Sunday, April 30, 2017

Review: Range of Ghosts

12109372Title: Range of Ghosts
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Genre: Fantasy, historical fantasy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather's throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.
Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards.
These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

I absolutely loved this! I'm two for two on Elizabeth Bear's books (Karen Memory and this one), definitely going to check out more of her stories. There's just something about her writing style that conveys the richness and uniqueness of the worlds and characters without being particularly flowery or gimmicky. Obviously a fantasy world based on Mongolia in the age of Genghis Khan is very different than a steampunk American town out of a western, and Bear's writing style adapts to these worlds so seamlessly! I feel like I'm doing a terrible job of explaining this but I just love how well Elizabeth Bear's writing style fits with the worlds she creates.

I absolutely loved the worldbuilding in this book. Every little detail was so well thought out, from the many moons and the magic system to the minutiae of how you manage to keep your nomadic community fed while you travel across an unforgiving desert (fermented mare's milk and lots of tea eggs!). I love how steeped this world is in eastern culture without relying on stereotypes; this is a world that was thoroughly researched and lovingly crafted.

The characters were all amazing. They were all three-dimensional and complicated, and their relationships with each other are quite tangled. Temur must battle his own family members for his rightful place on the throne, knowing that there is no line his enemies won't cross to kill him and rule the nation. I absolutely love how there are so many women in this book, each powerful in their own way. Edene, Samarkar, even Payma...All of these wonderful human beings aside, my favorite characters in this book were the horses. Bansh (Dumpling! How adorable is that??) is such a heroic, resourceful, and loyal horse. I adored Temur and Bansh's relationship, and I'm excited to see how the story progresses in the later books.

I don't want to say much about the plot because this is story involving a lot of political intrigue and spiritual journeying. I was never bored with this book; even the slower parts were beautifully written and only added to richness of the story.

I highly recommend this series! I'm surprised it isn't more popular, because it has everything I love about fantasy done well.

 blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Book turnoffs

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme: Top Ten Book Turnoffs

Somehow I thought this list would be really easy for me, because there are so many blurbs that I read and then roll my eyes. There have been a few of audiobooks that I started recently but couldn't deal with after the first 20 pages so I just DNFed them. But despite all that it was actually pretty hard to remember exactly what kinds of things make me not want to pick up a book! 

Here we goooooo

1. Spoiled/selfish/vain main characters
(usually of the rich white girl variety)


2. Love triangles
(I did enjoy the Hunger Games but the love triangle thing was such an annoyance)


3. Catty/mean girls
(why is the beautiful yet bitchy girl still a trope -___-)


4. Romance-heavy
(I have my ships, but when the romance takes precedence over THE END OF THE WORLD I'm pissed)


5. Purple prose
(some people can pull it off - Laini Taylor, Jay Kristoff - and some just can't)


6. Unbearable levels of male gaze

(this is directed at you, male authors of SFF who write hyper-sexualized female characters)
(Also I know I'm gonna get some flak for my example, but as much as I admire the worldbuilding and the subtlety and AURI I'm sorry just way too much objectification in this series)


7. Stereotypes of POC (especially Asians, because I am one...)
(ahem hem token nerdy Asian best friend)


8. Characters I don't relate to
(nothing concrete here, but if I don't at least like the characters I have a really hard time staying invested in a book)


I didn't quite get to 10 things, but I think that's fine. This post was frankly kind of depressing to write, just thinking about all the books I didn't like in the past few years. Thankfully I've gotten really good at figuring out if I'll like a book by the blurb and a few friends' reviews, so I haven't read too many books I didn't like recently!

blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, April 23, 2017

ARC Review: Skullsworn

29939037Review: Skullsworn
Author: Brian Staveley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."
Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword. 

Fantastic! I loved this book so much, even more than the original trilogy. The best part of this book was learning about the origins of one of the most enigmatic characters in The Unhewn Throne trilogy. I loved seeing who Pyrre was when she was younger; she grows so much over the timeline of this book, but there's also so much growth between Pyrre in this book and Pyrre in the trilogy. I had so much fun trying to figure out and Pyrre's secrets, especially since she was so secretive in the first book.

