April & May 2022 Monthly Wrap-Up

Posting two months at the same time again, but by the time I remembered I had half a wrap-up for April sitting in drafts (look: I’m not great at this whole blogging thing 😂), it was already mid-May. I was far too wrapped up in, first, frantic Bingo reading combined with a reviewing slump, then learning my way around watercolours, then a reading slump induced by two disappointing books in a row, then travel – in short, too much to keep the blog active.

But hey, I got to see a very Moria-like cave and really cool castle!

April:

  • Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman: Probably one of my favourite books of the year. Very low-key and messily queer, loved it.
  • Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell: Enjoyable novella with Stardew Valley vibes.
  • Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette de Bodard (ARC): Fun enough but argh, I hate miscommunication used to add drama.
  • Foreigner #3-5 by C.J. Cherryh: Still excellent. And poor Bren still can’t catch a break.
  • Two Dark Moons by Avi Silver: A fairly standard coming of age plot but very unique worldbuilding and the story flowed well.
  • Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky (DNF): Too much worldbuilding infodumps, not enough character work. I didn’t care about anything that went on.
  • The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach (ARC): Loved it. Weird in the vein of Vandermeer, Māori-inspired, and a very quick read.
  • Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu: Cute, but similar pacing issues to most novellas.
  • Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi: Prequel to Pet focusing on the revolution. Enjoyable, with much to think about.
  • The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie (DNF): Boring to the point it was pushing me into a slump. Absolutely nothing interesting – not the writing, not the characters, wordlbuilding, plot…meh.

May:

  • Strange the Dreamer and Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor: Promising start, but the first book ended with a frankly outrageous cliffhanger and in the second the plot devolved into a mess.
  • The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler: Between the antisemitic tropes used, not being a fan of how the revolution was handled, miscommunication romance drama, and the general mediocrity of the rest of it all, I will not be continuing the series.
  • Weird Fishes by Rae Mariz (ARC): Really liked the worldbuilding (strange sentient sea creatures! Yes!), but not a fan of the rape scene with extremely brutal consequences near the end.
  • I also subscribed to Dracula Daily!

Books read in 2022: 30 (+ 2 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 11/25 (44%)

March 2022 Monthly Wrap-Up

I got so excited about Bingo I almost forgot to post the March wrap-up. But in March, the last month before the start of the new Bingo, my goal was to finish as many books I was in the middle off as possible (obviously, aside from Les Misérables, which is a yearly challenge). I got the amount down from 8 to 5 or 6, which is decent, especially since a lot of it was nonfic I still wasn’t quite in the mood for.

I also finally managed to post the 2021 Bingo wrap-up!

Read:

  • The second part of Les Misérables, or another 300ish pages. The infodumps were testing my patience. Not at half yet, but getting close!
  • Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee (ARC): Really really liked it, especially the reluctant and sometimes cowardly protagonist. Good worldbuilding too.
  • The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer: Enjoyable. Plot didn’t move as much as I hoped, but overall it did its job.
  • The Thousand Names by Django Wexler: Finally finished it after a two years break. I still don’t know why I paused, it’s good and a fast enough read. Now, only need to find the time to continue the series.
  • Half a Soul, The Lord Sorcier, and The Latch Key by Olivia Atwater: Tried it some time ago in too grumpy of a mood, retried it this month, and absolutely loved it. Since the series is getting republished and I can’t get the sequels until April 5th, I went straight for the novellas.
  • Foreigner #1-2 by C.J. Cherryh: Mostly started it because I had lots of time until Bingo with nothing to read and Dia suggested I might like it. The first book was too meandering, the second is a lot better so far. But I’m not reviewing until I’m done with book 3.

Books read in 2022: 16 (+ 2 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳

2021 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts

Official announcement thread with square definitions
Date finished: November 20

I really, really liked the 2021 card and I’m quite sure that this is the earliest I managed to finish a Bingo yet. For the last couple years, I know I always finished in March, and I’m not sure I managed much earlier before that either – especially the times when I did two cards. As much as I hoped it wouldn’t, writing this huge wrap-up still took nearly until the next Bingo.

Links, as always, lead to longer reviews.

Continue reading “2021 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts”

February 2022 Monthly Wrap-Up

For most of February I still struggled to read, much less review. At least I managed to read more than in January, and finally finish the 2021 yearly wrap-up (please check it out!), but keep up with reviewing most of what I read, not so much. Mini reviews to come very soon.

