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uwak

uwak

Joined September 2019

review
uwak
Beneath the Sugar Sky | Seanan McGuire
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Mehso-so

I still enjoyed the adventuring aspects of the third wayward children book but some of McGuire's writing got especially clunky this time around. while I agree with the anti-fatshaming message surrounding Cora, it feels like the author is beating you over the head with the message instead of letting things run its course. a shame, since I think Cora's backstory regarding her door was interesting. so far, this is probably the weakest of the books.

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uwak
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Pickpick

very glad I chose to read Grant's Rising trilogy first because this book absolutely blows it out of the water (pun intended). her writing has improved so much since the rising and there's a strong sense of tension and fear in this book. the depiction of the killer mermaids is so good and interesting. the ending is a bit abrupt for the build-up, but otherwise this was a super fun read.

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uwak
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Pickpick

the night vale books have been getting better and better witch successive release and this was probably the best book so far. I was surprised how detached this book is from most of the night vale lore and happenings, and it feels very distinctive from the previous 2 books. the ending is haunting in a specific way and I suspect it will stick with me for a while.

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uwak
Bloody Rose | Nicholas Eames
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Pickpick

I really missed Eames's unique sense of humor and dnd-esque writing and the sequel to Kings of the Whyld did not disappoint! I really enjoyed Rose's band of mercenaries and how all the members are explored in detail at different points of the story. Tam isn't as interesting a protagonist compared to Clay Cooper, but she grew on me by the end.

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uwak
Children of Ruin | Adrian Tchaikovsky
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Mehso-so

children of time was one of my favorite books of 2020 so it's a shame the sequel didn't quite work for me. there's some cool ideas here, but it ribs off the first book's structure too much and feels like it spins its wheels far too often. by the end, I was more exhausted than satisfied.

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uwak
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Pickpick

first read of the new year and it's my book club's pick for January. I've been meaning to read more of Martinez's stuff for years and this didn't disappoint. it reads like a wacky role playing campaign, wherein the protagonist is a Futurama character written by Terry Pratchett. super fun!

8 likes1 stack add
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uwak
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Pickpick

I missed Allie SO much (used to follow her blog when I was in high school) so her dropping this book outta nowhere made this garbage year 300% better. the incident with the dandelion-phobic child and the misadventures with the pile dog were my favorite stories. I'm glad to hear Allie is doing well since she recounts that her life got really rough around the time she published her first book.

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uwak
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Pickpick

it continues to be difficult for me to discuss individual volumes of this series, so all I will say is: damn, wasn't expecting *that* for the ending. wow, somehow that was a more brutal cliffhanger than the last volume, lol.

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uwak
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Pickpick

appropriate read since my partner and I have been marathoning random older seasons of the show. Reiss's book is super interesting when he talks about the processes behind the show, especially the writing and how difficult it's been over the years. some of his personal reflections aren't quite as interesting and at times his jokes don't really land. still I think this was a nice and quick nonfiction read.

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uwak
DARKDAWN. | JAY. KRISTOFF
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Pickpick

a solid end to a fun trilogy. admittedly, I don't think this last book is as strong as the second; it lacks the adrenaline and tension from the gladiator games, and Kristoff introduces some larger-scale worldbuilding things that aren't really addressed in the first two books. it's an overall messier experience than I expected, and at times, pretty slow, but I think I enjoyed the ending.

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uwak
Last and First Idol | Gengen Kusano
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Pickpick

this short story collection was absolutely bonkers and I loved it, but definitely caution that this wouldn't be up to everyone's tastes. Kusano has a particular penchant for mashing up weird ideas with hard sci-fi concepts and somehow it works. I was getting pretty exhausted by the 3rd and last story in this collection, which kinda feels redundant/treading too-similar ground as the others, amd the mobile game story was my favorite.

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uwak
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Pickpick

the tribe is one of the most unique horror books I've read, being a reflection on trauma, minority identity and misplaced revenge. that being said, it's also probably the most slowburn horror book I've ever read and it's definitely a book that's not going to jive with everyone. this is an excellent example of a horror book that has a fascinating message at the end and I agree with Hendrix's appraisal.

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uwak
Differently Morphous | Yahtzee Croshaw
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Pickpick

I've enjoyed Yahtzee's previous works but this is probably his best book so far. that being said, if you aren't attuned to his personal views this book may end up rubbing you the wrong way. conceptually and execution-wise, I do think this book comes together very well compared to his other books but boy oh boy is it full of red herrings. I also want to say that I wish I could find more urban fantasy books on this scale.

