Review: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher

The Aeronaut's Windlass

Paperback, 751 pages
Published July 5th 2016 by Roc (first published September 29th 2015)
You may recall that I’m participating in the AceRocStars street team program, and this book was one of the earlier galleys they sent out.  I’ve really wanted to read it ever since I finished reading the prologue, which introduced Gwen as she battled her mother in a flurry of words and gauntlet blasts.  What a way to introduce a character!  But then we shifted gears to Captain Grimm, and it took me a little while to warm up to him.  When I start a new series, they usually seem a little slow at the beginning until the author finds his/her rhythm.

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Throwback Thursday: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)
Creative Must (Does something different really well.)
I loved the premise of this book: Instead of the Library of Alexandria disappearing, it becomes the “impartial” reservoir of all knowledge. Written...

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

I loved the premise of this book: Instead of the Library of Alexandria disappearing, it becomes the “impartial” reservoir of all knowledge. Written books are supposed to be handed over to the Library, which leads to an extensive black market trade. There was a lot to like about this book, and I’m glad the author’s already working on book 2!

Pros:
Diverse characters, full of personality
Bits of ephemera between chapters to flesh out back story
Main character learns to accept himself as an individual
Just enough description, great world-building
Homosexual relationship presented as accepted

Cons:
Sometimes the pace seemed distracted or slowed
Character deaths, they were logical mostly, I just hate when named characters die 😦

This is definitely something everyone should read and share with their friends as soon as possible!

I received this uncorrected proof in exchange for an honest review through AceRocStars.  I’m looking forward to reading the sequel soon!

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)

Hardcover, 371 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Ace
This is one of the books I received through AceRocStars last year, and I just had a chance to finish reading it.  I enjoyed this book.  Not as much as other titles I’ve read recently, but certainly enough to see why it got high praise when it published last September.  There were two main reasons that disappointed me. First, the ending felt very contrived. *Spoiler* The two main characters declare their deep love for each other even though there was no previous romance between them.*  Second, the pacing was off.  Probably because this is a debut, and I allow debuts leeway because I’ve seen the pattern of authors’ evolutions.  So no big there.
What really drew me into this story was the social commentary on both women’s roles in society and how minorities were treated in the past.  I thought it played into the plot well and was carefully written to reflect the past and the present.  Of course, the characters themselves carried most of the burden of portraying and discussing this matter, and I must give props to the author for giving these characters a great depth of personality.  And because writers take great care choosing the appropriate words, I wanted to point out that the vocabulary chosen for both dialogue and exposition fit the world and time period wonderfully.  I felt like I was part of a different time almost.
Zen Cho is an author to keep on your radar for future books as I am looking forward to seeing Zen’s writing evolve into something amazing.

Summary:

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

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…

Reviewed from an uncorrected proof provided in exchange for an honest review through the AceRocStars Street Team.

Throwback Thursday: Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs

For the next few weeks, my Throwback Thursday will feature reviews previously posted on my Tumblr.

R: Recommended (This is at the top of the pile.)

Creative Must (Does something different really well.)

Here’s a quick breakdown of the first 4 books in this series.

Cry Wolf: After years of abuse at the bottom of a pack, Anna has learned not to trust dominant males, until Charles Cornick, the enforcer and leader of the North American werewolves, reveals her true nature as an Omega wolf.

Hunting Ground: Newly mated werewolves, Anna and Charles, attend a summit discussing whether or not the wolves should make themselves known to humans, when Anna is attacked by vampires using pack magic.

Fair Game: Charles, the enforcer of the North American werewolves, is sent to Boston with Anna to assist the FBI in tracking down a serial killer who is targeting werewolves.

Dead Heat: A birthday vacation to Arizona turns deadly for werewolves Charles and Anna, who discover that a dangerous Fae, who is replacing human children with simulacrums, was released to show humanity what the Fae are capable of.

Each book is a contained story, which is used to grow and evolve the main characters, Anna and Charles, while also developing the world.  Briggs does a masterful job of both and is always a joy to read even if the story is a bit iffy.  While I prefer the Mercy series, I really enjoyed learning more about this set of characters, which occasionally cross over.  One of my favorite authors for sure, I’ll recommend her to anyone wanting to start a new fantasy author/series.

I received an uncorrected proof version of book four in my first AceRocStars package and quickly purchased books 1-3 to read!

Old “What I’m Reading” from September 2015

This is an old post that I had accidentally posted as its own page.  So here it is as a post instead.  Thanks for understanding!

 

Since this is a new concept for me, and a newish medium, I’d like to talk about what I’m currently reading and what I just finished up.

