Daughters of Doubt and Eyerolling

Month: October 2021

Fortune’s Pawn, or why I currently hate my book buying ban

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach has been sitting on my shelf for ages, until I finally picked it up for my autumn reading list. Aaaaand I couldn’t put it down again.

With 320 pages, the book is on the short side of sci-fi, the main character Devi works on a spaceship and visits very interesting places, but the action and the romance in this book kept me pinned to the pages. The novel is a fantastic mix of a sci-fi main course, not new, but very beloved, with lots of action to the sides and a wonderful romantic dessert.

Be careful, though, as this book ends in a rather good cliffhanger. After I finished, I cursed my book buying ban and was grumpy for a rather long time, because I could not IMMEDIATELY read the next one. So guess which book is no. 1 on my Christmas wish list?

5/5 duckies

Quick Reviews – October ’21

These books might actually deserve epic reviews, but then I might give away something that I better hadn’t. So, without further ado,…

Stalking Jack the Ripper books 3 and 4 by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini, published 18 September 2018. After their two adventures, Stalking Jack the Ripper and Hunting Prince Dracula, Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell are on a week-long journey to New York. The nightly first-class entertainment on board of the steamer is the Moonlight Carnival; one of their star acts is the young Houdini. Soon bloody murders happen and Audrey and Thomas just have to investigate.

Book three feels very middle-bookish. It's a locked room mystery, more or less, that is supposed to build up to the grand finale of the series.
Capturing the Devil, published 10 September 2019. Audrey and Thomas have landed in New York, where a Jack the Ripper copycat is on the loose. This leads the dynamic duo to go to Chicago during the fair in the White City, where they have to catch their devil.

Book four is a good finale to the series, but not as grand as I would have liked it. Yet that's certainly because I have read about the Devil in the White City before.

4/5 Harpy Eagles for either book

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, published 13 July 2021.

This 'snack sized' book is like a warm hug, or a good mug of tea. Though I would have enjoyed this lovely Solarpunk novella much more if the audiobook hadn't been wonky. There were too many spliced in sentences and paragraphs that made it sound like two people read the book. 

4/5 Harpy Eagles for the story

1/5 Harpy Eagles for the audiobook

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune, published 21 September 2021.

Is there life after death? If so, what does it look like? In Klune's story, your reaper takes your soul to a small but very cozy tea shop, where you meet grumpy ghosts, disintegrating ghosts, and a ghost whisperer who is determined to brew the perfect cup of tea for you.

5/5 Harpy Eagles

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, published 05 October 2021.

It's Zinnia's twenty-first birthday. Since it's going to be her last, she has a fatal health condition, her bestie turns it into a Sleeping Beauty themed party. When Zinnia pricks her finger on a spinning wheel, she falls through worlds into a fairy tale world. 

There might be a few surprises in this novella if you only know the Disney story of Sleeping Beauty. Harrow skilfully spins a story that has several different Sleeping Beauty myths woven into it.  

4/5 Harpy Eagles

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton, published 06 August 2019.

This story is told from the POV of a crow. It's name S.T., is short for something that clearly tells you what sense of humour the crow and its owner have. Humans have turned into some sort of zombies. When Big Jim's eyeball drops to the floor, S.T. knows the animals need to stick together to help each other out. 
This story is full of humour and the POV offers a very interesting view at our human world. 

3/5 Harpy Eagles

Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir, published 30 November 2021.

Princess Floralinda has been captured by the witch and is now held on the fortieth floor of a tower. The tower is full of monsters, a different one on each floor. The prince who makes it to the top floor will get a golden sword and Floralinda, just no prince manages to get past the first floor. What's a princess supposed to do? Sit tight and starve to death? 

Short story, but so wonderful. Floralinda really grows into her character and Muir's writing is excellent. 

4/5 Harpy Eagles

Lovecraftian space philosophy

The Outside by Ada Hoffman is a sci-if standalone novel about an autistic scientist, AI gods, and the monsters beyond the universe. I don’t want to spoil too much of the story here, the Goodreads blurb actually covers about 25% of the book, and I don’t want to ruin the fun.

I walked into this story complete blind, and I would have been disappointed if I had read the blurb before, it just reveals too much of the story.

In about 400 pages, the book not only tells us a satisfying sci-fi story, but touches upon a ton of philosophical questions in the process. How is a god defined? Being beyond space-time with incomprehensible desires and powers? Or maybe beings of this world, with the capacity to lay our souls to rest? How does one make a choice, when all outcomes are equally bad? If reality is a construct, does anything actually matter?

It was a really engaging read, though I might add that some readers might be disappointed by the ending. For the readers with a strong need for closure, and maybe those who prefer a clear distinction between good and bad, this might not be the best choice.

Who needs plot, when there is sex?

Kingdom of the Cursed, the second book in Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked series, published 05 October 2021. This is not a YA book, there are a lot of very explicit scenes.

Spoiler alert – I’m going to recap book 1.

