June 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

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After months and months of barely reading, June has been a great month for reading. I joined a Valdemar (re)readalong, which has been great for getting me out of the slump. They’re short, fun, and nostalgic, and apparently exactly what I needed. I still have trouble motivating myself to review (my drafts have grown by…quite a lot), but I guess I’ll get there eventually.

I also finally reviewed The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman, easily one of my favourite books of 2020.

Read:

  • Arrows trilogy by Mercedes Lackey (reread): The first Valdemar series I read. It still largely holds up, apart from the first half of the third book, Arrow’s Fall, which is filled with the most infuriating and pointless kind of miscommunication-filled relationship drama I’ve seen.
  • Take a Thief by Mercedes Lackey: Very fun. Most of it is just Skif being a thief in the slums, and I really appreciated having a story that did not center on nobility for once. And thieves that actually steal.
  • The Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey (reread, DNF): This one aged terribly. A lot of infodumping, a needless amount of sexual violence (and it’s not treated well), bad treatment of asexuality, aims for being feminist but really isn’t. Would not recommend.
  • The Infinite Noise (DNF): I thought the cool premise and themes would overpower my deep aversion to high school stories, but it was not to be. Sorry book, it’s not you, it’s me.
  • The Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey (reread): Aspects of it have not aged too well (it’s basically bury your gays: the series), but it’s still one of my favourites, still hitting all the right emotional notes.
  • Knox by K. Arsenault Rivera, Brooke Bolander, Gabino Iglesias, and Sunny Moraine (ARC): This was a pleasant surprise. It’s essentially a lovecraftian noir taking place in 1930s Manhattan. Recommended, if you like horror.
  • It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian: A super sweet romance featuring a grumpy dyslexic captain and a total cinnamon roll of a vicar. Like always, too many sex scenes for my liking, but otherwise great.

Currently reading:

  • Redemption’s Blade by Adrian Tchaikovsky: Probably finishing this one today, or tomorrow at the lastest. I’ve always looked for stories that take place after the big bad has been defeated and this is a perfect fit. Enjoying it quite a bit so far.
  • Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: This month’s r/Fantasy Book of the Month. Decided to join in since it’s a nice opportunity to read something I already own. Plus, it counts for Bingo. I was a bit dubious since I DNF’d The Night Circus very early on, but so far it’s very intriguing!

Books read this year: 27 (+ 8 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 8/25 (32%)

Review: Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman

The Breath of the Sun eBook: Rachel Fellman: Amazon.com.au: Kindle ...

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It is thrilling, to be so far up. The very quality of the air is different; it conducts less of the sound of your voice, and its shallowness, its thinness, infects you. It is a small spike in your cold throat. In that narrow air, looking down over the misty land in the last few minutes of sunlight, you hear your own heart like a slow bass drum, and feel the anticipation of a good song beginning, somewhere in your bones, the percussion of the joints and the slur of the blood.

The Breath of the Sun is another confirmation that an instinct that a book will be great is never to be ignored. I have waited over a year to be able to get my hands on the paperback and in the end, it was absolutely worth it.

With its gorgeous prose, unique concept, experimental structure, queerness, and complex relationships, it shot straight to my favourites and I’d even put it on the same level as The Gray House or The Winged Histories. I can’t praise it enough. If you’re looking for literary fantasy that’s unlike any other you’ve read before: that’s the book for you.

Continue reading “Review: Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman”

May 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

2020 mayMay has been another mediocre reading month. I’m never going to say I’ve broken out of a slump again, because sure enough, here it goes again. Hopefully June will be better!

Read:

  • The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison (ARC): Not a fan. Basically Sherlock Holmes with magic. Not nearly as groundbreaking as it promised and a slog besides. Also, if you expect it to be queer? Yeah, you’ll be disappointed too.
  • The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker: Read shockingly fast, even though I wasn’t in the mood for it. Highly recommended if you’re looking for naval fantasy and characters slowly becoming competent.
  • The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman: This instantly shot up to my all-time favourite books, right on the level of The Gray House and The Winged Histories. A very unique, very queer, quiet fantasy book about mountain climbing, faith, and complex relationships. I hope I can have a review ready soon!
  • Of Dragons, Feasts, and Murder by Aliette de Bodard (ARC): I admit I haven’t read the Dominion of the Fallen series yet, but this novella was a delight. Thuan and Asmodeus have a fantastic dynamic.
  • The Sunken Mall by K.D. Edwards: A must read for anyone who enjoyed The Last Sun. Had pretty much everything I loved about the main series, from snark to heartwarming moments. And it’s free!
  • Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse (DNF 52%): Really wanted to like it and there’s nothing really wrong with it, but in the end, I just couldn’t bring myself to care. Not about the plot, not about the characters.

Currently reading:

  • Knox by K. Arsenault Rivera, Brooke Bolander, Gabino Iglesias, and Sunny Moraine (ARC): Accepted the request because I have never read a noir before and this one seemed like it’d lack the casual sexism. So far, it’s pretty good!
  • Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather: The only novella in this month’s Tor free bundle I haven’t read yet. Nuns and biological spaceships!

