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Joined October 2022

mainly FANTASY, SF, and otherwise SPECULATIVE, but no stranger to NONFICTION, HORROR, and ROMANCE
review
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Educated: A Memoir | Tara Westover
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A tale of how complicated abuse is—especially when it happens within your own family. A case study of gaslighting, administered from all sides. Of how fragile memory is—what is memory, after all, but our personal history, and history is written post-factum by people. How trauma doesn‘t go away. And finally, it‘s a book about understanding and writing one‘s own history, and of overcoming oneself.

With education.

5/5

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Precious Dragon | Liz Williams
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Mehso-so

Better than the last one. There were still a tad too many threads in this short book that congregated at the end too rapidly and randomly, but I‘ve grown fond of this world. There were also some side characters who were compelling—an old woman who unexpectedly became a grandmother to an otherworldly being, and a young rent boy inadvertently wrapped in a demonic plot. Still, it was all a bit too random.

3.25/5

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Mehso-so

Boy, do I have feelings about this book that can‘t be expressed in so few words... Suffice to say, it took me a round year to read it, and I both loved and hated it. (Mostly hated it, though.)

1k-pages-long behemoth that is ridiculously slow to start. One-third in—that‘s 350 pages!—and we‘re still at the inciting incident... Plus, every time you get comfortable in a setting, the POV switches, so you can forget all about it.

eol (My memory is not that fragile! Damn you, book, I could handle the Wheel of Time. Why can‘t I handle you?!)

Still, the worldbuilding is good, the plot interesting, and the characters grow on you.

(Eventually)

So.

Overhyped.

Standalone fantasy books are nice—I‘ll be the first one to scream that at the publishing heavens—except when they should‘ve been a trilogy.

3.0/5
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9 likes1 comment
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Travel Light | Naomi Mitchison
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This is a strange little gem of a book. Written in language meant for children's fairytales, it deals with adult, philosophical topics, like a woman‘s place in society, organized religion, and differences in points of views. From our MC's POV, a hero is just another word for murderer—she was raised by bears and dragons after all, so heroes are her enemies. God-touched, wandering, unconventional, she walks an open road and “travels light”.

4.0/5

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Manic pixie dream girl meets a hopeless boy—I mean, she meets... Death?

Not bad overall. Brief chapters. Minimal, silly plot. Pretty diverse characters. Funny in places. Short enough for the annoying aspects not to matter.

It provided fun when I needed it.

3.5/5

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Mehso-so

Pieces of cosmic trivia. Interesting, but without depth. Surprisingly well structured, though. It may work well as a starting point for those who want to know what that whole astrophysics thingy is all about—that, and Neal‘s enthusiastic, fascinated voice is always a plus. Someone should bottle it and start selling it as an antidepressant. 🎧

3.0/5

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Embers: (Scales 'N' Spells) | Jocelynn Drake, Aj Sherwood
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Quick read but low pick.

It‘s still pretty good, hot and fuzzy. But the solution to the overarching plot is—while reasonably satisfying—only surface-level dramatic (well, it was never about the evil mages, anyway), and the romance‘s formula got a bit repetitive. Although, if I waited longer between volumes, maybe it wouldn‘t‘ve bothered me at all.

(Still comfy, though)

3.25/5

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Translated title: Miracles & Wreaths

An #anthology starring a multigenerational witch family.

A young comic author who exorcizes man-eating monsters from children‘s closets.

Her mother, the city‘s mayor, wrongfully imprisoned for a string of disappearances of her political opponent‘s men that she swears she had nothing to do with (her main defense being that, had she done it, it would‘ve been more... spectacular).

eol Her artistically inclined lesbian aunt, who never loses her temper—except when she does, and the buildings explode.

Her 100+ year-old grandmother, the fearless leader of Harpies—a camper gang (yes, camper, because one deserves some luxury in retirement, and bikes aren‘t all that good for old bones) of like-minded (and just as ancient) gals, wrecking havoc all over Europe.

One of their family mottos:

“Don‘t escalate—unless it‘s worth it”

4.0/5
2w
6 likes1 comment
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Blood | Jocelynn Drake, Aj Sherwood
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I‘m ambivalent about the #fatedmates trope. It feels too much like instalove to me—there‘s little to no agency, to say nothing about consent issues.

These books are surprisingly okay despite the mates being fated. There‘s wiggle room for choice and getting to know each other and even some plot. Also, I can mostly ignore the ginormous (hundreds of years) age differences because the characters behave like (cute) adults.