Unfortunately for me, I have many books going for different projects, which would normally be fine, except that I’m also in the process of fixing up a house and moving.  So, my reading time has taken a large hit.  And I miss it 😦

Luckily, I’ve always been really good at juggling multiple reads, so I’m not lost when I pick back up a book after a few days (or weeks).  So without further ado, here is my current reading list!

Prince of Fools Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence The Red Queen’s War bk. 1

I’m listening to the audiobook for this right now through Audible, although I did purchase a UK paperback for my collection after winning an ARC of the sequel The Liar’s Key from AceRocBooks via Twitter.  I actually wasn’t trying to win, just share the information with my followers, but I’m now glad that I did.  I’m almost through book one, and I found myself enjoying the characters and world building more than expected.

Dreamer's Pool (Blackthorn & Grim, #1) Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier Blackthorn & Grim bk. 1

I have this book checked out from the library in physical and ebook formats.  This book has actually been in my TBR list since its release, as I really enjoyed Daughter of the Forest, but I’m actually reading this one now because I received an ARC of Tower of Thorns through my participation in the AceRocStars street team.  I’m only on chapter 4, but so far I like the two main characters and look forward to wherever the story takes me.

Dark Currents (Agent of Hel, #1) Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey Agent of Hel bk. 1

I’m reading this series because next weekend is ARCHON St. Louis, where the author is a guest of honor!!  I met her back in January at ALA Midwinter, where I picked up a free, signed hardcover of Poison Fruit courtesy of Penguin Publishing.  I had hoped to have the whole series done by now, but life gets in the way sometimes.  Once again, I’m not far in, but I love the urban fantasy aspects of this book and the main character is pretty cool.

The Terrans (First Salik War, #1) The Terrans by Jean Johnson First Salik War bk. 1

Another ARC I received from the AceRocStars.  I’ve been working on this one for over a month, and while I do like what I’m reading, this is new territory for me.  I’m more of a fantasy girl, and this is sci-fi.  Military sci-fi in fact, which I have very little experience with nor would I have sought it out on my own, I think.  But I do plan on finishing this one eventually.  I even picked up the first book in her Theirs Not to Reason Why series, A Soldier’s Duty because it sounded really interesting.

Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1) Maplecroft by Cherie Priest The Borden Dispatches bk. 1

I’m reading this one to catch up to the sequel, Chapelwood, which I received an ARC of from the AceRocStars.  (Noticing a theme yet?)  This one’s written in epistolary style and has a more horror/dark fantasy slant with a mix of historical thrown in for good measure.  I’ve heard good things, so here’s hoping.

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, #1) Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews Kate Daniels bk. 1

This one’s been on my list for forever, but since there’s over 500 titles on that list, I just hadn’t gotten around to this one yet.  But, AceRocStars sent out a paperback of Magic Breaks and an eARC of Magic Shifts a couple of months back, so here I am.  Finally starting this 8+ book series.  Fortunately, Ilona Andrews has an easy-to-read writing style, and I have full faith that I’ll fly right through these.  Once I have the time…

That’s what I’m currently reading.  Basically, I’ve started several new series to work my way into ARCs I need to review.  Now, here’s the books I have recently finished in the last couple of weeks!!

The Young Elites by Marie Lu  I just finished this one, and I’m working on my review.  Problem is I have mixed feelings about it, so I’m trying to sort those out in order to write something informative.  Also, I got an ARC of The Rose Society through work, so I might wait until after I read it.

The Devil's Playground by Jenna BlackSpeak of the Devil by Jenna Black  These are books 4 & 5 of the Morgan Kingsley series, which I started in high school when it first came out.  I just never read the final book, so I re-read book 4 to understand where the story was as I left it and finished the fifth and final one.  Since these are older books, I haven’t decided if I’ll post single reviews or a series review.  (All 5 of my copies are now signed thanks to Jenna Black’s amazing generosity of signing some book plates for me!)

Wonder Woman, Vol. 5 by Brian Azzarello  The New 52’s take on Wonder Woman started off good, and I was really invested in the story, but by volume 4 the story took a weird turn that just didn’t feel right for Wonder Woman.  Not sure if I can continue reading this series.

The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows  This book was amazing!!  I completely devoured it and am working on my review.  Even though it had one of those annoying cliffhanger endings, I was satisfied with the threads that were tied up in the conclusion.  It also helps that I got an ARC of The Mirror King through work 🙂

WHEW!! That’s it for this long post!  Next time, I’ll post about my 2015 reading challenges!

