Two thumbs up for The Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox. Historical fantasy.
I think this was marketed as literary fiction, but it has a literal angel in it—so. This exquisitely-written novel spans the adult life of a French vintner, Sobran, starting in 1808, when he accidentally meets an angel, Xas. They strike up a friendship—Xas visits Sobran one night a year.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros. Historical fantasy.
I have read a lot of excellent books this year but this one is in the Top 3. Alter Rosen, a young Jew in Chicago, 1893, is trying to keep his head down and raise enough money to bring his mother and sisters over from Romania. But boys from his community are disappearing—and the next one is his roommate (and crush).… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for The Witness for the Dead and The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison. Fantasy.
Thara Celehar—a side character I didn’t remember from The Goblin Emperor—can ask questions of the very recently deceased (most often “who killed you?” but also “where is the secret scone recipe?”). His job is not, per se, detective, but a lot of what he does do would fit fine into a police procedural: he trudges around Amalo asking questions to get justice for the dead, with more than a few stops at the local morgues and cemeteries.… >> Read more
Two thumbs way up for Popisho by Leone Ross. Magical realism.
In Popisho – a vibrant archipelago in which everyone has a single magical gift – Xavier Redchoose will use his gift to cook a perfect meal for each resident, once in their life. The governor’s daughter is getting married, and the governor is pressuring Xavier to cook the wedding feast – jumping the line, so to speak.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Princess Jellyfish Volumes 1-9 by Akiko Higashimura.
Tsukimi, a young woman obsessed with jellyfish, lives in a shared house with other shy female nerds…and the owner’s about to sell. Not only will their nerd collective be broken up, but the historic building will be torn down for new developments. Oh no! But enter Kuranosuke, a local rich boy (and also fabulous cross-dressing fashionista) who refuses to let them give in to inertia…and that’s just the setup.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Stations of the Tide by Michael Swanwick. Science fiction.
After I finished Dune I picked up Stations of the Tide, which was an unintentionally funny back-to-back read, as Dune is about desert ecology and Stations of the Tide is a very, very wet book. It takes place on a planet being evacuated in preparation for its bicentennial inundation: an ice cap is melting and soon the planet will be an ocean.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China that Never Was by Barry Hughart. Fantasy.
I was (am) reading a beautiful but very sad book, so I picked up Bridge of Birds, long lingering on my TBR list. Good heavens, why did I wait? Bridge of Birds is a picaresque fantasy of chaotic event, genuine heart, satisfying plot development, and many laugh-out-loud moments.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Master and God by Lindsey Davis. Historical fiction.
The Emperor Domitian comes to power; then slowly falls into paranoia. Watching his rise and fall (and each other) are Imperial hairdresser, the freedwoman Flavia Lucilla, and soldier Gaius Vinius Clodianus. Davis’s other historical novel, The Course of Honour, is one of my favorite books, so I figured I would, by comparison, be disappointed by this one.… >> Read more