seep

I know this post is coming at you in the middle of a hiatus, but bear with me, it’s exciting.

So, I was browsing Edelweiss+ on this Friday night in and, as usual, I check out the LGBT+ review copies first. Of the 3,913 DRCs available for request or download as I write this, there are 6 in that category (which is heinous, but I won’t dwell on that for this post).

But anyways, 6. That’s one more than yesterday, so yay! So, among the titles I’ve been seeing on repeat for weeks, what’s new? The Seep by Chana Porter.

45448133“A blend of searing social commentary and speculative fiction, Chana Porter’s fresh, pointed debut is perfect for fans of Jeff VanderMeer and Carmen Maria Machado.

Trina Goldberg-Oneka is a trans woman whose life is irreversibly altered in the wake of a gentle—but nonetheless world-changing—invasion by an alien entity calling itself The Seep. Through The Seep, everything is connected. Capitalism falls, hierarchies and barriers are broken down; if something can be imagined, it is possible.

Trina and her wife, Deeba, live blissfully under The Seep’s utopian influence—until Deeba begins to imagine what it might be like to be reborn as a baby, which will give her the chance at an even better life. Using Seep-tech to make this dream a reality, Deeba moves on to a new existence, leaving Trina devastated.

Heartbroken and deep into an alcoholic binge, Trina chases after a young boy she encounters, embarking on an unexpected quest. In her attempt to save him from The Seep, she will confront not only one of its most avid devotees, but the terrifying void that Deeba has left behind.”

When I say my heart was palpitating as I read this description, that was no exaggeration. Queer representation in this sort of genre-bending speculative fiction is extremely rare – all that I’ve seen recently amounts to a couple short stories in the first volume of Today, Tomorrow, Always (review here). So, if it wasn’t readily apparent, I’m insanely excited about this book and you can count on me chatting about it for the rest of this year.

The Seep will be released on January 21, 2020. It’s a long way off, but you can always save time later by adding it to your Goodreads TBR now!  Continue reading “This Post Couldn’t Wait: The Seep”

Advance Review: The Time Collector

★★★☆☆41711272

I have such mixed feelings about this book. I loved the premise and I wanted to love the story, but it wasn’t meant to be.

The Time Collector focuses on a group of gifted individuals known as psychometrists. Psychometrists range in their strength, but all share the ability to discern the past of objects the touch. Our male protagonist, Roan West, is one of the most powerful psychometrists among their small numbers. Roan has become increasingly worried with the disappearances of several psychometrists across the globe, including one of his closest friends. Then arises the problem of Melicent Tilpin.

Melicent is a young woman scraping by as she tries to balance work and raising her teenage brother following their mother’s recent death. She’s also a psychometrist whose powers have newly awakened. After peering into the past of objects found at flea markets and antique swaps, Melicent find herself on Antiques Roadshow where her items are appraised for tens of thousands of dollars and she’s admitted her gift to the world. Upon seeing the video Roan rushes across the country to warn Melicent, hoping she’ll listen.

The greatest triumph of The Time Collector is Gwendolyn Womack’s skill as a writer. This book touches on phenomena like out-of-place artifacts (OOPArts), crop circles, and more as Womack spins a tale that spans all of Earth’s breadth and history. I went in with very little foreknowledge of many of the phenomena she describes, but I never found myself lost in the explanations – the world she creates is easy to slip in to and enjoy. Some of the chapters that I enjoyed most were those where as a character reads an imprint, you are transported back in time. From 18th century Vienna to South Korea on the cusp of The Forgotten War, these periods are captured with incredible realism that drew me in despite their intrusion into the main plot.

So here’s the caveat of all this: I just didn’t like the romantic aspect. I was pulled in by the tension between Melicent and Roan through the first half of their story, but once the romantic tension was dissipated everything seemed to lose momentum. I’m also seldom a fan of stories where two characters are fully in love in a matter of just days. I tried to see past it because there was so much else that I enjoyed, but it ultimately left me feeling a little disappointed as I finished this book. I’m certain The Time Collector will be the perfect read for many people, just not me. Continue reading “Advance Review: The Time Collector”

Advance Review: Today, Tomorrow, Always (Vol. 1)

★★★☆☆44651182

Today, Tomorrow, Always is an anthology of varied short stories. This is this first volume of what will be a continuing series of anthologies showcasing what was billed as “a literary-sci fi-speculative fiction mashup at its finest.” So of course I had to pick this up, right?

All of the stories in this anthology were, at the very least, good. Some were too brief for me, some I couldn’t connect with. The rating for Today, Tomorrow, Always is essentially an average of all the stories contained within it. That being said, the ones that I loved were really brilliant.

Multilinear Memories by Gwen Tolios is one of those hypnotic stories that blurs the timeline of events and possibly the boundary of what is real and what isn’t. I don’t often love ambiguity in stories like this, but Multilinear Memories manages this feat beautifully.

Egg Toast by Elise Thi Tran is both brutal and lovely. Wren Sun-Lee confessed to her long-time boyfriend that she was raped several years ago and boards a train to her attacker’s house, picking up a carton of eggs along the way.

Skylight by Avra Margariti was so charming, I absolutely loved it. A young man discovers that the imaginary boy that he played with as a child was real and slowly befriends the man he spent years believing existed only in his head.

If the description has piqued your interest, it is definitely worth picking it up, but I can’t strongly recommend this for those who aren’t fans of this sort of multi-genre mashup.   Continue reading “Advance Review: Today, Tomorrow, Always (Vol. 1)”