Thumbs up for Hen Fever by Olivia Waite. Historical romance.
A novella-length Victorian-era sapphic romance centered around a village fancy chicken contest. I very much liked the stuff about the chickens (droll, and all too believable) and the Crimean War (nicely brutal and sad). However, the actual romance fell a touch flat for me. What do they have together other than physical chemistry, and, I suppose, the limited options available to lonely lesbians in a small town?… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Masters in this Hall by K. J. Charles. Historical romance.
K. J. Charles doing her thing, which is to say, a vintage pulp plot involving stolen jewels, great Victorian-era detail, screwed-up heroes who have to figure out they don’t hate each other, sex, and lots of snarky dialogue. It always works.
The next day dawned bright and terrifying.
… >> Read more
Thumbs down for A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows. Fantasy romance.
I enjoy high-fantasy romance and, particularly, political fantasy, and I was pleased to see that Tor was coming out with one. So I had such high hopes! And I did immediately enjoy the prose; the author has a way with words. However. It didn’t take long before I started wondering if I should quit (despite how easily the pages flowed by), because I noticed that one of the main characters was just Decent Guy and the other one was just Traumatized Guy, and neither of those things is an actual personality.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Literature.
What a delightful trifle of a book! I can’t believe a comedy – a truly funny and shockingly good-hearted comedy – won the Pulitzer Prize. (Can comedies win things?) Our titular character, Arthur Less, almost fifty, a good but not famous or rich novelist, is invited to the wedding of his younger ex-lover.… >> Read more
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
Thumbs up for She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan. Historical fantasy.
This is a tough review to write because the criticisms I have of this book will make it sound like I didn’t enjoy it. And that isn’t the case. The pages flew by and I finished it in just a few sittings. Yet, in the startlingly specific category of “brutal, queer, low/no-magic fantasy in which a woman starts with nothing and takes over a pre-industrial empire through sheer determination,” I found it impossible not to compare this book with The Traitor Baru Cormorant, which I feel is a much better book in almost exactly the same number of pages.… >> 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