Monday, May 1, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Kick-ass covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme: Top Ten Kick-ass covers

I wanted to feature covers that feature badass leading ladies, awe-inspiring worlds, cool technology, and basically anything else that makes me think a book is going to be full people/characters you don't want to mess with :D

1. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

JUST LOOK AT THAT THUNDER TIGER IN THE SKY. And you really don't want to mess with Yukiko.

2. A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab

Lila Bard is armed and ready, the world(s) had better watch out!

3. Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

Temur is literally riding a stallion through a sky full of spirits and stars. Banshe has got to be one of the most badass horses I've ever read about!

4. Empire of Storms by SJ Maas

Long live the queen! Enough said.

5. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I guess Jay Kristoff just has badass leading ladies in the bag, because Mia Corvere is absolutely terrifying on this cover!

6. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

You know who you really don't want to rub the wrong way? RONAN LYNCH. Especially when he's dreaming...

7. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Just look at that subtitle: One wrong move could kill you. That throne is terrifying, as is most of this book!

8. Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

There is bloody rip in the fabric of the world. Trouble is coming.

9. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

There's something just ominous about that title and the mysterious robot/alien/who-knows-what symbols in the center...whatever is coming can't be good

10. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

Karen has a shotgun. Run!  

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Review: Range of Ghosts

12109372Title: Range of Ghosts
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Genre: Fantasy, historical fantasy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather's throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.
Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards.
These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

I absolutely loved this! I'm two for two on Elizabeth Bear's books (Karen Memory and this one), definitely going to check out more of her stories. There's just something about her writing style that conveys the richness and uniqueness of the worlds and characters without being particularly flowery or gimmicky. Obviously a fantasy world based on Mongolia in the age of Genghis Khan is very different than a steampunk American town out of a western, and Bear's writing style adapts to these worlds so seamlessly! I feel like I'm doing a terrible job of explaining this but I just love how well Elizabeth Bear's writing style fits with the worlds she creates.

I absolutely loved the worldbuilding in this book. Every little detail was so well thought out, from the many moons and the magic system to the minutiae of how you manage to keep your nomadic community fed while you travel across an unforgiving desert (fermented mare's milk and lots of tea eggs!). I love how steeped this world is in eastern culture without relying on stereotypes; this is a world that was thoroughly researched and lovingly crafted.

The characters were all amazing. They were all three-dimensional and complicated, and their relationships with each other are quite tangled. Temur must battle his own family members for his rightful place on the throne, knowing that there is no line his enemies won't cross to kill him and rule the nation. I absolutely love how there are so many women in this book, each powerful in their own way. Edene, Samarkar, even Payma...All of these wonderful human beings aside, my favorite characters in this book were the horses. Bansh (Dumpling! How adorable is that??) is such a heroic, resourceful, and loyal horse. I adored Temur and Bansh's relationship, and I'm excited to see how the story progresses in the later books.

I don't want to say much about the plot because this is story involving a lot of political intrigue and spiritual journeying. I was never bored with this book; even the slower parts were beautifully written and only added to richness of the story.

I highly recommend this series! I'm surprised it isn't more popular, because it has everything I love about fantasy done well.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Book turnoffs

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
This week's theme: Top Ten Book Turnoffs

Somehow I thought this list would be really easy for me, because there are so many blurbs that I read and then roll my eyes. There have been a few of audiobooks that I started recently but couldn't deal with after the first 20 pages so I just DNFed them. But despite all that it was actually pretty hard to remember exactly what kinds of things make me not want to pick up a book! 

Here we goooooo

1. Spoiled/selfish/vain main characters
(usually of the rich white girl variety)


2. Love triangles
(I did enjoy the Hunger Games but the love triangle thing was such an annoyance)


3. Catty/mean girls
(why is the beautiful yet bitchy girl still a trope -___-)


4. Romance-heavy
(I have my ships, but when the romance takes precedence over THE END OF THE WORLD I'm pissed)


5. Purple prose
(some people can pull it off - Laini Taylor, Jay Kristoff - and some just can't)


6. Unbearable levels of male gaze

(this is directed at you, male authors of SFF who write hyper-sexualized female characters)
(Also I know I'm gonna get some flak for my example, but as much as I admire the worldbuilding and the subtlety and AURI I'm sorry just way too much objectification in this series)


7. Stereotypes of POC (especially Asians, because I am one...)
(ahem hem token nerdy Asian best friend)


8. Characters I don't relate to
(nothing concrete here, but if I don't at least like the characters I have a really hard time staying invested in a book)


I didn't quite get to 10 things, but I think that's fine. This post was frankly kind of depressing to write, just thinking about all the books I didn't like in the past few years. Thankfully I've gotten really good at figuring out if I'll like a book by the blurb and a few friends' reviews, so I haven't read too many books I didn't like recently!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

ARC Review: Skullsworn

29939037Review: Skullsworn
Author: Brian Staveley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:Pyrre Lakatur doesn’t like the word skullsworn. It fails to capture the faith and grace, the peace and beauty of her devotion to the God of Death. She is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer--she is a priestess. At least, she will be a priestess if she manages to pass her final trial.
The problem isn’t the killing. Pyrre has been killing and training to kill, studying with some of the most deadly men and women in the world, since she was eight. The problem, strangely, is love. To pass her Trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the ten people enumerated in an ancient song, including "the one you love / who will not come again."
Pyrre is not sure she’s ever been in love. If she were a member of a different religious order, a less devoted, disciplined order, she might cheat. The Priests of Ananshael, however, don’t look kindly on cheaters. If Pyrre fails to find someone to love, or fails to kill that someone, they will give her to the god.
Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to quit, hates to fail, and so, with a month before her trial begins, she returns to the city of her birth, the place where she long ago offered an abusive father to the god and abandoned a battered brother—in the hope of finding love...and ending it on the edge of her sword. 

