Early October Reviews (2021)


Welcome to the Books That Burn Fortnightly Roundup! Releasing every two weeks (one week early for Patrons). Remember to head to Transcripts That Burn for all available transcripts of the podcast.

This was a very strange several weeks, I was given three days notice that I was actually going to get a planned and previously delayed surgery. It went well and I'm recovering, but apparently I do most of my reading while lying on my side and I can't quite do that right now.

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I finally gave up on DISTANT GARDENS. I got stuck on one of the stories and couldn't get past it. I don't have anything specifically negative to say about the book, I just spent months trying to read it and it was dragging me down that I couldn't finish it.

I was reading the nonfiction book MONEYBALL and gave up. I thought there'd be more cool stats stories and less about baseball, a sport I don't care about. That's definitely a me problem, it's literally about baseball.

DESTROYER OF LIGHT by Jennifer Marie Brissett is a Persephone retelling that got too graphic before I could be drawn into the story. I should note that this is not the only Persephone retelling by this name, in case you go looking for it.

Recent Reviews

THEY NEVER LEARN (2020) by Layne Fargo is a thriller about a serial killer who kills the worst man at her college each year, and a young student just trying to survive being a freshman. It has strong themes of sexual assault and harassment, so please check the CWs before proceeding.

FOR THE WOLF (2021) by Hannah Whitten never really had the plot show up but it continued to deliver on wound care and vibing, I had a great time. Look it's a love triangle story that's probably not a Beauty and the Beast retelling but it's not not that either.

MALICE (2021) by Heather Walter is a Sleeping Beauty retelling which focuses on the dark fairy, or in this case Alyce, the Dark Grace. It's about how a person trapped in a terrible system decided to embrace the monster everyone already thought she was. It's the first book in a planned series, and so far it's the only one out.

GRACELING (2008) by Kristin Cashore is the first book in a YA fantasy series where some people are born with a Grace, which is the ability to do something supernaturally well, like fight, bake, or swim. Yes this means I just read two different books where someone has a power known as a Grace, I did not plan this.

I'm not sure when the Discworld series gets good, but it's not in THE LIGHT FANTASTIC (1986) by Terry Pratchett. I didn't like it, mostly because I hate the main characters and the jokes tend to be observations shaded with various bigotries.

2021 Hugo Update

This year I'm going to vote in the 2021 Hugo Awards, so I'm trying to read as much as I can of the finalists. In case anyone else is voting (or just wants to join in), here's a reading challenge for Best Novel (it has some of the other awards as bonus prompts), and here's the reading challenge I made for Best Series (it has the novels in each series as required, and any short stories as bonus prompts).

I didn't finish any of the nominees this fortnight, but I'm making progress overall. It does help that earlier this year I read the entire October Daye series by Seanan McGuire, so I began this ahead.

Current Reads

THE JASMINE THRONE is a fantasy novel but I took took long to read it and now I'm waiting for it to come back from the library again.

I started THE CALCULATING STARS by Mary Robinette Kowal (one of the 2021 Hugo nominees) and it's fine so far, it started out with a bunch of 1950's sexism before the alternate-history portion of the sci-fi kicked in, so it's a more stressful read than I anticipated.

In Case You Missed It

Last year around this time I read AMERICAN HIPPO (2018) by Sarah Gailey, an omnibus volume containing the duology RIVER OF TEETH and TASTE OF MARROW, as well as some associated stories. This is an alternate history story where people ride hippos in the Louisiana bayous and sometimes they use them for found-family heists. Very good, very queer, I love this series!

Pluggables and Podcast News

If you're looking for a place to buy any of the books I've reviewed, please consider our Bookshop page (if you use our links to purchase books we get a small commission). Let us know if there's a category you'd like to see curated and we'll see if we can get some titles together. As for the podcast, hopefully you're enjoying our most recent episode, EARLY DEPARTURES by justin a. reynolds, as well as the first half of our interview with author Sara Codair, released back in June. If you'd like to receive the second (spoiler-filled) half of the interview, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Patrons receive this newsletter one week early, as well as a list of upcoming podcast episodes for the next three months. Thanks for reading, the next roundup will be in two weeks!

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