Maeve Fly by CJ Leede

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To start, I'd like to thank Tor Nightfire for the ARC.

This book gripped me on page one; I didn't want to put it down, and when I had to, I found myself wandering back to Maeve and her horrifying yet fascinating personality.

Leede's writing is brilliant. She really captures the essence of a late twenty-something in Anaheim, CA with the notion that they are other, superior, a lone wolf. Her descriptions were visceral and disgusting, and I mean that in the best way possible. Though the book isn't overflowing with gore, there is a fair amount of it, and it is done with finesse and tact.

While I enjoyed the story, I would have preferred the ending to be less obvious. However, despite being predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed Maeve's journey into madness and debauchery from beginning to end.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers set in California and female serial killers.


Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction

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Africa Risen is a great collection by new-to-me writers. Each story provides a fascinating take on common science fiction or fantasy plots, and I appreciated reading tales that weren't influenced by Western culture. There were many stories I enjoyed and only a few I didn't care for. What follows is a list of all the stories within this collection, listed in order of my preference:

IRL

The Lady of the Yellow-Painted Library

The Papermakers

A Soul of Small Places

The Sugar Mill

Ghost Ship

Biscuit and Milk

Air to Shape Lungs

When the Mata Wata Met a Demon

The Blue House

Mami Wataworks

A Girl Crawls in a Dark Corner

The Soul Would Have No Rainbow

Ruler of the Rear Guard

Exiles of Witchery

Door Crashers

Rear Mirror

Hanfo Driver

A Dream of Electric Mothers

Star Watchers

Liquid Twilight

A Knight in Tunisia

The Taloned Beast

The Carving of War

Peeling Time (Deluxe Edition)

Housewarming for a Lion Goddess

The Devil is Us

Cloud Mine

March Magic

Simbi

Once Upon a Time in 1967

Deification of Ogodo


I would recommend this collection to anyone looking for a sci-fi/fantasy collection written from a new perspective. With the large collection of stories, there's sure to be something for everyone.

*Thanks to Tor for providing me with an ARC.*


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

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Truth be told, it took me a while to get sucked into Kvothe's story. But, at around page 150, I was all in!

Rothfuss is a phenomenal storyteller. His prose is delightful and easy to read, and his descriptions were lush without being flowery.

Kvothe is an intriguing character and, despite being gifted, he fucks up a lot. It helps that the story begins when he's in his early teens; his development and journey feels more honest and realistic because of his numerous faults.

The magical elements are also understated, which I appreciate. It was refreshing to see magic as a natural part of the world instead of the main focus. Though magical elements are there, and add quite a bit to the story, Kvothe's growth as a person is at the forefront of the tale.

Though a long read, I recommend The Name of the Wind to anyone looking for a great fantasy novel that focuses more on character than magic.


Leech by Hiron Ennes

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What an ambitious debut! A parasitic Institute, the gothic landscape of a dystopic future, humans with machines for body parts, and another parasite on the verge of destroying life as Verdira and Inultus know it.

I initially picked this up because I loved the comp. title, Wuthering Heights. Unfortunately, nothing about Leech, apart from living in isolation, found its way into this novel. Sure, there are gothic elements galore, and some parallels to Frankenstein, but if you're looking for a deeply flawed yet realistic romance, this isn't the book you're looking for.

I loved the prose. Ennes has a knack for imagery and setting. My main criticism is that there was too much going on. In isolation, many of the elements would have worked well, but lumping them together and stitching them into a whole at the tail end of the novel didn't really work. I also felt let down by the ending, but perhaps it was meant as a cliffhanger.

Though it wasn't perfect, I'd recommend this to fans of ambitious sci-fi with a gothic slant.

*Thank you to Tor for the advanced copy.*


The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

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The Book Eaters is a fantastic fantasy debut and my favorite read this year. It tackles themes such as tradition, motherhood, trauma, and found family while staying grounded and whimsical. I loved the contemporary yet quirky background of the Families, and I adored Devon and Cai.

