Mid June Reviews (2021)

Welcome to the Books That Burn Fortnightly Roundup! Releasing every two weeks (one week early for Patrons. I’m Robin, I handle the written communications for the podcast, which includes books reviews, posting transcripts, social media, and things like this newsletter! My co-host, Nicole, handles our audio editing and makes the monthly livestreams go smoothly. Our transcriptionist, Heather, makes the transcripts for all our episodes and bonus content. Since this is the first edition of the newsletter, all our transcripts are “new”, so please head over to Transcripts That Burn in order to browse our currently available episode transcripts.

Upcoming events: The monthly livestream is on the last Saturday of every month, which means this month it’s on June 26th at 6PM Pacific / 8PM Central / 9PM Eastern. You can watch it on Twitch or Youtube. We’ll play Jackbox games with friends and guests and answer your questions.

The first half of June has been an interesting one for our book reviews. First there’s an adult fantasy novella, STONE AND STEEL by Eboni Dunbar. I like the beginning but the ending felt a bit rushed and overall I felt pretty neutral about it. If there’s ever a novel-length version I’d be interested in reading it, I think the story needed more room for the amount of detail it was trying to fit in. I took a stab at reading a YA contemporary book with HARLEY IN THE SKY by Akemi Dawn Bowman, but my brain noped out. It’s probably a great book, just not for me.

Next was a great YA contemporary fantasy retelling of Peter Pan, LOST IN THE NEVER WOODS by Aiden Thomas. It’s not my favorite Peter Pan retelling (that spot currently belongs to PETER DARLING by Austin Chant), but it’s great YA and I can tell I would have loved it even more when I was still a teenager.

Last month I began reading a YA contemporary fantasy series, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, and I read book three, BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE. This is pretty good as a middle-of-a-series book but I didn’t like it quite as much as the first two. I’m hoping I like the final book a bit more, and I’m planning to get to it soon.

THE BONE WAY by Holly J. Underhill is a sapphic Orpheus and Eurydice (Greek Mythology) retelling novella by Nyx Publishing. I received a free review copy in order to read it early. My favorite thing in it is how the Persephone stand-in is handled. I started an adult fantasy duology, The Books of Ambha by Tasha Suri with the first book, EMPIRE OF SAND. It’s about choice in coercive circumstances and biracial identity in a fantasy setting. I love the world building and especially like how it describes spaces by focusing on how they fit the people who use them.

A few months ago I read the first book of the YA historical fantasy/sci-fi Timekeeper trilogy by Tara Sim, and this month I read the second book, CHAINBREAKER. The gay romance has had time to develop from where the first book left off and it feels like their relationship has stabilized and matured a little since the events of the first book. I love the use of India and its commentary on British colonialism in 1800’s India through this story. THE MIDNIGHT LIE by Marie Rutkoski is a strange book where I’ll either love it or hate it once I get to read the sequel. It was recommended to me as a sapphic romance, and technically it is that, but the emotional core revolves around trusting untrustworthy people, and that means it subverts a bunch of standard romance tropes.

Finally we have my favorite book this fortnight (sorry CHAINBREAKER), it’s THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL by Nghi Vo. This is a very queer fantasy-tinged beat-for-beat retelling of THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald from Jordan Baker’s perspective. If you don’t remember her, she’s Daisy’s friend, the runner. Here she’s a queer Asian adoptee navigating the precarious position of being an affluent young woman while also existing as an Asian person in 1920’s USA right before the Immigration Act of 1924. It’s a retelling so good it made me understand the original book’s plot better. Plus it adds demoniac and magic charms alongside alcohol as 1920’s vices, the whole thing works wonderfully.

As for the podcast, hopefully you’re enjoying our most recent episode, UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN by Jeannette Ng with special guest, Dare, as well as the first half of our interview with author Sara Codair. 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.

Thanks for reading, the next roundup will be in two weeks!


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