Mid May 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

I (Robin) was a guest on Fables and Reflections last month, 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. This also means the podcast schedule might be a bit wonky for the next couple of months. Nicole has a bunch of stuff going on, and we're trying to have a semi-regular episode schedule without overextending either of us.


Rather than have a deluge of DNFs I'm spacing out my posts about them. I'm hoping that I won't continue to fill the Saturday slot with DNF reviews, but it might turn out that way.

THE HOLLOW HEART by Marie Rutkoski is the sequel to THE MIDNIGHT LIE, finishing out the duology. Something happened at the end of the first book which caused a drastic personality change from the main character, and the former love interested now gets to be a point-of-view character with the previous one. This meant that I entered book two and didn't have any point-of-view characters I liked, and I wasn't invested enough in the story to keep going for that.

THE ONES WE'RE MEANT TO FIND by Joan He is a post-apocalyptic story involving a missing person. The world is pretty interesting, but I felt like I was being artificially kept in suspense, not sure which perspective was reality.

No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)

I read a few more of Seanan McGuire's short stories, the highlight of which was "The Proper Thing".

Recently I decided that I won't write full reviews for anything older than 1950, and I reserve the right to not do full reviews for anything before the mid-nineties. As I'm continuing to read and review books it's important to have kinds of books set aside where I don't have to have complicated thoughts about them. I will still be reviewing them on TheStoryGraph, so feel free to follow me on there if you feel compelled to know my star ratings for the collected works of PKD.

Recent Reviews

Reviews forthcoming for NEVER SAW ME COMING BY Vera Kurian, THIS GOLDEN FLAME by Emily Victoria, and THE VAMPIRE PRINCE by Darren Shan.

PARASITE by Mira Grant, book 1 of Parasitology is Sci-Fi/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Sal doesn't remember anything before her bioengineered tapeworm saved her life after the car accident six years ago. Now something strange is happening with other people's implants, and she must work together with her partner to try and figure out what's going on, and how must they can trust SymboGen. Told in First Person with Single POV. This is basically a zombie story but with tapeworms, and it works very well, a great bit of medical horror. So far this was less stressful than the Newsflesh trilogy, so unless you have a specific tapeworm phobia, you'll probably like this if you like zombie stories.

WHITE SMOKE by Tiffany D. Jackson is Horror/Thriller, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Marigold moves from California to the Midwest with her family, only to find that the ghost in her past won't leave her alone and the ghosts in her present might be literal. Told in First Person with Single POV. This has an excellent portrayal of someone with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. It was cathartic to read a character like me but with a different set of ideations. I don't have a thing about bedbugs, but Mari does (for good reason).

A FAR WILDER MAGIC by Allison Saft is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Maggie Welty is alone, with her alchemist mother out of town until who-knows-when. Wes Winters is trying to get an apprenticeship as an alchemist, and agrees to join Maggie in the Halfmoon Hunt. Told in Third Person with Dual POVs. This slow burn romance is very good, I highly recommend the audiobook, as the narrator's accent work complements the in-text character descriptions.

THE MISERABLE MILL by Lemony Snicket, book 4 of A Series of Unfortunate Events is Mystery marketed as Middle Grade. The Baudelaire Orphans are in danger once again, but this time it involves torturous labor practices at a lumber mill. Told in Third Person with an Omniscient Narrator. My re-read of this series is going rather terribly so far, these books aren't holding up for me.

BLACK TIDE by K.C. Jones is Horror/Sci-Fi marketed as Adult. Mike and Beth meet while Beth is house-sitting and Mike is drinking enormous amounts of champagne. A meteor shower wakes them up after their one-night stand and they find that a strange and dangerous invasion has occurred. Told in First Person with Ensemble POVs. Definitely check this out if you're an exvangelical like myself, though I must emphasize that the story itself is not at all religious. It's a secular horror treatment of a particular evangelical concept.

DEAD COLLECTIONS by Isaac Fellman is Fantasy/Romance, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Sol is a vampire living at his workplace where he's an archivist, when he meets Elsie, a widow reckoning with her identity and her own desires after her wife's death. Told in First Person with Single POV.

Rereads and Older Reviews

I'm in the middle of two re-reads at the moment, I'm following up my re-read of THE FEVER KING by finishing out the duology with THE ELECTRIC HEIR by Victoria Lee. I'm also reading THE WICKER KING by K. Ancrum.

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 PRIDE by Ibi Zoboi is going very well for me, it's performed by Elizabeth Acevedo and she's so perfect in it.

Technically I'm reading THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang, but I'm kind of paused early in to focus on my ARC of THE ART OF PROPHECY by Wesley Chu instead. Once I finish that one I'll resume THE DRAGON REPUBLIC.

In Case You Missed It

Last May I read THIRSTY by M.T. Anderson, a vampire story where the main character finds out he's a vampire and he finds out just how much this is going to mess up his life. I'd originally read this in middle school and it held up as a re-read, with tonal similarities to early entries in the Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan.

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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