Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole

Courtney Milan 🦖 on Twitter: "We have a final cover! TA DA.… "

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I said I was back to SFF, but sorry, this is going to be another historical romance review. I tried to keep it too short to post but it, er, got away from me. By a lot.

So, by now pretty much everyone who knows me is aware that I’ve falled madly in love with a certain rap musical (in fact, I’m having the soundtrack on as I write this). Completely, head over heels, talking about it non-stop obsessed. It took me only a few minutes from learning this book exists to starting it. Initially, I felt a little bit silly since I still haven’t quite internalised that being a huge fan of something is nothing to be ashamed of but like…dude, you went on a “fun historical facts” screenshotting spree at 2 am several days in a row and can barely stop quoting lyrics, reading a themed romance book is hardly the most excessive thing you’ve done.

(It’s also pretty funny that in a weird circlerec, I somehow managed to successfully rec this book back to the very same person who brought it to my attention in the first place. But I digress.)

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Review: Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky (After the War #1)

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What happens after the Dark Lord has been defeated?

“For that thing only, for the most selfish of reasons, I regret we killed him. We fought and we hurt and some of us died, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being a hero. I knew I was doing the right thing. I knew I was alive. And now he’s dead and we’re…lost. It’s like the world expected us to die with him, and doesn’t know what to do with us.”

I have been looking for books dealing with consequences of war and upheaval for a long, long time. I find the questions of what happens after the big bad is gone – how do they rebuild, how do they deal with what the war cost them, what has changed, what happens to the heroes and the leftovers of the big bad’s minions now – much more interesting than the standard epic fantasy plot of the events leading up to that. But few books ever touch upon that. Redemption’s Blade seemed perfect for scratching that particular itch.

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Review: Seducing the Sedgwicks series by Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks #1-3)

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I know, this is historical romance, not SFF, and that this is supposed to be a SFF blog. But screw it, my blog, my rules, and when I find a perfect book, damn right I’m going to yell about it. It all started when I heard about Two Rogues Make a Right from Sara back in April – I have some extremely specific romance preferences, and when a book satisfies one of them, that’s usually plenty. This one seemed to tick off the whole damn list. Of course I had to. The only issue was that it was the last book of a series, but whatever, the other two can’t be bad – and indeed they were not.

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Mini Novella Reviews: Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, The Sunken Mall, Silver in the Wood

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Another in the series of mini review posts, this time focused on three novellas I finished recently. Novellas make fantastic palate cleansers, but I find I’m rarely able to write a full length review for books this short, so it makes more sense to group them like this. I couldn’t not review them.

Either way! Onto the books themselves. Coincidentally, m/m relationships seem like a common theme with those three.

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Mini DNF Reviews: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Resistance Reborn, The Infinite Noise, Queen of the Conquered

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Sometimes, it’s just not to be. Sometimes, no matter how much I want to love a book, there comes a point where I can’t force myself to read another page. Not necessarily because it’s a bad book – in this batch, there’s even two I’d give 4/5 for execution – but it happens. I often write shorter reviews of books I DNF’d just so that there’s some note on them on goodreads, but they are too short to be a blogpost on their own, and I haven’t had enough to group them together until now.

Besides, backlog cleaning is never a bad thing.

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Review: By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar)

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And the Valdemar binge continues. After the disaster that was The Oathbound, I was a little bit wary of continuing that timeline. But I have been assured this book is a lot better and I wanted a standalone, so I decided to give it a try.

As far as reading order goes, it should preferably read at least after Arrows (it takes place shortly after), but it should work without reading anything else first, too.

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Review: Knox by K. Arsenault Rivera, Brooke Bolander, Gabino Iglesias, and Sunny Moraine (Knox: Season #1)

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

I accepted this review request for several different reasons. First, the line-up sounded fantastic. Second, the setting – 1930s Manhattan. Awesome. Third, while I have read a few Lovecraft-inspired books, I have never read a noir before and I wanted to see if I can like one. I knew there was a high likelihood that it would be free of unexamined racism and sexism, which seems to be the issue with most noirs I heard of, and I was absolutely correct. It was great – a little too horror for my taste (which is more me being a wimp than any fault of the writing, really), but great.

(I should probably mention I went for the text version, not audio, so I can’t say anything about the narration.)

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Review: Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman

The Breath of the Sun eBook: Rachel Fellman: Amazon.com.au: Kindle ...

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It is thrilling, to be so far up. The very quality of the air is different; it conducts less of the sound of your voice, and its shallowness, its thinness, infects you. It is a small spike in your cold throat. In that narrow air, looking down over the misty land in the last few minutes of sunlight, you hear your own heart like a slow bass drum, and feel the anticipation of a good song beginning, somewhere in your bones, the percussion of the joints and the slur of the blood.

The Breath of the Sun is another confirmation that an instinct that a book will be great is never to be ignored. I have waited over a year to be able to get my hands on the paperback and in the end, it was absolutely worth it.

With its gorgeous prose, unique concept, experimental structure, queerness, and complex relationships, it shot straight to my favourites and I’d even put it on the same level as The Gray House or The Winged Histories. I can’t praise it enough. If you’re looking for literary fantasy that’s unlike any other you’ve read before: that’s the book for you.

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DNF: The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar: Vows and Honor #1)

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This was technically a reread, but I remembered so little of what happened it might as well been a first time read. And unfortunately, it was not to be. It aged so, so badly and I couldn’t bring myself to reread the whole thing. And it almost soured me on Valdemar in general.

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Review: Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey (Valdemar)

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Unfortunately, I found myself in a reading slump again and not up to reading anything difficult or heavy. Then Valdemar got mentioned and it seemed perfect. I have read about seven or eight books as a teenager (the Arrows trilogy, The Last Herald Mage, some of Vows and Honor) and am slowly rereading them. This, however, was a first time read. I wasn’t very worried whether it would hold up – most of what I reread did just fine, I knew what to expect, and Take a Thief has a pretty decent reputation.

And sometimes, you just need fluff featuring magical horses and found families.

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