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Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Center a LGBTQ+ Relationship 🏳️‍🌈

And it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday list again! This week’s more open ended prompt – Love Freebie – also seemed fun. So fun that I wasn’t quite sure what to go for. In the end, I decided to focus on SFF books where the main romantic relationship is LGBTQ+ because…well, because. Not all of them are romance (I wish I had enough romance!), but I’d highly recommend them all and I could easily list 15 instead of 10.

As usual, no specific order.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Center a LGBTQ+ Relationship 🏳️‍🌈”

2019 Wrap-Up: Statistics & Top Books

I think the delay on my yearly stats is almost traditional by now.  But late or not, here they are. I think 2019 was another excellent year, even if it ended in a two and a half month slump. I read (and reviewed!) more books than ever before and managed to keep up my blog, which is now a year and a half old. I became a moderator. I found a new fandom to immerse myself in. And hopefully, 2020 will be better still.

So, let’s have a look at some numbers and lists!

Continue reading “2019 Wrap-Up: Statistics & Top Books”

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads

I haven’t posted a Top Ten Tuesday list in a while thanks to my semi-hiatus. But this week’s topic seemed fascinating and I felt up to writing again. Normally, if my sixth sense that a book will be a 5* starts tingling, I read it immediately. I can in no way resist the pull. So scouring my TBR for candidates has been a bit of a challenge. Still, I managed to find 10 very likely candidates and I think it would be quite fun to do a follow-up once I read them all.

As usual, in no specific order.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads”

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes

And it’s time for a Top Ten Tuesday post again! I skipped two weeks – Books I’d Give Different Titles To because I had no idea what to write, Halloween Freebie because I was simply too busy, but I’m back and hopefully able to do it more often.

I really like the idea of this week’s prompt, even if it proved harder than I thought it would be – I know lots of summer books and lots of winter books but few autumn ones.

As usual, listed as I remembered them, in no specific order.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Give Off Autumn Vibes”

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book (and Series) Titles

I’ve been aware of the Top Ten Tuesday challenge for a while, but never actually did one myself – well, until now! This week’s prompt seemed interesting, so even though I’m a day late on it, I’m going to give it a try (also thanks to Keikii for alerting me to it).

Books are in no specific order.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book (and Series) Titles”

Top 5: Weird Literary Fantasy

As every reader, I definitely have a type. Or rather, a few types, and weird literary fantasy is one of them. It could be best described as the “I have no idea what the fuck did I just read, but whoa 😮” subgenre of fantasy – weird, experimental, often trippy, gorgeously written, and in a way also fun.

The books below have five things in common, aside from genre:

  • They’re all pure 5-star reads as far as I’m concerned.
  • If you read and liked one, it’s highly possible you’ll like the others (same for dislike!).
  • The prose in all of them is firmly on the stained glass rather than windowpane side, but modern – there’s little I dislike as much as flowery ultraviolet archaic prose.
  • They all do something strange and new and experimental – whether in content, structure, or both – and are lighter on plot and less approachable than most SFF.
  • All work as standalones!

So, let’s go!

Continue reading “Top 5: Weird Literary Fantasy”

2019 Big Webcomics Catch-Up: Tapas, Part #1

Introduction and index here

Previous post: Introduction – Next post: Tapas, Part #2

Tapas (formerly Tapastic) is one of my favourite platforms for webcomics. Before I finally set up an RSS feed and stopped relying on bookmarks last year, I had two big problems: discovering new comics to read and keeping track of which comic updates when, which are active, and so on. I could never remember for more than a couple. So stumbling upon a site that had many comics in one place, some sorting, and alerted you when they updated? It was a fucking godsend.

Since I followed so many comics on there, I will be splitting this part of the catch-up into three posts, last one of which will be dedicated to comics that have stopped being active before I fell off the wagon last June. Comics from my RSS feed (there’s even more of those) will be split in a similar way. There will be separate posts dedicated to complete comics, favourites, etc as well.

Now, onto the comics themselves (in alphabetical order).

Continue reading “2019 Big Webcomics Catch-Up: Tapas, Part #1”

2018 Wrap-Up: Statistics & Top 13 Books

It took a long time (most people posted them in December and here’s me in February…), but the wrap-up is finally here. All in all, 2018 was an excellent year for reading. I surpassed my last year’s number of books read by 4, found a new all-times favourite, began reviewing every book I read, and, of course, started writing a blog on June 17th, which is something I’ve been planning since 2016.

