Cover Image: Tea Leaves

Tea Leaves

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Member Reviews

This was definitely interesting but not what I was expecting. While I realized it was a collection of short stories, they just felt a little all over the place for me and enjoyed some a lot more than others. I enjoyed that it was not afraid to tackle difficult topics that people in the community face daily because it is really important to do so. However, I felt that some were just a little too straight forward and didn't allow the reader to be able to immerse themselves into the stories and feel what the characters were feeling. It has potential. I just think it wasn't right for me.

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I was excited to read this because it sounded like a book I would enjoy, but I was let down by how difficult it was to get through this anthology of short stories. The characters and plots appeared to be the result of the writer's haphazard attempt to get as many words as possible into the written work. Although I understand the purpose of this anthology and the author's intentions regarding gay representation, I have seen much better examples of this type of writing in other books and anthologies. None of the stories really caught my attention, and occasionally I had trouble understanding what the point of each one was. Additionally, I didn't like the writing style. I didn't have a good reading experience overall.

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Average rating = 3.25. Rounded to 3.5 for personal stats. Rounded to 4 for Goodreads
Firstly I'd like to start this by saying this is the first time I've read a short story collection that hasn't been a part of a pre-established series or has not had the stories connected in some way normally by following the same character or character group, and unfortunately I don't think this type of book works for me.
I would say if you have read and know you like these types of short story collections before or if you like the storytelling style of a season of black mirror where you see a snippet of this thing and then move on to something different then you could really like this.
I really enjoyed the writing style and if the author ever comes out with a full length novel I would read it.
I did write down a couple of sentences after finishing and individual rated each story, you can find this below by viewing spoilers, spoilers are minor but in many I do talk about the plot or point of stories which you don't know before going into them.

<spoiler>
Seen - 2.5 stars, MC really seemed to hate himself and not only put himself down but constantly talk of others in a negative light too. Because it was a short story it felt like there wasn't room for character growth but the ending made me hopeful it was heading that way. In terms of the fairies I found them interesting I'm not sure I totally understood but I also don't think I was meant to

Of the Air and Land - 3.5 stars, I didn't love the open ending but apart from that I like alot of things about this one, the two main (human) characters were not likable however I didn't care about that because I was just chilling with the spirits causing chaos. Their chat really amused me and for someone who often struggles with comedy in books I found quite a few bits funny.

Under Her White Stars - 4 stars, really enjoyed this it had a very different tone to the first two and it really worked for me, I felt like I got out MC's personality without actually knowing anything about our main character and it was very interesting to read. I also liked how the story ended up being so different and having a very different point to what I expected.

Deadbeat - 3 stars, very short, idk I felt like as soon as I started it it ended so truly don't know how to rate it, it wasn't bad but it didn't do anything for me either.

Mask for Mask - I'm really not sure about this one, I think i'd round it up to 4 stars, although it didn't 100% work for me in terms of the main character and not caring about where the plot was going because of not caring for him this was very bingeable and probably the first story of the collection that i've wanted to invest in and really really liked the premise and how interesting speculating about what was really happening was.

I think at this point of 5 stories into the collection I'm not sure reading this type of story in such a short form is working for me 100% but as long as i continue to enjoy the rest of the stories I can see myself picking up a full length novel by the author in the future.

HouseGuest - 2.5 stars. I was captivated by what was going on but felt like I was waiting for a reveal that never happened. I think it was well written as it made me uncomfortable but something about it didn't work for me, I think it was the open endedness of now understanding what happened, but maybe it was the length I'm not sure.

The girl the crows followed - 4 stars creepy, short, curious about the crows. Wish it was longer I would have liked to have known more about both characters.

Ah,well - 3 stars but I feel like I can't give it a higher rating as this just felt like the first couple of chapters of a book and I just wanted to continue reading and following lindens journey, I could 100% see this one day being a cosy fantasy novel full of hope and comedy, but because that's how I see it it just didn't feel complete

The colour of cream - 2 stars. I think the basics premise of being unhappy and needing a push to leave is nothing new and I never like it. And the story itself didn't do anything for me.

