Scatter of Light book review

Scatter of light
Scatter of Light by Diana Pharoah Francis
??? pages
published June 24th, 2022

Welcome back to Diamond City where hell just busted loose.

Senator Rice, hater of all things magic, declared martial law following the recent bombings. His goal? Arrest all magic-wielders and take control of the mines. To get what he wants, he doesn’t care how many people have to die.

How is Riley supposed to stop an army without starting a bigger war? It’s going to take deceit, timing, sleight of hand, and a whole lot of luck. To help, she’s got her family, friends, and a collection of mobsters, who will probably slide a blade between her ribs the second she turns her back. But beggars can’t be choosers, and playing it safe is a losing proposition.

Unfortunately, there’s more going on than anybody realizes, and the real enemy has yet to show his face.

When push comes to shove, can Riley risk sacrificing the people she loves to save a city of people she doesn’t even know? Risk her people, her family on a plan almost certainly doomed to fail?

For Riley there is really only one choice.

What would you choose?

Sooooo this is not “ A Scatter of Light” by Malinda Lo which is what I was actually looking for. This book is perfectly fine, but it is the 5th in a series where I didn’t read any of the other ones. I did not finish this book and I am rating it three stars, which is Perfectly Neutral; I have no strong thoughts about this book either way. It just isn’t my jam and wasn’t what i thought I was getting into. 

Silk Fire book review

Silk fire
Silk Fire by Zabe Ellor
475 pages
publishes July 5th, 2022

Set in a planet-sized matriarchal city where magic and technology freely bleed together, a male courtesan’s quest for vengeance against his aristocrat father draws him into an ancient struggle between dragons, necromancers, and his home district’s violent history.

In the world-sized city of Jadzia, magic and ancient science merge into something dark and wondrous.

Koré’s life is consumed by power, politics, sex and vengeance, and as courtesan to the wealthy and powerful, he is privy to all manner of secrets. He knows meddling in politics is dangerous─still, he is willing to risk everything to stop his father from seizing the Imperial Throne of the War District. But Koré soon finds the corruption runs far deeper than just one man.

During a tryst in an ancient tomb─in the pursuit of political influence─Koré encounters a dying god, who imbues him with the powers of one of the city’s sacred dragons. Suddenly Koré finds himself a hunted man, threatened with becoming a pawn by whoever finds him first.

If the wrong person discovers his secret and lays claim to his powers they would plunge their world into war, unleash untold horrors and destroy the city─and the two people he has come to love.

Aughughuhguh. This book is so. I’m so. Eugh. Lots of other people have said a lot of really smart things about this book and you should go read their reviews instead. The famous dathomira review, of course, but also some other great reviewers have given in-depth reviews. Personally, this book was Exhausting and I could definitely see that maybe someone could enjoy it, but there was SO MUCH going on, and I didn’t understand what was happening, and there was no way to really get immersed in the book because there is such a weird mix of Fantasy Language and Regular Slang. I stopped 45% of the way in. Two stars, only because I legally have to give this a star rating. Booksweet link. Storygraph link. Goodreads link.

The Last Fallen Moon book review

The last fallen moon
The Last Fallen Moon by Graci Kim
384 pages
published June 14th, 2022

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents the second book in Graci Kim’s magical and mysterious Gifted Clans trilogy.

“Graci Kim does such an amazing job of blending Korean mythology into the modern world, I am now wondering how I ever lived without knowing all this cool information.”–New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan

For Riley Oh, life as the Godrealm’s last fallen star is not all it’s cracked up to be. Her new divine heritage doesn’t even come with cool magical powers; half of her friends and family (including her parents) can’t remember her; and to top it all off, the entire Gom clan is mad at her for killing the Cave Bear Goddess and stripping away their healing abilities.

But when their anger boils over and a group of witches curse Riley’s home, she knows it’s up to her to restore magic back to her clan – even if it means sneaking into the Spiritrealm.

Luckily, Riley has some backup. Along with her sister, Hattie, Riley meets Dahl, a heaven-born boy with shockingly white hair and a fondness for toilets who might not be telling the whole truth about who he is. Together they’ll fight vicious monsters, discover dark underwater worlds, and race to save the land of the dead from a fate that no one could have foreseen.

