Mini Reviews: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, The Past is Red, The Lights of Prague, A Taste of Gold and Iron

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.

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Mini Reviews: Of the Wild, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks, The Bone Orchard, High Times in the Low Parliament

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.

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Review: Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

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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.

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Mini Reviews: Penric’s Travels, His Quiet Agent, Od Magic, All the Horses of Iceland

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.

Now, onto the reviews themselves!

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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: Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race by Tchaikovsky, Adrian (ebook)

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I knew I needed this pretty much as soon as I heard what was it about, doubly so when I saw the cover. And after a long string of sub-par reads, a book that actually lived up to its promise was more than welcome.

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Review: Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

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

The House in the Cerulean Sea was one of my favourite books of 2020. So naturally, I jumped at the chance to read Under the Whispering Door as well. Unlike Cerulean Sea, this wasn’t an instant hit with me – but it won me over completely before the halfway point and that’s vanishingly rare. It counts for something.

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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: A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

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I’m actually not sure where I first heard of the book or what drew me in. The cover? The concept? The fact that it’s based on a Portuguese legend? Was it on some list of sapphic SFF? All of the above? But it felt like a good impulse read all of a sudden, so I went in.

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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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