The six Families are backward, conservative, and traditional. Everything they do is for the greater good of the book eater line. However, when Devon's son is born with a proboscis tongue, she knows they'll never let him live. He is a mind eater and must be taken care of.

The novel weaves the past with the present in a way that solidifies the horrors of the Families and the traditions they uphold. I recommend this to anyone who appreciates a grounded fantasy, family dynamics, and novels that upend and question tradition.


Traces by Sophie Johannis

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Traces is a phenomenal debut. It is poignant, beautiful, and compelling. Aiden and Cole play off each other really well, and I felt their relationship was both heartwarming and the perfect amount of awkward.

Without giving too much away, Traces is a novel about Aiden, a girl who’s just learned she’s an empath. If you like YA fiction with a dash of magical realism and psychological fiction, I highly recommend it.

I’ll definitely be picking up Below, the second novel in the Traces trilogy., once I’ve worked through my current TBR.


Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

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Call Us What We Carry is a poetry collection with emphases on the pandemic and BLM movement. I enjoyed a great deal of the poems and appreciated the historical facts and statistics. My only criticism is that the collection went on far too long. After a while, the pieces repeated themselves with little to no added value. I would have preferred this much more if it had been half the length.

Here are my two favorite quotes:

"We mourn the past more than we miss it." - from "In the Deep"

"What endures isn't always what escapes/& what is withered can still withstand." - from "Cordage, or Atonement"


A New Calling by Sylvian Breker

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*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.*

A New Calling is a phenomenal paranormal debut. The main character, Alyssa, is frequently difficult to sympathize with but feels real and raw in a way that complements the subject matter. Though she’s often dislikable, her actions and feelings toward the world around her are realistic given her age and past experiences.

I also appreciated how the paranormal aspects were sprinkled into the story instead of taking center stage. As the first novel in a series, I enjoyed the character-driven plot and world-building. By the end, there were plenty of questions left unanswered, providing the perfect transition into the second book.

Breker’s prose reeled me in and left me wanting more.

If you enjoy adult paranormal fiction, I recommend giving this a shot. It doesn’t hurt if you, like the author, also enjoyed the Twilight series growing up. If A New Calling had been published when I was in high school, it would have ticked all the boxes.

Potential triggers: sexual assault, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies


The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

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I’ve been a fan of John Green since 2014 when a fellow undergrad mentioned Looking for Alaska. I fell in love with Green’s writing like Hazel Grace falls for Augustus—slowly and then all at once. Ever since that first taste, I’ve read everything he’s published. So, when The Anthropocene Reviewed hit stores, I was the first person at my local Barnes & Noble to receive a copy. They literally had to open a box so I could purchase the book.

I realize John Green has discussed similar things in a podcast of the same name but, as of this post, I haven’t listened to an episode. I went in with nothing but the notion I would learn more about one of my favorite authors and finished with exactly what I expected. Though there’s nothing novel about John’s rating format, I enjoyed his ramblings and heavily sourced material. I learned about many things I would have never stumbled across myself, and for that I am grateful.

Though I don’t usually offer my favorite quote from books, I believe I’ll start doing so because it offers a snippet of me that you might otherwise never see. For reasons I’ll leave up to your imagination, this one stood out among the many other gems: “One of the strange things about adulthood is that you are your current self, but you are also all the selves you used to be, the ones you grew out of but can’t ever quite get rid of.”

I give The Anthropocene Reviewed five stars.


Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

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Flowers for the Sea reminded me of the Binti series in many ways. The prose had a similar tone, the protagonist was "chosen", and each tale took place on a ship.

Though I enjoyed this short book, it felt like an introduction and left me wanting more. I also would have preferred a longer book, to flesh out the characters and world a bit more. Nevertheless, it was a decent debut and I intend to read future books in the series.

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