In which I get angry at Rae Carson, who tries to fix her errors, maybe too late

If you read any of my other reviews, you’ll see that I’m a glutton for punishment. Housebound by the pandemic, yearning to rediscover the escapism and wonder of being a dreamy teenager, I’ve gone through so many YA fantasy novels in the past year that I needed several spreadsheet tabs to keep track of them all. This also means that I’ve spent a lot of time being alternately moved and completely fucking frustrated. …

Or, why are we still afraid of female anger?

What is it, I wonder, that makes some of us — self-identified women — so nervous around the idea of revenge?

I recently read Ayesha A Siddiqi’s review of Promising Young Woman. In her review (which pretty much everyone, ever, should read) Siddiqi criticizes the way the film has been marketed as a feminist rape revenge thriller, when in fact it stars a young white woman who is eventually murdered by one of the rapists she’s attempting to get revenge on. In presenting the act of murder as some kind of…

And also: a not-so-brief tirade about bad sex in romance novels

I liked A Bollywood Affair, and I would have liked it even more if it had committed to some of the deep questions its plot prefers to skate past. This novel isn’t the generic dribbly red chicken curry served at Indian restaurants in the suburbs, distilled to an archetype and milked of any challenging originality. The heroine, Mili, is born in a small Indian village and married off at the age of four. Shortly after that, her twelve-year-old husband leaves the village, and she hasn’t heard from him since…

My thoughts on grief and legacy in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy


My feelings about this trilogy are confused by the fact that I spent pretty much all of it waiting for the main character to die. I’d already read Leigh Bardugo’s other Grishaverse books, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Those books are set in the same world, but chronologically many years later, and one of the characters refers to how Sankta Alina died alone on the Fold, to save her country.

Well shit, I thought, when I realized that Sankta Alina was…

My reservations and enthusiasm for Helen Hoang’s unique cross-cultural romance

The cover for Helen Hoang’s novel “The Bride Test”

The most interesting revelation in “The Bride Test” arrives in the Author’s Note at the end of the novel, when author Helen Hoang explains that she based the main character, Vietnamese immigrant Esme Tran, partly on the character of Hoang’s own mother.

“My mom is a legend in my family. Hers is a classic American dream story. At the end of the Vietnam War, she and my four older siblings (ages three through seven), my grandma and a handful of other relatives fled to the United States as war refugees…

In which I generally like Namina Forna’s YA feminist fantasy

The cover image for Namina Forna’s book, “The Gilded Ones”

I’m not really sure how I first heard about “The Gilded Ones,” and I’m torn about how to review it. First, the good: this book is set in a beautifully built world. Otera is governed by an emperor and his priests. Their Holy Book is a humorless text known as the Infinite Wisdoms, which dictates that women were created to be men’s subservient helpmeets. When a girl turns 16, she undergoes an elaborate ritual blood-letting that determines if she’s “pure.” If her blood runs red, she’s discharged to the ranks…

I wept and I laughed at Yoon Ha Lee’s visionary space opera trilogy

The cover of Yoon Ha Lee’s book “Ninefox Gambit”

“At some point you had to ask yourself how much legitimacy any government had that feared dissension within more than invasion from without.”

It’s not often you read a book where the same character plays both the villain and the protagonist. Enter Shuos Jedao, the suave, cynical, four-centuries undead revenant who swaggers through these pages with a smooth drawl and impeccable comic timing. …

In which I enjoy the heck out of Leigh Bardugo’s criminal caper duology

If you’ve heard about Six of Crows and its sequel, Crooked Kingdom, and you’re wondering whether or not to read them, this questionnaire may help:

  1. Do you like elaborately plotted novels that DON’T revolve around a war?
  2. Do you like intense, slow-burn romances full of soulful yearning and impossible conflicts that prove Shakespeare’s maxim that “the course of true love never did run smooth”?
  3. Do you like ensemble casts with deep backstories?
  4. Do you enjoy found family dynamics?
  5. Are you down for rapid-fire shootouts and dramatic action…

In which I discover the vampire romance genre may not be for me

This is how we’re introduced to Diana Bishop, the 33-year-old time-traveling witch and PhD historian at the center of the incredibly successful All Souls Trilogy:

“After earning my degree, I fought fiercely for a spot on the faculty at Yale, the only place that was more English than England. Colleagues warned that I had little chance of being granted tenure. I churned out two books, won a handful of prizes, and collected some research grants. Then I received tenure and proved everyone wrong.”

If this smug bio…

In which I have a relatively good time with Olivia Chadha’s far-future South Asian-inspired sci-fi story

This book started out very strong for me: taking a page out of the same book as the Portuguese-language TV show 3% (as well as many other scifi epics of recent times) it takes place in a distant future defined by unequal economic progress, in which opaque rituals determine the difference between the haves and the have-nots. In this case, the South Asian’s province’s elite residents are chosen by an algorithm and optimized using neural implants, and they live in the city’s sanctified upper…

Anika Reads

Reader, gamer, sci-fi/fantasy nerd, reviewer. I love great stories, regardless of medium. This account is for honest reviews, observations, and critiques.

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