Queen of Nothing (T.A. Pratt)

Queen of Nothing is the ninth of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 20.3.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Plot:
Rondeau and Pelham are waiting for Marla to show up after her required month in the underworld is over. Except, she never shows and the longer she is late, the more worried they become that something is seriously amiss. After all she spent the last month as a god and something really bad must have happened for her to not stick to the bargain. Rondeau and Pelham go to B to see if he can find out more by conjuring up an oracle, when an unlikely maybe-ally-definitely-former-enemy shows up and appears to help.

Queen of Nothing is the penultimate of the Marla Mason novels and it already feels like things are starting to get wrapped up a little. That doesn’t mean that there is nothing interesting happening anymore, but it does feel a little bittersweet.

The book cover showing an empty, spiky throne in an icy landscape.
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Uncharted (Alli Temple)

Uncharted is a novel by Alli Temple.
Finished on: 27.2.2021
[I won this in a Joyfully Jay giveaway.]

Content Note: sexualized violence, (critical treatment of) misogyny and homomisia (more details here)

Plot:
Georgina, called George, was able to live her life in relative security so far. Even though women are very limited in what they can do and how they can move about, her brother, who is responsible for her, has been mostly ignoring her, which gave her the chance to engage with the resistance against the cruel Prince and his repressive policies that seem more interested in sending out more and more ships and sailors to die at the hands of Pirate Captain Cinder than feeding the people who remain at home. But everything changes when her brother announces that he has engaged her to the very Prince George has been fighting against. Before that reality can really sink in, George and her maid Rosie are kidnapped, though, by Cinder and her crew and everything changes yet again.

Uncharted was a really good read. Entertaining, interesting world-building, nice characters and a lesbian pirate love story – yes, please. The pacing, especially with regards to the romance, wasn’t always perfect, but I did enjoy it a lot.

The book cover showing a dark-haired woman with a crown and ball gown, her back towards the camera. Behind her we can see a big sailboat and the sea.
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Angelfall (L. Penelope)

Angelfall is the second novel in the Eternal Flame series by L. Penelope.
Finished on: 21.02.2021
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

Plot:
Lyrix is the first angel to emerge in a thousand years. This means that she is still closest to the angels’ power source and should become a Seraph – one of the four angel leaders – relieving the fifth youngest angel. But Lyrix feels that she needs to explore the world a little more. That includes spending time with Wren. He is angelborn – his mother is an angel, his father human – and thus at the very bottom of the angel hierarchy. He, too, feels pulled towards Lyrix. But there is no room for their relationship in their world – so they hope that maybe in the human world, they are allowed some freedom.

Angelfall is a nice, quick and very enjoyable read but I also have to admit that I’m not too sad that there aren’t any more novels in the series. Though if Penelope ever continues writing it, I might pick it up anyway.

The book cover showing a woman from the nose down in a ripped shirt, below her a cityscape.
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The Knife of Never Letting Go (Patrick Ness)

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness.
Finished on: 19.2.2021

Content Note: cissexism, animal abuse, colonialism

Plot:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a settlement town on another planet. When the human settlers arrived, they waged a war against the original inhabitants of the planet and they struck back with a weaponized virus that killed all women and girls, and gave the men and animals telepathy. Todd grew up knowing nothing but the Noise of the men and animals around him, and as the youngest settler is just about to reach adulthood. But one day he is out and about with his dog Manchee and finds a quiet spot in the Noise. Disturbed, he returns home where his guardians Ben and Cillian turn his entire life upside down, send him away and hint at the fact that Todd doesn’t know the whole story. From one moment to the next, Todd finds himself on the run, but how can you run when everyone can hear your thoughts?

I bought The Knife of Never Letting Go many years ago and never got around to reading it. Now with a movie adaptation coming out, I decided to give it a go, although by now I had started to see the premise of the book very critically. Given how much I loved A Monster Calls, I didn’t want to give up on it prematurely, but maybe I should have. The book really didn’t work for me.

The book cover showing a red knife on black background.

[SPOILERS]

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Queer*Welten 01/2020

Queer*Welten is a queer-feminist fantasy and scifi magazine, edited by Judith Vogt, Kathrin Dodenhoeft and Lena Richter. It contains four short stories and an essay.
Finished on: 14.2.2021

Queer*Welten fills a gap in the German SFF scene by having an explicitely queer-feminist mission. That in itself would be reason enough to support it any way you can. But fortunately it’s not all the magazine has to offer – it gives us a wide range of stories that probably has something to offer for everyone.