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uwak
Six Wakes | Mur Lafferty
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Pickpick

another good sci-fi read this year! I really enjoyed this murder mystery mash-up with cloning and a morally ambiguous cast. Lafferty really gets into details with the clone concepts and a lot of the associated moral quandaries. if I have any minor complaints I definitely would've loved to learn more about the captain and doctor's respective pasts. this is one of those books that sucked me in quickly after the first few chapters.

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uwak
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Pickpick

this was an excellent follow-up to a dead djinn in cairo! Clark is so masterful at crafting a vibrant setting and integrating fantasy elements into a historical piece. admittedly, I wasn't as big a fan of the protagonist in this novella compared to Fatma from the short story, but he grew on me.

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uwak
Blackout | Mira Grant
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Pickpick

another trilogy done for the year. this was a pretty good end to the series, albeit at times it felt a bit rushed and wrapped some things up a bit conveniently. there's also uh, a romance reveal that comes out of left field with no build-up for either character involved that's quite strange. I'm not terribly interested in zombie fiction in general but I think this series was solid and unique overall.

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uwak
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Pickpick

I've been excited to read this for a while and it absolutely blew me away. I don't doubt that major companies can get away with crazy unethical shit but Theranos was on its own level. I agree with the author's guess that Holmes likely had genuine intentions rather than setting out to scam people from the start. it makes me pretty sad since someone with her drive, charisma, and resources could be accomplishing something good.

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uwak
White Trash Warlock | David R. Slayton
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Pickpick

light pick. hit a bit of a recent reading slump and I've been having an issue with my book club's picks from the last few months not jiving with me, so this was pleasant. it's a B- urban fantasy story with a gay protagonist, which is a nice change of pace but I still wished there was a bit more substance to it. I get the appeal of urban fantasy titles in this vein but it's not really up my alley.

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uwak
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Pickpick

I was a bit unsure of how Murderbot would work as a full-length book but it turns out it's quite good! admittedly I started losing track of the action around the last third of the book but I was pleased to see a certain someone (something?) from novella 2 make a return. PS: not sure why the blurb states this is a standalone novel b/c it explicitly references characters & events from the other novellas.

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uwak
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Mehso-so

I've been a big fan of Araki's manga for years but I wasn't sure what to make of his book. much of his advice is EXTREMELY rudimentary & something you'd get from a basic creative writing or drawing class. tbh if you squint, there's some interesting autobiographical elements when Araki reflects on his work that I found way more interesting. I don't really think book functions well as how-to book but it's an interesting novelty at least.

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uwak
Babel-17/Empire Star | Samuel R Delany
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Mehso-so

I ended up bailing on Babel-17 since the book was going over my head almost immediately but wanted to at least finish Empire Star for my book club. this is another case of "I totally respect the subject of the writing and think parts are legit neat but overall it's not something up my alley". I'm a bit sad since I enjoyed Delany's Einstein Intersection a while back.

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uwak
Vampire Hunter D Volume 1 | Hideyuki Kikuchi, Yoshitaka Amano
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Mehso-so

I really enjoyed the Vampire Hunter D movies a few years back but I feel like the novel was pretty lacking. I'm not sure if it's Kikuchi's inherent writing style or the translation but the writing style is distractingly over-descriptive but also doesn't do a great job of establishing atmosphere. a shame, since I like the bizarre setting. I'm also unsure if this is rough writing due to it being the 1st in a 20-something book series.

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uwak
Shorefall: A Novel | Robert Jackson Bennett
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Pickpick

I absolutely plowed through this book, something about this series gives me excitement that I haven't felt since I was in elementary school...anyway this was a wild ride. nonstop action and hoo boy do the stakes get even higher, somehow. I wasn't expecting the turn of events by the end of the book and the cliffhanger ending brutalized me. excited (and scared) to see how things go from here.

9 likes1 stack add
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uwak
Deadline | Mira Grant
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Pickpick

this sequel is a significant step up from the 1st book. I think it helps that the book doesn't have to stop and explain the technical stuff and can focus on the plot. stakes are way higher by the end of this book and Grant is excellent at ratcheting up the tension as new story events start popping up in rapid succession. I'm glad I can jump straight into the last book with this trilogy collection.

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uwak
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Pickpick

it's been a while since the last time I read a self-pubbed book but this was pretty fantastic. vast setting, political intrigue, detailed fight scenes and really strongly written characters. if I have any minor quibbles, I think the book fizzles out a bit by the end and weirdly introduces a conflict to be resolved in a different book set in the same universe, but otherwise this is an excellent read all around.

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uwak
Cabal | Clive Barker
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Pickpick

Cabal is an interesting horror novel that utilizes physical transformation as a metaphor for the oppression of mental illness, particularly under law enforcement. it's a book that is heartbreaking but at the end of everything, still full of hope. the ending was pretty bittersweet but ultimately very satisfying and the book ties up quickly.

