Review: The Bruising of Qilwa by Naseem Jamnia

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Thanks to the publisher (Tachyon Publications) for the ARC of this book.

It’s no secret that I am weak for beautiful covers. I was a little wary of my readiness to read something epidemic-themed (a fear that luckily proved to be unfounded, but it was so pretty and the concept seemed so interesting. Unfortunately, while a good effort, it’s another of those novellas that really should have been novels with how much they try to do to the point the pacing and plot suffer.

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Review: Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

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I picked up this book completely on a whim. It was on sale, the preview pulled me in, and my friends were talking about it, so – why not? Why not try and see? And for once, I don’t regret experimenting.  While maybe not technically perfect, it’s one of those books I couldn’t stop reading and reading whenever I picked it up.

The NetherTale offered a scenario where a player would rescue people from Hell—yet not hurt anyone at all. Might one live that way? Until recently, Shizuka would have dismissed the suggestion as naïve, a fantasy of the weak and sheltered, those who had never fought or known loss. But nothing in Katrina’s background suggested she was weak or sheltered. As for loss? Her music did not lie. She was fighting with an abandon that only came from loss.

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Mini Reviews: Bitter, Two Dark Moons, The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories, Aurora’s Angel

Still behind on two reviews from the April reading frenzy, plus with a more recently read anthology and another DNF, it’s time for mini reviews yet again. All of them were read (or, in the case of Aurora’s Angel, attempted) for this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo, respectively the Revolutions & Rebellions, No Ifs, Ands or Buts, Short Stories, and Shapeshifters squares.

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Review: The Path of Thorns by A.G. Slatter

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ARC received from the publisher (Titan Books) in exchange for an honest review.

I requested this completely on a whim, based entirely on the strength of the premise. It’s deliciously gothic – witchcraft, revenge, dark family secrets, revenge, ghosts, and lots and lots of murder – and I recommend it to anyone interested in fantasy with undertones of horror.

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Review: Weird Fishes by Rae Mariz

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ARC received from the publisher (Stelliform Press) in exchange for an honest review.

I’ll admit: it was the cover that got my attention. The cover, and the promise of a story centering strange sea creatures with an ecological bent. And really, it largely delivered on that – the worldbuilding was incredibly imaginative. I love non-human POVs that feel non-human, taking biology into account. The expected environmental aspect was not “humanity is a plague and must die” and I loved that too. If you liked The Deep, you might like this as well.

Unfortunately, the ending was soured by a rape scene with incredibly brutal consequences, that both felt rather pointless and the content warning at the beginning didn’t come close to preparing me for. It also left me in quite a predicament regarding how to review. After all, most of the book was fantastic, with that one scene like a worm in the last bite of an apple. And, after all, I do not do spoilers as a rule and it’s an ARC besides. But how else to talk about it? What do I do?

So: this summarizes my thoughts for those who need a TL;DR, more details with the minimum necessary spoilers for those who need a more detailed content warning somewhere below the cut.

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Mini Reviews: Spear, Mooncakes, Shards of Earth, The Raven Tower

I am once again behind on reviews, which means it’s time for another mini reviews post. Usually, I order them from least to most recent – this time, however, with one novella I loved, a graphic novel I was rather indifferent on, and two DNFs, it seemed a shame to put the novella last, so I ordered them by rating instead.

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Review: Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman

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I loved The Breath of the Sun and its prose so much the author landed on my auto-buy list. How could I not try Dead Collections as soon as I could get my hands on it? Especially with this gorgeous cover, especially when the premise is “trans archivist vampire”? Luckily, it was very much not another highly anticipated disappointment, but delivered exactly what I wanted – quiet, messily queer literary fantasy with excellent prose.

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Review: Half a Soul by Olivia Atwater (Regency Faerie Tales #1)

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A proper mood is everything when you’re a mood reader.

I have first attempted to read this book about a year ago. But being too grumpy and sick to death of the “women MUST get married” trope at the time, I had to shelve it again because forcing myself to finish would have been unfair to both the book and me. I reluctantly put it on the shortlist again in January when I got it as part of the “get 12 people to recommend you one book each” challenge (well, 16 in my case). In the end, I was right and so were my friends – in a better mindset now, I absolutely loved it.

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Mini Reviews: The Missing Page, Seven Endless Forests, In the Watchful City, Phoenix Extravagant

Despite the January and February slumps, I’m still reading at a faster pace than I can write full-length reviews. So here’s another round of shorter, more condensed ones to hopefully help me catch up at least a little.

All of them are books I enjoyed a lot, and hopefully I can convince you to try one or two as well 😁

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Review: Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

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I’m not sure how long have I had this on my TBR. But I have long enjoyed books that are off the beaten track, and this fit my type to a T. Strange, certainly, and melancholic, and unsettling and beautiful, I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh and surreal read.

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