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This was a solid, utterly enjoyable thriller -- there's no doubt about who's going to win in the end, because genre conventions, but that doesn't make it any less of a page-turner!
Yes, it's a tome. But it's a marvelous tome. With The Final Strife, El-Arifi has created a brutal, heartbreaking world, but you never lose sight of that flicker of hope. The characters are so vivid and richly detailed, and some interactions had me absolutely cackling. On top of it all, the unapologetic and deliberate prevalence of trans/non-binary/queer characters is incredibly powerful.
"This is the way the world ends... for the last time." In a single day: Essun, a woman trying to live an ordinary life in a small village, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their youngest child and disappeared with their oldest; across the continent known as The Stillness, a mighty empire collapses when most of its citizens are murdered by a man seeking vengeance; The Stillness has been cleaved in two, resulting in a massive rift that spews enough ash to cover the entire continent for years, or centuries. Masterfully told in first, second, and third person narratives, N.K. Jemisin's critically acclaimed and Hugo award winning (for all three books in the series!!!) is perfect not only for seasoned fantasy enthusiasts, but also those tentatively looking to dip their toes into genre fiction.
This is a story that haunts you in the best way. Having run from her hometown of ghosts, Florence Day, a successful ghostwriter and an undertaker's estranged daughter, thinks her life is perfect...until she experiences a nasty breakup and suddenly finds herself unable to write about love. Benji Andor, her new(ly dead) editor and the ghost that keeps haunting her at every turn complicates some already tricky matters with his attempts to help. Florence has 340 pages to figure out the meaning of home, what and who she loves, and how to handle the unlikeliest relationships blossoming in a graveyard of all places.
LOTE is a vicious celebration of maximalism; of beauty and the grotesque; of lying for fun, because fun is the point of it all; of following one's obsessions to their most extreme conclusion. See also: the excruciating pleasure of digging Black and queer artists out from a post-mortem canon designed to be white and cishet. Dreamy, dry, scintillating, like a flute of pink champagne.
With Juniper & Thorn Ava Reid has cut out the raw heart of a fairytale and served it up to her reader on a platter. And what a meal it is. We’ve returned again to the world of Wolf and the Woodsman, which is so heavily steeped in folklore it practically drips with it. Marlinchen is the youngest of three sisters, a witch, and the daughter of a wizard with terrible curses, so she has always been tangled in fairytales. With her first taste of freedom all that begins to unravel, and leaves us with a story you won’t be able to put down.
Lucy Holland captures the heart of an iconic folk ballad while weaving in the depth these things often lack. Reminiscent of classics like The King of Elfland’s Daughter, this book is mournful and beautiful and will stick in your head long after the last page. I know I’ll revisit it again and again throughout the years.
An especially fascinating and thorough story of the reflections of societal beliefs in the mental health field over the years. From the horrific eugenics movement to our current world, Mind Fixers is a great read for anyone even moderately interested in the often chilling and intersectional history of how psychology/psychiatry came to be what they are, and how that morbid history still informs us today, despite all the progress made.
Strong characters and a layered plot are brought together by author Johnnie Christmas's beautiful illustrations. Swim Team is a great summer read!
Jade is a powerful artist and a brilliant student who has always taken every opportunity that came her way. But now, after receiving an invite to a group for at-risk youth, she is tired of people trying to help her. When will she get the opportunity to be seen for all the things that she brings to the table too? Great for anyone finding their voice and learning to advocate for themselves.
A teenage girl, Silvie, her parents, and a group of archaeology students are spending their summer vacation recreating the life of Iron Age Britons, foraging for their own food and wearing potato sack-esque couture. It won't take long to read this eerie novel, but I guarantee you'll keep thinking about it long after you've closed it. It's got bog bodies, gorgeous nature writing, and deep explorations of misogyny, abuse, nationalism, and sexuality - all in 160 pages.
A coloring book of mythic detail. Rosanes' art is gorgeous enough to hang in just black and white, but also allows for a ridiculous amount of detailed coloring without the repetition of other detailed coloring books. Bring myths and monsters to life with your own flair! (Particularly great if you, say, happen to be stuck inside with limited mobility)
A story perfect for STEM enthusiasts, My Mechanical Romance follows Bel, a high school student too anxious to give her future the attention that everyone thinks it deserves. When she shows a natural talent for engineering, Bel is coerced into joining her school's robotics club. All the boys on the team ignore her--except for Mateo, the captain. Mateo thinks that Bel can be a good thing for the team, but they struggle to see eye-to-eye. As they spend more time together, they realize that they've not only improved the club, but also grown as individuals. Heart warming, funny, and loaded with the wit that the author is known for (she's more recognizable as her pseudonym Olivie Blake), this is a fun way to kick off the summer.
Ordinary Monsters will satisfy any cravings for a fantasy with a sweeping and complex voice, similar to that of Phillip Pullman, Deborah Harkness, and Susanna Clarke. Suitable for both young and older audiences, the story follows two children with magical abilties who are being hunted by a man made of smoke. It's 1882 in England, and when a detective is recruited to escort them to the mysterious Institute where they'll be safe, all three begin a journey that carries them from London, to Meiji-era Tokyo, and finally to the Institute's eerie estate in Edinburgh. As secrets within the Institute are revealed, the children begin to discover the truth of why they have the abilities that they do, what's really stalking them, and that the worst monsters sometimes bring the sweetest gifts.
For devotees of Machado's In the Dream House and Nelson's The Argonauts, Febos's coming-of-age memoir is also an interpolation of myth, psychoanalysis, and other women's stories. Focusing on the aggressions (against herself and others) that all too often lead to internalized patriarchal values, shame, and learned passivity, she also tells a story of empowerment as she finds herself as a queer woman, dominatrix, and fierce defender of her own sense of agency.