TTT – Books That Lived Up to the Hype

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, and this week’s topic is Books that Lived Up to the Hype. I have reviewed almost all of these; links to the reviews are under the cover images!




The Astonishing Color of After

trail of lightning

Trail of Lightning

city of brass

City of Brass

rebel of the sands

Rebel of the Sands

spinning silver

Spinning Silver

summer of jordi perez best burger los angeles

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

gentleman's guide to vice and virtue

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue


Children of Blood and Bone


The Power

Book Review: Red Clocks

red clocks dystopiaRed Clocks
by Leni Zumas
Feminist Dystopia
350 pages
Published January 2018

Red Clocks first caught my attention because it’s set in a small fishing town in Oregon, my home state. After that, learning that it’s a dystopia where abortion and in vitro fertilization have both been banned outright meant I HAD to read it. Of course, I got it from the library some weeks ago and had so many other books to read that I didn’t get to it until the day it was due back to the library! Luckily, I read fast!

I think the cover description oversells the book a little. I wouldn’t call Gin’s trial “frenzied” nor the drama exactly “riveting” but it did keep my attention throughout the book. I really enjoyed the relationships between the characters, and the point that none of them really know what is going on in each other’s personal lives. One moment I particularly liked is slightly spoilery, but I loved how Ro was able to put her personal feelings aside to help Mattie, her student. That was really, really hard for her, but she recognized how much damage it would do to Mattie to not help her.

I think I found Gin the most interesting – given all the reading I’ve been doing lately about autism, her entire personality screams autism to me, but she was never labeled as autistic. So I’m marking her as a possibly autistic character. (I’d love if any of my autistic readers could weigh in on that, if you’ve read the book!) Between preferring to live in the woods with animals and NOT around people, specifically, and the way she reacts to the textures and smells in the jail when she’s arrested (shoving the bleach-scented blankets as far away in the cell as possible, and refusing to eat the food), and how she stumbles over her answers in the courtroom when she’s interrogated – it seems likely.

My only actual complaint about this book had nothing to do with the writing or plot! But it refers to the ghost pepper as “the hottest pepper known to man” which the Carolina Reaper growing in my backyard would have an issue with!

Other than that very minor quibble, I thought this dystopia was pretty good. I’m always interested in Reproductive Rights-related dystopias. This isn’t as good as The Handmaid’s Tale, but it’s MILES better than Future Home of the Living God. It’s good at showing the lengths women will go to, to ensure their own reproductive freedom. Outlawing abortion doesn’t eliminate abortion. It just makes it less safe.

From the cover of Red Clocks:

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom. 

Ro, a single high school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own while also writing a biography of Eivor, a little-known nineteenth-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted forest-dwelling herbalist, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt. 

Red Clocks is at once a riveting drama whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. In the vein of Margaret Atwood and Eileen Myles, Leni Zumas fearlessly explores the contours of female experience, evoking The Handmaid’s Tale for a new millennium. This is a story of resilience, transformation, and hope in tumultuous – even frightening – times. 

Sunday Link Roundup

A short steampunk story about a queer autistic female paleontologist.

Book Riot has an excellent summary of what is going on with WorldCon and the Hugo awards.

If you’re not acquainted with Randy Rainbow’s videos yet, you should be. He’s amazing.

While I’m pimping out YouTube channels I should also mention Mary Lambert. I absolutely adore her and her music.

That Bookshelf Bitch (she has great lists! She’s the compiler of the Asian Sci-fi list from last week!) has a list of cheap and discounted places to get books legally.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has a trailer out for the Netflix adaptation. I haven’t read the book, but after seeing that trailer, I want to!

This thing. Holy crap. I could be mesmerized by that thing for HOURS.

Pride Beach Towels!

I participated in a Twitter Book Club discussion about The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) on Thursday, hosted by @YA_Pride. It was really fun, and I’m a little sad they’re skipping August, but I’ll definitely be watching for September’s Book Club announcement! I linked to the first tweet in the discussion, but there’s several more, non-threaded. My full review of Jordi Perez will be posted soon!





