I said last year I’d be doing the r/fantasy bingo, which runs from April to the end of March. I’ve completed it, mostly, except for the SFF-related nonfiction square. I know you can replace one square with any from a previous year but if I’m being honest, I don’t really have the energy to go look for previous ones, and I’d rather just admit I’ve not done the one square. 24 out of 25 prompts feels pretty good if I’m being honest!
I also lost track of which ones I managed in regular or hard mode, and sometimes I have the regular+hero (review) mode. I had a tracker in my planner, with little star stickers, but I switched reading journals and planners with the beginning of 2022 so it’s weird to go back…
It ended up being mostly reading whatever I wanted and then matching it to the prompts. I think if I do it again this year, I’ll try to assign books from my TBR to the card first, then tick them off, it feels more in the spirit of the game.
This is the last novel in the Kingston Cycle, and I had to wait a little bit for the audiobook to become available, but it was worth the wait. You can see my reviews of Witchmark and Stormsong as well. There will be possible spoilers for the first two books at least, in the review below.
With Soulstar, C. L. Polk concludes her riveting Kingston Cycle, a whirlwind of magic, politics, romance, and intrigue that began with the World Fantasy Award-winning Witchmark. Assassinations, deadly storms, and long-lost love haunt the pages of this thrilling final volume.
For years, Robin Thorpe has kept her head down, staying among her people in the Riverside neighborhood and hiding the magic that would have her imprisoned by the state. But when Grace Hensley comes knocking on Clan Thorpe’s door, Robin’s days of hiding are at an end. As freed witches flood the streets of Kingston, scrambling to reintegrate with a kingdom that destroyed their lives, Robin begins to plot a course that will ensure a freer, juster Aeland. At the same time, she has to face her long-bottled feelings for the childhood love that vanished into an asylum twenty years ago.
Can Robin find happiness among the rising tides of revolution? Can Kingston survive the blizzards that threaten, the desperate monarchy, and the birth throes of democracy? Find out as the Kingston Cycle comes to an end.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Trigger warnings: forced institutionalization, forced pregnancy, physical abuse and neglect, executions, police brutality, tear gas, abusive family (non exhaustive list, it’s been a while).
I promised a full review of this book… a few months ago when I read it with all the other Lodestar YA novels. I’ve been procrastinating on the delivery, but I still love the book just as much as when I first read it!
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
I’ve owned this book for a while but despite absolutely loving Becky Chambers’ every book I’ve read so far, I was not starting it. I think because it’s the last in the Wayfarers series, which made me really sad. I could honestly read 20 more books in this universe, I dream of a sitcom set in it.
With no water, no air, and no native life, the planet Gora is unremarkable. The only thing it has going for it is a chance proximity to more popular worlds, making it a decent stopover for ships traveling between the wormholes that keep the Galactic Commons connected. If deep space is a highway, Gora is just your average truck stop.
At the Five-Hop One-Stop, long-haul spacers can stretch their legs (if they have legs, that is), and get fuel, transit permits, and assorted supplies. The Five-Hop is run by an enterprising alien and her sometimes helpful child, who work hard to provide a little piece of home to everyone passing through.
When a freak technological failure halts all traffic to and from Gora, three strangers—all different species with different aims—are thrown together at the Five-Hop. Grounded, with nothing to do but wait, the trio—an exiled artist with an appointment to keep, a cargo runner at a personal crossroads, and a mysterious individual doing her best to help those on the fringes—are compelled to confront where they’ve been, where they might go, and what they are, or could be, to each other.
I’d had this book recommended to me a few times as a great historical sapphic romance. I had been keeping an eye on it, and by total chance I won the author’s Halloween giveaway. Given a choice of ebook or audio, I of course took the audiobook – and binged it over one weekend! So thank you Rose Lerner for the amazing audiobook! I read it very quickly in November but sadly got behind on writing the review…
Goldengrove’s towers and twisted chimneys rose at the very edge of the peaceful Weald, a stone’s throw from the poisonous marshes and merciless waters of Rye Bay. Young Tabby Palethorp had been running wild there, ever since her mother grew too ill to leave her room.
I was the perfect choice to give Tabby a good English education: thoroughly respectable and far too plain to tempt her lonely father, Sir Kit, to indiscretion.
I knew better than to trust my new employer with the truth about my past. But knowing better couldn’t stop me from yearning for impossible things: to be Tabby’s mother, Sir Kit’s companion, Goldengrove’s new mistress.
All that belonged to poor Lady Palethorp. Most of all, I burned to finally catch a glimpse of her.
Surely she could tell me who had viciously defaced the exquisite guitar in the music room, why all the doors in the house were locked after dark, and whose footsteps I heard in the night…
I have been thinking over the last couple weeks on how to set up my “bullet” journal (it’s lined so it’s not really a bujo but I use it similarly) and so it has allowed me to reflect on what I achieved and what I want to do next year in a lot more detail, as I’m combining regular planner and reading journal. Thought I’d talk a bit about it here!
