Review: Fevered Star

Title: Fevered Star (April 19, 2022)
Author: Rebecca Roanhorse
Pages: 384
Series: Between Earth and Sky #2 (Series Tracker)


Fevered Star is a worthy follow-up to Black Sun, one of my favorite books of the last few years. This is epic fantasy of the highest order and Roanhorse’s writing is a joy to read. 

While Black Sun was constructed like a ticking time bomb with a narrative structure that built towards an epic conclusion, Fevered Star is a quieter tale. It’s the calm after the storm that that hit in book #1. It’s a transitory time in the Meridian as factions grow, contract, splinter off, or soldier on. The characters scramble to consolidate power and lines are drawn in the sand.

Despite the more subdued action, I’m fully invested in these characters. Each POV brings something interesting to the table and Roanhorse uses this novel to position her chess pieces for the coming conclusion/confrontation/clash to decide the fate of this world. Several fuses have been lit, but we’ll have to wait until the third book to see them pay off. I know I’m looking forward to it.

★★★★

Review: The Art of Prophecy

Title: The Art of Prophecy (August 9, 2022)
Author: Wesley Chu
Pages: 544
Series: The War Arts Saga #1


After a very promising start, this one lost its hold on me along the way, as I struggled to stay invested in the secondary characters and plotlines. That said, The Art of Prophecy is action-packed, funny, and puts a fresh spin on the prophesied chosen one trope. Others will surely enjoy this more than I did, as there were a lot of elements to like here.

★★★¼

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy

Title: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (July 12, 2022)
Author: Becky Chambers
Pages: 160
Series: Monk & Robot #2 (Series Tracker)


A heartwarming continuation of the adventures of our beloved robot and human companions, Mosscap and Dex. Much like the first novella, I so enjoyed the time spent in this world and with its inhabitants. The shared bond between this unlikely pair is wonderful, as is the throughline exploring the nature of humanity. I hope this is not the end of their travels, because Becky Chambers has created a winning formula here – further cementing herself as a beacon for hopepunk storytelling.

★★★★¼

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Venomous Lumpsucker

Title: Venomous Lumpsucker (July 5, 2022)
Author: Ned Beaumont
Pages: 336


This is the most delightful book about mass species extinction that you’ll ever read. Ned Beauman employs pitch-perfect gallows humor to engage with human-caused environmental destruction in a fresh and exciting way.

I was quite charmed by Beauman’s madcap storytelling and clever writing and I lost count of the number of times I highlighted an amusing passage or chuckled to myself whilst reading this book. It’s very, very funny. 

The highest praise I can give a book is that it has “readability” and Venomous Lumpsucker has this in spades – fast paced, an engaging story, smart humor, and interesting characters. This book is a winner.

★★★★½

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Bone Orchard

Title: The Bone Orchard (March 22, 2022)
Author: Sara A. Mueller
Pages: 432


The Bone Orchard is an ambitious and inventive novel about the lengths someone will go for self-preservation amidst extreme trauma. 

While the main plot concerns a poisoned emperor and the subsequent whodunit – the real stars here are Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain. These five “boneghosts” are richly drawn and complex characters who answer to Charm, our central protagonist. Their relationship to Charm is fascinating and evolves in unexpected ways throughout the course of the novel. And, once I could keep all of the characters straight, I really enjoyed the world Sara A. Mueller conjured up – even if sometimes it felt like the narrative could have been tighter. Bonus points for an outstanding cover!

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Siren Queen

Title: Siren Queen (May 10, 2022)
Author: Nghi Vo
Pages: 288


Luli Wei was overlooked by the masses until she made it impossible to look away. After striking a brutal bargain to achieve her dreams, Wei finds her home on the silver screen. What follows is a mesmerizing (and hair-raising) coming of age tale about Luli’s rise into the spotlight.

Nghi Vo’s Old Hollywood is painted with a dreamlike brush. There’s a phantasmagoric haze over every event and every interaction. It’s mesmerizing and disturbing in equal measure. And, as impressed as I was with the tone and prose – I struggled to stay invested in Luli’s story as I found it a bit overstuffed and all over the place. Others will surely love this, but it was not quite my cup of tea when all was said and done.

★★★

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Sea of Tranquility

Title: Sea of Tranquility (April 5, 2022)
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Pages: 272


It’s easy to get swept away to Emily St. John Mandel’s far flung settings as the story briskly moves from moment to moment, character to character, and timeline to timeline. St. John Mandel’s writing is clean and the plot never lingers long enough for inertia to set in. And while that makes for a quick read, there’s a certain slightness to the story that’s hard to shake. St. John Mandel raises interesting questions and ideas, but doesn’t really explore them in any deep, meaningful way. 

I was lukewarm on Station Eleven, even though I loved the vibe and world St. John Mandel had crafted. I felt similarly about this book. I wanted to be more invested than I was and the major moments did not hit me as hard as I hoped they would.

HBO’s adaptation of Station Eleven is one of the best shows I’ve watched in years, so perhaps I just need to wait for Sea of Tranquility to get the same treatment someday.

★★★¼

My thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: How High We Go in the Dark

Title: How High We Go in the Dark (January 18, 2022)
Author: Sequoia Nagamatsu
Pages: 304


A euthanasia theme park, a talking pig named Snortorious P.I.G., and a funerary hotel. There is no shortage of dark humor to be found among the increasingly macabre story beats of How High We Go in the Dark. Even so, some sections are just incredibly devastating to read and that’s a credit to Nagamatsu’s excellent writing. 

Not every vignette worked for me, but the ones that did were awfully affecting. My investment in each small story waned as we moved farther away from the “present day,” but the ever-evolving interconnectedness of the narratives was intriguing to track throughout.

If you’re looking for an escape from our current pandemic-ridden world, this is not the right book for you. If you can put that aside, there’s some really effective storytelling at work here. 

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Justice of Kings

Title: The Justice of Kings (February 22, 2022)
Author: Richard Swan
Pages: 496
Series: Empire of the Wolf #1


An odd thing about this book is that the only character on the cover and the character mentioned in the book’s description as an “unforgettable protagonist destined to become a fantasy icon” is not the main character of the story! It’s certainly an interesting choice and I’m unsure whether or not it is an effective one. Helena, our actual main first-person POV character, is likable and authentic. We see Sir Konrad Vonvalt (the aforementioned coverboy/man) and the story itself through her eyes. It was a tad distracting trying to puzzle out how this served the greater narrative, and I can’t say I ever arrived at an answer.

Luckily, Richard Swan’s writing flows nicely and made for a pleasant reading experience. The murder mystery nestled inside the larger, empire-spanning conspiracy was compelling and left me curious to explore this world beyond what is shown in this specific story. I’m on the fence over whether I’ll continue on to book #2, but this was a solid start to an intriguing new series.

★★★¾

My thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.