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Pwaites' Reading Journal

This topic was continued by Pwaites' Reading Journal 2017.

The Green Dragon

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1pwaites
Jan 2, 2016, 5:11pm Top

Continued from Pwaites' Reading in 2015

Due to a mix up with titles, this is my new reading journal thread. Sorry for the confusion!

I've finished Shattered Pillars and still considering what I thought of it. There's lots of things I like, especially the world building and characters, but I'm not sure about the plot and pacing. There seems to be an awful lot of moving from one place to another with random assassins trying to kill the protagonists in an effort to keep some sort of tension.

The current book I'm reading is The Lost Girl, which is a YA science fiction. It's all right, but if there's a sequel I probably wouldn't read it.

2Peace2
Jan 2, 2016, 6:32pm Top

Wishing you many happy hours of reading in the year ahead.

3Sakerfalcon
Jan 3, 2016, 11:08am Top

Followed you here, and you've already finished a book!

4sandstone78
Jan 3, 2016, 11:32pm Top

Hello there, happy new year! Hoping for many good reads in 2016! I recently added that trilogy of Bear's to my TBR- the ebooks were all $4.99, and look like they still are, not sure if it's a permanent price drop?

5pgmcc
Jan 4, 2016, 11:04am Top

Happy 2016!

Have a great reading year. I shall be lurking on the fringes.

6jillmwo
Jan 4, 2016, 7:05pm Top

I hope it is a great year for you. Lots of books, lots of belly laughs and lots of warm fuzzies! You've been starred.

7pwaites
Jan 6, 2016, 1:43pm Top

Review of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet - here.
Review of Wheel of the Infinite - here.
Review of The Lost Girlhere.

Nice to see all of you!

4> Thanks for the heads up! It looks like the Kindle Full Fathom Five and The Goblin Emperor are also going for $4.99 right now. They are all published by Tor, so I'd guess there's some sort of sale happening?

The Lost Girl lacked world building, and the protagonist mostly just went with the flow instead of making active decisions. It shares so many problems with the other YA dystopians that came out after the Hunger Games got popular.

I finally got a copy of The Golden Yarn by Cornelia Funke and read it in about twenty-four hours. It is the third book in her Mirrorworld series (starts with Reckless), a YA fantasy series where our world is connected by magic mirrors to a world of industrializing fairy tales. I don't think I loved The Golden Yarn as much as the previous book in the trilogy. Maybe it's because The Golden Yarn felt like it was setting up for additional books instead of being self contained?

Something I find very interesting about The Golden Yarn is that Funke self published the English version (it was originally written in German). Apparently the US publishers wanted her to change the book for the US version, in particular the birth scene in the opening chapter. A news article on her decision also mentions that the US publishing company kept trying to market the series as 9-12 age group when she thought it should be 14 and up.

I also read the novella The Thief by Claire North, the second in her Gameshouse series. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading the final novella in the trilogy.

I started reading Liesmith by Alis Franklin but ended up abandoning it about half way through. I had thought it was urban fantasy that used Norse mythology. Turns out, it's more paranormal romance. There's nothing wrong with that, but it wasn't what I was looking for.

Now I'm reading Paloma by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the fifth book in her Retrieval Artist series, which starts with The Disappeared. After picking up the first one in a used book store many years ago, I've only been able to get the sequels online. I do think the series deserves more attention. They're science fiction mysteries set on the Moon. My favorite installments involve aliens, although I don't think Paloma will be one of those.

8lynnoconnacht
Jan 6, 2016, 3:40pm Top

#7 That's fascinating about Funke's book! If also depressing and disheartening to think how untrustworthy contemporary translations may be. It's not the first book I've heard of where the publisher has asked the author to make significant changes to/for the translation.

I may have to track down a copy of Reckless, though. It sounds right up my alley. ^_^ Would you recommend it?

9pwaites
Jan 6, 2016, 10:53pm Top

7> I liked Reckless a lot, though I think the sequel, Fearless, was better. The article on the situation surrounding the third book mentions that Funke is going to release a rewritten version of Reckless, which I think will be interesting.

10Sakerfalcon
Jan 7, 2016, 5:17am Top

>7 pwaites: It looks as though the tor kindle books you mention are also on sale on amazon uk. I've just got Two serpents rise and Full fathom five for £3.79 each, which is the cheapest I've seen them. Thanks for the heads-up!

11pwaites
Jan 7, 2016, 1:03pm Top

10> I hope you like them! I thought Full Fathom Five in particular was wonderful.

Review of Shattered Pillars - here.

I've finished Paloma. As I thought, this installment didn't have much in the way of aliens. However, I did like the revelations regarding Paloma, Miles Flint's old mentor, and it'll be interesting to see where that leads his character. I noticed that Noelle DiRicci seemed to get less page time. Most likely it's because she didn't have much to do with this installment's plot line.

I'm about fifty pages into Martha Wells first novel, The Element of Fire.

12zjakkelien
Jan 7, 2016, 4:59pm Top

>11 pwaites: Happy to hear that, I thought Three parts dead was brilliant, but was not so enthusiastic about Two serpents rise. I did buy Full fathom five, in the hope that with female protagonists, it will go back to the quality of Three parts dead.

13pwaites
Jan 7, 2016, 9:56pm Top

12> I thought Two Serpents Rise was good, just not as good as any of the other books in the series.

14Sakerfalcon
Jan 8, 2016, 7:29am Top

>11 pwaites: I loved The element of fire. My edition had a back cover blurb which made me worry about the main female character's role in the story, but it (and she) were actually awesome.

>12 zjakkelien:, >13 pwaites: I've seen that response a lot, so maybe Two serpents rise will actually exceed my expectations!

15kceccato
Jan 8, 2016, 7:56am Top

12, 13, 14: I've been told the books don't have to be read in order, for them to be understood. I'm very keen on reading Full Fathom Five and the books that come after it in the near future. I'll read Two Serpents Rise when (or if) I get around to it.

16pwaites
Jan 8, 2016, 11:41am Top

Review of The Golden Yarn - here.

14> I'm really liking The Element of Fire. There was a plot twist I figured out early on, but I didn't foresee the invasion of the Fey. I think my favorite element so far is the characterization of the two leads, especially how their perceptions of each other change. I love Thomas's sarcastic wit, and I like how Kade manages to have something of the otherworldly about her without becoming to inscrutable.

15> I actually read Full Fathom Five before Two Serpents Rise, so I can attest that it's possible. There's only one character who overlaps between the two books, Teo, and she doesn't have a super large role.

17lynnoconnacht
Jan 8, 2016, 12:19pm Top

#15 You can definitely read the books out of order! They're all stand-alone narratives in different parts of the same world. There is some character overlap, as pwaites notes, but it's largely in the minor characters. Personally, I'd recommend reading Three Parts Dead first if you haven't already, especially if you dislike spoilers, but I don't think it's a necessary read to enjoy or follow Full Fathom Five. It just adds depth to one of the narrative strands in the later book.

18zjakkelien
Jan 8, 2016, 2:56pm Top

>17 lynnoconnacht: And in any case, Three parts dead is really cool. I thought it was beautifully done.

Has anyone ever figured out what the title refers to, by the way?

19pwaites
Jan 8, 2016, 3:20pm Top

18> The titles relate to the series chronology. There was a post on Tor's blog a while back about it - "This Is How I Numbered My Books and I'm Sorry."

20zjakkelien
Jan 8, 2016, 5:04pm Top

>19 pwaites: Thanks, never knew that! Seems overly complicated...

21kceccato
Jan 8, 2016, 10:30pm Top

17: I've read Three Parts Dead and liked it very much, and I'm very curious about the other books after Two Serpents Rise. But that one just struck me as a little too "film noir" for my liking, so it doesn't hold the same level of interest for me.

22pwaites
Jan 11, 2016, 7:58pm Top

Review of The Thief by Claire North - here.
Review of Paloma - here.

After finishing The Element of Fire, I went into the Welcome to Night Vale novel. I've been listening to the podcast since this fall and was up to the point where the book was released. The style is very similar to the podcast, but as a third person omniscient narrator. I have no idea what people who haven't listened to the podcast would think of it. The story line's stand alone, but there's so much general weirdness to Night Vale. Example of Night Vale weirdness:

"No one cared about a woman staring through binoculars from a parked car. It was a common sight. There were three other cars with binoculared, watching women just on that block, and that was light by Night Vale standards."


I find it less laugh out loud funny and more gently amusing. There is a plot, but it's on the back burner. The focus is on the characters and the general strangeness of the setting.

I also read a novella, Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente. It's a dark retelling of "Snow White" set in the American West. I liked the fairy tale feel of it and how Valente re-imagined the different elements, but I think it might have been too literary for me. Or at least, that's how I'm interpreting the ending. Snow White slept for over a hundred years, woke up in the modern day, and became a physics professor. It felt very random, but I think it was meant to be a metaphor about how we view the Old West? I didn't think it worked story wise though.

I tried reading an ARC from Netgalley, A Lost Legacy: Awakening by C.E. Diamond, but I only made it in one chapter. The book features clunky writing such as "My blue eyes squinted from the sun," and punctuation use seems completely random. Also, nothing happens in the first chapter except for the protagonist going to high school and interacting with too hunky guys who are inexplicably interested in her? Given that I spent most of my time highlighting things about it that I didn't like, I'm going to pass on reading the rest of the book. This will be the first time I don't finish a Netgalley book, but I can't see myself trudging through something this badly written.

Today I started reading The Uncrowned King, the second book in Michelle West's Sun Sword series. This installment has been set completely in the Empire so far. Will Diora be in the book? I flipped through but didn't see her name mentioned. Mostly it's about the King's Challenge, an athletics competition that the heir to the Dominion is entering to prove himself (despite it putting him at high risk of assassination). There's also something about the politics of house Terafin.

23zjakkelien
Jan 12, 2016, 2:18am Top

>22 pwaites: I think Diora is in the book, but there is not as much focus on her. No worries though, she gets more page time later on in the series. I find it difficult to remember what was in which book, but I think she certainly has a larger role in Sea of sorrows. In any case, I loved Diora's storyline, but I also love the Terafin, Jewel aTerafin, the Kalakar and Kiriel.

24pwaites
Jan 12, 2016, 10:42am Top

23> I like the Kalakar a lot as well.

25kceccato
Jan 14, 2016, 1:08pm Top

24: I have plans to read the second book soon, and I hope it includes plenty of good scenes with the Empire and its characters. Even if we see little of Diora, it's not like West (I hope) to minimize the roles of female characters, so surely the second book will have some heroines somewhere...

26pwaites
Jan 14, 2016, 1:56pm Top

Review of Welcome to Night Vale - here.
Review of The Element of Fire - here.

25> I'm around page 560. The vast majority of scenes have been in the Empire. So far there's been only one scene in the Dominion.

I can also confirm that there's a number of important heroines. Kiriel and Jewel are the most central, although there's also secondary characters like the Kalakar, the Terafin, Serra Alina di'Lamberto, Evayne and Princess Mirialyn. I'd say the plot threads go in this order:

1. Valedan entering the Kings’ Challenge to prove that he is worthy of claiming the throne of the Dominion.
2. Jewel aTerafin and matters of succession within the Terafin house
3. A bunch of smaller ones, like Kiriel and her heritage, a Southern swords master who's entering students in the challenge, ect.

Everything ties together, especially with the underlying threat of invasion by demons and the Lord of Night.

I know Jewel was in the first book, but I don't remember her having much of a role there or being any sort of presence. It took me a while to warm up to her here because I kept wanting to go back to characters I was more familiar with. I like her a lot more now.

Something I'm trying to figure out is Evayne and the rings. She had five rings, given to her by an important mage/seer I think? The rings are supposed to go to people who are particularly important for destiny reasons. I know Diora, Kiriel, and Kallandras all have rings. I know she appeared to Valedan in the first book, but I can't remember if she gave him a ring or not. Same with Jewel. I think there may be a ring that hasn't been handed out? This is the sort of thing that makes me wish the book was popular enough to have a wiki online that actually contains information. I did find one for the Sun Sword series, but it was almost empty.

As with The Broken Crown, it took a lengthy amount of pages for me to really get into The Uncrowned King. The first fifty pages or so are about completely new characters and the pace doesn't pick up until after the first two hundred pages.

27pwaites
Jan 18, 2016, 6:35pm Top

Review of Six-Gun Snow White - here.
Review of A Wizard Alone - here.

I've got several book reviews already written and scheduled to go up, but I'm trying to arrange it so that one gets posted every other day. My review of The Uncrowned King should be going up on the 20th.

After finishing The Uncrowned King, I decided it was time to get back to my reread of the Young Wizard series by Diane Duane. I started the reread with the intention of finishing before the tenth book comes out on February 2nd, so it was really time to get back to it.

A Wizard Alone is the 6th book in the series. So far for the reread I'd been reading the copies I already had (1-5, plus book 9). For A Wizard Alone, I decided to get the New Millennium Edition. A couple years back, Diane Duane reworked the series to set all of the books in the 2000s. However, her changes to A Wizard Alone went beyond chronology fixes. Since the original came out, she'd been hearing complaints about her portrayal of autism in the book. When it came time to do the rewrite, she listened to autistic fans and made some changes, such as to the ending. The original had Darryl, the autistic wizard, be "cured" of his autism. In the new edition Darryl remains autistic. Overall, I thought A Wizard Alone wasn't as good as some of the earlier books, but I still enjoyed it.

I'm conflicted on my rating for the seventh book, Wizard's Holiday. It involves two storylines, one I enjoyed quite a bit and another that I found dull. The premise of the book is that of a wizardly student exchange program involving alien wizards. Nita and Kit go to stay on another planet (this is the bit I found dull), and three alien house guests come to live with Nita's sister Dairine and her dad. The alien house guest situation was consistently entertaining. The aliens consist of a walking tree, a giant centipede, and an arrogant alien prince. I especially loved moments like the trip to the shopping mall. However, it took a long time for the main conflicts for both storylines to show up. In retrospect, I think book seven was in a large part build up for book eight.

I'm currently reading book eight, Wizards at War. It starts maybe twenty-four hours after the end of Wizard's Holiday. The alien visitors are still present, and Nita and Kit have just gotten back. Now all of them find out why the senior wizards were unable to be contacted during part of book seven - a new threat has appeared in the universe, and the end is nigh. If Wizard's Holiday was fluff and fun, Wizards at War is tension and tears. The tension begins almost immediately, and while it still has jokes, there's no more purely comedic interludes like the trip to the shopping mall. This is the only book I haven't reread before because I remember that at the end Kit's dog, Ponch, dies. I really love Ponch's character. It's possible that he's my favorite fictional canine. There's some circumstances surrounding him that make me wonder how long Duane has been planning this. He started getting a much larger role back in book five. Did she have it planned this far out in advance?

Also, Wizards at War is making me remember why I really love Carmela Rodriguez's character. Carmela is the male lead's, Kit's, older teenage sister. She's into fashion and shopping, and a couple of books back Kit was complaining about the unending telephone calls from teenage boys. She takes having a wizard in the house very well, especially once the TV starts getting alien cable channels (including alien shopping channels). She was introduced in book five and has been gaining a steadily larger presence. In book seven, she helped introduce the alien visitors to earth. In book eight, when her little brother and his friends go off to save the universe, Carmela decides that not being a wizard isn't going to stop her from saving the universe too. In a crowning moment of awesome, she shows up out of the blue with an alien laser blaster she ordered off TV to use as a hair curler and saves Nita, the female MC. I think part of what I like so much about Carmela is how she's not the sort of character who normally gets to be a hero like this. She has all the interests of a stereotypical teenage girl, the ones that are usually seen as "not cool" for a female character in SFF to have. She's also not a wizard in a book where most of the important characters are. She teaches herself the wizard's language and barrels into plot relevance on the strength of her personality. I may have to make a blog post on her at some point after I finish the reread.

I read another book, Otherbound, between two of the Young Wizard novels. It's a YA fantasy with two leads, one a boy living in Arizona and the other a girl in a fantasy world who he's somehow magically connected to. My expectations for new YA has been pretty low lately, but I actually really enjoyed that one. That being said, I think it felt a bit thin, which is possibly a consequence of it being a debut novel. The author has a science fiction book coming out later this year that I'm planning on picking up.

28sandstone78
Jan 19, 2016, 11:37am Top

>27 pwaites: Hmm, I read the original version of A Wizard Alone when it came out, sounds like the New Millenium version is much improved. I really liked Carmela too! I think Wizards at War is the last book I read in the series, I'll be curious what you think of A Wizard of Mars and Games Wizards Play- and are you planning on reading Lifeboats, the self-published novel that's supposed to sit between those two?

I have Otherbound in my TBR and it looks really good, but I understand it's somewhat dark and brutal so I've not tried it yet.

29pwaites
Jan 19, 2016, 2:23pm Top

28> If you want to know more about the different editions of A Wizard Alone, there's a post on Disability in Kidlit that compares the two editions more extensively. I actually read Wizard of Mars back when it originally came out, and I remember liking it although I'm a bit fuzzy on the specifics. I'll have to wait til I reach it in the reread to say more.

I had vaguely heard of Lifeboats before but was under the impression that it was a novella. Looking it up, it's 90,000 words! I'm now thinking that I will try to read it, probably the ebook edition that bundles it together with two novellas set around the same time.

Probably the most brutal aspect of Otherbound is the curse the princess is under. The protagonist is a servant (the book never uses the word slave but I think it might be more appropriate) serving a cursed princess who has to keep constantly moving so that the new regime that killed the rest of the royal family doesn't find her. The curse is that whenever she bleeds from even the smallest cut, the earth roils up to attack her. The protagonist has healing powers, and the mage who's in charge of her and the princess has figured out a way to have her bear the brunt of the attack. The mage character is also abusive, and there's some scenes with that early on.

In other news, I was waiting for my copy of A Wizard of Mars to be shipped from my house to my dorm room, so I started reading an ebook I'd picked up a while back, The Falconer. It's steampunk and YA fantasy, with the protagonist being a young Scottish noblewoman who is killing murderous fae to avenge the death of her mother. I rolled my eyes a bit when the super hot immortal fairy dude showed up, but it's mostly all right so far if not that interesting. I'm considering quitting it, but I'll give it a bit longer to pick up.

30sandstone78
Jan 19, 2016, 3:06pm Top

>29 pwaites: Thanks for the link, I've bookmarked it to read later! I also have vague memories of reading it and liking it at the time (it was the first of the series I had to wait for, and I bought it in hardcover new).

Someone had marked Lifeboats as a novella in the series order here on LT and Not On My Patch and How Lovely are Thy Branches as short stories, but Lifeboats is a novel and the other two are novella-length so I corrected that earlier this morning and listed Lifeboats as 9.5. (I'm not sure how to note that Patch and Branches belong in that reading order though? Most series order seems to place works shorter than novel length at the end of series listing, regardless of chronological order.)

That's along the lines of what I'd heard, thanks- if I remember right, the protagonist's tongue is cut out too isn't it (before the book opens)? (And isn't there a f/f relationship between the protag and the princess?)

31pwaites
Jan 19, 2016, 6:04pm Top

30> Hope you enjoy the link! I've got no idea how to sort short stories on LT works pages, so can't help you there.

In terms of Otherbound, yes, her tongue is cut out, and it's before the book begins. There's some references to what she felt like right before it happened, but there's no flashback of event itself.

The female protagonist is bisexual, and there is a relationship between her and the princess. However, the ending was a little vague on if they'd stay together or if Amara would ultimately leave to get a new start. I was never entirely on board with the relationship given the initial power dynamics and the history between them, but I think the author was aware of the problem and tried to acknowledge it in the narrative. At the end of the bookAmara is no longer a servant and the 'princess' is not a princess.

32pwaites
Jan 25, 2016, 7:23pm Top

Review of The Uncrowned King - here.
Review of Wizard's Holiday - here.
Review of Otherbound - here.
Review of Science of the Magical - here.

I did quit The Falconer, and I was very happy once I made that decision. What a relief to move on to better books!

I found A Wizard of Mars a middling Young Wizards book. By which I mean that I enjoyed it, even though it wasn't as good as The Wizard's Dilemma or Wizards at War. The beginning was sort of slow plot wise, but there were enough good character moments that I didn't mind. In terms of series impact, in A Wizard of Mars Nita and Kit's relationship changes (or starts to change?) from being best friends to being girlfriend and boyfriend. I would have preferred for them to remain best friends instead, but I'll deal.

I read Not On My Patch, How Lovely Are Thy Branches, and Lifeboats bundled together in Interim Errantry. They're all basically extra material for the fans, although Lifeboats was less pure fluff than the other two. "Not On My Patch" and How Lovely Are Thy Branches are both holiday themed stories, Halloween and Christmas respectively. Lifeboats is a full length story, but it was purposefully written to be a bit different. In Lifeboats (told from Kit's POV), many of the Earth wizards are recruited to help deal with an evacuation of a planet that's about to be destroyed. The wizards are all part of an extremely large project and less working off on their own to solve a problem.

I tried reading Delia's Shadow next but quit after a hundred pages. It's an urban fantasy/paranormal mystery set in early 20th century San Francisco. The main problem is that in all that time the heroine didn't make any decisions! She was just passively going along with whatever happened to her. It's possible that it gets better later on, but I didn't have the patience for it after a dull first hundred pages.

Now I'm reading Scriber by Ben S. Dobson. I'm really enjoying it! And I started enjoying it very soon into the book. It's a fantasy novel that I think was self published. The protagonist is a historian living in a small rural town in what's basically self imposed exile. He's antisocial and rather grouchy (at least at first). He's heard of the rebellions and ongoing stability in the kingdom but doesn't pay much notice until the king's niece, who's captain of the kingdom's only female army unit, shows up due to an impending raid on the town.

33heathn
Jan 29, 2016, 11:30am Top

I was looking over at your blog, The Illustrated Page, and really enjoyed your post on what you define as 'epic' fantasy.

Plus all those stats!!!

34pwaites
Edited: Feb 3, 2016, 3:15pm Top

33> Thanks! I started thinking about it after a discussion over on kceccato's thread about an epic fantasy list.

Review of Wizards at War - here.
Review of A Wizard of Mars - here.
Review of The Bands of Mourning - here.
Post on "What Is Epic Fantasy?" - here.

I liked Scriber a lot, although I was saddened by the major deaths at the end. I do think it fit some of the themes of history, stories, and who's remembered however.

