Review: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (The Divine Cities #1)

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City of Stairs has been lying on my TBR since early 2015. It has been in my yearly reading plan every single year, and every single year I have somehow forgotten to get around to it. When I finally did…oh sweet fuck, it was good.

Perhaps no one on the Continent ever quite knew what they were seeing. And now that the Divinities are gone, we might never know. Time renders all people and all things silent. And gods, it seems, are no exception.

Decades ago, the gods of Bulikov were killed, their magic lost. The former empire and colonial power subjugated by the very people they used to oppress, their history erased. Now the the Saypuri historian researching the gods and the forbidden history has been killed and Shara, officially a minor diplomat but secretly one of the most accomplished spies, has been sent to investigate the murder along with her northern secretary/bodyguard Sigrud. And that’s only the start…

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April 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

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April to me mostly means the end of the 2018 r/Fantasy Bingo challenge (my wrap-up) and the start of the new one. I’m less impressed with this year’s card than I was with the previous ones, but I’m still participating – and my First Impressions post turned out so long I had to split it into two (part 1, part 2). Aside from that, April has been unusually slow, with only three new books read.

  • City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett: Very fresh and original, genre-defying, great characters, great worldbuilding if a bit heavy on the infodump, good prose…an excellent read. The review, however, is proving to be elusive.
  • Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox: As soon as I heard of this book, I knew that I had to read it and read it now. And as always, intuition has proven correct – it’s now one of my favourites. I love broken characters who try to do their best and I love how character-focused romance is.
  • Transformation by Carol Berg (reread): I needed more of the same character trope as Seven Summer Nights had, so I opted for a reread. Ignore the godawful cover, there’s very good classic epic fantasy underneath. Highly recommended.
  • Children of the Nameless by Brandon Sanderson (link): I didn’t expect much going in. I needed a media tie-in and this seemed like the easiest option. Well, it ended up being shitloads of fun. A lazy dark lord, snarky demons…
  • Vampir z Gorjancev by Mate Dolenc (DNF 10%): My first attempt to find something for the Local Author Bingo square. And it…did not go well. While it passed when it came to prose, I couldn’t stand the main character, his constant bragging how many women he slept with, and rather stereotypical pining for a girl I suspect would later turn out to be a vampire. Plus, this gem of a passage (translation mine):

On the familiar stool sat a shriveled little old man with a confused, sleepy face, tiny, half-lidded eyes and a large bulbous nose. His outstretched legs were spread out and between them, as if a substitute for a dick, sat a bottle, its bottom barely covered by red wine.

…I’m sorry but what in the actual fuck?

  • City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (DNF 20%): Was too irritated by the characters to continue. Despite this being a supposedly adult fantasy book, it did the exact same thing that I find so annoying in some YA books, where in the middle of a dangerous situation the less experienced MC thinks they know better than a more experienced person and acts all stubborn and demanding. Maybe some other time when I have more patience…
  • Currently reading Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. Decided to go for something long so I’ll be able to catch up on reviews in the meanwhile. It’s very good, but very slow going. I have no stamina for epics anymore.

Books read this year: 18 (+ 6 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 3/25 (12%)

Review: Children of the Nameless by Brandon Sanderson


The book is available for free here.

I would never have read this if not for the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. And for once, I’m glad. Media Tie-In was the Bingo square I dreaded the most – I don’t really do any media that has tie-ins and I had doubts there was anything out there I’d like. So free and short and by an author I read before…what did I have to lose?

I went in with no expectations. And despite my complete lack of MtG knowledge, I ended up enjoying it immensely – plus, it’s straight up one of Sanderson’s best.

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Review: Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox

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Every once in a while, I get a mad compulsion to read a book. I hear of something, and it won’t give me peace until I go and read it – and without a fail, those books prove to be my favourites. So it was with The Name of the Wind all those years ago, or The Curse of Chalion, or more recently The Gray House. And so it is here.  Outside of my usual wheelhouse or no, I had to have it and yet again my instinct has proven correct. I wanted to yell about it from the rooftops before I was halfway through. I finished it in less than a day. It satisfied the craving for more Witchmark left beyond perfectly.

“Of course I could have turned them out into the fields, to laugh and cry like that with no roof to shield them. Maybe in another world, that would be best, but…” Archie got up stiffly, muscles aching from holding Rufus against the trunk of the apple tree the night before. “Not in this one. In this world, love needs shelter. And as long as the rectory’s standing, I’m going to provide it.”

If you’re looking for extremely well-written, atmospheric m/m romance with a slight fantasy twist this is very likely a book for you.

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Review: Witchmark by C.L. Polk (The Kingston Cycle #1)

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Witchmark ended up being the book that finally got me out of my March reading slump. It’s a charming, easy read, that hit precisely the right spot.

The plot is one third murder mystery, one third romance, and one third historical fantasy, which makes for a lovely mix. In a world where lower-class witches are persecuted and shut into asylums or enslaved, Miles only wants to lie low, be free, and work as a doctor in a run-down veterans’ hospital…until a mysterious stranger brings in a dying patient who knows who and what he is. Then, of course, things get complicated.

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2019 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: First Impressions (1/2)

So, here it is! The long awaited new Bingo card!

For those unaware, this is a yearly challenge run by Lisa (Way Too Fantasy) that takes place on the r/fantasy subreddit from April to April. Official announcement with rules and resources here, but in essence, the goal is to fill as many rows, columns, diagonals (most try for a full card, the more adventurous of us for two…or three…) without repeating authors. You can use one reread and substitute one square for a previous square, but the main aim is to read widely. I have been participating since the beginning and it remains my favourite challenge.

While I did two cards for the last two years, this year I will be cutting back to one – it’s a decision I made months ago when I was frustrated with how limiting a 50-book challenge felt, but the difficulty only cemented it.

And from a first look, this card is more difficult than the last – there are far more niche subgenre squares like slice of life or LitRPG, plus there’s an unusual number of them that are…very much not to my taste. I’m not a new reader anymore, I know what I like and why. My personal rule is not to force myself to read books just because they fit a square and try my best to find something I’ll like at least a little for each square. This year, it might be a bit more challenging. But then, it is a challenge.

Because the post turned out so long (nearing 4-5k words), I split it in two. Here is the first part, dedicated to squares 1-12.

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