Friday, August 3, 2018

The Friday 56 & Book Beginnings #9

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE.

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.


A generations-spanning family of psychics--both blessed and burdened by their abilities--must use their powers to save themselves from the CIA, the local mafia, and a skeptic hell-bent on discrediting them in this hilarious, tender, magical novel about the invisible forces that bind us.

The Telemachus family is known for performing inexplicable feats on talk shows and late-night television. Teddy, a master conman, heads up a clan who possess gifts he only fakes: there's Maureen, who can astral project; Irene, the human lie detector; Frankie, gifted with telekinesis; and Buddy, the clairvoyant. But when, one night, the magic fails to materialize, the family withdraws to Chicago where they live in shame for years. Until: As they find themselves facing a troika of threats (CIA, mafia, unrelenting skeptic), Matty, grandson of the family patriarch, discovers a bit of the old Telemachus magic in himself. Now, they must put past obstacles behind them and unite like never before. But will it be enough to bring The Amazing Telemachus Family back to its amazing life? 

Book Beginnings: Matty Telemachus left his body for the first time in the summer of 1995, when he was fourteen years old. Or maybe it's more accurate to say that his body expelled him, sending his consciousness flying on a geyser of lust and shame.

The Friday 56: Her fourth night behind the screen, she was asked to join her first private chat.

What are you reading this week? Do you enjoy reading about psychics? What novels about families are your favorites?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On books of letters

Would reading your texts tell a story? How about your emails? With some of these modern technologies giving us such direct and fast communication, we lose the narrative-ness of extended exchanges. However, in the following books, you can clearly see the story through the letters our characters exchange:

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - When Juliet begins a correspondence with the people living on Guernsey Island, she has no idea how much her life will change. This adorable piece of historical fiction is a must-read.

  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis - This collection of letters between Lucifer and a devil servant reveal how to tempt man - and perhaps, how to avoid vices.

  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen - Through letters, Austen tells the story of the witty and selfish Lady Susan as she hunts for a husband.

  • The Letters of Virginia Woolf by Virginia Woolf - This six volume collection of the writer’s letters span her entire lifetime and reveal the inner workings of one of the greatest writers of her time.

What books would you add to this list? Do you feel that your modern-day communication would yield similarly interesting books if compiled?

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings #8

The Friday 56 is a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice where every Friday you pick a book and turn to page 56 or 56%, and select a sentence or a few, as long as it's not a spoiler. For the full rules, visit the the page HERE.

Book Beginnings is a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader that asks you to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you're reading.

Paramnesia: The Deadish Chronicles

Nora Edwards finally had everything she wanted out of life, including the boy of her dreams, Andrew, until one night that dream turned into a nightmare. On their way home from prom, Nora and Andrew are attacked by a supernatural creature called the Revenant that sucks the souls out of the living in order to feed itself. Nora manages to escape from the creature, but tragically, Andrew is not as fortunate.

Although Nora suffered loss that night, she gained something, as well: the ability to see the dead. Whether the skill is a gift or a curse is yet to be determined, as those around her assume Nora has developed "paramnesia," a disorder where one confuses dreams with reality. She's also attracted the attention of the Revenant's masters, who need to preserve the secret of their supernatural existence. Nora, along with Andrew and her living and dead allies in the Deadish Society, quickly finds herself in a battle for the souls of her city—and her mind.

Book Beginnings: The wind rushed in through the dark, open doorway, causing an unearthly howl that sounded like screaming.

The Friday 56: Nora snorted. "Charlie? Are you serious? He hates me."
"You and I both know that's not true," Graves said with a wink.

What are you reading this week? Are you interested in paranormal romances?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Library Loot #1

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Act of Will (Hawthorne Saga, #1)  Solo  The Half-Drowned King (The Half-Drowned King #1)

  • Act of Will by A.J. Hartley - As I browsed through the fantasy section at my library, this book caught my eye and the look of it made me chuckle a bit. It feels like the kind of book I'd really enjoy and laugh at a lot. Excited to give this one at try!
  • Solo by Kwame Alexander - I've been hearing nothing but good things about this all over the blogosphere and I'm excited to see what all the hype is about! Also, I adore books about music, so this one caught my interest the first time I heard about it.
  • The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker - I've heard a bit about this book around and everything I heard intrigued me. The cover is beautiful and very unique and I'm curious to see if it's as mythical and slow as the cover makes me think it will be.

What books did you get this week? Have you read any of these?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

On feminist fantasy

Feminism and fantasy are two things that could stand to be combined more often. It's been on my mind a lot lately that there aren't always strong women in fantasy and I think we could stand to have a few (or a lot) more of those.

If you're interested in reading some feminist fantasy, here are a few books I recommend you start with:

The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)

  • The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin - While the first book of this series is also completely worth the time, this sequel shows a matriarchal society of priestesses and one young woman's struggle with finding her place in it - or deciding if there's a place for her at all. It's an early inclusion of women in fantasy and Le Guin has influenced so many future feminist fantasy writers that she cannot be overlooked on this list.

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)
  • Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones - This is another classic fantasy book that's excellent for young (and old) readers. Sophie is a young girl put under a terrible curse that causes her to entirely change her life - and learn to utilize the gifts that she has.

City of Lies (Poison Wars #1)
  • City of Lies by Sam Hawke - This brand new book (released July 3rd) takes place in a matriarchal society. While most of the rest of the book doesn't delve too much into feminism, I'm excited to see where this series will go and how the matriarchal society will be brought up in future books.

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)
  • Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb - In a book full of seafaring adventures, traders' guilds, and fierce pirates, there isn't room for women, right? Wrong. Robin Hobb shows us a world (and a family) where women are fighting for their voice and the ability to join in high sea adventures. It's a swashbuckling book with plenty of strong women to look up to.