I picked up Redshirts from the library on Tuesday, when I started my volunteer job there. I was given a tour of the branch facilities, and it was really neat to see the behind the scenes stuff like the loading deck area for the truck that takes the books around the different branches. Anyway, I began reading Redshirts while I was waiting for my shift to start. Redshirts is a comedic science fiction novel where the low level crew members of an exploratory space ship realize that one of them will always die on an away mission. Eventually it's revealed that the narrative of a bad science fiction TV show is intruding on their reality. I found it very funny, even if the characterization was a bit thin.

Next up was The Siren Depths by Martha Wells. I think this has been my favorite of the Raksura books so far. It delves into Moon's past and his emotional insecurities. As ever, the world building is incredibly imaginative.

I've also read the newest Brandon Sanderson novel, The Bands of Mourning. It's the third Wax and Wayne Mistborn novel, of which there will be one more. As I've come to expect with Sanderson's novels, I really enjoyed it. I like that Steris has been getting more focus these last two books. In The Alloy of Law, she didn't have much of a positive presence, and I figured she'd be set aside by the narrative somehow. Turns out, she's hilarious. I love her analytical thinking and constant preparedness for the wildest eventualities. I loved when she strapped a gun under her skirt but used seven rolls of tape because she was scared of it coming off. In terms of overall cosmere stuff, I can't wait until enough of the super obsessive fans have read it so that I can see what the theories are on who the strange woman at the ball was. She was obviously a worldhopper, but was she someone from another book?

I'm currently reading The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. I keep hearing about Bujold and have always meant to try some of her work.

35kceccato
Jan 29, 2016, 4:28pm Top

34: Very interesting "What Is Epic Fantasy?" post, and good critique of the Goodreads list. (Honestly, how some of those books end up on some of those lists is beyond baffling to me. Twilight and Hush, Hush on lists devoted to "strong female characters"? All I can figure is that the voters who put them on such lists have never read any books in which the heroines were ACTUALLY strong.)

For me, "epic" means two things: large-scale and second-world.
My own novels are second-world, but they are not epic. They involve one small set of people in a small setting. Kings, queens, and battles don't feature. The fate of a country or a world is not at stake. Epic fantasy, as I see it, involves situations where the outcome has the potential to affect many, many people. Large casts are a frequent (though not essential) characteristic. Epic fantasy usually comes in multiple volumes, but it doesn't have to.

Very glad you enjoyed Scriber. I, too, chafed at Dobson's decision to kill off who were probably my two favorite characters in the whole book.

36Sakerfalcon
Jan 30, 2016, 4:05am Top

Very good post on epic fantasy. I think I agree with the defining characteristics you highlight.

Curse of Chalion is one of my all-time favourite fantasy novels. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to reading your review.

37pwaites
Feb 3, 2016, 3:51pm Top

Review of Interim Errantry - here.
Books I Didn't Finish in January 2015 - here.
Review of Scriber - here.

35>With regards to the end of Scriber, I predicted that Wynne would die. There was a scene not long beforehand where Ilias gets her a spot in the school and Dennon thinks something like "At least some good will come of this." Whatever it was about that scene, it set off alarm bells that Wynne would die to cause maximum emotional pain. Even though I was prepared, I still found her death scene really sad. Also, I was completely blindsided by Bryndine's death. I don't usually expect authors to kill off such major characters.

36> I liked The Curse of Chalion, but I don't think it's a book I'd reread. The fictional religion aspects were probably what I found most interesting. It's hard to say why this one didn't have much of an impact on me, and it's something that I'm going to have to reflect more on before I right my review.

My review of On the Edge of Gone should go up on my blog tomorrow. On the Edge of Gone is an ARC I was approved for through Netgalley, and it's released sometime in March. It's by the same author as Otherbound, Corinne Duyvis. It's a YA novel about the edge of the world. The autistic heroine didn't get a place in either the permanent shelters or one of the generation ships set to leave the planet before the comet hits. She stumbles upon a generation ship that hasn't yet left the planet and starts looking for a way to get herself and her family aboard. It's a book with a real heart and a message about the value of human life.

Along with The Bands of Mourning, Brandon Sanderson also released a surprise novella, Mistborn: Secret History. It contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the original Mistborn trilogy, and Sanderson recommends that you don't read it until after The Bands of Mourning. In addition, it contains references to other books in his cosmere universe, a set of interconnected fantasy worlds such as Elantris, Warbreaker, and The Way of Kings. Seriously, the spoilers are huge. The protagonist is Kelsier... after he "dies" at the end of the first Mistborn book. I seriously have no idea how to review this one while avoiding spoilers. Maybe I'll talk about the general idea of the cosmere? Or maybe I'll have two parts to the review with lots of warnings about scrolling down.

I've just finished Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane, the tenth Young Wizard book, and I don't know quite what to make of it. I largely enjoyed reading it, but I felt like it was anti-climatic and lacked pay off. Nita kept having these prophetic dreams that I don't think came to anything (or if they did, I missed how they were connected to the climax). Maybe it's set up for an eleventh book?

38MrsLee
Feb 3, 2016, 10:19pm Top

>37 pwaites: If you mean reviews here on LT, I think I heard you can use the same HTML technique in your reviews for spoilers that you use in your posts, but I haven't tried it yet.

39pwaites
Edited: Feb 4, 2016, 2:58pm Top

Review of On the Edge of Gone - here.

38> I was actually talking about spoiler tags on my Wordpress blog (should have made that clear). I sometimes will use the HTML spoilers for LT reviews, but I haven't figured out a way to do something similar on Wordpress yet.

I've started on a new ARC, Cogling by Jordan Elizabeth. It's YA fantasy with maybe a dash of steampunk. So far it feels clunky, especially the world building. I feel like a bunch of different elements have been dumped together that don't work well or form a cohesive whole.

40pwaites
Feb 10, 2016, 3:40pm Top

Review of Games Wizards Play - here.
Review of Redshirts - here.
Review of Cogling - here.
Review of The Siren Depths - here.

Reviews of The Curse of Chalion, Mistborn: Secret History, and Girl of Nightmares are scheduled to go up on my blog over the course of the next five days.

Cogling was definitely clunky and not a book I'd recommend. It had issues with world building and pacing, and the protagonist felt much younger than her stated age.

Girl of Nightmares is the sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood, which I think I read in late November or early December. They're a YA paranormal duology about a teenage boy who hunts ghosts and a dangerous ghost called, you guessed it, Anna Dressed in Blood. The sequel wasn't as good as the first book, but it did wrap up some plot threads.

I'm still working on writing reviews for An Ember in the Ashes, Vision in Silver, and The Encyclopedia of Early Earth.

An Ember in the Ashes is a YA second world fantasy that's supposed to be loosely based on the Roman Empire. I feel like it's largely "grimdark goes YA," complete with the constant use of rape as a storytelling short cut to show how dark and brutal your world is. The two protagonists (it alternates between a male and female POV) spend a lot of time thinking about how attractive the other is, although the female protagonist has no idea that she's so amazingly gorgeous, of course. They don't interact all that much, which makes their relationship feel like insta-love. I didn't think the world building was that great either. There's no atmosphere beyond "grimdark" and I wouldn't have guessed Roman based if it weren't for the character names. There's also some questionable logic with the war academy design. It ends on a cliffhanger, but I'm unlikely to read the sequel.

Vision in Silver is the third book in the urban fantasy series that started with Written in Red. I'll keep reading this series, but the plotting just isn't that good. Part of it could be that Bishop's more focused on the ongoing tension between the Others and the humans, but there's not a good plot arc for this individual novel.

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth is a graphic novel that takes place in a prior earth. Characters don't really have names, being known mostly by things like "Storyteller" or "Old Woman." The framework of the book is that a man from the North Pole meets a woman from the South Pole. They fall in love but are unable to touch due to a strange magnetic effect that's later explained. Instead, they spend their nights together telling stories, as the man is a storyteller who has traveled the world.

I really enjoyed The Encyclopedia of Early Earth and was excited to find out that the author's releasing another book set in the same world sometime this year. Something about it gives me the same sort of feelings as In the Night Garden or Through the Woods. There's this real focus on storytelling. I liked the limited colors and printed look of the artwork and thought it worked well with the stories Greenberg was telling. She has some of the pages from the book up on her website if anyone's interested.

Right now I'm at the very beginning of Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith. It's a YA dystopian set in a world where some people have gained powers and others haven't. I know it rotates POVs between five characters, but I'm only two chapters in.

41kceccato
Feb 14, 2016, 9:24am Top

40: A review I read for An Ember in the Ashes put me off reading it. The reviewer called the female lead a conspicuously "skill-less" protagonist; she's not good at anything and not particularly interested in anything, so she just blows with the wind. I usually have a strong dislike for this kind of heroine. Is this an accurate description?
Talk of a love triangle -- particularly a triangle in which I would like and admire the loser much more than the winner -- also warned me away.

42pwaites
Feb 14, 2016, 12:09pm Top

Review of The Curse of Chalion - here.
Review of Mistborn: Secret History - here.
Review of An Ember in the Ashes - here.

41> I wouldn't say "not particularly interested in anything." She does have a motivating factor through the book, which is to rescue her brother. She finds a resistance group and the leader agrees to break her brother out if she goes undercover as a slave to spy on the Commander of the military academy.

My main problem with her was that she just didn't seem very bright. A lot of her decisions were questionable, particularity in regards to the resistance. She knows that someone within it betrayed her parents, so why is she trusting them so blindly? She's not an Action Girl character, so I think it's particularly important for her to have intelligence and grit. Her intelligence is questionable, and I feel like her courage is displayed mainly by how she withstands the brutality the narrative throws at her (which also largely consists of gendered violence?). On the other hand, at the very end she is effective - she devises a plan to rescue the male lead and carries it out effectively. I've seen some reviews say that she's supposed to be the ember in the ashes referenced in the title, presumably because of her moment at the end.

In regards to the love triangle, it's actually a love square. Both the POV characters have love interests in addition to each other, which I find fairly pointless since I think it's obvious the POVs are going to end up together. The other female character in this situation is Helen, who is definitely an Action Girl. She's the only girl in the elite military academy.

My review of Girl of Nightmares should go up tomorrow. Reviews of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, Vision in Silver, and Stranger will go up within the week.

My feelings on Stranger are conflicted. I liked the imagination of the world building (squirrels with teleportation powers!) and the focus on community. However, the pace really bogs down for much of the middle section. There was also this one character, Mia, who started off looking like she was asexual (and I've seen several reviews list her as such) but then "suddenly understands" passion when she sees the male love interest in dripping wet clothes. Combined with her previous comments about feeling "broken" because she doesn't feel romantic or sexual attraction leads to some not very good implications.

I've finished reading City of Bones by Martha Wells but haven't gotten around to writing a review of it yet. I really loved City of Bones! I think a large part of it is that I strongly liked the protagonist, Khat. The world building was also super inventive and immersive, as it always is with Wells.

I'm currently about 40% through The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. It's odd. I don't know how to describe it exactly. Maybe it's the way the scene transitions work? They feel sudden and confusing, with things that feel important skipped over.

43lynnoconnacht
Feb 14, 2016, 1:06pm Top

#42 Mia is written as demisexual. I do agree that the authors could have handled her sexuality better, though. (Notably her comments about being broken. I would have liked the narrative to have made it clearer that Mia's perception of herself as broken is wrong and she isn't broken at all. But it's still one of the better examples of demisexuality in fiction I've read to date.)

44pwaites
Feb 14, 2016, 1:38pm Top

43> Yeah, that's something I mentioned in my review. I probably just had a personal reaction due to having figured out I'm asexual in the last year.

45aviddiva
Feb 14, 2016, 1:40pm Top

>42 pwaites: City of Bones was my introduction to Martha Wells, and it's still one of my favorites. I wish she had revisited that world as I find it fascinating. I also loved The Encyclopedia of Early Earth.

46lynnoconnacht
Feb 14, 2016, 4:26pm Top

#44 Mmm, I think it's a bit more than a personal reaction. I've heard similar reactions and reservations from other ace readers, so it's definitely not just you who's felt that way. I'm demi myself, so those reservations and implications aren't nearly as strong for me. Mia's reactions resonate in a way not many characters I've read about do, so I'm a fair bit more forgiving of issues, but that doesn't mean that aspect of the narrative was handled as well as it could have been.

It's challenging to write a demisexual character without automatically implying that asexual people don't exist. I think, from what I've read of discussions, that the second book addresses some of those issues better and makes it clearer that Mia is demisexual? I'll be looking forward to your review! ^_^

47pwaites
Feb 15, 2016, 6:50pm Top

Review of Girl of Nightmares - here.

46> I think I would have felt better about it if she'd differently about herself at the beginning, or if there was a supporting character who was asexual, or something along those lines.

I finished The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps. I'm not sure what everyone else sees in it. It's possible there's some sort of literary merit I'm overlooking, but I found it more a chore than anything else. I probably wouldn't have stuck with it except that it was a novella and thus relatively short.

I'm reading Draykon, which is an ebook that's up for free online. It's all right so far, but I don't know if I'll keep reading.

48pwaites
Feb 19, 2016, 4:10pm Top

Review of Vision in Silver - here.
Review of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth - here.
Review of Stranger - here.

My review of City of Bones should go up tomorrow and the review for The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps sometime within in the next week.

I ended up quitting Draykon. It wasn't horrible, but there was nothing about it compelling enough to keep me reading. I feel like the author needs to put more thought into how her world building works together.

I've read Calamity, the newest Brandon Sanderson novel and the third and final book in the Reckoners series. I was planning on reviewing it as soon as possible but I'm dawdling. I'm not sure what to say about it. I did enjoy reading it, but it didn't pack the punch that the previous book did. I think the ending may have fell a bit flat, and I'm not certain about what happened to Tia.

I also read The False Prince which is either a YA or a MG novel. It was okay. It reminds me strongly of Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, although I don't think the writing was as good. In The Thief's case, it was helped out by some vastly superior sequels. I really doubt the sequels to The False Prince will see that sort of improvement.

Right now I'm reading The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey, which is a Riptide ARC novel I got through Netgalley. Right now it has no reviews (at least on Goodreads), so I may end up being the first. I'll probably end up giving it three stars. It's readable and doesn't have an major problems, but it still feels light. There's not much to characters, world building, or plot. It is a quick read - I'm half way through and I've just been reading it in bits and pieces today to kill time before classes. It also feels that we haven't gotten very far into the story, like it's still set up for the beginning. I see that this is the first in a series, and I hope that it doesn't all turn out to be set up for future books.

49pwaites
Feb 24, 2016, 2:28pm Top

Review of City of Bones - here.
Review of Calamity - here.
Review of The Empty Hourglass - here.
Review of Sorcerer of the Wildeeps - here.

As it turns out, The Empty Hourglass was not set up. It's a stand alone story where nothing happens. Around 80% in I figured out that excitement was not going to show up. And the ending was incredibly lame. The whole threat is that Jethro sold his soul to the Devil and that his time left is running out. At the end, the Devil doesn't take Jethro's soul because get this - the Devil was trying to teach him a life lesson.

The next book I read, Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones, was better. It's a YA story about a near future where a vaccine gave some people superpowers as a side effect. Everyone with superpowers has to chose between working for the government or a life of crime. The main character is a seventeen year old girl with the power to create visual illusions.

I read a Netgalley ARC after that, Roses and Rot by Kat Howard. I knew it was contemporary fantasy, about a pair of sisters, and had a positive blurb from Neil Gaiman. I can see why it got a blurb. It's a good book, much better than the rest of the ARCs I've had lately. For one, it's beautifully written and the imagery has a real sense of magic to it. I'll post the link to my full review later, but here's the first paragraph of it:

"Roses and Rot is a hauntingly lovely contemporary fantasy about the bond between two sisters. Imogene and Merin have an abusive mother that they both seek to escape. They hadn't spoken in years when Merin reaches out. Soon after, both sisters find themselves at an artist's residency at the prestigious Melete. Imogene's a writer while Merin's a dancer, but they are both devoted to their art. However, more is going on at Melete than they ever could have imagined, and it threatens to break the bond between them once and for all."

Roses and Rot comes out on May 17th. I didn't want to say in my review, since the main character doesn't figure out until after the first third of the book, but the magic has to do with the fae and an annual tithe made to them.

I'm about eighty pages into Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's a book that I've been meaning to read for a while but am only now getting to. Most of it so far has been the main character's recollections of the golden years of her childhood and the underlying sense of unease. Only now have we gotten to the memory where someone finally says that she exists to be harvested for organs.

50sandstone78
Feb 25, 2016, 12:17pm Top

>49 pwaites: I really want to reread City of Bones- it was my first Wells book, and all the way through I kept waiting for Khat and Elen's relationship to turn romantic. I found it a pleasant surprise that that didn't happen, for the reasons Wells stated in the story, but because that trope is so prevalent it kind of overshadowed things for me.

Regarding Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, I was wavering between reading it and not once I saw there were practically no women, but then I saw some comments along the lines of "yay queer representation" so I was leaning towards reading it again... but then I saw it ended tragically, and that the tragic ending was specifically queer tragedy- especially after reading your review, mentioning that even the background queer couple dies, I think I've come down firmly on the side of wanting to spend my time with other books. Sigh.

51pwaites
Feb 25, 2016, 2:24pm Top

50> For City of Bones, I sort of figured that Khat and Elen would get together too. I think most stories would end with Khat accepting Elen's suggestion to stay with her and see if there could be something more between them. But instead he turns her down and (presumably) goes to live with Sagai and the people who are like a family to him.

Yeah, I wouldn't recommend Sorcerer of the Wildeeps.

52pwaites
Mar 3, 2016, 5:00pm Top

Review of Roses and Rot - here.
Review of The False Prince - here.
February DNFs (Draykon and The Library at Mount Char) - here.
Review of Illusive - here.

I ended up not being a huge fan of Never Let Me Go. I felt like not much happened, and the explanation for why the teachers were taking away their artwork was disappointing. Apparently it was to put on art shows to try and prove that clones had souls. I was suspecting that they were cloned from famous artists and that the school (rumored to be special and different from the other clone facilities) was an experiment to see if artistic skill/talent could be reconstructed. I think I like my explanation better.

I'm going to be leaving the country on Saturday for a service-learning trip to Jamaica. The college is trying to put an emphasis on "global" (still have no idea what this means) so all of the first years have spent the last year in a special "Global" class and been assigned a location for a trip. Most are in South or Central America or the Caribbean, although there's a couple going to New York and one to Canada. I'll be leaving my laptop at the dorm and planning on a week without internet.

I've got some posts scheduled to go up on my blog while I'm gone, but there's still some books I want to finish reviewing before I leave at 5:30 AM on Saturday.

A review of Warchild by Karin Lowachee has already been written and is scheduled to go up on Tuesday. Wow, Warchild was an intense book. Very good, but very brutal. It's mostly about war, child abuse, and the effect war has on children, so it's no wonder it's dark.

I still need to write my reviews of The Bone Doll's Twin, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and The Master: Gameshouse Novella 3.

I've had my copy of The Bone Doll's Twin for at least a year now, but only got around to reading it in the last week. It's a prequel series to the Nightrunner books and takes place at least several hundred years before. There's a prophecy that says the country will be well off as long as they have a queen of a certain line. But in the last twenty years or so, a king has seized power and killed all possible female heirs. When his sister (who he's allowed to live) gives birth to twins, a wizard (and various other conspirators) kill the male twin to cast a spell giving the female twin his guise. They then raise the potential heir as a boy with the idea that at some point in the future they'll be able to say, "Surprise! We've been manipulating you all your life, and by the way we need to be queen now." Oh, and the soul of the dead male twin has come back as a demon and is haunting all of them, and the mother of the twins has gone mad. These wizards makes Dumbledore look non-manipulative by comparison.

I did enjoy reading The Bone Doll's Twin. If I had one problem, it's that it ends on a cliffhanger and is really "Part 1" of a story more than a complete story itself. That's not a bad thing, but I don't know when I'll get around to tracking down a copy of book two.

This week I did get around to finally reading the last novella in Claire North's Gameshouse trilogy, The Master: Gameshouse Novella 3. This final installment fleshes out the mythology of the Gameshouse some more and brings the long hinted at show down between Silver and the Gameskeeper. I think the overriding question was if Silver retained his humanity through these events.

Yesterday I finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, also by Claire North. In this book, the main character is constantly being reborn. He's always born in 1918 to the same parents in Northern England and will live his life until he dies of cancer sometime in the late 80s through early 2000s. Eventually he finds other people who also go through their lives multiple times, the Cronus Club. The club can communicate with the future and past through the trickle down method - one of the youngest members will whisper in the ear of one of the oldest, so that when he or she is reborn they in turn can give the message to someone with an earlier birth date.

The book opens with Harry dying at the end of his eleventh life and a small girl approaching him to tell him that the world is ending and that the end of the world has been getting faster.

It wasn't as much as the fast paced thriller I'd thought it'd be, but I still liked it. Overall, I'd say I'd enjoy Touch more. It feels like I've read several books by Claire North now which tread some of the same thematic material, particularly when it comes to humanity and immortality.

Currently I'm reading Of Scions and Men, an urban fantasy ARC from Netgalley. The protagonist feels like the urban fantasy generic "Strong Female Protagonist" - you know, the one who wears tight leather pants and fights monsters and is totally badass but is still weaker and dependent on her vampire love interest?

53kceccato
Mar 4, 2016, 4:37pm Top

52: Ah, yes, I know the one. I met her when her name was Scarlet.
She is legion, and her multitudinous stories turn up in droves on Goodreads list devoted to "strong heroines." It can be a challenge to sift through all those stories in order to uncover a heroine who actually IS active and capable and saves the day.

54SylviaC
Mar 4, 2016, 6:33pm Top

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August looks intriguing. I'll have to see whether my library has it.

55AHS-Wolfy
Mar 5, 2016, 6:03am Top

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is on my tbr shelves after reading the first few chapters that were included in my copy of The Girl With All the Gifts.

56Peace2
Mar 5, 2016, 7:14am Top

>52 pwaites: I'm another with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August on the TBR pile.

57pwaites
Mar 15, 2016, 5:24pm Top

54, 55, 56> I hope all of you enjoy it!

Review of Never Let Me Go - here.
Review of Warchild - here.
Review of The Bone Doll's Twin - here.
Review of The Master: Gameshouse- here.
Review of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August - here.

I'm back in the US! Most of the book's I read while I was gone were from the digital TBR pile.

I finished Of Scions and Men, and my review of it should go up tomorrow. Urgh. It's basically a slurry of urban fantasy tropes thrown together. Not recommended.

