– goodreads –
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.
Continue reading “Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan”
After the craziness that has been July, August has been slightly more low-key, also thanks to other obligations I had. I managed to read twice as much as any normal month regardless, but unfortunately, I also suffered from terrible luck in my reading choices. I have had no DNFs (though a few books came close to it), but it seemed like more than half the books were various degrees of either “not for me” or “complete shit” – and when the tide finally started turning, I was reading at a faster rate than I could review, resulting in more than a bit of a backlog.
I made considerable progress on the Bingo challenge though!
- The Fencing Master by Arturo Pérez-Reverte: A random pick from a kindle sale I got for the sake of having a light beach read. It was a popcorn read (which I was okay with) with a fucking bullshit ending and only reaffirmed that I should never pick books at random again. Well, at least I hopefully amused people with my rants.
- To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (ARC): Chambers is one of my favouite fantasy writers, so when I was approved for the new novella, I was ecstatic. I just did not expect hard sci-fi. Initially, there was so much infodump I thought I requested the wrong book, that this is not for me in spite of how much I love Wayfarers. But the second half was better and the ending made my jaw drop to the floor.
- The Resurrectionist of Caligo by Wendy Trimboli and Alicia Zaloga (ARC): Another dud. The concept is decent, but the execution…is not. The worldbuilding has more holes than swiss cheese and the longer you read, the bigger the holes get, and by the end (a contrived mess), they are big enough for a whale to swim through.
- The Wicked + the Divine, vol. 2: Read this for the graphic novel square of the r/Fantasy Bingo challenge. It’s a story of reincarnated gods, pop stars, and fans. Unfortunately, while the art is gorgeous, the story is…kind of aimless? I never got a good sense of who the characters are, or if there’s any bigger plot behind it all. Also, it ends with a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. What the fuck.
- The Sparrow and Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (reread): Still enjoyable. Still funnier than you’d expect a tragedy to be…but I wish I had not read the sequel. It didn’t ruin the first book, precisely, but the structure was a mess, it was way too preachy, and the ending was bullshit. Please do yourselves a favour and threat the first book as a standalone.
- An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon: Read it because I volunteered to lead a bookclub this month and this was the pick. I have wanted to read it for a long time. In the end, I like the ideas presented, I liked how it handled race and gender, but the worldbuilding was more than a little patchy and the pacing was odd. Review to come when I can gather my thoughts.
- Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers: Excellent in every way, I liked it as much as A Closed and Common Orbit, one of my all time favourites. Because…slice of life examination of space socialism, what else could I want? Review to come, hopefully soon.
- Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis: Adorable, but apparently second chance romance is very much not my kind of romance, so I found myself frustrated (even though it’s really good!). Bonus: set in a world where all the political power is in the hands of women.
- Paladin of Souls and The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (both rereads): I have accumulated quite the review backlog, so I opted for a couple comfort rereads while attempting to catch up. You may also have noticed this is like the third time I reread Chalion this year…
- Half Lost by Sally Green (60%): Picked it up for the Second Chance square, as I decided to quit the series after I hated book two a while ago. Unfortunately, the decision has proven correct – this is very much not my type and I spent most of the 60% I read irritated and annoyed at the protagonist continuing to make obviously wrong choices (I know he’s traumatised, but I can’t bear to watch the constant fuckups). Then I put it down for two weeks. If this wasn’t for a square where all options are equally terrible because I don’t DNF without reason, I would have long since quit.
- Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry (40%): No progress made.
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (48%): Also no progress made.
Books read this year: 48 (+ 14 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 13/25 (52%)
– goodreads –
I was initially unsure whether I should read this book. I enjoyed The Sparrow very much (despite its flaws), but there were some…mixed opinions on the sequel and whether it completes the story or ruins it. Unfortunately, I think I have to side with the latter – perhaps not ruins, precisely, but doesn’t add much and is inferior in more or less every way. And the ending actively made me angry. Read the first book and stop there, it stands alone just fine.
We meant well, she thought, looking up at a sky piled with cumulus clouds turning amethyst and indigo above the clearing. No one was deliberately evil. We all did the best we could. Even so, what a mess we made of everything…
The Sparrow was not perfect, but it was whole. I can’t say as much for Children of God. This is, as you can probably tell, going to be a bit of a rant.
