Radio Silence is the first novel in the Off the Grid Trilogy by Alyssa Cole. Finished on: 16.7.2021
Content Note: threat of rape
Plot: Arden and John were roommates in Rochester, New York when something happened that turned the whole world upside down – no more electricity, no more internet, no information on what is going on. It has been a few weeks and things have gone from bad to worse, so the two decide to hike to the Canadian border where John’s family has a cabin. John hopes to meet them there and that life in the countryside is still a bit safer than in the city. But just before they reach the cabin, they are attacked. Fortunately, John’s gorgeous brother Gabriel comes to the rescue. Navigating this new life isn’t easy, and definitely not made easier by Arden’s attraction to Gabriel, or Gabriel’s controling tendencies.
Radio Silence was a really good read – I practically read it in one sitting and enjoyed it all the while. Good characters, nice setting and a main pairing that has excellent chemistry – nothing more I could ask for.
Plot: Lydia Charingford has left her past far behind her with the help of her family and her best friend Minnie. The only person who still reminds her of that most difficult time and who still could ruin her, is Doctor Jonas Grantham. Despite knowing about her past, Jonas has no such inclination, though – he would much rather win Lydia over for himself. If only she’d give him half a chance to do so. When he sees an opening to spend more time with her, he proposes a wager – and Lydia accepts.
A Kiss for Midwinter is a sweet read that explores its characters’ vulnerabilities in a really wonderful way, but the romance didn’t quite get off the ground for me in this one. I still enjoyed it, but it didn’t make me squee as it should have.
Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 3 contains two short stories, a comic, an essay and a mix of several short pieces in different forms about heroes. Finished on: 12.7.2021 [Here are my reviews of the other issues.]
The third issue of Queer*Welten collects yet again different perspectives and voices within SFF that both talk about and show how different SFF could be if it wasn’t just a white cis dude club. I really like how they always manage to include so many different facets of the issues they talk about – this issue is no different in that regard, but a lot different from what SFF often offers.
Plot: Alina and Mal have made their way across the True Sea where they hope to build a new life for themselves in anonymity and far from the Darkling. For a while, this works out. But the Darkling hasn’t given up on Alina and her powers, and he has gained some new powers himself. When he finds them in hiding, he brings them back to Ravka with the help of privateer Sturmhond – but not before taking a detour that will affect Alina and her powers even more.
I wasn’t absolutely enthusiastic about the first novel, and Siege and Storm engaged me on about the same level of enthusiasm. The book is a good read, but I had at least as many issues with it, as I enjoyed it.
Plot: Charlie and her parents used to be a good team, but since her dad died, her mom has gotten obsessed with her own weight – and with Charlie’s. Constantly leaving her diet suggestions, Charlie feels that her mother is never happy with her. It feels like the only person who is firmly in her corner is Amelia – who is everything that Charlie is not: beautiful. Athletic. Popular. In a relationship with a cute boy. When Brian takes an interest in Charlie, instead of easier, things get even more complicated for her.
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is an absolutely lovely, wonderful and cute book that I wished I could have read when I was a (fat) teenager. But better now than never!
The Trouble with Time Travel is a short story collection edited by Catherine Valenti and Laurie Gienapp. Finished on: 6.7.2021 [I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]
I like time travel stories, so this anthology sounded very nice. As usual with anthologies, the quality between stories varies a little, though overall I’d say that it is pretty good, albeit not great, here. Definitely good enough to check it out – you’ll probably finde one or the other story you like here.
Hush is the first novel in the Hush series by Dylan Farrow. Finished on: 2.7.2021
Plot: Shae lives at the edge of a small village with her mother. They are just about tolerated in town since Shae’s brother died of the Blot, a highly contagious illness transmitted by ink which is why reading and writing are outlawed. The only people who don’t seem to fear that Shae might still be carrying the Blot are her best friend Fiona and Mads, the neighbor boy who may be more. But not even with them Shae has shared the fact that something is wrong with her, that her dreams and her embroidery are bleeding into reality. When the Bards come to town, Shae hopes to receive their blessing and healing, just like the entire town. While the town receives rain from them, Shae isn’t so lucky. And after they are gone, Shae’s mother is murdered, leaving her without hope and with very few options. So she risks it all and travels to the High House, where the Bards live, hoping to get help from them.
Hush is a pretty good read, albeit not deviating far from young adult fantasy standards. As it is being touted as a feminist book, I was expecting a little more from it in that regard, but I did like reading it overall.
Plot: Tue is a Black woman in Berlin. She grew up on Biskaya, an island state that is part of the EU, but moved to Germany when she was still pretty young. Now she is the singer in punk band with a pretty good reputation and some success. But Tue struggles with her mental health, with being a Black queer woman in Germany, with her band members and with her flatmates. It is only with her best friend Matth, also queer and Black, that she feels at home.
Biskaya is an ambitious book. In some ways it is rather obvious that is a debut novel and maybe not quite as polished as you’d expect, but it is definitely worth it for the interesting perspectives it provides.
Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. Issue 2 contains three short stories, a comic and an essay. Finished on: 22.6.2021 [Here’s my review of the first issue.]
Queer*Welten again offers us a broad range of what SFF has to offer, though in this issue, I think I liked the essay best. The three stories weren’t bad, but just didn’t work for me as well as the essay. The comic that was included isn’t actually part of the SFF spectrum, but it fits the mission of the magazine, so I didn’t mind that. Looking forward to the next issue.
Mutterschoß (literally: Mother’s Lap) is a novel by Elea Brandt, set in Ghor-el-Chras. It was not (yet) translated into English. Finished on: 10.6.2021 [I received a copy of this book to review, or, as they say in German, this post is Unbezahlte Werbung.]
Content Note (for this review): ableism, abortion, slavery [there is a complete list included in the book itself and available at the author’s homepage]
Plot: Ajeri is a midwife. Since she also performs abortion and is a former slave, her standing is difficult, but she likes her work. One of her clients, Midena, is just about to give birth – hoping it will be finally the heir her husband Bailak, head of the slaver’s guild, has been waiting for. But Midena has been plagued by nightmares recently, and when her labor comes early, everything goes wrong very quickly. Ajeri calls for a doctor to help. To her dismay, it’s Shiran who shows up – arrogant doctor’s apprentice and an old acquaintance of Ajeri. They start fightnig for Midena’s life, but it’s too late for her. The child is alive, but it is not right. Ajeri finds herself on the run, blamed for what happened, while Shiran is tasked by Bailak to figure everything out or risk losing everything himself. Ajeri and Shiran both realize soon that there is a dark force after the pregnant women of the city.
Mutterschoß is a good read with an openly feminist message, which I always appreciate. But I struggled a little with how the book deals with ableism, so I couldn’t love it unreservedly.