A Wrap-Up of the Netgalley Books I Read in April 2021

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I requested these books on Netgalley and I’m glad I did!

Cover of the book, So You Had to Build a Time Machine by Jason Offutt, showing bugs on a bright green and pink background.

So You Had to Build a Time Machine by Jason Offutt

While I’ve rated it 2 stars, this was more like a 2.5 for me. The story starts off well and in a way that had me wanting to continue.

The author’s descriptions of the different times and places the protags land in are quite vivid and interesting. Two particular scenes come to mind. The first included a field of fungi-like crops that were being grown to feed aliens. It was written so well that I had no trouble imagining it — fungus-engulfed humans included! The other one was with the praying mantis of a doctor, who sutured and looked after his patient only to begin eating him alive! Again, well-written to the point of being nauseating and scary!

The plot was easy to follow as well. I liked it when some of the side characters showed up and made the story even more interesting.

I also liked the humorous tone that kept the story from becoming too dark — I mean, patient-eating mantises and rampaging orc armies will do that to any book! Some parts were even laugh-out-loud funny, like Dave wondering if children secreted slime.

So, if I didn’t have an issue with the plot or the writing, what got this book a 2.5? The characters. First off, I didn’t like any of them. Skid was annoying most of the time and only less so when she was kicking butt. Dave’s geeky references made me want to hit him each time he uttered one — and he does so quite a lot. I guess how much Cordrey irritated me doesn’t count since that’s what he was written to do. The villain, too, was cartoonish and annoying. I wasn’t a fan of how the POV kept jumping from character to character, either.

In short, it was an okayish read for me.

Cover of the book. The Voyages of Trueblood Cay by Suanne Laqueur, with a nautical theme. Oh, there's also the head of a winged horse!

The Voyages of Trueblood Cay by Suanne Laqueur

There are some books that you just can’t help liking even though you know there are issues. This one was such a book. I hated the pacing and the ending was just so out there that I don’t even know what to say about it.

Here’s what I thought:

  1. Representation and diversity in all its forms —almost. Whether you’re talking about sexual orientation, disability, race, the characters populating this world are varied and multi-hued. What I would have liked were more female characters who were equally awesome — besides the one monarch, one rape survivor deity, and a kidnapping survivor that we got. Any other women who did show up were maternal figures. Even the single female on the crew was cut off quite early when she got pregnant.
  2. Tackling of social issues. From sex trafficking of minors to PTSD, the story takes on various social evils and treats them very carefully and justly. However, the glossing over of the fact that the reason the centaur-like race existed was rape did irk me. The incident is mentioned quite a few times but none of the characters express their revulsion over it — except for the survivor, who mentions it JUST ONCE.
  3. The writing. I really loved the writing. Some sentences were worded so beautifully that they made me want to hug the author. Like the one about father being the biggest word in giantstongue and almost all the scenes with Fen and Trueblood after they become a couple.
  4. The humor. Loved it!

I liked the characters, their backstories, and the relationships they formed or sustained between themselves. I also liked the story a lot. So, to conclude, this was a good read for me!

Cover of the book, Black Water Sister by Zen Cho, showing the protagonist and some Chinese lanterns in the background

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

This was my first Zen Cho read even though Sorcerer to the Crown has been languishing on my shelves since forever. So, I was hoping this one was going to be really good. Like most books, it was and wasn’t. For a detailed review, go to I Smell Sheep.

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