And this time, Riley won’t let anything get in her way. Because she can’t shake the feeling that something terrible is coming their way – and the gifted community is going to need all the powers they can get.

You’ll never guess, but I did not read the book that is previous in this series, which is called the Gifted Clans trilogy. The first book in the series is called The Last Fallen Star, and I do in fact wish I had read it, because when we pick up in this book, Riley Oh’s parents and friends don’t remember her! What did you do to get into this situation! But, as with all Rick Riordan presents books, I loved learning about Korean mythology in a present-tense way, as it affects our protagonist, Riley. I say this a lot, but this is a great readalike for Aru Shah and her series of books! Aru and Riley are so different as main characters, but each girl grows and changes throughout the course of their stories. I’m excited for this trilogy to join other mythology stories on bookshelves everywhere — and I am going to go back and read the first one! Five stars.

Booksweet link here.

Primal Animals book review

Primal
Primal Animals by Julia Lynn Rubin
304 pages
published May 24th, 2022

“Like a queer version of The Wicker Man, Julia Lynn Rubin’s Primal Animals is a wonderfully-creepy mystery set under sunshine and fresh air, where nothing is what it seems and no one is what you expect. Keep your eyes open, watch your back, and beware of the flies.” —Emma Berquist, author of Missing, Presumed Dead

The Female of the Species meets Midsommar for fans of Yellowjackets
At an elite summer program, a teen girl gets sucked into a secret society, with deadly consequences.

Protect the girls.

Arlee Gold has always lived in the shadow of her successful mom; even after everything Arlee’s been through, her mother still expects nothing but the best. In an effort to get her daughter back on track after a less-than-stellar few school years, she’s enrolled Arlee as a legacy at Camp Rockaway, an elite college prep summer camp deep in the North Carolina wilderness. On her own for the first time and buzzing with anxiety, Arlee is intimidated by the camp’s shiny exterior, suffocated by the relentless, thick summer heat…and tormented by the ceaseless stream of crawling, slimy, flapping bugs that seem to come straight from her nightmares.

In the midst of her brewing dread, Arlee is relieved to find a queer sanctuary in her bunkmates, and is especially drawn to Winnie, the enigmatic girl who sleeps in the bunk above her. Except Arlee starts to notice whispers in her wake, and how so many others recoil from her as if she were as creepy as the insects that terrify her. Struggling in her prep classes and feeling increasingly paranoid, Arlee can no longer suppress her panicked “glitches.” Winnie, too, seems to become wary, and Arlee’s worst fear is confirmed: even here, in the place her mother promised was “going to change everything,” she’s been found out as a freak.

Just as she’s facing a summer completely alone, another rising junior slips her a mysterious invitation, and Arlee finds herself caught up in a secret society that expects its sisterhood to protect each other from any and all who would harm them—by any means necessary. Here, finally, Arlee feels like a part of something bigger, something that matters. Guided by their cunning leader, Lisha, a rising senior with a smile sharp enough to cut bone, the sisterhood will stand against any threat, unquestioningly. But when Winnie is put in grave danger, Arlee is forced to confront just how far her sisters will go, and whether they truly protect the girls.

I think the less you know about this book going into it, the better! It’s weird, it’s kind of experimental, it’s all based on vibes, and also there’s a lot of insects and someone that has a lot of anxiety. Also it’s sapphic. It’s kind of like Wilder Girls and also nothing like Wilder Girls. I do think you should read it if the description sounds interesting. Four stars.

Bookshop link here.

Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend book review

Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend by Katie Zhao
288 pages
published April 26th, 2022

An epic new fantasy series inspired by Chinese mythology that #1 New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia calls a hilarious tussle between homework, family, and heroism. When a girl awakens the stuff of legends from an old family recipe, she must embrace her extraordinary heritage to save the world.

Winnie Zeng has two goals: survive her first year of middle school and outdo her stuck-up archnemesis, David Zuo. It won’t be easy, since, according to her older sister, middle school is the pits. Luckily, Winnie studied middle school survival tactics in comic books and anime, and nothing will stop her from being the very best student.

