So far, 2023 has been the year of the backlog, finally getting around to many of the books that have been on my radar for years. I suspected I’d like it purely due to Berg’s reputation for writing broken protagonists (I quite enjoyed Transformation) and the first half was great. Unfortunately though, what could have been a fairly enjoyable standard dragon story started to drag on in the second half instead. And the romance subplot being unpleasant and annoying to read certainly didn’t help.
I’m very glad when I have a batch of mini reviews ready and it’s just enjoyable novellas or other kinds of books I simply don’t do full reviews for. No DNFs, no disappointments, just some good short reads.
This is one of the many books that have been on my TBR far longer than they should have. I’m pretty sure I wanted to read it since before release, had it on my kindle since the first time it went on sale…but you know how it is 😂 In the end, I enjoyed myself and I think the author has great promise, but there were some rather rough patches, too.
December has, quite predictably, been a below average reading month. I fell into a bad slump and even what I did read, I mostly haven’t had the energy to review. I found it interesting, however, that my current version of “woe, I barely read anything this month” is still more books compared to the slump months of previous years (6 books as opposed to 4 or less).
As far as the yearly wrap-up goes…well, I hope I finish it before February? 😂
The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan (reread): As good as ever, fits me as well as ever. Glad of it.
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard: My favourite of the Xuya books so far, probably the best entry point into the series of what I’ve read so far. The tech is finally starting to make some sort of sense.
The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal: Very readable, queernorm space mystery. Also cocktail recipes! (Both alcoholic and not!)
Geometries of Belonging: Stories and Poems from the Birdverse by R.B. Lemberg: Lovely. Very queer, very neurodivergent, beautifully written. Seems like the only short story collections I enjoy are single-author, single-world ones.
Into the Riverlands by Nghi Vo: Falls somewhere between the previous two books on the enjoyment scale.
Ash by Malinda Lo: Lesbian Cinderella. Fairly standard retelling, not without flaws (very abrupt ending!), but a fun, quick YA read.
Look: I’m weak for a good cover. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. In hardcopy. Oh, my weakness got me burned plenty of times in the past, but this time it paid off. Despite some initial misgivings because the protagonist is so rich and influential, it turned out to be a fun, fast-paced, twisty mystery set in a queernorm world. Oh, and each chapter begins with a cocktail recipe (alcoholic and not!).
November is also the month when seasonal depression hits. I was relatively lucky this year that the gloomy weather didn’t start until the second half, but I’m well and truly in it now (hence the late wrap-up post) and not really able to either read or review. Instead, I’m watching shows and knitting, or playing games. The blog will return, so please stand by 😄
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (ARC): Just as fun and spicy as the first book!
The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna (DNF 37%): Very saccharine and I was feeling too grumpy for it. Maybe another time.
Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth (reread): Needed some hurt/comfort.
Dracula Daily also finished this month. A really fun and approachable way to a classic, especially the community aspect on tumblr.
The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard (ARC): Liked it. But some of the worldbuilding, especially the mindships, went a little over my head. Decided to read more Xuya.
The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (reread): Excellent and readable as always. Plus I forgot enough that the worldbuilding reveals felt at least a little fresh 😂
Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk: Good novella, fresh and vibrant setting (1930s Chicago!), very queer.
Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard: Good, if dense for a novella, but I read it a little too close to The Red Scholars Wake and the relationships felt a little too similar. Still, enjoyed reading about a scholar.
Andor: Started a new knitting project just so I could watch it. Fucking loved it. Naturally. This is probably the best of Star Wars so far. More on the dark and serious side, but still hopeful, and really leans into the antifascism of rebellion against the Empire. And what’s best: no fucking Jedi.
Rewatched Rogue One. Still mediocre with a good ending.
Rewatched half of s02 of The Mandalorian as a refresher. Except for the episode with the spiders, which I skipped.
This both is and isn’t a review. Yes, I’m among those who read Dracula via the Dracula Daily newsletter and I had a great time. On the other hand, it’s really hard to review or critique something that’s not only a book but also a minor cultural phenomenon, with the latter part being rather essential. You cannot talk about recommending or not recommending an experience that is unlikely to repeat for others to take part in, or at least not at such scale. But I had to write something for goodreads to mark it as read, and, well, turns out I have a lot to say.
Thanks to the publisher (Tordotcom) for the ARC of this book.
I have been teased with how good this book is since long before I got a chance to read it. Too long. So when I started it and didn’t click with it immediately, I was a little worried it would be yet another highly anticipated disappointment. Or my unreliable reading mood. But it won me over eventually, and I ended up having as much of a blast as with A Marvellous Light.
October was another pretty good month. Not one single DNF. As a reward for having finished Bingo in September, I got myself paperbacks (cheap, visibly used, mismatched, but they’ll do) of the first half of Dunnett’s Niccolò series and reread the first book immediately to refresh my memory. I also briefly got lucky and got up to the coveted 80% on Netgalley, but then a few requests I’ve given up on got approved and, well. But that’s how blogging is! 😂 And the books are great so I can’t complain.
Niccolò Rising by Dorothy Dunnett (reread): Just as good as I remembered, and even more fun. The ostrich subplot is just the best.
The Nightland Express by J.M. Lee (ARC): Expected a weird western, got something mostly about fae. Disappointing.
His Quiet Agent (reread) and Agents of Winter by Ada Maria Soto: One of my favourite fluffy hurt/comfort romance series. Even if it’s contemporary, it hits all the tropes I like and the characters are asexual.
The Two Doctors Górski by Isaac Fellman (ARC): A very heavy novella about PhD magic students, trauma, and academic abuse. Quiet and low-key in Fellman’s usual style. Good, but oof.
Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling: Creepy little gothic novella. Suits the season well.
The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott (ARC): Kind of underwhelming. I’d say there was too much infodumping but really, I just didn’t vibe with it.
Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (ARC): Nothing groundbreaking, but very light and fun and easy to read in large chunks. Loved the disaster protagonist.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher: Based on the cover and the first few chapters, I expected more horror vibes and less quirky adventure than the book ended up being. And a lot of it didn’t click with me.
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (ARC): Took a while to hook me but I’ve been enjoying it very very much.
This seemed like the perfect seasonal read. Some horror elements, some coziness, some fairytale elements, some righteous feminist anger. But unfortunately, I didn’t end up enjoying it quite as much as I wished, demon chicken notwithstanding, mostly because the beginning didn’t set my expectations correctly – I was led to expect something much darker than what the story eventually turned into.