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Narilka reads in 2017

This is a continuation of the topic Narilka reads in 2016.

The Green Dragon

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Edited: Mar 22, 3:33pm Top

Happy New Year! 2016 ended up being a great year of reading for me and I'm really looking forward to 2017. This year I'm taking part in two challenges. I'm doing the TBR challenge again, where I attempt to read at least 12 from my TBR list. I've also joined a general 2017 Challenge in a group on Good Reads. Speaking of which, I finally joined Good Reads and can be found there under the same chat handle. Details for both challenges will be posted below. As always I review every book I read and love hearing what others thought of the same book. There is nothing worse than finishing a great book and having no one to chat with about it!

A Little Background
I tend to read a lot of fantasy. I do read and enjoy other genres, it's just that fantasy is my favorite. I am fairly forgiving so I expect to have many 3 and 3.5 star books.

2016 reading log: https://www.librarything.com/topic/210794

My Rating System
- Absolutely horrible, don't bother

- Meh, I finished the book somehow but would not recommend it

- An entertaining read

- Very good, I would probably recommend this book

- Excellent! A new favorite and one I could read again.

A half star is given for a book that falls between those categories.

Currently Reading

Listening To

Books Read in 2017
1. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett
2. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
3. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
4. All My Patients Have Tales by Jeff Wells, DVM
5. Clariel by Garth Nix
6. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
7. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
8. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
9. Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell
10. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
11. The Cat, the Lady and the Liar by Leann Sweeney
12. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
13. Lock In by John Scalzi
14. Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi
15. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Fun Stats
Books Read: 15
Total Pages Read: 4183
Rereads: 0
TBR Challenge: 6/12
2017 Category Challenge: 14/52

Edited: Mar 22, 3:16pm Top

TBR Challenge
This is a challenge to read more from my TBR pile this year. Pick 12 books that I've been meaning to read and add them to the list. Try to finish one a month. I've done Primary and Secondary lists in case something in the Primary list just isn't working for me. This year I've added a personal challenge to mix in more non-fantasy books so I can pretend I'm a well rounded reader ;)


1. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett (fantasy - humor) Completed 1/4/17
2. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (scifi - space opera) Completed 3/21/17
3. Clariel by Garth Nix (fantasy - adventure) Completed 2/2/17
4. Red Rising by Pierce Brown (scifi - dystopia)
5. This Time Together by Carol Burnett (memoir - celebrity)
6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett (fantasy - humor)
7. Killing Reagan by Bill O'Reilly (history - USA)
8. Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb (fantasy - epic)
9. All My Patients Have Tales by Jeff Wells (memoir - animal) Completed 1/24/17
10. The Cat, the Lady and the Liar by Leann Sweeney (mystery - cozy) Completed 3/11/17
11. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher (fantasy - urban) Completed 2/15/17
12. The Man in the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas (classics)

1. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch (fantasy)
2. Black Ships by Jo Graham (fantasy - historical)
3. Wool by Hugh Howey (scifi - dystopia)
4. Weekend Warriors by Fern Michaels (mystery)
5. Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld (fantasy - superheroes)
6. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (scifi - mystery)
7. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie (fantasy - epic)*
8. The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon (fantasy - epic)*
9. Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh (scifi - first contact)*
10. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (classics)
11. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (science-ish?)
12. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown (thriller)*

*Carried over from a prior TBR challenge.

Edited: Mar 22, 3:17pm Top

2017 Category Reading Challenge
This is a challenge I'm participating in a group on Good Reads. Looks like it may be interesting. If anyone else thinks this would be fun feel free to copy/paste this into your own thread and see how you do!

- Books must be started and finished in 2017
- One book can count for a maximum of two categories
- You can join in at any point in the year and the books you have already read can count towards the challenge
- Graphic novels count
- No minimum page count (unless the category states)


( ) A book recommended by a librarian
( ) A book that's been on your TBR list for way too long
( ) A book of letters
(X) An audiobook Awaken Online: Catharsis
( ) A book by a person of color
(X) A book with one of the four seasons in the title Summer Knight
( ) A book that is a story within a story
( ) A book with multiple authors
( ) An espionage thriller
(X) A book with a cat on the cover All My Patients Have Tales
( ) A book by an author who uses a pseudonym
( ) A bestseller from a genre you don't normally read
(X) A book by or about a person who has a disability Lock In
(X) A book involving travel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
(X) A book with a subtitle Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome
( ) A book that's published in 2017
( ) A book involving a mythical creature
( ) A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
( ) A book about food
( ) A book with career advice
( ) A book from a nonhuman perspective
(X) A steampunk novel The Rithmatist
(X) A book with a red spine His Majesty's Dragon
( ) A book set in the wilderness
( ) A book you loved as a child
( ) A book by an author from a country you've never visited
(X) A book with a title that's a character's name Clariel
(X) A novel set during wartime His Majesty's Dragon
( ) A book with an unreliable narrator
( ) A book with pictures
( ) A book where the main character is a different ethnicity than you
( ) A book about an interesting woman
( ) A book set in two different time periods
( ) A book with a month or day of the week in the title
( ) A book set in a hotel
( ) A book written by someone you admire
( ) A book that's becoming a movie in 2017
( ) A book set around a holiday other than Christmas
(X) The first book in a series you haven't read before Truthwitch
( ) A book you bought on a trip

( ) A book recommended by an author you love
(X) A bestseller from 2016 Truthwitch
( ) A book with a family member term in the title
( ) A book that takes place over a character's life span
( ) A book about an immigrant or refugee
(X) A book from a genre/subgenre you've never heard of Awaken Online: Catharsis
( ) A book with an eccentric character
( ) A book that's more than 800 pages
(X) A book you got from a used book sale All My Patients Have Tales
( ) A book that's been mentioned in another book
( ) A book about a difficult topic
( ) A book based on mythology

Jan 1, 1:07pm Top

Good luck with your reading, may there be many great books in your future.

Jan 1, 1:11pm Top

Happy new year

Jan 1, 2:11pm Top

>2 Narilka: That looks like a great list. I see several that I’ve either read or want to read. From your secondary list, I particularly enjoyed Wool. I look forward to following your thread this year!

Jan 1, 2:48pm Top

To a great reading year!

Jan 1, 3:16pm Top

You are currently reading two books which I have enjoyed. May you have the same experience. :)

Jan 1, 6:24pm Top

Happy new year! Good luck with your reading!

