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Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 Review/2023 Preview — Kritika H. Rao




Best of 2022


2022 was a tumultuous year for me — maternity leave, the year of false debut, travel that was equal parts successful and frustrating, and a pandemic-that-is-apparently-over-but-really-not-when-you-have-a-newborn. My reading was extremely chaotic through all this, and MUCH much more of a mood thing than usual. And I found some all time favorites. 


(Graphic courtesy of Kritika H. Rao)


The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean — I tore through this book. It was so fast paced, and such a meditation on a mother's love for her child, the fight to protect him at all costs, even unto becoming a monster herself or having him become one—aaaaahh. This book resonated with me on so many levels as a new mom. Easily one of my all time favorites now, and bonus points because Sunyi is an absolute gem of a person — everyone should go support her.


The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi — This is the second Scalzi book I've read (the first was Redshirts), and the sheer number of laugh out loud moments in this...! This was truly escapist, a world reminiscent of Jurassic Park, which was very formational for me when I was a kid, and a billionaire-villain who gets what is coming to him? Come on! That's perfect in today's climate. Bonus points —this was the first book I read that referenced the Covid pandemic.


A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine — I loved, loved, loved A Memory Called Empire when it came out, and had been waiting for the sequel, and it did not disappoint. Arkady Martine has such a way about her when she's describing consciousness, and the prose just surprises and flows, and there is a lot to learn there as an author. I  pushed this book into my husband's hands so we could talk about it, and riffed through it in days.


The One We’re Meant to Find by Joan He — My first Joan He book, and now I might be a lifelong reader of this author. What a book! The thrills and plot twists, they had me SCREAMING. I loved the different lengths of the chapters, the study of sister-love in a wholly surprising way, and this book stayed with me long after, leaving me begging for more. Highly recommended.


Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir — What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said? There is no other book in my library with as many dog-eared pages (don't gasp, I do that!). The descriptions, the characters, the humour, the prose!! This might be one of the best books I've ever read — and the science fantasy is right up my alley, even if I missed like 40% of the references in the book. Still. Unmissable. 



Looking ahead to 2023


The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty — Full disclosure, I've read an ARC of this, and hoo boy, readers, you're in for a trip. A cast of pirates, headed by a mom on an adventure of a lifetime; a world so rich you can breathe it, and prose that'll equal parts break your heart and have you gasping in laughter. Oh god, this is a great book. This is what stories should do. 


Dark Water Daughter by H.M. Long — In the spirit of water based fantasy, this new series by Hannah is one I'm really looking forward to. That cover, first of all, and then the premise? Flintlock, Pirates of the Caribbean type fantasy. Perfect!


The Sun and the Void by Gabriela Romero Lacruz — A sapphic tale based on a Venezuelan world, with intricate worldbuilding — it sounds rich and lush and something I would want to escape into.


The Surviving Sky by Kritika H Rao — Is it cheating to say this? Because I'm very much looking forward to my own debut this year, hah. The Surviving Sky is a story about a husband and wife duo who are trying to save their floating plant city from crashing into jungle storms. This is the thorny lovers-to-enemies-to-??? of my heart, chock full of Hindu philosophy, and it's got big monster creatures like Kaiju, science fantasy like Gideon, plot twists like TOWMTF, consciousness-based worldbuilding like A Desolation, and 30s protagonists dealing with children stuff like The Book Eaters. LOL— I guess there's a reason those books resonated with me, and I'm really excited it's out next year.



On The Horizon for Kritika H. Rao



The debut! The Surviving Sky is out by Titan Books on June 13, 2023. I've had a bit of a trip getting to this point, and I'm thrilled it's finally happening. 


Author


Kritika H. Rao is a science-fiction and fantasy writer, who has lived in India, Australia, Canada and The Sultanate of Oman. Kritika’s stories are influenced by her lived experiences, and often explore themes of consciousness, self vs. the world, and identity. When she is not writing, she is probably making lists. She drops in and out of social media; you might catch her on Twitter or Instagram @KritikaHRao. Visit her online at www.kritikahrao.com.





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