Read:

  • Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas (ARC): Some pacing problems, but handles its themes pretty well. Plus as a graphic novel it’s a really quick read.
  • The Missing Page by Cat Sebastian (non-SFF): A very fun mystery/romance.
  • In the Watchful City by S. Qiouyi Lu: I like experimental books, so of course I loved this. Did not expect poetry in between.
  • Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke: A fun Norse/Arthurian slump-breaker of a book. Standalone epic fantasy(!), fast paced, with a lot happening.
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (reread): Prompted because someone else was reading it for the first time. A sure sign that I’m not okay when I go reread this damn book…?
  • Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge: Surreal, melancholic, unsettling, and wonderfully well-structured. Really liked it.

Books read in 2022: 8 (+ 2 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳

2021 Wrap-Up: Statistics and Top Books

After the slump that was 2020 (and I’m sure I’m far from the only one), 2021 was again a fairly normal reading year. I finished Bingo earlier than ever, in November, and then easily reached my goodreads stretch goal of 69 books.

Now onto the stats and recommendations!

Continue reading “2021 Wrap-Up: Statistics and Top Books”

January 2022 Monthly Wrap-Up

After December’s mad reading streak, January has been far slower. For most of the month I’ve been too plagued by fatigue to read or review or keep up with social media other than discord much, mostly spent it crocheting and watching my latest diversion (but more on that below). But, I finally feel better. Maybe I’ll even finally manage to finish the 2021 yearly wrap-up posts!

Read:

  • His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto: One of the very rare romance books that are as perfect of a fit for my preferences as it gets, aka very soft with major hurt/comfort vibes. Basically “how to charm your fellow weirdo.”
  • Od Magic by Patricia McKillip: Beautifully written, meandering classic fantasy.
  • All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie (ARC): A somewhat folklore-like novella telling the legend of how horses came to Iceland. Interesting, but has a very distand writing style.
  • Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian (reread): Got the ARC for the second book, realised I remember absolutely nothing of the first, plus the fatigue was too much to finish a new book at one point, so I went off to reread. As good as the first time.
  • The first out of five parts of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: This book is one of my reading challenges for this year, the plan is to do it in five stages with breaks for other books in between. Given that each of them is about 300 pages, it deserves an entry.

Watched:

Well, probably my favourite discovery this month was a livestream of a watering hole in the Namib desert. Not kidding. It’s extremely relaxing and surprisingly addicting, especially since you never know what animals will show up to drink next and how will they interact. There’s even regular visitors you slowly learn to recognise.

Animals seen so far: lots and LOTS of oryx, jackals, ostriches, springbok, two species of zebra, two feral mares, a solitary gnu (sometimes with a friend), bat eared foxes, cape foxes, porcupines, hyenas, hares, humans (lol), various smaller birds, giraffes, warthogs, genet.

Currently reading:

  • The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer
  • Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas

Books read in 2022: 3 (+ 1 reread)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳

December 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

December wasn’t at all my month when it comes to books. I DNF’d more than in the rest of the year combined, for all sorts of reasons, but most of all, because I had more than bad luck picking books to read. Even among the books I finished (not counting the rereads, since I only reread books I like), there wasn’t as much I liked as I’d hoped. Still, this month aside, I’m finishing the year on a good note, having dug myself out of the slump that plagued me for most of 2020, both achieved my 69 books goodreads stretch goal and finished the Bingo in November, the earliest of all years. Hopefully 2022 will be even better!

Opinions on all the DNFs of this month are collected in this mini review post.

In addition, I also got completely addicted to Arcane, my gushy feelings on which I described here. If you like fantasy, do yourself a favour and please, please go watch this series (look: I do not care about the game and I absolutely loved it).

Read:

  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (DNF 13%): The meta commentary annoyed me too much. Couldn’t even make it to my usual 20% spot where I usually make a decision whether to DNF.
  • A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers: Loved the slice of life vibes, not sure what I think some of the philosophy. Will definitely read more in the series though.
  • Fire by Kristin Cashore (reread): Haven’t reread this one in ages. Somehow, a comfort read, despite so many people being utterly awful to the MC.
  • The Perks of Loving a Wallflower by Erica Ridley (DNF 27%): Nope. I was really looking forward to that one, but I hate fake dating and I hate reading about women being extremely constrained by society and forced to find a man to marry.
  • The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (DNF 29%): Hoped for hurt/comfort, got the worst of YA tropeyness. Just not well written, at all.
  • Thornfruit by Felicia Davin (DNF 37%): Pretty mediocre and the characters sound weirdly young even later on when they’re supposed to be adults.
  • A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson: Loved, loved, loved it. Dark and experimental and beautiful queer poly reimagining of Dracula’s brides – the prose alone is something special.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: Readable, but the protagonist being an unironic “not like other girls” stereotype and zero research done on the 18th century parts earned it some eyerolls.
  • His Secret Illuminations by Scarlett Gale (DNF 78%): Initially promising, ultimately not what I wanted. The main draw for me, an unconventional and not traditionally masculine male MC, was undermined by the whole fight training arc.
  • The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley (DNF 45%): Interesting time travel, but I couldn’t get past the extremely questionable premise of an alternate history where England is the oppressed victim and the goal of making it great again. Ew.
  • Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth (reread): Went for my #1 comfort read of this year to try to settle my nerves a bif after three less than ideal books in a row. It helped.
  • Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat: Hated it for obvious reasons, but I promised to read at least until book 2 (which is allegedly much better), so I will continue.
  • Penric’s Travels by Lois McMaster Bujold: Forgot how much I loved these. Excellent. Also more crossdressing than I expected but that’s not at all a bad thing.
  • Heaven Official’s Blessing by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu: Very fun story, subpar translation. Decited to continue it in webcomic form.

