Review: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

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It’s a shame that now that Gothic Fantasy is no longer a Bingo square I keep finding all the good books that’d fit it perfectly. I didn’t think the subgenre would ever appeal to me either, but the more I read, the more it does – after all, I’m a complete sucker for mysteries and what’s better than slowly finding out what’s wrong with that creepy old house?

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Mini Reviews: Of the Wild, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks, The Bone Orchard, High Times in the Low Parliament

The past couple weeks I have been a little preoccupied reading the Foreigner series (where I will do one review after I finish, there’s too many of them and I don’t have much to say about individual books) and playing lots and lots of Stardew Valley (my once-a-year gaming frenzy), so there hasn’t been much I could do full-length reviews of. But I finally have enough for another batch of mini reviews.

Once again, it’s a pretty mixed bunch. One novella I enjoyed, a novel I had mixed feelings on, a DNF, and an anticipated novella I ended up hating.

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Review: The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

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Thanks to the publisher (Tachyon Publications) for the ARC of this book.

It’s no secret that I am weak for beautiful covers. I was a little wary, wondering if I was ready to read something epidemic-themed (a fear that luckily proved to be unfounded), but it was so pretty and the concept seemed so interesting. Unfortunately, while a good effort, it’s another of those novellas that really should have been novels with how much they try to do to the point the pacing and plot suffer.

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Review: Weird Fishes by Rae Mariz

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

I’ll admit: it was the cover that got my attention. The cover, and the promise of a story centering strange sea creatures with an ecological bent. And really, it largely delivered on that – the worldbuilding was incredibly imaginative. I love non-human POVs that feel non-human, taking biology into account. The expected environmental aspect was not “humanity is a plague and must die” and I loved that too. If you liked The Deep, you might like this as well.

Unfortunately, the ending was soured by a rape scene with incredibly brutal consequences, that both felt rather pointless and the content warning at the beginning didn’t come close to preparing me for. It also left me in quite a predicament regarding how to review. After all, most of the book was fantastic, with that one scene like a worm in the last bite of an apple. And, after all, I do not do spoilers as a rule and it’s an ARC besides. But how else to talk about it? What do I do?

So: this summarizes my thoughts for those who need a TL;DR, more details with the minimum necessary spoilers for those who need a more detailed content warning somewhere below the cut.

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Review: The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach (Against the Quiet #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Gallery/Saga Press) in exchange for an honest review.

I have had this book on my TBR for a few years, but when I heard the rerelease is even weirder and queerer and more indigenous, it shot up my TBR. And I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to read it, because Biopunk/New Weird in the vein of Vandermeer with mushrooms and queer pirates and some noir vibes early on is exactly up my alley. And it was a shockingly fast and easy read, too – I finished it in two sittings.

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Review: Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

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I’m not sure how long have I had this on my TBR. But I have long enjoyed books that are off the beaten track, and this fit my type to a T. Strange, certainly, and melancholic, and unsettling and beautiful, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh and surreal read.

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Review: Arcane (s01)

We lost ourselves. Lost our dream. In the pursuit of great, we failed to do good.

I don’t generally make a habit of reviewing tv shows – I watch few enough, only a handful of them SFF, and I finish even fewer. But ArcaneArcane deserves an exception. That a videogame tie-in animated series, and one for a game I’ll never play or care about, would have turned out to be one of the best-written things of the year was not on anyone’s bingo card, but it sure is a welcome surprise regardless.

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Review: Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race by Tchaikovsky, Adrian (ebook)

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I knew I needed this pretty much as soon as I heard what was it about, doubly so when I saw the cover. And after a long string of sub-par reads, a book that actually lived up to its promise was more than welcome.

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Review: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

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No one wants to be a real hero; it’s too hard. My husband didn’t give a damn whether the work I was doing was noble as long as it appeared to be. When I killed someone then—something I did a lot more than I do now—it was for the greater good. It was such bullshit.

I’ve never much liked or cared about superheroes – what’s some asshole in a cape? Despite my friends’ gushing, I didn’t put Hench on my radar until there was a sale, and….wait. Mundane job? Spreadsheets? Fuck me, I’m in. I’ve always had enough of a hard-on for bureaucracy and other usually boring shit in books to override subgenre preferences and sure enough, it was exactly my thing. The characters’ low opinion of superheroes was the final cherry on top.

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Review: The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (Burning Kingdoms #1)

Tasha Suri – novelist

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

I know there is no higher power that sanctions a king or an emperor. There is only the moment when power is placed in your hands, and there is one truth: either you take the power and wield it, or someone else will. And perhaps they will not be as kind to you and yours.

I should not have put this off as long as I did – my fears about this book being a slow read because it was epic fantasy were baseless. Not only does it largely live up to the hype, it reads really really fast as well. And the romance subplot is exquisite – sapphic, morally gray, with with a strong hurt/comfort element.

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