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.

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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.

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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

sourdough cover

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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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August 2019 Monthly Wrap-Up

covers august 2019

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…

Currently reading:

  • 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%)