Happy New Year! Also, My Shift in Reading

Happy New Year (let’s hope) intrepid readers!

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Once again, I want to emphasize that I am not back back, however I do feel like I have gotten over my blogging burnout, and might try to post more in the upcoming year (don’t count on it though). The last 2 years have been really challenging, and not because anything really terrible happened to me personally. But with the pandemic there were so many changes that, well, it was a lot. Along with that (and possibly because of that) my reading has changed significantly since the pandemic started. So blogging burnout + major shift in reading = me having trouble talking about books. I feel like I might be ready to start…well, not diving in, but dipping my toes back into the book blogging waters. Maybe. We’ll see.

Anywho, I want to talk first about Goodreads. I joined the website in 2018 in order to be able to keep track of the books I was interested in reading, but along the way I also started using it to track the books I was reading. Which honestly, is probably not the best thing for me since it puts artificial pressure on an activity that for me is vital to my mental health. (This is another reason I have eschewed all reading challenges and readathons except for r/Fantasy’s yearly Book Bingo, the pressure was ruining my enjoyment of reading.)

In 2018, I tracked myself reading 229 books, and 188 in 2019, most of which were m/m romance ebooks. And then 2020 happened. With the pandemic came an inability to read the books I previously enjoyed and would re-read at least once every year. Also, my most read romance genre was just not doing it for me. So, I decided to dive in and try reading web novels, which was honestly quite daunting at first since I had no idea what authors/genres/etc. I would like. So, I actually started with web comics, and for the ones I particularly enjoyed, I would then try and find the web novel (if it existed and was translated). I quickly discovered that I really enjoyed stories about necromancers (Solo Leveling), revenge plots (Kill the Hero), and litRPG (Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God, World’s Apocalypse Online, The Duke’s Eldest Son Escaped to the Military, and (not sure if it counts here but) Leveling with the Gods). I also tend to like the Korean authors more than Chinese or Japanese authors, though my GOAT is by (I think) a Chinese author (Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God). These web novels though, are difficult, if not impossible, to track in Goodreads, so even though I committed myself to read 100 books in 2020 for the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I only ended up reading 51….except I probably ended up reading more in 2020 (and 2021) than any other year previously. For instance, I finished Reincarnation of the Strongest Sword God (back before it was rebooted…which yes, I am currently reading that right now) which ended up being 2,918 CHAPTERS (estimated about 10,000 pages)….and that’s only ONE of the multiple web novels I picked up in 2020. So, even though I technically failed my Goodreads Reading Challenge….I only really failed because web novels don’t really have volumes (in some cases they do now) and so only count as 1 (if you can count them at all on Goodreads…many aren’t even on the site).

2021 ended up being more of the same, but I ended up 1. Lowering the number of books I committed to in the Reading Challenge to 30 and 2. Figured out how to track at least some of the web novels on Goodreads as volumes. So yeah, started off with 30 books but ended up bumping it up to 50 once I figured out point 2. Even so, a lot of web novels still can’t be tracked properly in Goodreads so, my Year in Review is not really indicative of everything I actually read. Even so, I will include it here for your viewing pleasure:

I rated a lot of things pretty highly this year, though I did have a couple of DNFs and most of my high ratings were 4s. My biggest 5 star surprise was Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. I absolutely love that book. It made me realize how much I love labyrinths in stories, and it weirdly gave me the same vibes as Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami, which is one of my GOATs (don’t ask me how since the stories are not even remotely similar).

A bit of a non sequitur, but I also watched the Dune movie this year and really enjoyed it. The first Dune book is also one of my GOATs, but I never felt the need to continue with the series. However, after watching the movie, for some unexplainable reason, I really want to read the other books in the series. Maybe that will be a 2022 goal.

I also started a book club with my step mom this year, which is why I started reading more books outside my usual genres towards the end of the year including (shock!) a non-fiction. I dunno what to tell ya, I guess I just feel like reading more widely? I think booktube is also partially to blame since some of my favorite booktubers (*cough* With Cindy and Books and Lala *cough*) only have some crossover with the genres I typically read (SFF) and they have 100% gotten me to read books that I would not have picked up in the past. So, influencers are effective, I guess?