Jan 1, 8:30pm Top

Thanks for the good wishes everyone!

Jan 2, 6:46am Top

Happy new year! I hope 2017 brings you some great books!

Jan 2, 7:39am Top

Happy new year! I look forward to following along again :)

Jan 3, 11:23am Top

Happy New Year and happy reading!
Oddly enough I just started Old Man's War yesterday.

Jan 3, 6:44pm Top

Very interesting challenge lists. Good luck with the reading and happy 2017!

Jan 3, 10:28pm Top

Hi everyone!

>13 clamairy: I'm liking it, though my progress has been slow. I haven't been driving much to get through my audio books as quickly lately. I may need to do like others and start listening to them on walks around the neighborhood too.

Jan 4, 6:48am Top

>13 clamairy:, >15 Narilka: Didn't we have a group read of Old man's war? If so, there might be a discussion thread floating around somewhere in the pub.

Jan 4, 4:53pm Top

>16 Sakerfalcon: Cool. I'll do a search.

Jan 4, 4:53pm Top

1. The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Colour of Magic is the first book in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. I have been reading and enjoying Discworld for many years now and this is the first time I've read the very first book. I understand why people recommend starting the series elsewhere and coming back to this one later. It reads as a series of four connected short stories instead of one cohesive novel. It is not a bad place to start your Discworld experience, it just isn't indicative of what the rest of the series will be like.

Things start off innocently enough. Rincewind, the Disc's most incompetent wizard, becomes an involuntary tour guide to the Disc's first tourist, Twoflowers, and his luggage. Forced to flee Ankh-Morpork to escape a city wide fire, they begin a traveling adventure across the Disc. Twoflowers is determined to see as much of the Disc as he can and Rincewind is determined not to die along the way. Hilarity ensues.

It was great to finally read the beginning of the series. No, it is not Pratchett's strongest work, but it definitely shows the promise of what Discworld will become in future novels. Each story gets progressively better and they are all quite amusing. There are several jokes that require prior knowledge of classic fantasy tropes to fully understand the humor. The absurdity of chain mail bikinis, adding exclamation points to names so they seem exotic and gods using mortals as game pieces to name a few. I hear The Light Fantastic directly follows this one as a sort of duology, so I plan to pick it up later this year as this book ends in a literal cliffhanger.


Edited: Jan 4, 5:21pm Top

>16 Sakerfalcon: I have no memory of that, but I was gone for big chunks of time over the last few years. (And not entirely 'present' for several years before that.)

ETA: Found them!

Spoiler-Free Thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/180577
Spoiler Thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/181221

Jan 4, 5:49pm Top

>18 Narilka: Good review! I read this one first, but it would be an interesting experience to read it after already being familiar with the characters and the setting. I was startled by that cliff hanger at the end because I’d been under the impression that the books all stood alone, not realizing the first two were the exception to the rule.

Jan 4, 8:09pm Top

>19 clamairy: Thanks! I have 30 minutes left on my audio book. I hope to finish it up this week then check those threads out.

>20 YouKneeK: Yeah, that would be a surprise. I didn't expect it either and had to do a little googling to find out if it was resolved in The Light Fantastic or not :)

Jan 4, 8:14pm Top

This month marks my 8th Thingaversary :) Normally I go on a half hazard shopping spree, just picking up whatever draws my attention. This year I think I'm going to do a little planning as there are a couple titles I really want that I didn't get for Christmas. Maybe mix it up, half targeted and half whim? Hmmm.

Jan 8, 1:53pm Top

2. Old Man's War by John Scalzi

From the back of the book:

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

If that isn't one hell of a way to start a military science fiction novel, I don't know what is. Old Man's War is the first book in the Old Man's War series by John Scalzi. The story begins by giving a traditional military scifi plot a unique twist. Humanity has survived long enough to start colonizing other planets. The Colonial Defense Force, who's purpose it is to protect those colonies from hostile alien races, recruits seniors on their 75th birthday to join the war effort. Enlistees are granted youth again through an amazing life extension process and then it's straight to boot camp to prepare them for battle. The universe is not a nice place. Turns out that planets fit for life are scarce and the competition to control those planets is fierce. The war has been going on for decades. CDF soldiers must serve a minimum of two years on the front lines and are told bluntly that most of them will die before the end of their first tour of duty. If they survive, they'll be given the option to retire on the planet of their choice or they can re-enlist and keep helping the war effort. The downside is that once you enlist you can never go back to Earth or see your loved ones again. The trade off seems worth it since most seniors were already starting to face the hard reality of dying from old age and age related illnesses.

I can't remember the last time I read a fiction book where the majority of the characters are 75 years old and up. What a kick that the military is recruiting seniors! The CDF gains new solders that have the benefit of a lifetime of experience and wisdom instead of the idealism of youth. I'm sure this isn't a new concept but it's the first time I've read it. I liked that the science parts of the book were slightly vague yet plausible so my logical mind didn't try to pick apart the ideas. While I don't think that real world science will catch up any time soon, it would be pretty amazing if it did. I know I'd sign up assuming I make it to my 75th birthday.

The story is told entirely from the first person view point of John Perry. He is a good guy and a natural born leader. He makes friends easily and truly cares about his comrades in arms. For a while all the accepted and sometimes gleeful violence was starting to worry me so I was glad when Perry had a serious attack of conscience when his unit is forced perform an act of genocide on an enemy that literally can't fight back - they are only one inch tall. Unfortunately John is a bit of a Gary Stu. He always comes up with the exact right answers to situations and seems to be the last man standing a lot, surviving against impossible odds in difficult scenarios. The supporting cast is well thought out. Each has enough personality and background that they feel fairly real. The banter between characters is one of the highlights of the book.

I listened to the audio book narrated by William Dufris. I thought the narrator did a great job. His tone nails the dry wit and cynicism of Scalzi's writing perfectly. The only downside is he doesn't differentiate his female characters well enough and sometimes I got confused as to who was talking when it was a big group of people.

Over all the book is a lot of fun. If you like the science in your fiction to be more exact, then you may be disappointed. Otherwise the story touches on many subjects (community, friendship, politics), has a unique premise, well written action and witty character dialog. There is even a small romance thrown in for good measure. I can see myself continuing this series in the future.