Books read in 2021: 69 (+ 9? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳

November 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

While November hasn’t been a great month for reading quality-wise, with more duds than not, I managed to finish the Bingo Challenge and I did it earlier than ever. Now, the only challenge that remains is seeing if I can get the number of finished books to 69.

Aside from reading, I finally learned how to crochet and have been doing it with great enthusiasm since 😀

Read:

  • A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason:Not sure how to feel about this one. Good job on the alien culture as always, but the random caricature Marxists among the crew were…highly confusing to say the least.
  • The Labyrinth’s Archivist by Day Al-Mohamed: Fun little novella. Hope to see more in this universe.
  • Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard: Didn’t work for me overall. Typical novella issues of it not quite working in that short of a pagecount, plus a protagonist I didn’t enjoy following.
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: Finally went and finished it. WHile I love the setting as much as ever, the plot structure was weak and a little repetitive in the first half. Hopefully just a first novel hiccup, will definitely read more in the series.
  • The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid: Well, if that wasn’t the disappointment of the year. The religion stuff was reasonably well done (if unsubtle), but overall, poorly written, the plot especially was an utter mess. But hey, at least I finished Bingo.
  • The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (DNF 22%): Very distant narration and magic that felt tacked on rather than an organic part of the setting. Wasn’t a fan.
  • Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky: Finally a good book after a string of disappointments! Flawlessly executed, especially since it’s a concept that’d usually take a trilogy done in the span of a novella. Really liked how it played with language, too. Warning, though: body horror.

Currently reading:

  • The Spring of the Ram by Dorothy Dunnett: Though I question the wisdom of going for another long book, I did miss Nicholas. The magnificent bastard he is.

Books read in 2021: 62 (+ 7? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳

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%)

September 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

September was a far above average reading month. I don’t know how or why, but I entered full reading machine mode and finished 9, with one DNF. I also have a massive preorder of 11 books coming between October and December, which I’m very much looking forward to.

I also finally reviewed She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan!

Read:

  • The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones: Badass gravedigger heroine who fights the undead with her axe, cinnamon roll mapmaker hero with chronic pain. Very small scope. And there is a goat.
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: A super adorable graphic novel about a prince who wants to wear dresses sometimes (read genderqueer to me?) and a dressmaker who helps him do that.
  • The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth: Quiet, melancholic, beautiful. One of my faves this year.
  • Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace: Didn’t vibe with that one at all. I think I initially TBR’d it because YA book with no romance, but the atmosphere, the world, the plot…meh.
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots: So much fun. Supervillains, spreadsheets, and monsterfucking undertones.
  • A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha: Started off very interesting, but poor pacing and questionable plot choices ruined it, especially in the second half.
  • Les Orangers de Versailles by Annie Pietri: FIRST BOOK IN FRENCH. Adorable, really liked it. Attempt at a review in French here.
  • Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford: As expected from Mitford, very gossipy and entertaining. But man I got tired of nobility’s shit.
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (DNF): Yeah no, not for me. Didn’t appreciate the infodumpy stream of consciousness style and the dynamic between the two MCs was exhausting.
  • Jean d’Alembert by Ronald Grimsley: Precisely the type of biography I hate the most – that is, non-chronological, with not much about the man’s actual life (shamelessly skipped all the bits on maths and physics and so on), but it still gave me some precious bits of info and at least a general sense of who d’Alembert was and what was he about.

Currently reading:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray: Very good, excellent 1920s atmosphere, creepy undertones…but a little overlong.
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer: Got it a while ago and planned to use it for Bingo, but not sure I’ll finish this one. Not really feeling it.
  • Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo: Alright so far, but I actually need to sit down with it without distractions.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Yep, still picking at it. Still good. 

Books read in 2021: 47 (+ 5? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 20/25 (80%)

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