Book & Blog Chat: December 2020 Wrap Up
I read two novellas this month, Shadow Debt (Tales of the Verin Empire #3) by William Ray and The Archive (The Maer Cycle #2) by Dan Fitzgerald. It’s actually an improvement over November, so I’m counting this as a win.
These past two months have been so brutal for me IRL. I really tapered off at the end of this year–which is fine, because I read obsessively at the beginning and made out with a final total of 63 stories. That was WAY beyond anything I hoped to complete, even assuming a perfect year (which 2020 definitely wasn’t for me, even if you don’t factor in the pandemic.) So overall, I’m quite pleased.
Reviews in December
Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee (4.5/5 stars): Magical jade is all well and good, but what makes Jade City so great isn’t necessarily its fantasy ideas, but its great characters and incredibly bold storytelling.
The Golem And The Jinni by Helene Wecker (4/5 stars): Although somewhat meandering and oddly-paced, The Golem and the Jinni is a richly engrossing story that manages to capture the heart-wrenching emotions behind both the big and small.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin (3.5/5 starts, tentative)
Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh (4/5 stars): A lush, intimate homage to love, nature and fairy tales, Silver in the Wood is a beautiful tale that’s only slightly marred by its pacing.
Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire [SPOILERS] (3/5 stars): Full of childhood wonder and nostalgia, Every Heart a Doorway’s inventive premise is used for a surprising and somewhat disappointing plot.
The Library of the Unwritten (Hell’s Library #1) by A.J. Hackwith (4.5/5 stars): With an incredibly inventive world populated by nicely complex characters, The Library of the Unwritten is a thrilling and emotionally satisfying read.
Octavia Gone (Alex Benedict #8) by Jack McDevitt (3/5 stars): a standard entry into the Alex Benedict series, Octavia Gone manages to be a fun space mystery despite some grating writing choices.
Shadow Debt (Tales of the Verin Empire #3) by William Ray (4/5 stars): at 249 pages, Shadow Debt squeezes in a lot of unconventional fantasy concepts into a fun, action-packed story without sacrificing character development or plot.
Welcome to Night Vale (Welcome to Night Vale #1) by Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor (DNF): Odd writing style put me off.
Vita Nostra (Метаморфозы #1) by Marina Dyachenko, Sergey Dyachenko (DNF): Uncomfortable aspects with treatment of minors caused me to put this down.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (DNF): I got tired of the seemingly perpetual dehumanization of the main character, but I listened to this on audio book, where I was unable to skip scenes. May come back to it later.
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty (DNF): I didn’t care for the main characters, and the book came into my life during a difficult time, making it hard for me to follow the unfamiliar world building. I read spoilers, so I won’t be coming back to it, but it does seem like a fine book.
The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi (3/5 stars): A fascinating premise falls flat, with tons of twists but no real emotional context to make it meaningful.
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (4/5 stars): This classic from respected writer Diana Wynne Jones is full of fun characters, intriguing twists and charming elements. It’s easy to see why it’s considered a beloved gateway for many adult SFF fans.
Recursion by Blake Crouch (4/5 stars): Despite its incredibly twisty, recursive story line, this book manages to keep both its great characters and its plot lines on a straight, entertaining course.
Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames (4/5 stars): Full of unexpected heart and humor (with a healthy dose of old school action-y gore), Kings of the Wyld will appeal to any fantasy fan.
Jade War (The Green Bones Saga #2) by Fonda Lee: very different in scope from Jade City, Jade War still manages to deliver excellent characters and gripping drama.
The Archive (The Maer Cycle #2) by Dan Fitzgerald (4/5 stars): Full of fascinating world-building and interesting relationships, The Archive is a well-paced continuation of The Maer Cycle that expands the scope of its universe while staying true to its grounded tone and intimate storytelling.