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Mini Reviews: Agents of Winter, Yellow Jessamine, The Keeper’s Six, Kundo Wakes Up

Once again, it’s time for a quartet of mini reviews. This time, I liked three out of four books and felt meh on one of them, which is really not a bad ratio given how some of those roundup posts tend to go. Three novellas, one short novel, three SFF books, one not. I see a pattern here. I also admit I bought the last novella, Kundo Wakes Up, solely because I like to have four books before I post and I wasn’t willing to wait until I either DNF’d something or stumbled into a novella randomly again, but given that 1) I had planned to read it since release and 2) I liked it, this is not at all a bad thing.

Agents of Winter by Ada Maria Soto (The Agency #2)

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This is one of the few romance series that are perfect for me. Sweet, fluffy, with lots of healing, and characters who care about and for each other. It’s even rarer that I stumble upon one where the characters are also ace. As soon as I heard that there is a sequel, I had to preorder and read it—as as this one is Christmas-centered it would have perhaps been better if I waited, but I could not. I needed it. And it was just as delightful and fluffy and slice of life as expected. We get to know more of Martin’s dark mysterious past and I really enjoyed that we get both POVs. I just wish it had been longer 😁

Enjoyment: 5/5
Execution: 5/5

Tags that apply: favourites, romance, LGBTQ+, contemporary romance, novella, slice of life, uplifting, seriously go read it ffs, disability, mental health, religion (religious trauma, in particular), neurodivergence

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling



A creepy gothic novella. Evelyn, a shipping magnate and a secret expert in poisons, lives an isolated life in her dying city when suddenly a mysterious affliction appears whose victims seem to be fixated on her. It’s exactly as creepy as it sounds and the whole book has an atmosphere of dread and impending doom. It suited my mood and the season perfectly.

I very much recommend.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4/5

Tags that apply: fantasy, horror, gothic, no romance, female author, novella, standalone

The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott



Thanks to the publisher (Tordotcom) for am ARC of this book.

I have never read anything by Kate Elliott and a short standalone novel looked like a good place to start. Unfortunately, I did not vibe with it. I really liked the concept of a mother going on a cross-dimension rescue mission to save her son (yay to more parents in SFF!), and I liked the digs at poor working conditions at the dragon’s hoard and Concilium, but the execution left me wanting.

First of all, there was so much infodumping and terminology thrown at you right from the start in a very short amount of time. You’re very much thrown in at the deep end as you would be with the more complex of epic fantasy, and for something almost novella-length, it left my head spinning. It may technically be a short novel but it had similar problem to most novellas to me, where it feels like too much and yet not enough squeezed into the limited pagecount. Neither the story nor the characters managed to keep my interest either – I pressed on, knowing it’s short, but it failed to truly grab me. Though it might be just me.

Enjoyment: 3/5
Execution: 3/5

Tags that apply: ARC, fantasy, sci-fi, female author, portal fantasy, contemporary, standalone, older protagonist

Kundo Wakes Up by Saad Z. Hossain

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Oh, this was delightful. Same batshit dystopia world as The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday (if in Chittagong instead of Kathmandu), but a plot that’s less wild and more character-focused and introspective. I liked it. Kundo, a once-famous artist, sets off to find out what happened to his disappeared wife and makes a lot of quirky new friends along the way. When the plot started going in the direction of immersive games (which Kundo’s wife liked) and hacking, I was afraid my interest would drop off, but it didn’t, which is really a testament to Hossain’s skill as a writer. The pacing, the characters, the amount of plot, the ending, everything is just as it should be, and I’m looking forward to more.

Since the setting and the main characters are different, the two novellas can be read in any order.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4.5/5

Tags that apply: sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia, male author, novella, found families, non-western

3 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Agents of Winter, Yellow Jessamine, The Keeper’s Six, Kundo Wakes Up”

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