Immediately after it, I wanted some urban fantasy that had a better shoot at being good. I had an ebook of The Long Way Down on hand and remembered that it got a good review from a Wordpress blogger I follow. It's a gritty urban fantasy set in Las Vegas. The protagonist, Daniel Faust, is a magician working as a PI. The pacing was good, and the plot started right away. I liked the antihero protagonist and most of the core cast, plus the setting was very vivid. I thought Daniel using playing cards to cast his spells was a neat touch.

Next up I tried Earthrise but quit about 8% in. I don't think Earthrise was bad exactly, but it didn't seem like it'd be what I was looking for. I wanted a space opera book focused around plot or action, and Earthrise was giving me the feeling that it'd be pretty romance heavy. I also don't think the aliens were very well done.

I moved on to Dragon Sword and Wind Child which I had much more success with. It's a translation of a Japanese fantasy novel that's inspired by Japanese mythology and Western fantasy stories. Saya is an orphaned teenage girl who discovers that she's the Water Maiden - a daughter of the Goddess of Darkness who's reborn each time she dies. Yet Saya has always loved and been drawn to the side of the God of Light. What I really liked about Dragon Sword and Wind Child was how the sides of light and dark were not depicted as good and evil. It was much more about balance and the natural cycle being disrupted. The side of light is immortal and eternal. The side of dark is mortality and death. If I have one complaint about the book, it's that Saya was a rather passive heroine.

I've had an ebook copy of The Queen of the Tearling hanging around for a while, and I recalled some news about a movie being made of it, so I decided it was time to give it a go. I probably would have saved myself some grief if I hadn't read it. My notes for the review is basically a 500 word rant that I'll somehow have to fashion into something cohesive. Basically The Queen of the Tearling tries to directly replicate medieval Europe in the future (complete with Catholic Church analogy) with little to no explanation at all. There's other problems, but the majority of them relate to the massive fails in world building.

Still in search of beach reading, I gave Retribution Falls a go... and ended up quitting a little over a third of the way in due to the annoyance of slugging through so much sexism, mostly from the main character. A book can have a sexist main character and still get me to like it and the character - Django Wexler did it with Marcus and his paternalistic sexism in The Thousand Names and sequels. However, Wexler did it by absolutely surrounding Marcus with competent, amazing female characters to the point where Marcus was the only man in the room for some scenes. While Marcus might have had issues with sexism, it was clear that the narrative itself didn't. No such case for Retribution Falls. It's set on an airship where only one of the crew was female, and when I quit it had yet to pass the Bechdel test. So all of the main character's sexist asides and commentary are just sort of left to hang there unchallenged (same thing with some homophobic stuff). I finally quit when he breaks into an all female convent to meet an ex-lover who was sent there by her father after having an affair with him. This went down two years ago, and he never paid a thought to getting her out of there until he needed to question her about plot related things going down with her father. When he sees her, he lies through his teeth about how he was trying to get her out all this time and she's so grateful she has sex with him on the spot. Oh, and he's still not intending to get her out (like she assumes) and has some interior monologue about how you need to lie to women and how marriage would tie him down. What a scumbag.

After The Queen of the Tearling and Retribution Falls, I wanted a safe bet so I turned to a book I'd already read and had on my Kindle - Bloodshot by Cherie Priest. Raylene is a neurotic vampire thief. Another vampire, Ian Scott, hires her to retrieve some documents for him after the US army experimented on him and took his sight. What follows is a whirlwind hunt across the US where she eventually teams up with an ex-Navy SEAL drag queen. Bloodshot's reliably fun. Really the only place I find it lacking is that the only other female character besides Raylene is an eight year old. This improves somewhat in the sequel Hellbent, which introduces a schizophrenic sorceress and a deaf vampire. I'm currently about half way through Hellbent.

58pwaites
Mar 21, 2016, 4:52pm Top

Review of Of Scions and Men - here.
Review of The Long Way Down - here.
Review of Bloodshot - here.

I've now read the final book in Elizabeth Bear's Eternal Sky series, Steles of the Sky. My suspicion has proven true -it is tediously paced and I don't care at all about the plot. Basically the series feels like a lot of things I liked layered on top of a pretty dismal and run of the mill, standard epic fantasy plot that bog's itself down in characters moving from place to place. Still, I like the high number of important female characters and the sheer beauty and imagination of the setting.

Somewhat inspired by the Eternal Skies, I started reading a non-fiction around the same time, The Secret History of the Mongol Queens. Wow, this book was fascinating. Genghis Khan had eight daughters, and he put four of them in charge of cities or territories surrounding Mongolia. Even after the deaths of the daughter Queens, there continued to be some enormously powerful and influential Mongol queens. The only one I'd heard of before was Khutulun (who was featured on Rejected Princesses), a great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan who rode into battle alongside her father and who was undefeated in wrestling. However, there's another queen, Mandukhai Khatun who almost the last third of the book was about. She reunited the Mongol nation, and, among other things, rode into battle pregnant with twins.

The next fiction book I picked up was The Color of Distance, a science fiction novel about a women who gets marooned on another planet and makes contact with an alien species. I went into the book thinking that I'd know exactly how it'd go (I've seen this sort of story before, most notably James Camron's Avatar), but it ended up really impressing me. It's character focused, skipping between the perspectives of Juna (the human) and Ani (one of the aliens who finds her). It also doesn't have any sort of violent end result where the protagonist is forced to chose sides. It's more about the humans and aliens seeking to understand each other.

Right now I'm on the very beginning of the third Nightrunner book, Traitor's Moon. I heard the series gets not so good as it goes on. Hopefully this is after book three?

59sandstone78
Mar 21, 2016, 7:31pm Top

>58 pwaites: Hmm. Elizabeth Bear wrote two novellas in the setting of the trilogy but I think much later in time- I have read them, but not the trilogy, but I found both the setting and the characters interesting. The books are Bone and Jewel Creatures and Book of Iron- Book of Iron is first by chronological order but second by publication order, I think they could probably be read in either order.

I've heard that the first three Nightrunner books are good, then there was a long gap before the next one came out, and the remaining ones aren't as good as the first three.

60Sakerfalcon
Mar 22, 2016, 6:32am Top

>58 pwaites:, >59 sandstone78: I'd heard that about the Nightrunner series and so delayed reading books 4 and 5. When I finally got around to them though I really enjoyed them. I think people didn't like that Alec and Seregil are separated for much of book 4 but I found it a gripping read. Book 5 had a bit more travel than I like but was still good. And I loved book 6 too. I haven't read the last one yet because after that I will have no new Nightrunner books to look forward to ....

61kceccato
Mar 22, 2016, 9:21am Top

58: The Color of Distance, IMO, is a lovely and sadly underrated book. I read it when I was coming off a state of rage against another alien-contact science fiction book, The Word for World Is Forest, which I couldn't finish after the indigenous people slaughter the entire population of human women, helpless innocents paying with their lives for the crimes of their menfolk -- and we're meant to think this action is justified! We are not supposed to care about these women at all! Darn it, I still get angry when I think about it. But The Color of Distance, with its more hopeful view and its complex and sympathetic depiction of both major female characters, served as a welcome antidote. Why Thomson and her work are not more highly regarded is a mystery to me.

I'm sorry Steles of the Sky didn't do it for you. I'm very fond of that trilogy, though I can see where you're coming from.

62pwaites
Mar 22, 2016, 1:45pm Top

59> Bone and Jewel Creatures is somewhere in my Goodreads TBR list. I'll probably get an ebook copy at some point, most likely when I get the current TBR pile down to a more reasonable level.

59, 60> I'll see how I do with Traitor's Moon and then think about the next ones. I'm still not really on board with Alec and Seregil's relationship. The age and experience gap just keeps bothering me. Thankfully Traitor's Moon skipped two years so Alec is now eighteen instead of sixteen(!) like he was in the previous two books. But something about it still makes me go "urgh." I'm not a fan of the books where the young looking immortal hooks up with the teenager. It's a trope that's always made me wince, every time I've come across it.

61> I'm sure I heard about The Color of Distance from your reading thread. From the number of reviews and ratings it has, it doesn't look very well known at all. I agree that it deserves a wider audience.

I didn't hate Steles of the Sky. It just ended up being more of a three and half star book than a four star book for me. I don't regret reading it, but it's not a book I'd read again.

63pwaites
Mar 28, 2016, 3:27pm Top

Review of Dragon Sword and Wind Child - here.
Review of The Queen of the Tearling - here.
Review of The Color of Distance - here.
Review of Hellbent - here.
Review of Steles of the Sky - here.

I've finished Traitor's Moon. It took me almost three hundred pages to get truly into it - basically when people started getting poisoned was when I started getting interested. I did like it, but the beginning moved too slowly for me. I think I recall my experiences of reading the first two books being similar.

Since then I've read a couple of YA books, the first being Wise Child. Wise Child is a very quiet book. It's set in Scotland during medieval times. The narrator, Wise Child, becomes the apprentice to a witch named Juniper. Eventually her mother, a sorceress, reemerges and the book becomes about Wise Child choosing between the types of life each women represents. There's a lot about tolerance and accepting people who are different than you. It's a nice book and well written, but I think the end lost some steam and seemed a bit sudden.

The other book was The Name of the Blade, the third book I've read by Zoe Marriott. It's an urban fantasy involving Japanese mythology in London. I found it mediocre. There's nothing about it that I really loved, and the relationship seemed a lot like instalove (they only knew each other for less than 48 hours).

There were also a couple of YA books that I picked up and then put down again. I got sixty pages into Deceptive, the sequel to Illusive which I read earlier this month. I realized that I didn't actually care much about the characters. That plus some clunky info dumping and a glaring plot hole was enough to get me to quit.

The second was And All the Stars, which I'm still trying to figure out if I should try again. I gave it only six pages before putting it down for something else, but in those six pages the heroine really managed to annoy me. She skips school to travel on the subway to visit her cousin. Then the subway collapses (reasons still unexplained), and she's trapped in a tunnel complete with dead bodies. Yet when her mother calls her on the phone she lies about where she is! Why??? I know that teenage protagonists not telling adults vital pieces of information is a thing with YA books, but this is beyond ludicrous.

Right now I'm reading Part I of The Lies of Locke Lamora for imyril's read along. I don't think I've reread it since originally reading it sophomore year of high school, but I'm enjoying it this time just as much as I remembered. It's going to be hard stopping myself from continuing at the end of Part I.

64aviddiva
Mar 28, 2016, 10:19pm Top

I liked And All the Stars enough that I sought out other books by this author, so you might give it a second try. That said, I'm not bothered by anomalous teen behavior in fiction, so YMMV.

65lynnoconnacht
Mar 29, 2016, 7:42am Top

Ooooh, I remember reading "Wise Child" when I was younger! Unless it was "Juniper" and I'm mixing the two up. I'm sorry to hear that the ending didn't live up the rest of the book. I remember little more of it than that I liked it. ^_^

66pwaites
Mar 29, 2016, 2:18pm Top

64> I think I will give it another go at some point since I've heard good things about it from multiple people hear on LT. Also, it's fairly short so it's not like it'd be a huge time investment.

65> The ending was okay, just very sudden.

67imyril
Apr 2, 2016, 12:27pm Top

>63 pwaites: Putting the book down has always been the most challenging aspect of a read-along :)

68pwaites
Apr 2, 2016, 1:05pm Top

67> I think the only reason I was able to put it down was that I'd read it before. If I didn't know what happened next, I probably would have read the entire book by now.

Review of Labyrinth Lost - here.
Review of The Secret History of the Mongol Queens - here.
Review of Traitor's Moon - here.

I did give And All the Stars another go, and this time I finished it. It got a lot more interesting once the aliens showed up. I think it's one of the better YA apocalyptic sort of books I've read. I probably wouldn't read it again, but if there was a sequel I'd read it. However, a sequel looks unlikely since the epilogue skipped forward five years to tell us the future of all our protagonists.

I read Labyrinth Lost, an ARC that doesn't come out until September. When I picked it up, all I really knew was that it was about matriarchal Latina witches, which I thought sounded pretty cool. Then when I was reading it I started having deja vu. When I read an ARC of The Deathsniffer's Assistant back in September I became convinced the main character was bisexual (my review) but no other reviews mentioned the possibility and it was never made firmly canonical. However, Labyrinth Lost actually did make it canonical.

In 2015 I read Laughing Without an Accent and really loved it, so I went back to look for the first memoir Firoozeh Dumas wrote, Funny in Farsi. Like the sequel I read, Funny in Farsi was a collection of antecedents about Dumas's life and family as she grew up in both Iran and the US. Both books are laugh out loud funny as well as very warm hearted. I would recommend them both.

I checked out a copy of Santa Olivia from the local library. I've heard a lot about Jacqueline Carey, mainly in regards to her Kushiel series which I don't think would be my thing, but Santa Olivia seemed worth a shot. It's about a young woman with supernatural speed and strength and the inability to feel fear who's growing up in a town trapped in a demarcation zone between the US and Mexico. It draws on the superhero genre, but there's this knowledge that her power to change anything is very limited. If the town looks like it's rising up, it'll be crushed by the military, and the protagonist herself (Lupe) will be taken by the military the minute she's revealed.

I'm not reading any books at the moment, but I'm planning on picking up Midnight Robber next.

69pwaites
Apr 9, 2016, 1:31pm Top

Review of Wise Child - here.
Review of The Night Itself - here.
Review of Funny in Farsi - here.

Urgh, I'm five books behind on reviews. Santa Olivia is the last of my stock piled reviews, and it'll go up tomorrow. I really need to get to the others, namely And All the Stars, Midnight Robber, Sister Light, Sister Dark, Annihilation, and The Prince of Los Cocuyos.

I didn't love Midnight Robber. Ever since I read a collection of her short stories, I've been trying to get into Nalo Hopkinson's novels. Unfortunately, neither of the ones I've tried have been as enjoyable as her shorter fiction. I think in Midnight Robber's case, it was much to slow getting started (some of the beginning could have been turned into backstory) and I really wish I'd known going in that the book's largely about the protagonist being sexually abused by her father.

Sister Light, Sister Dark was all right. It feels like the beginning to a story, not a story itself, which makes sense as it's the first book in a trilogy. However, I don't know if there was enough I found compelling about it to keep reading the series. I liked how there were sections written by future historians making all sorts of speculations about the time period of the book. I didn't like how the thirteen year old protagonist had a seventeen year old love interest. It felt seriously creepy.

Annihilation was also creepy, but in a good, horror novel type way. There's this land that's called Area X that's infected with strange phenomena. An expedition of four women is sent in to investigate. Each is known only by her job title - the protagonist is the biologist. I'd been meaning to read this one for a while but was motivated to bump it up the pile when I heard that they'd started casting for the movie. I don't know what I'll say about the book in my review exactly. There's not a lot about it that is fully explained or makes sense, but I think that's the nature of Area X.

This week I was volunteering for the Agnes Scott College Writers's Festival (while sick with a cold, unfortunately). The only one of the guest authors I heard speak was Richard Blanco, but I really loved his reading. He was the inaugural poet for President Obama's second inauguration. He's the first Latino and gay inaugural poet. After the reading, I got volumes of his poetry for two English teachers from high school and for myself a copy of his memoir about his childhood, The Prince of los Cocuyos. His memoir focuses a lot on cultural identity of being both Cuban and American and towards the end it includes some parts about his sexuality as well. A lot of it was funny, like when he tried to have his family do an American style Thanksgiving (which they refer to as Sans Giving). Other parts were more serious, such as his grandmother's extreme homophobia. Overall, I'm very glad I read it.

Right now I'm reading Wake of Vultures, which is a fantasy Western novel taking place in an alternate version of Texas during the 1800s. The protagonist is a half-black, half-Native American sixteen year old who doesn't seem to fit into the gender binary. The beginning was slow going, but it looks like it might be picking up the pace. The mythological creatures she's encountered have all felt very random - vampires, chupacabras, harpies, ect. How does a harpy wind up in Texas? There's no explanation.

70pwaites
Apr 14, 2016, 7:02pm Top

Review of Santa Olivia - here.
Review of And All the Stars - here.
Review of Midnight Robber - here.

I forgot to mention last week that N.K. Jemisin's Kingdom of Gods but couldn't get into it. For some reason it felt almost painful to read. Maybe it's because in the hundred pages I made it through, I didn't care about any of what was happening. Even when the dead bodies were introduced (first glimmer of what I'm guessing is the plot) I didn't care.

Wake of Vultures was basically the protagonist moving from one monster to the next. It'd have been easy for the book to feel dull, but thankfully I liked the protagonist enough that it didn't happen.

Next up was The Palace of Illusions, a retelling of Indian mythology that places one of the female characters at the center of its narrative. It was beautifully written, but my interest began to flag somewhere towards the second half. Possibly part of the problem was that the narrator insists that she's in love with a man whom she's spoken only a few sentences with. It could easily be that this was original to the mythology, and not the fault of the book.

As April 26th and the release of The Raven King draws near, I'm becoming steadily more obsessed with this series. Well, it's more accurate to say that I've always been obsessed with it, but now that it's ending all my feelings for it are coming up strongly. As a result, I checked the third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, out of the library to reread in preparation.

For anyone who doesn't know, The Raven Cycle starts with The Raven Boys and is a YA fantasy series. I really hate the blurb for the back of the first book since it focuses on Blue's (the female protagonist's) romance subplot and completely ignores the main plot of the series! How can it not even mention dead Welsh kings? Anyway, in her book one recap, the author (Maggie Stiefvater) wrote a more accurate if also more informal blurb:

"Four super fancy private school boys (Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah)(collectively richer than most of us) are searching for a legendary Welsh king (Glendower) in the mountains of Virginia. Blue, the town psychic’s daughter (individually cooler than most of us), reluctantly joins their search after discovering during a ritual that Gansey is supposed to die in the next twelve months. When they find a magical forest that messes with time, things start to go to pot as all kinds of Latin-speaking weirdos and psychic creepers show up hoping for a piece of the magical action."


The heart of the series is the friendship between the main characters - Blue, Gansey, Adam, and Ronan. Each one is so well characterized, and the relationship between every single one as well as the group dynamic is given attention. Blue Lily, Lily Blue in particular showed that Blue and Ronan had become friends, which wasn't really true in the prior books (not surprising sense Blue was briefly dating Adam, whom Ronan has a crush on). It also went in more as to Blue's special abilities (she can amplify magic forces) and how finding the impossible through the last two books has led to her admitting that she doesn't want to stay in Henrietta, that she wants to go off and study rain forests and see far away places. But a scene in the school counselor's office left her thinking that maybe magic forests with talking trees were more possible than her hopes for the future coming true...

Another highlight of this Blue Lily, Lily Blue read through for me was Piper. She is completely unexpected. In her first scene, she seems like little more than the antagonist's trophy wife. But by the end, I found her far more dangerous than him. I love this flashback to their engagement:

'“Will you marry me?” she asked.
He thought about it. “I love myself the most, though. Are you okay always coming in second?”
“Samesies,” she replied.'


Since I'd already reviewed Blue Lily Lily Blue, I wrote a post on my questions and speculations for the final book. Beware spoilers.

I'm currently reading Redemption in Indigo, a story based on Senegalese folklore. I'm liking he heroine, Paama, but I think my favorite thing is the slyly humorous narrative voice.

71lynnoconnacht
Apr 15, 2016, 6:48am Top

>70 pwaites: I wasn't a fan of The Kingdom of Gods either, though I did finish it. I read it when it first came out and... remember only that I wasn't very impressed by it. I think most of the peopel I know who've read it absolutely loved it, so I'm glad to hear I'm not alone. ^_^

72kceccato
Apr 15, 2016, 7:42am Top

70: Ooh! I just ordered Redemption in Indigo from Amazon, and it's on its way. Crossing fingers that it's good.

73sandstone78
Apr 15, 2016, 1:36pm Top

>70 pwaites: >71 lynnoconnacht: The Kingdom of Gods ended up being my favorite of the trilogy- I think a big part of that was due to the central romantic relationship through most of the book being m/m rather than m/f, and consequently being much more egalitarian than Jemisin's m/f relationships tend to be. From what I remember, I was frustrated that Shahar was pretty sidelined due to that though. It did take quite a while to ramp up if I remember right.

General frustration about the series- I'm still disappointed that as soon as female protagonists come into their power, they are off-screen and just cameo roles after that, so during the events actually shown on-screen we end up with a lot of super-powerful male characters while all of the women are either dead or sorely out of their depth and can't match up. I'd have liked to see that flipped at least once...

74pwaites
Apr 15, 2016, 3:05pm Top

71> I didn't like the second book as much either, so maybe I shouldn't be too surprised.

73> Do you think it'd be worth continuing if I didn't like the beginning? I'm not a huge fan of Sieh has a narrator either.

I did notice that when Sieh is first trapped as mortal, Shahar is ordered to see to his every wish and basically immediately put beneath him in the power hierarchy. Which felt completely unnecessary, especially the sexual implications.

72> I'm about half way through and still liking it!

75kceccato
Edited: Apr 15, 2016, 3:07pm Top

73: I would still be very happy to see more stories about m/m relationships in which female characters are NOT sidelined, but continue to be very important as friends and allies. When they're shunted off to the side, it's almost as if the book is saying to its female characters, "Since you can't be the love interest, you don't matter. 'Love interest' is the only role a not-evil female character can play in a story with a male protagonist, and since the male protagonist's love interest is another man, hey, we don't need you, women." Gah! That would make me far too angry for me to enjoy other aspects of the book.

76sandstone78
Apr 15, 2016, 4:08pm Top

>74 pwaites: It's been a while since I read it- I don't even remember the part you mention in spoilers, which augh- but I thought the ending tied the whole series together nicely. There's a frustrating power imbalance between Shahar and her brother too- basically, he turns out to be ultra-talented at magic, to a degree which puts him even with Sieh, while- if I recall- she has "political power" but we rarely see her do anything with it until close to the end.

>75 kceccato: I've seen "girl cooties" type of m/m romance as you describe, and this isn't quite that- Shahar is in fact integral to the plot, and in fact from what I remember the entire book- and the resolution of the entire series really- rests on her choices. So the importance was there, she just didn't get as much screen time or focus as I was led to expect from the blurb.

Also, I wish I could spoiler inside a spoiler, but I can't, so SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER: the relationship ends up being m/m/f in the end, with both Shahar and her brother falling in love with Sieh END SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER.

