Review: Arcane (s01)

We lost ourselves. Lost our dream. In the pursuit of great, we failed to do good.

I don’t generally make a habit of reviewing tv shows – I watch few enough, only a handful of them SFF, and I finish even fewer. But ArcaneArcane deserves an exception. That a videogame tie-in animated series, and one for a game I’ll never play or care about, would have turned out to be one of the best-written things of the year was not on anyone’s bingo card, but it sure is a welcome surprise regardless.

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November 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

While November hasn’t been a great month for reading quality-wise, with more duds than not, I managed to finish the Bingo Challenge and I did it earlier than ever. Now, the only challenge that remains is seeing if I can get the number of finished books to 69.

Aside from reading, I finally learned how to crochet and have been doing it with great enthusiasm since 😀

Read:

  • A Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason:Not sure how to feel about this one. Good job on the alien culture as always, but the random caricature Marxists among the crew were…highly confusing to say the least.
  • The Labyrinth’s Archivist by Day Al-Mohamed: Fun little novella. Hope to see more in this universe.
  • Fireheart Tiger by Aliette de Bodard: Didn’t work for me overall. Typical novella issues of it not quite working in that short of a pagecount, plus a protagonist I didn’t enjoy following.
  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: Finally went and finished it. WHile I love the setting as much as ever, the plot structure was weak and a little repetitive in the first half. Hopefully just a first novel hiccup, will definitely read more in the series.
  • The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid: Well, if that wasn’t the disappointment of the year. The religion stuff was reasonably well done (if unsubtle), but overall, poorly written, the plot especially was an utter mess. But hey, at least I finished Bingo.
  • The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo (DNF 22%): Very distant narration and magic that felt tacked on rather than an organic part of the setting. Wasn’t a fan.
  • Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky: Finally a good book after a string of disappointments! Flawlessly executed, especially since it’s a concept that’d usually take a trilogy done in the span of a novella. Really liked how it played with language, too. Warning, though: body horror.

Currently reading:

  • The Spring of the Ram by Dorothy Dunnett: Though I question the wisdom of going for another long book, I did miss Nicholas. The magnificent bastard he is.

Books read in 2021: 62 (+ 7? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 25/25 (100%) 🥳🥳

Review: Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Elder Race by Tchaikovsky, Adrian (ebook)

goodreads

I knew I needed this pretty much as soon as I heard what was it about, doubly so when I saw the cover. And after a long string of sub-par reads, a book that actually lived up to its promise was more than welcome.

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Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger

Given that within the last week or so I managed to finish a book that confused me too much to write a full review, two novellas, and had another DNF, it’s once again time for a round of mini reviews.

Continue reading “Mini Reviews: A Woman of the Iron People, The Labyrinth’s Archivist, The Hidden Palace, Fireheart Tiger”

Mini Reviews: Archivist Wasp, Madame de Pompadour, A Deadly Education, A Spindle Splintered

Once again, I accumulated enough mini reviews for a post. This time, it’s sadly rather negative, with two rather low ratings and one DNF, but one can’t stumble upon just good books all the time. On the upside, it’s rare that I get to use the tableflip tag.

Onto the books!

Continue reading “Mini Reviews: Archivist Wasp, Madame de Pompadour, A Deadly Education, A Spindle Splintered”

September 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

September was a far above average reading month. I don’t know how or why, but I entered full reading machine mode and finished 9, with one DNF. I also have a massive preorder of 11 books coming between October and December, which I’m very much looking forward to.

I also finally reviewed She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan!

Read:

  • The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones: Badass gravedigger heroine who fights the undead with her axe, cinnamon roll mapmaker hero with chronic pain. Very small scope. And there is a goat.
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: A super adorable graphic novel about a prince who wants to wear dresses sometimes (read genderqueer to me?) and a dressmaker who helps him do that.
  • The Light Between Worlds by Laura Weymouth: Quiet, melancholic, beautiful. One of my faves this year.
  • Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace: Didn’t vibe with that one at all. I think I initially TBR’d it because YA book with no romance, but the atmosphere, the world, the plot…meh.
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots: So much fun. Supervillains, spreadsheets, and monsterfucking undertones.
  • A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha: Started off very interesting, but poor pacing and questionable plot choices ruined it, especially in the second half.
  • Les Orangers de Versailles by Annie Pietri: FIRST BOOK IN FRENCH. Adorable, really liked it. Attempt at a review in French here.
  • Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford: As expected from Mitford, very gossipy and entertaining. But man I got tired of nobility’s shit.
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (DNF): Yeah no, not for me. Didn’t appreciate the infodumpy stream of consciousness style and the dynamic between the two MCs was exhausting.
  • Jean d’Alembert by Ronald Grimsley: Precisely the type of biography I hate the most – that is, non-chronological, with not much about the man’s actual life (shamelessly skipped all the bits on maths and physics and so on), but it still gave me some precious bits of info and at least a general sense of who d’Alembert was and what was he about.

Currently reading:

  • The Diviners by Libba Bray: Very good, excellent 1920s atmosphere, creepy undertones…but a little overlong.
  • Vermilion by Molly Tanzer: Got it a while ago and planned to use it for Bingo, but not sure I’ll finish this one. Not really feeling it.
  • Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo: Alright so far, but I actually need to sit down with it without distractions.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Yep, still picking at it. Still good. 

