Review: Novice Dragoneer by E.E. Knight (Dragoneer Academy #1)

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ARC provided by the publisher (Ace Books) in exchange for an honest review.

Back in the summer, I had a mighty need for something light and above all, nostalgia-inspiring. Something that would give off the same general vibe as the books that first got me into fantasy. Then I saw this. It seemed absolutely perfect – dragons, magic schools, plucky underdog orphan girls, fuck yes, give me all of it. And it delivered on that. If I read this book when I was a kid aroung the time I read Eragon, I’d be singing it nostalgic praises to this day.

There is only one problem that keeps me from enthusiastically recommending it to everyone in sight. A rather large one. It’s simply not that well-written.

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Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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A desert is a lot like an ocean, if you replace all of the water with air. It stretches out and out and out in unfathomable distance and, in the absence of sunlight, turns to pure black. Sounds become secrets, impossible to verify as true until the light returns. It is not empty merely because you cannot see all of it. And you know in your heart that it isn’t—that it is the opposite of empty once it is dark, because things that do not like to be watched emerge when all of the light is gone. There is no way to know the shape of them, though, until your hand is on them.

Where do I even begin. This is one of those book that feel practically tailor-made to my preferences. It’s my catnip, pure bait – slow-paced, magical realism kind of deal with lovely prose. It would be more of a surprise if I didn’t love it. I have been warned that the author was seriously ill while writing it, that it’s different, that people generally like it less than the others. And after finishing I’m like, are you kidding? As the book itself says, perfection is an impossibility. But it sure came damn close.

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Review: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

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This magic land was all wrong. In the books, you had to destroy an evil piece of jewelry or defeat an evil-though-sexy witch or wizard. In the books, people did not hide documents and steal land and try to cheat dwarves and dryads.

I don’t even know how to begin reviewing this book. It can be best summed up as “I shouldn’t have liked it, but I did.” I’m not usually a fan of satire (which In Other Lands edges into at times) or unsubtle books, and asshole protagonists can be hit or miss, but man, this one pushed all the right buttons for me. I picked it up because Sharade of The Fantasy Inn recommended it for its humour and quotability, and I was not prepared for the assault on my feelings it launched in the process.

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Reread: Vita Nostra by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko

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There were plenty of people loved by someone, the ones who carried a seashell, a button, or a black and white photograph in their pockets; no one had been saved by memories, no one had been protected by words and pledges, and those loved greatly by others died too.

I have a bit of a history with Vita Nostra. I don’t know if I first heard of it in a rec thread or found it myself after reading The Scar, but I first read it in 2015, when the translation was ebook-only and more or less self-published. I picked it for during a long car ride…and devoured it in one sitting. And nobody has seemed to have heard of it. I continued wanting to yell about it when it became unavailable, and when it was finally rereleased, of course I went for the hardcover. Then finally, in September, I got the chance to lead a bookclub and the circle was complete.

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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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Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

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Station Eleven is the best book I regret ever picking up. It’s absolutely brilliant…and there lies the problem. The vision of the apocalypse, the characters, people’s reactions – it all felt too real. Visceral, human, and deeply, deeply sad. It got under my skin to the point I wondered whether I should stop reading. I’m unused to books hitting me as hard as this. I think the last one was The Unwomanly Face of War, but that was nonfiction, and well over a year ago.

Some of them took turns trying to sleep in the moving caravans, others walking and walking until their thoughts burned out one by one like dying stars and they fell into a fugue state wherein all that mattered or had ever existed were these trees, this road, the counterpoint rhythms of human footsteps and horses’ hooves, moonlight turning to darkness and then the summer morning, caravans rippling like apparitions in the heat, and now the Symphony was scattered here and there by the roadside in a state of semi-collapse while they waited for dinner to be ready.

But at the point it was already too late; if it’s going to stick in my mind like a painful splinter no matter what, I might as well finish. So I did. I went into the book largely blind, knowing only it was postapocalyptic, literary, and slice of life, and I think it may have been for the better, so if this was enough to convince you, stop reading here.

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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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