While I really enjoy Jemisin's worldbuilding, disappointingly the pattern in most of her novels seems to be "woman out of her depth must work together with stronger man under unusual constraints," whether the relationship is explicitly romantic in nature or not. She can also be disappointingly gender-essentialist (I am still frustrated with the end of The Shadowed Sun, and is another author lauded for LGB representation where m/m relationships are plentiful but there is hardly any f/f (I know she had one f/f short story, but I can't recall any at all in her novels).

77pwaites
Apr 16, 2016, 11:01am Top

75> Agreed. Although of what I read of Kingdom of Gods, Shahar was involved.

76> I never reached the point where Shahar's brother reappears, so I might try reaching that point at least.

With the power disparity between male and female characters, it's something that I have noticed in the books of her's I've read. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms obviously had it, the second book seemed even worse in that regard... The Fifth Season, which was my favorite book by her, did have it in one of it's three sections. That section was character backstory and it's yet unclear if that will be the dynamic going forward. The powerful male character shows up in the present day section at the very end, but he may be fatally injured? The Fifth Season was another of her books with a m/m/f relationship (in the aforementioned section).

Review of Sister Light Sister Dark - here.

I liked Redemption in Indigo, but I think I'll end up giving it 3 1/2 stars instead of 4. The nature of the story (which feels very much like the folklore that inspired it) meant that the pacing wasn't quite enough to keep me turning the pages. My favorite aspects are still the heroine and the writing style of the narration with it's sly humor and wit.

I was also reading Authority, the sequel to Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation. In Authority, it's revealed that the psychologist of the last expedition was actually the director of the Southern Reach. The new director, Control, arrives with very little knowledge as to what's happening at the Southern Reach. He soon finds that three members of the last expedition have mysteriously returned to their homes (even though they can't remember how they got there) - the surveyor, the anthropologist, and the biologist. He begins interviewing the Biologist, suspecting that she knows more than she recalls.

As with Annihilation, a sense of unease permeates Authority. However, this sequel is a longer book and suffers from the length plus the more ho hum setting of the government agency. Few answers are still provided, but some more clues are gained. I've already requested the last book in the trilogy from the library.

78pwaites
Edited: Apr 18, 2016, 5:24pm Top

Review of The Prince of Los Cocuyos - here.

I gave Kingdom of Gods another try and read until the end of part one. I've decided that I'm definitely going to quit. Here's what I've typed up for my end of month post about books I don't manage to finish:

For whatever reason, reading this last one felt painful. Maybe it's because everything I liked from the first book felt less present, and everything I've disliked about the series has felt magnified. The first book teetered on my thresh hold for "too much romance," particularly with the obnoxiously purple prose that appeared in tangent with the love interest. Kingdom of Gods is a continuation of this trend, complete with a ridiculously over the top sex scene between teenagers. Kingdom of Gods also continues the trend of heroines who are passive and/or significantly less powerful than their immortal male love interests. The narrator of Kingdom of Gods is Sieh, the childlike trickster god from previous books. I didn't care for his narration, although I'd liked him fine in previous installments. The main female character is the heir to the Arameri, Shahar. Not long after Sieh becomes trapped in mortal form and begins losing his powers, Shahar is ordered by her mother to "provide him with anything he desires." I didn't actually quit until the subplot about her being manipulated to have sex with him to create a demon baby. Oh, then he kills like thirty random people (after spending the whole book lecturing her on morality) and she has to use her love to tame his wrath. I promptly noped out of there. Oh, and while there were some glimmers of a nascent plot line, I had already read two hundred pages too many of this book to drag through one more page.

I'm reading Snake Agent instead. It's a science fiction/urban fantasy/mystery set in a chain version of Singapore where Heaven and Hell are both real, and our detective protagonist deals with them on a regular basis. It's all right, but I'm not super enthralled by it. I feel like there are a bunch of different moving parts that are going to come together soon, so maybe my enjoyment will improve then.

I also recently read, The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. It's a prequel to her novel Who Fears Death, which I haven't read. The drawing upon the US's history of morally corrupt medical experimentation on black people (the Tuskegee experiments for instance) was probably the strongest part of the book. Something was niggling at me about the book's treatment of gender, but it wasn't until the very end that I got this particular gem:

"If she had been a male, she'd have controlled her anger, channeled it into righting the world's wrongs, and probably not sprouted troublesome wings."


So she destroyed the world because women can't control their emotions? Urgh.

79kceccato
Edited: Apr 19, 2016, 8:26pm Top

78: Whoa! That book was on my To-Read list. I think now I'll give it a miss, and try one of Okorafor's more optimistic works like Akata Witch or Zahrah the Windseeker. Sure they're YA, but I don't doubt they're beautifully written, and that's what counts.

80zjakkelien
Apr 20, 2016, 12:57pm Top

>78 pwaites: I'm a little shocked! This was not meant sarcastically? Why would anyone want to put something like that in?

81pwaites
Apr 20, 2016, 2:13pm Top

79, 80> No it wasn't sarcastic. It was actually part of a larger paragraph about women and emotions, which I think quoted Shakespeare at one point. I've returned the book to the library, so I don't have the specifics right now. Part of me hopes that the entire paragraph was intended to be only a reflection of the current POV character, but the narrative doesn't do anything to discredit it, and it really doesn't help that the paragraph shows up at the very end of the book...

79> I think Akata Witch might actually be set in the same universe as The Book of Phoenix? One of the characters in Phoenix mentioned the Leopard Society, which I think I remember from Akata Witch. And if I think about it, Akata Witch opens with the protagonist having a vision of the world on fire. To be certain, Akata Witch is still definitely a more cheerful book - it's more middle grade than young adult even.

82pwaites
Edited: Apr 23, 2016, 7:26pm Top

Review of Annihilation - here.
Review of Wake of Vultureshere.
Review of The Palace of Illusions - here.
Review of Authority - here.

Snake Agent never ended up taking off for me. I think it's because I wasn't drawn to either the plot or characters. Even the world building didn't particularly intrigue me, even though it was of the more unusual sort.

I've been keeping up with The Lies of Locke Lamora group read, although I haven't really been posting about it here. I'm on the last section of the book, and things have definitely heated up. If you're interested in reading the discussions, my responses for part 1, part two, and part three of the group read are up on my blog. Beware of spoilers for after part one.

Since there's only about two weeks until the end of the semester, I've decided to stop checking out books from the library and start getting through the members of the TBR pile I brought with me to college. I don't want to be in the position where I've brought unread books with me to Atlanta and then end up bringing them back to Houston, still unread. Also, this way I can dump books that aren't worth bringing back on the communal shelf in the dorm's printing room. Hopefully someone else will enjoy them more than I did.

As part of my "tackle the TBR pile" plan, I've finally got around to reading Emma Bull's War for the Oaks, which I've been meaning to read for years now but never quite gotten to. I can see why people recommend it - it's very well written and definitely one of the better urban fantasy books I've read. I've heard it was very influential to the genre, and I'd like to learn more on that subject. I can definitely see it as influencing books like Holly Black's Tithe.

The last book I checked out of the library this semester was Acceptance, the last book in Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy. It did provide answers as to Area X, although the ending wasn't as concrete as I would have liked.

Right now I'm on another TBR pile book, The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly. I'm not far in, but the book seems to be alternating between the a guard in a fantasy world and a computer programmer in our world. Weirdly enough, I've liked the computer programmer's section better so far. I know that eventually she's going to get sucked into the fantasy world somehow. Even if it wasn't an obvious conclusion of the genre and set up, the back of the book tells me so.

The other members of the physical TBR pile (college edition) are down to Royal Airs, Points of Hopes, and Awakening: The Blood Rock Prophecy by Jason N. Smith. After that I'll be reading the ebooks in the TBR pile's digital equivalent until I get home to the greater masses of books there.

Edit - Has anyone else had their touchstones coming up with weird things lately? Like I try to put in Points of Hope and it automatically goes to something called Music of the Dolphins?

83kceccato
Apr 24, 2016, 12:04pm Top

82: I really need to re-read War for the Oaks. I remember I liked it quite a bit, yet at the same time I can't escape my own idea that urban fantasy as a general rule isn't to my taste. I think I need to stop laying it automatically at the door of the writing or the predominance of "snarky" narrators both male and female. The bottom line is that I prefer fantasy novels set in worlds unlike our own, removed from us by time, place, or both. (Historical fantasy like Sorcerer to the Crown is okay because it's distant enough in time from my actual lived-in world.) I revel in world-building, and settings that are just like our own contemporary landscape but with magic and supernatural creatures mixed in don't have the same appeal. But that has nothing, really, to do with the QUALITY of urban fantasy. I don't doubt there's some superb writing in this genre, and I need to be more open to it, even though I will always like second-world fantasy better.

From what I can recall, I liked Eddi because she was a talented musician, and because while she had a fairly significant sex life, the book didn't revolve entirely around sexcapades (or around crime solving or serial murder, which for me is another plus). Am I remembering right?

84pwaites
Apr 24, 2016, 3:13pm Top

83> Yes, the book didn't revolve around Eddi's sex life. The romance subplot was fairly significant, but the book wasn't paranormal romance.

World building and urban fantasy can vary. A lot of the time it feels like writers are just throwing in all the things they've seen before, like werewolves and vampires with no real thought to how things go together or how they shape the world.

My favorite urban fantasy for world building has to be the Kate Daniels books by Ilona Andrews. The books are set at an undefined point in the future, when magic has returned to the world and alternates with technology. Instead of our world with a secret magic side, the world has been completely transformed. So in essence it's urban fantasy + post-apocalyptic. The books also bring in mythology in some interesting ways and overall create a world that feels complete and well realized.

McKinley's Sunshine is another I love, partly for it's world building. Interestingly, it's another book where everyone in the world knows magic exists. My guess would be that the "everyone knows" urban fantasy books are able to push the world building farther, into a place that's more different from our own version of the world. If I was going to recommend you one urban fantasy book, it'd probably be this one. The heroine is active and crucial to the plot while not being snarky (which Kate Daniels is). She's also got interests beyond the plot of the book - namely, baking and working for her family's coffee house.

Then there's other books that make me wonder about the definition or urban fantasy itself. Take Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. Both use magic in a contemporary setting, but they don't take place in cities or contain any of the staples usually associated with the urban fantasy genre. Then there's books like Duane's Young Wizard series that also involve travel to other worlds and aspects normally considered science fiction, like aliens. Similarly, The Rook draws as much on the superhero genre as it does on more typical urban fantasy. Or what about Gladstone's Craft Sequence? The books have all taken place in cities so far, but the world is far removed from our own (although recognizable traces remain). Or what about City of Stairs, which is in a completely fictional urban setting? Heck, would the Harry Potter books be urban fantasy?

Whenever I try talking about my favorite urban fantasy books, I end up with the same problem I have with epic fantasy. I.e. what even is included in this genre in the first place?

85kceccato
Apr 25, 2016, 8:31am Top

84: Gunmetal Magic is on my To-Read list. It has the female Other as protagonist.
I really don't mind Spoilers on this point: What are Kate Daniels' powers? Does she have supernatural abilities, or is she pretty much the normal girl surrounded by magical beings? Granted, a heroine can be special in ways other than having supernatural or magical powers -- such as Eddi's musicianship, and the culinary skills of the character in Sunshine -- but it would be cool if Kate had powers.

Sunshine is on my shelf already. This one might make a good rotation replacement for Shinn's Heart of Gold once I've finished that one.

86pwaites
Apr 25, 2016, 11:48am Top

85> On Kate Daniels, she DEFINITELY has magic powers. She's the daughter of an immortal being who's practically a god, and she's inherited some of his powers. I don't remember how much of it you see in the first book (which was honestly not that great), since it was only in the second book when her mysterious backstory was actually revealed.

87zjakkelien
Apr 25, 2016, 1:34pm Top

>84 pwaites: It can get a bit murky indeed. Personally, I also count the Charles de Lint Newford books. The few that I have read were very good. Also some of Nina Kiriki Hoffman´s books, like A red heart of memories. They are perhaps not for everyone, but I love them. The magic is beautiful and a bit whimsical and there is a lot of psychological undercurrent. And I just love talking objects! The House is really adorable, and so is the car. Love, love, love.

Oh, and one of my favorites is Child of a rainless year.

88pwaites
Apr 25, 2016, 2:20pm Top

87> I've read The Onion Girl by Charles de Lint and A Fistful of Sky by Nina Kiriki Hoffman. I liked A Fistful of Sky the better of the two, but I've heard that the sequel isn't very good? Maybe I should look into A Red Heart of Memories then.

I looked up Child of a Rainless Year, and you've hit me with a book bullet.

89zjakkelien
Apr 25, 2016, 2:44pm Top

>88 pwaites: Totally worth it! I love that book.

I also heard that the sequel to A fistful of sky is not very good. I never read it, just the first one, and I liked it. But I think I like A red heart of memories more.

90pwaites
Apr 25, 2016, 3:18pm Top

89> I've added it to my TBR list.

91Sakerfalcon
Apr 26, 2016, 7:49am Top

>87 zjakkelien:, >88 pwaites: Child of a rainless year is gorgeous. If you enjoy it, and you also like De Lint's books, give The wood wife by Terri Windling a try.

92zjakkelien
Apr 26, 2016, 4:19pm Top

>91 Sakerfalcon: Yes, I read The wood wife as well and liked it. But Child of a rainless year remains my favorite. Unfortunately I shouldn't read it for a while. I've read it too many times, and when I read books too often, they become too familiar.

93pwaites
Apr 27, 2016, 7:56pm Top

Review of The Book of Phoenix - here.
Review of Snake Agent - here.
Review of Redemption in Indigo - here.
Review of War for the Oaks - here.

I'm 240 pages into The Silent Tower and I've decided it's time to quit. Caris remains utterly boring. Joanna could be all right, but she's not enough to keep me with this book. The plot is dragging painfully, and the writing feels repetitive. For instance, every time Hambly wants to describe something strange and magical happening, she uses the word "queer." Every time! Once they were less than two pages apart! This is not a super common word! Then there's the description of "zebra light"? I get what she was trying to say, but it still feels weird. Also, in the 240 pages I read, Joanna never speaks to another female character. Part of me wants to keep reading to see if it will somehow wind up passing the Bechdel test, but it doesn't feel worth it.

At the same time as I was trudging through The Silent Tower, I started and finished two other books. The first was Acceptance, the last book in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy. Going in I was slightly suspicious that it wouldn't provide any actual answers or conclusion. I was right to be suspicious. While it does tell us that Area X was created by an extinct alien species to terraform, there's no sense of resolution, not even for the characters the series has been following.

The other book was The Raven King.

There's a small story as to how I ended up getting my copy. I'd preordered it from Amazon back in March, but when I checked on the release date (Tuesday), Amazon said that it would be one to three months. My guess is that they didn't get enough copies to hand for all their preorders? Luckily, I remembered that within walking distance was Little Shop of Stories, a children's bookstore. Might they have YA also? Turns out they did! I got a copy on the release day after all and canceled the Amazon order. Plus, I found out that tomorrow night Little Shop of Stories is having an author talk and signing for The Star-Touched Queen, which has generally been on my radar due to buzz from advance reviews.

As for The Raven King itself, it was very good, as I expected. In terms of endings, I thought Adam's and Ronan's plotlines were perfect. Blue's was all right, even if I didn't like it as much. As for Gansey... what exactly happened there? What did Cabeswater do? Is he still the same person, or is he changed somehow? I'm also curious to know how he's going to fill the void in his life left by the completion of the quest. For seven years, hunting for Glendower has been "all there is" to him (well, besides his friendships). What propose will he find in life now? But in a way, I think that's a problem heroes are always left with. So you defeat the evil emperor. What next? For him (as for the other characters as well) this is the start to a new beginning, in addition to an ending. I do wish that the book hadn't gone straight from Gansey's death scene and Cabeswater's sacrifice to the epilogue. I could have used a bit more in between.

I also finished rereading The Lies of Locke Lamora, but my thoughts on that will be going up for discussion post tomorrow.

Next, I'm probably going to pick up Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn. I think it's the sequel to Troubled Waters which I read at some point in high school. It must have been before the end of junior year, because I don't have a review for it.

94clamairy
Apr 27, 2016, 8:49pm Top

>14 Sakerfalcon: >22 pwaites: So it looks like I took a book bullet for The Element of Fire.

>57 pwaites: And a reverse book bullet for Queen of the Tearling which I was looking at recently, and now won't bother with.

And, wow... you are a very prolific reader and reviewer.

95pwaites
Apr 29, 2016, 12:29pm Top

94> I hope you like The Element of Fire.

People seem to have an either love or hate reaction to Queen of the Tearling. Mine was to hate it.

I've actually been able to read more this year than in the last few - college is surprisingly less work than the high school I went to.

Review of The Raven King - here.

I'm only about forty pages into Royal Airs. There's been some references to Troubled Waters... which I've almost completely forgotten. I think I've figured out most of it now though. I was expecting the protagonist to be the woman on the cover, but instead it's a man named Rafe. Unless the POV rotates? Too soon to tell, I guess.

I've also come across a fan made book trailer/music video for the first three books of Stiefvater's Raven Cycle. The quality and quantity of the art are seriously impressive. Along with the book trailer made by an animation student for Max Gladstone's Two Serpents Rise, it's one of the best I've seen.

96imyril
Apr 30, 2016, 7:41am Top

I think you've saved me from reading The Book of Phoenix (book body armour?!) - I haven't been particularly fond of the Nnedi Okorafor I've read so far, and while I thought I'd give read this along with the rest of the Clarke nominees, now... I don't think I'll bother. I haven't particularly enjoyed her other work that I've read, and your comments on this one remind me of my issues with Lagoon.

97pwaites
Apr 30, 2016, 10:40am Top

96> I'm still considering reading Who Fears Death at some point, but it has pretty low priority.

98pwaites
May 4, 2016, 4:08pm Top

Review of Acceptance - here.
Review of The Lies of Locke Lamora - here.

I'm still reading Royal Airs, but I'm thinking about quitting. I'm 140 pages in and the plot's been very slow moving so far. This might be because the book's more focused on the romance between Rafe and Josetta, which I'm not very interested in. There's a sub plot (or is it the main plot?) that was just introduced about someone trying to manipulate the mother of the heir to the throne. Besides that and the world itself, there's not much I find interesting about Royal Airs. Rafe got attacked in an alley at one point (which wasn't even shown) but beyond that doesn't seem to be doing much.

When I was at the signing for The Star-Touched Queen, the bookshop ran out of books! I still want to read The Star-Touched Queen, but I got a copy of Archivist Wasp instead, since I'd heard good things about it here and on the blogosphere.

I am very glad I picked up Archivist Wasp. It's short for a fantasy book - only about 270 pages - but it's got a lot to it. Wasp is the Archivist, hunter of ghosts, in a world four hundred years after the apocalypse. Then she finds a ghost who isn't like the others, one who wants her help looking for the ghost of a fellow solider, a woman named Foster.

Also, Archivist Wasp is the rarest of rare, a YA book with a female lead and no romance. There's not any romance at all - Wasp stays single throughout the entire story and there's never even hints that she'll end up with someone.

In my review, which will be posted on Friday, I compared it to Mad Max: Fury Road. I'm going to go ahead and post the paragraph where I explain why:

The reason I compared Archivist Wasp to Fury Road is that both stories are about dehumanization. Wasp started out as an upstart, a girl whose scars on her face mark her as a servant to the goddess Catchkeep. Every year the upstarts have to draw straws to fight the Archivist. Wasp won the position by killing her predecessor, and for the three years following she's had to kill or be killed. She's treated as a tool, not a person, and she's at least partly internalized that mindset in regards to herself. While their lives were very different, there's some clear parallels between Wasp and the two ghosts. The two ghosts (the unnamed solider and Foster) were super soldiers, created in a lab to win a war. Yet somehow, Foster was able to retain her humanity. It is this that draws the ghost and through his descriptions and memories, Wasp, to her. Archivist Wasp is the story of people who've been used and dehumanized regaining their sense of self.

I'm so glad I heard about Archivist Wasp. In the acknowledgements, the author says she was told over and over again that the book was unmarketable. It's depressing to think that anytime a book does something different than the mainstream, it'll be viewed as "unmarketable" and have such a hard time getting published, if it ever does in the first place.

The other book I've set Royal Airs aside for recently was Fun Home, a graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel (who coined the term "Bechdel test"). It's mainly about her relationship with her father who died when she was twenty, in what was possibly a suicide. In the four months preceding his death, she'd come out as a lesbian and found out that her father was gay.

I've had Fun Home since August but had completely forgotten I'd bought it. I liked it enough that I'm planning on carting it back to Texas with me for the summer. I've yet decided as to whether Royal Airs will become a resident of the dorm's communal bookshelf or not, and I still want to try and give Point of Hopes and Awakening: The Blood Rock Prophecy a go before I head back home for the summer.

99Sakerfalcon
May 6, 2016, 2:01pm Top

I'm glad you enjoyed Archivist Wasp so much. Your analysis is excellent and spot on. I was really impressed with the book when I read it earlier this year. Thank goodness for small publishers who are willing to take a risk on books that don't fit the mould.

I think the main reason to keep going with Royal airs is because it sets up book 3, Jeweled fire, which promises to be a much stronger book. It's on my Tbr pile, so I'll try and get to it soon.

And I really need to read Fun Home.

100pwaites
May 6, 2016, 4:11pm Top

99> You must have been one of the people talking about it here on LT! Thanks for that.

I'm stalled at 150 pages into Royal Airs. At this point it's a question of whether or not I'll be taking it on the plane with me. I should go look at reviews for Jeweled Fire...

Review of Archivist Wasp - here.

Right now I'm reading Point of Hopes, a fantasy mystery. The plot starts off right away (children are going missing, and no one knows why), but at 180 pages in, there's still no clues as to what is happening.

101Sakerfalcon
May 8, 2016, 9:10am Top

I adore Point of hopes and its sequel. I need to read the newer novels in the series that Scott has written on her own. I love the slow build-up and how you are shown the city and society as Rathe goes about his business.

102pwaites
May 8, 2016, 10:15am Top

101> I wouldn't say I'm adoring it, but I'm liking it better than many of the other books I've tried lately and I'm planning on finishing it.

Review of Fun Home - here.

My dad called yesterday at three to tell me that he's decided that the times for plane flights and moving out have been changed to be twenty four hours sooner and that we're not getting a storage locker for over the summer. In the flurry of packing and trying to figure out how on earth everything is going to fit, a couple more books were discarded on the communal dorm shelf, including Royal Airs and War for the Oaks. However, War for the Oaks did get picked up by a friend who's an English major, so it's at least found a new home. I don't know what she'll think of it, since most of her reading is in colonial and post-colonial literature.

