Review: Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik
4 Stars , Reviews / September 30, 2019

Aurora Blazing was another intergalactic adventure with a strong female protagonist, Bianca, who is mastermind hacker with some serious computing skills. Another girl after my own heart like her sister, Ada from Polaris Rising, but in different ways. I mentioned her tech skills, but her strengths definitely don’t end there. She finds ways to gain an advantage by knowing as much as she can, and as many secrets as she can gather and hold on to until she finds an advantageous way to use them. Aurora Blazing is the second in a trilogy but follows a different set of characters from the first book. For those that missed the first one, I think this book probably could be read out of order as the main storyline will work independent of the first book. However, I would highly recommend reading Polaris Rising before this. There are secondary characters in this book that were main characters in the first book (and the characters in this one were secondary in the first), so there are spoilers for the first book if you read them out of order. Plus, even though I did enjoy this one, I think I enjoyed Polaris Rising a bit…

Review: The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
2.5 Stars , Reviews / September 9, 2019

Leckie’s previous series had a polarizing effect for her readers. The perspective and narrative was original and unlike anything I had read before. It told the story from the perspective of not just an AI, but a hive-mind AI. There was also a non-genderization element that, for me, really highlighted how hard wired my brain is to want to know gender. It was interesting to me. I think it was very well executed, but unusual enough that while some loved it, others, well, not so much. I personally loved it, I appreciated the risks she took in telling her story. I could understand other reader’s concerns, they just were more positives for me. In The Raven Tower, Leckie again took risks and presented a unique reading experience in terms of narrative style. I assumed that with this book, I would again fall into the set of readers that love it. Unfortunately that was not the case. In this book, readers get the point of view from, of all things, a rock. It turns out the rock is more than just a rock, it is actually a god. But since this god is inhabiting the form of a rock, it is…

Review: Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier
5 Stars , Reviews / August 19, 2019

After reading the Blackthorn and Grim series by Marillier, I just knew I had to read more of her work. While I’ve not yet made time for backlist books, this start to a new series was irresistible. It also had a double whammy for expectations. First, I loved her other books so much, that my standards for Marillier are pretty high. Second, I found the premise of this series a must read no matter who the author was. The protagonist is a women who is both a warrior and a bard, a real a bad-ass female lead. Seriously? Can you fit all those things I love into one character? Yep. Marillier nailed it. Liobhan and her brother are training and going through trials to become members of an elite warrior team, trained on Swan Island. From a physical standpoint, she is fierce. She will use any advantage she can when facing an opponent, which is probably a necessity when she’s fighting men who are much larger than she is. But she is also more than just a physical fighter When her and her brother are chosen for a real mission before they have even completed their training, they find out…

Review – Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
4 Stars , Reviews / July 1, 2019

I have to admit, I am a sucker for the girl dressed as a boy trope, so this book had an immediate edge for me. Maia dreams of becoming the best tailor in the empire. However, a dream is all that it can be as women are not allowed to be tailors, a career reserved only for men. So instead, she works quietly behind the scenes of her father’s business, gaining skill and experience, but knowing that she can never take over or become the face of the business. Instead, she will be expected to marry and be a good wife and all that boring stuff that is expected of women. But when an invitation is extended to her father for an incredible opportunity and honor to the royal court, Maia seens an opportunity. Her father has been declining in ability and would certainly not be able to attend himself, and her brother would have no interest or ability as well. So, that leaves her, with the option of attending as her brother. It’s a real risk to both her and her father’s reputation, but the allure of it plus her confidence that she was skilled enough outweighs the risk….

Review: Fray by Rowenna Miller
3.5 Stars , Reviews / June 3, 2019

Fray is another enjoyable book in the Unraveled Kingdom. Political unrest and revolution have created an uncertain path and future for the empire, and Sophie finds herself at the center of the conflicts. Engaged to the Crown-prince, but also rooted in the community that is looking for change, she has loved ones and friends on both sides of the conflict. She’s a strong protagonist who fights her battles using intelligence and using her relationships. It also helps she can use a bit of magic here and there through the use of her charms. I did really enjoy this one, however I also think it suffers a bit from second book syndrome. I think for me, this just seemed to be a slower book and much of what I found myself excited about in the first book has all been established I know Torn wasn’t particularly fast paced, but whenever you are meeting new characters I think it feels like more is happening. Everything and everyone was new and exciting. The first book had us learning about Sophie’s magic, watching her build her business and relationships with the higher class clientele, and then there was Sophie’s developing relationship with the Crown…

