Top Ten Tuesday: Series to Finish

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is a freebie.  I decided to go with series I’ve started and haven’t finished yet.  Usually when I find a series I love I read them all back to back.  For whatever reason- these are series I enjoyed and still want to finish, but stalled on somehow.

Tensorate by J.Y. Yang – I enjoyed The Black Tides of Heaven, but I think the reason I stalled out on this series was that it felt complete as it was.  I also wasn’t thrilled about the character featured in book two.  Regardless, these aren’t a huge time commitment, and I’d still like to finish… Someday.

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – (Sorry- I can’t figure out how to link to the english version of the series.)  So I will say- that while I haven’t been disappointed with the Witcher (I adore Geralt) it doesn’t quite live up to the masterpiece that is the game, which is why I think I haven’t continued.

The Grail Quest by Bernard Cornwell – I have no good reason for stalling on this series.  I loved Thomas of Hookton and I love how the little easter eggs Cornwell left for it in Agincourt.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – This is a series I never finished because the stupid bookstore didn’t have a copy on hand of Golden Son and had to order it.  In the meantime I picked up three other books and never got back to it two weeks later when it finally came in.

The Queen’s Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – This series hasn’t been completed yet because I miss Eugenides.  Everything about these stories is pretty simple, and without his POV it’s been difficult to get into the rest of the books.

The Dark Tower by Stephen King – Not even going to lie- The Gunslinger is just not very good.  I’ve been told the series gets better, but it hasn’t helped me get to it any faster.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – Yeah, yeah.  I’ll get to them someday.  Maybe when they are finished?!

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff – I enjoy these stories because of the format (pictures, texts, wiki files) but that’s the only real appeal for me, which is why I haven’t been in any rush to read the third book.

The Wild Dead

The Bannerless Saga by Carrie Vaughn – Book one, Bannerless, was a rare five star read for me.  I’m not sure why I never continued with The Wild Dead.  I think it’s another case of book one being complete enough to act as a stand alone.

Planetfall by Emma Newman – I know why I haven’t moved forward with these other books yet and it’s because I was less than pleased with the ending of Planetfall.  I didn’t get the sense it was a question to be answered in later books, it felt like a standard issue non-ending.  I’m willing to give book two a try, because people say such good things about these books, but another ending like that and I am done with this series.

State Tectonics by Malka Ann Olders

Centenal Cycle by Malka Ann Older – I love this series and I think they are way underhyped for what you get.  They’re diverse, and feature all kinds of cool tech with some bad-ass women protagonists.  The only reason I never got to State Tectonics was because I read the first two with a group of buddies and we somehow never ended up setting a date for book three.

What about you?  What series have you started and not finished?

 

 

Book Review: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

I did it!  I finally read something else by Mark Lawrence!  Don’t ask why it took so long.  I don’t have a good answer for you.

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Blurb (from GoodReads): In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

I don’t know how I feel about this blurb… I picked this up free as part of Kindle’s First Reads program.  The selling point for me was the author.  For some authors, it just doesn’t matter what they write, you’ll read it anyway.  And despite the lack of Lawrence books in my read pile- I admire him as an author and as a person.  He was one of the first authors I followed on both GoodReads and Twitter.  He’s always helping out other self pub’d authors, and just generally seems like a good guy.

Anyway- onto the book.  I’ll start by saying I have no idea how D&D is played.  I (now) know it involves dice and a game master and the occasional prop, but I had a hard time picturing everything else. Is there a game board?  Who writes the snippets everyone reads?  It was kind of neat but I spent a lot of time going: huh? what? why?  I think D&D fans will get a lot more out of this book than I did.

Onto the science- anytime quantum mechanics/physics/mathematics was brought up, I tuned out.  It’s so far beyond anything I’m able to twist my head around, I couldn’t even begin to fathom it.  Much like the D&D stuff, I think people who have some understanding of it, will get more out of this than I did.