I've also now gotten 100% up to date on reviews, mainly since I haven't been finishing as many books lately.

103pwaites
May 11, 2016, 11:25am Top

Review of Perfect State - here.

Yesterday involved the acquisition of new books. I went and got a Houston library card and checked out Luna: New Moon, A Thousand Nights, and The Silvered. I went by Murder by the Book to see if they had any signed copies of Edge of Worlds left, since Martha Wells had a signing there about a month ago. Alas, they did not, but I got Dirty Magic, Leviathan Wakes, and Every Heart a Doorway. And when I went to a local chain bookstore to get a gift for my sister, I did find a copy of Edge of Worlds!

I'm forty pages from the end of Point of Hopes and planning on finishing it today. I don't think it works very well as a mystery, since I'm not sure enough clues as to the fate of the disappeared children were put in place early enough. I am glad that the plot's finally come together and the mystery been mostly figured out.

I have a rough goal of posting something on my blog every other day. Unfortunately, I hadn't been finishing enough books to have a review for Tuesday. I ended up reading a novella I had on my kindle, Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson. I was not impressed. The world building was interesting as usual for Sanderson, but the plot was stale and the narrator annoying.

Last night I finished one of the ARC novels I've been needing to get to, Company Town by Madeline Ashby. It's a science fiction novel set in a future city built around an oil rig. The main character is a half Korean woman with Sturge-Weber Syndrome who works as a bodyguard for the sex workers' union. A new company is buying up the city, and they offer Hwa (the protagonist) the job of guarding the heir, who's been receiving death threats from another timeline (dimension? the future?). Honestly, that plot line was a mess. And at the end, Hwa gets cured of Sturge-Weber. What's even weirder is how she was cured. She slept with her love interest, who had some sort of nanomachines in his blood which had rebuilt his body after a disaster. So... cure by futuristic STI? There's some strange implications there. It reminds me of that scene in Poison Study where the love interest gets poisoned and the protagonist decides that the obvious way to cure him is to have sex with him? And the narrative presents this as the correct and completely logical decision? It reminded me more of a bizarre fanfiction plot point than anything else.

Right now I'm reading Edge of Worlds, and it's wonderful. I've really become fond of this world and these characters. I'm hoping that they'll meet up with Shade at some point, since he was my favorite introduction from the last book.

104sandstone78
May 11, 2016, 1:14pm Top

>103 pwaites: Perfect State is up for a Hugo, so I'll make an attempt to read it... but augh, I am getting "super-competent in every way except... *whisper* around women, because eww, cooties, women are so alien and incomprehensible!" vibes from the blurb that really make me cringe to think of.

Glad to hear good things about Edge of Worlds though! ^^

105pwaites
May 11, 2016, 2:53pm Top

104> I don't see you liking Perfect State.

Edge of Worlds is making me wonder if the books have been getting better or if I've just been getting more familiar with and attached to the characters. I remember when I was reading the first two I had trouble keeping track of all the different secondary characters, but now I have much more of a handle on who everyone is.

It makes me want to go back and reread The Cloud Roads...

106sandstone78
May 11, 2016, 7:24pm Top

>105 pwaites: I don't either, really :)

I noticed the same thing as I read the first Raksura trilogy! The short, similar names were easy for me to confuse, but now that I have a better sense of both Raksura society and most of the characters I'm eager to revisit it sometime. I think The Siren Depths will probably still be my favorite though, it takes a lot of things raised in The Cloud Roads and really makes them more complex and nuanced.

107pwaites
May 13, 2016, 12:11pm Top

106> I'll admit to still sometimes getting Balm/Brier/Branch confused during The Edge of Worlds. I feel like there's a Blossom around somewhere too?

Review of Company Town - here.
Review of Point of Hopes - here.

The Edge of Worlds wasn't a stand alone! It ends on what's pretty much a cliff hanger. Now I have to wait until 2017 to find out what happens.

I also recently finished A Thousand Nights, which is more inspired by One Thousand and One Nights than a retelling of the original frame story. The king's past wives have all died mysteriously, and he's been successively going through the different villages to chose a new wife. The unnamed heroine (almost everyone is unnamed) sacrifices herself to save her older sister. When her sister constructs a shrine to her and makes her a smallgod, the heroine starts gaining unexpected powers that allow her to survive. Probably the best thing about the book was the heroine, who was brave and clever.

I'm currently about 80 pages into Luna: New Moon, a science fiction story about five powerful and rival families who dominate settlement on the moon.

108zjakkelien
May 14, 2016, 5:50am Top

>107 pwaites: *Chuckles* Yes, I do that too. Quite frankly, it is not that difficult to follow even if you don't keep track of which one is which. There are only a few that stand out, and for the others it doesn't matter which one says what and with which one he curls up to sleep and so on. I just find the whole bunch of them supercute. This whole dual society with the excitable flying ones (it's been a while since I read anything on the Raksura, so I've forgotten the names of the two types), and the steady non-flying ones, and the way they all sleep like a bunch of kittens.

Thanks for the warning on the cliffhanger! I'll make sure to wait a bit before picking up The edge of worlds.

109pwaites
May 14, 2016, 12:52pm Top

108> I love your description of the Raksura! Particularly the comparison to kittens. :)

110pwaites
May 18, 2016, 4:34pm Top

Review of The Edge of Worlds - here
Review of A Thousand Nights - here

Luna: New Moon ended up feeling sort of like Game of Thrones on the moon. The set up of a future feudal society, with the five family companies under the lunar development agency, was one of the better ones I've seen. I ended up feeling like most of the book was set up for the second half of the duology. I don't think I liked this one enough to pick up the sequel. The plot was too slow moving (until the cliff hanger at the end) and I never connected to any of the characters.

Moribito: Guardian of Darkness was the sequel to Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit which I read sometime last year. I think I liked this installment slightly less than its predecessor, although it's hard for me to place why.

I recently read and loved Every Heart a Doorway, a novella about what happens to children who go to magical worlds but then wind up back in this world, longing for the magical home they've lost. A woman named Eleanor West runs a school for the stranded teenagers, where at least they can be different together.

"Her parents loved her, there was no question of that, but their love was the sort that filled her suitcase with colors and kept trying to set her up on dates with local boys. Their love wanted to fix her, and refused to see that she wasn’t broken."


Nancy, the protagonist, is a seventeen year old asexual girl who spent six months in a Grecian style underworld. Now the world she's returned to is too bright, colorful and fast. More than anything, she wants to return to the stillness of the world she's lost.

For a story that's under 200 pages, there's a lot to Every Heart a Doorway. I'm still trying to figure out what I'll say in my review, but it's one of the rare books I'll be giving five stars.

I'm currently reading Red Seas Under Red Skies, Between Two Thorns and Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince. The first two are for read alongs. In the case of Between Two Thorns, it's an urban fantasy by Emma Newman, the author of Planetfall. I joined up a week late but am now caught up. I've enjoyed what I've read so far. It reminds me a bit of Sorcerer to the Crown, since the Fae's world feels like something from the Regency era. Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince is the sequel to Dragon Sword and Wind Child. I'm less than a fourth of the way in, but I think I'm going to end up liking it.

111zjakkelien
May 19, 2016, 2:18am Top

Every heart a doorway sounds good! Definitely want to read that one!

112pwaites
May 23, 2016, 12:54pm Top

111> I definitely recommend it!

Review of Luna: New Moon - here.
Review of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit - here.

I did like Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince but I'm sort of annoyed that the heroine ended up doing less than I thought. I had a similar problem with the previous book, and I was hoping this one would be different. Alas, it wasn't.

There's another week of the Between Two Thorns read along left, but I've already sped through to the end. I like how it combines the fantasy of manners, Fae, and historical feel with the modern world. I also liked the heroine, Cathy, a great deal. I wasn't as interested in the mystery side of the plot, but it was all right. There's also enough loose threads hanging that I really want to dive into the next book to find out what happens.

I finally got around to reading the sequel to Zero Sum Game, Half Life. I enjoyed it just as much as the first book, if not more. One of my favorite things about the series is that it's anti-heroine, Cas, a woman with mathematical based superpowers, actually goes through character growth. I was worried that the growth she went through in the first book would be tossed aside by the sequel, but that wasn't at all the case. This book also added in more female characters, as allies as well as villains, which was something I'd noticed was lacking in the first book.

Right now I'm continuing the read along for Red Seas Under Red Skies and also reading two other books. The first is The Fox's Tower and Other Tales, a collection of flash fiction I've seen recommended here in the Green Dragon. These are delightful stories! They're beautiful in their brevity, and they somehow remind me of In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente.

The other book I'm reading is The Shining Court, the third in Michelle West's Sun Sword series. This is an epic fantasy series of the old school, door stopping tradition. For this third volume, the list of characters at the front of the book has mostly been removed. Maybe it got too long? The only characters listed are the Voyani, a traveling people who live within the Dominion. They've appeared before, but they are taking a much larger role in The Shining Court. So far there hasn't been much of the Empire - only Jewel, who's found herself in a bit of a mess. Her wizard-servant Avander turns out to be utterly unlike she thought. She needs to get away from him as fast as possible, but unfortunately she's trapped in his house which doesn't seem to exist fully in this world.

113zjakkelien
May 26, 2016, 4:16pm Top

>112 pwaites: Say, will you stop shooting at me? You just hit me again! Mathematical superpowers...How was I supposed to dodge that?

114pwaites
May 30, 2016, 3:37pm Top

113> Calculate the angle of the book bullet as it flies through the air?

Review of Every Heart a Doorway - here.
Review of Mirror Sword and Shadow Prince - here.
Review of Half Life - here.

This weekend felt like it lasted forever. My mother's parents came into town for my sister's graduation, so I ended up spending a lot of time sitting in the same circle of people talking. We went to the graduation itself, out to eat a couple of times, and a brief walk in a park. Otherwise it was the same room for the last four days. It was exhausting.

I did go to see X-Men Apocalypse with my sister last night. It was fun. Not great, but fun.

I've finished The Shining Court and enjoyed it. In the past, I've quit at about this point in an epic fantasy series because I've realized I didn't care much about the characters or the plot line. Reading The Shining Court made me realize that I do care about what happens in this series, enough that I'm pretty sure I'm going to follow it all the way to the end, barring any catastrophic experiences with the remaining books. For this installment, my favorite element has to be the complicated family relationships between Diora, Sendari, and Teresa.

I also read Cast in Shadow, which is by the same author under a different name. It's set in a medieval fantasy world but feels completely like urban fantasy. There's a few world building issues (how does the protagonist have a piles of laundry lying around her apartment if the textile industry hasn't been industrialized yet?). I'm also not thrilled with the developing love triangle. One of the men is that super powerful male character who makes all sorts of choices relating to the protagonist without ever informing her. Such as making some sort of magical tattoo on her cheek that marks her as his consort. Does he tell her what the mark means? Nope, she has to find it out from someone else. The other one is a man from her past whom she tried to kill when she first met him again. I figured there was some Great Misunderstanding but turns out she tried to kill him because she thought he killed two children. And she was right, he actually killed two children. The narrative tries to justify it in that by doing so he may have saved the world for weird magic plot reasons. I don't care. He still killed two innocent kids and there's no way on Earth I'm rooting for this guy. I'm not planning on continuing with this series.

Right now I'm about a fourth of the way through The House of Shattered Wings, an alternate history fantasy novel taking place among the magical ruins of Paris and the fallen angels who rule it.

115kceccato
May 31, 2016, 5:48am Top

114: Okay, I have to get a Spoiler. Bryan Singer's X-Men films have never been friendly to women, so I'm ill inclined to see the movie anyway, but I need to know, what's his justification for making Storm a villain? They finally find a more interesting actress than Halle Berry to play her, and she's evil! What's up with that?

116pwaites
May 31, 2016, 11:34am Top

115> That's the weirdest part of the whole movie! The character motivations in general are pretty horrible or nonexistent, but I still have no idea why Storm was a villain. She had a Heel Face Turn right at the end, but why was she going along with the main villain in the first place?

117kceccato
May 31, 2016, 12:51pm Top

116: I don't think Singer really believes in heroines, if the best he can do is Mystique (who's SUPPOSED to be a villain).

118pwaites
May 31, 2016, 1:47pm Top

117> The young Jean Grey was introduced in this one, and she did end up having a prominent role. Other than that... Mystique had dialog. Mira had dialog. Storm had about one scene's worth of dialog. There were a few other female characters but none of them really said much. It scrapped a Bechdel pass due to one conversation between Jean Grey and Mystique.

Also... it gave Magneto a wife and daughter. Predictably they died, fueling his rage against the human race.

119zjakkelien
Jun 1, 2016, 5:01pm Top

>114 pwaites: weird magic plot reasons
Hahahaha!

120pwaites
Jun 1, 2016, 6:13pm Top

119> If I'm understanding it correctly, the protagonist was or had the potential to be a magical super weapon and the ritual deaths of children (especially ones she was close to) were needed to activate her? Of course, why did the love interest killing the two other kids she lived with stop it? Couldn't the vampire dragon thing (my general understanding of the villain) have chosen two other kids from her neighborhood? Or did it and it's cult of evil elf zombies sit around for eight years waiting for her to befriend a child within the right age range?

121zjakkelien
Jun 2, 2016, 2:27am Top

>120 pwaites: Shoot, I only re-read this one recently, but I forgot the details...

If I remember correctly, The killing was done to re-write the magical signs on her skin, to turn her into something presumably evil? Or was that only the second time around? I don't know why the evil whatever didn't just pick other children. Like you said, weird magic plot reasons...

I'm not quite sure if Lord what's-his-name, oh, Nightshade, is a love-interest, by the way. I read maybe 3 books, and didn't progress far enough to see if it ever came to that...

122pwaites
Jun 2, 2016, 1:15pm Top

121> From what I've seen of reviews of later books, it looks he might be? Some of the reviews are mentioning him in a romantic context, but there's more that are talking about Severn.

What did you think of the three books you read?

Review of Between Two Thorns - here.

I liked The House of Shattered Wings but was never super excited by it. It's hard to put my finger on why exactly, but I think I never cared about the characters. Even when a main character died, I was left cold. That said, I would like to see more of the world de Bodard has created, so if she writes more books in this setting, I may give them a go.

Another book I read recently was The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino, a retelling of the Japanese myth of Izanagi and Izanami. I liked learning more about the myth, and in retrospect, it was interesting how another book I read this year, Dragon Sword and Wind Child, used it. I did think that there was too much telling instead of showing. Emotions are expressed by having the narrator state things like "I had never felt such hatred and betrayal" to the point where it gets repetitive.

Today was the last day of the Red Seas Under Red Skies read along. All of my posts for it can be foundhere if you're interested.

On reflection, I enjoyed The Lies of Locke Lamora more than Red Seas Under Red Skies. Even though I complained about The Lies of Locke Lamora's gratuitous use of interludes, it still had better pacing than Red Seas Under Red Skies, and I think the story line tied together a lot better.

123zjakkelien
Jun 3, 2016, 1:18am Top

>122 pwaites: I think I really liked them, but I did stop reading, so maybe it was a bit too much after a while. I loved the different races, that I do remember. In one of the next books, you learn more about the taalani (or however you spell that ) and the lion types. The world is quite rich.

124imyril
Jun 5, 2016, 7:08am Top

Thank you whole-heartedly for saving me from any lingering curiosity about X-men: Apocalypse. I wasn't that curious, but do have reserves of affection for the X-men. I think it's better for that affection if I pretend this one doesn't exist ;)

I really am going to have to bump Every Heart a Doorway off my wishlist and onto my TBR though...

125pwaites
Jun 5, 2016, 6:29pm Top

124> If you ignore that the plot and character motivations don't make much (if any) sense, it's an okay, if not very good, movie. Nightcrawler and Quicksilver were probably my favorite parts.

Review of The Shining Court - here.
Review of The Fox's Tower and Other Tales - here.
Review of The House of Shattered Wings - here.

I am yet again behind on reviews. I've been procrastinating on writing one for Cast in Shadow, since I always find it hardest to review books I was "meh" on.

I've started Any Other Name, the second book in Emma Newman's Split World urban fantasy series. I'm about a fourth of the way in, but it's looking like this book will be centered around London (and it's Nethers equivalent). My first post for the read along of it will go up tomorrow.

Burndive is the sequel to Karin Lowachee's Warchild, which I read and loved earlier this year. I knew going in that Burndive was following another protagonist, and I was concerned about how much I would like it with a different lead. While I don't think I loved Burndive as much as Warchild, I loved it a lot. The protagonist, Ryan, is the son of Captain Azercon from the previous book. He's rich, spoiled, and sort of bratty. He would be so easy to hate, and it's a testimony to Lowachee's skill of characterization that I didn't.

I do wonder why Burndive gets listed as "GLBT" on Goodreads, since the male protagonist only ever demonstrates attraction to women. And for that matter why was Warchild listed as M/M romance? There was a male character who had a crush on the male lead, but there was no romance between them!

My other read lately was Man Tiger, a literary Indonesian novel that opens with the news that a local young man has murdered his next door neighbor. Instead of moving directly forward, the novel moves between different scenes in the past to slowly explain what occurred. I liked the innovation of the structure, but not much else. It wasn't really my sort of book.

Right now I'm reading Smoketown, a science fiction novel set in a future city state in Kentucky, where birds have been outlawed due to a past disease. I'm only at the very beginning, but the main character has demonstrated magical powers by... accidentally creating two birds. Oops! The feeling I'm getting for it right now is "if Charles de Lint wrote dystopia."

126Sakerfalcon
Jun 8, 2016, 2:24pm Top

Your review of House of shattered wings almost completely matches my reaction to it. It was an interesting book, but one that spoke to my head not my heart. I'd like to read more set in the world, but with characters who I care about. They don't need to be nice or good, just to engage me.

127pwaites
Jun 8, 2016, 3:19pm Top

126> I'm still trying to figure out why precisely I didn't engage with the characters from The House of Shattered Wings. Maybe they could have had their flaws pushed farther, being messier and more interesting? Or maybe they could have had more connections to each other?

Review of Cast in Shadow - here.

I enjoyed Smoketown for its atmospheric world and characters. The plot did end up feeling thin, but I don't think it was the focus of the book anyway. I really wish more people had heard of this one.

The Ghost Bride is a historical fantasy set in colonial Malaysia among a Chinese community. The main character is a seventeen year old girl from a declining merchant family, Li Lan. She receives a marriage proposal - for the dead son of a wealthy family. The ghost marriage is intended to calm the son's restless spirit, but Li Lan is opposed to the idea for fairly obvious reasons. She begins to be haunted by the prospective fiancee, leading her into a shadowy world of ghosts and spirits.

I liked this one quite a bit, although I'm still trying to come up with the words to describe precisely why. I think the heroine and her narrative voice had something to do with it. The setting was also vividly described and atmospheric, and I liked her journey into the afterlife, which I wasn't expecting.

I'm currently reading an ARC, Ninefox Gambit. The story drops you straight into a complex world, and there's definitely a learning curve at the beginning. I powered through the first chapter and it got easier from there. It's a military science fiction set in a far, far future where many planets are ruled by the Hexarchate, a totalitarian government of six divisions that is constantly putting down "heresies," rebellions. The main character is Kel Cheris, a captain of the military division. When Cheris herself uses "heretical" methods in battle, she is given a last chance to possibly redeem herself by devising a plan on how to recapture an important fortress overtaken by heresy. She proposes bringing the Hexarchate's greatest general out of storage. Shuos Jedao is a brilliant tactician who's never lost a battle, but before being turned immortal by the Hexarchate, he went mad and killed his own army as well as the enemy's.

Part of what made the book initially confusing (and which is still a bit difficult to grasp right now) is that it seems to be using Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The Hexarchate relies upon a special calendar and mathematical equations to give them an edge in battle through the use of "formations." Different marching formations produce different effects, such as shielding the troops from weather for instance. The heretics make changes to the calendrical equations, which subverts the Hexarchate's effects.

128imyril
Jun 8, 2016, 7:10pm Top

>127 pwaites: I totally rationalised Ninefox Gambit as 'maths as magic' to stop myself getting hung up on how it was meant to work. It made it way easier to just enjoy the story and politics :) I very much enjoyed Jedao, Cheris and the servitors.

129pwaites
Jun 9, 2016, 3:51pm Top

128> There was a certain part where it clearly stated that the Calendar was powered by belief systems. It basically does seem like magic but with some science fiction trappings.

130tottman
Jun 9, 2016, 5:58pm Top

>127 pwaites: >128 imyril: I'm about a third of the way through Ninefox Gambit right now and it is a little dense. I'm enjoying it though. Glad to see you are both liking it too.

131pwaites
Jun 9, 2016, 6:24pm Top

130> "Dense" is an apt description.

I don't think military science fiction is really my subgenre, but I liked it regardless.

132pwaites
Edited: Jun 13, 2016, 2:57pm Top

Review of The Goddess Chronicles - here.
Review of Man Tiger - here.
Review of Red Seas Under Red Skies - here.

I've finished some more books lately and started others. I've finished....

Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith.

I think my expectations were too high. I'd heard a lot of good things about it so was super hyped to read it. Yet I found the book so-so. Xhea is a magicless outcast living in the shadows of the floating towers above. However, she does have an unique ability: Xhea can see ghosts. Then Xhea meets Shai, the ghost a Radiant, a person with so much magic that they are used as power generators by the towers, even beyond death. Now Xhea has found herself in the towers sight lines.

I'm not sure why Radiant never grabbed me. It's nice to have a book (especially YA) that focuses on the friendship between two female characters, but I never strongly connected with either Xhea or Shai. I also think the pacing didn't flow as well as it could have - there was a lot of stopping and starting.

The Devourers by Indra Das.

I have very little idea how I'm going to end up reviewing this one. It's the sort of book that more calls for a paper and literary analysis, not a review that avoids spoilers.

In Kolkata, India the narrator, Alok, encounters a man who claims to be half-werewolf. Alok ends up agreeing to transcribe a series of texts for the mysterious stranger. From those texts come the story of man eating shapeshifters in 17th century Mughal India. I nearly quit a fourth of the way through. The first transcribed text is written by one of those shapeshifters who claims that he's tired of destroying life and wants to create it. To do so, he rapes a human woman. I might have quit, but as soon as the narrative returned to the present day, Alok voiced many of the same complaints I had. Then the next text turned out to be written by Cyrah, the human woman, who's story makes up most of the rest of the book.

