Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Readalong - Novels of the Change 3.1

Cover art by: Jonathan Barkat; Photoshop credit: Stephen Fischer
We are now halfway through the final novel in the Nantucket series, which is the third novel in our Novels of the Change reread/ readalong.  In this post we will be discussing chapters 1-14 of On the Oceans of Eternity.  If you missed it here’s a the post with the description of the readalong project.

 So far On the Oceans of Eternity has been less fighting and more about the exploration and rebuilding that I enjoy.  Alice Hong and her evil Dark Sisterhood are now experimenting with germ warfare, which I find fascinating and horrifying all at the same time.  Swindapa and Marian are still the best couple with the most adorable family.  I found the descriptions of historically famous cities mesmerizing.  I still find myself wishing we could know more about how things are developing on the island of Nantucket.  But there are so many story lines and different characters that we can’t see everything.  I still find myself getting occasionally confused trying to follow the different storylines, but I find them interesting enough that I don’t mind.

Discussion Question: (If you are reading along and want to join the discussion feel free to answer these questions, or pose your own questions, in the comments.)

Now that we are almost done with the Nantucket series how are you hoping things are going to end? 

** Join us  next week for a discussion of chapters 14-end of On the Oceans of Eternity, and remember to find out when the next discussion will be posted and for more regular updates on BookGirlR’s reading progress follow us on twitter @bookgirlr **

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Nightshades - Review

Author:  Melissa F. Olson
Synopsis:Alex McKenna is the new Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office of the Bureau of Paranormal Investigations—the division tasked with investigating crimes involving shades.
“Or vampires, as they’re more widely known.
“Children have been going missing, and agents are routinely being slaughtered. It’s up to McKenna, and some unlikely allies, to get to the bottom of the problem, and find the kids before it’s too late.”

Review:  A fantastic beginning to what I hope is a new series.  Nightshades introduces us to a world in which vampires exist among humans, a fact which has only fairly recently been revealed to the wary humans.  The Bureau of Paranormal Investigations has been created to deal with vampire (or shade as they are called) crime.  The story follows new agent Alex McKenna as he investigates a series of disappearances and murder.  While rather short, it’s really a novella not a novel, Nightshades introduces readers to what has the possibility to be a deep and well thought out new world.  My hope is that future novels in this series will be longer and give the characters more depth. 

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.**

Publisher: Tor

If you like this book you may want to read:

Generation V by M.L. Brennan (Check out  BookGirlR’s review here)

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Monday, July 18, 2016

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet - Review

Title:  Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet  
Author:  Charlie N. Holmberg
Synopsis:  “Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.
“When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.
“During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.”

Review:  When I started reading Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet I wasn’t sure what to expect.  All I knew of the novel was that the main character could infuse what she bakes with feelings.  I sort of thought it was going to be magical realism similar to Sarah Addison Allen, and I thought a novel about a woman who owns a bakery and makes magical baked goods would be awesome (if anyone knows of a book like that please let me know).  This is not that novel.
     Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet is a fantasy novel.  It’s set in a fantasy world where magic and gods are real.  It starts out with Maire in her bakery, but swiftly turns darker.  Most of the town is slaughtered by bandits and Maire is sold into slavery.  There are some brutal violent bits, I started to get afraid there was going to be rape (I don’t handle those scenes well and I would have quit right there) but there is not. 
     Even though it is not the story I thought I was going to be reading, Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet has the excellent writing that I have come to expect from Holmberg, strong well developed characters and careful world building.  I definitely recommend fans of fantasy read this novel.

