Breaking the Bubble: Non-SFF Reading in February

I’ve been trying to read some books outside of science fiction and fantasy to get a feel for other genres. I don’t want to spend the time it would take to write full reviews for these books, so I decided to make a roundup series of mini-reviews I’m calling “Breaking the Bubble.” This month includes…

Review of Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve

Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve. ★★★★ Do you want a YA novel about a lesbian werewolf and a genderqueer zombie becoming friends? You bet you do! And Out of Salem is just that book! In a horrible accident, Z’s entire family died. And so did they. Only, they’re still walking. Z’s looking at a new, uncertain future…

Review of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao. ★★★1/2 Unfortunately, I just didn’t like this as much as the first book, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. What I really loved about Forest of a Thousand Lanterns was the anti-heroic female lead, Xifeng. I love me a good anti-heroine, and Xifeng more than scratched that itch. But Kingdom of the…

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. ★★★1/2 TW: forced marriage, threat of sexual violence, parental abuse I know everyone loves this novel, just like everyone loves Uprooted. Meanwhile, I had a very conflicted relationship with Uprooted. While I liked most things about it, I cannot emphasize enough how much I abhorred the borderline-abusive romance subplot. And when others told…

Review of The Girl King by Mimi Yu

The Girl King by Mimi Yu. ★★★ 1/2 TW: Sexual assault The Girl King is the start of a new YA epic fantasy series where two sisters are rivals for the throne of an empire. Lu has spent her entire life preparing to become the first female emperor, the Girl King. Her sister Min lives a quieter…

Review of Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria. ★★★★ I knew anything by Destiny Soria would be amazing, and Beneath the Citadel did not disappoint. It’s kind of like a queer, young adult version of Lies of Locke Lamora. The city of Eldra is ruled by prophecies, and the high council’s control over the prophecies is what lets them maintain power….

Review of Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst

Fire and Heist by Sarah Beth Durst. ★★★1/2 Ever since I heard Sarah Beth Durst was writing a heist novel starring were-dragons, I’ve been dying to read it. Unfortunately, my expectations may have been a tad too high. Sky Hawkins is going through a rough patch. Months ago, her mother disappeared in the midst of pulling…

Review of Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson.  ★★★★ I’ll read pretty much anything Brandon Sanderson writes, so it comes as no surprise that I rushed to pick up Skyward, his new young adult science fiction novel. Spensa has always longed to be a pilot like her father… even when he flees in the middle of battle and is shot down…

Review of Toxic by Lydia Kang

Toxic by Lydia Kang. ★★★ The ending of Toxic was more gripping than the beginning, but the story didn’t manage to really suck me in. Toxic is a YA science fiction novel following two teens aboard the dying biological space-habitat Cyclo. Hana was created in secret by her mother in violation of the community population laws and has never been…

Review of Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean. ★★★1/2 I have such mixed feelings about this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first 75%, which felt super full of tropes and not particularly original, but then the very end flipped the entire book on its head! Empress of All Seasons is centered around a competition, a familiar…