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Mini Reviews: Agents of Winter, Yellow Jessamine, The Keeper’s Six, Kundo Wakes Up

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.

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Review: A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys

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In my private goodreads notes for this book, I had apparently written “Ada Palmer rec’d it to me cause I like Terra Ignota’s worldbuilding.” I have no idea when or how this happened (twitter? An AMA?) but oh, was it correct. It’s, in some ways, an old-style first contact story, very reminiscent of Le Guin, with plenty of human/alien cultural worldbuilding. But in other ways, it’s very much modern, with some very interesting takes on gender and a post-capitalist world struggling to repair the damage done to Earth. It did not truly hook me until about 60% in, but the worldbuilding indeed intrigued me right from the start.

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Mini Reviews: Monk and Robot #1-2, The Hands of the Emperor, The Sign of the Dragon

Sometimes things don’t work out no matter how much you want to like a book, no matter how up your alley it sounds. With one popular series I found out I dislike and two DNFs I had high hopes for, this round-up of mini reviews happens to be unintentionally dedicated to those.

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The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns #2)

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I was really not in the mood for this book, so the cards were stacked slightly against it from the start. But the hold dropped when it did and I needed it for Bingo. I haven’t had much of a choice, except to hope desperately it’ll be good enough to win me over. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. Suffering from several annoying tropes, some antisemitic implications in the first half, and no real highs to make up for the lows, it was a real struggle to finish and pushed me into another reading slump.

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Review: The Dawnhounds by Sascha Stronach (Against the Quiet #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (Gallery/Saga Press) in exchange for an honest review.

I have had this book on my TBR for a few years, but when I heard the rerelease is even weirder and queerer and more indigenous, it shot up my TBR. And I’m very grateful I got the opportunity to read it, because Biopunk/New Weird in the vein of Vandermeer with mushrooms and queer pirates and some noir vibes early on is exactly up my alley. And it was a shockingly fast and easy read, too – I finished it in two sittings.

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Mini Reviews: The Will To Battle, The Thousand Names, Witches of Lychford, Of Charms Ghosts and Grievances

It’s again time for another round of mini reviews to catch up on my backlog – this time two novels I finished back in March but couldn’t give full reviews to, and two novellas. Once again without any DNFs or books I’d dislike 😊

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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: The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

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This has been one of my most anticipated books of the year and the last book I read for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. I was, first and foremost, intrigued by the Hungarian and Jewish influences. I like cultural worldbuilding, I like(d?) folktale-inspired fantasy, it seemed like a sure bet. Unfortunately, it was yet another disappointment – while I liked the themes of religious tolerance and the protagonist being torn between worlds, the plot was a nonsensical mess, the characters mediocre, and the ending more than a little eyebrow-raising, featuring one of my least favourite tropes. And not in a good way. The more I think about it, the less sense the plot makes – never a good thing. 

However, due to the nature of my issues with the book, it’s impossible to talk about them in any detail without going heavily into spoiler territory. So be aware of that if you venture below the cut.

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Review: A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark (Dead Djinn Universe #1)

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Having put it down in late August about halfway through, I have been reading A Master of Djinn for a shamefully long time. One of those weird cases where I enjoyed it too much to DNF, but not enough to keep from being distracted by every other book out there. Still, I did, eventually finish it, and despite some plot structure issues, the worldbuilding makes it good enough to recommend.

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Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger

Given that within the last week or so I managed to finish a book that confused me too much to write a full review, two novellas, and had another DNF, it’s once again time for a round of mini reviews.

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