Sorry this post was so rambly, I am very out of practice and really just wanted to give everyone an update as to why my reading is so wonky these past 2 years. I might do a r/Fantasy Book Bingo update post soon as well, or I might just wait until the reading challenge finishes at the end of March and do a wrap-up post. Who knows? Everything is so up in the air anymore, I might as well be too.

2021 r/Fantasy Book Bingo TBR

Hello again everyone! Sorry for falling off the planet for the past couple years. I got really burnt out on blogging, and to be honest, I am not really back back right now…I just wanted somewhere to keep track of my options for the 2021 r/Fantasy Book Bingo. I haven’t participated in the bingo the last couple of years either, so I am a little rusty when it comes to tracking things. I have still been reading, but not many traditional books….mostly web novels and web comics. I got really into wuxia and litRPG for the past year or so, but I am finally in the mood to read traditional novels again. Hence me attempting bingo this year.

Oh and another thing, if possible, I don’t want to buy any books for this year’s bingo, I want to read the books I already own. I am not sure if that will be 100% possible, especially since I want to 100% the card, but I am going to try my best and cut down on the giant pile of books I own but haven’t read yet. Fingers crossed that I can make a decent dent.

Anywho, without further ado, here is the 2021 book bingo card:

2021 r/Fantasy Book Bingo Card

And here are the possible books I could read for each square (I indicate books I do not already own):

Row 1 TBR

Five SFF Short Stories – Any short story as long as there are five of them. HARD MODE: Read an entire SFF anthology or collection.

Set in Asia – Any book set in Asia or an analogous fantasy setting that is based on a real-world Asian setting. HARD MODE: Written by an Asian author.

A Selection from the r/Fantasy A to Z Genre Guide – Any book listed in our A to Z Genre Guide. HARD MODE: A book by a BIPOC author.

Found Family – Or as TV Tropes calls it – Family of Choice. Often not biologically related, these relationships in a group typically form through bonds of shared experiences and become as important (in some cases more) as family members. HARD MODE: Featuring an LGBTQ+ character as a member of the found family.

First Person POV – defined as: a literary style in which the narrative is told from the perspective of a narrator speaking directly about themselves. HARD MODE: There is more than one perspective, but each perspective is written in First Person.

Row 2 TBR

Book Club OR Readalong Book – Any past or still active r/Fantasy book clubs count, as well as past or current r/Fantasy readalongs. HARD MODE: Must read a current selection of either a book club or readalong and participate in the discussion.

New to You Author – This would be an author whose work you’ve yet to read, meaning no novel, no novella, no short fiction, etc. HARD MODE: Not only have you never read their work before but you’ve not heard much about this author or their work before deciding to try a book by them.

Gothic Fantasy – Gothic Fantasy is similar to Gothic Fiction but it includes fantasy elements or settings. Gothic Fiction is “a style of writing that is characterized by elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom, as well as romantic elements, such as nature, individuality, and very high emotion. These emotions can include fear and suspense.” (Source) Here is a good ‘introductory post’ on Gothic Fantasy for further reading from Book Riot. HARD MODE: NOT one of the ten titles listed in the Book Riot article.

Backlist Book – For our purposes we’re considering ‘backlist’ an author’s older titles that are not their latest published book or part of a currently running series (no further sequels announced when you read it). The author must also be a currently publishing author. HARD MODE: Published before the year 2000.

Revenge-Seeking Character – Book has a character whose main motivation in the story is revenge. HARD MODE: Revenge is central to the plot of the entire book.

Row 3 TBR

Mystery Plot – The main plot of the book centers around solving a mystery. HARD MODE: Not a primary world Urban Fantasy (secondary world urban fantasy is okay!)

Comfort Read – This is one of those ‘personal to you’ squares. Any book that brings you comfort while reading it. You can use a reread on this square and it WON’T count for your ‘1 reread’. HARD MODE: Don’t use a reread, find a brand new comfort read!

Published in 2021 – A book published for the first time in 2021 (no reprints or new editions). HARD MODE: It’s also a debut novel–as in it’s the author’s first published novel.

Cat Squasher: 500+ Pages – Time to go tome hunting–find a book that is over 500 pages in length. HARD MODE: Lion Squasher – a book that is over 800 pages.