One Word Kill is super dark.  Do not mistake the protagonists being teenagers to mean that this is a YA book.  I think it’s anything but, and a lot of the topics here are things I tend to avoid in my reading when the setting is not historical or fantastical (drugs, terminal illness, gangs).  The antagonist is deranged and any time he came up I found myself cringing/shivering/shuddering.

I adored the characters and their relationships with each other.  They feel like real (smart) every day teens, just trying to get through their day without losing their lunch money or embarrassing themselves.  I think I found Simon the most relatable- he’s introverted, smart and straightforward in his dealings, but there was something to love about the whole gang.  They all had their own struggles, and one refreshing thing was that the parents are all pretty supportive of their kids.

The plot is twisting and turning, amping up the crazy with every chapter.  I’m not going to say much about it- because it’s better experienced first hand.  But I will say I did feel like there were some plot holes here and there.  The book is super quick (200 pages) so it’s possible I needed to be reading more between the lines than I was, but I’m not entirely sure that was the case.  I almost wonder if the book could have used a few more pages to make everything really come together and feel complete.

That being said I was totally shattered by the ending, and it’s always good when a book can make me feel something.  I am curious to see what this is all leading toward, so I will definitely be continuing with the series!

One Word Kill can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

Book Discussion: Authors that have been on my TBR for way too long

I don’t know about you- but I have quite a few authors with multiple books on my TBR that have been there forever.  I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m so hesitant to jump in and wondering if it’s just that I don’t know where to start.  I’m enlisting your help to get me started on some of these books!  Let me know if there’s one that’s better than the others or books that make for good introductions to these authors and their worlds.

Robert Jackson Bennett – Everything he writes sounds exactly like something I need in my life.  I even own his Divine Cities omnibus.  Still haven’t read him.

Chuck Wendig – I think I actually have read a short story by Wendig, and that was what put him on my radar initially, but I never ended up committing to any of his novels.  Now Wanderers is coming in July, and I’m positively giddy with excitement because it sounds epic.

Neal Stephenson – I see Stephenson’s books everywhere.  But I feel like people are pretty mixed on whether they like them or not.  To top it off, from what I understand, his books are all like 800+ pages long.  Where is the best place to start?!

Claire North – The book she’s probably most recognized for is The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, but for some reason that book doesn’t appeal to me so much.  These others  do.

Nancy Kress – Let’s be clear.  I want to read all the Nancy Kress books.  I don’t know if it’s her beautiful covers, or the descriptions or the possibilities for discussion, but every time one of her books pops up in my GoodReads feed. I add it.  Please, someone tell me where to start!

Joe Abercrombie – This is perhaps the most embarrassing one to admit to, because I love dark fiction and everyone recommends him as one of the top grimdark authors.  I think his blurbs are not doing his books justice.  Every time I look at one of them it turns into a TL;DR.  But now he has a new one coming out and I really just need to get on the bandwagon.

Other authors I need recommendations for: Brandon Sanderson (I know, I know), John Scalzi, and Richard Morgan.  Have you read any of these authors?  Can you tell me a good place to start?  Do you have any authors that have been on your TBR for way too long?

Book Review: Moon Rising (Luna #3) by Ian McDonald

I’ll apologize, I haven’t been posting consistently.  To be honest, I haven’t been reading a whole lot.  Last year by April I’d probably read 25-30 books.  This year I’ve read 23 things, 3 of which were graphic novels and 5 of which were short fiction pieces.  I have a feeling I won’t make it to my usual goal of 100 books this year, and that’s okay.

I’ve been working on my own novel- which I’ve just about completed a second draft of, and I’m so excited to be putting finishing touches on it.  It’s more or less become my second child (third if we’re counting the dog).  On a side note, if any of my wonderful book buddies would be interested in beta reading even a portion of it, let me know!

Anyway, onto this week’s review: Moon Rising (Luna #3) by Ian McDonald.

Luna Moon Rising Ian McDonald

Rating:  ★★★★

The Cortas are the most egocentric, narcissistic, arrogant – outright weird – pack of fucks I have ever met.

