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: 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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Star Wars Without Nostalgia: The Prequels

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I’ve heard a lot about the prequels. Mostly negative, mostly that I should avoid the first one at any cost. But as I said in my intro post, I want the full experience. Skipping would not do. I went in forewarned, armed with a bucketload of popcorn, and ready for anything. However bad a trainwreck, it had to be done. And I was curious – will I hate them as much as everyone else, or will my opinion be unexpectedly positive?

I don’t think that I’m going to say anything particularly new – which is hard to do with movies as well known as these anyway – but I hope the reviews will at least be entertaining and result in good discussion.

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Star Wars Without Nostalgia: Intro and the Original Trilogy

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My blog hasn’t been very active for a while and there’s a very simple reason for that: I’ve been binge-watching Star Wars instead of reading. For the first time.

Because yes, despite being a lifelong, massive SFF nerd, I had somehow never watched Star Wars before. This is not surprising: I live in a hole when it comes to pop culture. If you ask me about anything, the likely answer will be “nope, haven’t seen it” – I watch like one movie a year, my TV watching habits are limited to cooking shows and documentaries, and I didn’t watch The Lord of the Rings until 2010 either. As for Star Wars…I have simply never been interested. The toxicity I saw online around the release of The Last Jedi did not help either. And besides, there’s no movie you have to watch or book you have to read without which you can’t consider yourself a SFF fan, so there might have been some (misplaced) hipsterish pride involved too.

My usual disinterest lasted about until I saw my first Baby Yoda gif. I got more and more intrigued. I sought out The Mandalorian. And I found myself, unexpectedly, completely obsessed. I wanted more of the world, what the hell do you do after binging all the available episodes within a day and you need more but there won’t be more until a week later?

You start binging the movies, of course.

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Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

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This magic land was all wrong. In the books, you had to destroy an evil piece of jewelry or defeat an evil-though-sexy witch or wizard. In the books, people did not hide documents and steal land and try to cheat dwarves and dryads.

I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book. It can be best summed up as “I shouldn’t have liked it, but I did.” I’m not usually a fan of satire (which In Other Lands edges into at times) or unsubtle books, and asshole protagonists can be hit or miss, but man, this one pushed all the right buttons for me. I picked it up because Sharade of The Fantasy Inn recommended it for its humour and quotability, and I was not prepared for the assault on my feelings it launched in the process.

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Review: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #4)

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I have thought this novella was just what I wanted. Something short, something warm, something familiar, right? I didn’t expect it’d be so sad – much sadder than the other Wayward Children novellas so far  – but then, I read Every Heart a Doorway, I should have.

At eight years old, Katherine Lundy already knew the shape of her entire life. Could have drawn it on a map if pressed: the long highways of education, the soft valleys of settling down. She assumed, in her practical way, that a husband would appear one day, summoned out of the ether like a necessary milestone, and she would work at the library while he worked someplace equally sensible, and they would have children of their own, because that was how the world was structured.

Unfortunately, it also suffered from pacing issues.

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Review: Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Tess of the Road #1)

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There are many, many stories about roads and journeys in fantasy, and just as many sayings. Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker? Journey before destination. The Road goes ever on and on. So in a way, Tess of the Road is a story in the oldest of fantasy traditions.

The road was possibility, the kind she’d thought her life would never hold again, and Tess herself was motion. Motion had no past, only future. Any direction you walked was forward, and that was as must be.

Walk on became her credo; she repeated it to herself every morning upon deciding to get up and exist for one more day.

At the same time, it’s also a fresh take. There’s no grand objective to work towards. And instead of the world, Tess saves herself.

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DNF: Unsouled by Will Wight (Cradle #1)

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DNF 44%

Tried it cause it was free, I wanted something light and fun, I still need a self-pubished book for the r/Fantasy Bingo square, and I know a lot of people who love it. I went into it with an open mind – from the positive reception, there was a chance of it winning me over – but it just confirmed that nope, that stuff’s not for me. And that I should trust my gut, no matter how enthusiastic friends are.

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Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #3)

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I forgot how much I loved this series.

This was Confection, land of the culinary art become miracle: land of lonely children whose hands itched for pie tins or rolling pins, for the comfortable predictability of timers and sugar scoops and heaping cups of flour. This was a land where perfectly measured ingredients created nonsensical towers of whimsy and wonder—and maybe that was why they could be here, logical creatures that they were, without feeling assaulted by the world around them.

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Review: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke (The Coraidic Sagas #1)

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The ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Blood of Heirs was a very pleasant surprise. I needed a quick read, something that wouldn’t take me weeks to finish and boy has this book delivered.

He was no different to the rabbit, no different to any game animal pursued through the woods, whether for sustenance or pleasure. He was as hunted as that rabbit, and he’d turned his power on it, despite his already superior strength. What might he do if his pursuer cornered him the way he’d cornered the rabbit? Was it only a matter of time before the walls closed in and the escape routes vanished, only a matter of time before his father’s men tracked him to a dark corner and he too stared at his death without the power to run?

The book follows two characters. Lidan is the heir of a clan chief (or daari, as they’re called) without any sons. She wants nothing more than to be trained as a ranger, ride horses, learn to fight, but her mother won’t let her, saying it’s too dangerous for a heir…then things get a lot more complicated. Ran is the son and heir of a duke. He saves his city from disaster, but in the process, his magic is discovered and he is forced to run for his life.

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