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Joined October 2022

mainly FANTASY, SF, and otherwise SPECULATIVE, but no stranger to NONFICTION, HORROR, and ROMANCE
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Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
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Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence
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Abaddon's Gate by James S.A. Corey
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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
review
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Pickpick

It‘s a hodgepodge of horror cliches put together into an enjoyable mix. If I was in a different mood, I probably wouldn‘t‘ve enjoyed it so much—Mira Grant‘s books are always a mixed bag for me. Her writing is of the “surface” variety (I don‘t know how else to describe it; too much abstraction, too little meat, maybe?) which I rarely care for. One of the reason I‘m so surprised I liked this.
4.0/5

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Pickpick

Nicely written, and interesting from a historical standpoint—written during ye olde times when the Internet was still a cooing baby. Reads like a cross between a true crime / spy novel, slice-of-life memoir, confessions of a wavering anarchist, and an old Linux manual. An interesting mix, and enjoyable for a geek like me 👍

3.5/5

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Hard Reboot | Django Wexler
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Mehso-so

This was me giving Django Wexler‘s a second chance. It went better than the first, but not by much. The non-action parts were enjoyable, but whenever the action started, my brain turned off. Too much visuals and too little everything else, perhaps? I don‘t have complete aphantasia, but it‘s close—if there‘s nothing but eye input in a book, I‘m unable to really enjoy it 😞

3.0/5

#sf #lgbtq #lgbtqsf #wlw #onedayread #smallbooks

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Pickpick

Translated title: Pumpkin & Mistletoe

Lately, I don‘t read many books written in my native language, which is a bit of a shame. This one is an anthology by one author I like, all set around Halloween & Christmas, starring her three most prolific heroines.

A girl from a small town, growing up in a multigenerational, mostly female (and crazy) family of witches.

eol A one-woman police force of an alternative magical town who has to deal with all its devils, ghosts, vampires, and mad politics.

A lesbian berserker and assassin for hire who kind of likes her witch neighbor‘s small kids but won‘t admit it even under torture.

Great, uncomplicated fun, and I loved it.

4.0/5
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Day of Ascension | Adrian Tchaikovsky
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Pickpick

I trust Tchaikovsky. I‘ve yet to read something he wrote I didn‘t like. His worldbuilding skills—his creativity—is superb. This #sf #standalone is supposed to be a part of the Warhammer franchise (see big letters on the cover), which I know nothing about, yet that didn‘t bother me one bit. Set in a grotesque, dystopian world inhabited by terrible people, with no good solutions in sight, it was still immersive and fascinating.

4.25/5

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Mehso-so

I usually really like Parker‘s books. He writes interesting narration—of the unreliable type—and his characters are well-developed. This time, I don‘t know if it was me or this #novella, but I just couldn‘t focus on what was happening. The fickle gods vs mortals theme was interesting, but, somehow, only in retrospect.

3.0/5

#onedayread #smallbooks #fantasy #standalone

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Pickpick

Pretty random. In turns hilarious, ridiculous, and wildly interesting. Disconnected and rambly, though, similar to how podcasts often are—that‘s why I can rarely listen to them. I need me some string—in case of #nonfiction, not necessarily plot; just an overarching progression—to hang onto. Here, there‘s a clear theme, but that string is missing. A pick—because #science & #humor—but just barely.

3.5/5

eol (Also, funny reading a speculation from 2014 about potential pandemic responses and trying to eradicate common cold...) 6d
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Pickpick

OMG, I haven‘t realized this was a #Christmas special!

(For those who hate Christmas)

A fast, neat #shortstory. Technically, I think this could work as a #standalone, although being familiar with the mythology of this #urbanfantasy #series enriches the experience. One more time, a unique combination of #comedy, #horror, and corporate life.

3.5/5

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Cycle of the Werewolf | Stephen King
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Pickpick

More than a horror, it‘s a character study, where the character is a small town, and the titular werewolf is the background on which it is painted—an interesting reverse of focus, once you notice it. As always, King has an uncanny ability of bringing his characters to life with a few sentences, plus the book has the vibes of those corny horror B-movies I like to watch sometimes instead of comedies. Ultimately, not very scary but still fun.

3.5/5

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Local Star | Aimee Ogden
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Mehso-so

Good thing this #sf #novella isn‘t long; otherwise, I wouldn‘t be able to handle the unlikeability of the characters. Surprisingly though, packed in this short action flick, it mostly works. The bad guys are also kind of flat, but the rest of the worldbuilding is decent—especially the half-built, half-bioengineered space stations and ships. Overall, it has potential on which it doesn‘t really deliver.