Good comfort #series👍3.5/5

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Lesbian albatrosses in committed relationships. Killer whales with menopause. Bisexual bonobos. How King Julian from the Madagascar movie should‘ve been Queen Juliana. Female birds singing as the norm instead of exception. Virgin shark births in zoos. Sex changing fish...

Considering how long science overlooked the females of animal species, it‘s mind-boggling how much fresh knowledge is there to learn and still to discover.

4.5/5

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Poop as resource.

The introduction is a bit long—it seems even the author couldn‘t escape the compulsion to justify himself… Surprisingly fascinating besides. A rare book mixing science and environmentalism with a refreshingly optimistic message.

(Also, an invaluable source of bathroom puns)

4.25/5

7 likes1 stack add
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Panpan

Every. Single. Sentence. In this is in passive voice.

I‘m not kidding.

Every. Single. One. 😭

I understand science-speak is a thing, but it should be reserved for serious publications in dull professional journals.

Even as a textbook, this would‘ve been tedious, no matter how interesting the material was. As an attempt at nonfiction? A mind-numbing PAN.

2.0/5

julesG 🙈🙈🙈 So the book was written in the most boring tense ever? 😜 3w
eol @julesG Exactly. I like scientific books which are sometimes niche and are often written by actual scientists, but there's one huge minus to them: when a PhD follows an author's name, you run the risk that the style ingrained in the author by countless publications will “shine“ through. Many fight hard against it, and then the books are awesome, but some are like this one :/ 3w
3 likes2 comments
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Food for Free | Richard Mabey
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Plants & fungi fascinate me, especially those useful or dangerous to us—that‘s why I picked up this book. It‘s encyclopedic and could bore you if you have no interest in the topic. It helped that I‘m a decent forager myself—mushrooms are my forte, herbs less so, and I‘m passingly familiar with edible plants in my area. The climate of GB is similar enough that some species overlap, yet different enough to still introduce me to some fun wildlife.

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Wish | Jocelynn Drake, Aj Sherwood
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Mehso-so

This novella is a tad too insta-lovey for me. There‘s just a bare minimum of plot, and the sex scenes at the end were boring—too many of them in a row with no function other than shameless titillation. I only skimmed them (couldn‘t even handle the audiobook this time).

Smut over substance.

At least the characters are cute.

3.0/5

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Breath | Jocelynn Drake, Aj Sherwood
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All Europe speaks in a fake German accent, apparently. And Germans do it even when they‘re speaking languages other than English...

Really?

I mean, really?

It‘s the second volume, and I‘ve gotten used to it some. But.

REALLY???

(The text itself is still good, though)

(And I think I‘ll continue with the audiobooks—they‘re involuntarily hilarious)

3.5/5

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Origin | Jocelynn Drake, Aj Sherwood
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I really enjoyed the #romance, as well as the #fantasy aspect of it. It was a little quick, but the progression and the obstacles thrown in front of the MCs felt believable. Overall, I liked it a lot. But I listened to the #audiobook, and God, is the fake German accent relentlessly annoying… It made the dialogue during smut sound so ridiculous. Half a star off just for that.

3.5/5

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Mehso-so

I watched the movie, so I knew what I was getting into, plot-wise. And the plot and the characters were interesting. But.

Why do I need to know what the MCs had for dinner. Every. Damn. Day? What do I care if they brushed their teeth, or what time precisely did they go to bed?

Honestly, this book is about 500 pages long, and easily one third of that—all the mundane drivel—could‘ve been cut.

3.0/5

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Deadbeat Druid | David R. Slayton
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If there‘s a cozy book about death, underworld, soul-sucking demons, murder, and abuse, this is it. Or, one could say instead, this is a book about healing.

Despite the heavy subject matter, this volume is surprisingly uplifting. It‘s more focused on characterization than plot, since the setting is of the dream-like, surreal variety. Usually I dislike that, but this time the POVs were grounded enough for it not to bother me.

4.0/5

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Sam Kean is usually a low pick for me, a safe choice but nothing special. This surprised me positively. The narration is engaging, each individual story told with imagination and pizzazz, clearly fictionalized, but not excessively—just enough to engage. There‘s also a clear structure and a nice feeling of progression 👍.

Recommended if you like narrative-style #nonfiction.