Jan 8, 3:03pm Top

>23 Narilka: I’m glad to see you enjoyed this! It’s on my list, but as a lower priority since I read the author was contracted to write more books in the setting. The premise does sound unique and fun, and I’m especially glad to see you say that there’s good banter between the characters. I love that sort of thing.

I actually haven’t read any of Scalzi’s work yet, but I’d like to get to him soon, maybe starting with one of his standalones. It looks like my library has Redshirts as an e-book, and Fuzzy Nation as a physical book. Have you read either of those?

Edited: Jan 8, 3:07pm Top

>23 Narilka: I'm not reading your review lest it taint my own experience. LOL I shall return in a day or two! (I can see the 4 stars though, so that makes me happy!)

Jan 8, 3:06pm Top

>24 YouKneeK: Redshirts is awesome, but you have to be at least familiar with if not a fan of Star Trek, especially the original series. I listened to Agent to the Stars a few months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jan 8, 3:11pm Top

>26 clamairy: Thanks! Maybe I'll try Redshirts in the near future. I did love Star Trek, and the original series was my favorite of all the incarnations. The Next Generation was what got me into science fiction, actually, although in a sort of backwards fashion since it was through the books rather than the TV show. I didn't watch the episodes until I had run out of the books.

Jan 8, 3:37pm Top

>24 YouKneeK: This was my first Scalzi. I've heard good things about Redshirts. Since I was an avid watcher of TNG back in the day, this should be up my alley and is a future plan as I've not acquired a copy just yet. The other book of his that sounds intriguing is Lock In.

After doing a little Googling it seems Old Man's War has 6 books so far and several short stories. I liked it enough that I'd like to read more but I don't feel like I'm in a rush to do so. This one does not end on a cliff hanger and is mostly self contained. There's a potential hook for a follow up book but it doesn't scream "CONTINUE NOW!!!" to me the way something like Mistborn did.

>25 clamairy: Can't wait to compare notes :)

Jan 9, 8:37am Top

>23 Narilka: I've really enjoyed the novels I've read so far in the series so glad to see you enjoy this one. I still have another 2 to get to eventually but still looking forward to getting there.

Jan 10, 8:08am Top

>23 Narilka: Great review! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Old man's war, as I'm not really a fan of military SF. I haven't read any of the sequels, and agree that you don't really need to.

Jan 10, 8:12am Top

Scalzi has such a wicked sense of humor. I've enjoyed everything I've read by him.

Jan 15, 7:34pm Top

First round of Thingaversary purchases made!

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Hunter by Mercedes lackey
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

I need 3 more books to finish off this year's Thingaversary.

Jan 15, 8:57pm Top

>32 Narilka: I haven't read any of those myself, but they look like some great choices!

Jan 21, 11:59am Top

3. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson

The Hero of Ages is the third and final book of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. And what an end it is! The stakes for the final battle are quite clear. The world is literally ending. Having been tricked at the Well of Ascension, Vin has released a great evil on the world. The ashmounts are erupting constantly and plants are starting to die due to a heavy coating of ash and lack of sun. The ground is being rent apart by violent earthquakes and lava flows. The mists continue to kill. Life will soon be unsustainable. Vin and Elend must follow clues left by the Lord Ruler in the hope they can save the world.

While most authors who write stories like these leave hints and clues for the reader throughout their books, Sanderson is a master. Every single clue, no matter how small, that has been laid out since the beginning are tied together and explained. And they all work. Some of the clues I was able to figure out myself, some I missed entirely and a few I was completely wrong about. It was great fun to be kept guessing until the very end. He even leaves a couple tantalizing nuggets that I'm sure are going to feature in the next Mistborn series.

All the characters that we've come to know and love are back. It's plain to see just how events have changed them. A heavy sense of dread, frustration and helplessness influences all the characters, even the bad guys. Gone is the naive, scholarly Elend Venture and instead we're shown a ruler who is willing to do anything it takes to try and save his people, even if he's not sure what it is he should do. Vin is still quite the bad ass, though she has no idea how to fight a force of nature. Poor Sazed. I alternated between feeling badly for him and wanting to shake him out of his melancholy after he loses his faith. Some characters that had minor roles before are given bigger ones. Spook comes into his own. He grows from a shy, timid youth into a confident man and revolutionary. It's also interesting how we're shown with his character can happen to someone who over uses their allomantic power, what it does to their mind and body. Marsh, another background character, has been given more page time. Through Marsh we're given an inside look at what it's like to be an Inquisitor and just how awful Ruin's power is. I was also really glad to see the kandra TenSoon back. The kandra had really grown on me. I'm glad he had an important part to play.

The world building continues as well. Just when you think there isn't much more to learn, Sanderson proves you wrong. Turns out there's a third aspect of metal magic that's been in play all along. We're also given insight into just what the koloss and kandra are, which was fascinating.

As to the ending itself, it is quite bittersweet. So many reveals. So many twists and turns. I devoured the last 200 pages in about an hour it was so engaging. All story lines are resolved and it's absolutely brilliant. It is fully satisfying end to the trilogy even though I knew going in that not everyone would survive. It would not have felt authentic to the characters or the world had everything been a perfect, happy ending. That said, the story ends with hope and I cannot wait to read more in the Mistborn universe after the final book of the second series is written.


Jan 25, 10:26am Top

4. All My Patients Have Tales by Jeff Wells, DVM

All My Patients Have Tales by Jeff Wells, DVM, is a short memoir about the early years of Jeff's veterinary practice. Each chapter relates a different story, starting off with how Jeff made it through veterinary school and on through his first 2-3 years of practice dealing with both the animals and their owners. The stories are heart warming and funny. Jeff's love of animals shines through. It was a nice, short read.


Jan 25, 1:48pm Top

>34 Narilka: I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. I too was happy to see TenSoon back. I had similar feelings about Sazed. Geez, could that man wallow! As for the foreshadowing I thought some of it was a bit heavy handed, but then I felt sucker punched by some of the reveals. So there was some balance in that area. I think his style will continue to be evolve and I can't wait to see what/how he's writing in another ten years.

Jan 25, 4:10pm Top

>36 clamairy: I love his style. He's become a new favorite author of mine.

Jan 25, 9:37pm Top

>34 Narilka: So should this series be my first Sanderson? I posed that question elsewhere, and people were so kind to respond, and I so rude to have forgotten the answer. :(

Jan 25, 9:39pm Top

>38 stellarexplorer: I would start there. Near the beginning of his career and as good as it is, he only gets better.