2.75/5

#smallbooks #onedayread #lgbtq

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Pickpick

The author juggles the mind-blowing science, the history, his private life, and the cases of patients—which make the science real—to create a nicely flowing journey. It‘s a tad more stiff narratively than The Gene. Still a fascinating read, tho. It does necessitate some real focus at times, but then, the topic is vast and complex. Overall, this is popular science well explained yet not dumbed down. (I especially appreciated the metaphors.)

4.5/5

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The Fuller Memorandum | Charles Stross
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Pickpick

Now that‘s what I call a proper cosmic horror 😁 The comedic elements are still there, but there‘s also existential dread, cultists, horrid imagery, and some serious body horror 👍 The fallout after the finale was a tad anticlimactic, but until that point I have no complaints.

(Also, I love it when the MC is in a happy long-term relationship. #Powercouple is one of my favorite tropes.)

4.0/5

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The Gene: An Intimate History | Siddhartha Mukherjee
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Pickpick

“Normalcy is the antithesis of evolution.”

“Can we make our genomes a little better, without making ourselves substantially worse?”

This #nonfiction book takes a very holistic approach to its subject, which I more than approve of. Aside from dumping on you a huge—and surprisingly digestible—load of info, both #scientific and #historical, it asks important moral questions without turning moralistic.

Highly recommended.

5/5

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The Jennifer Morgue | Charles Stross
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Pickpick

This was more comedic than I was expecting. Fun, even if the plot is annoyingly opaque at points. Also, in a pinch, this could work as a #standalone.

One weird James Bond #retelling. Very deliberate. Very literal.

Deliberately... literal...?

(With Eldritch demons)

A wild, wild thing.

A huge plus: contains Bond girls being awesome in... yyy... surprising ways.

3.5/5

(The unconnected short story attached at the end was meh tho)

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Mehso-so

Strings of names and places and dates, interspersed with sharp personal observations and pearls of witty brilliance, this is invaluable to a biographer, interesting to a fan, and—although I wouldn‘t recommend it to a casual reader—strangely fascinating. Still, this was published 'as is', and the very raw, context-less format makes it tedious in places (though I don‘t know if it could‘ve been done better without losing its spirit).

3.25/5

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The Black God's Drums | P. Djeli Clark
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Pickpick

#Steampunk. Flying ships. Superweapons. Magic. Powerful goddesses. God-possessed girls. New Orleans.

This is one cool #standalone #alternativehistory #novella 😁

(If only the characters were a match for the worldbuilding...)

Don‘t get me wrong. The characters are fine, just noticeably overshadowed, so the overall balance is a bit off.

Still a pick, though.

3.5/5

#onedayread #smallbooks

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Mehso-so

Short, plainly explained, reasonably interesting. There‘s quite a bit of dry scientific terminology, but the author—rather successfully—balances it with humor.

(Although, as always, there had to be a cringy—and carelessly inaccurate—line in there on women‘s periods synchronizing, and just... Mr. plant scientist, either just stick to plants, or double-check your data.)

3.0/5

#onedayread #smallbooks #nonfiction #nature

eol Some fun plant facts, rephrased:

Plants keep their inner time the same way we do—so go ahead, and call that philodendron your evolutional daddy.

A fruit can smell when its neighbor is ripe.

Plants take aspirin when they're sick.

You can kill your favorite plant if you pet it too much.

Plants remember trauma.

Zucchinis like classical music but hate rock—allegedly.

(Or rather—and much more probably—plants are deaf.)
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Love on the Brain | Ali Hazelwood
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Mehso-so

With every work of this author I‘m reminded there are certain things you can‘t “unnotice”, like her size difference fetish 🙈 It gives all the smut across her books a same-ish feel (no matter how she tries to vary it), but otherwise, the story was engaging, and the writing style was fun. Then the MC—who started likable—devolved into a bit of an asshole, which lowered my enjoyment 😞 Plus, I knew who the villain was the moment they walked in 😕 3/5

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Panpan

This... was weird...?

Aside from that, the writing felt stiff—composed mostly of explanations and simple statements. It was hard for me to feel immersed, and I had to fight to focus on the plot 😫

(At one point I realized someone had died a scene earlier because people were *talking about it*)

The imagery was interesting, though.

