Thumbs down for The Curse of Saints by Kate Dramis. Romantic fantasy.
Well, I’ll start with the good part: Dramis can put words together pretty well. Unfortunately, there are too many of them and they aren’t doing the right things. The main character is one-dimensional (being angry and grief-ridden does not a character make), and her love interest is supposed to be dark and brooding, I guess?… >> Read more
Thumbs down for A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers. Science fiction.
My coworker sold this one to me with the description “it’s about a monk who serves tea and a robot” and that sounded delightful. But…what a frustrating book. I do love cozy books. But I like books that are cozy because the characters are competent and kind, not because nothing bad happens.… >> 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
Thumbs down for A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows. Fantasy romance.
I enjoy high-fantasy romance and, particularly, political fantasy, and I was pleased to see that Tor was coming out with one. So I had such high hopes! And I did immediately enjoy the prose; the author has a way with words. However. It didn’t take long before I started wondering if I should quit (despite how easily the pages flowed by), because I noticed that one of the main characters was just Decent Guy and the other one was just Traumatized Guy, and neither of those things is an actual personality.… >> Read more
Two thumbs up for A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders. Writing.
With the exception of two or three SFF authors, I don’t enjoy reading short stories, which means I don’t write them with any confidence, either. I am always suspicious that they are merely vignettes rather than stories.… >> Read more
Thumbs down for A Christmas Proposal: A Betty Neels Best Selection, Vol 1 by Natsu Momose adapted from novels by Betty Neels. Manga/romance.
Manga-ized versions of some of my favorite old-school romances. Simply dreadful. Not even fun dreadful. I just had to know.… >> Read more
Thumbs down for The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Children’s book.
Someone else already wrote the perfect review of this obnoxious book. Thank you, Goodreads reviewer Sava Hecht for summarizing my own feelings so succinctly.… >> Read more
Thumbs down for Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. Science fiction/fantasy short stories.
I really wanted to like these stories; foremost I chose to read this anthology to explore some Swedish science fiction, but also, I won’t lie, the cover is just fantastic. The stories themselves made almost no impact on me. “Rebecka” had a nice frisson of a twist to it; “Aunts” was gross but interesting; but there was only one story that stuck in my head, “Augusta Prima.”… >> Read more