SFF-Related Nonfiction – Back by popular demand! Any nonfiction book that is related to SFF. Could be a book about the history of something in SFF, writing SFF, essays from a SFF writer, etc. HARD MODE: Published within the last five years.

Row 4 TBR

Latinx or Latin American Author – Author is from Latin America or of Latinx/Hispanic heritage. HARD MODE: Book has fewer than 1000 Goodreads ratings.

Self-Published – Only self-published novels will count for this square. If the novel has been picked up by a publisher as long as you read it when it was self-pubbed it will still count. HARD MODE: Self-pubbed and has fewer than 50 ratings on Goodreads.

  • No idea, might replace this square (since we can replace one square with a square from a previous year’s bingo card)

Forest Setting – This setting must be used be for a good portion of the book. HARD MODE: The entire book takes place in this setting.

Genre Mashup – A book that utilizes major elements from two or more genres. Examples: a romance set in a fantasy world, a book that combines science fiction and fantasy, etc. HARD MODE: Three or more genres are combined.

Has Chapter Titles – A book where each chapter has a title (other than numbers or just a character’s name). HARD MODE: Chapter title is more than a single word.

Row 5 TBR

Title: ______ of _______ – The title of the book must feature the format X of Y. Example: The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier. HARD MODE: _______of _______ and _________ . Format of title must be X of Y and Z.

First Contact – From Wikipedia: Science Fiction about the first meeting between humans and extraterrestrial life, or of any sentient species’ first encounter with another one, given they are from different planets or natural satellites. HARD MODE: War does not break out as a result of contact.

Trans or Nonbinary Character – A book featuring a trans or nonbinary character that isn’t an alien or a robot. HARD MODE: This character is a main protagonist.

Debut Author – An author’s debut novel or novella. HARD MODE: The author has participated in an AMA. AMA List linked here.

Witches – A book featuring witches. Note – characters practicing what is traditionally in their culture referred to as witchcraft would also count. For example brujos or brujas would count for this square. HARD MODE: A witch is a main protagonist.

Obligatory warning, all the books mentioned in this post are subject to change per my mood. I suspect that many of these will be changed out for other options…though perhaps not as many as I think if I really stick to my guns and try to read only books I already own. We shall see. Anyway, good luck to everyone who is participating in this reading challenge! I am going to disappear again until it is time to update yinz on my bingo progress. Ciao!

Unfinished Series 2019

Blogmas 2019

Hi all! Today I am going to list some of the series that I have started but not finished, but that I want to finish soon (or as soon as I can as some of the books aren’t out yet). This is mostly so I will have something I can refer to in the future, and therefore might be somewhat boring for all of you, dear readers.

There are other series beyond this, including many manga, but these are the ones I want to focus on the most in the upcoming months, since they were almost all series that I started during readathons but couldn’t finish because the rest of the series didn’t satisfy a prompt (or whatever). So, these will definitely be my focus, as well as the rest of the books I need to read to black out my r/Fantasy Book Bingo card (more on that in another upcoming post).

The Quick Fire Fantasy Tag

Blogmas 2019

Hello all! I saw this post over on Kristin Kraves Books and decided to tag my self.


  • Thank the person who tagged you and link back to their post
  • Link to the creator’s blog (thebookwormdreamer) in your post
  • Answer the prompts below – all fantasy books!
  • Tag 5 others to take part
  • Enjoy!

5 star book

Here’s one I haven’t talked about before. Song in the Silence by Elizabeth Kerner is about Lanen Kaelar, a woman who desperately wishes to meet a dragon, so she heads to the legendary Dragon Isle as part of a harvesting crew that are going to the island in hopes to collect a hard-to-obtain leaf. I like this book because it has good dragons in it, as opposed to so many other fantasy books that portray dragons as evil.

Always going to recommend

The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop is probably my all time favorite, and I will always recommend it.

Own it but haven’t read it yet

My friend Emily recommended Scar Night by Alan Campbell to me as one of her all time favorites. I own it, I just haven’t gotten around to actually reading it. Hopefully next year!

Would read again

Not only would I want to read Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett again, I think I am going to have to in order to refresh my memory before the second book comes out.

In another world

Song of the Beast by Carol Berg is a bit of a brutal read, it starts off with torture, so fair warning if you decide to pick it up. It takes place in a world with dragons, and I like it because again, the dragons are good rather than evil.

