Review: The True Queen by Zen Cho
3 Stars , Reviews / April 1, 2019

I have to be honest, this is a hard review to write. I loved the first book, Sorcerer to the Crown, and as such, I think my expectations for this one were pretty high. I have seen it mentioned that this book can be read as a standalone, and I want to give my opinion on that a bit. It is set in the same world as The True Queen, but focuses on a new set of characters. The story is such that it can feel self contained and really does not depend on knowledge from the first book, so in that sense it works. You absolutely could read this without reading Sorcerer to the Crown. But while I completely agree that this can be read independent of Sorcerer to the Crown, I also feel like you may get spoilers for the fate of the main characters in Sorcerer to the Crown if you were to read this one first. So I would caution you to read the other book first if you think that finding out where the main characters from that book wind up would ruin your reading experience. They are not primary characters in The True Queen,…

Review: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
3 Stars , Reviews / August 30, 2018

So, forewarning, I am going to present a very unpopular opinion here. It will take almost no effort for you to go find any number of glowing reviews for this (there is a lot of love out there for it), so keep that in mind as I voice my dissension here. The story is about Miryem, the daughter of a money lender. I like that her character is strong, and that she takes charge in situations, is able to step in and do what she can to improve their business. She is also fair and level headed. Her role as money lender causes her to cross paths with Wanda, a peasant girl who we learn is a very hard worker and victim of circumstance. There are additional POVs as well, but I never connected with them as much as these two. Honestly, this is one of those books where I found myself not caring about or connecting with most of the characters, and just struggled with the storyline because of it (I typically struggle to enjoy a story if I don’t get that care about the characters). I was, at best, apathetic about the story. That is a horrible way…

Review: The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear
3 Stars , Reviews / February 19, 2018

The Stone in the Skull kicks off strong with a unique and visual scene of a group of mercenaries featuring two of the main characters. Gage is an automaton and the other one? He is called The Dead Man. OK, it got my attention! Then when the setting changes, I honestly became more invested and quickly preferred the perspectives of Sayeh and Mrithuri, two powerful women who are each ruling their own kingdoms. Gotta love a book that features not just one, but two powerful women that can control the fate of their land. So, my first impressions this book were really strong, however, I am was disappointed that my overall experience was not on that same level. This is one of those books that I leave feeling quite conflicted. It started strong and through out, there were parts and passages of it that I loved, convincing me that I would have an overall positive experience. Unfortnately, something held me back. While I love the premise of this book, and I actually quite like most of her prose there seemed to be a pacing issue as well as inconsistent strength of perspectives. As the book progressed, I realized I found myself…

Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine
3 Stars , Reviews / February 1, 2018

When I read the first book in this series, I had no expectations, just thought it sounded like a great concept and so picked it up. It pretty much blew me away. I loved the entire concept of the the Library being evil, controlling (and often destroying) knowledge. It set a ridiculously high bar for the series, but even though next in the series (Paper and Fire) did not have quite that same level of magical reading experience, there was still plenty of room to be really good. I’m not exactly sure what happened with this book, but I feel like I lost all of the things that made me love the series. Yes, the Library is still evil, but at this point, I need more. I really wish this had been a trilogy and contained some closure at this point. I feel like if more had happened, perhaps I would have more excited by this book. But it is another middle book where I wish the story made more progress. Jess and his crew escaped at the end of the previous book, and now find themselves in Philadelphia, land of the Burners. Jess was raised in a family of…

Review: The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente
3 Stars , Reviews / June 6, 2017

I love the concept of this book which gives voice to those sidelined females in comic books. It creates fleshed out characters that have motivations and thoughts and intriguing stories all their own. It shows they are something more than just a footnote in the story of a super hero. And this book is all that, which is wonderful. However, this is going to be a hard one for me to review. When it comes down to it, while I love the concept and the general stories, the style itself is just not a style that works well for me. That does not mean it’s poorly executed by any means. This is a book where the type of humor just really fell flat for me. This is not an unusual struggle for me, it happens often enough I can recognize when I have issue due to the style rather than the writer’s ability to craft a story. I can also recognize the areas that this book fell flat for me may very well be what makes it a stand out in a very positive way for others. The book covers 6 different protagonists, each one with a unique story and situation…

