"Lost in the Never Woods" review

The premise is compelling - A “Peter Pan” retelling with an adult Wendy whose brothers never returned from Neverland with her - but the execution is anything but. The majority of Lost in the Never Woods takes place in the “real world,” a quiet, boring town that was disrupted several years ago when Wendy and her brothers disappeared for several months and only Wendy returned. The rest takes place in the nearby woods. None of it takes place in, you know, Neverland.

"Phoenix Extravagent" review

Phoenix Extravagant is a novel about nonbinary artist Gyen Jebi, a relatively talented artist who’s not so good at being a sibling or adult (but they’re trying! really hard!). After getting into a fight with their sister Bongsunga, they find themselves offered a government job that seems too good to be true, but, not being so good at being an adult, they don’t really have any idea how to handle the situation and end up completely over their head.

"The Once and Future Witches" review

Alix Harrow’s The Once and Future Witches is a historical fiction novel about suffragists (except they’re also witches) and sisters (and they’re also witches). It’s equal parts angry, beautiful, and heartbreaking. The prose is lovely, with sweet little alliterations snuck in as the witches discover the wills, words, and ways to change their world. And Gideon Hill is definitely not based on Mitch McConnell according to the Goodreads Q&A.

"This is How You Lose the Time War" review

This is How You Lose the Time War is not really about a time war. There is a time war contained in it, and if I’m being generous, I can say that there is a plot that involves time travel and a war, but this book is not about a time war. It’s unapologetically a romance told in letters between two women who start out as strangers and then almost immediately become pen-pal lovers in what was to me an unbelievably short correspondence period (I hesitate to use the phrase “period of time” given the context).

"The Sword of Kaigen" review

It’s incredible how much M.L. Wang manages to fit into The Sword of Kaigen. It’s a book of contrast and conflict: Two protagonists in a coming-of-age story, Misaki the mother, and Mamoru the son. Misaki’s own life is of contrasts; she received a modern, foreign education and then returned to a remote, traditional life. She and her husband do not have the harmony or communication in their marriage that she desires; he wants to ensure that they never fight, so he leaves her alone. The novel starts with a new boy coming to Mamoru’s school from the city, and again his modern experiences conflict with the mountain village’s traditional culture. And the central plot revolves around conflict, as Ranganese invaders are coming to the Kusanagi Peninsula, and the jijakalu are all that stand in their way.

"Rex Electi" review

In an alternate-history Rome, where the Senate took control away from the Emperor hundreds of years ago and started a new tradition of deciding the empire’s ruler, Caius Serica finds out that his entire life has been a setup both to judge and to prepare him for the Trials to become today’s new Emperor. He’s whisked away to a secret mountain location by Marcus, his advocate, where he will compete against thirty other candidates to vie for the position. While there, he forges alliances, makes enemies, and has to confront not only his opponents but also himself - does he even want this?

"The Poppy War" (books 1-3) review

The Poppy War trilogy will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the trilogy that got me back into reading fantasy. Someone copied an entire page or two from the first novel into a thread of the worst opening lines in fantasy and I suddenly wanted to read more, and four days later I’d finished the trilogy.