Book Review: Barbary Station

Originally posted on Geek Girl Authority

Barbary Station
By R.E. Stearns

My Edition:
Hardcover, 435 pages
2017, Saga Press
ISBN: 9781481476867

Iridian and Adda have a plan – they’ll hijack an interstellar space station en route to Io and deliver it to a band of pirates living in luxury on the fabled Barbary Station, then get paid enough to live their own luxurious lives and pay off Adda’s student loans. Hijacking the ship goes smoothly enough, but when the women arrive at Barbary, rather than find themselves lauded and initiated into a pirate crew, they’re met with suspicion and immediately tasked to rescue the crew (and now themselves) from the insane AI holding the station hostage. 

Lesbian space pirates versus a murderous AI? Sign me the hell up! The result left me feeling conflicted, however. Buckle up!

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Book Review: The Seafarer’s Kiss

The Seafarer’s Kiss
By Julia Ember

My Edition:
Paperback, 212 pages
2017, Duet Books
ISBN: 9781945053207

Ersel feels pressure from her clan about the upcoming Grading ceremony – where young mermaids are tested to see how many fertile eggs they carry, thus determining how desirable they are to potential mates – and does not want the life her king has planned for her. When a ship crashes into the glacier she lives in and Ersel meets the lone survivor, Ragna, she discovers a life so different from her own that she now must make a choice: stay and mate with her childhood friend or face exile from the clan for befriending a human and wanting to explore the world. Determined to get the life she wants, Ersel makes a deal with Loki, but the repercussions are more far reaching than she ever imagined.

I saw this book somewhere online (Instagram? WordPress? Who knows?) and once I heard there was a lesbian mermaid, I was on board.

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Book Review: Mask of Shadows

pic from NetGalley

Mask of Shadows
By Linsey Miller

My Edition:
ARC e-book, 352 pages
2017, Sourcbooks
ISBN: 9781492647492 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: August 29

Ever since her homeland was destroyed and her family brutally killed, gender fluid Sal has been living on the streets as a thief and a fighter – a good one at that. When they hear the new Queen is looking to fill the position of Opal, a skilled assassin in the group of four that makes up her Left Hand, Sal enters the auditions. If Sal can win the auditions and enter the court, it could be their chance at revenge against all those who wronged their people. But to do so they’ll have to fight off twenty-two other competitors and impress the judges while they’re at it.

I was intrigued by the genderfluidity of the main character, but wary of the assassin competition aspect of this YA fantasy. I didn’t hate the book (which we know, is kind of rare for me and YA) but I really wasn’t loving it either.

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Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit
By Becky Chambers

My Edition:
Paperback, 364 pages
2017, Hodder
ISBN: 9781473621473

Lovelace was once the artificial intelligence in the ship, Wayfarer, constantly tending to the needs of the ship and the crew, while also forming emotional bonds with them. But after the ship was damaged, Lovelace lost her personality because of a reboot and rather than cause the crew further pain, she left the ship in the form of an illegal body kit. Living with Pepper, someone who knows about not fitting in the body you were given, Lovelace struggles to come to terms with her new life and its limitations while still being true to how she feels.

Guys, I can’t even.

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Book Review: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
By Becky Chambers

My Edition:
E-book, 476 pages
2015, Harper Voyager
ISBN: 9780062444134

Rosemary has used up her savings to hide her past and leave her home planet of Mars. She joins the multi-species crew of a ship whose job it is to punch wormholes through space. Rosemary is finally free to explore the galaxy and finds unexpected friendships among the diverse crew. Among adventure and danger Rosemary learns that there’s more to family than blood.

I don’t know how to talk about this book, but it’s so, so, so good. One of those books where I knew from the first few pages that I was going to love it. Again, credit goes to Chelsea for talking about this book on her channel (and slightly to Amazon for having the e-book on sale for $1.99) and I can’t wait to buy a physical copy and the sequel/companion.

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Book Review: Timekeeper

Timekeeper
By Tara Sim

My Edition:
E-book, 424 pages (hardcover)
2016, Sky Pony Press
ISBN: 9781510706187 (hardcover)
Expected Publication Date: November, 18 2016

I received this book for free from Sky Pony Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.

In an alternate version of Victorian England, time is controlled by clock towers and if one is destroyed, a whole town could be stopped, its citizens trapped, possibly forever. At seventeen, Danny Hart is one of the youngest mechanics to earn his license to maintain clock towers and the flow of time they create. His father is trapped in a stopped town and Danny is desperate to get a position working on the new tower being built, in hopes that it will free the town and his father. But Danny’s obsession with the new tower has instead landed him in the small town of Enfield with a tower that seems to have one problem after another. There Danny meets a mysterious boy who turns out to be a clock spirit and as Danny falls head over heels for him, he’ll risk everything he’s worked for in order for them to be together.

I was very excited about the premise of this book. I love steampunk stories and with the added elements of clock spirits and a gay protagonist, I figured this book would really wow me. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for any of the characters and that left the story feeling lackluster.

Danny felt less like a character and more like a stereotype. Rather possessing a solid personality that evoked empathy in me for his situation, Danny felt whiny and almost pathetic. He felt people around him were treating him like a child, but he was acting like one.  That, paired with the fact that his homosexuality felt more like a stereotypical personality trait than a real part of who he was, made it very hard for me to immerse myself in his life. He is also apparently a prodigy at repairing these clocks, yet (aside from the very end of the book where he randomly develops superpowers) we’re never given any evidence of this other than people talking about how he’s the youngest mechanic ever.

Colton, the clock spirit, didn’t stand out either. He’s essentially a pretty boy for Danny to fall “in love” with. He has no real personality other than curious, because he’s not human and so he doesn’t understand much about human life – despite saying he’s watched the people of his town for an unknowable amount of time. He feels overly innocent (or perhaps ignorant is the right word?) and it makes his relationship with Danny awkward and forced. Their bond borders on insta-love with Danny feeling immediately comfortable around Colton, which leads to them chatting a bit, and then suddenly they’re in love.

The story is mostly from Danny’s perspective, though it is broken up here and there by some interludes about the gods and how time was managed before it fell into human hands. There are also a couple random chapters voiced by a few of Danny’s enemies, but rather than deepen those characters, those chapters felt abrupt and left me wondering why we only heard from them once or twice.

I did like the idea of a clock tower controlling the time of the town it resided in and I found it interesting that a town could stop. I was fuzzy on the details of a stopped town though. Towards the end, we do get a feel for what it’s like inside a stopped town, but the rules of how they work seemed arbitrary and changeable based on what Danny needed to be able to accomplish.

The ending wrapped the book up with a neat bow and made me roll my eyes. Since I never cared for Danny, the conclusion wasn’t satisfying because at that point I didn’t care if he ended up with everything he wanted or not. I do have questions about how one maintains a relationship with someone who is actually made of time, but I don’t want to know badly enough to read another book, should this be made into a series. I wasn’t impressed, but I didn’t hate the book.

If you’re looking for a light, LGBT YA read with some steampunk and semi-magical elements thrown in, I’d recommend checking this out.

You can visit Tara’s website here.