I really loved how this book also revealed a lot more about the mythology of the world. We learn a lot more about Ananshael's priests and priestesses, and how much they sacrifice to become masters of their order. It's also interesting to see how they view the world, because as foreign as it seems, their beliefs actually make a lot of sense if you think about it. I loved how our own questions were answered when Pyrre questioned the seeming paradoxes of their belief system. Aside from Ananshael's mysteries, we also learn a lot about more local gods from Pyrre's home town. Then there's all the connections between the new mythology in this book and what we know from the trilogy. It was a feast!

I also loved how the setting was such a big character in this book. Pyrre's home town is on the banks of a swampy delta, and like many other things in this series, it is vicious. This delta is full of terrifying animals like crocodiles and snakes, aside from the river itself, which moves and changes paths as if it has a mind of its own.

I loved so much about this book, it's really hard for me to think of anything I didn't like! I loved the new characters, the wit and humor, the rich writing style, and just being in this world again!

A free eARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Instant attention grabbers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's theme: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

This is a fun theme! Here are 10 things that will make me grab a book before I've even finished reading the entire synopsis.

  1. Heist stories

  2. Parallel universes/many worlds

  3. Dragons

  4. Based on Asian mythology/folklore

  5. Pirates

  6. Fairy tale retellings

  7. POC SF/F authors

  8. Favorite author: Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, VE Schwab, Patrick Ness, Neal Shusterman

  9. Friendships

  10.  AIs/robots

blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Thursday, April 13, 2017

SFF reading challenge update 2

We're about a quarter of the way through the year, so here's an update on how I'm doing on the reading challenge!

Purple books are ones I've finished, and ones in gray are books I'm planning on reading for the challenge.

1) Fairy tale retelling: Miranda and Caliban by  Jacqueline Carey - A retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest
2) Historical Fantasy: Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear - an alternate history/fantasy based on Mongolia in the time of Genghis Khan
3) Anathem or Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
4) non-British Steampunk: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - Russian/Scandinavian steampunk? 
7) Comic book: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
9) A classic: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
13) earth-based sci-fi: Station Eleven by  Emily St. John Mandel - a beautiful post-apocalyptic story about how people find their humanity after the end of the world
16) POC MCs: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - multiple POC main characters, including Moira, Doc, and Ivy. Extra glad that Asian POCs were featured!
19) POC author: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang - loved this anthology!
20) M/M Romance: A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab - Rhys and Alucard are THE OTP
22) Pub 2016: Empire of Storms by SJ Maas - another epic love-hate installment of the Throne of Glass series haha
24) Novella: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I've Read

Here are some of the most unique books I've ever read! I love them all and definitely recommend them :)

 Image result for a darker shade of magic

How many other books have you read involving 4 alternate Londons, a magical cloak, and a badass cross-dressing pirate? None? That's what I thought :)

This book is gorgeously written, and I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful and unique this magical circus is.


The Magician's series as a whole is unique in that it's all about subverting fantasy tropes but it's also about growing up. I loved the third book!

Not only is this a ridiculously inventive and hilarious and horrifying sci-fi book, the words on the page make pictures that also tell a story. Such a unique and amazing series!

I don't even know what genre this book is, it's a little bit of everything, honestly! Plus it's a love letter to bookstores, which is amazing.

Shameless plug for one of my favorite books, I've never read another book about conmen that was so endearing, terrifying, and beautifully written. It definitely helps that it's one of the most feminist fantasy series I've read written by a guy!

A lot of fantasy books are about how to defeat the evil emperor (LOTR, anyone?). But what if it's way more complicated than that? I've never read any other books that so seamlessly brought together heists, rebellion, and insane world-building.

There are a lot of books about WWII, but none of them has been as emotional as this one. This book is so unique in the way it's told and the way it focuses on two best friends.