Books read in 2021: 47 (+ 5? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 20/25 (80%)

Review: Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots

goodreads

No one wants to be a real hero; it’s too hard. My husband didn’t give a damn whether the work I was doing was noble as long as it appeared to be. When I killed someone then—something I did a lot more than I do now—it was for the greater good. It was such bullshit.

I’ve never much liked or cared about superheroes – what’s some asshole in a cape? Despite my friends’ gushing, I didn’t put Hench on my radar until there was a sale, and….wait. Mundane job? Spreadsheets? Fuck me, I’m in. I’ve always had enough of a hard-on for bureaucracy and other usually boring shit in books to override subgenre preferences and sure enough, it was exactly my thing. The characters’ low opinion of superheroes was the final cherry on top.

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August 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

With the ratio of SFF to non-SFF, August has been an interesting and varied month for reading, if not very productive for reviewing.

Read:

  • Micromegas and Other Stories by Voltaire: My fascination with this asshole continues. Micromegas itself was especially fascinating as an early sci-fi work, with all its 18th c stylistic conventions, very different to modern sci-fi.
  • Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos: This was delightful. Everyone who recommended it to me based on my love of 18th c drama was so, so right.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke: As a fan of stories featuring weird houses, the setting was an instant draw. Unfortunately, by the end, I felt like it suffered more than a bit for leaving no mystery unexplained, killing some of the magic.
  • The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (DNF): Really wasn’t feeling that one. I liked the first book in the series, but this one failed to hold my attention and I did not care about the plot at all. When I realised that I only made it to 30% or so in one go because my internet was malfunctioning, not because I enjoyed the story, I gave up.
  • A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djèlí Clark: A very fun little mystery in the same setting as The Haunting of Tram Car 015. Especially loved that the protagonist (also the protagonist of A Master of Djinn) is a suit-wearing lesbian.
  • Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather: Space nuns and biological ships!
  • Humboldt and the Cosmos by Douglas Botting: Good bio, surprisingly likable subject (for once! I normally tend to go for obnoxious assholes….), beautiful hardcover (the inserts, omg), but I wish I haven’t had to put up with the author using rather racist language for Native Americans because there was literally no reason to.
  • …there might have been rereads in between but I didn’t keep track and forgot.

Currently reading:

  • A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark: Enjoying Fatma’s further adventures and seeing more of the setting a whole lot and her new partner Hadia is also great. Fun, fast-paced read with an anti-colonialist slant.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Back to my favourite 18th century asshole because I need a dose of drama. One of the better biographies I read and I’m a massive fan of letter index number citations in-text.

Books read in 2021: 38 (+ 5? rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 15/25 (60%)

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!

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

July 2021 Monthly Wrap-Up

July was an incredible month for reading. I was alternating between not reading much one week then reading two books in one day the next when I stumbled upon something I was in the mood for (the ever mysterious reading moods…), but it still got the job done.

Finished:

  • The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (reread): I needed my never-fail comfort read. That’s pretty much it 😂
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (reread): Picked it up on a whim and reread it in like an hour and a half. Why? I don’t know. But it sure felt good.
  • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (ARC): Mostly, as good as everyone said it would be, and a much faster read than expected. Loved the hurt/comfort aspect of the romance especially.
  • The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison (ARC): I may have adored The Goblin Emperor, but this was a disappointment. Pancake-flat characters and none of the charm.
  • After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang (ARC): Short enough to almost be a novella, this was so good and melancholic and kind, even if it dealt with a climate disaster and chronic (terminal?) illness.
  • Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (reread): I’m apparently on a Bujold kick this month. Less good than I remember but still good.
  • She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (ARC): Review is taking me a little longer, but it’s very good and very queer. Recommended to all fans of epic fantasy. (Plus, there’s the very memed romantic fisting lmao)
  • Amatka by Karin Tidbeck: Another near-novella. Creepy, weird, and dystopian.
  • Mindline by M.C.A. Hogarth (twice in a row): I didn’t think I’d ever continue the series, but I needed this so badly. Despite some issues, it’s a complete comfort read. Mini review to go up when I have enough of them for a post.

Currently reading:

  • The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis (ARC): Ebook, kindle. Need to reduce my ARC pile badly and this one doubles for Bingo. Vampires in historical (19th c?) Prague. Promising.
  • Voltaire and the Century of Light by A. Owen Aldridge: Hardcover. About halfway through and in absolutely no rush. Learned of some some hilarious new anecdotes and I love that letter reference numbers are cited directly in the text. Even if they’re slightly inaccurate and going to look slows me down. If it wasn’t so damn rare, I’d recommend this bio to anyone interested in this petty asshole.
  • Diderot and the Art of Thinking Freely by Andrew S. Curran: Ebook, pc. I’ve been curious about the guy for a while and finally picked it up after the Ada Palmer AMA. So far, so good. Getting similar chaotic vibes to Voltaire.

Books read in 2021: 32 (+ 5 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 14/25 (56%)

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