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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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1Narilka
Edited: Today, 2:24pm 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
16. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
17. Windwitch by Susan Dennard
18. Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
19. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
20. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
21. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
22. Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf
23. Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson
24. This Time Together by Carol Burnett
25. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
26. Awaken Online: Precipice by Travis Bagwell
27. The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon
28. Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron
29. The Hollow Queen by Elizabeth Haydon
30. For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor
31. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
32. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
33. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
34. The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon by Leann Sweeney

Fun Stats
Books Read: 34
Total Pages Read: 9830
Audio Book Hours: 72h 54m
Rereads: 0
TBR Challenge: 8/12
2017 Category Challenge: 22/52

2Narilka
Edited: May 23, 6:13pm 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 ;)

Progress
8/12

Primary
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) Completed 4/30/17
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)

Secondary
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)* Completed 5/23
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.

3Narilka
Edited: Jun 19, 10:19pm 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!

RULES
- 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)

PROGRESS
21/52

CHALLENGE:
( ) 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
(X) A book that's published in 2017 Windwitch
(X) A book involving a mythical creature Nice Dragons Finish Last
( ) A book you've read before that never fails to make you smile
( ) A book about food
( ) A book with career advice
(X) A book from a nonhuman perspective We Are Legion (We Are Bob)
(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
(X) A book about an interesting woman This Time Together
(X) A book set in two different time periods Red Sister
( ) 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
(X) A book you bought on a trip Windwitch

Advanced
( ) 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
(X) A book with an eccentric character Calamity
( ) 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
(X) A book based on mythology The Immortals

4Peace2
Jan 1, 1:07pm Top

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

5hfglen
Jan 1, 1:11pm Top

Happy new year

6YouKneeK
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!

7stellarexplorer
Jan 1, 2:48pm Top

To a great reading year!

8MrsLee
Jan 1, 3:16pm Top

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

9lynnoconnacht
Jan 1, 6:24pm Top

Happy new year! Good luck with your reading!

10Narilka
Jan 1, 8:30pm Top

Thanks for the good wishes everyone!

11Sakerfalcon
Jan 2, 6:46am Top

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

12imyril
Jan 2, 7:39am Top

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

13clamairy
Jan 3, 11:23am Top

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

14thehawkseye
Jan 3, 6:44pm Top

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

15Narilka
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.

16Sakerfalcon
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.

17Narilka
Jan 4, 4:53pm Top

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

18Narilka
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.

Rating:

19clamairy
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

20YouKneeK
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.

21Narilka
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 :)

22Narilka
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.

23Narilka
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.

Rating:

24YouKneeK
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?

25clamairy
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!)

26clamairy
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.

27YouKneeK
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.

28Narilka
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 :)

29AHS-Wolfy
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.

30Sakerfalcon
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.

31majkia
Jan 10, 8:12am Top

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

32Narilka
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.

33YouKneeK
Jan 15, 8:57pm Top

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

34Narilka
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.

Rating:

35Narilka
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.

Rating:

36clamairy
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.

37Narilka
Jan 25, 4:10pm Top

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

38stellarexplorer
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. :(

39BookstoogeLT
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.

40clamairy
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.

41stellarexplorer
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.

42Narilka
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.

43Narilka
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.

44BookstoogeLT
Jan 29, 9:03pm Top

Are these all new books for you?

45YouKneeK
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.

46Narilka
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.

47clamairy
Feb 2, 8:25pm Top

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

48Narilka
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.

Rating:

49jjwilson61
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.

50Narilka
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.

Rating:

51YouKneeK
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. :)

52Narilka
Feb 8, 10:07pm Top

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

53Narilka
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!"

Rating:

54Narilka
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.

Rating:

55zjakkelien
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...

56hfglen
Feb 21, 2:57pm Top

What zjakkelien said; I second both sentences.

57Narilka
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.

58Narilka
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 :)

59Peace2
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.

60Sakerfalcon
Mar 1, 9:25am Top

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

61MrsLee
Mar 1, 9:51am Top

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

62sandstone78
Mar 1, 12:39pm Top

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

63Narilka
Mar 1, 5:40pm Top

>59 Peace2: Pouring ;)

64clamairy
Mar 1, 9:26pm Top

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

65Narilka
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

66Narilka
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.

Rating:

67YouKneeK
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.

68Peace2
Mar 2, 7:21pm Top

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

69Narilka
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 :)

70reading_fox
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.

71lynnoconnacht
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. ^_^

72Peace2
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.

73Narilka
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.

Rating:

74YouKneeK
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.

75SylviaC
Mar 6, 6:58pm Top

I really liked Cohen too, and the Luggage.

76Narilka
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.

77SylviaC
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.

78Sakerfalcon
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.

79lynnoconnacht
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*

80Peace2
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.

81jillmwo
Edited: Mar 8, 7:29pm Top

Sorry for your loss, Narilka.

82Narilka
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.

83hfglen
Mar 9, 10:08am Top

Strength to you and your family

84lynnoconnacht
Mar 10, 7:42am Top

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

85Narilka
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.

Rating:

86Narilka
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.

87Narilka
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.

Rating:

88Narilka
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.

Rating:

89Narilka
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.

Rating:

90BookstoogeLT
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.
*wink*

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...

91Narilka
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 :)

92SylviaC
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.

93Narilka
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.

Rating:

94Narilka
Mar 30, 8:08pm Top

16. We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor



Bob Johansson is living the good life. He's recently sold his software company for an obscene amount of money and has just signed a contract with a cryogenics company to have his body frozen at the time of his death so he can be brought back once technology has advanced enough to cure what ailed him. So it's completely unfair that he gets himself killed while crossing the street during a convention. A little over a hundred years later Bob wakes up as a digital copy of himself, one of five replicants of different people that have been created in the hopes that one of them will be able to pilot a probe to search for other habitable planets. A lot has changed while Bob was out. There has been global economic collapse. Countries have fallen and risen. There is a new space race only this time the stakes are so high that countries will kill to be the first and only ones out of the gate. It turns out that space may be the safest place for Bob after all...or not.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) is the first book in Dennis E. Taylor's Bobiverse series. It's hard to believe this is the author's first book. The story is a lot of fun and well written. It reminds me of Ready Player One and Old Man's War with their tone, style of humor and many 80s references. It also has just enough science to keep things plausible though may be disappointing for those that like heavy science in their science fiction.

While the situation on earth with nations are at each others throats and Bob learning how to be a functional AI is interesting, the meat of the story happens after Bob makes it into space. Seeing how a single probe will take forever to search the galaxy, the first part of Bob's mission is to replicate himself. And he sure does! Each Bob has the essence of the original and yet also has their own voice, giving them almost a father/son relationship. Original Bob's first order to his replicants is to give themselves names so they can tell each other apart. This is where a lot of the 80s references come in with names like Riker, Garfield and Homer. It is a lot of fun figuring out where the references come from.