Jan 25, 10:49pm Top

>38 stellarexplorer: Hmm... I have to be honest and say I don't think you'd like this series too much. Give The Emperor's Soul a shot. I think his writing tightened up nicely in the years between these books.

Jan 26, 2:15am Top

>39 BookstoogeLT:, >40 clamairy: Ok, thanks to both of you. Now I know where to return in the unlikely event I forget again. Emperor's Soul. Emperor's Soul.

Jan 26, 10:18am Top

>38 stellarexplorer: So far the only Brandon Sanderson I've read is the Mistborn trilogy and Elantris. Mistborn is much stronger, though both are good. Elantris was his very first book, wasn't it? That goes along with what clamairy says, that he gets better as he goes. FWIW, Mistborn put him solidly on my favorite authors list.

>40 clamairy: That one is on my wish list.

Jan 29, 8:37pm Top

Took a short trip up to my favorite used book store and went on a small book buying binge. For my remaining Thingaversary purchases I picked up:

Daughter of the Empire by Raymond E Feist & Janny Wurts
The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
The Light Fantastic by terry pratchett
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon by Leann Sweeney
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

Whew! All covered and then some. Hopefully that will appease the enforcers for my tardiness.

Jan 29, 9:03pm Top

Are these all new books for you?

Jan 29, 9:34pm Top

>43 Narilka: That looks like a great haul!

I loved the Daughter of the Empire series, although it’s been a couple decades since I read it. The earlier series that started with Magician is actually what got me into fantasy in the first place, and I enjoyed Daughter of the Empire just as much.

Jan 29, 10:24pm Top

>44 BookstoogeLT: Yep, all are new books for me. There's another thread about it somewhere here in the Green Dragon, but in a nutshell we celebrate our Thingaversaries (LT Anniversary) by buying books. A book for each year you've been a member plus one to grow on. I went a little over board this year since it's only my 8th Thingaversary and I ended up with 12 books lol

>45 YouKneeK: Cool. I read the original Riftwar Saga about 5 years ago and I've had my eye on the Empire series for a while.

Feb 2, 8:25pm Top

>43 Narilka: That's a very nice haul, especially for a used book shop. Impressive.

Feb 2, 10:05pm Top

5. Clariel by Garth Nix

"A passion thwarted will oft go astray."

Clariel by Garth Nix is the fourth book publication wise in the Old Kingdom series though technically it is a prequel to Sabriel. The story is set roughly 600 years before the birth of Sabriel. The world definitely has a different feel to it. Gone is the feeling of menace and dread. In it's place you can see how the world and it's peoples have become complacent during a long period of peace. The Abhorsen is more concerned with going on Great Hunts than protecting the kingdom since there's been no sign of the Dead in many years. The current King has refused to rule and locked himself in his castle, forcing the people to fend for themselves. The Guilds have taken the opportunity to seize power and enforce their will upon the populace. The story is set almost entirely in the city of Belisaere with no mention at all of Ancelstierre.

Just as the world has an entirely different feel, Clariel is an entirely different story. It is a hero journey that goes tragically wrong. A common phrase from the previous trilogy is repeated here and takes on new meaning: "Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?" Clariel wants nothing more than to live a simple life in the Great Forest in Estwael. This one simple wish is denied over and over again, first by her parents trying to marry her off to a murderer, then by being caught up in the politics of the Guilds in the city and again through the wiles of Free Magic creatures. Clariel is offered little choice in any of these situations and it's no wonder it takes her down a destructive path.

It took a while for Clariel to grow on me. Having read the original trilogy fairly recently, I was used to the obvious heroism of Sabriel and Lirael so was a bit of a shock that Clariel was not like them at all. She's very self absorbed and completely focused on her dream of a simple life. Her family and society sees her only as a child of a noble house to be married off for political gain. It's no wonder that Clariel focuses mostly on her dreams even though they never come true. She ends on a dark path indeed. It's also a fun easter egg for fans to realize just who's back story we're reading.

I think this is one of those books that benefits by having read the original trilogy first. While it is an interesting story and has themes that any new reader to the series can identify with - what happens if one gives in anger and the temptation of power - by having Sabriel and Lirael's stories to compare to is what makes Clariel more poignant.


Feb 3, 9:46am Top

>48 Narilka: I think this is one of those books that benefits by having read the original trilogy first.

If that's true then it would probably be better to list the books in the series in their publication order instead of listing this one as "prequel". Or at least add a new series for listing the publication order.

Feb 8, 8:58pm Top

6. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik

It is the early 1800's. The French Empire, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, is at war with many of Europe's nations. Britain, though small, is leading the resistance. Both side's aerial combatants have taken to the skies to advance the war efforts. There is one twist: instead of aircraft the combatants having taken flight on the backs of dragons.

His Majesty's Dragon is the first in Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Historical fantasy usually isn't my thing so when my book club picked this one for the monthly read I wasn't excited. Having always loved dragons I decided to give the book a try anyway and I'm so glad I did. The story opens with the HMS Reliant capturing a French ship. Part of her cargo is an unhatched dragon egg. England's Aerial Corps are always in need of more dragons and this is a handsome prize! Much to everyone's surprise the ship's doctor determines that the egg is close to hatching. Captain Will Laurence has all of his officers, himself included, draw lots to see who will be the unfortunate man charged with the task to attempt to harness (bond with) the dragon. If successful that would mean the end of the man's Navy career and he would have to enter the Corps. Little does Laurence realize just how his life is about to change.

Laurence is a proper gentlemen and could easily have been lifted straight out of Pride and Prejudice with his formal attire, mode of speech and sense of duty and propriety. Temeraire absolutely stole my heart. He is highly intelligent, charming, funny and sees the world with a child's wonder. He is full of exuberance and the desire to learn. Their growing friendship and bond is the best part of the book. The relationship between dragon and aviator is all consuming and it is great to see what lengths a good aviator will go to in order to care for his dragon. Or her dragon, as there are also female aviators, though they are not as common. It's the small details, such as Laurence spending an evening reading to Temeraire, that has me completely sold on the camaraderie and affection between the two.

The Aerial Corps are also quite unique. The dragons have an entire crew that joins them in battle by using a complex system of hooks and harnesses to stay on board during flight. The crew includes gunners, spotters, bombers, etc., similar to what you'd find on a ship. They all train together to form one cohesive team. I liked the concept a lot.

