This reading week was actually really strong! I finished five books this week, and mostly enjoyed all of them. Even better, though, I’m pretty sure I discovered a new favorite author, and it’s always so exciting when that happens. This list below goes in order of how much I enjoyed my read for each book.
- Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey – 5 big huge stars
It is hard for me to fully express how much I loved this story. This was not just an amazing five star book, but probably a favorite book of all time kind of book. This story is so queer and lovely and will make you want to grab a cowboy hat and ride a horse to Utah.
Here’s the blurb from Goodreads: “Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda. The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.”
I had a feeling I would love this. I mean, speculative dystopian fiction is probably my favorite thing ever, and I think novellas are the perfect length. And, boy, did I ever love this. Every character is so well fleshed out for how short the story is, and I love that we see so many different characters interact. The romances of the book are realistic, and they manage to not take over the main plot. And then there is also action and battles!! This book was a journey, and I enjoyed every second of it. I want more from these characters and more in this world, and desperately hope we get a series of novellas following these librarians.
2. River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey – 5 Stars
Sarah Gailey’s writing is honestly just magic. Not only that, but they actually follow through on making a good plot out of what might have just been an interesting idea. I’m so excited to read more of their work, and I think I might have just found a new favorite author!
River of Teeth opens on the following premise: “In the early twentieth century, the Congress of our great nation debated a glorious plan to resolve a meat shortage in America. The idea was this: import hippos and raise them in Louisiana’s bayous. The hippos would eat the ruinously invasive water hyacinth; the American people would eat the hippos; everyone would go home happy. Well, except the hippos. They’d go home eaten. Much to everyone’s disappointment, Congress didn’t follow through on the plan, and today America lives a cursed life—a beef life, with nary a free-range hippo within the borders of our country.”
Like Upright Women Wanted, River of Teeth has a certain Wild West vibe to it. It’s an alternative history, set in the 1890s, of what might have happened if the American south had been used to raise hippos. There are outlaws and rich bad guys and hippo ranchers and among all of them is our main character, Winslow Houndstooth. Winslow is building a crew of the best darn hippo wranglers in existence to complete the dangerous job of moving a heck-ton of feral hippos out of some marshland in Louisiana. They all ride hippos, and the premise is preposterous and amazing and I loved it.
3. Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok – 4 stars
I was so fortunate as to be able to get to read a copy of this through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and you can check out my full review here. I really enjoyed this book, and I am so excited to continue in the duology with the sequel, Sensational, that was just recently released!
4. break your glass slippers by Amanda Lovelace – 4 stars
This is a beautiful poetry collection in so many ways. First of all, the artwork is gorgeous. But above all the poems themselves are just incredible and so powerful. The author weaves an allegory of a modern-day Cinderella throughout the narrative of these poems, and she does it so effectively.
That being said, please take the trigger warnings at the beginning of the book seriously. Some moments in this affected me a lot, and it was hard to read in one sitting despite how short it was. However, I highly recommend if you can handle the content.
Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing me an eArc of this in exchange for a honest review. This collection will release on March 17, 2020.
5. The Darkwater Bride by Marty Ross – 3 stars
I’m trying to get through a lot of my backlog of audiobooks this year, and this story was one I picked up through Audible as one of their free monthly selections a while back. This is an audio drama with a full cast, as well as sound effects and music, so if audio dramas aren’t for you, this one is probably not for you.
This story is a historical mystery set in Victorian England and has some prominent paranormal elements. When her father is pulled dead from the Thames, Katrina is thrust into the investigation of his death, through the back alleys of London and into the the world of the Darkwater Bride. London can be a very bad place for women, and Katrina sees this firsthand as she discovers hard truths about her father.
While I thought the general premise was interesting enough, this audiobook lost me about 75% of the way through the story. I enjoyed the overall themes of the book a great deal, and think they were generally well-handled. However, this book suffered from poor narrative choices, and I think it could have been so much better than it ended up.
And that’s it! It was a pretty small reading week for me volume-wise (particularly given the length of these books), but I’m excitedly planning for a good, big reading week this next week! Stay tuned.