April 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

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After the reading drought that lasted from mid-November to the end of March, April was a breath of fresh air. I’m nowhere near my old three-reviews-a-week form yet, but I can at least safely say I’m out of the slump.

The start of April also means the end of the 2019 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge (wrap-up here) and the start of the 2020 one (first impressions here). And I have to say I adore the new card and I’m delighted to participate again.

I also reviewed The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg, which I technically finished last month. Highly recommended.

Read:

  • Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover (mini review): I don’t usually go for books with a lot of action (and this one had ridiculous amounts) but 1) Star Wars and 2) the prose was surprisingly amazing. Can’t wait to get to his Revenge of the Sith novelization.
  • Mirror: The Mountain by Emma Ríos and Hwei Lim (mini review): Nice art, subpar story. I had no idea what’s going on and not in a good way.
  • Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian (mini review): One of my new favourite historical (post-WWII) romance books. Spy and veteran doctor solve a murder together and fall in love. It’s so sweet and gentle and I appreciated the low heat level.
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (ARC): Beautiful. A story of prejudice and how even the most timid bureaucrat can find courage and change things. Plus adorable magical children. Plus gay. It was fluffy and delightful and I adored it.
  • On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (mini review): Read it in webcomic form. Adorable, queer sci-fi with pretty art. Wasn’t too into it at the start, but it grew on me a lot.
  • Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth: Fluffy, chill, slice of life story about a space elf and a space furry studying to become therapists and their friendship. Some problematic worldbuilding which makes it hard to recommend, but I devoured it.
  • The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming: Book One: Theory by Sienna Tristen: Still struggling to review it. Essentially a story of how Ronoah, who suffers from severe anxiety, is dragged along on a journey by a mysterious and enigmatic trickster, the weird things they see, the people they meet, and character growth. Kind of like Tess of the Road. It felt intensely personal and I’ve never seen a book portray the destructive nature of anxiety so well.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (reread): Reread for a bookclub. Good to know the ending still gives me feels.

Short stories:

Decided to get rid of the short story Bingo square asap this year. So here’s some micro reviews. Links lead to the stories themselves – they are all freely available online.

Currently reading:

I might have gone a liiiittle crazy this month.

  • Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse: Didn’t really have a choice since a long-awaited hold came in. Not very far in, not sure if I like a tie-in that expands on a movie, but it reads fast and it’s written fairly well. Let’s see where it ends up.
  • The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman: Mountain climbing, religion, and complicated relationships. Beautiful. And yes, it’s fantasy!
  • The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison (ARC): Basically Sherlock fanfic? Where Sherlock is an angel and John is a [redacted for spoilers]. Very fun, though how it’s Sherlock Holmes except not is seriously fucking with my head.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite: Still on pause.
  • Daughter from the Dark by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko: Also still on pause.

Books read this year: 19 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 5/25 (20%)

Mini Reviews: Shatterpoint, Proper English, Hither Page, Mirror: The Mountain, On a Sunbeam

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Time for another backlog cleaning!

While my goal is to review everything I read, I don’t always quite succeed. I finished Shatterpoint in early April, and thought it deserved to be talked about, but a full review just wouldn’t come. I also don’t write full reviews of graphic novels or non-SFF, but I encountered two historical romance books so good I thouth they were at least worth a mention, SFF-themed blor or no.

So there it is, an odd mix of a Star Wars tie-in, two romance books, and two graphic novels.

Continue reading “Mini Reviews: Shatterpoint, Proper English, Hither Page, Mirror: The Mountain, On a Sunbeam”

Review: The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

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God, this was lovely. It’s short, fluffy, very slice of life – a perfect palate cleanser. Yet another book I wouldn’t have read if not for the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge – short on time, I needed something to knock out the AI Character square quickly – and I’m very, very glad I did.

Continue reading “Review: The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz”

November 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

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November has been a fairly decent month for reading, if not for reviewing. I had absolutely no luck – first I got ill and just as I started getting better, I got hit by a truckload of stress and everything ground down to a halt. I’m still not exactly well and not sure how much will I be able to update in December. And still focusing on lighter books. But!

I finished my 2019 goodreads reading challenge of 69 (heh) books 🥳🥳🥳

before December!

Books read:

  • The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells: Some of the most unique worldbuilding I’ve seen in a while and a very likable protagonist. Enjoyed it a lot. It has a bit of the stereotypical “evil species vs good species” going on, but I’m going to withhold judgement on that until the next book.
  • A Case of Possession and Flight of Magpies by K.J. Charles: Since my opinion remains unchanged from The Magpie Lord, I decided not to review them. In short, great characters, great dynamics, reads very fast…but it’s also an unfortunate fact that I simply do not like detailed sex scenes, or BDSM.
  • The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards: A shitload of fun, but what really makes it are the characters. I’m usually not much for UF, or action, but I read this in one sitting. So good.
  • Novice Dragoneer by E.E. Knight (ARC): While I got what I wanted (nostalgia distilled with dragons!), it was hindered by incredibly clumsy writing, which makes it difficult to recommend. My enjoyment was all over the place, from loving it, to nearly quitting.
  • The Duchess War by Courtney Milan: A fun, light read with a very respectful relationship and more politics than I expected (in a good way). But the plot just didn’t work for me and neither did the sex scenes. Again.
  • Magic’s Pawn and Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey (reread): A review inspired me to do a reread. Very melodramatic and very dated, but still fun. Even if I wouldn’t recommend them anymore – there is far better LGBTQ+ rep out there nowadays. For example, the next book on the list!
  • The Hanged Man by K.D. Edwards (ARC): If I liked the first book, I loved the second. It’s much darker than the first overall, but the character interactions absolutely make up for that. They all care for each other so much and just, aww 😭 Would read anything the author writes. Review to come really soon, promise.

