Boskone 54

This year I went to my first ever Boskone! I hadn’t realized how small Boskone is, and I loved that kids actually attend. While that meant that the Q&As didn’t reach the level of academic depth of some Readercon panels, it was wonderful to see kids actually engaging with authors and stories and asking great questions.

Having only ever gone to Readercon before, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the panels and was pleasantly surprised. There were more general interest panels, which lessened the risk of them relying entirely on the moderator to come up with good discussion questions, and with the anniversaries of both Harry Potter and Buffy this year there were a bunch of panels related to my two main fandoms!

The fact that this was more general interest and less in-depth discussion of a very narrow subject meant that I don’t have the analysis I usually do after a con. However overall I had a blast and I look forward to going again next year!

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Review: City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

9780399547584 City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Disclaimer: In the Acknowledgements in a long list of names you’ll see Emily. That’s me! Natalie is a member of the BSpec writing group and I read early drafts of the beginning of the novel.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis: Tina is a thief. A really good one. And she wants to use her skills to get revenge against the man who killed her mother, Mr Greyhill. One problem: she doesn’t have any proof. Another problem: Tina knows very little about her mother’s life in the Congo before they came to Kenya as refugees, but Mr Greyhill’s motive was somehow connected to that past. The solution: the Goondas, the gang Tina works for, are eager to access a mining executive’s bank accounts and help her enact her scheme.

Everything is going according to plan until Tina is caught mid-break-in by Mr Greyhill’s son and her childhood friend Michael. Michael is eager to prove his father’s innocence and agrees to help Tina find the proof she needs, but the Goondas are breathing down her neck to complete the heist and get their payday. And as Tina learns more about the mystery of her own past more questions are raised than answered.

As a reader: This is one of the few books I’ve ever read where the twist actually surprised me. That alone earns City of Saints & Thieves five stars.

Although set in a fictional city, the world in which Tina lives feels very real, from small details like giving her sister pencils for school and Tina’s many tattoos to the violence and danger of being in a gang. And it is a GANG, not some YA plot device.

Tina is also an incredibly interesting character to read. She has a strong voice, framing the narrative as a series of rules for thieves that she is giving to the reader. She is confident and competent and hard. She pushes people away, she lashes out and makes herself hard to like, but she is still so sympathetic and her voice sucks you in from the very first rule.

As a writer: I’ve never written first person present tense, but this novel makes me itch to try it.