Tea leaves - very interesting premise, I started reading it seemed cool, I was just starting to get interested in how this thing could work, what is is how is it going to be explored and that was the end there was nothing more. 3 stars I guess it had promise to be interesting but was over too soon. I'm also really struggling to apply a star rating to the ones that are only ~3 pages as it doesn't feel like enough to rate off of.

Trial - 4 stars this was interesting and I feel like made alot of good points it's also the first story that has said something I've loved so much that I had to highlight it. I didn't overly care about the story but it's also the first one that I understand why it's only a short story as I feel like no matter how much you agree with what the MC is saying in a longer format it would have come across as preachy and annoying. So yeah this worked for me.

Borealis - 3.5 stars. I enjoyed the story, the witchy take on sleeping beauty/ the sleeping this way that you read about in odd history books. The take was interesting and it did feel like the main point of the story was concluded. Unfortunately I just don't think short story collection like this are my thing, and I just wanted more.

A theory on lamposts - 4 stars. I found this truly interesting. I think this short story would make a very interesting discussion and overall think piece for a bookclub or reading group. It feels like there's so much left without answers to delve into

And then again to the next - 2 stars I just didn't care. I don't read second chance romance books because I personally think it's stupid to get back with someone you were willing to let go and was willing to let you go you know it won't work. This was that many many many times over. I know there was more messaging in this than just a romance but I couldn't see past the trope.

The oak I knew - 4 stars I felt so absorbed into this world and so invested in our main character, whilst I still can away wishing to know more and follow this character more I also came away from the story hopeful in so many ways. It also surprised me too, and in a society sucks way didn't surprise me in some ways too but both worked for the story.

The age of Oceanus - 3 stars. What this had to say is so important and I like and stand behind the message behind it. Humans suck and we need to change before it's to late. But that was it for me it was to short for me to feel truly invested in the story even with being invested in the message.
</spoiler>

Thanks to @netgalley , the publishers @amble_press and the author @dreambabyjake for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Clever short story collection packed with queerness. Great for reading while cozed up in a pile of blankets or in a hammock. Just watch out for alligator bros.

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this book opened a whole new way of looking at the world- there is magic in the smallest interaction, you just have to be open to seeing it.

I loved the openly queer themes and vibes of these stories and would have loved for some of them to be longer format stories: there's always hope where this is concerned.

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book, it was a brilliant start to 2024.

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I was looking forward to reading this as the description made it sound like a book I would love, but I was disappointed as I struggled through this collection of short stories.

The storylines and characters seemed like random ideas thrown together as the writer desperately tried to reach a word count. I can appreciate the goal of this collection of stories and what the author wanted to achieve with the queer representation, but I have seen it executed far better in other books and anthologies.

I didn't find any of the stories particularly interesting, sometimes I felt confused about what the story was supposed to be, and I found the writing style offputting. Overall, I didn't enjoy the reading experience.

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I was unsure of what to expect when going into this but the stories were interesting and had me hooked. Some were a bit hard to read due to being slightly vague or being set in a historical time which isn’t my usual genre. However, this didn’t take away from my enjoyment. My favourite would have to be The Colour of Cream - it made me laugh out loud. I was actually shocked and would read this specific story again for the experience. Overall, I enjoyed my time reading these stories, especially as they were on topics that were mundane. They inspired a mix of emotions and the impact of certain stories won’t leave me for some time.

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Okay, this was a very interesting approach to a short story collection, and not what I expected at all. It includes a whole range of stories, some that are firmly magical realism, some urban fantasy, some high fantasy, and some that are all three, neither, or too short to really know. Many are tinged with horror; most are pessimistic. Some are nearly thirty pages, while others are under five. While there are some themes (marginalization, dissatisfaction) that run through the book, there are few real continuities. What I love about this is it’s simply a collection of the author’s works, without particular regard for short story conventions; it’s very unique.
Unfortunately, most of the stories ranged from inspiring active dislike to just ambivalence, and I wasn’t particularly compelled by the first two thirds or so of the book. However, towards the end there were a few standouts: I particularly enjoyed “Borealis” (about a sort of modern-day sleeping beauty whose aunt helps wake her from her slumber with the offer of freedom), “And Then Again to the Next” (a story of two lovers who meet across time and space, but only in cities doomed to destruction), “The Oak I Knew” (a post-apocalyptic critique of society that can’t quite be called a love story, and “The Age of Oceanus” (a brief tale of the death of river goddesses). These four were actually quite good, and if you should end up with a copy of this book you’d be well-served to skip ahead to these if you aren’t enjoying the first few. This actually makes plenty of sense – the stories have been written by the author over his career, and in these few stories I felt like he was really beginning to touch on some particularly resonant themes. So these ones are absolutely worth reading, even if the first several aren’t.

