Witch King, by Martha Wells
OK, fine, I read this one in June, but I had started the audio in May, so I decided to finish it. Great upon a second read/listen.
At the Edge of the Woods, by Kathryn Bromwich
Second audio of the month. This is an atmospheric novella about a woman running from a dangerous past who takes up residence in a remote village in the Italian Alps in a decrepit cabin. She creates a peaceful life there for awhile, even though there are some uncanny happenings and the villagers treat her like a stranger. While short on plot, it has loads of moody feelings. Creepy short read, beautifully written.
The Iron Princess, by Barbara Hambly
New fantasy world from a beloved (by me) author. I’ve said before that nobody does world-building like Martha Wells, but I have to admit that Barbara Hambly also does it well and has done it for longer. While this snuggly fits into the sword and sorcery genre, Hambly’s political/religious machinations make it worthwhile. A sorcerer trapped in alternate world for 75 years is rescued by Clea and her friends in order to help her stop the Crystal Mages from overpowering her world. There is a lot, lot more to it than that, but to really explain it would take paragraphs. Suffice it to say, this was a fun book, well thought out and executed.
The Pirate and the Porcelain Girl, by Emily Riesbeck and N.J. Barna
Guys! This is such a great, surprising book. Outcast pirates, a girl whose wish went really wrong, religious zealots, and lost gods—this book takes on so much, but does it deftly. The cast of characters is absolutely delightful (so much that I hope there are more books in this world) and the action-packed story will sweep you off your feet. Highly recommend.
The Lady and the Octopus: How Jeanne Villepreux-Power Invented Aquariums and Revolutionized Marine Biology, by Danna Staaf
While this book is written for kids, it is the only biography of the female natural scientist who invented the aquarium. “What,” you say. Exactly. Jeanne VP was a fascinating woman who took her interest in the natural world to new and exciting places. Born to a poor family in France, she rose to fame for creating the wedding dress for a princess, married a rich Irish merchant and moved to Sicily where she spent twenty years studying the environment around her—most importantly the waters of the Strait of Messina. Nearly forgotten, her incredible life is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Capture the Sun, by Jessie Mihalik
Last in Mihalik’s Starlight’s Shadow series and I was kind of ready for it to be done. This was not nearly as fun as the Consortium Rebellion series (which I’ve reread a couple of times). The world and story felt too contemporary to be the far future and the alien Valova were just humans with weird eyes and mental powers. Not to mention that the characters from the two cultures all hook up—it’s like everyone has to have a romantic partner by the end. Kind of weird. This book follows Lexi and Nilo has they save their friends from Starlight’s Shadow (ship) who are being held in a maximum-security detention center in enemy territory. Action is exciting, but I found myself just trying to get through this book.
Charlotte Illes Is Not a Detective, by Katie Siegel
A funky little mystery that I listened to. Charlotte “Lotty” Illes was once a famous child detective, but now she is 25 with no job, no prospects, a dismal dating life, and living with her mom. She hasn’t worked a case in ten years and is tired of her childhood fame following her. She reluctantly goes to see her brother when his girlfriend begins getting threatening notes, but stumbles onto a bigger mystery involving murder and kidnapping that takes her to NYC to investigate. Funny and silly and sometimes clever, this book is mostly about being stuck in your twenties as you try to get your life started.
Enola Holmes: Mycroft’s Dangerous Game, by Nancy Springer
I’m always up for new Enola Holmes stories and this one is based on a short written by her original creator and adapted to comics by an all female team. This story is more of a branch off the timeline of the Netflix series. As a one-off though, it was still super fun. Plus, graphic novel!
Bright Dead Things, by Ada Limón
Limón was a poet laureate of the US. I hadn’t read any of her other work. It was a rather long collection and a lot of it did not resonate with me. There were a couple of poems that I really like, but more often I liked just a line or two rather that whole poems. This collection starts with setting up house in Kentucky with her partner, addresses early family traumas and her youthful reactions, and how those events still cycle through her life. Some lines that I really liked:
“Isn’t it funny? How the cold numbs everything but grief.
If we could light up the room with pain,
We’d be such a glorious fire.”
“Before the road between us there was the road beneath us, and I was just big enough not to let go”
Into the Riverlands, by Nghi Vo
Third book in The Singing Hills Cycle of novellas. In this one, our narrator Chih wanders into a bar fight and winds up traveling with a group of strangers into the dangerous River Lands where they experience history in the making first-hand. Reading Vo’s work becomes more pleasurable the more I read.
Frederica, by Georgette Heyer
Comfort reread, of course.