Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey | Book Review

June 17th – 21st

Upright Women Wanted is the second short book I sought out when trying to get myself back into reading this summer. The book clocks in at 176 pages, and has a lot of LGBTQ+ representation.

Sometime in the future (we’re not sure how far in the future), the United States as we know it doesn’t exist, and seems to have gone backwards in terms of what is and isn’t available. Only approved documents can be read, and it’s the job of the Librarians to bring them along. We follow our main character, Esther, who’s a stowaway in a Librarian’s cart, trying to escape an unwanted marriage and outrun the painful memories she has of her best friend’s death.

Through this we meet the group of Librarians she’s traveling with, who at first do not trust her, and learn to accept her into their group.

The book is extremely short, and it’s tough not to give anything away in a review, so from here down there will be spoilers:

I loved the representation that the Librarians gave, showing Esther that there’s all different types of relationships (and people) than the ones in the approved materials she’s been given her whole life. The Librarians themselves do more than bring approved materials from town to town, and help people who need to escape for being hated for who they are, similar to Esther.

I found Cye’s character to be the best part of the book, and loved the way they were described. I believe this was one of the first non-binary characters I’ve read in a book, and definitely one where that was brought to the surface in a conversation as directly as it was.

A lot was packed into this small book, and it did a really great job of throwing the reader into the world and taking them along for the ride. However, balancing world-building in books like this is extremely difficult, and I did find myself wishing that there was just a bit more in terms of the futuristic aspect of the book. I could see more books set in this world being really successful, and talking about other aspects of the culture that’s been created.

Sarah Gailey has written several other books that I’m interested, and Magic for Liars has definitely been added to my TBR for later this year.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone | Book Review

June 15th – 17th

This is a dual-perspective epistolary novella (buzzwords, yay!) about two agents fighting on opposite sides of a war through time and space. The reader is brought in at the beginning of their correspondence, where they leave letters for each other through time and space.

The writing in this is absolutely gorgeous, with Max Gladstone writing the character of Red, and Amal El-Mohtar writing Blue. The two are locked in this battle of outplaying each other and trying to circumvent the moves that each are making.

The war itself is an elaborate game of chess played across different timelines and different eras, and is something that the reader isn’t given much information on, but given that it isn’t the main focus, it doesn’t distract too much.

The core relationship between Blue and Red is what’s important, and what’s at the center of this book. I guess that this would constitute an “enemies to lovers” type relationship, however they’re never really individual enemies as much as they are on opposing sides of a war. Its more Romeo and Juliet, but without all of the tragedies.

I did want more of the war concept, but not in this book. I’d love a spinoff discussing the point of the war, the intentions, and what’s happening on each side, but I like being left with this small (and I mean really small. 209 pages small) piece of a war through time and space.

This book is weird, it’s interesting, it’s extremely floral and lyrical and I really enjoyed it. I had been in a reading slump for about two months when I picked this book up, and I’m so glad that I read it, since it kickstarted me back into reading and remembering that great stories are out there.