Late July 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) am in the end-stages of a multi-state move. My partner and I have been in the new apartment for a few weeks and our things finally arrived from the movers. We're setting up the new space and hopefully soon I'll locate my microphone (which is pretty important for the podcast).

I'm going to start including a photo or two in this newsletter, usually not many since I don't want to be overwhelming.


I didn't finish AN UNKINDNESS OF MAGICIANS by Kat Howard because I wasn't enjoying the story and became concerned that the combination of the premise and setting leans on real-world antisemitic conspiracies (more details in this link to the review). I've also had a few other DNFs where I got less than 20% in for much less worrisome reasons, some of those include THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison, A SONG BELOW WATER by Bethany C. Morrow, DOVE ARISING by Karen Bao, and SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim.

No Review (Nonfiction, Graphic Novels, etc.)

I enjoyed BABEL-19 by Samuel R. Delaney. It has some pretty cool moments and an interesting depiction of polyamory, but since it's older sci-fi it has some outdated language.

Recent Reviews

Reviews forthcoming for THE INTUITIONIST by Colson Whitehead, A THOUSAND STEPS INTO NIGHT by Traci Chee, and SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older.

THE DARKNESS OUTSIDE US by Eliot Schrefer is Sci-Fi, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Ambrose wakes up on a spaceship with only one other person onboard. They must work together to complete a series of maintenance tasks, but Ambrose can't stop thinking about his shipmate. Told in First Person with Single POV. This has one of my favorite tropes, executed well, and if you message me on Twitter I'll tell you what it is (I don't want to spoil it here).

THE GUINEVERE DECEPTION by Kiersten White, book 1 of Camelot Rising is Fantasy/Historical, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Guinevere is sent to to Camelot to marry Arthur. Well, she's not actually Guinevere, and the court is full of perils. Told in Third Person with Single POV. I had a lot of (mostly but not all negative) thoughts about this one. The TD;DR is that by trying to have the male characters only be able to be either good or competent (and often being neither), it completely wreck the development of a character whose every action screams that they're a trans man, and instead it insists that they're a cis woman (since they're both good and competent).

RUNEBINDER by Alex R. Kahler, book 1 of The Runebinder Chronicles is Fantasy, with queer character(s), marketed as Young Adult. Tenn is a Hunter in post-Apocalyptic Chicago, one of many with magic working to defeat the Howls which prowl the streets. Told in Third Person with Single POV. I went back and forth on this one but ultimately I do recommend it and I'll probably continue reading the series. It's clearly set during a Revelation-style apocalypse, which I appreciate, but you don't need to get that to enjoy it.

VESPERTINE by Margaret Rogerson is Fantasy marketed as Young Adult. Artemisia is training to be a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased, when her convent is attacked and she defends it by awakening an ancient spirit. Told in First Person with Single POV. I love this and had a great time, I need to make a point of reading more Margaret Rogerson. This is the second book of hers I've read and I know there's at least one more I can pick up.

A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers, book 1 of Monk & Robot is Sci-Fi, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Dex is a tea monk who leaves their circuit of villages and ventures into the wild where they meet one of the wild-built robots. Told in Third Person with Single POV.

TO BE TAUGHT, IF FORTUNATE by Becky Chambers is Sci-Fi/Speculative Fiction, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Ariadne is an astronaut on a long-term mission with three crewmates to explore four exoplanets. Told in First Person with Single POV.

This fortnight I read two books by Becky Chambers, and while I like her writing I don't know how often I'll reach for it since I don't generally read sci-fi. But, when I'm in the mood for sci-fi her writing is a conversation-heavy character-driven style which I love, set in fascinating worlds which I can either admire or ignore (depending on how much mental room I have for detailed descriptions that day).

Rereads and Older Reviews

I've started reading a series I used to read a lot in high school, back when I read a bunch of urban fantasy with vampires, werewolves, or both. I'll try not to overwhelm the blog with them, but I will be reading and reviewing a bunch of Ilona Andrews and Patricia Briggs in the near future.

BTB 2022 Reading Challenge

For 2022 I'm hosting a reading challenge that lasts the whole year. July's prompt is to read something by an author who is genderqueer, nonbinary, and/or trans, with a bonus prompt to read something by a current or former sex worker. Our patrons had a tie vote for DIARY OF A MANHATTAN CALL GIRL and REVOLTING PROSTITUTES, so I'll read whichever one I'm able to obtain first.

Current Reads

MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews is the first book in an urban fantasy series set in Atlanta, Georgia where there are alternating "waves" of magic and tech.

A MAGIC STEEPED IN POISON by Judy I. Lin is a court intrigue fantasy which revolves around tea-brewing. It's a bit flowery for my usual taste, but the intrigue is so good that I'm still enjoying it. I've made it far enough that it'll get a full review either as a DNF or if I finish it.

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.

In Case You Missed It

This time last year I read THE HOLLOW PLACES by T. Kingfisher, a horror novel involving a hole in a wall which leads to an otherworldly liminal space.

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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Small black cat (Grimoire), cutely huddled next to a Beanie Buddy koala and a white and brown toy cat.


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