Azanian Bridges (Nick Wood)

Azanian Bridges is a novel by Nick Wood.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 21.9.2018

Plot:
In a South Africa where Apartheid is still in full swing, Martin is a white psychologist who developed a machine that can deeply connect two people with each other. He is ready to proceed to human testing wiht his Empathy Enhancer and finds an ideal subject in black Sibusiso who was traumatized at a political rally. Sibusiso agrees and when it turns out that the machine actually works, more than one party is interested in the machine, leading to both Martin and Sibusiso finding themselves thrown into politics much deeper than they ever thought possible.

Azanian Bridges has an interesting setting and set-up but in the end, the execution was very flawed and didn’t manage to convince.

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Letters for Scarlet (Julie C. Gardner)

Letters for Scarlet is a novel by Julie Gardner.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 18.9.2018

Plot:
When they were teenagers, Corie and Scarlet were best friends, basically inseperable. Now 28, Corie finds a graduation letter she wrote and completely forget about. Having to face her past, she is confronted again with what happened to her and Scarlet and Tucker. Meanwhile Scarlet also has to face facts: she is pregnant and pretty certain that she will be a horrible mother who deserves nothing good. Through letters both of them explore feelings, both old and new, they haven’t figured out yet.

Letters for Scarlet is a nice, quick read that something was a bit much for me and that I didn’t entirely love. But I enjoyed it for the most part.

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The Spirit Gate (Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff)

The Spirit Gate is a novel by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 15.9.2018

Plot:
Kassia is a shai, a woman born with the mark of the goddess. And she is the first woman to be allowed to study magic under Master Lukusha. In fact, she is the first woman in ages to be allowed to study and practice magic at all, which means that most of the shai magic has been forgotten. Despite the people like Lukusha’s assistant Zakarij doubting her, Kassia throws herself into her studies – as much as being a single mother allows her to.

The Spirit Gate was an enjoyable read with a good protagonist that wasn’t absolutely great, but it definitely wasn’t bad at all.

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Out of Tune (Ed. by Jonathan Maberry)

Out of Tune is a short story collection edited by John Maberry.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on 8.9.2018

Content Note: sexualized abuse, rape

All of the stories in Out of Tune are based on old ballads. To make the connections between the retellings and the originals, each story is commented on by Nancy Keim Comley. I really appreciated those comments. In fact, I would have liked a more extensive commentary and more info on the folklore behind the stories.

Overall I found the collection rather middling, with a couple of highlights that literally stood out from the rest of the stories.

More about each of the stories separately after the jump.

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Mistress of the Solstice (Anna Kashina)

Mistress of the Solstice is a novel by Anna Kashina.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 4.9.2018

Plot:
Marya is the Mistress of the Solstice, the high priestess of their cult. Her most important task is to perform the annual sacrifice of a virgin to Marya’s father, the immortal tsar Kashchey. This sacrifice is necessary to keep their kingdom save and prosperous. But then Ivan shows up, Ivan the Fool, youngest prince of a neighboring kingdom. Ivan is on a quest to kill Kashchey and get rid off the sacrifices once and for all. He is not the first to try. But when Marya and Ivan meet, they are both knocked off course.

I really enjoyed reading Mistress of the Solstice. It’s well-written and imaginative and really profits off the setting that draws on Russian folklore.

The book cover showing the drawing of a woman dressed in white with a flower crown in a forest.
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Immunity to Strange Tales (Susan Forest)

Immunity to Strange Tales is a short story collection by Susan Forest.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 1.9.2018

Immunity to Strange Tales is a good collection of very different stories. Not all of them worked equally well for me, but it does have a few really strong ones. And since the stories are so varied, it’s pretty easy to find something to your taste. I really enjoyed it.

The book cover showing a cat with strange eyes in front of a moon.

More about each of the stories after the jump.

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Tritcheon Hash (Sue Lange)

Tritcheon Hash is a novel by Sue Lange.
[I got this book from a LibraryThing Early Reviewer Give-Away. I am not early with my review, but honest.]
Finished on: 27.8.2018

Plot:
Tritcheon Hash lives on the planet of Coney Island. Coney Island is home to only women: after all the male violence on Earth, the women just up and left. Now men and women only see each other once a year at the sperm against male babies exchange. Things have been going smoothly for a while and talk of reunification have been stirring. But since Earth is covered in a cloud of pollution, making satellite observation impossible, Coney Island needs to send a spy there in person to see if the men are ready again. The chosen spy is Tritcheon who leaves her wife and kids behind to take on the mission – which reconnects her to her own past.

I think that Tritcheon Hash thinks that it’s making some kind of feminist point but that point completely backfires. And narratively it didn’t blow me away, either.

The book cover showing a drawn woman in a kind of space suit.
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Arcanum 101 (Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill)

Arcanum 101 is a prequel to the Diana Tregarde series, written by Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill.
Finished on: 15.8.2018

Plot:
When he’s 15 years old, Tomas Torres discovers quite by accident that he can throw magic fireballs. Hoping to help his family out with the money, he lets himself and his skill get employed by the mafia who can always use an untraceable arsonist. But it doesn’t take long until he gets caught. Instead of prison, Tomas finds himself in a school that is filled with kids who have powers. And there’s VeeVee, star pupil, who gives him a tour first thing. But Tomas doesn’t want to be there, no matter how pretty VeeVee is.

I am not familiar with the series Arcanum 101 is a prequel to (the series isn’t about Tomas and VeeVee, though). In fact, I wasn’t even aware this was part of any kind of series at all at first. Having read it now, I would be willing to check out the rest of the series, although Arcanum 101 didn’t really show me why I should.

Book cover showing the silhouette of a head and hand with ball of light in front of its face.
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The Autograph Man (Zadie Smith)

The Autograph Man is a novel by Zadie Smith.
Finished on: 12.8.2018

Content Note: ableism, homomisia, fatmisia

Plot:
Jewish Chinese Londoner Alex-Li Tandem buys and sells autographs. It’s infrequent work, but he has managed to build enough of a reputation to be able to live off of it rather comfortably. It is also a convenient way to keep an eye on anything by Kitty Alexander, a long and almost entirely forgotten actress who has barely signed anything ever. Alex-Li has been sending her a letter every week, in the hopes of getting another signature or just a sign of life. When the hoped for reply arrives, Alex-Li’s quest only starts.

The Autograph Man did not work for me. It’s nicely written, but it suffers from an absolutely unlikeable protagonist and I was also weirded out by how Alex-Li’s Jewishness is treated. It was mostly my own hard-headedness that made me finish it at all.

The book cover showing a drawing of two men in a wrestling ring.
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Fantasy Magazine 41

Fantasy Magazine 41 is the August 2010 issue, edited by Cat Rambo and Sean Wallace. It contains four short stories.
Finished on: 4.8.2018

While there wasn’t a story in this small collection that I fell absolutely in love with, I liked reading them all (most of the time). I felt they were all worth reading – which is not always the case with anthologies – even if it would have been nice if there was one among them that I connected with more strongly.

A simple red cover with a white dragon on it.
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