Reread: The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (Olondria #2)

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Note: I have not read A Stranger in Olondria before The Winged Histories. It works perfectly fine as a standalone.

This is one of my favourite novels of all time along with The Gray House and more recently The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I first read it in the summer of 2017 and have been thinking it was a shame I never wrote up anything on it ever since. A book that means so much to me – that deserves words. Praise. Anything. So allow me to write something a little…extra ✨

I have breathed on shadows, as one breathes into a soap bubble, to give it breadth and life. I did it because I had to, because human beings cannot live without history, and I have no history or tradition that is not located in a pale, aggressive body lying in the dirt, or hanging from a tree. […] What is the difference between a genius and a monster?

It’s so hard to set expectations correctly. Anything, anything you knew about fantasy and the paths stories take, their structure – it goes right out the window. Forget it. As much of literary fantasy, it avoids the beaten path.

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Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

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ARC received from the publisher (Saga Press) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Whoa. Just…whoa. Another candidate for “best of 2019” for me. It’s like someone distilled almost everything I like into one book – exquisite prose, a high dose of weirdness, a queer relationship, a more literary feel, experimental structure – and the end result is breathtaking. Brilliant in a way I’m not sure a review can illustrate. It has to be read to be believed.

I feel almost invincible in our battles’ wake: a kind of Achilles, fleet footed and light of touch. Only in this nonexistent place our letters weave do I feel weak. How I love to have no armor here.

Footnote for fans of the romance genre: for the sake of proper expectations, this is a love story but is not romance genre-wise – if anyone rec’d it as such…🤦

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Review: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (Alpennia #1)

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Daughter of Mystery has been this month’s pick for one of the bookclubs I sometimes participate in. Historical fantasy f/f romance seemed amazing, it has been recommended to me before, plus it’s pride month, so I thought why the hell not now? Except…this is not really romance. It calls itself one, but there’s 1) less of it than in most regular fantasy books not billed as romance, 2) it literally all happens only in the last quarter of the book, and 3) the ending is abrupt, unsatisfying bullshit.

How do I approach reviewing a book where the first three quarters are solid, enjoyable historical fantasy intrigue with religious magic and good worldbuilding, but where the ending to the “romance” part of it left me feeling angry and disappointed and betrayed instead of satisfied?

Due to the nature of this review, spoilers for the “romance” will follow, but there will be no spoilers for the historical fantasy portion of it.

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Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

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I came to this book primarily as a long-time fantasy fan – even though I had read Never Let Me Go many years ago, I have few memories of it. The Buried Giant had, in theory, all the makings of a book I could enjoy. I like literary fantasy. I’m always looking for more books that deal with consequences of a big event (such as a war) rather than the event itself. Older protagonists are always a nice change of pace.

“Yet are you so certain, good mistress, you wish to be free of this mist? Is it not better some things remain hidden from our minds?”

Unfortunately, the end result is flatter than soda that’s been left outside for three days.

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Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

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ARC received from the publisher (Redhook) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Absolutely stunning and a strong candidate for the best book of 2019 for me, Ten Thousand Doors of January combines gorgeous prose with equally compelling characters and story. It’s a book about books, a story about stories that hooked me in the first paragraph. It couldn’t be more my type if it tried.

Reason and rationality reigned supreme, and there was no room for magic or mystery. There was no room, it turned out, for little girls who wandered off the edge of the map and told the truth about the mad, impossible things they found there.

January Scaller is a mixed-race girl growing up in 1900s America. Her father is often absent, so she lives with his employer, the wealthy and influential Mr. Locke, a member of a secretive archeological society. She’s provided for beyond what her father could ever have managed, but horribly lonely and longing for freedom. Then one day her father fails to return…

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Review: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #2)

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This post contains no spoilers for The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1).

The Stormlight Archive is a series that needs no additional introduction. When I want something long and suitably epic, I can count on it to deliver. But while it works very well as a whole and is one of the better epic fantasy series I’ve encountered, the individual parts are far from flawless and I cannot separate it from the hype surrounding it. Because of that, this has been one of the hardest reviews to write.

For once, I’m not going to attempt to summarize the plot. A lot happens and unlike most epic fantasy, it doesn’t have a clear arc, not until the very end. A good or a bad thing? Depends. As usual, Sanderson holds his cards close and keeps information to  dribble right until the end, when he unleashes everything at once.

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Review: Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason (Hwarhath #1.5)

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I’m a huge fan of Arnason’s hwarhath-related work. The Lovers, one of the stories in this book, is one of the first short stories I ever read and still my favourite, and when I could finally get a hold of Ring of Swords, the only full-length novel set in this world, it did not disappoint either. However, I don’t really read anthologies, so it took some…rather aggressive persuasion from a friend (you know who you are 😉) before I picked this collection up. And it’s straight-up, one of the best, most creative, in-depth, and well thought out pieces of socio-cultural worldbuilding I’ve ever read.

Since most of the short stories take place far, far before Ring of Swords and there is only one small cameo, the novel and the anthology can be read in any order. If you want a sample, The Lovers, The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times and Holmes Sherlock are available to read online for free.

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