Hunger Makes the Wolf by Alex Wells. ★★★★
I’m not sure how I found this book, but I’m so glad that I did. It’s a kick ass science fiction story with a great world and two female leads who are both strong in their own way.
Tanegawa’s World is a company planet, controlled by TransRifts Inc, which has a monopoly on interstellar travel. Those blacklisted by the corporation tend to wind up dead. Yet some resist the might of TransRifts. Hob’s a Ghost Wolf, a mercenary biker troop that does what TransRifts won’t. They’ve run under the radar of the corporation, never directly challenging them. Then Hob finds the body of her adopted uncle out in the desert, shot in the back. The reasons are unknown, but the culprit is clear. And worse than that, his daughter and Hob’s best friend, Mags, is missing.
River of Teeth by Sarah Gaiely. ★★★★
River of Teeth is more awesomeness than I thought could ever be packed into one novella. This little book is sheer fun!
I’ve been wanting to read this novella ever since I saw Sarah Gailey’s tweets about the history behind it. Basically, in 1909, America was facing two problems: a meat shortage and invasive plants in the Mississippi. Well, one U.S. congressman had a bright idea. We could import hippos to live in the Mississippi. They’d eat the invasive plants and provide a source of meat. Brilliant, right? The rest of Congress certainly thought so. The motion failed by only one vote. Presumably because someone finally pointed out that hippos are the most dangerous African mega-fauna. But if the vote had gone another way, what would America have been like? River of Teeth is a story of the American Hippo, although set earlier than the real world history that inspired it.
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss. ★★★★
In The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, Theodora Goss mixes together some popular literature of the 19th century (particularly science fiction and horror) with an emphasis on female characters.
The story opens with Mary Jekyll burying her mother. Her mother’s death has left her penniless, and she has no idea what course her life will now take. Then she discovers that her mother paid a monthly sum for the care of “Hyde.” Mary immediately remembers her father’s old associate, who still has a reward out on him for information leading to his capture. She takes the information to London’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his associate Dr. Watson, who are themselves investigating a series of gruesome murders. Mary quickly learns two things. Firstly, “Hyde” is not her father’s old associate but his young and troublesome daughter, Diana. Secondly, the mysteries of her heritage may be bound up in the current murder case.
Black Wolves by Kate Elliott. ★★★★
Trigger Warning: Rape
This may be my favorite read yet from Kate Elliott, and I have the feeling that this trilogy will become one of my all time epic fantasy series. If non-Western epic fantasy with loads of ladies who do things sounds like something you’d like, then you need to read Black Wolves.
The first hundred pages of Black Wolves introduce many of the central characters, but everything then changes after a forty-four year time skip. King Anjihosh saved the Hundred from demons and conquered it in the process. The story starts with Kellas, a captain of the Black Wolves, the king’s elite unit of soldiers and spies. The king’s son, Atani, learns of a family secret and soon after disappears. Kellas is tasked with his retrieval. The first section ends soon after. In the time skip, Atani both became king and was murdered on one fateful night still shrouded in questions and mysteries. Now Atani’s son is king, and he fears that no one around him can be trusted. His aunt Dannarah enlists a now elderly Kellas to return to safeguard her nephew and his kingdom.
Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. ★★★★
Trigger warning: Sexual assault
Parable of the Talents somehow manages to be even darker than the first book, Parable of the Sower. Of course, I knew it’d be dark. Octavia Butler’s work is always intense. But even prepared for it, Parable of the Talents was difficult to read in places.
Like it’s predecessor, Parable of the Talents follows Lauren, a young woman driven by her religious revelations of something she calls Earthseed. At the end of Parable of the Sower, Lauren had formed Acorn, a small community based around Earthseed. Six years later, the world is a less chaotic place than it was during Parable of the Sower. Things are still bad, but they’re bad in a different way. Mobs of arsonists and looters are no longer the main threat to Acorn. The danger is instead in growing religious intolerance and the rise of a far right Christian group, Christian America, that wants to make “America great again.” And by “great,” they mean their type of Christianity.
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. ★★★★
I’ve always loved science fiction mysteries, and Six Wakes did not disappoint.
Maria Arena is a clone. Whenever she dies, she wakes up in a new body with memories from whenever she last downloaded them. But now Maria has awaken in a new body where her old one is still floating dead — the entire six person crew of the spaceship Dormire are clones, and all of them have woken up with no memories of the last twenty years after they’ve apparently been murdered. Not only that, but the cloning machine is broken. If the killer strikes again, there will be no more second chances.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. ★★★★
I’ve heard a lot about Parable of the Sower. I only narrowly missed out on reading it in high school — the freshmen English teachers began teaching it when I was a sophomore. I’ve also heard people say that it’s eerily accurate to the United States after November 2016. I’ll come straight out and say it: I was scared to read Parable of the Sower. Octavia Butler’s books are always intense, and I didn’t know if I had the emotional fortitude to deal with Parable of the Sower.
Lauren’s gated community is an island of safety in a sea of chaos. Her father is a minister and college professor who mostly works from home — venturing out beyond the gated walls is dangerous. A wrecked economy and exorbitant prices for food and water have left many people poor and desperate. To make matters worse, a new drug that compels its users to start fires is gaining in popularity. Lauren’s community may have walls, but they are far from wealthy. They are the remnants of the middle class, and they are struggling to get by. And Lauren knows that it can only get worse. Eventually, their walls will fail and the hoards of impoverished thieves and drug addicts will descend on them.