And once again I read enough novellas (and one anthology) that I have enough for a mini review post! This time, it has been a rather mixed batch.
April again proves my reading habits are pretty much back to normal. Aside from a little slump at the end of the month after a book majorly disappointed me, I’d even consider it above average. I hope I can finish Bingo in the next two or three months.
- Kalpa Imperial by Angelica Gorodischer: Short stories telling the history of an imaginary empire. Beautifully written, but I hoped they’d be more connected than they were.
- Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray: A very, very sweet m/m retelling of Beauty and the Beast set during WWII. Wasn’t too into it at first, but it gradually won me over.
- Triggernometry and Advanced Triggernometry by Stark Holborn: Wild west and mathematics. Really short reads and so, so much fun.
- Lifelode by Jo Walton: Exactly the kind of small-scale, stange slice of life fantasy I normally enjoy, so of course I liked it.
- From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back edited by Elizabeth Schaefer (ARC): I liked the first anthology a lot, but this one was a major disappointment. Though there were a couple excellent ones, it felt like that the stories were a lot less memorable overall and had less charm. Made me really grumpy.
- Emilie du Châtelet: Daring Genius of the Enlightenment by Judith P. Zinsser: After the disappointment that was the previous book, I needed something to cheer myself up, and there’s nothing better to cheer me up than history. A great biography of a woman who is often overlooked and remembered only as only a more famous man’s mistress, but actually had plenty of achievements of her own and a short but very eventful life. Might post my review in the next few days.
- When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo
Books read in 2021: 20 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 6/25 (24%)
– goodreads –
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.
– goodreads –
I have wanted to read this book since at least 2015. It seemed like exactly that sort of small-scale book I might be into. Unfortunately, it was completely impossible to get – available either from a small press that did not ship to my country, or used for insane prices – until very recently when an ebook finally became available.
Worth the wait? Absolutely.
Like every year since the beginning of the challenge, I aimed for the full card in 2020 as well. It seemed easy enough, no real curveballs in terms of squares. Then I entered the Great Big Reading Slump of 2020, stopped reading SFF for months, and whether I’d manage to complete it suddenly seemed much less certain.
But, in the end, I did it, and I was very surprised to learn that despite all my troubles, I finished earlier than last year – March 7th compared to March 12th.
With March, I feel like things have finally more or less returned back to the pre-2020 normal. Some health issues (hopefully managed by now) aside, I’ve been feeling better and, as a consequence, reading a lot more.
And of course, I managed to finish Bingo! Even slightly earlier than last year at that! Wrap-up post to come soon.
- The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan: I really needed this book for Bingo, but I can’t avoid the fact that it was not right for me at the time, mostly due to the fact that I’m sick to deat of historical SFF always using England as a base. Please. Enough.
- Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis: Being as into the 18th century as I am of course I was all over this. Plus: historically accurate masked ball crossdressing! (Also: not set in England.)
- A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar: The Winged Histories is one of my all-time favourites and this was a disappointment in comparison, focused on prose to the detriment of everything else, which works in something experimental, but not a fairly clasically structured novel.
- Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley (ARC): Very chill, very strange sci-fi slice of life with a dash of horror. Despite the latter, precisely my thing.
- The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (reread): I really really needed a comfort read and besides, I got the ARC of The Witness for the Dead (!!!) so it felt especially appropriate. Either way I devoured it in about two sittings. Perfect as always.
- The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (ARC): One of my most anticipated books of the year. While I found it to be a good book, especially in how it deals with colonialism (and the coloniser is based on France for once!) and how messy the relationship between the two MCs was, I found it too intense to enjoy.
- Liberty or Death by Peter McPhee: I want to learn about the French revolution and this seemed like a good place to start – true, it’s dry and dense and slow going, but very informative.
- No SFF, just in case, because the new Bingo will be out soon and I’d hate to accidentally read a perfect book for it.
Books read in 2021: 13 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳🥳
– goodreads –
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.
– goodreads –
I knew I have to read this immediately as soon as I saw the blurb. Historical fantasy set in 1779 Habsburg empire, featuring alchemy, a castrato, a widow, and a Prussian spy? At a time where I’m explicitly interested in the 18th century? (My current focuses might be France and Prussia, but I’ll take what I can get.) Yes. Yes please.
And this time, I was not disappointed. It was so much my catnip.
– goodreads –
…it does little good to cry, “I only wanted to study dragons!” Science is not separate from politics. As much as I would like it to be a pure thing, existing only in some intellectual realm unsullied by human struggle, it will always be entangled with the world we live in.
Reviewing sequels is tricky business. Reviewing sequels years after you read the previous book is trickier. I read the first book before I started this blog, and I knew I liked it enough to want to continue – but, well, it has been a while. While I fortunately had no issues remembering what happened before, I was very much not in the mood for it anymore. If not for the r/Fantasy Bingo, I would not have persisted.
– goodreads –
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…