Review: Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman

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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.

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Review: Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater (Regency Faerie Tales #1)

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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.

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Mini Reviews: The Missing Page, Seven Endless Forests, In the Watchful City, Phoenix Extravagant

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 😁

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January 2022 Monthly Wrap-Up

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!

Read:

  • 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.

Watched:

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.

Currently reading:

  • 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%) 🥳🥳

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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October 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

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.

Read:

  • 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.

Currently reading:

  • 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%)

Review: A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske (The Last Binding #1)

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

Once again, I blame the ARC request on Sara (as usual with anything romancey), and once again, it was very enjoyable. Part mystery, part romance, part magic, as usual for the subgenre, it suited my mood well – I haven’t read proper historical romance in a while.

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Mini Reviews: Seven Surrenders, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, Mindline, Dangerous Liaisons, Sisters of the Vast Black

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.

So, let’s get started!

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Mini Reviews: Burning Roses, Kalpa Imperial, Briarley, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain

And once again I read enough novellas (and one anthology) that I have enough for a mini review post! This time, it has been a rather mixed batch. 

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Review: Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

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I knew I have to read this immediately as soon as I saw the blurb. Historical fantasy set in 1779 Habsburg empire, featuring alchemy, a castrato, a widow, and a Prussian spy? At a time where I’m explicitly interested in the 18th century? (My current focuses might be France and Prussia, but I’ll take what I can get.) Yes. Yes please.

And this time, I was not disappointed. It was so much my catnip.

Continue reading “Review: Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis”

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