Review: Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox

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Every once in a while, I get a mad compulsion to read a book. I hear of something, and it won’t give me peace until I go and read it – and without a fail, those books prove to be my favourites. So it was with The Name of the Wind all those years ago, or The Curse of Chalion, or more recently The Gray House. And so it is here.  Outside of my usual wheelhouse or no, I had to have it and yet again my instinct has proven correct. I wanted to yell about it from the rooftops before I was halfway through. I finished it in less than a day. It satisfied the craving for more Witchmark left beyond perfectly.

“Of course I could have turned them out into the fields, to laugh and cry like that with no roof to shield them. Maybe in another world, that would be best, but…” Archie got up stiffly, muscles aching from holding Rufus against the trunk of the apple tree the night before. “Not in this one. In this world, love needs shelter. And as long as the rectory’s standing, I’m going to provide it.”

If you’re looking for extremely well-written, atmospheric m/m romance with a slight fantasy twist this is very likely a book for you.

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Review: Witchmark by C.L. Polk (The Kingston Cycle #1)

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Witchmark ended up being the book that finally got me out of my March reading slump. It’s a charming, easy read, that hit precisely the right spot.

The plot is one third murder mystery, one third romance, and one third historical fantasy, which makes for a lovely mix. In a world where lower-class witches are persecuted and shut into asylums or enslaved, Miles only wants to lie low, be free, and work as a doctor in a run-down veterans’ hospital…until a mysterious stranger brings in a dying patient who knows who and what he is. Then, of course, things get complicated.

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2019 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: First Impressions (1/2)

So, here it is! The long awaited new Bingo card!

For those unaware, this is a yearly challenge run by Lisa (Way Too Fantasy) that takes place on the r/fantasy subreddit from April to April. Official announcement with rules and resources here, but in essence, the goal is to fill as many rows, columns, diagonals (most try for a full card, the more adventurous of us for two…or three…) without repeating authors. You can use one reread and substitute one square for a previous square, but the main aim is to read widely. I have been participating since the beginning and it remains my favourite challenge.

While I did two cards for the last two years, this year I will be cutting back to one – it’s a decision I made months ago when I was frustrated with how limiting a 50-book challenge felt, but the difficulty only cemented it.

And from a first look, this card is more difficult than the last – there are far more niche subgenre squares like slice of life or LitRPG, plus there’s an unusual number of them that are…very much not to my taste. I’m not a new reader anymore, I know what I like and why. My personal rule is not to force myself to read books just because they fit a square and try my best to find something I’ll like at least a little for each square. This year, it might be a bit more challenging. But then, it is a challenge.

Because the post turned out so long (nearing 4-5k words), I split it in two. Here is the first part, dedicated to squares 1-12.

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March 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

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March for me meant the start of a new semester, this time with a full load of classes. Homework. General time-sapping nastiness. Not enough sleep. I felt like I barely read anything, that I was in a state of constant slump, but now looking at it laid out like that…it’s actually a pretty average, if not above average month, which is a pleasant surprise.

Most of all, I managed to complete the yearly April-to-April r/fantasy Bingo challenge, two full cards (which I’m never doing again, fuck) just in time for the new one to roll out.

  • Chalice by Robin McKinley: Started off very badly and ended in a disappointment, but the middle was great. Nice, slow slice of life featuring magic bees.
  • Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer (reread): This has been a pure spur-of-the-moment reread. I saw it on my shelves, grabbed it. It absolutely lives up.
  • Treason’s Shore by Sherwood Smith: I started reading this series back in 2016 and now I finally wrapped it up. I felt like the last book was the worst of the four, too meandering (could legit not tell you what happens in the first half), but the ending was good. I’d still recommend the series.
  • Prince of the Godborn by Geraldine Harris (DNF): I wanted to give more old fantasy a try and saw this reviewed highly, so it seemed like a good option…but I just couldn’t do it. Too many names thrown at me and no reason to care.
  • Chimera by Tyler Ellis (read here): A new webcomic discovery. Will definitely continue.
  • A Coalition of Lions by Elizabeth Wein: Sequel to The Winter Prince, which I read a few years ago and liked very much. This book takes place in a different setting, with a different protagonist, and I didn’t like it quite as much, but it was a fast read and still worth recommending – especially if you’re looking for books taking place in Africa!
  • Witchmark by C.L. Polk: Review hopefully soon. Loved it, it’s a very fast read, the MC is somewhat similar to Caz from The Curse of Chalion (broken veteran who just wants a quiet life), and the romance is adorable…but man did I want to strangle his hypocrite of a sister.

Books read this year: 15 (+ 5 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 50/50 (100%), COMPLETE  Partying Face on Twitter Twemoji 11.3

2018 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts

bingo 2018.pngThe r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge has been my favourite reading challenge ever since its beginning in 2015. The squares are a nice mix of easy and challenging, designed to make you read more widely and explore the parts of the genre you may not have read before. With a new card coming out tomorrow and having to update my Bingo challenge page, I’ll be archiving the 2018 completed cards as a post.

This year, like the last one, I’ve been trying for two cards. One unrestricted, one focused on underrated books, with the additional criteria of at least 50% female authors over both cards. I have certainly succeeded as far as the second goal goes, but a card made entirely out of underrated books has been…difficult and I had to relax my criteria a lot.

Aside from that, my main rule is “don’t force yourself to read a book you know you won’t like just because it fits the square”. Over the years, I got a lot better at this – this time, there was only one such book.

Some statistics

(because who doesn’t love statistics?)

  • 30.5 (61%) squares were filled with female authors, 19.5 (39%) with male authors. For comparison:
    • in 2017 when I did a women-themed card the ratio was about 77.2% female to 22.8% male (38.6 and 11.4 squares)
    • in 2016 it was 37.6% female, 54.4% male, 8% unknown (9.4, 13.6 and 2 squares)
    • in 2015 it was 38% female and 58% male (9.5 and 14.5, short stories square unknown)
  • 11 books (22%) were self-published
  • 5 books and 2 short stories (10.8%) were written by authors of colour. This is one area where it could be better.
  • 12 (24%) of the books were paper copies, the rest were ebooks. 5 of those ebooks were ARCs.
  • 33 books and 2 short stories (66.8%) were by authors whose books I haven’t read before – as far as making you read new authors goes, I declare Bingo a success
  • Only 12 (24%) squares stayed the same as they were on April 5th, in the earliest version of the plan I could find.
  • 32 (64%) books were part of a series
  • There were 8 times I had to find a replacement because I DNF’d the book I originally planned, probably a new record

Now onto the cards themselves. Whenever possible, I linked to my review of the book.

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Mini Reviews: Ninefox Gambit, Treason’s Shore, Prince of the Godborn (DNF), A Coalition of Lions

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You may have noticed there haven’t been any posts for a while. Since March started and I got hit with a full load of classes and assignments again, time and energy for reviews have been scarce. Writing takes a lot out of me. I faced quite the conundrum: I still wanted to review every book I read, but at the same time I’ve been way too exhausted to and in a massive reading slump besides. Blogging simply fell by the wayside.

This is a compromise: a series of mini reviews that don’t quite fit my usual format. It’s probably not going to be the last post of this type. I’m starting to feel better, there will be longer reviews again, but it’s probably still a while until I’ll be able to post with any sort of consistency.

Continue reading “Mini Reviews: Ninefox Gambit, Treason’s Shore, Prince of the Godborn (DNF), A Coalition of Lions”