Mini Novella Reviews: Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders, The Sunken Mall, Silver in the Wood

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Another in the series of mini review posts, this time focused on three novellas I finished recently. Novellas make fantastic palate cleansers, but I find I’m rarely able to write a full length review for books this short, so it makes more sense to group them like this. I couldn’t not review them.

Either way! Onto the books themselves. Coincidentally, m/m relationships seem like a common theme with those three.

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Mini DNF Reviews: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Resistance Reborn, The Infinite Noise, Queen of the Conquered

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Sometimes, it’s just not to be. Sometimes, no matter how much I want to love a book, there comes a point where I can’t force myself to read another page. Not necessarily because it’s a bad book – in this batch, there’s even two I’d give 4/5 for execution – but it happens. I often write shorter reviews of books I DNF’d just so that there’s some note on them on goodreads, but they are too short to be a blogpost on their own, and I haven’t had enough to group them together until now.

Besides, backlog cleaning is never a bad thing.

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Review: Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (The Bloodright Trilogy #1)

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

Sometimes, you just have a powerful feeling that you’re going to love a book and in my experience, that instinct is never to be ignored. Bonds of Brass first came to my attention randomly, on twitter. Still in the depths of my Star Wars obsession and salty over Rise of Skywalker (oh so salty), I had to request it. It seemed tailor-made for what I wanted and needed.

And it was fantastic. What it promised, it delivered in spades. Fast-paced, yup. Heavily Star Wars inspired, yup. Fun, fanfic-style romantic tropes, yup. More twists than a ship executing a complex maneuver, yup. And that ending. Holy fuck. It’s the kind of book you read popcorn in hand, and then recommend to friends to watch their reactions popcorn in hand too. I’d say it even overdelivered – in places, I could barely manage a few pages at a time because the tension was too high and I was too afraid for the characters.

If a highly entertaining but not necessarily relaxing story is what you’re looking for, this is the perfect book for you.

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Star Wars Without Nostalgia: The Prequels

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I’ve heard a lot about the prequels. Mostly negative, mostly that I should avoid the first one at any cost. But as I said in my intro post, I want the full experience. Skipping would not do. I went in forewarned, armed with a bucketload of popcorn, and ready for anything. However bad a trainwreck, it had to be done. And I was curious – will I hate them as much as everyone else, or will my opinion be unexpectedly positive?

I don’t think that I’m going to say anything particularly new – which is hard to do with movies as well known as these anyway – but I hope the reviews will at least be entertaining and result in good discussion.

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Review: The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (The Books of the Raksura #1)

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My experience with Martha Wells until now hasn’t been the most positive. I have only read The Wizard Hunters, which I found aggressively boring. But after much prodding, I decided to give her books another chance. And luckily, The Cloud Roads was a hit! I couldn’t stop reading. Unique worldbuilding, a broken cinnamon roll of a protagonist, found families…I would have never in a million years called it boring.

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Review: My Beautiful Life by K.J. Parker

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ARC received from the publisher (Subterranean Press) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve always been interested in reverse stories, where the ending (in this case, the death of the narrator) is known from the start, and then they slowly work its way towards it. Where the question is not what happens as much as how it happens. And I have enjoyed what I read of K.J. Parker so far.

I’ve done some truly appalling things in my life. I’m bitterly ashamed of them now. Saying I did them all for the best—and saying, those things weren’t my idea, other people made me do them, is just as bad; admitting that I’m a spineless coward as well as morally bankrupt. I’m a mess, and no good nohow.

But despite the catchy opening, I was not…quite satisfied with what I got.

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Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina

Through August and September, I plowed through so many books I accumulated a bit of a review debt. Not reviewing them would, of course, not do, so this is my attempt to catch up and clean out the drafts.

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Review: The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

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Spoilers in this review are marked like this: [spoiler] (highlight to reveal). If this doesn’t work for you, proceed with care.

Okay, first off: I went into this book with no great expectations. I picked it up on impulse, in a random kindle sale, intending to save it as light reading for the first time I go to the beach, whenever that will be. I knew I was probably the wrong audience and that there were likely to be things that’d piss me off, but whatever. Give me historical fiction about fencing and 19th century Spain. No need to be quality, just quick and readable.

Well, today the day has come. And turns out that yes, it pretty much lived up to those expectations – entertaining with a shit plot and more than a bit cliché. Which I was luckily more amused than irritated by.

Still, I would not recommend it.

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Reread: The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (Olondria #2)

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Note: I have not read A Stranger in Olondria before The Winged Histories. It works perfectly fine as a standalone.

This is one of my favourite novels of all time along with The Gray House and more recently The Ten Thousand Doors of January. I first read it in the summer of 2017 and have been thinking it was a shame I never wrote up anything on it ever since. A book that means so much to me – that deserves words. Praise. Anything. So allow me to write something a little…extra ✨

I have breathed on shadows, as one breathes into a soap bubble, to give it breadth and life. I did it because I had to, because human beings cannot live without history, and I have no history or tradition that is not located in a pale, aggressive body lying in the dirt, or hanging from a tree. […] What is the difference between a genius and a monster?

It’s so hard to set expectations correctly. Anything, anything you knew about fantasy and the paths stories take, their structure – it goes right out the window. Forget it. As much of literary fantasy, it avoids the beaten path.

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Review: Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (Alpennia #1)

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Daughter of Mystery has been this month’s pick for one of the bookclubs I sometimes participate in. Historical fantasy f/f romance seemed amazing, it has been recommended to me before, plus it’s pride month, so I thought why the hell not now? Except…this is not really romance. It calls itself one, but there’s 1) less of it than in most regular fantasy books not billed as romance, 2) it literally all happens only in the last quarter of the book, and 3) the ending is abrupt, unsatisfying bullshit.

How do I approach reviewing a book where the first three quarters are solid, enjoyable historical fantasy intrigue with religious magic and good worldbuilding, but where the ending to the “romance” part of it left me feeling angry and disappointed and betrayed instead of satisfied?

Due to the nature of this review, spoilers for the “romance” will follow, but there will be no spoilers for the historical fantasy portion of it.

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