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uwak
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Pickpick

finished the 3rd book in the 1st collector's edition volume and it was another fun ride all around. I am noticing that these first 3 books kinda have the same plot structure if you zoom out enough, and maaaaybe some of the action scenes translate better to anime form? I'm still having a good time with these light novels and I'm eagerly awaiting the next collected volume.

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uwak
NOS4A2 | Joe Hill
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Pickpick

despite the daunting size (for a horror book) this was a pretty fast read. I do think frontloading the book with backstory/build up was a bit of an odd decision but Hill is really good at ratcheting the tension up once the main plot kicks in. Vic is a pretty unique horror protagonist (compared to books I've read in the past) and the Christmasland concept was really neat. I do wish the book expanded more on the 'inscape' powers, though.

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uwak
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Pickpick

I'm only vaguely familiar with the history of autism through my undergrad/grad school work, so this was an interesting read. Silberman covers the overall history in depth up to the present in an approachable manner. if I have any minor issues, the book does downplay some of the more severe behavioral challenges of autism in children and also focuses a bit too much on high-functioning for the sake of meaningfully contributing to society.

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uwak
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps | Kai Ashante Wilson
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Mehso-so

I'm going to be honest and say my lack of enjoyment with this novella is due to my lack of reading comprehension chops. unfortunately I can't really appreciate Wilson's take on language and code switching and combined with his penchant for abrupt scene changes, I had a hard time following the events of this book. I think a taste of honey was a lot more approachable, and his first work is simply not in my wheelhouse.

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uwak
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Pickpick

I wasn't expecting a story about nuns in space to be so interesting, but the author totally nailed it. I especially enjoyed the biopunk aspects with the living ships. I love the world Rather has created for this novella and I think it would be a cool setting to explore in a longer book. my only major complaint is that the novella has to wrap up a bit abruptly after some major plot reveals.

10 likes1 stack add
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uwak
Tinker | Wen Spencer
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Mehso-so

finished our next book club read last night and hoo boy. I came in expecting a lighthearted urban fantasy romp with an interesting heroine and got an incredibly disjointed story, cloying and badly written romance, and some questionable use of Japanese mythology. this book is pretty bad but in a weirdly entertaining way and I could not stop reading it since I was fascinated by the author's madness. it's a hot mess all around.

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uwak
Three Parts Dead | Max Gladstone
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Pickpick

great and fun read! I really enjoyed Gladstone's mix of urban fantasy with a crime/lawyer procedural. the cast of the book is quirky yet unique, and their dynamics play well off each other. I've noticed some people have issues with the prose style since it's a touch more descriptive and snarky than the average fantasy book but I think it works pretty well in this case.

HeyT My friends all looked at me crazy after I read this and told them they had to read it and it was about magic lawyers. 2y
11 likes1 comment
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uwak
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Pickpick

while not quite as strong as the 1st volume, the 2nd book in the collected edition is still a ton of fun. admittedly though, I'm not sure how I feel about the incoming love triangle the book is trying to press between certain characters but I did enjoy how the gradual worldbuilding regarding the new mech units.

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uwak
Riot Baby | Tochi Onyebuchi
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Pickpick

a very powerful and emotional novella that embodies black anger and yet, still seeks hope. the novella explores the roots and effects of engrained systematic racism in both major and subtle ways, with a bit of fantasy and sci-fi elements mixed in. I was really fascinated by the usage of one character's psychic powers and the dark future sci-fi elements and I really wish this book wasn't so short since it ends a bit abruptly.

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uwak
Feed | Mira Grant
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Pickpick

another light pick. Grant's take on a zombie book is actually pretty unique, focusing on a future where people have learned to adjust to the outbreaks by way of technology and intense blogging. I do think parts of the book are a bit too mundane/overly focused on the technical sides of things and it clashes with the more intense aspects. still, overall, I did enjoy this book even if it's often rough around the edges.

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uwak
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Pickpick

last book from 2019 and it's a harrowing read. the extended Lacks family has been through a lot, but didn't receive any level of financial compensation for Henrietta's cells, which were massively revolutionary in research. Skloot discusses the family's troubles in detail but also explains the legal ambiguities still present today in regards to cell research and patient ownership of said cells. the overall problem is extremely complex.

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uwak
Silver in the Wood | Emily Tesh
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Pickpick

this is an extremely short and fast read, but a pretty delightful one. I enjoyed the atmosphere of this novella, and the way it integrates forest mythos related to fae. unfortunately, because of the overall length it feels a bit rushed, especially in developing the relationship between the two main leads. the ending is also a bit anticlimactic but I still enjoyed it.