4.0/5

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Mehso-so

This is written like a textbook, which—meh. Still, the info inside is cool, the whole #audiobook experience relaxing. It certainly helped that I grew up in the country; I‘ve always sort of naturally picked up on the clues pertaining to the weather—wind, air pressure, clouds, nature, etc.—so, for me, the info in the book resides in the comfortable place between familiar and new. As I‘ve said, relaxing.

3.0/5

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Mehso-so

Decent writing, interesting material, great message 👍. But I listened to the #audiobook. It‘s narrated by the author himself, and there‘s this strange, hard to define, and supremely annoying cadence to his voice which got on my nerves and subtracted from my enjoyment and focus 😑

Voice acting and audiobook narration is a harder profession than most people realize. Makes me respect professional narrators so much more.

3.0/5

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Translated title: Shamanic Twist

Bye-bye series & flu 😌

3 POVs this time: MC‘s, his spirit guide, and his 15yo daughter—a girl who can literally smell secrets (from porn stashes to where the bodies are buried), who believes in telling the truth creatively and in strategic fessing up.

“We have your archenemy tied on the backseat and we‘re taking him home and I‘m losing signal bye.” 🤣

And there‘s a plot this time, too. Yay!

3.75/5

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Mehso-so

Translated title: Shamanic Tango

Is it fever, or was this one less entertaining? The premise is great. Our MC has just found out he has a 15yo daughter just as magical as him. Starts with a murder case—which is just... resolved, and we‘re on to a longish journey of self-discovery.

Character-focused writing is great but a drop of plot would be nice, too?

Still, the writing is entertaining, and I love that trouble magnet, Little Chick.

3.0/5

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Translated title: Shamanic Blues

Easy flu books, continued. An urban fantasy series about a 40yo unconventional police officer who‘s just found out that no, he isn‘t going mad, he‘s a shaman. A woman from his past—his ex—appears and asks him to help her with a series of deaths at the neonatal unit where she‘s working.

All the books of this author are connected. I already know most of the characters, which is comforting.

3.5/5

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Dark Haven | Gail Martin
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Mehso-so

I have a flu, so I wanted to read something not especially demanding. I remembered this series, which I was putting off finishing for just those reasons—it‘s predictable, and so saturated with all the typical fantasy tropes it‘s dripping.

It didn‘t disappoint, and was just what I needed. Also, the plot was better structured this time, though the cliffhanger at the end was mean—sorry, but half a star off just for that. I hate cliffhangers.

3.0/5

Bookwomble I hope you're feeling better soon 🤒❤️ 1mo
5 likes1 comment
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Oh boy, is this book thirsty. Or should I say—hungry…

Honestly tho. I almost DNFed this. The list of warnings on this… Especially the CSA—which is central to the plot, actually—came out of the left field. This book is disturbing, but then it is horror.

Fairytale-infused… erotic horror?

Ahem.

In the end, the “disturbing-ness” was what made me like this. Although it certainly isn‘t for everyone. Beware the warnings.

4.0/5

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We‘re back to our main protagonists, but they‘re in so much trouble. I wander how it‘ll end—as of now, I don‘t see a straightforward solution. This series was a considerable time investment, and I really hope the author will deliver. One more book to go.

(Also, I kinda really want these books to become a kitschy, tentacled-monster-of-the-week TV series. Some Netflix exec? Pretty, pretty please...?)

4.0/5

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Escape from Yokai Land | Charles Stross
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Greetings from outer space. Here come Kaijuu.

Or rather—a gigantic… Hello Kitty?

(Or something)

✨ Sparkles ✨

Pink everywhere.

(And I do mean—everywhere)

A truly lovecraftian sh… stuff of uncanny nightmares.

😅🤣🤣

3.5/5

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The Nightmare Stacks | Charles Stross
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Still no Bob this time 😢. Although Alex, a young, awkward vampire mage, and his terrifyingly eldritch Elven princess who came to Earth to enslave humanity are a nice palette cleanser. More humorous than the last one, although droves of people die, and we‘re clearly still snowballing towards the end of the world.

And, oh boy, there go the tentacled, carnivorous unicorns again…

Great, even if the POV was unexpected.

4.0/5

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The Demon and the City | Liz Williams
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Mostly engaging main POV, two not especially fleshed-out but otherwise tolerable “romantic” subplots, sufficiently engaging back-and-forth between all the elements of the story, good worldbuilding—all was well. Until the finale happened, that is, and I couldn‘t focus on it one bit 😟. An awful place for a reader to stop caring.