I'm still trying to figure out what I will say about The Devourers. Here's what I have so far: The Devourers is a literary yet extremely brutal book dealing with gender, sexuality, race, and humanity's capacity for monstrous acts.

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley.

This is a collection of essays by SFF writer Kameron Hurley. Her best known essay (which appears in this collection) is "We Have Always Fought", which won a Hugo award.

Some of the essays I had already read before, such as the one on Mad Max: Fury Road. Others were either new to me or written specifically for the collection. I've previously wasted a lot of time on the internet reading Hurley's essays, so it's no surprise I liked this collection.

Right now I'm actually juggling three different books. For the read along, I'm continuing to read Any Other Name, the second book in Emma Newman's Split Worlds series. After finishing The Devourers, I picked up Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria. It's a very descriptive, slow paced story that I haven't really been in the right head space for the last two days. I needed something lighter, so I started an ARC novel, The Invisible Library. I saw it listed as YA but the main characters seem older than teenagers.

133pwaites
Jun 21, 2016, 6:16pm Top

Review of Ninefox Gambit - here.
Review of Burndive - here.
Review of Smoketown - here.
Review of The Ghost Bride - here.
Review of Radiant - here.

I ended up abandoning A Stranger in Olondria. It's very pretty, but I never connected to the characters or felt much of an investment in the plot.

The Invisible Library was all right, but I found myself skimming the last third. I liked the idea of a secret library out of time that collects books from alternate realities, but the reality the book was set in turned out to be a steampunk alternate. I'm not a huge steampunk fan. There's a few steampunk stories I've liked, but they tend to be ones that do something a bit different than what's standard for the genre.

Another ARC I read lately was Foz Meadows's An Accident of Stars, which comes out on August 2nd. It's a queer feminist portal fantasy with the four POV characters all female, ranging in age from 11 to 55. The novel starts with Saffron, a high school student in Australia, following a strange woman through a portal into another world. The woman, Gwen, has been traveling between worlds since her twenties. While she was originally from Earth, she's found her home in the world beyond the portal, Kena. Before the start of the book, Gwen was involved with Kena's politics, and she was partly responsible for a man named Leoden becoming king. But Leoden betrayed earlier negotiations and killed a rival to seize power. Now Gwen and her allies are being hunted by him.

An Accident of Stars isn't without it's flaws. I didn't find Leoden a very compelling villain, although his consort Vex’Mara Kadeja certainly made an impression. The plot also wasn't great, and there was never any sense of urgency. There was also some info dumping by means of Saffron asking questions and having world building info explained to her. But on a whole, it's a book I enjoyed. I loved both the world building and the characters. I didn't realize how connected I'd gotten to them until the end when an unexpected character death made me all emotional.

I also read Stories of the Raksura: Volume 2, which I enjoyed as much as I expected. I love the raksura.

Right now I'm alternating between three books, which I've found to be my limit for how many I can read at once. I'm still reading Any Other Name for the weekly read along. Next week is the last week in the read along, but I haven't gotten to the last fourth of the book yet.

In paper form I'm reading Stiletto, the sequel to The Rook. Somehow it completely slipped my mind that Stiletto was released last week! I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like it as much since it's focusing on two new protagonists instead of Myfanwy. However, I'm enjoying the two new characters and the plot line involving the merging of the Checquy and the Grafters.

On Kindle I'm reading another ARC, this time Tremontaine. It's a Serial Box story, so each section was originally put up individually online, sort of like the weekly format of a TV show. It's the prequel to Swordspoint, so Ellen Kushner is involved, obviously, but there's a lot of new authors brought in as well. I'm mostly liking it so far, but I've found that my enjoyment can vary depending on who's writing which sections. Part seven felt painful at times.

134imyril
Jun 25, 2016, 10:52am Top

>133 pwaites: I had a similar reaction to The Invisible Library, but ended up with an ARC of the sequel (The Masked City) and found it much better: faerie romp rather than steampunk Victoriana.

I'm glad you're enjoying Stiletto - I am also working through Tremontaine (but am sticking to one chapter a week, so have only got 3 chapters in so far). Your comments on An Accident of Stars intrigue me - it's on my To Read list when it comes out (I didn't score an ARC for that one).

135kceccato
Edited: Jun 25, 2016, 11:32am Top

134: Is the whole "Not Like Other Girls" thing less of an issue in The Masked City than it is, I've heard/read, in The Invisible Library? Does it introduce some positively portrayed female characters other than the heroine?

I have grown so tired of books in which female characters don't interact at all or all the interactions between female characters are hostile that I've started actively to avoid those books and to remove them from my TBR when I learn it's a factor. The Invisible Library was on one of the higher rungs of my TBR ladder, as was A Darker Shade of Magic, but both of them have been, if not knocked off the ladder altogether, moved to a considerably lower rung since I received warning of the "Not Like Other Girls"/Smurfette Principle factor in both of them.

136pwaites
Jun 25, 2016, 1:20pm Top

134> Maybe I'll give The Masked City a try then. I should check and see if the library has a copy.

Stiletto was so much fun! It's got humor, action, multiple female characters who interact with each other (gasp!), and it's widely imaginative and avoids the normal formulas of urban fantasy. Tremontaine was also fun, but it made me crave chocolate. I hope you like An Accident of Stars when it's released! I've got a review already written but I'm waiting to publish it until two weeks before the release date.

135> "Not Like Other Girls" is always super annoying. Also completely true for A Darker Shade of Magic, more so than for The Invisible Library.

Review for The Geek Feminist Revolution - here.
Review of The Invisible Library - here.

This Monday is the last day in the read along for Any Other Name, which I've already finished. This series is really one serialized story. The individual volumes to contain their own arcs but everything's deeply tied together. Any Other Name has made some choices that I didn't expect, and my feelings on them are very much dependent on how things play out in the future. I.e. if Will and Cathy get some sort of happily ever after I will scream and throw things.

I've also read the new Claire North novel, The Sudden Appearance of Hope. The story focuses on a woman who no one can remember. Every-time people meet her, they think it's the first time they've every seen or spoken to her. She makes a living by using this odd ability/curse to steal. In the course of a diamond heist, she stumbles onto a greater conspiracy. A company has invented an app called Perfection, which accesses massive amounts of data on its users and gives them points so that they get closer to being "perfect." Thus along with being a fast paced thriller, The Sudden Appearance of Hope, also criticizes the notion of perfect and what society sees as perfect.

The examination of "perfection" was something I really liked about the book. However, maybe I've read too much by Claire North. I can see similarities to the other books I've read by her, and the writing started to feel pretentious. The given explanation for the abundance of references to history, science, literature, everything is that Hope tries to fill the emptiness inside her with knowledge. It still feels off that a fairly average sixteen year old transforms this way by the time she's twenty-four.

There's also been two books that I've started but decided to quit.

Dirty Magic is an urban fantasy where the magic is potions. There's legal potions and illegal potions. The action girl narrator is a police officer who was formally a criminal but is now on a task force to track down a dangerous new potion. And yes, the potions are basically street drugs. There was nothing that was horrible about Dirty Magic exactly, but it was just so formulaic that I was bored to pieces.

Johannes Cabal the Necromancer is a British humor sort of fantasy book about a necromancer who sold his soul to Satan but then decides he wants it back. He makes a new deal - if he can convince a hundred people to sign over their souls within the span of a year then he gets his back. To aid him, he also has a traveling carnival. The beginning was really promising. It was funny and seemed to be going places. But it slowly slid downwards. There are long sections that are just boring. Plus it's one of those books that seem unaware that women are people. I quit just over half way through.

I'm currently reading The Dead House, a YA paranormal/horror (or maybe just psychological?) book that's told mainly through diary entries and fictional documents. I don't usually like this format, but it's okay so far. The focus is on a girl who's been diagnosed with Dissociate Identity Disorder. Carly exists during the day, and at night Kaitlyn is in control. The two communicate by leaving notes to each other. The book is supposedly compiled after an incident where three teenagers die in a fire and one goes missing. Kaitlyn is believed to have set the fire.

137lynnoconnacht
Jun 27, 2016, 3:59pm Top

>136 pwaites: I very readily admit that I have scoured every review of All Is Fair that I could find to see the fall-out of that particular spoiler because I, too, will scream and throw things if that happens. ^_^;;; I didn't find out much, alas.

138pwaites
Jun 27, 2016, 4:22pm Top

137> My guess is that there's little resolution to anything in All Is Fair. From what I've heard, there's five books. Maybe more? Who knows how long it'll take to have any of these plot threads resolved.

139pwaites
Jun 30, 2016, 6:24pm Top

Review of Tremontaine - here.
Review of The Devourers - here.
Review of Stories of the Raksura Volume 2 - here.

I probably should have quit reading The Dead House since it wasn't very good. I ended up finishing it since I'd abandoned the two books before it and wanted to finish something.

Plain Kate is a middle grade (or YA?) fantasy novel that ended up reminding me of the work of Diana Wynne Jones. It started off seeming like a fairly light story but then it got me so emotional! The main character, Kate, is the orphaned daughter of a wood carver in a land terrified by witches. The crops start failing and Kate knows that she's likely to be called a witch and become a scapegoat for the community's troubles and killed in the process. Even worse, a mysterious man who's an actual witch seems to be directing attention to her. She makes a bargain with for the goods she needs to leave the town and in exchange gives him her shadow. The question of what he wants the shadow for will arise later. It's also notable because one of the most important relationships is Kate's friendship with another girl, which is pretty rare for YA fantasy.

I finally got around to reading Broken, a dystopian superhero book that's been in my TBR for who knows how long. A baby boy is prophesied to either bring great harm or great good to the world. A teenage boy with psychic powers, Micheal, is trying to get the baby off planet but sees that he will only be successful if he has the help of a former super heroine, Broken. The book wasn't super great, but it was fast paced and entertaining. I'd consider reading the sequels, but it stands well enough on it's own that I don't feel an overwhelming need to.

I ended up reading another superhero book after it, Heroine Complex, an ARC I got through Netgalley. It's basically superheros meet chick lit. The narrator is a personal assistant for San Francisco's resident superheroine, Aveda Jupiter. The book starts with the narrator, Evie Tanaka, live streaming Aveda fighting demonic cupcakes. That should give you some idea of the tone of the book. Basically, it's a beach read.

I'm currently about half way through Emilie and the Hollow World, a YA book by Martha Wells. Like everything I've read by Martha Wells, I'm enjoying it. It's sort of steampunk but the world isn't some version of our own. The main character is a girl who runs away from home but stows away on the wrong ship and ends up on a rescue mission heading to the inside of their hollow world, where strange creatures dwell. I'm really liking the protagonist, Emilie. She's got this interpret spirit I love.

I've also just visited a used book store and have acquired yet more books for my TBR. At least I sold more books than I bought. My acquisitions are:

- Cagebird by Karin Lowachee. I was so happy to find this one! It was the #1 book on my TBR list. What are the odds?
- Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. This volume is actually the two books in the duology combined. I think I've heard people here in the Green Dragon say good things about it?
- Daughter of Witches by Patricia C. Wrede. I loved Dealing with Dragons as a child, so why not try one of her adult fantasies?
- Son of the Shadows by Juliet Mariller. I've been slow to get the sequel to Daughter of the Forest since hearing that the protagonist was different, but I've finally got a copy.
- The Sun Sword by Michelle West. This is actually the 6th in the series. I need the 4th and 5th. But I'm reasonably confident that I'll want to read the whole series, and this way I'll have the last book on hand.

I was hoping that this summer I would get through some of the books I've had for forever on the TBR stack, although I didn't make any specific plans in this area. I've got a couple of books by Mercedes Lackey, whom I've never read, that have been on there for years now. Also Kate Eliott's King's Dragon is possibly coming up at the three year mark. Ditto Oath of Fealty, Relevation Space, Banner of the Damned, and The Once and Future King. No idea how long The Gunslinger's been on the pile, but since the news that it's getting a movie, I've been thinking I should pull it out sooner rather than later. I prefer to read the book before I see the movie.

140Sakerfalcon
Jul 4, 2016, 11:32am Top

>139 pwaites: I really loved Crown duel, which I own in two volumes. I can never decide which one I like best! I should reread it to see if I still love it as much as when I first read it.

141pwaites
Jul 6, 2016, 8:35pm Top

Review of Stiletto - here.
Review of Any Other Name - here.
Review of Heroine Complex - here.
Review of The Dead House - here.

140> I just finished Crown Duel and Court Duel. They remind me a lot of Sharon Shinn's books, although I think they ultimately weren't my type of story. The first was fast paced with the constant twists and turns of her escape, but it didn't go much beyond the simple entertainment for me. The second one initially looked to be more promising what with the court intrigue, but I didn't find the plot very exciting or interesting. I do like how the heroine gains some self awareness over the course of the story.

Besides Crown Duel, I also read Cagebird this last week. I would easily call it the weakest of the three books in the series (starts with Warchild. It seemed more focused on all the horrible stuff in the protagonists past instead of on his future and a healing arc. I also thought the flashbacks took up way too much of the book.

Right now I'm reading Fire Logic, which I'm liking so far. The summary on the inside of the cover immediately made me think of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Water! Earth! Fire! Air! Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked! The actual book doesn't seem to have much in common with the show besides the elemental magic system and the "fight against the conquers" plot.

142Narilka
Jul 7, 2016, 2:56pm Top

>141 pwaites: I'm about to start Stiletto tonight! Does your review contain spoilers? I'm afraid to click the link :)

143pwaites
Jul 7, 2016, 5:26pm Top

142> My review contains spoilers for the first book, The Rook. The only spoilers for Stiletto are regarding the first chapter.

I hope you like it!

144Narilka
Jul 8, 2016, 8:27am Top

>143 pwaites: Started Stiletto. That first chapter made me giggle. Based on your review I'd say I'm in for an enjoyable read.

145pwaites
Jul 14, 2016, 9:30am Top

Review of The Sudden Appearance of Hope - here.
Review of Plain Kate - here.
Review of Broken - here.
Review of Emilie and the Hollow World - here.

I ended up enjoying Fire Logic a lot. Unfortunately, while the local library has books 1 and 3, it does not have book 2. I'll probably order it online later this summer.

After Fire Logic, I felt like picking up an ARC of The Guns of Empire that I received through Netgalley. One the signs of a series that I've really grown to love is that I adore the supporting cast as well as the protagonists. That's most definitely true with the Shadow Campaigns series. There's so much I want to say about this fourth book but can't because of spoilers! It ends on a cliffhanger that's driving me crazy. The next book's going to be wild.

Karen Memory's been on my radar for a while, but I just now got around to reading it. It was...okay. Nothing about it really spoke to me, but I didn't hate it either. It felt like one of those books that I could walk away from at any point.

Next I read The Scorpion Rules, a YA dystopia that I liked a bit better. The world building's a mess, but I really like the narrator, Greta, and the end of the book did go some places that I didn't expect.

The latest book I've read is another ARC, Ghost Talkers, a historical fantasy about the British army using mediums during WWI to take intelligence reports from dead soldiers. My feelings on this one are similar to my feelings on Karen Memory. I read through the book easily enough, but I never got emotionally invested in the plot or characters. I'm still trying to puzzle out why.

The last book of this library haul is The Star-Touched Queen, so I'll probably read that next.

146pwaites
Jul 22, 2016, 2:41pm Top

Review of Cagebird - here.
Review of Crown Duel - here.
Review of Court Duel - here.
Review of An Accident of Stars - here.
Review of Fire Logic - here.

I abandoned The Star-Touched Queen. The prose style was very lyrical, but the plot wasn't capturing me and the heroine had strong vibes of "Not Like Other Girls."

Instead I turned to another ARC, Of Sand and Malice Made, which is a prequel to Twelve Kings of Sharakhai. Of Sand and Malice made was three closely related short stories about Çeda, a heroine of the other book. I thought the world and characters had potential, but I had trouble staying interested. I kept putting the book down to read other things. For it's short length, it took me much longer than usual to finish. I still have to figure out what I'll say in my review.

One of the books I ended up reading at the same time as Of Sand and Malice Made was The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a graphic novel about two figures from the history of computers, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. I loved this one so much! It was funny and informative at the same time, and the author was clearly passionate about her subject matter. I picked it up due to hearing good things about it here in the Green Dragon, so thanks to everyone who recommended it!

Another book I read recently was Pantomime, a YA fantasy novel about an intersex teenager who runs away to join the circus. I enjoyed it more than I was expecting to, probably due to the easy reading style and instantly connecting to the main character, Micah. I'd put it at about a 3 and 1/2 stars. My main concern about it is that Micah's magical powers are linked to being intersex, which is treated like some sort of magical/mythical creature within the world building.

I finished reading the third Split Worlds book, All Is Fair. I'm going to hold off on writing my review until after the read along group's discussion of it on Monday.

I felt like rereading a book I knew I'd enjoy, so I picked up Three Parts Dead since the sequel, Four Roads Cross, is about to come out. I still love this book. On second read through, I've been noticing more of the world building details. I'm pretty sure that the Craft Sequence world is a highly alternate version of our own. Dresdial Lex from Two Serpents Rise seems to be in California somewhere (possibly alternate version of LA). I'd heard that Alt Columb was French, but on reread it's clearly on the East Coast of the US. Tara herself seems to be from somewhere within North America. I'm also concluding that the corresponding time in history is earlier. I'd thought it was analogous to modern day, but now I'm thinking it's 1920s at the latest.

Oh, and this reread reaffirmed my love for Elayne Kevarian. She just seems so competent and in control, and I feel like it's rare that the mentor figure gets to be female. Actually, you could probably make some comparisons to Dumbledore for the "master manipulator" aspect. I may or may not have made some fan art of her.

I'm currently reading another ARC, The Timeseer's Gambit. It's the sequel to The Deathsniffer's Assistant which I read in August or September of 2015. It's a fantasy mystery series following Christopher Buckly, an assistant to the deathsniffer (detective with a paranormal knack for the job) Olivia Faraday. I'm about fifteen percent in, and I realize that I forgot how much I enjoyed the characters last time. Olivia particularly appeals to me for her combination of genius and lack of social skills (she's got a bit of a female Sherlock Holmes thing going). Right now she's enthusing about having her very first serial killer case. There's also some mysteries surrounding our protagonist, Chris. There's another character who says they used to know each other but that he can't remember. He also demonstrated some mysterious powers at the end of last book which have yet to be explained.

147pwaites
Jul 29, 2016, 4:43pm Top

Review of The Scorpion Rules - here.
Review of Karen Memory - here.
Review of The Guns of Empire - here.
Review of All Is Fair - here.
Review of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage - here.

I read an ebook I had lying around on my Kindle, The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter. It was fast paced and fairly fun, one of the better steampunk sort of books I've read. I tend to have a fondness for rogue type characters, and Elizabeth (the narrator) falls into that category. She grew up in a circus learning different illusions and slight of hand tricks. Her greatest illusion of all is that she lives a split life, pretending to be a fictional twin brother so that she can live independently.

Borderline by Mishell Baker was an urban fantasy book that I'd been hearing a lot about lately. It did not disappoint! It's set in LA, where the fay have involvement in Hollywood. What makes the book such a stand out is it's messy, almost unlikable female protagonist, Millie. Six months before the start of the book, Millie (who's diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder) tried to kill herself by jumping off a seven story building. She lived but lost both her legs. The novel begins with her in the mental hospital, receiving a very mysterious job offer from a group called the Arcadia Project. She accepts the job and soon learns about magic and the fay living within our world. One of the more interesting revelations of the book is that the Arcadia Project recruits mainly people with mental health issues for reasons of plausible deniability. If any of them go rogue and start revealing everything they've learned, no one will believe them.

A Little Knowledge by Emma Newman is the fourth book in the Split Worlds series. I read it as an ARC, the book is released on the 2nd of August. I think it may have been my favorite installment in the series.

This morning I finished reading Ammonite by Nicola Griffith, a 90's science fiction novel that won both the Tiptree and the Lambda awards. I thought the beginning was really promising with all this mounting tension, but I don't feel like the book lived up to it. Maybe it was just too slow paced? I also thought that outside of the protagonist, characterization felt very flat.

Next I'll probably read either The Drowning Girl or Dark Orbit, since those are the two library books I haven't gotten to yet.

148kceccato
Jul 31, 2016, 8:53am Top

The Guns of Empire. Want it. Want, want, want, want, want it. Wexler's Shadow Campaigns is on the fast track to becoming my favorite of all currently-running fantasy series. Your review makes it clear the new book won't let me down.

149pwaites
Jul 31, 2016, 8:19pm Top

148> I can't wait until other people read it so I can start talking to them about it!

150Sakerfalcon
Aug 2, 2016, 5:53am Top

>147 pwaites: So glad you enjoyed Borderline! It really is a great book, and I would happily read sequels.

I read Ammonite a few years ago and remember finding it a bit of a slog in places. I do want to reread it as I remember some good ideas, and am hoping it will flow more easily second time around.

151zjakkelien
Aug 2, 2016, 11:26am Top

I liked Ammonite a lot. I don't remember the slog, but I'm sure you are right about that. I just liked the world a lot.

152pwaites
Aug 2, 2016, 1:03pm Top

150> I would also read any Borderline sequels. It'd be interesting to see what they are like - I didn't expect so many character deaths at the end of the book.

150, 151> I think maybe Ammonite didn't have as much as an effect on me because I've seen a lot of that type of SF plot before. Sort of like Avatar (the James Cameron film) being called "Dances with Wolves but with aliens." The only twist here was that they were all women and there was the mystery of how they were reproducing, the answer being SF mysticism and the effects of the virus implanting alien DNA.

Review of Three Parts Dead - here.
Review of A Little Knowledge - here.

I started The Drowning Girl but couldn't get into it. The narrative voice wasn't working for me - too rambling.

I ended up reading an Ally Carter novel I picked up from a local indy bookstore, Murder by the Book. I've read all the Heist Society novels and the Gallagher Girls books. My sister and I've been reading her books since middle school. This one, All Fall Down, was a start to a new series about a girl who's the granddaughter of an American ambassador to some fictional European country. Three years ago protagonist believes she saw her mother murdered by a scarred man, but no one will believe her. Now she thinks she's found him, but she can't convince anyone to listen to her. The book was okay, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the Heist Society novels.

