Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker

From Goodreads:

They have her daughter. She will stop at nothing to get her back.

When system-wide civil war broke out, fighter pilot Captain Alisa Marchenko left her family and accepted a commission in the Alliance Army to battle the empire’s tyranny. Four years later, the empire has been toppled, but chaos and anarchy now rule the system. Alisa, after being injured in the final battle, is stranded on a dustball of a planet billions of miles from home. She learns that her husband died during the bombings, leaving their daughter on Perun, a planet that has become the last imperial stronghold.

Alisa must find a way to Perun, even if she has to steal a dilapidated ship from a junkyard overrun by murdering savages to do it. She’s ready for the challenge. She did not, however, count on finding an elite imperial cyborg soldier squatting in the ship and planning to use it for a mysterious mission of his own. Alisa can’t let him or anyone else stop her, or she'll never see her daughter again.

This was a fun read that I discovered through Kindle Unlimited. I actually had a few other titles by this author on my list, a few as kindle freebies, but not in the Sci-Fi genre, they were her fantasy novels. So this one was marketed for fans of Firefly and Star Wars, and while normally I don't like it when books try to ride the coat tails of bigger hugely successful things because I feel like they can't possibly live up, I could see the influence of both in this story. There is much wit and banter between characters, each having their own quirks, a la Firefly. And there is the grand setting of the aftermath of a big war which has the feel of the Empire and the Rebels, a la Star Wars.  But our characters here are not the top brass or the last Jedi, they are people caught in the crossfire, and believing they were fighting for the right side, but then coming to know each other and find out they are still all humans, with feelings, and honor, regardless of the side they started out on.  They are the ones who somehow got left behind now that the whole thing is over and have to figure out what to do next, how to get home, how to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. 

I enjoyed the characterization, and found myself imagining The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, as the Cyborg Soldier, every time the eyebrow quirk was mentioned, though he is much more outspoken and animated in his roles than the reserved Cyborg we here. By author admission the science part of the sci-fi is pretty general, but still sets the scene well.  I look forward to more in this series, and also sampling others by this author.  4/5 stars.

The King's Mistress - Emma Campion

From Goodreads:

When had I choice to be other than I was? From childhood Alice Salisbury has learnt obedience in all things and at fourteen, dutifully marries the man her father has chosen for her - at the cost of losing the love of her mother forever and the family she holds dear.

But merchant Janyn Perrers is a good and loving husband and Alice soon learns to enjoy her marriage. Until a messenger brings news of his disappearance and she discovers that her husband had many secrets, secrets he didn't want her to know - but which have now put a price on her own head and that of her beloved daughter. Brought under the protection of King Edward III and Queen Philippa, she must dutifully embrace her fate once more - as a virtual prisoner at Court.

And when the king singles her out for more than just royal patronage, she knows she has little choice but to accept his advances. But obeying the king brings with it many burdens as well as pleasures, as she forfeits her good name to keep her daughter free from hurt.

Still a young woman and guided by her intellect and good business sense, she learns to use her gifts as wisely as she can. But as one of the king's favourites, she brings jealousy and hatred in her wake and some will stop at nothing to see her fall from grace.

When had I choice to be other than I was? This truly says it all for Alice in this book. I cannot think of a more stressful environment, save a war zone, than life at court as a companion to kings and queens. Alice's life was never her own, even her children were rarely hers to care for and make decisions about. From the moment she married Janyn, she was thrown into a whirlwind of intrigue that she had to navigate while not knowing the particulars.  So much was expected of her, and on top of that, to accept it all with uncomplaining grace.

This story takes place in the time of House Plantagenet, in the late 1300's when Edward III was king.  Interesting to me was the relationship Alice had with both Queen Philippa and Edward, it was not your usual young mistress takes the place of the queen in the king's affections. It was all very calculated it would seem, and truly what choice did she have?  At that time, you did not refuse the royal family, even though she would suffer feelings of guilt that she could have somehow behaved differently.

