April 29, 2023

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #42 Jen Wilde, Laura Ruby, T. Kingfisher


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long reviews - no such luck LOL (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, I might as well give you the short version πŸ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

This Is the Way the World Ends by Jen Wilde (ARC Review)


An autistic lesbian on a scholarship swaps places with a rich schoolmate at a fundraising ball, witnesses a murder, and tries to survive the night with a group of friends and foes, while a mysterious apocalypse strikes outside.


First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.

The premise sounded intriguing and potentially sci-fi-esque, except the story soon took a really bizarre, far-fetched turn (or more than one), and I ended up skimming the last 3/5 of it just to get some answers (which didn't anything to reverse my judgement). Despite the amount of intersectional representation (including autism, disability, racial diversity and queerness in different forms and combinations), most of it is more "tell" than "show" - while the bad guys (and the entitled ones) are unbelievably over-the-top or cartoonish at best. The general idea reminded me of The Getaway by Lamar Giles, except that one had solid world-building, strong(er) social commentary and characters that actually felt real. I will admit that there's a lot of action in this one (though some of the scenes are self-serving, like the one in the mannequin storage room - what does such a place have to do with anything?), but that and the rep alone couldn't save the book for me.

Note: definitive review (I don't have enough to say to justify writing a full-length one later, and of course I don't plan to reread this book).

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby


The disappearance of a Polish girl they gave shelter to drives a wedge between two brothers - the one who loved her and the one who witnessed her kidnapping but can't convince anyone of what he saw, while he's getting a girlfriend of his own with peculiar qualities.


Oh, the mini blurb above is BAD, but believe me, this book has so many layers that I couldn't do it justice in a single paragraph. What I can tell you is: Bone Gap is a quiet but poignant meditation on beauty and ugliness (mainly when women are concerned) and the different ways we are perceived, or perceive others - and ourselves (the author even employs a clever plot device to drive her point home). It's a testament to the resourcefulness and bravery of women in the face of the expectations and sense of entitlement of (some) men. It's a dark, yet hopeful fable that reverses stereotypes and flips reality on its head, and mind you...when I say "flips", I'm being quite literal, at least in one respect. It starts as a straight-up (if poetical) contemporary with only a touch of eeriness, then sneaks more and more instances of magical realism into the plot, until it flat-out smacks you in the face with it, maybe a tad too abruptly, but beautifully. Recommended if you like fabulism, lyrical writing, slow-moving plots, rocky brotherly relationships, troubled teens/teen drama sans cheesiness, quiet but fierce heroines, a touch of romance...and pets, both magical and mundane.

Full review to come.

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
(Sworn Soldier #1)


A non-binary former soldier is summoned by an old, dying friend to her and her brother's dilapidated house, where ka tries to pinpoint the reason for the siblings' illness among a few possible - and disturbing - causes.


I'll be honest - left to my own devices, I wouldn't have picked this book. I typically don't read retellings and the like (this novella is based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story The Fall of the House of Usher, that you can read online here), and I tend to stay away from stories set too far in the past (in this case, 1890). But my friend Carrie gifted me a copy because a) she enjoyed it a lot and 2) she though I would vibe with its horror angle (I guess...knowing her πŸ˜‚). And that I did! It made for a deliciously disturbing twist (well, a couple of them, really), far more sci-fi-oriented than I would have expected, yet not feeling out of place in a period piece like this.
The narrator was a little harder for me to get into. Alex was assigned female at birth and clearly struggling with it, but in joining the Gallacian army (Gallacia being a fictional country of course), they had access to a new pronoun: ka/kan (used for soldiers regardless of their gender). Still I found myself defaulting Alex to male in my head - and I'm not sure if it was a "me" thing or not - plus, as I mentioned above, ka came across as a bit flat to me. All the other characters were fairly run-of-the-mill, with the exception of mycologist Eugenia Potter (fictional aunt to writer Beatrix). I did like the narrator's horse, who sometimes seemed to have more of a personality than his owner...and allowed for some (gentle) comic relief. All in all, I would say that my rating was mainly influenced by my preference for recent/contemporary/future settings and more engaging characters/plots...but I enjoyed the creative spin on a classic piece of literature - and the horror of course πŸ˜‚.

Note: definitive review (I don't have enough to say to justify writing a full-length one later; also, due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

So, have you read/are you planning to read any of the above? And if you have, what do you think of them? Do you post mini reviews? Do you like to read them?


  1. I read a different Wilde book, but agree with you about how the villains are portrayed. I only needed one book to know Wilde was not my cup of tea

    1. I've read a lot of spectacular YA books and this one was...not one of them. Also, villains should be complex and (preferably) morally gray! It's not like teens need a dumbed-out version of them.

  2. That's a bummer about This Is The Way. Bone Gap, on the other hand, sounds very intriguing! PEts magical and otherwise... hmm. And magical reaism that creeps in and then takes over (I;m probably paraphrasing badly) but that sounds SO... IDK, intriguing again, lol

    What Moves the dead has me super curious too. I'm not sure it's for me but I keep hearing raves about Kingfisher's books... hm

    1. Bone Gap is a weird but lovely book - and you're not paraphrasing badly. What Moves the Dead is best suited to people who like historical fiction/retellings, but it was far more interesting than I though it would be!

  3. I remember Bone Gap - I really liked it!

  4. I've seen Bone Gap around a lot but I've never picked it up. I'm curious to read your full review😁

    1. It will be a long wait though LOL. Sorry about that!

  5. I feel like there have been several books title This Is How the World Ends (or at least close enough) that have the same premise without the diversity.

    I've had Bone Gap on my shelf for years but it's not really a ME book - except - since embracing audiobooks - I do better with weird books lol. I'm going to give it a go soon.

    1. LOL, yeah, I noticed there are a number of books on GR titled This Is the Way the World Ends...maybe because it's part of a famous T.S. Eliot quote.

      It's peculiar that "weird books" work better for you on audio. One would think that without a written text, they would be harder to follow. I hope you'll enjoy it!


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