October was another pretty good month. Not one single DNF. As a reward for having finished Bingo in September, I got myself paperbacks (cheap, visibly used, mismatched, but they’ll do) of the first half of Dunnett’s Niccolò series and reread the first book immediately to refresh my memory. I also briefly got lucky and got up to the coveted 80% on Netgalley, but then a few requests I’ve given up on got approved and, well. But that’s how blogging is! 😂 And the books are great so I can’t complain.
Niccolò Rising by Dorothy Dunnett (reread): Just as good as I remembered, and even more fun. The ostrich subplot is just the best.
The Nightland Express by J.M. Lee (ARC): Expected a weird western, got something mostly about fae. Disappointing.
His Quiet Agent (reread) and Agents of Winter by Ada Maria Soto: One of my favourite fluffy hurt/comfort romance series. Even if it’s contemporary, it hits all the tropes I like and the characters are asexual.
The Two Doctors Górski by Isaac Fellman (ARC): A very heavy novella about PhD magic students, trauma, and academic abuse. Quiet and low-key in Fellman’s usual style. Good, but oof.
Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling: Creepy little gothic novella. Suits the season well.
The Keeper’s Six by Kate Elliott (ARC): Kind of underwhelming. I’d say there was too much infodumping but really, I just didn’t vibe with it.
Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell (ARC): Nothing groundbreaking, but very light and fun and easy to read in large chunks. Loved the disaster protagonist.
Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher: Based on the cover and the first few chapters, I expected more horror vibes and less quirky adventure than the book ended up being. And a lot of it didn’t click with me.
A Restless Truth by Freya Marske (ARC): Took a while to hook me but I’ve been enjoying it very very much.
Thanks to the publisher (Tor) for the ARC of this book.
Well, this was fun! I confess: I still haven’t read Winter’s Orbit, but something about description of Ocean’s Echo intrigued me enough to request it. And I was right. Sometimes all you need is some light, queernorm sci-fi. Even though Ocean’s Echo has its flaws, it simply clicked for me.
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.
Quality-wise, September has been a below average reading month, and quantity-wise, an unremarkable one. However! I finally managed to finish this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo, even earlier than last year (November, already very early by my standards!) 🥳 I hope I’ll manage to get the wrap-up post finished in a reasonable amount of time (knowing myself, I won’t). Formatting and statistics have, at least, been done, but writing short descriptions for 25 books is my version of hell.
Also, here is my Bingo journal spread! Had to find a way to use up all those stickers 😂
The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis (ARC): Apart from the setting, this is bog standard vampire UF. Not bad, but aggressively mediocre.
A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland (DNF 45%): Oil and water, me and this book. Should have been just up my alley, but I started nitpicking the dumb plot pretty much as soon as I started.
The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg (ARC): Liked that one a whole lot. I found the writing clumsy in the first few pages (strange, the short stories and The Four Profound Weaves had no such issues that I’d remember) but it got smoother and some themes were very close to my heart. Need to ruminate on it a bit before I review.
The Nightland Express by J.M. Lee (ARC): Queer weird western sounded pretty good to me, and that cover is spectacular. We’ll see!
Also aiming to finish the fourth part of Les Misérables soonish…?
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.
Everyone is probably familiar with the good old ebook backlog. I tend to start planning my Bingo with those to try to knock at least a couple off the list, but between being a mood reader, ARCs and more kindle sales…well. At least I managed it with this one. Even though I wasn’t really in the mood and probably wouldn’t ever be, it was perfect for the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey square. In the end, I am left with mixed feelings. While the premise was interesting enough to keep me from DNFing, the characters and parts of the plot were underwhelming to say the least.
Ah, August, vacation month. Is it really so unexpected that I managed to read a lot of books? Especially with limited internet abroad? (And me accidentally using up half of it in the first two days with tumblr. Oops.)
I also got a new kindle for my birthday, with much better battery life!
Another part (3/5) of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Wordy as usual, but at least no convents or Waterloo this time.
The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri (ARC): Wasn’t a huge fan. Felt like the plot barely moved for over half the book and I was bored, too.
The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard (DNF 42%): Sounded so perfect, great worldbuilding, but…meh. Overlong, with a main character who barely faces any adversity and is always right.
Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner (ARC): My oldest ARC. Very flawed plot structure, but I had enough fun that I’ll read the other book set in the same universe anyway.
The Sign of the Dragon by Mary Soon Lee (DNF 19%): Would be great if not for the fact that I have always hated bland free verse.
A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys: A very queer, very Jewish first contact novel. Incredibly well-written and slightly reminiscent of Le Guin, but not terribly compelling.
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree: The most hyped slice of life book of the year, of course I had to try it. And I enjoyed it, but aspects of the worldbuilding felt sloppy.
The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers: Didn’t vibe with it as much as the middle two, but it was still good old slice of life and a very quick read.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (reread): Somehow finishing the last book made me want to reread the first. Still good.
Their Heart a Hive by Fox N. Locke: Slice of life as sweet and comforting as honey. A village boy is hired by a strange person after he kills a bee. Queernorm world, cottagecore vibes, folktale influences, lots of bees.
The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez: Not too sure of it yet. The prose and POV style are unique, but the story…so far, not really.
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.
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.
July has been a fairly unremarkable month. Job search continued (to no success), an average amount of books read, no vacation yet. But I started playing my old Stardew Valley save again because I heard it’s possible to get a dino and an ostrich and it took me a few weeks (real-time, about a year in-game) but I did it!
A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha (reread): Rec’d it to someone cause it fit their request and then got the desire to reread. It’s not perfect, it’s still a bit of a mess, but I do like it more the second time around.
The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller (DNF 53%): It was very meh overall and then I hit an insufferable POV. Nope. I’m done.
An Oresteia translated by Anne Carson: Holy shit. That was beautiful. The story, whatever, as a former Greek mythology nerd it’s familiar enough, but the language is astonishing. I don’t know if I can review it.
Explorer and Destroyer by C.J. Cherryh: High-stakes interspecies space diplomacy, just as I wanted. The first one started a little slow but got going soon enough, but the second one mercifully opened with a bang. I guess this is my palate cleanser series of guaranteed 4* reads now.
Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots (reread): As good as I remember.
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling: Creepy gothic horror similar to The Path of Thorns, but with more blood and guts. Enjoyed it a lot.
A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers: Nope, I do not like Monk & Robot. I find the characters annoying and the philosophy heavy-handed and trite. A shame, Wayfarers is one of my fave series.
The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard: Conflictless and very long (do I have the stamina? We’ll see!), but cozy. Feels like a mashup of The Goblin Emperor and taking your fully-leveled-up Stardew Valley character on vacation to that island.