I got so excited about Bingo I almost forgot to post the March wrap-up. But in March, the last month before the start of the new Bingo, my goal was to finish as many books I was in the middle off as possible (obviously, aside from Les Misérables, which is a yearly challenge). I got the amount down from 8 to 5 or 6, which is decent, especially since a lot of it was nonfic I still wasn’t quite in the mood for.
The second part of Les Misérables, or another 300ish pages. The infodumps were testing my patience. Not at half yet, but getting close!
Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee (ARC): Really really liked it, especially the reluctant and sometimes cowardly protagonist. Good worldbuilding too.
The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer: Enjoyable. Plot didn’t move as much as I hoped, but overall it did its job.
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler: Finally finished it after a two years break. I still don’t know why I paused, it’s good and a fast enough read. Now, only need to find the time to continue the series.
Half a Soul, The Lord Sorcier, and The Latch Key by Olivia Atwater: Tried it some time ago in too grumpy of a mood, retried it this month, and absolutely loved it. Since the series is getting republished and I can’t get the sequels until April 5th, I went straight for the novellas.
Foreigner #1-2 by C.J. Cherryh: Mostly started it because I had lots of time until Bingo with nothing to read and Dia suggested I might like it. The first book was too meandering, the second is a lot better so far. But I’m not reviewing until I’m done with book 3.
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.
I still can’t quite believe how many books I have managed to read in October. I’m not just out of a reading slump for good, I seem to be in a reading frenzy lately. Even with one DNF and one almost-finish, it’s been a shockingly great month.
The Diviners by Libba Bray: Good, nice spooky atmosphere, but perhaps a little overlong.
Vermilion by Molly Tanzer (DNF): Wasn’t feeling it. Maybe another time.
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo: Never read a horror book before, but I liked this. Southern gothic exploration of grief and queer masculinity. Very character-focused and more atmospheric than scary.
Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Finally finished after months of picking at it. Four points in its favour, it has an awesome and very clear citation style (reference numbers of letters in text!), it’s readable, lots of fun anecdotes, and doesn’t demonise Frederick or Émilie (very defensive of her, even). It is more apologetic than I’d be at points and a bit dated, but all in all, a good one.
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske: Part mystery, part romance, part magic, with a sunny himbo/grumpy nerd pairing. Spicier than I like, but enjoyable enough.
A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason: Almost managed it in October! Mixed feelings so far, but since it’s a bookclub pick and one of my last Bingo squares…
Once again, I accumulated enough mini reviews for a post. This time, it’s sadly rather negative, with two rather low ratings and one DNF, but one can’t stumble upon just good books all the time. On the upside, it’s rare that I get to use the tableflip tag.
I have wanted to start the series since 2017, but have always been put off by the length. Long, slow, heavy books and series are something I’m almost never in the mood for lately, so in a way, I’m surprised that I went for it now. But while it was, indeed, too long for my mood, the plot was good enough that I was able to both finish and enjoy it.
Come for the scheming merchants, stay for the chekhov’s ostrich.
With the ratio of SFF to non-SFF, August has been an interesting and varied month for reading, if not very productive for reviewing.
Micromegas and Other Stories by Voltaire: My fascination with this asshole continues. Micromegas itself was especially fascinating as an early sci-fi work, with all its 18th c stylistic conventions, very different to modern sci-fi.
Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos: This was delightful. Everyone who recommended it to me based on my love of 18th c drama was so, so right.
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: As a fan of stories featuring weird houses, the setting was an instant draw. Unfortunately, by the end, I felt like it suffered more than a bit for leaving no mystery unexplained, killing some of the magic.
The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (DNF): Really wasn’t feeling that one. I liked the first book in the series, but this one failed to hold my attention and I did not care about the plot at all. When I realised that I only made it to 30% or so in one go because my internet was malfunctioning, not because I enjoyed the story, I gave up.
A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark: A very fun little mystery in the same setting as The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Especially loved that the protagonist (also the protagonist of A Master of Djinn) is a suit-wearing lesbian.
Humboldt and the Cosmos by Douglas Botting: Good bio, surprisingly likable subject (for once! I normally tend to go for obnoxious assholes….), beautiful hardcover (the inserts, omg), but I wish I haven’t had to put up with the author using rather racist language for Native Americans because there was literally no reason to.
…there might have been rereads in between but I didn’t keep track and forgot.
A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: Enjoying Fatma’s further adventures and seeing more of the setting a whole lot and her new partner Hadia is also great. Fun, fast-paced read with an anti-colonialist slant.
Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Back to my favourite 18th century asshole because I need a dose of drama. One of the better biographies I read and I’m a massive fan of letter index number citations in-text.
Once again, it’s time for a batch of mini reviews. I might not be in a reading slump anymore, not quite, but I am in a bit of a reviewing slump and I finally have enough of these hoarded up for a post.
Émilie du Châtelet is one of the many historical figures who deserve to be brought back from the obscurity they faded into. Her name mostly being mentioned as a lover of a more famous man is an injustice – admittedly, that’s how I first learned of her myself but…18th century woman scientist and philosopher? With such an interesting life? I had to know more, and this is probably not the last book about her I read.
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.
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.
I haven’t been able to read or review much in quite a while. My sudden, intense shift of interest to 18th century history, combined with inability to stick to one book or finish things (“start all the books and let god sort it out” is a phrase I keep using) and general 2020 melancholy, and my blog ended up being on hiatus for months.
But this? This brought joy. History presented in a readable, snarky style, with plenty of drama and general ridiculousness, it’s all I needed.