Review: From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (edited by Elizabeth Schaefer)

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

When I read the first anthology, I knew I will be going for the others if I get the chance. I loved the idea of Star Wars seen from the POV of minor, unimportant characters, I especially hoped for more Stormtrooper (or better, imperial guard) POVs.

Unfortunately, even accounting for the fact that whatever anthology you take, not all the stories are going to be good, this one still felt lackluster in comparison.

Continue reading “Review: From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (edited by Elizabeth Schaefer)”

2020 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts

Like every year since the beginning of the challenge, I aimed for the full card in 2020 as well. It seemed easy enough, no real curveballs in terms of squares. Then  I entered the Great Big Reading Slump of 2020, stopped reading SFF for months, and whether I’d manage to complete it suddenly seemed much less certain.

But, in the end, I did it, and I was very surprised to learn that despite all my troubles, I finished earlier than last year – March 7th compared to March 12th.

Continue reading “2020 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge: Conclusion and Thoughts”

March 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

With March, I feel like things have finally more or less returned back to the pre-2020 normal. Some health issues (hopefully managed by now) aside, I’ve been feeling better and, as a consequence, reading a lot more.

And of course, I managed to finish Bingo! Even slightly earlier than last year at that! Wrap-up post to come soon.

Finished:

  • The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan: I really needed this book for Bingo, but I can’t avoid the fact that it was not right for me at the time, mostly due to the fact that I’m sick to deat of historical SFF always using England as a base. Please. Enough.
  • Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis: Being as into the 18th century as I am of course I was all over this. Plus: historically accurate masked ball crossdressing! (Also: not set in England.)
  • A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar: The Winged Histories is one of my all-time favourites and this was a disappointment in comparison, focused on prose to the detriment of everything else, which works in something experimental, but not a fairly clasically structured novel.
  • Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley (ARC): Very chill, very strange sci-fi slice of life with a dash of horror. Despite the latter, precisely my thing.
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (reread): I really really needed a comfort read and besides, I got the ARC of The Witness for the Dead (!!!) so it felt especially appropriate. Either way I devoured it in about two sittings. Perfect as always.
  • The Unbroken by C.L. Clark (ARC): One of my most anticipated books of the year. While I found it to be a good book, especially in how it deals with colonialism (and the coloniser is based on France for once!) and how messy the relationship between the two MCs was, I found it too intense to enjoy.

Currently reading:

  • Liberty or Death by Peter McPhee: I want to learn about the French revolution and this seemed like a good place to start – true, it’s dry and dense and slow going, but very informative.
  • No SFF, just in case, because the new Bingo will be out soon and I’d hate to accidentally read a perfect book for it.

Books read in 2021: 13 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳🥳

Review: Skyward Inn by Aliya Whiteley

Amazon.fr - Skyward Inn - Whiteley, Aliya - Livres

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

We burn history down, over and over, as an act of remembrance. When there are no answers, there is recollection, and repetition.

I’m always on the lookout for more SFF slice of life. Especially weird literary SFF slice of life. So when Fabienne brought this book to my attention, I knew I’d have to read it. And it turned out to be one of the most unique things I’ve found in a while – at the same time somehow a seamless blend of super chill sci-fi slice of life (slight Becky Chambers vibes anyone?) and something altogether more unsettling.

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Mini Novella Reviews: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, Upright Women Wanted, The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday

Time for another novella round-up post! Lately, thanks to all the slumps, I’ve been going more and more for shorter books. This time around, all three novellas reviewed are SFF and all are books I’d highly recommend.

Continue reading “Mini Novella Reviews: The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water, Upright Women Wanted, The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday”

2020 Wrap-Up: Statistics & Top Books

This is a follow-up to my 2020 End of the Year Wrap-Up, which focuses more on what happened – now come the stats and recommendations.

I think we can all agree 2020 was a strange, strange year. I said in the 2019 Wrap-Up that the year was the best one for reading so far, had high hopes for the next year, and then…2020 actually happened. I ended up reading and reviewing far fewer books than before and was in a slump more often than not.

Regardless, this is the first time I managed to get the stats out before February, so that’s something!

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Mini DNF Reviews: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Resistance Reborn, The Infinite Noise, Queen of the Conquered

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Sometimes, it’s just not to be. Sometimes, no matter how much I want to love a book, there comes a point where I can’t force myself to read another page. Not necessarily because it’s a bad book – in this batch, there’s even two I’d give 4/5 for execution – but it happens. I often write shorter reviews of books I DNF’d just so that there’s some note on them on goodreads, but they are too short to be a blogpost on their own, and I haven’t had enough to group them together until now.

Besides, backlog cleaning is never a bad thing.

Continue reading “Mini DNF Reviews: The Priory of the Orange Tree, Resistance Reborn, The Infinite Noise, Queen of the Conquered”

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%)