Bob and his clones are awesome. He has great one liners, a creative engineering mind and is an eternal optimist, especially when it comes to solving problems. Now that he is basically immortal as an AI it has changed his perspective somewhat when it comes to the concept of time. And yet he hasn't lost his humanity.

After Bob makes his clones, the story lines diverge as we follow along with what a select few Bobs are up to. There is a lot of space exploration, first contact with an alien civilization, a trip back to Earth to see how humanity fared, even some space combat with opposing probes. Unfortunately there are too many story threads that there's no way they can be resolved in one book. I'm so happy that book two releases in less than a month. I can't wait to download it.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Ray Porter. He is excellent! He nails the overall tone and humor of the story and does a great job of keeping all the Bobs the same yet different. He also portrays the difference between outward dialog and inner monologue well. Definitely not an easy task.

Rating:

95Narilka
Mar 31, 1:19pm Top

17. Windwitch by Susan Dennard



Windwitch is the second in Susan Dennard's Witchland series. Things are starting to get complicated. The story picks up a not long after where book one ends with all of the characters scattered. Prince Merik has survived an assassination attempt where his ship exploded. Horribly scarred Merik is stalking the streets of Lovats in the guise of the Fury, determined to find proof that his sister is behind the attack. Going from the frying pan and into the fire, Safi and the Empress of Marstock also escape as their ship is being blown up only to be captured by the Hell Bards, who have been sent to retrieve Safi and return her to be married. Bloodwitch Aeduan is looking to retrieve his stolen money and has accepted a contract to find Iseult. Poor Iseult. Desperate to find Safi, Iseult stumbles across an injured Aeduan and convinces him to help her track down Safi in exchange for his lost money. Hidden in shadows, the Puppeteer's power is growing. Something strange is happening with the dead, the effects of which are starting to spread throughout the Witchlands.

The story has a different tone from the first one. While Safi and Iseult's friendship is still a driver for their character's actions, it is no longer the focus of the plot. The story constantly jumps between five POV characters: Safi, Iseult, Aeduan, Merik and his sister Vivia. Merik/Vivia and Iseult/Aeduan are the more interesting stories while Safi's suffers. With Merik and Vivia, we see how family relations can be twisted out of proportion by not bothering to understand one another. This is also the story that has the bigger chunk of the world politics. Aeduan and Iseult are beginning to learn more about each other and have a tentative trust between then. There are hints that there may be a romantic spark forming but it's not quite there yet. Iseult is also learning she may be more than just a Threadwitch, whether she likes it or not. Poor Safi is kept as a prisoner for most of the book. Her parts feel more like marking time in an attempt not to leave her out but not too much is done with her other than to gradually get her to where she should be physically in the world. Since all the characters are fairly spread apart, there is virtually no romance plot.

Dennard expands on the world building. We see other aspects the various witcheries. Vaness's Ironwitchery is astonishing. She has such fine control over her element! There is also better distinction between a Waterwitch versus a Tidewitch. There is a scene towards the end that has a blend of many types of witcheries that was cool to see how they could work together. More of the politics between powers is starting to come into play as well. I like the hints we have that there is something deeper going on that most people aren't aware of yet. We are given a peek into the Hell Bards society and an even smaller glimpse into two of the pirate factions. The setting is slightly different as well, being focused in two separate cities and a large contested territory. Dennard has started blending in the world's history and mythos which are great touches.

While the book overall is great, I find that I dearly miss Safi and Iseult's interactions. It was their friendship that made the first book for me and got me interested in the series. Susan, please make sure these two can get back together in book three. And while you're at it, write faster! I need to find out what happens next.

Rating:

96zjakkelien
Apr 3, 12:14pm Top

Took a direct hit on We are legion! I am still waiting for you to read the final book in that witch series (when it comes out) to decide whether I will give that a go...

97Narilka
Apr 3, 3:03pm Top

>96 zjakkelien: I checked the author's website. Book 3 is due sometime next year. Waiting is hard. Maybe I'll get lucky and she'll finish it early :)

On the bright side, the sequel to Legion is due out this month. And book 3 is tentatively due in July! That's pretty aggressive. I hope the author can stick to that schedule. I love the Bobs.

98Narilka
Apr 4, 4:17pm Top

18. Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews



Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews is the second in the Kate Daniels series. As with the first book the story is set in an alternate version of Atlanta, one where magic has partially ruined the city. Also like the last book the story is told entirely from Kate's first person point of view. Things starts off with immediate action and never lets up! This is one fast paced action thrill ride with only minimal downtime.

Waves of magic ebb and flow through Atlanta like the tide. Once every seven years those waves come faster until the magic flares. And with a flare comes the time of the gods. Kate, a mercenary for hire to clean up magical problems, takes a job to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta's local clan of lycans, when the flare hits. Suddenly there is a lot more at stake than some a stack of papers when two divinities battle for rebirth. Kate finds herself in the middle of a showdown that could wipe out all of Atlanta.

The bulk of the story revolves around Celtic myths, ones I wasn't too familiar with. I just didn't get into Celtic myths the way I did the Greeks and I don't remember ever reading about reeves and the Shepard so that was very interesting. Kate is even more of a bad ass this time around, someone you definitely want on your side when push comes to shove. We are given more hints into her unique bloodline and the source of her power, but are still left without an answer.

Even though this is a short book at only 260 pages, Ilona Andrews packs it full of everything. Lots of magic, fights, monsters, a little romance and even a grand finale show down. Unfortunately this doesn't leave a lot of room for character building so most of the secondary characters are fairly shallow. Still, it was a fun read and I'm looking forward to more Kate Daniels in the future.

Rating:

99YouKneeK
Apr 4, 6:11pm Top

>98 Narilka: Hmm. In the real Atlanta, we just set fire to our bridges... these magic waves sound much more efficient. ;) Good review. As with your review of the 1st book, you're still making me want to read this series eventually!

100Narilka
Apr 4, 6:40pm Top

>99 YouKneeK: I know! And they think they can have the bridges repaired by middle of June. That's very optimistic IMO. As if our traffic wasn't bad enough already.

101YouKneeK
Apr 4, 7:02pm Top

>100 Narilka: I was surprised when I read about the June estimate. I guess (hope) they aren’t stupid enough to rush the repairs to the point of compromising its integrity, but I’m sure not going to be first in line to drive over it. ;)

Do you have to drive that way very often? I live and work slightly north of 285, so I think I’ll see some traffic overflow in the mornings if 285 gets backed up, but I’m holding out hope that it won’t be too horrible from my location. I can’t really tell this week because of spring break. One of my co-workers lives on the south side and said it took him 2 hours to get to work this morning. I don't expect I'll see much of him over the next couple months!

