18 Sep 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE CITY WE BECAME by N.K. Jemisin

18 September 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

THE CITY WE BECAME

Author: N.K. Jemisin
Series: Great Cities #1
Source: Audiobook via Audible Daily Deal
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: March 24, 2020

Summary:
Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She's got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
Purchase:

TLDR Review: This was an extremely well-produced audiobook and I highly recommend listening to it if you can! I thought that the beginning was really interesting and had a lot of really great elements too it, but the middle got a little too big to handle. It has really intricate characters and fantastic worldbuilding, but something was lost in the middle. But the 70% onward mark brought it all back together and the ending was fantastic! I can't wait to see where this story goes into the next book in the series.

This was a really interesting story and an even more interesting concept. I loved the idea of people being the embodiment of a city, or in this case that five people came togehter to be a full city with each representing a specific area. I have been to NYC and seen a bunch of the boroughs, so it was so interesting to see them come to life in a person, but not just in a token or stereotypical way. I enjoyed how we met each of the avatars, which is what these characters are called, and how they decided to work together. I loved the "found family" aspect to it and how they figured out how to best work together.

I loved the overlapping themes of social justice and how it is to be Black in America, especially as a woman. I also appreciated the youth perspective as well as feeling isolated or alienated because of a Zip Code. I think that this was a good story and one that was needed for the time. Do I think that some people will be turned off because of the way that Jemisin writes about being Black? Yes. Are they wrong? Also yes.

But the writing style in general isn't for everyone. Something I also struggled with when I read Jemisin's THE FIFTH SEASON was the writing style and getting into the character's mindset. With five perspectives, this was even more difficult for me. Everyone was unique and felt different - I didn't have an issue figuring out who was who - but I definitely didn't get into everyone's heads the same way. I felt that this lost it's way in the middle because of that but it did pick up again around 70% with the climax of this book.

I appreciated that instead of using the "city" as a character, the city was divided into characters. That made for such an interesting worldbuilding and made me appreciate the surrounding and setting that much more. Knowing that the city was the main catalyst for this, made it a really interesting way of viewing how the characters grew and developed. But I still wanted more - I think often using the backdrop of New York was an easy way of getting out of having some more difficult conversations or growth for the characters.

I am definitely excited to see where this goes next, how the characters become a full team, and what that means for their individuality since they need to be together to "be" New York. But this is definitely worth the read, especially if you love Jemisin's other works!
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Have you read this one? Are you going to pick it up?

16 Sep 2020

#Review: THE MERCIFUL CROW by Margaret Owen

16 September 0 Comments

THE MERCIFUL CROW

Author: Margaret Owen
Series: The Merciful Crow #1
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 30, 2019
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:


Summary:
A future chieftain.

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
This was okay but it was nothing all that special. I appreciated some of it and the way that it was written but in general I was felt it was very okay and middle of the road.

I kept thinking that there was something missing and things that could have been done better. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing how it continues in the next book, which I have an ARC of (and have not yet read because #life).

I didn't think the worldbuilding was done extremely well - there were parts of it that just didn't quite make sense or weren't given enough of an explanation. Like all of the magic - it just didn't have enough of an explanation to make me wholly buy in and want to learn more about it. I wanted so much more out of how the different groups interacted and overlapped with one another. There definitely wasn't enough of those interactions.

But there was a slow burn romance so I know that a lot of people would love that. I was okay with it but I wasn't overly invested in the romance or the relationships overall. I thought individually the characters were great but I was meh about how thye interacted with one another. I thought some of the characters mostly fell flat and didn't quite come across how we wanted them to be.

But I did appreciate the racial discussions and how Fie called out the Crown Prince for not realizing how things integrate and how the Crow Caste was so poorly treated. That definitely mirrored some of the discussions and talks that are taking place in current day.

I'm still going to continue this series - and I have the next book on my shelf already ready to go - but I'm not overly invested in it like I would like to be. 

Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

14 Sep 2020

Audio #Review: GRACELING by Kristen Cashore

14 September 0 Comments

GRACELING

Author: Kristen Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Source: Purchased from Audible
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Overall Rating:
Diversity Rating:


Summary:
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.

She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.

She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD
I definitely took a long time to read this one! I had it on my shelf in paperback for a while but hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. I think this is technically one of the first YA fantasy novels and I can see a lot of it in other books I've read. While I definitely enjoyed it, I found myself bored for part of it and wondering when we'd get back to the exciting parts again.

I found that this book, even though divided into a few parts, wasn't as coherent as I would have liked. Katsa leaving her court and wanting to start a "rebellion" was an interesting take that ... didn't really go anywhere. She left with Po to learn more to potentially do that but in reality that's not what happened. I think that there was a need for more descriptions and more sections for this to really make sense to me.

And I also thought that the whole section from Po getting injured to the end was just sort of meh. The passing through the mountains was so excruciating to listen to that I am almost positive if I had been reading it as a physical book, I would have DNFed it then. Because it just wasn't interesting, barely developed the characters, and had like minimal impact on the story overall except to have more time pass.

But I loved Katsa as a character and how she grew and developed over time. I thought she was such a strong character that grew into herself over time, which was so great to see. I loved her realization about what her Grace actually was and how she transitioned to using it. I loved seeing how she decided she was going to use her Grace for herself and to help those she loved.

I think the relationship between her and Po was great and I shipped them so hard. I loved watching how they fell in love and seeing when Katsa realized it versus when Po realized it. It was such a great relationship and I am 100000% here for it.

Overall, if you haven't read this already, don't be intimidated by the size and get to it! I highly recommend the full cast audio book which was fantastic and definitely kept me in the story more than anything else would have. I am so glad I purchased this and read it when I did!

Have you read this one? What was your favourite part?

12 Sep 2020

Stacking the Shelves (31): September 12, 2020

12 September 2 Comments
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!
Soooo much has happened in the last few months! And I'm so sorry for disappearing! Since May, I have gotten:
  1. A new job,
  2. A new apartment, and
  3. A new couch.
I'm excited about each of those things, especially the couch! But it means that the last 6 weeks I have been extremely busy, not reading a lot, and trying to just keep my head above water.

We moved east of Toronto - the first time I've lived east of Toronto since university when I lived in Ottawa. It's so pretty and nice up here so we're looking forward to exploring! You can see my new apartment and some of our adventures if you follow me on Instagram!

How's everyone holding up?
  • Event Recap: Fall/Winter 2020 Preview! #FrenzyPresents
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: SINS OF EMPIRE by Brian McClellan

11 Sep 2020

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: SINS OF EMPIRE by Brian McClellan

11 September 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

SINS OF EMPIRE

Author: Brian McClellan
Series: Gods of Blood and Powder #1
Source: ARC via Publisher
Publisher: Orbit
Publication Date: March 7, 2017

Summary:
An epic new fantasy series from Brian McClellan, set in the world of his wildly popular Powder Mage trilogy.

A world on the cusp of a new age...
The young nation of Fatrasta is a turbulent place -- a frontier destination for criminals, fortune-hunters, brave settlers, and sorcerers seeking relics of the past. Only the iron will of the lady chancellor and her secret police holds the capital city of Landfall together against the unrest of an oppressed population and the machinations of powerful empires.

Sedition is a dangerous word...
The insurrection that threatens Landfall must be purged with guile and force, a task which falls on the shoulders of a spy named Michel Bravis, convicted war hero Mad Ben Styke, and Lady Vlora Flint, a mercenary general with a past as turbulent as Landfall's present.

The past haunts us all...
As loyalties are tested, revealed, and destroyed, a grim specter as old as time has been unearthed in this wild land, and the people of Landfall will soon discover that rebellion is the least of their worries.
Purchase:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion.

I really liked this one. A good mix of low fantasy and steampunk to keep me (and my boyfriend) super interested! I loved the characters and how this progressed. But there were some things I wish that had been done differently - and it would have been nice for everyone to interact more.

When this book - and ultimately series - was first pitched to me (back in the day *hides*), I was told that I could jump right into this series without needing to read the first to understand what was going on. While that was true, this book is definitely the start of it's own own series and has a great cast of characters, there were winks and nods to the past that probably would have had more context if I had read that original series first. Which isn't all that disappointing because I am okay with not having that context but I am probably still going to read that first series. So it would have been nice to know how they related back to one another.

But ultimately, that was my biggest complaint. I loved the characters, the action, and the pacing. I liked seeing how it all progressed throughout and thought that there were some really good twists and turns. Both my boyfriend and I thought that there was a big introduction to the stone obelisk at the beginning that didn't really make its way back until too late but I was happy with how it turned out.

I would have liked for the main three storylines to intersect more, especially since they only did through a character that wasn't even a "main" character of this book, but the previous series. That's probably what annoyed me the most out of it. But I loved how the main characters were portrayed and how they ultimately worked together without knowing it. I thought there was the right amount of smarts, perserverence, and tenacity spread across the characters.

And the world was really fun to be in! I loved the lower fantasy elements to it mixed in with some steampunks elements, which made it a really fun read. I always enjoy going into those types of worlds since I don't visit them often. But McClellan does a good job of making it accessible to all audiences - and keeping me and my boyfriend (who have VERY different fantasy tastes) engaged and intrigued the entire time.

This was definitely a fun read and everything I could have asked for in a low fantasy. But the questions becomes: should we finish this trilogy first or go back and read the "prequels" to this so we have more context? Stay tuned to see what we choose to do!

Have you read this one? Are you going to pick it up?