**I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review via NetGalley.**

Publisher:  47 North
If you like this book you may want to read:

The Paper Magician (Paper Magician Series #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Readalong - Novels of the Change 2.1

Cover art by: Johnathan Barkat Photoshop Credit: Stephen Fischer

     After a bit of a break we have finally finished Against the Tide of Years.  In this post we will be discussing the entire book, as opposed to half like we did with Island in the Sea of Time which means we are now 2/15 of the way through our Novels of the Change reread/ readalong (although there is a new novel coming out in September 2016 which will change our goal to 16; here’s the link to the new book on Amazon) If you missed the previous discussions you can find them here (1.1) and here (1.2); and the description of the project here.   
    I did not enjoy Against the Tide of Years as much as I loved Island in the Sea of Time.  Part of what I loved about Island in the Sea of Time was the description of how the Islanders adapted to being in the past.  Against the Tide of Years starts 8 years later and by now the Islanders have pretty much figured out how to survive and are exploring their world.  I did feel that this second novel in the series spreads itself way too thin.  There are multiple story lines going on.  Many groups of people are doing different things.  It did get a bit confusing at times.  I also feel that this novel was all about war, war and more war.  We did not get to see into the characters lives nearly as much as we did in Island in the Sea of Time.  It’s still interesting, seeing the characters developing their fledgling nation.

Marian and Swindapa’s family is adorable.  They are by far my favorite characters.  Alice Hong is the most evil character in the entire novel.  Seriously, she frightens me.  I’m still greatly enjoying the historical aspect of these novels.  Reading about historical events and wondering what changes will occur because of the Islanders, and Walkers, influence is fascinating.

Discussion Questions: (If you are reading along and want to join the discussion feel free to answer these questions, or pose your own questions, in the comments.)

BookGirlR revealed her favorite (and the scariest) characters .  Who are your favorite characters from this novel and why?

What was your favorite part of Against the Tide of Years?  Why?

As we move ahead into the final novel of the Nantucket series what are you hoping to see happen? 

** Join us Saturday  7/23 for a discussion of chapters 1-14 of On the Oceans of Eternity, and remember for more regular updates on BookGirlR’s reading progress follow us on twitter @bookgirlr **

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Besieged- Review

Title:  Besieged
Author: Rowena Cory Daniells
Series: The Outcast Chronicles #1

Synopsis:  “Sorne, the estranged son of a King on the verge of madness, is being raised as a weapon to wield against the mystical Wyrds.  Half a continent away, his father is planning to lay siege to the Celestial City, the home of the T’En, whose wyrd blood the mundane population have come to despise.  Within the City, Imoshen, the only mystic to be raised by men, is desperately trying to hold her people together.  A generation long feud between the men of the Brotherhoods and the women of the sacred Sisterhoods is about to come to a head.”

Review:  I’m going to be upfront about something right away; please don’t judge me.  I bought this book because I fell in love with the cover.  Look at it.  It’s beautiful.  Can you blame me?  It was when I started reading Besieged that I realized this novel is beautiful inside and out.  I became emotionally invested in the lives of the characters.  If I hadn't been able to finish reading this in one day I would have worried about the characters while not reading.  The fantastic world building and political intrigue in this epic fantasy novel will keep you reading for hours that feel like seconds.  I read Besieged in one day and immediately ordered the second and third in the series.  I highly recommend reading Besieged.

Publisher:  Solaris Books

If you like this book you may want to read:

Exile (The Outcast Chronicles #2) by Rowena Cory Daniells

The Sentinel Mage (The Cursed Kingdoms Trilogy #1) by Emily Gee (Read BookGirlR’s review here)

The Warded Man (The Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V. Brett (Read BookGirlR’s review here)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Please Be Respectful

Many of you have noticed that I've been gone for awhile.  I appreciate the kind emails, fellow book lovers wondering where I've been.  I wasn't okay for a little while.  I had a bad encounter with a fellow book blogger who took offense at the fact that one of my reviews (my opinion of a novel) was different from hers.  She sent me an email so nasty that I seriously considered deleting my blog and quitting doing reviews.  But I have decided not to let her win.  I'm back.  I'm going to finish the S.M. Stirling  Novels of the Change read-a-long, and I will continue to post honest reviews of the books I am reading.

