Time of Contempt (Andrzej Sapkowski)

Time of Contempt is the second novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by David French (not the playwright).
Finished on: 29.4.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: sexualized assault/rape

Plot:
War is brewing, and Ciri is an important factor in it, by her existence alone. While Geralt is trying to figure out who sent Rience after them, Yennefer is taking Ciri to the Aretuza School of Magic on the Thanedd Island. Not only is she hoping that Ciri will be safely hidden at the school, but there is also a big conclave of sorcerers planned there that Yennefer wants to attend. But things are complicated indeed, and Ciri isn’t even sure she wants to go to school there. She’d rather catch up with Geralt.

Time of Contempt deepens the political intrigue, but also the old-white-manliness of the series that seems to get worse with each book. It’s still an entertaining read, but it makes me question the series a little (more).

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The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

The Song of Achilles is the first novel by Madeline Miller. It’s a retelling of Homer‘s Iliad.
Finished on: 8.4.2022

Content Note: ableism, rape

Plot:
Patroclus is nothing like his father King Menoetius hoped, and after he accidentally kills a boy, he is exiled to Phthia, to the court of King Peleus. Peleus’ son Achilles is the star there, admired by everyone. Patroclus, on the other hand, quickly finds himself an outsider there as well. But when he catches Achilles’ attention, it’s the beginning of a love that will last a lifetime, and longer.

The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written book that finally gives Achilles and Patroclus their queer due. I absolutely enjoyed reading it.

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Re-Read: Fire (Kristin Cashore)

Fire is the second of the Graceling Realm novels by Kristin Cashore. It is both a prequel to and a spoiler for Graceling.
Finished on: 25.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism, animal abuse, rape (mentioned)

Plot:
In the Dells, there are monsters: Animals that look quite normal, except that they are brightly colored and with the power to control the minds of others. Monsters are carnivores with a special hunger for monster meat. Fire is the last of the human monsters. She’s impossibly beautiful, has bright red hair and is jealously guarded by her childhood friend and lover Archer. Fire would have probably enough on her plate just by being herself – alternately admired and feared by everyone around her and struggling with the memories of a father who used his monsterness for cruelty – but she gets caught up in the young king’s struggle for the throne and has to worry about assassins with weirdly clouded minds.

It’s been a while that I read Fire, and much like with Graceling, I’m very happy that the book still holds up. I really loved returning to this novel as well.

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A Prisoner to Spring (Brigid Collins)

A Prisoner to Spring is the first book in the Winter’s Consort series by Brigid Collins.
Finished on: 15.3.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
After Chelsea got left at the altar, she swore that she would never put on a wedding dress ever again. But when her best friend Jennifer gets married and asks Chelsea to wear a wedding dress the night before – an old family tradition meant to confuse fairies who might be looking to steal the bride – Chelsea agrees to it. What could be the harm after all? Well, much to Chelsea’s surprise an actually fairy does show up and whisks her away to the Winter Queen’s court to get married. The Winter Queen is the most gorgeous person Chelsea has ever seen, but Chelsea still doesn’t want to get married. But dealing with a fairy is tricky business and Chelsea has to be very careful how to proceed.

A Prisoner to Spring is a nice, queer fairy tale (in the literal sense). It’s got a nice premise that it executes well. While I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is sensational, I really enjoyed it and I definitely want more queer/sapphic fairies in my life.

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Blood of Elves (Andrzej Sapkowski)

Blood of Elves is the first novel in the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski. I read the English translation by Danusia Stok.
Finished on: 28.2.2022
[Here are my reviews of the short story collections preceding this book.]

Plot:
After Cintra was conquered by Nilfgaard, Princess Ciri only barely made it out of the city and was finally found by Geralt of Rivia who took her to Kaer Morhen, the Witcher’s castle. There, she starts the witcher trainig herself. But this training isn’t enough – there are magical powers in her that need more attention. Attention by a sorceress. At first, Geralt and the other witchers ask Triss Merigold for help with that. But even Triss is a little overwhelmed with Ciri’s education. There is only one person who can help, though her history with Geralt doesn’t make things easier: Yennefer. So, Geralt, Ciri and Triss make their way across countries that are teetering on the edge of war towards a safe place for Ciri and Yennefer. Their trek is made more dangerous because more than one person is looking for Geralt and Ciri as Ciri is the key to ruling Cintra.

After a rather mixed reaction from myself regarding the first two short story collection, I finally delved into the series proper and I rather enjoyed reading it, though there were still some elements of it that didn’t jive with me.