Was this book trying to catch too many birds at once…?

2.5/5

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An interesting read for someone interested in IT. There‘s not much technical data here. It‘s more about the people involved—more so on the “right” side of things—the history of the ransomware threat, and the response of the affected organizations and the authorities.

The style is pretty dry in places and often uneven, but it‘s informative enough for me to (mostly) overlook those flaws.

3.5/5

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Mo‘s perspective, yay! She and her evil, blood-thirsty violin go toe to toe with an outbreak of superheroes—except the violin also wants to eat her hubby and, well, pretty much everyone else.

Darker than usual. Plus, the cheating plot was hard to swallow from a reader‘s perspective (I vehemently hate those). But it all fit Mo‘s character and the dark place she was spiraling into. I hope things will improve for her in the next installment.

3.75/5

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Night Shift | Kim Fielding
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Mehso-so

An ex-con meets a vampire. What ensues is... not as exciting as you‘d expect. There is working a night shift at a menial job. A book club. Meetings with the parole officer. A clear, in-your-face message about healing. Overall, it‘s a simple slice-of-life piece—with explicit yet very short sex scenes 🤨

(Why was there a vampire, again?)

Not exactly bad, but nothing special either. Mundanity through and through.

3.0/5

#paranormal #mlm #romance

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Snake Agent | Liz Williams
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It seems I‘ve stumbled into another interesting urban fantasy universe—Singapore that on the first glance is mundane, but where demons walk the streets and goddesses pay home visits, and where Heaven and Hell are just another part of life. With their own bureaucracy…

3.5/5

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What We Fed to the Manticore | Talia Lakshmi Kolluri
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A sad allegory. Nature and humans—as destructive as we are—through the eyes of animals. This book does a great job showing their untainted wisdom and child-like lack of understanding, sometimes at the same time.

For those who don't want to forget we‘re not the only creatures inhabiting this planet, and that our selfishness impacts more than just us.

#anthology #nature

4.25/5

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Shall Machines Bite the Sun | Benjanun Sriduangkaew
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The threads converge again. A drama of four intertwined relationships: a long broken marriage, another in danger of breaking, damaged trust, then a self broken—thrice. All of this in space, in a futuristic, cyberpunk-esque world, spiced with spectacular fights and complicated human-AI politics.

Surprisingly unconvoluted.

God, I so hope this series gets another entry—it didn‘t disappoint even once.

5/5

#sf #lgbtq #wlw #onedayread

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Wicked Women of Detroit | Tobin T. Buhk
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Mehso-so

Interesting material, somehow stilted execution.

This is a short book, and that is its undoing. It basically amounts to a report—a simple synthesis of press articles and case files. Dry and to the point, no embellishments in sight. Hardly any historical context. We‘re thrust into case after case, with no space to breathe. Still, these women were fascinating, and I‘d like to read something more about them and about the world that made them.

3.0/5

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It‘s vampires this time. Mathematically powered vampires. Obviously 😂.

Starts fast, a tad sluggish in the middle, ends with a bang—it‘s as if you put two separate stories together, inciting incidents and all. That‘s a little annoying as you‘re reading it, and I had to put it down for a while, but it works in the end. Two books in one, kind of?

3.75/5

rwmg Sounds intriguing enough for me to wishlist the first in the series 2mo
eol @rwmg try one of the short stories first. (At least one of them is available on tor.com for free I think?) That's what I did. They're pretty much standalone, and will give you a sample of what you can expect. This series is pretty unique in that it mixed urban fantasy, lovecraftian cosmic horror (and it gets really dark and explicit in places) , comedy, geek references, and mundanities of corporate life. 2mo
7 likes2 comments
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Mehso-so

I felt as if I‘ve missed a book between the previous one and this? Oh, it‘s based on a game, and that‘s supposed to fill a hole in between the ending of the first and the second volume. Aside from that, it's surprisingly not terrible. As I‘ve said before, Sanderson is reliable.

And. At least it explains what the weird game mechanics stuffed in the midst of the fantasy world were about.

3.0/5

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Awakening (Infinity Blade, #1) | Brandon Sanderson
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Mehso-so

Sanderson is reliable. His books are easy to read—simply written, often over-explained when it comes to emotions, and with no palatable romantic plots to speak of. Yet he knows how to keep you focused with meticulous worldbuilding and action.