But none of Winnie’s research has prepared her to face the mother of all hurdles: evil spirits. When she makes mooncakes for a class bake sale, she awakens the stuff of legends from her grandmother’s old cookbook, spilling otherworldly chaos into her sleepy town.

Suddenly Winnie finds herself in a race against time, vanquishing demons instead of group projects. Armed with a magic cookbook and a talking white rabbit, she must embrace her new powers and legacy of her ancestors. Because if she doesn’t, her town–and rest of the world–may fall to chaos forever.

This is a fantastic middle grade adventure novel from the great and inimitable Katie Zhao! The last middle-grade series I read and loved was the Aru Shah series, and fans of that series will find lots to love here as well. It’s a fantastic entry into Percy Jackson readalikes, and it was a quick read. Also, I really enjoyed the plot device of a magic cookbook. This left me craving mooncakes. Four stars.

Sorceline book review

Sorceline by Sylvia Douye and Paola Antista
144 pages
published May 17th, 2022

Welcome to the Island of Vorn, where mythical creatures roam free and only the brightest students are invited to study them. In Book 1 of this riveting new middle grade graphic novel series, a gifted young cryptozoologist-in-training must learn to tame powerful beasts–including her own inner demons.

For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar’s prestigious school of cryptozoology, she’s eager to test her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar’s apprentices.

But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. While she excels in her studies, she quickly clashes with her classmates, revealing her fiery temper.

When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery only deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected . . .

This is definitely a great readalike for someone who has just finished reading Coraline. It’s also a great introduction for readers who are reluctant to start graphic novels. Fantastic character dynamics, cryptozoology, interesting mystery. I really enjoyed the color palette of this book. There’s also promise for a future sequel! Four stars. Bookshop link here.

The Adam Project movie review | Time flies

Adam project
The Adam Project directed by Shawn Levy, starring Ryan Reynolds
released March 11th, 2022
106 minutes, PG-13

After accidentally crash-landing in 2022, time-traveling fighter pilot Adam Reed teams up with his 12-year-old self for a mission to save the future.

Netflix is having a weird hissy fit all over social media and the stock market, so I’m watching as many Netflix originals as I can physically stand. Let’s go babey!

Honestly? This movie is incredible. It’s heartwarming, it’s cute, I haven’t liked Ryan Reynolds’ smug face this much since Detective Pikachu which he wasn’t even really in, Walker Scobell is fantastic and I can’t wait to see him in the Percy Jackson series. The scenery is fantastic, set in the lush PNW, and a good chunk of the story takes place in this weird fantastic split-level house that’s very PNW. The cinematography for fight scenes doesn’t make me feel nauseous! Technobabble that doesn’t make me wanna scream! The weird twin pain of realizing that as a kid, adults should have done right by you but also maybe you should have done right by your adults! The classic eating a picnic on a huge lake in Vancouver and mountains are surrounding you! A heterosexual romance that brings to mind Sappho’s “someone will remember us / even in another time”! Also, people explode into dust when they are killed and it is honestly extremely cool. Zoe Saldana in a cardigan shooting people! 

And it’s also about grief, and how every action we take is for the people we love, and silly fighter jet chase scenes and about sometimes you have to rent a hotel room to hang out in because there’s no third space in late capitalism to safely do time travel secret talks. It’s about being a parent, and about having parents, and the weird trauma that comes along with both of those things. Everyone in this movie should go to therapy.

There’s a couple things in this movie that I would be uncomfy watching with my dad – several swears and some sex jokes, but if you’re not a late-sixties man with a purity complex you should be good. And even given that, maybe we’ll watch this one together! It’s a really great movie, pals. And he likes Mark Ruffalo because he was in the Avengers movies; big fan of Bruce Banner in that house. 

Shitty things this movie did not need: There’s a super minor subplot about this guy named Christos who has a scarred face (he is also part of the evil squad) and they call him ugly about it. He actually looks quite nice (Hollywood etc) and also can we not do “scarred facial deformities make a person evil” or “evil people have facial deformities” like?? Get a fucking grip. It’s such a boring and uninteresting shortcut to take in a movie that is otherwise very good and very interesting.

Five stars. It’s exclusively on Netflix.