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Book Review: Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution, by R.F. Kuang

Book Review: Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution, by R.F. Kuang


Babel, or The Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution by R.F. Kuang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.”

Every once in a while, you read a book that you can tell is something special. Not just because the story or characters are exceptional. Not just because the pacing is perfect and the prose is exquisite. Not just because it covers important topics in new ways. No, sometimes the book you’re reading is special because you know that it will go beyond standing the test of time; it’s destined to become a classic. You can see this book not only still being read a century from now, but being discussed in a classroom setting. Babel, or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translator’s Revolution is such a book. It tackles some truly weighty material, specifically colonialism and racism, in profoundly eye-opening ways. It houses a discourse on etymology and translation that is absolutely fascinating. And even while balancing all of these dense topics, Kuang still manages to create an incredible cast of characters that experience a phenomenal among of growth, as well as a perfectly paced, page-turning plot where the stakes are high and the emotions wrought in the reader are even higher. I can’t think of a superlative strong enough to adequately convey how powerful and nigh-on perfect Babel is as a piece of art.

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TS’s Monthly Wrap-Up : June 2022

TS’s Monthly Wrap-Up : June 2022

Hello everyone!   I did wonder if I should keep up with my monthly wrap-up for June or do a half-year recap of best books read so far.   I decided with stick with the wrap-up in the end as I thought my Books of the Month will end up being on the half-year list anyway.

I can’t believe half of 2022 had passed by already.  Hope that all of you have been reading great books so far this year.    Before I start, can I just say that Stranger Things Season 4 was absolutely phenomenal!  I still can’t stop thinking about it, and that ending.

NB. Books are rated within its genre.  For avoidance of doubt, rereads are not considered for Book of the Month.

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Book Review: The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow (The Crystal Calamity, #1) by Rachel Aaron

Book Review: The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow (The Crystal Calamity, #1) by Rachel Aaron

ARC received from author in exchange for an honest review

Cover Art by Luisa Preißler.

The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow by Rachel Aaron

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Crystal Calamity (Book 1)

Genre: Fantasy, historical fantasy, alternate history

Published: 1st June 2022 (self-published)


The Last Stand of Mary Good Crow was another effortless winner from Rachel Aaron, brimming with imagination, wonderful characters and captivating magic. 

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Book Review: Sword and Pen (The Great Library, #5) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Sword and Pen (The Great Library, #5) by Rachel Caine

Sword and Pen by Rachel Caine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 5 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: Sept 2019 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Much to my delight, Sword and Pen delivered a truly satisfying and emotional conclusion to The Great Library, a spectacular YA series that has earned a spot as one of my favourites.

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Book Review: Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, #4) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Smoke and Iron (The Great Library, #4) by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 4 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2018 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


The best book in the series so far, Smoke and Iron gave me more than a consistently fantastic continuation in The Great Library.

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Book Review: Ash and Quill (The Great Library, #3) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ash and Quill (The Great Library, #3) by Rachel Caine

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Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 3 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2017 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Immensely engaging and intense, Ash and Quill was mid-series perfection.

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Book Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library, #2) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Paper and Fire (The Great Library, #2) by Rachel Caine

Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 2 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2016 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Another close-to-perfect read, Paper and Fire was a superb sequel in The Great Library series, one that is on track to become a favourite.

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Book Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine

Book Review: Ink and Bone (The Great Library, #1) by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars.

Series: The Great Library (Book 1 of 5)

Genre:  Young adult, alternate history, historical fantasy, fantasy

Published: July 2015 by Berkley Books (US) and Allison & Busby (UK)


Ink and Bone is a fantastic entry in The Great Library series that enthralled me right from the very beginning and didn’t let go.

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Book Review: Outlawed by Anna North

Book Review: Outlawed by Anna North


Outlawed by Anna North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Outlawed is an alternate history in which a Great Flu wiped out 9/10ths of the U.S. population, the country fell apart, and now a woman who can’t pop out babies to rebuild that population is branded a witch and hanged. As a barren woman myself, this premise hit incredibly close to home for me. I loved seeing how all of these women dealt with such superstition and blatant inequality.

“People cry witchcraft whenever they don’t understand something.”

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Book Review: A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry

Book Review: A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry


A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received an eARC of this book from the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a truly brilliant example of alternative history. Parry managed to stay completely faithful to the persons and events that make up the true history of this time period while deftly adding in the existence of magic and exemplifying how that existence might have impacted the French Revolution and the British fight to abolish the slave trade. Historical figures like William Pitt, William Wilberforce, Toussaint Bréda L’Ouverture, and Maximilien Robespierre are all exquisitely portrayed both as individuals that really existed and fictional characters whose minds were are invited to explore. Parry balanced this contrast beautifully. She could have rewritten history in a way that made it somehow less. She could have stayed so true to history that the narrative felt more like a nonfiction text than a novel. But she did neither of those things. She was able to bridge that divide in a way that both informs and inspires, that encourages both historical curiosity and fantastical imaginings. I’m truly in awe of what she was able to do with this novel.

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