“Tell Me How It Ends” Review

The book cover is a drawing of a person sitting behind a table with a set of 5 tarot cards that are face up on the table. Everything is various shades of purple. Written by Quinton Li
Published by Quinton Li Editorial, April 2023
326 pages
Completed April 7, 2024

Iris Galacia’s tarot cards do more than entertain gamblers. With the flip of her fingers she can predict the future and uncover a person’s secrets. But under the watchful eye of her mother, she is on thin ice for pursuing a passion in the family business, and then cracks start to form until she eventually she falls through. She is given an ultimatum — a test to prove her worth: earn a thousand coins or leave the business, and the family.

Enter Marin Boudreau, a charming young person who can scale buildings and break off door knobs, who comes for her help to rescue a witch who’s been falsely imprisoned in Excava Kingdom. And Marin is willing to pay a high sum for her talents. But saving a prisoner from royal hands isn’t easy, nor is leaving home for the first time in eighteen years.

Now Iris must learn to trust in herself, Marin, and this new magical world, while racing the clock before the royals decide the fate of the witch, and before any secrets catch up to her.

I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this book because a lot of my issues with it can be explained by it being both a “cozy fantasy” and young adult. I did enjoy some things about it – the characters were interesting and all that. However, conflicts that should have been more serious are resolved almost instantly and with more compassion (from villains) than seems reasonable for anyone. Even the ending of the story with Iris making a choice about what to do next was too easy. Without spoiling too much, Marin never really proves themselves to be trust worthy and Iris feels too sheltered and naive to really be reliable in picking what she should do next. There’s a lot of reasons why she should escape her current life but it doesn’t feel like the found family she found is all that safe either. That said – how I feel about the ending of the book might be more about my personality (and age), along with the genres, than the story itself. One thing I did like was the way the Tarot cards were used in the story – there were a lot of good details about how they worked and how they helped Iris figure out what to do next. Not a series I’ll continue, but honestly if you like cozy fantasy with found family where things are resolved easily it might be more your cup of tea than mine.

“The Infinite” Review

The cover is mostly blue and orange and has the figure of a person in dark clothing standing on a ledge pointing at a tentacle that is reaching out - there is light between them. Above is the body or head of a creature with serial eyes and more tentacles around the head. Written by Ada Hoffmann
Published by Angry Robot, January 2023
400 pages
Completed March 6, 2024

Time is running out for the planet Jai. The artificially intelligent Gods who rule the galaxy have withdrawn their protection from the chaos-ravaged world, just as their most ancient enemy closes in. For Yasira Shien, who has devoted herself to the fragile planet’s nascent rebellion, it’s time to do or die – and the odds are overwhelming. Enter Dr. Evianna Talirr. Talirr, the visionary who decimated the planet and began its rebellion, is not a woman to be trusted. But she’s returned with an unsettling prophecy: the only way to save Jai is for Yasira to die. Yasira knows it can’t be that simple. But as she frantically searches for other options, what she finds will upend everything she knew about the Gods, the galaxy she lives in, and herself.

This was a great conclusion to the trilogy. I enjoyed reading how everything ending. I liked the way the story was formatted as a method to explain some of what had been happening in the past to lead to the current issues. That was a good way of doing things. There were a couple interesting plot twists along the way that made things more interesting as things developed. The ending felt realistic for all that had happened and how things were going. All and all a great series.

“The Fallen” Review

A person is sitting on a road that is broken in pieces and looking into the distance. Around and above them large structures can be seen as if the road was picked up and twisted into air with green branches coming off in various angles. A yellow sun is visible at the middle left side of the page and the sky is purple and blue. Written by Ada Hoffmann
Published by Angry Robot, July 2021
258 pages (some places say 368 but the digital version has less)
Completed February 17, 2024

The laws of physics acting on the planet of Jai have been forever upended; its surface completely altered, and its inhabitants permanently changed, causing chaos. Fearing heresy, the artificially intelligent Gods that once ruled the galaxy became the planet’s jailers.

Tiv Hunt, who once trusted these Gods completely, spends her days helping the last remaining survivors of Jai. Everyone is fighting for their freedom and they call out for drastic action from their saviour, Tiv’s girlfriend Yasira. But Yasira has become deeply ill, debilitated by her Outside exposure, and is barely able to breathe, let alone lead a revolution.

