A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith. ★★★★
Trigger warning: self harm, suicide
Reiko is carving a path of hatred. After a stint in a psychiatric hospital, Reiko’s been sent to stay with relatives in Japan and work on her emotional issues. But Reiko is still consumed with hatred and anger for all those who she perceives as having wronged her – her ex-girlfriend, her brother, and her cousin who’s forcing Reiko and the other employees at her uncle’s graphic design firm to help her build a lifestyle brand.
When Reiko’s cousin Akiko decides the next step in building her brand is a culture festival at a historic village preserved to reflect the Edo period, Reiko is dragged along as a photographer. But she soon finds herself slipping backwards in time, into the life of Miyu, a young woman who shares Reiko’s obsession with vengeance.
After Atlas by Emma Newman. ★★★★
After Atlas is a novel set in the same universe as Newman’s stellar science fiction novel, Planetfall. However, the two books are completely distinct and can be read independently. In fact, After Atlas is actually a mystery novel in addition to a science fiction story.
After Atlas presents a very dark vision of the future. Democracy has failed, and the world is ruled by hybrid government/corporations – govcorps. Carlos Moreno, who’s mother left aboard the spaceship Atlas, had the misfortune of being rounded up and sold as a debt slave. For the next thirty years, he’ll belong to the Ministry of Justice, where he works as a detective. But a new case threatens the fragile boundaries he’s constructed to preserve his mental state. His uncle, Alejandro Casales, and leader of a religious cult has been found dead in a hotel room, and Carlos will be forced to examine his past.
Plastic Smile by S.L. Huang. ★★★1/2
Plastic Smile is the fourth novel in the Russell’s Attic series, a usually action oriented science fiction series about an anti-heroic woman with superpowers based on math. I suggest reading the series in order, starting with the first book, Zero Sum Game. This review may contain spoilers for prior books.
As part of her attempt to become a better person, Cas Russell has decided to fight crime. Being Cas, she decides to find the most mathematically efficient way of crime fighting. She hits upon a device that emits subsonic signals that break up group thought. Subliminal brain control over the entire Los Angles area. What could go wrong?
The Reader by Traci Chee. ★★★
The Reader is the start to a new YA fantasy series set in a world where reading is virtually unknown… but for those who learn it, it gives magical powers.
After her father was murdered, Sefia has spent her entire life on the run with her aunt Nin, carrying the strange object left to her by her father. When Nin is kidnapped, Sefia is determined to rescue her. She soon realizes that the object is a book and that it may prove the key to rescuing Nin.
Root of Unity by S.L. Huang. ★★★1/2
Cas Russell and her mathematical superpowers are back! Root of Unity is the third book in Russell’s Attic series (start with Zero Sum Game), a series of fast paced, science fiction action thriller’s. Cas Russell has superhuman math abilities which she uses to work as a mercenary, instantly calculating the trajectory of bullets and the exact parabolic arcs needed to leap between buildings.
However, Cas is also trying to become a better person. It’s a strange journey for our anti-heroine, and Roots of Unity opens with her “falling off the wagon” – killing people again after she’d gone all of book two without murdering anyone. Over the course of the last two books, she’s found something very new for her: friends. Cas is horrible at interpersonal relationships, but she’s trying her best to learn this friendship thing.
Shoggoths in Bloom by Elizabeth Bear. ★★★1/2
Shoggoths in Bloom is a collection of short stories by prolific science fiction and fantasy writer Elizabeth Bear. Like any collection, there were stories I liked and stories that I didn’t care for. However, I’d say that I enjoyed the majority of stories in the collection.
The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells. ★★★1/2
The Wizard Hunters takes place in the same setting as some of Martha Wells’s previous novels, most notably Death of the Necromancer, but is the start to a new trilogy. I didn’t find it to be among Martha Wells’s best outings, but it was still an enjoyable fantasy novel.
If Death of the Necromancer has parallels to the Victorian era, The Wizard Hunters has clear parallels to World War II. Basically, it’s taking Ile-Rien, a setting I’ve grown to love through Wells’s previous books, and literally blowing it up. For Ile-Rien is under attack from a mysterious and unknown enemy, the Gardier, who’s black airships seem to appear out of nowhere and who display no mercy.