Two Minute Reviews Dump

Monday, October 30, 2017

This is another round up post, books I read in the last three months or so and (mostly) enjoyed but didn't have enough to say for a full review. Onward and upwards, shall we?

Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comics Anthology ed. Joamette Gill - ★★★★★

A beautiful collection, thoughtful and expressive. Not all the stories spoke to me personally, but the ones that did were truly meaningful to my life. It's a volume that stays with you.

Standout stories include The Whisperer by Arianne Hokoki, which in addition to being a wonderful story about depression, self acceptance, and love, is phenomenally drawn with a beautiful, saturated style. Her Gift by Coco Candelario, which looks like Steven Universe and Kiki's Delivery Service had an adorable, baking baby. Def Together by fydbac earns the spot for best character design. Their unnamed MCs are gorgeous in a way you'd never see in mainstream comics. But for my money, the volume saved the best for last. Songbird For A Vulture by Naomi Franquiz is arresting. Heartbreaking. Beautiful.

The collection itself is nicely laid out. The table of contents includes content warnings on five of the fifteen stories, (including both The Whisperer and Songbird For A Vulture, so be careful with my recommendations,) which I appreciate and hope indicates the future of publishing. The cover is drop dead gorgeous and deserves to be front facing on any shelf. I want a poster. The section "Meet the Coven", with each author's self portrait is also very nice, since a lot of anthologies don't bother with a section on their contributors. (If nothing else, go look at Aatmaja Pandya's portrait because oh my god.)

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel - DNF

I saw Sonia speak on the Buzz Book panel at BEA 2016 and I was immediately desperate for this. Unfortunately, something that I didn't see covered either at the panel or in early reviews is the fact that this book needs a huge trigger warning for incest and CSA. I also had some problems with pacing. Unfortunately, I bowed out at 30%

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde - ★★★☆☆

Bah bah, black sheep.

Where a lot of my friends found this book meaningful and saw themselves in it, I just found scenes like Taylor forgiving the bodyshamer preachy and disconnected from reality.

Two things work against this book. One, I don't like this current trend of comic con stories. I find them extremely flat, full of characters with no thoughts or interests outside of one tv show. Two, every SwoonReads book I've encountered has been extremely juvenile. I don't mean teenagers making teenage decisions, that's expected and encouraged in YA. I mean word choices and editing that belong in a very junior novel, not a borderline NA.

Yes, it's great that this book has ownvoices autism rep, something I hope to see more of in the industry and a bi WOC in a f/f ship, but the actual plot did nothing for me.

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger - ★★★☆☆

I wanted this to be a home run, but it was just a 2 point conversion.

Considering who rec'd this to me, I can't believe the mess of girl hate going on in this book. Bailey hates Mona from the word go. She's jealous and rude to Jess, an old high school acquaintance, only being nice when she needs something. That's literally every female character who gets more than a page of screen time. What the hell? (And don't get me started on the "reveal" of Jess liking women and the shitty way Bailey treats that.)

The magic system is super cool and I really liked the world building of the Court. It reads like a lot of my favorite UFs, like The Shambling Guide to New York City. Vincent is the best character and it does him dirty.. Book needs a TW: animal death, I know that's a deal breaker for a lot of people.

The Hogwarts Collections by JK Rowling - ★★☆☆

I requested this collection from the library the day it was announced, back in January. I received it in June, happily right in time for the HP20 celebration. This collection of collections, collectionception, brings together "Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies", "Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists" (the inclusion of Peeves in this book does not work and is clearly only for the alliteration), and "Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide", which only serves to remind me I've been asking Jo to release a real "Hogwarts: A History" since I was 13.

In all, the book collects about 20 Pottermore articles and three or four new ones. There's nothing shocking or special between the pages. Again Jo continues her burial of Lupin and doubles down on her shitty werewolves = AIDS metaphor. The Minerva bio is great, but it's available for free on the website. Some of the essays are shockingly short, very little under the surface. In all, it's fine.

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L Wilsons ★★★☆☆

 The cat sex book. Thanks Angie.

LotFL is the first in a series set in a pretty darn complicated fantasy world about a dying race of faeries who are led by a shape changing faerie, called the Tairen Soul. The faeries have sealed themselves off from the humans following a great war that saw the death of the Tairen Soul's wife, causing him to destroy much the human world. Now, hundreds of years later, the Tairen Soul must return to the human world to broker peace and to claim his truemate.

That description isn't far from the SJM faerie books or The Falconer, but what Wilsons does to differentiate herself is put in a shit ton of sex. Not just between Ellie and Rain, the Tairen Soul  their courting is relatively sweet  but between the human queen and the king. The queen and the mind-controlled member of her court. The evil magician and his mind-controlled servant. A massive drug induced orgy over court dinner. It's a lot and not all of it is consensual. 

And it's at odds with sweet-natured Ellysetta and her courtship with Rain. They spend a lot of time taking her sisters on walks and going to museums, while an entire batshit side story goes on. I don't hate the part of the story they're in, but it's like Wilsons couldn't decide between a relatively standard paranormal romance and a kookoo bananas high fantasy. I still don't understand what's going on with the queen and the members of her court who are all ranked by jewels or something?

Snotgirl, Vol. 1: Green Hair Don't Care by Bryan Lee O'Malley - ★★☆☆☆

13 years and O'Malley still has no idea what a human woman actually sounds like.

Lottie and her "friends" sound like an 80s fever dream of sexy, catty supermodels. I've seen porn with better dialogue, and like porn it's exploitative and queerbaity.