Short recap of Kingdom of the Wicked: “Picture it, Sicily…” not 1912, but the late 19th century. Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are witches in a long line of witches. There is a prophecy about the birth of the twin witches, they are supposed to break an age old curse.

But Vittoria is murdered and Emilia summons a demon to help her find who killed her sister. She soon finds out that the demon she summoned is one of the seven princes of hell. One of the monstrous, deceiving, lying beasts her grandmother had warned the girls against ever since birth.

Since Emilia is a good granddaughter she definitely heeds her grandmother’s advice and does not strike a bargain with the devilishly handsome prince Wrath. She’d rather hold up a torch for her childhood crush, now turned monk, Antonio. Well, you guessed it, she didn’t. The charming Wrath might have got under Emilia’s skin – quite literally even, they have magical matching tattoos that grow larger with every day.

At the end of the book, a bargain between Emilia and Wrath has been struck. And Wrath takes Emilia to the Kingdom of the Wicked, where she will become the Devil’s wife.

Book 2, Kingdom of the Cursed, starts with Emilia and Wrath making their way through the underworld. It’s not how Emilia had expected it to be. Especially not because she is in the company of the deceitful, lying prince of hell, Wrath, on the way to being married to his brother Pride. In case you forgot, Emilia will remind you just how untrustworthy, lying and deceitful Wrath is, and how inhospitable the underworld is over and over. Just as often she might tell you that Wrath is also a yummy prince of hell. It got annoying pretty fast.

At Wrath’s castle, information happens to fall into Emilia’s hands left, right and centre. She doesn’t have to work for it. There’s a conveniently located book here, or a visit with a minor demon, or a witch that will tell her what she didn’t exactly need to know, but what turns out to be vital information for her anyway.

Wrath doesn’t feel like a fully fleshed out character. He’s that overly sexy man Emilia is lusting after, which she shouldn’t because he’s a deceitful,… yada, yada. In his favour, he goes out of his way to let Emilia make her own decisions. The relationship between Emilia and Wrath is supposed to be an enemies to lovers relationship, but are they enemies? They seem to be working towards a common goal.

The last 30 percent of the book were the most interesting. Suddenly plot happened. The big plot twists though? If you paid attention in book one they did not come as a surprise.

Definitely middle-book syndrome. I suppose this book, condensed down to novella size, would have been much better.

I’m still looking forward to book three, but my expectations are low.

2/5 Harpy Eagles

Summer Reading Recap

Against all odds, the summer reading list actually worked for TheRightHonourableHarpyEagle. I thought I would discard the idea a few books, or days, into summer, but surprisingly I stuck to it. It definitely worked far better than monthly or weekly TBRs, probably because it left enough breathing space for whatever caught my eye. I’m a mood-reader after all.

My favourite read this summer was, as regular readers of the blog might be able to guess, The Chronicles of St Mary’s series by Jodi Taylor; the first book, Just One Damned Thing After Another, was on my summer TBR list and I just couldn’t stop after finishing the first book.

Another series I really enjoyed was The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal. I obviously have a penchant for strong female main characters.

There were a few DNF books, as was to be expected. When you read more than 350 books a year, not all can be a winner.

The Lady Duck of Doom also read quite a lot of her reading list, but did not manage to read everything she wanted. Some books, like The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan and The Outside by Ada Hoffman got pushed back to my autumn TBR, and some wandered back onto the shelf, ready for another time.

At the moment, my mood tends to science fiction with a lot of action, and I really enjoyed the last book that I read for summer reading: A Big Ship at the End of the Universe by Alex White. It had some really nice characters, too, and I already put the second book in the series, A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy, on my winter reading list.

For TheMarquessMagpie, the summer reading list was also quite the success. Sticking to reading lists is quite the new development. Out of 20 books on the list, I managed to get through 15. Most of the rest has been pushed back because I didn’t want to start yet another series while so many are still waiting to be finished. I learned my lesson for the autumn list.

The most rewarding books were certainly Iron Gold and Dark Age by Pierce Brown. Besides enjoying great worldbuilding, a complex cast of characters, military and politic plots with high stakes and a wonderful writing style, you also feel quite proud after these 600 and 700-page behemoths.

It’s that time of the month…

… when the leaves are falling and the temperatures dropping. Perfect time for a cuppa and a good book, right?

My highlight of September was T.J. Klune’s Under the Whispering Door, published 21 September 2021. It’s a book about grief, a book about death, but also about life. Instead of being dark and depressing, it is very uplifting. It feels like warm hugs and steaming mugs of tea. It also has a gorgeous cover.

I don’t have a lot of big reading plans for October. My kids will be away on holiday for ten days, mid-month. That’ll give me a lot of reading and crafting time. There’s Act II of The Sandman, for example, which should get me through the first stages of my jacket sewing project.

And, of course, there is the autumn TBR that wants to be read. I might eventually pick up Bardugo’s Ninth House; I think this has gathered the most dust since I bought it.

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