Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

sourdough cover

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Sourdough is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the year. Reading it felt downright therapeutic. If you have read any of Becky Chambers’ books you probably know the exact same feeling – there will be tears, but there will be joy, too. So much joy. It brought me some solace after a rather hellish week.

I explained the process by which living sourdough starter gave the bread its texture and flavor. Garrett’s eyes were wide with disbelief. “It was … alive,” he said softly. Wonderingly. He, like me, had never before considered where bread came from, or why it looked the way it did. This was us, our time and place: we could wrestle sophisticated robots into submission, but were confounded by the most basic processes of life.

Also, it made me really, really hungry.

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Review: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #4)

Rezultat iskanja slik za In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

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I have thought this novella was just what I wanted. Something short, something warm, something familiar, right? I didn’t expect it’d be so sad – much sadder than the other Wayward Children novellas so far  – but then, I read Every Heart a Doorway, I should have. 

At eight years old, Katherine Lundy already knew the shape of her entire life. Could have drawn it on a map if pressed: the long highways of education, the soft valleys of settling down. She assumed, in her practical way, that a husband would appear one day, summoned out of the ether like a necessary milestone, and she would work at the library while he worked someplace equally sensible, and they would have children of their own, because that was how the world was structured.

Unfortunately, it also suffered from pacing issues.

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Review: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (The Sharing Knife #1)

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“There are a lot of senseless things in the world, but not all of them are sorrows. Sometimes—I find—it helps to remember the other kind. Everybody knows some light, even if they forget when they’re down in the dark. Something”—he groped for a term that would work for her—“everyone else thinks is stupid, but you know is wonderful.”

I’m not quite sure what to think about this book. I got it recommended on the promise of a loving, respectful relationship that works in spite of how strange it is…and it kind of does have that. And I did enjoy it, and it was the kind of slow, peaceful comfort read I needed during a difficult time. But at the same time, I wanted to take the absolute piss out of how cliché-ridden and cheesy and ridiculous it was constantly.

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Review: The Imaginary Corpse by Tyler Hayes

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ARC received from the publisher (Angry Robot) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Absolutely adored it. Sometimes, even my cynical self needs something 100% sweet and wholesome. I got it recommended by Keikii who got the ARC first as “it’s weird in a delightful way you’ll love” and she was so right.

I like solving mysteries. I like gathering clues. I like feeling a puzzle come together in my mind. But those are tools, a means to an end. What I really do is help people, both with their problems and with believing the best of the world.

This is a book that will make you go hug all your childhood plushies. Though it deals with trauma heavily, the end result is whimsical and imaginative and utterly adorable. Or is it the other way around? Though it may seem fluffy, it has a lot of substance to it too. Either way, if you’ve been recently let down by a book or just need a palate cleanser, I’d highly recommend it – it’s a pure comfort read.

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Review: Los Nefilim by T. Frohock

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I didn’t expect to like this series as much as I did.

“My papa says—” There was another pregnant pause, during which Diago imagined Ysa checking both directions to make sure no grownups were near. “We are the sons and daughters of angels. We are Los Nefilim. Nobody fucks with us and wins.”

Generally, I don’t like Urban Fantasy. Anything set in the modern world, and I balk. Getting me to read this took a lot of convincing, but boy do I not regret it. I binged the novellas and the novel in a matter of days (which is also why I’m reviewing them all together), and I do not have a tendency to binge series either.

The novel, Where Oblivion Lives, was written so that it can be read without reading the novellas beforehand, but why would you want to?

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August 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

covers august 2019

After the craziness that has been July, August has been slightly more low-key, also thanks to other obligations I had. I managed to read twice as much as any normal month regardless, but unfortunately, I also suffered from terrible luck in my reading choices. I have had no DNFs (though a few books came close to it), but it seemed like more than half the books were various degrees of either “not for me” or “complete shit” – and when the tide finally started turning, I was reading at a faster rate than I could review, resulting in more than a bit of a backlog.

I made considerable progress on the Bingo challenge though!

  • The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte: A random pick from a kindle sale I got for the sake of having a light beach read. It was a popcorn read (which I was okay with) with a fucking bullshit ending and only reaffirmed that I should never pick books at random again. Well, at least I hopefully amused people with my rants.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (ARC): Chambers is one of my favouite fantasy writers, so when I was approved for the new novella, I was ecstatic. I just did not expect hard sci-fi. Initially, there was so much infodump I thought I requested the wrong book, that this is not for me in spite of how much I love Wayfarers. But the second half was better and the ending made my jaw drop to the floor.
  • The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga (ARC): Another dud. The concept is decent, but the execution…is not. The worldbuilding has more holes than swiss cheese and the longer you read, the bigger the holes get, and by the end (a contrived mess), they are big enough for a whale to swim through.
  • The Wicked + the Divine, vol. 2: Read this for the graphic novel square of the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. It’s a story of reincarnated gods, pop stars, and fans. Unfortunately, while the art is gorgeous, the story is…kind of aimless? I never got a good sense of who the characters are, or if there’s any bigger plot behind it all. Also, it ends with a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. What the fuck.
  • The Sparrow and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (reread): Still enjoyable. Still funnier than you’d expect a tragedy to be…but I wish I had not read the sequel. It didn’t ruin the first book, precisely, but the structure was a mess, it was way too preachy, and the ending was bullshit. Please do yourselves a favour and threat the first book as a standalone.
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon: Read it because I volunteered to lead a bookclub this month and this was the pick. I have wanted to read it for a long time. In the end, I like the ideas presented, I liked how it handled race and gender, but the worldbuilding was more than a little patchy and the pacing was odd. Review to come when I can gather my thoughts.
  • Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers: Excellent in every way, I liked it as much as A Closed and Common Orbit, one of my all time favourites. Because…slice of life examination of space socialism, what else could I want? Review to come, hopefully soon.
  • Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis: Adorable, but apparently second chance romance is very much not my kind of romance, so I found myself frustrated (even though it’s really good!). Bonus: set in a world where all the political power is in the hands of women.
  • Paladin of Souls and The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (both rereads): I have accumulated quite the review backlog, so I opted for a couple comfort rereads while attempting to catch up. You may also have noticed this is like the third time I reread Chalion this year…

Currently reading:

  • Half Lost by Sally Green (60%): Picked it up for the Second Chance square, as I decided to quit the series after I hated book two a while ago. Unfortunately, the decision has proven correct – this is very much not my type and I spent most of the 60% I read irritated and annoyed at the protagonist continuing to make obviously wrong choices (I know he’s traumatised, but I can’t bear to watch the constant fuckups). Then I put it down for two weeks. If this wasn’t for a square where all options are equally terrible because I don’t DNF without reason, I would have long since quit.
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (40%): No progress made.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (48%): Also no progress made.

Books read this year: 48 (+ 14 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 13/25 (52%)

Review: Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (The Harwood Spellbook #1)

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This was a cute little romance novella, but unfortunately, not the kind of romance I’m into.

Cassandra is the first female magician in Angland. Or, rather, was. A while ago she lost her powers, as well as broke her betrothal to the equally brilliant magician Wrexham. Now trapped in a house party with her ex-fiancé, meddling family members, a promise made in haste, and mysteriously bad weather, things are getting increasingly complicated.

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