Friday, July 20, 2018

2018 book 114

Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw
It's been long enough since I last read this that I didn't remember any of the details, which meant it was time for a reread. This is sort of your Victorian-esque story--inheritances, family squabbles, romance, lawsuits, lack of options for women, parsons, manners, etc--except all the characters are dragons! It’s all very entertaining, often very funny, and occasionally very sad. I like all the relationships between the siblings, though, and there are some good partnerships to root for. A-.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

2018 book 113

Peng Shepherd's The Book of M
Well, here is a great concept AND gripping writing all in one. In this post-apocalyptic story, some sort of phenomenon is spreading across the world where people first lose their shadows, then their memories--and their confusion warps the world around them. The story focuses on a few characters--a man and his wife, holed up in a resort outside DC--and her shadow has just vanished. There's also a young Iranian woman in Boston, an Olympic-hopeful archer; and a man whose amnesia, caused by a car accident, pre-dates the current crisis. Parts of this are very tense and parts are very sad, but I was totally engrossed the entire time. A/A-.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

2018 book 112

Caroline Stevermer's A College of Magics
This is one of those books I’ve seen recommended many times over the years, but for some reason had never read (even though I like the series Stevermer co-wrote with Patricia Wrede a lot). It was pretty good! It’s about a girl, technically the duchess of her home nation, but her uncle has been ruling in her place, and now he’s forcing her to go to a far-off magical boarding school (I will say the world building here is a bit odd—it’s like Europe exists, and Shakespeare and Marx, but there are some extra countries in there somewhere? It was distracting). Anyway, there is some good friendship stuff here, and some of the political and magical shenanigans were interesting, but I did think this dragged a bit, and I had mixed feelings about how things wrapped up. Solid book but I don’t know if I’ll revisit or read the sequel. B/B+.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

2018 book 111

Victoria Goddard's Whiskeyjack
The third Greenwing and Dart book wraps up a lot of the ongoing storylines (but I feel,there is still more story to tell, and I’ll read it if the author writes more), with some great friendship stuff, great family stuff, magic, scholars, codes, poems, etc. I found these books to be really fun and pleasant reading, so if you are looking for something gentle, but not boring, give these a shot. A/A-.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

2018 book 110

Carrie Vaughn's The Wild Dead
The second book in Vaughn's Bannerless series, about a woman who deals with crimes and disputes in a post-apocalyptic society, is maybe not quite as good as its predecessor, but is still very entertaining. In this one, she’s training a new young partner, and they’re sent to deal with a disputed over a rickety old house—when a body washes up on the shore and suddenly it’s a murder investigation. The mystery is pretty easy to figure out, but I like the characters and world building here so much that I didn’t even mind. More post-apocalyptic mysteries, please! A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released on July 17th.

Friday, July 06, 2018

2018 book 109

Victoria Goddard's Bee Sting Cake
The second book in Goddard's Greenwing and Dart series is more of the delightful same, as our protagonist has a visit from a university pal, gets involved in figuring out more of the town's magical mysteries, AND has dealings with a dragon and its riddle. There is some good action here, but mostly this is a funny and gentle series, and I like it very much. A/A-.

Monday, July 02, 2018

2018 book 108

Jasmine Guillory's The Proposal
Omg, how does Jasmine Guillory write the cutest, sweetest, most heartfelt, and funniest books! In this one, a woman is at the Dodgers game with her boyfriend—who proposes via Jumbotron. But they’ve only been dating a few months, it’s not serious, and he doesn’t even spell her name right! So of course she says no. Luckily doctor Carlos (a character from Guillory's previous book) is at the game with his sister and they pull off a rescue. And one thing leads to another and it is all super cute. I hope the author writes books about every single character in all of these books, because they are all so likable and fun. A/A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in September.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

