October 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

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October was an excellent month for both reading and reviewing. Aside from this last week, it was the first time I was able to maintain always having at least one review scheduled and mostly posting three times a week. Considering that I barely managed one, maybe two posts a week before and used to be in an eternal state of massive backlog, I think I can say I’m proud of myself.

It has also been the best month for views, mostly thanks to Keikii, who kindly made me do a guest post on my favourite subgenre: Slice of Life SFF.

I finished:

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (mini review): While I loved Tess of the Road, this wasn’t quite it – I found it very bland, slowly paced, and predictable.
  • In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: After all Sara’s yelling, I had to give it a try and it did not disappoint. On the surface, it’s a satirical deconstruction of portal fantasy tropes, but with a lot of heart and feelings underneath. Recommended.
  • Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith (ARC): One of the most highly anticipated releases this year for me. Unfortunately, I ended up struggling. And what’s worse, I can’t even say why.
  • Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popović: First book that made me feel at least halfway represented (set in Montengro, which is…eh, close enough). While it started off incredible, it slowly descended into every YA trope I hate. And the ending was last minute cliffhanger for the sake of cliffhanger bullshit.
  • My Beautiful Life by K.J. Parker (ARC): I usually love K.J. Parker’s short fiction but I just didn’t feel that one. Too much plot for a novella this length, distant narrative style, a few immersion-breaking bits…
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater: Loved it. Quiet, thoughtful magical realism about a family of saints. Lovely prose. Couldn’t be more of a me book if it tried.
  • The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith (ARC): Review yet to be finished, but in short, I have mixed feelings. The atmosphere and setting were wonderful, but it completely lost me on the plot and some…rather clumsily written bits. As in, a character literally says “I am dead” before dropping dead kind of clumsy.

Reviews from my backlog:

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
  • A mini review post containing reviews for Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, Half Lost  by Sally Green (DNF), and The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
  • Vita Nostra by Sergey & Maria Dyachenko (reread)
  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

Currently reading:

  • The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells, which I’m enjoying very much. A broken cinnamon roll of a protagonist, a fascinating world…whenever I pick it up, I can’t stop. I might finish it later today, or tomorrow at tha very latest.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Perpetually. I should pick it up and finish it soon.

Books read this year: 62 (+ 16 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 19/25 (76%)

Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book (and Series) Titles

I’ve been aware of the Top Ten Tuesday challenge for a while, but never actually did one myself – well, until now! This week’s prompt seemed interesting, so even though I’m a day late on it, I’m going to give it a try (also thanks to Keikii for alerting me to it).

Books are in no specific order.

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Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina

Through August and September, I plowed through so many books I accumulated a bit of a review debt. Not reviewing them would, of course, not do, so this is my attempt to catch up and clean out the drafts.

Continue reading “Mini Reviews: An Unkindness of Ghosts, Half Lost (DNF), The Trials of Morrigan Crow, Seraphina”

Review: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #3)

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From the ground, we stand. From our ships, we live. By the stars, we hope.

I’ve been saving this book for when I’d need a pick-me-up. After a very stressful August and an important exam seemed like the perfect time to crack it open. Initially, I was a bit surprised – it starts with a big tragedy and a lot of death. But then it settles in and it’s exactly the kind of optimistic, thoughtful, quiet sci-fi I wanted.

Continue reading “Review: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #3)”

September 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

September’s been another great month. October means the start of uni and homework, so I decided to indulge while I still can. And indulge I did.

  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes (ARC): Review to come, but it lived up to the promise of the song it was based on. Black queer merpeople and themes of memory and the collective vs. individual. Thoughtful and interesting.
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (DNF 40%): After a few months of no progress and hitting an especially sexist and racist section, decided to call it a DNF. It may have been how it was back then, but I am simply not interested in wading through bigotry of the era to get to the story.
  • Beguilement by Lois McMaster Bujold: Relaxing, chill, but I couldn’t buy into the romance because of the age and experience difference between the characters. Also I couldn’t stop making LotR jokes (see: the review) because Dag reminded me way too much of Aragorn.
  • In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire: Gorgeously written, but really should have been a novel. Odd pacing, way too much skipping over important events…disappointing. Probably my least favourite installment in the series so far.
  • Sourdough by Robin Sloan: Wonderful. Therapeutic. Heartwarming. It’s a fairly simple (if weird) story about a woman who loves her bread, but damn it’s amazing.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (reread): The hardcover I preordered arrived and I simply had to. Still as good as the first time around. And the ending made me cry. Again.
  • The Gilda Stories by Jewelle L. Gomez: A disappointment. The premise seemed very cool and some concept were interesting, but distant prose and immortals who do nothing with their immortality made it very very hard to enjoy.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: I have said that it’s the best book I ever regretted reading at least ten times by now and it’s no less true. The depiction of how people would act during/after the apcalypse is far too realistic, and the whole thing is disturbing and deeply, deeply sad. It’s stunningly written, but don’t read if you’re a fellow panicky mess.
  • Half Lost by Sally Green (DNF 60%): Not for me. Was sick of watching Nathan constantly making wrong choices, then I got spoiled about the ending and nope. Would have never picked it up if not for the 2nd Chance square in the first place either because of how much I hated the previous book. Once I had a viable alternative, I ditched it.
  • Vita Nostra by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko (reread): Volunteered as a bookclub leader, again. This is one of my favourite books, so it was a no-brainer. Can confirm, still good.
  • The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend: Adorable. And badly needed after Station Eleven. The premise seems fairly typical, but it’s executed in a very charming, delightful way, so I didn’t mind at all. Even if having a mentor who doesn’t tell shit got very grating.

Currently reading

  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman: Picked this up because I loved Tess of the Road but so far it’s a bit of a disappointment. Rather bland.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: Yes yes I know I’ve been reading the fucker since May, but this month I actually made progress!
  • The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith: An ARC I’m sortakinda late on (releases today!). Oops. So far it’s alright though. I hpe I can finish and review it soon.

Books read this year: 55 (+ 16 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 17/25 (68%)

Review: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle L. Gomez

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I first heard of The Gilda Stories from a Tor article a friend linked. I don’t usually read vampire books as I don’t like vampires as a trope very much (or urban fantasy as a subgenre), but it’s one of this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo squares and the concept seemed interesting enough.

“Each time I thought taking a stand, fighting a war would bring the solution to the demons that haunted us. Each time I thought slavery or fanaticism could be banished from the earth with a law or a battle. Each time I’ve been wrong.”

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Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

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Sourdough is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the year. Reading it felt downright therapeutic. If you have read any of Becky Chambers’ books you probably know the exact same feeling – there will be tears, but there will be joy, too. So much joy. It brought me some solace after a rather hellish week.

I explained the process by which living sourdough starter gave the bread its texture and flavor. Garrett’s eyes were wide with disbelief. “It was … alive,” he said softly. Wonderingly. He, like me, had never before considered where bread came from, or why it looked the way it did. This was us, our time and place: we could wrestle sophisticated robots into submission, but were confounded by the most basic processes of life.

Also, it made me really, really hungry.

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