Here, the mentions of game mechanics threw me out of the immersion sometimes, and I hope it‘ll be explained in the second volume (and knowing Sanderson, it‘s important). Still, a relaxing few hours.

3.25/5

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The Apocalypse Codex | Charles Stross
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This one was action-packed. Starring Bob, as witty and competent as usual, and Persephone, a spy-slash-witch. She is a compelling female character (and not a love interest of any sort, praise God) who I hope to meet again.

I also really liked the cliche-but-not cult plot 👍

A small complaint: I‘ve noticed this before, but this author has a bit of trouble landing the endings. In my opinion, they should be more fleshed out.

4.0/5

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I needed to listen to something relaxing, and, as it turns out, funny math relaxes me. I don‘t know how much of it I internalized (not much, probably), but that wasn‘t the goal. A safe nonfiction choice. It seemed more concise than the first one. Still rambly, though—like a mantra.

3.5/5

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Still relaxing, still cozy, and the victims are a little less cliche this time (though not by much). We also find out more about the titular elderly lady. The deepening of her character is probably why I enjoyed this more than the first volume, even if I would‘ve preferred her a tad more ambiguous. Too sympathetic for the cold creature that she is deep down; still, fun to read about.

3.75/5

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Mehso-so

I have to admit, I‘m not a contemporary mystery/crime novels connoisseur, but the premise intrigued me. Overall, it‘s a relaxing read (if you can call that a book about an old lady serial killer). A cozy mystery—except, since you know who the killer is from the start, it‘s not a mystery at all?

The “victims”, aside from crossing the old lady, are also cliche bad guys, which was the part I didn‘t necessarily like.

3.25/5

#onedayread #smallbooks

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This.

Is.

Hilarious.

I was in a mood for a #Christmas themed book, and I‘m always in a mood for Scalzi.

And honestly.

Santa‘s business as a corporate operation. Santa‘s scary lawyer. The “Bunny” franchise (the offshoot of the Easter Bunny firm) going for a hostile takeover… And that interview with the reindeer trainer 🙃

😂🤣🤣

This is great.

5.0/5

#anthology #humor

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It‘s a hodgepodge of horror cliches put together into an enjoyable mix. If I was in a different mood, I probably wouldn‘t‘ve enjoyed it so much—Mira Grant‘s books are always a mixed bag for me. Her writing is of the “surface” variety (I don‘t know how else to describe it; too much abstraction, too little meat, maybe?) which I rarely care for. One of the reasons I‘m so surprised I liked this.
4.0/5

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Nicely written, and interesting from a historical standpoint—written during ye olde times when the Internet was still a cooing baby. Reads like a cross between a true crime / spy novel, slice-of-life memoir, confessions of a wavering anarchist, and an old Linux manual. An interesting mix, and enjoyable for a geek like me 👍

3.5/5

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Hard Reboot | Django Wexler
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Mehso-so

This was me giving Django Wexler a second chance. It went better than the first, but not by much. The non-action parts were enjoyable, but whenever the action started, my brain turned off. Too much visuals and too little everything else, perhaps? I don‘t have complete aphantasia, but it‘s close—if there‘s nothing but eye input in a book, I‘m unable to really enjoy it 😞

3.0/5

#sf #lgbtq #lgbtqsf #wlw #onedayread #smallbooks

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Translated title: Pumpkin & Mistletoe

Lately, I don‘t read many books written in my native language, which is a bit of a shame. This one is an anthology by one author I like, all set around Halloween & Christmas, starring her three most prolific heroines.

A girl from a small town, growing up in a multigenerational, mostly female (and crazy) family of witches.

eol A one-woman police force of an alternative magical town who has to deal with all its devils, ghosts, vampires, and mad politics.

A lesbian berserker and assassin for hire who kind of likes her witch neighbor‘s small kids but won‘t admit it even under torture.

Great, uncomplicated fun, and I loved it.

4.0/5
(edited) 2mo
9 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Day of Ascension | Adrian Tchaikovsky
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I trust Tchaikovsky. I‘ve yet to read something he wrote I didn‘t like. His worldbuilding skills—his creativity—is superb. This #sf #standalone is supposed to be a part of the Warhammer franchise (see big letters on the cover), which I know nothing about, yet that didn‘t bother me one bit. Set in a grotesque, dystopian world inhabited by terrible people, with no good solutions in sight, it was still immersive and fascinating.

4.25/5