I started Dark Orbit but put it aside when my copy of Four Roads Cross arrived. I love this series so much. I'd say that Four Roads Cross was even better than Three Parts Dead. I think Gladstone's writing's improved over the course of the series, and I got a better feel for who Tara was and the choices facing her. Unlike all the other Craft Sequence novels, it doesn't really stand alone. You need to have read at least Three Parts Dead, and you might get more from it if you'd read the Dresediel Lex books as well, since Tara takes a detour over there and there's some cameos from that set of characters. Part of me thinks it slowed the book down to much, but I can also see how the scenes tied into some of the themes and Tara's characterization.

"Time’s one jewel with many facets. Tara leaned against the desk. A year ago she stood in a graveyard beneath a starry sky, and the people of her hometown approached her with pitchforks and knives and torches and murder in mind, all because she’d tried to show them the world was bigger than they thought.
Admittedly, there might have been a way to show them that didn’t involve zombies."


One thing I'm left wondering about... at the beginning of Full Fathom Five (which takes place after Four Roads Cross) we see Cat arrive, acting like she's running away from her past somehow. I fully expected her to get some depressing ending in Four Roads Cross as an explanation, but she didn't? What happens between the two books?

I don't think Four Roads Cross wowed me quite as much as Last First Snow did, but it's certainly one of the best fantasy novels I've read this year.

I'm currently reading this week's section of The Republic of Thieves for the read along organized by Imyril. After that, I'll probably head back to Dark Orbit.

153pwaites
Aug 6, 2016, 4:19pm Top

Review of The Timeseer's Gambit - here.
Review of Pantomime - here.
Review of The Bullet-Catcher's Daughter - here.

Before I get into the books I've been reading lately, I've got a bit of blog related news. I'm holding a giveaway for an ebook of Emma Newman's Between Two Thorns, the first in her Split World series. It's an urban fantasy series, but it often times feels more fantasy of manners than most urban fantasy. Anyway, it's a very fun series, and I've enjoyed participating in the read along of it. The giveaway is here, just leave a comment to enter.

I'm also organizing a read along of Martha Wells's The Cloud Roads which will take place in September. It's over on the Goodreads SF/F Read Along group, in this topic.

I'm still struggling to figure out what I'll say in my review about Dark Orbit. It's one of those books where I enjoyed reading it, but I don't think it's something I'd ever be interested in revisiting. I've seen other people say that the book felt too short for the plot it contains, and I think they may be right. A lot happens in what's not a super long book. There's also a few areas where you can see plot holes if you start thinking about it. That, and the characters never did anything special for me.

I've also read an ARC of Magic Binds, the 9th book in the Kate Daniels series. I was expecting to like this one, and I did. This series has maintained a consistent quality level since book three and hasn't left me disappointed yet. Basically, if you liked the previous books, you'll like this one. I think it's my archtypical urban fantasy series, as in it's the first series I think of when I hear the words "urban fantasy." I still adore the fantastical version of Atlanta.

Last night I finished reading Ariah, a very character based fantasy novel about an elf named Ariah who has powers that allow him to sense others emotions. However he can't control his powers and often gets lost in other people's feelings. It's mainly about his self discovery. The world building was a bit confusing at first, but I got my footing eventually and found myself completely immersed. For some reason, it reminds me of what I read of A Stranger in Olondria, even though I liked Ariah a lot better. Maybe I just liked the protagonist a lot more?

Right now I'm reading False Hearts, a science fiction novel taking place in future San Francisco. Tila and Taema were conjoined twins who grew up in an isolated cult. When they were sixteen, they ran away and were surgically separated. Now, it's ten years later and Tila has been arrested for murder. Taema believes her sister is innocent but is also troubled that her sister was keeping so many secrets from her. She agrees to go undercover as her sister to figure out if there is a larger conspiracy at play. The "one twin pretending to be another aspect" reminds me of Orphan Black.

154pwaites
Edited: Aug 11, 2016, 10:24pm Top

Review of All Fall Down - here.
Review of Ghost Talkers - here.
Review of Four Roads Cross - here.
Review of Borderline - here.

I've just finished The Fall of Kings, chronologically the last Riverside novel. Compared to the others, it's got a much more mythic tone. I'm realizing that I really like the Riverside world, although this may be my least favorite of the works I've read in it so far. The Privilege of the Sword remains my favorite. There's a lot more I'll be saying about this one in a review, but I've still got to get my thoughts in order.

I'm currently reading The City of Silk and Steel (The Steel Seraglio) and have just finished book one, which feels like a complete story even though there's a book two. It is so so good. It's a fantasy story set in a Middle Eastern type setting where the sultan of the city has just been violently overthrown. The new ruler exiles the 365 concubines but then orders them killed instead. They have other plans.

155ScoLgo
Aug 11, 2016, 10:06pm Top

>154 pwaites: Nice review of Borderline. I recently finished and enjoyed that book as well.

Your touchstone is going to the wrong book though, (title matches but author is different).

156pwaites
Aug 11, 2016, 10:25pm Top

155> Thanks for the heads up. It should be fixed now.

I'm glad you liked it as well! I think I heard about it in the first place here on LT.

157tottman
Aug 11, 2016, 10:44pm Top

Borderline is awesome. One of my favorite reads of the year. And there is a sequel coming. I really enjoy the characters. I can't wait.

158ScoLgo
Aug 12, 2016, 12:07am Top

>156 pwaites: Easy to miss. There are a bunch of 'Borderline' results and the one by Mishell Baker is pretty far down the list.

I only caught the discrepancy because I clicked the link to see what other reviewers had to say and, "Oh, this isn't the book I read."

Then I clicked your review link to make sure and, "Oh, actually this is the book I read." ;)

159pwaites
Aug 12, 2016, 7:40pm Top

157> I also can't wait for the sequel.

158> It does seem to be a very common title, doesn't it? I remember reading some blog post by Kameron Hurley where she talked about what made up a good title. Basically it was uniqueness (when you search it, a bunch of other books don't come up) and clearly looking like the genre it belonged to. She named her debut SF novel God's War and a bunch of people thought it was about terrorism or the Middle East.

160zjakkelien
Aug 13, 2016, 1:49pm Top

>159 pwaites: That's a nice anecdote! I guess you can't always predict what people think of when they see a title, but you can do a quick search to check how many other books there are with a particular name. If I ever wrote a book, I wouldn't want a name that somebody else already picked...

161pwaites
Aug 17, 2016, 2:50pm Top

Review of Ammonite - here.
Review of Ariah - here.
Review of Dark Orbit - here.
Review of The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe - here.

The City of Silk and Steel ended up being fantastic. I've already got a review written and scheduled for posting on my blog.

The next library book I started was Will Do Magic for Small Change, which mixes two different narrative strands. Cinnamon, a black girl in 1980's Philadelphia, was given a book by her now dead brother. The book is a chronicle telling the story of an alien wander from another dimension who arrived in West Africa in the 1890's. The book is not complete and more sections appear over the course of a few years. Eventually Cinnamon realizes that the story told in the book has some mysterious connection to her own family history.

I enjoyed Will Do Magic for Small Change, even if I didn't like the ending. It just ends! No conclusion! I think it's supposed to be about uncertainty? It's probably thematic in some way or another, but it really annoyed me. Still, I'm interested in reading more by the author, since I liked the explorations of race, gender, sexuality, and history.

This weekend my family traveled to Austin to drop my younger sister off for her first year at UT. I took an ereader along and did some reading while generally trying to stay out of the way. I read one ARC and started another.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe was fantastic, a beautiful novella set primarily in a dream world. The protagonist, Vellitt Boe, is a middle aged mathematics professor at a women's college. When one of her students elopes with a man from the waking world, Vellitt Boe goes out to bring her back, since the scandal could mean an end to the college. I am very glad I read this one.

I'm currently about sixty percent of the way through the other ARC, Ninth City Burning. I'm not sure how much I should say about the plot, since the first twenty percent or so's drive seems to rely on you wanting to know what's going on... which the back of the book tells you. Several hundred years ago, Earth was attacked by aliens using a magic power. Only a few humans also gained access to this magic and humanity was able to fight back. However, the war is still continuing, raging in dimensions beyond Earth. The back also tells you that the aliens are planning a big new attack that will put everyone in jeopardy. Only, the main plot doesn't kick in until over half way in. It seems to be going a bit faster now, but before it was like slugging through mud. Oh, and there's seven first person narrators and they all sound exactly alike. Urgh.

I also started and abandoned a library book, Last Song Before Night. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't very good either and didn't look like it'd get any better.

162pwaites
Aug 20, 2016, 7:06pm Top

Review of False Hearts - here.
Review of The Fall of Kings - here.

I'm at 74% in Ninth City Burning, and I'm not sure if I have the motivation to make myself push through until the end. Maybe I'll get through some more on the plane tomorrow? Then again, I started a different ARC, After Atlas by Emma Newman, which I'm liking a lot better. It's a companion novel of sorts to Planetfall.

I also read one more library book, The City in the Lake. It's an original fairy tale, missing prince, magic forest, evil sorceress, those sort of elements. It took me a while to get engaged, and even by the end I still preferred one story line over the other.

163pwaites
Aug 27, 2016, 2:14pm Top

Review of The Steel Seraglio - here.
Review of Of Sand and Malice Made - here.
Review of The Republic of Thieves - here.
Review of Will Do Magic for Small Change - here.

I'm back at Agnes Scott College! Classes have been going since Wednesday so I've had at least of day of everything except my biology lab. I'm in a dorm without AC and the heat has definitely been sapping my energy. I spend most of the time in the air conditioned library or student center and keep fans running at night.

I officially gave up on Ninth City Burning. I'll post a paragraph about it in my round up of August's DNFs.

I ended up liking After Atlas a lot. The connection to Planetfall is tenuous and the two books can be read separately. After Atlas is a science fiction mystery set in a very dark vision of the future, where corporations have turned into governments which exercise massive control. The protagonist is a debt slave to the ministry of justice department of the UK/Scandinavian government corporation.

I read the sequel, The Obelisk Gate, to a fantasy novel novel that really stunned me last year, The Fifth Season. Sequels can always be hard to review, since I've already talked about most of the elements of the story when I reviewed the first book. The Obelisk Gate didn't wow me quite as much as The Fifth Season, although that may be that I already knew what to expect or that I was simply tired from moving in and starting class.

Yesterday I finished reading Recovery Man, the sixth(?) novel in the Retrieval Artist series by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I enjoyed it, although elements of the writing style nagged on me at times.

I don't have any clear idea of what to start on next. I'm probably going to spend most of the rest of today on classwork, but I do have some ebook review copies I've been meaning to get to.

I'm looking forward to getting settled into the semester so I know how much free time I'll have. Between class work, library volunteer shifts, running a campaign for the RPG group, and time with friends, there'll probably be a lot less reading time than this summer.

164Sakerfalcon
Aug 30, 2016, 7:55am Top

I'm really looking forward to After Atlas. And I'm currently reading The fifth season which is amazing. Horrifying in places, but amazing.

I hope you soon get settled into the semester and that it's a good one for you.

165pwaites
Sep 1, 2016, 9:59pm Top

164> After Atlas is worth looking forward to. Thanks for your good wishes!

Review of The City in the Lake - here.
August recap post - here.

This weekend I'm heading to the Decatur Book Festival! I'm most excited about Max Gladstone coming on Sunday.

I've read the first five chapters of The Cloud Roads for the first week of the read along. Reading it a second time around, after I've fallen in love with the characters is such a different experience from the first read.

On Sunday I went with my friend to a sale at Half Price Books and snagged copies of Wolfblade and The Temple at Landfall. I've already finished The Temple at Landfall, a fantasy/science fiction book set on an all female planet. I ended up liking it more than Ammonite, mainly because it felt less ambitious so it didn't have as much expectations to live up to.

I've also read another ARC, Slipping a collection of stories and essays by Lauren Beukes, who's book Zoo City I read a year or so ago. The collection was all right. There weren't any stories that really stood out to me, although I did really like a couple of the non-fiction pieces.

Right now I'm reading Everfair, a steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo. It seems to be avoiding the "aesthetic over substance" problem I've had with some steampunk books in the past, but I would like to see the plot become more cohesive. I'm only a third into it, so there's still a ways to go.

166reading_fox
Sep 2, 2016, 6:50am Top

>163 pwaites: - I pretty much agreed with you about Republic. I am looking forward, eventually, to however he chooses to continue the series.

167pwaites
Sep 2, 2016, 2:13pm Top

166> Even if the next book gets given a new release date, I'm not sure I'd trust it at this point.

168pwaites
Sep 5, 2016, 8:01pm Top

Review of The Obelisk Gate - here.
"Defining Urban Fantasy" - here.

I'm back from the Decatur book festival! It was amazing and I now have a whole pile of new books, one of which I've already finished.

At the library sale, I picked up super cheap copies of A Shadow in Summer, Shoggoths in Bloom, Paladin of Souls, and Best Served Cold. I've already got a novel by Joe Abercrombie I've been meaning to try - Red Country. Does anyone have suggestions as to whether I should read Red Country or Best Served Cold first?

My mother recently read this book called Above the Waterfall and loved it. The author, Ron Rash, was giving a talk at the festival so I got a book of his signed for her (Serena). She keeps telling me I need to read Above the Waterfall, and I may get around to it when I'm back at home for Christmas.

I went to a panel called Dark Fantasies with Lila Bowen, V. E. Schwab, and Sarah Beth Durst. Afterwards I got a copy of The Queen of Blood, although I didn't get it signed since I wanted to go have dinner with a friend.

I missed C.B. Lee's five minutes of speaking at the Emerging Writer's stand, but I did get a copy of her new novel, Not Your Sidekick, which actually doesn't come out until the 8th. It's the book I already finished, a YA LGBT superhero story. It's very cute, although there's some world building holes.

And finally I went to the talk by Max Gladstone and got my copies of Last First Snow, Full Fathom Five and Four Roads Cross signed! That was probably the highlight of my weekend, since he may very well be my favorite current fantasy author. Oh, and he's already working on book 6!

All in all, it's been a happy weekend.

As for what I'm reading now, I've got only 16% of Everfair left. I'm not going to have a review for when it comes out tomorrow, but hopefully I should have something within two weeks. The book itself... overly ambitious might be an accurate statement. It has a plethora of POV characters, none of whom I really care about, and it's spanned over twenty years and two wars. All in one book.

For the last year, my roommate has been saying that I absolutely need to read Red Queen. I've been saying that I'll check it out from the library eventually, but last night a mutual friend heard my roommate talking about it and said that she had a copy in her room - right down the hall. So I've been giving it a go, but I'm two hundred pages in and pretty sure that I won't read any more. It's a YA dystopian that's giving me flashbacks to The Selection, which is not a pleasant experience. Basically, imagine a bunch of popular YA dystopian works dumped in a blender with some fantasy flavoring sprinkled on top. That's Red Queen. Oh and when I asked my roommate, "Am I right in thinking there's a love triangle coming?" she said it was more like a quadrangle. There's three boys (two of whom are princes) all in love with the protagonist, presumably so we know just how special she is.

Feeling like I was suffocating under bad YA tropes, I started Diane Duane's The Door Into Fire instead. I'm only the first chapter in, so I can't say too much at the moment. I've got a copy that looks like it dates from the original 1979 publication date, ugly cover and all.

169Sakerfalcon
Sep 6, 2016, 4:40am Top

>168 pwaites: The book festival sounds great! I'm very envious of you getting to hear Max Gladstone.
Re: your Joe Abercrombie question, I haven't yet read Best served cold, but I thought Red country was very good. A fan favourite character from the First law series plays a major role but I don't think you miss anything by not having read those books.
I've heard a lot about Red queen that leaves me with no desire to read it!

170reading_fox
Sep 6, 2016, 11:17am Top

the series page is https://www.librarything.com/series/The+First+Law which gives BSC as #4 and RC as #6

I've just finished the first trilogy. Although I enjoyed the final book, I'm not sure I'm bothered to read any more.

171AHS-Wolfy
Sep 9, 2016, 5:16am Top

When I read Best Served Cold it wasn't listed as part of any series. It was more a stand-alone book contained in the First Law world although set in a totally different location. There were a couple of characters from the original trilogy that did make appearances but they weren't any of the major ones. I've not read any of the books after this so can't say for sure on the reading order but I really enjoyed Best Served Cold and should probably try and get to The Heroes and Red Country at some point.

172pwaites
Sep 16, 2016, 7:37pm Top

169, 170, 171> Based on what you're saying, I think I'll go with Best Served Cold first, since it chronologically earlier and is a stand alone book.

Review of Magic Binds - here.
Review of The Temple at Landfall - here.
Review of Recovery Man - here.
Review of Not Your Sidekick - here.

I'm not sure what I'm going to say about The Door Into Fire or if I'll continue with the series. For whatever reason it didn't resonate much with me. I'll try to find more to say in my review.

I read all of The Queen of Blood, which will be officially released on the 20th. It's a secondary world fantasy where humans exist in uneasy balance with deadly nature spirits. I thought it was one of the better fantasy releases I've read this year, and I'm planning on writing a favorable review.

Paper and Fire, the sequel to Ink and Bone, is a book that's been sitting on my TBR pile for a few months but that I finally got around to. It felt a bit slower than its predecessor, but I plan on continuing with the series.

Right now I'm reading The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales (an ARC of a collection of fairy tale retellings) and Sword of the Bright Lady, which I'm ambivalent about. It sort of feels like Dungeon and Dragons crossed with portal fantasy and the usual Medieval Europe sort of world.

I've got a review of Everfair which will go up tomorrow. Other than that, I don't have anything else written and lined up. I've had problems with anxiety in the past, and it started getting worse again a few months ago. I have much less focus for reading or reviewing, since most of the time where my mind's in a better place I've been trying to spend getting school work done. I'm still considering whether or not to take an official hiatus on reviews.

173Sakerfalcon
Sep 19, 2016, 8:55am Top

>172 pwaites: I read The door into fire a couple of years ago, but can't remember much about it other than the positive take on queer relationships. It sounds as though you had a similarly "meh" reaction.

174pwaites
Sep 19, 2016, 12:00pm Top

173> That about sums it up.

175pwaites
Sep 25, 2016, 11:02am Top

Review of Paper and Fire - here.
Review of The Door Into Fire - here.
Review of The Queen of Blood - here.
Review of Everfair - here.

This year I've been steadily working through Martha Wells's back list. I've finally gotten to her Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, which is set in the same world as Death of the Necromancer. The first book, The Wizard Hunters, wasn't one of her best. I'd put it about on level with The Element of Fire and Emilie and the Hollow World. It's clearly got some WW2 inspiration, and I'll admit that it was emotionally devastating to see the setting I'd loved so much in Death of the Necromancer turn into a bombed out war zone.

I'm still reading The Cloud Roads for the read along. This week is the last fourth. I plan to read it today and come up with questions for the discussion.

I've started a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Bear, Shoggoths in Bloom, which I'll probably be reading over a fairly lengthy span of time.

I'm also reading a new YA fantasy release, The Reader: Sea of Ink and Gold by Traci Chee. It's set in a world where reading is virtually unknown, but for the few who learn it, it grants magical powers.

176pwaites
Oct 6, 2016, 10:00pm Top

Review of The Starlit Wood - here.
Review of Sword of the Bright Lady - here.

The Reader must have gone though one side of my head and out the other. It's exceedingly difficult for me to think of anything to say about it. For some reason, it struck me as more middle grade than young adult.

I've read the third and fourth books in the Russell's Attic series, Root of Unity and Plastic Smile. It's a generally fast paced and action packed series following an antiheroine with mathematical superpowers.

I read R/evolution by Tenea D. Johnson, which I didn't like as much as her novel Smoketown. It was a lot shorter than I'd expected - only 150 pages. It's a dystopia looking at race and class strife as well as genetic engineering in a future United States.

Currently I'm reading The Mountain of Kept Memory, a November fantasy release about a brother and sister who are the prince and princess of a small country on the verge of being run over by a foreign army. The country's long depended on the protection of a powerful goddess, but their father has somehow offended her.

177pwaites
Oct 17, 2016, 3:33pm Top

Review of The Wizard Hunters - here.
Review of Shoggoths in Bloom - here.
Review of Root of Unity - here.
Review of The Reade by Traci Chee - here.
Review of Plastic Smile - here.

I've finished another ARC - A Darkly Beating Heart, the story of a Japanese-American girl who's visiting relatives in Japan after a mental breakdown. Time travel is involved. I ended up liking this one a lot. It was definitely character focused, and I liked how the protagonist turned out to be an unreliable narrator. Her brother's attempted suicide? She eventually admits she purposefully drove him to it. Those pictures her ex-girlfriend posted around the school? Payback for the protagonist jumping her new girlfriend in an alley. It feels like antiheroines are a lot rarer than antiheroes, perhaps because audiences are less forgiving of female characters? I may not have liked the protagonist, but I enjoyed reading about her.

I've also read the sequel to The Scorpion Rules, The Swan Riders. I'm still trying to figure out what I'll say about it for a review. I liked it about as much as the last one. This hasn't been anywhere near my favorite YA series, but it still manages to take a different path than most of the other YA dystopians out there.

I read about half of Best Served Cold but ended up quitting. I did consider going back to it, but honestly I wasn't that invested. I think that it may have been too grimdark for me, which was something I suspected going in. But Joe Abercrombie is a big enough name that I wanted to give something by him a try.

Right now I'm reading Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to the YA fantasy heist novel Six of Crows.

178Sakerfalcon
Oct 18, 2016, 5:22am Top

>177 pwaites: I had the same "meh" reaction to The wizard hunters as you did, but went on to read the rest of the trilogy as I already owned it. Books 2 and 3 are SO much better in every way.

179pwaites
Oct 18, 2016, 12:56pm Top

178> Good to know!

180tottman
Oct 18, 2016, 4:01pm Top

>178 Sakerfalcon: That is good to know. I struggled to finish The Wizard Hunters but maybe I'll go back and read the rest of the books.

181kceccato
Oct 18, 2016, 7:29pm Top

177: I figure Half a War might be my best bet for Joe Abercrombie, since it's his effort to write YA with a female protagonist and might just be slightly more optimistic. I've also heard good things about Red Country. I think I can wait a while before I try out Best Served Cold.

I also found The Wizard Hunters a bit of a slow read. I'm interested enough to finish the series, eventually, but it didn't pull me in and hold me quite the way the Raskura stories did. The prose struck me as a bit more leaden. Why, I wonder?

182pwaites
Oct 20, 2016, 6:02pm Top

181> I may give Half a War or Red Country a try some time, but it's on the back burner.

