Mini Reviews: Bitter, Two Dark Moons, The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories, Aurora’s Angel

Still behind on two reviews from the April reading frenzy, plus with a more recently read anthology and another DNF, it’s time for mini reviews yet again. All of them were read (or, in the case of Aurora’s Angel, attempted) for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo, respectively the Revolutions & Rebellions, No Ifs, Ands or Buts, Short Stories, and Shapeshifters squares.

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Review: Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas

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ARC received from the publisher (Quill Tree Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been looking forwards to this graphic novel for a few years now, having first heard about it back in my webcomic-heavy era – the concept and the art were an immediate draw. I was delighted when I got a chance to give it a try.

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Review: Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

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I’ve been very interested in this book since I heard that it features an asexual protagonist and Native American legends, but I won’t lie: a major part of my decision to get it sooner than later was the fact that it’s illustrated. I have a weakness for pretty books and the hardcover is nicer and better quality than most special editions.

And of course, it’s also well worth a read – even if it was admittedly a poor fit for me at the time.

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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)

Rezultat iskanja slik za In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

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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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