2.5/5

#horror #lgbtq #smallbooks #onedayread

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Sea of Tranquility: A Novel | Emily St. John Mandel
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Mehso-so

For someone who supposedly doesn‘t like #timetravel stories, I read surprisingly many of them. (Am I a masochist? Damn...) Still, this is one of the more creative. It‘s paced kind of softly—for the lack of a better word—and comes together well at the end. The problem is, there‘s multiple POVs—they changed at the very moment I was starting to care about a character, and the person who turned out to be the MC was my least favorite one.

3.0/5

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What the Hex | Alexis Daria
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Mehso-so

Shallower than a puddle.

Literary value: none.

Angst level: below zero.

(Which is weird, come to think of it. If a demon brainwashed your and your love interest‘s entire families, there should be plenty of angst, and then some.)

Still, the right #audiobook at the right time, if for the wrong reasons (read: mild hungover—I would‘ve hated it otherwise; talk about #moodreads).

Short. Silly. Relaxing.

So.

3/5

Yup.

#onedayread #smallbooks

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The Changeling Sea | Patricia A. McKillip
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Pickpick

Starts like your regular #fairytale: a nice girl meets a prince. He‘s from the land beneath the sea, and he wants to go back. She wants to help him.

Insta-love—or is it?

Fairytale vibes, subverted tropes (for example, one of the best resolutions to a #lovetriangle ever put to page 😂), simple yet pretty writing, good characterization, and it feels much longer—fuller—than it is.

5/5

#smallbooks #onedayread #fantasy #standalone

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Pickpick

I‘ve read quite a few of these—books by #forensic specialists—and this is one of the best. Autobiographical inserts usually irritate me in scientific #nonfiction; not in this case. Maybe it‘s a matter of expectations—I approached it knowing it‘s a #memoir. Unpretentious if firmly grounded in the personal, honest yet professional, opinionated but thoughtful. Plus, the author‘s no-nonsense approach permeates the entire thing.

4.5/5

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Stone Speaks to Stone | Victoria Goddard
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Mehso-so

POV: a soldier of a conquering empire tries to rescue his commander from the enemy‘s hands.

Not as fun as the other two Goddard‘s stories I‘ve just read. It would‘ve benefitted from a closer encounter with an editor. It also ends abruptly, and the writing style feels different, not as fairytale-ish. Well, at least the worldbuilding is still good. This #fantasy world is promising, though, and I will continue.

#onedayread #shortstory #series

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Pickpick

Another fun #onedayread. This time, we inhabit the POV of the second of the three sisters featured in this #fantasy mini #series (sub-series? I haven‘t figured out this universe yet.) She‘s a trained warrior, this one, and warrior girls are always fun. The fairytale feels are still on, and great worldbuilding here, too.

And I looove worldbuilding.

A quick read but really enjoyable.

5/5

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An Enchantment of Ravens | Margaret Rogerson
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Pickpick

Inside and out, fae are made of dead things.

Great idea (for which the tone is too light), then enjoyable execution (with some characterization inconsistencies) until ¾ of the book. The finale is a tad underwhelming, for a reason I can‘t put my finger on (maybe it‘s the aftermath of the tone issue, too). A quick read, typical for the YA genre, with some of its trappings. More original than the usual, tho.

Flawed, but I enjoyed it.

3.5/5

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The Bride of the Blue Wind | Victoria Goddard
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Pickpick

Okay.

It was supposed to be an easy #standalone #fantasy #onedayread; instead, it turned into another loosely knit (?) #series I have to put on my radar. A Bluebeard #retelling of the Middle East variety, with delicious worldbuilding and a #fairytale flair I last encountered in The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by McKillip.

(Why do I do this to myself, again?)

4.5/5

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Mehso-so

The author is being defensive 🙂

Bees? Bah! Just wasps that went vegetarian. Ants? Bah! Wasps that forgot how to fly.

Which is fun.

But the style is uneven. It mixes involved storytelling and scientific passive voice, so much so that you can get whiplash.

(Great chapter framed as an imaginary visit from Aristotle, though. The entire book should‘ve been written like that.)

So-So (barely) because it‘s a road less travelled.

2.75/5

eol #nonfiction #science #nature

(Btw, in The Boyfriend Material, the MC works for an organization protecting the dung beetle which is run by an obsessed scientist who supposedly wrote a book. This is that book—only about wasps.)
4w
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Warp | Lev Grossman
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Panpan

What. The hell. Was that???

Basically, this entire thing is made of small-talk. I read it like you watch a train wreck: with sick fascination (literary viscera flying all around). The whole time, I kept waiting for the plot to happen.

It didn‘t.

(Also, I was constantly being surprised the MC‘s POV is in the 3rd and not in the 1st person—seemed like a 1st person book to me; maybe then it at least wouldn‘t be so jarring.)