These books have come up a few times on this blog, particularly in my Top Ten Tuesday posts, because it’s one of my favorite series.  It’s epic on the scale of Game of Thrones, gory on the scale of Stephen King, clever on the scale of Kaz Brekker, and diverse to boot.  I recommend this series every chance I get.

But that isn’t to say the books aren’t without their flaws.  There are definitely some things I would have liked tightened up.  The primary one being the amount of reading between the lines that’s needed to fully grasp these books.  I happened to read this with buddies, who were wonderfully patient with me, and I like to think I would have understood better if my time wasn’t so stretched and I could really sit down and pay attention, but the truth is you have to infer quite a bit of information from these books.  I had to re-read things a few times to figure out what I was witnessing.

I’ll be the first to tell you I’m really not that reader.  I like books that make me think about life, current events, philosophy, religion you name it, but I’d prefer if the events of the book are pretty straight forward.  This isn’t something I detract a lot of points for, because readers deserve to have books that challenge them.  (As an aside- another beloved series, Terra Ignota is written a lot like this.  Maybe it’s something I like more than I think I do.)

The second thing I would have changed is that, reading this, I felt like a lot of information was purposefully withheld from readers in the earlier books just to make them more suspenseful.  That does annoy me.  One example is Wagner and his “lycanthropy”.  It does finally get an explanation in this book but the explanation was so simple that the big reveal felt very anticlimactic.

Finally, there were some characters whose storylines I hadn’t really invested in in books one and two because their storylines take awhile to get ramped up and they never really felt like the focus.  Those storylines get some pretty thrilling conclusions in book three and I was cursing myself the whole time for not paying better attention to them.  Likewise, I found myself missing some of the characters who were more important players early on and sort of faded to the background here.

But in the end, these books are some of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read.  The world building is solid, and it’s never told in boring info dumps.  It throws you head first into this dark, ugly world with little more than a short dictionary to guide you.  The characters are whole and three dimensional, motivated by their own desires, with unique voices.  They’re colorful and vibrant and pop off the page.  I adore the “heroes”.  I love the justice dispensed to the villains.  I read the last 150 pages almost all in one sitting because the conclusion was so perfect, I couldn’t look away for even a moment.

I’m sad it’s over, but I’m excited to jump into another McDonald book knowing what he’s capable of, and even more thrilled by the possibility of a new series to sink my teeth into.  Perhaps most telling, is that I’m sincerely looking forward to re-reading them all when I have more time on my hands.

And every second I am away from them, it kills me.

Luna: Moon Rising can be purchased on Amazon here.

This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons I pick up a book

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is reasons I pick up a book.  Pretty straightforward so I guess I’ll just hop right to it!

I know (and trust) the author.  I mean- this list consists of maybe five people.  Stephen King, Joe Hill, Bernard Cornwell, Sebastien de Castell, Ada Palmer (fictionally speaking) and Karen Marie Moning (okay that’s six).  (Yes I’m aware the Fever series has tanked, I’ll probably keep reading anyway.)  What’s interesting about this list is that at least four of these authors have books on my list that are 3 star reads or less.  The point is, even their worst books manage to entertain me.  Consistency means more to me than perfection.

Someone I trust, raved about or recommended it to me.  The operative word in both these instances being trust.  I get a lot of books recommended to me.  Usually it results in a smile and a nod and a polite thank you, because a lot of recommendations go something like this:

Random person: What are you reading?
Me: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Random person: Oh you like vampire novels?  You should read Twilight!
Me:                                                                                Eye Roll

Sorry Twilight- it’s not you, it’s me!

FOMO.  Friends, the FOMO is real.  And the FOMO hurts.  This applies to pretty much every hyped book ever.  FOMO is Fear Of Missing Out, in case you haven’t heard it before.  (But I’m sure you’ve felt it at least once!)  I recently picked up The Priory of the Orange Tree.  Early reviews have led me to believe I won’t like it.  I want to read it anyway.  The only reason is FOMO. *shrugs*

Next in a series. I have no qualms about not finishing a series when I didn’t like the first book, or when the second book was just sort of meh.  But if I loved the previous book(s) it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to pick up the next.

