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8/10
Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
Reviews / April 11, 2017

I had a blast reading Sleeping Giants last year, and despite some issues with the format, I enjoyed Neuvel’s original take on the alien invasion story. If you haven’t read Sleeping Giants, the story revolves around Dr. Rose Franklin, who finds a giant robot hand as a girl, and later becomes a renowned scientist who discovers that the hand is one piece of a very large alien robot. Sleeping Giants tackles the tale of how Rose and her crew are able to locate all the pieces of Themis, which just happen to be scattered all over the world, and put them back together again. Once that’s accomplished, the characters try to figure out the purpose of Themis—why she’s here and what she does. Now in the second book of the series, Neuvel takes the exciting premise of the first book and injects it with a shot of adrenaline, raises the stakes and gives us a terrifying look at what an alien invasion might be like. If I was intrigued by all the science and alien engineering in the first book, I was scared out of my mind this time around. This is no E.T., it’s more like War of the Worlds,…

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9/10
Review: Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Reviews / March 28, 2017

  I’m embarrassed to tell you that it took me nearly a month to read this book. But wait, before you laugh at me, a book review blogger, for not being able to read a mere 544 pages in a timely fashion, the truth is, I got myself into a scheduling bind and had to abandon Kings of the Wyld and read several books for some scheduled reviews, before I could finally get back to it. And it is perhaps because of the talent of the author that I had no trouble whatsoever picking up right where I left off. Reading Eame’s debut was one of the most fun times I’ve had in a long while, and I honestly cannot wait to see what he’s going to write next. Eames uses the tried-and-true plot of the reluctant traveler—think The Hobbit with an aging mercenary and you’ll have an idea of what to expect—well, sort of. Clay Cooper is a guard and lives in the small town of Coverdale with his wife Ginny and his young daughter Tally. He used to be part of a group of mercenaries called Saga, back in the days when merc bands swept through the Heartwyld,…

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8/10
Review: Star’s End by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Reviews / March 14, 2017

Star’s End was not the Cassandra Rose Clarke book I was expecting. But then again, I didn’t really have any expectations when I started, other than I knew that Clarke would deliver something truly unique with lots of emotion and detailed characterization. And I was not disappointed. Star’s End may not be the fast-paced or action-packed space opera that you think you need, but you will emerge from the reading experience a more thoughtful person, I guarantee. Clarke has taken an interesting idea about the dangers of having too much power and turned it into a gripping story about love, trust and ultimately doing the right thing. I was surprised how well this story resonates with present-day culture and politics, and while the author didn’t go out of her way to make a statement, there are one or two truths wrapped up in the story, for those readers who choose to look for them. Esme Coromina is the eldest daughter of Phillip Coromina, the family matriarch whose mega corporation terraformed a group of four moons that surround a sun-like planet called Coromina I. Always concerned about turning a profit, the Coromina Group is responsible for creating the super, bio-engineered soldiers…

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8/10
Review: Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky
Reviews / March 1, 2017

I had so much fun last year with The Immortals, the first of the Olympus Bound series, and I was hoping for more of the same. I wasn’t disappointed. Brodsky gives us a very strong sequel that builds on the world-building of the first book and introduces a new threat to our present-day Greek gods and goddesses. Even better, she moves along the romance between Selene and Theo and makes it feel realistic, even though we’re dealing with a millennia-old goddess and a present-day history professor/geek/authority on all things Greek. I think I enjoyed the first book slightly more, since this seemed to take ages to get through. (Not that I was bored, but it felt longer than the first book and it literally took me two weeks to read.) Still, if you love puzzles and enjoy finding hidden meanings in historical places and objects, you’ll love this series. I will even go so far as to say Winter of the Gods can be read without having read The Immortals first. It has a self-contained plot, and although the first book introduces you to the characters and their relationships, Brodsky does a great job of jogging our memories and subtly…

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9/10
Review: Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
Reviews / February 14, 2017

Retellings are always tricky, because you’re dealing with the memories and emotions associated with reading the original source material, and they don’t always live up to readers’ expectations. But Jacqueline Carey did a bang-up job on this retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and I can’t wait for people to read this story. Even if you aren’t an expert on Shakespeare (I’m certainly not!), you’ll appreciate what the author has done: rather than rehash the story you may be familiar with, she’s set hers in the years leading up to the events of The Tempest. Carey’s writing closely mimics the style of Shakespeare, which some readers are going to love and others aren’t, but it was pure magic to me. What a lovely prose writer she is! Although the formal writing caught me off guard in the beginning, once I got into the rhythm of it, I couldn’t imagine this story being told any other way. Miranda is only six years old when the story begins. She and her father live alone in a crumbling castle on a deserted island, with only animals and elemental spirits to keep them company. Prospero is a magician and has called forth these spirits and…

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10/10
Review: Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
Reviews / January 31, 2017