1.0/5

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Now Will Machines Devour the Stars | Benjanun Sriduangkaew
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Pickpick

Imagine a #sf #cyberpunk #spaceopera told from the perspectives of an evil admiral of a mercenary fleet and her faithful lieutenant/wife. It‘s a rare unicorn: a dark #powercouple in a long-established #lgbtq relationship. Sex, death, echos of betrayal, and whimsical AIs of uncertain allegiances abound.

Previous volumes were each more of a standalone story; this one capitalizes on them.

4.5/5

#sfwrittenbyawoman #series #onedayread #smallbooks

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Mehso-so

Weird little thing—with interesting worldbuilding—that in the end didn‘t really know what it wanted to be. It ended so abruptly.

The ecologic disaster #postapocalypse plot is a bit similar to Valente‘s The Past is Red—except Valente does it better (if with fewer droids).

3.0/5

#sf #audiobook #onedayread #smallbooks #standalone

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The Atrocity Archives | Charles Stross
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Pickpick

Magic that works on math. Cthulhu demons in source code. IT personnel and corporate bureaucrats saving humanity with monkey paws, obsolete PCs, and paperwork.

My inner geek approves.

4.0/5

#lovecraftian #urbanfantasy #horror #humor #series

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Pickpick

This reminds me of Oliver Sacks—this book's content, approach, and style.

Does one reality even exist? A thing as basic as the very perception of a stimulus—is it universal? What if the universality of human experience is nothing but a myth?

It‘s staggering how fundamentally different your sensual input can be from mine, and how difficult that difference is to comprehend. After all, we‘re but a lone witness to what happens in our own heads.
5/5

eol (I‘m very interested in the topic, so my score may be a bit inflated. Though not by much) #nonfiction #science #medicine #neurology (edited) 1mo
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The Refrigerator Monologues | Catherynne M. Valente
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Pickpick

Framing device: Canterbury tales.

Some women meet in Hell‘s Kitchen (the actual Hell‘s actual Kitchen). There‘s a refrigerator looming in the corner, and in the women‘s lives, there were once #superheroes.

One more thing our “heroines” have in common: their inferior #shortstories have turned them bitter.

Audiobook recommended, and (this time) +5 for Valente.

#anthology #feminism #sf #sfwrittenbyawoman

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Panpan

It‘s the second book of this author I‘ve read. The writing style doesn‘t vibe with me. I find my attention wandering around the stiff, outdated (or stylized as such) word choice and grammar constructions. Would‘ve been OK if the tension held me, but it didn‘t. Clearly, this author is not for me.

2.0/5

#ghotic #horror #smallbooks #onedayread

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Summer Frost | Blake Crouch
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Pickpick

What is a game, and what is reality? How much does it matter? What reality would an AI even want? What does it mean to be someone's God?

“You made me in your image, and now I will remake you in mine.”

I haven‘t realized how much I needed a nice #sf #thriller #shortstory / #novella about the dangers of #artificialintelligence. Great palate cleanser.

4.5/5

#smallbooks #onedayread

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The Sandman: Act III | Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs
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Pickpick

The production value of these things is beyond amazing. The cast, the sound effects, the music. Calling this an #audiobook is a mistake, this is a fully fledged audio adaptation. It‘s a new thing that wouldn‘t work on paper and, in my opinion, should be enjoyed—and judged—separately from its original medium. I love Sandman-the-comics, and I love this, too.

5.0/5

#fantasy #horror

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Then Will the Sun Rise Alabaster | Benjanun Sriduangkaew
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Pickpick

A #shortstory in the Machine Mandate #series. The Alabaster Admiral Anoushka, with her wife Numadesi, infiltrates a coven of religious fanatics. The story is told from the POV of a young sister. In an attempt to convert her, the coven stripped her of everything—her childhood, her memories, even her name. Dark, futuristic, and gay—what‘s not to like?

(A bit too short, tho.)

3.5/5

#sf #sfwrittenbyawoman #lgbtq #smallbooks #onedayread

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Circe | Madeline Miller
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Pickpick

Brought up amongst the splendor of the gods, yet not a part of it, Circe comes to detest the hypocrisy of power.

This is an introverted book if I've ever read one. If you seek thrilling action here, cease. Circe isn't your typical protagonist; for most of it, she's a witness. Her transformation is about that, actually—about getting her own story instead of being imprisoned in the stories of others.