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Court of Venom (Kristin Burchell)

Court of Venom is a novel by Kristin Burchell.
Finished on: 9.2.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: sexual assault

Plot:
Badriya came to the desert city of Aran with her mother, but now her mother is dead and Badriya is stuck in Aran until she can free her mother’s soul from the witch who keeps it prisoner. To earn enough money for that, she uses her knowledge of plants to make magical cosmetics and drugs for the women of the court in Aran. But Queen Solena also has a different use for her: Badriya is her poisoner, and she makes free use of her as she looks for a suitable husband.

Court of Venom is a nice read with interesting world-building that doesn’t get the pacing quite right, I thought. Still, I enjoyed reading it.

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Sanguen Daemonis (Anna Zabini)

Sanguen Daemonis is the first novel by Anna Zabini. [There is no English translation, afaik.]
Finished on: 2.2.2022

Content Note: the book contains extensive content notes for each chapter, so let me just point out that this is not a happy book and loads of warnings apply

Plot:
Sivan and Shanna are twins. They are very close, but also very different. While Shanna follows in their parents political footsteps and is about to become head of the Chosen in Vienna, the people possessed by but in control of a demon, Sivan is the black sheep of the family and has enough to do with his mental health than to be particularly ambitious. Right around the same time, both of them meet people they didn’t expect. Sivan meets Nikola, an Untouchable (who can’t be possessed but draw demons in) from Bratislava recruited to Vienna rather against his will. And Shanna meets Nesrin, a Mortal (meaning she can be possessed by a demon, but would succumb to its control) independent journalist. The fates of all four of them become intertwined with the politics of the Chosen and the resistance who grapple for control.

Sanguen Daemonis was a really good read that I devoured in only a few days. While there were a few moments here and there that reminded me of the fact that it is a debut novel, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the world-building is innovative, the characters are awesome and the story is dark, but not hopeless. In short, I really liked it.

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Re-Read: Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

Graceling is the first Graceling Realm novel by Kristin Cashore.
Finished on: 30.1.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Katsa is Graced: she has a special and extreme talent. Unfortunately, her Grace is to kill. She has suffered her whole life for it, constantly pressuring herself to get herself under perfect control, while having to work as a common thug and contract killer for her uncle, King Randa. But Katsa sees the injustices in the kingdoms around her and decides that she can atone for her Grace by setting some things right. Therefore she forms a council that works for the people. When Katsa and the council rescue an old man who has been kidnapped and Katsa meets another Graceling, a fighter, she soon has to see that something is really very wrong in her world.

Last year, a new Graceling Realm novel finally came out and since it’s been practically a decade, I decided it would be time to give the series another go. And I’m happy to report that it’s still a wonderfully engaging read.

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Forever After (Ashley R. King)

Forever After is the first book in the Vampire Reality Show series by Ashley R. King.
Finished on: 12.12.2021
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Plot:
Autumn has spent her entire life in her hometown where she works as the librarian. She needs a change, so when the bachelor-style reality show Forever After, where the eligible bachelor happens to be a vampire, comes to her town, she applies as a contestant – and makes the cut. The show is about to start shooting when Autumn runs into the bachelor, Oliver. Sparks immediately fly – but they are sparks of dislike. Still, Autumn is determined to stick to her decision and have as much fun as she can. Meanwhile Oliver, who decided to do the show to save his family estate in England, tries his best to get into the spirit of the show at all. When the show starts spinning out of control and people turn up dead, Autumn and Oliver try to figure everything out together.

Forever After is a fun, quick read that didn’t quite blow me away but kept me entertained enough. I’m not sure if I will seek out the rest of the series once it comes out, but I definitely didn’t mind reading this one.

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Tintentod (Cornelia Funke)

Tintentod, translated as Inkdeath, is the third book in the Inkworld Trilogy by Cornelia Funke.
Finished on: 8.12.2021
[Here are my reviews of the other two books.]

Plot:
Things in the Inkworld are still pretty dire. Politically, Mo’s plan has backfired severely, and Mo himself becomes the Bluejay more and more, much to Resa’s and Meggie’s worry. Farid is still desperately trying to bring Dustfinger back to life, and has pledged himself to Orpheus in the hope that he can achieve it. Fenoglio is still unable to write. And for all the people in the Inkworld, the Adderhead and his people become increasingly more dangerous. Something has got to change and very soon, or it will be too late.

Tintentod is a really great ending for the story, that makes good use of the pieces it put into play and gives satisfaction – despite a couple of issues I had with it.

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