Reading the 2017 Locus Short Fiction Nominees

The finalists for the 2017 Locus Awards have been announced! Honestly, I’m unfamiliar with most of the finalists for Science Fiction Novel, Fantasy Novel, and Horror Novel. Based off of the few that I’ve read, I’m rooting for After Atlas for science fiction and Certain Dark Things for horror, since I’ve adored both of those. For First Novel, I’m hoping for Roses and Rot or Ninefox Gambit, two of my favorite reads of 2016.

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Review of Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker

29850681Phantom Pains by Mishell Baker. ★★★★

Phantom Pains is the sequel to Mishell Baker’s phenomenal debut, Borderline, which dealt with issues of disability and mental health as well as being a really fun urban fantasy novel. While it would be possible to read Phantom Pains on its own, I recommend reading the books in order. Spoilers for Borderline will be included in the rest of this review.

Fourth months ago, Millie left the Arcadia Project to work for Inaya West and her new studio. She’s finally gotten around to trying to clean up magical residue from Stage 13 with her old boss Caryl, when she sees the ghost of Teo. Except, ghosts don’t exist and that shouldn’t be possible. To make matters worse, a Project agent is murdered and Caryl is accused. If she wants to save Caryl, Millie will have to take it upon herself to investigate.

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Review of Resistance by B.R. Sanders

22042997Resistance: A Novel of Aerdh by B.R. Sanders. ★★★1/2

In short, Resistance is about a bisexual elf and her girlfriend overthrowing the government. Now there’s an elevator pitch that grabs my attention!

Last year I read and loved Ariah by B.R. Sanders, so I decided to check out more books by the author. Resistance is their debut novel, which is set in the same world as Ariah. I had fun with it, but it never struck me the way Ariah did.

Shandolin is an elf in a city ruled by Qin. Although the majority of the city’s population is elfin, the vampire-like Qin retain tight control over the city. Shandolin is a rebel who runs an underground revolutionary press. She and her friends have managed to stay out of reach of the Qin… until Shadolin (Doe) finds one of her friends murdered in the street. The Qin have hired assassins to take out Doe and other elves who are resisting their rule. Luckily, Doe has the help of her friends and her girlfriend, Rivna, who is herself an assassin. The only way that they’ll ever be able to live openly again is if they organize the city to destroy the Qin’s strangle hold on power.

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Review of All Good Things by Emma Newman

32565574All Good Things by Emma Newman. ★★★★

All Good Things is the fifth and final book in Emma Newman’s Split Worlds urban fantasy series. You absolutely must read the series in order! Seriously, you will be totally confused if you pick up this book without the context of the previous books. If you’re unfamiliar with the series but fae and feuding families sounds like something you’d be into, go check out Between Two Thorns. Oh, and avoid the rest of this review because this late in the series there’s literally no way I can avoid spoilers for Between Two Thorns.

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Review of Monstress: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

29396738Monstress: Awakening. Writing by Marjorie Liu and art by Sana Takeda. ★★★★

Monstress is a darkly enchanting story told in comic book format. I read a bound version that collected the first six issues into something more akin to a graphic novel. I’m not generally much of a comic book reader (although I’ve picked up a bit of Ms. Marvel), but I just kept hearing such wonderful things about Monstress. And once I read it, I knew it was something I needed to review.

Monstress is a fantasy story, set in a world divided between two principal groups: the humans and the Arcanics. The Arcanics are the half human children of the immortal ancients, grown so numerous in number that they make up their own distinct group, gifted with some of the powers of their parents. Humans have no magic and are under the sway of the Cumaea, a group of priestesses who preach the purity of the human race and cannibalize Arcanics for the magic in their bones. Before the start of Monstress, the humans and Arcanics were at war, but now a tenuous peace exists.

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Review of Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

20886354Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson. ★★★

Looking back at my review of the first novella, Legion, I’m not really sure why I chose to read Legion: Skin Deep. Possibly I hoped it would improve? More likely, I just forgot that I wasn’t super thrilled with Legion and plunged head first into this one willy nilly.

Technically, you don’t need to read these books in order. The plot lines aren’t really related. The core concept of this novella series is the main character Stephan Leeds, who has hallucinations. However, these are no ordinary hallucinations. They appear whenever he studies any topic, gaining the knowledge that’s locked in his subconscious. They give him a panel of experts that he carry around with him at all times and allow him to have a lucrative job as an adviser and investigator.

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