Early November Reviews (2023)

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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. The newest transcript for our episode discussing Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is now available.

We're figuring out a sustainable schedule of podcast episodes in light of some ongoing life events. It looks like that will likely be one regular episode per month plus Robin reading an essay they've written for the blog. That also means there will be essays more often. The events causing this decrease in episodes are temporary, but will last long enough that we're committing to fewer, consistently released episodes rather than months with several releases followed by gaps.

News and Events

I track upcoming book releases by authors we've previously covered on a shareable google calendar. It doesn't cover everyone, but it covers at minimum the authors I reviewed favorably and is a good snapshot of the books I'm looking forward to reading (or already read as ARCs).

Notable November Releases:

  • A Power Unbound by Freya Marske (November 7th)

  • Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree (November 7th)

Signal Boost

Sometimes people ask us to boost their stuff in our stuff, here's this fortnight's mention:

Recent Reviews

THE SALT GROWS HEAVY by Cassandra Khaw is Fantasy/Horror, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. The mermaid and the plague doctor try to deprogram kids from a surgical cult. Told in First Person with Single POV.

THE SUGARED GAME by K.J. Charles, book 2 of The Will Darling Adventures is Historical/Romance, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Will Darling isn't sure he wants to see Kim again, but ends up needing his help. Told in Third Person with Single POV.

THORNHEDGE by T. Kingfisher is Fantasy/Retelling marketed as Adult. Toadling watches over the tower with a sleeping girl who must never be awoken. Told in First Person with Single POV.

SUBTLE BLOOD by K.J. Charles, book 3 of The Will Darling Adventures is Historical/Romance, with queer character(s), marketed as Adult. Will Darling and Kim think they have some peace, but then Kim's detestable brother is accused of murder. Told in Third Person with Single POV.

Reviews forthcoming for A STUDY IN DROWNING by Ava Reid and UNDER THE SMOKESTREWN SKY by A. Deborah Baker (Seanan McGuire).

I also wrote an essay on "SLEEP NO MORE, THE INNOCENT SLEEP, and the Death of Personality".


  • BANEWREAKER by Jacqueling Carey is a LOTR retelling which leans heavily into worldbuilding in a way that will likely please Tolkien fans, but was a bit much for me. Seems cool, not my thing.

  • A PALE LIGHT IN THE BLACK by K.B. Wagers - The description said they're the coast guard for space, but in the narrative they self-identified as cops, so I'm not finishing this. My patience for copaganda and cops as protagonists is almost nonexistent.

Rereads and Older Reviews

I just re-read MIDDLEGAME by Seanan McGuire, on the heels of finishing UNDER THE SMOKESTREWN SKY, the final book of the Up-and-Under quartet of companion novels to the Alchemical Journeys series. It was a great experience, especially since this time around I knew what was going on when the characters made analogies to the Up-and-Under series (a series which is much longer in the world of MIDDLEGAME, but a version of which exists in the real world). If none of that made sense, what's happening is that the Up-and-Under series by A. Deborah Baker is, to the characters in MIDDLEGAME, a series they read as kids. To us, it's four books that Seanan McGuire wrote as A. Deborah Baker, which accompany the other series but which can also exist and make sense on their own as a delightful MG quartet.

Current Reads

I'm still reading IMMORTAL LONGINGS by Chloe Gong, but I haven't made progress lately. I'm paused in reading THE DIABLO'S CURSE by Gabe Cole Novoa because some other books have closer reading deadlines and have taken priority.

NIGHT SHINE by Tessa Gratton is a very good book so far, somehow it manages to name characters "Kieran Darksmile" and "The Sorceress Who Eats Girls" and leave me wondering whether either, neither, or both of them are actually antagonists in the story. It's very queer, and it's a slow exploration of figuring out that queerness isn't an aberration or a mistake.

In Case You Missed It

This time last year I read A MARVELLOUS LIGHT by Freya Marske. The final book in this trilogy comes out this month, so this is a great time to try the first one if you haven't already.

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.

As for the podcast, hopefully you're enjoying our most recent episode. If you'd like to receive episodes early, as well as bonus content, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Patrons receive this newsletter one week early, as well as a list of upcoming podcast episodes.

Patrons pledging $20 or more each month receive a bonus episode. 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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