102Narilka
Apr 4, 7:22pm Top

>101 YouKneeK: Thankfully no. I'm also OTP in the Northern suburbs and I WFH at the moment. Mostly I only go that way when needing to get to the airport or for an event in town. We have an office off Abernathy though that I may need to head down to at times. Still not a fun drive with the backup.

103YouKneeK
Apr 4, 7:52pm Top

>102 Narilka: I’m glad you won’t have to deal with it too much! I have to fly on business next month, but I'll probably just use MARTA to get to the airport. It's not exactly convenient from where I live, but it will probably be the easier option for a while.

104clamairy
Edited: Apr 4, 8:12pm Top

>76 Narilka: & >86 Narilka: I am truly sorry for both of these losses. :o( I am also sorry that I am so late with the condolences, but big hugs to you.

>94 Narilka: Uh oh! Another book bullet for We Are Legion.

105Narilka
Apr 4, 8:19pm Top

>103 YouKneeK: Hopefully you can get a ride to the Marta station. I hear the parking garage is over full since the fire.

>104 clamairy: Thanks. March was rough. I'm glad the rest of my family and friends are in good health.

106reading_fox
Apr 5, 7:17am Top

I quite enjoyed the Kate Daniels, I've read the first few, but somehow they seem to be lacking a bit of depth/engagement something, and I don't feel compelled to find out what happens next.

Truthwitch sounds like an interesting premise too.

107Narilka
Apr 10, 9:30pm Top

19 Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson



Ten years ago an event known as Calamity hit the earth. In its wake some humans changed, developing superhero-like powers. These people are called Epics. Along with their powers is the need for Epics to rule humanity, destroying cities, killing wantonly. David Charleston will do anything to have a chance to take down Steelheart, the Epic who killed his father. There is only one group of people fighting back against the Epics - the Reckoners. David must find this group and persuade them to go after Steelheart if he is to exact his revenge.

Steelheart is the first book in The Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. Set in a near future dystopia of the United states, Sanderson takes the old saying "if all power corrupts, then absolute power corrupts absolutely" to create a twist on a typical super hero tale. Instead of the heroes using their powers to benefit humanity, they use them to power grab for themselves with little thought to those they crush under their heel basically making anyone with powers into villains. However, each Epic also has his or her fatal flaw, their own personal kryptonite, a weakness specific to that Epic only that could be exploited to take down the Epic in question. All of the weaknesses are fairly random, almost as random as the powers themselves are.

The story is told entirely from the first person point of view by David Charleston. David is an 18-year-old who is bent on exacting revenge on the Epic who killed his father and ruined his life. To that end he has become a specialist on all things Epics, obsessively tracking down any and all information on any Epic he can find out about. He's a likeable kid who is terrible at making up analogies, though they are often comical. He is joined by a supporting cast with the Reckoners, each filling in a vital role in the group from mastermind to tactical support to muscle.

Sanderson's attention to detail and creativity with both the super powers and weaknesses are astonishing as always. The action scenes are great and feel like something out of a Marvel movie. By the end I was definitely hooked and can't wait to see what happens next.

Rating:

108hfglen
Apr 11, 4:32am Top

>107 Narilka: I read the next one, Firefight, back in February. Greatly enjoyed, as I mentioned here at #144. I think you'll enjoy it too.

109YouKneeK
Apr 11, 6:41am Top

>107 Narilka: Hmmm… a Sanderson series that appears to be complete. I might have to add this to my list. I’ve read a few things by him and enjoyed them quite a bit, and this sounds interesting.

110Narilka
Apr 11, 10:35am Top

>108 hfglen: Thanks! I can deal with non-stop action :) I started Firefight and have book 3 ready to go as I'm sure I'm not going to want a break between books.

>109 YouKneeK: Yep. 3 books and 1 short story, all already published. Another Sanderson series you could probably read is the original Mistborn trilogy. He does continue writing in the Mistborn world but the second series, which starts with book 4, is set some 300 years after the originals with all different characters so I think it's safe to consider it a separate series.

111tottman
Apr 11, 1:36pm Top

>94 Narilka: I'm glad that book is good. I picked it up a while back and hope I can work it in soon. It sounds fun!

112YouKneeK
Apr 11, 7:44pm Top

>110 Narilka: The first Mistborn trilogy is actually the first thing I read by him. :) I did really enjoy it. (It's not on my shelves because I read it several years ago. I've only shelved the things I've read since joining my first book site in late 2013.)

113Narilka
Apr 11, 8:27pm Top

>111 tottman: I hope you enjoy it!

>112 YouKneeK: Awesome :)

114Narilka
Apr 16, 8:33pm Top

20. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson



It used to be called New York City. Now they call it Babylon Restored or Babilar for short. Regalia, an Epic with powers tied to water, has flooded the city and made herself its ruler. She has been sending minor Epics to Newcago as a way to lure The Reckoners to her domain. But why? What is Regalia's goal? It's obviously a trap and what better way to find out what's going on than to deliberately spring it.

Firefight is the second book in The Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The story begins a few months afterSteelheart. We are dropped straight into the action as the team is in the middle of a mission to take out an Epic named Sourcefield. It turns out that Sourcefield was sent by another Epic as a sort of gauntlet thrown down in challenge. Naturally the Reckoners accept the challenge to find out what's going on. And, of course, to kill some Epics while they're at it.

With the change in location comes a slight change in story. With David's quest for revenge over, he has to decide what's next for him. How do you find a new purpose in life to fill in the hole that's left behind? The story becomes a lot more introspective as David ponders these questions along with what is the true nature of Epics. Where do their powers come from? How are their weaknesses determined? Maybe things are not so random after all. Through it all David remains highly likeable and he still can't get the hang of how to create a good metaphor. Here's one of my favorite examples:

I needed to say something. Something romantic! Something to sweep her off her feet.

"You're like a potato!" I shouted after her. "In a minefield."

She froze in place. Then she spun on me, her face lit by a half-grown fruit. "A potato," she said flatly. "That’s the best you can do? Seriously?"

"It makes sense," I said. "Listen. You’re strolling through a minefield, worried about getting blown up. And then you step on something, and you think, 'I'm dead.' But it’s just a potato. And you’re so relieved to find something so wonderful when you expected something so awful. That's what you are. To me."

"A potato."

"Sure. French fries? Mashed potatoes? Who doesn't like potatoes?"

"Plenty of people. Why can't I be something sweet, like a cake?"

"Because cake wouldn’t grow in a minefield. Obviously."

Yep, that is David trying to be romantic. Speaking of, yes there is a romantic plot in this one. No, it's not like your typical YA romance, see quote above, and I found it endearing.

We're also introduced to some new characters. Only 3 members of the original team travel to the next city and we're introduced to a second Reckoners cell. It's interesting at just how small and specialized these teams are. The team in Babilar seemed to be primarily about recon before David and crew show up for the action.

