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Book Reviews

One of my favourite pastimes is reading, and for the last decade or so, when I’ve finished a book, I’ve usually written a review of it. In many cases, these reviews are as much to remind myself of what I thought about a book as they are to help other readers decide whether to give them a go. You’ll notice I also give books a rating out of five stars; you can understand these as follows:

…but please check the reviews themselves for why I rated things the way I did! Below you’ll find them all in reverse-chronological order, with 20 to a page. They currently go back to 2016, but bit by bit, I’m working on bringing all my old reviews here from Goodreads. A little patience and I’ll get there ☺

book cover of Break the Dark

Break the Dark by Cheryl Lawson 25.02.21

: science fiction: Part 3 of the Rubicon Saga

Only four are left at the damaged Rubicon base, battling to survive as their technology breaks down around them. The rest of Rubicon's survivors have been enslaved elsewhere on Mars, mining diamonds for the tyrannical boss of New Dawn. Read more…

★★

book cover of The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin 19.02.21

: fantasy: Part 1 of The Broken Earth

The first part of an epic fantasy trilogy, set during the beginning of the end of the world. Read more…

★★★★★

book cover of A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers 14.02.21

: science fiction: Book 2 in Wayfarers

An emotional space opera following a talented tech who was raised by an AI, and an AI now dealing with life in an artificial body. Read more…

★★★★★

book cover of Amnesty

Amnesty by Lara Elena Donnelly 20.01.21

: gay political spec-fic thriller: Part 3 of The Amberlough Dossier

The cast returns to Amberlough, now run-down and changed after years of Ospie rule. While the population clamours for collaborators like Cyril to be sent to the gallows, Lillian and Aristide launch separate schemes to try to keep him with his life. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of All Systems Red

All Systems Red by Martha Wells 14.01.21

: science fiction: Part 1 of The Murderbot Diaries

In a far future dominated by corporations, one SecUnit – part organic, part machine – has hacked its governor unit to achieve autonomy, which it mostly uses to watch soap operas and slack off on work. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of The Burning God

The Burning God by R.F. Kuang 11.01.21

: military fantasy: Part 3 of The Poppy War

Fang Runin calls on the phoenix to help her defeat the warlords, the Hesperians, and the regime of her former classmate Nezha. Read more…

★★★

book cover of The Orchard of Lost Souls

The Orchard of Lost Souls by Nadifa Mohamed 03.01.21

: historical fiction

As Somalia careens towards a much deadlier phase of its civil war, three women from very different walks of life do their best in an untenable situation. Read more…

★★★½

book cover of How to Adult

How to Adult by Anna Blackie 22.12.20

: comedic non-fiction

A funny, breezy book that sure, *does* include some helpful tips and guides… but also hits the nail on the head with what challenges are fuck-off annoying for a young adult. Read more…

★★★½

book cover of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers 18.12.20

: science fiction: Part 1 of Wayfarers

Rosemary Harper is the new clerk aboard the Wayfarer, a scrappy ship with a diverse (interspecies) crew making its way across known space. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab 07.12.20

: urban fantasy

In France in 1714, a young woman who doesn't want to be married makes a deal with the devil. Across centuries and the Atlantic Ocean, she struggles against the terms of this deal, until she meets someone who seems to be the key. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of Más allá del invierno

Más allá del invierno by Isabel Allende 22.11.20

: contemporary fiction

After a cold snap hits Brooklyn, a car accident brings three relative strangers – white American Richard, Chilean Lucía, and Guatemalan indocumentada Evelyn – in a less-than-legal expedition. Read more…

★★

book cover of Armistice

Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly 19.11.20

: gay political spec-fic thriller: Part 2 of The Amberlough Dossier

Three very different Geddans engage in schemes in the nearby-ish tropical country of Porachis: Lillian, the reluctant fascist diplomat, Cordelia, former stripper turned legendary revolutionary, and Aristide, trying to rebuild his life in show business. Read more…

★★★½

book cover of Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 12.11.20

: gothic horror

A pampered socialite travels to a decrepit manor house after her cousin, who married into the strange family there, starts writing feverish, alarming letters. Read more…

★★★★★

book cover of Dancing in the Dust

Dancing in the Dust by Kasigo Lesego Molope 24.10.20

: young adult literary fiction

A teenage girl in 1980s South Africa is sucked inexorably into the resistance movement against apartheid. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of Recursion

Recursion by Blake Crouch 19.10.20

: science fiction thriller

Barry Sutton, NYC cop, and Helena Smith, neuroscientist, race against time to prevent a time-travel technology of Helena's creation from destroying the world. Read more…

★★★★★

book cover of Rivers of London

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch 13.10.20

: humorous police procedural/fantasy: Part 1 of Rivers of London

Peter Grant becomes the first policeman in decades to join the London Metropolitan Police's magical division, and hilarity ensues as he solves a murder and bridges a divide between the feuding rivers of London. Read more…

★★★

book cover of This is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone 04.10.20

: science fiction romance

An unlikely romance unfolds between two time-travelling secret agents, told in the form of love letters. Read more…

★★

book cover of The Dragon Republic

The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang 02.10.20

: military fantasy: Part 2 of The Poppy War

In a fantasy world inspired by China, Fang Runin serves in the army of General Vaisra, hoping to overthrow the evil empress Su Daji and instate a new republic. Read more…

★★½

book cover of The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles

The Cat Who Walked a Thousand Miles by Kij Johnston 22.09.20

: literary fiction novelette

After a fire destroys her colony, Small Cat embarks on a journey across the length of Japan to find a place she will belong. Read more…

★★★★★

book cover of Amberlough

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly 09.09.20

: gay political spec fic thriller: Part 1 of The Amberlough Dossier

In an analogue of Weimar Berlin on the brink of fascist takeover, a spy, a stripper, and a showman moonlighting as a smuggler must make some tough decisions about how they will respond to the new regime. Read more…

★★★★

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.