BTB - Early February Reviews (2022)


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.

News and Events

No major news at the moment!


I read THE SECRET HOUR by Scott Westerfeld, a favorite from when I was a teenager, and it went pretty terribly. So then I pressed onwards to the next book, TOUCHING DARKNESS, and that went even worse so I didn't finish it and now I'm going to unhaul the entire Midnighters trilogy. I'm sad because I loved it as a teen, but it's fully of early 2000's teen language, which, some of you may remember, was very very ableist.

No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)

I even more of Seanan McGuire's short stories, this time it was a mix of ones for her Patrons and on her website.

I first read HYPERBOLE AND A HALF when it came out almost a decade ago and it holds up pretty well (some ableist language)! It's a very funny book, one where I just sat laughing while reading it which is very rare for me.

Recent Reviews

Reviews forthcoming for THE MARROW THIEVES by Cherie Dimaline, THE SECRET HOUR by Scott Westerfeld (plus a DNF review for the sequel, TOUCHING DARKNESS), and THE PAST IS RED by Catherynne M. Valente.

NOPHEK GLOSS by Essa Hansen, book 1 of The Graven is Sci-Fi, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Caiden is tricked and traumatized, with his planet destroyed and his family dead he finds a crew of aliens who are trying to help him heal but the only thing on his mind is growing up and taking revenge. Told in Third Person with Single POV. I read this because I have an ARC of the sequel (I'm pretty behind on getting to that one though). I liked it overall!

THE LAST WISH by Andrzej Sapkowski, book 0.5 of The Witched is Fantasy marketed as Adult. Geralt does a great many things in a series of fairy tale retellings set in the world of the Witcher. Told in Third Person with Single POV. I was not a huge fan of this, I'm reading it with one of my siblings. For me the Witcher books seem to be just okay, nothing amazing.

THE GRACE OF KINGS by Ken Liu, book 1 of The Dandelion Dynasty is Fantasy marketed as Adult. Kuni Garu and Mata Zyndu become friends despite their different backgrounds, one a bandit and one the son of a deposed duke. As they fight against a cruel emperor they are of one mind, until their differing philosophies and a grievous misunderstanding sets them on a path to war that divides the land they both fought for. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs. I love this and I'm currently listening to the sequel.

RIPPED AWAY by Shirley Reva Vernick is Sci-Fi/Time Travel/Historical marketed as Middle Grade. Abe is a kid with a crush on a girl named Mitzy when he finds himself transported by a fortune teller into Victorian London during Jack the Ripper's spree. He and Mitzy must work together to stay safe during the wave of antisemitism and xenophobia which was prompted by the murders. Told in First Person with Single POV.

THE ALCHEMIST by Paul Coelho is Literary marketed as Adult. Santiago travels from Spain to Egypt to find a treasure. Told in First Person with Single POV. I have very little to say about this one here because I really didn't like it.

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET by Becky Chambers, book 1 of The Wayfarer is Sci-Fi, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Rosemary is new on the ship and gets to know the crew as they travel a very long way to a planet which is technically not at war right now. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs.

Rereads and Older Reviews

None this fortnight, at least none where I've reviewed them before.

BTB 2022 Reading Challenge

For 2022 I'm hosting a reading challenge that lasts the whole year. February's prompt is to read something by an Aro and/or Ace author, with the bonus prompt read something by a BIPOC and Aro and/or Ace author. I read SOULSTAR by C.L. Polk (technically last month) which covers the regular and bonus prompts.

Current Reads

I'm partway through A MEMORY CALLED EMPIRE by Arkady Martine, kind of sci-fi detective story.

I started AZURA GHOST, the sequel to NOPHEK GLOSS by Essa Hansen, but I got a little stuck and I need to finish it.

I'm still listening to WALL OF STORMS by Ken Liu. I like it a lot, it works really well as an audiobook.

I received a promo copy of THE DOOMSDAY BOOK OF FAIRY TALES audiobook. I started it enough to get a sense of it and I plan to switch to it fully once I finish WALL OF STORMS.

I'm still reading THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (unabridged) by Alexandre Dumas. I'm live-reacting on Twitter as I read a bit each night. This will probably last for several weeks or maybe even months, since it's a long book I own that isn't as high of a priority as anything I'm reading from the library.

You might have noticed the increasing gap between when I say I'm reading something and when the review comes out. To encourage myself to re-read books I love, read books that don't need a review, and let myself DNF, I've moved to a schedule of three reviews per week (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday, with any DNFs posted on Saturdays). That lets the pace of my reading be more flexible to read books of varying lengths, but it does mean I might have finished something a week or two before its review gets posted. If the backlog gets too intense I may have a bonus review every other week, but it's not at that point yet.

In Case You Missed It

Last year I read TIMEKEEPER by Tara Sim. I don't recall all the details well enough to make a little info-blurb about it, but it's a time-manipulation gay romance dealing with a fantasy version of England's colonization of India.

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 any 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.

The 2022 prompts are now available from the annual reading challenge! It runs from January 1st to December 31st each year. Find info and links here.

As for the podcast, hopefully you're enjoying our most recent episode, RIVER OF TEETH by Sarah Gailey, as well as the first half of our interview with author Seanan McGuire (AKA Mira Grant, A. Deborah Baker), released in January. 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.

Patrons pledging $5 or more each month can vote on some of what I read next. Patrons pledging $50 or more can vote once per month on what we'll cover in the podcast. You can find all of those polls here. Patrons at any level receive the booklist with our planned episodes for up to three months at a time.

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

Co-host of Books That Burn


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