The story is not without its faults. The plot is straight forward, following Laurence and Temeraire's training in the Corps and on to their first couple battles. There are no plot twists so it was fairly easy to see where things were going and several of the supporting characters have a stereotypical feel to them. These were not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the book.

And I really enjoyed this book. I ended up reading it between meetings at work it was that hard for me to put down. It's a short, light and satisfying read, a great start to a series. I look forward to reading more of Temeraire in the future.


Feb 8, 9:31pm Top

>50 Narilka: I enjoyed reading your review! This is yet another book I’ve had on my to-be-read list for a while. It’s one that I somehow never seem to get to, I guess because there have always been other things I’m more curious to try. Your review made it sound more interesting to me, though.

I’m still not sure when I’ll get to it, but it’s one of the top contenders for the next larger series I’ll start once I finish Discworld. Compared to that series, this one may even seem short. :)

Feb 8, 10:07pm Top

>51 YouKneeK: Lol yes, it might! Only 9 books instead of 30something :)

Feb 16, 11:36am Top

7. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

As always, Harry Dresden is down on his luck. His girlfriend has left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood. Harry has spent all of his time trying to find a cure for her, to the extent of being anti social, not taking clients and not being able to pay his rent. The few friends he has left are worried about him. The Red Court is gunning for him for the trouble he caused several months back. The White Council blames Harry for starting a supernatural war and is in a lynching mood. And then it starts to rain frogs. Literally.

"Okay. But if they're real?"

"If they're real, then it means something is out of whack."

"What kind of out of whack?"

"The serious kind. Holes in the fabric of reality."

Summer Knight is the fourth book in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files. Harry is back and this time he's taking on the Faerie realm. Harry's faerie Godmother has transferred his debt to the Winter Queen of Faerie. The Summer Knight has been murdered and the Winter Queen wants Harry to clear her of the crime. While it seems a fairly straight forward task, Harry knows that when dealing with Faeries there's always a catch. It doesn't take long for him to become stuck in the political squabble between the Courts.

At this point Butcher has the Harry Dresden formula down. First, establish your super powerful hero as an "ordinary" Joe. Second, beat the crap out of him. Third, keep beating the crap out of him right up to the very last minute. Fourth, end with an "all hell breaks loose" climax where the hero finds the strength he needs to save the world yet again. Poor Harry. He has to be one of the most beat down fantasy heroes I've read about. And still he always always rises to the the occasion with the belief that the world is worth saving even after all the suffering he's gone through. It is both endearing and frustrating. Endearing because who doesn't like a good underdog story and frustrating because Harry is pretty bad ass and should have a better control over his life than he seems to.

One of the things I liked most about this book is Harry finally opens up to Lieutenant Murphy. And it's about time!! He's had three books of holding her at arms length, with Murphy saving his ass and yet completely in the dark about what it is that she has been up against. This is a great stride forward and shows actual trust in their friendship, something Harry has been sorely lacking. Murphy gets one of the best scenes in the book when she takes out an evil animated tree with a chainsaw! It was awesome. Also still present throughout the book is Harry's dry wit. His quips continue to be both eye roll worthy and laugh out loud funny.

On the downside, I think I may have read this book at the wrong time. The political machinations between Faerie Courts reminded me a little too much of the political situation in the real world for me to enjoy those parts as much as I may have at another time. Still, it's a highly readable and mostly fun entry into the Dresden series. It also has one of the best battle cries I've read in a book in a long time:

"I don't believe in faeries!"


Feb 21, 11:24am Top

8. The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

The Rithmatist is a YA novel and the first in The Rithmatist series by Brandon Sanderson. The book reads well as a stand alone novel, which is good because the second book hasn't been started yet so it's likely going to be a while before it's published. If you've read any YA recently you should know approximately what to expect. It is how Sanderson uses the common YA elements that turns The Rithmatist into such a fun story.

Joel is a student Armedius Academy. Along with its regular students Armedius also trains up Rithmatists, wizard types who duel with chalk by bringing their drawings to life. Joel is fascinated by Rithmatics and wishes he could become a Rithmatist though he will never be one. Instead, Joel has decided to dedicate his life to becoming a Rithmatics scholar and, with that in mind, arranges to have himself assigned as a Rithmatic professor's assistant for the summer semester. Melody is a Rithmatic student at Armedius and is failing miserably. Melody is assigned remedial Rithmatic classes for the summer semester in an attempt to keep from being expelled. Just as the summer semester gets under way, Rithmatic students start going missing. Suspicious chalk markings are found at the scene of the crime. A plot is afoot!

The characters are quite fun. Joel is a smart, brilliant teen aged boy who is still fairly naive and getting better at thinking his way through problems. Melody is both adorable and hysterical at the same time, an interesting combination. She's terrible at her studies, brilliant with chalkings and is given some of the best lines in the book. Professor Fitch starts out as an older and timid professor who ends up gaining the confidence he needs to help both his students grow. Initially Joe and Melody don't like each other very much. In the way of most YA tales, they learn to work together and have a budding friendship by the end. The villains are not what I expected which gave the fairly straight forward story a nice little twist.

The story is set in an alternate America that is formed of separate islands with names like Nebrask and Georgiabama. True to Sanderson, the magic system is unique and a lot of fun. Rithmatics have a heavy foundation in geometry and Sanderson starts off each chapter with a diagram explaining how certain features work. By the end of the story I felt like I had a decent grasp of the system. It's a system that has simple elegance and yet can be highly complex, that requires both skill in art and math by its practitioners.

This was a fun, quick read. The story pulls you in after a few chapters. While primarily aimed at younger audiences, the book can easily be enjoyed by any age group. If you like Sanderson's other works and also enjoy Harry Potter then The Rithmatist may be up your alley.


Feb 21, 2:50pm Top

Nice review of The rithmatist! I really liked that book. It would be nice if the sequel came out some time soon...

Feb 21, 2:57pm Top

What zjakkelien said; I second both sentences.

Feb 22, 3:38pm Top

I checked on Sanderson's website. He says "sooon". He is so prolific that I think he'll probably stick to that plan once he wraps up Stormlight #3 this year.

Feb 28, 9:55pm Top

I've been in a little bit of a book slump so I did an art project this weekend and created an abstract painting. It was so much fun I may have another hobby to rotate through :)

Mar 1, 1:49am Top

I love the effects in the painting - I can imagine having something like it on the wall. The effect looks similar to the marbling that I've done (but on a much larger scale!) which makes me wonder how you did it.

Mar 1, 9:25am Top

>58 Narilka: Wow, that is so dramatic! What a great way to use a book slump!

Mar 1, 9:51am Top

>58 Narilka: Dramatic, and yet somehow restful, too. Lovely.

Mar 1, 12:39pm Top

>58 Narilka: Wow, that's beautiful! I love the colors!

Mar 1, 5:40pm Top

>59 Peace2: Pouring ;)

Mar 1, 9:26pm Top

>58 Narilka: That is lovely. Were you using acrylics?

Edited: Mar 2, 4:14pm Top

>64 clamairy: Yep, it's acrylics mixed with poring medium to make them nice and flowey. It's fairly easy to do. It does make a mess though!

Edit: I'll wrap it in spoiler tags in case you'd like the process to remain a mystery ;) I found a YouTube video that's very similar to what I do. I'm not nearly as careful with the paints as this lady is but you get the general idea. From 2:30-3:07 is pretty much my method. No fancy tools, just plastic cups and craft sticks to stir the paint, gravity, my gloved hands or craft sticks to move the paint around. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNeztQBoMcI

Mar 2, 12:44pm Top

9. Awaken Online: Catharsis by Travis Bagwell

When MMOs become fantasy novels, stats and all, you get LitRPG. I never knew this sub-genre had it's own name. A quick Google search shows me that it's a fairly new thing, one I'm sure will gain popularity especially with virtual reality technology on the rise. Awaken Online: Catharsis came up several times in my Audible recommendations after finishing Ready Player One so I decided to download it and give it a try. Where RPO is a nostalgic adventure novel set in a virtual world, AO is like actually playing a MMO.

Life has not been easy for Jason. From the outside things look pretty good. He's going to an exclusive private school on scholarship and his parents are lawyers so the family is reasonably well off. From the inside, though, things are quite different. His parents are never home, always traveling for work, and Jason's school is for the ultra wealthy so his scholarship means the staff and other students treat him like a charity case. One student in particular has made it his job to make Jason's school life as miserable as possible, even going so far as to set up an situation that ends up with Jason expelled from the school. Frustrated and alone, Jason logs into Awaken Online, a brand new virtual reality game that has just released to the public. The level of immersion and customization is unprecedented and unlike any other game Jason's ever played. Jason quickly finds himself going down a path he never expected, one where he isn't the hero. It may be that he's the villain.

Awaken Online: Cartharsis is the first in the Awaken Online series by Travis Bagwell and is the author's first novel. The story is set in two time periods. Each chapter starts with a small section that is during the game's development period a couple years before the release and then jumps forward to present day and Jason's story. I found the game development sections fascinating as it talks about how they're testing out the artificial intelligence system the programmers created to run the game, how it is growing and learning, changing the game on its own, even scaring the creators with some of the things it's done. Jason's story starts off as a typical teen drama of going to school. Jason suffers several bad events so when he gets home he's ready to take out his frustrations on the new MMO game that just released. Upon entering the world Jason is taken through a highly customized introduction that helps define what his character's class will be. Completely unknown to Jason, the game's AI has picked up on his emotional state and uses it to craft Jason's game experience. It ends up being a unique experience indeed! He is lead through several morally ambiguous scenarios which set him on a dark path. It's these situations and Jason's actions that make the story so interesting, giving his character depth and letting us understand how it is to have a sympathetic bad guy. Or is he the bad guy? Nothing is quite as it seems.

This is definitely a book by a gamer for gamers. If you aren't into video games, I'm not sure you'll enjoy or completely understand the story. The author dives into the technical bits of the game, describing Jason's stats, level ups, skills, etc. and does a great job of working them into the story. Even the NPCs are interesting and fun. If real world gaming technology ever catches up to something like what's in this story I may have to become a gamer again.

The audio book is narrated by David Stifel. He does a great job and even uses sound effects to really sell the gaming experience.

This book ended up being a lot of fun. And then, after the big climax, it just ends on a fairly large bomb shell. I will definitely be picking up book 2 when it releases.


Mar 2, 5:48pm Top

>66 Narilka: Hmm, that sounds pretty interesting!

I didn’t know LitRPG was a subgenre, either. I liked Ready Player One pretty well. The gaming elements were some of the parts I liked best, more so than the nostalgia factor even though I grew up in that era.

Mar 2, 7:21pm Top

>65 Narilka: There went an hour ... one youtube led to another - Fascinating. Thank you.

Mar 2, 9:04pm Top

>68 Peace2: You're welcome! If you decide to give it a try please post a photo as I'd love to see how it turns out. I now have a second painting drying in the garage :)

Mar 3, 9:37am Top

Oooh sounds fun. I've read a few of these (didn't know the genre had a name though) and they've all been quite enjoyable. On of the bundle ebooks sites had a collection in 2015 I think. I'll look out for this.

Mar 3, 12:16pm Top

>66 Narilka: Ooooh, that sounds really interesting! I've not had the best of luck with the genre so far, but this sounds like it might be written in a way I'll find more enjoyable. ^_^

Mar 4, 11:05am Top

>69 Narilka: I would love to give it a try but not sure I have enough room in the house to do something that's likely to create the associated mess without damaging walls/furniture. The garage might be a possibility if I did it in the summer when I could leave the car outside... You're putting ideas into my head at this point! It would need more research too about what I'd actually need to buy.

Mar 6, 11:55am Top

10. The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

The Light Fantastic is the second in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and picks up right where the first book left off. A red star has appeared in the sky and the Disc is heading straight for it. Only one person can save the world. Unfortunately it's the bumbling, incompetent wizard Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the world.

The book is presented in the regular Discworld format and is told as one contiguous story instead of the short story format of the first book. You can still see that Pratchett is still working on his world building as a few of what will become the regular cast are still being worked out. The style is almost to what we'll see in the rest of the series.

It took me a while to get into the book. Things started to pick up for me when Cohen the Barbarian joined the group. Who would've thought you could make an 87 year old twist of Conan be so much fun. And so useful! He definitely steals the scenes he is in and was a lot fun to read about. Also back are Twoflowers and the Luggage. Twoflowers continues to be blissfully ignorant and somehow manages to make it through his adventure ok. The Luggage, while as malevolent as ever, begins to take on a bit more depth as it starts to display some basic emotions. Not bad for an animated object. The story wraps up with a more touching the ending than I had expected.