It’s got diverse settings, characters and/or mythology. There are so many stories and mythologies and settings out there that haven’t been explored.  Can I get an adult LGBTQ+ Moana please?  Or something that explores ancient China or Japan?

It’s got Vikings in it.  I realize this is a relative contradiction of what I’ve stated above- but I would really love an Ivar the Boneless novel, or something that’s not strictly romance where they aren’t featured primarily as the bad guys.  What can I say, I’ve got a problem.

I gotta see (or have seen) the movie. A lot of the time the movie is a disappointment, but hey, it’s put a book or two on my radar before.  Conversely- there are some books I won’t read because I’m really worried it will ruin the movie for me (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games).

The cover. Sure I’m a little shallow.  There’s a reason I’m not up to date on the classics of SFF. Have you seen those covers?  Anyway- rest assured, covers might grab my attention but they can’t sell me on looks alone.

The book description.  If the cover gets me to pick it up- it’s the description that will make or break the deal.  I’m referring to the book’s summary here.  (What I am not referring to, is all those taglines claiming “XYZ book is the next Game of Thrones.”)

It was given to me. I’ve had pretty good luck with giveaways the past couple years.  My mother almost always gifts me a book or two for my birthday or Christmas.  And then there’s the gifts I buy myself… you know.  That sort of thing.

What about you?  What makes you pick up a book?

Book Review: Mahimata (Asiana #2) by Rati Mehrotra

Mahimata Asiana 2 Rati Mehrotra

Rating:  ★★★

Blurb from GoodReads:  “A young female assassin must confront the man who slaughtered her family, risk her heart, and come to terms with her identity as a warrior and as a woman in this thrilling fantasy from the author of Markswoman.”

This started stronger than it finished, and I don’t think it was as good as the first book, Markswoman. I think the big issue here is that a lot of those standardized YA Fantasy tropes Mehrotra managed to avoid in book one, had a full throttle, pedal to the medal presence here.

The romance was a huge focus this time around. For the record, I hate complaining that romance exists in a book- because I actually like romance. Claire and Jamie, Edward and Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Darcy, truly, it’s a favorite theme of mine. What I don’t like, is when we spend pages and pages straight up day dreaming of the significant other. That was how this romance often felt. There are barriers to Kyra’s relationship with Rustan, but none of them ever felt all that challenging.

Another one of the things that I loved in Markswoman, was that Kyra never felt like a special snowflake to me in the first book. She made mistakes, she became an outcast, etc. Here special snowflake syndrome is alive and swinging. I can’t say much without spoilers, but every single scene felt like it was dedicated to how special, how much better/braver/stronger/smarter she was then everyone else. I did a lot of eyerolling.

Finally- this novel requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. The relationships between these people were just not believable. Kyra upends centuries of fear and tradition regarding the wyr-wolves for no other reason than that she’s the Mahimata of the Order of Kali. All the elders and other clans just sort of accept her rule. She’s enlisted to lead a significant battle, where the odds are stacked heavily against her, despite never having been in one and only being like 18/19 years old.  It just didn’t feel believable.

Despite all this, there were still parts I enjoyed. The introduction of the wyr-wolves was wonderful and probably my favorite part. The overall plot wasn’t bad, even if it was wholly unbelievable and a little generic. There were a lot of great ideas at play, the hall of mirrors, the Sahirus, the hub and transport system. It was also a very quick read- and I tend to be more forgiving of those.

The ending was both abrupt and bizarre. Nothing was really explained. Kyra and Rustan got an ending but literally no one else. This book really needed a conclusion or an epilogue of some sort to make it feel complete. I reviewed an advance copy so it’s entirely possible my copy simply didn’t have it, but I was definitely left wanting more (and not really in a good way).

