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2023 Reading Goal

14% complete! Blind_Mapmaker has read 7 of 50 books.

[Homage to Catalonia][1] is [George Orwell][2]'s account of his experiences fighting in the 'Spanish Civil …

Review of 'Homage to Catalonia' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

4.5 Honest portrayal of the war and Eric Blair's role in it. There is some wistfulness, but it's a far cry from Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (itself a good book and, of course, better paced than this eyewitness account). I haven't read much of Orwell's work, but this made me think of picking up more and not only the two classics.

The Hallowed Hunt (Paperback, 2006, Eos) 4 stars

An acclaimed legend in the field of fantasy and science fiction, Lois McMaster Bujold returns …

Review of 'The Hallowed Hunt' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

4.25 A good, very unconventional fantasy story. As in the first two books, there's ancient history and magic at the centre of the tale. The characters are rounded and serve to surprise the reader a couple of times. Unfortunately, the protagonist is a little more boring than most of the others (no Caz or Ista) and I would have liked to see a bit more from the female lead. Still, it's head and shoulders above the usual and a very enjoyable if somewhat darkish read.

The Far West (2012, Scholastic Press) 4 stars

Review of 'The Far West' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

2.5 Not a bad read as such, but the first part is meanderingly uninteresting and even the big expedition (what a spoiler!) is less interesting than all the limited forays in the books before. The last fifth or so (if you're generous) picks up somewhat and has one really interesting revelation, albeit one that is quickly resolved to cap off the trilogy.

While the different cultures' magic systems come across as believable and actually different, I feel somewhat uneasy about this whole painting with broad strokes. Maybe I am wrong and the author consulted some people knowledgeable in these matters, but splitting any cultural thing as broad as European, African and Asian leaves a bit of a bad taste. Taken together with completely eliminating Native Americans and not even mentioning the fact that there could have been people (what-if-ing being a large part of alternate history) sort of make me …

In the exciting tenth installment in the Young Wizards series, Nita and Kit take part …

Review of 'Games wizards play' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

4.75 Finally another Young Wizards book with a slow burn that starts out interesting from the start and doesn't need much ramping up. The lack of climactic battles (intro excepted) was also refreshing. Still somewhat sad that romance had to be in the cards, but it is well done and not overtly too much. I do hope that's the whole of the conventional romance sub-plots, though. Kudos for the shout-outs to gay and asexual modes - and especially for the subtle, well-done acknowledgement of a gay relationship that was introduced 40 years ago in real time. Also liked that this was an all-star jam of wizards of all kinds. Very satisfying.

Recitatif (Hardcover, 2022, Knopf) 5 stars

Review of 'Recitatif' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

4.5 Almost went down to 4.25 because of the extremely spoilery introduction of middling quality that is longer than the short story and the fact that selling a 6000-word story with some light academic commentary as a 14.50 € hardcover is really dubious. But then that's hardly the author's fault.

Read the short story first! Toni Morrison does a really neat experiment that went almost perfectly for me and I think the problem where it breaks down might have something to do that I am not an American reader born in 1960 or so.

Thirteenth Child (2009, Scholastic Press) 4 stars

Eighteen-year-old Eff must finally get over believing she is bad luck and accept that her …

Review of 'Thirteenth Child' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

3.5 Last, but not least book of the year it seems and it's a complicated review. It's not a bad book as such and quite an enjoyable read. The story doesn't take any of the easy shortcuts that I've come to dread from this author and there are for once no marriage bells for the protagonist - though many things are left dangling (unsurprising in a trilogy). But there are quite a few unsatisfying and downright annoying things too.

The worldbuilding as such is very sketchy still and the 'funny' ethnic names for the European, African and Asian magic seem really random. It does lend itself to frontier adventure stories without any qualms on the part of the protagonists, but that is all and in itself it is a problem too. When I bought these books I didn't know that this was an alternate history without any native Americans and …

Tea Dragon Tapestry (2020, Oni Press, Incorporated) 5 stars

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon …

Review of 'Tea Dragon Tapestry' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

4.75 Basically the rest of the story from the first comic and a sequel of sorts to the second one. Cute, whimsical, but with a sense of wistfulness - not only for the older folks. Still kind of short, but not excessively so for a graphic novel (still more of a novella). The art is absolutely adorable still and I like the diversity of characters. Bit more focus on the tea dragons would have been nice, though.

Shadow Magic (Paperback, 2011, Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Brand: Open Road Media) 3 stars

Review of 'Shadow Magic' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

3.25 It was probably a mistake to read a forty-year old progressvive fantasy novel right after a current-day one that blew my mind away. This is not a bad book by any reckoning, but feels dated. There is a female protagonist and she's the only character who comes slightly alive during the reading, the others feel mostly empty apart from two or three (or in some cases one) traits. The worldbuilding is a bit more interesting than usual for its day and age with the non-humans diverging from the standard setup, but the novel breaks down when it comes to the same-old ancient evil versus chosen one plot.

All in all still impressive for a first novel, but I kind of regret having sought out the somewhat hard to get later volumes in the series after reading the first Enchanted Forest novel. If you want to try Patricia C. Wrede's …

The Tea Dragon Festival (2019, Oni Press) 4 stars

Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across …

Review of 'The Tea Dragon Festival' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

4.75 This one is more of a graphic novel and has the same charm as the first book, but there's just more of it: more characters, more mystery, more of a story. It is a treat for those who like whimsical fantasy and romance - really adorable and with a little depth to it, too.

Schildmaid (Paperback, Deutsch language, 2022, Piper) 5 stars

Eine göttliche Stimme aus der tiefgrünen See. Ein blaues Segel in einem Traum. Und der …

Review of 'Schildmaid' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

5.0 War mir vor dem Kauf nicht ganz sicher, aber das Autorenduo J. C. Vogt hatte mich noch nicht enttäuscht. Da könnte man ja auch mal zu was Nordischem greifen und versuchen andere nerdig-nordische Versuche wie die Phileasson-Saga (Buchreihe) zu verdrängen. Meine Zögerlichkeit wich schnell heller Begeisterung. Das war kein dröger Fantasystoff mit nordischem Anstrich. Das war eine spannende, mythenatmende Erzählung, die fesselt. Hier stimmt einfach alles: die echt wirkende Alltagsgeschichte, das Pacing, die Charaktere, die Vielschichtigkeit und Doppeldeutigkeit der mythischen Elemente, die Intersektionalität und Vielfalt der weiblichen Erfahrungen, die Wendungen und Überraschungen, der Spannungsbogen, die Motive, die Emotion und die Queerness (das Buch ist was für alle, die Anarchie Deco gedacht haben "könnte noch queerer sein").

Kurz: Das ist definitiv das beste Buch, das ich dieses Jahr gelesen habe, und auch in den letzten Jahren kommt nur Martha Wells' Murderbot Tetralogie an dieses Buch ran - sowohl in Sachen …