One of the most compassionate looks at mental illness I've ever read. It's 

Any other cyborg cinderellas out there? NOPE. I adore this series so much!!

blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

ARC Review: Winter Tide

29939089Title: Winter Tide
Author: Ruthanna Emrys
Genre: Science fiction, historical fiction

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:After attacking Devil’s Reef in 1928, the U.S. Government rounded up the people of Innsmouth and took them to the desert, far from their ocean, their Deep One ancestors, and their sleeping god Cthulhu. Only Aphra and Caleb Marsh survived the camps, and they emerged without a past or a future.
The government that stole Aphra's life now needs her help. FBI agent Ron Spector believes that Communist spies have stolen dangerous magical secrets from Miskatonic University, secrets that could turn the Cold War hot in an instant, and hasten the end of the human race.
Aphra must return to the ruins of her home, gather scraps of her stolen history, and assemble a new family to face the darkness of human nature.

I didn't realize Winter Tide was based on Cthulu mythology and the worlds of HP Lovecraft until I started reading it. The funny thing is that I've actually read some of Lovecraft's short stories on Cthulu, I just am not a die-hard fan so I've forgotten a lot of the details. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of this book if I were a bigger fan of Lovecraft. Even with my limited experience I got the sense that Ruthanna Emrys was paying homage to his universe while also dissecting and re-imagining it. I definitely appreciated the more feminist lens of Emrys over Lovecraft!

Winter Tide is sort of historical fiction, with some sci-fi thrown in. It weaves in elements of United States history with crazy science fiction elements; I thought bringing in Japanese internment was a genius idea. The main character and her brother are isolated and locked down for because people fear those who do not look like them. The pair finds comfort when Japanese Americans join them; together they bond over their "otherness". It's a simple idea but it makes so much sense!

A lot of Winter Tide is like that. There aren't any huge twists because you find out most of the secrets in the beginning. While there are many unexpected elements, they all weave into the story so well that you can really see how everything fits together and how it wouldn't make sense for it to be any other way. The characters and plot are both very deliberate.

My biggest complaint with this book is that it was hard for me to get emotionally invested in it. It's really hard to feel any emotional connection through Aphra's narration. Aphra's voice is a little dry, very introspective and a little bit...alien. She's not someone that you can easily see yourself as, and of course that's the point, but it still makes it hard to get through the story when Aphra is deconstructing and reflecting on everything with such reserve and detachment.

I would definitely recommend this book for people who love Lovecraft and aren't put-off by a more introspective and slow-moving science fiction story. This book is written in such a unique and lovely way, I will definitely look out for more by Emrys even if this one wasn't my cup of tea.

A free eARC was provided by Tor Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, April 3, 2017

ARC Review: Waking Gods

30134847Title: Waking Gods
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Science fiction

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.
Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.


Sleeping Giants was one of my favorite sci-fi books of 2015, and I had really high expectations for Waking Gods. This book had everything I loved about the first book, but everything was even better the second time around. Definitely no second book slump here!

Waking Gods picks up a few years after the events of Sleeping Giants, with many of the same narrators. There are a few new voices and I loved seeing how they fit into the larger story. Even though the story is mostly told through journals, reports, and interviews, which can seem a bit emotionally distant, this book was a huge emotional roller coaster. I was grinning, crying, shocked, freaking out...let's be real, I was freaking out for a good 90% of the book because everything was so intense.

This book pulls no punches. None of your favorite characters are safe. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I don't want to say too much about the plot of this book because so much of it is a surprise; even just the first few chapters leave you reeling with new revelations. I guess the most I can say is how much I love the characters in this book. They all have grown so much since we first met them in book 1, and I love how their relationships with one another also continue to evolve while they struggle to prevent the end of the world. This story is as much about humans and the people they love as it is about giant alien robots and the end of the world.

I love how this book is so tightly plotted and intelligent. It's rare that a book is a suspenseful page-turner, a profound meditation on human nature, and a hard-science sci-fi story all at once, but that's exactly what this is. Just when you think you know how this story is going to go, it completely up-ends genre tropes and goes in an entirely new direction. I cannot wait to see where book 3 will take us!

A free eARC was provided by Del Rey via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
blog signature photo 4bf1c374-231a-40b6-8756-317f9308721c_zpsf45cae08.jpg
Follow on Bloglovin
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...