I know this review overall sounds very negative, but I am giving it three stars.  On my scale, three stars could probably be described as “Neither liked it nor didn’t like it” or “Not bad”.  If you enjoyed the first book, it’s probably worth reading the second just to see how it all ends. I’ll be curious to see what Mehrotra does now that this duology is complete. Thank you to Edelweiss and Harper Collins for providing me with an eARC to review.

Mahimata can be purchased on Amazon here.

My review of book one, Markswoman, can be found on GoodReads here, if you are interested.

Book Review: New Moon by Ian McDonald (Luna #1)

In honor of Moon Rising releasing this week, I just wanted to share a quick Throwback Thursday review of New Moon, the first book in the Luna series.  These are kind of weird for me to rate, because I gave both books in this series 4 stars, but the series as a whole would get 5 stars.

McDonald imagines a future for us in which gender is significantly more fluid, sexuality more open.  The characters, while often terrible and ruthless, shine vivid and bright and so very full of life.  There are tender moments of love, and heart wrenching moments of brutality.  I need more books like these.

lnm_im

Rating:  ★★★★

Blurb from GoodReads:  “The Moon wants to kill you.

Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.”

I keep seeing this described as Game of Thrones in space. I sort of get it? But I also don’t. It’s like Capone vs O’Banion in space. Except instead of bootlegging they’re fighting about Helium-3. They have dazzling parties and beautiful clothes. They’re wealthy. Their lives are always in danger.

We follow the story of the Cortas. A Brazilian family that heads up Corta Helio. They are the youngest member of the Five Dragons (in other words- the five leading families) and we witness their turf war with the Mckenzies. We are provided with an epic cast of characters. Primarily Cortas, though we do get one outsider viewpoint who is slowly brought into the family.

There’s action- but it’s a slow sort of action, a slow escalation of events. An assassin bug at a party. A runaway. An accident, etc. The last chapter is where it all ramps up and then it ends. A little disappointing but I was never really bored and found the book hard to put down.

Half the characters make your skin crawl. Rafa with his rage and ridiculous handball addiction and stupidity. Lucas with his raw ambition. Lucasinho and his endless sexcapades. Wagner is just effing weird- and I STILL don’t understand the werewolf thing. I kept expecting the author to go: oh yeah, he’s undergoing gene splicing or whatever. But nope. It seems he’s just adopted into a pack of random other wolf people, and randomly gets (or imagines) he has heightened abilities because of it.

There are a few characters I really enjoyed. Ariel Corta first and foremost. She’s very well written. Ambitious, cunning, independent. Adriana Corta- head of the family, also ambitious and intelligent. Marina and Carlinho were also very likeable.

The world building was well done. Everything is printed (clothes, weapons, furniture, food, etc.) There are four elements necessary to survival on the moon: air, carbon, data, and water. Every ounce of the four elements must be paid for. That’s right, you might be so broke you can’t afford to breathe. Then I guess you just die of poverty. There’s no law. Everything is negotiable via contracts.

I do feel like there were a few holes. Namely- if there is no “law” on the Moon, what is the point of trial by combat? Why bother when you can just go murder someone? I didn’t really get it. Supposedly Adriana loves coffee and is a super duper millionaire, but never bothers to have it imported until she’s very old. I’m not sure why. It seemed silly. I get not buying it all the time but not even as an indulgence once in awhile? Live without coffee… the horror.

Finally, the plot. I enjoyed the plot and the pacing overall but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t predictable. I didn’t see the end coming but I had the whodunnit pegged very early on.

Warning: The ending of this book is a major cliffhanger.  I would not pick it up until you are prepared to commit to all three books.  Will I continue with the series? You bet!

 

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton, Book Review

Following last week’s post for The Just City, I wanted to finish posting my reviews of the series.  I love these books and think they have some important messages to share.

tpk_jw

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

The Just City  was just so beautiful and provided so much food for thought. The Philosopher Kings gives you plenty of things to think about but it does so in a much less obvious way. You have to look a little harder for it, and the focus has shifted. I also missed the dialogues between Simmea and Apollo and Sokrates, and really everyone. There seemed to be much less of that this time.

