Mini Reviews: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, The Past is Red, The Lights of Prague, A Taste of Gold and Iron

This month’s batch of mini reviews, finally big enough to post, came out very varied. A book I liked but couldn’t give a full review to because I was on a vacation book binge, a pretty good novella that’d get a mini review anyway, a novel so mediocre that I didn’t have much to say, and a grumpy unexpected DNF. For once, more novels than novellas.

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Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

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Everyone is probably familiar with the good old ebook backlog. I tend to start planning my Bingo with those to try to knock at least a couple off the list, but between being a mood reader, ARCs and more kindle sales…well. At least I managed it with this one. Even though I wasn’t really in the mood and probably wouldn’t ever be, it was perfect for the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey square. In the end, I am left with mixed feelings. While the premise was interesting enough to keep me from DNFing, the characters and parts of the plot were underwhelming to say the least.

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Review: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang

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I’ve been disappointed by so many highly anticipated books with amazing premises this year that it made me a little wary of starting another. Even if it seemed almost tailor-made for me. But this was luckily the real deal. I loved it. From the first chapter on, I absolutely loved it. From the language geekery, to the brutal takedown of British colonialism and the fact that I kept being pulled back to it whenever I put it down, it completely lived up to the hype for me.

He hated this place. He loved it. He resented how it treated him. He still wanted to be a part of it – because it felt so good to be a part of it, to speak to its professors as an intellectual equal, to be in on the great game.

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Review: The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

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Thanks to the publisher (Del Rey) for the ARC of this book.

Finally, finally, after nearly two weeks of struggling, I am done with this book. I don’t think I’ve ever had such complicated feelings before, or struggled as much with a book I couldn’t help but see as excellent in many ways. I wonder if perhaps I might have loved it in another mood and another time, if it’s me or the book, but in the end, it’s no use.

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August 2022 Monthly Wrap-Up

Ah, August, vacation month. Is it really so unexpected that I managed to read a lot of books? Especially with limited internet abroad? (And me accidentally using up half of it in the first two days with tumblr. Oops.)

I also got a new kindle for my birthday, with much better battery life!

Read:

  • Another part (3/5) of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Wordy as usual, but at least no convents or Waterloo this time.
  • The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri (ARC): Wasn’t a huge fan. Felt like the plot barely moved for over half the book and I was bored, too.
  • The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth (reread): As good and melancholic as I remember it being. Wow.
  • The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard (DNF 42%): Sounded so perfect, great worldbuilding, but…meh. Overlong, with a main character who barely faces any adversity and is always right.
  • Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner (ARC): My oldest ARC. Very flawed plot structure, but I had enough fun that I’ll read the other book set in the same universe anyway.
  • The Sign of the Dragon by Mary Soon Lee (DNF 19%): Would be great if not for the fact that I have always hated bland free verse.
  • A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys: A very queer, very Jewish first contact novel. Incredibly well-written and slightly reminiscent of Le Guin, but not terribly compelling.
  • Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: The most hyped slice of life book of the year, of course I had to try it. And I enjoyed it, but aspects of the worldbuilding felt sloppy.
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers: Didn’t vibe with it as much as the middle two, but it was still good old slice of life and a very quick read.
  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (reread): Somehow finishing the last book made me want to reread the first. Still good.
  • Their Heart a Hive by Fox N. Locke: Slice of life as sweet and comforting as honey. A village boy is hired by a strange person after he kills a bee. Queernorm world, cottagecore vibes, folktale influences, lots of bees.

Currently reading:

  • The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez: Not too sure of it yet. The prose and POV style are unique, but the story…so far, not really.

Books read in 2022: 50 (+ 7 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 21/25 (84%)

Review: Their Heart a Hive by Fox N. Locke

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As sweet and delicious and comforting as honey. It’s very rare I buy a book minutes after having heard of it (thanks Womble!), or that I start it immediately after buying. But how could I ever say no to another potential addition to the slice of life list? To folklore? Beekeeping? 18th century vibes? A queernorm world? The target audience here is me. Of course I enjoyed it.

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Review: Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

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Given that I’ve been keeping a slice of life list since at least 2018, me reading Legends & Lattes, the most hyped slice of life fantasy book of 2022, was only a question of time. I simply had to see what’s it all about and one more book to add is never a bad thing. Did I enjoy it? Sure. It made for a perfect light, fun beach read. Hell, coffee- or teashop based books are something I generally wish there was more of. But I did have some issues with the worldbuilding and immersion as well.

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Review: A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys

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In my private goodreads notes for this book, I had apparently written “Ada Palmer rec’d it to me cause I like Terra Ignota’s worldbuilding.” I have no idea when or how this happened (twitter? An AMA?) but oh, was it correct. It’s, in some ways, an old-style first contact story, very reminiscent of Le Guin, with plenty of human/alien cultural worldbuilding. But in other ways, it’s very much modern, with some very interesting takes on gender and a post-capitalist world struggling to repair the damage done to Earth. It did not truly hook me until about 60% in, but the worldbuilding indeed intrigued me right from the start.

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Mini Reviews: Monk and Robot #1-2, The Hands of the Emperor, The Sign of the Dragon

Sometimes things don’t work out no matter how much you want to like a book, no matter how up your alley it sounds. With one popular series I found out I dislike and two DNFs I had high hopes for, this round-up of mini reviews happens to be unintentionally dedicated to those.

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Review: Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner

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

Unnatural Magic was, until now, my oldest unread ARC. I remember I picked it up once and put it down again very soon, not in the mood. But I’m glad that I tried again because I really really enjoyed it. The worldbuilding had a few interesting twists, the main romantic subplot hit my specific buttons, but unfortunately, it was plagued by a mess of a plot.

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