Hidden Warrior by Lynn Flewelling. ★★★1/2
I’ve finally gotten around to reading Hidden Warrior, the sequel to the coming of age fantasy novel, The Bone Doll’s Twin. In my review of the first book, I noted that I was reserving judgement on how well gender is handled until I’d read the second book. And wow am I judgmental about how Hidden Warrior handled the themes it set out to explore.
To recap, in The Bone Doll’s Twin a king has taken the throne from his sister, the rightful heir. A long ago prophecy says the country will never be defeated as long as a woman of the proper lineage sits on the throne. Since prophecies are serious business in fantasy novels, the king starts killing off all female relatives who could be a potential threat. When his sister gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl, a wizard takes matters into her own hands to preserve the girl, the “true heir,” by using dark magic to give her the shape of her brother. Oh, yes, this also involves the death of her brother.
Keeper of the Dawn by Dianna Gunn. ★★★★
I loved this fantasy novella! I picked it up mainly because I heard the protagonist was asexual (true), and I ended up with a novella that was beautiful in so many ways and really resonated with me.
Lai’s mother and grandmother before her have been priestesses, and Lai can’t imagine any other life for herself. In order to become a priestess, she must win through the trials, for only one girl can be selected by the gods as the next priestess. But what about after the trials? What will happen to the friends she’s in competition with? And what if… she fails?
Final Girls by Mira Grant. ★★★
I’ve read some of this author’s work under the name Seanan McGuire, but I’d never read one of the stories she wrote as Mira Grant. I had very little idea of what to expect going into Final Girls. I knew that it involved a virtual reality program being used for therapy, that it focused on sisterly bond between two women, and that it may involve horror aspects. All of those were true, but it also turned out to be a novella. So I read this one a lot quicker than I expected!
Dr. Jennifer Webb has invented the method and technology for using virtual reality for therapy. To heal her clients of old wounds, she’ll send them through a virtual reality horror simulation, where they’ll feel completely immersed in the narrative. This therapy is usually used to rebuild strained family bonds, but she’s giving journalist Esther Hoffman an exclusive look at her techniques, which include Esther taking a trip via Dr. Webb’s proprietary VR tech. Esther has built her career debunking fraudulent therapy techniques, and she just can’t wait to disprove Dr. Webb. However, as she and Dr. Webb undertake a VR journey, events in the outside world influence them in ways they could never have expected.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. ★★★★★
Sometimes I read a book that I have no idea how to review. A book that’s so remarkable, so moving and affecting, that anything I have to say will feel hollow by comparison. But I’m going to give this a go anyway.
Most of what I review is either science fiction or fantasy, so The Hate U Give is a rarity for me – a contemporary YA novel! I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve read one of these. Anyway, I kept hearing about how amazing it was, as well as how timely – it was inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement – so I decided to get a hold of a copy. And boy, am I glad I did.
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig. ★★★1/2
The Girl from Everywhere contains one of the most original time travel methods I’ve ever seen. More than that, it’s simply a beautiful book.
Nix has grown up on her father’s ship, traveling from one place and time to another. Their travel depends on hand drawn maps from the original time period, each of which can only be used once. Her father wants nothing more than to find a map which can take him back to 1868 Honolulu and Nix’s mother before she dies in childbirth. He wants to save her and rewrite history… even if it means rewriting Nix. What will happen to her if her father get’s his heart’s desire?
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie. ★★★★
The Edge of the Abyss is the high octane sequel to the fabulous The Abyss Surrounds Us. Bad news? You have to read the books in order. So if you aren’t familiar with The Abyss Surrounds Us, grab yourself a copy before diving into The Edge of the Abyss. And do pick up a copy, particularly if sea monsters, pirates and f/f romance sound at all up your alley.
Also, spoilers will follow for The Abyss Surrounds Us. So beware!
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher. ★★★★
This wonderfully written YA fantasy novel would appeal to fans of Robin McKinley’s fairy tale works.
Rhea’s life takes an unexpected turn when a local lord requests her hand in marriage. She doesn’t want to get married, much less to a stranger who’s as old as her father, but when you’re the daughter of a miller, you can’t tell a lord no. Then Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his manor house before the wedding. There she finds both dark magic and his six other wives. If Rhea doesn’t act quickly, she’ll share in their fate.