Book Review – Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers ed. by Sarena Ulibarri


Goodreads Synopsis:

Solarpunk is a type of optimistic science fiction that imagines a future founded on renewable energies. The seventeen stories in this volume are not dull utopias—they grapple with real issues such as the future and ethics of our food sources, the connection or disconnection between technology and nature, and the interpersonal conflicts that arise no matter how peaceful the world is. In these pages you’ll find a guerilla art installation in Milan, a murder mystery set in a weather manipulation facility, and a world where you are judged by the glow of your solar nanite implants. From an opal mine in Australia to the seed vault at Svalbard, from a wheat farm in Kansas to a crocodile ranch in Malaysia, these are stories of adaptation, ingenuity, and optimism for the future of our world and others. For readers who are tired of dystopias and apocalypses, these visions of a brighter future will be a breath of fresh air.


I was very lucky to be offered an ARC of this straight from the editor due to the fact I previously reviewed Sunvault, another solarpunk collection of short stories. I leapt at the chance and read it straight away as I adore solarpunk and am always happy to read more of it.

Again, as this is a short story collection it’s hard to review because all the stories were so different. It was delightful to see all the different locations and interpretations used in the story. As seen in the blurb, the stories are set all across the globe, and some even venture into space. One particular story, The Spider and the Stars focuses on introducing insects to space and I really enjoyed that one despite hating spiders. Then again, I could just list the names of all the short stories as I enjoyed them all.

I particularly enjoyed the introduction which actually goes and lists other solarpunk books and short story collections for further reading which is so helpful as often when I mention that I enjoy solarpunk, I’ll get asked for recommendations. There isn’t a table of contents at the start which doesn’t bother me on my Kindle as I can easily skip through the stories, but in a physical edition that would disappoint me as I definitely see myself wanting to re-read certain stories again.

Overall though, this was a fantastic collection and it’s always brilliant to see more solarpunk collections out there. If you enjoy solarpunk or are interested in exploring it as a genre then this is an excellent place to start! I highly recommend this and hope more collections will be published in the future!


Book Review – Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things HC Mech.indd

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?


When I was younger, I went through a Vampire phase and absolutely adored Buffy. I got my hands on any Vampire books I could find (I grew up in a small village before Twilight so there were not many). When Twilight came out, it led to an increase in Vampire novels but most of them all focused heavily on Romance which I’m not really a fan of.

This book though, this book is exactly what I wanted and I adored it. The main plot of the story focuses on Atl who is trying to escape a gang that killed her family and are now after her. It just so happens that Atl and the gang are both Vampires and so as the main focus of the plot is on Atl’s escape, there’s not much time for romance.

The worldbuilding in this book was absolutely fantastic. The vampires in this aren’t all one monolithic creature type, but instead, there are different varieties. Atl is a tlahuihpochtli, which is a Vampire indigenous to Mexico. The other Vampires we see in the novel are the Narcos and a Revenant which are Vampires that have arrived from Europe. I really enjoyed the fact that the author drew on different mythologies and had all these distinct versions of Vampires together in the same novel. The history of the world was also particularly interesting and I would love to read another book set in this world focusing on the discovery of Vampires and watching how the world changed into the world we see in this book.

The characters in this book were all fantastic and I don’t want to speak about them too much as part of the charm was slowly getting to know them more but suffice to say, they’re all very well written and very realistic – they all have their flaws, some more than others, and they all have their own motivations for their actions.

This was a very quick read as I got so engrossed I just didn’t want to put it down and if you’re a fan of Vampires then this book is ideal for you! The fact it’s set in Mexico City was also nice and refreshing (also makes it perfect for my Read Around the World challenge). I would highly recommend this novel and I’m definitely planning on reading more of the authors novels after this!

Book Review – Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng


Goodreads Synopsis:

Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon – but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.


I got this book as an ARC from Angry Robot last year and despite it looking amazing I just somehow never actually got around to reading it for ages. I’m quite glad I waited now as it means I can use it for the 2018 Fantasy Bingo challenge.

So, this book is set in the land of the fae, called Arcadia, and our main characters are a missionary and his sister. It’s set during the Victorian Era and Cathy, the main character, has set off to discover what has happened to her brother. While in Arcadia, she’s also trying to discover what happened to the previous missionary who disappeared.

Now, I adored this book almost from the very beginning due to one particularly excellent quote describing the location of Arcadia ‘It was said to be underground, but not. It overlaid our own, but not. It was another place, but not.” This is one of the best descriptions I’ve read for describing the magical “Otherworld” found in so many Celtic texts. I know the author is a medievalist, and all that knowledge has really helped bring the worldbuilding to life. In particular, the fact that the only way to find Arcadia is by getting lost is an aspect I really like – it reminds me a lot of the medieval Irish voyage tales where they get blown off course and then discover magical islands.

Our main character, Cathy, is brilliant and I fell in love with her. Due to the time period, as a woman, she naturally struggled with her place in society and so jumped at the chance to visit Arcadia. While in Arcadia, she stays at Gethsemane along with three intriguing characters – Mr Benjamin is a convert from the previous missionary, Ariel Davenport is a Changeling from London who serves as Cathy’s guide and finally, there is the mysterious Salamander. The majority of the book is set in Gethsemane surrounding the actions and conversations of these characters and I just loved it. We get snippets of Ariel’s life before she discovered she was a changeling, we get Mr Benjamin wanting to discuss Theology and how he fits into it as a fae and we get tiny snippets of Salamander. I was not so much a fan of Laon, but that’s mostly just because I loved Cathy so much. She adores Laon and I just kept thinking to myself “But Cathy, you’re so much better than him!”

The writing is brilliant and one aspect I adored was that the beginning of each chapter contains historical quotations, often adapted to be referring to the fae. I love it when novels do this as it’s another great glimpse into the worldbuilding that goes on, plus it was extra fun seeing which quotations were from authors I recognised from my own studies.

To conclude, this is a fantastic novel focusing on the Fae that has had an incredible amount of research put into it. If you’re looking for a Fae novel for the Fantasy Bingo then this is definitely a great pick. If you want a book set in the Victorian period but with fae? This is for you! Finally, if you strong worldbuilding and interesting characters, this is for you! Basically, I really love this book and would highly recommend it!