The story is fast paced and action packed. In true Sanderson style there are a couple more plot twists, a great reveal or two and an even deeper mystery to solve. I can't wait to see how it all wraps up in the final book.

Rating:

115BookstoogeLT
Apr 17, 6:07am Top

Glad you liked it so much :-)

116Narilka
Edited: Apr 20, 11:59am Top

21. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson



It all comes back to Calamity. Calamity rose in the sky and Epics were born. David's life has been tied to Epics ever since. Steelheart killed his father. He fell in love with Firefight. Regalia twisted and corrupted his closest friend into becoming his worst enemy. David once thought that killing Epics was the answer. Now Megan has proven there is hope, that a way through the darkness is possible. And David is just crazy enough to face down the greatest High Epic of all time in order to save them all.

Calamity is the final book in The Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The story picks up not long after where book two ends and again we are dropped straight into the action. The Reckoners have been shattered and the group is desperate to get their hands on some tech to help them continue their mission to save the world.

Even though the story is still told from David's first person point of view, all of the characters have important parts to play. David has grown as a character. He's still impulsive and reckless but he's also learning leadership abilities and how to motivate his team. David's terrible metaphors have become a highlight of these books for me. They are so funny! And I love when he tries to explain his logic to others. They almost make sense. Almost. Megan's character arc has been interesting. Her struggle and eventual triumph over the darkness was fascinating and I love the complexity of her powers. There could easily be a spinoff series based just on that.

Calamity is a good end to the series. It's action packed, all the loose ends are tied up and most of the characters get the happy endings they fought so hard for. I'm a little sad to be leaving David and the Reckoners behind as the characters definitely grew on me after three books. A short story with these characters has been published so I'll be sure to pick that up soon. It's an interesting world Sanderson has created. I hope he decides to write more stories in it in the future.

Rating:

117Narilka
Apr 26, 9:44am Top

22. Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf



This was quite an interesting read. Robb Wolf is a big proponent of the Paleo eating lifestyle. While this book does use that as a basis for a plan of general health, what I really like is his take on Personalized Nutrition. Similar to personalized medicine, I believe that personalized nutrition is the way to go. Everyone is so individual it's no surprise that many of the "one size fits all" diets just don't work. Personalized nutrition is exactly how it sounds - find out what foods work best for you to figure out how to eat and ignore everything else. Robb's chapter about the 7-day carb test using a glucometer is genius. It's so simple I'm surprised I've not seen it recommended before. The process can help pinpoint how much of a given carbohydrate a person can tolerate and will give them a good picture of their insulin sensitivity. Then you can take the findings and tailor any eating plan! Robb also reminds the reader that this is the start of a process for a whole new eating lifestyle and includes tips on how to make your changes last beyond the initial reset and testing period to help prevent sliding back into old habits. Some great advice here.

I have a few life events coming up that will be too much food temptation but when those are over I'd like to give this method a try and see what happens. If I can make the plan work for me I'll have to revise my rating to be 5 stars.

Rating:

118MrsLee
Apr 26, 10:10am Top

>117 Narilka: Sounds like an interesting book.

The title reminds me of a quote from The Physiology of Taste which I am reading at the moment. "The Creator, while forcing men to eat in order to live, tempts him to do so with appetite and then rewards him with pleasure." This kind of helps me to slow down when I'm eating something healthy and appreciate the flavor/texture/color/smell.

119BookstoogeLT
Apr 26, 10:36am Top

>117 Narilka: I think I'm wired to eat pizza and drink energy drinks ;-)

120clamairy
Apr 26, 11:10am Top

Oh man... I'm desperately trying to dodge the barrage of Sanderson bullets in this thread. (At least until I read the ones I already have.) I am very pleased to hear that you enjoyed them all, though!

121Narilka
Edited: Apr 26, 1:20pm Top

>118 MrsLee: That's a great quote. I'm one of those people that eats way too fast and have to remind myself to slow down at times.

>119 BookstoogeLT: haha!

>120 clamairy: I downloaded the Reckoners short story, so there's at least one more Sanderson bullet heading your way in the near future :) Which of his are in your TBR? I'm sort of working my way through his works. I refuse to start The Way of Kings until more of that series is written though.

122Narilka
Apr 26, 2:26pm Top

I am weak willed. I was totally planning to read an autobiography next and some how Mitosis loaded up on my tablet instead :D

123clamairy
Edited: Apr 26, 5:34pm Top

>121 Narilka: I've only read Elantris, the Mistborn trilogy and The Emperor's Soul, and I listened to Legion. Oh and the first three in the Alcatraz series. Started to get tired of those. So basically everything else of his is on Mount Tooby. I'd really like to read Warbreaker next, though.

>122 Narilka: Ha!

124Narilka
Apr 26, 7:43pm Top

>123 clamairy: We're pretty close. I have The Emperor's Soul for later when I need a Sanderson fix. I haven't picked up Legion yet, don't really know much about it. I need to pick up a copy of Warbreaker still. I'll probably finish Mitosis tonight or tomorrow. It is shorter than I thought.

125MrsLee
Apr 27, 9:31am Top

I have Sanderson's languishing in the TBR labyrinth as well. I want to read his Steelheart series. I think I have the first on my Kindle. Poor little Kindle has cobwebs on it because I've been trying to read the physical TBR books.

126Narilka
Apr 27, 9:52am Top

23. Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson



Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson is a Reckoners short story. It acts as a bridge between books 1 and 2 so make sure you've at least read book 1 before starting this. There is no world building and not much character building as it assumes that you've read book 1 and already know most of the players. The story is about an epic named Mitosis that has come to Newcago because he can't believe the news about Steelheart. Naturally it's up to David and friends to stop him. It is so much fun! Lots of action, silly metaphors and a neat Epic power/weakness combo. My only complaint is that the story is too short and I wish it had been longer.

Rating:

127majkia
Edited: Apr 27, 2:31pm Top

>94 Narilka: I listened to the audio book also. Ray Porter was excellent, wasn't he?

128BookstoogeLT
Apr 27, 5:24pm Top

>126 Narilka: Glad you liked this short story. It wasn't my cup of tea...

129Narilka
Apr 27, 8:11pm Top

>127 majkia: He's awesome. I downloaded book 2 already. Just need to finish up my current audio so I can start it.

>128 BookstoogeLT: It fit well with the rest of the series. Basically no depth to it at all though.

130Narilka
Apr 30, 10:54pm Top

24. This Time Together by Carol Burnett



This Time Together by Carol Burnett is a series of anecdotes, some of them funny, some of them serious. Reading them felt like spending an evening with Carol where she talked about many topics that are important to her, from her humble beginnings in show business, to family events, to stories from her tv shows and everything in between. Carol has lived quite a life, having success in an area that was unheard of for a woman to enter back in the day: being the host and star for a comedy variety show. Throughout it all Carol has remained humble and there is a feeling of gratitude comes through in the stories. It was a delightful read.

