Fifteen years after disappearing, Kass and Evie’s ne’er-do-well brother returns with a nonchalant excuse about traveling the world. Evie has long been convinced that he was taken by aliens, while Kass doesn’t care anymore in the detritus of her own life. Jakob was abducted by aliens and is a soldier in a war against an enemy trying to take over the universe. He needs help to get back, but can he and his sisters get along long enough to make it happen? I liked this book. It’s more of an examination of sibling relationships than truly sci-fi, but it is well done. Some of the chapters were a bit too long and delved into repetitive thinking, but a good story still.
Forest Hills Bootleg Society, by Dave Baker
Four teens try to make enough money to buy matching jackets by selling bootleg hentai anime DVDs. They are four very different girls joined together by circumstance through their ultra religious boarding school. As the money they make brings them closer to the jackets, their growing pains and conflicting personalities might just break them apart. This is a well-done story with excellent illustrations. It was good, but hard to recommend because it leaves you with a real world ending, which, like life, is not very satisfying. The characters struggles felt very real, so when things don’t work out, it is sad.
Long Live the Post Horn! By Vigdis Hjorth
A short, odd, existential tale about a woman finding new interest in life through the struggles of postal workers who are fighting for their jobs. I liked bits of this. The early parts were super tedious, but as the main character begins to expand her worldview, so the story opens up as well. If you like Nordic existentialism, this is for you.
All I Want, by Darcey Bell
Pregnant Emma and her husband Ben buy a dilapidated house in upstate New York and get to work on fixing it up. Ben spends his weekdays in the city, so Emma is left alone to manage the workers, but she soon finds evidence that their new dream house has dark secrets, which drives a wedge into her marriage. As with so many psychological thrillers, I found this book disappointing.
Light From Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki
I rewrote the book’s tagline to better reflect this story: A blend of fantasy and scifi set in the San Gabriel Valley, with a violin prodigy, a trans girl with an abusive past, Faustian bargains, queer alien courtship over some of the finest foods in the valley, and fresh-made donuts. There is a lot going on in this book and all of it is wonderful, with just the right amount of tension and hardship, and wonderfully wound up. Highly recommend.
The Book Haters Book Club, by Gretchen Anthony
A nice story. After the sudden death of Elliot, the co-owner of Over the Rainbow Bookstore, his partner wants to sell, but her daughters and his grieving widower want to hold on to the store. Family bonds, blood-related or not, is the thing that binds this story together. A quick, cozy read.
Comeuppance Served Cold, by Marion Deeds
In a 1920s Seattle where wealth is combined with magic, newcomer Dolly White is hired to be companion to socialite Fiona Earnshaw. But Dolly’s real motive is to gain access to Earnshaw’s vault, and if she helps several down-and-out magickers along the way, well, that’s a bonus. A really fun novella. Excellent world-building and magic system, all tied up in an action-packed story. Definitely recommend and I hope there are more.
Africa Is Not a Country, by Dipo Faloyin
This is one of the best books I have ever read, of any type or genre. It’s a nonfiction dive into what has made Africa’s countries they way they are—colonialism, imperialism, exploitation, power-grabs. But more importantly, it is a celebration of the people who inhabit the countries on the continent, with some special love given to Faloyin’s own Nigeria and Lagos. Faloyin’s gorgeous writing, his wit and charm, make even the most horrific practices of colonialism absolutely readable. At times enraging and frustrating, the narrative is balanced with the love and respect for the billions of people who live on the continent. I cannot recommend this book enough.
Chronic Pain Couple, by Karra Eloff
Second nonfiction book in a month! Look at me go. This book is due to come out in the U.S. in March and is being published by the company I work for. It is a really great look at intimacy and relationship issues that come with one partner in constant pain. Eloff is a health professional dealing with chronic pain herself and offers lessons she has learned while keeping her relationship with her husband a priority. Solid advice offered by someone who writes like a friend. Recommend for those it could help.
Salt Magic, by Hope Larsen
A gorgeous, fairy tale-like graphic novel about a girl in rural Oklahoma who takes on the beautiful witch that has doomed her family’s farm all because her brother didn’t want to marry her. Vonceil travels to a land where a sugar witch tries to steal her youth, then finds the salt witch’s lair—a gorgeous mansion and gardens amidst the driest part of the desert—and strikes a deal that could leave her enslaved to the angry witch. This book is lovingly written and wonderfully illustrated. Unlike many graphic novels, I took my time to read it, savoring the story.