Hunted by the Gods and Akavi, the disgraced angel, Yasira and Tiv must delve further than ever before into the maddening mysteries of their fractured planet in order to save – or perhaps even destroy – their fading world.

This was a fun and interesting sequel to “The Outside”. It sort of has the usual problem of being the middle of a trilogy so things can’t be completely resolved but it also does a good job of setting up where everyone is at and the conclusion that is coming. I really liked that Tiv took the main point of view in this story as she struggles to deal with everything and help Yasira. Their relationship in the book is great. Yasira is struggling to deal with a lot of changes and Tiv continues to be by her side as much as she can. I think some might get a little frustrated with Yadira’s attitude but it really made sense for all that had gone on and the complete change to her reality. The other characters in the book are great and I liked that we got to see more characters and how they are involved with everything going on. I’m looking forward to reading the last book in the series.

“Against Technoableism” Review

The book cover is green and yellow with images of various assistive technology displayed all over the over. There are wheelchairs, hearing aids, canes, crutches, wheelchair vans, medication, glasses and more. The title is written near the top left and subtitle near the bottom right with the authors name to the left.Full Title: “Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement”
Written by by Ashley Shew
Published by W.W. Norton, September 2023
158 Pages
Completed January 13, 2024

When bioethicist and professor Ashley Shew became a self-described “hard-of-hearing chemobrained amputee with Crohn’s disease and tinnitus,” there was no returning to “normal.” Suddenly well-meaning people called her an “inspiration” while grocery shopping or viewed her as a needy recipient of technological wizardry. Most disabled people don’t want what the abled assume they want—nor are they generally asked. Almost everyone will experience disability at some point in their lives, yet the abled persistently frame disability as an individual’s problem rather than a social one.

In a warm, feisty voice and vibrant prose, Shew shows how we can create better narratives and more accessible futures by drawing from the insights of the cross-disability community. To forge a more equitable world, Shew argues that we must eliminate “technoableism”—the harmful belief that technology is a “solution” for disability; that the disabled simply await being “fixed” by technological wizardry; that making society more accessible and equitable is somehow a lesser priority.

This badly needed introduction to disability expertise considers mobility devices, medical infrastructure, neurodivergence, and the crucial relationship between disability and race. The future, Shew points out, is surely disabled—whether through changing climate, new diseases, or even through space travel. It’s time we looked closely at how we all think about disability technologies and learn to envision disabilities not as liabilities, but as skill sets enabling all of us to navigate a challenging world.

This was a really good book – though it’s really meant for non-disabled people who don’t already know about the various issues discussed in the book. Most of the information in the book is stuff I’m already aware of as a disabled person. I wear a hearing aid and I know all too well that technology doesn’t fix everything. I’m still deaf if I don’t have them on or if the battery is running out or any number of situations. They also don’t work well in all situations because they amplify all sounds not just speech. So I’m always going to have difficulty in loud crowded situations. The book talks a lot about these kinds of situations where people assume everything can be fix with technology and that people won’t be disabled anymore. That’s not going to happen. Technology can do a lot of good things but there is a huge issue of people acting like technology can fix everything so there are no more problems for disabled people. Which results in people getting angry when people don’t use the technology.

“The Outside” Review

The cover is filled with black metal spirals that look like snake skin - squared areas with bolts. There is a character in a red spacesuit standing on one of the spirals. The book title is at the top of the cover and the authors name at the bottom. Written by Ada Hoffmann
Published by Angry Robot, June 2019
400 pages
Completed January 6, 2024

Autistic scientist Yasira Shien has developed a radical new energy drive that could change the future of humanity. But when she activates it, reality warps, destroying the space station and everyone aboard. The AI Gods who rule the galaxy declare her work heretical, and Yasira is abducted by their agents. Instead of simply executing her, they offer mercy – if she’ll help them hunt down a bigger target: her own mysterious, vanished mentor. With her homeworld’s fate in the balance, Yasira must choose who to trust: the gods and their ruthless post-human angels, or the rebel scientist whose unorthodox mathematics could turn her world inside out.