Back on Earth

Here’s another one I don’t think I have talked about. The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt is about werewolves in Rome during the 8th century. It can be little hard to orient yourself in the story at first, but it is well worth the effort  to continue reading.

That’s all for today folks! There will only be one more tag, on New Year’s Eve, for the Blogmas line up. The rest of the posts will be year/decade end wrap-up posts.

Christmas Songs Tag

Blogmas 2019

Hi everyone! Yes, I know Christmas is over, but like my friend Emily, I believe it is acceptable to listen to Christmas songs until the new year. ‘Tis the season right?

Anyway, I saw this tag at Amy’s Bookish Life and decided to tag myself. The tag was created by That Artsy Reader Girl.

“All I Want for Christmas Is You”

Favorite bookish couple

So, this prompt was really hard for me because when I started to think about it, I don’t really root for couples much (though I do enjoy when they get together and everything works out). I tend to be much more invested with one party in a couple (or trio, or whatever), or sometimes both equally if they are particularly well written characters, and so long as their story turns out ok in the end (whether they get together or not), I am happy. There are certain tropes I adore though, and the grumpy snark v.s. arrogantly confidant dynamic between Selsor and Jehnonn in Kiss the Rain by Megan Derr was tops.

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

Name a book where a character is away from home (school, vacation, etc.)

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan MacGuire. All of the students in the book are away from home at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, though all of them, teachers included, would prefer to be elsewhere.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Name your favorite “little” book (children’s book, short story, novella, etc.)

This is a new love, as it didn’t exist when I was a child (it was released this year), but I absolutely adore Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison.

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”

What book(s) do you hope Santa brings you this year?

Well, as I have mentioned before, my family isn’t doing presents for the adults, only stocking stuffers, so I expect I will not be receiving any books this year. I hope to get gift cards to bookstores though.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”

Which book turned your nose red (made you cry)?

I think Amy Lane could write a telephone book and it would make me cry. She is a master of angst, and Keeping Promise Rock is one of her more difficult stories to read.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Your favorite book/kind of book to read during the holidays

As I have mentioned before, I don’t have seasonal reads. Though, it is sometimes fun to read the Christmas romances that always come out this time of year.

“We Three Kings”

Your favorite trilogy

The Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop of course! (Yes, I know it is more of a series now, but this is the original trilogy and I love it.)

“Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow”

A character you would love to be snowed in with

Arthur Dent from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, after he has had his adventure so that I can hear all about it.

“Last Christmas”

A book that seriously let you down

I mean, this is a trilogy and not one book, but I really wanted to love The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, but I can’t stand his writing.

“White Christmas”

An upcoming release you’re dreaming about

I want Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett like now please.

I tag Emily (if you don’t get around to this one until next year, it’s all good hahaha)!

Behind the Book Blogger Tag

Blogmas 2019

Hello good people! For those of you who celebrated, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I saw this tag over at Literary Weaponry and decided to tag myself. So, thanks!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions below
  • Pingback to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about to do this tag

Why did you start blogging and why have you kept blogging?

My friend Emily got me into blogging. She has a book blog of her own and really wanted me to blog as well. I liked her blog so I decided to give it a go and here we are. I keep blogging because it is fun. I get burned out sometimes though (I am a mood poster) and have to take breaks. I just don’t like forcing myself to write something when I don’t feel like writing it.

What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

I like tags. They are an easy way to give little mini reviews and they sometimes have really interesting prompts.

What are your top 3 favorite blog posts?

I don’t have actual 3 all time favorite blog posts, but my 3 favorite types of blog posts are tags, most anticipated books, and my friend Emily’s fate of her book haul posts.

What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?

Read, play video games, binge Netflix.

What are 3 of your favorite things?

My friends, my cat, books.

What are your proudest blogging moments?

Uh…blogging is very VERY casual for me, so I don’t really feel things like pride over it. I suppose if I manage to actually complete Blogmas this year I will be happy. I dunno if I will be proud though.

What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

Reading, traveling, playing video games, playing table top games, watching anime, knitting.

Describe your personality in 3 words?

Cheerful, introverted, quirky

What are your top 3 pet peeves?

I hate being in wet clothing, I hate getting my face wet, and I hate creating dirty dishes when I cook.