Currently reading:

  • Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (cca 70%): Pretty good, lots of fun, but at the same time it feels very long? Either way, I love that the characters are a bunch of old guys gone on one last adventure.
  • And OH WHAT SURPRISE, I still haven’t picked up and finished The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon either. I want to finish it before 2020? Hopefully?

Books read this year: 69 (+ 18 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 20/25 (80%)

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (Vine Witch #1)

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ARC received from the publisher (47North) in exchange for an honest review.

In some ways, this is the perfect book to read in autumn. There are witches, there is wine, there are sinister curses, romance…in short, it sounds fantastic. But even though I was suitably enchanted by the atmosphere and the concept in the beginning, the plot did not live up to its promise.

Continue reading “Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (Vine Witch #1)”

Review: Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold (The Sharing Knife #1)

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“There are a lot of senseless things in the world, but not all of them are sorrows. Sometimes—I find—it helps to remember the other kind. Everybody knows some light, even if they forget when they’re down in the dark. Something”—he groped for a term that would work for her—“everyone else thinks is stupid, but you know is wonderful.”

I’m not quite sure what to think about this book. I got it recommended on the promise of a loving, respectful relationship that works in spite of how strange it is…and it kind of does have that. And I did enjoy it, and it was the kind of slow, peaceful comfort read I needed during a difficult time. But at the same time, I wanted to take the absolute piss out of how cliché-ridden and cheesy and ridiculous it was constantly.

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Review: Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (The Harwood Spellbook #1)

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This was a cute little romance novella, but unfortunately, not the kind of romance I’m into.

Cassandra is the first female magician in Angland. Or, rather, was. A while ago she lost her powers, as well as broke her betrothal to the equally brilliant magician Wrexham. Now trapped in a house party with her ex-fiancé, meddling family members, a promise made in haste, and mysteriously bad weather, things are getting increasingly complicated.

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May 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

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May has been a surprisingly decent reading month (if a bit slow with reviews) despite how hectic it was when it came to classes. I have pretty much neglected the Bingo challenge and instead read whichever random book I fancied at the moment, which was probably for the best. Length-wise it was probably the most diverse of all, with everything from a short story anthology, to novellas, normal length novels, and a thousand page brick.

All in all, a good month.

Books finished:

  • The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander: Short but beautiful. Read it if you’re interested in radium girls, elephants, pretty prose, and non-linear stories.
  • Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: Wanted an epic, got an epic, forgot how little patience I have for epics and almost regretted it a third through. Still enjoyed it overall but yeah. Decent enough, but not great.
  • Yet another reread of The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles. I need to get around to the sequels. Badly.
  • Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason: Some of the most creative worldbuilding I’ve seen, plus challenging assumptions about sexuality. Excellent.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (ARC): I would say GO READ THIS NOW because it’s amazing and totally my type and the definition of achingly beautiful but it’s not out yet sooooo yeah. But worth a preorder for sure!
  • The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro: That…did not go well. I usually like literary fantasy, but The Buried Giant was lacking in any elements that make a story interesting. Aside from the theme, there was nothing. I was bored to death. If you can do audio (I can’t), it may provide good material to relax or fall asleep to, otherwise not recommended.
  • A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton: Sweet, adorable f/f romance novella about a rekindled friendship that turns out to be something more.

Currently reading:

  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Worth reading just because it’s set in 1920s Mexico. Also, if you like the trope of a god being helped by a girl who takes no shit, this is very likely a book for you.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: Very slow going because the paperback is A LITERAL BRICK. So unwieldy.
  • Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones: I’m finding the prose and the ultra-polite way the characters talk somewhat dry and hard to read, but I guess that’s the historical aspect. It’s a bit frustrating regardless.

Books read this year: 24 (+ 7 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 5/25 (20%)

Review: Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox

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Every once in a while, I get a mad compulsion to read a book. I hear of something, and it won’t give me peace until I go and read it – and without a fail, those books prove to be my favourites. So it was with The Name of the Wind all those years ago, or The Curse of Chalion, or more recently The Gray House. And so it is here.  Outside of my usual wheelhouse or no, I had to have it and yet again my instinct has proven correct. I wanted to yell about it from the rooftops before I was halfway through. I finished it in less than a day. It satisfied the craving for more Witchmark left beyond perfectly.

“Of course I could have turned them out into the fields, to laugh and cry like that with no roof to shield them. Maybe in another world, that would be best, but…” Archie got up stiffly, muscles aching from holding Rufus against the trunk of the apple tree the night before. “Not in this one. In this world, love needs shelter. And as long as the rectory’s standing, I’m going to provide it.”

If you’re looking for extremely well-written, atmospheric m/m romance with a slight fantasy twist this is very likely a book for you.

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Review: Witchmark by C.L. Polk (The Kingston Cycle #1)

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Witchmark ended up being the book that finally got me out of my March reading slump. It’s a charming, easy read, that hit precisely the right spot.

The plot is one third murder mystery, one third romance, and one third historical fantasy, which makes for a lovely mix. In a world where lower-class witches are persecuted and shut into asylums or enslaved, Miles only wants to lie low, be free, and work as a doctor in a run-down veterans’ hospital…until a mysterious stranger brings in a dying patient who knows who and what he is. Then, of course, things get complicated.

Continue reading “Review: Witchmark by C.L. Polk (The Kingston Cycle #1)”