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%)

August 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

With the ratio of SFF to non-SFF, August has been an interesting and varied month for reading, if not very productive for reviewing.

Read:

  • Micromegas and Other Stories by Voltaire: My fascination with this asshole continues. Micromegas itself was especially fascinating as an early sci-fi work, with all its 18th c stylistic conventions, very different to modern sci-fi.
  • Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos: This was delightful. Everyone who recommended it to me based on my love of 18th c drama was so, so right.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: As a fan of stories featuring weird houses, the setting was an instant draw. Unfortunately, by the end, I felt like it suffered more than a bit for leaving no mystery unexplained, killing some of the magic.
  • The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (DNF): Really wasn’t feeling that one. I liked the first book in the series, but this one failed to hold my attention and I did not care about the plot at all. When I realised that I only made it to 30% or so in one go because my internet was malfunctioning, not because I enjoyed the story, I gave up.
  • A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark: A very fun little mystery in the same setting as The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Especially loved that the protagonist (also the protagonist of A Master of Djinn) is a suit-wearing lesbian.
  • Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather: Space nuns and biological ships!
  • Humboldt and the Cosmos by Douglas Botting: Good bio, surprisingly likable subject (for once! I normally tend to go for obnoxious assholes….), beautiful hardcover (the inserts, omg), but I wish I haven’t had to put up with the author using rather racist language for Native Americans because there was literally no reason to.
  • …there might have been rereads in between but I didn’t keep track and forgot.

Currently reading:

  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: Enjoying Fatma’s further adventures and seeing more of the setting a whole lot and her new partner Hadia is also great. Fun, fast-paced read with an anti-colonialist slant.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Back to my favourite 18th century asshole because I need a dose of drama. One of the better biographies I read and I’m a massive fan of letter index number citations in-text.

Books read in 2021: 38 (+ 5? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 15/25 (60%)

July 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

July was an incredible month for reading. I was alternating between not reading much one week then reading two books in one day the next when I stumbled upon something I was in the mood for (the ever mysterious reading moods…), but it still got the job done.

Finished:

  • The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (reread): I needed my never-fail comfort read. That’s pretty much it 😂
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (reread): Picked it up on a whim and reread it in like an hour and a half. Why? I don’t know. But it sure felt good.
  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (ARC): Mostly, as good as everyone said it would be, and a much faster read than expected. Loved the hurt/comfort aspect of the romance especially.
  • The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison (ARC): I may have adored The Goblin Emperor, but this was a disappointment. Pancake-flat characters and none of the charm.
  • After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang (ARC): Short enough to almost be a novella, this was so good and melancholic and kind, even if it dealt with a climate disaster and chronic (terminal?) illness.
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (reread): I’m apparently on a Bujold kick this month. Less good than I remember but still good.
  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (ARC): Review is taking me a little longer, but it’s very good and very queer. Recommended to all fans of epic fantasy. (Plus, there’s the very memed romantic fisting lmao)
  • Amatka by Karin Tidbeck: Another near-novella. Creepy, weird, and dystopian.
  • Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth (twice in a row): I didn’t think I’d ever continue the series, but I needed this so badly. Despite some issues, it’s a complete comfort read. Mini review to go up when I have enough of them for a post.

Currently reading:

  • The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis (ARC): Ebook, kindle. Need to reduce my ARC pile badly and this one doubles for Bingo. Vampires in historical (19th c?) Prague. Promising.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Hardcover. About halfway through and in absolutely no rush. Learned of some some hilarious new anecdotes and I love that letter reference numbers are cited directly in the text. Even if they’re slightly inaccurate and going to look slows me down. If it wasn’t so damn rare, I’d recommend this bio to anyone interested in this petty asshole.
  • Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely by Andrew S. Curran: Ebook, pc. I’ve been curious about the guy for a while and finally picked it up after the Ada Palmer AMA. So far, so good. Getting similar chaotic vibes to Voltaire.