Rating:

131Narilka
May 12, 11:37am Top

25. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky



The Immortals is the first in the Olympus Bound series by Jordanna Max Brodsky. It is an urban fantasy/murder mystery blend that has the ancient Greek Gods living as semi-humans, several of which have ended up in New York City. Selene DiSilva, once known as Artemis, is walking her dog along the Hudson river when she discovers the corpse of a young woman. The body has been horribly mutilated, dressed in a chiton and wreathed in laurel. The woman had been crowned and dressed like an ancient Greek priestess... or, more likely, a sacrifice. A virgin sacrifice. Once known as the Goddess of Virgins and the Protector of the Innocent, Selene feels an ancient rage return. Human sacrifice was never part of the ancient rites! She cannot let this crime go unpunished.

This was an interesting read. You really need to like your Greek mythology though. The author goes deep into the Eleusinian Mysteries as part of the plot and one of the characters, a classicist, gives a semi-lecture on how it all works. It also helps to have a foundation of the 12 main Olympians and how they're all related. Brodsky has included a family tree at the beginning of the book (yeah, its somewhat circular) as well as appendix of the main players of Greek myths, both of which are quite helpful. If you aren't interested in the myths then this book probably isn't for you. The author has really done her homework. You can feel her love of Greek mythology on every page.

As to the mystery itself, it is decent. There are plenty of clues laid out along with some misdirection. Selene's view of the world helps obscure things too. Her own confirmation bias brings us down wrong paths, making wrong assumptions simply because she had decided she wanted someone to be the bad guy because it fits her world view though not necessarily the facts. I think if you really know your mythology you will probably be able to figure out who is really behind it all anyway, a lot sooner than Selene does.

My favorite part is how the old gods have managed to fit into society. Or not in some cases. They don't age the same way mortals do so they constantly have to reinvent themselves to keep their true identities hidden. The modern name chosen for each are all pretty great, each one matching up with an aspect of that god or goddess. Selene, meaning moon goddess, and Silva, meaning forest or woodlands, is just perfect for Artemis. Not all gods have accepted the transition well, some have spiraled into insanity. Others still have certain parts of their aspects worshiped (money, communications, liquor) and do pretty well for themselves.

I enjoyed the book. Selene and her siblings coping with modern society is really what made it for me as well as how Brodsky blended ancient and modern mythologies together. Hopefully book two is just as enjoyable, though a little less of classicist lecture.

Rating:

132Narilka
May 18, 6:59pm Top

26. Awaken Online: Precipice by Travis Bagwell



A few days have passed since Jason last logged into the game. Alfred, the game's AI, had approached him with a request he's not sure he should go along with. He's also been appointed Regent of the Twilight Throne and must take on all of the responsibilities that go with it. Not quite sure if he's ready or not, Jason logs back in to AO. Ruling a city of undead comes with an interesting challenge: How to preserve and grow the population when the city's people cannot procreate and do not respawn when they die? Meanwhile, Alex has not handled losing the battle for Lux very well. His desire to take revenge is so strong that it gains the attention of one of the game's gods, the Lady of Light. Can the Lady set Alex on a path to power and retribution?

Awaken Online: Precipice is the second in the Awaken Online series by Travis Bagwell. No middle book syndrome here! Bagwell starts layering the story lines and does a great job of managing them all. Jason's in game story as evil overlord is progressing nicely. He has started to focus on gathering allies and comes up with creative solutions to answer his city's logistical problems. Jason also continues to grow his necromantic power, though the quest for this is rather vague. To that end two of Jason's real world friends join up to help out. It was great to have Frank and Riley added to the story. Each goes on a small arc of their own to grow both in game and out. Riley is still grappling with how to trust again after Alex's betrayal while Frank is determined to become more useful as a player. What fascinates me is how the game impacts all three characters in order to make them better people in the real world.

In contrast, we are also treated to some of Alex's backstory. The game's AI taps into Alex's memories, showing how his mother set him on the path to being a high-functioning sociopath. Instead of helping make Alex a better person, the game seems to enhance these sociopathic tendencies. It's also an interesting comparison how the game has put the generally good person Jason and friends in the villain's role while the real life monster is a representative for the Light, which is traditionally considered the "good" faction in most MMOs.

A new story thread is also introduced with the game's makers Virillian Entertainment. In some real world politics they have decided to hire Game Masters to help police the game. While a good idea in theory, things go sideways rather quickly as the Game Masters all go on a power trip and abuse their in game good skills in the name of helping out. While I could see the temptation it's also a little silly as if this actually happened those employees would have been fired immediately.

Seeing as the story is set in an online game world there is plenty of action to go around. Jason's solutions to encounters are always highly creative in how he uses the game mechanics. I almost wish a game like this existed so I could play it, though I imagine it would be a nightmare to code.

I listened to the audio book which narrated again by David Stifel. He gives the same performance as he does for book one creating a seamless transition between books.

And then we get to the end where we're given one hell of a cliff hanger. Write faster Mr. Bagwell! I need to know how Jason gets out of this latest situation.

Rating:

133lynnoconnacht
May 19, 2:30am Top

Oooooooh. Awaken Online sounds really, really fun! And also like something I'd enjoy reading! I love the basic premise of contrasting the MMO world to the real world, but have so far bounced of pretty much all the stories I've tried to read that use it for some reason or another. This one sounds like I might enjoy it a lot more. ^_^

134pgmcc
May 19, 3:26am Top

>58 Narilka: That is a super painting. The effect on me is calming and the pattern intrigues me. The colour balance is lovely. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

135Narilka
May 19, 9:11am Top

>133 lynnoconnacht: If you don't want to be left on a cliff hanger then you might want to wait for book 3. Otherwise, I hope you give them a try. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

>134 pgmcc: I have done a few more since that one. I can post photos this weekend.

136Narilka
May 23, 6:12pm Top

27. The Merchant Emperor by Elizabeth Haydon



The Merchant Emperor is the seventh book in The Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon. With an 8 year gap since the release of book 6 and the couple more years it took me to discover that Haydon has finally finished the series, this one has been a long time coming. I was so happy to be back in this world that I've come to love with characters that I've missed.

The war for the known world has come. Talquist, former merchant and now the Emperor or Sorbold, has two ambitions: exterminate everyone involved in the Cymrian Alliance and become immortal. With the aid of a giant statue animated by a pair demons Talquist is confident he has almost everything he needs to acheive his goals. There is just one piece remaining. According to an ancient prophecy, to gain immortality Talquist needs to eat the living heart of the Child of Time. Unsure of his name or where the child is located, one thing is certain: the Child of Time is Rhapsody's newborn son. To protect her son and save her people Rhapsody must reconcile her duties as a mother and a ruler to join the war herself, wielding Daystar Clarion, whether she likes it or not.

