Review: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

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This has been one of my most anticipated books of the year and the last book I read for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. I was, first and foremost, intrigued by the Hungarian and Jewish influences. I like cultural worldbuilding, I like(d?) folktale-inspired fantasy, it seemed like a sure bet. Unfortunately, it was yet another disappointment – while I liked the themes of religious tolerance and the protagonist being torn between worlds, the plot was a nonsensical mess, the characters mediocre, and the ending more than a little eyebrow-raising, featuring one of my least favourite tropes. And not in a good way. The more I think about it, the less sense the plot makes – never a good thing. 

However, due to the nature of my issues with the book, it’s impossible to talk about them in any detail without going heavily into spoiler territory. So be aware of that if you venture below the cut.

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Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe #1)

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Having put it down in late August about halfway through, I have been reading A Master of Djinn for a shamefully long time. One of those weird cases where I enjoyed it too much to DNF, but not enough to keep from being distracted by every other book out there. Still, I did, eventually finish it, and despite some plot structure issues, the worldbuilding makes it good enough to recommend.

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Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger

Given that within the last week or so I managed to finish a book that confused me too much to write a full review, two novellas, and had another DNF, it’s once again time for a round of mini reviews.

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October 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

I still can’t quite believe how many books I have managed to read in October. I’m not just out of a reading slump for good, I seem to be in a reading frenzy lately. Even with one DNF and one almost-finish, it’s been a shockingly great month.

Read:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray: Good, nice spooky atmosphere, but perhaps a little overlong.
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer (DNF): Wasn’t feeling it. Maybe another time.
  • Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo: Never read a horror book before, but I liked this. Southern gothic exploration of grief and queer masculinity. Very character-focused and more atmospheric than scary.
  • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow: Didn’t like it as much as The Ten Thousand Doors of January, took a while to grow on me, but by the end I liked it quite a bit. Witches sticking it to the patriarchy is pretty cathartic.
  • Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian (reread): Because it’s never too early to reread my fave romance book again!
  • The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thorntom (reread): A reread that just kind of just happened. It’s not a good book, but…
  • Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune: Wasn’t clicking at the start, won me over completely by the end, which is incredibly rare. Very comfy for a book about death, too.
  • The Tea Dragon Festival by Kay O’Neill: Adorable. Absolutely adorable. I liked the first one, and this nearly as cute. Made me order tea dragon pins.
  • Niccolò Rising by Dorothy Dunnett: Epic historical fiction focused on scheming merchants and the best slowly set up joke I’ve seen.
  • A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow: So many pop culture references. Ugh. No thanks.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Finally finished after months of picking at it. Four points in its favour, it has an awesome and very clear citation style (reference numbers of letters in text!), it’s readable, lots of fun anecdotes, and doesn’t demonise Frederick or Émilie (very defensive of her, even). It is more apologetic than I’d be at points and a bit dated, but all in all, a good one.
  • A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske: Part mystery, part romance, part magic, with a sunny himbo/grumpy nerd pairing. Spicier than I like, but enjoyable enough.

Currently reading:

  • A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason: Almost managed it in October! Mixed feelings so far, but since it’s a bookclub pick and one of my last Bingo squares…

Books read in 2021: 56 (+ 7? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 23/25 (92%)

Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (The Last Binding #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Tordotcom) in exchange for an honest review.

Once again, I blame the ARC request on Sara (as usual with anything romancey), and once again, it was very enjoyable. Part mystery, part romance, part magic, as usual for the subgenre, it suited my mood well – I haven’t read proper historical romance in a while.

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Mini Reviews: Archivist Wasp, Madame de Pompadour, A Deadly Education, A Spindle Splintered

Once again, I accumulated enough mini reviews for a post. This time, it’s sadly rather negative, with two rather low ratings and one DNF, but one can’t stumble upon just good books all the time. On the upside, it’s rare that I get to use the tableflip tag.

Onto the books!

Continue reading “Mini Reviews: Archivist Wasp, Madame de Pompadour, A Deadly Education, A Spindle Splintered”

Review: Niccolò Rising by Dorothy Dunnett (The House of Niccolò #1)

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I have wanted to start the series since 2017, but have always been put off by the length. Long, slow, heavy books and series are something I’m almost never in the mood for lately, so in a way, I’m surprised that I went for it now. But while it was, indeed, too long for my mood, the plot was good enough that I was able to both finish and enjoy it.

Come for the scheming merchants, stay for the chekhov’s ostrich.

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Review: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

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ARC received from the publisher (Tor) in exchange for an honest review.

The House in the Cerulean Sea was one of my favourite books of 2020. So naturally, I jumped at the chance to read Under the Whispering Door as well. Unlike Cerulean Sea, this wasn’t an instant hit with me – but it won me over completely before the halfway point and that’s vanishingly rare. It counts for something.

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Review: The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

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As much as I anticipated this book and as much as I wanted to read it (as I’d read anything Alix E. Harrow writes), it released right about when I was in the worst of my slump. So it waited. And waited. Until finally, the time seemed about right. I have to admit that in the end, I didn’t like it quite as much as The Ten Thousand Doors of January – still, it was enjoyable enough, very witchy and very angry.

She thought survival was a selfish thing, a circle drawn tight around your heart. She thought the more people you let inside that circle the more ways the world had to hurt you, the more ways you could fail them and be failed in turn. But what if it’s the opposite, and there are more people to catch you when you fall?

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Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

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ARC received from the publisher (Tordotcom) in exchange for an honest review.

Part mystery, part creepy Southern Gothic ghost story, part dark academia, part an exploration of queer masculinity and grief, Summer Sons was like nothing else I ever read. I wasn’t sure if it’d be up my alley, I don’t go for horror, and the ARC request was of the experimental why-the-hell-not-my-friends-like-it kind, but damn it was good. I picked it up at exactly the right time.

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