Books read in 2021: 32 (+ 5 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 14/25 (56%)

June 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

I am now fully vaccinated! The second shot did a number on me (which is why this post is so late), but it’s done with, and I can rest a little easier now. I also spent a lot of time this month reflecting on what the hell do I want to do with my life after deciding to quit studying computer science for good a few months ago and finally arrived to a conclusion: I do want to go back to uni and I will go study history and French. How will I get tuition money, I’m not yet sure. But I will get there.

Anyway, enough with the personal stuff, onto the books!

Finished:

  • The Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer: Still good. Still so full of plot twists and great characters and moral ambiguity and so up many of my specific alleys. Though a review is still eluding me.
  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi: Read it on a whim because it was the book of the month for one of the r/fantasy bookclubs and someone uttered the magical words “it’s short.” No regrets.
  • The Queer Principles of Kit Webb by Cat Sebastian (ARC): Not my favourite of her books (that honour will forever go to Two Rogues Make a Right), but enjoyable enough. She never disappoints.

Currently reading:

  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (ARC): I was a little afraid of it because of its length, but it’s a much faster read than expected and the romance is exquisite. f/f + hurt/comfort = yesplease???

Books read in 2021: 26 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 9/25 (36%)

May 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

Looking back at it, May has been a surprisingly miserable month for reading. I’d worry that I am perhaps entering another slump, and I might be, but I also did plenty of other things. Like started working on a miniature DIY teahouse kit. Or started my first translation from French to English (after only five months of learning) because I simply couldn’t wait any longer. I realised way too late that the material I chose for practice, a collection of letters I’ve been interested in since November, includes fucking poetry in the middle of some of the letters, but I remain undeterred. It’s rather fun, actually.

And of course, after last year’s cancellation, I finally got to watch my beloved eurovision. In the end, I’m surprisingly unsalty about it all – only two acts I liked didn’t make it into the finals, plus I’m more than happy with Italy winning (even if Ukraine was my favourite). And I’m very much still in the mood 😁

Finished:

  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo: Enjoyed it well enough, but not as much as the first one.
  • Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer: Brilliant. Amazing. I don’t think a book has reduced me to quite this degree of incoherence and ALL CAPS before. I’ll try to get the review ready as soon as I can.

Currently reading:

  • Nothing yet. Though I should probably start The Lights of Prague.

Books read in 2021: 23 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 8/25 (32%)

April 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

April again proves my reading habits are pretty much back to normal. Aside from a little slump at the end of the month after a book majorly disappointed me, I’d even consider it above average. I hope I can finish Bingo in the next two or three months.

Finished:

  • Kalpa Imperial by Angelica Gorodischer: Short stories telling the history of an imaginary empire. Beautifully written, but I hoped they’d be more connected than they were.
  • Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray: A very, very sweet m/m retelling of Beauty and the Beast set during WWII. Wasn’t too into it at first, but it gradually won me over.
  • Triggernometry and Advanced Triggernometry by Stark Holborn: Wild west and mathematics. Really short reads and so, so much fun.
  • Lifelode by Jo Walton: Exactly the kind of small-scale, stange slice of life fantasy I normally enjoy, so of course I liked it. 
  • From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back edited by Elizabeth Schaefer (ARC): I liked the first anthology a lot, but this one was a major disappointment. Though there were a couple excellent ones, it felt like that the stories were a lot less memorable overall and had less charm. Made me really grumpy.
  • Emilie du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment by Judith P. Zinsser: After the disappointment that was the previous book, I needed something to cheer myself up, and there’s nothing better to cheer me up than history. A great biography of a woman who is often overlooked and remembered only as only a more famous man’s mistress, but actually had plenty of achievements of her own and a short but very eventful life. Might post my review in the next few days.

Currently reading:

  • When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo

Books read in 2021: 20 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 6/25 (24%)

2020 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts

Like every year since the beginning of the challenge, I aimed for the full card in 2020 as well. It seemed easy enough, no real curveballs in terms of squares. Then  I entered the Great Big Reading Slump of 2020, stopped reading SFF for months, and whether I’d manage to complete it suddenly seemed much less certain.