What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I was adopted.

That’s all for today, folks! (I know, I know, according to the rules I am supposed to tag 5 people…eff that, I almost never tag people. If you liked the tag and wanna do one yourself, then tag yourself. Cheers!)

Christmas Eve Book Tag

Blogmas 2019

Hello dear hearts! Is everyone who celebrates Christmas ready for tomorrow? Got all your presents wrapped and under the tree? Personally, I am good to go (phew), and I wish anyone out there buying last minute gifts the best of luck!

As for today’s tag, I actually had to google to find one, and found this particular one at Little Panda Reads. It was originally created by Samantha at Sam’s Nonsense (on Youtube), but I tweaked some of the questions so they weren’t quite so wordy.

Christmas Eve morning: what is a book you anticipate reading? 

Deeplight by Frances Hardinge. I even have it right here next to me on the couch. Gonna read it while I am visiting my rents here in Arizona.

Christmas Eve breakfast: what are your favorite treats during the holiday season?

Candy Canes

Family Time: What is a book that fills you with happiness and love?

I get the warm fuzzies every time I read Striker by Lexi Ander.

Christmas Carols: What are your favorite Christmas Carols or holiday songs?

Fairytale of New York is probably my favorite, but I like most of them.

Anticipation: What is a book release you are very much anticipating?

I just made an entire post about this recently, but number one is probably Shorefall by Robert Jackson Bennett.

You hear sleigh bells on the roof and are so excited you can’t sleep!: What is a book that kept you up all night?

Very recently Vassily the Beautiful by Angel Martinez kept me up until 2am on a work night (I get up at 6am)…EVEN THOUGH I HAVE ALREADY READ IT BEFORE. Sigh.

It’s Christmas morning, and Santa has come!: What is a book on your wishlist that you hope to unwrap?

Well, I know for a fact I am not getting any books from my family since we aren’t doing gifts for the adults this year, only stocking stuffers. But I do hope I get at least one gift card to a book store.

That’s it! Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it, otherwise, happy December the 24th & 25th! There will not be a post tomorrow as I am taking the day off for the holiday. Hope everyone has a wonderful day!

Christmas Memories

Blogmas 2019

Hi everyone! As we draw ever closer to the holiday, I begin to reminisce about Christmases past. Forgive me, if this is a little bit of a self indulgent, melancholy post, but this is always a really hard time of year for me, because ever since my mom died when I was 10, the Christmas holiday began to morph into a very different shape.

When I was really little, Christmas was my absolute favorite holiday. My mom loved to decorate, and seemed to have a million decorations for every holiday (including smaller ones like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s day) but Christmas definitely had the best decorations. There were the giant red and green lollipops we put in the big windows on either side of the front door, the stained glass nativity scene, the wooden Rudolf statue we had to assemble, the nutcracker collection that grew every year since my grandmother gave me one for Christmas every year, plus all the lights my dad and I would hang from the gutters around the roof of the house. I knew every single decoration, as well as where it was supposed to go in the house.

My dad, my mom, and I would drive out to the Christmas tree farm and spend half a day looking for the best tree to cut down. Once we found a suitable 12 foot monstrosity, we would use our saws to cut it down then haul it back to the house. We would put the lights on, then unpack the ornaments. I knew every single ornament, and made sure all my favorites were prominently displayed. As we got closer to the holiday, family would start showing up. First my grandma and grandpa, then my aunt, uncle, and cousin, and usually my other aunt as well.

Then it would be Christmas day and I would wake up at 4am, excited as can be, and demand my parents “come look what Santa brought!” Of course, they would tell me to go back to bed for at least another hour, but it was impossible to sleep again. So 5am on the dot I would be back in their room, demanding their presence at the tree. And oh the tree! It felt like 1,000 presents were spread out around the tree (there were too many to just fit under the tree), they would fill up nearly a quarter of the room (and it was not a small room)! Slowly the rest of the family would appear in various states of wakefulness, the adults would get coffee and distribute cinnamon buns, while I would be checking over all the things that Santa brought (one year, when I was 5, he brought a life size tiger stuffed animal that was so lifelike that when my grandmother saw it she screamed). We would do stockings first, then one by one we would start opening presents. It would take until 2-3pm because we would literally open them one at a time. Then we would have a huge Christmas dinner of turkey (sometimes ham), stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce.