Book Review: Sky in the Deep

sky in the deepSky in the Deep
by Adrienne Young
335 pages
Published April 2018

Sky in the Deep came out in April to a LOT of hype. It’s mostly deserved. The plot is a little odd; the two clans come together every five years to fight in a blood feud between their gods. But they only fight every five years in a designated place – if you really hated each other, why wouldn’t you try to wipe out the other tribe all the time, instead of letting them rebuild their strength for five years? And then this third, mysterious tribe shows up and is enough for you to set aside all your anger at each other? I don’t know. It’s a little weird.

That oddness aside, I loved this story! I loved Eelyn’s fierceness, and also her willingness to see the Riki as people too. Eventually, of course. In Eelyn we have the definition of a strong female character. (She’s not the only one, either!) She is admired for her fierceness and strength, but not seen as any less female. Women are warriors in her culture too.

It’s a pretty straightforward book, with a few graphic scenes of violence in the fights. Everything happened pretty much as I expected it to, but I still enjoyed seeing Eelyn grow and change throughout the book. It’s also very atmospheric; I could almost hear the snow crunching beneath boots, the rushing roar of the mountain river, the quiet creaking of the frozen lake. Young’s writing style pulls you right into the book and doesn’t let you go.

Set aside your questions about the plot’s logic and just enjoy this book. It’s wonderful.

From the cover of Sky in the Deep:

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings – and all heart

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield – her brother, fighting with the enemy – the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Friday 56 – The Pisces

The PiscesThe Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The rules are simple – turn to page 56 in your current read (or 56% in your e-reader) and post a few non-spoilery sentences.

Today’s quote is from The Pisces by Melissa Broder. Lucy is in therapy for love and sex addiction; she gets too obsessive about her lovers.

Of course, I didn’t say a word about Adam. I didn’t want them reprimanding me or giving me any healthy advice. I knew what they would say: I wasn’t supposed to be dating yet. And meeting up with strangers in alleys doesn’t constitute conscious dating. But maybe I didn’t want to be conscious.

Full review should be up next week!

Book Review: The Empress

the empressThe Empress
by S.J. Kincaid
Fantasy Space Opera
378 pages
Published 2017

The Empress is an excellent follow-up to The Diabolic; Tyrus and Nemesis have claimed the throne, but now they have to keep it. Due in part to ancient machines, that is harder than it sounds. Despite Nemesis’ cold practicality, she is also somewhat idealistic. She picks freeing the servitors (slaves, basically) as her big goal for when she becomes Empress – with shocking results.

Tyrus’ and Nemesis’ combined goal is to bring science back to the people; in the first book we were introduced to the concept of ruined space – space that had been torn apart by hyperspace jumps and now consumes everything it touches. But since the Helionic religion had banned all science, no one knew how to do anything about it other than avoid it. Their solution is to go to the head of the religion itself and talk him into reversing that decree. In doing so, we learn a lot more about why the empire is floating out in space, and why the decree was given.

It’s always hard to talk about middle books in trilogies without giving too much away about the first book, or the plot as a whole. So I’ll just say that, like the first book, this kept me guessing, and the twists of the plot came as incredibly shocking surprises. S.J. Kincaid has an amazing ability with plot twists. And the end of this book – oh man. I do not want to believe that things truly are as bad as they seem. I want this to be a redemption story. But at the same time, things have been done that can’t be undone.

If you read and liked The Diabolic, you should continue the trilogy with The Empress. However, while The Diabolic ends in a way that could leave it as a standalone, The Empress ends on a clear cliffhanger. The third book has neither a title nor a cover yet, but is supposed to release this fall? I’m guessing that will be delayed, which is bad, because I NEED IT.

From the cover of The Empress:

An Empress is GRACEFUL.

An Empress is a PARTNER.

But most important, an Empress is HUMAN.

It’s a new day in the Empire. With Tyrus on the throne and Nemesis at his side, they can find a new way forward – one without hiding or scheming or bloodshed. They can form a galaxy where science and information is shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. There are those who have no intention of letting this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who’s considered a mere killing machine, rule without a fight.

In order to protect Tyrus, Nemesis must prove her humanity to the Empire. But if this means she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning?