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: Dark Matter

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. After being attacked and abducted, physics professor Jason Dessen wakes up in a life that is not his. Or at least, not his life as he remembers it. It’s a version of what his life could’ve been if, say, 15 years ago different decisions had been made. Trying to navigate this new life while figuring our how he got there, if the life he remembers is real, and whether he can get back to it and the family he loves soon lands him in worlds of trouble. Literally and figuratively. What follows is a tense […]

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Book Review: All Our Wrong Todays

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. Tom lives a aimless, drifting life in 2016. Except it’s not our 2016, it’s the 2016 that would exist if humans had discovered unlimited clean energy decades ago. In other words: the sci-fi future we’ve dreamed of since the 1950’s, complete with flying cars and moon bases. This power source has even led to a breakthrough in a new field: time travel. Tom’s father heads up that project, and got Tom a nominal job on the team in an attempt to give his life some structure. When a seemingly minor event dominoes into […]

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Book Review: Raven Song

Raven Song (Inoki’s Game #1) by I.A. Ashcroft. A century from now, after widespread nuclear war, humanity is clinging to a few select cities, kept safe from radiation by their force field domes. Jackson is a legit businessman and less-legit smuggler, making ends meet and sailing through life. And it would be smooth sailing, except for some troubling dreams, hallucinations of extinct ravens, and his own finicky magic. Then a big government contract lands in his lap, and it’s too good to pass up. Except the cargo is not a thing, but a person. And she is definitely not normal, […]

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Book Review: Ninth City Burning

Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black. The future of Earth is threatened when an alien race suddenly appears in our skies, wielding a power we have no idea how to combat. Cities disappear, and it looks like the planet will be overrun, when humanity discovers it can wield this new power, too. Or at least, some humans can. Enough to fight back. This sparks a centuries-long war spanning planets and realms. Things are much the same year after year, with each side gaining and losing ground again and again. Then the tactics of the alien force change, ever so […]

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Book Review: The Fire Sermon

The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon, #1) by Francesca Haig. Some time in the future, a nuclear disaster devastates the world. 400 years after that, humanity is still around but has been changed drastically. Every single person is born with a twin. One twin comes out healthy and ‘normal’ (the Alphas) and the other inevitably has some kind of deformity or abnormality (the Omegas). And despite society’s best efforts to segregate these two types, one hard fact remains: whenever one twin dies, so does the other. They are irrevocably linked. When Cass and Zach are born, it’s not clear which […]

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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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