Review: Thunderbird by Chuck Wendig
3 Stars , Reviews / April 13, 2017

Let me tell you, I was so excited to hear there was going to be another Miriam Black book. It’s been several years since the last one, but she has remained a favorite character for me. She has a wonderfully sardonic sense of humor that normally strikes a perfect balance of irreverence, humor and darkness. Miriam also has an unusual ability. Often when someone can do a thing others can not, you would call it a gift. For Miriam, though, that is debatable. When she makes contact with another person, shaking their hand, a touch on the shoulder, any skin to skin contact, she gets a vision of their death. What a way to make for everyone to make a first impression on her because not matter how you look at it, death is not pretty. In this latest installment, Miriam is set to rid herself of her “gift”. (can you blame her?) She had heard about a psychic that could help her understand her gift/curse, and maybe even help her control or get rid of it. So, optimist that Miriam is (huh, yeah… OK, so maybe not an optimist, but she is determined), she hits the road with a friend…

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James
3 Stars , Reviews / January 30, 2017

In an atmosphere somewhat reminiscent of  Hunger Games and Red Rising (and many other dystopian novels), the world we encounter has a stark division between the classes. There are the elite Skilled, who though fewer in numbers, control Britain. The Skilled, as you may guess, have magical skills that allow them to do extraordinary things, such as heal themselves, repair broken objects and enforce the Silence (which ultimately means, messing with peoples brains to prevent them from speaking about things that the Skilled person does not want to be discussed). The general masses of normal people usually have little or no contact with Skilled, who are perceived as untouchable, unknowable things. People are not real sure how much of their fabled powers are truth versus exaggeration. I found in this book neither side sees a humanity in the other group.  Through one POV we get an inside look at Millmoor, a slavetown. We also get to see that some slaves are able to find ways to rebel, and I found this to be exciting and fun. These sections were hands down my favorite within the book. We also get perspectives from a family living within a Skilled household, serving their…

Review: Hope and Red by Jon Skovron
3 Stars , Reviews / June 6, 2016

Hope and Red could be the fun read you are looking for, especially if you love stories about thieves and vengeance, and warrior women. The two main characters are in quite different settings, each with intriguing elements. The story follows these two characters whose lives are both shattered from what they knew when they were young. Their paths after their tragedies are very different, yet similar in some ways. Here is the thing about this book. It is full of familiarity and predictability. These are not necessarily bad, depending on what you are looking for. I mean, there is a reason certain elements become familiar and predictable. It’s because generally, people enjoy them! If you are craving an easy, fun read with adventure and ups and downs, this could be good. I am always a sucker for stories of women who break the normal gender barriers. So, for this, I love that Hope is being trained to be a Vinchen warrior. This training is not easy, and she is certainly not accepted among the men of the order. But she powers through with dedication and becomes a fierce warrior. She becomes proof that, given the chance, there are women who…

Review: Graft by Matt Hill
3 Stars , Reviews / March 1, 2016

Graft by Matt Hill is a vivid, visceral dystopia. This futuristic world is dark and dangerous and Hill does not hold back on showing us just how dismal things can get. Sol is a mechanic who steals cars. But on this latest run, the car he acquires has a little more than he bargained for. Inside the trunk is a woman. She can not speak and her mouth is stapled shut. Oh, and she has a third arm. We come to know her as Y. It turns out that Y is quite valuable to someone and is goods for a trafficking ring. This puts her and Sol in way more danger than if he had just stolen a car. But in this dark and damaged world, Sol is quick to try and protect Y, so rather than just hand her over or ditch her some where, he tries to help her. There are some interesting things going on in this book. Body augmentation, trafficking, a dark underworld, hijacking cars, etc. etc. It’s interesting, but I think some aspects of it crossed what I refer to as my “weird threshold” (yeah, OK. I am pathetic, but oh well). I read this book, and could definitely see…

Audiobook Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
3 Stars , Reviews / February 9, 2016

So here it is. A review that I am disappointed to be writing because I just couldnt bring myself to love this book that so many others have loved. I will forewarn you, I may sound like a jerk in spots. But, my reaction is what it is, so I will share it with you anyway. There’s bound to be readers out there that will have a similar experience as I did, though many will have the same reaction as the reviewers that have written glowing reviews for this one. In case you haven’t gathered already, I went into Six of Crows with high hopes. A number of reviewers that tend to have similar taste as me really enjoyed this one (and rightfully on their part!). However, I think I had a different experience with it. I can’t say the book is without its merits, but I can say that it might not have been the best choice for me. Ultimately what failed to work for me was the characters and their relationships (especially the romantic relationships, oh my holy ANGST. Serious amounts of ANGST. And I can do angst, but evidently I can’t do ANGST). In a book like…