City of Strife by Claudie Arseneault. ★★★1/2
Trigger warning: abuse
I picked up City of Strife because I heard it was a second world fantasy that had a lot of aro and ace characters. Turns out the entire main cast is queer!
In the city of Isandor, merchant families vie for power. But a new threat looms… The Myrian Empire aims to expand, and the first step is to conquer the city-state of Isandor. Yet the merchant families will not recognize the threat the Myrian enclave poses. The only one willing to fight the Myrians are the House Dathirii, led by an idealistic young lord. People throughout the city — from the noble’s towers to the slums of the lower city — will find themselves charting the course for Isandor’s future.
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig. ★★★
This YA time traveling book is the sequel to The Girl from Everywhere, and I suggest the series be read in order. While I find the time traveling method quite novel, reading The Ship Beyond Time made me realize I wasn’t caring about the characters enough to want to continue with this series.
Nyx has finally taken the helm, directing her family’s ship through the tides of history. She’s thrilled… until she learns what fate awaits her. She’s destined to suffer the same fate has her father, losing the one she loves. Is it possible to change time itself? A mysterious stranger claims he knows the secret of it, and he requests Nyx’s presence at a mythical island where nothing is as it seems.
Snake Eyes by Hilary Monahan. ★★★1/2
Trigger warning: Sexual assault, violence
Snake Eyes is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. There’s no way I’m ever forgetting it.
Tanis Barlas is the daughter of the Lamia, a monstrous snake woman from Greek mythology who cares little for her human daughters. Yet she retains a tight control over all her offspring, and Tanis is forced to every month find a man for her mother to mate with and then devour. The only thing making her life bearable is her human girlfriend, Naree. But then two events change Tanis’s life forever. Her mother’s ancient enemies, the Gorgons, arrive in Florida hunting them, and Naree becomes pregnant. With Naree in danger, Tanis will do whatever she must to keep her lover safe.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. ★★★1/2
This turned out to be one of those books that makes me wonder if I’m a shallow reader. How could I not have loved A Closed and Common Orbit? All of my book friends are raving about the humanity and loveliness of it, and I’m sitting here being like, “Yes, but I was bored for half of it.”
A Closed and Common Orbit is a loose sequel to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but can easily be read independently. Lovelace is a spaceship’s artificial intelligence system, but after a complete shut down and reboot, she wakes up in an artificial body with no memory of her prior existence. She now has the task of figuring out who she is and what her purpose is in life, as well as adjusting to pretending to be human. From the beginning, she’s aided by Pepper, an engineer who’s own past as a Jane, a clone built to work in scrap factory, parallel’s Lovelace’s. A Closed and Common Orbit alternates between Lovelace’s (now Sidra’s) start at life and Pepper’s past as Jane.
Resistance: 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.
Legion: 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.
The Innkeeper Chronicles: Volume One by Ilona Andrews. ★★★1/2
I’ve long been a fan of Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniel books, but The Innkeeper Chronicles was the first time I’ve checked out some of their other work. This edition is the first three books in the series bound into one volume. For plot specific commentary, I will divide this review into separate parts, so you can read without fear of spoilers.
Dina seemingly runs a humble B&B in an ordinary Texas suburb. However, Dina’s B&B has an unusual set of clientele: aliens. Her permanent guest is a former galactic tyrant with a huge bounty on her head, and Dina regularly plays host to such species as genetically modified were-wolves and space vampires. The Innkeeper Chronicles is an eclectic mix of urban fantasy and science fiction. As ever, Ilona Andrews blew me away with sheer inventiveness of the world they created.