Rapid-Fire Book Reviews

Hi peeps. How’ve you been? Read anything fun lately?

In the bookish parts of the interwebs I’ve seen many people picking goals for number of books read in 2016. My number is 50. I came realleh realleh close last year, and that was with that little wedding thing eating my life, so I’m fairly confident I can make it this year.

I am, however, behind in book reviews for this site, so I have decided to do a compilation review for all the book I’ve read since last I published a full review post. Let’s go!

PLANETFALL, by Emma Newman

One of the most interesting things about this book was the way the author used past and present tense in a fluid manner to illustrate the mental state of the narrator. Really this book is a character study in mental illness and unreliable narrator, and it unfolds in this slow, mysterious way.

I still don’t totally understand the ending, but it *felt* like the end of a Ray Bradbury short story–which is obviously not a criticism given that I love Bradbury’s work. (Except FARENHITE 451. Don’t get why that’s his most famous, he has short stories that do the same thing in fewer words.)Actually the more I think about it, the more PLANETFALL reminds me of the Martian Chronicles, what with the religious zelots, a small colony below an incomprehensible artifact, people turning on one another. The POV is obviously different, but the feel and the emotional aftertaste recalls what I enjoyed about that enigmatic collection of Mars.


This Regancy-ish fantasy is the underdogs version of JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL. I enjoyed the magic and the politics and the sprinklings of humor, but the sexism and racism was a little too real. It’s a book that could–and probably should–be discussed in Gender Studies settings. I know that’s what I sign up for if I read a period novel, but something about this one made my skin crawl–though the ending is quite satisfying.


It’s been a while since I’ve read some Le Guin, and I had a moment of book-lust when I saw the lovely green cover. Essentially this book is a colonization narrative. It’s James Cameron’s Avatar without the White Savior narrative people have problems with. It’s harrowing, it’s interesting, and the descriptions of the forest are gorgeous and visceral.


So I have an unabashed love of Dracula by Bram Stoker. I picked it up on a whim as a 13-year-old, and I was immediately drawn into the creepy, suspenseful, alluring narrative. (pre-TWILIGHT, I must note.) Even as young teen I caught hints of the vampirism-as-forbidden-sexuality metaphor and I liked it. Still do.

ANNO DRACULA, then, was right up my alley. An alt-history of sorts, it imagines a world where the famous Count defeated Mr. Harker and Van Helsing, established his London beachhead–and married Queen Victoria. Yep. And it only gets more ridiculous from there,  mixing real-world personalities with fictional characters from all of Gothic horror tradition. The whole tangle started to fall apart in the end, but I did enjoy the crazy, sexy ride.

So that’s it for now! Have you made bookish resolutions this year?

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