The Original is a fast-paced and entertaining sci-fi thriller, best consumed in one sitting. If you like your audiobooks to go the extra mile, with sound effects and tense music at the appropriate moments, then I'm sure you'll very much enjoy this audio production, though for me, as someone who always listens to audiobooks sped up, it mostly just got in the way.
Spear is the story of a young girl raised by her mother alone in the woods, who knows destiny is before her and hears the lake calling to her, knows she must find her way to Artos' court. It's excellent retelling of sorts; I really enjoyed my time with this. The writing is beautiful, and the setting vivid. The story was given exactly the length it needed.
The Way Spring Arrives and Other Stories is a collection of translated Chinese SFF from female and nonbinary creators. I was really looking forward to picking this one up and was in no way disappointed. The prose throughout this collection was stunning; you can tell that every bit of it was carefully considered. The audiobook was also well-done and I particularly appreciated hearing the pronunciation of the Chinese words used, such as in the essays on translation. Speaking of which, the nonfiction essays explaining different aspects of the relationships between gender, translation, and Chinese literature were by far my favorite part of this collection. Not only were they intriguing and informative on their own, but they also enhanced my enjoyment of the stories themselves.
After loving Flesh Eater, I had solid expectations for the sequel Mother Pig, but also very little idea of where it would go. My expectations were happily exceeded, and the scope of the story significantly expanded. Now, instead of just Coal’s survival and freedom, the whole of Ruska is at stake, and Coal has five new companions to try and get along with, while trekking across the majority of the kingdom.
The Liar’s Knot does everything I loved in The Mask of Mirrors but even better. These books are long, and they feel long to read, so I can’t say I flew through it, but I did rarely want to put it down. From the first page there was so much happening and many questions I was eager to find answers to. I appreciate that M.A. Carrick didn’t keep harping on the same mysteries they set up in The Mask of Mirrors, but actually gave us answers, and then new puzzles to solve. There are connections throughout, of course, but I hate when a series keeps me wondering the same thing forever and ever (and ever) in an attempt to keep me engaged. There’s none of that here; Nadezra has more than enough mysteries to go around.
The Empire faces threats from all sides - an army of vengeful constructs, islands sinking into the sea, greedy politicians, the mysterious and all-powerful Alangra, and a brand new Emperor trying to hold it all together. What can Lin do in the face of all this, having denounced bone shard magic and with only an unreliable ex-smuggler and a mysterious magical creature by her side?
Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren has lived over a century in London collecting human souls. She’s despised by her fellow Reapers for her heritage and denounced by her father, with only her younger brother by her side. When her Shinigami powers grow difficult to control, she flees to Japan, hoping to find her mother and the acceptance she’s never had. But the Japanese underworld is dangerous and unfamiliar, and The Goddess of Death is not eager to accept her as one of her own.
Robert always gets what he wants because he makes those around him want it too. It’s an ability that should make his life easy and blissful, should give him anything and everything. And yet, arriving in Las Angeles soon before his 19th birthday, he brings nothing but a haunted past. But he meets people, people he thinks could be his friends, who might actually understand him. If only he’s willing to give up control.
After how much I enjoyed (SPFBO 6 semi-finalist) Spit and Song by Travis Riddle, I was excited for the chance to read his newest novel Flesh Eater, which is the beginning of the Houndstooth trilogy. This series takes place in a new world in which the characters are sentient animals (think Redwall) but retains the unique world-building and adventurous tone that I loved so much in Spit and Song and have come to expect from Riddle's writing.
For decades, the emperor has reigned with the help of his constructs, created with bone shard magic, tasked to keep the citizens in line and, should the need arise, to protect the islands from the return of the Alanga. More and more, however, people have been questioning whether this protection is worth the cost and what the emperor has been up to hiding away in his palace since the death of his wife. Lin, the emperor’s daughter, has many of the same questions, as she strives to prove to her father that she’s worthy to be his heir and learn his secrets. In further reaches of the empire, the smuggler Jovis is on the run and searching for his missing wife, while Ranami attempts to recruit her girlfriend, Phalue, to a rebellion against her own father, the governor of Nephilanu Island.