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

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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: 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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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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Review: The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga

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

I had fairly high expectations going in. Dark Victorian fantasy with a murder mystery plot and at least of a bit of a focus on medicine? Plus that gorgeous cover? Unfortunately, The Resurrectionist of Caligo was a letdown. Initially, I was hopeful it would be one of those books that manage to pull it off despite its many flaws, but the nearer to the end I was, the more clear it became that this is sadly not the case. The characters were either bland or assholes and what’s worse, the worldbuilding and plot had more holes than swiss cheese and the ending…did not do it any favours.

Note: the word “resurrectionist” is simply an euphemism for a person who digs up corpses and sells them to doctors to learn from, it’s not related to necromancy (alas).

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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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Review: To Be Taught if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

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

And Becky Chambers has done it again. I know that’s a cliché line to use in a review, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few decades she will be remembered as one of the greats. This is the exact kind of thought-provoking, insightful, ultimately deeply human sci-fi that makes up the best the genre has to offer.

However, I went in with entirely the wrong expectations so I will say this: don’t expect another Wayfarers. Expect discussion of the ethics of space exploration. Expect your mind to be blown, perhaps. But heartwarming, character-focused…forget it.

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