So far, 2023 has been the year of the backlog, finally getting around to many of the books that have been on my radar for years. I suspected I’d like it purely due to Berg’s reputation for writing broken protagonists (I quite enjoyed Transformation) and the first half was great. Unfortunately though, what could have been a fairly enjoyable standard dragon story started to drag on in the second half instead. And the romance subplot being unpleasant and annoying to read certainly didn’t help.
I’m very glad when I have a batch of mini reviews ready and it’s just enjoyable novellas or other kinds of books I simply don’t do full reviews for. No DNFs, no disappointments, just some good short reads.
Look: I’m weak for a good cover. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. In hardcopy. Oh, my weakness got me burned plenty of times in the past, but this time it paid off. Despite some initial misgivings because the protagonist is so rich and influential, it turned out to be a fun, fast-paced, twisty mystery set in a queernorm world. Oh, and each chapter begins with a cocktail recipe (alcoholic and not!).
This both is and isn’t a review. Yes, I’m among those who read Dracula via the Dracula Daily newsletter and I had a great time. On the other hand, it’s really hard to review or critique something that’s not only a book but also a minor cultural phenomenon, with the latter part being rather essential. You cannot talk about recommending or not recommending an experience that is unlikely to repeat for others to take part in, or at least not at such scale. But I had to write something for goodreads to mark it as read, and, well, turns out I have a lot to say.
Once again, it’s time for a quartet of mini reviews. This time, I liked three out of four books and felt meh on one of them, which is really not a bad ratio given how some of those roundup posts tend to go. Three novellas, one short novel, three SFF books, one not. I see a pattern here. I also admit I bought the last novella, Kundo Wakes Up, solely because I like to have four books before I post and I wasn’t willing to wait until I either DNF’d something or stumbled into a novella randomly again, but given that 1) I had planned to read it since release and 2) I liked it, this is not at all a bad thing.
Thanks to the publisher (Tordotcom) for the ARC of this book.
Of course I would have read this novella one way or another. Fellman is perhaps one of my favourite authors. The Breath of the Sun and Dead Collections are both some of my all-time favourites. I’d read anything he writes. The Two Doctors Górski was not quite as enjoyable – it’s a high bar! – but it was still a great, if heavy read in Fellman’s usual understated style.
This month’s batch of mini reviews, finally big enough to post, came out very varied. A book I liked but couldn’t give a full review to because I was on a vacation book binge, a pretty good novella that’d get a mini review anyway, a novel so mediocre that I didn’t have much to say, and a grumpy unexpected DNF. For once, more novels than novellas.
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.
I picked up this book completely on a whim. It was on sale, the preview pulled me in, and my friends were talking about it, so – why not? Why not try and see? And for once, I don’t regret experimenting. While maybe not technically perfect, it’s one of those books I couldn’t stop reading and reading whenever I picked it up.
The NetherTale offered a scenario where a player would rescue people from Hell—yet not hurt anyone at all. Might one live that way? Until recently, Shizuka would have dismissed the suggestion as naïve, a fantasy of the weak and sheltered, those who had never fought or known loss. But nothing in Katrina’s background suggested she was weak or sheltered. As for loss? Her music did not lie. She was fighting with an abandon that only came from loss.
The December binge combined with the spell of fatigue that lasted most of January and left me unable to do much (I’m better now, I think) mean that I’ve been left with quite the review backlog. This is not all of them yet, not quite, but it’s a start – and best of all, this time they are not DNFs, but books I quite liked. Every single one of them.