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.
– goodreads –
Thanks to the publisher (Ace) for the ARC of this book.
Unnatural Magic was, until now, my oldest unread ARC. I remember I picked it up once and put it down again very soon, not in the mood. But I’m glad that I tried again because I really really enjoyed it. The worldbuilding had a few interesting twists, the main romantic subplot hit my specific buttons, but unfortunately, it was plagued by a mess of a plot.
June was without a doubt a great reading month. I didn’t think so, since the second to last book I read, Scarlet Odyssey, took me forever, but looking back, 4 novellas, 3 novels, 1 DNF and 16/25 done with Bingo three months in is not bad at all.
- Spear by Nicola Griffith: Possibly my fave Arthurian book so far. Very queer and very very well-written. The afterword about the author’s writing process made it even better.
- His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto (reread): Needed a comfort reread.
- The Path of Thorns by A.G. Slatter (ARC): Gothic fantasy, rather dark and murdery but I enjoyed it a lot. Very feminist as well.
- Aurora’s Angel by Emily Noon (DNF 13%): That’s an early DNF even for me, but the clunky, awkward dialogue was a complete dealbreaker. A shame because I was looking forward to it.
- Of the Wild by E. Wambheim: Cute, fluffy novella about a fae shapeshifter and his found family.
- Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki: Not perfect, the tonal disonnance between the POVs at the start is irritating, but it’s full of heart and donuts and was impossible for me to put down.
- Scarlet Odyssey by C.T. Rwizi: Read it pretty much because I was looking for a book with antelopes in it. Really good worldbuilding, but the plot is exactly the kind of multi-POV epic fantasy I struggle with.
- The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia: Good ideas, but the execution was a bit of a mess. Should have been a novel with how much it had going on.
- The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller: Went into this one pretty much blind. Let’s see where it goes!
- The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee: Got reminded that I never finished the series and I wanted a lighter read…but…the sibling interactions are so full of secondhand embarrassment I might just DNF.
Books read in 2022: 37 (+ 3 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 16/25 (64%)
Still behind on two reviews from the April reading frenzy, plus with a more recently read anthology and another DNF, it’s time for mini reviews yet again. All of them were read (or, in the case of Aurora’s Angel, attempted) for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo, respectively the Revolutions & Rebellions, No Ifs, Ands or Buts, Short Stories, and Shapeshifters squares.
– goodreads –
I loved The Breath of the Sun and its prose so much the author landed on my auto-buy list. How could I not try Dead Collections as soon as I could get my hands on it? Especially with this gorgeous cover, especially when the premise is “trans archivist vampire”? Luckily, it was very much not another highly anticipated disappointment, but delivered exactly what I wanted – quiet, messily queer literary fantasy with excellent prose.
– goodreads –
A proper mood is everything when you’re a mood reader.
I have first attempted to read this book about a year ago. But being too grumpy and sick to death of the “women MUST get married” trope at the time, I had to shelve it again because forcing myself to finish would have been unfair to both the book and me. I reluctantly put it on the shortlist again in January when I got it as part of the “get 12 people to recommend you one book each” challenge (well, 16 in my case). In the end, I was right and so were my friends – in a better mindset now, I absolutely loved it.
Despite the January and February slumps, I’m still reading at a faster pace than I can write full-length reviews. So here’s another round of shorter, more condensed ones to hopefully help me catch up at least a little.
All of them are books I enjoyed a lot, and hopefully I can convince you to try one or two as well 😁
After December’s mad reading streak, January has been far slower. For most of the month I’ve been too plagued by fatigue to read or review or keep up with social media other than discord much, mostly spent it crocheting and watching my latest diversion (but more on that below). But, I finally feel better. Maybe I’ll even finally manage to finish the 2021 yearly wrap-up posts!
- His Quiet Agent by Ada Maria Soto: One of the very rare romance books that are as perfect of a fit for my preferences as it gets, aka very soft with major hurt/comfort vibes. Basically “how to charm your fellow weirdo.”
- Od Magic by Patricia McKillip: Beautifully written, meandering classic fantasy.
- All the Horses of Iceland by Sarah Tolmie (ARC): A somewhat folklore-like novella telling the legend of how horses came to Iceland. Interesting, but has a very distand writing style.
- Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian (reread): Got the ARC for the second book, realised I remember absolutely nothing of the first, plus the fatigue was too much to finish a new book at one point, so I went off to reread. As good as the first time.
- The first out of five parts of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: This book is one of my reading challenges for this year, the plan is to do it in five stages with breaks for other books in between. Given that each of them is about 300 pages, it deserves an entry.
Well, probably my favourite discovery this month was a livestream of a watering hole in the Namib desert. Not kidding. It’s extremely relaxing and surprisingly addicting, especially since you never know what animals will show up to drink next and how will they interact. There’s even regular visitors you slowly learn to recognise.
Animals seen so far: lots and LOTS of oryx, jackals, ostriches, springbok, two species of zebra, two feral mares, a solitary gnu (sometimes with a friend), bat eared foxes, cape foxes, porcupines, hyenas, hares, humans (lol), various smaller birds, giraffes, warthogs, genet.
- The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer
- Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee
- Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas
Books read in 2022: 3 (+ 1 reread)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%)
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!
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.
- The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow: Didn’t like it as much as The Ten Thousand Doors of January, took a while to grow on me, but by the end I liked it quite a bit. Witches sticking it to the patriarchy is pretty cathartic.
- Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian (reread): Because it’s never too early to reread my fave romance book again!
- The Ill-Made Mute by Cecilia Dart-Thorntom (reread): A reread that just kind of just happened. It’s not a good book, but…
- Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune: Wasn’t clicking at the start, won me over completely by the end, which is incredibly rare. Very comfy for a book about death, too.
- The Tea Dragon Festival by Kay O’Neill: Adorable. Absolutely adorable. I liked the first one, and this nearly as cute. Made me order tea dragon pins.
- Niccolò Rising by Dorothy Dunnett: Epic historical fiction focused on scheming merchants and the best slowly set up joke I’ve seen.
- A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow: So many pop culture references. Ugh. No thanks.
- 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…
Books read in 2021: 56 (+ 7? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 23/25 (92%)