The mystery of CoolGirl and whether the entire plot is all an allergy med induced nightmare was actually interesting and I'm sorry I won't see it play out, but I just can't get past all the unlikable, unrealistic characters.

Shade, the Changing Girl, Volume 1: Earth Girl Made Easy by Cecil Castellucci - ★★★☆☆

Shade, the Changing Girl is a sequel/homage to the classic Vertigo title, Shade, the Changing Man. Beautifully drawn and colored, this book features a thought provoking storyline about the nature of humanity and how it changes two different women who happen to share a body. Unfortunately, it is totally not for me. The madness makes for an interesting background to every panel, but it made it hard for me to focus and connect to the story. It's more existential than I like and large swaths of the book left me uncomfortable and unsettled.

Those are failings on my part, that I don't want a comic that pushes too hard. Maybe you do.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, JK Rowling - ★★★★☆

Ooh, black sheep in the other direction. I loved Cursed Child.

I also hated parts. Ron feels very out of character to me. There are several blatant attempt to rewrite the sins of the original series, including another damn redemption story for Snape. Scorpius' romance at the end has no chemistry or reason beyond once again pairing up all the seventeen year olds.  

But the story. Oh I love Albus and Scorpius and their adventures. I love the alternate worlds and the butterfly effect. I love Headmistress McGonagall. I loved experiencing Slytherin and Harry's desperate attempt to relate to his son and Hermione being the fucking Minister of Magic. It's not great art and the actual cursed child portion is definitely the weakest, but it just made me so happy to have another adventure with my favorite characters. 

I need play tickets more than air.

That's going to do it for this part of the round up. Stay tuned to part two, the time Dani read mediocre anthologies. 


  1. sOMEDAY

    Someday I will get you the second book of the Tairen Soul series

    Someday I will reread them all

    Because I really want to


  2. You are utterly dishonest.You just gave me a one star review on a book that absolutely no one but my editors have seen. In fact you did it twice. You have no integrity. Your opinion is worthless. - Michael Grant

    1. What the fuck are you trying to say?

    2. Are you okay? Smelling toast? Need medical intervention? Blink once for yes.

  3. I'm saying, Jessie, that you lie in reviews. That you rate books you have not read. Is that hard to understand?

    1. I posted no review for your books. I posted a rating on goodreads. Which is perfectly allowable on their TOS. Grow the fuck up, you inane asshole.

  4. Jessie, you lie. You lie about books. You pretend to be a reviewer, but you clearly are not. Reviewers do not trash books they know nothing about. If you were a reviewer for a newspaper you'd be fired on ethical grounds, and you know it.

    1. And if you were a writer, you'd understand how words work. I didn't post a review. I posted a rating which is perfectly allowable.

  5. I kind of thought after 150+ books I was a writer. But I suppose that's your call, not mine, or the market's, or the starred reviews, or the letters from actual kids who actually read my books. Whatever. I get it. I'm OLD as you and your partner pointed out on Twitter. So very, very OLD.


  7. You posted 11 one-star reviews of my books, all on October 1. I have the screen caps. You read none.

    So spare me the outrage. You attacked me. I responded to you here. You took it to Twitter. You are using Goodreads to pursue a personal agenda against me. It's rather silly to deny it. as I said: you have no integrity, which in the end is all a reviewer has to offer.

    Your friend Bekka did the same.

    1. Okay let's line this out

      You came here and harassed the wrong reviewer.

      I chose to answer you in a sphere that gets far more attention. You're just mad you couldn't carry out your little hissy fit in relative secret.

      And I'm not outraged. You are meaningless. You bore me. I don't care what you have screen caps of. I'm deleting nothing. I've done nothing wrong. Go whine and itch and moan elsewhere.

    2. Giving a book—or 11—a 1 star review is NOT a personal attack on a writer. It means someone either doesn't like a book or they have no interest in reading it.

      Ever heard of Daniel Pennac's Readers Bill of Rights? Lemme quote it for you:

      “Reader's Bill of Rights
      1. The right to not read
      2. The right to skip pages
      3. The right to not finish
      4. The right to reread
      5. The right to read anything
      6. The right to escapism
      7. The right to read anywhere
      8. The right to browse
      9. The right to read out loud
      10. The right to not defend your tastes”

      Jessie has the right not to read your books and to mark them thusly on her Goodreads account. She didn't post a false review, she didn't attack you, she didn't tag you in anything. You're the one who came after HER, and it's completely unacceptable. I already didn't want to read your books before you behaved so abhorrently, but you can be sure I'll never touch them now. You should be ashamed.

  8. Mike, you into comics? Any thoughts on Shade The Changing Girl and how it relates to the Milligan run?

    Where do you stand on the Cursed Child debate? Should it be catagorized as its own series or does JK’s support earn it the title of HP8?

  9. Oh, man, I'm sorry you didn't love Queens of Geek. I adored it! But then, I LOVE the upswing in comic con/fandom/geeky books. 2018 has three or four on tap so far, and I'm so excited! I know what you mean about Swoon Reads. I've found them very middle of the road so far, but for me, QoG was a turn toward the better and gives me hope the quality will be increasing.

    1. I know everyone did, it's a personal failing. I liked Charlie and her plot ok, but I just found Taylor super flat. But I also didn't like Geekerella so I think I'm just a souless monster.

    2. GEEKERELLA IS MY FAVE! *crying forever* But different strokes, I suppose. I super love all the con books, but I didn't love All the Feels (another Swoon Reads) or Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love. It definitely depends on the execution.


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