Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Sun of Blood and Ruin by Mariely Lares. Fantasy.
I need to stop reading debut authors. This book was billed as a gender-swapped Zorro combined with Mesoamerican mythology and alternate-history Spanish-Colonized Mexico. And it was indeed that, with a nice mix of adventure, political intrigue, magic, and some hints of romance-to-come. I was enjoying it a lot.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Shanghai Immortal by A. Y. Chao. Historical fantasy.
A juvenile half-vampire, half-fox-spirit with lots of feelings and low impulse control is sent from Immortal Shanghai to 1930’s Mortal Shanghai on a mission, the reasons for which already escape me. I’m not sure I ever understood them, to be honest: this book is not strong on plot, but it does succeed as a fun character-driven coming-of-age story.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty. Fantasy.
Lady pirate is dragged out of retirement for one last adventure. What I really liked: the setting is wonderfully researched and vivid; the side characters are fun; Amina’s love for her daughter (there aren’t enough good mothers in fiction, period); Amina’s devout but, er, flexible relationship with God; and the plot had unexpected developments that elevated it beyond what I thought it was going to be.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett. Historical fantasy.
Emily Wilde, a not particularly charming professor of Dryadology, is in “Ljosland” to research the final section of her Encyclopedia of Faeries. Her attempt at pure research is instantly thwarted by her inability to make friends with the locals, and then by the arrival of her academic rival, the dashing Wendall Bambleby.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Ithaca by Claire North. Historical fantasy.
When you read a lot and then you find a book that knocks your socks off, it can be hard to explain why. I am going to use some words about Ithaca that sound like the Guardian reviewing a Shakespeare interpretation: this book is mature, assured, poignant, witty, and cutting. Since it is a story from Homer retold from the women’s point of view, the comparison to Madeline Miller’s Circe is obvious, and I did love Circe, but this book has a lot more bite to it.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for Paladin’s Grace, Paladin’s Strength, and Paladin’s Hope by T. Kingfisher. Fantasy romance.
T. Kingfisher has been on my radar for a while because someone who knows *my* books recommended her to me. And yes, that was correct. Her sense of humor and the things she finds interesting are pretty much a 100% match for mine.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for A Dowry of Blood by S. T. Gibson. Dark fantasy.
When FairyLoot sent me a Dracula retelling that contained the word “romantic” in two of the blurbs, I was…concerned, because there’s a lot of stuff that passes as romance these days that I won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. But I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting.… >> Read more
Thumbs down (sorta) for Babel, or the Necessity of Violence by R. F. Kuang. Historical fantasy.
The description made me very excited about this book – Oxford in the early 19th century! revolution against the British colonial empire! economics! a magic system based on translation! Chinese characters (hanzi, not people) in the footnotes! ….But then I read it, and it didn’t work for me as a novel – the characters keep having the same conversations; the traitor is painfully obvious; and even when intense incident occurs, life somehow keeps resetting to “normal” for the characters, so there’s no feeling of forward motion.… >> Read more