Reading Round-up: May 2021

Back in early May I foolishly asserted that I wasn’t sure I was going to have anything for a May round-up. And then I read some of my favorite books this year.

Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Let’s start with the big names. These two books are included in the novels used in the Shadow and Bone Netflix series, but if you’re expecting the same plot (or even some of the same characters) you might find this read jarring. Kaz and Inej in particular suffer somewhat in the adaptations, as well as the world-building and fun costuming of Ketterdam, so don’t expect quite the same story here. Also these books take place after all of the events in the original Shadow and Bone trilogy (unlike the changes to the timelines made in the show). If you’re looking for a heist novel, these will be an excellent read, with plenty of doublefakes, fast pacing, and intriguing backstories and interpersonal dynamics. Plus some really great magic. (LGBTQ, Fantasy, YA)

Fugitive Telemetry by Martha Wells

This book is a murder mystery where nothing is quite as it seems, which should be no surprise for longtime readers of Murderbot. I read this book in a day and instantly wanted more. Murderbot’s anxious, distant voice combined with its sharp attention to detail and heart of gold have really touched fans everywhere, and this installment is no exception. Keep in mind, however, that this book takes place before Network Effect, which may be a little disorienting for some readers. Wells always writes profoundly emotionally traumatized/isolated characters in a way that feels realistic and believable and shows clear paths towards belonging. (Science Fiction, Space)

The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

I had some reservations about this book going in because unlike many other readers I was not a huge fan of Magic for Liars. I did very much love When We Were Magic, though, so I decided to give this book a chance, and I am so glad I did. This creepy tale of a scientist, her clone, and her estranged husband took a lot of twists and turns. It also raised a lot of questions about the trauma of growing up in a patriarchy and how rejecting being a victim can turn you into a monster. What kept me reading this book were the slow reveals — the way the narrator parsed out pieces of her past in little bites, always with something important missing. You never get a full picture of this book until the end, and once you see it all it is chilling. (Science Fiction, Near Future)

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

This absolutely amazing book scratched a particular itch for me. There is something special about books which specifically address the nebulous, unformed vulnerability of that time right after you graduate from college, when all the momentum in your life suddenly comes to an absurd stop. Combine that with being possessed by the ghost of your cantankerous and not-very-honest grandmother and things are definitely not going to turn out well. Nothing happened quite like I expected. It was terrifying but kind, and I loved the glimpse into Malaysian culture that I got from it. Please go read this book. (Urban Fantasy, BIPOC)

Those were my favorite reads this month! Catch you in June for some weird news, a book anniversary, and yet more awesome reads.

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