But it was still an excellent read and very much worth continuing if you enjoyed the first book. There is a lot of focus on religion this go around and I think Walton handled it very smoothly by presenting two ends of the spectrum and one in the middle. The likenesses drawn between Jesus and Apollo especially were very thoughtful. I think some of the other themes here are death, grief and mourning. While there are very few character deaths in The Just City, there are a few big ones in The Philosopher Kings.

Later in the book, Art and its importance in the wide world become a big focus. This is a line of thought I found particularly interesting, and made me recall a debate I had in one of my college classes regarding art. How should art, especially art with historical significance be divided up among the world? Who owns it when the creators are long gone? The debate in college was mostly in regards to the Parthenon’s Marbles, now housed in Britain. On the one hand, it’s fantastic that British/UK citizens and UK tourists, can go there and see a bit of Greece, see a bit of history, learn something, and appreciate the greatness and excellence of people that came thousands of years before us. On the other hand, it really is rather appalling that the Parthenon stands incomplete. Those marbles could bring tourism to Greece and elevate their poor economy. However, what of those people who might never be able to afford to go to Greece and see them? Shouldn’t they have an opportunity to see them somewhere else? Somewhere that might be closer to home? I still don’t have an answer for this that feels sufficient, and I was really delighted to see Walton touch on it here. I live not too far from the Boston Museum of Art which houses Roman mosaics, Egyptian sculptures, and at the time I visited, a touring display of Da Vinci. I am sincerely appreciative of my opportunity to lay my eyes on history like that and likely would never have had the opportunity to see them in my lifetime if they weren’t available in one place so close to home, but aside from the paintings, it also seems destructive. What of the people of Egypt and Rome who can’t look upon those places they came from and see them whole? Is it fair? Is it right?

Sorry- tangent over. I adored Apollo in the first book and I still adored him here. Ficino wasn’t somebody I appreciated enough in the first book but his character in the absence of Sokrates was really able to shine.  Arete was truly a wonderful addition to the book. She was similar to Simmea in some ways and completely different in others and I loved her chapters and seeing her thought process.

This book is much more action oriented then the second. There was rarely a dull moment. I didn’t think the climax could possibly come close to the one in The Just City, but even I was impressed. I absolutely can’t wait for the third book and I’m only sorry I didn’t finish this sooner in the day so I could run to the library and pick it up.

Content Warnings: Talk of rape but no actual rape, and a scene of torture. It isn’t graphic in the way of Stephen King, but it was still pretty tough.

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I’m pretty excited for this week’s list.  Mostly so I can check out lists other than my own (leave me a link below).  To define what we are considering a hidden gem here: it is books with less than 2,000 ratings on GoodReads.  These books are in no particular order.

TBGD

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark – This one is newer.  I think it released in November of last year so having less than 2,000 ratings is not too surprising.  It’s quick, so it’s not a big time commitment and throughly excellent.  You can find my review here.

Bannerless

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn – This is has been around for over a year, so I’m a little baffled as to why it doesn’t have more than 2,000 ratings.  I suspect it has something to do with the blurb, which makes it sound highly derivative of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I promise it’s not.  Reading this felt cozy and quaint, and best of all it made me think. My review is here.

TWtB_AP

The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer – I am less surprised that this has less than 2,000 ratings.  A lot of my book buddies DNF’d the first book.  Those that continued on were satisfied with the conclusion given in Seven Surrenders, and hesitant to start The Will to Battle before Perhaps the Stars was released.  I can say that The Will to Battle does not end in a massive cliffhanger like Too Like The Lightning, but hope more readers will pick it up when book four is released.  Review can be found here.

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The Moon and the Other by John Kessel – It actually hurts me that this only has 500 ratings on GoodReads because it’s absolutely phenomenal and I think a fairly wide audience could appreciate it.  It was one of my favorite reads last year and you can find my review here.