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tea Leaves is a collection of short stories with a fantasy/speculative/dystopian lean underpinned by explorations of queer life and existence. From eldritch octopus horrors in cafe restrooms, to reincarnated lovers destined to find each other in doomed cities, to shape changing reptilians, these short stories are varied and exciting, and some are deeply emotional, or incredibly terrifying.

A fantastic collection, some of which I really wish were used as opening chapters to full-length novels, particularly The Oak I Knew. A powerful and riveting collection.

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I enjoyed this collection of short stories! It wasn't my favourite anthology I've read but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

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Short stories are great to read when you just want to get a taste of a certain genre. The queer take on this was really interesting. Some stories were very good some i couldn't grasp well enough to like. Its still an amazing take in the LGBTQ Community. I would read again for sure some of them still were very good.

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This short story collection deals with topics and themes which are very close to my heart, namely queerness and climate change. I have enjoyed the speculative nature of a number of the stories, as well as a tinge of horror in others. Although I didn't particularly connect to any of the characters, the stories "Borealis", "And Then Again To The Next" and "Ah, Well" resonated with me deeply. I think reading this collection was a nice and enjoyable way to start my new reading year.

Thank you to NetGalley for a free review copy of this book!

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Honestly, this collection was a mixed bag. The latter half of the collection feels more edited and much more effective. The first stories lacked cohesion, it felt stilted and like it was trying to smack its meaning over my head. I think the collection would benefit from more editing, a reorganising, and perhaps some clearer stylistic choices. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a free ARC in exchange for honest review.

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Here we have a collection of short stories that give us a glimpse into each character’s lives. While they’re impacted by fantasy elements, that’s not the driving point of these stories. They range in length and depth, so there’s something for everyone. Some people may not like all of the short stories, but the great thing about a collection like this is that you don’t have to debate on whether or not you want to commit to a full length book if you’re on the fence about the story. They’re short and sometimes not so sweet, but you don’t have to get invested if you don’t want to because they wrap up quickly.

What I like about this collection is that we get to hop around completely different lives. Funnily enough, my favorite story ended up being the very first one I read, which is the one I would probably read as a full-length book. However, I did enjoy reading through the entire collection and getting a peek into several totally different lives with varying degrees of fantasy elements.

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I did not find this book interesting, unfortunately. I was actually pretty confused about what was going on. :(

Thank you to Jacob Budenz, NetGalley, and Amble Press for an Advance Reader's Copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Short stories aren't usually my vibe, but this was a new take that I'm glad I was able to experience. Tea Leaves took me on a spiritual ride that I did not know I needed. There are some stories that I did not connect with, but the ones that I did I really loved. This it the book that struggling ally and LGBTQ+ members need. It will resound with someone in some way.

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I quite liked individual stories, but I found very few of them outstanding. Unfortunately, it didn't really suit my taste overall.

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I loved these stories. I wanted more. Each one felt fresh and different and I'm a sucker for a weird little story. Can (and do) recommend.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. I was initially very excited to read this novel as I myself am part of the LGBTQIA+ community, however I did not enjoy the author's writing style at all. The stories lacked any real meaning and the characters all fell flat. Short stories are some of my favorite things to read, so this experience was very disappointing to me. Reading other reviews of this novel, it seems many people felt the same way.

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As always with short stories, I enjoyed some more than others. Generally the second half of the collection scored much higher for me averaging out at a 4, and the first half scored much lower with an average of 2, thus the overall 3 star rating.

I'm not sure what exactly I expected from this collection, I got the queer characters I was looking forward to, and some fable lessons, but the stories themselves were pretty mixed, some being short or so open ended they felt slightly pointless, and others being so well written and so interesting I wanted so much more of them.
I don't usually choose to read a short story collection but anything with a queer focus really does have me by the neck I guess!

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