Unity by Elly Bangs

When Tachyon Publications reached out to me about Unity, Elly Bangs's post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk, sci-fi debut, I couldn't resist accepting a review copy based on the blurbs I read. The novel is said to "evoke the perilous grittiness of Mad Max and the redemptive unification of Sense8." And then Meredith Russo's description really got my attention: "Imagine Neuromancer and Lilith’s Brood conceived a baby while listening to My Chemical Romance and then that baby was adopted by Ghost in the Shell and Blue Submarine no. 6." Does that sound super creative and unique, or what?! I know it also sounds like there's a lot going on, but Bangs ties it all together so masterfully, it reads at a smooth, fast, thrilling…

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The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Lucy Foley's The Guest List was my virtual book club's pick for February. Our book club started at the beginning of the pandemic, and we chose this title because we realized we hadn't yet read a thriller. I was on the edge of my seat reading this book, ready to shout, "I knew it!" even though I wasn't exactly sure I really did "know it." And turns out, I didn't! I never did, even at the end! And wow, was this was ever a fast, curvy roller coaster by the end. The pacing was great, I loved the different points of view, I loved the execution of the jumps in time, and I loved her writing style. Even the teaser…

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Let’s Get Back to the Party by Zak Salih

Zak Salih's debut novel Let's Get Back to the Party is a look at cultural identity (specifically, gay identity) in the midst of a rapidly changing society. Set in the year between the U.S. marriage equality ruling and the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, the novel follows two gay men, Sebastian and Oscar, childhood friends recently reunited after years of estrangement. I enjoyed the character-driven, leisurely pace of Salih's writing. He digs deep into the psyches of these two men, and the slower pace and alternating points of view gave me the opportunity to get to know Sebastian and Oscar on a profound level. Let's Get Back to the Party explores cross-generational friendships within the gay community—and the feelings…

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Catch Lili Too by Sophie Whittemore

Catch Lili Too was an unusual reading choice for me, but when the author approached me about their "queer punk fantasy" book, something about this description was irresistible: Lili is a Mesopotamian siren, and life as an immortal being is hard enough as it is. She’s asexual (which is incredibly difficult to reconcile if your entire point as a mythical being is to seduce people to death). She’s also struggling with depression from being alive for so long. She moonlights as an immortal detective trying to track down a serial killer so ruthless that it makes even her murderous soul uneasy. However, there’s something larger at work than just one serial killer. A small town is hiding an even deadlier, global-scale…

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Novellas in November: Short Classics

The theme for Novellas in November week four (hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck) is short classics. Classics aren't something I normally reach for, and I have to make a real effort to include them in my reading. I'm finicky when it comes to classics, and there are a ton of popular ones I'm bored to tears by (see the question at the end of this post). When looking through past classics I've read, I found that I especially loved short stories by authors like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury. I did find some novellas, though—I enjoyed all of the books below (some are more on the "modern classics" side of things). The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (44…

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Novellas in November: Translated Literature

The theme for Novellas in November week three (hosted by Cathy at 746 Books) is novellas that are translated literature. I gravitate toward Japanese literature (Haruki Murakami being one of my favorite authors) but I tried to branch out a bit here. Well, I did a 50% branching out, at least! The only book on this list that I haven't read yet—but it's on my TBR—is Troubling Love. I've been hesitating on reading Ferrante because I wasn't sure if I wanted to read her books in the original Italian, or as a translation. If I'm honest with myself, my Italian isn't where it used to be, and 2020 has sucked any willpower I might have had about doing the extra…

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Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

The prompt for week 2 of Nonfiction November is "Book Pairing" (hosted by Julz of Julz Reads), where we pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. I've got three book pairings for you today! The fiction titles I've chosen have the same subject matter as their nonfiction counterparts. C and I have been reading through the young people's version of Neil deGrasse Tyon's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry and are enjoying his goofy sense of humor and knack for explaining huge concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. I recently read To Hold Up the Sky by Cixin Liu [my review], which incorporates a lot of astrophysics and quantum physics in its hard sci-fi short stories. Some of those…

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Novellas in November: Contemporary Fiction

I know I'm already doing Nonfiction November, but I couldn't resist jumping in on Novellas in November, too. This event is hosted by Rebecca at Bookish Beck and Cathy at 746 Books. The theme for week one (hosted by Cathy) is contemporary fiction novellas. I found varying definitions of what "contemporary fiction" actually means, so I probably stretched it a bit with some of the speculative and sci-fi picks. I went more with a "fiction published in a contemporary times" sort of theme. . This World Is Full of Monsters by Jeff VanderMeer (38 pages) - Surreal, strange, and terrifying. This is the kind of story that doesn't get old because there's endless nuance for your mind to explore. If…

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Creatures by Crissy Van Meter

I'm so thankful Algonquin approached me about being on the blog tour for Crissy Van Meter's novel, Creatures, because this debut was one of the best books I've read this year. The story centers around Evie, beginning on the eve of her wedding, and her dysfunctional family. We feel the long-lasting impact of growing up with neglect, abandonment, and parentification. How it affects a child's future self and future relationships. The deep, never-satiated ache for parents who aren't what they should be. The struggle to break the cycle. This is going to be a tough read for anyone raised by parents with addiction or Cluster B personality disorders, but wow, will those readers ever feel seen. I think, in a…

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Aster’s Good, Right Things by Kate Gordon

Aster's Good, Right Things is an important book about kids dealing with seriously heavy issues that, in a perfect world, they should never have to deal with. But this is reality for some kids in our very imperfect world, and this book will make these kids feel less alone. It has real potential to provide a sense of hope as well. Oh, Aster. What a lovable character you are. I felt for her right from the start. Aster feels bad—not just bad; fearful—about feeling happy. She's 11 years old and living with an anxiety disorder, and though it isn't specifically named in the book, it reads just like obsessive-compulsive disorder (she acts on compulsions—doing good, right things—to manage her anxiety…

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