There just wasn't anything about The Wizard Hunters that was really exciting. Invaders from another world? That could have been interesting but ended up feeling more meh. The world building also isn't as creative as I tend to expect from Martha Wells.

183kceccato
Oct 21, 2016, 3:19pm Top

182: Another problem I had with The Wizard Hunters: Tremaine's unfulfilled potential. She had an interesting personality and could have been a MUCH more fulfilling protagonist than she ended up being. It seemed to me that Wells deliberately withheld from her the skills/capability she would need to make a solid contribution to the outcome. Characters who are carried along by events rather than making meaningful choices try my patience.

Jade of the Raksura books was a much more compelling heroine, though sadly she never rose to the level of co-protagonist, since (as far as I remember; it's been a while) Wells restricted the POV to Moon alone. I'd like to read a Wells book with a female lead or co-lead who is genuinely active and memorable.

184pwaites
Oct 21, 2016, 6:22pm Top

183> I think the fourth book in the series starts to include some other POV sections? I can't remember if Jade is one specifically. I know there's at least one short story from her POV in the Stories of the Raksura volumes.

Emilie and the Hollow World has a female lead, but it was another of Wells's books that I was so so on.

185pwaites
Oct 26, 2016, 2:51pm Top

Review of After Atlas - here.
Review of A Darkly Beating Heart - here.
Review of The Mountain of Kept Memory - here.

I've also been reading some free SFF short fiction that's available online. I have round up posts about it here and here.

Additionally, I've made a post listing some of my favorite antiheroines in science fiction and fantasy.

Since my last general update, I've finished reading Crooked Kingdom. I was assuming that this would be a trilogy since practically all YA fantasy series are trilogies but it turns out that it's a dulogy! This was the end! But I still want more books with this setting and these characters!

If you have any interest in fantasy heist stories, you should really check out the first book, Six of Crows. These two books have been immensely enjoyable. And have I mentioned how gorgeous the book design is? The first book had black lined pages and scarlet red end papers. Crooked Kingdom had scarlet lined pages and black end papers. Plus, the cover art is so beautiful and there's maps on the inside. I think I'm in love.



The other book I finished lately was another YA fantasy, but one I wasn't so thrilled with. I've heard a lot about Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. It's the first in a pretty popular series, but I didn't think it was my sort of thing based on some of the reviews I'd read. But I was swapping books with a friend, and she gave me this one.

The main character is an eighteen year old girl who is the most skilled assassin. She's been in prison for a year but is brought out to compete in a tournament to become the personal assassin for the king. However, not much page time is devoted to this tournament? However, we do hear about how stunningly attractive everyone is and how great the heroine looks in all her different outfits.

Right now I'm alternating between two books, Earth Logic and Gold Throne in Shadow.

186Narilka
Oct 26, 2016, 5:50pm Top

>185 pwaites: Are you liking Throne of Glass then? It's one I have had my eye on but just hadn't pulled the trigger yet.

187pwaites
Oct 26, 2016, 9:44pm Top

186> No, I didn't like it. I felt like it took far too long for the main plot to arrive, and even then it never felt exciting. The heroine also annoyed me at first although I grew more used to her by the end of the book. It felt like a compilation of various YA tropes I find tiring.

188Sakerfalcon
Oct 27, 2016, 4:47am Top

>185 pwaites: fantasyliterature.com has posted some excellently written reviews of Throne of glass which told me all I need to know to avoid it!

189kceccato
Oct 27, 2016, 8:22am Top

Six of Crows is actually all set to go into my rotation, once I've finished Priestess of the White.

190pwaites
Oct 27, 2016, 12:23pm Top

188> I looked up those reviews. They are on point.

189> I look forward to seeing what you think!

191Narilka
Oct 27, 2016, 5:15pm Top

>188 Sakerfalcon: & >190 pwaites: I read the reviews. That's disappointing. I was hoping for a cool assassin story and sounds like it misses the mark. Took the book off my wishlist.

192pwaites
Oct 27, 2016, 6:52pm Top

191> The author said in the afterwards that it was originally inspired by Disney's Cinderella, which is honestly a lot closer to the mark than "cool assassin story."

193pwaites
Nov 3, 2016, 5:52pm Top

Review of R/evolution by Tenea D. Johnson - here.
Review of The Swan Riders - here.
Review of Crooked Kingdom - here.

I've finished both Earth Logic and Gold Throne in Shadow, which are both sequels to fantasy books I read earlier in the year. Gold Throne in Shadow is the sequel to Sword of the Bright Lady, and it doesn't make any significant improvements over the first book. Earth Logic feels like a step down from it's predecessor, Fire Logic. The plot is super reliant on prophecy, which I hate. Why are the characters doing this incredibly random action? Prophecy! I want more of a guiding explanation than "it was prophesied that this must occur."

I've also read a retelling of Macbeth set at a current day private high school in Virginia, As I Descended. It's a YA novel with a primarily queer cast. It also turned out to be more horror than I usually read - but it was fitting for right around Halloween.

Right now I'm reading When the Moon Was Ours. It's a hard book to describe. You could probably argue about whether it's fantasy or magical realism. There's a lot of fantastic events but so far they've largely gone unexplained - a field of pumpkins turning to glass, spells to cure love sickness, a girl who grows roses from her wrists, ect. It's beautifully written but does seem a tad meandering.

194pwaites
Nov 13, 2016, 12:47pm Top

Review of Gold Throne in Shadow - here.
Review of Throne of Glass - here.
Review of Earth Logic - here.
Review of As I Descended - here.

I haven't read much in the past ten days. Life's been getting in the way, and I've found it hard to focus on reading. It doesn't help that I'm currently reading the fourth in Michelle West's Sun Sword series, Sea of Sorrows. These books are long, the classic door stopper epic fantasy novels. This one's over eight hundred pages, and the beginning is slow going. From what I remember of the last books, it should pick up more somewhere around the half way mark.

I also find that my willingness to spend time with it depends on what characters it's currently focused on. When it's on Jewel, Jewel's den, or the demon creatures, my attention flags. Sections focusing on Diora are probably my favorite. The list of characters at the front of the book has shrunk even as the cast has grown. Maybe the author/publisher is assuming that the reader has learned who everyone is and can keep track of them? However, I would really appreciate the extra help of that character list.

195zjakkelien
Edited: Nov 13, 2016, 3:42pm Top

When it's on Jewel, Jewel's den, or the demon creatures, my attention flags.
>194 pwaites: Really? I started in the House war series (book 1 was just out), so Jewel was my introduction into the world, and I love her. I have to say though, the house war books are easier to read than the Sun sword books. And I thought Jewel was nicer in those books as well.
I can see your liking for Diora, I liked her as well. And Margaret!

196pwaites
Nov 13, 2016, 8:54pm Top

195> I like Jewel better than when I first started the series, but she's still nowhere near my favorite. Maybe it's that her plot line feels sort of different from everything else going on? I also really hate Avandar and he tends to be in her sections.

197tottman
Nov 13, 2016, 11:27pm Top

>185 pwaites: I have both Six of Crows and The Crooked Kingdom sitting on my shelf and like you mentioned I fell in love with the design and the scarlet lined pages. Just an absolutely gorgeous book. I can't wait to read these.

198zjakkelien
Nov 17, 2016, 3:48am Top

>196 pwaites: Yes, I can totally understand someone not liking Avandar!

199pwaites
Dec 3, 2016, 2:36pm Top

Review of Slipping - here.
Review of When the Moon Was Ours - here.
Review of Sea of Sorrows - here.
Review of Rejected Princesses - here.

Long time no post! Between Thanksgiving and upcoming exams, I've totally forgotten to update here! I've only got about a week left before exams are over, so this thread should becoming more lively soon.

A quick run through of what I've been reading since the last update:

- Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath. This is a collection of 100 entries on women from history or folklore, most of whom I haven't heard before and all of whom are amazingly interesting. The book is based off of the popular blog, although eighty of the entries are new to the book. It's told in a breezy style and accompanied by illustrations. If you're not familiar with it, I suggest checking out the
blog.

- Judgment at Court Verdant by M.C. Planck. This is the third book in the World of Prime series, which starts with Sword of the Bright Lady. I've got my issues with this series (it's very much men doing things in quasi medieval Europe), but I liked that this installment subverted the "races of evil" trope established by the previous books.

- Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell. I loved this novella! The town of Lychford is voting on a proposal to allow a new supermarket.. but behind the supermarket are forces of evil which wish to open the boundaries to other worlds. Standing against them are three different women: an elderly and crabby witch, the owner of a New Age supply store, and the town reverend. I know there is a sequel novella, and I can't wait to read it.

- Conspiracy of Ravens by Lila Bowen. The sequel to Wake of Vultures, Conspiracy of Ravens confirms the protagonist to be transgender. The plot held together a lot better than in the first book - it felt like less episodic monster encounters. To anyone unfamiliar with the series, it's an alternate history weird West fantasy series.

- Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani. This full length book is the sequel to the YA fantasy novella Sunbolt, and I think I loved it even more than the first installment. The world building is gorgeously done, and I love heroine, a former street thief with developing magical powers.

I also did a post on ten fantasy series with great female characters.

I'm almost done with Stories of the Raksura: Volume One, and I'm also reading a non-fiction book loaned to me by my history professor, The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice.

200clamairy
Dec 3, 2016, 5:42pm Top

>185 pwaites: I think I just took a book bullet for Six of Crows. Oddly it keeps showing up in Amazon's suggestions for me. At least they seem to think I have good taste.

201pwaites
Dec 3, 2016, 6:46pm Top

200> Oh, I hope you like it! I think it's been one of my favorite YA fantasies to come out recently.

202clamairy
Dec 3, 2016, 7:33pm Top

>201 pwaites: I placed a hold on it through OverDrive. :o)

203imyril
Dec 4, 2016, 7:25am Top

>199 pwaites: I just finished Witches of Lychford and loved it too :) I thought Cornell did a staggeringly good job of character and plot detailing for the shorter form.

204pwaites
Dec 9, 2016, 2:24pm Top

203> Have you read London Falling? I liked it a lot, though I thought the sequel was a bit weird.

Review of Judgment at Verdant Court - here.
Review of Conspiracy of Ravens - here.
Review of Memories of Ash - here.

More reading updates:

- I've finished Stories of the Raksura and have a review scheduled to go up. It's basically what it says on the front - short stories and novellas about the raksura. I think my favorite was a novella about the courtship of Indigo and Cloud, the queen and consort the main court of the series is named for.

- The Boundaries of Eros was interesting, but I don't think I'll write a full review on it. Maybe I'll write a paragraph and bundle it together with some other non-fiction? I think my favorite section from the book was the chapter on sex crimes against God and that one convent that kept coming up in trial proceedings. The convents tended to fill a role that was as much social as religious - it was where noble families sent daughters who couldn't marry for lack of a dowry. Obviously most of these women didn't want to go to a convent and they had no intrinsic motivation to behave as proper nuns. Thus the convent most popular with the noble families was the same one that kept having sex scandals. Basically, it was the party convent. Even the abbess was involved.

- I recently read Nice Dragons Finish Last, a very inventive urban fantasy novel about a dragon who's not very good at being a proper dragon. His mother seals away his true dragon form and sends him to the only city in the world where dragons are banned, with one month to prove to her that he is a proper dragon (i.e. shameless manipulator who crushes his enemies underfoot). He soon joins forces with Marci, a human mage who for some reason has an entire criminal organization after her. The result was a ton of fun.

- I wasn't as big a fan of Translucid by Zen DiPietro. It's a science fiction story about a woman who wakes up able to remember general knowledge and her prior skill set but without any personal memory. It was not the best amnesiac story I've read. The story really seemed to be calling for a fast, thriller-like pacing. Instead it felt like nothing happened.

- The Bear and the Nightingale is a historical fantasy novel set in Imperial Russia that comes out on December 10th. I still need to write a review, but I'm still trying to figure out what I'll say. I didn't hate or love it, but I'm not sure if I even liked it either. It felt like most of the book was extraneous to the plot, although perhaps it was setting up for sequels? I won't be reading any of the sequels. I also felt like the heroine got sidelined near the end.

- I'm in a similar situation with my review of In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle, a new unicorn story that comes out in February. A farmer in Southern Italy wakes up one morning and finds a unicorn on his farm. The story didn't do much for me, so at least it was fairly short.

I'm currently about half of the way through Behind the Throne and finding it a lot of fun.

205lynnoconnacht
Dec 9, 2016, 6:05pm Top

> Nice Dragons Finish Last sounds delightful! Would you recommend it to people who aren't that fond of urban fantasy?

206pwaites
Dec 10, 2016, 9:33am Top

205> I think so. What specifically about urban fantasy aren't you fond of?

207lynnoconnacht
Dec 12, 2016, 5:54am Top

>206 pwaites: I think it's the dominance of paranormal lust-at-first-sight triangles in them more than anything? Most of the urban fantasy I've read and liked lacked that set-up. Or at least it was a far less prominent part of the plot. Your description of Nice Dragons Finish Last sounds like it won't really go that route either. ^_^

208pwaites
Dec 12, 2016, 10:38am Top

207> Nice Dragons Finish Last did not have any love triangles, and I wouldn't describe it as lust at first sight. Granted, I haven't read the sequels so it's possible things could go majorly down hill.

209zjakkelien
Edited: Dec 12, 2016, 1:50pm Top

>207 lynnoconnacht: Can I recommend my favorite urban? Child of a rainless year by Jane Lindskold. There is a romance in the background, but no triangles, and no lust at first sight. Oh, and the protagonist is an adult, an art teacher, not some sassy slayer of whatevers. So it's not your run-of-the-mill urban fantasy.

edit: Oh, and The rook? No romance at all.

210Sakerfalcon
Dec 13, 2016, 8:26am Top

>209 zjakkelien: I second both those recommendations!

211lynnoconnacht
Dec 13, 2016, 8:34am Top

>208 pwaites: Oh, lovely! I actually really enjoy reading romantic subplots/romance, but I'm a bit picky about them and urban fantasy, generally, doesn't deliver them in a way that I appreciate.

>209 zjakkelien: You certainly can, thank you! It sounds pretty interesting. ^_^ I think urban fantasies that aren't your run-of-the-mill are definitely the way to go for me. I've liked one urban fantasy that fit most all of the tropes, and that one featured a mother dealing with stuff like finding a babysitter whilst she goes out slaying monsters, so...

212pwaites
Dec 13, 2016, 10:59am Top

209> I loved The Rook too! I think I've got something by Jane Lindskold on my TBR pile, but I'm not 100% sure.

211> The monster slaying mom book sounds delightful! Can you remember the title?

213zjakkelien
Dec 13, 2016, 2:21pm Top

>211 lynnoconnacht: >212 pwaites: Yeah, now I want to know about the mom too!

214lynnoconnacht
Dec 14, 2016, 7:48am Top

>212 pwaites:, >213 zjakkelien: It's Demon Hunter and Baby by Anna Elliott. If I recall, she wrote it specifically because she wanted to see an urban fantasy heroine actually deal with things like needing to find someone to babysit (rather than, at best, assuming it gets handled off-page). I loved it. ^_^

215pwaites
Edited: Dec 14, 2016, 12:38pm Top

214> That looks hilarious! I'll have to grab a copy sometime

Review of Witches of Lychford - here.
Review of Stories of the Raksura - here.
Favorite new to me authors of 2016 - here.

Although I think there are areas where Behind the Throne could improve (world building for instance), I found it a lot of fun and plan on reading the sequel. Sometimes I really want a fast paced science fiction book where things explode.

Speaking of that, I'm currently reading Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach. I just realized that Rachel Bach also writes under the name Rachel Aaron - the author of Nice Dragons Finish Last! Fortune's Pawn is about a mercenary who takes a mysterious job on a cargo freighter that's rumored to be cursed. If she lasts a year, she'll have a much better shot at getting into the elite unit of king's guards on her home planet. The book is a tad predictable at time, but I'm still enjoying it. Plus, I like the aliens.

I also recently read The Initiate Brother by Sean Russell. It's a fantasy novel with a setting that mixes historical Japan and China. Going in, I was worried about presence and treatment of female characters, but it was better than I feared. There's actually multiple female characters who (believe it or not) interact with each other! A friend loaned me an edition which contains both books of the duology, so I've really got to start anc finish the sequel before I see her again... in five days. I might ask if I can give it back to her during spring break instead.

216lynnoconnacht
Dec 14, 2016, 2:34pm Top

If you do, I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did!

I love your list of new-to-you authors. I've heard so many good things about most of them! And I've read Lowachee's The Gaslight Dogs before. She definitely deserves to be far more widely known. The Gaslight Dogs was absolutely gorgeous. Warchild!

217pwaites
Dec 14, 2016, 9:41pm Top

216> I'm so glad to hear that you liked The Gaslight Dogs! I'll add it to my list of books to read. :)

218Sakerfalcon
Dec 15, 2016, 6:43am Top

>215 pwaites: The initiate brother is on my tbr pile, so I'm glad to see that you enjoyed it. I've read some of the author's later work which is also interesting - set in a fantasy version of the Enlightenment with conflict between scientific reason and magic.

Great list of authors! A couple that I've read, a couple that are on Mount Tbr or the wish list, and a few more that I'll have to investigate.

219pwaites
Dec 15, 2016, 10:08am Top

218> That later book sounds interesting. I'll have to check it out after I finish with The Initiate Brother duology!

220imyril
Dec 17, 2016, 10:56am Top

>204 pwaites: I have read London Falling, but I didn't particularly enjoy it - in fact, it may have been a major contributor to me taking so long to pick up Witches of Lychford.

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy Translucid, but I know what you mean - it's a slow set-up (in fact, arguably the whole thing is a slow set-up for the sequel, I assume).

I too like the sound of Nice Dragons Finish Last and Fortune's Pawn - clearly Rachel Aaron/Bach is someone I should keep an eye out for!

221pwaites
Edited: Dec 18, 2016, 2:30pm Top

220> I think I was going into Translucid expecting an action thriller type thing. It may just have been a case of "not what I was looking for."

Review of Nice Dragons Finish Last - here.
Review of Translucid - here.

For most of the last four days I've been slogging through Grudgebearer. It's the first time I was sent physical ARCs by a publisher, so I really feel like I have to finish at least the first book for review. Unfortunately it's not going well.

Partly, Grudgebearer just isn't the sort of fantasy I tend to read. It's one of those books where the central characters are thousands of years old, there's a bunch of traditional fantasy races or twists thereon, and plenty of names with apostrophes in them. Dense would be an apt description. The book would also really benefit from an index.

Also, I'm not sure how much has really happened in the 250 pages I've read. Kholster (6,000 year old, carnivorous wolf-person warrior) has made an oath that if the elf like people violated his treaty with them, he would kill them all. He plans to do so after a convention where the treaty is supposed to be renewed, because he swore that he would attend the treaty. If he breaks any oath he makes, he will lose everything that makes him Aern (one of those wolf-people warriors). And maybe that would happen to all the other Aern as well? That point isn't really clear. Anyway, he and his daughter are traveling to the convention. Oh, and some lizard people are attacking the elves. I'm not really sure what's going on with that.

The book does include a number of female characters who seem like they're actively involved in the plot. However, it often feels like they're being described through the male gaze. There's also some weird stuff going on with a primarily female race, the Vael. More on this in my review.

I've been assigning myself quantities of Grudgebearer to get through each day. Once I read the pages I've allotted for the day, I let myself read something else. Right now it's Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, an urban fantasy where alcoholic beverages give you supernatural powers. It's not great, but it's at least easy to read.

Oh, I also made a twitter account which is linked up to the book review blog. Future book reviews will automatically have links posted at @coolcurrybooks on twitter.

222kceccato
Dec 19, 2016, 10:09am Top

I may not read Nice Dragons Finish Last because Urban Fantasy and "human girl/nonhuman guy" (though I've already clicked "To-Read" on Fortune's Pawn), but nonetheless I'd like to know: The male lead's mother sounds like an atrocious piece of work. Are there any female dragons in the picture who are NOT evil?

The Initiate Brother has me curious.

223pwaites
Dec 19, 2016, 10:29am Top

222> The plot of Nice Dragons Finish Last is basically the male lead and the mage girl running around a magical dystopian version of Detroit looking for this other dragon who ran away from her family. She's pretty much the only female dragon who I'd say is for sure not evil. Unfortunately you only see her near the end.

The main female character of The Initiate Brother is an artist (which I know is something you look for), but you don't really get to see her do any art.

224lynnoconnacht
Dec 20, 2016, 6:40am Top

>221 pwaites: Oooh, welcome to Twitter! ^_^

Grudgebearer sounds like it's probably not my thing either. Are the name apostrophes at least present for a reason? I wish you good luck with gettig through it! (And better luck than I've been having with the book I'm slogging through.) *good thoughts*

225pwaites
Dec 20, 2016, 1:38pm Top

224> Thanks!

As far as I can tell there's no rhyme or reason to the apostrophes. I've got maybe thirty pages left, so I'm almost through!

226pwaites
Dec 22, 2016, 3:36pm Top

"Favorite 2016 Science Fiction and Fantasy Releases" - here.
"Early 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy Releases" - here.
Review of Behind the Throne - there.

I've finished Grudgebearer! Thank goodness.

Even when I was about thirty pages from the end, I just felt like I couldn't face it. So I put it off a bit longer by doing a reread of Howl's Moving Castle. This book is so charming. I think what really makes the books is the characters of Howl and Sophie. They're both a lot more sharp edged than their movie versions, and I love it. This book has been a favorite of mine since childhood, so reviewing it will be a challenge.

I also read the short story collection, Dark Beyond the Stars. It's a collection of science fiction stories which I heard about after there was some fuss about the anthology having all female authors. Reading it, I realized that the authors were all indie as well. I wasn't previously familiar with any of them, but there were some stories I enjoyed. Possibly my favorite is "Containment," the story which opens the collection. Basically, a robot discovers art!

Right now I'm reading an ARC that I've had for near six months but haven't gotten to - The Bone Witch. I'm a bit less than 20% in. So far it's very beautifully written, very lyrical, but I can't tell if there's any substance to it. The main character is a bone witch, who has the ability to raise the dead.

227pwaites
Dec 27, 2016, 10:22am Top

I'm moving things over to a new thread for 2017. There'll be one last post in here on reading statistics for 2016, but that will be later in January, after I come back from my internet hiatus.

This topic was continued by Pwaites' Reading Journal 2017.

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