  • New books read: 64, which is 4 more than in 2017
  • Books reviewed: 39, give or take a few
  • DNFs: 10
  • Out of books read, 39 books (61%) were written by female authors, 23 (36%) by male authors, one (1.5%) by a non-binary author, and one (1.5%) by a mixed-gender team
  • The longest was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, with 430 378 words and the shortest was The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik with 22 366 words. Both according to the Calibre counter.
  • 23 books (36%) were not part of a series
  • 16 (25%) books were self-published

Continue reading “2018 Wrap-Up: Statistics & Top 13 Books”

Mundane and Slice of Life SFF Recommendations List

For a longer essay on the subgenre, check out the guest post I wrote for Keikii @ Keikii Eats Books!

Often, when someone mentions fantasy, we think of large-scale stories where the fate of the world is at stake. Though there have been shifts and pushbacks regarding other aspects seen as typical of fantasy (for example, a move from black-white to grey-grey or grey-black morality, a move from pseudo-medieval, etc.), more mundane stories with a small scope, relatively ordinary, not overly badass characters, and little action remain rather rare.

My obsession with this subgenre started with The Healers’ Road. A book with almost no action and zero plot, that relies only on characters…and yet works? I was impressed. Impressed, and wanting more. Since then, I have managed to find a few books that scratch that particular itch. Judging from discussions, I’m not the only one interested in calmer fantasy stories, either. So here it is.

Pure examples:

  • The Balance Academy series by S.E. Robertson – Probably the purest example. In The Healers’ Road, two, well, healers from very different backgrounds have to travel together for two years. He thinks she’s spoiled, she thinks he’s rude. Despite initial misunderstandings and conflict, they slowly become friends and go through a lot of character growth. No plot beyond that, almost no action. Second book, The Healers’ Home is about them settling down in a small town and didn’t disappoint either.
  • Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell – A 53 y/o travelling herbalist on her way to a new mentor arrives in a newly established village and, despite initial misgivings, decides to stay around for the winter and help them.
  • Tehanu by Ursula Le Guin –  Not a standalone. Regardless, it’s a quiet and thoughtful and mature sort of story that felt real, some parts almost painfully so. The characterisation in particular is where the book really shines. They’re all broken in one way or another and the bittersweet ending fits the story well. It’s not the subtlest of books, but the general theme of struggling against their society, because of disability, because of gender…that I could appreciate.
  • The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss – Another non-standalone, a novella following a week in the daily life of Auri, a minor character from the Kingkiller Chronicle.
  • Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers – Although the first book, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, had more plot than I expected from the way people describe it, it’s very character-focused, very heartwarming, and I loved it. The second book, A Closed and Common Orbit is even better. And the third and fourth, Record of a Spaceborn Few and The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, are the purest of pure slice of life.
  • In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan – Covers five years in the life of a teenager who got invited to attend a school in the fantasy world on the other side of a wall. He’s a die-hard pacifist, more than a bit of an annoying asshole, and unlike his friends, has no real special abilities. It’s part (unsubtle) deconstruction/satire of portal fantasy tropes, part coming of age story with many fuckups and growing pains and a surprising amount of feels.
  • Central Station by Lavie Tidhar – Strange, literary fever dream of a sci-fi book set at the base of a space station in far-future Tel Aviv. It’s true slice of life in that it has no plot, but is instead made out of interconnected fragments of the characters’ lives. Chill, relaxing, optimistic, with an incredibly diverse setting and some of the oddest worldbuilding I’ve seen (robo-priests, data vampires…).
  • The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz – A novella centering a very sweet, ace romance between a robot and an AI mechanic. Very slice of life. Also there’s tea.
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune – A caseworker is sent to supervise a highly classified orphanage for magical children. Features bureaucracy, middle-aged protagonists, a bunch of really adorable kids, commentary on prejudice and the notion of inborn destiny, and a lot of heart.
  • Mindtouch and Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth – A very sweet story following two roomates studying xenopsychology. Extremely mundane, basically fluff, but with some caveats that prevent me from recommending it fully (see reviews).
  • Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley – Strange literary sci-fi focused on a woman and an alien running an inn that seamlessly blends slice of life with borderline horror. Extremely unique and gorgeously written.
  • Lifelode by Jo Walton – Focused on one (large) family in the small village of Applekirk. Very unusual worldbuilding with magic existing on a sliding scale from one end of the world to the other and normalised polyamory.
  • The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth – What happens when two sisters return from a portal fantasy world into post-WWII England and one is severely traumatised by it? Melancholic and quiet and beautiful, but heed the content warnings.
  • Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune – An asshole lawyer dies and is led by a reaper to a quaint little teahouse. A story of redemption that handles heavy themes lightly and will make you want a cup of your favourite tea.
  • Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: A cozy, light standalone about an orc who leaves her adventuring life behind to open a coffee shop. Don’t read hungry.
  • Their Heart a Hive by Fox N. Locke: Cozy, fairytale-like fantasy about a boy who is sent to serve a mysterious person who is both Lord and Lady of the manor after he accidentally kills a bee.

