Mini Book Reviews | July 2021
Let's do something fun! Instead of randomly sprinkling my blog with long reviews every few weeks, I'm going to try out a monthly installment of mini book reviews featuring 2-3 of my favorites from the past month. Today it's time to celebrate Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury; These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong; and Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta.
Blood Like Magic Review: Twisty & Magical
Liselle Sambury did not mess around when it comes to Blood Like Magic. She crafted a magical world set in not-too-distant futuristic Canada, one where tech has advanced but not too much, one where racism is "better" but not eradicated, and she didn't shy away from exploring all that means: whether it's the ethics of technology or the real effects of racism on a teenage Black girl, she gave us the real deal.
I was immediately hooked by the premise — it was pitched as "intoxicating" and it absolutely was — and the idea that a girl has to weigh the future of her family against her first love's destruction. What a concept! As someone who has long thought a romantic love would be my everything if I had one, putting myself in Voya Thomas' shoes was terrifying and thrilling.
I was so intrigued by every relationship in this book, from Voya and her family to the way her family interacted with each other apart from her, to Voya and Luc and, again, the way he related to his sponsor family. The book is rich and deep, the kind that'll stick with you long after you finish it, as you keep taking in all the intricate layers Sambury added and just...it's breathtaking.
10/10 would recommend buying your own copy today.
These Violent Delights Review: Historical & Fantastical
This! Book! I'm reviewing it after a re-read, and if nothing else convinces you that These Violent Delights is amazing, be convinced by the fact that I took the time to read it a second time, mere months after I devoured it last fall. I've told a million people, but if Chloe Gong is writing this well for her first book, she's going to be ruling the literary world in a few short years.
The book, though. This is the kind of story that burrows its way into your mind like an earworm, the kind of story you can't get out of your head no matter how hard you might try. The main characters, Roma and Juliette, named after, of course Shakespeare's titular Romeo & Juliet because this is a retelling, are both fascinating and lovable in their own hard-assed way. The side characters, like Benedikt, Kathleen, Marshall, even Paul, are all wrought so carefully and precisely that they spring to life off the page.
Upon my re-read I loved Juliette the most, and re-reading my original Goodreads review, I see I wrote, "I love Roma a lot, he deserves the world, but Juliette? With thorns over her heart and just — she's my girl. I loved her so much." So at least I'm consistent.
These Violent Delights takes the well-known Shakespeare classic and turns it on its head, making the main characters hardened gangsters; adding in a sprinkle of a monster; setting it in Shanghai in the 1920s and refusing to ignore the sociopolitical implications of that decision.
I don't know what else to say. Get it now, and be ready for Our Violent Ends come November 2021.
Gearbreakers Review: High-Octane & Sapphic
Those descriptors above are two of the words Zoe Hana Mikuta's publicist used to pitch Gearbreakers to me, and I was hooked. The book delivers.
Finishing this book, I truly felt like I'd been struck by something heavy and breathtaking. I felt like it took a chunk of me and left me gasping, both desperate for more and terrified of what was to come.
The two main characters, Sona and Eris, are equally badass but in different ways, two teenage girls forced by life's ugliness to become fighters, somehow finding the strength to love, each other and others, despite the world trying to stomp out everything good.
The setting for this book is so real, to the point that I was in art therapy a few weeks ago and found myself painting an arid landscape because I had this book stuck in my head. Mikuta pens her story with a deft hand, combining a riotously-paced plot with soft moments of connection.
She never forgets, though, that Sona and Eris are meant to be enemies. And that was heartbreaking all throughout the book.
I really loved this one, even though the ending left me feeling like I'd been sucker punched. Would recommend finding your own copy ASAP.
Three books. Three authors. Three incredible, sci-fi and fantasy worlds. Three recommendations. Hope you liked these reviews, and do let me know if you check out any of the books!