BTB - Mid July Reviews (2022)
News and Events
I've moved and we're in the new apartment but (as on mid-July) our things haven't arrived yet, so that's been interesting.
I didn't finish THE STARDUST THIEF by Chelsea Abdullah because I got stressed by how much lying was happening. I've also had a smattering of other DNFs where I got less than 20% in, some of those include FOUNDRYSIDE by Robert Jackson Bennett, THE BOOK OF KOLI by M.R. Carey, and THE CIRCUS INFINITE BY Khan Wong.
No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)
My copy of LORE OLYMPUS Volume 2 arrived and I finished it that same day. It's a graphic novel, so no review for that one, but I'm enjoying the series concurrently in both its digital and print forms as each become available.
I've been reading some older sci-fi, while we were traveling across states for the move I spent one afternoon at a library reading EYE IN THE SKY by Philip K. Dick.
Then, bowing to the increasingly obvious fact that my understanding of Seanan McGuire's work across multiple series and a smattering of stand-alone works would be improved by reading just one book, I read THE MIDWICH CUCKOOS by John Wyndham. It was worth it for my particular goal, and probably generally if you like reading 1950's sci-fi.
Reviews forthcoming for THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US by Eliot Schrefer, THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION by Kiersten White, and RUNE BINDER by Alex R. Kahler.
SINGULARITY by William Sleator is Sci-Fi marketed as Young Adult. Harry has spent his life in the shadow of his more athletic twin who seems to resent him. They spend two weeks at their recently deceased relative's farm and discover something weird in a shed. Told in First Person with Single POV.
My personal essay with reflections on SINGULARITY is at this link.
JADE FIRE GOLD by June C.L. Tan is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Ahn and Altan meet by chance but their paths become intertwined as Ahn sees Altan as a way to stay alive and Altan sees Ahn as his path to the throne. Told in First Person with Dual POVs. This felt like a movie with too much cross-cutting and ultimately I didn't enjoy it. The beginning had a lot of promise and the ending didn't deliver for me. It also gave both protagonists a gay best friend in a way that felt like their queerness was there to signal that they weren't competing love interests with the main two.
THE POWER OF THE DOG by Thomas Savage is Historical, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Phil and George are brothers and ranchers in the 1920's. Phil is an asshole, an odious person who wears dirt and scorn like a cloak. George falls in love with a young widow, and Phil proceeds to quietly, persistently, make her and her son's life into a mundane but unbearable hell. Told in Third Person with an Omniscient Narrator.
SEASONAL FEARS by Seanan McGuire, book 2 of Alchemical Journeys is Fantasy/Sci-Fi marketed as Adult. Harry and Mel embody the Summer and the Winter, or they will if they can win the crowns before something kills them for good. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs. This is an excellent sequel to Middlegame and an excellent book in its own right.
THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN by A.J. Hackwith, book 1 of Hell's Library is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Claire is the Head Librarian in Hell's Library. When she travels to Earth with her assistant and new helper, they run into an angel who is hell-bent on getting back a book the Library doesn't actually possess. Told in Third Person with Ensemble POVs. I didn't end up liking this one overall.
Rereads and Older Reviews
I finished my re-read of THE ELECTRIC HEIR by Victoria Lee. It remains great, dealing with some difficult and often off-limits topics very well.
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.
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 read a bit more of THE DRAGON REPUBLIC by R.F. Kuang, that's going slowly because I'm having trouble focusing on print editions right now. This is also slowing down my read of Symbiont by Mira Grant.
I'm still reading the ARC of WHERE YOU LINGER by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, which just came out in July. I love some of the stories and have complicated feelings about a few more, so I don't know yet where I'll come out on it.
Babel-19 by Samuel R. Delaney is one of those older sci-fi books I'm reading, it won't get a full review when I'm done. I like it so far!
The audiobook of Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (narrated by Caitlin Davies) is good. I previously liked another of this author's books and I have high hopes for how it's going so far.
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
Want this newsletter delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe via Buttondown.