Late April 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.

I had an exciting moment recently! I joined Reddit because I want to recommend books to people and there's an entire subreddit where people ask for book recommendations, so it all works out. Since I started a spreadsheet tracking characteristics of the books I'm reading (in order to generate the blurb paragraphs I use), I was able to give someone a recommendation based on POV style, genre, etc. with just a couple of filter settings on the spreadsheet! It's a small moment of usefulness, but I enjoyed it.

News and Events

I (Robin) was a guest on Fables and Reflections a few weeks ago, discussing The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. You can find Robin's written review of the book at this link.

I'll be moving in late June/early July, so I'm trying to plan newsletter content for a few weeks when I'll probably be reading but won't have the time to write reviews. I might curate a list of recommendations by genre, or do something else to highlight older reviews. Let us know if you have any ideas! It'll affect 1-2 of the newsletters, but shouldn't affect more than that.


AND WHAT CAN WE OFFER YOU TONIGHT by Premee Mohamed is a novella which turned very surreal in a way that wasn't working for me. I've decide that between this and my complicated feelings about BENEATH THE RISING, this might not be an author who works for me. She's described her work as pressing science and magic together and then saying "now kiss". I can definitely confirm that's the vibe of her work (especially BENEATH THE RISING), so if that sounds good you should give it a try.

THE CITY INSIDE by Samit Basu has an immersive and dizzying style of worldbuilding which didn't work for me. I received this as an arc, but I couldn't get into it.

HUNTRESS by Malinda Lo, book 0.5 of Ash is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Kaede and Taisin journey to the city of the Fairy Queen. Told in Third Person with Dual POVs. It is set several hundred years before ASH, and it had too little drama to be exciting but too much trauma to be soothing. That uncomfortable middle zone meant I stopped reading.

I tried to read MURDER OF CROWS by K. Ancrum, but I didn't like the style and I stopped. This was voted on for the reading queue by our fine Patrons, so apologies that you won't end up with a review for this one. If you're interested in what I think about some of this author's other work, you can check out my very positive reviews for THE WICKER KING, THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS, and DARLING. As for the reading challenge, I'll probably read something else by K. Ancrum to cover the prompt.

No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)

I read a few more of Seanan McGuire's short stories, I particularly enjoyed "Help Wanted", her December 2019 Patreon story. I'm also very excited by the return of Lore Olympus on Webtoons, so I'll be keeping up with that. At some point I'll read and review the graphic novel editions, I own the first volume but haven't read it yet.

Recent Reviews

Reviews forthcoming for PARASITE by Mira Grant (sorry this one was supposed to be in this newsletter but it got bumpted), WHITE SMOKE by Tiffany D. Jackson, and A FAR WILDER MAGIC by Allison Saft, along with an upcoming DNF review for THE HOLLOW HEART by Marie Rutkoski.

MY LORD by L.B. Shimaira, book 1 of The Transcended is Fantasy/Horror/Romance marketed as Adult. Meya is a slave, newly bought by The Lord. Told in Third Person with Single POV. This is a poly, BDSM, vampire novel which I like overall.

VAMPIRE MOUNTAIN by Darren Shan, book 4 of Cirque Du Freak is Fantasy/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Darren travels with Mr. Crepsley to the Vampire Council meeting in their mountain lair. Told in First Person with Single POV.

HOW TO BURN THIS BOOK by Evan Witmer, book 3 of Odd Fiction is Fantasy/Speculative Fiction, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Every story in the collection is followed by a description of why it's objectionable and ought to be burned. Told in an Anthology with multiple POV styles.

FIREHEART TIGER by Aliette de Bodard is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Thanh tries help with the negotiations, but hiding a romance from her mother is making things complicated. Told in Third Person with Single POV.

TRIALS OF DEATH by Darren Shan, book 5 of Cirque Du Freak is Fantasy/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Darren must fight for his life to prove that Mr. Crepsley wasn't wrong to make him a vampire. Told in First Person with Single POV.

BATTLE ROYALE by Koushun Takami is Dystopian/Sci-Fi/Thriller, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. 42 junior high school students are taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are electronically collared, provided with weapons of varying potency, and sent out onto the island. Their only chance for survival lies in killing their classmates. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs.

Rereads and Older Reviews

No rereads this fortnight (unless you count the fact that I've read the Cirque du Freak books before, years ago).

BTB 2022 Reading Challenge

For 2022 I'm hosting a reading challenge that lasts the whole year. May's prompt is to read something by Palestinian author, with a bonus prompt to read something by an author who is Palestinian and queer. Based on votes from our Patrons, I'm reading CAST AWAY: POEMS FOR OUR TIME by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Current Reads

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.

The audiobook for NEVER SAW ME COMING by Vera Kurian (narrated by Brittany Pressley) is great. It's a mystery/thriller about a group of college students in a program for psychopaths, except now someone is killing them.

I have an ARC for THE ART OF PROPHECY by Wesley Chu, I'm about halfway through and I like it a lot. It's a twist on a "chosen one" scenario. Early on the leader the young hero was prophesied to kill dies at some random soldier's hands, and he has to flee because he has become a liability to the nobles who were hoping to use his prophesied actions for their own ends.

I started THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang but paused reading because the setting has broad overlap with THE ART OF PROPHECY and I don't want to get them confused. I'll likely finish THE ART OF PROPHECY and then resume THE DRAGON REPUBLIC.

In Case You Missed It

Last May I read FIREBREAK by Nicole Kornher-Stace, which was a truly excellent decision that eventually led to one of our recent podcast episodes, as well as my enjoyment of even more of her work.

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, SCAVENGE THE STARS by Tara Sim, 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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