Mar 6, 5:36pm Top

>10 Narilka: I thought the Cohen/Conan thing was fun too. :) I don’t have a lot of familiarity with Conan, but I had conveniently read an anthology with a couple of the original Conan stories a few months before I read this Discworld book, so I at least recognized the reference. The Cohen character himself is a lot of fun either way.

Mar 6, 6:58pm Top

I really liked Cohen too, and the Luggage.

Mar 7, 9:41pm Top

Oh man. March has not started off well. Last week I had a good friend lose the fight to cancer. Went to her funeral today. Got home to find out my father in law is in the ER and may have had a heart attack. He hasn't been doing well the last few months due to another ailment and this is just one more layer on top to compound issues. Please send good vibes.

I might need to switch my book to a comfort read and come back to The Immortals another time.

Mar 7, 10:55pm Top

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend—that's terrible. I hope your father-in-law has a good recovery. I wish you and your family comfort in this stressful time.

Mar 8, 7:15am Top

I'm sorry to hear that you've had so much bad news. Sending strength to you, your family and friends.

Mar 8, 5:12pm Top

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. That's terrible. :( I hope your father-in-law has a good recovery! *sends good thoughts*

Mar 8, 5:31pm Top

I'm sorry for your loss and add my good wishes to those already sent to your father in law for his recovery.

Edited: Mar 8, 7:29pm Top

Sorry for your loss, Narilka.

Mar 9, 9:29am Top

Thanks everyone. The family decided to put my father in law in hospice yesterday. Now comes the worse part of waiting and seeing.

Mar 9, 10:08am Top

Strength to you and your family

Mar 10, 7:42am Top

Oh, no. I'm so sorry, Narilka. Sending good thoughts and strength to your family.

Mar 11, 9:20pm Top

11. The Cat, the Lady and the Liar by Leann Sweeney

Jillian Hart is at it again! There is a cat in trouble and she must help out. A gorgeous stray cat has been found by the local animal shelter and Jillian has agreed to help track down the owner, who happens to be none other than Ritaestelle Longworth, the fabulously wealthy owner of a large estate in a neighboring town. Rumor has it that there is something wrong with Ritaestelle and her family claims she's been stealing form stores around town. Ritaestelle claims someone has been drugging her and spreading lies. Before Jillian can get to the bottom of things a body turns up in the lake behind Jillian's house with none other than Ritaestelle standing nearby.

The Cat, the Lady and the Liar is the third in Leann Sweeney's Cat's in Trouble series. I am absolutely loving these cozy mysteries. The characters have grown on me to the point I feel like I'm visiting old friends. Jillian is back along with her best friend Deputy Candice Carson, step daughter Kara and new boyfriend/PI Tom Stewart. We are also introduced to the Longworth family and in the next town over. What a group of characters! It is unfortunate and completely believable that a group of people would behave so badly to towards their benefactor. Leann Sweeney knows her cats! Jillian's cats contributed greatly to the story, helping to provide clues without being overly obvious.

The mystery is well done, lots of clues and small town gossip, with nice little twists and a misdirection that kept me guessing almost to the end. It was a satisfying read.


Edited: Mar 20, 12:26pm Top

His dad passed away a week ago. Last week was nuts with travel, helping his mom with things, attending the funeral and memorial services and juggling work responsibilities. We're home again and things can start the gradual return to normal. Thanks everyone for the support and good thoughts.

And thanks to the time spent traveling I did finish some books so reviews will be coming soon.

Edit: Also need to catch up on everyone's threads! This may take a while.

Mar 20, 2:48pm Top

12. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch is the first in Susan Dennard's Witchland series. At its heart this is a story about the power of friendship wrapped in a fantasy adventure set in a world that's loosely based on the Austrian and Venetian empires. Even the world map in the front of the book looks like an outline of mainland Europe with the names changed slightly to give them a fantasy flavor, which annoys the crap out of me these days. That annoyance aside, it's a fun story that hits all the high points of a good fantasy adventure: sword fights, an interesting magic system, some world building, piracy, romance, treachery and deep friendships.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lies. Truthwitches are incredibly rare and it is a power many would kill for. Iseult is a Threadwitch, able to see the invisible threads that tie people together and tangle their lives, though she cannot see her own. Wild fire and steely ice, together they are two halves of a formidable whole. More than just friends they are Threadsisters, tied by bonds that go deeper than family. The girls want nothing more than to live their own lives. When a heist goes wrong, their inability to keep out of trouble unwittingly tosses them at the center of a continental conflict. On the run and hunted, Safi and Iseult are determined to hang on to each other and their freedom no matter what other people have planned for them.

What I enjoyed the most about the book was the relationship between Safi and Iseult. It is too common that women in fantasy get the short end of the stick when it comes to characterizations. With Truthwitch it is Safi and Iseult's friendship that takes center stage. It was incredibly refreshing to read a young adult novel where the women not only support each other but actively put each other first before the men in their lives. They are the center of each other's worlds. Yes, there is are romantic side stories for each of the ladies, this is a YA novel after all. Safi is hot-headed and impulsive while Iseult is more methodical and likes to have a plan. Their personalities and powers compliment each other beautifully, allowing them to be a dangerous and effective team.

Most of the world building is only surface level. There are several empires that are in an uneasy truce and each has it's own system of nobility, none of which are very well described, and the politics between nations are murky. This isn't too important to the story so it mostly didn't bother me. Hopefully more of this is revealed later as it seems like the politics between nations will be more important in the next book given where this book ends.

Alternatively, the magic system is quite interesting and more in depth. While not everyone in the world has magic, there are endless varieties to be found, each with varying levels of power. All witcheries seem to be elemental based, with powers founded in in earth, air, fire, water and ether, and those can specialize even further. An Airwitch may be called a Windwitch instead because their magic is specialized to producing gusts of wind that can, for example, fill sails with air to help a boat move faster while another Airwitch may have fine tuned their power that they can control the air in someone's lungs. There are even rumors of witchery tied to the Void.

Even with its flaws, I quite enjoyed this book. Truthwitch is a great start to what should be a promising series. I'm looking forward to book two.


