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.

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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.

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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.

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April 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

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After the reading drought that lasted from mid-November to the end of March, April was a breath of fresh air. I’m nowhere near my old three-reviews-a-week form yet, but I can at least safely say I’m out of the slump.

The start of April also means the end of the 2019 r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge (wrap-up here) and the start of the 2020 one (first impressions here). And I have to say I adore the new card and I’m delighted to participate again.

I also reviewed The Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg, which I technically finished last month. Highly recommended.

Read:

  • Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover (mini review): I don’t usually go for books with a lot of action (and this one had ridiculous amounts) but 1) Star Wars and 2) the prose was surprisingly amazing. Can’t wait to get to his Revenge of the Sith novelization.
  • Mirror: The Mountain by Emma Ríos and Hwei Lim (mini review): Nice art, subpar story. I had no idea what’s going on and not in a good way.
  • Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian (mini review): One of my new favourite historical (post-WWII) romance books. Spy and veteran doctor solve a murder together and fall in love. It’s so sweet and gentle and I appreciated the low heat level.
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (ARC): Beautiful. A story of prejudice and how even the most timid bureaucrat can find courage and change things. Plus adorable magical children. Plus gay. It was fluffy and delightful and I adored it.
  • On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden (mini review): Read it in webcomic form. Adorable, queer sci-fi with pretty art. Wasn’t too into it at the start, but it grew on me a lot.
  • Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth: Fluffy, chill, slice of life story about a space elf and a space furry studying to become therapists and their friendship. Some problematic worldbuilding which makes it hard to recommend, but I devoured it.
  • The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming: Book One: Theory by Sienna Tristen: Still struggling to review it. Essentially a story of how Ronoah, who suffers from severe anxiety, is dragged along on a journey by a mysterious and enigmatic trickster, the weird things they see, the people they meet, and character growth. Kind of like Tess of the Road. It felt intensely personal and I’ve never seen a book portray the destructive nature of anxiety so well.
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (reread): Reread for a bookclub. Good to know the ending still gives me feels.

Short stories:

Decided to get rid of the short story Bingo square asap this year. So here’s some micro reviews. Links lead to the stories themselves – they are all freely available online.

Currently reading:

I might have gone a liiiittle crazy this month.

  • Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse: Didn’t really have a choice since a long-awaited hold came in. Not very far in, not sure if I like a tie-in that expands on a movie, but it reads fast and it’s written fairly well. Let’s see where it ends up.
  • The Breath of the Sun by Isaac R. Fellman: Mountain climbing, religion, and complicated relationships. Beautiful. And yes, it’s fantasy!
  • The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison (ARC): Basically Sherlock fanfic? Where Sherlock is an angel and John is a [redacted for spoilers]. Very fun, though how it’s Sherlock Holmes except not is seriously fucking with my head.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite: Still on pause.
  • Daughter from the Dark by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko: Also still on pause.

Books read this year: 19 (+ 1 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 5/25 (20%)

Mini Reviews: Shatterpoint, Proper English, Hither Page, Mirror: The Mountain, On a Sunbeam

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Time for another backlog cleaning!

While my goal is to review everything I read, I don’t always quite succeed. I finished Shatterpoint in early April, and thought it deserved to be talked about, but a full review just wouldn’t come. I also don’t write full reviews of graphic novels or non-SFF, but I encountered two historical romance books so good I thouth they were at least worth a mention, SFF-themed blor or no.

So there it is, an odd mix of a Star Wars tie-in, two romance books, and two graphic novels.

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Review: Mindtouch by M.C.A. Hogarth (The Dreamhealers #1)

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Since the start of April, I’ve mostly emerged from my months-long slump and I’ve been downright craving fluff. Sweet, slow books where all ends well, yes please, give me all of them. I heard of Mindtouch a while ago, as a slice of life book with an asexual romance I might like. And since this year’s Bingo has an aro/ace square and I spotted this book was free…it seemed perfect.

In the end, have so many conflicted feelings about it. It was indeed fluffy and comfy and I couldn’t stop reading all right. But some of the worldbuilding choices are…questionable at best and the same goes for ace represenataion.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Spring 2020 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is currently hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Since my Great Winter Slump, I have amassed quite a quantity of books I have to read and review – as well as various recommendations I’d like to get around to. Spring seems like the perfect time for some TBR cleaning, especially in these times of social distancing and quarantine.

So here’s some books that are on my priority list!