Continue reading “Review: Children of God by Mary Doria Russell (The Sparrow #2)”
– goodreads –
ARC received from the publisher (Harper Voyager) on Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
And Becky Chambers has done it again. I know that’s a cliché line to use in a review, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in a few decades she will be remembered as one of the greats. This is the exact kind of thought-provoking, insightful, ultimately deeply human sci-fi that makes up the best the genre has to offer.
However, I went in with entirely the wrong expectations so I will say this: don’t expect another Wayfarers. Expect discussion of the ethics of space exploration. Expect your mind to be blown, perhaps. But heartwarming, character-focused…forget it.
Continue reading “Review: To Be Taught if Fortunate by Becky Chambers”
– goodreads –
ARC received from the publisher (Saga Press) on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Whoa. Just…whoa. Another candidate for “best of 2019” for me. It’s like someone distilled almost everything I like into one book – exquisite prose, a high dose of weirdness, a queer relationship, a more literary feel, experimental structure – and the end result is breathtaking. Brilliant in a way I’m not sure a review can illustrate. It has to be read to be believed.
I feel almost invincible in our battles’ wake: a kind of Achilles, fleet footed and light of touch. Only in this nonexistent place our letters weave do I feel weak. How I love to have no armor here.
Footnote for fans of the romance genre: for the sake of proper expectations, this is a love story but is not romance genre-wise – if anyone rec’d it as such…🤦
Continue reading “Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone”
May has been a surprisingly decent reading month (if a bit slow with reviews) despite how hectic it was when it came to classes. I have pretty much neglected the Bingo challenge and instead read whichever random book I fancied at the moment, which was probably for the best. Length-wise it was probably the most diverse of all, with everything from a short story anthology, to novellas, normal length novels, and a thousand page brick.
All in all, a good month.
- The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander: Short but beautiful. Read it if you’re interested in radium girls, elephants, pretty prose, and non-linear stories.
- Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson: Wanted an epic, got an epic, forgot how little patience I have for epics and almost regretted it a third through. Still enjoyed it overall but yeah. Decent enough, but not great.
- Yet another reread of The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles. I need to get around to the sequels. Badly.
- Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason: Some of the most creative worldbuilding I’ve seen, plus challenging assumptions about sexuality. Excellent.
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (ARC): I would say GO READ THIS NOW because it’s amazing and totally my type and the definition of achingly beautiful but it’s not out yet sooooo yeah. But worth a preorder for sure!
- The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro: That…did not go well. I usually like literary fantasy, but The Buried Giant was lacking in any elements that make a story interesting. Aside from the theme, there was nothing. I was bored to death. If you can do audio (I can’t), it may provide good material to relax or fall asleep to, otherwise not recommended.
- A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton: Sweet, adorable f/f romance novella about a rekindled friendship that turns out to be something more.
- Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Worth reading just because it’s set in 1920s Mexico. Also, if you like the trope of a god being helped by a girl who takes no shit, this is very likely a book for you.
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: Very slow going because the paperback is A LITERAL BRICK. So unwieldy.
- Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones: I’m finding the prose and the ultra-polite way the characters talk somewhat dry and hard to read, but I guess that’s the historical aspect. It’s a bit frustrating regardless.
Books read this year: 24 (+ 7 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 5/25 (20%)
– goodreads –
I’m a huge fan of Arnason’s hwarhath-related work. The Lovers, one of the stories in this book, is one of the first short stories I ever read and still my favourite, and when I could finally get a hold of Ring of Swords, the only full-length novel set in this world, it did not disappoint either. However, I don’t really read anthologies, so it took some…rather aggressive persuasion from a friend (you know who you are 😉) before I picked this collection up. And it’s straight-up, one of the best, most creative, in-depth, and well thought out pieces of socio-cultural worldbuilding I’ve ever read.
Since most of the short stories take place far, far before Ring of Swords and there is only one small cameo, the novel and the anthology can be read in any order. If you want a sample, The Lovers, The Woman Who Fooled Death Five Times and Holmes Sherlock are available to read online for free.
Continue reading “Review: Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason (Hwarhath #1.5)”