While many of the events are poetic license by the author, personally stated, I really enjoyed reading about the life and personality she crafted for Alice, sad for her trials and happy for the joys she experienced.  I'll admit, I cried for her at a certain point towards the end, but I don't want to spoil anything for any prospective readers. I am definitely interested in reading more about Alice, and Wikipedia gives information and also other novels which feature her as a character. A definite recommend from me to historical fiction fans, I gave it a 5/5.

I read this for the 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

2016 Award-Winning Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Challenge - October 1 - December 31st, 2016

Welcome to my sign up post for my very own reading challenge, the first one I have ever hosted! I'm super excited and nervous and can't wait to get started!  To join us, click on the picture above to be taken to the sign up!

I'm going to declare the Ursa Major level for 4-6 books as my goal, and I have picked out a line on the Bingo card to use as my guideline for what books I hope to get read.  I've chosen the diagonal from top left to bottom right, here is my list:

Lincoln's Dreams - by Connie Willis (Any novel by a Grand Master)

Bridge of Birds -  by Barry Hughart (World Fantasy Awarded Novel 1985)

Stranger in a Strange Land - by Robert Heinlein (Hugo Award Winner 1962)

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - by Catherynne M. Valente (Andre Norton Award Winner 2009)

The Forever War - by Joe Haldeman (Any novel by a Grand Master)

Here we go! 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bout of Books 17 - August 22 - 28

Bout of Books

It's time for Bout of Books 17! It's just the thing to help me recover from Worldcon 74! So awesome, but so tiring, more on that in another post! I'm so glad I have this read-a-thon to ease me down from that amazing event back into real life again, so it isn't quite a full stop back into the everyday. Even as an introvert it's a little jarring to go from super event to normal work, like nothing really happened. Oh but things did happen! I met PEOPLE, and I even TALKED to them! *gasp* (like 20+ authors, seriously) but again, that's for another post! Now we're going to have a big old reading party for a week, want to join me? Click on the picture above, or the link below!

Visit with us all on Twitter at #boutofbooks
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Updates and whatnot:

Day 1 - 8/22:
With All My Soul = 3:11 (stopped at 5:48)
The Bell Jar = 55 pages

Day 2 - 8/23:
With All My Soul = 2:14 (stopped at 8:02)
The Bell Jar = 41 pages (stopped at 96)
Serpent's Kiss = 45 pages (started at 175, stopped 220)
Total Pages = 86

Day 3 - 8/24:
With All My Soul = 1:09 (stopped at 9:11)
Serpent's Kiss = 60 pages (started at 220, stopped 280)

Day 4 - 8/25:
With All My Soul = :44 (stopped at 9:55)
Serpent's Kiss = 32 pages (started at 280, stopped 312)
The Bell Jar = 60 pages (stopped at 156)
Total Pages = 92

Day 5 - 8/26:
With All My Soul = 1:49 (stopped at 11:44, finished)
The Bell Jar = 100 pages (stopped at 256)

Day 6 - 8/27:
The Bell Jar = 40 pages (stopped at 296, finished)
The Last Wish = 48 pages (started at 169, stopped at 217)
The King's Mistress = 10 pages (started at 90, stopped at 100)
Total Pages = 98 pages

Day 7 - 8/28:

The King's Mistress = 36 pages (stopped at 136)

Total Pages = 527
Hours listened = 9:07

TBR Pile (subject to change without notice, even to me!):


Friday, July 22, 2016

A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

From Goodreads:

Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a young girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

I joined in the Big Library Read this round for A Murder in Time.  Time travel, historical fiction, a serial killer, it sounded interesting, and I'm glad to say it was!  It was kind of like Downton Abbey meets CSI.  It seems far fetched that anyone would have paid heed to Kendra's knowledge of a serial killer's reasoning, but that is smoothed over with The Duke, who is a bit eccentric himself, and willing to be open minded when others are not. I really enjoyed his character and would have liked to spend a little more time with him and his interests and hobbies in the story.  I also liked the lynch pin that belief in her story rested on for Alec, but I don't want to spoil that tidbit for anyone.

A Murder in Time was historically interesting, fast paced and kept me guessing!  I really wasn't sure who the murderer was. I'm glad to see that there is another book in the series coming next spring, to continue Kendra's story.

