The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Historical Fantasy Novel, 2019). A winner of the National Book Award for one of his highly respected and best-selling non-fiction books on the black experience in American life, Coates takes a magic-informed look at slavery and the Underground Railroad in this, his fiction debut. It’s a fine and successful […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: The Water Dancer"
Vessel by Lisa A, Nichols (SF Novel, May 2019). This debut novel is another near-future space-adventure. A mysterious disaster has struck the NASA spaceship Sagittarius after it passed through a wormhole to study a distant planet as a possible site for colonization. Out of contact for years, it was long presumed lost. But now it returns via the […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Vessel"
Severance by Ling Ma (Contemporary SF Novel, 2018). This modern-day apocalypse opens in a slightly alternate version of the year 2011. While only fleetingly mentioned, this is the time of the bank bailouts and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Those protests fizzled out in this alternate history at least as quickly as in our reality. […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Severance"
Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey (Fantasy Novel, 2001). Phedre is a young woman born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. In her culture, this (known as Kushiel’s Dart) signals that she is destined to be a special sort of Sacred Prostitute. But the nobleman who takes her in as an indentured servant has other plans […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Kushiel’s Dart"
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Heroic Fantasy Novel, 2018). This first novel is already a best-seller with a sequel soon to follow. The author is a Nigerian-American and has studied West African mythology in addition to graduating Harvard with an honors degree in literature. Her heritage and studies surely influence and contribute to […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: Children of Blood and Bone"
What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan (Contemporary Novel, 2018). This touching first novel features vivid characters interacting with the hopes and contradictions of our multicultural world, as well as universal the joys, challenges, contradictions and heartbreaks of modern family life. Wei and Lina Zhen grew up in a small town in the China of the […]Read more "BOOK REVIEW: What We Were Promised"
MEM by Bethany C. Morrow (Alternate History SF Novel, 2018). In this version of the 1920’s, we’re a couple decades into an odd new technology where doctors can remove selected memories from patients. In the process, these memories are brought to a separate life. These artificially created people, called ‘Mems,’ are exact duplicates of their ‘Sources’ […]Read more "REVIEWED: MEM"
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang (Fantasy Novel, 2018). Like many writers, this first-time fantasy novelist has drawn on elements of a real-life subject she knows about (in this case, Chinese history and mythology) as inspiration for an imaginary world series. There’s nothing wrong with that, yet I must confess to some slight ambivalence in […]Read more "REVIEWED: The Poppy War"
Stray City by Chelsey Johnson (Contemporary Novel, 2018). In the last months of the 20th century, Andrea Morales is a 20-something artist who has left behind her very conventional Midwestern Catholic upbringing for life as part of the thriving and politically active lesbian community of Portland, Oregon. Most of her associates, friends and lovers are (like […]Read more "REVIEWED: Stray City"
Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan (Contemporary Novel, 2018). Ren Ishida heard of his sister’s violent and mysterious death just after finishing his graduate degree at one of the top universities in Japan. Keiko was long-estranged from the rest of the family, though she spoke to Ren through weekly phone calls. She’d been living in a smallish town […]Read more "REVIEWED: RAINBIRDS"