Reading Round-up: May 2022

May has been very busy, but I got some good reading in. There were so many titles I didn’t get to this month that I’m very excited about, so look forward to the June post (assuming I can read a little faster!)

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

I loved this book. The Lotus Palace is a fast-paced murder mystery, but the star of the show is a realistic romance between two complicated people from very different backgrounds. The main character is a servant to an elite courtesan, but she formerly served in less illustrious brothels. The book sheds light on some of the really problematic sex work practices seen in places where this industry is normalized but where individual’s rights are ignored, since the main character was sold into sexual slavery as a child. However, it does this without condemning the entire industry or erasing the humanity of sex workers. This is a historical Chinese setting with no fantasy to speak of, but I found the romance realistic and refreshing and the core murder mystery compelling. (Romance, Historical, Mystery)

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Yes, I finally read The Goblin Emperor. And yes, like many others, I loved it. This book kept my head spinning by dumping me straight into an elaborate world of goblins and elves, but it did so in a way that worked perfectly. After all, the main character, Maia, spends a lot of time with his head spinning, too. I thought this book captured bureaucracy scarily well, and the difficulty of keeping things moving forward and trying to navigate so many personalities, especially when you are coming into the situation as the new person in the room. I spent most of the time wanting to hug Maia and give him some cookies. I will definitely be reading the next book set in this world. (Fantasy)

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

Kingfisher strikes again with a lovely tale in which the princess becomes a hero despite herself. I don’t want to overly spoil the plot of this book, which is engaging and features a demonic chicken, revenants and ghosts, more than one fairy godmother, and a goblin market. Suffice to say that adventures abound and it’s a lovely read well in keeping with Kingfisher’s previous adult fantasy work. (Fantasy)

Last Exit by Max Gladstone

Max Gladstone is one of those writers that constantly explodes my brain. Individual sentences in his prose can have the percussive force of fireworks. Last Exit is no exception — expect that technically gorgeous, emotionally charged writing style here, brought to bear on a modern American world that should feel very familiar. There are clear homages to other great writers in this work, not least of which is Stephen King, and a lot of fascinating thematic subtext to parse through that will be familiar to readers of N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became. Enjoy. (Horror, LGBTQ+)

Osmo Unknown and the Eightpenny Woods by Catherynne Valente

In a total deviation from my normal reading habits, I read this delightful children’s book in May. Osmo’s journey touches on themes of fairness, loss, mortality, goodness, and our inherited complicity in systems that were built long before we were born. It’s a timely tale that is nonetheless a weird and roaring good time. Valente remains one of those writers that retains her distinctive voice even as she transforms in front of your eyes, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. (Children’s, Fantasy)

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas

I wanted this book to be something different than it was. The voice is consistent, but I don’t know that I felt the characters had grown from book one, especially Bryce. That said, there are some bold choices in terms of worldbuilding and plotting in this work and I will be interested to see how the author continues forward. (Fantasy)

That’s everything for this month! Tell me what you read below!

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