Books! Books! Books!

A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
A short, powerful love story. A master class in subtle world-building. Set in what seems like a loose Phoenician-style city, with other characters that seem like Greek (or possibly Roman-style) soldiers. Throw in aliens/gods and parallel universes. There’s a lot going on, but it all sort of comes together in this short novel.

Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang
A collection of stories by one of my favorite science fiction writers. Read for “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”, “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, and “The Great Silence”. LeVar Burton read “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” on his podcast, which you can listen to here.

300 Arguments: Essays by Sarah Manguso
As Sarah Manguso says, this is “a short book composed entirely of what I hoped would be a long book’s quotable passages.” Describes it perfectly. A delightful book.

Normal by Warren Ellis
Sort of a mystery story. Futurists and other big picture thinkers have nervous breakdowns and go to a sort of asylum in the Oregon coastal mountains. It’s pretty funny and weird. I don’t really remember how it ended, but the body made of bugs was pretty memorable!

Shaolin Cowboy: Start Trek by Geof Darrow
Extremely violent, nonsensical, and borderline unfathomable martial arts comic. That’s some crab!

Rise of Empire (Riyria Revelations, v2) by Michael J. Sullivan
Epic fantasy. I’ve read a bunch of these now. Very readable and the relationship between the honorable ex-soldier and the mostly amoral thief/assassin is what keeps these books cooking.

Killing Gravity (The Voidwitch Saga, v1) by Corey J. White
Yeah, telekinesis would be pretty handy in space for wrecking things.

Grandville Force Majeure by Bryan Talbot
An alternate reality 1930s (?) London peopled entirely by anthropomorphized animals. (I kept thinking: What would this book be like if they were human people instead?) I realized upon finishing this that it was the finale of a series. Pretty good detective yarn, although probably it’s worth starting with the first in the series, in retrospect.

Tentacle by Rita Indiana
A deeply strange time-traveling, body(and gender)-swapping story about environmental catastrophe and oceanic ecological collapse. The writing is extremely raw and there’s much (justified) rage over the despoiling of the natural world.

The New World by Ales Kot
A Romeo and Juliet story, basically, in a near future authoritarian dystopia. It’s pretty fun.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
OK, what if Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursley were vaguely sympathetic and grew up having to wrestle with being non-magical and having a wizard brother? In this, the non-magical sister has to investigate a possible murder at the magical school where her sister teaches. I always want to figure out the twist, but I never do. This book explores some complicated family dynamics in a fastinating way. Also, really gets into how annoying dealing with magical teenagers would be.

Dead Lions by Mick Herron
I liked Slow Horses enough that I didn’t wait very long to pick up the sequel. I’m a sucker for spy stories and this one doesn’t disappoint. File it under: intelligence agencies are their own worst enemy.

Empty Space by M. John Harrison
The third in a gonzo sf trilogy. Capitalism will wreck the future, just like it’s messing up now. Definitely read the first one first, Light. It was so long since I’d read the first two that I’d basically forgotten what happened completely beforehand. I think these books pretty much stand on their own there.

Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories by Angela Carter
Angela Carter sure can write! I had already read a bunch of these stories in another collection, but Carter’s always worth a read.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (v1) by Fuse
Incredibly silly. Exactly what it says on the tin. I have no idea where this strange story is going to go.

Lolly Willowes; or The Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner
A charming book in which not much happens and also everything happens. Also, the Devil’s in it. I’ll definitely be reading other books by her.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
Kind of a kitchen sink sci fi yarn. There’s psychic abilities and weird mind and body altering drugs and ancient gods. Ambitious! Probably the most charming character, for me, was the politician/drag queen.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki
I wish there had been books like this, about adolescence and relationships, when I was one. Maybe there were and I just missed them? This comic’s got some important lessons in it, told in an entertaining style.

High Crimes by Christopher Sebela
A spy story told through a trek to the top of Everest. Pretty dark. I still can’t say I understand why people want to climb to the tops of mountains, but at least this protagonist had the threat of death to motivate her.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
A friend said that this book kicked his butt. That was very much my experience. There was much in it that hit a little bit too close to home. Extremely good, nevertheless.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Reminded me very much of Tim Powers’ books, especially Earthquake Weather and Last Call. A sort of time travel story. I enjoyed this one very much.

The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji
There’s a Japanese mystery genre called “shin honkaku” that roughly translates to “new orthodox”. Puzzle box, locked room mysteries. Detective in the drawing room style. This one’s very stripped down with the characters almost like puzzle pieces. I did not solve the mystery, but it’s very clever, and I didn’t feel bad for not piecing it together. (I first read about the book on Robin Sloan’s blog/newsletter here.)

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
It’s so strange reading a novel with characters as children and teenagers in the early 2000s. Thanks, novel, for making me feel old. A beautifully written book. I could tell it was written by a poet.

Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly
A comic adaptation of Romeo and Juliet told as a non-linear modern gang war. I never really got the Montague/Capulet feud until I read it here. R&J is so raw because it’s all teenagers.

Paper Girls (v6) by Brian K Vaughan
The conclusion to this series. I used to think that Saga was my favorite of Vaughan’s books, but I’ve gotta go with Paper Girls. I mean, it has time travel, which is a winner for me every time. Definitely start this series at the beginning.

Die: Fantasy Heartbreaker (v1) by Kieron Gillen
That RPG game turned real! Some good stuff here. I’ll definitely read more.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Based on the title, I was always going to read this book. It did not disappoint. It’s a book that seemed completely written for me. I only wished it was a little longer, but in a way, it was the perfect length. After I read it, I ran across this nice, brief write up of it on the Letters and Sodas blog here.

The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe
Another book that would’ve been extremely helpful to have read in my late teens and early 20s. I’ll be thinking about this one for a while. Holds up well for a book written in the 1950s, a decade that I don’t have much fondness for, generally, fictionwise.

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