I just wanted to say a few words about why the blog’s been so quiet lately. I did not want to go on an official hiatus, as I kept really wanting and meaning to write and post reviews, but for those of you who don’t follow me on twitter – I’ve been struggling with extreme fatigue and other health shit that’s taking all of my energy (on top of having a full time job, and all that).
So at this time, I’ve about 4 posts lined up, with just the title written… and nothing more. I’m hoping that the little holidays I’ve got will allow me to write them, and if I do they’ll be on a 1/week schedule so I’ve a bit of room space. I also have 1-2 ARCs to read that should have reviews of course.
I do enjoy writing this blog and the interactions I get from it – and I’m looking into making it a bit more graphic and maybe revamping the theme. But yeah, posting will really depend on my energy. Ultimately, what I enjoy doing most is reading, so I’m keeping the most energy just for that (and ensuring my rent is paid and cats fed), and seeing what’s left for other stuff.
Anyways, I wanted to thank you all for sticking around with this little blog. And I hope you can all have a refreshing and restful end of year, and start 2022 on a good footing. Cheers!
Part 3 of the hugo series, after novellas and short stories: the Lodestar’s not technically a Hugo but the ballot is the same.
As an aside, I’ve decided I’m not going to review the Novels because I’ve not read about half of them. Harrow the Ninth requires me to reread Gideon because I forgot the important details, and Relentless Moon is a book 3 where I read only book 1. I don’t particularly like Susanna Clarke, and I found Black Sun actually underwhelming. That’s it, that’s the review. I’m currently reading The City We Became, and enjoying it, as I enjoyed Network Effect a few months back. I’ll probably vote but I don’t really have clear enough Opinions on most of these to give you the rundown like I did for the others.
So, the Lodestar. The best of fantasy YA for this year.
They’re all so good! They’re basically all 5 stars or very close to it.
Let me go through them in the order that I read them:
So as I explained in my post on the Hugo nominated novellas, I’ve signed up for the Worldcon supporter membership, which gives you access to the “voter packet”, in which most authors and publishers kindly provide their nominated works for you to review! Not free, but a very cheap price for the year’s favourites.
So I’ve decided to do my best to read as much of it as possible to vote fairly (since you do, also, get to vote) and put the reviews out there. It feels like that’s the least I can do for authors who provide their stuff for free (membership money goes towards organizing Worldcon and the Hugos, not to the authors).
I’m currently reading my way through the Novel and Astounding nominations (and doubting I’ll make it through them all before the 19th) but I thought I’d take a short break and go through the short stories! These are all free to read somewhere online, I’ll put the link down there as well.
This book was part of my OcTBRChallenge reading list, for one very shameful reason: I got the ARC for it like 2 years ago, before I even HAD a blog, when I was still using tumblr and basically only had the vaguest idea of how NetGalley worked. I downloaded it and then… completely forgot about it! … and then since I’ve been using Netgalley again, the more time passed the more ashamed I was and the least I felt like reading it because of that. (You’re supposed to read ARCs in a timely manner and this is the complete opposite of timely). I’m now mad at myself for waiting this long, because it was a super enjoyable read!
Destiny sees what others don’t.
A quiet fisher mourning the loss of xer sister to a cruel dragon. A clever hedge-witch gathering knowledge in a hostile land. A son seeking vengeance for his father’s death. A daughter claiming the legacy denied her. A princess laboring under an unbreakable curse. A young resistance fighter questioning everything he’s ever known. A little girl willing to battle a dragon for the sake of a wish. These heroes and heroines emerge from adversity into triumph, recognizing they can be more than they ever imagined: chosen ones of destiny.
From the author of the Earthside series and the Rewoven Tales novels, No Man of Woman Born is a collection of seven fantasy stories in which transgender and nonbinary characters subvert and fulfill gendered prophecies. These prophecies recognize and acknowledge each character’s gender, even when others do not. Note: No trans or nonbinary characters were killed in the making of this book. Trigger warnings and neopronoun pronunciation guides are provided for each story.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I rarely enjoy every story in a collection – I actually tend to find short story collections difficult to rate/review because they’re often unequal. Not so here! Every story is a twist on the gendered prophecy (“no man born of woman can harm Macbeth” type thing) with trans, genderqueer and nonbinary characters who find themselves confronting various evils.
I especially loved the Sleeping Beauty retelling, “Early to Rise”, with a bi-gender (?) character who bargains their way out of their own curse. It was a great twist, and not what I expected even within this specific brand of stories.
King’s Favour, about an evil witch-queen who kills every magic practitioner in her kingdom to avoid being killed by them, was also a highlight for me, in both the concept and the execution of it/the ending.
But really, every one of the short stories was great in its own way, and the last one, Wish-Giver, was so heart-warming, and such a nice way to conclude the collection.
The writing style also had that fairy tale quality to it that worked great with the topic, and I flew through this book in only a few short hours. Definitely recommend, and I’m angry at myself for waiting so long to read it!
Hi, I’m Aurélie. I spend most of my time reading books and talking about it on the internet, or procrastinating. When I’m not with my head in a book, I can be found working a sales job to feed my two cats, or studying psychology. I’m based in Ireland, and I love travelling (when it’s safe to do so). I also offer proofreading services, check my Services page to learn more!