To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers is a novella about crowdsourced interstellar exploration, astronauts sent off from a world suffering the ravages of climate change, with the twist that they do plan to come back, after interfering with the places they find as little as possible. Content warning for a distressing animal death. The four astronauts of varying gender expressions and ethnicities leave their families behind and go into torpor for interstellar travel. Their somatotypes are altered during torpor to deal with the conditions of the next planet or moon, so they emerge strangers to their own bodies. Each section is about a different environment they encounter, and the life they find there, and how they deal with it. Also, they must deal with the very belated news from Earth which can be emotionally difficult, and eventually frightening; they must make some difficult decisions. I found it gripping, thematically intense and thought-provoking.
Stormsong by C.L. Polk is second in The Kingston Cycle, secondary world fantasy that very loosely maps onto Edwardian/post-World War One Europe, in the sense that the technology level is roughly equivalent, and a terrible war has just ended. After the world-changing events at the end of Witchmark, the story picks up almost immediately from the point of view of Miles’ sister, Grace. Her life has been very different from his, raised as their father’s favorite to hold political power and manage wealth, but she’s now coping with revelations of how that power was gained and maintained, and attempting to make things right. There’s a lesbian romance subplot and also a one-sided romance subplot that the reader notices but the protagonist is oblivious to. I had pre-ordered this book, and started reading it quite some time ago, but lockdown brain meant I put it down pretty quickly. Once I started again last week, it went very quickly! I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as its predecessor, because Witchmark had more WWI-adjacent stuff, but I still think it’s excellent.
February’s TBR Challenge book is Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise.
something to believe in your heart of hearts by napricot is a lovely Fake Dating rom com featuring Bucky Barnes and Sarah Wilson in a sequel to the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I liked this a lot, especially Sarah’s point of view.
The Mechanics of Poetry by omgericzimmermann (HMS Lusitania) is a Check Please! romance between Will “Dex” Poindexter, of a large Catholic family in Maine, and Derek “Nursey” Nurse, whose parents are wealthy and exceedingly neglectful. Nursey spends the summer with Dex at his grandmother’s and it takes a while for them to realize they have feelings for each other and that a relationship is possible. Content warning for Dex’s homophobic older brother; Dex hasn’t come out to his family at the beginning of the story. Bonus Bitty, Jack, Ransom, Holster, Shitty, Lardo, and a cute threesome of younger students.