But then my mom passed away, and then my dad started dating a woman (who is now my step mother) who has 2 daughters and wanted to do “our family only” Christmases. And so the world keeps spinning, and the only constant is change, and the shape of Christmas is now different. Not bad, just different. But the difference still makes me sad.

Second Tome Around Book Tag

Blogmas 2019

Hi all! Saw this tag over on All Things Momma blog and decided to tag myself. It was created by Hungry Bookworm on Youtube.

Do you buy second hand books?


What is / was your latest purchase?

It has actually been awhile…so I am not exactly sure, but possibly Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

What condition do you find acceptable? ie, tatty or not tatty etc

I don’t mind if they are a little tatty if they are a rare edition or something, but otherwise I prefer them to be as pristine as possible. I know that is not always possible, and so I compromise, but it is what I prefer.

After you have read said book, do you keep it for a re read or re donate it?

I never get rid of books unless I am moving (particularly overseas or something) and need to do a book purge. Once it is mine, it is mine, regardless of whether I plan to re-read it or not.

Do you have a favorite place you like to go to, when looking for second hand books?

Caliban Book Shop or Half Priced Books. I know, I know, Caliban has that big whole awful thing (if you don’t know what I am talking about, google Caliban and Pittsburgh and you will find out), but I still love the store and they have a really great selection so I still go there.

Hardback or Paperback, do you have a preference?

For used books I prefer hardback.

Have you found any real gems?

I have first editions of all three of Edward Gorey’s Vinegar Works, that I got from Caliban.

OPTIONAL – Find a book from your shelves that you can donate to a good cause or your local Charity / Goodwill shops

Uh…no. (See above, “Once it’s mine, it’s mine.) I bought a house 2 years ago, so I actually have a library now, that is rather empty after having lived overseas/moving around a lot, so I need to be building UP my library, not removing books from it. I will find something else to donate, or go buy books for the express purpose of donating them. Clothes! I can donate clothes. *decisive nod*

That’s all! I tag Emily.

Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Blogmas 2019

Hi again everyone! Today I decided to actually stick to my tentative schedule and try my hand at another review.

Awhile back my friend Sarah recommended Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie to me. She didn’t really tell me much, except that it played with gender in interesting ways.  Well, I finally got around to reading it a couple months ago and lemme tell you, I love everything about this book.

The books starts off with the character Breq as she treks through a frozen wasteland of a planet looking for someone, saving an old acquaintance from a freezing death along the way. However, interwoven with this narrative is the narrative of Justice of Toren, a giant AI starship, who is also Breq, before the starship was destroyed. Confused? Don’t worry, it actually isn’t that confusing when you read it, as Ann Leckie is masterful at weaving these two storylines/timelines together, I am just bad at explaining it hahaha.

I don’t want too much more into the plot because spoilers, but I will say, I am super excited to read the next book.

Anyway, one of the most fascinating things for me while reading this book was how gender is handled. In the Radch, the militant empire that rules much of its corner of the universe, everyone is referred to using the pronoun “she”, regardless of biological sex or gender expression. At certain points during the book, certain characters biological sex is revealed, but since the pronoun is always “she” I had a really hard time remembering which character had which sex (not that I particularly cared, I just thought it would be interesting/could be important to the story to keep track, or else why tell us?)….and then after awhile I stopped trying to keep track at all. It was a really unique experience and I enjoyed it immensely. Makes me wish we all only used one pronoun for everyone.

Another interesting thing that Ann Leckie explores is identity. One particularly horrifying part of the story is just how Breq is a related to Justice of Toren (I don’t want to get into exactly how because, again, spoilers, but it has to do with suppressing or destroying someone’s identity to allow something else to take over….but is the original identity really gone?), and since Justice of Toren’s destruction, how she has come more and more to be her own person. Also, there is one character in the book literally at war with herself (no really, literally) because of a difference of opinion. So, can the different parts of herself really be considered to be the same person anymore? It’s so fascinating.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes space operas with AI main characters, enjoys when authors play around with gender, likes frozen tundra planets, and is ok with being slightly confused until things slowly come to light (and oh boy, do they come to light).

5 Stars.