Now that I've finished it, I have to say I feel conflicted. I think Haydon found herself in a bit of a bind when writing this book. How much would her fans remember of the previous books? With that in mind she spends a good portion of the book giving the reader reminders of what went on before through character dialog and memories. This bogs down the books pacing dramatically. Just as actual plot is revealed another flashback would be described for a few pages. While I appreciate the idea, I think she went overboard with all the reminders as they started to distract from the story itself. This continues for a good three quarters of the book before the real story begins to move forward. Once it does, I remember why I love this series so much!

The writing is wonderful as always. All the characters I have missed are back. Each of the personalities are the same as before, with their flaws and and some fantasy tropes mixed in. Achmed and Grunthor are not given near enough page time. Achmed's scene with Tristan at the end does not disappoint! Talquist's character is fleshed out more. His motivations are revealed and he's become the ultimate sociopath villain. Rhapsody's character arc came as a surprise. I'd gotten so used to her Mary Sue ways that when circumstances force her to change, it's an unexpected breath of fresh air and completely in line as something her character would do in such a situation.

The Merchant Emperor is one of those middle books that feels like the set up for something much bigger. All of the characters have been moved to their places, the stage is set, and just as things start to happen, it ends. This is definitely the bridge between what has happened before and what is going to happen next.

Rating:

137Narilka
May 28, 9:36pm Top

28. Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron



Ambitious. Fierce. Calculating. Arrogant. All things that a good dragon should be and none of which Julius is. As the runt of the family's latest clutch, Julius has spent his short life avoiding his stronger siblings by staying hidden in his room playing video games, a tactic that his mother finds undragonlike and a waste of his potential. Dragons aren't meant to be meek or nice. Sealing him in his human shape Julius's mother drops him in the DFZ, a multi level metropolis built on the ruins of old Detroit, and tells him he has until the end of the month to prove that he's a real dragon or she'll eat him. This is not a threat to be taken lightly as this has been the fate of under performing dragons in the past. Dumped in an unfriendly city without any money or resources, Julius will need some serious help if he's going to survive this test.

Nice Dragons Finish Last is the first in the Heartstrikers series by Rachel Aaron. I went into this book with moderate expectations and I was completely blown away. This was such a fun read! Julius is highly undragon-like, having no interest in family politics or ambitions for himself. He even likes being nice to others. Being dropped into the DFZ is quite the wake-up call for a guy thinking he was successfully flying under the radar the whole time.

Aaron has created an interesting world for her characters to live in. It is blend of science fiction and urban fantasy, a future dystopia where magic has returned to Earth and many magical species have come out of hibernation yet technology continues to work and is integrated into daily life. The DFZ, or Detroit Free Zone, was taken over by a powerful spirit who destroyed old Detroit in a flood and rebuilt the city as a sanctuary for other spirits. Humans are tolerated but dragons are strictly forbidden. Naturally this is where his mother drops Julius. What better way to motivate an under performing offspring than the constant threat of death around each corner while being unable to use his full draconic abilities?

Now for the characters. Julius is a great guy to root for. He's likeable, optimistic, intelligent and highly creative in his solutions to his problems. Then there's Marci Novalli, a Thaumaturgic mage running away from her past. She's down on her luck and needs to make some money. She manages talks Julius into hiring her to help him on his mission and ends up with a lot more than she bargained for. Even the secondary characters grew on me. We're given a small look into the Heartstriker clan through a few of Julius's siblings. Bob, the family seer, is downright hilarious. What kind of dragon keeps a pigeon as a companion? Justin is a fairly typical older brother, trying to help out his weaker sibling with some rough love. There are some actual feelings in there too as he genuinely wants Julius to succeed. We're also introduced to a rival dragon clan which gives a nice contrast for other factions in the world and I believe is to set the stage for future books.

Over all, this is a super fun, fast paced uban fantasy that's full of heart. There's lots of magic, good action, a little romance and I was completely charmed by the characters. This self published gem was a joy to read and I will definitely be continuing this series.

Rating:

138Narilka
May 31, 8:12pm Top

Sorry for the delay! Here's more art. This is the second painting in the same style. I mixed a different brand of paint with the medium and got completely different results. The photo doesn't give it justice. In person the painting looks like it has more depth and the metallic gold paint really sparkles.

139Narilka
May 31, 8:15pm Top

And another. I love the color combo on this one.

140SylviaC
May 31, 10:45pm Top

I love the colours on >138 Narilka:. I love bright colours, and the gold highlights really set it off.

141Narilka
Jun 2, 5:49pm Top

142Narilka
Jun 2, 5:49pm Top

29. The Hollow Queen by Elizabeth Haydon



The Hollow Queen is the eighth book in The Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon. Now this is more like it! All the set up from the previous book pays off. The story sets off at a fast pace and doesn't let up until the very end. Haydon has given herself an ambition task and was definitely up for the challenge.

Talquist's ambitions and plans reach across the entire continent and beyond. The Cymrian Alliance finds itself surrounded on all sides by the forces of Sorbold. Rhapsody has joined the battle, wielding Daystar Clarion, leaving part of herself in hiding with her infant son deep within the mountains. Desperate for help Ashe tries to enlist the Sea Mages and the people of Manose, completely unaware that Talquist's navy has set up a barrier effectively blocking the continent from the rest of the world. Gruhtor prepares the Firbolg of Ylorc to withstand a coming siege. Achmed takes up the quest to try and cut off the head of the snake knowing full well that even if he's successful it may not stop the momentum of the war. There are obstacles at every turn. Are the free peoples willing to pay the price to end this war?

In a nutshell, this is all about the War for the Known World. There are plots within plots, politics, betrayals, tons of action, dragons, heroics and even a smidgen of romance. Haydon handles it all well, deftly weaving many story lines together told from at least ten points of view. Unlike the last book, the story does not sit still. At times it seems to even rush ahead, short cutting from the start to ends of battles. We are constantly jumping from location to location in an effort to keep up with all of what's going on. I found it to be quite the page turner.

The Three are given a lot more page time too, for which I was mostly thankful. Achmed's story had me on the edge of my seat! He still remains my favorite character. I just wish he'd tell Rhapsody the truth about how he feels already, how much his hate for her husband is from jealousy and how he loves her. I think it's obvious to everyone but the characters at this point. The character change for Rhapsody that started in the last book continues in this book and I liked how it was handled right up until the end. Then there was a lot of dialog I found groan worthy which thankfully was a fairly short section. Grunthor gets to have his heroic moment as he holds the line back in Ylorc. I continue to find Ashe and his dragon side annoying. There are still some "memory" scenes, but they are used a lot more sparing and flowed with the story better.

All major story threads and many of the loose ends are neatly tied up by the end of the book and are mostly satisfying for this long time fan. The series could easily have ended here but there is one more book to go.

