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: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

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

Part mystery, part creepy Southern Gothic ghost story, part dark academia, part an exploration of queer masculinity and grief, Summer Sons was like nothing else I ever read. I wasn’t sure if it’d be up my alley, I don’t go for horror, and the ARC request was of the experimental why-the-hell-not-my-friends-like-it kind, but damn it was good. I picked it up at exactly the right time.

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Review: The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth

Amazon.com: The Light Between Worlds: 9780062696878: Weymouth, Laura E:  Books

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And we’re all a little frayed around the edges, aren’t we? It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t frighten me, finding out you’re only human like the rest of us.

This is one of my favourite finds this year.

Have you ever wondered what happens to children violently thrown from portal fantasy worlds? Do you think Susan from Narnia deserved better? Are you looking for something quiet and melancholy? Did you wish the Wayward Children novellas were darker and longer? Then you should absolutely read it.

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Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

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I probably never would have read Central Station at all if not for the fact that this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo had a cyberpunk square. I hate the very thought of cyberpunk. Oppressive high tech societies? No thanks. So in the oldest tradition of Bingo, I went out in search of edge cases. Oddities. This was one of the candidates I couldn’t quite choose between – then I saw it in a bookstore and it was decided. And I couldn’t be more glad I did.

A group of disgruntled house appliances watched the sermon in the virtuality – coffee makers, cooling units, a couple of toilets – appliances, more than anyone else, needed the robots’ guidance, yet they were often wilful, bitter, prone to petty arguments, both with their owners and themselves.

The easiest way to describe it would be “gorgeous sci-fi fever dream.” I have a long-standing love for weird, trippy books and for slice of life, so I could hardly have stumbled upon a more perfect match for my tastes. And before I scare anyone off: it’s strange, yes, but never confusing.

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Review: Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (The Locked Tomb #1)

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I’ve been a little unsure about whether I’d like this book from the start. The marketing for it gave the impression it’d be very “rule of cool over everything” and over the top. But after I saw friends rave about it, and when I saw I could borrow it, I decided it’s worth a try. Especially given it was one of the most hyped books of 2019 – as a reviewer, I had to see what the hype was about. I needed a light read, I’ve been on a space kick since December…why not?

Unfortunately, my initial suspicions were confirmed: I was not a fan at all.

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Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (Vine Witch #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (47North) in exchange for an honest review.

In some ways, this is the perfect book to read in autumn. There are witches, there is wine, there are sinister curses, romance…in short, it sounds fantastic. But even though I was suitably enchanted by the atmosphere and the concept in the beginning, the plot did not live up to its promise.

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Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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A desert is a lot like an ocean, if you replace all of the water with air. It stretches out and out and out in unfathomable distance and, in the absence of sunlight, turns to pure black. Sounds become secrets, impossible to verify as true until the light returns. It is not empty merely because you cannot see all of it. And you know in your heart that it isn’t—that it is the opposite of empty once it is dark, because things that do not like to be watched emerge when all of the light is gone. There is no way to know the shape of them, though, until your hand is on them.

Where do I even begin. This is one of those book that feel practically tailor-made to my preferences. It’s my catnip, pure bait – slow-paced, magical realism kind of deal with lovely prose. It would be more of a surprise if I didn’t love it. I have been warned that the author was seriously ill while writing it, that it’s different, that people generally like it less than the others. And after finishing I’m like, are you kidding? As the book itself says, perfection is an impossibility. But it sure came damn close.

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Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith (A Novel from Hell’s Library #1)

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

I had such high expectations. A book about books with queer characters and a library of unwritten books sounded wonderful, and there certainly seems to be a trend of meta-books this year (The Ten Thousand Doors of January, anyone?). Unfortunately, while it was not remotely badly written, I just couldn’t connect with it.

Claire lived by the firm moral philosophy that one could never have too many pockets, too many books, or too much tea.

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Review: Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow #2)

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I was initially unsure whether I should read this book. I enjoyed The Sparrow very much (despite its flaws), but there were some…mixed opinions on the sequel and whether it completes the story or ruins it. Unfortunately, I think I have to side with the latter – perhaps not ruins, precisely, but doesn’t add much and is inferior in more or less every way. And the ending actively made me angry. Read the first book and stop there, it stands alone just fine.

We meant well, she thought, looking up at a sky piled with cumulus clouds turning amethyst and indigo above the clearing. No one was deliberately evil. We all did the best we could. Even so, what a mess we made of everything…

The Sparrow was not perfect, but it was whole. I can’t say as much for Children of God. This is, as you can probably tell, going to be a bit of a rant.

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