For the record: I don't care if your opinion of a novel if different from mine, and we can even talk about it.  But when you start calling me inappropriate names, and flat out tell me that my opinion is wrong, that is not okay.  I welcome an open conversation about books on this blog, but we need to be respectful of the opinions of others.

**You can expect reviews later this week, and the next installment of the Novels of the Change Readalong on Sunday 7/17 when we will finish reading book 2 of the Nantucket series Against the Tide of Years.**

Monday, March 28, 2016

City of Savages - Review

Title:  City of Savages
Author:  Lee Kelly

Synopsis:  “It’s been nearly two decades since the breakout of the third world war.  Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp ruled by island native Rolladin, who controls the city’s survivors with an iron fist.  For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders.  But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the Central Park POW Camp is the only home she’d ever want.
     “When strangers arrive in the park, carrying a shocking message, Sky and Phee discover there’s more to Manhattan – and their family – than either of them had ever imagined.  As disturbing secrets about the island begin to surface Sky and Phee have no choice but to break the rules to uncover the full truth of their long-shrouded history.  When their quest for answers erupts into violence, Sky and Phee must flee into Manhattan’s depths, where their quest for a better future will force them to confront the island’s dark and shocking past.”

Review:  I love post-apocalyptic fiction.  I read a lot of it, and I’m picky about it.  City of Savages was a fun read.  I enjoyed the premise, and the author did an excellent job of maintaining the tension throughout the novel, building to a nail biting, edge of your seat climax.  There were plenty of surprises and unexpected reveals.  However I found that the two sisters, Sky and Phee, were much too similar and very flat.  The story is told from their alternating points of view and flashbacks involving a diary.  I frequently found myself forgetting whose point of view I was experiencing.  The beginning of each chapter tells you, but Sky and Phee think and act so similar that it was very confusing.  I recommend reading City of Savages, but be prepared for two main characters who are a bit bland and stereotypical. 

Publisher:  Saga Press

If you like this book you may want to read:

Undertow by Michael Buckley

The 5th Wave (5th Wave #1) by Rick Yancey

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Book of Phoenix - Review

Title:  The Book of Phoenix
Author:  Nnedi Okorafor
Series:  Who Fears Death Prequel

Synopsis:  “Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7.  She is an “accelerated woman” – only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human.  Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.
     “Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life.  Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.
     “But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story.  Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.”

Review:  I read this novel in one sitting.  I know that’s not unusual for me, but it really was that good!  The Book of Phoenix is a perfect combination of a science fiction and a superhero novel.  Nnedi Okorafor’s way with words is excellent.  I hung on every word, and every phrase.  The story moves along at a fast pace, and kept me captivated until the very end.  The struggle of Phoenix to adapt to her new circumstances and bring down the mega-corporation that rules this dystopian world is heart wrenching, and fascinating.  I highly recommend this wonderful novel.

Publisher: DAW

If you like this book you may want to read:

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sorcerer to the Crown - Review

Title:  Sorcerer to the Crown
Author:  Zen Cho
Series:  Sorcerer Royal #1

Synopsis:  “At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers – one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain – ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
     “But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain – and the world at large.”

Review:  I loved this novel!  It did not go the way I expected based on the cover blurb.  I felt that the novel was much more about Prunella and less about Zacharias than the blurb lead me to believe.  I was fascinated by the story of Zacharias and Prunella.  Together they deal with the heavy issues of racism & sexism.  At first I was annoyed by Prunella’s insistence on just wanting to marry a rich husband, but came to like her more as she came into her own.  Sorcerer to the Crown features a beautifully crafted world with intricate, well thought-out politics, and fully fleshed out characters.  I can’t wait to read the next novel in the series!
**I received a free copy of this book, in exchange for my honest review, via NetGalley**

Publisher:  Ace

If you like this book you may want to read:

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (read BookGirlR’s review here)

The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone