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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 2014, 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 The Bird King

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson 22.10.22

: fantasy

In Granada in 1492, on the eve of its fall to Isabella and Ferdinand’s forces, a spirited concubine takes her best friend, a gay map-maker with an incredible power, and makes a daring bid for freedom. Read more…

★★★½

book cover of Record of a Spaceborn Few

Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers 12.10.22

: science fiction : Part 3 of Wayfarers

Space opera with a big ensemble cast, about humans organised into a post-capitalist society on a spaceship forming part of the Exodus Fleet. Read more…

★★★½

book cover of Velvet Was the Night

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 06.10.22

: noir historical

Mexico City, 1971. Maite’s neighbour goes missing, having entered the orbit of some radical students at the advent of Mexico’s Dirty War. Sick of feeding her cat, Maite goes to track her down, but she’s not the only one. Read more…

★★½

book cover of Fledgling

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler 29.09.22

: horror

Shori is a young vampire who awakens in a cave, badly injured and with amnesia. She finds out that her entire family has been murdered. With the help of some bonded humans called symbionts, she pursues justice in a vampire society she must learn about from scratch. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of A Desolation Called Peace

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine 04.09.21

: science fiction : Book 2 of Teixcalaan

Teixcalaan is threatened by an uncommunicative armada. Mahit Dzmare is brought in to help. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of The Sleep Room

The Sleep Room by F.R. Tallis 14.04.21

: horror

James Richardson, a young psychiatrist, takes up a position at a remote facility in East Anglia, where six of the patients are kept unconscious at all times under a controversial treatment regime. Inexplicable things start happening. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of Gods of Jade and Shadow

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 07.04.21

: fantasy

Casiopea, an impoverished relative of a wealthy family, accidentally crosses paths with a Mayan death god and embarks on a quest to restore him to his throne. Read more…

★★½

book cover of The Lowland

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri 31.03.21

: literary fiction

Two brothers born in Calcutta around the time of Independence take different paths in life; one is drawn to the Naxalites, and the other moves to the US. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of The Stone Sky

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin 18.03.21

: epic fantasy : Part 3 of The Broken Earth

The dramatic finale to an epic fantasy trilogy set during the end of the world. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of La Pasion Segun Carmela

La pasión según Carmela by Marcos Aguinis 13.03.21

: historical fiction

Carmela and Ignacio, two lovers and Cuban revolutionaries, fight to bring down Batista but find the new regime they fought for drifts away from its initial noble intentions. Read more…

★★★★

book cover of Dark Matter

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch 12.03.21

: science fiction thriller

A happy family man is ripped away to an alternate reality where he's an award-winning scientist. Read more…

★★

book cover of The Obelisk Gate

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin 07.03.21

: epic fantasy : Part 2 of The Broken Earth

Second part of an epic fantasy series set during the end of the world. Read more…

★★★

book cover of Cloudstreet

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton 02.03.21

: literary fiction

Two working-class families, the Pickleses and the Lambs, move from Geraldton to a run-down huge house on Cloud Street in Perth in 1944. This gritty and earthy novel follows their families' highs and lows over the next 20 years. Read more…

★½

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

: epic 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

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a socialist and a feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.