... In a good way and a bad way, because I'd like to know more about this world but I also felt like the ending was a little rusheLeft me wanting more
... In a good way and a bad way, because I'd like to know more about this world but I also felt like the ending was a little rushed. The writing is good though clearly YA. The imagery is gorgeous and the culture is nicely diverse. I loved the Asian setting, though I wish there had been more mystical/mythological involvement (I couldn't help but think "the Eagles are coming!" Like in the Lord Of The Rings at one point). It's really hard to describe the lack of a thing, and I think the author did pretty well, though it did seem like characters adapted to changed circumstances a little too quickly. A fast, pretty read....more
Huge book with really interesting world-building and developed characters, but has some points where it drags. Many characters to loIntricate but long
Huge book with really interesting world-building and developed characters, but has some points where it drags. Many characters to lose track of, but stick it out till the end and you'll be rewarded with a faster pace and lots of plot developments. Sort of abrupt ending but it's book one of a trilogy so there will be more....more
There is a lot going on in this book. I hesitated to give out five stars because of the folks that are lost and the changes that theTrue to its title
There is a lot going on in this book. I hesitated to give out five stars because of the folks that are lost and the changes that the characters have to deal with. But the story wraps up here, there is happiness to be found, and the same humor mixed with thoughtful asides amid a few quotes from the Bard that you've come to expect from an Iron Druid novel are all here. I wish the Three Slices anthology was available through my local libraries because I'd sure like to get some of the backstory for this story; read it first if you can find it....more
Recently I had the opportunity to see Naomi Novik speak on a panel at C2E2 (you could not escape the blue bags with her this book's logo gorgeously emRecently I had the opportunity to see Naomi Novik speak on a panel at C2E2 (you could not escape the blue bags with her this book's logo gorgeously emblazoned on them there), and that made me excited to read her new book UPROOTED. Honestly, I tried the Temeraire series and stopped after the first book--though that could have just been a case of "too many books, not enough time" syndrome. Resolved to give this very engaging author another shot after seeing her panel, I dove into Uprooted and was very glad to.
UPROOTED has the feel of an old story retold in a very good new way, one of those tales a bard would relate in front of a tavern fire surrounded by folks swaddled in fur. I guess it seems like it has roots in Russian or Polish mythology, with the character and place names. There are many twisty bits in this story--you may think our clumsy heroine is going to simply swoon at her unexpected mentor's feet, but you'll be wrong, to mention just one--and sometimes the action is so furious you might lose track of what's happening, like the first time you see a summer blockbuster (am I the only one who likes to see movies more than once at the theater?). But this is good; seems like quite a few books nowadays are all action, no plot, whereas UPROOTED has a very firm thread to follow. The author upsets tropes without it seeming strange. The story doesn't go where you expect, thankfully. And here, magic isn't easy, and it has a terrific cost.
Every so often I found myself calling Mary Sue with the way magic seemed to work, but that could just be me being overly sensitive to such things (a hazard of reading too much fantasy and commentary of such?). Other than that, I have no complaints. The cover is beautiful and appropriate for the story. The characters have roots (pun intended) and don't suddenly change their methods to suit the story. And the setting is at once bucolic and terrifying. Who doesn't like a walk in the woods? "Into the woods, you have to grope, but that's the way you learn to cope..."
Recommended for those folks who've had their fill of grimdark, want a fulfilling standalone tale, and some of what I heard another author call "pastoral fantasy," which I think is a very good name for this type of story.
Received as a free digital ARC via Edelweiss and the publisher....more
THE JUST CITY is a thought experiment actually carried through. I must admit my classical education is woefully inadequate--I've never read Plato andTHE JUST CITY is a thought experiment actually carried through. I must admit my classical education is woefully inadequate--I've never read Plato and I've barely read Homer--but I still enjoyed this story, and I'm curious to see how it continues. With a little divine intervention (and some of that is quite hands-on), bring together the greatest (known and unknown) thinkers in history and future and have them create a civilization, according to the rules Plato thought would bring about the best world. Some of his ideas are hideous to modern folks--think forced pregnancies and exposing disabled infants--but perhaps some of them really do help a group of people come together.
This book explores many areas of population science, interweaving social dynamics with artificial intelligence, examining the psychology of growing up and becoming upstanding members of one's community. It messed with my head, but it was fun to read about Apollo's befuddlement at human behavior even as he tries to imitate it. Author Jo Walton does a good job at showing how the gods might think while keeping the writing accessible to us mortals. And her female characters are well drawn, espousing all the arguments those of us outside the Just City are still debating. And Sokrates (yes, Socrates) is a hoot, no matter if he's debating robots or trying to make his students think outside their rigid boxes.
