BTB - Late June 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'm moving this month, and it's looking like the newsletters will proceed uninterrupted. However, the podcast schedule will be a bit wonky for the next couple of months, and one review spot is being replaced with a personal essay about a book I re-read for the first time in years. Nicole also has a bunch of stuff going on, and we're going to have a monthly episode schedule through August to allow us some flexibility.

Whenever I read ARCs I'm happy to answer questions about them, and this week I read two.


PAYBACK'S A WITCH by Lana Harper didn't work for me, I categorically don't like romcoms with very little exception and hadn't realized this is one.

THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi has a lot of very beautiful and vivid imagery, but I don't like those kinds of books because I have aphantasia and don't get anything out of them. The main story wasn't enough to hold me, so I stopped.

No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)

I read "If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again" by Zen Cho, an author whose novel-length work I've read before. It's available for free online at this link.

Recent Reviews

Reviews forthcoming for Singularity by William Sleator (with an accompanying personal essay a few days later), and JADE FIRE GOLD by June C.L. Tan.

A SNAKE FALLS TO EARTH by Darcie Little Badger is Magical Realism, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Nina is a Lipan girl who still believes in the old stories. Oli is a cottonmouth kid. Their stories intertwine when Oli needs to save his friend. Told in First/Third Person with Dual POVs.

ALLIES OF THE NIGHT by Darren Shan, book 8 of Cirque Du Freak is Fantasy/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Darren, Harkat, Vancha, and Mr. Crepsley return to Mr. Crepsley's city as, once again, the vampaneze are killing humans there, but this time they're also hunting the elusive Vampaneze Lord. Told in First Person with Single POV. A pretty good entry in a great series, it's a midway book which makes it hard for it to stand out.

THE QUEUE by Basma Abdel Aziz is Dystopian/Sci-Fi marketed as Adult. The Gate appeared after the political changes, demanding that every bit of life require paperwork from it. Then, after the Unfortunate Events, it closed, and the people wait in line for it to open. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs. I love this, it's excellent, I hope anyone who tries it loves it as much as I do!

THE RIVER OF SILVER by S.A. Chakraborty, book 4 of The Daevabad Trilogy is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Nahri, Ali, and Dara appear in new tales set before, during, and after the main Daevabad trilogy. Told in an Anthology with Ensemble POVs. It's fine, a nice companion to the main trilogy, but I'm not confident that it would be a book that pulls in new readers. If you like the Daevabad trilogy then you'll probably like this when it comes out! I read this as an ARC, so it isn't out yet.

THE WICKED REMAIN by Laura Pohl, book 2 of Grimrose Girls is Fantasy/Mystery, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Ella is running out of time for her and her friends to break the curse on everyone at Grimrose before her story ends. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs. I have some complicated thoughts about how a trans character is treated (I think the book stands on the fence with the ideas of monstrosity it invokes but doesn't address). I highly recommend the book and am in the odd position of wishing it had slightly clearer transphobia, since the trans character is persecuted for narratively ambiguous reasons that could be complex and meaningful but currently fall a bit flat. If she is the Beast to her girlfriend's Beauty then let her monstrosity shine. This was another ARC, and isn't yet available.

KILLERS OF THE DAWN by Darren Shan, book 9 of Cirque Du Freak is Fantasy/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Darren, Harkat, Vancha, and Mr. Crepsley are on the run, chasing and being chased by the Vampaneze. Told in First Person with Single POV. This picks up where ALLIES OF THE NIGHT left off, and it's a bit stronger. This is partly because it's the third book in a three-book sequence within the series, so it gets to have a lot of payoff which was set up earlier.

Rereads and Older Reviews

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 taking it slowly because the second book is more stressful even though I've read it before. Also, moving means my normal reading patterns have been disrupted.

BTB 2022 Reading Challenge

For 2022 I'm hosting a reading challenge that lasts the whole year. June's prompt is to read something by an author who is genderqueer, nonbinary, and/or trans, with a bonus prompt to read something by an author who is also BIPOC. Based on votes from our Patrons, I'm tried reading SWORD IN THE STARS by Cory McCarthy and A.R. Capetta. Unfortunately I didn't even get far enough for it to merit a full DNF review. I'll probably try reading something by Kacen Callender or Neon Yang to fill this prompt.

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 last for several 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.

I'm making progress in THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang, I started this one a while ago and almost immediately paused.

THE STARDUST THIEF by Chelsea Abdullah (audiobook) is going pretty well. My feelings are mixed at the moment but I'm halfway through and willing to see where it ends up.

I'm reading an ARC of WHERE YOU LINGER by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, which comes out in early July. Due to the move I don't think I'll have a review up before it comes out, but we'll see.

In Case You Missed It

This time last year I'd just completed The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater by reading THE RAVEN KING. I love the series, each book has its own minor problems but it forms a whole that gets a particular kind of teenager in a way I enjoy.

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, The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline, 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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