Planetfall, by Emma Newman
I picked up this book as I’d read a mini-review of the fourth book in the series and the series sounded interesting. And it was. Set on a far-off planet, a colony of not-quite-cult members waits for their leader to return from a 20-year sojourn inside an alien structure. The story follows Renata—a genius builder who might be slightly mad—as she deals with the arrival of an outsider and the pressure of knowing more truth than she’d like. The world is striking—the alien planet, the alien structure, the daily life of the colonists, and the ideas surrounding belief. It’s not a terribly easy book and Renata can be a frustrating main character, but it reminds me of the best of mid-century sci-fi with the best of a diverse society.
Sick Kids in Love, by Hannah Moskowitz
This is a YA book that just came out. It follows Isabel, a teenager suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, as she meets Sasha, a teenager with Gaucher's disease, and falls in love. Neither disease is life-threatening, but it really messes with each character’s life. The characters have great discussions about what it means to have chronic illness and how hard it is to maintain friendships with other teenagers who just can’t understand. I really liked this one, and YA romance isn’t usually my thing. Isabel is flawed in an emotional way which stand between her and happiness with Sasha, but she realistically overcomes her hesitation and even begins to stand her ground with her friends. So while a bit schmaltzy at times, it was overall a good read.
Race to the Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse
Rick Riordan, of Percy Jackson fame, has a series now that features other writers writing about different mythologies. In this one, Native American author Roanhorse weaves a modern tale, for middle-grade readers, out of Navajo mythology. I’ve had a huge interest in Navajo everything since spending time in northern Arizona as a teenager. I really wanted to like this one more, but it felt very contrived. It was like reading a Percy Jackson book, but with different characters. I wonder if Riordan created a formula for each of the writers writing in this series. It wasn’t that it wasn’t well written, it just felt formulaic. Now, I’m not the intended audience for this one and kids who haven’t read tons of books probably wouldn’t notice. So, for kids I’d say, definitely give this one a shot.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Alix E. Harrow
This fantasy came out in September and seems to have gotten a lot of traction. Deservedly. Set in the early 1900s, January is a mixed-race girl being raised in the lap of luxury by an extremely wealthy man who employs her father to “treasure” hunt across the world. When January is nearly grown, she finds out that there are doors around the world that lead to other universes. She sets out to find her missing father with nefarious henchmen trying to find her. I almost thing I’ve said too much in this sum-up. A lot of the fun of this book is finding out about things as January finds out. And this book is a lot of fun. I don’t know if it’s meant to be a series, but there is part of me that wants more, more, more, but another part of me that wants it to be a standalone. I guess I’ll find out sometime in the future.
Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
This was a reread of a book I read years ago. It’s remained one of my favorites as it is a Pratchett book that takes all of his themes and wraps them up in one amazing package. The only other one I can think of that does that is Nation, but that one doesn’t take place in the Discworld. The themes I’m talking about are belief, governments, philosophy, self-reliance, responsibility, duty, and sense. I don’t think I can do justice to a sum-up of this book. Just know that Brutha is a wonderful character and what he lacks in wisdom he makes up for with good sense, and the villain, Vorbis, is right up there with Umbrage in terms of sheer creepiness.
Crazy in Love at the Lonely Hearts Book Shop, by Annie Darling
Another reread. (The end of the month was not good for me.) This series is so dang delightful. The first two books took on bodice ripper tropes and Pride and Prejudice, while this one is about using Wuthering Heights as a guide to life. Nina, bookseller in the Happy Ever After Book Shop, is a wild child—tattooed, pink-haired, and devoted to vintage fashion, she lives life to the fullest. But is going on a new first date every night living life right? As she starts to question her choices, she meets Noah, a straight-up nerd in navy blue clothes. It’s a romance, so I’m sure you can work out what happens, but it happens oh-so-good with just the right amount of drama. This one and the other two are definitely on my happy reads list. Fun, bookish, with just the right amount of romance.
Bad Feminist, by Roxane Gay
This was my bedside read for the month. I’ve heard a lot about this book and follow Gay on Twitter, but hadn’t read anything long-form by her. I actually picked up this book in a Little Free Library (and it is going into mine soon) and it’s been on the shelf for a while. I liked it, but not all that much. Maybe because it has been so hyped? I don’t read books of essays often, but this didn’t really make me want to read more. There was definitely some very interesting takes on feminism, dating, and sexual trauma, but I could have done without the pop culture reviews. I can see why she’s such a well-loved writer, it just didn’t do much for me.