Throwback Thursday – Dune by Frank Herbert
4 Stars , Reviews , Throwback Thursday / May 16, 2019

Throwback Thursday is a weekly feature to highlight books from the past. It can honestly be anything as long as its not a book that is a current release. Maybe its a book that I read and reviewed and just want to highlight, maybe its a book I read before I started reviewing or maybe its a book that has a sequel coming out soon or maybe its a backlist book from my TBR that I just want to revisit and decide if I will make the time to read. Pretty much, anything goes.  If you have a backlist book you want to feature in someway, please feel free to join in!  This week’s choice is Dune by Frank Herbert. Dune was a book that read for book club, not because I chose it myself. I very rarely gravitate towards science fiction now and back when I read this I just about never chose to read science fiction. Turns out it was a good book for me to read and see that the genre labels are not nearly as important as what is in them. I say that, but I also feel like Dune is pretty much just a fantasy story that happens to be set in space. There is a lot of political intrigue (which I always enjoy). There is obviously a traitor in the midst of the characters, and…

Review: An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass
4 Stars , Reviews / May 13, 2019

I really enjoyed this one. It was an impulse request because when I was looking for my next book to read, it just sounded like a better fit for what I was in the mood for than anything I had on hand. I started reading it immediately and am quite glad I did. Turns out there’s a great story here. As with so many books I love, this features a strong female protagonist. Romy started life in Beggar’s Ring, the poorest and most downtrodden part of the city. However, her family sold her at a young age to what is essentially a training program for courtesans (yup, her family sold her as a child to become a high end prostitute). This is kind of a mixed thing. Of course it is bad, no one would choose to be sold for anything, much less for this purpose, but it also gave her an education and training that would never have been available to her otherwise. Her life as a well and diversely educated courtesan gives her a unique background. But one of the most unique qualities is that she is able to do magic. Magic is forbidden, only people from Costa…

Review: The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal
4 Stars , Reviews / May 6, 2019

The Fated Sky is set a number of years after the end of The Calculating Stars. A colony has been established on the moon, and they are working to develop a colony on Mars. I continue to really enjoy this series. Kowal creates very intriguing characters, keeps the pace moving well and just writes very readable and compelling stories. If you missed reading the first one, I highly recommend you go check it out. It is an alternate history set in the 1950s and the gist is that the earth is dying, and the space program is working to find a place to relocate the human race to ensure our survival. It turns out women are critical to this as they are the ones with the math skills required to complete the complex calculations. Elma is working as something like a glorified space bus driver, piloting a shuttle for the moon colony and plans are in full swing to get the mars colony going. The team selection for this mission is a big deal and more than just skill definitely seem to come in to it, which causes tensions between friends and teammates. I enjoyed Elma’s relationship with her husband….

Review: A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay
4.5 Stars , Reviews / April 29, 2019

This is a book that is more about the human element than the bigger picture of the world. How people’s lives can be defined, shaped, altered by a single moment. It is about those passing moments and memories. There are no guarantees in life, just because you feel something should be doesn’t mean it will happen or be that way. This book is full of danger, excitement, betrayal and love. Kay continues to prove his skill at storytelling is on a different level from most authors. Within the first hour of reading this book I was quickly reminded that even though I know I love reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s books, reading a new one is a fresh and strong reminder of how much I love them and why. I had a hard time putting this book down because I just kept wanting more, I was invested in the characters, their lives and the potential I could immediately see in them and the story. I wanted to see where things would end up. There is a decent size cast of characters and perspectives in this and I loved reading each character’s individual story. I feel like every character was important and…

Review: The Unbound Empire by Melissa Caruso
4.5 Stars , Reviews / April 22, 2019

It’s always bittersweet when a series you enjoy comes to end. The Unbound Empire was no exception for me. The book was full of action, drama, dire threats against the empire, and balanced with great friendships (and yes, romances) that all left me a happy reader. I enjoy Caruso’s books because for me they strike a great balance of being very easy to read and interesting plot. Sometimes as books get more complex, they get longer and sometimes slower to read because there is more to take in. And sometimes when books are “easy” to read, it can feel like there’s not much there, you just enjoy the ride as it happens. I feel like Caruso is in between. It’s not overly complex. The bad guys are bad guys (well, except Witch Lords who are originally seen as “bad” are given a different light with Kathe), but the antagonist, Lord Ruven, is definitely just a “bad guy”. There’s not really any shades of grey with him, but there doesn’t need to be. The other characters in the book have enough complexity in them to feel like they are more than just caricatures (which is something I often notice in books…