NS_MAO

Null States by Malka Ann Older – This has only about 700 ratings on GoodReads.  It’s a sequel, so a little less surprising than maybe Bannerless, but still so good!  The first book, Infomocracy was also fantastic so I was surprised more readers didn’t continue on to book two.  The review can be found here.

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Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra – It’s YA, it’s own voices, and it’s about a sisterhood of female assassins.  Everything about this should have been a home run so I’m honestly shocked it only has 1,100 ratings.  I’m blaming the publishers not giving it enough publicity because it’s a great book.  My review for this one is on GoodReads here.

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Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald – I recommend this series to literally anyone who will listen.  It’s inclusive.  It’s fast paced.  The scenery is dazzling.  The world building feels fresh and new and it’s set on the moon.  This review is still hanging out on GoodReads here.  (Also- book three releases in March and I’ve already got a buddy read scheduled for it.  I can’t wait!)

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The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt – This one I feel like is also a victim of just not being publicized enough.  It’s set in space.  Has a really cool alien race called Liars (guess what they do?).  A rag tag band of salvagers (read: space pirates), a sweet LGBTQ romance, and a few scenes that give off the ‘creepy dread’ feeling as I like to call it.  I thought the sequel was releasing this spring, but in my fact checking it appears to already be released.  I will definitely check it out.  Review can be found on GoodReads here.

The Philosopher Kings and Necessity by Jo Walton – I adore this series.  I love the Greek mythological elements. I love the blend of science fiction and fantasy. I love the musings of a city full of philosophers and the characters.  TPK only has 1,700 ratings and Necessity has only 1,000 on GoodReads and it should have many more!  Reviews can be found here and here.

 

Throwback Thursday: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

It’s official. I’ve run out of Terra Ignota books to throw at you.  So I’m going with another cherished and favorite series- The Greatcoats!  Have you read them yet?  My hope in starting Throwback Thursday was to bring some love to some under-appreciated series.  Admittedly- The Greatcoats has about twice as many ratings, but still I feel like it’s not enough.

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Rating:  ★★★★

What a great book. I absolutely loved the three main characters, Brasti, Kest and Falcio (though I think Kest was my favorite) and the banter between them. It reminded me a lot of the game Dragon Age and I could just picture the “party” wondering around on their mission to find the King’s Charoites sniping at each other and kicking ass.

I loved the way the story unfolded. Falcio val Mond, the leader of the group and the Greatcoats (the King’s magistrates), has been trying his best to fulfill the mission his King, Paelis, gave him five years ago. The twist? Nobody knows what exactly the King’s Charoites are. The mission was given to him right before Falcio stood aside and allowed the treacherous dukes to murder the king who he loved. Now the land is ruled by the nobility, there is no king, and the Greatcoats have been disbanded and labeled traitors.

This story is told in both a present timeline, and flashbacks to the past. We learn how Falcio and his group came together, how the Greatcoats were reassembled by King Paelis, and how they were disbanded again. The flashbacks felt really natural and were inserted at appropriate times in the story. This kept them interesting and they never once felt like long boring bouts of complicated backstory. I enjoyed reading those parts as much as I enjoyed reading about what was happening in the present.

I did feel like the middle of the story was a bit slower than the rest. The action was ridiculously non stop, to the point where Falcio hasn’t slept in like 48 hours straight, at least. It was almost comedic how many fights he left only to stumble into another one. The action is told well and is in no way boring, and Falcio has enough tricks up his sleeve to keep it interesting, I just felt that the magic of the book was truly in the world building and the banter between characters. So when Falcio is on his own protecting Aline from the horrors of blood week, I was just kind of reading along hoping for him to get back on the road.

The ending was fantastic and I did not see the twist coming. Looking back there was some subtle foreshadowing but other than Feltock I loved how everyone’s story ended. Even though this book is part of a series it has a definite conclusion (with no massive cliffhangers).

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys snarky characters and gritty fantasy!