Books read this year: 24 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 8/25 (32%)

Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

I’ve always been a huge advocate of DNFing books. Reading shouldn’t feel like homework – if a book is dragging to the point where every page feels like a huge amount of effort and it doesn’t look like things are likely to improve, why bother and torture myself further out of some bizarre sense of obligation? I know there will be no feeling of accomplishment on the other side, just anger at the time I wasted slogging through bullshit that could have been spent reading a book I’d actually enjoy.

Still, making this list made me realise I don’t DNF as much as I thought – there were a few spells where I quit essentially everything I started, but they (thanks fuck) don’t happen terribly often. Now, onto the list itself!

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: The Last Ten Books I Abandoned”

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: Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth (The Dreamhealers #1)

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers 1) eBook por M.C.A. Hogarth ...

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Since the start of April, I’ve mostly emerged from my months-long slump and I’ve been downright craving fluff. Sweet, slow books where all ends well, yes please, give me all of them. I heard of Mindtouch a while ago, as a slice of life book with an asexual romance I might like. And since this year’s Bingo has an aro/ace square and I spotted this book was free…it seemed perfect.

In the end, have so many conflicted feelings about it. It was indeed fluffy and comfy and I couldn’t stop reading all right. But some of the worldbuilding choices are…questionable at best and the same goes for ace represenataion.

Continue reading “Review: Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth (The Dreamhealers #1)”

2020 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: First Impressions

The r/Fantasy Bingo is a yearly challenge run by Lisa (Way Too Fantasy) that takes place on the r/fantasy subreddit from April to April. It’s pretty much the only reading challenge I regularly participate in, and I’ve been doing it since the very beginning. And I honestly love the 2020 card. It’s much easier than the 2019 one, while still having plenty of squares that’ll take me out of my comfort zone.

This year was the first when I experienced the one advantage of being a moderator: the ability to plan your card a little in advance. So this is technically my second draft. Like in 2019, I’ll again be doing only one non-themed card, and I tried to give priority to books I either already own or can borrow, to the point there are only two books on it that don’t belong in this category.

But as they say, no plan survives contact with the enemy, so it will be interesting to see how will the completed card compare to this list a year from now.

Continue reading “2020 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: First Impressions”

2019 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts

So. The end of March also means the conclusion of my favourite reading challenge, my sixth in a row. Unlike in 2018, I decided to try for only one card. The reason for that was twofold: first, doing a double two years in a row burned me out. I wanted to have the freedom to read random shit again, and not worry about how every book I read could fit on the damn cards. But also, the new card was difficult. Cyberpunk? LitRPG? Tie-In? Afrofuturism? Local author?! I doubted whether I could cobble together one card, much less two.

In the end, I finished on March 12th, with more than enough time to spare 😄

Continue reading “2019 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts”

March 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

covers 2020 march

Not only did March last ten thousand years and was generally garbage, it was a horrible month for reading and blogging as well. I’ve been struggling with slumps since November, and once again real life fucked me over (as it fucked over seemingly everyone). Let’s hope April is better!

One good thing that happened is that despite everything, I managed to complete the 2019 r/Fantasy Bing challenge! 🥳 🥳 🥳 Since today is April 1st, the new card is bound to go up any minute and I can’t wait to start.

Read:

  • Penric’s Progress by Lois McMaster Bujold (ARC): Wonderful. Penric is awfully likable, I loved the relaxed pace and low stakes, and it makes much more sense as a collected edition too. Will definitely read the next one.
  • The Silence of Medair by Andrea K. Höst: This one concluded the Bingo for me! I went for it cause it’s been on my TBR since forever, but sadly, the idea – a woman wakes up 500 years later to find the war she tried to win has been lost – is better than the execution.
  • The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg (ARC): Still need to review it, but I loved it. A fairytale-like novella centering two older trans protagonists, written in beautiful prose. It will definitely make it on my “Best of 2020” list.
  • And while I didn’t read it this month, my review of Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie is finally up!

Watched:

  • Clone Wars: Well…I honestly stalled. Season 3 was pretty damn great, but then I reached season 4 and my progress ground down to a halt. First of all, it starts out with a very meh underwater arc, followed by a lot of garbage episodes, and then the arc that’s supposed to be one of the best (407-410) features a leader that’s cruel to his clone subordinates and clearly considers them less than human. I stopped about halfway into 407 and can’t find it in me to continue. It may be good, but it’s not relaxing or fun. I might just jump ahead to 411.

Played:

  • Slime Rancher, sooo much Slime Rancher. Enough that it should feature in this post because it’s been my main coping mechanism to the point I’ve been thinking of reviewing it – it’s simple and chill and incredibly adorable. If you liked Stardew Valley, I’d highly recommend it.

Currently reading:

  • Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover. I’m only a couple chapters from the end and planned to finish it in March, but no dice. It’s actiony and full of crazy badass deeds – so not at all like what I usually go for! – but I found it to be surprisingly well written, which carries it. I did stall like crazy in the middle though.

Books read this year: 12 (+ 0 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) COMPLETED 🥳