Book Review: Planetfall by Emma Newman

Planetfall

I was really enjoying this book, and just had to stay up late to make a mad dash to reach the end–to finally find out what happened during the first planetfall exploration, which had only been hinted at throughout the book.  The journey was fascinating, and I liked the mystery and little pieces that were revealed throughout the narrative.
Unfortunately, I was super disappointed in the ending. It felt rushed, disjointed, and was not, at all, what I was expecting, which I usually don’t mind, if it makes sense. In this case, I felt like the last five or so chapters were almost from a different author.
Perhaps my dissatisfaction stems from a personal preference for tidy endings without ambiguity. And since Planetfall has underlying philosophical and religious themes, the ending did follow that thread, but I felt like there was not enough focus on those themes to justify that kind of ending.
The other 3/4 of the book I absolutely enjoyed! The main character is a female 3D printer engineer, who also knows about genetics, is bisexual/lesbian, and later we learn that she is a hoarder. These things make for a wonderfully diverse story in a time when #weneeddiversebooks is on the rise.  The storytelling pulled me in with the knowledge that the main character and the leader of the colony had lied about the death of the original “prophet”, and the mental stress was starting to seriously affect her.

I decided to build a list of pros and cons for this title as some people reading reviews might want the meat in a quick, easy-to-find format.  (What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!)

Pros:

Strong female narrator/protagonist
3D printing and engineering
Addresses hoarding as a mental illness
Future technology that makes sense and is cool
Emotional descriptions were spot on
Characterization worked well
Great worldbuilding for the colony & God’s city

Cons:

Ambiguous ending that didn’t satisfy many of the BIG questions set up in the narrative
Never really addresses the cult-like behavior
Would have liked to know more about the flora and fauna of the planet

The religious and philosophical overtones will fall into different categories for different people, but I don’t think they are insulting, but they are definitely thought-provoking. And, isn’t that what good science fiction does?

A big thanks to Ace/Roc for an advance copy, which I received through the AceRocStars program, in exchange for an honest review.  I chose this title to fulfill one of my November slots as part of the Pub. month challenge.  This book came out just last week, so you should go pick up a copy.  I know I’ll be sharing this with friends over the holidays 🙂

From the publisher:

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thorns, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

New Installment for AceRocStars

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I was going to do another Waiting for Wednesday post, but yesterday I received a new batch of books from the wonderful people at Ace and Roc.  This batch is a little bit different from the first few mailings in two ways.  First, there was a slight variation in which books people received.  Second, several older novels were included, which were each the first in their respective series.  I received 9 books, 4 ARCs and 5 finished copies.

Finished:

A Kiss before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

Anno: An angel who has chosen to renounce Heaven to live on Earth, Boston private detective Remy Chandler must put his unique talents to work–the ability to speak and understand any language and to hear others’ thoughts–when his angelic former colleagues enlist his assistance to help find a missing Angel of Death, and he uncovers a conspiracy aimed at destroying the entire human race.

Control Point by Myke Cole

Anno: Tasked to bring order to a chaotic world, Army officer Oscar Britton, a lieutenant attached to the military’s Supernatural Operations Corps, becomes public enemy number one when he manifests a rare and prohibited magical power.

Midnight Crossroad by Charlaine Harris

Anno: The first book in a new trilogy describes what happens in Midnight, Texas, a dried-up, one traffic light town, when a mysterious new resident, Manfred Bernardo, moves in.

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Anno: Raised by the Brothers of the Sixth Order, Vaelin Al Sorna, a Warrior of the Faith, must battle the Empire and even his own father in the first book of a new, epic fantasy trilogy.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Anno: Depending on her veteran brother’s benefits in a city where jobs outside the drug trade are rare, Flynne assists her brother’s latest beta-test tech assignment only to uncover an elaborate murder scheme.

ARCs/Galleys:

The Last Dream Keeper by Amber Benson

Anno: Only one witch is prophesied to be able to stop the encroaching darkness, and if Lyse and her blood sisters are to have any chance at protecting all we know from being lost forever, they must keep her safe—no matter what the cost.

Thunderbird by Jack McDevitt

Anno: When an ancient stargate is discovered near Devil’s Lake in North Dakota, the ensuing race to claim and explore the stargate triggers heated debates about humanity’s role in the galaxy.

Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel Jose Older

Anno: The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie’s botánica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts.

Admiral by Sean Danker

Anno: He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empire–a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer. Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one–and they are not alone.

I can’t wait to dig into this new material since most of these authors are new to me.  BUT, I love researching new books and authors, so bring it on!

All annotations taken from Baker & Taylor.