It's hard to pin down a genre for this book; time-travel for obvious reasons; fantasy because of the gods; straight up literature because of the philosophical questions posed throughout; social commentary because in every community, there are those that have and those that have not, and even in a perfect society there are those who rebel against the norm. If you want to be challenged by your fantasy, give this a shot. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series....more
DARK ALCHEMY tells the story of Petra Dee, a geologist with a tragic past, and what happens when she tries to make a new start in Temperance, the bestDARK ALCHEMY tells the story of Petra Dee, a geologist with a tragic past, and what happens when she tries to make a new start in Temperance, the best old-West ghost town this side of Yellowstone. She manages to get on the bad side of some toughs and finds herself at odds with the local alchemist who's trying to prolong his life (because what little town doesn't have one of those?).
I liked the story, and the pace moved along well enough, but Petra rubbed me the wrong way sometimes. She takes care of what needs to be done, though, and that's a good thing. I liked the interaction between Petra and the other characters, and the easy take on gender fluidity. Rest assured, there's plenty of the supernatural here. From the aforementioned alchemy to those strange ravens that keep hovering around the even stranger Gabriel, a few terribly distorted skeletons, Petra's missing father, and a bunch of meth-heads (or are they?), the author weaves together a satisfying, creepy mystery. There's even a coyote familiar, Sig (named after the gun, natch), who steals the show without saying a word. There's a little science (and it makes sense!) and some romance (not insta-love, thank goodness) but they take a backseat to the supernatural. Some of the plot points seemed a little predictable, but more often than not the story took a turn I wasn't expecting.
The author wrapped up all the questions pretty neatly, which is a welcome change from the "first in a series" that always seems to come from urban fantasy (rural fantasy, here?), though another story in this world would be fun to read.
Received as a free digital ARC via Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
Scott Westerfeld has been a supporter of NaNoWriMo for quite some time, so I was pleased to see him put out a book that mentions the program, even ifScott Westerfeld has been a supporter of NaNoWriMo for quite some time, so I was pleased to see him put out a book that mentions the program, even if just in the acknowledgements (but the novel in thirty days sounds familiar, no?). It's good, too. Sometimes it seems a little long, but the alternating chapters (one a story of a high school novelist who miraculously gets a publishing contract on her NaNovel, the other the actual story she wrote) are easy to distinguish and both tell good stories.
I'm sure someone has done the math to see if Darcy's story really is 60,000 words (that's 2k words/day if you want to end up with a novel in 30 days), but I didn't feel like counting. The book certainly is long enough to contain two novels, but it read pretty fast. You'll care about the characters and want to know what happens to Lizzie, and you'll root for Darcy to find the perfect ending. Since I'm not a published author (yet?) I don't know how accurate Westerfeld's portrayal of the New York pub scene really is, but it sure sounds authentic, and scary and exciting at the same time. I certainly would never take the giant step of going off to NY on just my first book advance, but maybe that's just me and my severe risk aversion.
Knowing what I do about agents' dislike of NaNovels, I'm surprised Darcy got an offer on her (unedited?) manuscript. But that aside, AFTERWORLDS is a very interesting book, with characters aren't the typical tropes, a very cute and heartbreaking romance, and enough meta touches that anyone who wants to realize their dream of becoming a published author will appreciate reading this book.
I can only hope that one day my NaNovel will be worthy of a hundred-grand advance.
I have to admit, when I first read the blurb for LIESMITH I was worried that the book might devolve into some fanfic-worthy slash, but this is a solidI have to admit, when I first read the blurb for LIESMITH I was worried that the book might devolve into some fanfic-worthy slash, but this is a solid urban fantasy where the two main characters just happen to be queer. Folks who loved the Avengers movie and folks who love to game (as in board or D&D games) will easily relate to our non-traditional protagonist Sigmund, who is designing his own video game and is taken aback, but not too much, when he finds out that his huh-I-guess-I-like-guys boyfriend is actually the Norse god Loki.
For those who prefer their urban fantasy romance cis and white, you may be uncomfortable with LIESMITH. For those who want a good story, you'll enjoy it. The romance is not too overt, and it's well done when it's there. Sig and Lain (Loki) come off as any other couple, at least any other couple where one happens to be a god who has birthed babies and the other carries the soul of the god's dead wife...
The story can be convoluted, and some of the imagery is harsh. The author doesn't shy away from describing gory scenes that will probably make any reader squirm. But there is adventure here, and the plot, however twisted, makes sense in the end. I like how most of the plot points are tied up at the end, with the overarching storyline ready for another book.
There is plenty of humor among the horror bits, and it's satisfying to read a book where the protagonist is an unapologetic nerd. I may not be a D&Der but I love to play games and read fantasy, and that means that I can see myself in Sigmund. I'm really interested in this story and I'll be on the lookout for the next book.
Received as a free digital ARC via Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more