Review: From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (edited by Elizabeth Schaefer)

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ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

When I read the first anthology, I knew I will be going for the others if I get the chance. I loved the idea of Star Wars seen from the POV of minor, unimportant characters, I especially hoped for more Stormtrooper (or better, imperial guard) POVs.

Unfortunately, even accounting for the fact that whatever anthology you take, not all the stories are going to be good, this one still felt lackluster in comparison.

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Review: Triggernometry by Stark Holborn (Triggernometry #1-2)

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I’ve been looking for decent weird westerns for a while, to not much success – a lot of what little I could find either couldn’t hold my attention or didn’t have the flavour and atmosphere I was looking for, and I haven’t even made it halfway down my list before I inevitably got distracted and put my “hunt down SFF westerns” project aside. Until now, I suppose, when my mood reading led me to try this. And it’s one of the best (if not the best) I found so far, enough that I got the second novella while I was still reading the first. A rare thing.

With unique worldbuilding, fast pacing, great writing, and a fantastic concept, it’s easy to recommend. And of course, it’s a shitload of fun.

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Review: The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (Magic of the Lost #1)

THE UNBROKEN by C. L. Clark - Orbit Books

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ARC received from the publisher (Orbit) in exchange for an honest review.

This has been, hands down, one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I’ve been looking for books with messy, complicated relationships lately, so that sounded fantastic, plus being promised critique of colonialism on top and that cover? With those arms? 😍

Unfortunately, while it’s a good book, I have to admit I found it something of a struggle, even if it was no fault of its own.

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Review: A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar (Olondria #1)

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It is dangerous to build. Once you have built something – something that takes all your passion and will – it becomes more precious to you than your own happiness. You don’t realize that, while you are building it. That you are creating a martyrdom – something, which, later, will make you suffer.

And with this, I am done with the 2020 r/Fantasy Bingo!

The Winged Histories is one of my all-time favourites, so I was incredibly curious how would the first book in the series (really, the two can be read in any order) compare. I’m all for literary fantasy with lovely prose, so that I would like it to at least some extent was pretty much a given, but I still far prefer its sequel.

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Review: The Seventh Perfection by Daniel Polansky

Daniel Polansky – Tor.com

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ARC received from the publisher (Tor.com) in exchange for an honest review.

Sometimes, you know a book will be perfect for you going into it. Sometimes, like here, you stumble into it completely unawares. It was the cover that first caught my eye, and then the blurb – a woman with a perfect memory looking for answers. But it was the prose and the narrative style that won me over. I’ve never seen anything like it.

I still think it’s best to go in blind and knowing no more than that, but if you need more convincing…

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Review: Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky (After the War #1)

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What happens after the Dark Lord has been defeated?

“For that thing only, for the most selfish of reasons, I regret we killed him. We fought and we hurt and some of us died, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed being a hero. I knew I was doing the right thing. I knew I was alive. And now he’s dead and we’re…lost. It’s like the world expected us to die with him, and doesn’t know what to do with us.”

I have been looking for books dealing with consequences of war and upheaval for a long, long time. I find the questions of what happens after the big bad is gone – how do they rebuild, how do they deal with what the war cost them, what has changed, what happens to the heroes and the leftovers of the big bad’s minions now – much more interesting than the standard epic fantasy plot of the events leading up to that. But few books ever touch upon that. Redemption’s Blade seemed perfect for scratching that particular itch.

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Review: Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman

The Breath of the Sun eBook: Rachel Fellman: Amazon.com.au: Kindle ...

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It is thrilling, to be so far up. The very quality of the air is different; it conducts less of the sound of your voice, and its shallowness, its thinness, infects you. It is a small spike in your cold throat. In that narrow air, looking down over the misty land in the last few minutes of sunlight, you hear your own heart like a slow bass drum, and feel the anticipation of a good song beginning, somewhere in your bones, the percussion of the joints and the slur of the blood.

The Breath of the Sun is another confirmation that an instinct that a book will be great is never to be ignored. I have waited over a year to be able to get my hands on the paperback and in the end, it was absolutely worth it.

With its gorgeous prose, unique concept, experimental structure, queerness, and complex relationships, it shot straight to my favourites and I’d even put it on the same level as The Gray House or The Winged Histories. I can’t praise it enough. If you’re looking for literary fantasy that’s unlike any other you’ve read before: that’s the book for you.

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Review: The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming: Book One: Theory by Sienna Tristen

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“You think I’m going to tell you now when we’re this close? Half the appeal of having you tag along is the fact that you dissolve into a puddle of unintelligible enthusiasm every time we come across something remotely interesting. […] It’s a real treat, watching you fall in love with the things I love.”

Heretic’s Guide is a paradox. I want to shout its praises from the rooftops because how come that I’ve never heard of it before Lynn recommended it to me when it’s so good and so relatable? (Not to mention the gorgeous cover. I had to go for the paperback.) But on the other hand, I almost want to keep it secret and not tell anyone it exists, because I couldn’t stand someone disliking it and being harsh about it. This is, quite possibly, one of the hardest and yet most necessary reviews I ever wrote.

Because I’ve never been this personally attached to a book before. Sure, there’s been my eternal favourite, The Gray House, which has a lot of themes that resonate with me, or The Curse of Chalion, my forever comfort read. But neither of them felt this intimate and I can easily shrug off the thought of someone hating them.

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Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

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ARC received from the publisher (Tor) in exchange for an honest review.

Life before had been mundane and ordinary. He knew his place in the world, though every now and then, the dark clouds parted with a ray of sunshine in the form of a question he barely allowed himself to ponder.

Don’t you wish you were here?

The House in the Cerulean Sea first popped up on my radar because it seemed like a lighter, queerer version of The Gray House. Even though I have long since given up on finding anything even remotely similar to my all-time favourite book, it seemed worth a try.

And I definitely didn’t expect I’d love it quite as much. It’s so sweet, kind, and compassionate I couldn’t help but adore it. I didn’t know how much I needed something so fluffy, it was just…pure joy to read. From the characters, to the atmosphere, to the message, it felt like a warm blanket, not to mention it felt so wonderfully fresh.

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Review: The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg (Birdverse)

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ARC received from the published (Tachyon) in exchange for an honest review.

They were birds of bright fire that fell from the sky and cocooned me, until I could see and hear nothing except the warmth and the feathers enveloping me and the threads of the wind singing each to each until my whole skin was ignited by the sun, my body changing and changed by the malleable flame.

I have been familiar with R.B. Lemberg’s works for a while – Geometries of Belonging and Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds (which should preferably be read before reading this book) are two of those short stories that stuck with me long after I read them. So when Erio brought The Four Profound Weaves to my attention, highly recommending it, I knew that sooner or later, I will end up reading it. Queer books with lovely prose are precisely my kind of thing.

As suspected, I adored it.
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