Rating:

143clamairy
Jun 2, 8:03pm Top

>138 Narilka: & >139 Narilka: They are both lovely, but I love the warmth of the 'flames' in the second one.

144Narilka
Jun 3, 7:41am Top

145Narilka
Jun 9, 2:18pm Top

30. For We Are Many by Dennis E. Taylor



Bob and his replicas have been traveling the universe for close to 40 years now, looking for habitable planets. A world war has reduced the population of Earth down to a few million people and nuclear winter is setting in, making most of the planet uninhabitable. A new, radical group has surfaced that thinks humanity should be wiped out completely and is doing their utmost to sabotage plans to evacuate the solar system. Off world, explorations continue. There are planets to discover, species to catalog and intelligent life to meet! Bob may have left Earth for a chance to live a solitary life exploring the universe but the responsibilities keep piling up. There's a lot of work to do which means it's time to print some more Bobs.

For We Are Many is the second in the Bobiverse series by Dennis E. Taylor. The story picks up not long after the ending of the first book and the ride is just as much fun. The same dry humor and wit are there, though with a little less of the 80s references. I found myself laughing out loud at times. All of the story lines continue in this installment and begin to pick up complexity as more Bobs are created to handle their ever growing work load, which means additional points of view and a couple more story threads.

Taylor dives deeper into the topic started in book one, what does it mean to be human. Technically the Bobs are not human at all, only AI programs running on highly sophisticated hardware and are immortal. What does that do to your humanity? Does it mean you leave it all behind? The Bob's personalities and world views are starting to diverge more with each generation as some of them see humans as ephemeral, while others have fully embraced their humanity even going to the extent of building androids for themselves. Three of the threads in particular i found quite moving. Homer's story broke my heart.

Also asked is what to do when you encounter intelligent life. Original Bob is faced with the Prime Directive dilemma popularized in Star Trek: how much do you intercede in the affairs of another sentient race? Is it ok to play God and take sides? Original Bob is quite compassionate and cannot sit by passively when a species he's come to love faces extinction. Then what do you do when you encounter hostiles? It definitely adds a wrinkle to the Bob's plans.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Ray Porter. He continues to be excellent. He does such a great job that I forgot at times there was only one person doing the narration.

The story ends on a sad yet hopeful note. I can't wait to see what the Bobs come up with as a solution to The Others. Luckily it's not a long wait as the final book is due in August.

Rating:

146Narilka
Jun 10, 8:22pm Top

This book has some religious points. I briefly touch upon them in the second to last paragraph. They have been spoiler tagged. I need to google to understand what this controversy is really about. Anyone familiar with this work that can clear this up for me, please reply! Anyway...

31. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman



The Golden Compass or, if you're across the pond, Northern Lights is the first in the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I know I saw the movie when it came out but this is my first time reading the book. Luckily I remembered absolutely nothing about the movie so this was like a fresh read.

Lyra has lived at Jordan College in Oxford all her life. She's a typical 10-year-old, enjoying playing games with her friends, inventing stories and getting into mischief all under the watchful eye of the Scholars. All of this is brought to a halt when her best friend goes missing. He's been stolen by the Gobblers, people that abduct kids and take them to the far north for nefarious purpose. Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon are on a mission to rescue her lost find, discover what the Gobblers are really up to and figure out what Dust has to do with everything.

I had a hard time getting into this one. The story was interesting but it just didn't grab me until the half way point when they discover the poor kid Tony and just how horrible the experiments actually are. Then the race to find Lyra's friend and save as many of the children as possible took on a real sense of urgency for me. Then the story turned into quite an adventure with a small mystery to solve. The story also focuses on the themes of friendship, loyalty and sacrifice. I think what bogged me down was all the politics you are initially dropped in to and that Lyra's character takes a while to develop. She starts off as a bit of a brat but eventually charmed me just like she charms the other characters in the book.

About daemons. I wish I had one. They are the physical representatives of our inner selves that take the shape of animals. Basically your own spirit animal that stays with you for life. As a child they are able to change shape until eventually your daemon will "settle" into the form that represents you best. Pantalaimon is simply awesome. I wonder what form my daemon would take. Such a fun idea.

One of the wonderful things about books is how everyone reads them differently. I admit I didn't quite get all the controversy around this book. Sure, I can see some hard core Christians being upset that at the questions around original sin and how Pullman inserts his world's myths into bible verse. I was definitely drawn more into the ideas around parallel universes than any theological controversies. Perhaps this is something that becomes more prevalent in the next two books?

I think this is considered a middle-grade book. For anyone wondering if this book is ok for their children to read be warned there are some intense battle scenes and are a couple deaths of children that could be considered scary.

Rating:

147jjwilson61
Jun 10, 11:23pm Top

The religious themes are much more pronounced in the next two books (actually, mostly the last one as I remember).

148lynnoconnacht
Jun 11, 2:45am Top

>147 jjwilson61: That's what I remember too. I remember the third book being pretty heavy on the religious points.

149Narilka
Jun 11, 10:16am Top

>147 jjwilson61: & >148 lynnoconnacht: That helps. The outrage must be about the series as a whole instead of this book in particular then. I haven't decided if I want to continue the series yet or not.

150Narilka
Jun 12, 8:20pm Top

32. Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews



Dina DeMille runs a quaint Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas. She's a great neighbor and everything seems normal from the outside. Her Inn, the Gertrude Hunt, caters to a very specific clientele: otherworldly visitors. As an Innkeeper Dina has one duty which is to protect her guests and stay neutral. With the gruesome death of yet another neighbor's pet, Dina can no longer stand passively by. She must get to the bottom of what's going on even if it means putting the Inn at risk.

Clean Sweep is the first in the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews. The story was originally released in serial format on the author's website as they wrote it and has now been packaged up and released as a short book. It was quite a fun read! There is intricate world building, action, humor, great characters, fun dialog and all packed into less than 250 pages. Andrews has also managed to do something completely original with vampire and werewolf lore, a thing I didn't think possible. No small feat!

The story is told entirely from Dina's point of view. Dina is a capable heroine and is easily discounted by the other characters at first. It was fun reading as she proved just how powerful she is within her realm of the Inn. The Inn is also a quasi character. It definitely has it's own life force, quirks and a bit of personality. I hope more of these are shown in future installments. The inn has one guest, one who likes to be called Her Majesty and has paid for a lifetime stay. Rounding out the cast are the friendly neighborhood werewolf, Sean Evans, and a vampire Marshall from the Holy Cosmic Anocracy, Arland. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoilers. Just know that both guys are great fun. One of my favorite scenes is when the two of them are talking about vampires and Arland casually refutes the holy water and garlic myths as utter nonsense. I loved it! While the author does set up both men as potential love interests, the romance theme of the story is fairly minor and I have a feeling this will be plot thread in the next book or two.