2018 book 107

Kate Atkinson's Transcription
A new Kate Atkinson novel is always a treat, and this one was no exception. It isn’t my favorite of her novels, but Life After Life is one of my top five books, so that bar is way too high, and anyway this is still very good. It centers on Juliet Armstrong, working for MI5 during WWII—as a transcriptionist, among other things. And then in the 1950s, she’s working on children’s programming for the BBC. This is definitely an engaging read—I basically read it in one go—though I may need to reread it to parse it all out. Also, I was kind of more interested in the parts that are alluded to that we never see (Italy!), which was mildly disappointing. A/A-.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in September.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

2018 book 106

Ling Ma's Severance
Oh man, I would have devoured this in one sitting had my schedule allowed. If there is any justice in this world, this book will be as successful and acclaimed as Station Eleven. Anyway, it's set in 2011, after a weird fever has turned most of the world's population into mindless automatons. Our protagonist is Candace Chen, formerly employed at a book production company as the person in charge of Bibles (and secretly the one person blogging photos from NYC after things went haywire), who now finds herself part of a motley band of survivors. This is interspersed with flashbacks to her former life, and to her childhood. It manages not to be too grim, considering the subject matter. I REALLY liked this. Just gripping. A.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in August.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

2018 book 105

Victoria Goddard's Stargazy Pie
The first book in Goddard's Greenwing and Dart series sets up her world pretty nicely--fantasy land, different countries, magic, manners, aristocrats, traitors, colleges, etc--as our scandal-dogged protagonist returns from a failed stint at school and an unhappy romance to his small hometown to work at the local bookstore (where his boss is a very awesome middle aged woman). But there are mysteries afoot! Parts of this were a bit slow but on the whole it was very enjoyable. B+.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

2018 book 104

Martha Wells' Rogue Protocol
Murderbot number three, baby! Yessss! In this one, Murderbot sneaks aboard a shuttle to get information for its human friends, and makes a new robot friend (inadvertently and crankily, of course). I cannot wait to see how this series wraps up. A.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in August.

2018 book 103

R.O. Kwon's The Incendiaries
This is one of THE summer buzz books, plus the author wears some incredibly bad-ass eye makeup, so I was looking forward to reading it. But it left me a little cold. The description makes it sound like an exciting read, but it’s much more interior—about a sad sack college student obsessed with a girl who gets involved with a Christian cult. They spend a lot of time discussing wanting a relationship with Christ/God, which is not super compelling for me (I’m Jewish), and they are both incredibly unhappy people, which makes it a kind of depressing read. The writing is great but I was relieved when this was over. Content warning for rape. B.

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in July.

Friday, June 22, 2018

2018 book 102

Karen Healey and Robyn Fleming's The Spymaster's Apprentice
The second book in the Hidden Histories series (after The Empress of Timbra, which I liked very much) picks up a few years after the first one, and I can't say much about the plot because it's all spoilers for its predecessor. But it's still engaging, well-paced, with interesting and sympathetic characters and a lot of moral ambiguity. My only complaint is that I want more!  A/A-.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 book 101

Claire Kann's Let's Talk About Love
Well, this was totally adorable. It centers on college sophomore Alice, a black biromantic asexual pop culture nerd (she loves writing critical analyses of tv shows), whose girlfriend has just broken up with her because she's ace. And now a suuuuper cute guy comes to work with her at the library and sends her into a tizzy. What will happen! There is also some good stuff dealing with friendship and family issues. Very likable story. A-.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

2018 book 100

Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place 6: The Long-Lost Home
I admit that I was a bit grumpy for a large part of this book, because I wanted my long-awaited ANSWERS and instead Wood spends more than half the book dealing with the cliffhanger from book 5. This was all objectively very entertaining, and when I reread it, I will inevitably like it much more, but I was impatient this go-round! But once things start to come together, I was on the edge of my seat, and was definitely satisfied with how things wrapped up (especially regarding squirrels). Very funny and adorable. A-.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 book 99

Maryrose Wood's The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place 5: The Unmapped Sea
In the fifth Incorrigibles book, the family takes a trip to Brighton . . . in January. The usual adventures arise, this time involving a group of dramatic Russians, a mysterious museum, ancient mariners, and so on. Plus a little romance, a large curse, and secrets revealed! I can’t wait to see how this series wraps up.