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February 2020 Monthly Wrap-Up

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At the beginning of February, I thought my slump was finally over. At some point, I think I even reached two books a week. And then, it came back with a vengeance and for the rest of the month, I read nothing at all. I felt rather like Murderbot – leave me alone and let me watch my show. But! I’m only one book away from finishing the r/fantasy Bingo, which should be more than doable in March.

Also, every one of the books I finished has been queer to some extent.

Read:

  • Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir: Honestly, this should have been a DNF. I did not like it at all, and by 30% knew I was not going to, but I persisted because I felt sick of DNFing. Bad move. It’s very aesthetic-over-everything, I didn’t like the style, I was bored by the plot, and a good epilogue does not a good book make.
  • Central Station by Lavie Tidhar: Beautiful sci-fi fever dream and perfect for me. Near impossible to describe, but most highly recommended.
  • Proper English by K.J. Charles: Not SFF, but I wanted to try a romance as a palate cleanser, and this worked really well. I’ve wanted more f/f for a long time. In particular, I loved the dynamics between the two main characters – the serious, sensible Pat who thinks herself awfully plain, and the bubbly, beautiful Fen who only wants to be taken seriously.
  • Bonds of Brass by Emily Skrutskie (ARC): Space opera I picked up because it sounded very Star Wars inspired, but gay. And it was amazing, to the point I could barely keep reading and took much longer than I normally would have because it was too intense and I was too scared for the characters. Plot engineered for maximum internal conflict, twists, pew pew, it has it all. Review to come closer to release.
  • The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz: Very sweet, asexual romance novella featuring a robot, an AI mechanic, and a tea shop. Won’t lie, it has been Bingo-motivated, as I needed to knock out the AI Character square quickly, but no regrets.

Watched:

  • Clone Wars: As always, when I feel like shit, I go for Star Wars. I blazed through 58 episodes (in chronological order), which puts me at a bit less than halfway done if I don’t count the new season – and yes, you read that right, less. Season 1 was full of garbage and I almost quit two or three times, but persistence paid off – by mid-season 2 I have started to want to watch it and now, well into season 3, I can barely stop once I start. There are still garbage episodes sometimes, sure, since the nature of the show seems to be that it’s either great or completely shit with no in-between, but the character development, the lore, the steadily increasing overall quality…wow. Star Wars at its finest and it really does the prequel era justice the way movies did not.

Currently reading:

  • Daughter from the Dark by Sergey & Maria Dyachenko (ARC): One of the ARCs from the pile I requested pre-slump. Also ran out of steam at about 20%, I think it’s a combination of not being sure what’s going on and the MC being an asshole (he’s meant to be an asshole, but it is hard to read).
  • The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite: Another f/f historical romance I started after Proper English, but ran out of steam at about halfway. It’s very sweet, and very good, but apparently two historical romance books in a row and the stuffiness starts to get to me.

Books read this year: 9 (+ 0 rereads)
r/Fantasy Bingo Challenge progress: 24/25 (96%)

Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

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I probably never would have read Central Station at all if not for the fact that this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo had a cyberpunk square. I hate the very thought of cyberpunk. Oppressive high tech societies? No thanks. So in the oldest tradition of Bingo, I went out in search of edge cases. Oddities. This was one of the candidates I couldn’t quite choose between – then I saw it in a bookstore and it was decided. And I couldn’t be more glad I did.

A group of disgruntled house appliances watched the sermon in the virtuality – coffee makers, cooling units, a couple of toilets – appliances, more than anyone else, needed the robots’ guidance, yet they were often wilful, bitter, prone to petty arguments, both with their owners and themselves.

The easiest way to describe it would be “gorgeous sci-fi fever dream.” I have a long-standing love for weird, trippy books and for slice of life, so I could hardly have stumbled upon a more perfect match for my tastes. And before I scare anyone off: it’s strange, yes, but never confusing.

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Review: From a Certain Point of View (edited by Elizabeth Schaefer)

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“Terrible things will always happen. They happened on Kiffex and they happen on Naboo and they happen on Tatooine. There will always be a war, and there will always be someone who wants us locked up. But the only thing we can do is survive, Sen. Survive until they won’t let us.”

When I heard the words “Jawa POV,” I instantly knew that From a Certain Point of View is something I simply must read. It’s no secret by now that I’m madly in love with Star Wars. And my obsession with slice of life and perspectives of more ordinary people is well established. A crossover of the two? A match made in heaven, despite my dislike of short stories and anthologies.

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