Overall this is a short, fun story. It has good pacing that steadily picks up for an exciting ending. I will definitely be continuing this series.

Rating:

151Sakerfalcon
Jun 13, 8:34am Top

>149 Narilka: For me, it wasn't what Pullman was saying that I had issues with, but how unsubtly he made his points. I felt beaten about the head by his message! However, there were a lot of good things in the last two books.

>150 Narilka: I absolutely love this series! That reminds me, I need to download book 3.

152reading_fox
Jun 13, 11:40am Top

>146 Narilka: - partly I think it was a popular children's Fantasy book, which always brings out the hatred. And the hero consorts with demons so it must be an evil book. And the author is an outspoken athiest so anything he says is evil. I'm pretty sure it was all kicking off before book 3 when Pullman really does nail his colours to the mast. I too wish the subtlety had continued.

153Narilka
Jun 13, 7:32pm Top

>151 Sakerfalcon: >152 reading_fox: Thanks both for that. I still haven't decided if I want to finish the series yet. I keep hearing that book 2 is great and book 3 ends weird. Luckily the ebooks are on sale all month so i have a little more time to decide :)

154clamairy
Jun 15, 8:54pm Top

>153 Narilka: "I keep hearing that book 2 is great and book 3 ends weird." That pretty much sums it up. I seem to recall that I liked them both better than I did the the first one. I want a daemon, too! :o)

155Narilka
Jun 19, 9:12pm Top

33. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence



Red Sister is the first in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy by mark Lawrence. This is my first time reading this author's works and I am mightily impressed! While the story is told in three separate timelines, the bulk of the story is about Nona's time studying at the convent Sweet Mercy and her friendships there. The second timeline provides a look into Nona's past, that secret from childhood that set her on the path that led to the convent. The third timeline is many years in the future and our teaser for what is to come in the next two books. Each of these timelines are blended together seamlessly. But I'm getting ahead of myself. This is not just any convent and these are not your typical nuns.

It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size. For Sister Thorn of the Sweet Mercy Convent, Lano Tacsis brought two hundred men.

Nona has been cast out of her village because there's something not right with her. As she awaits a death sentence at the gallows for killing a man, Abbess Glass of Sweet Mercy Convent sees Nona's potential. Nona shows signs of the blood, extraordinary traits of speed or strength or the ability to use magic that sometimes appear in people at various strengths. The Abbess offers Nona a chance to become a novice, which she gladly accepts. This immediately starts her training in the martial arts and the Ancestral faith. Now Nona must find a way to live up to her potential and prove herself to other girls at the convent that would gladly see her fail.

Nona is a highly likeable character. She's fierce, stubborn and has lived a hard life but doesn't let that keep her down. Her journey is captivating. Even doing all those things typical to growing up - figuring out friendships, standing up to bullies and being bored in class - they are written in a realistic and engaging manner. Nona's past follows her throughout the story and she is forced to face some uncomfortable truths. Throughout it all Nona stays reasonably positive and tries to see the good in people, especially her friends whether they deserve it or not, despite life kicking her (literally) in the face. It is her hope that I found the most touching and gives the story an uplifting feel. Most of Nona's classmates are interesting, their personalities and abilities playing off one another nicely. Assuming they stick together in future books this group of girls will be a force to be reckoned with!

Lawrence has created an interesting world for his characters to live in. Sweet Mercy Convent is very much like other magic schools only with a martial edge. Kind of like if Harry Potter met Into the Badlands. Yes, seriously! Only here you might have to worry about both the teachers and other students poisoning you during class. The planet the story takes place on is barely habitable. Polar ice caps have grown to cover most of the earth, leaving a small strip of land several miles wide where humans can eke out a modest living. The moon is failing and their star burns red. I haven't decided if this will be a mystery to be solved later or if it's just that the planet is dying.

The book is not without it's flaws. The story is a hero journey which makes a few parts of it predictable, particularly around how some of Nona's friends end up behaving. There are still plenty of surprises, especially around the legend of a "chosen one," that more than offsets any predictability I encountered. All of it leads to one dramatic and explosive finale that did not disappoint.

In the epilogue the story closes with a final glimpse into the future and I can't wait to see how Nona ends up there. Book two is already written and scheduled to be published April 2018. I've heard Lawrence's previous books are vastly different from this one. I might give one a try in the meantime just to see how they compare.

Rating:

156clamairy
Edited: Jun 19, 9:27pm Top

>155 Narilka: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hey, I think that writer used to be a member of this group. It looks as though LT booted him for spamming the groups with comments about his own books. (Might have been a publicist and not him doing that, BTW.)

ETA: I did some searching and found this: http://www.librarything.com/topic/120120

I think that was also him in the first post and that might be why he was removed. Sock puppet accounts are against the TOS. Pretty clever of him, though.

157Narilka
Jun 20, 1:05pm Top

>156 clamairy: That's funny.

158BookstoogeLT
Jun 20, 5:02pm Top

>156 clamairy: Authors would do so much better if they'd stay out of the readers way and just write their books. Seeing that thread, any interest I had in Red sister just died. I'm not going to support badly behaving authors...

159Narilka
Jun 22, 1:09pm Top

34. The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon by Leann Sweeney



The Cat, the Wife and the Weapon is the fourth in Leann Sweeney's Cat's in Trouble series. These cozy mysteries continue to charm me. I love all the characters, human and furry! This time around we get to learn more about Tom's past, one that he's been hesitant to share until now.

Jillian has just returned home from a week long arts and crafts show when she discovers her friend Tom missing. He's not answering his phone, his car is gone and there's a stranger claiming to be his brother staying in his house! Jillian doesn't trust the guy, especially since he allowed Tom's diabetic cat to escape. It's not long before Tom shows up on Jillian's doorstep looking like he came out second best in a fight. Just as he's trying to explain what happened to him, Mercy PD finds Tom's car wrecked and with a dead passenger inside. Who is this stranger, why was he in Tom's car and who killed him? Jillian must find out what kind of trouble Tom's gotten himself into and get to the bottom of it quickly.

Turns out it's quite a tangled mess Tom has, one that will take some sleuthing to unravel. The story is fast paced and the reveals keep coming. The mystery was more complex than in previous installments. Sweeney used enough misdirection that I guessed wrong on who the killer was. The new characters introduced are interesting. Tom's family is a group of unpleasant individuals, his stepson excluded. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more of his stepson in the future. There is also a bit more romance in this one as Jillian finally admits she cares deeply for Tom and they begin to show it. It was another satisfying read.

Rating:

160Narilka
Today, 2:24pm Top

I am totally taking a detour to Hogwarts in honor of Harry Potter's 20th anniversary :)

161clamairy
Edited: Today, 2:29pm Top

>160 Narilka: I hear you. I might do the audio as soon as I'm done with my current file.

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