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uwak
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Pickpick

FMP is one of those series I keep putting off watching so I opted to read its source material instead. the 1st novel was a fun 90's romp mix of high school comedy shenanigans + sci-fi action with military mechs. I'm so impressed by the quality of this physical edition/re-translation, especially for an older series. I'm looking forward to the next 2 volumes and future collected releases.

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uwak
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Pickpick

after a little over 2 weeks, finally done! overall, I think this is a good book, but it could use some polish to be a great book. I enjoyed the settings of the eastern kingdom and the priory, and imo the book focuses way too much on the bland western kingdom instead. I also wish there was more focus on Tané, seeing as she's mentioned in the blurb but is treated as a side character in the story. some of the pacing is off but it's still a fine ride.

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uwak
Pin | Andrew Neiderman
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Mehso-so

pulp-y horror isn't my usual flavor of horror but it's always fun trying new things. the base concept of this book is fascinating and the story can be tense when it wants to be BUT it's also a bit too meandering in the middle. the ambiguous ending was also a bit disappointing to me since I was enjoying the straight-faced weirdness that the book indulges in. this is a pretty fast read but I was still wanting a bit more substance.

ErinSBecker Good on you for trying something new! 2y
11 likes1 comment
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uwak
We Are Legion (We Are Bob) | Dennis E. Taylor
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Bailedbailed

bit of an unpopular opinion from what I can tell, but I couldn't jive with our current book club read at all. I honestly find Bob more obnoxious as a character than anything else, and his penchant for pop culture references was incredibly grating. on top of that, the humor was constantly falling flat for me and this flavor of hard sci-fi is more of a slog. I see why this book appeals to others but it's not what I like.

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uwak
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Pickpick

silly title aside, this is a surprisingly good light novel that tears down the typical "power fantasy for dudes" while also serving as a commentary on sexism in Japanese society and structure. also, it also might be the only honest-to-God legitimate female power fantasy I've read. it's a pretty short read that feels a bit choppy and condensed, but I respect what the author did with this story and wish more future writers would do similar things.

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uwak
Children of Time | Adrian Tchaikovsky
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Pickpick

I honestly can't believe this the author's 1st sci-fi book because it's so meticulously well-crafted and comes together SO well. the sheer time scale of events in this book are so widespread yet everything is fluid. Tchaikovsky also keeps a strong balance between the focus on humans and the emerging spider civilization so neither side ever feels stale or overstaying its welcome. just...wow, this was another excellent read for the year.

TobeyTheScavengerMonk YEEEEESSSS this book!!! 2y
11 likes1 comment
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uwak
Hogfather | Terry Pratchett
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Pickpick

despite part of the movie adaptation boring me significantly, this was a pretty fun read (and I reminder that I need to read Death's subseries sooner rather than later). I was kind of surprised to see that Death taking over the role of the Hogfather is only a small part of the book, with weird amounts of focus given to the archchancellor instead? I do think Susan is pretty darned cool though.

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uwak
Indian Myths | Jake Jackson
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Mehso-so

I had similar issues with this book as I did with the Norse mythology book (but that's mostly on me for not paying more attention to the books I'm selecting) in that this a more generalized mythology book rather than one more focused on gods. truth be told, I found this collection a bit messy, since it's mostly composed of 2 much longer stories with some shorter tales at the end. again, I think in the future I'll be more discerning.

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uwak
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Pickpick

I've been having a bit of a rough week and the 2nd book of this light novel series cheered me right up. I enjoyed the first book immensely, and somehow the next was even better. there's a good combination of a charming protagonist + some actually pretty good humor that helps this series stand out pretty well compared to other fantasy light novels.

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uwak
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Pickpick

it's hard for me to rate any singular volume of this politically-charged space opera series, since individual books by themselves aren't super fantastic but the bigger picture is far more interesting. I do wish volume 4 wasn't so darn short, especially since it cuts off right before another major battle is set to take place. I'm also thankful for the character guide at the beginning of each volume since it's been a while since I read volume 3.

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uwak
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Pickpick

with the current shitshow that is the U.S. right now, I'm glad a hoarded a ton of ebooks when quarantine started...this is an excellent nonfiction read on the cheap labor dehumanization system within the country. it hit pretty close to home for me, especially since it goes pretty deep into Filipino migrant laborers, and the propaganda used to turn racial minorities against each other to maintain a corrupt system. harsh, but very in depth.

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uwak
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Pickpick

this is one helluva sequel...Kristoff took much of the basic plot setups from the 1st book and turned it on its head, for the better. there's a lot of twists that reframe much of the current story and I'm excited (and slightly concerned) about how everything will wrap up in the final book. there's a bit of a slow start (similar to the first title) but once you get over the initial hump it's a wild ride.