This was a strange but really good book. The “AI Gods” were essentially created by humans a long time ago out of their computer systems and then grew to become god-like figures because they’re so powerful. People believe in them and worship them like they would other gods, except these gods are real not like the old religions of the past to paraphrase the book. Makes for an interesting read. What also makes it interesting are the two main characters who are both autistic but were both treated very differently. Yasira was given all the supports she needed growing up while another character was beaten into being “normal” – didn’t work out so well. The world building is interesting and I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just leave it at wanting to know if what I suspect about the universe they’re in is true based on various plot points that came up.

2023 in Review

Reading Stats

61 Books

20,992 Pages Read

Average length 346 pages

Average reading time 4 days

50 Fiction / 11 Non-Fiction

18 Fiction Anthologies

41 Novels

2 Non-Fiction Anthologies

5 Memoirs

4 Essay Collections

Top Ten Books in No Particular Order with links to my reviews

“Being Ace: An Anthology of Queer, Trans, Femme, and Disabled Stories of Asexual Love and Connection”
Edited by Madeline Dyer
Type: Fiction Anthology
“We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir”
Written by Samra Habib
Type: Memoir
“The Thirty Names of Night”
Written by Zeyn Joukhadar
Type: Novel
“A Master of Djinn”
Written by P. Djèlí Clark
Type: Novel
“The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred”
Written by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Type: Essay Collection
“We Don’t Swim Here”
Written by Vincent Tirado
Type: Novel
“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019”
Edited by Ibram X. Kendi with Keisha N. Blain
Type: Non-Fiction Anthology
“Invisible Son”
Written by Kim Johnson
Type: Novel
“To Shape a Dragon’s Breath”
Written by Moniquill Blackgoose
Type: Novel
“The Free People’s Village”
Written by Sim Kern
Type: Novel

“A People’s Future of the United States” Review

The title of the book is written across the black cover - one word on each line in various colors. The names of the editors are at the bottom of the cover.Full Title “A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers”
Edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams
Published by Random House Publishing Group, February 2019
432 pages
Completed December 24, 2023

In these tumultuous times, in our deeply divided country, many people are angry, frightened, and hurting. Knowing that imagining a brighter tomorrow has always been an act of resistance, editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.

They also asked that the stories be badass.

The result is this spectacular collection of twenty-five tales that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. These tales are vivid with struggle and hardship—whether it’s the othered and the terrorized, or dragonriders and covert commandos—but these characters don’t flee, they fight.

Thrilling, inspiring, and a sheer joy to read, A People’s Future of the United States is a gift for anyone who believes in our power to dream a just world.

This was a really dark and interesting anthology. All of the stories take a potential dystopian scenario and run with it. All of them involve marginalized and oppressed people becoming more so due to things that are already problems in this country. The book was published in 2019 so a lot of ideas come from the actions of then President Trump – only catastrophic for a lot of people. It’s interesting reading it now in 2023 knowing that things did in fact get worse because of the COVID Pandemic. And while we don’t have President Trump anymore, we’re will dealing with COVID and various other issues that that have developed. The stories all show how the various characters are fighting to survive against what has happened. All of the characters still have hope for a better future despite everything that has occurred.

“Being Ace” Review

The cover is purple with a darker shade at the top and lighter at the bottom. There is a person wearing a white outfit and shoes within the title - there areas are wrapped around some of the letters oof the title and their feet go through the letters as well. They are holding the Asexuality flag (stripes of black, grey, white and purple). Full Title: “Being Ace: An Anthology of Queer, Trans, Femme, and Disabled Stories of Asexual Love and Connection”
Edited by Madeline Dyer
Published by Page Street Publishing, October 2023
353 pages
Completed: October 29, 2023

A disabled vigilante trying to save her kidnapped girlfriend, a little mermaid who loves her sisters more than suitors, a slayer whose virgin blood keeps attracting monsters and more, the works in Being Ace are anything but conventional. Whether in psychiatric hospitals, space ships, haunted cemeteries, or under the sea, no two aces are the same in 15 unique works that highlight asexual romance, aromantic love, and the many sub-identities of the asexual spectrum umbrella. From a mixture of established and emerging YA writers, contributors include Rosiee Thor, Akemi Dawn Bowman, Linsey Miller, and Moniza Hossain.

This is a great collection of fantasy and science fiction stories with asexual characters! I had a lot of fun reading all of the stories in the collection. I really liked that there wasn’t just one type of asexual representation but multiple variations on the theme and how it drove the stories. There was also great disability representation involved with some stories as well. I’m definitely checking out all the authors to see what else they’ve written.

