JJ Reads

Mini Reviews: Spectacular short SFF & Emotional YA Contemporary

I’ve loved all the books I’ve read so far this month. And all the ones I haven’t – which makes sense I promise. I started two books at the beginning of the month that were both amazing but then… I didn’t feel in the mood to read fantasy books. So instead of not reading anything I switched. But I will go back to them at some point because both The Steel Crow Saga by Paul Krueger and Deeplight by Frances Hardinge were awesome. I can’t wait to be in the mood to keep reading (sometimes I hate being a mood reader!). But onto my mini reviews!

The Speculative:

The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist by S.L Huang *****

An amazing f/f scifi retelling of the little mermaid but backwards so a human scientist is the curious one that falls in love and changes. Brilliantly written and imagined. I loved the mode the story was told in – which sounds vague but you should read it. It’s awesome. Fair warning it has a tragic ending like the original story. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

The Devil You Know by K.J Parker *****

A fantasy novella where a philosopher with a penchant for conning people makes a deal with the devil for his soul only the devil is pretty sure he’s being played. It was really clever and I loved how the devil was so unsure and second guessing everything. It is quite slow but was a solid 4 stars throughout. Until that ending! Everything came together perfectly.

Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield *****

is this dual timeline if the people keep switching timelines? This is an adult scifi….historical…. Time travel novella about badass women. A female highwayman in the 1800s steals off chauvinistic gentleman to get enough money to pay off bills. But things get complicated when a female time agent from the future who wants to prevent a time war shows up. Also I loved the highwayman’s girlfriend. The f/f relationship was difficult but awesome. I did struggle with the writing in places but a great story.

The Contemporary:

Release by Patrick Ness *****

A YA contemporary set over the course of one day. Adam has to deal with a devout religious homophobic family. A broken heart. A farewell. And a boyfriend who he wishes he could let himself love. Heavy subject matter but with an extremely hopeful feel throughout. I loved how it was all resolved. Also it’s Patrick Ness so of course there’s a really weird fantastical side story happening alongside the main one.

Content Warnings: explicit consensual sex, homophobic family, unwanted sexual advances.

The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess *****

A very heavy (seriously check the TW’S) and emotional YA contemporary about a girl placed in emergency foster care after her dad kicks her out. The foster care is Ownvoices rep and it’s amazing. I loved victoria and all of the complicated relationships she develops with friends, foster siblings and everyone! All of the characters are great. And I loved the way she slowly comes to terms with what her dad did to her and the hopeful ending.

Trigger Warnings: sexual assault on a minor by a family member, witnessing an attempted suicide. Grooming. Domestic abuse. Self harm.


I started the month in a pretty big reading slump so I’m really happy with the books I ended up reading. Short fiction is such a great way to get out of a slump (and stop yourself falling behind on your reading challenge!).

How is everyone doing on their reading goals this year? Any great books you read lately?

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