But, in the end, I did it, and I was very surprised to learn that despite all my troubles, I finished earlier than last year – March 7th compared to March 12th.

Continue reading “2020 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts”

March 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

With March, I feel like things have finally more or less returned back to the pre-2020 normal. Some health issues (hopefully managed by now) aside, I’ve been feeling better and, as a consequence, reading a lot more.

And of course, I managed to finish Bingo! Even slightly earlier than last year at that! Wrap-up post to come soon.

Finished:

  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan: I really needed this book for Bingo, but I can’t avoid the fact that it was not right for me at the time, mostly due to the fact that I’m sick to deat of historical SFF always using England as a base. Please. Enough.
  • Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis: Being as into the 18th century as I am of course I was all over this. Plus: historically accurate masked ball crossdressing! (Also: not set in England.)
  • A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar: The Winged Histories is one of my all-time favourites and this was a disappointment in comparison, focused on prose to the detriment of everything else, which works in something experimental, but not a fairly clasically structured novel.
  • Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley (ARC): Very chill, very strange sci-fi slice of life with a dash of horror. Despite the latter, precisely my thing.
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (reread): I really really needed a comfort read and besides, I got the ARC of The Witness for the Dead (!!!) so it felt especially appropriate. Either way I devoured it in about two sittings. Perfect as always.
  • The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (ARC): One of my most anticipated books of the year. While I found it to be a good book, especially in how it deals with colonialism (and the coloniser is based on France for once!) and how messy the relationship between the two MCs was, I found it too intense to enjoy.

Currently reading:

  • Liberty or Death by Peter McPhee: I want to learn about the French revolution and this seemed like a good place to start – true, it’s dry and dense and slow going, but very informative.
  • No SFF, just in case, because the new Bingo will be out soon and I’d hate to accidentally read a perfect book for it.

Books read in 2021: 13 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳🥳

January & February 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

January was just as miserable as any of the previous months but I think I can say that with February, I’m officially fully back from my hiatus! What changed is mostly that I got meds and they seem to be working – things are a lot easier and after months, I feel more like myself again. In the last week of February especially, I managed to read as much or more as I did in an average month pre-slump, which I’m really happy with.

January:

  • Candide by Voltaire: Went for it mostly out of curiosity. I have mixed feelings – on one hand, it’s the first classic I didn’t hate, the pacing is great, it’s short, it’s hilariously petty (more so the more context you know), and appropriate for the times. On the other, there is about as much blatant racism as you’d expect, which is to say, a lot. Which often left me stuck between cringing at that and laughing at, for example, the open complaints about printers and publishers.

February:

  • The first part of the memoirs of Wilhelmine of Prussia, which happened pretty much on a whim. They came up in conversation, I went to look them up online, and accidentally the whole thing within a couple hours. I know they are not considered too reliable, but the mentions of horrific abuse are too frequent to ignore.
  • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey: Finally, a story with a western flavour where I found nothing to complain about. Felt like the right book at the right time. Loved how queer it was, too.
  • The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain: Very fun. Loved the chaos the djinn caused.
  • Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger: Good enough, very well done ace and Native American rep, but it read too young for my taste. It’s almost bordering on middle grade and that’s just not my thing.
  • Heart of Stone by Johannes T. Evans: From how this book is described, I thought it would be perfect for me, but then it just…wasn’t. I found it to be more than a bit of a slog. When I’m reading romance, I want the protagonists to kiss WAY before the very very end.
  • Burning Roses by S.L. Huang (ARC): Tries to do far too many things at the same time for a short little novella. Retellings of several different fairytales, mixing eastern and western influences, present and flashbacks, two protagonists’ stories…it didn’t really work for me.
  • The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky (ARC): This was, well, perfection. I haven’t ever seen a story told in this particular way before and I’ve always been a sucker for literary and experimental. Could hardly be a better fit for me.

Currently reading:

  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan: One of my last Bingo books. A bit slow going, but I’m only about a quarter in. I hope it picks up the pace soon!

Books read in 2021: 8 (+ 0 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 22/25 (88%)

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