“Bianca Torre Is Afraid of Everything” Review

a person's head is on the top of the cover looking towards the left. Over the back of their head are three birds in flight going in various directions. below them as the title and authors name and a skyline of a city in the background. THe cover is purple and pink in the center with black on the edges. Written by Justine Pucella Winans
Published by Clarion Books, April 2023
384 pages
Completed September 12, 2023

Sixteen-year-old Bianca Torre is an avid birder undergoing a gender identity crisis and grappling with an ever-growing list of fears. Some, like Fear #6: Initiating Conversation, keep them constrained, forcing them to watch birds from the telescope in their bedroom. And, occasionally, their neighbors. When their gaze wanders from the birds to one particular window across the street, Bianca witnesses a creepy plague-masked murderer take their neighbor’s life. Worse, the death is ruled a suicide, forcing Bianca to make a choice—succumb to their long list of fears (including #3: Murder and #55: Breaking into a Dead Guy’s Apartment) or investigate what happened.

Bianca enlists the help of their friend Anderson Coleman, but the two have more knowledge of anime than true crime. As Bianca and Anderson dig deeper into the murder with a little help from Bianca’s crush and fellow birding aficionado, Elaine Yee (#13: Beautiful People, #11: Parents Discovering They’re A Raging Lesbian), the trio uncovers a conspiracy much larger—and weirder—than imagined. But when the killer catches wind of the investigation, Bianca’s fear of public speaking doesn’t sound so bad compared to the threat of being silenced for good.

In this absurdist, bizarrely comical YA thriller that is at turns a deceptively deep exploration of anxiety and identity, perhaps the real murder investigation is the friends we make along the way.

This was a fun read. The murder mystery was interesting but the way it was handled was a bit over ridiculous. However it being ridiculous was intentional given the description. Serious things would happen with only a brief mention from the adults and then the plot moved on… so the teenagers could solve the mystery. Which was fine but I ended up enjoying reading about Bianca’s character development more as they both figured out their gender identity (realizing they are non-binary) and also dealing with all their anxieties and fears. That was the more interesting part of the book for me. The characters are all great though I wish Bianca had been able to talk to their parents more, but that was realistic. At least they have their friend’s parents to rely on for that.

“The Labyrinth’s Archivist” Review

The side of person's face takes up the top left corner of the cover across the top and down to the bottom. They are dark skinned with gold tones and various shapes and designs on their skin. Their eyes are mostly closed and the face is looking downwards. Rest of the cover is black with circle shapes visible. The title is arranged sideways on the right side of the cover and the authors name is at the bottom. Written by Day Al-Mohamed
Published by Falstaff Books, July 2019
132 pages
Completed September 10, 2023

Walking the Labyrinth and visiting hundreds of other worlds; seeing so many new and wonderful things – that is the provenance of the travelers and traders, the adventurers and heroes. Azalea has never left her home city, let alone the world. Her city, is at the nexus of many worlds with its very own “Hall of Gates” and her family are the Archivists. They are the mapmakers and the tellers of tales. They capture information on all of the byways, passages and secrets of the Labyrinth. Gifted with a perfect memory, Azalea can recall every story she ever heard from the walkers between worlds. She remembers every trick to opening stubborn gates, and the dangers and delights of hundreds of worlds. But Azalea will never be a part of her family’s legacy. She cannot make the fabled maps of the Archivists because she is blind.

The Archivist’s “Residence” is a waystation among worlds. It is safe, comfortable and with all food and amenities provided. In exchange, of course, for stories of their adventures and information about the Labyrinth, which will then be transcribed for posterity and added to the Great Archive. But now, someone has come to the Residence and is killing off Archivists using strange and unusual poisons from unique worlds whose histories are lost in the darkest, dustiest corners of the Great Archive. As Archivists die, one by one, Azalea is in a race to find out who the killer is and why they are killing the Archivists, before they decide she is too big a threat to leave alive.

I really enjoyed this story – the characters were great and I liked how the main character’s disability was used in the story – Azalea is a great character all around. The murder mystery was interesting and I enjoyed how it all played out. It may have been a bit predictable who was the actual killer but it was still fun reading it. I liked the fact that Azalea’s grandmother had the same gift if perfect memory and it wasn’t played as if it was a compensation for her being blind – it was a thing other characters may or may not have regardless of disability or not.