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Joined 2 years ago

SI CLARKE is a misanthrope who lives in Deptford, sarf ees London. She shares her home with her partner and an assortment of waifs and strays. When not writing convoluted, inefficient stories, she spends her time telling financial services firms to behave more efficiently. When not doing either of those things, she can be found in the pub or shouting at people online – occasionally practising efficiency by doing both at once. 

As someone who’s neurodivergent, an immigrant, and the proud owner of an invisible disability, she strives to present a diverse array of characters in her stories.

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SI CLARKE's books

Review of "You Don't Know Me" on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

At the end of his trial for murder, a man sacks his lawyer and proceeds to give his own account of what happened.

In many ways, my world bears no relation to the one the main character inhabits. But, living in Deptford, south-east London, I can hear his voice so clearly in my head. I live on a council estate and my property backs onto a secondary school. I hear voices just like his all day every day. Mahmood has accurately captured the local vernacular.

This story drags on a bit in the middle, but it's still incredibly captivating and well done.

Thriller fans who crave fresh voices and diverse representation will devour this captivating crime novel.

reviewed I Am the Storm by Tash McAdam (The Psionics, Book #1)

Tash McAdam: I Am the Storm (2018, NineStar Press) No rating

Keep your head down. Don’t look anyone in the eye. Never even think about technology …

Review of 'I Am the Storm' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

In a world where those with powers are outlawed, 14-yo Sam is a technopath, able to to control electronic gadgets and networks. He must constantly hide his gift. Serena's a soldier in the shadowy ARC, working to bring down the group that outlawed people like her.

For me, too much of this novel was spent inside the heads of our two main characters. I feel like I have a deep understanding of who they are as people but no knowledge of what their world and the people around them are like. It prevented me becoming fully immersed in the story, which is a shame as I would have liked to.

J.K. Pendragon: Witch, Cat, and Cobb (2020, NineStar Press) 5 stars

Destined for an arranged marriage she wants nothing to do with, Princess Breanwynne decides her …

Review of 'Witch, Cat, and Cobb' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Facing a forced marriage to (ew, gross) a man, Brean opts instead to run away. Her 20-yo cat picks that moment to announce he's actually a person trapped in a cat body … and maybe he can help her escape.

I really liked this adorable little tale of three people who work together to change their fortunes. While it did have romance, it didn't detract from the character development, the world-building, or the story.

This cheerful fantasy novella manages to deliver a powerful message about being true to oneself.

In terms of comparisons, imagine Pratchett's Feet of Clay crashing headlong into Skye Kilaen's Glorious Day. Sort of.

reviewed Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao (Iron Widow #1)

Xiran Jay Zhao: Iron Widow (Hardcover, 2021, Penguin Teen) 4 stars

Science fiction and East Asian myth combine in this dazzling retelling of the rise of …

Review of 'Iron Widow' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

When her sister dies in the war efforts, Xetian decides to take her revenge on the pilot who killed her.

This story punched me in the gut with al the wrongs in the world (the author's fictional world and by extension our own) but it also wrapped me up in the warm fuzzies with how wonderful people can be. And then it punched me again.

Huh. This book is an abusive partner. Still, I'm not going to break up with it.

An unapologetic sci-fi tale that pulls no punches and will leave readers fired up and ready to overthrow the patriarchy.

reviewed Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (Discworld, #20)

Terry Pratchett: Hogfather (Paperback, 2006, Corgi Books) 4 stars

Hogfather is the 20th Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, and a 1997 British Fantasy Award …

Review of 'Hogfather' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

How would you go about killing someone who was never really alive – not in the usual sense of the word? Mr Teatime (pronounced teh-ah-tim-eh) knows exactly how he'd do it.

As philosophical textbooks go, this is a stonker. What is the nature of belief? How do beliefs interact with reality? How do they colour our view of reality?

As for zingy and/or pithy moments … this books got them in spades.
“The phrase 'Someone ought to do something' was not, by itself, a helpful one. People who used it never added the rider 'and that someone is me'.”

As a novel, though, this one falls a bit short. The plot meanders a bit too much for my liking.

Very good, but not Sir Pterry's finest.

Ryka Aoki: Light From Uncommon Stars (Hardcover, 2021, Tor Books) 4 stars

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful …

Review of 'Light From Uncommon Stars' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Oh my gosh! I read another review that describes the book as being ‘like a warm hug.’ And that seems like a pretty apt description. This book is just so incredibly warm and affirming. This is literary comfort food.

Katrina just wants to play violin. But her family can't accept her for who she is. Shizuka needs to deliver a seventh soul to Hell – or she loses her own. Lan just wants to protect her family and serve good donuts.