Fantastic! I loved this book so much, even more than the original trilogy. The best part of this book was learning about the origins of one of the most enigmatic characters in The Unhewn Throne trilogy. I loved seeing who Pyrre was when she was younger; she grows so much over the timeline of this book, but there's also so much growth between Pyrre in this book and Pyrre in the trilogy. I had so much fun trying to figure out and Pyrre's secrets, especially since she was so secretive in the first book.

I really loved how this book also revealed a lot more about the mythology of the world. We learn a lot more about Ananshael's priests and priestesses, and how much they sacrifice to become masters of their order. It's also interesting to see how they view the world, because as foreign as it seems, their beliefs actually make a lot of sense if you think about it. I loved how our own questions were answered when Pyrre questioned the seeming paradoxes of their belief system. Aside from Ananshael's mysteries, we also learn a lot about more local gods from Pyrre's home town. Then there's all the connections between the new mythology in this book and what we know from the trilogy. It was a feast!

I also loved how the setting was such a big character in this book. Pyrre's home town is on the banks of a swampy delta, and like many other things in this series, it is vicious. This delta is full of terrifying animals like crocodiles and snakes, aside from the river itself, which moves and changes paths as if it has a mind of its own.

I loved so much about this book, it's really hard for me to think of anything I didn't like! I loved the new characters, the wit and humor, the rich writing style, and just being in this world again!

A free eARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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Monday, April 17, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Instant attention grabbers

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week's theme: Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book

This is a fun theme! Here are 10 things that will make me grab a book before I've even finished reading the entire synopsis.

  1. Heist stories

  2. Parallel universes/many worlds

  3. Dragons

  4. Based on Asian mythology/folklore

  5. Pirates

  6. Fairy tale retellings

  7. POC SF/F authors

  8. Favorite author: Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch, VE Schwab, Patrick Ness, Neal Shusterman

  9. Friendships

  10.  AIs/robots

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

SFF reading challenge update 2

We're about a quarter of the way through the year, so here's an update on how I'm doing on the reading challenge!

Purple books are ones I've finished, and ones in gray are books I'm planning on reading for the challenge.

1) Fairy tale retelling: Miranda and Caliban by  Jacqueline Carey - A retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest
2) Historical Fantasy: Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear - an alternate history/fantasy based on Mongolia in the time of Genghis Khan
3) Anathem or Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
4) non-British Steampunk: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo - Russian/Scandinavian steampunk? HAHA
7) Comic book: The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
9) A classic: Foundation by Isaac Asimov
13) earth-based sci-fi: Station Eleven by  Emily St. John Mandel - a beautiful post-apocalyptic story about how people find their humanity after the end of the world
16) POC MCs: Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - multiple POC main characters, including Moira, Doc, and Ivy. Extra glad that Asian POCs were featured!
19) POC author: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang - loved this anthology!
20) M/M Romance: A Conjuring of Light by VE Schwab - Rhys and Alucard are THE OTP
22) Pub 2016: Empire of Storms by SJ Maas - another epic love-hate installment of the Throne of Glass series haha
24) Novella: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
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Monday, April 10, 2017

TTT: Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I've Read

Here are some of the most unique books I've ever read! I love them all and definitely recommend them :)

 Image result for a darker shade of magic

How many other books have you read involving 4 alternate Londons, a magical cloak, and a badass cross-dressing pirate? None? That's what I thought :)

This book is gorgeously written, and I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful and unique this magical circus is.


The Magician's series as a whole is unique in that it's all about subverting fantasy tropes but it's also about growing up. I loved the third book!

Not only is this a ridiculously inventive and hilarious and horrifying sci-fi book, the words on the page make pictures that also tell a story. Such a unique and amazing series!

I don't even know what genre this book is, it's a little bit of everything, honestly! Plus it's a love letter to bookstores, which is amazing.

Shameless plug for one of my favorite books, I've never read another book about conmen that was so endearing, terrifying, and beautifully written. It definitely helps that it's one of the most feminist fantasy series I've read written by a guy!

A lot of fantasy books are about how to defeat the evil emperor (LOTR, anyone?). But what if it's way more complicated than that? I've never read any other books that so seamlessly brought together heists, rebellion, and insane world-building.

There are a lot of books about WWII, but none of them has been as emotional as this one. This book is so unique in the way it's told and the way it focuses on two best friends.

One of the most compassionate looks at mental illness I've ever read. It's 

Any other cyborg cinderellas out there? NOPE. I adore this series so much!!

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