Recent Reads

Well, hi there! I know, I know… it got quiet on here for a little while. But I’m back! And never fear, books have still been devoured and enjoyed in the mean time. Here’s a few noteworthies I’ve read lately:

The Space Between the StarsThe Space Between the Stars by Anne Corlett.
Humanity has spread through the stars, but that doesn’t stop a virus from wiping out most of humanity. What happens when you’re maybe the only person left on your planet? The premise of this was promising, right at that crossroads for big ideas and human experience. And the human part played out well. I thought the characters were, for the most part, well-developed and real. There were some poignant moments and some achingly true inner thoughts and feelings. The plot is where this story lost ground. It started off strong, but eventually devolved into preaching about a person’s right to choose their own life. I don’t even disagree with that notion, but the repeated hammering of that got old quick. I thought the big ending of the plot was contrived and a bit obvious, but that the epilogue-like afterwards was nice. The writing style throughout, at least, was really well done and beautiful.
3.5/5 stars.

Akata WitchAkata Witch (#1) by Nnedi Okorafor.
This is a YA fantasy steeped in the culture and mythology of Nigeria. I’ll admit upfront I’m not too familiar with either of those, so it’s likely I missed some nuances or references along the way. That didn’t stop me from really enjoying this book. It’s the story of Sunny, a young girl who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Of Nigerian lineage, but born and raised in America, and an albino to boot, Sunny’s transition to living in her parents’ native land isn’t smooth. Especially when she sees something in a candle flame and learns exactly what she is. This leads her to a new group of friends, and a new world hidden behind the familiar one. It’s thrilling, but dangerous, and there’s more at stake than her and her friends know. The story is well-paced, and has the feeling of magical realism. There’s a lot of unexplained feelings and bits, so if you’re looking for everything to be spelled out for you, this isn’t your read. But if you’d like to step into a different kind of fantasy adventure, give this a try.
4/5 stars.

Mask of ShadowsMask of Shadows (#1) by Linsey Miller.
Sallot is the last living person from a destroyed homeland. Revenge is the name of the game, and the path to that is to win a position as one of the queen’s assassins. That means coming out on top in a literal battle to the death between the contenders. This book was ok. It was entertaining enough to keep me going, despite some drawbacks. I didn’t buy that Sallot – a thief with no training or previous inclination towards murder – would last a day in a competition of assassins. So right from the start, I’m not fully on board. Throw in some insta-love, positions named after gemstones, and knowing (of course!) how this book #1 will end, and it all felt a bit juvenile. Still, Sallot was an interesting character and the hints of world-building we get in book #1 could be built upon. The way the author handled gender fluidity was well-done, too. I’d be interested to see if this series and Sallot mature with book #2.
3/5 stars.

The Remnant ChroniclesThe Remnant Chronicles trilogy by Mary Pearson.
Three kingdoms hover on the brink of war. An arranged marriage between two of them would bring some much needed stability to the land. Except the princess wants no part of it. Nor does the 3rd kingdom. When Lia runs away on her wedding day, her intended prince and an unknown assassin are set to track her down. Add in magic, destiny, and the ever complicated workings of the human heart, and the stage is set for a YA fantasy adventure. The gimmick of book 1 annoyed me some. We have 3 narrators: the princess Lia, the prince, and the assassin. Lia is the only one whose name we know. When the other two show up in Lia’s narration, there’s the whole ‘which one is which?’ between the two young men. I call it a gimmick because it’s OBVIOUS. Happily, books 2 and 3 do not follow that pattern, and I was able to enjoy them much more. Overall, I quite liked this series. The characters are well done. With one glaring exception, they are complex and believable, and we see a good mix of humor, strength and mistakes from them. The plot is nicely segmented between each book and there’s a good build. I did feel the final battle/climax of the story happened a bit too easily and quickly, but aside from that these were a good read.
3.5/5 stars.

Apparently I was on a strong female lead kick. 😀 No apologies for that. Up next I’m digging into my pile of ARCs, and maybe finally bringing myself to read the final Fitz book (which I’ve been putting off because I don’t want that series to end).

What have you been reading lately?

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Book Review: The Waking Fire

The Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoria #1) by Anthony Ryan. Imagine if dragons existed (in four colors: Black, Red, Green and Blue), and each type of blood granted certain powers to a select few of the population. Imagine the era of monarchies and governments had faded, to be replaced by corporations- who, of course, control access to this dragon blood. They’ve gotten rich and powerful off it, particularly the Ironship Syndicate, which has empire-like control of vast lands. Decades pass. And now the breeding lines of drakes are weakening, and the wild ones more scarce. The old myth of the […]

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Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson. I’m a fan of Sanderson’s Mistborn books, and his Stormlight Archives series so far. And while I never finished the Wheel of Time series (as of yet), I heard he did good things with it after Robert Jordan’s death. So I’ve long been meaning to try out his YA series, Reckoners. My recent roadtrip saw me armed with the audiobook version to see me through the first long drive. Let me just say that the narrator (MacLeod Andrews) did an awesome job. Each character had a distinct voice, and he carried off the female […]

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Book Review: Children of Earth and Sky

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay. What do a pirate, a spy, a painter, a merchant, and a soldier have in common? They are all key characters in this book, and they are all more than they seem. Children of Earth and Sky is a story about intertwined lives and how sometimes small decisions can have far-reaching consequences. It’s a beautifully-written epic that muses on the nature of humanity, love, war, and fate. It’s set in a fictional Renaissance-style world and while there are some small elements of folk magic, it is more focused on adventure and […]

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Book Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows (#1) by Leigh Bardugo. My husband asked what this book was about while I was reading it, and for brevity I answered “It’s like Ocean’s Eleven, but with magic.” This is not an inaccurate representation, I think. There’s a motley assortment of crooks planning a grand heist, and the mastermind thief has more motivation behind it than just the job at hand. There’s danger, violence, intrigue, a smidgeon of romance, and of course some humor. But on the other hand, it takes place in a fantasy world, some of the crooks are also magicians, and the stakes […]

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Book Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass

The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher. Jim Butcher is one of my favorite authors (The Dresden Files! The Codex Alera!), so when I heard he was writing a new YA-ish steampunk series, I couldn’t wait to jump in. This first book in the series introduces us to the world of the Spires, floating cities high in the air where humanity has lived for eons. This is Earth’s humanity, far into the future- something has happened on the surface to make ground life inhospitable. The Spire inhabitants engage in the usual political and mercantile pursuits, and fly […]

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Book Review: Fool’s Quest

Fool’s Quest (The Fitz & The Fool Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb. First things first, if you are new to Robin Hobb’s Realms of the Elderlings books, stop reading this blog post immediately and go pick up Assassin’s Apprentice. Then make your way through the rest of the Farseer trilogy, the Liveship traders trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy, the Rain Wild Chronicles, and then the first book of this trilogy. Yes, that’s 14 books before the events of this book, and even though that’s a serious long haul of a series, I promise you it is worth it. This is, […]

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