Mar 20, 5:30pm Top

13. Lock In by John Scalzi

Lock In is John Scalzi's scifi police procedural set in the near future. The world has been devastated by a plague that has been named Haden's Syndrome after the First Lady of the United States contracts the disease. While many people died and a small number recovered, most victims were left in a "locked in" state, their minds are trapped fully conscious and aware within their paralyzed bodies. These people became known as Hadens. In a rush to find a cure to the disease and let Haden's sufferers get their lives back, scientists develop a sophisticated neural net that can be implanted into the brain and allow a Hayden's consciousness to transfer into a robot, known as a threep, or into the body of a nonparalyzed Haden's survivor, called an integrator. 25 years later the United States is on the brink of hysteria as generous government subsidizes for Hadyen's sufferers are about to end. And this is where the story begins.

Yep, all of that was just the backstory! And easily my favorite part of the book.

The plot gets underway by investigating a suspicious death in Washington's Watergate Hotel. It is rookie FBI agent Chris Shane's second day on the job and the first time he meets his new partner, Agent Vann. Agent Shane is a high profile Hayden and the son of an ultra wealthy real estate mogul. Agent Vann is a drinking, smoking, hardened veteran, who also used to be an integrator in the past. The murder ended up in their hands when it appears to have been perpetrated by an integrator who may or may not have been hosting a client at the time. He can't remember, which isn't normal as all integrators are fully conscious when their bodies are being used by a client. What exactly is going on?

The story is a pretty cool blend of both genres. For me it's the scifi elements that elevate what would be a fairly normal police procedural. There's a nice little mystery, a cop (or agent) with a past, dead bodies that start piling up, clues to follow, some political motivation and robots. While there is some action, the story is dialog heavy and light on the thriller. Scalzi's brand of humor is still present, though to a lesser degree than in Old Man's Warn.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Wil Wheaton. Wheaton's voice acting is good though not quite as great others of his I've listened too. Maybe he was trying to give the story a more serious feel? Not sure. His voice sounded a bit too monotonous for the first couple hours though it got better as the story went along.


Mar 20, 5:45pm Top

14. Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi is the companion novella to Lock In. Unlocked traces the medical history behind the virus, from the first outbreak, to theorized causes, medical research and all the way up to modern events. It is told as a series of monologues by engineers, scientists, doctors, Hayden's sufferers and survivors. It outlines the genesis of a new group of people, the Hadens, and all the social and economic ramifications that come along with it.

It is absolutely brilliant and utterly believable. His reactions by the population in general to the disease show us an all too real glimpse of what could possibly happen to our society should a disease like this occur. It's fascinating.

An audio recording of this came along with the Audible download of Lock In. It is performed by a full cast that does a great job of making it feel like I was listening to actual interviews.


Mar 20, 7:22pm Top

>87 Narilka: I was actually tempted to read Truthwitch JUST because of the cover, even though I knew I had no interest in some girly romance fantasy ya trope laden, love triangle infested, fake drama for drama's sake, kind of book.

Thankfully, I read a couple of reviews that helped me get my brain back in gear. Glad you enjoyed it though. Because honestly, that cover IS that good...

Mar 20, 8:19pm Top

>90 BookstoogeLT: I agree, the cover is pretty awesome. And honestly, that's what sucks me into YA books normally lol I hate love triangles and a lot of the typical YA tropes and yet the books always have such awesome covers that grab me as I walk through the bookstore... Yeah, I try my best to not let it happen but I"m not always successful. I got lucky with Truthwitch :)

Mar 20, 11:24pm Top

My sympathy to you and your family.

I really liked Unlocked, too, and agreee about the believability of people's reactions. I only read the first few chapters of Lock In when they were free just before publication. I was interested in the Haden's stuff, but am not much into detective stories, so never sought out the full book.

Edited: Mar 22, 3:42pm Top

15. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is the first in the Wayfarer's series by Becky Chambers. It is also the author's first novel. The story revolves around the crew of the Wayfarer, a space ship that punches "tunnels" (wormholes) through space to connect various systems for ships to use. The Galactic Commons, this universe's version of the United Federation of Planets, is home to a multitude of species and is looking to negotiate a treaty with a potential new member, the Hedra Ka. The Hedra Ka's planet will need a tunnel punched to connected it to the GC's systems and the Wayfarer takes the job. So starts the crew's long journey to this small, angry planet.

I think Becky Chambers has created a new sub-genre, the Scifi Cozy. Seriously, reading this book gave me the same kind of feeling as reading a cozy mystery and it's the first time I remember this happening when reading a scifi book. Sometimes there are bad people and sometimes something bad happens but mostly the people good and the universe is a good place. It is a surprisingly heart warming read. Instead of focusing on the tech or a big, involved plot, this book is all about the crew and their daily interactions both on and off the ship. While the crew is mostly human, there are some interesting aliens in the mix and different takes on human types as well. There is Captain Ashby, a human Exodan; Rosemary, a human colonist from Mars and who has just joined the crew as the ship's new administrator; Kizzy, one of the ship's human techs with a super fun personality; Jenks, the ship's other tech, a human with a form of dwarfism; Corban, another human and the ship's algaeist (algae is used as fuel so very important to keep in good condition); Sissix, the Aandrisk pilot, a lizardlike species; Dr. Chef, the ship's medic and cook, hence the humanized name since his real name is unpronounceable to most other species, and a member of the Grum species; Ohan, the ship's navigator; and finally Lovey, the ship's sentient AI. There is no main character exactly as the story rotates through all nine points of view. Everyone is given their own time to shine. All back stories are slowly revealed throughout and never are you given an overwhelming info dump.

The book is an interesting commentary on society and deals with a variety of issues that are very relevant today: cloning, sexuality across gender and species, self aware artificial intelligence and what a species should to do ensure survival.

I definitely went into this book with the wrong expectations. I've seen a lot of comparisons to the tv show Firefly, which is a favorite of mine, and aside this story being about a crew on a ship I was not reminded of Firefly at all. That's not to say it was bad, because it is an enjoyable read. I was just disappointed due to my own expectations that this would be more of space adventure than it was. I kept waiting for something to happen and it never really does.

Over all, if you're looking for an action packed scifi adventure, this is not the book for you. If you're looking for a slower paced scifi story with wonderful characters and thoughtful commentary on relevant topics, then you may enjoy book.


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