Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, K J Parker


I fix broken people with things, with stuff; with tricks, lies, devices. I’m resourceful and ingenious. I don’t confront, I avoid; and one of the things I do my best to avoid is justice, and another one is death.

This is the story of Orhan, son of Siyyah Doctus Felix Praeclarissimus, and his history of the Great Siege, written down so that the deeds and sufferings of great men may never be forgotten.

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4 / 5

I’ve had my eye on Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City for a little while now, and I finally took the plunge and bought it during an ill-advised shopping spree at Waterstones. Seriously. I’d just been paid and I went and picked up seven books, including two hardbacks. I’ve never done that. Anyhow, this book was great.

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Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee


Calendrical rot had set in again.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

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4 / 5

This book was bizarre. Odd and beautiful and deliciously confusing. I devoured this book on my train commute over the course of the week, nose stuck into its pages as I drifted between platforms. There was something about the story, the characters, the language that struck right at me. For example, a letter is signed off with “yours in calendrical heresy”. I’m still not quite sure what it means, but it is a phrase that has stuck in my head.

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Revenger, Alastair Reynolds



“We all have it in us to be something other than what we are, I thought, but we don’t often get a glimpse of what we could have been”

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4 / 5

Alastair Reynolds is a pretty big name in sci-fi, but I’ve never actually read anything by him before. Well, that all changed with Revenger. Though, as I understand it, classically an Adult Sci-Fi writer, Reynolds mixed it up a bit with a YA novel. Revenger perfectly slots into that 16+ YA gap, for those younger readers that want to read something a bit more complex and sophisticated, and those adult readers (like me) who want something a bit less technical and easy to read.

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The Grace Year, Kim Liggett


“Kneeling in the dirt, barefoot, eyes to God, bathed in golden light, they look like something not of this earth.”

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden. In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

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4 / 5

A classic tale of womanhood, first love, fighting oppression, and becoming your basest self. The Grace Year hung in my thoughts for days after reading it, clouding my mind with the violence and savagery of it, the subtle horror and the sheer weirdness of the tale of it weaves.

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Jinxed, Amy McCulloch


Sometimes you have to change your dreams, Lacey. No matter how hard you work, sometimes things won’t go your way

When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus.

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4 / 5

So I’m probably a bit (read: a lot) too old to be the target audience for a book like Jinxed, but dang it was a fun book to read whilst I was on the train for three hours. Because that’s how long it took me to start and finish Jinxed. A girl with big dreams, electronic companion pets, a school with a twist; Jinxed is a coming of age book with all the classic themes and some different ideas.

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The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade #1), Seth Dickinson


“You are a word, Baru Cormorant, a mark, and the mark says: you, Aurdwynn, you are ours.”

“I am Baru Cormorant,” she protested, “accountant, and I earned my place by merit. I am a mark of nothing except myself.”

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

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4 / 5

I ADORED The Traitor Baru Cormorant. First of all, what an absolute banger of a title. When I bought it on Amazon, it was just titled “The Traitor” which is nowhere near as good, because if you call your main character something like Baru Cormorant you should brag about that. What a name.

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The Undoing of Arlo Knott, Heather Child


If waves of regret could have washed me so far backwards, they would have done so already 

Arlo Knott discovers he can rewind time – just by a minute or two – enough to undo any mistake, say the right thing or impress his friends with his uncanny predictions. But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing is too much to resist.

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4 / 5

Enthralling and fascinating, unsettling and haunting, The Undoing of Arlo Knott is definitely an interesting read. The story of Arlo Knott bobs and weaves, ducks and dodges along the entire timeline of his life and what a life it is. There is something bleak and disturbing and warped about Arlo, and it makes for such an engaging read.

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix Harrow


She accumulated the dust of other worlds on her skin like ten thousand perfumes, and left constellations of wistful men and impossible tales in her wake

In the summer of 1901, at the age of seven, January Scaller found a Door. You know the kind of door–they lead to Faerie, to Valhalla, to Atlantis, to all the places never found on a map. Years later, January has forgotten her brief glimpse of Elsewhere. Her life is quiet and lonely but safe on her guardian’s estate, until one day she stumbles across a strange book. 

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4 / 5

I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book quite like The Ten Thousand Doors of January. It was whimsical, charming, adventurous, strange, and daring. It wasn’t what I expected it to be and I loved it for it.

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Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury #2), Tracy Banghart


Asa would fall, and the women of Viridia would rise

Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. When Nomi and Malachi arrive on the island of Mount Ruin, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

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4 / 5

First off, why are we using models on YA book covers still? Pretty sure they aren’t even the same women as the other cover… That aside, Queen of Ruin is a fantastic and worthy sequel to Grace and Fury.

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Arm of the Sphinx (The Books of Babel #2), Josiah Bancroft


We are, each of us, a multitude. I am not the man I was this morning, nor the man of yesterday. I am a throng of myself queued through time. We are, gentle reader, each a crowd within a crowd.

Forced into a life of piracy, Senlin and his eclectic crew are struggling to survive aboard their stolen airship as the hunt to rescue Senlin’s lost wife continues. Hopeless and desolate, they turn to a legend of the Tower, the mysterious Sphinx. But help from the Sphinx never comes cheaply, and as Senlin knows, debts aren’t always what they seem in the Tower of Babel. 

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4 / 5

Arm of the Sphinx is the sequel to Senlin Ascends, the second book in The Books of Babel series. It has a rather different vibe. Where I would described the first book by saying something like “it’s about a mild schoolteacher who goes to a tower full of wonders and cruelty and loses his wife. On his search up the tower to find her, he encounters numerous weird and wonderful people and things”, I would describe Arm of the Sphinx as “previously mild schoolteacher becomes pirate airship captain leading a crew he doesn’t particularly trust but still loves, into shenanigans whilst having some sort of pseudo-affair with his first mate“.

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