COYER Bingo R15
I Love Libraries Challenge 2016
2016 New Releases Challenge
2016 COYER Summer Vacation

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Make Me Read It Read-a-thon - The Results and the Reading

I'm taking part in the Make Me Read It Read-a-thon hosted by  The Innocent Smiley and Tea and Titles, were I gave a list of books I needed to get through and had the public vote, with the most voted book being my starting point.

The results are in and it's time for the reading to begin!

I've ordered the covers from most votes to least (left to right), though I really only expect to get through 2 maybe 3 at the most.  I have to admit I'm not really surprised by the winner and next couple down. Time to put the eyes to the page and see how far I can get!

Come talk with us at #MakeMeRead !

So... pretty much I did terrible, thanks to Pokemon Go and just the book not going as quickly as I'd hoped, plus over extending my reading ability!  I did get to about 150 pages of Uprooted.  I really loved this idea, so I'm definitely in if there's another one!  hopefully next time no one will be releasing a super crazy popular game app at the same time! lol!


Thursday, July 07, 2016

The Master Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

From Goodreads:

Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own — an ability long thought impossible.

While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism, Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.

I read this as a Kindle Unlimited selection and really enjoyed the whole trilogy! I love the magic system that the author has created, with the paper folding and the glass, and other elements, and was really able to visualize Ceony's work in her different lessons, with the ability to bring origami creatures to a semblance of life.  It was delightful!

I love both Ceony and Emery, their personalities and their relationship, and Emery's complex creations, which I won't mention because I don't want to spoil anything.  I feel bad that I'm only reviewing the third book, in case you haven't read the others, so I'm going to be very general and not really discuss plot.

I will say that Ceony always seems to plunge headlong into trouble, after being warned to stay out of it, but in her defense, they always seem to ignore her worries, which turn out to be worth listening to.  On the whole I felt this whole trilogy was very engaging and enjoyable, I was very pleased with the ending, and after reading the first book, I did go check out some origami books from the library because I was just in the mood to make something! lol!  I didn't end up getting around to it, but the desire was there!

I highly recommend the Paper Magician Trilogy as a fun, fairly quick fantasy read.  I believe these would be good read-a-thon fare as all three are around 220 pages each and move at a good pace.

2016 COYER Summer Vacation
COYER Bingo Y23

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Updraft by Fran Wilde

From Goodreads:

In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves.

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother's side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city's secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever - if it isn't destroyed outright.

Updraft was the June read in a Goodreads group I'm a member of called The Sword and Laser. It was an interesting world of bone towers rising above the clouds, where the primary method of transportation is for individuals to fly using what sounds like a type of hanglider contraption but with more detailed movement.  The picture above looks much larger and more framed than what is described in the book, in my opinion.  Not everyone flies, there are some bridges between towers, and there are flying traders that take goods between towers, of which Kirit's mother is one.  Kirit dreams of being like, and flying with her mother as a trader, but that is not to be, her fate lies elsewhere with other talents.

The structure of this world just brings up so many questions to me.  The bone is living, it grows, it fills in the lower spaces, the Singers can coax it to grow on the top of the towers, adding new living tiers.  So that hints at something very large living below the clouds that these bone towers, spires/spines? are a part of, doesn't it?  They are fairly sturdy, but they do sometimes break, toppling those who live there out of the sky, most likely to their deaths, what other outcome could there be?  What came about to cause a people to live that way?  I hope we learn more in the next book!

I liked Kirit, she knew exactly what she wanted, and it wasn't unreasonable.  The problem was there were so many secrets and past events stacked against her, she really had no chance of realizing her goals.  She was presented with many difficult dilemmas for young adult, and it seemed like the odds were constantly against her.  Sometimes the decisions she made were very unpleasant, in trying for the greater good, and there was a lot of weight on her shoulders.

Overall an interesting read with a very different structure of world, good characters and a plot full of intrigue.  I'm looking forward to the next book, Cloudbound, due out in September of this year.

2016 I Love Libraries Challenge
2016 COYER Summer Vacation
COYER Bingo E4

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