Once again, it’s time for a quartet of mini reviews. This time, I liked three out of four books and felt meh on one of them, which is really not a bad ratio given how some of those roundup posts tend to go. Three novellas, one short novel, three SFF books, one not. I see a pattern here. I also admit I bought the last novella, Kundo Wakes Up, solely because I like to have four books before I post and I wasn’t willing to wait until I either DNF’d something or stumbled into a novella randomly again, but given that 1) I had planned to read it since release and 2) I liked it, this is not at all a bad thing.
June was without a doubt a great reading month. I didn’t think so, since the second to last book I read, Scarlet Odyssey, took me forever, but looking back, 4 novellas, 3 novels, 1 DNF and 16/25 done with Bingo three months in is not bad at all.
Spear by Nicola Griffith: Possibly my fave Arthurian book so far. Very queer and very very well-written. The afterword about the author’s writing process made it even better.
The Path of Thorns by A.G. Slatter (ARC): Gothic fantasy, rather dark and murdery but I enjoyed it a lot. Very feminist as well.
Aurora’s Angel by Emily Noon (DNF 13%): That’s an early DNF even for me, but the clunky, awkward dialogue was a complete dealbreaker. A shame because I was looking forward to it.
Of the Wild by E. Wambheim: Cute, fluffy novella about a fae shapeshifter and his found family.
Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki: Not perfect, the tonal disonnance between the POVs at the start is irritating, but it’s full of heart and donuts and was impossible for me to put down.
Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi: Read it pretty much because I was looking for a book with antelopes in it. Really good worldbuilding, but the plot is exactly the kind of multi-POV epic fantasy I struggle with.
The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia: Good ideas, but the execution was a bit of a mess. Should have been a novel with how much it had going on.
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller: Went into this one pretty much blind. Let’s see where it goes!
The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee: Got reminded that I never finished the series and I wanted a lighter read…but…the sibling interactions are so full of secondhand embarrassment I might just DNF.
The December binge combined with the spell of fatigue that lasted most of January and left me unable to do much (I’m better now, I think) mean that I’ve been left with quite the review backlog. This is not all of them yet, not quite, but it’s a start – and best of all, this time they are not DNFs, but books I quite liked. Every single one of them.
I really really tried. But in the end, the hiatus ended up being three months long and I’d consider it still ongoing.
It’s been clear for a while that I’ve been struggling with reviewing and posting. I’ve been in and out of reading slumps periodically this year, unable to focus even on the most anticipated of ARCs, but this one was the worst so far. A depressive episode did me in completely: I wasn’t able to read anything, didn’t mod, my online activity dropped to near zero. I couldn’t bring myself to feel excited about much, and even the nonfic I did feel like reading, I read very very slowly and got easily distracted by starting another book instead of finishing the current one. Where I once averaged about 6 books a month, I’m now lucky if I can finish three and you can see that it’s mostly novellas, romance, and nonfiction.
Additionally, what has started as wanting to research historical inaccuracies in a musical (and I wouldn’t at all consider myself a fan anymore) has developed into a full-blown obsession with the 18th century – first the American revolution, currently the strange love/hate relationship between Frederick the Great and Voltaire (drama goldmine, that, so much drama), eventually I plan to look into the French revolution as well, it’s quite broad. I thought it was a phase back in August, I kept thinking it was a phase for nearly half a year, but I finally had to admit to myself that it looks like it’s here to stay and adjusted my book buying habits accordingly. It brings joy and it made me rediscover how fun research and learning things for their own sake can be. I even started learning French!
I’m not sure what this will mean for this blog – I don’t plan to stop reading and reviewing fantasy books and I don’t review nonfic (occasional exception aside), but it will probably take quite some time before I’m able to juggle both.
…and the new Beowulf translation by Maria Dahvana Headley: I struggled because epic poetry is simply not for me – I find it extremely difficult to pay attention to every word of a text. No fault of the translation, really, at least I could finish it. Anything more archaic and I could not have.
Division Bells by Iona Datt Sharma (mini review): A delightfully bureaucratic romance novella. I have never read contemp but this was lovely! Highly recommended.
Slippery Creatures by K.J. Charles (mini review): Post-WWI romance with spies. Needed a faster read, this delivered.
The Threefold Tie by Aster Glenn Gray (mini review): Another historical romance novella, about trying to make a MMF relationship work. Very, very sweet.
The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo (mini review): Excellent. I usually have issues with pacing in novellas but this was perfect, the structure of each chapter really worked in its favour.
Voltaire in Love by Nancy Mitford: A long review that could have easily been even longer. This was just so much joy. Do you like drama? Do you enjoy reading about people being completely ridiculous? Then you should absolutely read this. Yes, it’s nonfiction, and I had to pause reading several times to laugh, facepalm, or go “you wouldn’t believe what these people got up to, omg.” And even though there are a few bits that raised an eyebrow, it aged well for a book very nearly as old as The Lord of the Rings(!).
Frederick the Great by Nancy Mitford: I consider it to be more or less a companion book to Voltaire in Love, they have to be read together. This is more of a classic biography, covering a whole life, slightly more serious, but still plenty entertaining. I am moving to more serious books, but Mitford makes an excellent intro.
I have periods where I feel sufficiently better to write the occasional post and read a little more. But posting will continue to be sporadic, depending on how I feel and what I manage to read.
A post about general 2020 reading statistics to follow shortly.