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)
  • Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey - This is the most sex-positive fantasy story I've ever read. Phèdre is part dominatrix, part spy, part politician, part diplomat, and part survivor of terrible trauma. Her story is complex and fascinating and it's wonderful to see all the ways in which she can succeed.

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin - This book follows Essun, a middle aged woman searching for her daughter as the world ends around her. Women are the main focus of this story - their lives, their experiences, their mistakes, and their misfortunes, along with their successes and joy. Essun is complicated and fascinating and a wonderful character to get to know - and to learn from her experiences.

What books would you add to this list? Have you read any of the books on this list?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: Apocalypse Nyx by Kameron Hurley

Apocalypse Nyx (Bel Dame Apocrypha #1.5, 1.7)
Released on July 17th, 2018 by Tachyon Publications
Available for purchase on Amazon

Move over Mad Max―here comes Nyx.

Ex-government assassin turned bounty-hunter, Nyx, is good at solving other people’s problems. Her favorite problem-solving solution is punching people in the face. Then maybe chopping off some heads. Hey―it’s a living.

Her disreputable reputation has been well earned. To Nyx’s mind, it’s also justified. After all, she’s trying to navigate an apocalyptic world full of giant bugs, contaminated deserts, scheming magicians, and a centuries-long war that’s consuming her future. Managing her ragtag squad of misfits has required a lot of morally-gray choices. 

Every new job is another day alive. Every new mission is another step toward changing a hellish future―but only if she can survive. 

3.5 stars.

There was a lot to like about this book (slash collection of short stories?) - it's written well, the characters are interesting and unique, and the world was really fantastic (set in a Middle Eastern-esque world and full of assassins and heists). It was an enjoyable read and made me interested in reading the rest of the series.

Nyx's character development was a bit of a sore spot for me, however. For most of this book, I was rooting for her to start making some changes in her life, even if they were minor ones. But I kept reading and Nyx kept going through the same motions she had in each story in the collection - getting annoyed with her team, lusting after someone in her team, making it clear that she doesn't care about her team members at all, barely completing the job, and sleeping with someone to blow off some steam. Each story had a unique job and some unique aspects to it, but the changes fell flat because Nyx was approaching each situation as exactly the same person. Finally, at the very end, Nyx experiences what could be counted as change, but it's unclear whether this is actually a chance for her to become a dynamic character, or just a new revelation of the character she already is. I would have loved to see some more changes and new experiences across the stories, but each story felt similar and that made it somewhat less enjoyable as I continued to read.

All that being said, this is a really great collection of heist and assassin-for-hire stories and is great fun for SFF-interested folks to read.

Have you read this book? Have you read Kameron Hurley's work before? What assassin books have you previously enjoyed? What are your thoughts on this book?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: Mystic Dragon by Jason Denzel

Mystic Dragon
Released by Tor on July 17, 2018
Available for purchase on Amazon

The second book in the enchanting epic fantasy series for fans of Robert Jordan from the founder of Dragonmount

Seven years have passed since Pomella AnDone became the unlikely apprentice to Mystic Grandmaster Faywong. Despite having attained significant accomplishments as a Mystic, Pomella feels incomplete. She laments that her Master isn’t teaching her quickly enough.

As a rare celestial event approaches, Pomella feels her lack of experience more than ever. The Mystical realm of Fayün is threatening to overtake the mortal world, and as the two worlds slowly blend together, Moth is thrown into chaos. People begin to vanish or are killed outright. Mystics from across the world gather to protect them, among them Shevia, a dark and brilliant prodigy whose mastery of the Myst rivals even that of the greatest High Mystics. 

Shevia will challenge Pomella in every possible way, from her mastery of the Myst to her emotional connection with Pomella's old friend Sim, in this fantasy adventure perfect for readers of Robert Jordan from one of the strongest voices in the Wheel of Time community.


This book started on a really strong note and quickly got off track.

This book was interesting to begin with. Though it is technically a sequel, it didn't feel like one and it opens on an interesting magic system (where you harness Myst, which feels kind of like the Force) and a compelling action scene. And for the first several chapters, I was very engaged and really excited about this book. The characters were fascinating and their backstories really felt like they added to the world and to the story. And the magic system kept getting more complex and the politics of magic wielders really fascinated me. It was a slow build that really felt like it would pay off and I was really enjoying reading it.

And then, about halfway through, things changed suddenly. The slow crescendo picked up without warning and immediately went from a growing p to fff. It was an abrupt shift that felt forced and unnatural and it was unclear how we got from the first half to the second half. Suddenly, we're at what feels like the climax of the book, but we're only 2/3 through and it keeps building and building, but without any breaks or really any additional character development. It felt like the first half of the book was completely dedicated to setting the scene and getting to know characters and the second half was completely action. And that was unfortunate. Plus, the longer the action went on, the less sense it made. The ending came out of nowhere and really didn't make any sense and I felt like we had suddenly (again, everything in the second half is sudden and unexpected) come to a halt and the book was over. And I didn't even quite understand what had happened - there were no signs or clues of the twist ending that the author tried to throw in and so it really fell flat and felt forced.

It feels like this author excels at character development and struggles with coherent plot. Reading the characters' backstories and how they get to the action made a lot of sense and was really rewarding. As soon as we got away from character development and focused completely on THINGS ARE HAPPENING NOW, a lot was lost and it felt like an entirely different (and much worse) book.

I may be interested in giving this author a second try because I was so impressed with the first half of this book, but the second half made me lose a lot of faith in this author's ability to craft a coherent story and I'll be approaching his future books warily.

What are you looking for in a fantasy sequel? What magic systems appeal to you?