Books featuring everyday life of nobility:

  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – A sweet guy is forced to become emperor after his family is killed in a crash. Nearly all of the search for suspects happens offscreen, the main focus is the “dealing with going from basically nothing to emperor overnight” bit.
  • Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner – Fantasy of Manners about Richard St. Vier, a famous duellist and his mysterious ex-student boyfriend, Alec. Who is a lovable little shit and one of my favourite characters.
  • The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein – Arthurian fantasy more concerned with fucked up family dynamics than anything else.

Literary SFF & Magical Realism:

  • Vintner’s Luck by Elizabeth Knox – Follows the life of a vintner who fell in love with an angel, spanning several decades. Lovely descriptions of life in the French countryside.
  • Primeval and Other Times by Olga Tokarczuk – If you don’t mind religious themes (I found it a bit odd) and a sharp turn towards realism and grittiness in the middle. Follows the lives of inhabitants of an imaginary Polish village. I read it translated to a language other than English, so I’m not 100% sure, but the prose was pretty damn good.
  • The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan – My favourite book of all times. Hard to describe. It’s set in a boarding school for kids/teens with disabilities where some really, really weird shit is going on. Shenanigans ensue. Colourful characters, beautiful prose, many layers, a lot of things left to the reader to puzzle together.
  • Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox – Romance with speculative elements happening just after the end of WWII. Archeologist is fired after a violent flashback episode, takes up one last job in a small English village, where he meets an eccentric, motorcycle-riding, atheist vicar. And the church he’s been sent to document has a rather unusual secret. Excellent writing, excellent characters, just amazing overall.
  • The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – Magical realism retelling of Beowulf that takes place in the suburbs. Lovely prose, plot that’s like watching a trainwreck in slow motion.
  • Sourdough by Robin Sloan – A short, sweet, downright therapeutic book about a lonely programmer whose life is changed by magic sourdough starter. It’s a pure, joyful delight to read and will make you hungry.
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater – The Sorias are a family of saints who can grant miracles that give physical manifestations to people’s inner darkness. The story follows a snippet in their lives after a pair of strangers – one pilgrim and one not – arrive to Bicho Raro. Lovely prose, a lot of introspection and dealing with inner demons.
  • Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman – Follows a trans archivist vampire as he navigates sorting through the papers of the author of a show he used to be a fan of, romances her widow, and tries not to die from sun exposure. Very downplayed take on vampires. Beautifully written, touches a lot upon the messy reality of being queer.

Other books that could scratch the itch:

  • The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker – As the title says, it follows a golem and a djinni in 1899 New York and features a lot of small insights into the lives of everyone around them.
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – A novella set in a boarding school for children who returned from portal worlds. Wonderfully written.
  • Vita Nostra by Sergey & Maria Dyachenko – Another magic school book, with some of the most unique magic (very much non-Sandersonian), a very dark setting, and some interesting themes. No larger plot.
  • Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman – A young woman runs away to escape abuse and the book follows her journey and character development from there. There’s a vague objective of finding out more about World Serpents, but it’s pushed completely in the background while Tess and her journey take the spotlight. Whether the series is slice of life will depend on the sequel, but I’d say this book definitely is.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – A literary story following the lives of people before/during/after a plague wipes out most of the human population and society collapses. Not fantasy, not quite sci-fi, but I’d still call it speculative. And it wrecked me. The characters’ reactions are absolutely on point, the prose is lovely, it highlights the fragility of modern comforts perfectly, and it’s just so deeply, deeply sad.
  • From a Certain Point of View anthology – A retelling of A New Hope that focuses on what was every minor character ever doing while plot events were taking place. From cantina regulars, to stormtroopers, Jawas, Imperial bureaucrats, even the goddamn mouse droid. It presents us a sliver of everyone’s lives and is the most down to earth take on Star Wars I’ve ever seen.
  • The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming by Sienna Tristen – Similar to Tess of the Road, a book about journeys and mental illness. Also features the most painfully realistic portrayal of anxiety and how destructive can it be I’ve ever encountered.
  • The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman – Lamat tells her lover, Otile, the truth of what really happened on her last expedition to the top of an impossibly high mountain. Features pretty prose, mountain climbing, religion, magic, science, complex relationships, queerness, and unattractive people finding love.
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots – A little more actiony than most but her mundane job (spreadsheets!) very much scratched the itch.

My goodreads shelf, also containing books I’ve been recommended as slice of life but haven’t read yet and books I read but didn’t like enough to put on the masterlist, can be found here.

To be updated on a regular basis (last update: Aug 31st 2022).