Honestly, I don't understand how a story with so much darkness in it (transphobia, ableism, death, hell, sexism, sexual assault, etc.) still manages to be so comforting. How is that possible? I don't know. But it is.

Aliens, donuts, violins, a trans MC, a contract for a soul. Seriously, read this book now.

Review of 'Circus Infinite' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This came up in my ARC list recently. First off, it’s published by Angry Robot. If you don’t know Angry Robot, they describe themselves as seeking to ‘find and give a platform to new voices and new stories that push the boundaries of genre fiction, mess them about, and put them back together again in all kinds of awesome ways – we like to think of ourselves as “genrefluid”.’

When it comes to traditionally published novels, if I’m reading it, there’s a good chance it’s an Angry Robot book.

The Circus Infinite offers up one of the finest found family stories I’ve read in a while – and I love me some found family. It’s an epic tale filled with flawed and adorable characters set in an exquisitely imagined universe.

Jes is a fugitive who hasn’t known love – or even kindness – since his grandparents died when he was …

Lindsay Buroker: Star Nomad (Fallen Empire) (Volume 1) (2016, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform) 4 stars

Review of 'Star Nomad (Fallen Empire) (Volume 1)' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

So the Rebel Alliance topples the Old Empire. But unlike what happens in Star Wars, these rebels aren't cut out for governing. The Empire has collapsed – but there's nothing waiting to take its place. Now there's only anarchy, poverty, pirates, and old enemies.

Alisa was an officer in the rebel army. Now she's got no money and she's stranded on a dead-end world light years away from her daughter. She hatches a plan to steal her mother's old ship. One problem: an Empire officer's squatting in it. If she wants the ship, she's going to have to take him too.

This one was … okay. I've read and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of books in Buroker's Junkyard series. The characters in this one were nowhere near as compelling. And the heteronormative gender binary felt stale and disappointing.

Review of 'Day Before' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This book ticked a lot of boxes for me – a murder mystery in a science fiction setting with a lovable giant of a dog? Yes, please!

Sam is a junior agent in the Commonwealth Bureau of Investigation. A family emergency meant she had to take a few months off and now she's stuck in a low-level job in nowheresville. To cope with his PTSD, Maclives in a drug-induced haze. Together, they have to solve a murder that Sam's boss wants written off as a suicide.

I really enjoyed this one. While there was some romance, it wasn't the focus and never got in the way of the story.

P.D. Workman: Out with the Sunset (Paperback, 2021, pd workman) No rating

Review of 'Out with the Sunset' on 'Goodreads'

No rating

Out with the Sunset introduces us to Workman's newest series. Margie Patenaude is a homicide detective who's just relocated to Calgary (from Winnipeg) with her teenage daughter in tow.

For me this one gets top marks for writing, editing, Indigenous representation, Canadian content – and for highlighting Canada's horrific past with regard to residential schools.

However, I'm not entirely comfortable with the resolution. Was it handled more sensitively and compassionately than some other writers would have done? Absolutely. But did this story need to be told? Especially in a world where refugees are demonised, vilified, and othered on a daily basis? I'm not convinced.

I believe the author's intentions are good. But not every story that could exist needs to be told.

Catherynne M. Valente: The Past Is Red (Hardcover, 2021, Tordotcom) 4 stars

The future is blue. Endless blue...except for a few small places that float across the …

Review of 'The Past Is Red' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Tetley was born and raised in Garbagetown, the most beautiful place on Earth. Her friends include a bird, an otter, a plant, and someone called Big Red Mars.

The Past is Red is filled with the lavish, star-spangled language you expect from Valente. The story balances Tetley's rose-tinted optimism with the stark, horrifying nature of her reality.

I still resent how much trad publishing charges for ebooks, but at least this one was well-formatted and expertly edited.

Saad Z. Hossain: The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday (Paperback, 2019, 4 stars

When the djinn king Melek Ahmar wakes up after millennia of imprisoned slumber, he finds …

Review of 'The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

The intense mythology of P Djèlí Clark meets the cutting wit of Christopher Moore in this biting satire set against a richly imagined, jewel-encrusted world.

Melek Ahmar, the Lord of Mars, the Red King, the Lord of Tuesday, Most August Rajah of Djinn wakes after a slumber of several millennia to find the world a markedly different place than he remembers. He falls in with Bhan Gurung, a gurkha with a dark secret. Together, they set out to wreak havoc in Kathmandu.

Between 4 and 4.5 stars. Not quite enough to justify rounding up. Its one flaw was that the lack of visual cues meant I struggled to picture what was happening. The descriptions feel very close to the characters, making it hard to envision the setting in which it all takes place.