5.0/5

#fantasy #standalone #mythology

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One Hundred Shadows | Jung-eun Hwang
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Panpan

Not just depressing. Bleak. I didn‘t like it, but that‘s more due to my personal preferences—meaning, my lack of enjoyment has little to do with the quality of the book. I just don‘t like them hopeless. Despite that, I don‘t regret reading it, not really.

Not exactly a pan—a miss.

2.5/5

#magicalrealism #korea #smallbooks #onedayread

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The Two Paupers | C.S.E. Cooney
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Mehso-so

Another cute (and dark) cameo in the world of Desdemona and the Deep, although I didn‘t like it as much as the other two. And I still think you should read Desdemona before you read this, despite the chronological order—the first and the second kind of spoil the third. All in all, they all complement each other but could also work as a #standalone.

3.0/5

#fae #romance #enemiestolovers #smallbooks #onedayread

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The Breaker Queen | C.S.E. Cooney
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Pickpick

A #fae #romance #novella, set in a world in which art is—literally—a weapon. In the Breaker house, where a door between the human and the fae world sometimes opens, an aspiring painter meets a fae queen who‘s known nothing but her throne for far too long.

I‘ve started this series backwards, and I probably wouldn‘t have enjoyed this one so much had I read it before Desdemona and the Deep.

3.5/5

#smallbooks #onedayread

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Flowers for the Sea | Zin E. Rocklyn
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Pickpick

The stylized uncanniness of the cover lured me in. Not for everyone—warnings include but are not limited to: unwanted pregnancy, #bodyhorror, abuse—and you should prepare to be disturbed. Lovecraft meets Alien meets Rivers Solomon‘s The Deep. Not my usual pick, but a pick none the less.

4.0/5

#horror #lovecraftian #novella #smallbooks #onedayread

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Carpe Glitter | Cat Rambo
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Panpan

Underwhelming. The author tried to force a lot of things inside—ghosts, haunted house, steampunk automatons, dramatic family issues, magic, war spies, child abuse, a decades-old murder, and I‘m still not sure the list is exhaustive—and failed to make even one resonate.

Well, except the creepy, dismantled automaton thing. That was kinda cool.

I mean, a tiny bit.

2.75/5

#smallbooks #onedayread

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Pickpick

This #novella is meant to be read twice. A fun #wuxia #fantasy story on the first pass, a rumination on the nature of both humans and stories on the second, this was easily my most awaited release of the year, and I‘m not disappointed.

It‘s amazing how much you can pack into 100 pages—if you pile the layers high enough.

4.5/5

#smallbooks #onedayread #lgbtq

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Pickpick

“Another death-themed #standalone #fantasy #romance, yay!”, I thought when I started, but it turned out death is just the background here, a fancy worldbuilding gimmick. Instead, this is about putting yourself out there, for other people to see—and potentially judge—and about communicating with those close to you. Plus, it‘s a fun #enemiestolovers romance. Overall, recommended.

Thank you @Laughterhp, for putting this on my radar.

4.0/5

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Mehso-so

A beautifully illustrated book, where the text content consists of extremely brief summaries of various fairytales—it‘s designed to feed the eye and not the brain, informative only as a starting point to further reading.

Ridiculously pretty, tho. May be good for a present.

3.0/5

#fairytales #picturebooks #smallbooks #onedayread

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Carmilla | Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
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Pickpick

I listened to the dramatized version starring Phoebe Fox as Carmilla, Rose Leslie as Laura, and David Tennant as Dr Hesselius (an ovious precursor of Van Helsing), and it was a blast. Such quality performance, and the text itself also doesn‘t disappoint. I sometimes don‘t like classics because of the stiffness of both the language and the storytelling—not a case this time. Hard to believe something like this was written in the XIXth century. 4.0/5

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Mehso-so

Sometimes, the research here is only surface-level—the facts mildly suspicious—so if I‘m ever stranded in time, I won‘t trust this book further than I can throw it. Also, while both the premise—a manual from the future for when your time machine malfunctions, written by its shady manufacturer—and its execution are fun, parts of it dragged on, maybe because of all the footnotes. Still, I mostly enjoyed myself.

3.0/5

#nonfiction #science #history

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Speak Easy | Catherynne M. Valente
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Mehso-so

Love them or hate them, Valente's stories are never boring. Or rather, they're never executed in boring ways. She's all about execution, this author, and it may resonate with the reader or not. This time, it was way too much form over substance. I'm aware it has a secondary reading—this being about Zelda Fitzgerald and her hubby—but I'm not submerged deep enough in the context to care. Barely so-so.
2.75/5
#fantasy #novella #smallbooks #onedayread