The magazine cover showing a colorful word cloud in the shape of an heart.
Read More About Each of the Stories

Misspelled (ed. by Julie E. Czerneda)

Misspelled is a short story collection edited by Julie E. Czerneda.
Finished on: 5.2.2021

Misspelled is an anthology with stories all about spells that go wrong somehow. The stories are all humorous in tone, but, as usual, not all of them work equally well. Each story in this collection is introduced by a narrator who also comments on it at the end – a bit like an MC. I found that a little irritating, but not so much that it actually bothered me. Overall, the collection didn’t blow me away, though I liked more stories than I didn’t like.

The books cover showing a young woman leaning on a stone table with a key on it, with a kind of lens-flare effect over the image that includes a couple of ghostly figures.

Read more about each of the stories after the jump.

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Lady of Misrule (T.A. Pratt)

Lady of Misrule is the eighth of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 21.10.2020
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Plot:
When Marla awakes from her month in the underworld, she faces quite a few surprising changes in the mortal world. For one, Pelham and Rondeau are in trouble (well, that may not be the biggest change) and things are happening in Felport. But that is not even the biggest issue: there is something walking the earth, looking for gods to kill – and it might as well start with Marla. The threat is so big that Bradley Bowman, overseer of the multiverse, sends a part of himself to that particular universe to make sure that it doesn’t spread from there. Things are dire. Or, to put it another way, just another Tuesday for Marla.

Lady of Misrule takes fans of the series on a rather comfortable ride – until it hits you with a suckerpunch of an ending that left me with my mouth open. Talk about a cliffhanger – I will need to read the next one soon.

The book cover showing the drawing of a grumpy looking brunette in a tank top. She's having a coffee at a bar, but there are tentacles everywhere. She has speared one of the tentacles in front of her with a dagger.
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Bride of Death (T.A. Pratt)

Bride of Death is the seventh of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 5.6.2020
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Plot:
After the deal Marla made with Death, she returns from the underworld and her goddess status to be herself again on earth. But her divine self has left her human self with a clear mission: Do Better. And part of that doing better is hunting monsters. To find those monsters, she enlists Nicole – or rather Nicole’s head which is all that is left of her. As a chaos magician, Nicole can easily track the monsters and it’s not like Marla is leaving her any choice in the matter – although Nicole would much rather see Marla dead. They get on the road and pretty quickly, Marla is in much deeper shit than she anticipated – again.

Bride of Death focuses on Marla and shows how she’s changed. This makes Bride of Death an extra treat for fans of the series. Everybody else should start at the beginning.

The book cover showing a dark-haired woman with a hatchet and a head in a bird cage standing in front of highway and a white motorcycle.
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Grim Tides (T.A. Pratt)

Grim Tides is the sixth of the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 6.12.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Plot:
Marla Mason had to leave Felport behind, and now she is in exile – on Maui. With Rondeau. Who is super rich, albeit struggling with his new body. It could be worse. If only Marla could find some way to occupy herself. Her business as an occult detective doesn’t really do the trick – although she’s been asked to solve a murder. That Marla is at such a low point is the perfect opportunity for some old enemies, and maybe a few new ones, to try to get their revenge. But even at her low point, Marla is a formidable opponent with interesting friends, so she will not go down without a fight.

Grim Tides is a good, fun read and continues Marla’s story in interesting directions. I enjoyed it a lot.

The book cover showing a woman standing between two tiki statues, glowing magical symbols emanating from her hand.
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Bone Shop (T.A. Pratt)

Bone Shop is a prequel novella to the Marla Mason novels by T.A. Pratt.
Finished on: 10.10.2019
[Here are my reviews of the other Marla Mason novels.]

Plot:
16-year-old Marla has had it rough in her life so far and she’s ready to start fresh in Felport. By chance, she stumbles into a world filled with magic. And while she may not have an innate magical telling, she is stubborn enough to make up for that, as her mentor Artie quickly discovers. He takes her under his wing. Marla isn’t alone in working for Artie and learning from him, though – there’s also Daniel who becomes an important part of Marla’s life.

Bone Shop is a very enjoyable look at Marla’s youth and a nice read. Even though it is a prequel, I think it’s better not to start with it, but rather read it in publication order, as I did. That way, you’ll get the most out of it.

The book cover showing a woman in a dark, smoky cloak with red lights clutching a skull.
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