I loved the premise for Six Wakes when it first made its way onto my radar, but I had no idea what I was in for when I started reading. This is one of those happy occurrences where the book was way better than I thought it would be. Mur Lafferty, welcome to my “must read” author list! I had so much fun with this story, and there were so many twists and turns, secrets and lies, and characters who didn’t even know whether they were lying or not. The entire story takes place on the generation spaceship Dormire, in very tight quarters, and revolves around seven key characters. Not only is this a top-notch science fiction story about cloning, space travel and a group of people forging their way into the future, but it’s a damn fine “locked room” murder mystery as well. This isn’t the first story I’ve read where a group of characters wakes up from some unknown event, only to discover they’ve lost their memories, but it’s definitely the best. Lafferty takes the idea of cloning in a new direction and adds a political layer to her story that deals with clones versus humans. In the…

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9/10
Review: Heartstone by Elle Katharine White
Reviews / January 17, 2017

When I heard this book described as “Pride and Prejudice with dragons,” my first reaction was “Yes!” But then I thought, “Huh? That sounds…weird?” This was an odd book for me because of the strange mix of elements that don’t quite seem to fit together. And yet, I loved it! How can one book evoke such mixed feelings? Even as I was gasping at White’s wonderfully unique world building, I couldn’t get over the fact that her story was literally matching the plot of Pride and Prejudice beat for beat. It was an unsettling feeling for me, as I knew exactly what was going to happen next in some spots. The story had two distinct parts for me–the conservative and proper beginning, and the all-out violent battle at the end. But one thing is certain: I could not stop turning the pages. If you’ve read Jane Austen’s classic, then you have an idea of what you’re in for—well, at least until the dragons show up. Aliza Bentaine (Elizabeth Bennett) lives with her parents and three sisters Anjey, Leyda and Mari in Merybourne Manor, a modest home in Hart’s End. But their peaceful life has been shattered by a recent influx of…

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7/10
Review: Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn
Reviews / December 6, 2016

I do love when publishers decide to re-release older books in order to make them available to a new audience, and when I heard about Dragon and Thief, a book originally published in 2003, I thought I’d give it a try. I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Timothy Zahn before, and this seemed like a great opportunity. Dragon and Thief is the first in the Dragonback series, and I’m assuming if this does well, Tor will continue to publish the series. My reaction in three words? Cute and charming. Although I have seen the “young adult” moniker floating around, I feel this book falls firmly in middle grade territory, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to kids ages ten and up. Which was slightly problematic for me, because this story felt very young. There is absolutely no swearing, very little violence, and the dialog felt a bit old-fashioned to me (Jack uses expressions like “I will be dipped in butter” a lot). These things aren’t bad, don’t get me wrong, I’m just saying perhaps I wasn’t the best audience. But despite that personal drawback, Dragon and Thief is full of cool ideas, interesting relationships, and best of all,…

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9/10
Review: Rosewater by Tade Thompson
Reviews / November 22, 2016

In my ongoing search for fiction with diverse settings and characters, I was excited to be offered a review copy of Rosewater from the wonderful folks at Apex Books. One of the reasons I like to read fiction from smaller publishers is that they have more freedom to publish books that might not fit the constraints of larger publishers. This means that much of what Apex publishes is fresh and original and edgy. Rosewater is a perfect example of this. It’s a beautifully written alien invasion/first contact story that isn’t afraid to break the rules of story format, and its African setting makes it perfect for those readers seeking diversity. This book is complex, and you will need to have patience while reading it. But that said, it’s an extremely satisfying read that ends on a (sort of) hopeful note, and left me with questions that I will be thinking about for days to come, no doubt. The story takes place in Nigeria, in a small town near Lagos called Rosewater. Rosewater has sprung up around an odd alien domed structure that residents call Utopicity, where once a year, a split in the dome opens up and fills the air…

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9/10
Review: After Atlas by Emma Newman
Reviews / November 8, 2016

I enjoyed Planetfall last year, which I read during Sci-Fi Month 2015, but I was stunned by how much more I loved After Atlas, a “companion” novel which takes place in the same world but follows different characters and has a completely different story line. After Atlas references some events and characters from the first book, but you certainly don’t have to read it first in order to enjoy this one. In fact, if you haven’t read Planetfall, I highly recommend starting with After Atlas, simply because it’s the better book. After Atlas is basically a murder mystery, and nearly the entire story is focused on detective Carlos Moreno digging into the murder of high-profile cult leader Alejandro Casales. Carlos is shocked by Casales’ death, a man who was a beloved father figure to Carlos when he was a child. Taken against his will by his father to live in a cult, a secluded fortress called the Circle where all technology is banned, Carlos’ only bright memories are spending time with Alejandro, who taught him to live off the land. When the forensic team suggests the death could be a suicide, Carlos knows Alejandro’s death is much more than it…