Late 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'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. It'll affect 1-2 of the newsletters, but shouldn't affect more than that. This also means the podcast schedule will be a bit wonky for the next couple of months. Nicole has a bunch of stuff going on, and we're going to have a monthly episode schedule through August to allow us some flexibility.
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 FAMILY TRADE by Charles Stross is a portal fantasy with an adult protagonist who discovers that her mother was from the other world. I didn't like the modern-day bits and the synopsis doesn't draw me. I tried this because it's time to start reading books nominated for the Hugos this fall, and this was nominated for best series.
THE REST OF US JUST LIVE HERE by Patrick Ness has a pretty accurate portrayal of OCD, but that also made it stressful for me to read (since I have it as well). The thing that made me stop is the irreverent way it treats a variety of serious mental disorders, which made it hard to know what was coming next. If you like the description and decide to read it, definitely check the CWs, since there are some I wasn't expecting based on the premise (ordinary people in a town that also has Chosen One stuff happening).
I also tried reading ARIADNE by Jennifer Saint, but the beginning is very heavy with backstory and I wasn't enjoying it.
No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)
I read THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY by Erik Larson. It's about the serial killer, H. H. Holmes, during the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition ("World's Fair"). It's about 2/3 business and logistical details of making the Exposition happen, and 1/3 details of the killer's life and machinations.
Reviews forthcoming for THE ART OF PROPHECY by Wesley Chu, DAMSEL by Elana K. Arnold, and ELDER RACE by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
NEVER SAW ME COMING by Vera Kurian is Thriller/Mystery, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Chloe is a psychopath, participating in a program to study them, when students in the program start dying. Told in First/Third Person with Ensemble POVs.
THIS GOLDEN FLAME by Emily Victoria is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Karis is an orphan, separated from her brother. Alix is an automaton, woken after hundreds of years asleep. Together they must flee to try and find answers and Karis's brother. Told in First Person with Dual POVs.
THE VAMPIRE PRINCE by Darren Shan, book 6 of Cirque Du Freak is Fantasy/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Darren flees the mountain and recovers with the wolves. He must decide whether to return and face death in order to warn the vampires of present danger. Told in First Person with Single POV. Things are worse and better in different ways for Darren, but always interesting.
LONG NIGHT AT LAKE NEVER by Eric David Roman is Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Tyler Wills arrives at conversion camp, where the counselors are trying to pray the gay out of him, when a stranger starts killing people with a grudge and an axe. Told in Third Person with an Omniscient Narrator. I received this as an ARC, and it's the second book I've read which is set at a conversion therapy camp.
PRIDE by Ibi Zoboi is Contemporary/Romance/Retelling marketed as Young Adult. Zuri Benitez starts to fall for Darius Darcy when he moves in across the street in her Brooklyn neighborhood. Told in First Person with Single POV. I don't normally like contemporary YA, but this was great as a retelling and that was able to hold me. The audiobook is spectacular, Elizabeth Acevedo is perfect as Zuri!
LUCKY GIRL, HOW I BECAME A HORROR WRITER: A KRAMPUS STORY by Mary Rickert is Horror marketed as Adult. Ro meets four strangers and invites them for an impromptu Christmas dinner to tell ghost stories. Told in First Person with Single POV. I received this as an ARC and was originally put off by the opening, but I'm glad I pushed through, since the narrative tone which was bothering me is actually a really great bit of worldbuilding and characterization which pays off very well.
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 was to read something by a Palestinian author. I tried reading CAST AWAY: POEMS FOR OUR TIME by Naomi Shihab Nye, but I didn't end up finishing it because it was slow, sad, and the poetry wasn't great.
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 reading SWORD IN THE STARS by Cory McCarthy and A.R. Capetta. Well, I tried reading it, at least. 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.
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 still reading THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang, but I'm kind of paused early in to focus on some of the other books I started.
In Case You Missed It
Last year I wrote a piece I'm still pretty proud of, discussing ensemble heist stories in fiction. Here's the link if you missed it when it first came out.
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 Atrocities" by Jeremy C. Shipp, 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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